A Caution About That CIA Arrest

Jerry Chun Shing Lee, a former CIA agent, has been charged with possession of classified information in the form of notebooks containing the names and other information about undercover agents. The notebooks were found in searches carried out in 2012.

Most of the stories connect Lee to the loss of American agents in China around 2010. The CIA seemed to have a mole, and the search for that mole has been intensive. The New York Times makes the connection more closely than the Washington Post, but both mention it.

It’s not an unreasonable surmise, but a surmise is all it is right now. Lee is accused of keeping notebooks with information that he shouldn’t have taken outside of properly protected areas. That is all. There may be more to come.

Jeffrey Lewis reminds us of Wen Ho Lee, who was accused of more than the evidence could bear – and part of what he was accused of was definitively refuted by another Los Alamos weapons scientist. The Times eventually had to run an explanation of their coverage.

This review showed how, in constructing a narrative to fit their unnerving suspicions, investigators took fragmentary, often ambiguous evidence about Dr. Lee’s behavior and Chinese atomic espionage and wove it into a grander case that eventually collapsed of its own light weight.

Keep this in mind when reading about Jerry Lee, and keep asking yourself if the evidence being presented by reporters is adequate to sustain their stories.








How Can We Miss You If You Won’t Go Away

White House adviser Stephen Miller was escorted off the set of CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday after a contentious interview with host Jake Tapper.

Two sources close to the situation told Business Insider that after the taping was done, Miller was asked to leave several times.

He ignored those requests and ultimately security was called and he was escorted out, the sources said.

CNN declined to comment.

The White House did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

So anti-chain migration (whose family escaped/survived the Holocaust because America allowed them to chain migrate to the US) enthusiast Stephen Miller is as obnoxious off the air as he is on the air. Good to know.

This is also a good way to get arrested. And be on the receiving end of a restraining order. Creep gonna creepy.

Open thread!



Not A Puppet!

Today’s essential read on Trump and Russia is in the Washington Post, by Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe, and Philip Rucker.

Nearly a year into his presidency, Trump continues to reject the evidence that Russia waged an assault on a pillar of American democracy and supported his run for the White House.

The result is without obvious parallel in U.S. history, a situation in which the personal insecurities of the president — and his refusal to accept what even many in his administration regard as objective reality — have impaired the government’s response to a national security threat. The repercussions radiate across the government.

The piece frames Trump’s reaction to Russia as an outcome of his ego needs to believe that he and he alone won the election bigly and his wishful thinking that he and Putin, working together, could solve the world’s problems. That’s fair enough, and those two factors are certainly sufficient to produce the effects reported – the biggest of which is that Presidential daily briefings have to be tailored to avoid irritating the Master on the subject.

But a great many people around Trump, including Donald Junior, who testified another nine hours to Congress yesterday, have had extensive contacts with Russia, so it appears there is more there. The question is “What did the President know, and when did he know it?”

Lots of tidbits in the piece. Trump thought Fiona Hill, one of his competent advisors on Russia, was a clerk and got angry at her when she didn’t act like one, with H.R. McMaster compounding the problem by admonishing her. He took a leak during his pre-briefing for his meeting with Angela Merkel. His obsession with NATO as a protection racket continues.

He’s got it half right – we could do a lot of good if we could work with Russia. But that can’t come at the cost of ignoring the load of bad Russia’s doing now.

Update: Here’s a good companion piece by James Goldgeier about Republicans and Russia.

If Trump were a realist, he would be seeking to deal with Russia from a position of strength, not looking to accommodate Putin from the get-go.  If he were a neoconservative, he would be pressing Putin on his abysmal human rights record. Instead, he is praising Putin for being strong and being tough. And it is unimaginable that any other president would have merely accepted Putin’s denial of election interference and moved on.

So why hasn’t the GOP spoken up? Yes, there are occasional remarks by Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey O. Graham suggesting Donald Trump is getting hoodwinked by Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose efforts working with the Trump campaign to swing the 2016 presidential race are under daily scrutiny.

For the most part, however, GOP voters and GOP elites have shrugged off behavior that would have led to outrage in the past. Since it is hard to imagine that a Jeb Bush or Ted Cruz or even John Kasich would have been this accommodating of Putin, is the party of Ronald Reagan really prepared to become the party of Trump on foreign policy, especially in America’s relations with Russia?

 








Amateur Hour at James O’Keeffe’s Project Veritas

A woman approached a Washington Post reporter, Beth Reinhard, and said Roy Moore had impregnated her when she was a teenager. Except she was lying.

But on Monday morning, Post reporters saw her walking into the New York offices of Project Veritas, an organization that targets the mainstream news media and left-leaning groups. The organization sets up undercover “stings” that involve using false cover stories and covert video recordings meant to expose what the group says is media bias.

That same day, Gateway Pundit, a conservative site, spread a false story from a Twitter account, @umpire43, that said, “A family friend in Alabama just told my wife that a WAPO reporter named Beth offer her 1000$ to accuse Roy Moore.” The Twitter account, which has a history of spreading misinformation, has since been deleted.

A lot about the interaction between Reinhard and the woman, Jaime Phillips. My impression was that Phillips was trying to get Reinhard to say stuff that would look as though she was out to get Moore. Reinhard seems not to have fallen for it.

Alice Crites, a Post researcher who was looking into Phillips’s background, found the document that strongly reinforced the reporters’ suspicions: a Web page for a fundraising campaign by someone with the same name. It was on the website GoFundMe.com under the name Jaime Phillips.

“I’m moving to New York!” the May 29 appeal said. “I’ve accepted a job to work in the conservative media movement to combat the lies and deceipt of the liberal MSM. I’ll be using my skills as a researcher and fact-checker to help our movement. I was laid off from my mortgage job a few months ago and came across the opportunity to change my career path.”

Nice move to post your motives on the internet. Makes it easier to nail you. But I guess Phillips didn’t realize that reporters type your name into the search box first thing.

By 7 p.m. the message on the GoFundMe page was gone, replaced by a new one.

“Campaign is complete and no longer active,” it read.

And open thread!



Crooked Media

There’s a new web publication that may be of interest to Juicers: Crooked Media.

It grows out of the Pod Save America podcasts and is made up of former Obama communications people and others.

  • Jon Favreau
  • Jon Lovett
  • Tommy Vietor
  • Ana Marie Cox
  • DeRay McKesson
  • Dan Pfeiffer
  • Brian Beutler
  • Corinne Gilliard
  • and others, including two pup mascots.

Here’s an article on Paul Manafort and how Trump has torn down public expectations.

This is not an endorsement, just that it looks like a good team and I like people with a sense of humor. Worth watching.

 

 



And, of Course, We Have Breaking News…

Fortunately I did that Browder testimony piece you all have been asking about before checking social media feeds…

While it’s not a crime to lie to the news media, given the ongoing counterintelligence and criminal investigations being supervised by Special Counsel Mueller this is not good!

The strategy, the advisers agreed, should be for Donald Trump Jr. to release a statement to get ahead of the story. They wanted to be truthful, so their account couldn’t be repudiated later if the full details emerged.

But within hours, at the president’s direction, the plan changed.

Flying home from Germany on July 8 aboard Air Force One, Trump personally dictated a statement in which Trump Jr. said that he and the Russian lawyer had “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children” when they met in June 2016, according to multiple people with knowledge of the deliberations. The statement, issued to the New York Times as it prepared an article, emphasized that the subject of the meeting was “not a campaign issue at the time.”

The claims were later shown to be misleading.

“This was . . . unnecessary,” said one of the president’s advisers, who like most other people interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal deliberations. “Now someone can claim he’s the one who attempted to mislead. Somebody can argue the president is saying he doesn’t want you to say the whole truth.”



David Brooks Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

One sentence from today’s column that captures the pure, distilled essence of the alt-hack that is our BoBo:

And yet it has to be confessed that, at least so far, the Whitewater scandal was far more substantive than the Russia-collusion scandal now gripping Washington.

It’s all there.

The disembodied passive voice to give pulled-from-the-ass opinion the aura of ex-cathedra authority:  “it has to be confessed…” Oh yeah? Says who?

The careful weasel phrase, a scurrying for plausible deniability when this infallible dictum falls prey to fact:  “at least so far…”

The statement, presented as general consensus, that is, in fact, false:  “Whitewater…was far more substantial than…’ anything at all is simply false, and Brooks himself was both a driver of that falsehood and was and is perfectly positioned to know better than what he writes here.

The Whitewater “scandal,” as just about every non-interested party now knows, was a steaming heap of bullshit, ginned up by Republican operatives (Ted Olson!) in an attempt to damage the Clintons and the Democratic Party.

Brooks reminds his reader that he was the op-ed editor of The Wall Street Journal at the time his page was running piece after piece about the scandal that he claims was substantive — and yet, in (again) classic BoBo self-protective weasel writing, now writes “I confess I couldn’t follow all the actual allegations made in those essays…”

In other words, don’t blame him if his paper and his page retailed great steaming heaps of bullshit that as he now writes, “in retrospect Whitewater seems overblown….” (Note again the tactical use of the grammar that evades responsibility, that subjunctive “seems.”  Translation: my paper on my watch spread bullshit for partisan ends, and but all that can be said (see what I did there) is that the outcome of our work “seems” … not so great.  Nice obfuscation if you can get (away with) it.) (Yes. I like parentheses. Sue me.)

Where was I?  Oh yeah:  don’t contemn Brooks for that overblown false scandal, but take his word for it that that steaming heap of bullshit was nonetheless more real than the Russian allegations.

Oh?

No.

I don’t think I have to go into detail for this crowd about the depth and range of the Trump-Russia nexus. It may be that Brooks is trying to be clever here, and define the scandal purely as a question of whether Trump himself (and or his campaign) directly conspired with agents of Putin’s government to affect the election.

That would make that sentence yet more carefully parsed to give him cover as things like money laundering and influence peddling details accumulate.  In that, we may be seeing a preview of the approach Republican opinion-framers will attempt later on: Trump’s corrupt, but not a traitor.  But even allowing for such fine dissection of the growing scandal, there’s plenty of confirmed evidence of interaction between Trump’s campaign and significant Russian folks (see, e.g., Sessions and Kislyak).  In other words: Whitewater ended as it began with no evidence of Clinton wrongdoing.  Trump-Russia already has on public record significant and troubling revelations.

There’s a pattern here. The New York Times has given prime opinion acreage to now two partisan hack/WSJ refugees in Brooks and Bret Stephens. Both employ a more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger voice to construct in the language of rueful reason narratives that directly bolster Republican positions and personalities. Both use that seeming reasonableness, the above-the-fray tone of impartial and unchallenged judgment, to say things that are clearly not true.  Those lies directly undercut reporting happening within the Grey Lady’s newsroom put out.  Op-ed editor Bennett, executive editor Baquet and publisher Sulzberger are all OK with that, it seems.

David Brooks tells plausible falsehoods in defense of some of the worst people in the history of American politics. The Times lets him; more, it has done so for decades promoting a career hack/flack to a position of influence far beyond anything his lack of rigor and intellectual dishonesty should ever have earned.

This is a big problem.

Update: I just trashed a comment on how Brook’ wife  should interact with his wife. Using the term the comment did for a woman one may dislike or disapprove of is unacceptable, for all the obvious reasons.  No banhammer yet, but a repeat will earn a time out.

Update 2: Charles Pierce, on much the same passage, with much the same reaction, only more so.

Image: Frits van den Berghe, The Idiot By The Pond1926