Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Russian White House Coup ... and what Karl Marx has to do with it

So an anonymous dude formerly with the British MI-6 hears that Trump is a Siberian candidate, and --since the operative is being paid by an opposition research firm to trash Trump-- promptly discovers that, Oh My God, it's true!!!

Because you see, our spook has contacts in the Kremlin -- about a half dozen intimate with Putin's inner circle -- who go ahead and spill their guts to an intelligence mercenary, and they don't even seem to mind being described in some detail in memos detailing their treasonous disclosures.

CNN reported breathlessly Tuesday night that the Brit was so spooked he spilled his guts to an FBI agent in Italy last August, handing him a bunch of memos with a fair number of details about the clandestine Trump-Putin long-distance bromance.

This stuff has been floating around the D,C. journalistic, political and diplomatic cocktail circuit since the fall --and that's mostly what oppo research is good for, gossip fodder-- but nobody would touch it for publication. You get crap like this every four years. Sometimes it's about Candidate X's Black baby, other times about his being a communist agent.

Not that people didn't try to get at least some verification to get it published. This story has Pulitzer written all over it. And that's the least of it. You also get to be put in the Pantheon of the Gods of Journalism alongside Woodward and Bernstein of Watergate fame.

If it didn't come out then in the fall, when everyone had already got wind of it, why did it come out now? Because a 2-page summary of the allegations against Trump were appended to a written intelligence report prepared for a briefing to Obama and Trump by the heads of the FBI, the CIA, the NSA and the top guy, the Director of National Intelligence.

See, U.S. libel law says if you simply report that there are these accusations without anything more, it is the same as if you had made the accusations to begin with. But if instead you are reporting about some official government action, like the inclusion of the summary in the briefing materials, then it is fairly safe.

CNN says this fact was leaked to them by multiple government sources.  So get the picture: the top four spies talk to the President-elect on Friday, January 6, and by Tuesday afternoon CNN has succumbed to the entreaties of the intelligence agencies and is reporting that the spooks told Trump they know he is a Russian agent -- well, allegedly.

Of course, it is all worded very politely. The CNN on-screen summary said, "Intelligence chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him."

And no --absolutely not!!!-- the public is not allowed to have any specific details on account of neither CNN nor anyone else being able to verify any of them.

So why is it worth telling the president and president elect now?  Because the U.S. intelligence services have just determined that the author of the memos, a Brit they've known since the 1990s when he was in her majesty's employ, is actually a pretty good guy, a fact that apparently had escaped them last summer and fall.

Except that the spooks did not actually do any "telling." NBC is reporting that, a "senior intelligence official" explained "that the briefing was oral and no actual documents were left with the Trump team in New York." And multiple outlets have confirmed this matter wasn't mentioned in the oral briefing.

Now remember, the reason the 2-page summary of the anti-Trump memos was prepared was to make sure that the President-elect knew about these rumors. But at the oral briefing, the country's top spooks "forgot" to mention it and unfortunately it also appears that they didn't leave behind a copy of the report where Trump or his aides could have read this if they bothered to read the appendix..

Thus we see why CNN constantly used deceptive weasel-wording in its report: "Intelligence chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian effort to compromise him."

Think about it: "presented Trump." Not told Trump or gave to Trump, or even "presented to Trump," which implies that the presenters actively engaged with Trump. The difference is this: suppose the President is at some dinner and it is time for the desert cart to go around. The president is very animatedly engaged in a conversation with the person next to him while the waiter brings the desert cart to the president. Of course the waiter does not interrupt, but after a few seconds, moves on.

Now you're thinking, wow, that is way too much freight to load onto one on-screen legend. But look at what the main reporter on the story said when CNN first aired the story.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Want to be very precise here. Multiple U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the briefings tell CNN that classified documents on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, presented last week to President Obama and to President-elect Trump, included allegations that Russian operatives claimed to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump. 
Notice again use of the word "presented."  The second I heard that while seeing it on screen I smelled a rat. Not because I'm a genius but because I spent more than two decades at CNN as a writer and producer and know how this stuff works. For that specific word to occur both in the on-screen banner AND the lead if the story which the reporter started with, "want to be very precise here" could only be the result of mandates from legal or "upstairs."

What CNN did not manage to stumble upon despite its concern for precision was that it was baby simple to destroy a central claim in the reports --that Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen had played a key role, going to Prague last August and September as a go-between.

But it didn't happen. His passport confirms he did not leave the country. And there is no way the government agents could not have discovered this. Because under our post-9/11 police state laws, the government knows every time anyone boards a plane in the United States. The government also knows every time a U.S. citizen re-enters the United States.

So what CNN claims it was told by its sources --that the reports about Trump had not been verified-- was disingenuous. It's not that they hadn't been checked out yet, it's that they had been checked out and shown to be partly fabrication and otherwise impossible to verify.

It was German philosopher Hegel who is reputed to have said that history repeats itself twice. The maxim is remembered mostly for Marx's acerbic footnote: "He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce."

If the Cold War with its McCarthyism was a tragedy that even threatened the very future of humanity, this farce confirms the insight of the famous German founder of the movement that bears his name.

At first blush, this appears to be a farce, and a rather poor one at that.

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