Category Archives: Intelligence Community

“Disgraceful”: Supreme Court Sides With Hiding CIA Torture

By Jessica Corbett

This is a breaking story… Please check back for possible updates…

Human rights advocates on Thursday sharply condemned the Supreme Court’s decision that the U.S. government can block the testimony of two former Central Intelligence Agency contractors for a Polish criminal investigation into the torture of a Guantánamo Bay detainee.

“Basically, the Supreme Court has allowed the CIA to decide what can be said in court about the torture of prisoners in CIA black sites,” tweeted Jameel Jaffer, director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. “It’s really a disgraceful abdication of responsibility.”

Abu Zubaydah was captured in Pakistan and has been in U.S. custody since 2002. His attorneys are trying to hold Polish officials accountable for the torture he endured at a CIA facility in Stare Kiejkuty, Poland before being transferred in 2006 to Guantánamo Bay, where he remains.

In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. government can use the “state secrets privilege” to prevent the questioning of the contractors, James Elmer Mitchell and John Bruce Jessen.

In a pretty extraordinary dissent, Gorsuch, joined by Sotomayor, says the government wants to dismiss this suit to conceal evidence that it “brutally” tortured Zubaydah (which is true).

“We should not let shame obscure our vision.” https://t.co/wNnUjjHoLZ pic.twitter.com/wSZvGCv9CV

— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) March 3, 2022

“Today’s ruling will make it much harder, going forward, for victims of government misconduct that occurs in secret to obtain evidence helping to prove that the conduct was unlawful,” said Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law.

“Although this case, specifically, is a narrow dispute about specific evidence concerning the CIA’s alleged torture of Abu Zubaydah in Poland,” Vladeck explained, “it’s likely to have far broader and more troubling ramifications going forward.”

How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations

Glenn Greenwald
February 24th 2014

One of the many pressing stories that remains to be told from the Snowden archive is how western intelligence agencies are attempting to manipulate and control online discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction. It’s time to tell a chunk of that story, complete with the relevant documents.

Over the last several weeks, I worked with NBC News to publish a series of articles about “dirty trick” tactics used by GCHQ’s previously secret unit, JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group). These were based on four classified GCHQ documents presented to the NSA and the other three partners in the English-speaking “Five Eyes” alliance. Today, we at the Intercept are publishing another new JTRIG document, in full, entitled “The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations.”

By publishing these stories one by one, our NBC reporting highlighted some of the key, discrete revelations: the monitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the targeting of Anonymous with the very same DDoS attacks they accuse “hacktivists” of using, the use of “honey traps” (luring people into compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses. But, here, I want to focus and elaborate on the overarching point revealed by all of these documents: namely, that these agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.

Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations” (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting “negative information” on various forums. Here is one illustrative list of tactics from the latest GCHQ document we’re publishing today:

Other tactics aimed at individuals are listed here, under the revealing title “discredit a target”:

Then there are the tactics used to destroy companies the agency targets:

GCHQ describes the purpose of JTRIG in starkly clear terms: “using online techniques to make something happen in the real or cyber world,” including “information ops (influence or disruption).”

Critically, the “targets” for this deceit and reputation-destruction extend far beyond the customary roster of normal spycraft: hostile nations and their leaders, military agencies, and intelligence services. In fact, the discussion of many of these techniques occurs in the context of using them in lieu of “traditional law enforcement” against people suspected (but not charged or convicted) of ordinary crimes or, more broadly still, “hacktivism”, meaning those who use online protest activity for political ends.

The title page of one of these documents reflects the agency’s own awareness that it is “pushing the boundaries” by using “cyber offensive” techniques against people who have nothing to do with terrorism or national security threats, and indeed, centrally involves law enforcement agents who investigate ordinary crimes:

No matter your views on Anonymous, “hacktivists” or garden-variety criminals, it is not difficult to see how dangerous it is to have secret government agencies being able to target any individuals they want – who have never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crimes – with these sorts of online, deception-based tactics of reputation destruction and disruption. There is a strong argument to make, as Jay Leiderman demonstrated in the Guardian in the context of the Paypal 14 hacktivist persecution, that the “denial of service” tactics used by hacktivists result in (at most) trivial damage (far less than the cyber-warfare tactics favored by the US and UK) and are far more akin to the type of political protest protected by the First Amendment.

The broader point is that, far beyond hacktivists, these surveillance agencies have vested themselves with the power to deliberately ruin people’s reputations and disrupt their online political activity even though they’ve been charged with no crimes, and even though their actions have no conceivable connection to terrorism or even national security threats. As Anonymous expert Gabriella Coleman of McGill University told me, “targeting Anonymous and hacktivists amounts to targeting citizens for expressing their political beliefs, resulting in the stifling of legitimate dissent.” Pointing to this study she published, Professor Coleman vehemently contested the assertion that “there is anything terrorist/violent in their actions.”

Government plans to monitor and influence internet communications, and covertly infiltrate online communities in order to sow dissension and disseminate false information, have long been the source of speculation. Harvard Law Professor Cass Sunstein, a close Obama adviser and the White House’s former head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, wrote a controversial paper in 2008 proposing that the US government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-”independent” advocates to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and websites, as well as other activist groups.

Sunstein also proposed sending covert agents into “chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups” which spread what he views as false and damaging “conspiracy theories” about the government. Ironically, the very same Sunstein was recently named by Obama to serve as a member of the NSA review panel created by the White House, one that – while disputing key NSA claims – proceeded to propose many cosmetic reforms to the agency’s powers (most of which were ignored by the President who appointed them).

But these GCHQ documents are the first to prove that a major western government is using some of the most controversial techniques to disseminate deception online and harm the reputations of targets. Under the tactics they use, the state is deliberately spreading lies on the internet about whichever individuals it targets, including the use of what GCHQ itself calls “false flag operations” and emails to people’s families and friends. Who would possibly trust a government to exercise these powers at all, let alone do so in secret, with virtually no oversight, and outside of any cognizable legal framework?

Then there is the use of psychology and other social sciences to not only understand, but shape and control, how online activism and discourse unfolds. Today’s newly published document touts the work of GCHQ’s “Human Science Operations Cell,” devoted to “online human intelligence” and “strategic influence and disruption”:

Under the title “Online Covert Action”, the document details a variety of means to engage in “influence and info ops” as well as “disruption and computer net attack,” while dissecting how human beings can be manipulated using “leaders,” “trust,” “obedience” and “compliance”:

The documents lay out theories of how humans interact with one another, particularly online, and then attempt to identify ways to influence the outcomes – or “game” it:

We submitted numerous questions to GCHQ, including: (1) Does GCHQ in fact engage in “false flag operations” where material is posted to the Internet and falsely attributed to someone else?; (2) Does GCHQ engage in efforts to influence or manipulate political discourse online?; and (3) Does GCHQ’s mandate include targeting common criminals (such as boiler room operators), or only foreign threats?

As usual, they ignored those questions and opted instead to send their vague and nonresponsive boilerplate: “It is a longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters. Furthermore, all of GCHQ’s work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the Secretary of State, the Interception and Intelligence Services Commissioners and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee. All our operational processes rigorously support this position.”

These agencies’ refusal to “comment on intelligence matters” – meaning: talk at all about anything and everything they do – is precisely why whistleblowing is so urgent, the journalism that supports it so clearly in the public interest, and the increasingly unhinged attacks by these agencies so easy to understand. Claims that government agencies are infiltrating online communities and engaging in “false flag operations” to discredit targets are often dismissed as conspiracy theories, but these documents leave no doubt they are doing precisely that.

Whatever else is true, no government should be able to engage in these tactics: what justification is there for having government agencies target people – who have been charged with no crime – for reputation-destruction, infiltrate online political communities, and develop techniques for manipulating online discourse? But to allow those actions with no public knowledge or accountability is particularly unjustifiable.

Documents referenced in this article:

Senators Allege Secret CIA Program Collecting Data on Americans, Call for Declassification

Sophie Mann
February 11th, 2022

Two Democrat senators are alleging the CIA has a secret data trove that includes information collected about Americans.

In a letter sent to the clandestine agency, the senators allege the CIA has long hidden details about the program from the public and the legislative branch, according to the Associated Press.

Sens. Ron Wyden, of Oregon, and Martin Heinrich, of New Mexico, called for a declassification of the program, though significant parts of their letter, sent in April 2021, were redacted.

The lawmakers say they think the program operated “outside the statutory framework that Congress and the public believe govern this collection.”

Though the CIA, the country’s top spy operation and the National Security Agency, are typically barred from monitoring U.S. citizens and businesses, the agencies’ focus on foreign communications sometimes encapsulates messages and data incidentally belonging to Americans. 

The CIA’s privacy and civil liberties officer, Kristi Scott, said the agency “recognizes and takes very seriously our obligation to respect the privacy and civil liberties of U.S. persons in the conduct of our vital national security mission. CIA is committed to transparency consistent with our obligation to protect intelligence sources and methods.”

Wyden and Heinrich have historically been advocates for transparency among the U.S. intelligence agencies. Years ago, Wyden asked then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper if the NSA was collecting “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.”

Clapper initially responded “no,” but then said, “not wittingly.”

The lawmakers’ letter emphasizes the importance of congressional awareness of CIA data collection programs to properly legislate.

They also argue it is important that “the American public not be misled into believe that the reforms in any reauthorization legislation fully cover the [U.S. intelligence community’s] collection of their records.”

The Truckers, GoFundMe, and the CIA; Connecting Dots

 Jon Rappoport
Januray 9th, 2022

As of this writing, GoFundMe has cut off (stolen) $9 million from the Canadian Trucker Convoy.

The money was donated by thousands of individuals to support the truckers, who are demanding the Canadian government cancel vaccine mandates, vaccine passports, and brutal COVID restrictions.

After a major backlash from the enraged public, GoFundMe has stated it will automatically refund all $9 million to the individual donors.

Regardless, GoFundMe will not forward the money to the group it was intended for: the truckers.

All right: here come the dots—

A venture capital firm, Accel, and Technology Crossover Ventures, own the majority stake in GoFundMe.

The big infusion of cash that sent Mark Zuckerberg and his fledgling college enterprise on their way came from Accel, in 2004.

Jim Breyer, head of Accel, attached a $13 million rocket to Facebook, and nothing has ever been the same. (Breyer—billionaire, CFR, World Economic Forum, major fund investor in China.)

Earlier in 2004, a man named Gilman Louie joined the board of the National Venture Capital Association of America (NVCA). The chairman of NVCA? Jim Breyer. Gilman Louie happened to be the first CEO of the important CIA start-up, In-Q-Tel.

In-Q-Tel was founded in 1999, with the express purpose of funding companies that could develop technology the CIA would use to “gather data.”

That’s not the only connection between Facebook funder and Accel’s Jim Breyer and the CIA’s man, Gilman Louie. In 2004, Louie went to work for BBN Technologies, headed up by Breyer. Dr. Anita Jones also joined BBN at that time. Jones had worked for the CIA’s In-Q-Tel and was an adviser to DARPA, the Pentagon’s technology department that helped develop the Internet.

With these CIA/DARPA connections, it’s no surprise that Jim Breyer’s jackpot investment in Facebook is not part of the popular mythology of Mark Zuckerberg. Better to omit it. Who can fail to realize that Facebook, with its endless stream of personal data, and its tracking capability, is an ideal CIA asset?

Accel co-owns the majority stake in GoFundMe. Accel has a history of rubbing shoulders with the CIA. Accel helped launch Facebook, the largest profiling and data-mining company in the world.

Given all this, it might be more surprising if GoFundMe DIDN’T cut off the Canadian truckers’ $9 million.

It’s also worth mentioning that Accel has invested in Spotify, the platform whose number-one star is Joe Rogan. Spotify is now under pressure to cancel Rogan, because his views and guests don’t align 100% with the official COVID narrative. In step one of a new censorship program, Spotify has stated it will post warning messages on all content that veers from official COVID positions and offer links to approved government and public health sources (for outrageous lies).

GoFundMe, Accel, Facebook, CIA, In-Q-Tel, Jim Breyer, CFR, World Economic Forum, major investments in China.

Basically, The Club.

The member’s statement of belief: “More money for me, less freedom for the peons, global control.”

Gain of Function Researcher Peter Daszak Accused of Being CIA Asset; EcoHealth Alliance Described as “Front” for Agency

JD Heyes
January 25th, 2022

Dr. Andrew Huff, vice president of EcoHealth Alliance, is claiming that the firm’s president, Dr. Peter Daszak, who helped fund dangerous gain of function research at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology, told him that he works for the Central Intelligence Agency and that the company is a “front” for the CIA.

According to a report detailed on Substack by an independent journalist called Kanekoa, Huff earned his Ph.D in environmental health with a specialty in emerging diseases before he became associate vice president of EcoHealth Alliance. While working for the firm, he says he was tasked with finding “novel methods of bio-surveillance, data analytics, and visualization for disease detection.”

The company, which is led by Daszak, receives funding from a number of U.S. government agencies including the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is led by Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

EcoHealth Alliance, Kanekoa notes, partnered with Dr. Ralph Baric of the University of North Carolina as well as Dr. Shi Zhengli of the Wuhan Institute of Virology to conduct gain of function research on bat-borne viruses found in China before the COVID-19 pandemic initially began.

The report said that Daszak led the screening of “thousands of bat samples for novel coronaviruses,” which also involved “screening people who work with live animals.”

These new revelations add to the growing body of evidence that COVID-19 was created at the Wuhan lab and either ‘escaped’ somehow or was developed as a bioweapon and intentionally released, likely to occupy then-President Donald Trump with something other than continuing to punish China with tariffs in a bid to level the playing field when it came to bilateral trade.

More Than Two Dozen FBI Agents Descend on Home of Texas Democrat Rep. Who Blasted Biden and Harris Over Border Crisis

Cristina Laila
January 19, 2022 

What’s going on?

More than two dozen FBI agents descended on Democrat Rep. Henry Cuellar’s Laredo, Texas home on Wednesday.

The FBI was also present at Cuellar’s campaign office in Laredo.

“Congressman Cuellar will fully cooperate in any investigation. He is committed to ensuring that justice and the law are upheld,” his office said.

The FBI refused to comment on the ongoing investigation.

Rep. Cuellar, a nine-term Texas Democrat lawmaker who represents an area along the US-Mexico border, has lashed out at both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for allowing illegal aliens to pour over the border.

“I’ve moved on from the vice president to say, ‘OK, let’s work with the ambassadors and let’s work with the State Department. Let’s work with the Homeland Secretary,’” Cuellar said before the holidays.

“I think that’s the way to address it, but I know that the media has put a lot of focus on the vice president, but with all due respect, she was given that title. I don’t think she’s, with all due respect, put the effort in there…We’ve got to look at other folks that have the expertise on that,” he added.

Is this FBI raid revenge for speaking out against the regime?

The Monitor reported:

The FBI conducted what it described as “court-authorized” law enforcement activity at the Laredo home of U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar on Wednesday.

Agents were also present at his downtown campaign office in Laredo.

Although FBI spokesperson Roseanne Hughes did not identify what the agency is investigating, she did issue a statement acknowledging the activity.

“The FBI was present in the vicinity of Windridge Drive and Estate Drive in Laredo conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity,” the statement read. “The FBI cannot provide further comment on an ongoing investigation.”

At Cuellar’s home, located in the 8200 block of Estate Drive, federal vehicles were seen with cases and other items taken from the congressman’s house as over two dozen agents filed in and out of the residence Wednesday afternoon.

Two agents with a clipboard and camera in hand snapped photos of the trucks parked out front. The truck was again photographed and searched by agents using flashlights after the sunset.

According to reports, FBI agents were seen leaving Cuellar’s home Wednesday night with large plastic bins and a computer.

CIA Experimented on Hundreds of Orphans, Torturing Them to Reveal Psychopathic Traits—Report

By Matt Agorist

According to a new documentary out of Denmark, which interviewed former victims, the Central Intelligence Agency secretly carried out experiments on 311 orphaned children. The experiments were meant to reveal psychopathic traits and map out the link between schizophrenia and heredity. According to the report, the children were tortured in clear violation of the Nuremberg Code of 1947 that introduced ethical restrictions for experiments on humans.

Hundreds of Danish orphans were unknowingly used in experiments backed by the CIA, according to Danish Radio, reporting on a new documentary called “The Search for Myself.”

According to the report, the experiments began in the early 1960s and spanned the course of two decades. They were conducted to investigate the link between heredity and environment in the development of schizophrenia. However, the children were not told what research they were involved in. Not even after the experiments ended. It was also funded in part by a CIA front associated with the MK-Ultra program.

Thomas Hoskyns Leonard Blog: MORE ON MK ULTRA (CIA MIND ...

Eerily, the examinations took place in a basement at the Municipal Hospital in Copenhagen. The director and producer of the documentary, Per Wennick, was actually a victim of the CIA and subjected to these experiments as a child. In the documentary, he recalled being placed in a chair, getting electrodes put on his arms, legs, and chest around the heart and having to listen to loud, shrill noises, which attempted to incite a psychological response.

“It was very uncomfortable”, Wennick told Danish Radio. “And it’s not just my story, it’s the story of many children.” By his own admission, he was promised “something funny” before being taken to the hospital. “I think this is a violation of my rights as a citizen in this society. I find it so strange that some people should know more about me than I myself have been aware of.”

According to historian, PhD, and museum inspector at the Danish Welfare Museum, Jacob Knage Rasmussen, this was the only known experiment in Danish history that used children under state care for research — and it was funded by the CIA in violation of the Nuremberg Code.

“I do not know of similar attempts, neither in Denmark nor in Scandinavia. It is appalling information that contradicts the Nuremberg Code of 1947, which after World War II was to set some ethical restrictions for experiments on humans. Among other things, informed consent was introduced, which today is central to the world of research”, Knage Rasmussen told Danish Radio. He emphasized the vulnerability of the group in the custody of the state, who had nobody to complain to.

According to Danish Radio, the idea to experiment on the vulnerable children came from American psychologist Zarnoff A. Mednick, who was then a professor at the University of Michigan.

According to Wennick and the National Archives, the research project was co-financed by the US health service. In the first year alone, the project was supported with what today corresponds to DKK 4.6 million ($700,000). It also received funding from the Human Ecology Fund.

The Human Ecology Fund was a CIA funded operation through the Cornell University College of Human Ecology Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology to support covert research on brainwashing. It was also connected to research under the MK-Ultra program in which social scientists, including anthropologists, were led (mostly unwittingly) to provide input into interrogation techniques still in use today.

Danish psychiatrist Fini Schulsinger dedicated his doctoral dissertation to the experiments in 1977, titling it, “Studies to shed light on the connection between heredity and environment in psychiatry.”

While researching for the documentary, Per Wennick managed to locate 36 boxes at the Psychiatric Centre Glostrup in Hvidovre that detailed the CIA’s unscrupulous child experiments. However, when the center got word of the documentary, they began shredding the documents.

Danish Radio reports that Kent Kristensen, associate professor of Health Law at the University of Southern Denmark, pointed out that the shredding of the documents was illegal.

“I think it’s a huge failure for the former orphanage children who are interested in the pieces of their own childhood to get a total story made about their own lives. That possibility is deprived of them if you shred the research material,” Knage Rasmussen told Danish Radio.

Indeed. It also details the CIA’s depravity and violations of the Nuremberg code. If history is any indicator, however, no one will be held responsible for exploiting these children and it will be swept under the rug, likely escaping any scrutiny by the mainstream media.

The FBI ‘Invented Conspiracy’ To Kidnap Gretchen Whitmer Motion Claims

December 28th, 2021

Lawyers representing the five men who have been charged with a plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer are asking a judge to dismiss all charges by claiming that the FBI fabricated the entire plan in an attempt to trap them in a conspiracy.

Daily Mail reported that Barry Croff, 44, Adam Fox, 40, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, 23, and Brandon Caserta were all arrested in October of last year for allegedly planning to kidnap Whitmer because they were upset by her COVID-19 restrictions. The federal complaint alleges that the men planned to kidnap Whitmer from her vacation home and hide her away in an undisclosed location.

“The government initiated this case, despite the fact that it knew there was no plan to kidnap, no operational plan, and no details about how a kidnapping would occur or what would happen afterward,” defense lawyer Scott Graham wrote in his motion, which is 20 pages long.

The motion went on to claim that were it not for an FBI informant embedded within the group, known as “Dan,” who encouraged the plot and pledged to fund it through a charity organization, the men never would have hatched the plan on their own. Though the men discussed the plot in secret meetings and via text messages, with the FBI claiming that they trained for it, their lawyers allege that they had such little money that they would not even be able to travel to Whitmer’s home to carry it out.

“The evidence here demonstrates egregious overreaching by the government’s agents, and by the informants, those agents handled,” the motion stated. “When the government was faced with evidence showing that the defendants had no interest in a kidnapping plot, it refused to accept failure and continued to push its plan.”

The defense lawyers argued that “Dan” egged the men to move forward with the plan to kidnap Whitmer.

RUSKI BOOGEYMAN: Pentagon Plans For “Actionable” Intelligence Sharing With Ukraine If “Russians Attack”

Pentagon officials claim it’s all about “avoiding escalation” – but surely the Kremlin will see the revelations in this recent New York Times report very differently: “The Pentagon is working on a plan to provide Ukraine with battlefield intelligence that could help the country more quickly respond to a possible Russian invasion, senior administration officials said.”

This weekend Russia’s military announced the withdrawal of some 10,000 troops from near the Ukrainian border at the conclusion of what it dubbed “training drills”. But Kiev and Washington officials have been asking about some 100,000 additional forces said to be mustered in the region. Contrary to claims that an “invasion” is set for some point in January, there are significant signs this is the beginning of de-escalation

The NY Times report frames the currently in the works Pentagon planning as a contingency that would enable Washington to help thwart any Russian incursion into Donbas “in real-time”. But to most common sense outside observers, it appears a recipe for ensuring the US would get directly sucked into to any Russia-Ukraine shooting war

This further follows on the heels of Ukraine’s army showing off its guided anti-tank Javelin missiles, last week deployed in ‘live-fire’ exercises near a pro-Russia separatist region. But by all accounts, a robust intelligence sharing plan would mark a huge escalation in US military and intelligence involvement. NY Times writes:

But the proposal at the Pentagon for “actionable” intelligence is potentially more significant, two U.S. officials said. The information would include images of whether Russian troops were moving to cross the border. Such information, if shared in time, could enable the Ukrainian military to head off an attack.

The real-time nature of the sharing would also be clearly geared toward ensuring that Washington doesn’t hear about a sudden “Russian annexation of Eastern Ukraine” in the newspapers the next day. While it’s not explicitly stated in the report, any authorization of such a program would more than likely involve a covert US intelligence presence on the ground in the region (of course, this very likely has already long been the case).

As described by one top former Obama admin official, Evelyn Farkas, who served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, “The number one thing we can do is real-time actionable intelligence that says, ‘The Russians are coming over the berm,'”. She added: “We tell them, and they use that to target the Russians.”

But if the Russian military knew such US targeting assistance were the case, it would immediately deem the US a direct party and aggressor in the conflict, opening up the possibility of a rapidly internationalized regional war centered on Ukraine. 

Meanwhile, the list of Pentagon “options” being drawn up doesn’t stop there:

The list of ideas being drawn up at the Pentagon, the State Department and the White House include redirecting helicopters and other military equipment once allocated for the Afghan military to Ukraine, officials said. The administration is also considering sending additional cyberwarfare experts to Ukraine. The United States and Britain have sent some experts to shore up defenses in case Mr. Putin launches a cyberstrike on Ukraine either in advance or instead of a ground invasion.

The delay in actually implementing the US plan is tied precisely to fears that Putin would see it as enough of a serious provocation to set invasion plans in motion…

A lot if this will likely depend on whether Russia and US-NATO talks planned for next month actually materialize. Last week the Russian side made public what it says are agreed upon talks for “security guarantees” related to NATO eastward expansion, to be held in Geneva.

However, the White House has been much more vague so far on its level of commitment to the talks, with Jen Psaki days ago being unable to confirm where or when the talks would take place. 

THE SWAMP TAKES CARE OF ITS OWN: DC Bar Restores Convicted FBI Russiagate Forger Kevin Clinesmith While Still on Probation

Paul Sperry,
December 17th, 2021

A former senior FBI lawyer who falsified a surveillance document in the Trump-Russia investigation has been restored as a member in “good standing” by the District of Columbia Bar Association even though he has yet to finish serving out his probation as a convicted felon, according to disciplinary records obtained by RealClearInvestigations.

The move is the latest in a series of exceptions the bar has made for Kevin Clinesmith, who pleaded guilty in August 2020 to doctoring an email used to justify a surveillance warrant targeting former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Clinesmith was sentenced to 12 months probation last January. But the D.C. Bar did not seek his disbarment, as is customary after lawyers are convicted of serious crimes involving the administration of justice. In this case, it did not even initiate disciplinary proceedings against him until February of this year — five months after he pleaded guilty and four days after RealClearInvestigations first reported he had not been disciplined.

After the negative publicity, the bar temporarily suspended Clinesmith pending a review and hearing. Then in September, the court that oversees the bar and imposes sanctions agreed with its recommendation to let Clinesmith off suspension with time served; the bar, in turn, restored his status to “active member” in “good standing.”

Before quietly making that decision, however, records indicate the bar did not check with his probation officer to see if he had violated the terms of his sentence or if he had completed the community service requirement of volunteering 400 hours.

To fulfill the terms of his probation, Clinesmith volunteered at Street Sense Media in Washington but stopped working at the nonprofit group last summer, which has not been previously reported. “I can confirm he was a volunteer here,” Street Sense editorial director Eric Falquero told RCI, without elaborating about how many hours he worked. Clinesmith had helped edit and research articles for the weekly newspaper, which coaches the homeless on how to “sleep on the streets” and calls for a “universal living wage” and prison reform.

Special Counsel Could Still Be Investigating Clinesmith

From the records, it also appears bar officials did not consult with the FBI’s Inspection Division, which has been debriefing Clinesmith to determine if he was involved in any other surveillance abuses tied to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants, in addition to the one used against Page. Clinesmith’s cooperation was one of the conditions of the plea deal he struck with Special Counsel John Durham. If he fails to fully cooperate, including turning over any relevant materials or records in his possession, he could be subject to perjury or obstruction charges.

Clinesmith — who was assigned to some of the FBI’s most sensitive and high-profile investigations — may still be in Durham’s sights regarding other areas of his wide-ranging probe.

The scope of his mandate as special counsel is broader than commonly understood: In addition to examining the legal justification for the FBI’s “Russiagate” probe, it also includes examining the bureau’s handling of the inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s use of an unsecured email server, which she set up in her basement to send and receive classified information, and her destruction of more than 30,000 subpoenaed emails she generated while running the State Department. As assistant FBI general counsel in the bureau’s national security branch, Clinesmith played an instrumental role in that investigation, which was widely criticized by FBI and Justice Department veterans, along with ethics watchdogs, as fraught with suspicious irregularities.

Clinesmith also worked on former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into the 2016 Trump campaign as the key attorney linking his office to the FBI. He was the only headquarters lawyer assigned to Mueller. Durham’s investigators are said to be looking into the Mueller team’s actions as well.

The D.C. Bar’s treatment of Clinesmith, a registered Democrat who sent anti-Trump rants to FBI colleagues after the Republican was elected, has raised questions from the start. Normally the bar automatically suspends the license of members who plead guilty to a felony. But in Clinesmith’s case, it delayed suspending him on even an interim basis for several months and only acted after RCI revealed the break Clinesmith was given, records confirm.

Repeated Irregularities in Clinesmith’s Case

It then allowed him to negotiate his fate, which is rarely done in any misconduct investigation, let alone one involving a serious crime, according to a review of past cases. It also overlooked violations of its own rules: Clinesmith apparently broke the bar’s rule requiring reporting his guilty plea “promptly” to the court — within 10 days of entering it — and failed to do so for five months, reveal transcripts of a July disciplinary hearing obtained by RCI.

“I did not see evidence that you informed the court,” Rebecca Smith, the chairwoman of the D.C. Bar panel conducting the hearing, admonished Clinesmith.

“[T]hat was frankly just an error,” Clinesmith’s lawyer stepped in to explain.

Smith also scolded the bar’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel for the “delay” in reporting the offense, since it negotiated the deal with Clinesmith, pointing out: “Disciplinary counsel did not report the plea to the court and initiate a disciplinary proceeding.” Bill Ross, the assistant disciplinary counsel who represented the office at the hearing, argued Clinesmith shouldn’t be held responsible and blamed the oversight on the COVID pandemic.

The Democrat-controlled panel, known as the Board on Professional Responsibility, nonetheless gave Clinesmith a pass, rubberstamping the light sentence he negotiated with the bar’s chief prosecutor, Disciplinary Counsel Hamilton “Phil” Fox, while admitting it was “unusual.” Federal Election Commission records show Fox, a former Watergate prosecutor, is a major donor to Democrats, including former President Obama. All three members of the board also are Democratic donors, FEC data reveal.

Contrasting Action Taken by Michigan Bar

While the D.C. Bar delayed taking any action against Clinesmith, the Michigan Bar, where he is also licensed, automatically suspended him the day he pleaded guilty. And on Sept. 30, records show, the Michigan Bar’s attorney discipline board suspended Clinesmith for two years, from the date of his guilty plea through Aug. 19, 2022, and fined him $1,037.

“[T]he panel found that respondent engaged in conduct that was prejudicial to the proper administration of justice [and] exposed the legal profession or the courts to obloquy, contempt, censure or reproach,” the board ruled against Clinesmith, adding that his misconduct “was contrary to justice, ethics, honesty or good morals; violated the standards or rules of professional conduct adopted by the Supreme Court; and violated a criminal law of the United States.”

Normally, bars arrange what’s called “reciprocal discipline” for unethical attorneys licensed in their jurisdictions. But this was not done in the case of Clinesmith. The D.C. Bar decided to go much easier on the former FBI attorney, further raising suspicions the anti-Trump felon was given favorable treatment.

In making the bar’s case not to strip Clinesmith of his license or effectively punish him going forward, Fox disregarded key findings by Durham about Clinesmith’s intent to deceive the FISA court as a government attorney who held a position of trust.

Clinesmith Pled Guilty to Falsifying Records

Clinesmith confessed to creating a false document by changing the wording in a June 2017 CIA email to state Page was “not a source” for the CIA when in fact the agency had told Clinesmith and the FBI on multiple occasions Page had been providing information about Russia to it for years — a revelation that, if disclosed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, would have undercut the FBI’s case for electronically monitoring Page as a supposed Russian agent and something that Durham noted Clinesmith understood all too well.

Bar records show Fox simply took Clinesmith’s word that he believed the change in wording was accurate and that in making it, he mistakenly took a “shortcut” to save time and had no intent to deceive the court or the case agents preparing the application for the warrant.

Durham demonstrated that Clinesmith certainly did intend to mislead the FISA court. “By his own words, it appears that the defendant falsified the email in order to conceal [Page’s] former status as a source and to avoid making an embarrassing disclosure to the FISC,” the special prosecutor asserted in his 20-page memo to the sentencing judge, in which he urged a prison term of up to six months for Clinesmith. “Such a disclosure would have drawn a strong and hostile response from the FISC for not disclosing it sooner [in earlier warrant applications].”

As proof of Clinesmith’s intent to deceive, Durham cited an internal message Clinesmith sent the FBI agent preparing the application, who relied on Clinesmith to tell him what the CIA said about Page. “At least we don’t have to have a terrible footnote” explaining that Page was a source for the CIA in the application, Clinesmith wrote.

The FBI lawyer also removed the initial email he sent to the CIA inquiring about Page’s status as a source before forwarding the CIA email to another FBI agent, blinding him to the context of the exchange about Page.

Durham also noted that Clinesmith repeatedly changed his story after the Justice Department’s watchdog first confronted him with the altered email during an internal 2019 investigation. What’s more, he falsely claimed his CIA contact told him in phone calls that Page was not a source, conversations the contact swore never happened.

Clinesmith Was Politically Biased at the FBI

Fox also maintained that Clinesmith had no personal motive in forging the document. But Durham cited virulently anti-Trump political messages Clinesmith sent to other FBI employees after Trump won in 2016 – including a battle cry to “fight” Trump and his policies – and argued that his clear political bias may have led to his criminal misconduct.

“It is plausible that his strong political views and/or personal dislike of [Trump] made him more willing to engage in the fraudulent and unethical conduct to which he has pled guilty,” Durham told U.S. District Judge Jeb Boasberg.

Boasberg, a Democrat appointed by President Obama, spared Clinesmith jail time and let him serve out his probation from home. Fox and the D.C. Bar sided with Boasberg, who accepted Clinesmith’s claim he did not intentionally deceive the FISA court, which Boasberg happens to preside over, and even offered an excuse for his criminal conduct.

“My view of the evidence is that Mr. Clinesmith likely believed that what he said about Mr. Page was true,” Boasberg said. “By altering the email, he was saving himself some work and taking an inappropriate shortcut.”

Fox echoed the judge’s reasoning in essentially letting Clinesmith off the hook. (The deal they struck, which the U.S. District Court of Appeals that oversees the bar approved in September, called for a one-year suspension, but the suspension began retroactively in August 2020, which made it meaningless.) Boasberg opined that Clinesmith had “already suffered” punishment by losing his FBI job and $150,000 salary.

But, Boasberg assumed, wrongly as it turned out, that Clinesmith also faced possible disbarment. ”And who knows where his earnings go now,” the judge sympathized. “He may be disbarred or suspended from the practice of law.”

Anticipating such a punishment, Boasberg waived a recommended fine of up to $10,000, arguing that Clinesmith couldn’t afford it. He also waived the regular drug testing usually required during probation, while returning Clinesmith’s passport. And he gave his blessing to Clinesmith’s request to serve out his probation as a volunteer journalist, before wishing him well: “Mr. Clinesmith, best of luck to you.”

FBI Should Have Much Higher Standards

Fox did not respond to requests for comment. But he argued in a petition to the board that his deal with Clinesmith was “not unduly lenient,” because it was comparable to sanctions imposed in similar cases. However, none of the cases he cited involved the FBI, Justice Department or FISA court. One case involved a lawyer who made false statements to obtain construction permits, while another made false statements to help a client become a naturalized citizen – a far cry from falsifying evidence to spy on an American citizen.

Durham noted that in providing the legal support for a warrant application to the secret FISA court, Clinesmith had “a heightened duty of candor,” since FISA targets do not have legal representation before the court. He argued Clinesmith’s offense was “a very serious crime with significant repercussions” and suggested it made him unfit to practice law.

“An attorney – particularly an attorney in the FBI’s Office of General Counsel – is the last person that FBI agents or this court should expect to create a false document,” Durham said.

The warrant Clinesmith helped obtain has since been deemed invalid and the surveillance of Page illegal. Never charged with a crime, Page is now suing the FBI and Justice Department for $75 million for violating his constitutional rights against improper searches and seizures.

Explaining the D.C. Bar’s disciplinary process in a 2019 interview with Washington Lawyer magazine, Fox said that “the lawyer has the burden of proving they are fit to practice again. Have they accepted responsibility for their conduct?” His office’s website said a core function is to “deter attorneys from engaging in misconduct.”

In the same interview, Fox maintained that he tries to insulate his investigative decisions from political bias. “I try to make sure our office is not used as a political tool,” he said. “We don’t want to be a political tool for the Democrats or Republicans.”

Bar records from the Clinesmith case show Fox suggested the now-discredited Trump-Russia “collusion” investigation was “a legitimate and highly important investigation.”

Protecting People Who Hurt Trump

One longstanding member of the D.C. Bar with direct knowledge of Clinesmith’s case before the bar suspects its predominantly Democratic board went soft on him due to partisan politics. “The District of Columbia is a very liberal bar,” he said. “Basically, they went light on him because he’s also a Democrat who hated Trump.”

Meanwhile, the D.C. Bar has not initiated disciplinary proceedings against Michael Sussmann, another Washington attorney charged by Durham. Records show Sussmann remains an “active member” of the bar in “good standing,” which also has not been previously reported. The former Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer, who recently resigned from Washington-based Perkins Coie LLP, is accused of lying to federal investigators about his client while passing off a report falsely linking Trump to the Kremlin.

While Sussmann has pleaded not guilty and has yet to face trial, criminal grand jury indictments usually prompt disciplinary proceedings and interim suspensions.

Paul Kamenar of the National Legal and Policy Center, a government ethics watchdog, has called for the disbarment of both Clinesmith and Sussmann. He noted that the D.C. Court of Appeals must automatically disbar an attorney who commits a crime of moral turpitude, which includes crimes involving the “administration of justice.”

“Clinesmith pled guilty to a felony. The only appropriate sanction for committing a serious felony that also interfered with the proper administration of justice and constituted misrepresentation, fraud and moral turpitude, is disbarment,” he said. “Anything less would minimize the seriousness of the misconduct” and fail to deter other offenders.

Disciplinary Counsel Fox appears to go tougher on Republican bar members. For example, he recently opened a formal investigation of former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, whom records show Fox put under “temporary disciplinary suspension” pending the outcome of the ethics probe, which is separate from the one being conducted by the New York bar. In July, the New York Bar also suspended the former GOP mayor on an interim basis.

Giuliani has not been convicted of a crime or even charged with one.

This article is republished from RealClearInvestigations