Deep inside a long, detailed Wall Street Journal report about President Trump’s foreign policy advisers is an explosive nugget: “Mr. Trump, after the strike, told associates he was under pressure to deal with Gen. Soleimani from GOP senators he views as important supporters in his coming impeachment trial in the Senate, associates said.” This is a slightly stronger iteration of a fact the New York Times reported three days ago, to wit, “pointed out to one person who spoke to him on the phone last week that he had been pressured to take a harder line on Iran by some Republican senators whose support he needs now more than ever amid an impeachment battle.”
This would not mean Trump ordered the strike entirely, or even primarily, in order to placate Senate Republicans. But it does constitute an admission that domestic political considerations influenced his decision. That would, of course, constitute a grave dereliction of duty. Trump is so cynical he wouldn’t even recognize that making foreign policy decisions influenced by impeachment is the kind of thing he shouldn’t say out loud. Of course, using his foreign policy authority for domestic political gain is the offense Trump is being impeached for. It would be characteristically Trumpian to compound the offense as part of his efforts to avoid accountability for it.
Based on a Wall Street Journal report (multiple bylines: Michael C. Bender, Michael R. Gordon, Gordon Lubold and Warren P. Strobel) , and not corroborated, yet, by any other media outlets, but this seems important. Perhaps the House should open hearings into it?
“Mr. Trump, after the strike, told associates he was under pressure to deal with Gen. Soleimani from GOP senators he views as important supporters in his coming impeachment trial in the Senate, associates said.”
So Donald Trump assassinated a high-ranking foreign official, risking massive war, in part because it would help him in an impeachment trial that’s happening because he tried to use U.S. military aid to extort a foreign country into helping him win re-election.
The chief executive of the aerospace giant Boeing downplayed the fallout from the president’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear pact, saying on Wednesday that the company would abide by the Trump administration’s decision to cancel Boeing’s licenses to sell $20 billion of aircraft to Iran.
“We will continue to follow the U.S. government’s lead,” Dennis A. Muilenburg, the chief executive, told a luncheon crowd at the Economic Club of Washington.
Craven. Is there any other word for it? $20,000,000,000 is a rather large contract, wouldn’t you say?
I wouldn’t be surprised if Boeing has had discussions with Michael Cohen for a “consultant” deal, like AT&T, Novartis, or Korea Aerospace Industries. I wonder if Boeing agreed to it? I’m guessing they did not, and thus Trump has gone out of his way to antagonize Boeing.
Double Rainbow Over Boeing
3rd World Man:
Among the other payments to Mr. Cohen’s company described in the financial records were four for $99,980 each between October and January by Novartis Investments S.A.R.L., a subsidiary of Novartis, the multinational pharmaceutical giant based in Switzerland. Novartis — whose chief executive was among 15 business leaders invited to dinner with Mr. Trump at the World Economic Forum in January — spent more than $10 million on lobbying in Washington last year and frequently seeks approvals from federal drug regulators. Novartis said in a statement that its agreement with Essential Consultants had expired.
In addition, Korea Aerospace Industries paid Mr. Cohen’s company $150,000 last November, according to the records. The company, an aircraft manufacturer, has teamed with the American defense contractor Lockheed Martin in competing for a multibillion-dollar contract to provide trainer jets for the United States Air Force that is expected to be awarded this year.
Record production in the United States, along with a drilling frenzy in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, as well as the prospect that Iranian oil will again flood world markets, have spooked traders into abandoning their positions. What’s more, the very productivity here in the heart of the Eagle Ford shale fields, and the efforts by the oil companies to make them increasingly efficient, are contributing to the glut as well.
Sad, but easily believable. We are talking about the Cheney-Bush Reign of Error after all. Juan Cole was (and is still) essential reading on all things Middle Eastern, and was a vocal critic of the Bush warmongering in Iraq and elsewhere. For the record, I’ve been reading Professor Cole’s blog since late 2003, you should too if you are interested in historical context and astute analysis of the region.
WASHINGTON — A former senior C.I.A. official says that officials in the Bush White House sought damaging personal information on a prominent American critic of the Iraq war in order to discredit him. Glenn L. Carle, a former C.I.A. officer, said he was “intensely disturbed” by what he said was an effort against Professor Cole. Glenn L. Carle, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer who was a top counterterrorism official during the administration of President George W. Bush, said the White House at least twice asked intelligence officials to gather sensitive information on Juan Cole, a University of Michigan professor who writes an influential blog that criticized the war.
In an interview, Mr. Carle said his supervisor at the National Intelligence Council told him in 2005 that White House officials wanted “to get” Professor Cole, and made clear that he wanted Mr. Carle to collect information about him, an effort Mr. Carle rebuffed. Months later, Mr. Carle said, he confronted a C.I.A. official after learning of another attempt to collect information about Professor Cole. Mr. Carle said he contended at the time that such actions would have been unlawful.
It is not clear whether the White House received any damaging material about Professor Cole or whether the C.I.A. or other intelligence agencies ever provided any information or spied on him. Mr. Carle said that a memorandum written by his supervisor included derogatory details about Professor Cole, but that it may have been deleted before reaching the White House. Mr. Carle also said he did not know the origins of that information or who at the White House had requested it.
and of course the CIA has to vehemently deny the allegations because it is illegal:
Since a series of Watergate-era abuses involving spying on White House political enemies, the C.I.A. and other spy agencies have been prohibited from collecting intelligence concerning the activities of American citizens inside the United States.
“These allegations, if true, raise very troubling questions,” said Jeffrey H. Smith, a former C.I.A. general counsel. “The statute makes it very clear: you can’t spy on Americans.” Mr. Smith added that a 1981 executive order that prohibits the C.I.A. from spying on Americans places tight legal restrictions not only on the agency’s ability to collect information on United States citizens, but also on its retention or dissemination of that data.
Mr. Smith and several other experts on national security law said the question of whether government officials had crossed the line in the Cole matter would depend on the exact nature of any White House requests and whether any collection activities conducted by intelligence officials had been overly intrusive. The experts said it might not be unlawful for the C.I.A. to provide the White House with open source material — from public databases or published material, for example — about an American citizen. But if the intent was to discredit a political critic, that would be improper, they said.
Professor Cole responds (which I’m reposting in full as his website is extremely slow/non-responsive today – either a CIA/Karl Rove “dirty trick”, or just overwhelming traffic)
Ret’d. CIA Official Alleges Bush White House Used Agency to “Get” Cole
Posted on 06/16/2011 by Juan
Eminent National Security correspondent at the New York Times James Risen has been told by a retired former official of the Central Intelligence Agency that the Bush White House repeatedly asked the CIA to spy on me with a view to discovering “damaging” information with which to discredit my reputation. Glenn Carle says he was called into the office of his superior, David Low, in 2005 and was asked of me, “ ‘What do you think we might know about him, or could find out that could discredit him?’ ”
Low actually wrote up a brief attempt in this direction and submitted it to the White House but Carle says he intercepted it. Carle later discovered that yet another young analyst had been tasked with looking into me.
It seems to me clear that the Bush White House was upset by my blogging of the Iraq War, in which I was using Arabic and other primary sources, and which contradicted the propaganda efforts of the administration attempting to make the enterprise look like a wild shining success.
Carle’s revelations come as a visceral shock. You had thought that with all the shennanigans of the CIA against anti-Vietnam war protesters and then Nixon’s use of the agency against critics like Daniel Ellsberg, that the Company and successive White Houses would have learned that the agency had no business spying on American citizens.
I believe Carle’s insider account and discount the glib denials of people like Low. Carle is taking a substantial risk in making all this public. I hope that the Senate and House Intelligence Committees will immediately launch an investigation of this clear violation of the law by the Bush White House and by the CIA officials concerned. Like Mr. Carle, I am dismayed at how easy it seems to have been for corrupt WH officials to suborn CIA personnel into activities that had nothing to do with national security abroad and everything to do with silencing domestic critics. This effort was yet another attempt to gut the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, in this case as part of an effort to gut the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
I should point out that my blog was begun in 2002 with an eye toward analyzing open source information on the struggle against al-Qaeda. In 2003 I also began reporting on the unfolding Iraq War. My goal was to help inform the public and to present sources and analysis on the basis of my expertise as a Middle East and South Asia expert. In 2003-2005 and after I on a few occasions was asked to speak to military and intelligence professionals, most often as part of an inter-agency audience, and I presented to them in person distillations of my research. I never had a direct contract with the CIA, but some of the think tanks that every once in a while asked me to speak were clearly letting analysts and field officers know about the presentations (which were most often academic panels of a sort that would be mounted at any academic conference), and they attended. I should underline that these presentations involved small travel expenses and a small honorarium, and that I wasn’t a high-paid consultant but clearly was expected to speak my views and share my conclusions frankly. It was not a regular gig. Apparently one of the purposes of spying on me to discredit me, from the point of view of the Bush White House, was ironically to discourage Washington think tanks from inviting me to speak to the analysts, not only of the CIA but also the State Department Intelligence and Research and other officials concerned with counter-terrorism and with Iraq.
It seemed likely to some colleagues, according to what they told me, that the Bush administration had in fact succeeded in having me blackballed, since the invitations rather dropped off, and panels of a sort I had earlier participated in were being held without my presence. I do not know if smear tactics were used to produce this result, behind the scenes and within the government. It was all the same to me– I continued to provide what I believe was an important service to the Republic at my blog and I know for a fact that not only intelligence analysts but members of the Bush team continued to read some of what I wrote.
What alarms me most of all in the nakedly illegal deployment of the CIA against an academic for the explicit purpose of destroying his reputation for political purposes is that I know I am a relatively small fish and it seems to me rather likely that I was not the only target of the baleful team at the White House. After the Valerie Plame affair, it seemed clear that there was nothing those people wouldn’t stoop to. You wonder how many critics were effectively “destroyed.” It is sad that a politics of personal destruction was the response by the Bush White House to an attempt of a citizen to reason in public about a matter of great public interest. They have brought great shame upon the traditions of the White House, which go back to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, who had hoped that checks and balances would forestall such abuses of power.
Some additional reading June 15th from 18:15 to 19:26:
Iran’s Disputed Election – The Big Picture – Boston.com – re Iran’s Presidential Election, Tehran and other cities have seen the largest street protests and rioting since the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Supporters of reform candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, upset at their announced loss and suspicions of voter fraud, took to the streets both peacefully and, in some cases, violently to vent their frustrations. Iranian security forces and hardline volunteer militia members responded with force and arrests, attempting to stamp out the protests – meanwhile, thousands of Iranians who were happy with the election outcome staged their own victory demonstrations. Mousavi himself has been encouraging peaceful demonstrations, and called for calm at a large demonstration today (held in defiance of an official ban), as Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has just called for an official inquiry into accusations of election irregularities. (Update: several photos of injuries from gunshots at today’s rally added below)
“And I must say I found no difference at all. So I concluded that all that was going on was that there were some male lawyers who couldn’t stand being questioned toughly by a woman,” Calabresi says. “It was sexism in its most obvious form.”
And what if such criticism came from a woman lawyer? Well, says Calabresi, women can be just as sexist as men in their expectations of how a woman judge should act.
NPR played a couple of snippets of Sotomayor in its piece so listeners could judge for themselves. Ann did: “Listening to the clips, Sotomayor sounds an awful lot like John Roberts — who did not face any concerns about his ‘fiery temperament’ during his confirmation hearings. Totenberg exposes this talking point for what it is: straight-up sexism, with some racism mixed in for good measure.”
Daily Kos: Obama: Iranian people “should be heard and respected” – “What I would say to those people who put so much hope and energy and optimism into the political process, I would say to them that the world is watching and inspired by their participation, regardless of what the ultimate outcome of the election was. And they should know that the world is watching.And particularly to the youth of Iran, I want them to know that we in the United States do not want to make any decisions for the Iranians, but we do believe that the Iranian people and their voices should be heard and respected.”
Twitter Blog: Down Time Rescheduled – A critical network upgrade must be performed to ensure continued operation of Twitter. In coordination with Twitter, our network host had planned this upgrade for tonight. However, our network partners at NTT America recognize the role Twitter is currently playing as an important communication tool in Iran
Competition For Dummies by digby Just think. This… – “Sadly, this is the result of misguided American exceptionalism (and years of convenient Republican gibberish.) Even people who by all rights should be well informed about the issues of the day just simply can’t wrap their minds around the fact that our health care system is not only bad by our own measurements but that it is far worse than the systems in other industrialized countries. Foreigners cannot possibly have better health care than America. This is the greatest country the world has ever known or ever will know! It’s impossible!
A few interesting links collected March 23rd through March 24th:
Rick Steves | Salon Life – lot of my outlook and writing have been sharpened by enjoying a little recreational marijuana. If you arrested everybody who smoked marijuana in the United States tomorrow, this country would be a much less interesting place to call home.
The fact is, the marijuana law in the U.S. is a big lie. It’s racist and classist. White rich people can smoke marijuana with impunity and poor black people get a record, can’t get education, can’t get a loan, and all of sudden go into a life of desperation and become hardened criminals. Why? Because we’ve got a racist law based on lies about marijuana.
There’s 80,000 people in jail today for marijuana. We arrested 800,000 people in the last 12 months on marijuana charges
Rick Steves | Salon Life – I don’t say we’re an empire. I say the world sees us as one. I say there’s never been an empire that didn’t have disgruntled people on its fringes looking for reasons to fight. We think, “Don’t they have any decency? Why don’t they just line up in formation so we can carpet bomb them?” But they’re smart enough to know that’s a quick prescription to being silenced in a hurry.
We shot from the bushes at the redcoats when we were fighting our war against an empire. Now they shoot from the bushes at us. It shouldn’t surprise us. I’m not saying it’s nice. But I try to remind Americans that Nathan Hales and Patrick Henrys and Ethan Allens are a dime a dozen on this planet. Ours were great. But there’s lots of people who wish they had more than one life to give for their country. We diminish them by saying, “Oh, they’re terrorists and life is cheap for them.” They’re passionate for their way of life. And they will give their life for what is important to their families.
Chicago Reader Blogs: News Bites – Cassanos and I talked by phone, and I sent her a link from Gawker.com mourning that a recent 82-page issue of the New Yorker had just under ten pages of ads. But she noticed it was a January issue — the slowest part of the year — and she said that among Conde Nast magazines the New Yorker is in the middle in terms of ad losses. And on the other hand, circulation is up 20 percent since 2001 and the renewal rate is 85 percent and the magazine just led all others with ten nominations for National Magazine Awards.
Cassanos made me feel good when she said I was the first reporter who’d contacted her to find out if Charles’s rumor was true
The big question is – do the Bushites successfully escalate the simmering war with Iran to invasion levels before leaving office? Let us all pray to whatever deities are appropriate that the warning signs Seymour Hersh discusses in his latest New Yorker article are not as dire as they appear.
ate last year, Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran, according to current and former military, intelligence, and congressional sources. These operations, for which the President sought up to four hundred million dollars, were described in a Presidential Finding signed by Bush, and are designed to destabilize the country’s religious leadership. The covert activities involve support of the minority Ahwazi Arab and Baluchi groups and other dissident organizations. They also include gathering intelligence about Iran’s suspected nuclear-weapons program.
Military and civilian leaders in the Pentagon share the White House’s concern about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but there is disagreement about whether a military strike is the right solution. Some Pentagon officials believe, as they have let Congress and the media know, that bombing Iran is not a viable response to the nuclear-proliferation issue, and that more diplomacy is necessary.
A Democratic senator told me that, late last year, in an off-the-record lunch meeting, Secretary of Defense Gates met with the Democratic caucus in the Senate. (Such meetings are held regularly.) Gates warned of the consequences if the Bush Administration staged a preëmptive strike on Iran, saying, as the senator recalled, “We’ll create generations of jihadists, and our grandchildren will be battling our enemies here in America.” Gates’s comments stunned the Democrats at the lunch, and another senator asked whether Gates was speaking for Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney. Gates’s answer, the senator told me, was “Let’s just say that I’m here speaking for myself.” (A spokesman for Gates confirmed that he discussed the consequences of a strike at the meeting, but would not address what he said, other than to dispute the senator’s characterization.)
The Joint Chiefs of Staff, whose chairman is Admiral Mike Mullen, were “pushing back very hard” against White House pressure to undertake a military strike against Iran, the person familiar with the Finding told me. Similarly, a Pentagon consultant who is involved in the war on terror said that “at least ten senior flag and general officers, including combatant commanders”—the four-star officers who direct military operations around the world—“have weighed in on that issue.”
The most outspoken of those officers is Admiral William Fallon, who until recently was the head of U.S. Central Command, and thus in charge of American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. In March, Fallon resigned under pressure, after giving a series of interviews stating his reservations about an armed attack on Iran. For example, late last year he told the Financial Times that the “real objective” of U.S. policy was to change the Iranians’ behavior, and that “attacking them as a means to get to that spot strikes me as being not the first choice.”
Otherwise, we’re all fracked. Read the entire scary article here. Maybe impeachment proceedings would derail the nutjobs in the White House? Something, anything to distract them from starting yet another war of aggression.
Bush’s team should be impeached for incompetence on top of all their other crimes.
She had probably done this a dozen times before. Modern digital technology had made clandestine communications with overseas agents seem routine. Back in the cold war, contacting a secret agent in Moscow or Beijing was a dangerous, labour-intensive process that could take days or even weeks. But by 2004, it was possible to send high-speed, encrypted messages directly and instantaneously from CIA headquarters to agents in the field who were equipped with small, covert personal communications devices. So the officer at CIA headquarters assigned to handle communications with the agency’s spies in Iran probably didn’t think twice when she began her latest download. With a few simple commands, she sent a secret data flow to one of the Iranian agents in the CIA’s spy network. Just as she had done so many times before.
But this time, the ease and speed of the technology betrayed her. The CIA officer had made a disastrous mistake. She had sent information to one Iranian agent that exposed an entire spy network; the data could be used to identify virtually every spy the CIA had inside Iran.
Mistake piled on mistake. As the CIA later learned, the Iranian who received the download was a double agent. The agent quickly turned the data over to Iranian security officials, and it enabled them to “roll up” the CIA’s network throughout Iran. CIA sources say that several of the Iranian agents were arrested and jailed, while the fates of some of the others is still unknown.
This espionage disaster, of course, was not reported. It left the CIA virtually blind in Iran, unable to provide any significant intelligence on one of the most critical issues facing the US – whether Tehran was about to go nuclear.
In fact, just as President Bush and his aides were making the case in 2004 and 2005 that Iran was moving rapidly to develop nuclear weapons, the American intelligence community found itself unable to provide the evidence to back up the administration’s public arguments. On the heels of the CIA’s failure to provide accurate pre-war intelligence on Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, the agency was once again clueless in the Middle East. In the spring of 2005, in the wake of the CIA’s Iranian disaster, Porter Goss, its new director, told President Bush in a White House briefing that the CIA really didn’t know how close Iran was to becoming a nuclear power.
But it’s worse than that. Deep in the bowels of the CIA, someone must be nervously, but very privately, wondering: “Whatever happened to those nuclear blueprints we gave to the Iranians?”
Apparently, these revelations came out in 2006, but this is the first I’d heard of them. Book is now available in paperback, I’m going to look for it. The plan, called Operation Merlin, was to sell slightly flawed nuclear plans to Iranian agents in the hopes that they wouldn’t realize part of the data was flawed. The agent who sold the plans pointed out the flaw, and thus helped accelerate (allegedly) Iran’s nuclear program. Yikes.