Sources and Methods: The Betrayal of an Intelligence Partner

Vanity Fair‘s Howard Blum has done an excellent, long form piece of journalism that finally shed’s light on exactly what the President did when he betrayed the Israelis and told Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and Ambassador Kislyak about their anti-ISIS intelligence mission.

The covert mission into the forbidden plains of northern Syria was a “blue and white” undertaking, as Israel, referring to the colors of its flag, calls ops that are carried out solely by agents of the Jewish state.

Yet—and this is an ironclad operational rule—getting agents in and then swiftly out of enemy territory under the protection of the nighttime darkness can be accomplished only if there is sufficient reconnaissance: the units need to know exactly where to strike, what to expect, what might be out there waiting for them in the shadows. For the mission last winter that targeted a cell of terrorist bombers, according to ABC News, citing American officials, the dangerous groundwork was done by an Israeli spy planted deep inside ISIS territory. Whether he was a double agent Israel had either turned or infiltrated into the ISIS cell, or whether he was simply a local who’d happened to stumble upon some provocative information he realized he could sell—those details remain locked in the secret history of the mission.

The sources agree, however, that the teams got in and out that night, and, even before the returning choppers landed back in Israel, it was confirmed to the jubilant operatives that the audio intercept was already up and running.

Now the waiting began. From an antenna-strewn base near the summit of the Golan Heights, on Israel’s border with Syria, listeners from Unit 8200 monitored the transmissions traveling across the ether from the target in northern Syria. Surveillance is a game played long, but after several wasted days 8200’s analysts were starting to suspect that their colleagues had been misinformed, possibly deliberately, by the source in the field. They were beginning to fear that all the risk had been taken without any genuine prospect of reward.

Then what they’d been waiting for was suddenly coming in loud and clear, according to Israeli sources familiar with the operation: it was, as a sullen spy official described it, “a primer in constructing a terror weapon.” With an unemotional precision, an ISIS soldier detailed how to turn a laptop computer into a terror weapon that could pass through airport security and be carried on board a passenger plane. ISIS had obtained a new way to cause airliners to explode suddenly, free-falling from the sky in flames. When the news of this frightening ISIS lecture arrived at Mossad’s headquarters outside Tel Aviv, officials quickly decided to share the field intelligence with their American counterparts. The urgency of the highly classified information trumped any security misgivings. Still, as one senior Israeli military official suggested, the Israeli decision was also egged on by a professional vanity: they wanted their partners in Washington to marvel at the sort of impossible missions they could pull off.

They did. It was a much-admired, as well as appreciated, gift—and it scared the living hell out of the American spymasters who received it.

I highly recommend you click over and read the whole thing, however, I’d like to highlight just one or two more of the important portions of Blum’s reporting. Back in January I wrote:

Last week Yediot Ahronot reported, now confirmed by Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post, that Israel’s Intelligence Community has itself been warned to be careful sharing and transferring information and intelligence with the White House during the next Administration.  Now the Sunday Times of London and The Guardian are reporting that our British allies are very, very concerned.

The concern is that any information and intelligence shared after the transition  will wind up with the Russians and the Russians would likely provide it to the Iranians (and the unspoken bit here for the Israelis is the Iranians would share it with the Syrians and Hezbullah). That this information quickly leaked from the Israelis is not an accident or a coincidence. It was intended to leak in order to provide the same message to our other allies and partners: that anything shared with the incoming Administration’s White House team may wind up with Russia. Through the Israeli leak the US’s other allies, partners, and clients have now been warned. This includes the other four members of the Five Eyes Intelligence alliance, the rest of our NATO allies, and other allies and partners. They have all been put on notice that the US Intelligence Community thinks that the incoming President, Vice President, their strategy, policy, and communication advisors, the incoming National Security Advisor and his deputies, and the rest of the incoming White House team cannot be trusted with classified information.

This means that the US will have its ability to see and hear seriously restricted starting next Friday. We won’t be blind, as we’ll still have our own capability, but our vision will be significantly dimmed and our hearing significantly dulled. This will make managing and mitigating the foreign, defense, and national security problem sets that we are currently facing, let alone the ability to anticipate future ones, much more difficult. And this includes the ongoing Russian active measures, influence, and cyber operations directed at us, at our allies, and at our partners.

We are off the looking glass and through the map.

Blum’s reporting confirms that what was reported in other sources in January was accurate, but he provides new and important details.

It was against this reassuring backdrop of recent successes and shared history, an Israeli source told Vanity Fair, that a small group of Mossad officers and other Israeli intelligence officials took their seats in a Langley conference room on a January morning just weeks before the inauguration of Donald Trump. The meeting proceeded uneventfully; updates on a variety of ongoing classified operations were dutifully shared. It was only as the meeting was about to break up that an American spymaster solemnly announced there was one more thing: American intelligence agencies had come to believe that Russian president Vladimir Putin had “leverages of pressure” over Trump, he declared without offering further specifics, according to a report in the Israeli press. Israel, the American officials continued, should “be careful” after January 20—the date of Trump’s inauguration. It was possible that sensitive information shared with the White House and the National Security Council could be leaked to the Russians. A moment later the officials added what many of the Israelis had already deduced: it was reasonable to presume that the Kremlin would share some of what they learned with their ally Iran, Israel’s most dangerous adversary.

Currents of alarm and anger raced through those pres­ent at the meeting, says the Israeli source, but their superiors in Israel remained unconvinced—no supporting evidence, after all, had been provided—and chose to ignore the prognostication.

But it is Blum’s conclusion that is the real chilling peace of his reporting:

“Trump betrayed us,” said a senior Israeli military official bluntly, his voice stern with reproach. “And if we can’t trust him, then we’re going to have to do what is necessary on our own if our back is up against the wall with Iran.” Yet while appalled governments are now forced to rethink their tactics in future dealings with a wayward president, there is also the dismaying possibility that a more tangible, and more lethal, consequence has already occurred. “The Russians will undoubtedly try to figure out the source or the method of this information to make sure that it is not also collecting on their activities in Syria—and in trying to do that they could well disrupt the source,” said Michael Morell.

What, then, was the fate of Israel’s agent in Syria? Was the operative exfiltrated to safety? Has he gone to ground in enemy territory? Or was he hunted down and killed? One former Mossad officer with knowledge of the operation and its aftermath will not say. Except to add pointedly, “Whatever happened to him, it’s a hell of price to pay for a president’s mistake.”

We are off the looking glass and through the map!

110 replies
  1. 1
    Tilda Swintons Bald Cap says:

    Treason, but Al Franken.

  2. 2

    OT: Ratko Mladić sentenced to life in prison today.

  3. 3
    debbie says:

    And what has Bibi had to say about this? Or is he as silent as he was when Trump spoke of good Nazis?

  4. 4
    Jeffro says:

    @Tilda Swintons Bald Cap: I know, right?

    Something to ask RWNJ family at dinner tomorrow: what would you be saying and doing if Obama or Hillz had done this to our country and its allies?

  5. 5
  6. 6
    Baud says:

    Sorry for the asset. As far as Israel goes, isn’t BiBi 1000% behind Trump? If they don’t care, why should I?

  7. 7
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @debbie: @Baud: Bibi is not a very deep, creative, critical, or strategic thinker. The issue isn’t what he thinks or doesn’t think, or what he will or won’t do. The question is what the Israeli professionals think and will do.

  8. 8
    Mary G says:

    That was a great piece of writing, very scary. I hope Mueller is including this in his investigation.

  9. 9
    Baud says:

    @Adam L Silverman: What will they do? They can’t do anything about their government or ours.

  10. 10
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mary G: From the fourth paragraph of Blum’s article:

    (In fact, Trump’s disturbing choice to hand over highly sensitive intelligence to the Russians is now a focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s relationship with Russia, both before and after the election.)

  11. 11
    debbie says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    He’s the mouthpiece, though.

  12. 12
    Karen Potter says:

    The scary thing is that we have done this before; read history. What I end up wondering is if humans species will survive the latest round of idiots

  13. 13
    Corner Stone says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Bibi is not a very deep, creative, critical, or strategic thinker.

    Are there are any countries that have one of these?

  14. 14
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Baud:

    What will they do? They can’t do anything about their government or ours.

    This is not precisely true. That is, Israeli professionals have a (cultivated, and not fully deserved) reputation.

  15. 15
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Corner Stone: A few.

  16. 16
    Baud says:

    @Bill Arnold: I’ll believe it when I see it.

  17. 17
    Mary G says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I have Senior Moments. I read the article a couple of hours ago and forgot that sentence already. Sorry and thanks.

  18. 18
    smintheus says:

    Trump betrays everyone. The famed Israeli intelligence service couldn’t figure that out?

  19. 19
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka The Hope of the Universe) 🗳 🌷 says:

    Trump has blood on his hands. And not even for a good reason. Tell that to any Trump supporter. And then tell them to kill themselves.

  20. 20
    NorthLeft12 says:

    How can this be? Deadbeat Donald is a wonderful friend of Israel and much more reliable than the Muslim President that preceded him.

    Every damn thing that Trump says is a lie, and that goes pretty much double for his sleazy henchmen and enablers.

  21. 21
    Manyakitty says:

    Just when I managed to knit away some of my rage. That festering bag of shit and his entire maladministration need to meet up with several firing squads.

  22. 22
    Ohio Mom says:

    @Mary G: Ha! I was feeling a bit guilty about a book I requested for Hanukah last year that I never finished. It’s a five-hundred page history of autism — it was the big thing in the autism world when it came out.

    Today I realized that even if I had read the whole thing, I would have forgotten almost all of it by now.

    We will have to relish living in the moment I guess.

  23. 23
    Adam L Silverman says:

    Now this is funny! Also, the Defense Attache at the Slovenian Embassy in DC is my former student.

  24. 24
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Tilda Swintons Bald Cap:

    Treason, but Al Franken.

    POTD

  25. 25
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Adam L Silverman: was our First Lady a Slovenian escort or a Slovakian escort? And do johns get confused and pay the wrong one?

  26. 26
    satby says:

    @Tilda Swintons Bald Cap: yeah, I refuse to even read the other threads. I really think there’s serious ratfucking going on.

  27. 27
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Steve in the ATL: I don’t know, I also don’t know. And I don’t care.

  28. 28
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @satby: There seems to be a concerted effort to push stuff to the alt-right folks who began claiming to be journalists last January. Cernovich is out with another threat on social media, this time to a California Republican member of the House. And Laura Loomer, who is confused about being Jewish and also being a white nationalist at the same time, is threatening Congressman Barton on social media that she has a video of him masturbating in front of some woman.

    Someone seems to have gotten their hands on a lot of incriminating material and is weaponizing it by laundering it to these folks. The fake Tennessee GOP account is back it appears from what they were putting on social media that they pushed the Conyers material to Cernovich. Given that they are widely considered to be part of the Russian Intel Services troll and bot army, I think we have to ask whether the Russians were able to hack material that we previously didn’t know about.

  29. 29
    Sab says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I laughed out loud when I read that. Thanks, Adam.

  30. 30
    The Simp in the Suit says:

    @satby: Yep. Roger Stone.

  31. 31
    satby says:

    @Adam L Silverman: and it’s been pretty conclusively demonstrated that the Russian troll and bot army are willing to doctor what material they get their hands on to support their desired outcomes.

  32. 32
    Sab says:

    @Ohio Mom: What book is that? My four year old granddaughter is autistic, and we are desperate to learn everything and anything.

  33. 33
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Karen Potter:

    What I end up wondering is if humans species will survive the latest round of idiots

    There is a bucket-load of human-extinction-level threats in our future. (climate change as Fermi paradox solution for one thread.)
    The current idiots will mainly be responsible for the global warming (hottening) threats; they might just involve a reduction in human population of about 4 billion, though, or less. (Depends on how the oceans respond (anoxia etc), and on how aggressive us humans get about geoengineering including carbon sequestration, and on the pace of decarbonizing the global economy (sample paper: Well below 2 °C: Mitigation strategies for avoiding dangerous to catastrophic climate changes, September 14, 2017, or a short manifesto Three years to safeguard our climate), and etc.)[1]
    [1] Thinking briefly, see at least three “budget” (undesirable) approaches – decarbonization through persistent collapse of the world economy (could be easily engineered; means lower likelihood of successful geoengineering or carbon sequestration), decarbonization through engineered lethal pandemic, and geoengineering through regional nuclear war (repeats as required). Plus variations on/combinations of those themes. (And there are other budget approaches coming to mind as I type.) The more attractive alternatives are outlined in various decarbonization papers/manifestos; I am optimistic.

  34. 34
    GregB says:

    Needless to say, seeing Putin holding a ME dictator hugfest is a bit alarming.

  35. 35
    StringOnAStick says:

    I’m going to wait until the senate investigation that Franken asked for is completed before I decide if I think he should resign. Roger Stone had advance knowledge and that tells me that the rat formication is in hyperdrive. Where we can claim the high ground is that we support investigation of the accusations; Twitler just says to believe the denials and forget about investigating R’s but burn any D to the ground. I’m not going to help them with their plans to get us to bring a feather to a gun fight.

  36. 36
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @GregB: He likes humus.

  37. 37
    mike in dc says:

    @Adam L Silverman: If they’re burning Republicans too we might–might–see some seriousness about Russian interference after all.

  38. 38
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    The critical question for moving forward is why Trump did it, and we have no more information on that now than we did last January. Perhaps Bob Mueller has some.

    So why? Why did a president who has time after volatile time railed against leakers, who has attacked Hillary Clinton for playing fast and loose with classified information, cozy up to a couple of Russian bigwigs in the Oval Office and breezily offer government secrets?

    Any answer is at best conjecture. Yet in the search for an important truth, consider these hypotheses, each of which has its own supporters among past and current members of the U.S. intelligence community.

    The first is a bit of armchair psychology. In Trump’s irrepressible way of living in the world, wealth is real only if other people believe you’re rich. If you don’t flaunt it, then you might as well not have it.

    So there is the new president, shaky as any bounder might be in the complicated world of international politics, sitting down to a head-to-head with a pair of experienced Russians. How can he impress them? Get them to appreciate that he’s not some lightweight, but rather a genuine player on the world stage?

    There’s also the school of thought that the episode is another unfortunate example of Trump’s impressionable worldview being routinely shaped by the last thing he’s heard, be it that morning’s broadcast of Fox & Friends or an intelligence briefing in the Oval Office. As advocates of this theory point out, the president was likely told that one of the issues still on his guests’ minds would be the terrorist explosion back in October 2015 that brought down a Russian passenger plane flying above Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board. With that seed planted in the president’s undisciplined mind, it’s a short leap for him to be off and running to the Russians about what he knew about an ISIS scheme to target passenger aircraft.

    Yet there is also a more sinister way to connect all the dots. There are some petulant voices in official Washington who insist that the president’s treachery was deliberate, part of his longtime collaboration with the Russians. It is a true believer’s orthodoxy, one which predicts that the meeting will wind up being one more damning count in an indictment that Robert Mueller, the special counsel, will ultimately nail to the White House door.

    But, for now, to bolster their still very circumstantial case, they point to a curiosity surrounding the meeting in the Oval Office—U.S. journalists were kept out. And, no less an oddity, the Russian press was allowed in. It was the photographer from TASS, the state-run Russian news agency, who snapped the only shots that documented the occasion for posterity. Or, for that matter, for the grand jury.

  39. 39
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: My semi informed professional opinion is a combination of all three possibilities that Blum delineated.

  40. 40
    Gravenstone says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Congressman Barton appears to have other problems right now beyond the threat to release his masturbation video.

    Curious that some Republicans also appear to be targets of this sleaze purge. Wonder if they are part of Bannon’s (or more accurately, his handlers’) goal to purge the GOP of what he claims are obstructions to Trumpism?

  41. 41
    Mary G says:

    Happy Holidays!
    Don’t read this. Horrifying. This why I fight.

    There's no coming back for a country where "person died after his GoFundMe campaign to pay for insulin came up $50 short" is a real sentence https://t.co/84fQHpRtfX— Michael Whitney (@michaelwhitney) November 22, 2017

  42. 42
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @StringOnAStick: From what I’ve been seeing on social media Senator Franken’s staff has no scheduling records of him attending one event and his wife was at the other and has stated that she witnessed nothing untoward and was with him the whole time. Moreover, one of the accusers has now changed their story from copped a feel of butt cheek to invited me to go to the bathroom with him.

  43. 43
    Felonius Monk says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Roger Stone has been very busy lately. It’s probably too much to hope that he will soon be found floating face down in the East River.

  44. 44
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Gravenstone: It is going to get really, really ugly really, really quickly. This stuff is being weaponized and some of the weaponization is to create a panic response. Barton is being blackmailed by Loomer. GOP Congressman Royce by Cernovich.

  45. 45
    Mnemosyne says:

    Because I am an asshole, I shrug at this and say, “The Israeli government wanted a Republican president, and now you have exactly what you said you wanted. Too late to whine about it now.” Sucks to be them, but it’s not like they weren’t warned this would happen.

  46. 46
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Do you have links for any of that? Because we still have some panickers in the threads below.

  47. 47
    Felonius Monk says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    He likes humus.

    Why his fondness for organic matter in soil? Seems kind of weird.

    /No Chickpeas for thee.

  48. 48
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Mnemosyne: you are En fuego tonight

  49. 49
    GregB says:

    Isn’t blackmail a crime?

  50. 50
    debbie says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    The only factor was his raging ego. It’s fun being one of the big guys!

  51. 51
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Life is often like that, isn’t it?

  52. 52
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Steve in the ATL:

    I’m mad as hell, etc. But I probably should go get some dinner soon.

  53. 53
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: The other thing that is interesting is that the op the Israeli sources have described is weird. I’m not sure things went down the way they said.

  54. 54
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mnemosyne: I’ve just seen it mentioned on social media. I haven’t seen any links yet.

  55. 55
    mike in dc says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    So…ratfuck, then? Roger Stone’s association and foreknowledge is like the Good Ratfucking Seal of Approval(tm).

  56. 56
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    If you spot any, can you drop me an email?

  57. 57
    Some Guy says:

    The apartheid regime is being what they asked for, and they are getting it good and hard.

  58. 58
    No Drought No More says:

    “Trump betrayed us,” said a senior Israeli military official bluntly, his voice stern with reproach”.

    (Disclaimer: I’ve yet to read the article, but my eye fell on that quote in this post. My reaction here is instead is meant to remind Israel of a very pertinent fact regarding our mutual political alliance:

    Netanyahu betrayed Israel, too, when he threw Israeli credibility to the wind by very publicly endorsing the agenda of the republican party. So spare me the unmitigated outrage, Mr. Or Ms. Senior Military Official. Instead, get real, get a grip, and then get back to the United States. We’ll talk things over at that point, but not before.

  59. 59
    Sab says:

    OT completely off topic. I have been feeling sorry for my self because I am caught in the eldercare vortex.

    Then I went to my seasonal accounting job that I love. And I discovered that one of my co workers that I really like lost her father this year, her mother last year, and her only sibling three months before that All to cancer. So she is out in the world on her own. I have no problems compared to that. Yikes, wow .

  60. 60
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mnemosyne: I’m not actually looking for them, but if I see them, sure.

  61. 61
    sharl says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Sheesh, these two losers.

    Loomer is ambitious and shameless enough to be in this game, but she’s not very bright. Her story of the tires on her car being slashed – probably by godless libs – is still one of my favorites. Some poor sot over at Jalopnik drew the short straw and wrote up the actual story on that (tl;dr the tires were in bad shape, but due to age and neglect, not vandalism).

    As for Cerno, he has a known past that makes him pretty goddamn radioactive from a PR perspective. Videographer Vic Berger has acquired so much awful video/audio on him that Berger should probably be on the lookout for acquiring PTSD. I haven’t watched the video attached to this tweet, but others who have say it needs a Trigger Warning, and others were not even able to get all the way through it, despite it being less than two minutes long:

    Mike Cernovich discusses his love of choking women and being arrested for rape. #Conyers pic.twitter.com/Sjkbz6P6Wz— Vic Berger IV (@VicBergerIV) November 21, 2017

    Whoever is using these two wanted to create a distraction without investing much money or effort, and clearly that unknown entity didn’t need people capable of higher-order thinking or in possession of the ability to follow complex instructions. Derp.

  62. 62
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @sharl: They’re not sending their best.

  63. 63
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    “Whatever happened to him, it’s a hell of price to pay for a president’s mistake.”

    No president prior to this would make such a foolish mistake.

    If the Israel operative dies, then so should Donald.

  64. 64
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Some Guy: Context?

  65. 65
    jl says:

    @Adam L Silverman: We’ve moved from healthy and needed airing of serious misbehavior and possible crimes (Cosby to Moore to Spacey, etc.) on to scoundrels poisoning the new openness by using it as an opportunity to commit blackmail. I guess these two figure that they can hide behind public sympathy for the victims who are accusing predators while they commit extortion and blackmail.

    We need a social revolution in how sexual harassment, especially in the workplace, or work-related, is handled. But for the revolution not to collapse on itself or fall prey to criminals and manipulators, we need a social process to work though the accusations. Mob justice by social media isn’t going to anyone any good. Sadly, this is where national leadership from President and Congress could help, and we have none now, actually worse than we have had in over 100 years.

  66. 66
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @jl:

    We need a social revolution in how sexual harassment, especially in the workplace, or work-related, is handled. But for the revolution not to collapse on itself or fall prey to criminals and manipulators, we need a social process to work though the accusations. Mob justice by social media isn’t going to anyone any good.

    You do realize we live in the US, right?

  67. 67
    clay says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Moreover, one of the accusers has now changed their story from copped a feel of butt cheek to invited me to go to the bathroom with him.

    That’s… quite a change. Is this one of the anonymous ones? This stinks like rotten piss.

  68. 68
    Amir Khalid says:

    The Vanity Fair story is of a piece with what we have seen of Trump’s presidential style: vain to the point of neediness, ignorant about rules, heedless of honesty and ethics and consequences. So in that sense it’s no surprise. What I always find surprising about anecdotes like this is that there is apparently no bottom below which he will not sink.

    @sharl:

    Some poor sot

    Unless you’re using a word from Elizabethan times to call someone a drunk, i think you mean to say “some poor sod“.

  69. 69
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @clay: This is what I’ve seen referred to on social media. I’ve yet to see any actual news reporting.

  70. 70

    @satby: I commented to Mnem in the first thread that I smelled a rat.

  71. 71
    WaterGirl says:

    Thanks for this post, Adam! Very interesting, not to mention a good break from the Franken threads below. I just can’t read them -it feels like ratfucking to me. I hope if Al isn’t a butt feeler- and I think he’s way too smart to be doing that – I hope he comes out and says so.

    I hate this. We are now talking about butt feeling as if it’s the same as molesting a 14 year old. Weaponized, indeed.

  72. 72
    sharl says:

    @Amir Khalid: You are correct, wrong word choice on my part.

  73. 73
    Manyakitty says:

    @WaterGirl: Exactly! Even if he did it, it’s like saying that slapping someone is the same thing as beating them to death. Both wrong, but not the same.

  74. 74

    @Adam L Silverman: I also wouldn’t mind links. I don’t know if you have my email address – can you see them from comments? If not, I’ll send you an email in a bit, I guess.

  75. 75
  76. 76
    fuckwit says:

    @Corner Stone: We had Obama. Sadly, not any more.

  77. 77
    BBA says:

    Why are Democrats so terrible at ratfucking? I remember Harry Reid’s bullshit stories about Romney, but nobody ever believed those.

    Look, I’m not saying we should accuse McConnell of doing the same as Franken. That would be totally unfair and inaccurate – everybody knows he never gropes women. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with any sexual orientation, but the average Republican primary voter isn’t as enlightened as me.

    (I’m not just making this up, it’s a rumor that I saw a few years ago. No idea whether it’s true, but that doesn’t matter. It’s out there.)

  78. 78
    Amir Khalid says:

    @BBA:
    Is ratfucking something that Democrats could or should do with a clear conscience?

  79. 79
    piratedan says:

    @BBA: what makes it worse, it’s the same fucking bad actors… Roger Stone, why should anyone listen to or believe Roger Stone? He’s known for this shit, it’s like James O’Keefe all over again, doesn’t matter that he’s been shown to lie, twist and manufacture shit, take everything and remove all context, no… this time he has the goods! The same usual suspects give them credence and we start all over again. It sucks that the media keeps rewarding the same bad folks ad nauseum, Chuck Todd, Chris Cilizza, folks leave Faux and go to MSNBC… why? what kind of justification is there for hiring these same asshats over and over again, much less believe anything that they have to say?

  80. 80
    J R in WV says:

    @sharl:

    @Amir Khalid:

    I must confess that I would be far more likely to use the word sot as in drunkard than the word sod, which I know is British slang, but do not know the precise meaning of. Homosexual perhaps? or a reference to a sexual act?

    I think sot is slightly old American usage from prohibition era propaganda. AS well as whatever English usage it has or had.

  81. 81
    Amir Khalid says:

    @piratedan:
    Sorry to be stating the obvious, but O’Keefe and Stone keep getting hired because what they do has value to those who hire them: lying, twisting the facts, making shit up, all of it. They don’t lose credibility when their lies about liberals and Democrats are exposed because their paymasters’ audiences want to believe those lies. And a supine mainstream media doesn’t dare work too hard at counteracting them — out of a misguided impartiality, or out of cowardice.

  82. 82
    Amir Khalid says:

    @J R in WV:
    Slang is one of those areas of language in which no expert is without gaps in their knowledge. I am no expert, therefore I am without gaps in my knowledge (he said confidently). Here goes:
    I’ve seen “sod” used in its literal, soil-related sense, which is the same in BrE and AmE. You’ll also see it used in BrE where an AmE-influenced speaker might say “guy”, e.g. BrE “that poor sod” rather than AmE “that poor guy”. BrE also has it as a verb e.g. “Sod off!”, same meaning as “Fuck off!” but less unacceptable in polite company.

  83. 83
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Gretchen:

    To continue a quick thing from the other thread: the photo of Franken with Leeann whatshername is pretty clearly a real photo, in that it’s a photo of the two of them that was taken in Iraq of him pretending to try and grab her boobs through body armor. The people who can’t figure out that it’s meant to be a prank photo and is not actually documentary evidence of him assaulting her in her sleep are fucking morons.

  84. 84
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Amir Khalid:
    I realise you were asking about “sot”, not “sod”. I’ve seen Will Shakespeare use it to mean “a drunk” in quite a few of his plays. So it would have been a commonly-used word in his time.

  85. 85
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @Baud: My sentiments exactly. Not sure if this is an actual issue given how the current Israeli government is so enamored with Trump.

  86. 86
    Ladyraxterinok says:

    @debbie: @Adam L Silverman: A bit OT: What is going on in Germany? I have read they may have to have a new election, because Merkel can’t form a government. And that this means AfD will probably get larger vote. Russia strikes again??

  87. 87
    NotMax says:

    @Amir Khalid

    Using sod to mean a person in American English is somewhat arcane (but might be a regional slang phenomenon). I’d suspect it is more along the lines of a catachresis, when the original intent would be fulfilled by the word clod. That is a word for which, interestingly enough, clot is an accepted (if obscure) variation and in turn could lead to the utterance of sot in its stead, regardless of sot’s common relegation when describing a person’s habitual inebriation.

  88. 88
    Bruce K says:

    Y’know, if I were in Washington, I’d be kind of careful about screwing around with a nation with a history of nasty responses to perceived existential threats (see: Bull, Gerald). How would the smart money bet in the event of the Secret Service having to play defense against Mossad, again?

  89. 89
    TenguPhule says:

    @Bruce K:

    How would the smart money bet in the event of the Secret Service having to play defense against Mossad, again?

    Mossad, hands down.

    I remember reading about the lengths they went through to nail the bastards that butchered their Olympic team.

    Not only are they persistent, sneaky and ruthless, they hold grudges like nobody else does.

  90. 90
    Amir Khalid says:

    @TenguPhule:
    A capacity to hold grudges beyond reason is a universal human trait. It is not unique to the Israelis any more than it is to the Irish, or indeed to any nation.

  91. 91
    Elizabelle says:

    Good morning, jackals. Happy Thanksgiving 🍁

  92. 92
    Anne Laurie says:

    @J R in WV: Sod is short for sodomite — so, yes, homosexual. But mostly used in England & ‘Commonwealth’ nations.

    Canadians, like Britains, use “odds & sods” where we Americans would say “odds & ends”. Eric Partridge, professional language person, claims the British term came from the Royal Army. Recruits had to check off a box for ‘Religion’, where one could be Church of England (Anglican), Methodist, Catholic, or ‘Other Denomination’. The self-identified ODs were often Quakers or other pacifist groups, who were more likely to be assigned to headquarters than sent out on field services; the ‘sods’, well… even today, infantry soldiers tend to infer the worst about headquarters staff!

    “Odds & ends”, on the other hand, was — according to my sources — from the early mechanical spinning factory era. Although from what I know of sewing and carpentry, it probably goes back a lot further than that.

  93. 93
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    A capacity to hold grudges beyond reason is a universal human trait. It is not unique to the Israelis any more than it is to the Irish, or indeed to any nation.

    Yeah, but some of us (says the ‘Scots-Irish’ descendent) have had more reason to celebrate the trait as a means of survival.

    Cultures celebrate grudges, in my experience, in the degree to which they’ve been abused by neighboring clans. Thus the Irish, the Israelis, the Armenians, the Poles, the Koreans…

  94. 94
    Manyakitty says:

    @Mnemosyne: OMG yes!

  95. 95
    Manyakitty says:

    @Elizabelle: Same to you! Gobble!

  96. 96
    BBA says:

    @Amir Khalid: Up until November 7, 2016, I’d have said no. But at this point we’re running out of options.

  97. 97
    satby says:

    @Elizabelle: Happy Thanksgiving Elizabelle!

  98. 98
    lurker dean says:

    @Sab: yikes, that’s very sad about your co-worker. sorry to hear about your eldercare vortex, have been there too and it can be so exhausting. take care of yourself.

  99. 99
    woodrowfan says:

    Screw Israel. the only countries that spy on the US more than Israel are Russia and China.

  100. 100
    woodrowfan says:

    So when the Homesteaders built Sod Houses out on the American plains?????

  101. 101
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Sorry to be stating the obvious, but O’Keefe and Stone keep getting hired because what they do has value to those who hire them: lying, twisting the facts, making shit up, all of it.

    Stone (still) has some talent in this area, notably in timing RF disclosures for effect. O’Keefe, not so much.
    (I loath people who specialize in using these destructive tactics.)

  102. 102
    Ptocopius says:

    For heaven’s sake, the “leaks” from Israel and the American “intelligence community”, two enormous Public Relations firms, do far more damage to “sources and methods” than Trump’s revelation. I still believe the source was Saudi Arabia. Oh, and @Tilda Swintons Bald Cap, betraying a foreign country is not treason.

  103. 103
    Gelfling 545 says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Now that this issue has become click bait and turned into a political weapon there are bound to be reports that are implausible. This, of course, will do great harm to the cases of people who have suffered abuse or harassment and may be exactly what some promoting hysteria had in mind.

  104. 104
    jonas says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    In Washington DC, the Slovakian and Slovenian embassies meet once a month to exchange wrongly addressed mail.

    The Austrians and Australians probably have a similar arrangement.

  105. 105
    Mike in NC says:

    Alcatraz will need to be reopened just to hold every member of the corrupt, treasonous Trump administration.

  106. 106
    Gvg says:

    Is it coincidence that Netanyahu gets investigated for corruption and seems to be loosing power AFTER his choice for American President gets elected and turns out to be the worst kind of dangerous friend? After he has alienated the Democratic Party and after the republicans have displayed tolerance for some serious anti semitism and Natzi’s? His dpearture from the past policy of neutrality and cultivating both parties seems to me to be a real disaster for Israel. Pragmatic Israeli spies might decide some other party needs to be in charge just to give an excuse that we might accept for a reset.
    They might also want Trump gone but need to not directly be seen as influencing our elections.

  107. 107
    J R in WV says:

    @Ptocopius:

    “…betraying a foreign country is not treason.”

    That surely depends upon circumstances. An American caught betraying an English operation during WW II for an example. Or passing So Korean secrets to No Korea today for a more contemporary example.

  108. 108
    Sloane Ranger says:

    @Anne Laurie: PEDANT WARNING!!!
    It’s probably too late for anyone to notice but, while we here in the UK have a Royal Navy and a Royal Air Force, we don’t have a Royal Army (although various individual Regiments and Corps have Royal in their title). This is because the modern Army traces its roots back to Cromwell’s New Model Army; which was anti-royalist.

  109. 109
    grubert says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    the photo of Franken with Leeann whatshername is pretty clearly a real photo, in that it’s a photo of the two of them that was taken in Iraq of him pretending to try and grab her boobs through body armor.

    Clear to you maybe, not to those of us who know how easy it is to tamper with photos.

    Question: why isn’t Franken wearing a flak jacket like she and the soldier next to her?
    Isn’t it a requirement that everyone must wear one when flying in a combat zone?

    “I dunno, doesn’t matter” is not an acceptable response.

  110. 110
    barb 2 says:

    @Gvg:

    Trump’s links to Russia needs to be outed publicly — why would Israel release this sensitive information AFTER they were warned? A good friend of mine with years of Military association and need to know secret clearance etc. asked — “the Israelis briefed the US spies after they were warned”? He smelled a rat or that something was left out or the story was manufactured. And now that I’ve thought about the scenario we have been given – I think Trump’s close relationship with Russia was exposed with a fairy tale. The Israelis love to prove that they are superior.

    The story also gave the border agents an excuse to rummage through everyone’s computers at will. Computer geeks tended to question the “blow up airplanes” with new secret methods discovered by a bunch of creeps in black PJs. Plus Trump exposes himself. Do the spies win or lose?

    It was Israel who sold super secret info on US sub’s propulsion systems. Something about how subs achieved silent running.

    Spooks have their own agenda — which they fail to share. (Read about Afghanistan and the CIA in “Thieves of State” by Sarah Chayes.)

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