Sixteen years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks…

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Sixteen years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, we still don’t know what happened… While some in our government may have at least partial knowledge, the American public doesn’t know the answers to these questions. 

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“Many are skeptical that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the man accused of being the “architect” of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, will ever stand trial as he prepares for his 25th pre-trial hearing next month. Joanna Walters explains at the Guardian.”

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See also: 

9/11 – GS

Search Results for: 9/11

The darkness of the lowly truths: 9/11 and Russia – connecting the dots – by Michael Novakhov

Michael Novakhov on 9/11 – Google Search

News Reviews and Opinions: Uncovering the Hidden Truths of 9/11 …

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Why Did Robert Mueller Obstruct Congress’s 9/11 Probe?

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Sixteen years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, we still don’t know what happened. How did a ragtag bunch of hijackers, armed only with box cutters, manage to gain control of those airliners? How did they get into the United States to begin with? Who supported them while they were here? Why didn’t law enforcement – which had plenty of clues as to what they were up to – stop them? Prior to the attacks, our government spent billions on “anti-terrorist” programs designed to prevent precisely what occurred on September 11, 2001 – yet Mohammed Atta and his accomplices managed to slip through the cracks. How?

While some in our government may have at least partial knowledge, the American public doesn’t know the answers to these questions.

What we do know, however, is that our lives were changed forever: propelled into a war without end, the United States launched attacks on Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere that are still ongoing. Thousands of Americans and an untold number of Afghans, Iraqis, and others – hundreds of thousands– have so far perished in what our generals tell us will be a “generational” conflict with no discernible end in sight.

We also know, thanks to public agitation around this question, that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had substantial involvement in the 9/11 attacks. The campaign to reveal the redacted portions of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11 was partially successful, although there is still much the government is keeping from the American people. What we learned from the pages that were revealed is that Saudi government employees aided and directed at least two of the hijackers – and that Prince Bandar al Sultan, then Saudi ambassador to the United States, was at the center of the spider web that ensnared the nation on 9/11.

Now a lawsuit brought by some of the 9/11 families reveals that, a full two years before 9/11, the Saudi government funded a “dry run” designed to test airline security. As Paul Sperry reports in the New York Post:

“Two years before the airliner attacks, the Saudi Embassy paid for two Saudi nationals, living undercover in the US as students, to fly from Phoenix to Washington ‘in a dry run for the 9/11 attacks,” alleges the amended complaint filed on behalf of the families of some 1,400 victims who died in the terrorist attacks 16 years ago.”

The lawsuit accuses the Saudis of providing “both financial and operational support” to the operation, which was clearly a covert action by Saudi intelligence. Lawyers for the complainants allege that the two “students” — Mohammed al-Qudhaeein and Hamdan al-Shalawi – were part of “the Kingdom’s network of agents in the US.”

The evidence marshaled by the lawsuit is pretty impressive. It shows that:

  • These “students” trained at an al-Qaeda camp at the same time as some of the hijackers.
  • They had regular contact with a highly-placed Saudi leader of al-Qaeda who is now imprisoned at Gitmo.
  • Both were Saudi government employees and were in regular contact with the Saudi embassy.

It was November, 1999, when Qudhaeein and Hamdan boarded an Air West flight to Washington, D.C., and started acting in a highly suspicious manner. A summary of the FBI files on them states:

“After they boarded the plane in Phoenix, they began asking the flight attendants technical questions about the flight that the flight attendants found suspicious. When the plane was in flight, al-Qudhaeein asked where the bathroom was; one of the flight attendants pointed him to the back of the plane. Nevertheless, al-Qudhaeein went to the front of the plane and attempted on two occasions to enter the cockpit.”

The reaction of the pilots was clearly “Islamophobic” – they carried out an emergency landing in Ohio, where the duo was arrested, handcuffed, and taken in for questioning. Luckily for the Saudi conspirators, the FBI decided their behavior was no big deal and let them go. It was only later that our Keystone Kops discovered that “a suspect in a counterterrorism investigation in Phoenix was driving Shalawi’s car” and this “student” had “trained at terrorist camps in Afghanistan and had received explosives training to perform attacks on American targets.” As for Qudhaeein, the FBI concluded he “was a Saudi intelligence agent, based on his frequent contact with Saudi officials.”

Move along, folks — nothing to see here!

wrote about the connection between the Saudi government and the activities of some of the hijackers in San Diego, which was revealed when the 28 pages of the redacted Joint Inquiry report were partially unredacted. We wouldn’t know anything about this part of the 9/11 plot if Robert Mueller – then FBI director, now the “special counsel” heading up the “Russia-gate” probe – had had his way. When the Joint Inquiry sent former FBI lawyer and counterterrorism expert Michael Jacobson to San Diego to investigate Saudi links to 9/11, Mueller was furious, as Andrew Cockburn reports in Harper’s:

“Bob Graham, the former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told me recently that Robert Mueller, then the FBI director (and now the special counsel investigating connections between Russia and the Trump campaign) made “the strongest objections” to Jacobson and his colleagues visiting San Diego.

“Graham and his team defied Mueller’s efforts, and Jacobson flew west. There he discovered that his hunch was correct. The FBI files in California were replete with extraordinary and damning details …”

Jacobsons’s San Diego sojourn unearthed much evidence of FBI incompetence, including the fact that two of the hijackers, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar,who had arrived in California from Malaysia and been taken under the wing of Saudi agents, “had been close with an FBI informant, Abdussattar Shaikh,” as Cockburn informs us:

“Hazmi had actually lived in his house after Mihdhar left town. Shaikh failed to mention his young Saudi friends’ last names in regular reports to his FBI case officer, or that they were taking flying lessons. Understandably, the investigators had a lot of questions for this man. Nevertheless, Mueller adamantly refused their demands to interview him, even when backed by a congressional subpoena, and removed Shaikh to an undisclosed location ‘for his own safety.’ Today, Graham believes that Mueller was acting under orders from the White House.”

Think about this for a moment: the man now in charge of investigating the President of these United States for “collusion” with Russia and possible “obstruction of justice” himself obstructed a congressional investigation into the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Was Mueller, possibly on orders from President George W. Bush, colluding with the Saudis to cover up their role?

The Bush administration, with its familial ties to the Saudis, had every interest in covering up Riyadh’s active complicity. Aside from that, they were pushing the fable of Saddam Hussein’s ‘links” to the 9/11 attacks.

So many lies! So much official obstruction! Now, however, the truth is finally coming out. With the passage of legislation stripping the Saudis of their “sovereign immunity” – over President Obama’s veto – the class action suit against the Saudis is moving forward. Armed with thousands of pages of documents showing how Riyadh and its global network of Islamic extremists have succored, aided, and directed al-Qaeda and allied organizations in terrorist attacks against US citizens and interests, the families of those killed, wounded, and traumatized on September 11, 2001, are about to get their day in court.

And what is bound to come out is the complicity of US officials in the cover-up. It looks to me like Robert Mueller’s time in the spotlight is about to get a lot more interesting.

A NOTE TO MY READERS: Our fundraising campaign is over, and I’m happy to report that we reached our goal. Many thanks to all of you who contributed. Without your support, we just could not continue our work.

Independent journalism in the foreign policy field is more important than ever, and we’re grateful for your support. It’s a good thing that we can confront the future, however problematic it may be, with the full confidence of our readers and supporters. Again, many thanks.

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Read more by Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of <a href=”http://Antiwar.com” rel=”nofollow”>Antiwar.com</a>, and a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He is a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and writes a monthly column for Chronicles. He is the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000]. View all posts by Justin Raimondo

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Why Did Robert Mueller Obstruct Congress’s 9/11 Probe? – Antiwar.com

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Why Did Robert Mueller Obstruct Congress’s 9/11 Probe?
Antiwar.com
Sixteen years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, we still don’t know what happened. How did a ragtag bunch of hijackers, armed only with box cutters, manage to gain control of those airliners? How did they get and more »

Bannon: Trump firing of Comey was the ‘biggest mistake in modern political history’ – Washington Post

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Washington Post
Bannon: Trump firing of Comey was the ‘biggest mistake in modern political history’
Washington Post
Former White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon believes the firing of FBI director James B.Comey by President Trump was the biggest mistake “maybe in modern political history.” Bannon made the extraordinary statement during an online segment of his …
Bannon Calls Comey Firing the Biggest Mistake in ‘Modern Political History’New York Timesall 109 news articles »

Who Is Felix Sater, and Why Is Donald Trump So Afraid of Him?

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Felix Sater speaks at the Chabad of Port Washington in Port Washington, New York, in 2014. (YouTube: Felix Sater)

Every time someone asks Donald Trump if he knows Felix Sater, his Russian-born, Brooklyn-bred former business associate, Trump draws a blank. Despite the fact that Sater worked on and off for a decade with the Trump Organization, and despite his recent headline-making appearance as an exuberant negotiator on behalf of Trump’s hardnosed attorney, Michael Cohen, in seeking to build a “massive Trump Tower in Moscow” last year, Trump ducks.

“I mean, I’ve seen him a couple of times; I have met him,” Trump said, in a deposition in a court case involving Sater in 2013. And The New York Times reported him as saying, “If he were sitting in the room right now, I really wouldn’t know what he looked like.” As late as 2015, when asked about Sater, Trump hemmed and hawed. “Boy, I have to even think about it.”

It’s no wonder that Trump, especially now that he’s under investigation over his ties to Russia and its meddling in the 2016 election, would respond to questions about Sater by saying: Who’s he?

Of all the characters caught up in Russiagate, none come close to Sater for having a decades-long record as a larger-than-life, outside-the-law, spy agency-linked wheeler-dealer from the pages of a John le Carré novel. His past record includes a conviction for lacerating a man’s face with a broken margarita glass in a bar brawl and his involvement in a multimillion-dollar stock fraud and money-laundering scheme. Despite that record, which came before he worked with Trump, Sater spent nearly a decade working with the Trump Organization in search of deals in Russia and other former Soviet republics. But on August 28, Sater made the front pages of the Times and The Washington Post, thanks to leaked copies of e-mails that he sent in late 2015 and early 2016 to Cohen, concerning Sater’s efforts to work with a group of Russian investors to set up a flagship Trump property in the Russian capital.

In language that Cohen himself described to the Times as “colorful,” Sater seemed nearly beside himself as he reported on his work in Moscow on behalf of Trump:

“Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” wrote Sater. “I will get all of [Vladimir] Putins [sic] team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.… I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected.” Echoing a line that would later become Trump’s own description of why he and Putin might get along, Sater wrote that the Russian leader “only wants to deal with a pragmatic leader, and a successful business man is a good candidate for someone who knows how to deal.”

Sater couldn’t resist adding, “Michael I arranged for Ivanka to sit in Putins [sic] private chair at his desk and office in the Kremlin.” According to the Times, Sater was “eager to show video clips to his Russian contacts of instances of Mr. Trump speaking glowingly about Russia.” Which, of course, Trump has done repeatedly over the years. And, though Trump has denied that he has any business interests in Russia, even as he was gearing up for the Republican presidential primary race, Cohen and Sater were deep into previously undisclosed talks with Russian partners about constructing a Trump-branded hotel, according to The Washington Post. In a statement to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence last week, Cohen did admit writing to Dmitry Peskov in connection with Sater’s work. Peskov, a spokesman for Vladimir Putin, confirmed the contact.

So who, exactly, is Felix Sater? Tim O’Brien, author of a biography of Trump, wrote about Sater in an article titled “Lean, Mean Trump-Russia Machine.” He was born in 1966 in the Soviet Union, and he and his family moved to Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, New York, when he was just 8. According to a recent Guardian profile, Sater’s relationship with Cohen—and to organized crime—goes way back:

Sater’s links to Trump’s circle can be traced back to not long after he came to the US as a child. His father, Mikhail Sheferovsky (who changed the family name after arriving in New York) became a local crime boss in Brighton Beach and Sater grew up on that side of Brooklyn, where he got to know another teenager in the neighbourhood, Michael Cohen, a Long Island boy who would go on to become Trump’s personal lawyer and vice-president of the Trump Organization.

Sorting out Sater’s checkered past leads into a convoluted labyrinth of crime, legal entanglements, shady deals, alleged ties to US and foreign intelligence agencies and, of course, intimate connections to Donald Trump and the Trump Organization. The best comprehensive account of Sater’s long and complicated path was written by Andrew Rice and published in August in New York magazine under the headline “The Original Russia Connection.” Rice’s account, which includes parts of a lengthy interview with Sater, draws heavily on a 2007 breakthrough piece by Charles Bagli in The New York Times. Bagli was the first to uncover and report in depth on Sater’s criminal past. This past February the Times published a blockbuster story by Megan Twohey and Scott Shane recounting an effort by Sater, Cohen, Gen. Mike Flynn, and a Ukrainian politician to put forward a half-cocked Ukrainian “peace plan” and deliver it, freelance fashion, to the White House. In addition, various lawsuits, testimony, and depositions by the characters in Sater’s erratic orbit, including by Trump himself, provide valuable material in figuring out who Sater is and what role he plays in the Trump-Russia story. In this piece, I draw on all of these sources and more.

Sater’s first run-in with the law came in 1991—according to the indictment, as reported by Bagli in the Times—when Sater, then an upstart stockbroker in his mid-20s, “grabbed a large margarita glass, smashed it on the bar and plunged the stem into the right side of [a rival] broker’s face. The man suffered nerve damage and required 110 stitches to close the laceration on his face.”

Sater, who served time in prison for that assault, was barred from financial trading by the National Association of Securities Dealers. Yet in 1993, Sater and several partners took over a securities firm called White Rock Partners, later called State Street Capital Markets, which portrayed itself as a legitimate brokerage firm but, in fact, ran a criminal enterprise involving stock fraud, money laundering, and a so-called “pump and dump” scheme that involved conspiring to inflate the apparent value of near-worthless stocks, sell them off to unsuspecting investors, and cash in. In so doing, for protection Sater drew on the assistance of his father’s friends in the Genovese crime family. According to Rice’s New York piece, Sater “laundered fraud proceeds through a labyrinthine network of Caribbean shell companies, Israeli and Swiss bank accounts, and contacts in New York’s Diamond District.” In the mid-1990s, New York reports, Sater spent a great deal of time in Moscow, where, according to a friend and business partner, Sal Lauria—who later wrote a book about all of this—“We were dealing with ex-KGB generals and with the elite of Russian society.”

It all came crashing down in 1998, when New York City police uncovered a stash of guns and documents in a mini-storage locker in SoHo implicating Sater and his partners in the fraud and money-laundering schemes. According to the Times, citing other defendants in the case, Sater pled guilty to racketeering charges for bilking at least $40 million from his investors. Using Sater’s testimony, the feds eventually convicted 19 of Sater’s cronies, including half a dozen who had mob connections. Significantly, the prosecutor who oversaw Sater’s cooperation agreement in the 1998 indictment, now sealed, was Andrew Weissmann—who is currently one of 16 prosecutors and criminal justice officials on the staff of special counsel Robert Mueller, who’s leading the Russiagate inquiry.

Enter the spies. During his time in Moscow and traveling around eastern Europe, Sater began cultivating ties to arms dealers, officials in US law enforcement and national security agencies, and—according to his interview in New York—even meeting with the GRU, the Russian military intelligence agency. In order to get some bargaining power after he was indicted in 1998, according to Sater himself, he told the FBI that he had obtained valuable information about Osama bin Laden, a cache of Stinger missiles, and more. His information, it seems didn’t pan out—but after 9/11, Sater did cooperate in some fashion with the US government. Overseeing the Sater case back then was none other than Loretta Lynch, then US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn). In her confirmation hearing to serve as US Attorney General under President Obama, Lynch confirmed that Sater did in fact work with the FBI “and other agencies”—presumably the CIA—in “providing information crucial to national security.” Where and how Sater gathered the information that he provided, whether or not it involved contacts with the Russian FSB (the successor to the KGB) and GRU, and whether those agencies themselves established a covert connection with Sater is something that both Mueller and the US intelligence community ought to be looking at today, of course.

Sater’s connection with Trump starts in the mid-2000s, when Sater joined a real estate firm called the Bayrock Group, which had been founded in 2001 by Tevfik Arif, a former Soviet official from Kazakhstan. Arif hired Sater in 2003, making him the firm’s chief operating officer. The firm later set up its headquarters on the 24th floor of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, just below Trump’s own suite of offices. (Sater’s first office suite, with his criminal enterprise called State Street Capital, had its offices in a Trump-owned building, 40 Wall Street, in the mid-1990s.)

Over the next several years Arif and Sater, via Bayrock, started or collaborated with Trump on a series of hotel and resort projects in Fort Lauderdale, Phoenix, and elsewhere. Their most important collaboration was the development in 2005 of the Trump SoHo project, which, according to the Times’s 2007 exposé of Sater, was a “sleek, 46-story glass tower condominium hotel [then] under construction on a newly fashionable section of Spring Street.” New York magazine adds that, oddly enough, the Trump SoHo tower “happened to be directly across the street from the storage facility that had been Sater’s previous undoing.”

When told by the Times about Sater’s criminal past, Alex Sapir, president of the Sapir Organization, which was involved in the SoHo project, said, “This is all news to me.” At the time, though, Trump didn’t separate himself from Sater, mingling with him at the SoHo opening, hanging out in Colorado while working on another project, and—according to Sater, at least—regularly interacting.

“How did I get to Donald?” Sater asked New York magazine, with typical braggadocio. “I walked in his door and told him, ‘I’m gonna be the biggest developer in New York, and you want to be my partner.’” After that, Sater said, he’d frequently pop into Trump’s own office to talk about this or that deal. “Donald wanted me to bring deals to him,” Sater told New York. “Because he saw how many I put on the table at Bayrock.”

Sater and Bayrock sought to extend the Trump brand to Ukraine, Poland, and elsewhere—including Moscow. Around 2005, Sater identified a location for a Trump Tower in the Russian capital, and he says that he personally escorted Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump around Moscow back then—an assertion that neither of the Trumps have denied. Last January The New York Times reported, “During a trip in 2006, Mr. Sater and two of Mr. Trump’s children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka, stayed at the historic Hotel National Moscow opposite the Kremlin, connecting with potential partners over the course of several days.”

After the financial crisis of 2008, Bayrock ran into difficulty, and Sater went out on his own. According to New York, following his separation from Bayrock he went to work for the Trump Organization, even carrying a business card listing his title as “Senior Advisor to Donald Trump.” Despite that, Trump denies ever employing Sater directly.

Sater’s links to Trump in recent years are obscure. According to recent reporting by the Times and the Post, however, as recently as 2015-16, Sater and Cohen, Trump’s lawyer and the executive vice president of the Trump Organization, were working together on a Trump Tower Moscow arrangement, though that too didn’t pan out.

But Sater and Cohen would cooperate on another venture. Following Trump’s election, the two men worked together to develop a curious peace plan for Ukraine. In it, Sater and Cohen worked with Andrii Artemenko, a Ukrainian opposition politician who himself had a questionable past, having spent time in prison in Ukraine for an embezzlement scheme, according to the New York Times story last February that first broke the news of his collaboration with Sater and Cohen (the charges against Artemenko were eventually dropped). According to the Times, Sater met Cohen and Artemenko at a New York hotel just two blocks from Cohen’s current residence in Trump Park Avenue. Cohen, who’s married to a Ukrainian woman, has business ties there himself, having once tried to get a Ukrainian ethanol business off the ground.

In 2014, a popular revolt toppled Ukraine’s pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, who was replaced by another oligarch, the pro-Western Petro Poroshenko. Paul Manafort, the GOP operative who would later sign on as Donald Trump’s campaign manager, was on Yanukovych’s payroll for years, and when Yanukovych fled Ukraine for Russia, Manafort contracted with opposition politicians in Kiev to help build an anti-Poroshenko bloc—and Artemenko joined in. (Manafort, of course, is under intense scrutiny in the Russiagate investigation from Mueller and two committees of Congress over his possible role as a go-between in collusion between Russia’s spy network and the Trump campaign. In July, Mueller ordered a pre-dawn raid at Manafort’s Virginia home seeking evidence in the case, amid speculation that Manafort might “flip” and turn against Trump.)

According to the Times, the Artemenko plan—delivered to Sater and Cohen, and then to Michael Flynn, the short-lived White House national security adviser who was forced to resign in February—involved using unflattering or compromising information (kompromat) to help oust Poroshenko and then winning the support of a new Ukrainian government for a 50- to 100-year lease of Crimea to Russia—which in 2014 occupied and annexed Crimea, which for many decades had been part of Ukraine. Because the vast majority of Ukrainian political forces would never agree to surrender their claim to Crimea, the plan was considered a hopeless nonstarter by most experts familiar with the Ukraine crisis. Yet the role of Sater and Cohen, both Trump associates, contributed to the growing belief in Washington that Trump, who has steadily refused to criticize Putin for his authoritarian excesses, extrajudicial killings, and suppression of free expression in Russia, has questionable ties to Russia.

The plan went nowhere, however. According to the Times, Sater gave Cohen the proposal in a sealed envelope, who reportedly said he left it in Flynn’s office. But in an interview with HuffPost, Cohen said he never delivered the envelope. But that doesn’t quite jibe with the Times’s original report, which noted that when Flynn resigned (because of his own still unexplained conversations with then-Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak during the transition), Cohen was still waiting for a response, “hoping a new national security adviser will take up their cause.” So far, as far as we know, current National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster hasn’t responded to the idea, which is probably long dead.

Even allowing for Sater’s long-established record as a liar and self-promoter, there’s plenty here for Mueller and other investigators to dig into. And Sater, too, seems to believe that something big is coming. In his interview with New York magazine, he hinted ominously about the near future. “In about the next 30 to 35 days,” he told reporter Rice, “I will be the most colorful character you have ever talked about. Unfortunately, I can’t talk about it now, before it happens. And believe me, it ain’t anything as small as whether or not they’re gonna call me to the Senate committee.”

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Felix Sater – Google Search

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Story image for Felix Sater from The Nation.

Who Is Felix Sater, and Why Is Donald Trump So Afraid of Him?

The Nation.Sep 8, 2017
Every time someone asks Donald Trump if he knows Felix Sater, his Russian-born, Brooklyn-bred former business associate, Trump draws a …
Not at all quiet for Trump on the Russia front
St. Louis AmericanSep 8, 2017

felix sater – Google News: Trump’s pal plotted to hire journalist for negative stories – Page Six

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Page Six
Trump’s pal plotted to hire journalist for negative stories
Page Six
Felix Sater — the Russian-born, real estate mogul who helped build Trump Soho — once looked to hire a journalist for $1,000 a month to post and blog negative stories about an enemy. Randi Newton, currently a dating columnist for the New York Observer 

 felix sater – Google News

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Trump’s pal plotted to hire journalist for negative stories – Page Six

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Page Six
Trump’s pal plotted to hire journalist for negative stories
Page Six
Felix Sater — the Russian-born, real estate mogul who helped build Trump Soho — once looked to hire a journalist for $1,000 a month to post and blog negative stories about an enemy. Randi Newton, currently a dating columnist for the New York Observer 

‘Russian mafia’ from Brighton Beach charged with arson of illegal poker club in New York – https://en.crimerussia.com/

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https://en.crimerussia.com/
‘Russian mafia’ from Brighton Beach charged with arson of illegal poker club in New York
https://en.crimerussia.com/
In particular, Aleksey Tsvetkov aka Pelmen, who immigrated to the United States from Ukraine in 1992, used to be an expert in debt collecting. In 2003, he was arrested by the FBI as a member of another Russian organized crime group, the Brighton Beach …

‘Russian mafia’ from Brighton Beach charged with arson of illegal poker club in New York

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Four out of six suspects in the arson of a three-story building in May last year were arrested in November 2016 as part of a large-scale operation of the FBI and the New York police against the organized crime groups of immigrants from the former Soviet Union countries.

The US Prosecutor’s Office in the Eastern District of New York has unveiled an indictment on charges of arson of the 3-story residential building in the Brighton Beach/Coney Island district of New York, in which an illegal poker club was located.

The major fire occurred on the night of May 2, 2016, but its reasons have not been officially announced until now. Residents of the building were evacuated, but firemen had to rescue two people blocked by flame in an apartment on the third floor. As a result of the fire-fighting operations, several New York fire fighters suffered injuries and burns.

According to the document, six members of the so-called Russian mafia have been convicted of arson; five of them were arrested almost a year ago on suspicion of other crimes, whereas the sixth person, Viktor Zelinger, is still at large.

270_1505017998.jpg

Members of a transnational OCG Aleksey Tsvetkov, Leonid Gershman (Lenchik), Vyacheslav Malkeev (Steve Bart), and Librado Riviera (Macho), arrested on charges of racketeering, drug trafficking, illegal possession of firearms, illegal usury, and the organization of an underground gambling business in November 2016, are currently in custody. As reported by the CrimeRussia, the investigation was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) with the assistance of other law enforcement agencies.

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Detention of members of the criminal syndicate, November 2016

It is known that exerting pressure on their victims through their relatives in the US, the crime group would extort money abroad, namely in Israel and Eastern Europe. It was reported that the majority of those detained during the police operation had previous criminal experience. In particular, Aleksey Tsvetkov aka Pelmen, who immigrated to the United States from Ukraine in 1992, used to be an expert in debt collecting. In 2003, he was arrested by the FBI as a member of another Russian organized crime group, the Brighton Beach Crew, headed by Zinovy Bari.

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Aleksey Tsvetkov

According to the prosecutor’s office, Gershman and Malkeev were the Brighton Beach gang’s ‘power hitters’ along with Tsvetkov.

As reported by the press service of the Prosecutor’s Office of New York, all of them face various prison terms in accordance with the charges (from 17 years to life imprisonment).

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The Myth of Deep Throat

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Columnists, talking heads and op-ed writers are holding open auditions for a role that presumably needs to be filled if we are ever going to get to the bottom of what seems fated to be dubbed, for better or worse, Russiagate: a new Deep Throat.

I get it. In the years since Watergate, the Washington Post’s famous golden source—later revealed to be former FBI No. 2 executive W. Mark Felt—has become practically synonymous with the ideal of the noble leaker. The original Deep Throat “was instrumental in thwarting the conspiracy and bringing [President Richard] Nixon down,” Harry Litman, a former deputy assistant attorney general, approvingly wrote in the Los Angeles Times in May“Was it wrong for Deep Throat, as FBI official Mark Felt was then known, to guide the investigation?” Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan asked in June, in the midst of a column praising leaks and anonymous sources, and inviting more. New York magazine columnist Frank Rich has gone a step further and already announced his casting choice: James Comey is today’s Deep Throat.

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The unarticulated presumption, which Sullivan, Litman and Rich are not alone in making, is that Felt—the FBI’s deputy director in June 1972, and subsequently the parking-garage interlocutor who steered Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to reportorial heights—was an honorable, selfless whistleblower intent on exposing the lawlessness rampant in the Nixon White House. Or, as David Remnick spelled out in the New Yorker—echoing Deep Throat’s original hagiographers, Woodward and Bernstein—Felt “believed that the Nixon administration was corrupt, paranoid and trying to infringe on the independence of the bureau.” The president and his top aides ran, Felt believed, “a criminal operation out of the White House, and [Felt] risked everything to guide” the Post reporters. A new biopic about Felt, starring Liam Neeson, is due out on September 29th and shows every sign of continuing to portray Deep Throat as a profound patriot and dedicated FBI lifer.

But here’s a heretical thought: Mark Felt was no hero. Getting rid of Nixon was the last thing Felt ever wanted to accomplish; indeed, he was banking on Nixon’s continuation in office to achieve his one and only aim: to reach the top of the FBI pyramid and become director. Felt didn’t help the media for the good of the country, he used the media in service of his own ambition. Things just didn’t turn out anywhere close to the way he wanted.

Only recently, more than four decades after Nixon’s downfall, has it become possible to reconstruct Felt’s design and what really happened during those fateful six months following the Watergate break-in. Doing so requires burrowing through a great number of primary documents and government records against the backdrop of a vast secondary literature. Nixon’s surreptitious tape recordings rank first in importance, but only mark the starting point. One has to also research documents from the FBI’s vast Watergate investigation; the bureau’s subsequent internal leak investigation; records from the Watergate Special Prosecution Force; documents from Felt’s own FBI file; and lastly, two unintentionally rewarding books: Mark Felt’s original 1979 memoir, The FBI Pyramid, and the slightly reworked version published in 2006, A G-Man’s Life.

What you’ll end up with is the real story of Deep Throat. And you might be left with this realization: No matter what happens to Donald Trump—whether he’s absolved, exposed or neither—you should hope there’s nobody as duplicitous as Mark Felt manipulating out understanding of Russiagate.

***

On May 1, 1972, John Edgar Hoover was days away from marking his 48th year as FBI director, or as one of his arch-critics labeled him, the “No. 1 Sacred Cow of American Politics.” The wily, 77-year-old bureaucrat was the closest thing to a cult of personality in the federal government that has ever existed; not even an unprecedented, year-long spate of bad publicity beginning in late 1970 had loosened his grip on the directorship. Sycophancy within the FBI was rife. Presidents and underlings came and went, but Hoover seemed invincible if not immortal, as inseparable from the law-enforcement empire he had built as the empire was unimaginable without him.

Yet behind the scenes, Hoover’s selfish refusal to step down when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 in 1964, and two presidents’ lack of gumption to force him out, had put into motion a fierce, no-holds-barred struggle within the FBI to succeed him. It bore a striking resemblance to what used to happen inside the Kremlin, once a doddering Soviet leader neared the end of his term. More than a few top FBI executives saw a potential director when they looked in the mirror during their morning shave. And Hoover’s unwillingness to let go had unleashed what the dean of Watergate historians, the late Stanley Kutler, noted as the “war of the FBI succession.”

The executive with the inside track during Nixon’s first years was William C. Sullivan, who carried the title assistant to the director. A mercurial, intense, secretive personality, Sullivan was regarded by Hoover for a time almost like a son. The standard measure for where subordinates stood with the stern and formal Hoover was his method of addressing them. If someone was “Miller” instead of “Mr. Miller,” that person had achieved a high level of familiarity. Hoover called Sullivan, who oversaw the bureau’s all-important counterintelligence and domestic security responsibilities, simply “Bill.”

Yet Sullivan had a character flaw that became fatal the closer he got to the top of the pyramid: He was impatient. When the Nixon administration soured on the aging Hoover—chief of staff H. R. “Bob” Haldeman acidly described the director as a “real character out of days of yore”—Sullivan saw an opening, encouraged by like-minded Justice Department officials. He began leaking derogatory information about Hoover to journalists considered sympathetic, including, most notably, Robert Novak, the reporting half of the Rowland Evans and Robert Novak syndicated column.

Hoover’s FBI leaked all the time, of course, to favored reporters. The bureau may not have invented the practice, but it had perfected the art. No federal agency rivaled the FBI in terms of the well-placed, exquisitely timed disclosure designed with an end in mind. Information is the currency of power in Washington, and leaking to the press was instrumental to the bureau’s unofficial clout, the reason the FBI engendered fear in many quarters beyond its actual brief. But until Sullivan came along, leaking had largely been controlled, sanctioned and institutional—that is, directed against the bureau’s perceived adversaries or to burnish the FBI’s image and reputation. Never had leaks been employed for personal gain at Hoover’s expense.

Hoover soon figured it out. He fired Sullivan for disloyalty, insolence and insubordination, but not before a confrontation that instantly became part of FBI lore. In October 1971, Sullivan returned from a leave to find the locks in his office changed. Sullivan exchanged harsh words with the FBI executive who had thought up that particular touch. When the executive called him a “Judas,” the perpetually rumpled, bantam-sized Sullivan promptly challenged his dapper, six-foot tall adversary, William Mark Felt, to a fist fight.

Following Sullivan’s hasty exit, Felt became the front-runner to replace Hoover, despite being widely disliked internally. His nickname inside the bureau was the “White Rat.” He had acquired that sobriquet during the six years he headed up the Inspection Division, Hoover’s instrument for enforcing discipline and meting out punishment. Felt’s martinet-like inspection tours, where he out-Hoovered Hoover to curry the director’s favor, had earned him the enmity of agents and agents-in-charge throughout the country. Felt’s inspection report after the infamous break-in at the Media, Pennsylvania, FBI office in March 1971 by anti-war activists was typical. Felt’s report absolved the “Seat of Government” (as FBI headquarters was immodestly called during Hoover’s reign) of all culpability, and made the Media agent-in-charge the scapegoat, as former Washington Post reporter Betty Medsger wrote in her 2014 book, The Burglary. “We would probably not have pissed on [Felt] if he was on fire,” retired agent Robert P. Campbell recalled in a 2011 interview, reflecting the rank-and-file’s disdain.

Felt never enjoyed strong support within the Nixon administration either, unlike Sullivan. While “Crazy Billy” had worn his ambition to succeed Hoover on his sleeve, Felt was self-serving in an unattractive way. Though consumed with what he believed was his rightful inheritance, Felt often exhibited a false humility, perhaps out of fear that his ambition would become too obvious to Hoover. “If you wanted to ruin somebody’s career in the FBI,” a former agent later recalled, “all you had to do [was] leak it to somebody in the press that so-and-so [was] being groomed as Hoover’s successor.” The result was that Felt “did not interact with credibility” with his peers, recalled Donald Santarelli, then an associate attorney general at the Justice Department, in a 2011 interview.

On the morning of May 2, 1972, Hoover’s lifeless body was discovered on the floor of his bedroom one hour after the ever-punctual director failed to come downstairs for his 7:30 a.m. breakfast. Later, mourners at the funeral home were stunned by what they saw in the casket. There in the coffin lay a small, gray-haired, frail-looking man. The mortician had washed Hoover’s hair and all the dye had come out—from his eyebrows too.

Felt was not surprised by the portrait of infirmity. For all intents and purposes he had been running the bureau for more than a year, confident that if he bided his time (unlike Sullivan), Nixon would inevitably turn to Hoover’s natural legatee.

Felt was wrong.

Nixon’s surprise appointment of a dark horse outsider, assistant attorney general L. Patrick Gray, to be acting director within hours stands as one of the most far-reaching personnel decisions ever taken by a president inadvertently. His attention consumed by the upcoming election, geopolitical strategy and the effort to withdraw U.S. ground troops from Vietnam, Nixon was anxious to avoid having Hoover’s FBI become an issue in 1972. For the first time, a director was going to have to win Senate confirmation, and Nixon was leery of giving Democrats on the Judiciary Committee the opportunity to work over a nominee in an election year, possibly even block his confirmation. The president considered the appointment equal to nominating a chief justice to the Supreme Court. Nixon wanted a vigorous man who would occupy the post long after his second term ended. Gray’s acting appointment was roundly criticized on the grounds that he was a Nixon crony. But he otherwise aroused little opposition because he was as colorless as his name.

Gray wasn’t promised the permanent appointment, only that he would be considered for the post if he did a creditable job. Yet the message behind Gray’s interim status—that Nixon was intent on bringing in someone from outside the bureau—was an unmistakable signal to several executives angling for the job, and they decided to retire. The ambitious Felt saw the acting designation, however, as a small opening. It still left six months in which to persuade Nixon to “see the light” by nominating an insider, as Felt wrote in his 1979 memoir.

Felt was acting the part of Gray’s indispensable top deputy, while simultaneously belittling the interim director behind his back, according to interviews I conducted with contemporary FBI officials, when the Watergate break-in serendipitously occurred on June 17, 1972. The burglary of the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate office complex by Nixon campaign operatives presented Gray with a dilemma that Felt could easily exploit to his advantage. If Gray could not manage the FBI’s politically sensitive Watergate investigation to the White House’s satisfaction, he risked alienating the president and losing out on the nomination. Yet if Gray didn’t allow an unbridled investigation to run its full course, he might fail to win confirmation before what was sure to remain a Democrat-controlled Senate. Gray essentially resolved the dilemma by absenting himself as much as possible, while leaving supervision of the investigation in the hands of professional subordinates, most prominently, Felt.

Gray’s decision facilitated Felt’s recourse to that bureau specialty, the artful leak. As John Dean has confirmed in numerous interviews beginning in 2011, Felt knew that nothing was more likely to incite the White House against Gray, and prove he was Hoover’s unworthy successor, than stories in the press about the politically sensitive probe. As White House counsel and desk officer for the cover-up, Dean was person most frequently tasked with conveying the president’s ire to Gray. Similarly, Democrats’ hackles would be raised by any stories suggesting that the FBI was conducting a lax or superficial investigation.

Felt acted quickly. On June 20, three days after the break-in, the Washington Post published a story headlined, “White House Consultant Tied to Bugging Figure.” The article, citing “Federal sources close to the investigation,” revealed that a one-time White House consultant named E. Howard Hunt, who was also a former CIA officer, had an as-yet undetermined connection to the five burglars nabbed red-handed at the Watergate office complex. Hunt, of course, would turn out to be the co-ringleader of the break-in, along with G. Gordon Liddy, the Nixon campaign’s finance counsel.

In his 2005 book about Felt, The Secret Man, Woodward described in detail how Felt provided the “critical and substantial buttress” for the scoop about Hunt. Although this investigative development would have become public inevitably, the fact that it happened so swiftly stunned a White House still grappling with how to respond to the break-in. The White House’s initial pose was to appear nonchalant and above the story, as captured in Ron Ziegler’s infamous, contemptuous observation that he would not be commenting on “a third-rate burglary attempt.” But the morning the article appeared special counsel Charles Colson roared to the president, as captured on an Oval Office recording, “Pick up that God-damn Washington Post and see that guilt by association!” Colson had been responsible for hiring Hunt, and instantly, the administration became obsessed with how information known only to the police, Justice Department prosecutors and the FBI had come out. “Where the hell are all these leaks from our side coming from?” Nixon wondered aloud. The impulse to circle the wagons, rather than make a clean breast of the campaign’s culpability, took root.

Yet that kind of Watergate story was only half of Felt’s influence operation. Four days later, Felt managed to get fabled Time magazine reporter Sandy Smith interested in allegations that Gray had conferred with John Mitchell, the head of the president’s campaign, right after the break-in, and that Gray had been overheard boasting that the FBI’s investigation would be wrapped up in “24 to 48 hours”—the clear inference being that the probe would be a whitewash. Smith presented the allegations for comment to Gray, who vehemently denied both. Merely being asked such questions left him furious. He knew that a journalist of Smith’s caliber, who had access to the highest echelons in the bureau, would not be posing such questions unless the allegations came from someone Smith firmly believed was in a position to know. When the Time story actually appeared in print on June 26, the piece was thankfully “trimmed of its falsehoods,” Gray noted in a memo. Apparently, Sandy Smith had been unable to corroborate the allegations to his or his editors’ satisfaction—which was hardly surprising, since neither of them was true. The leak to Time came from Felt himself, as Deep Throat’s revised autobiography, published in 2006, acknowledged. Subsequent leaks to Smith would prove more successful.

In the four months that remained before the election, Felt continued to feed the Washington Post and Time tidbits—ranging from the connection between Watergate and the White House operatives known as “plumbers” to how campaign funds had been laundered through Mexico—although the weekly magazine never received the public acclaim the daily newspaper later did. Felt could leak with relative impunity because Watergate was not, and never became, a significant issue during the campaign, and therefore, presented no threat to the only presidential candidate who might appoint Felt director—Richard Nixon. George McGovern, the Democrats’ nominee, was a “jackal” in Hoover’s parlance, anathema to every Hoover disciple and vice versa. The South Dakota senator had spent much of 1971 publicly lambasting the late director for various deficiencies, including alleged senility. Nixon, on the other hand, did discuss potentially appointing Felt to the position at one point, according to Oval Office tapes.

As Nixon’s confidence in Gray waned over the leaks, William Sullivan re-emerged as a potential rival after securing a top job in the Justice Department. That complicated Felt’s scheme greatly, for now he had to figure out how to damage Sullivan’s reputation too. He did so in leaks to Time’s Smith, whose discretion in such matters was legendary, in contrast to the untested Woodward. As in June, Felt was not above misleading Smith on occasion; we also know from Woodward’s handwritten notes that Deep Throat told the cub reporter an enormous number of falsehoods (as John Dean was the first to point out), including during their famous clandestine rendezvous in an Arlington, Virginia parking garage. But then Felt’s relationship to the truth was always casual at best. His goal was incitement, rather than protecting the presidency, the bureau, democracy, or the rule of law from Nixon’s predations. Even the Post’s most celebrated Watergate story of October 10, 1972—the seminal or “centerpiece” story that alleged a “massive campaign of political spying and espionage”—prominently featured a lie uttered by Felt. Deep Throat falsely asserted to Woodward that a letter damaging to the campaign of Senator Edmund Muskie—considered the Democrats’ strongest candidate until he finished poorly in the New Hampshire primary—was “a White House operation,” concocted “inside the gates surrounding the White House.” What Woodstein represented in the Post as “hard evidence” of a political dirty trick was a fabrication, as an internal FBI inquiry and later, the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, determined.

Felt never achieved his goal of becoming director, of course, except for the two hour and fifty minute interregnum that occurred between Gray’s sudden resignation in May (for having destroyed embarrassing documents unrelated to Watergate found in E. Howard Hunt’s White House safe) and the appointment of a new acting director—another outsider named William Ruckelshaus. Unbeknownst to Felt, Nixon had learned in October 1972 that Felt was leaking to Time’s Sandy Smith. The president’s impulse was to fire Felt immediately, but cooler heads at the White House explained that Felt knew too much to make such a move just before the election. His removal would have to wait until after November, when a new director could be ordered to clean out the pestilence in the FBI’s upper ranks.

As it turned out, Felt abruptly resigned from the bureau in May 1973 to avoid being investigated right then and there for leaking. It was a fate he didn’t entirely escape, because a year-long internal investigation was launched a few months later anyway. Subsequently, the Inspection Division learned from Carol Tschudy, a bureau secretary for 17 years, that she was unable to recall how many calls transpired between a Washington Post reporter and her former boss, Felt. However, she said, “the frequency of Woodward’s calls seemed to depend upon various developments in the Watergate case.” Felt tried to make a go of consulting and the lecture circuit, and worked on his memoir after he retired from government service. In 1980, Felt made news when he was tried and convicted of ordering illegal FBI break-ins targeting the left-wing Weather Underground, a violent faction of domestic anti-war radicals. Nixon contributed to Felt’s defense fund and testified at his trial, and Reagan later pardoned him.

Meanwhile, Deep Throat went down in history as a do-gooder who saved the rule of law and American democracy from a criminal president. This was largely thanks to the large dose of buncombe in Woodward and Bernstein’s initial 1974 description of their source in All the President’s Men, and greatly magnified by the depiction in the eponymous Hollywood movie. Deep Throat, they wrote, was “trying to protect the office [of the presidency].” It wasn’t until 2005 that Woodward admitted in his book about Felt, The Secret Man, that Felt “never really voiced pure, raw outrage to me about Watergate or what it represented” (which is not surprising, given Felt’s contemporaneous role in sanctioning illegal FBI break-ins).

It remains true that Felt’s information, regardless of his motive, helped keep Watergate in the news at a time when few Americans cared, and that was important. Stories in the PostTime and elsewhere helped shield the three original federal prosecutors from political interference. And after they won convictions of all five burglars, plus Hunt and Liddy, in January 1973, the prospect of serious prison time finally broke the back of the cover-up. One of the burglars, James McCord, alleged that perjury had been committed during the trial, precipitating a foot-race to the prosecutors by John Dean and deputy campaign director Jeb Magruder, which, in turn, unleashed a flood of revelations that eventually put the president himself at risk.

Primarily because the Post (most prominently) reported increments of the break-in story (but never the cover-up, remember) before the burglars were actually tried, the fable took hold that the press “exposed” Watergate. This was a legend propagated by a media eager to bask in the Post’s reflected glory. The press was the decidedly junior partner to the legal machinery. For an authority on the subject, one need look no further than Sandy Smith, who broke as many significant stories about Watergate as anyone in the media. “There’s a myth that the press did all this, uncovered all the crimes,” he was quoted as saying in an official history of Time, Inc., published in 1986. “It’s bunk. The press didn’t do it. People forget that the government was investigating all the time. In my material there was less than two percent that was truly original investigation. There was [a federal] investigation being carried out here.”

This fact, in all likelihood, is the reason why Felt never came forward to claim the riches and acclaim that supposedly awaited Deep Throat. Indeed, he perpetually lied about being Deep Throat after theWashingtonian fingered him in June 1974 as the first prime suspect, just as All the President’s Menwas being published. Felt had to fear his actions could not withstand close scrutiny. His motive would be exposed as base and self-serving, and he would be roundly condemned in the only fraternity that he knew and cared about, the society of current and former FBI executives and agents. When finally outed in Vanity Fair in 2005 by his family, who had understandably imbibed the fable, Felt was dehabilitated by dementia and the few remaining peers able to recognize Felt for who he was and what he did were drowned out by the wave of nostalgia for the legacy media.

Felt’s admission left Pat Gray reeling; he likened it to being hit with a sledgehammer. Suffering from pancreatic cancer with only a few weeks to live, Gray summoned the strength to denounce publicly the man he considered, until that moment, his loyal and trustworthy executive officer. He had never grasped Felt’s treachery despite ample contemporaneous warnings. Now Gray belatedly realized that Felt had been a “formidable foe” primarily because he was such “a skilled liar.” The Vanity Fair story also stunned John J. McDermott, the special agent-in-charge of the Washington Field Office when it conducted the Watergate investigation. McDermott had long thought that the mysterious Deep Throat was actually a reporter’s invention and composite, meant to fuzz up the identities of several discrete White House sources. But once Felt claimed the mantle and Woodward confirmed it, McDermott immediately recognized that Felt had engaged in the same underhanded tactics as Sullivan. McDermott expressed “shock, dismay, and disgust” at Felt’s perfidy, and the bogus media-driven theory that Felt had a need “to expose information which otherwise would have been suppressed.” He defied anyone to prove that the FBI had failed to follow a single Watergate lead, concealed information from the Justice Department or did anything to warrant Felt’s behavior. “It’s embarrassing … for the bureau to be exposed as having had such people as Felt and Sullivan,” McDermott said in November 2010.

When the biopic comes out later this month, don’t be fooled. Felt betrayed the bureau, and more importantly, the investigative and legal machinery that is, more manifestly than ever, the last barrier between a government of laws and not of men or women.

There should be no pining for another Deep Throat. Leaks from bona fide whistle-blowers are one thing. Leaks from a self-aggrandizing FBI executive in the know, even if good for a few headlines, are bad for the rule of law. Nor would it be helpful to have an FBI executive plying reporters with false stories, indifferent to what gets printed or broadcast so long as it harms his bureaucratic enemies. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is far too important for that.

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The Myth of Deep Throat – POLITICO Magazine

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POLITICO Magazine
The Myth of Deep Throat
POLITICO Magazine
New York magazine columnist Frank Rich has gone a step further and already announced his casting choice: James Comey is today’s Deep Throat. ….. Felt never achieved his goal of becoming director, of course, except for the two hour and fifty minute 

Five major revelations from Congress’s Russia probes

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By Morgan Chalfant – 09/10/17 07:30 AM EDT

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Five major revelations from Congress’s Russia probes – The Hill

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The Hill
Five major revelations from Congress’s Russia probes
The Hill
Nearly six months ago, it was a House Intelligence Committee hearing that brought to light the federal investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow. Comey, then still the FBI director, disclosed in dramatic … on and more »

Felix Sater has been the key to unraveling the Trump-Russia scandal all along – Palmer Report 

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Who in the hell is Felix Sater?! Everything you were afraid to ask about this suddenly important person

Who in the hell is Felix Sater?!

Everything you were afraid to ask about this suddenly important person
Here’s the deep dirt on the Russian businessman who promised “Our boy can become president of the USA” – by BILL SCHEFT – SATURDAY, SEP 9, 2017 02:00 PM EDT 

Saved Stories – 1. Trump
Felix Sater has been the key to unraveling the Trump-Russia scandal all along

This week cable news began breathlessly practicing saying the name “Felix Sater” over and over again, after it leaked that he had conspired with Donald Trump and Michael Cohen to try to build Trump Tower Moscow during the election.

Who is this Sater guy? Where did he come from? Why haven’t you heard his name before?

Well, if you’ve been reading a site like Palmer Report, you’ve known full well who Felix Sater is and why he’s so crucial to all of this for a very long time.Palmer Report first began trying to connect the dots between Felix Sater, Russia and Donald Trump back in February. We weren’t the first. To be frank, it was rather easy to see that something was there.

Sater and Cohen had been exposed as part of the truly weird Kremlin plot to convince Trump to use blackmail material to oust the president of Ukraine, so Putin could install a puppet. 

That plot was only derailed because Michael Flynn got himself fired for unrelated Russia reasons before he could put it on Trump’s desk. Sater had previously been convicted for Russian mafia money laundering. He’d also become an FBI informant at some point. It wasn’t difficult to see where this was all going.

That plot was only derailed because Michael Flynn got himself fired for unrelated Russia reasons before he could put it on Trump’s desk. Sater had previously been convicted for Russian mafia money laundering. He’d also become an FBI informant at some point. It wasn’t difficult to see where this was all going.

It was abundantly clear back then that Sater was the linchpin to unraveling Donald Trump’s connections to the Kremlin,

and that Sater and Cohen were in close cahoots when it came to those connections. The trouble: at the time, no one could piece together specifically what those connections were. Sater was confirmed to have been involved in some of Trump’s sketchiest real estate deals, such as Trump SoHo. Cohen was Trump’s attorney at the Trump Organization. But what were they doing together, and what did it have to do with the Kremlin?

This week the answer finally arrived: Felix Sater and Michael Cohen were trying to help Donald Trump get his Trump Tower Moscow built during the election.

Cohen even went so far as to contact the Kremlin for help. Sater bragged in an email that the project would get Trump installed in the Oval Office.

Now that the crucial missing piece is in place, everyone from Congress to the Special Counsel is using it to zero in on Sater to get him to flip on Trump. Things are finally in motion.

But if you’ve been playing close attention, you’ve known for the past eight months that it was going to come down to Sater,

his relationship to the Putin-controlled Russian underworld, and his relationship to Trump through Cohen.

Palmer Report is often among the first to highlight a Trump-Russia storyline that we know is going to important, even if we don’t yet know how it all fits together. Skeptics invariably question why some of our reporting still hasn’t yet been vindicated, weeks or months later. It’s because these things take time to unravel in full detail. But this was always going to come down to Sater. We told you that back in February.

Palmer Report is often among the first to highlight a Trump-Russia storyline that we know is going to important, even if we don’t yet know how it all fits together. Skeptics invariably question why some of our reporting still hasn’t yet been vindicated, weeks or months later. It’s because these things take time to unravel in full detail. But this was always going to come down to Sater. We told you that back in February.

The post Felix Sater has been the key to unraveling the Trump-Russia scandal all along appeared first on Palmer Report.

‘The New Washington’: How Schumer’s Power Play Led to a Deal With Trump – New York Times

Washington Post
‘The New Washington’: How Schumer’s Power Play Led to a Deal With Trump
New York Times
Even when I was on vacation with my family in August, I started looking, said Mr. Schumer, the New Yorker who leads Senate Democrats, as he recounted the buildup to the stunning debt limit deal that Democrats struck with President Trump this past 
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Felix Sater has been the key to unraveling the Trump-Russia scandal all along 

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This week cable news began breathlessly practicing saying the name “Felix Sater” over and over again, after it leaked that he had conspired with Donald Trump and Michael Cohen to try to build Trump Tower Moscow during the election. Who is this Sater guy? Where did he come from? Why haven’t you heard his name before? Well, if you’ve been reading a site like Palmer Report, you’ve known full well who Felix Sater is – and why he’s so crucial to all of this – for a very long time.

Palmer Report first began trying to connect the dots between Felix Sater, Russia and Donald Trump back in February. We weren’t the first. To be frank, it was rather easy to see that something was there. Sater and Cohen had been exposed as part of the truly weird Kremlin plot to convince Trump to use blackmail material to oust the president of Ukraine, so Putin could install a puppet. That plot was only derailed because Michael Flynn got himself fired for unrelated Russia reasons before he could put it on Trump’s desk. Sater had previously been convicted for Russian mafia money laundering. He’d also become an FBI informant at some point. It wasn’t difficult to see where this was all going.

It was abundantly clear back then that Sater was the linchpin to unraveling Donald Trump’s connections to the Kremlin, and that Sater and Cohen were in close cahoots when it came to those connections. The trouble: at the time, no one could piece together specifically what those connections were. Sater was confirmed to have been involved in some of Trump’s sketchiest real estate deals, such as Trump SoHo. Cohen was Trump’s attorney at the Trump Organization. But what were they doing together, and what did it have to do with the Kremlin?

This week the answer finally arrived: Felix Sater and Michael Cohen were trying to help Donald Trump get his Trump Tower Moscow built during the election. Cohen even went so far as to contact the Kremlin for help. Sater bragged in an email that the project would get Trump installed in the Oval Office. Now that the crucial missing piece is in place, everyone from Congress to the Special Counsel is using it to zero in on Sater to get him to flip on Trump. Things are finally in motion.

But if you’ve been playing close attention, you’ve known for the past eight months that it was going to come down to Sater, his relationship to the Putin-controlled Russian underworld, and his relationship to Trump through Cohen. Palmer Report is often among the first to highlight a Trump-Russia storyline that we know is going to important, even if we don’t yet know how it all fits together. Skeptics invariably question why some of our reporting still hasn’t yet been vindicated, weeks or months later. It’s because these things take time to unravel in full detail. But this was always going to come down to Sater. We told you that back in February.

The post Felix Sater has been the key to unraveling the Trump-Russia scandal all along appeared first on Palmer Report.

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Who in the hell is Felix Sater?! Everything you were afraid to ask about this suddenly important person – Salon

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Salon
Who in the hell is Felix Sater?! Everything you were afraid to ask about this suddenly important person
Salon
WHY WE CARE: Sater was the intermediary who brought Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and representatives of Vladimir Putin a plan in late 2015 to discuss building a Trump Tower in Moscow in exchange for sanctions against Russia eventually being lifted if …

A Russian propaganda group purchased ads on Facebook during the 2016 election. Here’s what that means. – PBS NewsHour

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PBS NewsHour
A Russian propaganda group purchased ads on Facebook during the 2016 election. Here’s what that means.
PBS NewsHour
In January, the U.S. intelligence community concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin led a campaign to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Paid trolls — social media users who were compensated to deliberately post controversial 
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A Russian propaganda group purchased ads on Facebook during the 2016 election. Here’s what that means.

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A giant Facebook “like” seen at the company’s new headquarters in Menlo Park, California. Photo by Robert Galbraith/Reuters

Facebook announced Wednesday that a Russian propaganda organization used the social media platform to purchase $100,000 of political advertising.

Here’s what you need to know about this news:

What was found?

Facebook found 470 inauthentic accounts associated with approximately 3,000 political ads from June 2015 to May 2017. The ad purchases and accounts are affiliated with a Russian “troll farm,” dubbed the Internet Research Agency, which spreads pro-Russian propaganda and false information across the World Wide Web.

Most of the ads did not contain references to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, voting or the candidates. “Rather, the ads and accounts appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum — touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights,” Facebook’s Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos said in a blog post on the company’s website.

Facebook also conducted a wider search for political ads that potentially originated from Russia. The company found $50,000 worth of spending on 2,200 ads. A Facebook spokesperson, however, cautioned that this group of ads carried a low amount of certainty because the company’s search included sources with weak connections to Russia.

How does the Russian propaganda machine work? Special correspondent Nick Schifrin talked to someone who used to work as a “troll” inside the Internet Research Agency. Watch his July 2017 report from “Inside Putin’s Russia.”

What is the Internet Research Agency?

“The agency had become known for employing hundreds of Russians to post pro-Kremlin propaganda online under fake identities, including on Twitter, in order to create the illusion of a massive army of supporters,” journalist Adrian Chen wrote in 2015 in the New York Times Magazine.

Chen reported that the agency was responsible for false reports of toxic fumes in Louisiana and an outbreak of Ebola in Atlanta, both in 2014.

Learn more about the Internet Research Agency from this 2015 conversation between PBS NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown and journalist Adrian Chen.

Why it’s important

In January, the U.S. intelligence community concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin led a campaign to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Paid trolls — social media users who were compensated to deliberately post controversial content — and the social media accounts of the pro-Kremlin television network RT were part of this effort, according to their report.

What Facebook found is “one small piece of this larger, consistent, Russian effort,” John Sipher, a former CIA agent who ran the agency’s Russia program for three years, told the NewsHour.

“This is a big deal because I think it’s more evidence of a coordinated Russian attack against our system,” Sipher said.

And for those who suggest that $100,000 in ads is not much: “This is just one troll farm that Facebook has proven” was Russian, Sipher said. “I’m sure there’s all kinds of other stuff that hasn’t been picked up on yet.”

In addition to the ad buying, an investigation published late Thursday by The New York Times, with research from the cybersecurity company FireEye, detailed other ways that suspected Russian trolls disseminated false and hacked information.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told the Washington Post that Facebook’s disclosure is a “profound warning to us and others about future elections.” A question left to answer, he said, is whether any of the pro-Russian trolls coordinated with President Trump’s 2016 campaign team.

What’s next?

Stamos, the chief security officer, said Facebook has since shut down the 470 suspicious accounts and pages.

“We have shared our findings with U.S. authorities investigating these issues, and we will continue to work with them as necessary,” Stamos said.

But Facebook has not shared copies of the ads with the public, and does not plan to, a Facebook spokesperson told the NewsHour. A Facebook official told the Washington Post that “our data policy and federal law limit our ability to share user data and content, so we won’t be releasing any ads.”

Facebook’s refusal to share the ads has drawn criticism from eBay founder, philanthropist and First Look Media founder Pierre Omidyar and former Federal Election Commission Chairman Trevor Potter.

Stamos noted that Facebook has made improvements to weed out fake accounts based on their activity on the platform and end the spread of fake news in the past year, with more improvements planned.

“We are looking at how we can apply the techniques we developed for detecting fake accounts to better detect inauthentic pages and the ads they may run,” Stamos said. “We are also experimenting with changes to help us more efficiently detect and stop inauthentic accounts at the time they are being created.”

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