Follow The Trail Of Dead Russian Bodies!

Buzzfeed has the details on the service that retired MI6 senior intelligence officer Christopher Steele continues to provide. Right now an aide is trying to secure Senator Grassley’s twitter feed, another is trying to find a fainting couch for Senator Graham, and a third is hiding Congressman Gaetz car keys…

The FBI possesses a secret report asserting that Vladimir Putin’s former media czar was beaten to death by hired thugs in Washington, DC — directly contradicting the US government’s official finding that Mikhail Lesin died by accident.

The report, according to four sources who have read all or parts of it, was written by the former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, who also wrote the famous dossier alleging that Russia had been “cultivating, supporting and assisting” Donald Trump. The bureau received his report while it was helping the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police Department investigate the Russian media baron’s death, the sources said.

FBI spokesperson Andrew Ames declined to confirm or deny the existence of the report and would not comment for this story. Steele’s business partner, Chris Burrows, declined to comment on behalf of Steele and their company, Orbis Business Intelligence.

The BuzzFeed News series also revealed new details about Lesin — including that he died on the eve of a scheduled meeting with US Justice Department officials. They had planned to interview Lesin about the inner workings of RT, the Kremlin-funded network that he founded.

Now BuzzFeed News has established:

  • Steele’s report says that Lesin was bludgeoned to death by enforcers working for an oligarch close to Putin, the four sources said.
  • The thugs had been instructed to beat Lesin, not kill him, but they went too far, the sources said Steele wrote.
  • Three of the sources said that the report described the killers as Russian state security agents moonlighting for the oligarch.
  • The Steele report is not the FBI’s only source for this account of Lesin’s death: Three other people, acting independently from Steele, said they also told the FBI that Lesin had been bludgeoned to death by enforcers working for the same oligarch named by Steele.

Much more at the link.

If Steele’s report, as well as the FBI’s other sources regarding Lesin’s death, are borne out, we will have a confirmed case of Russian wetwork on US soil. Specifically intended to prevent a potential confidential informant of providing significant counterintelligence information pertaining to Russia’s active measures to the FBI. That the death was unintentional because the Russian agents who administered the beating were bad at their jobs is actually inconsequential. While the result may provide Putin with some mild embarrassment that the Russian government will deny any involvement in, the deterrent effect is this the same: turn on Putin and you and/or your loved ones will be killed.

It is also going to cause a significant problem for whoever was involved in trying to cover it up. From the same Buzzfeed article:

But Steele’s report — the existence of which has never before been made public — adds to a mounting body of evidence that casts doubt on the official finding on Lesin’s death. “What I can tell you is that there isn’t a single person inside the bureau who believes this guy got drunk, fell down, and died,” an FBI agent told BuzzFeed News last year. “Everyone thinks he was whacked and that Putin or the Kremlin were behind it.”

In December, DC police released 58 pages of its case file on Lesin’s death. While many parts are blacked out, what was released says nothing about the blunt force injuries that killed Lesin — or even about him falling down, which is how he is supposed to have died.

Steele’s report on Lesin’s murder, and the Buzzfeed reporting about it, raise significant questions:

  1. Is the existing coroner’s report the product of shoddy forensic work or was a decision made to cover this up to lower the temperature between the US and Russia?
  2. If it was covered up to lower the temperature between the US and Russia, what, if any, more covert responses were taken?
  3. Who decided to create the cover story? And what was their real purpose in doing so?

Until we get answers to those questions, the revelations about this additional Steele report are interesting, but still only provide us with a partial understanding of the events surrounding Lesin’s murder, his autopsy, the investigation into his death, and the official accounting of those events.

Updated at 1:45 PM EDT

I just want to take a moment and add this portion of Buzzfeed’s reporting:

For his report to the FBI about Lesin, Steele gathered intelligence from high-level sources in Moscow, according to the two sources who read the whole report.

All four of the people who read Steele’s report said it pins Lesin’s murder on a professional relationship gone lethally awry. According to the report, they said, Lesin fell out with a powerful oligarch close to Putin. Wanting to intimidate Lesin, the oligarch then contracted with Russian state security agents to beat up Lesin, the report states, according to three of the sources. The goal was not to kill Lesin, all four sources said Steele wrote, but Lesin died from the attack.

The sources could not recall what, if anything, the report said about whether Putin knew of or sanctioned the attack.

Three other individuals, including a business associate of Lesin and two intelligence officials, told BuzzFeed News that they had independently given the FBI similar information: that Lesin had been bludgeoned to death by thugs operating on orders from the same oligarch Steele named.

I specifically want to highlight that three of Steele’s four high level sources indicate that the oligarch that Lesin crossed contracted with “Russian state security agents to beat up Lesin”. Given that the report indicates that the oligarch that Lesin had gotten crosswise with is close to Putin, and given how we know Putin runs Russia, it would be hard to believe that “Russian state security agents” that were contracted to do the op were doing so without Putin at least knowing about the operation, if not approving it.

Stay frosty!

Open thread.






232 replies
  1. 1
    dedc79 says:

    Is the existing coroner’s report the product of shoddy forensic work or was a decision made to cover this up to lower the temperature between the US and Russia?
    If it was covered up to lower the temperature between the US and Russia, what, if any, more covert responses were taken?
    Who decided to create the cover story? And what was their real purpose in doing so?

    So wouldn’t one possibility be that the guy who was killed was already cooperating and that the path of least resistance toward keeping that a secret was to paper it over as an accidental death?

  2. 2

    Putin’s favorite tactic has finally backfired.

    Twenty-five countries have now expelled Russian “diplomats.” This is a real blow to Putin, who wants Russia to be accepted and admired around the world. And losing the spies will hurt, too.

    It’s been impossible to believe that Lesin just fell and bludgeoned himself to death. This is an explanation. I wonder if it’s been kept quiet because it dovetails with all the other Russian investigations.

  3. 3
    Corner Stone says:

    Also too,:

    Justin Hendrix
    ‏Verified account @justinhendrix

    Asked about other companies doing this work: PALANTIR. There were also Palantir staff working with Facebook data. Palantir staff came into the offices of CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA and helped build the models we were working on, even though there was no contract, says @chrisinsilico

  4. 4
    Corner Stone says:

    Carole Cadwalladr
    ‏Verified account @carolecadwalla
    5h5 hours ago

    Carole Cadwalladr Retweeted Justin Hendrix

    We reported this a year ago. We had the emails (but couldn’t publish them then.) Palantir denied it. That’s Palantir who work with GCHQ. Who work with NSA. And whose owner Peter Thiel advised Trump campaign.

  5. 5
    efgoldman says:

    Jeeebus on a skateboard. This looks more and more like a bad novel or movie. All of it.
    We’ll never know of course, but i wonder if some of the pooteybuddy oligarchs should be looking over their shoulders.

  6. 6
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    OT but funny as hell someone put up a Craigslist ad for “a lawyer for a difficult client in Washington DC”

    one of these days I will figure out how to cut and paste tweets.

  7. 7
    Corner Stone says:

    The FBI possesses a secret report asserting that Vladimir Putin’s former media czar was beaten to death by hired thugs in Washington, DC — directly contradicting the US government’s official finding that Mikhail Lesin died by accident.

    The “Dodgy Dossier” strikes again!

  8. 8

    @Corner Stone: There is at least one Peter Thiel protege in the White House.

  9. 9
    efgoldman says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    This is a real blow to Putin

    Is it really? I’m always skeptical whether exchanges of notes, and expulsions, have any real consequences.

  10. 10

    @Litlebritdifrnt:

  11. 11

    @efgoldman: If it were only, say, the US and Britain, I would agree with you. But twenty-five countries is a slap that Putin will feel.

    There may be more coming in the way of sanctions.

  12. 12
    LAO says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: So glad you posted that, I peed myself laughing when I saw it.

    ETA: My favorite line:
    Basically your job boils down to keeping him from testifying under oath and hoping the rest comes out in the wash.

  13. 13

    Here’s Mark Galeotti agreeing with the Kadri Liik piece I posted upthread. Both know a lot about Russia.

  14. 14
    chris says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt:

    one of these days I will figure out how to cut and paste tweets.

    Click on the little arrow in the top right hand corner of the tweet and select
    “Embed Tweet.” C+P

  15. 15
    Chris says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I just love that name “Palantir,” don’t you? They might as well call themselves “the Ministry of Love.”

  16. 16
    Bobby Thomson says:

    Jason “Fitzmas” Leopold? Hard pass.

  17. 17
    rikyrah says:

    Who actually believed that the guy died of non foul play?

    Really!
    People believed that?😠

  18. 18
    MattF says:

    But there is a difference between the killing here and the killing in the UK– the UK killing left tell-tale evidence. Makes you wonder, and makes you think Putin isn’t concerned with anyone actually believing him. I don’t really get it, but it’s where we are now.

  19. 19
    chris says:

    In moderation? For what? Damn email typo!

  20. 20
    efgoldman says:

    @LAO:

    I peed myself laughing when I saw it.

    You taking the job, counselor? Get a huge retainer up front, no personal/company checks.

  21. 21
    Chris says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    Also important, the U.S. is finally applying sanctions.

  22. 22
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    Why the hell would the DC police want to cover this up?

  23. 23
    MattF says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Mustaches are discouraged.

  24. 24
    Chris says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    It’s also a somewhat heartwarming show of Atlantic solidarity. Especially for those of us who were fairly concerned about NATO’s future prospects after November 2017.

    Might be mostly symbolic, but this is politics. Symbols are important.

  25. 25

    Emptywheel: “..Perhaps Harding is lying about Skripal’s tie to Steele. Perhaps Skripal has GRU connections to others running the GRU hack-and-leak operation. But the inclusion of Rosenstein makes me wonder if there’s some closer tie to the Mueller investigation than we know”.

    The inclusion of Rosenstein makes me wonder if Putin Inc. finally realize just how badly they’ve fucked-up with the American people long term (and that it’s just beginning). It wouldn’t exactly be good news, but any indication from the scum that they do informs me that while they’re reckless with human life and hold it cheap, they’re not insane and value their own.

  26. 26
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @dedc79: No. If there was a proper cover would have been developed and put in place, everyone who needed to know would have been briefed on the appropriate portions of it that they would need to maintain the cover story. And there wouldn’t be any leaks alleging this was a Russian sanctioned beating that turned into an assassination. Rather the leaks would all be to confirm and reinforce the cover story.

  27. 27
    catclub says:

    It would be helpful to note that the murder took place in 2015, and the report saying that he just fell over and died came out in 2016.

  28. 28
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Corner Stone: Not surprising at all.

  29. 29
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @MattF:

    Makes you wonder, and makes you think Putin isn’t concerned with anyone actually believing him.

    Arrogance will do that.

  30. 30
  31. 31
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Corner Stone: Yep. And for free, the US could be using Y-Ed Graph instead and which I prefer. But if we can spend boatloads of money on something that seems high speed, we’ll do that instead.

  32. 32
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Corner Stone: Actually this would be the Son of the Dodgy Dossier: The Dodgying!

  33. 33
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Corner Stone: As someone fairly familiar with Palantir, they’re less awful than they’re often made out to be.

    They’re definitely in with the NSA and the Government, but Peter Thiel isn’t involved with the company at large and I very much doubt he would have directed his employees to unofficially aid Trump’s campaign through facebook. Though I would not have been at all surprised to find that individual employees had been approached and agreed to work with Cambridge Analytica.

    If I remember right, some of Palantir’s senior legal staff did depart and go work with the nascent Trump administration. Unsure if they’re still there.

    @Chris: They take the Lord of the Rings references pretty seriously. If I remember, their internal company conference is called “HobbitCon”, their headquarters is colloquially referred to as “The Shire”, and many of their meeting rooms are named after towns or locations in LOTR.

  34. 34
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Yep on the National Security Staff. He was the primary drafter of the new National Security Strategy despite not having any experience in national security work. Let alone any experience with strategy and policy.

  35. 35
    catclub says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    But twenty-five countries is a slap that Putin will feel.

    I got the impression that countries piled in on this one in order to not stand out and punish Russia by themselves. Trump only piled in AFTER making sure other countries did, too.

  36. 36
    efgoldman says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    god, make it stop

    I’m afraid s/he doesn’t give a flying fuck. More disproof of a supreme imaginary sky buddy.

  37. 37
    kindness says:

    Trump seems to think his family is safe from the Russian mafia. And what I don’t get is that Trump looks up to and respects mafia family structure. How does Trump not see his family is in danger because of the playmates Donald has chosen?

  38. 38
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @efgoldman: If you remove 60 for cover spies from the US and close a consulate that was really a listening and observation post near an important defense industrial base company, an important software/tech company, several other important tech companies, and the joint base that is the home station and garrison for the US Army corps allocated to the Asia-Pacific region, then yes it is a significant activity.

  39. 39
    TenguPhule says:

    All roads leading to Trump are paved with dead Russians.

  40. 40
    Corner Stone says:

    @Adam L Silverman: NARRATOR: He said in a deadpan delivery while studiously inspecting his perfectly manicured fingernails.

  41. 41

    @efgoldman: Or it’s Loki and he’s having a blast.

  42. 42
    efgoldman says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    this would be the Son of the Dodgy Dossier: The Dodgying!

    More like the black sheep cousin nobody’s mentioned for decades.

  43. 43
    TenguPhule says:

    @efgoldman:

    Jeeebus on a skateboard. This looks more and more like a bad novel or movie. All of it.

    Trump was the big lipped alligator moment. Its been downhill ever since. But the money has yet to run out so the show must go on.

  44. 44

    @Corner Stone: Who or what is Palantir? Name seems vaguely familiar. Is it a LOTR character/place?

    ETA:ICE is using Palantir, also too.

  45. 45
    TenguPhule says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    Or it’s Loki and he’s having a blast.

    Loki isn’t this cruel.

  46. 46
    TenguPhule says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Its the stones used in LOTR to spy on distant places. The one that corrupted Saruman and the High Steward of Gondor because Sauron had his own private access through them.

  47. 47
  48. 48
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @schrodingers_cat: It’s the “Seeing Stone” in LotR, a stone which allows you to view remotely and communicate with others. However, some of the stones have fallen to Sauron, so they’re extremely dangerous to use. Sauron can reach you through them.

    It’s also the name of a firm in Palo Alto, California that does some fairly incredible data analytic software, and is closely involved with the federal government and banks. Also, incidentally, medical insurers.

  49. 49
    SFAW says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    One of the responses noted that they forgot to add “In all likelihood, pro bono.”

  50. 50
    TenguPhule says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    But twenty-five countries is a slap that Putin will feel.

    I expect the Russian money will still flow unabated to them.

    This is pussyfooting around. Until the banking starts being cut off, Putin isn’t being punished.

  51. 51
    Mike in DC says:

    1. Cutoff access to the SWIFT banking system
    2. Get the EU and US to commit to energy independence and electric cars only by 2040
    3. Develop robust cybersecurity and countermeasures
    4. Slowly push Russia out of Syria and Ukraine
    5. Muscle the out of their foreign arms sales by undercutting them (e.g. fighter jet sales to India)

  52. 52
    efgoldman says:

    @SFAW:

    they forgot to add “In all likelihood, pro bono.”

    That would draw candidates, alright; like campaign consultants to a grand jury.

  53. 53
    Ruckus says:

    @MattF:
    There is always evidence. This guy was supposedly drunk and fell down. Yes you may hurt yourself but you don’t have massive bruising or multiple broken bones and large blood loss from that. Or like falling out of a 5 story apt by pushing the tub out the window and landing under it. Or by finding traces of a very nasty nerve agent, both in the victim and the area, that doesn’t exist in nature and only one government has.

  54. 54

    @TenguPhule:

    Loki isn’t this cruel.

    I guess you’re not familiar with the sorry tale of Baldur.

  55. 55
    Fair Economist says:

    @MattF: This beating was supposed to scare the target and there was no need to leave evidence to convince other people. The murders were also intended as threats to other people and so tracks needed to be left.

  56. 56
    TenguPhule says:

    @kindness:

    How does Trump not see his family is in danger because of the playmates Donald has chosen?

    Trump doesn’t care about them.

    They’re expendable.

  57. 57
    Adam L Silverman says:

    Just added the following as an update up top:

    I just want to take a moment and add this portion of Buzzfeed’s reporting:

    For his report to the FBI about Lesin, Steele gathered intelligence from high-level sources in Moscow, according to the two sources who read the whole report.

    All four of the people who read Steele’s report said it pins Lesin’s murder on a professional relationship gone lethally awry. According to the report, they said, Lesin fell out with a powerful oligarch close to Putin. Wanting to intimidate Lesin, the oligarch then contracted with Russian state security agents to beat up Lesin, the report states, according to three of the sources. The goal was not to kill Lesin, all four sources said Steele wrote, but Lesin died from the attack.

    The sources could not recall what, if anything, the report said about whether Putin knew of or sanctioned the attack.

    Three other individuals, including a business associate of Lesin and two intelligence officials, told BuzzFeed News that they had independently given the FBI similar information: that Lesin had been bludgeoned to death by thugs operating on orders from the same oligarch Steele named.

    I specifically want to highlight that three of Steele’s four high level sources indicate that the oligarch that Lesin crossed contracted with “Russian state security agents to beat up Lesin”. Given that the report indicates that the oligarch that Lesin had gotten crosswise with is close to Putin, and given how we know Putin runs Russia, it would be hard to believe that “Russian state security agents” that were contracted to do the op were doing so without Putin at least knowing about the operation, if not approving it.

  58. 58
    efgoldman says:

    @Mike in DC:

    fighter jet sales to India

    They’ll appreciate paying $1BB++ for planes that don’t work

  59. 59
    TenguPhule says:

    @Major Major Major Major: To be fair, that took place much later in the saga after the other Norse were dicks to him.

  60. 60
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Corner Stone: Good personal grooming habits are a key to success.

  61. 61

    @Adam L Silverman: Ah, that’s not the one I’m thinking of, so there are at least two.

  62. 62
    TenguPhule says:

    @efgoldman:

    They’ll appreciate paying $1BB++ for planes that don’t work

    Technically they can still fly.

  63. 63
    MattF says:

    @Ruckus: Yeah, I’ve fallen down enough times to confirm that. Maybe Putin assumes, as autocrat, that he has life-and-death powers over any Russian, no matter where they happen to be. The Tsar, after all, has absolute authority.

  64. 64
    SFAW says:

    So, in light of Lesin being called the day before he was going to talk to the FBI (if I understood that correctly), is anyone bothering to check for moles (or whatever one wants to call them)? Or do people just think Lesin call Vladi and said “Tomorrow, your ass is grass.”

  65. 65
    VeniceRiley says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    schrodingers_cat
    says:

    March 27, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    @Corner Stone: Who or what is Palantir? Name seems vaguely familiar. Is it a LOTR character/place?

    ETA:ICE is using Palantir, also too.

    I recall Al Giordano saying immediately post election that all the vulnerable groups would for sure be taking their activism coordination offline, if they were smart.

  66. 66

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    I wish I knew what was going on in the White House. Trump himself has not abandoned Putin. What factional infighting is going on that anti-Putin policies are going into effect?

  67. 67
    TenguPhule says:

    the deterrent effect is this the same: turn on Putin and you and/or your loved ones will be killed.

    So how do we make Republicans more frightened of crossing us then Putin?

  68. 68
    Mike in DC says:

    @efgoldman:
    Shrug. Maybe we can sell them upgraded F-18s.

  69. 69
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    Tall ships and tall kings
    Three times three,
    What brought they from the foundered land
    Over the flowing sea?
    Seven stars and seven stones
    And one white tree

    The seven stones in The Lord of the Rings are called palantir, they are used for remote viewing and communication. Apparently Thiel is a major Tolkien fan and named his data analysis company after them. Which is kind of funny, because they’re not providing intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) work, which would essentially be seeing remote things.

  70. 70
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: They always travel in pairs…//

  71. 71
    Spanky says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: The Medical Examiner’s Report sure doesn’t cover it up:

    JOINT STATEMENT FROM THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA’S
    OFFICE OF THE CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER AND THE
    METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT

    The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) has released the cause and manner of death for Mikhail Lesin, 57, of Russia.

    Cause of Death: BLUNT FORCE INJURIES OF THE HEAD

    Other Contributing Causes: BLUNT FORCE INJURIES OF THE NECK, TORSO, UPPER EXTREMITIES AND LOWER EXTREMITIES

    Manner of Death: UNDETERMINED

    The incident remains an active Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) investigation

  72. 72
    Ruckus says:

    @MattF:
    I’ve seen enough fallen down drunks to know that unless you fall down in the middle of the street, at 3 in the morning and another drunk drives along and runs you over, you might die from exposure or from gaging on your own vomit, but dying from the injuries you suffered on the way down, unless those injuries came from baseball bats or very large fists, etc is rather slim.

  73. 73
    Brachiator says:

    The FBI possesses a secret report asserting that Vladimir Putin’s former media czar was beaten to death by hired thugs in Washington, DC — directly contradicting the US government’s official finding that Mikhail Lesin died by accident.

    So, what, Lesin supposedly bumped into a wall multiple times?

  74. 74
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: The IC, as well as DOD and State, have been looking to do some version of this for a while. The attack in the UK brought a lot of pressure from our British allies to bear on their counterparts at DNI, NSA, CIA, DOJ, FBI, DOD, and State. This provided an opportunity to do this despite the President’s preferences not to. And once almost all of our NATO and/or EU allies agreed, the pressure became too much for the President to continue to say no. The White House was essentially presented with a fait accompli. And my guess is that the final pitch to the President was made with some version of: “if you don’t do this and stand with our allies, especially the UK, then it will only increase the talk that you work for Putin”.

  75. 75
    The Moar You Know says:

    Jason “Fitzmas” Leopold? Hard pass.

    @Bobby Thomson: Someone else remembers. Fuck that guy and any journalistic “product” he produces with a pitchfork.

    Everything he writes is a lie, probably including his goddamned name.

  76. 76

    @Frankensteinbeck: I wish I knew. It’s structurally very interesting that the machinery of the government grinds on, seemingly at odds with the President. Nicely robust, from our pov.

    I would like to locate the disconnect more clearly. The worker bees at the intelligence agencies and the Departments of State and Defense are going about their business as if we had a real President. Somebody higher up the chain is avoiding talking to Trump or is saying “yes sir” while doing something else. If I were President, I would be furious. But it seems possible he doesn’t even know.

  77. 77
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Ruckus: Does anyone know where Congressman Gaetz (R-At least 6 DUIs that daddy bought me out of) was when this happened? If he was in DC, then your hypothetical is a distinct possibility.

  78. 78
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Brachiator: Worse case of suicide in DC history.//

  79. 79
    Jager says:

    @MisterForkbeard: Any grown ups work there for Christ’s sake? Probably a misspelled “No Girls Allowed” sign hanging somewhere too.

  80. 80
    Ruckus says:

    @Spanky:
    Yeah, everyone gets massive blunt force trauma from falling down drunk. Was there anything in there about his blood alcohol level? Want to bet it was 0 to not much?

  81. 81
    ruemara says:

    @MisterForkbeard: Then they FUCKING MISSED THE GODDAMNED POINT OF LOTR.

    Also, fuck them.

  82. 82
    MattF says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I think, also, that Putin believes Trump is a coward. This suggests that Trump will never get free of Putin, and Putin will never let him go.

  83. 83
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @MattF: Narrator Voice: That would be an accurate assessment.

  84. 84
    Ruckus says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    No tire tracks, so the congressman is safe. For now.

  85. 85
    Montanareddog says:

    @catclub:

    Trump only piled in AFTER making sure other countries did, too.

    Leading from behind in his usual bone spurs fashion

  86. 86
    Ruckus says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    Non narrator voice, agreed.

  87. 87

    CS types love LOTR. They name their computer clusters after LOTR characters and their world.

  88. 88
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    I always liked how Neil Gaiman handled Loki in the Sandman series. Especially when Loki realizes too late that a puny god can’t outwit one of the Endless.

  89. 89
    Fair Economist says:

    @ruemara: They did not miss the point of LOTR; they were rooting for the wrong side. What do you expect a Republican to think about a bunch of treehugging hobbits trying to shut down the military/industrial complex?

  90. 90
    Ruckus says:

    @Fair Economist:
    I’d say LOL but it really isn’t funny.

  91. 91
    Gelfling 545 says:

    @MisterForkbeard: Hmmm. The Palantiri were held by the evil Sauron and the traitor Saruman except for the one they used to drive Denethor mad. Coincidence? Nah!

  92. 92

    @Ruckus: No being ruled by malevolent children who never grew up is not funny.

  93. 93
    TenguPhule says:

    @ruemara: The whole point was not to use the Palantir because the fucking things were fucking boobytraps that allowed the enemy to counterspy and corrupt users.

    Or maybe these fuckwits thought they were being clever by openly proclaiming what they are?

  94. 94
  95. 95
    🌷 Martin says:

    This won’t affect Putin because Trump is still a supporter, despite his grudging acceptance of the sanctions, and so long as Europe is buying Russian oil and gas, Putin has the control he needs.

    I was skeptical that May could pull this off, but props to her for doing it. But this is just a symbolic loss to Putin. Nobody in the west is really putting skin in the game yet. If we’re meeting assassinations by ejecting diplomats, Putin won’t see that as a serious response.

  96. 96
    Mnemosyne says:

    @ruemara:

    They thought that Sauron had a point. //

  97. 97

    @MisterForkbeard:

    As someone fairly familiar with Palantir, they’re less awful than they’re often made out to be.

    This is true.

    @Fair Economist: @ruemara:

    Then they FUCKING MISSED THE GODDAMNED POINT OF LOTR.

    We’re talking about libertarians, of course they did.

  98. 98
    Mnemosyne says:

    @TenguPhule:

    Or maybe these fuckwits thought they were being clever by openly proclaiming what they are?

    That’s pretty much it. Sociopaths love to do shit like that, because they know that normal people will assume they’re joking.

  99. 99
    SFAW says:

    @Montanareddog:

    Leading from behind in his usual bone spurs fashion

    But instead of being a Pierson’s Puppeteer, Shitgibbon is Putin’s Puppetee?

  100. 100
    Procopius says:

    I’m afraid I’m a contrarian, but I have a hard time connecting some of the author’s conclusions with the quotations he provides. For example, the quotations say Lesin was scheduled to meet with representatives of the Justice Department, but otherwise provide no details of what the meeting was supposed to be about other than the operations of RT. The author, though, says, “Specifically intended to prevent a potential confidential informant of providing significant counterintelligence information pertaining to Russia’s active measures to the FBI..” That’s a huge jump. Also, “I specifically want to highlight that three of Steele’s four high level sources indicate that the oligarch that Lesin crossed contracted with “Russian state security agents to beat up Lesin”. But the quotation immediately preceding this is talking about four people who read Steele’s report. Nowhere do the quotes provided say how many “high level sources” Steele had. The quotation also says that only two of the sources read the whole report. I’m confused. I’m inclined to be skeptical anyway because of the hysterical over-hyping of the “interference” in our election that the Democrats and the CIA have been trying to sell without supporting evidence since November 2016. This certainly calls for some kind of investigation. We know from Radley Balko’s reporting that coroner’s reports can be wildly inaccurate, and I’m always ready to believe in a conspiracy to cover up a crime to protect a rich guy. I’m not so ready to believe in a conspiracy to cover up a crime to “lower the temperature” with Russia. Not when the media have been provoking hostilities since Hillary was Secretary of State. Whether we will get any kind of believable investigation is unclear. Ken Starr tainted the whole “special prosecutor” schtick.

  101. 101
    Fair Economist says:

    @TenguPhule: Thiel is affiliated with the “Dark Enlightenment” movement seeking to reverse the Enlightenment so it is very possible the evil interpretation of Palantir is deliberate and serves as a signal, as with many alt-right cultural touchpoints.

  102. 102
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @SFAW: Nice.

  103. 103
    Ruckus says:

    @schrodingers_cat:
    I was talking about the comment itself but you are correct.

  104. 104
    germy says:

    It’s really all Obama’s fault. Don’t you see?

    Bamford is well aware of the dangers of Trump's attempts to control these agencies for his own ends. He discusses those dangers at length. But he also notes that one of the reasons these agencies are now so dangerous is Obama's massive expansion of their unconstrained powers pic.twitter.com/rIhN3RvcMr— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) March 27, 2018

  105. 105
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Procopius:

    I’m inclined to be skeptical anyway because of the hysterical over-hyping of the “interference” in our election that the Democrats and the CIA have been trying to sell without supporting evidence since November 2016.

    Right here is where Procopius knew s/he fucked up.

  106. 106
    Corner Stone says:

    @🌷 Martin:

    This won’t affect Putin because Trump is still a supporter

    Trump is Putin’s non-athletic Athletic Supporter.

  107. 107
    Washburn says:

    Something doesn’t seem right about this Lesin thing, but not in the obvious sense.

    Okay, multiple blunt force injuries to head, torso and lower extremities – and he’s found in a hotel room???

    I ain’t no expert in Russian thuggery, but if some people were beating the crap out of him and accidentally killed him, wouldn’t they dump the body at the bottom of a long flight of concrete stairs? Can they really be that stupid?

  108. 108
    🌷 Martin says:

    @Ruckus: I’m reminded of a story that was told at a dinner by the chief ME of the state of CT (I was dating the daughter of the state police chief at the time – whole other set of stories out of that). He was investigating the death of a patient at a mental hospital, young man found beaten at the bottom of a stairwell. His team went around and asked the other patients if they knew anything about it, and plenty did as a notable percentage of them admitted to killing him even though it was impossible they had done it. He looked at the blood evidence at the scene and determine that it was a suicide. The young man climbed up into a window opening at the top of the stairs and jumped… landing head-first on the stairs, but didn’t die. So he got up, and tried again. And again didn’t die. He did this at least 3 times, maybe as many as 5-6 times before he finally knocked himself out and bled out.

    So yes, you can fall down, hit your head and die, but you have to work really, really hard at it.

    The same ME that handled the Helle Crafts case. One of my other friends in college lived on Lake Zoar at the time of the incident. If given a chance to have dinner with a medical examiner, do it. They have the best stories.

  109. 109
    ruemara says:

    @TenguPhule: They see themselves as Gandalf. Strong enough in will to keep control over the power. Yet they turn out to be either Denethor or Saruman and may they meet the end they deserve accordingly.

    @germy: And fuck Thiel.

  110. 110
    Corner Stone says:

    @MisterForkbeard:

    As someone fairly familiar with Palantir, they’re less awful than they’re often made out to be.

    Is this actually a *good* thing?

  111. 111
    Brachiator says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    The attack in the UK brought a lot of pressure from our British allies to bear on their counterparts at DNI, NSA, CIA, DOJ, FBI, DOD, and State.

    So, maybe this has been asked and answered before. We can slap Trump around rhetorically in threads here, but in the real world, do the intelligence agencies of other countries contemplate whether Trump, either unwittingly or deliberately, serves as a tool of Putin? Is intelligence information deliberately withheld from the White House?

    People can talk about how the US is the unofficial leader of the free world. In reality, has there been an informal shift to Germany or some other NATO country?

  112. 112
    Immanentize says:

    @Spanky: That is a very weird official document or statement as it is undated? Just a joint statement, but still, all those things have dates on them in normal course. I thought the original huh?-theory was that Lesin had fallen out of a window when drunk, was able to get to his room and died there…. But I’m not going down that rabbit hole just now.

  113. 113
    Ruckus says:

    @Corner Stone:
    Naw, a jock strap is useful. drumpf is far from that. 180 deg out in fact.

  114. 114
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Procopius:

    Not when the media have been provoking hostilities since Hillary was Secretary of State.

    Da, comrade. Is this Mischa or Borys we’re talking to today?

  115. 115
    germy says:

    @Washburn: Isn’t it possible he was still alive when they left him? And that he died later from his injuries?

  116. 116
    Immanentize says:

    @Brachiator:

    do the intelligence agencies of other countries contemplate whether Trump, either unwittingly or deliberately, serves as a tool of Putin? Is intelligence information deliberately withheld from the White House?

    I would like to know the answer to this too, if it’s knowable….

  117. 117
    Immanentize says:

    And just for fun, as we contemplate all these foreign crimes wrought by Russians, Brits, and others; this afternoon in about an hour I am teaching Extradition, Abduction and Other Methods for obtaining a defendant’s attendance in a US criminal proceeding. It is fascinating stuff.

  118. 118
    MattF says:

    @Immanentize: Considering that Trump has already burned Israeli intelligence, I’d bet on it.

  119. 119
    Mnemosyne says:

    @germy:

    That seems like the most likely explanation. They assumed he had survived, left the hotel, and he died after they left.

  120. 120
    TenguPhule says:

    @Brachiator:

    Is intelligence information deliberately withheld from the White House?

    We know it is. The Israelis take the penetration seriously.

  121. 121
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Procopius: I’m going to treat this as if you’re being serious and not a troll. You get the benefit of the doubt once:
    1) RT is a Russian state owned media property developed to specifically propagandize externally – as in to the US, Canada, Britain and other parts of the EU, Australia, New Zealand, etc – in support of Putin’s active measures campaigns against the US, its allies, and its partners.
    2) I have excerpted what I think are important parts of the story to highlight. Feel free to click the link and actually read Buzzfeed’s full report.
    3) Given what has now been reported about ongoing US, allied, and partnered counterintelligence concerns with what Putin has been doing, going back before 2013, and the reality that confirming a state related, if not state sanctioned, Russian attack on an elite and notable Russian national that resulted in that Russian national’s death in DC on the day before he was to meet with the FBI to provide them details on RT’s activities, which, again, are Russian state activities intended to propagandize the US, its allies, and its partners in support of Putin’s active measures campaign, would have created a major international incident. Attempting to publicly lower the temperature, to reuse the phrase I employed in the original post, while pursuing other more covert responses would be a smart course of action. It is unclear if this was an attempt to lower the temperature, but as someone who has been an informed observer it is pretty clear that the Obama administration was doing a lot to officially lower the temperature towards Russia and Putin. In retrospect I don’t think this had the intended effects and that it only encouraged Putin to further test the boundaries of what he could get away with.

  122. 122
    Ruckus says:

    @🌷 Martin:

    So yes, you can fall down, hit your head and die, but you have to work really, really hard at it.

    Some one completely drunk is not going to be able to work that hard at it. But you knew that.
    People can do all sort of things that we don’t expect them to, feats of strength they shouldn’t be able to do or moving after an accident (either because of adrenaline), run into machine gun fire and survive to kill the machine gunner…….
    BTW interesting stories from an ME? I believe that!

  123. 123
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Fair Economist: Why in Deity’s name would a highly educated homosexual man want to reverse the enlightenment? Does he not realize he’d be one of the first for the pyre if that actually happened?

  124. 124
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    I wouldn’t have wasted my time. The section I quoted above is all the evidence I need to know they’re probably unreachable, assuming they want to be reached in the first place.

  125. 125
    TenguPhule says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Why in Deity’s name would a highly educated homosexual man want to reverse the enlightenment? Does he not realize he’d be one of the first for the pyre if that actually happened?

    People like Sullivan always think they’re the chosen exemption from the common norm.

  126. 126
    Brachiator says:

    @TenguPhule:

    Is intelligence information deliberately withheld from the White House?

    We know it is. The Israelis take the penetration seriously.

    But Netanyahu also treats Trump as though he is the bestest best friend that Israel ever had.

  127. 127
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Washburn: If the actual op had been just to give him a beating to teach him and others a lesson in respect and not crossing this particular powerful oligarch tied to Putin, the Russian security agents probably thought they had beaten him too unconsciousness, that housekeeping would find him in the morning, and he’d be taken to the hospital. No need to dump the body. And you wouldn’t want to. Part of the message was supposed to be “we can reach you in the hotel the DOJ/FBI booked for you under a pseudonym”.

  128. 128
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Thiel thinks his money will protect him. Remember, he’s the guy who secretly switched his citizenship to New Zealand so he has an escape hatch when the situation in the US gets too dangerous for him.

  129. 129
    TenguPhule says:

    @Brachiator:

    But Netanyahu also treats Trump as though he is the bestest best friend that Israel ever had.

    My understanding is that Israel’s IC is already keeping stuff away from Netanyahu, because they don’t expect him to be their boss much longer and don’t trust him either.

  130. 130
    scav says:

    @Brachiator:

    Is intelligence information deliberately withheld from the White House?

    Well, duh, depending on your definition of White House. Elements of the WH itself are deliberately ommitting any intelligence that doesn’t fit on a one-page Power-point slide with many pictures, upbeat themes and copious mentions of TRUMP necessary to catch the orange eye. How much intelligence is being withheld upstream and from not only the WH but the US govt writ large might be a more interesting question (for alarming fringes of the definition of interesting).

  131. 131
    Mnemosyne says:

    @TenguPhule:

    Thiel, not Sullivan.

  132. 132
    Chet Murthy says:

    @Procopius:

    I’m afraid I’m a contrarian

    What you are, honey, is a Russian troll. Pie for you.

  133. 133

    @TenguPhule: We’re talking about Thiel. Sullivan is horrified by the dark enlightenment.

  134. 134
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Brachiator: In order of your questions:
    1) I would expect (and hope) so.
    2) Don’t know if it’s shifted to Germany, despite a post I did about that, but in general, yes.

  135. 135
    Ruckus says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    Being highly educated does not make someone smart. One can stuff a lot into a human brain but without teaching the person to actually think and use that info, he becomes just a highly educated idiot. How many people have an Ivy league education who seemingly couldn’t find the instructions to empty a boot full of water if the instruction were on the sole? How many of them are involved in republican politics?

  136. 136
    TenguPhule says:

    @Mnemosyne: Obviously I need that morning cup of tea more then I thought.

  137. 137
    But her emails!!! says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Why in Deity’s name would a highly educated homosexual man want to reverse the enlightenment? Does he not realize he’d be one of the first for the pyre if that actually happened?

    Assuming that you’re talking about Thiel. Because he’s rich and powerful, and believes that will shield him. The elite have long engaged in activities that would have gotten commoners imprisoned or killed and generally only suffered consequences if they fell from power or favor. The payoff for him is more money and power and if things go completely down the tubes, there’s always New Zealand.

  138. 138
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Immanentize: Don’t forget the section on the LTG Michael Flynn Rendition to Turkey Project!!!

  139. 139
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Immanentize: I’ve written a couple of posts about this here. You should be able to find them.

  140. 140
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @TenguPhule: Sullivan would be an insufferable, racist adjacent, dipshit if he was straight. What is problematic about Sullivan isn’t his homosexuality or anything having to do with that.

  141. 141
    catclub says:

    @Ruckus:

    but dying from the injuries you suffered on the way down, unless those injuries came from baseball bats or very large fists, etc is rather slim.

    slipping in the bathroom and hitting one’s head on the counter ledge can do it, though. Obviously will not result in all the OTHER lower body injuries.

  142. 142
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Chet Murthy:

    “Contrarian” = Dunning-Kruger Effect in operation.

  143. 143
    catclub says:

    @Jager:

    Any grown ups work there for Christ’s sake?

    I know a young woman who interviewed there. definite bro culture. Did not get (or want at the end) the job.

  144. 144
    Chet Murthy says:

    @Brachiator: From reporting after Spanky McTrump spilled the beans to the Russians about the Israeli asset in ISIS, we know now that the Israelis were told by the US IC *before* Litledick became Predisent, that they should be circumspect in what they shared. We also know that the Israeli IC is no more identical to the Prime Minister, than the American IC is, to Command Bone Spurs.

    In short, I think the evidence is pretty damn clear that at least the Israelis know we’re compromised, intelligence-wise. Hell, they heard it from our own master spies.

  145. 145
    Immanentize says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I’ve read them, and like others say, it is clear that the Israelis have slowed sharing, but they do that for their own purposes all the time. I guess I’m really interested in whether the other foreign services have actually slowed sharing? Or are they being extremely careful with who/what agency they share with? I am certain, as you have discussed, that foreign Intelligence Agencies have plenty of information relevant to the Mueller probe. Do you think they are sharing? Or are they holding back so that they don’t get cross-wise with Trump if the investigation falters? That would be a hard calculus, I think.

    ETA When the CamAn info. came to light, my first thought was that it was not just clever reporters, but a joint news/intelligence sting. The reporters would have had to have displayed some serious cash or had a great verifiable back story to get in the room with the CamAd leadership.

  146. 146
    Immanentize says:

    @Adam L Silverman: We did just drop charges against a bunch of Erdogan’s thugs for beating US citizens in DC. Maybe a trade is actually in the works?!

  147. 147
    Ruckus says:

    @catclub:
    Of course there are many ways of falling down drunk and dying. Almost none of them involve multiple blunt force trauma. And none of those involve dying in your hotel room unless that’s where the blunt force traumas were delivered or where you were delivered afterwards. But that leaves witnesses.
    Look Vlad doesn’t care if there were witnesses or he loses his operatives, he has plenty of people to do the work. In fact I’d bet he thinks witnesses are fine because they send a message. Vlad is a state mafia don, with territory issues.

  148. 148
    Formerly disgruntled in Oregon says:

    @Procopius:

    I’m inclined to be skeptical anyway because of the hysterical over-hyping of the “interference” in our election that the Democrats and the CIA have been trying to sell without supporting evidence since November 2016.

    I’m inclined to be skeptical that you’re here to discuss this topic in good faith, if you’re slinging that BS.

  149. 149
    Brachiator says:

    @scav:

    Is intelligence information deliberately withheld from the White House?

    Well, duh, depending on your definition of White House.

    After a certain point, we’re looking for confirmation from “people familiar with” the White House and the intelligence agencies, not just the conventional wisdom of the Internets. Adam and Cheryl are about as close as we can come to knowledgeable sources as far as this goes.

  150. 150

    @Adam L Silverman: This is also the guy who wants seasteading libertarian colonies and thinks women shouldn’t have the vote.

  151. 151
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Immanentize: That has more to do with the President being authoritarian curious. He likes Erdogan, so charges wont’ be pursued.

  152. 152
    Fair Economist says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Why in Deity’s name would a highly educated homosexual man want to reverse the enlightenment? Does he not realize he’d be one of the first for the pyre if that actually happened?

    Thiel probably thinks he’ll be king in his own seastead or something like that. Not totally impossible although he’s probably not studied the mortality rate for monarchs or the odds of success. There are nontrivial numbers of alt-right/dark enlightenment/etc. supporters from minorities who would be in dire straights if their goals succeeded and I can’t explain them. Deluded, I guess.

  153. 153
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: True.

  154. 154
    Corner Stone says:

    Lots of people on this thread seem to know a significant amount about what is required to a)fall down drunk and die and/or b)how one may acquire significant blunt force trauma whilst being drunk and falling down.

  155. 155
    The Midnight Lurker says:

    Somebody help me here… did Senators Graham and Grassley know about this before they recommended turning Steele over for criminal prosecution? And is it possible that Graham and Grassley are trying to draw Steele out? Just wondering?

  156. 156
    Corner Stone says:

    @Fair Economist:

    although he’s probably not studied the mortality rate for monarchs

    Let me guess. They all die?

  157. 157
    The Midnight Lurker says:

    Or put another way… if Steele pops up in response to a Federal warrant, do you think Putin’s people will hesitate to try and kill him? Just wondering.

  158. 158
    Chris says:

    @ruemara:

    @TenguPhule: They see themselves as Gandalf. Strong enough in will to keep control over the power. Yet they turn out to be either Denethor or Saruman and may they meet the end they deserve accordingly.

    Which is also missing the entire point of LOTR, as Gandalf specifically refused the ring of power, when Frodo offered it to him, because he knew that he wasn’t strong enough to keep control over it even if his intentions were originally good. (No one was).

  159. 159
    gene108 says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Why in Deity’s name would a highly educated homosexual man want to reverse the enlightenment? Does he not realize he’d be one of the first for the pyre if that actually happened?

    Lower taxes?

  160. 160
    The Midnight Lurker says:

    And why hasn’t anyone asked if Skripal was part of Steele’s network?

  161. 161

    @The Midnight Lurker: That rumor surfaced early in the story. Luke Harding of the Guardian, who is pretty knowledgeable in such things, said it’s not true. But every day brings new surprises.

  162. 162
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @The Midnight Lurker: That’s actually been batted about a lot in the news media. With reporting that he was and other reporting that he wasn’t.

  163. 163
    Mike in DC says:

    @Formerly disgruntled in Oregon:
    Skepticism in mid-late 2016: reasonable.
    Skepticism in mid-2017: starting to get unreasonable
    Skepticism now: either damn stubborn or some kind of useful idiot/fellow traveler

  164. 164
    catclub says:

    @The Midnight Lurker: I think that that fact actually has been at least mentioned. I at least feel like I have heard it.

  165. 165
    catclub says:

    @gene108: That or blogger ethics and gaming.

  166. 166
    Ruckus says:

    @Corner Stone:
    For me, I was in the Shore Patrol for a bit.

  167. 167
    Fair Economist says:

    @Corner Stone: No, monarchs often have short lives for elites except in monogamous hereditary monarchies and sometimes not even then. That amount of power attracts a lot of violence, betrayal, and assassination.

  168. 168
    WhatsMyNym says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    This is also the guy who wants seasteading libertarian colonies and thinks women shouldn’t have the vote.

    and he thinks of New Zealand as a backup?! 77% voter turnout, still a constitutional monarchy under Queen Elizabeth II, and plenty of women in the elected government. They are already getting pissed at the rich foreigners leaving empty houses.

  169. 169
    TenguPhule says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Lots of people on this thread seem to know a significant amount about what is required to a)fall down drunk and die and/or b)how one may acquire significant blunt force trauma whilst being drunk and falling down.

    It could come in handy someday.

  170. 170
    Chris says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I would imagine the Germans are still a bit controversial as leaders of the free world for historical reasons (plus the fact that they’ve recently made some Mediterranean countries pretty cranky), and the British have the problem that they’re currently in the middle of a pissing match with most of the members of NATO, so… does that leave the French in the lead by default?

    De Gaulle’s ghost would love to think so, at any rate. Though he’s probably being over-optimistic.

  171. 171
    But her emails!!! says:

    @WhatsMyNym:

    and he thinks of New Zealand as a backup?! 77% voter turnout, still a constitutional monarchy under Queen Elizabeth II, and plenty of women in the elected government. They are already getting pissed at the rich foreigners leaving empty houses.

    It’s his backup in a SHTF scenario. Also, he managed to obtain citizenship by painting the right palms green.

  172. 172
    Immanentize says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Of course, Trump should have nothing whatsoever to say about whether criminal charges are pursued by the DC cops and prosecutors, even though they are all DOJ employees….

  173. 173
    Immanentize says:

    @The Midnight Lurker: I think it has been reported that Skripal was one of the main sources for the Trump dossier.

  174. 174
    JR says:

    @Chris: I’d think the other European countries are still pissed about Napoleon all these years later (the original “they will greet us as liberators!”)

  175. 175
    Washburn says:

    @Corner Stone:
    It’s an ongoing open-source research project.

  176. 176
    ruemara says:

    @Chris: Nerd counter: Gandalf knew that about the ring. He, however, was able to (barely) wrest control of the Orthanc Palantir from Sauron. The Palantir of Denethor was the RT of the story with truth poisoned by lies to affect Denethor’s will & spirit. After his end, you could only see hands withering in the fire, unless you were of exceptionally strong will.

    My, that was a cheery story for a young girl to immerse herself in, no?

    @But her emails!!!: My NZ friends are quite peeved at that.

  177. 177
    Washburn says:

    @germy:
    Fair point.

    It’s times like this that I wish I had more experience in beating people unconscious …

  178. 178
    Immanentize says:

    @WhatsMyNym:

    already getting pissed at the rich foreigners leaving empty houses.

    New York?
    London?
    Seattle?
    New Zealand?
    It’s a problem everywhere, it seems….

  179. 179
    Immanentize says:

    @ruemara:

    My NZ friends are quite peeved at that.

    Now there is a good reason for anti-immigrant sentiments!

  180. 180
    Walker says:

    @WhatsMyNym:

    And a pregnant Prime Minister who will get maternity leave in office!

  181. 181
    TenguPhule says:

    @Immanentize: New Zealand plans to do something drastic about this, though.

  182. 182
    Aleta says:

    Months before the 2016 election, there was reporting about the bf trauma to many parts of his body and a likelihood he was murdered. (I didn’t read the new buzzfeed yet, but I hope they credited this. The articles that I remember listed other suspicious recent deaths of Russians in the US as well.)

    The mentions of his death kept saying it was ‘still under investigation,’ until shortly before the election. Then a conclusion by the medical examiner was announced. (In that same late-October or early-Nov. time period when Rs were trying to quell unfavorable stories.)

    That medical examiner report did describe the (extreme) extent of the bf injury, but the examiner’s conclusion was that it was due to falls caused by alcohol.

    Iirc, the report seemed to link the injuries to drinking because he had been said (who said?) to have been drinking for days previous. (And I’m sure a high alco. reading in his blood, too.)

    But imo, it’s a weird to conclude that injuries that resembled blows or falls, were from alcohol induced falls, just because of (someone’s) reports he’d been drinking for days. I guess what they were saying was “we didn’t see anyone hit him” but “some people say they saw him drinking” … but that isn’t the work of a medical report.

    If (I suspect) the injuries looked like possible blows, could they not have left that as trauma caused by “undetermined” injuries while under the influence? But instead the examiner reported “falls,” days before the election.

  183. 183
    Immanentize says:

    @TenguPhule: Really? What are they planning? No more pay to play like we have in the US? NZ has always been very guarded about its immigrant allowances. I was very surprised to hear Thiel managed to get in.

  184. 184
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Immanentize: In order for the local DC prosecutor to actually prosecute he or she would’ve had to get permission from State, which would have had to get a waiver from the Turks on the diplomatic immunity for Erdogan’s security detail. My guess is it was these latter two things that were not forthcoming.

  185. 185
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @ruemara: Actually it was Aragorn who reasserted control over the Orthanc stone. Gandalf gave the stone to Aragorn after Pippin looked into it at Edoras and told him that he was the rightful owner and user of the stone and as such would be the only one with the possibility of freeing it from Sauron’s control (via the captured and befouled Morgul stone). Which Aragorn did.

  186. 186
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Immanentize:

    I’m guessing the DC cops are well accustomed to having to look the other way when it comes to diplomats and the people associated with them.

  187. 187
    Aleta says:

    @Spanky: If that was the final report, I should try to find the announcement I remembered or misremembered. I do remember it being ‘under investigation’ for months and then closed.
    Is there a date for that document?

  188. 188
    Brachiator says:

    @Chris:

    I would imagine the Germans are still a bit controversial as leaders of the free world for historical reasons (plus the fact that they’ve recently made some Mediterranean countries pretty cranky), and the British have the problem that they’re currently in the middle of a pissing match with most of the members of NATO, so… does that leave the French in the lead by default?

    Germany is still the economic stabilizer of the European Union. With their BREXIT problems (along with NATO issues), the UK has pretty much excluded itself from a European leadership role. The French really don’t seem up to it. But if not Germany alone, a strong Franco-German alliance would be a hell of a thing to see.

  189. 189
    Jay says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    There’s actually a form of Troll on the intertubes, that believes/argues opposite day on the web for Lutz.

  190. 190
    TenguPhule says:

    @Immanentize: I’ve heard rumblings that there is consideration about revoking all of those cash for citizenship agreements and making it painful to buy and let it lie fallow either through regulation or taxation.

  191. 191
    Aleta says:

    @Mnemosyne: There was another weird case I saw mentioned once, then haven’t seen again. A Russian with some intelligence connections who died right after leaving the back door of (as I remember) an embassy-type building in NYC (?). Like literally on the back steps almost, and a police report that is not available to the public. And maybe a non-official announcement of a heart attack.

  192. 192
    scav says:

    @Brachiator: I’m sure that’s also important, but I don’t see how that resolves the point I was trying to clarify which was what do you mean by the short-hand “White House”: the singular officer (the President), the Executive Branch or the US govt in toto? Information being withheld from those distinct entities has different implications. I’m far less worried that information is being dropped off the Idiot in Chiefs Powerpoint handout because he doesn’t seem to read it anyway let alone influence his random decisions but I would very much like the information still be flowing to the larger entities actually doing the work.

  193. 193
    Jay says:

    @The Midnight Lurker:

    It’s been inferred the Skripal was a Steele source.

  194. 194
    Chris says:

    @JR:

    Actually, I think the original “greeted as liberators” was the pre-Napoleonic, revolutionary government of France. Napoleon just continued what they’d started.

    Well, the original in Europe, at least. Before that, I think there was one time the American revolutionaries tried to “liberate” Canada early on in the war. That didn’t pan out.

    In either case, though, the memory of the Germans is a little fresher, and nastier.

  195. 195
    Sneaux says:

    The ring had no power over Tom Bombadil who could even see Frodo when he had it on. He was just not a good protector for it according to Gandalf because he would soon forget about and lose it.

  196. 196
    Chris says:

    @ruemara:

    I bow before your superior nerd-cred. :D

  197. 197
    ruemara says:

    @Sneaux: Had no power because Bombadil had no desire and had mastered himself in his demesne. A fitting conundrum of desire for power.

    @Chris: It’s probably why I’m single and have cats.

    @Aleta: Russian whistleblowers seem to be surprisingly fragile.

  198. 198
    Aleta says:

    @Aleta: I guess this was what I saw reported. It was released on October 28, 2016:

    After review of the video footage and new evidence developed from the investigation, the Chief Medical Examiner has determined that Lesin died as a result of blunt force injuries to his head, with contributing causes being blunt force injuries of the neck, torso, upper extremities and lower extremities, which were induced by falls, with acute ethanol intoxication.

    released October 28, 2016. (And hard to accept the conclusion that it had to be falls. Since the falls seem based only on undefined witnesses who say he’d been drinking, and video of him entering to his room by himself.)

  199. 199
    Captain C says:

    @MattF:

    Makes you wonder, and makes you think Putin isn’t concerned with anyone actually believing him. I don’t really get it, but it’s where we are now.

    At this point; he may want all parties involved to know that he’s desperate and can and will do anything to stop them from giving evidence against him, his oligarchs, the Russian secret services, or the Bratva, with just enough plausible deniability to keep him off the Red Notice list.

    I’ve heard this kind of hit described as a “Cowboy” in a novel once, but I can’t find any other reference. It was in reference to a murder-for-hire which involved machine gunning an establishment to get the target, rather than something quiet and deadly in a secluded location, followed by a clandestine burial and/or dismemberment.

    I also suspect Putin is barely holding together his regime and country, and if the Russian economy gets much worse, no amount of foreign adventuring will distract from poor and worsening conditions at home.

  200. 200
    Jay says:

    @scav:

    The Intel is probably still flowing through the proper channels, but it’s probably being stripped of the confidence builders of “sources and methods”, to prevent “accidents”.

  201. 201
    Captain C says:

    @efgoldman:

    You taking the job, counselor? Get a huge retainer up front, no personal/company checks.

    “You want me to take this job, Mr. Trump? It’s $1500/hour for me, $1200/hour for any associates, and $1000/hour for any non-lawyer staff. We will require a million dollars cash up front as a retainer, and once that is used up, we will do no further work until you pay us another retainer at least that large. Or you can take your chances with the nutjob and the incompetent.

    “Also, we can fire you without notice and you don’t get any of the remaining retainer back.”

  202. 202
    TenguPhule says:

    @Sneaux:

    The ring had no power over Tom Bombadil who could even see Frodo when he had it on.

    Tom was LOTR’s big lipped alligator moment. The films were wise to exclude him.

  203. 203
    TenguPhule says:

    @Captain C:

    We will require a million dollars cash up front as a retainer

    There’s a Dr. Evil youtube clip waiting to happen.

  204. 204
    Chris says:

    @ruemara:

    @Chris: It’s probably why I’m single and have cats.

    I’m in no position to knock you on either count.

    (Okay, admittedly the cat is my housemates’).

  205. 205
    Brachiator says:

    @scav:

    I’m sure that’s also important, but I don’t see how that resolves the point I was trying to clarify which was what do you mean by the short-hand “White House”: the singular officer (the President), the Executive Branch or the US govt in toto? Information being withheld from those distinct entities has different implications. I’m far less worried that information is being dropped off the Idiot in Chiefs Powerpoint handout because he doesn’t seem to read it anyway let alone influence his random decisions but I would very much like the information still be flowing to the larger entities actually doing the work.

    Does the president make decisions, even if it is only to say yes or no to the recommendations of staff? Do intelligence agencies regularly make decisions independent of any presidential or presidential staff review?

    A president who makes decisions after ignoring his staff and advisors is one level of hell. A president who makes decisions never having been offered the best information is a deeper level of hell.

    A president whose staff or advisors make important decisions, bypassing the chief executive entirely may be what we have (and may have had before with Reagan and Bush) is not even a pretense of a democracy.

    As for the larger entities actually doing the work, if the intelligence agencies and the State Department are deliberately weakened, then who do you think is in charge? How could they do good work? And is this a result that you would be happy to see continue?

  206. 206
    Jay says:

    “I also suspect Putin is barely holding together his regime and country, and if the Russian economy gets much worse, no amount of foreign adventuring will distract from poor and worsening conditions at home.”

    Putin’s holding on fine. He’s created a form of “Gangster Capitalism” where the Government, the National Security Services, the Ogliarches and the Russian Mob are all just one big hierarchal Crime Family looting the cash flow of the country.

  207. 207
    Steeplejack (phone) says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt:

    Just copy the link like any other Web page.

  208. 208
    Aleta says:

    @But her emails!!!: I wonder if he also thinks there’s potential in NZ for libertarian manipulation, or at least experiments on their government?

    Fucking with stuff to see what you can control or win is an interesting game for competitive people of extreme wealth. The way that the “sport of kings” used to be horse racing. (And before that, war was the “sport of kings” at least in King Arthur.)

    Now I fear the ‘sport of kings’ — the ground for competition and symbolic demolishing– is the political and government systems of the world. The wealthy seem to have practiced on former colonies that are still politically/economically disorganized. Now it’s on to the better organized states.

  209. 209
    Ruckus says:

    @Jay:
    Isn’t Vlad the current Don of the Russian mob?

  210. 210
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Ruckus: He is the krysha.

  211. 211
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    q

  212. 212
    Ruckus says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    So same same then.

  213. 213
    PJ says:

    @Aleta: You may be thinking of Vitaly Churkin, one of Trump’s first handlers (https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/11/19/trump-first-moscow-trip-215842, who supposedly died of a “heart attack” in New York in February 2017, but we’ll never know the actual cause of death, because the State Department suppressed the coroner’s report: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitaly_Churkin#Death

  214. 214
    Captain C says:

    @Ruckus:

    Being highly educated does not make someone smart.

    cf. Ben Carson

  215. 215
    jonas says:

    The goal was not to kill Lesin, all four sources said Steele wrote, but Lesin died from the attack.

    Obviously this *wasn’t* given to Clemenza, because these guys weren’t reliable and they got carried away.

  216. 216
    Captain C says:

    @Jay:

    Putin’s holding on fine. He’s created a form of “Gangster Capitalism” where the Government, the National Security Services, the Ogliarches and the Russian Mob are all just one big hierarchal Crime Family looting the cash flow of the country.

    He’s holding on fine, on the surface, right now, just as the Communists were holding on fine until 1989, when they weren’t any more. There have been large protests in the past year, and at some point, a critical mass of people may well get sick of being robbed to support Putin’s ambitions and the rest of the oligarchs’ luxury apartments in London and New York, and their secret (large) bank accounts in Cyprus, the Caymans, and elsewhere. This may well not happen until after Putin dies (I don’t think he’ll relinquish power voluntarily while he lives, unless he can find someone to do for him what he did for Yeltsin), but while that’s a good bet now, it’s not certain. Also, if enough oligarchs decide that Putin is a liability, they may try to do something about it, though I’m certainly not holding my breath for this scenario.

  217. 217
    Ruckus says:

    @Captain C:
    There are tons of examples in real life of this. I know people without that expensive education who are smart, decent people and those who did get the expensive education who are smart and yet they are still assholes. Being stupid with and expensive education and still an asshole? That takes a special talent. Not one that I want or that anyone should aspire to but they are there.

  218. 218
    Ruckus says:

    @Captain C:
    Also, I don’t count Ben as smart. Maybe he was, and he was held up as an exceptional neurosurgeon. Got to have something going on to get there, for sure. But what happened along the way? Because he sure doesn’t seem all that smart today.

  219. 219
    louc says:

    @ruemara: And the other difference: Gandalf knew he wasn’t strong enough either!

  220. 220
    scav says:

    @Brachiator: I think we are in the deeper level of hell, with a President who no only is indifferent to the evidence and intlligent but also easily antagonistic to both and those that put it in his face. So decisions are being made at whim, merely in order to please or push back at the last person who was in the room and either pampered or annoyed him. Plus all the decisions being made by those both deputised by him (hi Jared) because he can’t be bothered, or by people trying to function in the void and chaos. Given all that, I think I’d still prefer a scenario where actual intelligence is still being delivered to the US administrative maelstrom if nothing else as evidence that the rest of the world hasn’t entirely given up on the rudderless hulk quite yet. .and, at least then a few of the cabin boys might do the right thing given the correct information and close the portholes before the water rushes in because we’re listing so badly because of incompetant steering. Is it an ideal situation? Hell no.

  221. 221
    SgrAstar says:

    @TenguPhule: If you gaze too long into the abyss….

  222. 222
    Jay says:

    @Captain C:

    There is no real opposition to Putin. Accidental deaths and accidental crimes, and a heavy FSO penetration keep real opposition forces at bay or in exile.

    Putin’s popular enough, because his rule is compared to the Yeltsin years, even by people who wern’t alive then.

    I wouldn’t be the least surprised, to find out that the Various Statistic’s and Economic Ministries, have been retasked to calculating exactly how much parasitism the Russian Host can withstand.

  223. 223
    Miss Bianca says:

    @TenguPhule: sorry, them’s fightin’ words. Tom was always my favorite character, despite his speech patterns. I always loved the idea of there being some entity over whom the Ring had no power.

  224. 224
    Aleta says:

    @PJ: thanks!

  225. 225
    Aleta says:

    @PJ: So the politico story you linked is dated Feb 19 2017. (Could have had earlier version or requests for confirmation.) It’s about T’s early wooing by the Russians, his trips, and mentions C in passing. His death is said to have occurred in his office on Feb 20 (declared in the hospital on the same day).

  226. 226
    PJ says:

    @Aleta: Hm, I clicked on the link and it definitely has a Nov. 19, 2017 date for me, maybe it shows up differently in different browsers? But the Churkin-Trump contact was not a secret before then, or before the election, for that matter. I had heard about it in January 2017 in a podcast interview about the book The Twentieth Day of January, about a Russian agent who gets elected president (this is a real book, by the way: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34122331-the-twentieth-day-of-january, which Trump supposedly would talk up to people he met in the late 80s (notwithstanding the fact that he probably never read it, since he never reads anything.) Here’s a link to a transcript of the podcast interview: http://hilobrow.com/2017/01/20.....f-january/. (The podcast, The Theory of Everything, often runs satirical/absurdist interviews, but this one is serious as far as the Churkin/Trump relationship goes.)

    But, assuming Churkin’s death was unnatural, as the surrounding circumstances would make one believe, the trigger was probably that the Russia/Trump connection was really not getting much attention in the press until January 2017. If you’ll recall, a lot of Russian diplomats were dropping dead around that time: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2017/03/07/is-a-grand-conspiracy-killing-russian-diplomats-or-is-it-demographics/?utm_term=.358b9979330e.

  227. 227
    PJ says:

    @Aleta: Well, I posted a long reply that is in moderation, who knows if or when someone will release it since this thread is dead. But the gist is that the Churkin/Trump relationship was not a secret, just something that most of the press was uninterested in until Churkin’s death, which coincided with the sudden deaths of five other Russian diplomats in January and February 2017. Here is Sarah Kendzior on Churkin: https://twitter.com/sarahkendzior/status/833754314980089857

  228. 228
    PJ says:

    @Aleta: And here is the transcript of the interview about Churkin, Trump, and the book The Twentieth Day of January, a potboiler from the early 80s about a Russian agent who becomes President: http://hilobrow.com/2017/01/20.....f-january/

  229. 229
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Jager: Thread’s dead, but they hire pretty hard directly out of Stanford, actually. It’s actually caused a number of issues, because some of these guys don’t know how to do their own laundry or cook. Palantir offers both services gratis. But it also means they’re putting horrendously inexperienced people in charge of important projects and decisions, and sometimes they make the wrong ones. :(

    @Corner Stone: Their tools are actually really cool. Basically, it’s a data organization and tracking system. They do very little analysis themselves, but they DO have ways to combine discrete datasets into one large but easily searchable dataset, and their software can provide lots of correlation/matchups.

    They have an example on their website, if you’re so inclined. It’s really interesting. But like every tool, it can be used for evil.

  230. 230
    J R in WV says:

    @Procopius:

    Having read your actual comment, I prefer the version I got from the pie filter:

    This is a fascinating topic, but I have to go now. The pie is ready.

    That makes sense… your so long comment does not.

  231. 231
    J R in WV says:

    @Immanentize:

    …Trump should have nothing whatsoever to say about whether criminal charges are pursued by the DC cops and prosecutors, even though they are all DOJ employees….

    No, they’re employees of the DC metro government. I doubt if even the funding ever met the DOJ. There’s a mayor, a city council, all that stuff. They even have their own Department of Environmental Protection, or whatever 3 letter choice they wanted.

  232. 232
    Tehanu says:

    @Corner Stone: @MisterForkbeard:
    It so infuriates me that that rightwing jerkwad named his company after Tolkien’s “far-seeing” stone. Tolkien was a conservative Catholic, but he hated fascism. If they wanted to adduce Tolkien, they should have named themselves “Wormtongue & Co.”

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