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TODAY
Tuesday May 22nd, 2018

"It Is Not A Question of Who Is Right Or Wrong But What Is Right Or Wrong That Counts."
--Geoff Metcalf



World & National

Trump orders ‘highly classified’ data for Congress on FBI’s ‘tactics’
                            President Donald Trump listens during a swearing-in ceremony for incoming Central Intelligence Agency director Gina Haspel at CIA Headquarters, Monday, May 21, 2018, in Langley, Va. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Trump ordered his chief of staff Monday to make sure Congress gets “highly classified” information from the Justice Department, intelligence community and FBI — including details that could shed light on whether the FBI had an informant investigate the Trump campaign.

Mr. Trump also officially requested an inspector general’s investigation into the FBI’s “tactics” toward the Trump campaign in 2016, and the White House and Justice Department said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein agreed to convey the directive.

At a meeting that also included Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, Mr. Trump ordered them to play ball with House lawmakers looking into reports that the FBI recruited an informant to try to get information from key campaign officials.


Outing of FBI informant underscores British spy service’s ties to shadowy Trump investigations

                          Stefan Halper chose British soil to introduce himself in early July 2016 to Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page (pictured), who became the target of an FBI wiretap the following October. Mr. Page told The Washington Times that the July meeting was his first of several encounters with Mr. Halper. (Associated Press)

Britain’s spy service’s connections to shadowy investigations into Donald Trump have grown stronger with the revelation that academic Stefan Halper was spying on the president’s campaign and doing it on British soil.

Mr. Halper, an American national security scholar whom the U.S. government has awarded contracts for classified projects, spied for the FBI, press reports say. He is a partner in Cambridge Security Initiative, a London consulting firm.

His partner is Sir Richard Dearlove, who directed Britain’s foreign spying operation known as MI6, the country’s CIA, from 1999 to 2004.



Mark Penn turns on Clintons, denounces Mueller probe as ‘deep-state’ quasi-coup


As a former chief pollster and campaign strategist for Bill and Hillary Clinton, Mark Penn has a long history of railing against special prosecutors and political investigations of the president.

But even though it’s 2018 and the partisan shoe is on the other foot, Mr. Penn hasn’t changed.

In some ways, he’s even harder-line now, publicly turning against the Clintons and accusing Robert S. Mueller of engaging in a “deep-state” quasi-coup on their behalf.

Mr. Penn has had numerous recent appearances on Fox News and other conservative outlets, essentially supporting President Trump’s claims about Mr. Mueller seeking to “bring down” the president using “storm trooper tactics.”
 


US sends powerful warship to Japan amid looming Trump-Kim summit


One of the U.S. Navy’s most advanced guided missile destroyers arrived in Japan on Tuesday, weeks before the expected summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The USS Milius strengthens defenses against any potential ballistic missile strikes by North Korea. The move is supposed to be a reminder to Pyongyang of the U.S. military might and the pressure it is capable of applying if the meeting fails to lead to denuclearization, Reuters reported.

The warship will “support security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region by bringing enhanced missile defense capabilities as a ballistic missile defense platform,” the U.S. Navy said in a statement.



Carter: Trump Worthy of Nobel Prize If NKorea Negotiations Successful


Former President Jimmy Carter believes President Donald Trump is worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize if negotiations with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un are successful, Politico is reporting.

That assessment from Carter, a Nobel laureate himself, came in an interview during Politico's "Off Message" podcast.

"If President Trump is successful in getting a peace treaty that's acceptable to both sides with North Korea, I think he certainly ought to be considered for the Nobel Peace Prize," Carter said. "I think it would be a worthy and a momentous accomplishment that no previous president has been able to realize."



China to Cut Import Duty on Cars to 15% After Truce With Trump


China will cut the import duty on passenger cars to 15 percent, boosting auto makers such as BMW AG and Ford Motor Co. just as the immediate threat of a trade war with the U.S. recedes.

The Finance Ministry said Tuesday the levy will be lowered effective July 1 from the current 25 percent that has been in place for more than a decade. Bloomberg News had reported last month that China was weighing proposals to reduce the car import levy to 10 percent or 15 percent.

A reduction in import duty follows a truce between President Donald Trump’s administration and Chinese officials as they seek to defuse tensions and avert an all-out trade war. While the levy reduction could be claimed in some quarters as a concession to Trump and will be a boon to U.S. carmakers such as Tesla Inc., the move will also end up benefiting European and Asian manufacturers from Daimler AG to Toyota Motor Corp.



Trump welcomes first female CIA director, tries to make amends with the agency


President Donald Trump led the swearing-in ceremony for the first female CIA director in the agency’s history on Monday, calling it “a ceremony like few will ever have again.” Vice President Mike Pence administered the oath.

Haspel, a career officer, won Senate confirmation last week after a contentious process that focused on her role in the CIA’s use of overseas prisons to torture suspects in hopes of gleaning information on terrorism after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Haspel, in her own remarks, noted that it’s been more than 50 years since a career officer has led the agency. She pledged to represent rank-and-file agents. “For me, being director is about doing right by all of you,” she said.



U.S., China Agree on Outline to Settle ZTE Controversy
Deal would lift the sales ban on ZTE and require the Chinese telecom giant to make major management changes

The U.S. and China have agreed on the broad outline of a deal that would save imperiled Chinese telecom giant ZTE Corp., according to people with knowledge of the matter in both countries, as the two sides move closer to resolving their trade dispute.

The details are still being hammered out, the people said. If completed, the Trump administration would remove the ban on U.S. companies selling components and software to ZTE, a penalty that has threatened to put the company out of business. Instead, ZTE would be forced to make big changes in management, board seats and possibly pay significant fines, the people said.

Beijing has also offered to remove tariffs on billions of dollars of U.S. farm products as part of the negotiations, although one person said the White House didn’t offer any quid pro quo. “The White House was meticulous in affirming that the case is a law enforcement matter and not a bargaining chip in negotiations,” the person said.



Watchdog Report to Fault FBI for Clinton Probe Delay
 
An upcoming report from the Justice Department's internal watchdog is expected to criticize senior FBI leaders for not moving quickly enough to review a trove of Hillary Clinton emails discovered late in the 2016 campaign, according to people familiar with findings.

The FBI's timing has been a sore point for Clinton supporters, who say then-director James Comey's announcement of the review less than two weeks before the Nov. 8, 2016, election contributed to her loss. The agency's findings affirming their decision not to pursue criminal charges against Clinton were disclosed two days before the vote — too late, her supporters say, to undo the damage.
 


How China acquires ‘the crown jewels’ of U.S. technology
ChinaArt_illo_GettyIstock.jpg

The U.S. government was well aware of China’s aggressive strategy of leveraging private investors to buy up the latest American technology when, early last year, a company called Avatar Integrated Systems showed up at a bankruptcy court in Delaware hoping to buy the California chip-designer ATop Tech.

ATop’s product was potentially groundbreaking — an automated designer capable of making microchips that could power anything from smartphones to high-tech weapons systems. It’s the type of product that a U.S. government report had recently cited as “critical to defense systems and U.S. military strength.” And the source of the money behind the buyer, Avatar, was an eye-opener: Its board chairman and sole officer was a Chinese steel magnate whose Hong Kong-based company was a major shareholder.



Reported CIA Trump Campaign Mole Also Spied in '80 Election

 
The CIA operative and FBI informant used to gather information on the Trump campaign in the 2016 campaign was responsible for a spying operation in the 1980 presidential election, The Intercept has reported.

According to the outlet, Stefan Halper managed CIA officials — reportedly under the direction of former CIA Director George H.W. Bush — from inside the Carter administration.

The plot involved CIA operatives passing classified information about then-President Jimmy Carter's foreign policy to officials for the Ronald Reagan campaign to ensure it knew of any foreign policy decisions Carter was considering, The Intercept reported.



Pence warns that Kim shouldn’t try to ‘play’ Trump at denuclearization summit


As President Trump meets with South Korea’s president Tuesday to strategize for a crucial summit with North Korea, Vice President Mike Pence is warning North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un against trying to “play” Mr. Trump.
Mr. Pence told Fox News that Pyongyang should not try to seek concessions from the U.S. in the planned June 12 denuclearization talks in Singapore.

“It would be a great mistake for Kim Jong-un to think he could play Donald Trump,” Mr Pence said, according to excerpts of an interview made available by Fox.



Mr. Mueller’s fishing pole needs a rest


Satchel Paige, the legendary master of the sinking curve ball and famous doctor of philosophy, had a few wise words that Robert Mueller could use just now: “Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you.”

Mr. Mueller seems to be transforming himself from the hunter to the hunted. A mole in the Trump campaign has been exposed as an agent of the FBI despite frantic efforts to keep the scheme a secret. Voices, some of them voices of Democrats, are raised to tell Mr. Mueller that it’s time to put cards on the table, to ring down the curtain, to put up or shut up, choose your cliche.

This can’t be what he bargained for when he accepted the commission of special prosecutor, which is now called “special counsel.” The special prosecutor/counsel expects to finish his great expedition to Lake Collusion and put away his fishing pole by Labor Day. We have the word on that not from Mr. Mueller, or from anyone on his staff of thousand-dollar-an-hour lawyers, but from Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer who has been negotiating with Mr. Mueller about a presidential interview. He said he learned that from Mr. Mueller himself. Waiting any longer than that might improperly influence voters in the midterm congressional elections.



The new art of the deal

In a recent column, I spoke of the two current forms of populism and how they’re challenging the “Liberal International Order,” the governing philosophy that has guided the U.S. use of power in the service of freedom for ourselves and our allies since World War II. The question is, where does President Trump’s form of populism fit into what might be called the new version of the Liberal International Order?

In 1987, Donald Trump wrote “The Art of the Deal.” When he invited me to serve on his Presidential Transition Team, I reread my copy of his book more carefully than I had the first time, and I found some very interesting points in there.

“If you are going to think any way, you might as well think big,” Mr. Trump, the legendary dealmaker, wrote. Well, running for president is certainly a big thought.


"It is discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit."
-- Noel Coward
     (1899-1973) British playwright

Medal of Honor

Army Medal of Honor


The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States.
GeneTrerally presented to its recipient by the President of the United States of America in the name of Congress.
The first award of the Medal of Honor was made March 25, 1863 to Private JACOB PARROTT.The last award of the Medal of Honor was made September 15, 2011 to Sergeant DAKOTA MEYER.

Since then there have been:  • 3458 recipients of the Medal of Honor.
    • Today there are 85 Living Recipients of the Medal of Honor. 

Citation

Captain Humbert R. Versace distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism during the period of 29 October 1963 to 26 September 1965, while serving as S-2 Advisor, Military Assistance Advisory Group, Detachment 52, Ca Mau, Republic of Vietnam. While accompanying a Civilian Irregular Defense Group patrol engaged in combat operations in Thoi Binh District, An Xuyen Province, Captain Versace and the patrol came under sudden and intense mortar, automatic weapons, and small arms fire from elements of a heavily armed enemy battalion. As the battle raged, Captain Versace, although severely wounded in the knee and back by hostile fire, fought valiantly and continued to engage enemy targets. Weakened by his wounds and fatigued by the fierce firefight, Captain Versace stubbornly resisted capture by the over-powering Viet Cong force with the last full measure of his strength and ammunition. Taken prisoner by the Viet Cong, he exemplified the tenets of the Code of Conduct from the time he entered into Prisoner of War status. Captain Versace assumed command of his fellow American soldiers, scorned the enemy's exhaustive interrogation and indoctrination efforts, and made three unsuccessful attempts to escape, despite his weakened condition which was brought about by his wounds and the extreme privation and hardships he was forced to endure. During his captivity, Captain Versace was segregated in an isolated prisoner of war cage, manacled in irons for prolonged periods of time, and placed on extremely reduced ration. The enemy was unable to break his indomitable will, his faith in God, and his trust in the United States of America. Captain Versace, an American fighting man who epitomized the principles of his country and the Code of Conduct, was executed by the Viet Cong on 26 September 1965. Captain Versace's gallant actions in close contact with an enemy force and unyielding courage and bravery while a prisoner of war are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect the utmost credit upon himself and the United States Army.


From the Archives

We Have Met the Enemy…

      
Geoff Metcalf
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
              
--Benjamin Franklin
“The American people must be willing to give up a degree of personal privacy in exchange for safety and security.”
              
--Louis Freeh
In the wake of the clamor over the most recent WikiLeaks data dump, ‘Vault 7’, ‘UMBRAGE’, et al, it should be noted this is not really anything new. What we are seeing here is simply the evolution of something that goes back to the late 50s (to the incomplete best knowledge I have).

It is kinda cool to finally see even the New York Times (www.nytimes.com/2017/03/09/opinion/the-truth-about-the-wikileaks-cia-cache.html?_r=0) acknowledging material I was writing about in 1998 (http://www.wnd.com/1998/04/6108/ ).

In April of 1998 I wrote “Privacy has become an anachronism.” I was commenting on “a massive system designed to intercept all your e-mail, fax traffic and more.” I was explaining ‘Echelon’, the illegitimate offspring of a UKUSA treaty (https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ukusa/ ) signed by the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Its purpose was, and is, to have a vast global intelligence monster, which allegedly shares common goals. The system was so “efficient” that reportedly National Security Agency folk from Fort Meade could work from Menwith Hill in England to intercept local communications without either nation having to burden themselves with the formality of seeking approval (a court order) or disclosing the operation. And this was all pre-9/11 and pre-the anti-constitutional ‘Patriot Act’.
https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/mar/15/hyperloop-a-new-transportation-technology-offers-s/
It is illegal (without a Judge’s signed permission) for the United States to spy on its citizens … kinda. The laws have long been circumvented by a mutual pact among five nations. Under the terms of UKUSA agreement, Britain spies on Americans and America spies on British citizens, and then the two conspirators trade data. A classic technical finesse. It is legal, but the intent to evade the spirit is inescapable.

I often fictionalized the genesis of ‘Echelon’ as an informal meeting of a group of post war American and British intelligence types drinking in some remote rustic bar. An imagined CIA type complains to his MI6 buddy about the hassles of US laws preventing US intelligence from surveillance of bad guys, and the Brit echoes the same complaint.

“Hey wait a moment mate,” says Nigel, the make-believe MI6 guy, “I can spy on your guys and you can spy on our bad players…why don’t we just come up with a mechanism whereby we spy on your villains, you spy on our villains, and we just ‘share’ the intel?”

This system was called ECHELON, and has been kicking around in some form longer than most of you. The result of the UKUSA treaty signed by the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand was, and is, to have a vast global intelligence monster which allegedly shares common goals.

The London Telegraph reported in December of 1997 that the Civil liberties Committee of the European Parliament had officially confirmed the existence and purpose of ECHELON. “A global electronic spy network that can eavesdrop on every telephone, e-mail and telex communication around the world will be officially acknowledged for the first time in a European Commission report. …”

The report noted: “Within Europe all e-mail, telephone and fax communications are routinely intercepted by the United States National Security Agency, transferring all target information from the European mainland via the strategic hub of London, then by satellite to Fort Meade in Maryland via the crucial hub at Menwith Hill, in the North York moors in the UK.

“The ECHELON system forms part of the UKUSA system but unlike many of the electronic spy systems developed during the Cold War, ECHELON was designed primarily for non-military targets: governments, organizations and businesses in virtually every country.”

An interesting sidebar appeared in the International Herald Tribune under the headline, “Big Corporate Brother: It Knows More About You Than You Think.” The story details Acxiom Corp, which was a humongous information service hidden in the Ozark foothills. Twenty-four hours a day, Acxiom electronically gathered and sorts all kinds of data about 196 million Americans. Credit card transactions and magazine subscriptions, telephone numbers, real estate records, automotive data, hunting, business and fishing licenses, consumer surveys and demographic detail that would make a marketing department’s research manager salivate. This relatively new (legal) enterprise was known as “data warehousing” or “data-mining”, and it underscores the cruel reality that the fiction of personal privacy has become obsolete. Technology’s ability to collect and analyze data has made privacy a quaint albeit interesting dinosaur.

The Tribune reported that “Axciom can often determine whether an American owns a dog or cat, enjoys camping or gourmet cooking, reads the Bible or lots of other books. It can often pinpoint an American’s occupation, car and favorite vacations. By analyzing the equivalent of billions of pages of data, it often projects for its customers who should be offered a credit card or who is likely to buy a computer.”

Most of this information is from y 1998 piece.  Echelon has developed, matured, and morphed into a much more powerful hybrid. ‘Carnivore’ was software to help triage the cacophony of data. Vault 7 and ‘Umbrage’ are logical (some would argue “insidious”) growth.

    More to follow…

 

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