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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 28th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Why We Love Putinology

From The Guardian: Never before have “more people with less knowledge, and greater outrage, opined on the subject of Russia’s president.” Call it Putinology. But the various theories about Vladimir Putin probably say more about us than about him, writes Keith Gessen.

“In the long run, the Russia card is not just bad politics, it is intellectual and moral bankruptcy. It is an attempt to blame the deep and abiding problems of our country on a foreign power. As some commentators have pointed out, it is a page from the playbook of none other than Putin himself.”

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Nevertheless –


The Story of the Week Is Trump, Russia and the FBI. The Rest Is a Distraction

By Malcolm Nance, Guardian UK
27 February 17

The White House reportedly tried to influence an active counter-intelligence investigation. All else, press ban included, is designed to deflect attention

arrative switching. That is what the Trump administration is desperately trying to do around Russia right now. The White House reportedly interfered with the FBI in the middle of an active investigation involving counter-intelligence. This was not only foolhardy but also suspicious, as it directly undermined their apparent objective: distracting us.

On 14 February, the New York Times reported that advisers and associates of Donald Trump may have been in direct and continuous contact with officers of the Russian intelligence agency, the FSB, during a tumultuous election campaign in which the American democracy itself was hacked. A major party – now in opposition – was the victim of an unprecedented cyber-attack.

According to the Times, intercepted telephone calls and phone records indicated to American counter-intelligence officers direct contact with the Russians.

The stakes are high. Most Democrats and more than a few Republicans believe this investigation could unearth details that could plunge the nation into a political and constitutional crisis not seen since the secession of the South in 1860 and 1861.

The Trump administration has repeatedly denied the characterization and defended the campaign’s conduct. However, its denials have always been couched in the most legalistic terms and each falls apart with every new revelation. It doesn’t help that Trump himself calls the allegations “fake news” then validates the reporting by attacking the leaks – suggesting that they are true.

Now, thanks to CNN, we learned on Thursday that Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, had reportedly contacted the deputy director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, and requested that the bureau publicly characterize the Times story as not being serious – in McCabe’s reported words, “total BS”.

When this was rebuffed by McCabe, Priebus reportedly went to the FBI director, James Comey, who allegedly also refused to comment publicly. Priebus then allegedly asked both if he could quote them anonymously as “top intelligence officials”, saying the story was totally wrong. According to CNN, McCabe and Comey agreed to let him do that, despite the fact that the FBI and the White House are prohibited from communicating about open investigations.

The White House then turned to other intelligence officials and to members of Congress. According to the Washington Post, House and Senate intelligence committee chairs Devin Nunes and Richard Burr were asked to push back against Russian stories that did not favor the administration. They told the Post they did so.

No matter what the contention, the fundamental fact exists that the FBI, based on McCabe’s and Comey’s remarks, has inadvertently verified that there is, in fact, a counter-intelligence investigation going on involving the associates of the president. Until now the investigation had only been reported through anonymous sources.

This bungled attempt to manage the media reveals the fear in the White House: that there may actually be a smoking gun that ties Trump to Moscow’s hacking.

It is always possible that Trump’s then campaign manager, Paul Manafort, former adviser Carter Page and others may have been in contact with Russians as part of foreign policy development. But given the political environment in the summer of 2016, after the hack of the Democratic National Committee, it is very hard to believe that any continuous and repeated contact with the Kremlin was completely innocent.

Priebus’s clumsy attempt to perform perception management judo only added fuel to the fire. Then it was raked over with Trump’s often incomprehensible flamethrower rhetoric when he declared CNN reporting “fake news” and had them banned, with the New York Times and other outlets including the Guardian, from a press gaggle on Friday.

Any investigation involving Trump advisers and Russian intelligence is serious stuff. If borne out, it has the potential to become the greatest political scandal in American history. But this meddling by the White House is one step too far. It is not typical Washington pushback. It smacks of a strategy of cover-up.

It is high time for the House and Senate to form independent select subcommittees to ferret out the truth. The key questions are simple. What did Trump and his staff know about the hacks? When did they know it and were they complicit in any way?

If American citizens worked alongside a foreign power to interfere in American democracy, it must be found out and quickly. It is crucial to retain the trust in our president and the electoral process. The stakes are nothing less than the legitimacy of American liberal democracy.

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