A Deep Dive Into the Russian Active Measures Against the United States

The Guardian has published a long form, deep dive piece of investigative journalism into the Russian active measures against the US, provided what is close to the definitive context of how the Steele dossier came to be, and quickly and neatly debunked both the conspiracy theory that the FBI based its inquiry on the Steele dossier and that the Clinton campaign, and the Clintons, were really conspiring with Putin and Russia against the US.

Let’s start with that last item first:

In mid-2015, the Republican front-runner had been Jeb Bush, son of one US president and brother of another. But as the campaign got under way, Bush struggled. Trump dubbed the former Florida governor “low-energy”. During the primaries, a website funded by one of Trump’s wealthy Republican critics, Paul Singer, commissioned Fusion to investigate Trump.

After Trump became the presumptive nominee in May 2016, Singer’s involvement ended and senior Democrats seeking to elect Hillary Clinton took over the Trump contract. The new client was the Democratic National Committee. A lawyer working for Clinton’s campaign, Marc E Elias, retained Fusion and received its reports. The world of private investigation was a morally ambiguous one – a sort of open market in dirt. Information on Trump was of no further use to Republicans, but it could be of value to Democrats, Trump’s next set of opponents.

The FBI, as we know from following this story closely as it emerged across 2016, based its counterintelligence inquiry not on the Steele dossier, but on intercepts and intelligence products produced by US allies and partners. (emphasis mine)

In late 2015 the British eavesdropping agency, GCHQ, was carrying out standard “collection” against Moscow targets. These were known Kremlin operatives already on the grid. Nothing unusual here – except that the Russians were talking to people associated with Trump. The precise nature of these exchanges has not been made public, but according to sources in the US and the UK, they formed a suspicious pattern. They continued through the first half of 2016. The intelligence was handed to the US as part of a routine sharing of information.

The FBI and the CIA were slow to appreciate the extensive nature of these contacts between Trump’s team and Moscow. This was in part due to institutional squeamishness – the law prohibits US agencies from examining the private communications of US citizens without a warrant.

But the electronic intelligence suggested Steele was right. According to one account, the US agencies looked as if they were asleep. “‘Wake up! There’s something not right here!’ – the BND [German intelligence], the Dutch, the French and SIS were all saying this,” one Washington-based source told me.

That summer, GCHQ’s then head, Robert Hannigan, flew to the US to personally brief CIA chief John Brennan. The matter was deemed so important that it was handled at “director level”, face-to-face between the two agency chiefs. James Clapper, director of national intelligence, later confirmed the “sensitive” stream of intelligence from Europe. After a slow start, Brennan used the GCHQ information and other tip-offs to launch a major inter-agency investigation. Meanwhile, the FBI was receiving disturbing warnings from Steele.

As for how the Steele dossier came to be:

Before this, in early spring 2016, Simpson approached Steele, his friend and colleague. Steele began to scrutinise Paul Manafort, who would soon become Trump’s new campaign manager. From April, Steele investigated Trump on behalf of the DNC, Fusion’s anonymous client. All Steele knew at first was that the client was a law firm. He had no idea what he would find. He later told David Corn, Washington editor of the magazine Mother Jones: “It started off as a fairly general inquiry.” Trump’s organisation owned luxury hotels around the world. Trump had, as far back as 1987, sought to do real estate deals in Moscow. One obvious question for him, Steele said, was: “Are there business ties to Russia?”

Over time, Steele had built up a network of sources. He was protective of them: who they were he would never say. It could be someone well-known – a foreign government official or diplomat with access to secret material. Or it could be someone obscure – a lowly chambermaid cleaning the penthouse suite and emptying the bins in a five-star hotel.

Normally an intelligence officer would debrief sources directly, but since Steele could no longer visit Russia, this had to be done by others, or in third countries. There were intermediaries, subsources, operators – a sensitive chain. Only one of Steele’s sources on Trump knew of Steele. Steele put out his Trump-Russia query and waited for answers. His sources started reporting back. The information was astonishing; “hair-raising”. As he told friends: “For anyone who reads it, this is a life-changing experience.”

Steele had stumbled upon a well-advanced conspiracy that went beyond anything he had discovered with Litvinenko or Fifa. It was the boldest plot yet. It involved the Kremlin and Trump. Their relationship, Steele’s sources claimed, went back a long way. For at least the past five years, Russian intelligence had been secretly cultivating Trump. This operation had succeeded beyond Moscow’s wildest expectations. Not only had Trump upended political debate in the US – raining chaos wherever he went and winning the nomination – but it was just possible that he might become the next president. This opened all sorts of intriguing options for Putin.

I highly recommend you click across and read the whole thing. It will be well worth your time.

117 replies
  1. 1
    Corner Stone says:

    In late 2015, you say?

  2. 2
    Gin & Tonic says:

    I hope, and expect, that blood-soaked mercenary Paul Fucking Manafort is singing like a goddamned canary.

  3. 3
    Corner Stone says:

    I hope one day soon we can finally put to rest the idea that President Obama had a last minute Sophie’s Choice Gordian Knot Devil’s Bargain Political Deadlock in the last month of the 2016 election.

  4. 4
    ET says:

    What is so weird is that I briefly worked with Simpson – not that he would remember me – and he was the star reporter at Roll Call. He was good and no slacker.

  5. 5
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Corner Stone: No rest putting for you!

  6. 6
    Adam L Silverman says:

    Oopsie!

    http://bluevirginia.us/2017/11.....s-question

    On the second issue, regarding the “split precincts” in Fredericksburg City, Elias explained that this “seems to have resulted in a…significant number of voters in HD-28 being denied their right to vote in the HD-28 delegate race.” Elias said “we think it affects around 650 voters, which is obviously more than the margin that currently separates the two candidates.” The problem, according to Elias, is that only one “split precinct” (between HD-28 and HD-88) is permitted in Fredericksburg under Virginia’s 2011 redistricting statute. Elias continued (bolding added by me for emphasis):

    The problem is, when you look at the unofficial results of the election [currently posted on the SBE website], it actually shows three precincts in Fredericksburg that were split between HD-28 and HD-88. The two extra split precincts are precincts that the statute says are to be entirely within HD-28. That means that ALL of the voters in those precincts should have been given ballots to vote for HD-28 and NONE of them should have been given ballots to vote in HD-88. The [SBE website] seems to suggest the opposite of that, which is that some were given for 28 and some were given for 88. Specifically, the unofficial results show 688 votes that were cast in HD-88 between the two precincts combined. Now, this is a very very serious issue, because…that is a state law, and Registrars are not free to ignore the redistricting statutes. Statutes are there to delineate who cast ballots in what districts…This is not something we have drawn a firm conclusion on, it is something we are investigating. It may be that there is a simple explanation for this…We’re being very methodical about looking at this. But if you look at the website, it appears 668 voters were denied their right to vote for the delegate who represents them by law in the 28th district. Now obviously, 668 votes is a far greater number than the number of votes that decided the election in HD-28. And if you look at the unofficial results there, based on a partisan analysis, it certainly would seem to change the outcome of the election…be race determinative…Obviously, it is not a tolerable situation for 668 voters to be disenfranchised – period – and particularly not in an election where those votes likely were race determinative of the outcome.

    P.S. I just checked the State Board of Elections website, and in HD-88, precincts 201 and 402 in Fredericksburg went for the Democratic candidate by a 160-118 and 239-83 margin, respectively. So yeah, if those were supposed to be in HD-28, it would make a big difference indeed!

  7. 7
    kindness says:

    I’m sure Republicans in the Senate will get right on this….after they smear Hillary & Roy Moore’s accusers some more.

  8. 8
    Adam L Silverman says:

    The freude is schaddening:

  9. 9

    I am working on collating information into my breakdown of the Steele dossier claims. It’s slow work, particularly with Carter Page’s testimony, which is unsearchable. But I think some of this may go faster from where I am now. Will post when I have it to a satisfactory state.

    My general impression, so far: The dossier is correct in a general way, but details often don’t match up. Part of the difficulty is that I have to assume that the Trumpies are willing to lie, so I suspect that with the amount of information Mueller and even the Congressional committees have, additional matchups can be seen or inferred.

  10. 10
    debbie says:

    Adam, I know I shouldn’t go OT so early in this thread, but have you heard anything about Phil Roe (R-TN), Chairman of the VA Affairs Committee, proposing to charge vets $100/month to access the GI Bill?

  11. 11
    japa21 says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Taking those votes away from HD 88 would impact that race how?

    ETA, Never mind. The Republican won that district big time, so it would not have impacted or changed the results there.

  12. 12
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @debbie: I have not. But I’m not a veteran, so unless I specifically saw a headline about it, it isn’t something I’d be paying attention to.

  13. 13
    debbie says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I’ve been Googling without success and hoping it’s fake news.

  14. 14
    NotMax says:

    Yes, he deep dives, too.

    /couldn’t resist, even though it’s RT

  15. 15
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka The Hope of the Universe) 🗳 🌷 says:

    For at least the past five years, Russian intelligence had been secretly cultivating Trump.

    Calling him the Manchurian Candidate isn’t hyperbole any more

  16. 16
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @japa21: I have no idea. Right now this still appears to be preliminary. As it appears a mistake was made, largely caused by the bizarre gerrymander that the GOP majority in VA drew through Fredericksburg, which is very confusing for the local elections officials. That is, of course, separate from the not counting the 55 absentee ballots.

  17. 17
    mike in dc says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    What we, the public and media don’t generally have, is the SIGINT. The communications intercepts, FISA transcripts, etc. Having a better sense of that, and any correlation between the date/contents of comms and events we’re already aware of, will likely fill in many of the blanks.

  18. 18
    Adam L Silverman says:

    Remember if you buy through the Balloon Juice link Cole makes money. The rest of us not so much. Or at all really. Nada. Bubpkis. Zero. Zilch.

  19. 19
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka The Hope of the Universe) 🗳 🌷: Except that Manchuria isn’t in Russia. Other than that, you may be correct.

  20. 20
    Jeffro says:

    @Adam L Silverman: love the shirt!

    Dave Hause (formerly of the Loved Ones) has one with a pic of Orangemandias and the header DIRTY FUCKER (he has a song of the same name). I’ll be wearing that when Dave hits DC in about a week…

  21. 21
    jeffreyw says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    Will Sommer ✔@willsommer
    Final update: this British guy tracked him down and drove to the In N Out to remind him Twitter is a private company and they can do what they want pic.twitter.com/pxtjIxMErm
    4:22 PM – Nov 15, 2017

  22. 22
    Corner Stone says:

    I love it when Ali Velshi just *leans back* today on Velshi & Ruhle when Stephanie is going after Moore’s attorney on that bullshit he was trying to pull.

  23. 23
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @mike in dc: And we’re likely never going to get to see them. Do you have a need to know and the necessary clearances? I know I don’t have a need to know.

  24. 24
  25. 25
    Baud says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Who’s that? Some fascist?

  26. 26

    @mike in dc: There’s a whole lot we don’t have, not just the SIGINT.

  27. 27
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Baud: He ran Milo’s tour for a while. His family runs a pro-Russian organization in Alaska. He’s an alt-right neo-NAZI. Got pepper sprayed in Charlottesville.

  28. 28
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Baud: No, you want to know. I want to know. I do not need to know. At least not for anything I’m currently working on.

  29. 29
    CaseyL says:

    Adam, I glad you posted this! I read the article this morning (guardian.co.uk is one of my regular stops) and instantly wanted to spread the word about it.

    If RU started cultivating Dolt45 in 2005 – long before he had any political ambitions, SFAIK – it makes me wonder how many other oligarch-wanna-bes are in Putin’s little black book, and how many of them are now in the Cabinet, Congress, and state governor mansions.

  30. 30
    NotMax says:

    @Baud

    Shall be tossed over the transom as soon as you get around to installing one.

    ;)

  31. 31
    sharl says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Do you follow @emptywheel (Cheryl Wheeler)? She has been extremely skeptical about a lot of the claims made regarding the Steele dossier. I haven’t looked closely at her writings myself – I’m lazily waiting for all you smart and diligent folks to do the work – but whether agreeing with her or not, her content should make a good whetstone for further sharpening an analysis of the dossier.

    I feel like I could teach an entire Freshman Comp class about what the fucking Steele dossier actually says, as compared to what people think it says.— emptywheel (@emptywheel) November 15, 2017

    Shorter Christopher Steele: My dossier is 70-90% correct, but i missed a REALLY BIG thing that would have been a slam dunk to investigate. NBD https://t.co/yrmFx0KfZZ— emptywheel (@emptywheel) November 15, 2017

  32. 32
    geg6 says:

    @sharl:

    Far as I can tell, she seems to have lost her mind.

  33. 33
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @CaseyL:

    in 2005 – long before he had any political ambitions

    Asshole Trump has had political ambitions for three decades. This idea that he’s a neophyte needs to die a well-deserved death. He’s been running for this office since the 1980’s.

  34. 34

    @sharl: I don’t follow Marcy Wheeler on Twitter. She is one of the people I’d like to follow, but she tweets more voluminously than works for me. I do subscribe to the Emptywheel blog via RSS.

    In the past, I have both agreed and disagreed with Marcy on numerous things. But I find our agreement on L’Affaire Russe remarkable. That’s not to say it’s 100%, but she picks out details that look important to me as well, for one example. And our overall interpretation is very similar.

    I particularly agree that there is a lot of loose talk about the dossier that doesn’t represent it well. For example, I saw a number of claims after Carter Page’s testimony that it totally supports the dossier. The situation is much more complex than that, although the overall sense is of support. I’ve also been wondering why nobody has paid more attention to Rybolovlev.

    I’ll probably post the annotated dossier without comment, then write up my overall sense of things.

  35. 35
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka The Hope of the Universe) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Update: it’s actually an In N Out, and he’s asking customers what he should do now that he’s been banned

    Fuck off back to the Alaskan wilderness like Chris McCandless.

  36. 36
    NotMax says:

    @Gin & Tonic

    Donald has been at the end of a leash made of Russian money since they bailed him out during the 90s.

    What’s the Russian for “Want to go walkies?”

  37. 37
  38. 38
    Roger Moore says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Got pepper sprayed in Charlottesville.

    Isn’t he the one who pepper sprayed himself so he could claim victimhood?

  39. 39
    jacy says:

    @Corner Stone:

    That guy is a nutjob. And not just a garden variety nutjob. Wasn’t he the one who called Don Lemon “Easy-Peasy-Lemon-Squeezy” during his interview? I think so, but most anything I see on cable news these days seems like it’s out of a mescaline-induced hallucination.

  40. 40

    There’s not much new in the Guardian article, although if you haven’t been following that action in detail, it’s worth a read.

    My biggest objection is that it presents the sensational, salacious story of Trump’s vengeance on the Ritz-Carlton’s Obama bed as significant. The story is consistent with Trump’s hatred toward Obama, and the FSB likes to record sex tapes, but if they have kompromat on Trump, I doubt that the pee tape, much as many juicers would like to see it surface, is the most significant.

    The most significant kompromat would be the story of Trump’s involvement with the Kremlin, or the Kremlin’s unsolicited help to him, wherever the facts fall on that continuum. A significant sex-tape kompromat would be something that Trump didn’t want people to know. He might be a bit shy about the pee tape, but I doubt that it’s much worse than the Access Hollywood tape in his mind. What would be motivating kompromat for Trump? I would guess activity with another man or with obviously underage girls. Or boys. And then, for kompromat, there could be full records of money-laundering deals, which is why I’ve wondered about Rybolovlev. Now that would be kompromat.

  41. 41
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @debbie:

    I found this, but it’s from last April. Nothing since then as far as my Google-on-the-phone skills permit.

  42. 42
    GregB says:

    Reposted from below.

    I think we may be on the crest of a wave.

    The wingnutosphere is getting purged from Twitter.

    Business Insider is fingering Chuck Johnson as a connection between T Jr. and Wiki.

    An article tying CA to the Brexit vote and intra party collusion in UK.

    Drudge is tossing Bannon under the bus.

  43. 43
    riccardo cabeza says:

    the US agencies looked as if they were asleep. “‘Wake up! There’s something not right here!’

    Trillion dollar budget, post 911 paranoia, new free domestic spying and the US spy agencies are still fukc ups.

  44. 44
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    He needs to stop defiling In N Out, an actual good fast-food chain.

  45. 45
  46. 46
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @CaseyL: Good question.

  47. 47
    What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us? says:

    @CaseyL: You know Rex Tillerson is one… he’s hollowing out the State Department, which is the main vehicle for exerting American soft power and influence around the world. Gee, who stands to benefit from that? America First my ass, they’re selling us out on the cheap and it’s completely obvious.

  48. 48
    Mnemosyne says:

    @sharl:

    She’s been a skeptic of the Russian connection the whole time. Interestingly, she seems to have finally accepted that the Russians were behind the leaks of the DNC emails — maybe — but she’s really dug in on the Steele thing.

  49. 49
    sharl says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: This was just posted

    NEW: Judge rejects secrecy in legal fight between House intel panel and Fusion GPS linked to Trump dossier. 'Let the public see the pleadings.' https://t.co/F1vSBz4vgp— Josh Gerstein (@joshgerstein) November 16, 2017

    It addresses issues of payment for Christopher Steele and the dossier, not the dossier’s content, but I’m sure that Devin Nunes, Twitler and his Presidential Daily Briefing team – Fox and Friends – will be desperately looking to milk the payment (non)issue for all it is worth. We’ll see soon enough.

  50. 50
    manyakitty says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: I can’t imagine that Mueller wouldn’t interview Steele, if he hasn’t already.

  51. 51
    raven says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Throughout the years the especially sharp-eyed have noticed the presence of cryptic name-and-number notations on burger wrappings and disposable cups used at In-N-Out Burger, a popular chain of hamburger eateries in California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas and Utah. These tiny notations are placed in out-of-the-way spots (the undersides of cups and near the seams of the paper pouches burgers are placed in). No overt explanation is given for

    the presence of the odd phrases or their meaning: they just quietly sit there, awaiting decipherment by those moved to do so.

    These mysterious markings are pointers to Biblical passages. Those easily disturbed by the presence of Bible verses need not fear for their souls, however: The text of the passages themselves are not spelled out on the cups and wrappings; only their notations appear there.

    In-N-Out Burger was founded by Harry and Esther Snyder in Baldwin Park, California, in 1948. Although this chain of west coast hamburger restaurants has since grown to more than 200 outlets, control still rests in the hands of the Snyder family. According to the company’s web site: “In-N-Out remains privately owned and the Snyder family has no plans to take the company public or franchise any units.” The Snyders are a religious family, and their continuing to control their own company means they can put what they want on their product packaging. They’ve chosen to include pointers to particular Bible verses that we presume hold special meaning for them.

    The soda cup bears the notation John 3:16:

  52. 52
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @sharl: Marcy Wheeler is neither an attorney, though she likes to play one on social media and the Internet, nor a trained intelligence officer. As for Ryobolev, it may simply be that he ran out of time to get to it.

    As for the 70-90% accuracy that Steele is suggesting. It is possible, but what the dossier contains is a mixture of accurate information, inaccurate information (as in not purposefully created to be inaccurate, just material that is not accurate), and purposefully inaccurate information. Steele has high confidence in his sources, which is why he is indicated high confidence in what he put together from them. The reality, however, is that portions of the dossier are based on material that is either inaccurate because it is just wrong or because it was purposefully manufactured to be wrong so that when sources came looking they would find it. It doesn’t make Steele bad at what he does. Nor does it make him naive. It is simply the reality of the kind of work he was doing.

  53. 53
    Mnemosyne says:

    @raven:

    Yep. And they pay above market rate, have good benefits (they’ve offered health insurance to part-timers for years) and employ a ton of workers.

    They seem to be actual Christians, not Roy Moore Christians.

    ETA: To find that John 3:16 notation on the drink cup, you have to turn it upside down and look on the inside rim of the bottom of the cup.

  54. 54
    sharl says:

    @Mnemosyne: That tends to be my favorite kind of skeptic, as long as it’s the kind of skepticism where the skeptic shows all her/his work. IMO it’s the difference between her and Greenwald, who goes into balls-to-the-wall lawyer-type advocacy mode on stuff like this; an appropriate and even admirable thing in an actual courtroom setting I suppose, but not when you’re calling yourself a journalist.

  55. 55
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Gin & Tonic: And his first trip to the Soviet Union took place in 1987 and was recommended, organized, and planned by Roger Stone.

  56. 56

    @raven: I thought everybody knew about that. So? Lots of businesses are owned by Christians.

  57. 57
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Roger Moore: I don’t pay that much attention to him.

  58. 58
    debbie says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    Thanks, that’s it. I’m glad to see the vets will be fighting this. It’s just so, so stupid.

  59. 59
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: The Ritz-Carlton sex tape is most certainly both disinformation and provocation measures.

  60. 60
    Gravenstone says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I suppose “stop being such an asshole” would not be well received?

  61. 61
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @GregB: Rage Furby is up to his rust red deep pile shag covered neck in this mess. And he is going to finally be very, very sorry.

  62. 62
    Mnemosyne says:

    @sharl:

    I’m all in favor of skepticism, but she’s been a little too skeptical about the Russia connections, IMO. Not quite as bad as GG, but she was a little too dug in on The CIA Is Always Evil! and is now running to catch up to the rest of us.

  63. 63
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @riccardo cabeza: Unfortunately the foci on post 9-11 terrorism/counter-terrorism, child porn (where Ashcroft actually diverted most of the post 9-11 terrorism/counterterrorism money initially), and drug counter drug trafficking significantly ate into our counterintelligence capabilities. And this includes to paying attention to these problems. Combine this with the mistaken belief that the end of the Cold War created a peace dividend because Russia, as the successor state to the Soviet Union, would not be a threat and would eventually emerge as a partner.

  64. 64
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mnemosyne: Never been.

  65. 65
    planetjanet says:

    @japa21: Those two precincts went heavily Democratic, by far more than the margin. From later in the article: “and in HD-88, precincts 201 and 402 in Fredericksburg went for the Democratic candidate by a 160-118 and 239-83 margin, respectively. So yeah, if those were supposed to be in HD-28, it would make a big difference indeed!”

  66. 66
    Jeffro says:

    I think we all need to brace ourselves for a day, someday soon, when several dozen indictments drop…and/or when these kkklowns decide it’s time to shut it all down…and/or when the extent of GOP enablers’ enabling becomes widespread public knowledge. When that day hits, it’ll be important that the country know, we won’t be okay with just going down the line of succession.

  67. 67

    @debbie: It is not a rumor. Here is the link.

  68. 68
    sharl says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I basically agree with that assessment of Wheeler. I don’t think she has any formal training in document analysis, but she’s gained considerable expertise in that from her days on the Scooter Libby business. Looking for omissions and inconsistencies is her thing, and I think she’s pretty good at it.

    I’m more skeptical when she goes into political analysis, where she often seems to favor more extreme scenarios (damning or exculpatory, depending on the issue at hand). It ain’t so bad once you know that about her writing, and these days skeptical reading is always required anyway. (It’s now hard to remember my long-ago days of absorbing the news from Huntley & Brinkley, John Chancellor, Walter Cronkite, etc. like a baby bird being fed.)

  69. 69
    Jeffro says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I hear he’s going to die in jail. I’m good with that, but I’ll settle for it all crashing down around his ears and him being the first president* in American history to plead guilty to conspiracy against the United States.

  70. 70
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka The Hope of the Universe) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    Could more have been done by the West to aid the Russian and other post-soviet states’ transition into capitalism? To better integrate them into the world economy and create a liberal democratic order in them?

  71. 71
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    They built one right by LAX just so locals can stop off for a last burger when they leave town, or make it their first stop on their way home.

    It’s not necessarily the best burger overall you’ll ever have, but it’s the best fast-food burger you can find.

  72. 72
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Gravenstone: Most likely not. He seems to get very upset when people call him a NAZI.

  73. 73
    Jeffro says:

    Meanwhile, House Dems ‘went there’ and introduced articles of impeachment today. Good for them! It’s not always easy being on the right side of history.

  74. 74
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    If the jackboot fits …

  75. 75
  76. 76
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @sharl: I’m not saying people shouldn’t critically read and critically consider all of this stuff. But I do believe in expertise. And I don’t necessarily have issues with people whose expertise is self acquired. That said I don’t argue computer programming with M4. I don’t argue the law with our legal fleagles. Etc.

  77. 77
    lgerard says:

    Interesting article in USA Today.

    The Senate would first have to swear Roy in before they can expel him.

    OK then

  78. 78
    sharl says:

    @Mnemosyne: LOL, yeah, that sums her up pretty well.

    As a complete aside: someone on twitter was reminiscing about how she got in trouble on NBC or MSNBC (I forget which) for uttering “blowjob” while on air. She hasn’t been invited back since. I noted that was her Johnny Fever “booger” moment, lol.

  79. 79
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jeffro: Rage Furby isn’t the President. He is an obnoxious blogger who emerged from the Koch funded pipeline, but was unable to actually go legit like McCardle and others did.

  80. 80
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka The Hope of the Universe) 🗳 🌷: Yes, but… Once Putin came to power it didn’t matter what we did or wanted to do or might do. He was not interested then and is not interested now in actually transitioning Russia, or any other former Soviet state, to liberal democracy. Read the first several paragraphs of The Guardian piece, it has a good, concise summary of Putin’s views.

  81. 81

    @Jeffro: “house Dems” or “some Dems in the House”? Last I heard Pelosi and Hoyer were trying to focus on winning 2018 before talking about impeachment.

  82. 82
    Roger Moore says:

    @riccardo cabeza:

    Trillion dollar budget, post 911 paranoia, new free domestic spying and the US spy agencies are still fukc ups.

    A huge part of this is precisely because of the 9/11 paranoia and some of the reaction involving domestic spying. Our spy agencies- whose budget is nowhere near a trillion dollars- are being asked to do a huge amount of spying specifically aimed at international terrorism. That’s made them less focused on traditional international espionage. At the same time, having been nailed on Bush’s domestic spying has made them more nervous about stuff that touches on domestic matters. So yes, they’ve taken their eyes off the ball, but mostly because people have been telling them to look somewhere else instead.

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    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Some members of the House Democratic Caucus. It wasn’t approved of or condoned by the Democratic House leadership.

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    mike in dc says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Perhaps, but if we put someone on trial for espionage or similar acts, I assume that SIGINT is at least occasionally employed as evidence against defendants. The idea that it would never be used, to put the protection of sources and methods above the administration of justice, seems a bit much.

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    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka The Hope of the Universe) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    I meant before he came to power, immediately after the Soviet Union fell in 1991.

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    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Roger Moore: You also have to remember that Russian intelligence backed Wikileaks and the Russian backed Snowden op were concerted efforts to dirty up the US intel community, destroy whatever trust and benefit of the doubt they would be given, and therefore make politicians hesitant to properly fund counterintelligence, which would partially focus on US citizens and residents, as well as the senior leadership in the US intel community that were also more hesitant.

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    frosty says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    It’s not necessarily the best burger overall you’ll ever have, but it’s the best fast-food burger you can find.

    It’s my first stop when I get back to California. Now, for the best burger …. Tommy’s at Ramparts and Beverley maybe?

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    Mnemosyne says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    And the Snowden operation was aimed directly at people like Marcy Wheeler so they would be properly skeptical if the Obama White House tried to say that the Russians were interfering.

    I wish I had been wrong about Snowden and his motives, but I sure wasn’t.

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    Adam L Silverman says:

    @mike in dc: We very rarely, via trial, prosecute anyone under the Espionage Act. When we try folks we know have violated it, or have conducted espionage that doesn’t fit under the Espionage Act, we usually try them for a variety of financial crimes. So we specifically don’t have to burn sources and methods.

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    Mnemosyne says:

    @frosty:

    Ugh. No. HATE TOMMY’S. They only taste halfway good if you’re drunk, and I’ve never been that drunk.

    My Father’s Office, in Santa Monica. But the owner is weird and you CANNOT make any changes or substitutions. You get what you get. Great burger, though.

    ETA: Next best cheap burger — the Apple Pan.

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    Immanentize says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I believe Marcy Wheeler is redoubtable. Smart, tenacious. But she is a part of the Fire Dog Lake, Glenn Greenwald, every rumor is a fact beyond dispute group. But slightly more rational.

    I was a big consumer at FDL in the earliest days….

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    Adam L Silverman says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka The Hope of the Universe) 🗳 🌷: We did, to a certain extent. But once he came to power what we were trying to facilitate, let alone hope to have happened, was all quickly reversed in pursuit of his actual goals: control, power, and wealth.

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    @sharl: What I would like to know about the funding for Steele was why his funders might have thought there was a Russian connection. Not the usual campaign dirt.

    @manyakitty: I think he has.

    @sharl: Marcy is an English major, and document analysis is what they do. Others call it “lit crit,” but if it’s done well, it’s not too different from legal or intelligence analysis. She’s also learned a lot along the way. I agree that she tends toward excessive suspicion of the intelligence agencies, but I have mostly agreed with her analysis of the Steele dossier.

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    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mnemosyne: Correct.

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    mike in dc says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    I guess. There should be exceptions to every rule, however. If, hypothetically, a President was caught in a comms intercept plotting treason against the United States, and that in the view of a prosecutor was an absolutely crucial piece of evidence, I think it’d be time to exfil the relevant source and change the relevant method(s).

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    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: They didn’t. If you go back to The Guardian article, or review other similar reporting, the Russian connection stuff grew out of him investigating Manafort. And that that was specifically requested by Fusion GPS when it was still being funded by Singer on behalf of Jeb’s! campaign.

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    frosty says:

    @Mnemosyne: Never had those other two but I’ll look for them if I’m in the area.

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    Adam L Silverman says:

    @mike in dc: I do not know. And these decisions are made above my pay grade.

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    kindness says:

    There aren’t a whole lot of reasons our own intel people would have sat on the Steele information. By not exposing Trump, how did they gain? What did they gain? Those could be very ugly answers.

    Even with the full release, the tribal right would have still supported and voted for Trump, just like they are now doing for Roy Moore. But it might have swayed just enough Bernie/Jill voters to Hillary so that we wouldn’t be living like this now. There is some karma that needs settling.

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    sharl says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Did that Singer guy support both Jeb! and Marco Rubio? I can’t keep up!

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    Roger Moore says:

    @frosty:

    Now, for the best burger …. Tommy’s at Ramparts and Beverley maybe?

    I’m a firm believer that there’s no such thing as “the best burger” because there are enough different styles of burger out there that it’s a matter of stylistic preference as much as anything about the burger. The thing that makes so many people partisans of In-N-Out is that they’re exemplars of a style that the other fast food chains have largely abandoned, if they ever even tried it. If you want a burger with half a pound of beef, six slices of cheese, a bunch of bacon, and three other odd flavors, you can get it from just about any of the other big chains, but if you want one that concentrates on a nice balance of patty, cheese, tomato, lettuce, and onion, In-N-Out is about the only choice available. Not to mention that their fries actually taste like potato instead of generic fried food.

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    Shana says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Holy crap! I wonder if they’ll rerun the election….

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    Adam L Silverman says:

    @sharl: I don’t know. Singer funds the Washington Examiner and it was the Examiner that hired Fusion GPS.

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    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Shana: They may have to for those three state House of Delegates seats.

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    Shana says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Yes, please! 50 seats Baby, power sharing.

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    GregB says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka The Hope of the Universe) 🗳 🌷:

    That was part of the problem. The hyper capitalists helped to concentrate the wealth into fewer hands. Then Putin came in and did a bit more concentrating.

    Such a shame.

    Sort of like Mao’s dictim about selling capitalists the rope to hang themselves.

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    Jeffro says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Thanks (seriously). It’s quite a sign, isn’t it, that I not only mistook ‘Rage Furby’ to be our illustrious president* but you knew exactly what I was talking about? FSM take the wheel…

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    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Shana: It isn’t up to me. It is also a preliminary report. It may be that nothing untoward happened. The external watchdogs are on it and they’ll deal with it.

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    I’ll disagree slightly with Adam on “sources and methods.” Any piece of intelligence implies something about how it was acquired. When assessing whether exposure of that would be harmful, US intelligence professionals consider what they know about what others know. Plus, when you are on the inside, with lots of information, you can see how the pieces fit together much more easily than those outside. But the professionals on the other side, let’s say Russia, know more than the US professionals, so even if the US professionals think they know how it fits together, they may well be missing some things that the Russians easily know.

    All that means, strictly, that no information acquired by intelligence means should ever be made public and supported by intelligence professionals. A smart adversary will collect every little piece of information and keep adding them together. The Chinese particularly specialize in this, but everyone does it to some degree.

    Even using open-source intelligence can tell an adversary something about what kind of information you are looking at, which in turn may imply what other kinds of acquisition you are doing.

    But the purpose of intelligence is to provide warnings and to help prevent bad things from happening. If the public is to be involved in that, and that will be essential to preventing Russian ops like those of the 2016 election from being effective, then some of this information and analysis will have to be made public. There are situations in which sources and methods become less important. A microphone placement may no longer be effective because a battery has run out or the microphone was found. The source of information may be ambiguous, with several possibilities. Or details can be suppressed to make it look that way. A human source may have been taken out of what would be a dangerous situation if exposed.

    And, I think, the judgment from “inside” is always skewed toward too much caution. It is harder to construct the whole picture from a few facts than it is to see that picture when you’ve got all the facts. That’s not to say that releasing that information doesn’t carry some risk, just that the risk is smaller than it seems from the inside. And there may be public needs that override giving up a source. That judgment will always have to be made.

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    @GregB: Except those pesky capitalists never did end up hanging themselves, so Mao went ahead and killed all the sparrows for some reason.

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    Tuna says:

    I will always believe that the Russians bugged Trump Tower in NYC. When the FBI/SS set up in Trump Tower after the election they discovered the surveillance and to save face Trump blamed it on Obama. In reality, Trumps security was nothing more than body guards.

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    Mnemosyne says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    You know who you’re talking to, right?

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    Mnemosyne says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    I was going to say “someone who really enjoys pie,” but that works, too.

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    @Mnemosyne: No, it’s to make one to take with you, for yourself or friends. The kid did that when she was stationed in Texas(they didn’t have them in San Antonio).

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