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November 06, 2019

Turkey's Continued Care For ISIS Will End Badly

Eight and a half years ago when the war on Syria began, Turkey played the most important role. Weapons were smuggled from Libya through Turkey to be delivered to 'Syrian rebels'. Over the years tens of thousands of foreign Jihadis traveled through Turkey to join the various groups fighting against the Syrian government. After the Islamic State came into existence even more followed.

When the U.S. changed course and started to fight ISIS it urged Turkey to clamp down on the stream of fresh fighters. Turkey did so to some extent after several ISIS bombings killed dozens within Turkey. But recent events show that Turkey still does not see ISIS as an adversary. Nor do ISIS leaders fear Turkish authorities.

On October 26 2019 President Donald Trump announced that U.S. special forces had killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Baghdadi and two of his wives were found in a house in Barisha village in Idleb governorate in Syria. Barisha is just 5 kilometer (3 miles) from the Turkish border and the Turkish city Reyhanli. The Idleb region (darker green) is under Jihadi control but Turkey has several outposts within the area.


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The Guardian reported that Baghdadi's entourage had reached Idleb from east Syria by traveling through Turkey:

Iraqi officials say that in mid-September they identified a Syrian man who had been used to smuggle the wives of two of Baghdadi’s brothers, Ahmad and Jumah, to Idlib province via Turkey. The same smuggler had earlier helped move Baghdadi’s children from Iraq. Iraqi intelligence officers say they were able to co-opt the man and a woman believed to be his wife, as well as one of Baghdadi’s nephews, into providing information about the route he used and the destination of the people travelling with him. It was a break like no other, and was soon passed to the CIA.

A day after Baghdadi's death U.S. forces killed ISIS spokesperson Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir in the village of Ayn al-Bayda, near Jarabulus. The Jarabulus area of Syria is under Turkish control (light green).

On October 28 2019 U.S. helicopters again landed in Jarablus and either captured someone or ex-filtrated an asset:

Cont. reading: Turkey's Continued Care For ISIS Will End Badly

Posted by b at 18:14 UTC | Comments (78)

November 05, 2019

A Timeline Of Joe Biden's Intervention Against The Prosecutor General Of Ukraine

This is a working thread intended to be updated when new details come to light.

The Washington Post provided a timeline of the 2015/206 intervention by then-Vice President Joe Biden against the then-General Prosecutor of Ukraine, Viktor Shokin. Shokin was investigating Mykola Zlochevsky, the owner of the gas company Burisma Holdings which paid Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden at least $50,000 per month for being on its board.

We used that timeline to show that Biden's intervention reached its height shortly after the prosecutor confiscated Zlochevsky houses.

A new report by John Solomon, based on released State Department emails, supports the suspicion that Joe Biden and others intervened against Shokin on behalf of Burisma and on request of his son:

Hunter Biden and his Ukrainian gas firm colleagues had multiple contacts with the Obama State Department during the 2016 election cycle, including one just a month before Vice President Joe Biden forced Ukraine to fire the prosecutor investigating his son’s company for corruption, newly released memos show.

During that February 2016 contact, a U.S. representative for Burisma Holdings sought a meeting with Undersecretary of State Catherine A. Novelli to discuss ending the corruption allegations against the Ukrainian firm where Hunter Biden worked as a board member, according to memos obtained under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

Just three weeks before Burisma’s overture to State, Ukrainian authorities raided the home of the oligarch who owned the gas firm and employed Hunter Biden, a signal the long-running corruption probe was escalating in the middle of the U.S. presidential election.

Solomon points to the same Interfax-Ukraine report about the prosecutor's action against Burisma owner Zlochevsky that we have used to make our case against Biden. Other media have so far ignored that report and several have falsely claimed that the case against Burisma was "dormant" when Biden intervened to get the Prosecutor General fired.

Below is an integrated timeline which combines the one WaPo provided with the new dates from Solomon's reporting and from additional sources. It is intended as a working reference that can be updated when new details come to light. 

Cont. reading: A Timeline Of Joe Biden's Intervention Against The Prosecutor General Of Ukraine

Posted by b at 20:13 UTC | Comments (77)

November 04, 2019

British Government Disinformation Shop Lost Charity Status - Continues In New Format

At the end of last year some enterprising 'anonymous' person released papers of the British Integrity Initiative. As we reported at that time:

The British government financed Integrity Initiative is tasked with spreading anti-Russian propaganda and thereby with influencing the public, military and governments of a number of countries. What follows is an contextual analysis of the third batch of the Initiative's internal papers which were dumped by an anonymous yesterday.

Christopher Nigel Donnelly (CND) is the co-director of The Institute for Statecraft and founder of its offshoot Integrity Initiative. The Initiative claims to "Defend Democracy Against Disinformation".

The Integrity Initiative does this by planting disinformation about alleged Russian influence through journalists 'clusters' throughout Europe and the United States.

Both, the Institute as well as the Initiative, claim to be independent Non-Government Organizations. Both are financed by the British government, NATO and other state donors.

There have been seven releases of Institute of Statecraft documents. They included proposals for large anti-Russian disinformation campaigns. The Institute of Statecraft suggested imposing anti-Russian sanctions as early as January 2015. Its head, the former NATO advisor and military spy Chris Donnelly, also proposed a simultaneous expulsion of a large number of Russian diplomats from western countries.

That plans seems to have been the blueprint for the March 2018 mass expulsion of Russian diplomats during the Skripal affair. Several of the other measures Donnelly and his ilk planned have since been implemented.

The Institute of Statecraft was registered as a charity under Scottish law. After the release of its papers the Scottish charity regulator OSCR investigated the status of the Institute. Unsurprisingly the OSCR found (pdf) that its shady behavior and its running of anti-Russian disinformation campaigns did not justify its status:

Cont. reading: British Government Disinformation Shop Lost Charity Status - Continues In New Format

Posted by b at 17:57 UTC | Comments (90)

November 03, 2019

The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2019-64

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama were fewer than usual as your host was a bit under the weather.

This from WaPo is ridiculous:

> [Lt.Col. Vindman] told lawmakers that he was deeply troubled by what he interpreted as an attempt by the president to subvert U.S. foreign policy and an improper attempt to coerce a foreign government into investigating a U.S. citizen. <

That the WaPo scribe lets it stand without pointing out that, constitutionally, the president sets foreign policies is even worse. An earlier NYT piece about an NSC staffer who Trump likes and had asked about the Ukraine had a similar bad formulation:

> Any involvement by Mr. Patel in Ukraine issues would signal another attempt by Mr. Trump’s political loyalists to go around American policymakers to shape policy toward Kiev. <

Other issues:

A good overview of how the conflict in Syria developed:
Russia Isn't Getting the Recognition It Deserves on Syria - Scott Ritter, Truthdig
US Needs To Occupy Syria Because Of Kurds Or Iran Or Chemical Weapons Or Oil Or Whatever - Caitlin Johnstone

Former U.S. supplied proxy forces kill other former U.S. supplied proxy forces with U.S. supplied weapons (video):

Cᴀʟɪʙʀᴇ Oʙsᴄᴜʀᴀ @CalibreObscura - 8:24 PM · Nov 2, 2019
TFSA hitting a YPG/SDF vehicle (Humvee?) with a likely originally US-supplied BGM-71 TOW ATGM.
video

Russiagate: Growing Indicators of Brennan's CIA Trump Task Force - Larry Johnson, SST
Ukrainegate: Some interesting backstories on John Brennan in this Kiriakou and Matt Taibbi talk. Kiriakou thinks that the 'whistleblower complaint' is a part of the CIA plot against Trump:
CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou on Impeachment, "Assets," and the Espionage Act | Useful Idiots (vid)

Last week Germany won an important battle against the U.S.:
Denmark grants permit for construction of Nord Stream 2 pipeline in its waters - Tass
Europe’s gas alliance with Russia is a match made in heaven - M. K. BHADRAKUMAR, Indian Punchline

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b at 14:18 UTC | Comments (258)

November 01, 2019

Impeachment Theater

Ukrainegate is the new Russiagate. The 'whistleblower complaint' is the new 'dirty dossier'. The 'former' MI6 spy Christopher Steele wrote the dossier. The current CIA spy Eric Ciaramella wrote the 'complaint':

Federal documents reveal that the 33-year-old Ciaramella, a registered Democrat held over from the Obama White House, previously worked with former Vice President Joe Biden and former CIA Director John Brennan, a vocal critic of Trump who helped initiate the Russia “collusion” investigation of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.

Further, Ciaramella (pronounced char-a-MEL-ah) left his National Security Council posting in the White House’s West Wing in mid-2017 amid concerns about negative leaks to the media. He has since returned to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

“He was accused of working against Trump and leaking against Trump,” said a former NSC official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

Also, Ciaramella huddled for “guidance” with the staff of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, including former colleagues also held over from the Obama era whom Schiff’s office had recently recruited from the NSC. Schiff is the lead prosecutor in the impeachment inquiry.

And Ciaramella worked with a Democratic National Committee operative who dug up dirt on the Trump campaign during the 2016 election, inviting her into the White House for meetings, former White House colleagues said. The operative, Alexandra Chalupa, a Ukrainian-American who supported Hillary Clinton, led an effort to link the Republican campaign to the Russian government. “He knows her. He had her in the White House,” said one former co-worker, who requested anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter.

The whole impeachment show the Democrats launched is a major political mistake.


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The Democrats have chosen the wrong issue, Ukraine, where they themselves have a lot of ballast. The choice of a Trump phonecall with the Ukrainian president as the item to hang the impeachment on is especially dumb. Trump's call was less incriminating than Biden's pressure on the Ukrainian president to help his son's paymaster. It is also a mistake to let the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff run the impeachment process. Schiff already flip-flopped over requesting the 'whistleblower' to testify after it was reported that two members of his staff, who knew Ciaramella from working with him at the Obama National Security Council, had advised him.

The process will create a lot of collateral damage. It will hurt a number people involved in it, but it will not hurt Trump with his electorate. It will not end with impeachment. I believe, like Noam Chomsky, that it will, in the end, even help Trump:

"Is it politically wise? I frankly doubt it. I think it’ll turn out pretty much like the Mueller report, which, that I thought was also a political mistake. What’ll happen is probably the House will impeach, goes to the Senate. The Republican senators are utterly craven. They’re terrified of Trump’s voting base. So they’ll vote to turn down the impeachment request. Trump will come along, say I’m vindicated. Say it was the Deep State and the treacherous Dems trying to overturn the election. Oh, vote for me."

Trump can be beaten by good policies. Instead of offering any the Democrats try to defeat him with theater. But Trump is a much better showman than Schiff or any other Democrat. It almost looks as if they want Trump to win.

Posted by b at 17:25 UTC | Comments (240)

October 31, 2019

Open Thread 2019-63

News & views ...

Posted by b at 14:41 UTC | Comments (261)

October 30, 2019

Who Is Supposed To Define U.S. Foreign Policy - Hint: It Is Not The Borg

The New York Times continues to lie about Joe Biden's involvement in the Ukraine and about Ukrainian involvement in the U.S. election. Today it also lied about a fact in relation to Lieutenant Colonel Vindman who was yesterday questioned by the Democrats 'impeachment inquiry'. The NYT reported that very fact just a day ago. During the hearing Lt.Col. Vindman expressed a rather preposterous view about who should define U.S. foreign policy. 

The NYT claims to debunk falsehoods but spreads more of them:

Debunking 4 Viral Rumors About the Bidens and Ukraine
As lawmakers examine whether President Trump pushed Ukraine to investigate the Biden family, here are some of the most prominent falsehoods that have spread online and an explanation of what really happened.

Why was Ukraine’s top prosecutor fired?
...
A year later, Viktor Shokin became Ukraine’s prosecutor general, a job similar to the attorney general in the United States. He vowed to keep investigating Burisma amid an international push to root out corruption in Ukraine.

But the investigation went dormant under Mr. Shokin. In the fall of 2015, Joe Biden joined the chorus of Western officials calling for Mr. Shokin’s ouster. The next March, Mr. Shokin was fired. A subsequent prosecutor cleared Mr. Zlochevsky.

We have shown the time lime of Biden's intervention against Shokin and provided evidence that the investigation into Burisma was very much alive:

Zlochevsky had hired Joe Biden's son Hunter for at least $50,000 per month. In 2015 Shokin started to investigate him in two cases. During the fall of 2015 Joe Biden's team begins to lobby against him. On February 2 Shokin seizes Zlochevsky's houses. Shortly afterwards the Biden camp goes berserk with Biden himself making nearly daily phonecalls. Shokin goes on vacation while Poroshenko (falsely) claims that he resigned. When Shokin comes back into office Biden again takes to the phone. A week later Shokin is out.

Biden got the new prosecutor general he wanted. The new guy made a bit of show and then closed the case against Zlochevsky.

and:

It is quite astonishing that the false claims, that Shokin did not go after Burisma owner Zlochevsky, are repeated again and again despite the fact that the public record, in form of a report by Interfax-Ukraine, contradicts it.

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Back to the NYT 'debunking'. The second part is about Trump allegations connecting the cybersecurity company CrowdStrike to the Ukraine. The NYT is correct to say that Trump's claims in that direction are mostly confused or false. But it also makes this claim:

Cont. reading: Who Is Supposed To Define U.S. Foreign Policy - Hint: It Is Not The Borg

Posted by b at 18:46 UTC | Comments (138)

October 29, 2019

Why Lebanon And Iraq Are At The Brink Of Further Strife

Today the Prime Minister of Lebanon Saad Hariri resigned after -at times- violent protests. In Iraq the gadfly cleric Moqtada Sadr joined protesters after previous protests in Iraq also led to violence. In both countries at least some protesters demand the resignation of their governments. While the demonstrations in both countries are about local economic and political issues there are foreign actors involved who want to use them to achieve their own goals.

Elijah J. Magnier @ejmalrai - 12:37 UTC · Oct 29, 2019

#Lebanon and #Iraq protestors hitting the "Axis of the Resistance" stability in these two countries and pushing Prime Ministers in both countries to resign and lead the country towards instability.

#US and #SaudiArabia has lost #Syria but are still fighting in other theatres.

On October 6 we warned of these 'regime change' attempts : The U.S. Led Coup Attempt In Iraq May Further Weaken That Country

During the last five days there have been protest all over the south of Iraq where the majority of the people are Shia. The protest escalated within a few days into shootings with over a hundred killed. In several cities party and government offices were burned and various groups hustle to take a position in the "leaderless" movement.

There are legitimate reasons for protests. The majority of the people in Iraq are younger than 20. The people have little chance of finding a job. The state is weak and many of its actors are corrupt. Services the state is supposed to provide don't get delivered. Electricity and water supply is often sparse.

But those are not the reasons why the protests immediately escalated into violence.
...
The protests are part of the conflict between the U.S., its Saudi proxies, and Iran.

The immediate aim is to bring down the government under Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi who strove to stay neutral in the conflict between the U.S./Israel/Saudi Arabia and Iran.
...
New U.S. sanctions against Lebanese banks who allegedly support Hizbullah are likewise part of U.S./Israeli/Saudi effort to squeeze Iran and its proxies ...

An imminent breakdown of the very weak economy of Lebanon, partially caused by U.S. sanctions against Lebanese banks and the end of traditional Saudi subsidies to Lebanon, also led to protests and today to the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri. He will now lead a caretaker government which will have too little power to change anything.

Cont. reading: Why Lebanon And Iraq Are At The Brink Of Further Strife

Posted by b at 17:59 UTC | Comments (58)

October 28, 2019

Endorsing The Deep State Endangers Democracy

Since Donald Trump was elected president the New York Times' understanding of the 'Deep State' evolved from a total denial of its existence towards a full endorsement of its anti-democratic operations.

February 16, 2017 - As Leaks Multiply, Fears of a ‘Deep State’ in America

A wave of leaks from government officials has hobbled the Trump administration, leading some to draw comparisons to countries like Egypt, Turkey and Pakistan, where shadowy networks within government bureaucracies, often referred to as “deep states,” undermine and coerce elected governments.

So is the United States seeing the rise of its own deep state?

Not quite, experts say, but the echoes are real — and disturbing.

March 6, 2017 - Rumblings of a ‘Deep State’ Undermining Trump? It Was Once a Foreign Concept

The concept of a “deep state” — a shadowy network of agency or military officials who secretly conspire to influence government policy — is more often used to describe countries like Egypt, Turkey and Pakistan, where authoritarian elements band together to undercut democratically elected leaders. But inside the West Wing, Mr. Trump and his inner circle, particularly his chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, see the influence of such forces at work within the United States, essentially arguing that their own government is being undermined from within.

It is an extraordinary contention for a sitting president to make.

March 10, 2017 - What Happens When You Fight a ‘Deep State’ That Doesn’t Exist

American institutions do not resemble the powerful deep states of countries like Egypt or Pakistan, experts say. Nor do individual leaks, a number of which have come from President Trump’s own team, amount to a conspiracy.

The diagnosis of a “deep state,” those experts say, has the problem backward.
...
Though Mr. Trump has not publicly used the phrase, allies and sympathetic news media outlets have repurposed “deep state” from its formal meaning — a network of civilian and military officials who control or undermine democratically elected governments — to a pejorative meant to accuse civil servants of illegitimacy and political animus.

September 5, 2018 - I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration

On Russia, for instance, the president was reluctant to expel so many of Mr. Putin’s spies as punishment for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. He complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior. But his national security team knew better — such actions had to be taken, to hold Moscow accountable.

This isn’t the work of the so-called deep state. It’s the work of the steady state.

December 18, 2018 - Blaming the Deep State: Officials Accused of Wrongdoing Adopt Trump’s Response

President Trump has long tried to explain away his legal troubles as the work of a “deep state” of Obama supporters entrenched in the law-enforcement and national-security bureaucracies who are just out to get him. Now junior officials and others accused of wrongdoing are making the case that the same purported forces are illegitimately targeting them, too.

October 6, 2019 - Italy’s Connection to the Russia Investigation, Explained

President Trump and some of his allies have asserted without evidence that a cabal of American officials — the so-called deep state — embarked on a broad operation to thwart Mr. Trump’s campaign. The conspiracy theory remains unsubstantiated, ...

October 20, 2019 - They Are Not the Resistance. They Are Not a Cabal. They Are Public Servants.

President Trump is right: The deep state is alive and well. But it is not the sinister, antidemocratic cabal of his fever dreams. It is, rather, a collection of patriotic public servants — career diplomats, scientists, intelligence officers and others — who, from within the bowels of this corrupt and corrupting administration, have somehow remembered that their duty is to protect the interests, not of a particular leader, but of the American people.

October 23, 2019 - Trump’s War on the ‘Deep State’ Turns Against Him

[O]ver the last three weeks, the deep state has emerged from the shadows in the form of real live government officials, past and present, who have defied a White House attempt to block cooperation with House impeachment investigators and provided evidence that largely backs up the still-anonymous whistle-blower.

October 26, 2019 - The ‘Deep State’ Exists to Battle People Like Trump

The president and his allies have responded with fury. Those damning testimonials are part of a political vendetta by “Never Trumper” bureaucrats, members of a “deep state” bent on undermining the will of the people, they assert.

But what is this “deep state”? Far from being a tool of political corruption, the Civil Service was created to be an antidote to the very kind of corruption and self-dealing that seems to plague this administration.

This development is disconcerting. If the deep state is allowed to make its own policies against the will of the elected officials why should we bother with holding elections?

The Democrats are stupid to applaud this and to even further these schemes. They are likely to regain the presidency in 2024. What will they do when all the Civil Service functionaries Trump will have installed by then organize to ruin their policies?

Posted by b at 15:52 UTC | Comments (206)

October 27, 2019

The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2019-62

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

Related:
Final report on the Lion Air flight JT610 (pdf) - KNKT
Boeing Shaped a Law to Its Liking. Weeks Later, a 737 Max Crashed. - NY Times

Related:
The PKK Kurds have finally agreed to adhere to the Russian/Turkish agreement.
The U.S. says it killed Kenny - again. Kenny was hiding or traveling in Idleb near the Turkish border. Iraq, the PKK Kurds and Turkey all claim to have been involved. Some say the helicopters came from Erbil, Iraq, but SOHR says they came from Turkey which is way more likely. Trump thanks Russia, Syria, Iraq, Turkey and the Syrian Kurds for their cooperation. As Kenny al-Baghdadi is now dead is there still a need to 'protect the Syrian oil-fields from ISIS'?

The Russian Defense Ministry says it knows nothing of a strike, doubts that it happened.

EHSANI2 @EHSANI22 - 5:33 UTC · Oct 27, 2019
That #Baghdadi was killed in #Idlib will come as no surprise to Damascus who were long aware of much more extensive relations between #AlQaeda #Nusra and #ISIS. The reconciliation between the two groups started after ISIS suffered significant losses in Mosul.
Thread —>

Related:
Larry Johnson says that James Clapper and John Brennan set up a CIA task force to prevent Trump from winning the 2016 election. That is quite possible or even likely. There will be bureaucratic traces of it and some people will sing. Barr and Durham will find them. Where will it end? Well ...

Matt Taibbi @mtaibbi - 23:26 UTC · Oct 25, 2019
LOL. Barack Obama is going to love this interview his former DIA James Clapper just gave to CNN about the Durham probe: “It’s frankly disconcerting to be investigated for having done... what we were told to do by the president of the United States.”
Clapper: Trump administration is sending us this message

Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2019-62

Posted by b at 14:16 UTC | Comments (281)

October 26, 2019

Biden's Intervention In Ukraine And Ukraine's 2016 Election Meddling Are Matters of Fact

Several mainstream media have made claims that Joe Biden's intervention in the Ukraine and the Ukrainian interference in the U.S. election are "conspiracy theories" and "debunked". The public record proves them wrong. By ignoring or even contradicting the facts the media create an opening for Trump to rightfully accuse them of providing "fake news".

On October 04 a New Yorker piece, headlined The Invention of the Conspiracy Theory on Biden and Ukraine, asserted:

[In late 2018], Giuliani began speaking to current and former Ukrainian officials about the Biden conspiracy theory, and meeting with them repeatedly in New York and Europe. Among those officials was Viktor Shokin, a former top Ukrainian prosecutor who was sacked in March, 2016, after European and U.S. officials, including Joe Biden, complained that he was lax in curbing corruption. Shokin claimed that he had lost his powerful post not because of his poor performance but rather because Biden wanted to stop his investigation of Burisma, in order to protect his son. The facts didn’t back this up. The Burisma investigation had been dormant under Shokin.

Several other media outlets also made the highlighted claim to debunk the "conspiracy theory". But is it correct?

We have looked into the claim that Shorkin's investigation against Burisma owner Zlochevsky was dormant, as the New Yorker says, and found it to be false:

The above accounts are incorrect. Shokin did go after Zlochevsky. He opened two cases against him in 2015. After he did that Biden and his crew started to lobby for his firing. Shokin was aggressively pursuing the case. He did so just before Biden's campaign against him went into a frenzy.
...
On February 2 Shokin confiscated four large houses Zlochevsky owned plus a Rolls-Royce Phantom and a "Knott 924-5014 trainer". (Anyone know what that is?) Ten days later Biden goes into overdrive to get him fired. Within one week he personally calls Poroshenko three times with only one major aim: to get Shokin fired.
...
Zlochevsky had hired Joe Biden's son Hunter for at least $50,000 per month. In 2015 Shokin started to investigate him in two cases. During the fall of 2015 Joe Biden's team begins to lobby against him. On February 2 Shokin seizes Zlochevsky's houses. Shortly afterwards the Biden camp goes berserk with Biden himself making nearly daily phonecalls. Shokin goes on vacation while Poroshenko (falsely) claims that he resigned. When Shokin comes back into office Biden again takes to the phone. A week later Shokin is out.

Biden got the new prosecutor general he wanted. The new guy made a bit of show and then closed the case against Zlochevsky.

It is quite astonishing that the false claims, that Shokin did not go after Burisma owner Zlochevsky, is repeated again and again despite the fact that the public record, in form of a report by Interfax-Ukraine, contradicts it.


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On Thursday Buzzfeed News wrote about a different Ukrainian prosecutor who in early 2019 was approached to set up meetings with President Donald Trump's private lawyer Rudy Giuliani:

Cont. reading: Biden's Intervention In Ukraine And Ukraine's 2016 Election Meddling Are Matters of Fact

Posted by b at 17:51 UTC | Comments (101)

October 25, 2019

Russiagate Probe Has Some Ambiguous News

Here is a news wording that I, as a non-native English speaker, can easily understand.

Justice Dept. Is Said to Open Criminal Inquiry Into Its Own Russia Investigation

Justice Department officials have shifted an administrative review of the Russia investigation closely overseen by Attorney General William P. Barr to a criminal inquiry, according to two people familiar with the matter. The move gives the prosecutor running it, John H. Durham, the power to subpoena for witness testimony and documents, to convene a grand jury and to file criminal charges.

In contrast these formulations in Bezos' blog on the very same issue are confusing me.

Justice Dept. investigation of Russia probe is criminal in nature, person familiar with case says

The federal prosecutor tapped by Attorney General William P. Barr to examine the origins of the FBI’s probe of President Trump’s 2016 campaign is conducting an investigation officials consider criminal in nature, according to a person familiar with the matter.
...
The significance of officials deeming Durham’s probe “criminal” is difficult to determine by itself.
...
It was not immediately clear whether officials’ consideration of his work as criminal represented a shift in the seriousness of his investigation or whether a grand jury had been convened.

Durham's work is considered as criminal? The investigation itself has committed a crime? The attorney is a criminal?

One wonders if this choice of phrasing was intended to be ambiguous.

Anyway.

I for one will cheer when Durham puts handcuffs on John Brennan.

Posted by b at 12:09 UTC | Comments (115)

October 24, 2019

Syria - The Kurds Want To Play On Both Sides

When President Trump ignored bad advice he enabled progress in Syria. Unfortunately Trump is back at listening to the bad advice some State Department people are giving him:

President Donald Trump says he wants to “end endless wars.” But the counter-Iran, counter-Russia hawks on his national security team are planning to sneak in a long-term U.S. military presence in southeast Syria. And their plans may have been in the works for a while.

With U.S. forces opening the gates for Turkey to take over northeast Syria, Trump administration officials are now drawing up plans to keep several hundred U.S. troops alongside Arab rebel groups in the country’s oil-rich southeast. Trump has said, “we have secured the oil.” And Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) diplomats have said they’re willing to work with such a plan.

The National Interest has learned that the Trump administration’s anti-ISIS team, led by Ambassador James Jeffrey, has floated the idea of a counter-Iran presence in Deir ez-Zor for some time now.

“Every day, the [U.S.-led] coalition has been very strong against [Syrian ruler] Assad,” said Omar Abu Layla, CEO of Deirezzor24, who said that he has seen U.S. helicopters and F-35 fighter jets increase their presence against Iranian-backed forces in the region.

Abu Layla told the National Interest that he spoke to Jeffrey’s team three or four months ago. “They promised, ‘we will not leave Syria before we kick Iran out of Syria,’” he claimed. “They will not leave our province easily.”

While James Jeffrey pushes the anti-Iran nonsense Trump dreams of winning a Nobel Peace Prize by facilitating a deal between Turkey and the Kurds:

In the infamous “undiplomatic” letter to Erdogan a few days ago, Trump had voiced an audacious idea that Gen. Mazloum could be a potential negotiator with Erdogan. To quote Trump, “General Mazloum is willing to negotiate with you (Erdogan), and he is willing to make concessions that they would never have made in the past. I am confidentially enclosing a copy of his letter to me, just received.”

Yet, General Mazloum is Turkey’s most wanted terrorist who worked in the ranks of the separatist PKK for nearly 3 decades and it is necessary to connect some dots at this point.
...
Gen. Mazloum is likely to visit Washington in a near future; so is Erdogan. Trump is promoting Kurdish reconciliation with Turkey. The last fortnight’s developments on the diplomatic front have removed the single biggest source of tension in the US-Turkey relations — US’ alliance with YPG and the presence of Kurdish fighters along Syria’s border with Turkey.

When one combines the two items one can understand the thinking behind this otherwise idiotic tweet:

Cont. reading: Syria - The Kurds Want To Play On Both Sides

Posted by b at 18:18 UTC | Comments (274)

October 23, 2019

Open Thread 2019-61

For all the stuff your host doesn't manage to blog about ...

Posted by b at 19:18 UTC | Comments (137)

When Trump Ignored Bad Advice He Enabled Progress In Syria

When bureaucrats and officials, also known as the Borg, contradict the foreign policy of the president they inevitably create chaos. We yesterday explained how that happens:

Since Donald Trump became president many of his subordinates have tried to subvert his policies. Instead of implementing Trump's idea and preferences they have tried to implement their own. Some have done so because they believed that it is the "right thing to do" while others have ignored Trump's wishes to play their own game.

Trump was smart enough to circumvent the Borg with regards to northeast Syria. This led to the removal of U.S. troops and the Turkish-Russian agreement which is an excellent outcome for all sides.


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Commentator ben and others critizised yesterday's post:

b, I've been a participant at this site for 14yrs, and I don't believe I've ever seen your take on any subject more "off base", than your take on DJT.

This "man" has never been anything else but a grifter and giant con. Virtually everything he has done, he's done to enrich himself and his family. That is, besides deconstruct the U$ govt. to enrich his class of people, (the malignantly rich) by dialing back regulations that protect everyday Americans from the greed of the mega-corporations.

He's a sycophant for the corporate monsters who now own the U$A. Anything and everything he's done, isn't because he is such an egalitarian, it's for his personal enrichment, and the monsters he works for.

When they're done with him, they'll throw him under the bus, just like all the rest of us...

I agree with ben's characterization of Trump. I dislike most of his policies. But that does not change the fact that Donald Trump is the elected president of the United States and that he is thereby entitled to direct its foreign policies as he sees fit.

Cont. reading: When Trump Ignored Bad Advice He Enabled Progress In Syria

Posted by b at 15:23 UTC | Comments (207)

October 22, 2019

When U.S. Officials Ignore The President The Outcome Is Chaos

Since Donald Trump became president many of his subordinates have tried to subvert his policies. Instead of implementing Trump's idea and preferences they have tried to implement their own. Some have done so because they believed that it is the "right thing to do" while others have ignored Trump's wishes to play their own game.

A recent example can be found in a Washington Post Ukrainegate story:

Trump’s conversations with Putin, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and others reinforced his perception of Ukraine as a hopelessly corrupt country — one that Trump now also appears to believe sought to undermine him in the 2016 U.S. election, the officials said.
...
The efforts to poison Trump’s views toward Zelensky were anticipated by national security officials at the White House, officials said. But the voices of Putin and Orban took on added significance this year because of the departure or declining influence of those who had sought to blunt the influence of Putin and other authoritarian leaders over Trump.
...
American policy has for years been “built around containing malign Russian influence” in Eastern Europe, a U.S. official said. Trump’s apparent susceptibility to the arguments he hears from Putin and Orban is “an example of the president himself under malign influence — being steered by it.”

The president does not like how the 'American policy' on Russia was built. He rightly believes that he was elected to change it. He had stated his opinion on Russia during his campaign and won the election. It is not 'malign influence' that makes him try to have good relations with Russia. It is his own conviction and legitimized by the voters.

Trump's policies look chaotic. But one big reason for that is that some of his staff, like the 'U.S. official' above, are trying to subvert them. They have tried and still try to cage him in on nearly every issue. When Trump then wields his Twitter sword and cuts through the subversion by publicly restating his original policies the look from the outside is indeed chaotic. But it is the president who sets the policies. The drones around him who serve "at his pleasure" are there to implement them.

Instead they have tried (and try) to make their own ones:

Cont. reading: When U.S. Officials Ignore The President The Outcome Is Chaos

Posted by b at 17:24 UTC | Comments (120)

October 21, 2019

737 MAX Produces More Bad News For Boeing

The financial markets have finally woken up to Boeing's criminal behavior around the certification of the 737 MAX:

Boeing shares were falling in premarket trading Monday after analysts from at least two firms cut their ratings and price targets in light of recent revelations about the Chicago aerospace giant's grounded 737 MAX jetliner. Credit Suisse analyst Robert Spingarn cut Boeing to neutral from outperform and pared his price target to $323 from $416 after publication of instant messages by an ex-senior test pilot at the company that he "unknowingly" misled safety regulators about a 737 MAX control system.

"We can no longer defend the shares in light of the latest discoveries, [which] significantly increase the risk profile for investors," Spingarn said in a note to investors.
...
Boeing was the Dow's biggest loser on Friday, closing down 6.8% to $344.

At 1:00PM EDT Boeing was down to $330. Since the second deadly MAX crash Boeing's share price has decreased by more than 18%. On Wednesday Boeing will reveal its quarterly results and may well announce billions more of losses.

The bad news for Boeing continues to come in.

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader, whose grandniece died in a 737 Max crash, says that Boeing CEO Muilenburg and the entire board need to go. Nader says that the plane should never fly again.

There are signs that Boeing will reduce or even completely stop the production of new 737 MAX at least until its re-certification is assured. Currently Boeing still produces 42 MAX per month without delivering any to its customers.

The downgrading of Boeing comes after a three years old exchange between two MAX project pilots came to light:

The exchange of messages in 2016 between the two lead technical pilots on the Boeing 737 MAX program was released Friday after regulators blew up at the company for belatedly disclosing the matter. The messages reveal that the flight-control system, which two years later went haywire on the crashed flights, was behaving aggressively and strangely in the pilots’ simulator sessions.
...
“It’s running rampant in the sim on me,” 737 Chief Technical Pilot Mark Forkner wrote to Patrik Gustavsson, who would succeed him as chief technical pilot. “I’m levelling off at like 4000 ft, 230 knots and the plane is trimming itself like craxy. I’m like, WHAT?” (Spelling errors in the original.)

“Granted, I suck at flying, but even this was egregious,” Forkner added.

Cont. reading: 737 MAX Produces More Bad News For Boeing

Posted by b at 17:44 UTC | Comments (65)

October 20, 2019

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2019-60

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

Clinton's wacky claims came after the NYT published a smear piece about Gabbard: What, Exactly, Is Tulsi Gabbard Up To? Both seem to be part of concerted effort.

The predicted Streisand effect:

Mike Cernovich @Cernovich - 4:12 UTC · Oct 19, 2019
Tulsi Gabbard has gained more than 40,000 Twitter followers today - more than she gains in an average month.

More nonsense from Hillary:

Hillary Clinton @HillaryClinton - 00:06 UTC · Oct 19, 2019
When I was a little girl, I wrote to NASA and told them I dreamed of being an astronaut.
They wrote back and said they weren't taking girls.
A new generation of little girls watched today's historic spacewalk. May their dreams of reaching the stars have no bounds.
Oregon Designer @Easycure - 6:40 UTC · Oct 19, 2019
You were born in 1947, NASA wasn't formed until 1958 and we didn't have an astronaut in space until until 1962 when you were 15 years old.
You didn't write a letter to NASA when you were a little girl and you should definitely stop drunk tweeting.

Moody's Analytics' Presidential election model predicts that Trump will win: 2020 Presidential Election Model (pdf)

---
Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - OT 2019-60

Posted by b at 13:49 UTC | Comments (236)

New York Times Fakes The Record About Arming The Syrian Rebels

History as faked by the New York Times:

Kurds’ Sense of Betrayal Compounded by Empowerment of Unsavory Rivals
Ben Hubbard, David D. Kirkpatrick, NYT 18. Oct 2019

Now, [..] the sense of betrayal among the Kurds [..] is matched only by their outrage at who will move in: Turkish soldiers supported by Syrian fighters the United States had long rejected as extremists, criminals and thugs.
...
The deadly battles [..] have also given new leeway to Syrian fighters once considered too extreme or unruly to receive American military support.
...
Grandly misnamed the Syrian National Army, this coalition of Turkish-backed militias is in fact largely composed of the dregs of the eight-year-old conflict’s failed rebel movement.

Early in the war [..] the military and the C.I.A. sought to train and equip moderate, trustworthy rebels to fight the government and the Islamic State.

A few of those now fighting in the northeast took part in those failed programs, but most were rejected as too extreme or too criminal. Some have expressed extremist sensibilities or allied with jihadist groups.

The reality is the opposite of what the NYT claims. The majority of the groups now fighting with the Turkish army had earlier received support from the U.S. Even their nominal leader is the same one who the U.S. earlier paid, armed and promoted.

COMPONENTS OF THE NATIONAL ARMY AND THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE UNIFICATION
Ömer Özkizilcik, SETA, October 2019

On August 31, the Syrian National Coalition came together and elected the president and the cabinet of the Syrian Interim Government in which Abdurrahman Mustafa was elected president and Salim Idriss was elected defense minister. With the new cabinet, the Syrian Interim Government became more active on the ground, started visiting each faction of the National Army, and accelerated the stalled negotiations to unite the National Army and the NLF under one command.
Salim Idriss with U.S. Senator John McCain

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Cont. reading: New York Times Fakes The Record About Arming The Syrian Rebels

Posted by b at 11:19 UTC | Comments (39)

October 19, 2019

The Democratic Party Should Suspend Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton has gone mad:

Hillary Clinton appeared to suggest that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) is the “favorite of the Russians” to win the 2020 presidential election and is being groomed by Moscow to run as a third-party candidate against the eventual Democratic nominee.
...
The Russians already have their “eye on somebody who’s currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate,” she said, in an apparent reference to Gabbard.

“She’s the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her, so far,” Clinton told David Plouffe, the podcast’s host and the campaign manager for former President Obama’s 2008 campaign.

“And that’s assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not because she’s also a Russian asset,” Clinton added, referring to the 2016 Green Party presidential candidate.

The responses were appropriate:

Tulsi Gabbard @TulsiGabbard - 22:20 UTC · Oct 18, 2019
Great! Thank you @HillaryClinton. You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain. From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a ...
... concerted campaign to destroy my reputation. We wondered who was behind it and why. Now we know — it was always you, through your proxies and ...
... powerful allies in the corporate media and war machine, afraid of the threat I pose.

It’s now clear that this primary is between you and me. Don’t cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly.

and

Cont. reading: The Democratic Party Should Suspend Hillary Clinton

Posted by b at 13:44 UTC | Comments (160)