Did FBI Let Islamists Attack a Texas Cartoon Contest? – Fix This Nation .com

Source: Did FBI Let Islamists Attack a Texas Cartoon Contest? – Fix This Nation .com

U.S. Officials: Russian Operatives Tried To Use Trump Advisers To Infiltrate Campaign

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Washington (CNN) The FBI gathered intelligence last summer that suggests Russian operatives tried to use Trump advisers, including Carter Page, to infiltrate the Trump campaign, according to US officials.

The new information adds to the emerging picture of how the Russians tried to influence the 2016 election, not only through email hacks and propaganda but also by trying to infiltrate the Trump orbit. The intelligence led to an investigation into the coordination of Trump’s campaign associates and the Russians.
These officials made clear they don’t know whether Page was aware the Russians may have been using him. Because of the way Russian spy services operate, Page could have unknowingly talked with Russian agents.
Page disputes the idea he has ever collected intelligence for the Russians, saying he helped the US intelligence community. “My assumption throughout the last 26 years I’ve been going there has always been that any Russian person might share information with the Russian government … as I have similarly done with the CIA, the FBI and other government agencies in the past.”
But the intelligence suggests Russia tried to infiltrate the inner-workings of the Trump campaign by using backdoor channels to communicate with people in the Trump orbit, US officials say.
Page is one of several Trump advisers US and European intelligence found to be in contact with Russian officials and other Russians known to Western intelligence during the campaign, according to multiple US officials.
The scope and frequency of those contacts raised the interest of US intelligence agencies.
The FBI and CIA declined to comment on Page’s statement.
In 2013, Page had meetings with a Russian man who turned out to be a spy, according to federal prosecutors. Page denied knowing that the man, Victor Podobnyy, was secretly a Russian operative living in New York.
As CNN first reported, Carter Page’s speech critical of US policy against Russia in July 2016 at a prominent Moscow university drew the attention of the FBI and raised concerns he had been compromised by Russian intelligence, according to US officials. They also feared that Russian operatives maintained contact with him both in the United States and Russia, US officials say.
His conversations with suspected Russian operatives are being examined as part of a large intelligence-gathering operation by the FBI and other US agencies that was set up to probe Russia’s interference in the election. The officials would not say what the conversations were about.
How Page’s name became associated with the campaign is a reflection of how minimal the Trump operation was last year, as establishment national security figures avoided an association with the insurgent operation.
As Trump prepared to meet with The Washington Post editorial page in March 2016, the campaign was under pressure to name national security advisers. Staffers produced a list of names for Trump to refer to, according to a US official close to the campaign. Trump mentioned Page, in part because he had a Ph.D. listed next to his name, the official said.
Trump had never met Page. Sam Clovis, co-chairman of the campaign, helped gather the names that the candidate used.
Campaign officials say there’s no indication Page ever attended any national security meetings at Trump Tower. They insisted he played a junior role and was not an influential figure.
But in a letter Page wrote to the House Intelligence committee offering to testify, Page describes more interactions with the campaign.
“For your information, I have frequently dined in Trump Grill, had lunch in Trump Cafe, had coffee meetings in the Starbucks at Trump Tower, attended events and spent many hours in campaign headquarters on the fifth floor last year.”
The FBI had Page on their radar for at least four years, according to court documents and US officials.
The bureau also knew about Page from its 2013 investigation into a Russian spy ring in New York. One of the spies was taped saying he tried to recruit Page, and Page admitted meeting him. But Page says he didn’t share anything sensitive and didn’t know he was talking to a spy.
He also traveled to Russia frequently and interacted with officials that the FBI was concerned were acting on behalf of the government.
His trip to Russia in July 2016 revived the FBI’s interest, when he delivered a lecture at a graduation ceremony for the New Economic School. The university opened after the fall of the Soviet Union and is ranked as one of the best universities for economics in Russia. Former President Barack Obama gave a speech there during his first official trip to Russia in 2009.
But Page’s lecture sounded different than what would be expected from most Americans. He parroted Kremlin talking points by chastising the West for prolonging “Cold War tendencies.”
“Ironically, Washington and other Western capitals have impeded potential progress through their often hypocritical focus on democratization, inequality, corruption and regime change,” he said, adding that US foreign policy toward Russia was “condescending” and “hostile.”
Page stressed to the audience that he was there as a private citizen and not a Trump surrogate. But a spokesman for the school told CNN that Page’s ties to Trump helped secure the invitation.
“The organizing committee for the commencement last year thought that he was a colorful and interesting character,” said Denis Klimentov, a spokesman for the New Economic School. “It was partially supported by the fact that The Washington Post, the newspaper, back in the spring of 2016, cited Carter as one of Mr. Trump’s foreign policy advisors.”
Page maintains that he only met with “scholars and professors” during his July trip. Klimentov said that the New Economic School didn’t arrange any meetings on Page’s behalf.
“Physically and technically, frankly speaking, I don’t think he had any time for that, he was with the school pretty much during most of the day, both days, and the remaining half of the day that he was in Moscow,” Klimentov said.
But a former Obama administration official briefed on Russia’s meddling in the election says Russians who work at prominent think tanks, universities and businesses often play an informal intelligence role.
“There are very few agencies of any kind that don’t have some sort of intelligence or counterintelligence role,” the official told CNN. “If you run an organization in Russia government, you will now have a role in that. It’s the explicit mission of Russian government agencies.”
Shortly after Page returned to the US, he and other Trump advisers headed to Cleveland for the Republican National Convention. On the sidelines of a convention-related event, Page and other Trump advisers, including JD Gordon and Jeff Sessions, met with Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak.
Two months after Page’s trip, the FBI sought and received a warrant from the secret court that oversees the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to monitor Page’s communications.
When he returned to Moscow in December 2016, after Trump won the election, Russian state-run media widely covered and promoted his trip, including RT and Sputnik, which have been identified by the US intelligence community as tools for the Kremlin’s propaganda.
RT published stories on all three days of Page’s trip. Sputnik published an 800-word roundup of the presentation and press conference he gave at the state-run news agency’s headquarters. The RT affiliate Ruptly quickly published the full video of his second presentation and press conference.
That speech was given under the auspices of the Russian government: The event was held at the headquarters of the Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency, a state-run media company created in 2013 by an official decree from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Not only did Russian state-run media cover the trip, but a prominent government-run think tank involved in election-meddling efforts put out a press release heralding Page’s visit.
The leader of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studie, Leonid Reshetnikov, painted Page as an influential adviser to Trump and said his visit could help improve US-Russian relations.
“It’s quite possible that Trump’s advisor is a pragmatist and a realist,” Reshetnikov said, according to a translation of his comments in Russian. “This is probably not an ordinary visit. He has probably received some instructions from the President-elect. I don’t think that meetings at the highest level will take place, but (the possibility) cannot be excluded.”
Reuters reported this week that the group was involved in Russia’s efforts to interfere in the US election. The organization sent recommendations to top Kremlin leaders with plans of how to use its propaganda machine to help Trump and undermine Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
The FBI and other US agencies have been combing through information obtained through that FISA as part of its ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign’s links to Russia.
Intelligence analysts and FBI investigators who analyzed various strands of intelligence from human sources to electronic and financial records have found signs of possible collusion between the campaign and Russian officials. But there is not enough evidence to show that crimes were committed, US officials say.
Part of the problem for investigators has been that they lost their opportunity to conduct the investigation in secret after several leaks last year revealed FBI was looking at people close to the Trump campaign. After those reports, people that the US was monitoring changed their behavior, which made it more difficult for US officials to monitor them.

Hillary hatred, exposed: What drives America’s never-ending case against Clinton

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SALON NEWS)

Hillary hatred, exposed: What drives America’s never-ending case against Clinton

Susan Bordo’s “The Destruction of Hillary Clinton” is a vital but incomplete look at her strange political life

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TOPICS: AUTHORS, BOOKS, EDITOR’S PICKS, FEMINISM, GENDER, HILLARY CLINTON, SUSAN BORDO, THE DESTRUCTION OF HILLARY CLINTON, ,

Hillary hatred, exposed: What drives America's never-ending case against Clinton NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 25: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during the annual Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) meeting on September 25, 2013 in New York City. Timed to coincide with the United Nations General Assembly, CGI brings together heads of state, CEOs, philanthropists and others to help find solutions to the world’s major problems. (Photo by Ramin Talaie/Getty Images)(Credit: Getty/Ramin Talaie)

It is difficult to tally how many conversations I have had with someone making extreme, paranoid and hateful remarks about Hillary Clinton. Often the accuser’s eyes open wide, spittle begins to form at the corner of his lips, and he declares that the world’s greatest monster is the former senator and secretary of state.

Once in a bar, two acquaintances rambled at torturous length about the email “scandal.” They had no clue what the then-presidential candidate had plotted with her private server, but they knew it was diabolical. No evidence is necessary if the suspect is Hillary Clinton — a villain who rivals Professor Moriarty and Saddam Hussein.

My simple questions regarding Clinton’s exoneration by the Justice Department, internal State Department review and FBI report made it painfully clear that if these two men were not obsessed with a minor email storage procedure, they would find another reason to cast Clinton into the fires of hell. First on the fringes of the right wing and eventually the general population, Americans since the early 1990s have condemned the woman for unprovable offense upon unverifiable innuendo. It is likely that no modern public figure has faced greater hostility, slander and scrutiny.

A close friend of mine, whom I immensely admire, enthusiastically supported Sen. Bernie Sanders in the presidential primary, but was reticent to vote for Clinton. “She is deceitful by default,” he said. The problem with adopting an absolute position is that it creates circular logic. If Hillary Clinton is incapable of telling the truth, then every statement she utters is a lie. The axiom eliminates the need for investigation of thoughtful evaluation. The case is closed before it opens.

Susan Bordo, a Pulitzer Prize nominee and feminist literary critic, interrogates the American media and political discourse in her new book, “The Destruction of Hillary Clinton,” with the hope of discovering how and why the flawed but largely noble political figure became the subject of such widespread scorn that survey respondents have consistently found her “less trustworthy” than her 2016 opponent, Donald Trump, a compulsive liar and snake oil-soaked con man.

The result is an important but incomplete examination of the strange political life of Hillary Clinton. Bordo has provided an interpretively annotated campaign narrative, re-creating the horror show of 2016 almost week by week. Due to no fault of Bordo, who writes in an accessible and enjoyable style, the reading experience is as sickening as ingesting medicine meant to induce vomiting because we know how awfully the story ends.

Bordo sharpens her focus most clearly and closely on sexism, exposing how gender stereotypes, misogynistic assumptions and chauvinistic typecasting have made it nearly impossible for Clinton or her supporters to influence, much less control, public perceptions about her ideology and candidacy.

In the 1990s, Bordo reminds readers, commentators objected to Clinton, calling her “Lady Macbeth of Little Rock” and an “aspiring philosopher queen.” Critics abhorred her radical feminism, believing she was an unsympathetic moralist. In 2016 she was cartoonishly amoral. For the far left or hard right, she didn’t seem to possess any redeeming virtues and appeared to be a self-serving elitist who counted “Clinton cash,” to quote the title of a best-selling book, while watching Americans die in Benghazi and her Wall Street friends liquidate middle class wealth.

Millions of Americans also believe without awareness of cognitive dissonance, Clinton is a master manipulator of the political pair of aces — the woman’s card and victim card — and simultaneously an enabler of her husband’s adulterous affairs.

The incoherence of Clinton hatred becomes more decipherable when Bordo cites polling data demonstrating that in 2015 Americans routinely ranked “least trustworthy” alongside Clinton, Carly Fiorina — an obscure Republican candidate with no prior experience in politics. A recent poll, not yet available when Bordo took to writing, has showed that any Democrat but Elizabeth Warren would currently defeat Donald Trump in an election. Can anyone guess what Clinton, Fiorina and Warren have in common?

Bordo explores familiar territory when she illustrates her feminist thesis with powerful examples about misperception. Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders both appeared as if their jugulars would explode mid-speech as they bellowed at rallies, their faces turning red, but only Clinton faced relentless mockery and criticism for her “shrill” and “loud” delivery.

Many Americans, committed to nothing but blindness, still insist that sexism played no role in the outcome of the 2016 presidential race. That’s even with the knowledge that 13 women accused Donald Trump of sexual harassment and assault, after leaked footage of his boasts of similar criminal behavior, failed to resonate with the same power as questions surrounding Clinton’s email decisions and habits as secretary of state.

Bordo deftly handles the email issue to cast her story with identifiable culprits responsible for the “destruction of Hillary Clinton.” James Comey, a chronic abuser of his power and the hideously perfect personification of the FBI’s right-wing culture, is the head snake, but there are other important characters slithering around the wreckage.

Bernie Sanders, the progressive revivalist and faith healer, began his campaign with the famous exhortation, “Enough with the damn emails,” but soon began castigating Clinton as a counterfeit progressive firmly resting underneath a manhole of Wall Street. With clever, roundabout phrasing, he would find a way to pair the word “integrity” with the email triviality and to reference the popular classification of Clinton as “lesser of two evils.” The Sanders doctrine, assigning authenticity to him alone, was not something his religiously fervent supporters would soon forget. It did not help that, for reasons of ego or something else as yet unexplained, Sanders stayed in the race long after it was all but impossible for him to win.

Various members of the media contributed to the destruction. Bordo makes the most of a Harvard University study of the primary showing that even aside from the email “scandal,” 84 percent of the television news coverage of the Clinton campaign was negative, compared with 43 percent for Trump’s and 17 percent for Sanders’.

The avalanche of attacks on Clinton followed the mass media’s fixation on, what Daniel Boorstin, called “pseudo-events.” “A pseudo-event,” Bordo writes, “is something that acquires authority not because it is accurate, but simply because the media has reported it, repeated, exaggerated it, replayed it, and made a mantra of it.”

The most absurd pseudo-event, among many possibilities, was the “serious” discussion regarding Clinton’s health after she almost collapsed during a spell with pneumonia. Speculation that Clinton was near death dominated social media, while media outlets asked what Clinton was hiding. As of the time of this writing, Hillary Clinton is still alive.

The existence of Hillary Clinton is objectionable to many Americans. In a strange and self-serving review of “The Destruction of Hillary Clinton,” Sarah Jones, the social media editor at the New Republic, accuses Susan Borno of “canonizing and infantilizing” Clinton before mawkishly defending millennials who refused to support the Democratic nominee for president.

Jones is correct that Bordo undermines her credibility by entirely ignoring the failures, errors and injurious decisions of the Clinton campaign, but the crucial choice is one of emphasis. In telling the story of Donald Trump’s defeat of Hillary Clinton, and in attempting to explain an outspoken buffoon and bigot’s rise to the office of Lincoln, Roosevelt and Kennedy, is it really best to focus on how Clinton should have spent more time in Wisconsin? Jones actually devotes attention to how Clinton supported raising the minimum wage to $12, while Sanders went for the full $15. The $3 difference will surely comfort elderly people, who may no longer receive Meal on Wheels services, and the poor teenagers who, thanks to Trump, may not be able to apply for Pell grants for college.

It is on the matter of accountability for the suicidal populism of the American people that Bordo also fails. The entire time I spent reading “The Destruction of Hillary Clinton,” I kept asking, but why? Why did so many people — especially men — believe all the smears and fall for all the tricks against Clinton? The power of propaganda is awe-inspiring, and the influence of the mediocre mass media is immeasurable, but there are flaws of character and intelligence among large swaths of the general public rendering people susceptible to the allure of pseudo-event reporting.

Gore Vidal recalled a private conversation he had with Hillary Clinton when he asked her why so many people, “especially the most ignorant of the population,” to use his words, “straight white men,” hate her. She laughed, and with a jocular delivery answered, “I remind them of their ex-wives.” Vidal added that Clinton has a sardonic sense of humor much too witty and sharp for the American people.

Bordo approaches Vidal’s depth of insight when she wonders if the young women who despise Clinton do so because she reminds them of their mothers. Bordo tosses out this gem and pulls it back after only a paragraph, like a rock band playing a few seconds of a classic riff only to abandon the song altogether.

It is easy to undress Comey for his obvious and odious misdeeds, just as it is straightforward business to ridicule the mainstream television media for sexist reportage. The real task awaiting the bold writer is to inspect a large percentage of the American people for the deformities and defects of intellect that would allow them to select Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. In this same population, large numbers disbelieve evolutionary biology but support the torture of terrorism suspects.

During one of my conversations with a rabid opponent of Lucifer — I mean, Hillary — I noticed that he used the exact same language to bash and brand the politician as he did to insult his wife. I told him I was appalled by the language he used to describe his spouse, but never followed up on the Clinton connection.

I have a feeling that the real story behind the “destruction of Hillary Clinton” is visible at that intersection.

 

David Masciotra is the author of “Mellencamp: American Troubadour” (University of Kentucky Press), and is currently at work on a collection of personal essays for Agate Publishing.

Russian Arrested In Spain ‘Over Mass Hacking’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

Russian arrested in Spain ‘over mass hacking’

Computer keyboardImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Much of Pyotr Levashov’s alleged activity involved ransomware

Spanish police have arrested a Russian programmer following US allegations of large-scale hacking.

Pyotr Levashov was held in Barcelona on Friday and is remanded in custody.

Spanish police said Mr Levashov controlled a botnet called Kelihos, hacking information and installing malicious software in hundreds of thousands of computers.

The arrest was part of a “complex inquiry carried out in collaboration with the FBI”, police said.

Mr Levashov is subject to a US international arrest warrant and a Spanish court will hear whether he can be extradited.

Much of his alleged activity involved ransomware – blocking a computer’s access to certain information and demanding a ransom for its release.

Mr Levashov’s wife Maria told Russian broadcaster RT that the arrest had been made in connection with allegations that Russians had hacked the US presidential election.

She said Spanish police had told her the arrest was in connection with “a virus which appears to have been created by my husband and is linked to [Donald] Trump’s victory”.

However, Agence France-Presse news agency quoted a source close to the matter in Washington as saying that Mr Levashov’s detention was “not tied to anything involving allegations of Russian interference with the US election”.

Donald Trump on the campaignImage copyright GETTY IMAGES
Image captionMr Levashov’s wife linked the arrest to claims of Russian hacking of the US election

A US intelligence report released in January alleged that Vladimir Putin had tried to help Mr Trump to victory, allegations strongly denied the Russian president.

Mr Trump later commented that the outcome of the election had not been affected.

Several cyber security experts, including Brian Krebs, have also linked Mr Levashov to a Russian spam kingpin, who uses the alias Peter Severa.

Manhunt Intensifies For Man Who Stole 16 High Powered Weapons: Mailed Manifesto To Trump

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

Manhunt Intensifies for Joseph Jakubowski, Man Who Allegedly Stole Guns and Mailed Manifesto to Trump

Police in Wisconsin ramped up security at local churches on Sunday as the manhunt continued for a 32-year-old fugitive who is accused of stealing more than a dozen weapons from a gun store and mailing an anti-government manifesto to President Donald Trump.

Over 150 officers from local, state and federal law-enforcement agencies were searching for Joseph Jakubowski, who they say allegedly broke into the Armageddon Gun Shop in Janesville, Wisconsin, on Tuesday and stole 16 high-caliber rifles and handguns.

Police said Jakubowski is considered “armed and dangerous” and was in possession of a bullet-proof vest and helmet.

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Manhunt Intensifies in Wisconsin to Find Wanted Gunman

Authorities said they were increasing security presence at local churches because of “anti-religion sentiment” contained within a 160-page manifesto they believe was written by Jakubowski and sent to Trump at the White House.

Police said at a press conference on Friday that Jakubowski had been “highly agitated” by national politics recently and an associate of his claimed the wanted man had spoken of a plan to steal guns and carry out an unspecified attack.

Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, canceled its services on Sunday after a suspicious man who looked like Jakubowski stopped by the church on Thursday asking questions, according to a statement from the Rock County Sheriff’s Office.

John McNary, the lead pastor at nearby Heartland Church, in Sun Prairie, told NBC News he saw local police doing extra patrols in the area and that his church had extra security in place on Sunday.

“We were taking extra precautions, just in case,” he said.

The Sun Prairie Police Department told NBC affiliate WMTV on Sunday afternoon that the man who visited the Bethlehem Church late last week was not Jakubowski and was not related to the police’s investigation.

McNary also said he had spoken with an officer who said they did not believe the man was Jakubowski.

Investigators have already followed up on around 400 tips and leads, according to the sheriff’s department statement. The FBI offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to Jakubowski’s capture.

Image:
This undated photo provided by the Rock County Sheriff’s Office in Janesville, Wis., shows Joseph Jakubowski. Rock County Sheriff’s Office via AP

Police released a video last week that the suspect allegedly posted on Facebook appearing to show a man mailing an envelope with his manifesto addressed to Trump.

“Basically he’s angry at all government officials,” Rock County Sheriff Robert Spoden said at the press conference on Friday. “Whether it’s the president or whether it’s local officials or whether it’s law enforcement, he has a dislike for anyone that has authority or governmental power.”

Authorities identified the person who filmed the video as an associate of Jakubowski and a person of interest in the investigation, Rock County Sheriff Robert Spoden told reporters Sunday.

“We’re going to constantly revisit that individual and see if they can think of something else that may have been forgotten and what was the motive and some of those type of things,” Spoden said.

On Tuesday night, police responded to a report of a car fire near the burglarized gun shop and discovered the burned vehicle belonged to Jakubowski.

He has one felony conviction for attempting to steal a gun from a police officer in 2008, and a history of misdemeanors.

Jakubowski is described as 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds with green eyes and brown hair.

Jabukowsi-Vehicle-Fire
Police discovered a burned vehicle registered to Joseph Jabukowski just a short distance away from the Armageddon Gun Shop in Janesville, WI., where Jabukowski allegedly stole 16 assault weapons and handguns. Rock County Sheriff / Rock County Sheriff

For the video, the person who took the video, what do we know about that person?

15;52;07;20 RS: That person has been interviewed and continues to be a person of interest uh with us and the Janesville police department and uh with the FBI and so um they’re going to be somebody that we’re going to continue to talk to to see if we can ascertain whatever information they had they have been cooperating with us, which is obviously something that we’re very happy about, um but we’re going to constantly revisit that individual and see if they can think of something else that may have been forgotten and what was the motive and some of those type of things.

15;52;36;17 BM: Is it a friend? Do you know the relationship?

15;52;38;12 RS: um we know it was an associate

15;52;41;24 BM: And not under arrest at this point. [RS: no]

Mr. Putin Seeks a Meeting With Mr. Trump In Helsinki Finland In May

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

(Are the people of Russia and the people of the U.S. really enemies of each other, no I do not believe so personally. It is the ego’s and the distrust of Nation’s Leaders toward each other, both the Civilian and the Military/Intelligence Leaderships. This is something the Media doesn’t need to be trying to become the ‘news maker’. The world is better off if the U.S. along with all of Europe, Israel and Russia are honestly friendly with each other.)–this opinion by trs.

Putin seeks Trump meeting in Helsinki in May
Russian President Vladimir Putin at the 'Arctic: Territory of Dialogue' International Forum in Arkhangelsk, Russia, 30 March 2017Image copyright EPA
Image caption Mr Putin said he would be “glad” to meet Mr Trump at a summit of the Arctic Council in Helsinki

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he would like to meet US President Donald Trump at an Arctic nations summit in Finland in May.

He again rejected allegations that Russia had interfered in the 2016 US presidential election.

And he said sanctions against Russia were also hurting the US and Europe.

Mr Trump had voiced hopes for improved relations with Moscow, but he has been dogged by claims of links between his election campaign and Russia.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and both houses of the US Congress are investigating alleged Russian interference in the election.

Russia ‘tried to hijack US election’, Senate hearing told

Mr Putin, speaking at an Arctic forum in Arkhangelsk in northern Russia, said he would be “glad” to meet Mr Trump at a summit of the Arctic Council in Helsinki in May.

“Both side should prepare such events,” he said. “If not, then such a meeting could take place within the framework of the usual meetings, at the G20.”

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, whose country is due to take the rotating leadership of the Arctic Council, said he would be honoured to host such a meeting.

The G20 summit of world powers is set to convene in the northern German city of Hamburg in early July.

Donald Trump (file pic)Image copyright REUTERS
Image caption Mr Trump says claims of collusion between his campaign and Russia are “fake news”

Mr Putin criticised “endless and groundless” allegations that Russia interfered in the US election, and what he termed the use of the “Russian card” in US politics.

“Do we want to completely cut relations?” he asked. “Do we want to bring the situation to what it was during the Cuban Missile Crisis of the 1960s?

“I very much hope that sometime – the sooner the better – the situation will return to normal. I very much hope that we’ll… improve Russian-American relations, for the good of our people’s, and for the whole world.”

Mr Putin said he would support President Trump in fighting terrorism, and co-operate with the Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency.

He added that he was ready to work with the new US presidential administration on fighting Islamic State in Syria.

Earlier this year, Slovenia offered to host a meeting between Mr Putin and Mr Trump. Mr Putin offered thanks, but said it would depend on Washington.

Western nations imposed sanctions on Russia over its annexation of the Crimea and its role in the Ukraine crisis.

Schiff: ‘More Than Circumstantial Evidence’ Trump Associates Colluded With Russia

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

MAR 22 2017, 10:20 PM ET

Schiff: ‘More Than Circumstantial Evidence’ Trump Associates Colluded With Russia

WASHINGTON — The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee claimed Wednesday evening that he has seen “more than circumstantial evidence” that associates of President Donald Trump colluded with Russia while the Kremlin attempted to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the Ranking Member on the committee, was asked by Chuck Todd on “Meet The Press Daily” whether or not he only has a circumstantial case.

“Actually no, Chuck,” he said. “I can tell you that the case is more than that and I can’t go into the particulars, but there is more than circumstantial evidence now.”

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House Intel Cmte. Creates Confusion As Chairman Releases Trump Details 1:59

Questioned whether or not he has seen direct evidence of collusion, Schiff responded, “I don’t want to get into specifics but I will say that there is evidence that is not circumstantial and is very much worthy of an investigation.”

That is a shift from Sunday’s “Meet the Press” interview, when Schiff only went as far as to say that there was circumstantial evidence of collusion and “direct evidence” of deception.

.@RepAdamSchiff on Trump/Russia connection: “There is more than circumstantial evidence now…and is very much worthy of investigation.”

The Trump campaign and the White House have repeatedly denied that Trump’s associates were at all connected to any activities related to Russia’s attempts to influence the last election.

Schiff’s comments came after Republican committee chair Devin Nunes said that he had seen reports from the U.S. intelligence community showing communication from members of the transition team — and possibly the president himself — were “incidentally collected” as part of a broader surveillance effort.

Nunes said it appeared most of the information was collected after the election and during the transition, it appears it was collected legally, and none of it was related to Russia or the investigation into Russia. He said he did not know who ordered the alleged surveillance.

The disclosure drew condemnation from some Democrats. Schiff bristled at the fact that Nunes did not share the information with him before updating reporters and the White House.

“The chairman will need to decide whether he is the chairman of an independent investigation into conduct, which includes allegations of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians, or he’s going to act as a surrogate of the White House. Because he cannot do both,” Schiff said.

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Full Interview: Schiff on His Confidence in House Intel Committee 8:40

Nunes said at a press conference that “the intelligence community incidentally collected information about American citizens involved in the Trump transition.”

“From what I know right now it looks like incidental collection, we don’t know exactly how that was picked up, but we’re are trying to get to the bottom of it,” Nunes said.

Trump said he felt somewhat vindicated by Nunes’ disclosure: “I somewhat do. I very much appreciated the fact that they found what they found,” the president said.

Nunes said he has not seen any evidence that former President Barack Obama had Trump’s “wires tapped” before the election — a claim Trump made on Twitter. The director of the FBI said Monday he has no evidence backing up the tweeted claim.

Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Virginia, said he was “absolutely mystified by Chairman Nunes’ actions,” and the decision to brief Trump on the information “seems pretty inappropriate to me.”

Republican Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, told MSNBC’s Greta Van Susteren that the back-and-forth among the top members of the committee was “bizarre” and he said partisan fighting had cost Congress its credibility to investigate Russian interference the election.

“No longer does the Congress have credibility to handle this alone, and I don’t say that lightly,” McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said.

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McCain: Select Committee On Russia Now A ‘Requirement’10:36

On Monday, FBI Director James Comey confirmed that an investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia had been ongoing since July. Comey said the probe was included in the agency’s investigation into what the U.S. intelligence community concluded was an attempt by Russia to interfere with the 2016 election with the purpose of helping Trump win.

The House and Senate Intelligence Committees are conducting their own investigations.

Two weeks ago on “Meet The Press,” James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence under President Obama, said that to his knowledge, there was no evidence of collusion between Moscow and Trump associates. Clapper oversaw the work of U.S. intelligence agencies through January 20th.

On Wednesday, Schiff told Todd of Clapper’s statements, “All I can tell you is reviewing the evidence that I have, I don’t think you can conclude that at all — far from it.”

Mr Comey said the investigation was “very complex” and he could not give a timetable for its completion

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

Trump Russia claims: FBI’s Comey confirms investigation of election ‘interference’
Media caption What FBI Director Comey said on Trump, Russia and wiretaps

FBI director James Comey has confirmed for the first time that the FBI is investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.

However, Mr Comey said his agency had seen no evidence to back up President Trump’s claim that his phones had been tapped by the Obama administration.

He was giving evidence to the congressional intelligence committee.

The Trump administration said nothing had changed and there was “no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion”.

Russia has always denied attempting to influence the US presidential election.

The FBI investigation would examine possible links between individuals in the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was co-ordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, Mr Comey said.

The FBI would also assess whether crimes were committed, he said.

Mr Comey said the investigation was “very complex” and he could not give a timetable for its completion.

“We will follow the facts wherever they lead,” he said.

putinImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Mr Putin “hated Mrs Clinton so much” that he had a strong preference for her rival, Mr Comey said

National Security Agency (NSA) chief Admiral Mike Rogers also appeared before the committee.

He said the NSA stood by an intelligence community report published in January, which said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered a campaign to harm the campaign of Mr Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton.

‘No wiretap on Trump Tower’

Mr Comey said he had no information on unsubstantiated claims tweeted by Mr Trump earlier this month that former president Barack Obama had ordered a wiretap on Trump Tower.

This was despite looking carefully for such evidence, he said. The Department of Justice also had no information, he said.


Analysis – BBC North America reporter Anthony Zurcher

FBI Director James Comey (L) and National Security Agency Director Mike RogersImage copyrightAFP

What FBI Director James Comey didn’t say during intelligence hearings today on possible Russian meddling in the 2016 US election was as important as what he did say.

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who had ties to pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians? No comment. Long-time Trump adviser Roger Stone, who reportedly had communications with individuals who hacked the Democratic National Committee emails? No comment. Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign after leaked evidence surfaced that he had communicated with a Russian ambassador about US sanctions? No comment.

“I don’t want to answer any questions about a US person,” Mr Comey said.

All of this is evidence that the investigation isn’t just ongoing, it’s substantive and far-reaching.

While Democrats will likely be encouraged by this, it was telling that Republicans pursued the White House line that the topic of greatest concern was the intelligence leaks that put this story in the headlines.

If Mr Trump can consolidate his party’s support, it will go a long way towards insulating the president against any fallout from this investigation.


Meanwhile, Admiral Rogers strongly denied that the NSA had asked Britain’s GCHQ intelligence agency to spy on Mr Trump – a claim that had been repeated by Mr Trump’s spokesman, Sean Spicer.

The allegation “clearly frustrates a key ally of ours”, he added.

GCHQ has described the claim as “utterly ridiculous”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Donald Trump at a press conferenceImage copyrightREUTERS
Image caption Mr Trump raised eyebrows after he suggested both he and Mrs Merkel had been wiretapped by Mr Obama

Mr Trump’s recent joke about how Mr Obama had wiretapped both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and him “complicates things” with an ally, Admiral Rogers added.

However, Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, said it was still possible that other surveillance activities had been used against Mr Trump and his associates.

What are the allegations?

In January, US intelligence agencies said Kremlin-backed hackers had broken into the email accounts of senior Democrats and released embarrassing messages in order to help Mr Trump defeat Hillary Clinton.

“That was a fairly easy judgement for the community,” Mr Comey said. “Putin hated Secretary Clinton so much that the flipside of that coin was he had a clear preference for the person running against the person he hated so much.”

However, late last summer the Russians concluded that Mr Trump had no chance of winning, based on polls at the time, and so focused on undermining Mrs Clinton, Mr Comey said.

Media caption Trump’s wiretap saga explained in two minutes

Both intelligence chiefs said that Russia had made its intervention in last year’s election campaign unusually obvious, perhaps to further its aim of undermining US democracy.

Mr Comey said Russia had succeeded in this goal, by sowing chaos, division and discord.

Mr Trump has since faced allegations that his campaign team had links to Russian officials.

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has said he saw no evidence of any collusion, up until the time he left his post in January.

Which campaign members have been accused of deception?

Two senior officials in the Trump administration have been caught up in the allegations – former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and Attorney-General Jeff Sessions.

Mr Flynn was fired last month after he misled the White House about his conversations with the Russian ambassador before he was appointed national security adviser.

Michael FlynnImage copyright AP
Image caption Michael Flynn encouraged a softer policy on Russia and a harder line on Iran

He allegedly discussed US sanctions with ambassador Sergei Kislyak. It is illegal for private citizens to conduct US diplomacy.

Meanwhile, Mr Sessions was accused by Democrats of lying under oath during his confirmation hearing in January.

He said he had “no communications with the Russians”, but it later emerged that he had met Mr Kislyak during the campaign.

Mr Sessions denied any wrongdoing, but removed himself from an FBI inquiry into Russia’s alleged interference in the election.

Related Topics

FBI Director James Comey Warned Wednesday That Americans Should Not Have Expectations Of “absolute privacy,

 

(CNN) FBI Director James Comey warned Wednesday that Americans should not have expectations of “absolute privacy,” adding that he planned to finish his term leading the FBI.

“There is no such thing as absolute privacy in America; there is no place outside of judicial reach,” Comey said at a Boston College conference on cybersecurity. He made the remark as he discussed the rise of encryption since 2013 disclosures by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed sensitive US spy practices.
“Even our communications with our spouses, with our clergy members, with our attorneys are not absolutely private in America,” Comey added. “In appropriate circumstances, a judge can compel any one of us to testify in court about those very private communications.”
But, he also said Americans “have a reasonable expectation of privacy in our homes, in our cars, in our devices.
“It is a vital part of being an American. The government cannot invade our privacy without good reason, reviewable in court,” Comey continued.
In the last four months of 2016, the FBI lawfully gained access to 2,800 devices recovered in criminal, terrorism and counterintelligence investigations and the FBI was unable to open 43% of those devices, Comey said.
Americans’ desire for privacy and security should never be viewed as incompatible, he said.
“We all value privacy. We all value security. We should never have to sacrifice one for the other,” Comey said. “Our founders struck a bargain that is at the center of this amazing country of ours and has been for over two centuries.”
FBI director at center of many controversies
Comey’s leadership of the FBI has been marked by controversy in the wake of the bureau’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email controversy and President Donald Trump’s baseless accusations that President Barack Obama ordered the wiretapping of phones at Trump Tower.
He did not address the wiretapping claim nor WikiLeaks’ recent claim that it obtained internal CIA documents.
Comey did, however, say he plans to finish out his 10-year term.
“You’re stuck with me for about another 6 1/2 years, and so I’d love to be invited back again,” he said.

Wikileaks: The CIA Is Using Popular TVs, Smartphones And Cars To Spy On Their Owners

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

Wikileaks: The CIA is using popular TVs, smartphones and cars to spy on their owners

March 7 2017

Wikileaks posts alleged trove of CIA hacking tools

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Anti-secrecy group Wikileaks on Tuesday said it had obtained a top-secret trove of hacking tools used by the CIA to break into phones, communication apps and other electronic devices, and published confidential documents on those programs. (Reuters)

The latest revelations about U.S. government’s powerful hacking tools potentially takes surveillance right into the homes and hip pockets of billions of users worldwide, showing how a remarkable variety of every day devices can be turned to spy on their owners.

Televisions, smartphones and Internet-connected vehicles are all vulnerable to CIA hacking, according to the Wikileaks documents released Tuesday. The capabilities described include recording the sounds, images and the private text messages of users, even when they use encrypted apps to communicate. The CIA also studied whether it could infect vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks, which Wikileaks said could allow “nearly undetectable assassinations.”

In the case of a tool called “Weeping Angel” for attacking Samsung SmartTVs, Wikileaks wrote, “After infestation, Weeping Angel places the target TV in a ‘Fake-Off’ mode, so that the owner falsely believes the TV is off when it is on, In ‘Fake-Off’ mode the TV operates as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the Internet to a covert CIA server.”

The documents, which The Washington Post could not independently verify and the CIA has declined to confirm, list supposed tools for cracking into such widely popular devices as Apple’s iPhone or the Android smartphones whose operating system is made by Google, but there are marked differences from the 2013 revelations by the National Security Agency’s former contractor Edward Snowden.

His documents largely described mass surveillance of Internet-based communications systems, more often than the individual devices that appear to have been the focus of the CIA. By targeting devices, the CIA could gain access to even well-encrypted communications, on such popular apps as Signal and WhatsApp, without having to crack the encryption itself. The Wikileaks reports appear to acknowledge that difference by saying the CIA “bypassed” as opposed to defeated encryption technologies.

Resignation and frustration rippled through Silicon Valley on Tuesday as technologists grappled with revelations of yet another government attempt to exploit their systems.

“The argument that there is some terrorist using a Samsung TV somewhere – as a reason to not disclose that vulnerability to the company, when it puts thousands of Americans at risk — I fundamentally disagree with it, “ said Alex Rice, chief technology officer for Hacker One, a startup that enlists hackers to report security gaps to companies and organizations in exchange for cash.

Privacy experts say the CIA may have been forced into focusing on vulnerable devices because the Internet overall has become more secure through more widespread deployment of encryption. In this new world, devices have become the most vulnerable link.

“The idea that the CIA and NSA can hack into devices is kind of old news,” said Johns Hopkins cryptography expert Matthew Green. “Anyone who thought they couldn’t was living in a fantasy world.”

Snowden’s revelations and the backlash made strong encryption a major, well-funded cause for both privacy advocates and, perhaps more importantly, technology companies that had the engineering expertise and budgets to protect data as it flowed across the world.

Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo and many other companies announced major new initiatives, in part to protect their brands against accusations by some users that they had made it too easy for the NSA to collect information from their systems. Many Web sites, meanwhile, began encrypting their data flows to users to prevent snooping. Encryption tools such as Tor were strengthened.

Encrypting apps for private messaging, such as Signal, Telegram and WhatsApp exploded in popularity, especially among users around the world who were fearful of government intrusion. In the days following the U.S. presidential election, Signal was among the most downloaded in Apple’s app store and downloads grew by more than 300 percent.

Open Whispers Systems, which developed Signal, released a statement: “The CIA/Wikileaks story today is about getting malware onto phones, none of the exploits are in Signal or break Signal Protocol encryption.” WhatsApp declined to comment, and Telegram did not respond to requests for comment. Google declined to comment, while Samsung and Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

U.S. government authorities complained loudly that the new wave of encryption was undermining their ability to investigate serious crimes, such as terrorism and child pornography. The FBI sued Apple in hopes of forcing it to unlock an iPhone used by the San Bernadino killers before announcing it had other ways to crack the device amid heavy public criticism.

Against that backdrop, many privacy advocates argued that devices — often called “endpoints” for their place on chains of communications that can criss-cross continents — were the best available target left in a world with widespread online encryption. The Wikileaks documents suggests that the CIA may have reached the same conclusion.

“It would certainly be consistent with the hypothesis that we’ve made real progress in the encryption we’ve been introducing,” said Peter Eckersley, technology projects director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based civil liberties group. “It’s impossible to be 100 percent certain, but reading the tea leaves, it’s plausible.”

The Wikileaks revelations also will serve as a reminder that, for whatever the political backlash to revelations about digital spying, it is not going away and probably will continue to grow. The focus on hacking into individual devices — rather than the messages traveling between them — is likely to increase pressure on companies to make those devices safer because, as experts have long said, they are the most vulnerable target in a long chain of digital interactions.

That could be especially important for U.S. tech companies, such as Google, Apple and Facebook, that have worked to rebuild their reputations as stewards of their users’ privacy in recent years.

Cybersecurity experts, meanwhile, reacted with alarm to the news of the Wikileaks release.

“This is explosive,” said Jake Williams, founder of Rendition Infosec, a cybersecurity firm. The material highlights specific antivirus products that can be defeated, going further than a release of NSA hacking tools last year, he said.

The CIA hackers, according to WikiLeaks, even “discussed what the NSA’s …hackers did wrong and how the CIA’s malware makers could avoid similar exposure.”

Hackers who worked at NSA’s Tailored Access Operations unit said the CIA’s library of tools looked comparable. The description of the implants, which are software that enable a hacker to remotely control a compromised device, and other attack tools appear to be “very, very complex” and “at least on par with the NSA,” said one former TAO hacker who spoke on condition his name not be used.

The WikiLeaks release revealed that they have sophisticated “stealth” capabilities that enable hackers not only to infiltrate systems, but evade detection, as well as abilities to “escalate privileges” or move inside a system as if they owned it.

“The only thing that separates NSA from commodity malware in the first place is their ability to remain hidden,” the former TAO hacker said. “So when you talk about the stealth components, it’s huge that you’re seeing a tangible example here of them using and researching stealth.”

Computer security experts noted that the release includes no actual tools or exploits, “so we don’t know if WikiLeaks did not get them or is just not choosing to publish them,” Nicholas Weaver, a computer security researcher at the University of California at Berkeley. “However we should assume that whoever stole this data has access to the exploits and tools.”

He noted that the dates in the files suggest the tools were taken in February or March 2016 and that there are at least two documents marked Top Secret, “which suggests that somebody in early 2016 managed to compromise a Top Secret CIA development system and is willing to say that they did.”

One internal CIA document listed a set of Apple iPhone “exploits” — or tools that can be used to compromise the device by taking advantage of software flaws. Some of the tools are based on “zero-days,” which are software vulnerabilities that have not been shared with the manufacturer. So “some of these descriptions will allow Apple to fix the vulnerabilities,” Weaver said. “But at the same time, they’re out in the public and whoever stole this data could use them against U.S. interests.”

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