Tuesday, March 20, 2018

When Democrats and media said Trump was trying to undermine FBI and steal American democracy, Trump seemingly tried to confirm their accusations with his subsequent Twitter posts-Wall St. Journal Editorial Board

3/18/18, "The McCabe March Madness," Wall St. Journal Editorial Board

"Trump can never let the facts speak for themselves.

"For a microcosm of the current madness of American politics, look no further than the weekend meltdown after Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe late Friday. 

Mr. Sessions acted on a recommendation by the FBI’s own Office of Professional Responsibility [led by a Mueller appointee per below], but Democrats and the media ignored that and called the firing part of Donald Trump’s plot to undermine the FBI and steal American democracy. Mr. Trump then seemingly tried to confirm the accusations with a Twitter fusillade hailing Mr. McCabe’s firing and escalating without cause to attack special counsel Robert Mueller. Which triggered another round of claims that Mr. Trump’s days in office are numbered, or should be. 

As Mr. Trump and his antagonists drive each other insane, it’s hard to keep your eye on what matters. Start with the obligation of FBI agents to tell the truth. Mr. Sessions’s statement was a straightforward explanation that he fired Mr. McCabe for a serious violation of duty.

The Justice Department’s Inspector General [Obama appointee Michael Horowitz] has been examining the department’s handling of the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server—a probe demanded by Democrats on grounds that former FBI Director James Comey’s 2016 intervention cost her the election. The IG uncovered “allegations of misconduct” by Mr. McCabe, Mr. Sessions’s statement said, which it forwarded to the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) that is composed of career officials

Mr. Sessions added that both the IG and OPR reports “concluded that Mr. McCabe had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor—including under oath—on multiple conclusions. The FBI expects every employee to adhere to the highest standards of honesty, integrity, and accountability. As the OPR proposal stated, ‘all FBI employees know that lacking candor under oath results in dismissal and that our integrity is our brand.’”

Ergo, Mr. McCabe had to be fired. 

The IG’s report remains secret, and we hope it will become public shortly. But if Mr. Sessions's summary is accurate, failing to fire Mr. McCabe would have been a terrible signal to the bureau’s agents

Every agent at some point or another in a career is likely to testify in court. If a deputy director can get away with fudging answers, then every agent will assume he can too. The reference to “under oath” is also significant, since the FBI often charges people with the felony of making false statements without being under oath.

The IG [Obama appointee Michael Horowitz] and OPR [led by Mueller appointee, per below] must have felt Mr. McCabe’s lack of candor was serious enough to warrant making him swear to tell the truth.

In response to his firing, Mr. McCabe said that “I answered questions truthfully and as accurately as I could amidst the chaos that surrounded me. And when I thought my answers were misunderstood, I contacted investigators to correct them.” He added that “to be accused of lacking candor when at worst I was distracted in the midst of chaotic events, is incredibly disappointing and unfair.” 

The rest of his statement was devoted to blaming the OPR recommendation on Mr. Trump “and this Administration’s ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the Special Counsel investigation.” But Mr. McCabe knows that OPR lawyers aren’t Trump partisans and its director was appointed by Mr. Mueller when he was running the FBI in 2004. 

All of which should have been cause for Mr. Trump to let the dismissal speak for itself, but the President is too self-involved for such restraint. Instead he tweeted on Saturday, “Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI - A great day for Democracy.” 

He later blasted Mr. Comey, among others. And, for bad measure, his lawyer John Dowd suggested that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should stop Mr. Mueller’s probe. Mr. Trump then attacked Mr. Mueller for hiring Democratic prosecutors.

Naturally, Mr. McCabe and his partisans let it be known that he had shared with Mr. Mueller memos that he had written after his meetings with Mr. Trump. Oh, and John Brennan, Barack Obama’s CIA director, tweeted in response to Mr. Trump’s tweet that, “When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history.”"...

[Ed. note: John Brennan illegally hacked US Senate computers, lied about it, and was never punished: Washington Post: 7/31/2014, "Obama should fire John Brennan," James Downie...7/31/2014, "The C.I.A.’s Reckless Breach of Trust," NY Times Editorial Board, "The Central Intelligence Agency admitted that it did, indeed, use a fake online identity to break into the Senate’s computers."]

(continuing): "Our politics really is debased when a former intelligence chief intimates that a President will be destroyed based on some information yet to be disclosed. Would he mind sharing what he knows on the record rather than leaking it to his press-corps pals?

We’ve never believed in conspiracies about the “deep state,” but the not-so-subtle threats from Messrs. Brennan, Comey and McCabe will persuade many Trump voters that they and others are out to destroy the President no matter the truth. 

The country should be waiting for the facts of the multiple investigations to come out and then make a political judgment. Instead the brawl over the 2016 election has become a blood feud in which the facts seem irrelevant. This is going to get a lot uglier before it’s over."


Comment: Mr. McCabe uses the pathetic defense that he did the best he could "amidst the chaos that surrounded me." 


What went wrong at FBI: After 9/11 FBI lost its law-enforcement ethos, tried to become more of an intelligence agency, centralized itself in Washington DC rather than in field offices around the country, placed key decisions in hands of Beltway-sensitive individuals, eliminated levels of review. Abuse of FISA Court, with its lower standard of probable cause, is most egregious finding so far-Wall St. Journal, Thomas J. Baker, commentary

3/19/18, "What Went Wrong at the FBI," Wall St. Journal, Thomas J. Baker, commentary ("Mr. Baker is a retired FBI special agent and legal attaché) (3/20 print edition)

"After 9/11, the bureau lost its law-enforcement ethos as it tried to become more of an intelligence agency."

"Americans have grown increasingly skeptical since 2016 of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, an institution they once regarded as the world’s greatest law-enforcment agency. I spent 33 years in a variety of positions with the FBI, and I am troubled by this loss of faith. Many lapses have come to light, and each has been thoroughly covered. But why did they happen? The answer is a cultural change that occurred in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

For reasons that seemed justified at the time, the bureau set out to become an “intelligence driven” organization. That had unintended consequences. The FBI’s culture had been rooted in law enforcement. A law-enforcement agency deals in facts, to which agents may have to swear in court. That is why “lack of candor” has always been a firing offense. An intelligence agency deals in estimates and best guesses. Guesses are not allowed in court. Intelligence agencies often bend a rule, or shade the truth, to please their political masters. In the FBI, as a result, there now is politicization, polarization, and no sense of the bright line that separates the legal from the extralegal. 

Part of making the FBI more like an intelligence agency was the centralization of case management at headquarters in Washington, rather than the field offices around the country. With this came the placing of operational decisions in the hands of more “politically sensitive” individuals at headquarters.  

The 9/11 investigations and related matters were the first to be moved from the field to headquarters. But the trend culminated with the investigations into Hillary Clinton’s emails and Russian election interference—both run from headquarters as well. Levels of review-and independent judgment-were eliminated. Thus, we learn that Peter Strzok —who held the relatively high rank of deputy assistant director of counterintelligence—was himself conducting interviews in both politically sensitive investigations.

After 9/11 there was much talk of the negative consequences of a “wall” between criminal and intelligence investigations. There was always—it was part of our culture—a discussion about how to proceed at the outset of a counterintelligence or terrorism investigation. To seek a warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, with its lower standard of probable cause, when one would ultimately pursue a prosecution was considered an abuse of FISA. It is still an abuse. To shade the truth in a FISA application-as occurred with the "Steele Dossier"-is characteristic behavior of an intelligence agency, not a “swear to tell the truth” law-enforcement organization. 

FISA was never intended as a tool to pursue Americans. It was to be used to gather intelligence about agents of a foreign power operating in the U.S. The aim of this monitoring was to produce intelligence for our national decision makers. It was not intended to be used in criminal prosecutions. If an American is suspected of operating as an agent of a foreign power, that individual should be pursued under the Espionage Act, a criminal statute. The fruits of that monitoring could then be used in court for a prosecution. The use of FISA to target a U.S. citizen is the most egregious abuse uncovered so far

As former FBI Director William Webster repeatedly told us agents: “We must do the job the American people expect of us, in the way that the Constitution demands of us.” All actions and decisions must once again be viewed though that prism. The Justice Department inspector general and others are now looking at specific alleged abuses. 

Perhaps Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s firing is a start. Mr. McCabe’s statement, in response to his firing, that “the big picture is a tale of what can happen when law enforcement is politicized” is, ironically, true."...

[Ed. note: FBI OPR is headed by Eric Holder appointee Robin Ashton. The assistant head of FBI OPR is a Robert Mueller appointee, Candice Will. Justice Dept. IG is an Obama appointee Michael Horowitz]

(continuing): "What is needed is much more—a renewal of the FBI’s culture. 

When the smoke clears from the current controversies, Director Christopher Wray must help the bureau turn the page on this intelligence chapter and get the bureau back to the law-enforcement culture of fact-finding and truth-telling that once made us all so proud."


Monday, March 19, 2018

John Brennan has great confidence in an all powerful unelected government or Deep State which of course includes the media-Consortium News, Ray McGovern

John Brennan and Samantha Power certainly believe in a powerful unelected entity, whether a Deep State or "iron triangle" as NY Times happily describes it: 

3/19/18, "Former CIA Chief Brennan Running Scared," Consortium News, Ray McGovern

"With former CIA Director John Brennan accusing President Donald Trump of “moral turpitude” for his “scapegoating” of Andy McCabe, it remains to be seen whether a constitutional crisis will be averted, writes Ray McGovern." 

"What prompted former CIA Director John Brennan on Saturday to accuse President Donald Trump of “moral turpitude” and to predict, with an alliterative flourish, that Trump will end up “as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history”? The answer shines through the next sentence in Brennan’s threatening tweet: “You may scapegoat Andy McCabe [former FBI Deputy Director fired Friday night] but you will not destroy America…America will triumph over you.”... 

Deep State Intimidation

Back to John Brennan’s bizarre tweet Saturday telling the President, “You may scapegoat Andy McCabe but you will not destroy America … America will triumph over you.” Unmasking the word “America,” so to speak, one can readily discern the name “Brennan” underneath. Brennan’s words and attitude are a not-so-subtle reminder of the heavy influence and confidence of the deep state, including the media — exercised to a fare-thee-well over the past two years. 

Later on Saturday, Samantha Power, with similar equities at stake, put an exclamation point behind what Brennan had tweeted earlier in the day. Power also saw fit to remind Trump where the power lies, so to speak.  She warned him publicly that it is “not a good idea to piss off John Brennan.”

Meanwhile, the Washington Post is dutifully playing its part in the deep-state game of intimidation. The following excerpt from Sunday’s lead article conveys the intended message: Some Trump allies say they worry he is playing with fire by taunting the FBIThis is open, all-out war. And guess what? The FBI’s going to win,’ said one ally, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid. ‘You can’t fight the FBI. They’re going to torch him.’” [sic]

The Post, incidentally, waited until paragraph 41 of 44 to inform readers that it was the FBI’s own Office of Professional Responsibility [headed by Eric Holder appointee Robin Ashton] and the Inspector General of the Department of Justice [Obama appointee Michael Horowitz] that found McCabe guilty, and that the charge was against McCabe, not the FBI.  A quite different impression was conveyed by the large headline “Trump escalates attacks on FBI” as well as the first 40 paragraphs of Sunday’s lead article.

Putting Down a Marker

It isn’t as though Donald Trump wasn’t warned, as are all incoming presidents, of the power of the Deep State that he needs to play ball with--or else. ["Trump “is being force-fed lessons all presidents eventually learnthat the iron triangle of the Washington press corps, West Wing staff and federal bureaucracy is simply too powerful to bully.”" 3/1/2017, Daniel Lazare] Recall that just three days before President-elect Trump was visited by National Intelligence Director James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, and NSA Director Michael Rogers, Trump was put on notice by none other than the Minority Leader of the Senate, Chuck Schumer. Schumer has been around and knows the ropes; he is a veteran of 18 years in the House, and is in his 20th year in the Senate. 

On Jan. 3, 2017 Schumer said it all, when he told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, that President-elect Trump is “being really dumb” by taking on the intelligence community and its assessments on Russia’s cyber activities: 

Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you, Schumer told Maddow. “So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.” Did Maddow ask Schumer if he was saying President of the United States should be afraid of the intelligence community? No, she let Schumer’s theorem stand. 

With gauntlets now thrown down by both sides, we may not have to wait very long to see if Schumer is correct in his blithe prediction as to how the present constitutional crisis will be resolved....

As a Reminder

None of the leaking, unmasking, surveillance, or other activities directed against the Trump campaign can be properly understood, if one does not bear in mind that it was considered a sure thing that Secretary Clinton would become President, at which point illegal and extralegal activities undertaken to help her win would garner praise, not prison. 

But she lost.... The reason Congress exists is to oversee these agencies that we created.”...[said Rep. Devin Nunes]"....

"Ray McGovern works for Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.  He served as a CIA analyst under seven Presidents and nine CIA directors and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)."

Added: NY Times happily refers to an "iron triangle," a permanent political class that controls all presidents: "Washington press corps, West Wing staff and federal bureaucracy." 

3/1/17, "How the Press Serves the Deep State," Consortium News, Daniel Lazare

"Exclusive: Mainstream U.S. media is proud to be the Deep State’s tip of the spear pinning President Trump to the wall over unproven allegations about Russia and his calls for detente, a rare point where he makes sense, notes Daniel Lazare."

"The New York Times has made it official. In a Sunday front-page article entitled “Trump Ruled the Tabloid Media. Washington Is a Different Story,” the paper gloats that Donald Trump has proved powerless to stop a flood of leaks threatening to capsize his administration.

As reporters Glenn Thrush and Michael M. Grynbaum put it: “This New York-iest of politicians, now an idiosyncratic, write-your-own-rules president, has stumbled into the most conventional of Washington traps: believing he can master an entrenched political press corps with far deeper connections to the permanent government of federal law enforcement and executive department officials than he has.

Thrush and Grynbaum add a few paragraphs later that Trump “is being force-fed lessons all presidents eventually learn – that the iron triangle of the Washington press corps, West Wing staff and federal bureaucracy is simply too powerful to bully.”

Iron triangle? Permanent government? In its tale of how Trump went from being a favorite of the New York Post and Daily News to fodder for the big-time Washington news media, the Times seems to be going out of its way to confirm dark paranoid fears of a “deep state” lurking behind the scenes and dictating what political leaders can and cannot do. “Too powerful to bully” by a “write-your-own-rules president” is another way of saying that the permanent government wants to do things its way and will not put up with a president telling it to take a different approach.

Entrenched interests are nothing new, of course. But a major news outlet bragging about collaborating with such elements in order to cripple a legally established government is. The Times was beside itself with outrage when top White House adviser Steve Bannon described the media as “the opposition party.” But one can’t help but wonder what all the fuss is about since an alliance aimed at hamstringing a presidency is nothing if not oppositional.

If so, a few things are worth keeping in mind. One is that Trump was elected, even if only by an Eighteenth-Century relic known as the Electoral College, whereas the deep state, permanent government, or whatever else you want to call it was not. Where Trump gave speeches, kissed babies, and otherwise sought out the vote, the deep state did nothing. To the degree this country is still a democracy, that must count for something. So if the conflict between president and the deep state ever comes down to a question of legitimacy, there is no doubt who will come out ahead: The Donald....

If the Washington Post and the Times do not agree that bogus assertions about unauthorized contacts with Russia are not poisoning the atmosphere, they should explain very clearly why not. They should also explain what they hope to accomplish with a showdown with Russia and why it will not be a step toward World War III.

But they won’t, of course. The media (with encouragement from parts of the U.S. government) are working themselves into a fit of outrage against Vladimir Putin just as, in past years, they did against Daniel Ortega, Manuel Noriega, Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein (again), Muammar Gaddafi, Bashar al-Assad, and Viktor Yanukovych. In each instance, the outcome has been war, and so far the present episode shows all signs of heading in the same direction as well.

Reporters may be clueless, but working-class Americans aren’t. They don’t want a war because they’re the ones who would have to fight it. So they’re not unsympathetic to Trump and all the more inclined to give the yapping media short shrift."...


Added: As portrayed by former Senator and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller [D-WVa], the political class wants you to think an unelected "intelligence community" is the most powerful entity in the US and that it answers to no one. Meaning US taxpayers are slaves:

April 2007

4/24/2007, "Amazing Statement Of Congressional Impotence By Senate Intelligence Chairman Jay Rockefeller [D-WVa]," tinyrevolution.com

"Charles Davis, a freelance reporter, briefly interviewed Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) last Wednesday [April 2007]. Rockefeller, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, made this startling statement about how the U.S. government really functions:

DAVIS (Reporter): I wonder if you've heard some of these news reports that the Bush administration is backing extremist groups in Pakistan to launch attacks against Iran? Are you familiar with those news reports?

ROCKEFELLER (Sen.): I've seen no intelligence that would verify that.

DAVIS: Reports quote administration officials as saying this is going on and it's being done in a way to avoid oversight of the Intelligence Committee...Is there anything you could do in your position as Chairman of the Intelligence Committee to find answers about this, if it is in fact going on?

ROCKEFELLER: Don't you understand the way Intelligence works? Do you think that because I'm Chairman of the Intelligence Committee that I just say I want it, and they give it to me? They control it. All of it. All of it. All of the time. I only get, and my committee only gets, what they want to give me....

DAVIS: Well, what do you think about these allegations?

ROCKEFELLER: I'm not—I don't comment on allegations. I can't. I can't afford to.

DAVIS: Okay. Thank you."


John "Jay" "Rockefeller, a Democrat, was a senator from West Virginia from 1985 to 2014." He was Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee from 2007 to 2009

Above via 11/2/2015, "A New Biography Traces the Pathology of Allen Dulles and His Appalling Cabal," The Intercept, Jon Schwarz

"The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government," published in Oct. 2015 by Salon founder David Talbot. JFK fired CIA chief Allen Dulles, a holdover from Eisenhower, after the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion."    

Comment: The globalist US political class prefers unelected power so that annoying elections can't change anything. Elections, if they must exist, are Communist style with a choice of two virtually identical candidates, such as Hillary and Jeb Bush. Both open borders, extreme globalists, endless foreign wars funded by US taxpayers, massive free trade deals governed by global courts. US taxpayers, if they must exist, are slaves.


FBI personnel engage in 'rash of sexting,' send nude photos of themselves to fellow employees. Other highlights: sending nude photo of herself to wife of ex-boyfriend, buying sex from massage parlor, wielding weapon in dispute at mistress' apartment requiring police intervention, purchasing and viewing child porn, per 2013 report obtained by CNN-Huffington Post, 2/22/2013

2/22/2013, "FBI Sexting: Leaked Disciplinary Report Details Bureau Employees Behaving Badly," Huffington Post

"They’re flashing more than just their badges. CNN managed to get a hold of some juicy FBI disciplinary reports, which they published Friday for the public’s perusing pleasure.
The reports, marked “not for public dissemination,” had been emailed to all FBI employees, with the intent “to educate employees about the Bureau’s standards of conduct and to aid employees in steering clear of ethical pitfalls.” 

One of those pitfalls? Sexting. Lots and lots of sweet, sweet sexting.

FBI assistant director Candice Will told CNN earlier this week that the FBI is experiencing a “rash of sexting,” with employees sending each other sexually explicit messages and photos with their Bureau-issued BlackBerries.

Not that sexting is the only issue going on behind the scenes at the Bureau — the reports detail acts such as buying sexual favors from a “massage parlor,” pointing a gun at a dog and even looking at child porn. 

Some of the lurid highlights, and the punishments received: 

“Employee e-mailed nude photograph of herself to ex-boyfriend’s wife. Ex-boyfriend and wife reported the incident to local police. Employee failed to cease contact with ex-boyfriend and wife after twice being ordered to do so by supervisor and Chief Security Officer.” (10-day suspension) 

“Employee used personal cell phone to send nude photographs of self to several other employees.” (10-day suspension) 

“Employee visited a massage parlor and paid for a sexual favor from the masseuse.” (14-day suspension) 

“During an argument with spouse, Employee broke spouse’s e-reader in half and pointed unloaded gun at dog’s head while dog was sitting in spouse’s lap.” (45-day suspension) 

“Employee was involved in a domestic dispute at mistress’ apartment, requiring police interventionEmployee refused to relinquish his weapon, making it necessary for the officers to physically subdue him.” (45-day suspension) 

“Employee hid a recording device in supervisor’s office.” (Fired) 

“Employee used a stranger’s lost or stolen debit card to purchase gasoline and attempted, on repeated occasions, to withdraw money from the person’s bank account at two ATM machines. Employee was caught on surveillance video.” (Fired)

“When caught in sting operation, Employee admitted purchasing and viewing DVDs of naked boys.” (Fired) 

Click here to read the full reports.

HuffPost Justice reporter Ryan Reilly told HuffPost Live that the issue of sexting is not quite as rampant as the report may lead one to believe. 

“There are thousands and thousands of employees within the FBI,” Reilly said, “it’s not a massive, massive problem.” 

Nevertheless, Candace Will’s comments to CNN demonstrate that the FBI is none too pleased with the developments.

When you are given an FBI BlackBerry,” she told the network, “it’s for official use. It’s not to text the woman in another office who you found attractive or to send a picture of yourself in a state of undress.” 

The FBI’s motto is “Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity.”"


McCabe didn't lose his pension, it was vested at 5 years-Forbes...Head of FBI OPR was appointed by Eric Holder. Assisitant was appointed by Robert Mueller

12/23/2010, "Attorney General Eric Holder today announced the appointment of Robin C. Ashton to serve as head of the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) at the Department of Justice."

"Candice M. Will was appointed by Director Mueller to be the Assistant Director of the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) in August 2004," fbi.gov

3/17/18, "No, Andrew McCabe Isn't 'Losing His Pension'," Forbes, Elizabeth Bauer, contributor

"Pensions--public as well as private--are required to meet certain vesting requirements, and, in fact, the FERS (Federal Employees Retirement System) benefits vest at five years, meaning that benefit accruals cannot be taken away.
In fact, McCabe is all of 49 years old, likely 50 by the time readers see this, and what he lost out on was, as CNN much more calmly recounts, the ability to take his benefits at age 50, rather than somewhere between age 57 and age 62, and he lost his eligibility to a special top-up in benefit formula.  These are, admittedly, tangible financial losses, but it is grossly misleading that various news outlets are giving the general public the impression that he has lost his pension entirely.

But the existence of these special perks, benefits that we in the private sector can barely comprehend in the year 2018, points to a fundamental disconnect between the private and public sector.  

Why shouldn't someone whose benefits consist of 401(k) account accruals believe that government pensions work so differently as to punish someone arbitrarily by removing their benefits?  Add to this the fact that retirement at age 50 is well-nigh incomprehensible for the average working American, except perhaps in the case of high-risk, health-sapping occupations, which surely likewise added to the impression that actual pensions, rather than generous ancillary provisions, were being lost.
Yes, the rationale for these generous pension benefits is that these civil servants accept significantly lower salaries than they would be able to earn in the private sector. But this exchange of "low salaries now, rich retirement benefits later" is a matter of "robbing Peter to pay Paul" that isn't wise in the long term, either.

UPDATE:  On Saturday evening, the Washington Post reported:

"Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) announced Saturday afternoon that he has offered McCabe a job to work on election security in his office, “so that he can reach the needed length of service” to retire." 

According to the Post's experts, McCabe "would need to just go to work with the federal government for another day or so in any job he pleases," although "it would probably look more ethical if McCabe worked for at least a pay period rather than just one day."  And, due to the nature of federal pensions and their portability from one position to another, this sounds credible -- though at the same time, well, I'm from Illinois, a state with a long list of examples of pension spiking, ghost employees, and other ways that public officials have manipulated public pensions, so it doesn't sit right with me.

In addition, according to a helpful twitter exchange, the particular nature of McCabe's pension benefits condition age-50 retirement eligibility on primary law enforcement employment, not just general federal government employment, at age 50; what's more, being terminated "for cause" wholly eliminates eligibility for special age-50 retirement, according to 5 U.S.C. § 8412."

"(Note that this column is based on the information available to me; if any part of it proves incorrect, I will update as needed.  If you wish to comment, please visit janetheactuary.com)"


Obama knew his Stuxnet cyberwar attacks on Iran's nuclear infrastructure could justify attacks on the US by other countries, terrorists or hackers. Obama was first US official to repeatedly use cyberattacks to cripple another country's infrastructure. Such damage could only have been accomplished by bombing previously-NY Times, 6/1/2012

This is the first attack of a major nature in which a cyber attack was used to effect physical destruction, said former CIA chief Michael V. Hayden. "No country’s infrastructure is more dependent on computer systems, and thus more vulnerable to attack, than that of the United States. It is only a matter of time, most experts believe, before it becomes the target of the same kind of weapon that the Americans have used, secretly, against Iran."

6/1/2012, "Obama Order Sped Up Wave of Cyberattacks Against Iran," NY Times, David E. Sanger ("This article is adapted from “Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power, [by David E. Sanger of the New York Times] to be published by Crown on Tuesday.")

"From his first months in office, President Obama secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America’s first sustained use of cyberweapons, according to participants in the program. 

Mr. Obama decided to accelerate the attacks — begun in the Bush administration and code-named Olympic Games — even after an element of the program accidentally became public in the summer of 2010 because of a programming error that allowed it to escape Iran’s Natanz plant and sent it around the world on the Internet. Computer security experts who began studying the worm, which had been developed by the United States and Israel, gave it a name: Stuxnet. 

At a tense meeting in the White House Situation Room within days of the worm’s “escape,” Mr. Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency at the time, Leon E. Panetta, considered whether America’s most ambitious attempt to slow the progress of Iran’s nuclear efforts had been fatally compromised. 

“Should we shut this thing down?” Mr. Obama asked, according to members of the president’s national security team who were in the room. 

Told it was unclear how much the Iranians knew about the code, and offered evidence that it was still causing havoc, Mr. Obama decided that the cyberattacks should proceed. In the following weeks, the Natanz plant was hit by a newer version of the computer worm, and then another after that. The last of that series of attacks, a few weeks after Stuxnet was detected around the world, temporarily took out nearly 1,000 of the 5,000 centrifuges Iran had spinning at the time to purify uranium. 

This account of the American and Israeli effort to undermine the Iranian nuclear program is based on interviews over the past 18 months with current and former American, European and Israeli officials involved in the program, as well as a range of outside experts. None would allow their names to be used because the effort remains highly classified, and parts of it continue to this day.

These officials gave differing assessments of how successful the sabotage program was in slowing Iran’s progress toward developing the ability to build nuclear weapons. Internal Obama administration estimates say the effort was set back by 18 months to two years, but some experts inside and outside the government are more skeptical, noting that Iran’s enrichment levels have steadily recovered, giving the country enough fuel today for five or more weapons, with additional enrichment. 

Whether Iran is still trying to design and build a weapon is in dispute. The most recent United States intelligence estimate concludes that Iran suspended major parts of its weaponization effort after 2003, though there is evidence that some remnants of it continue. 

Iran initially denied that its enrichment facilities had been hit by Stuxnet, then said it had found the worm and contained it. Last year, the nation announced that it had begun its own military cyberunit, and Brig. Gen. Gholamreza Jalali, the head of Iran’s Passive Defense Organization, said that the Iranian military was prepared “to fight our enemies” in “cyberspace and Internet warfare.” But there has been scant evidence that it has begun to strike back. 

The United States government only recently acknowledged developing cyberweapons, and it has never admitted using them. There have been reports of one-time attacks against personal computers used by members of Al Qaeda, and of contemplated attacks against the computers that run air defense systems, including during the NATO-led air attack on Libya last year. But Olympic Games [Stuxnet] was of an entirely different type and sophistication. 

It appears to be the first time the United States has repeatedly used cyberweapons to cripple another country’s infrastructure, achieving, with computer code, what until then could be accomplished only by bombing a country or sending in agents to plant explosives. The code itself is 50 times as big as the typical computer worm, Carey Nachenberg, a vice president of Symantec, one of the many groups that have dissected the code, said at a symposium at Stanford University in April. Those forensic investigations into the inner workings of the code, while picking apart how it worked, came to no conclusions about who was responsible. 

A similar process is now under way to figure out the origins of another cyberweapon called Flame that was recently discovered to have attacked the computers of Iranian officials, sweeping up information from those machines. But the computer code appears to be at least five years old, and American officials say that it was not part of Olympic Games. They have declined to say whether the United States was responsible for the Flame attack.

Mr. Obama, according to participants in the many Situation Room meetings on Olympic Games [Stuxnet], was acutely aware that with every attack he was pushing the United States into new territory, much as his predecessors had with the first use of atomic weapons in the 1940s, of intercontinental missiles in the 1950s and of drones in the past decade. He repeatedly expressed concerns that any American acknowledgment that it was using cyberweapons-even under the most careful and limited circumstances-could enable other countries, terrorists or hackers to justify their own attacks.... 

Yet Mr. Obama concluded that when it came to stopping Iran, the United States had no other choice. 

If Olympic Games [Stuxnet] failed, he told aides, there would be no time for sanctions and diplomacy with Iran to work. Israel could carry out a conventional military attack, prompting a conflict that could spread throughout the region.

The impetus for Olympic Games [Stuxnet] dates from 2006, when President George W. Bush saw few good options in dealing with Iran. At the time, America’s European allies were divided about the cost that imposing sanctions on Iran would have on their own economies. Having falsely accused Saddam Hussein of reconstituting his nuclear program in Iraq, Mr. Bush had little credibility in publicly discussing another nation’s nuclear ambitions. The Iranians seemed to sense his vulnerability, and, frustrated by negotiations, they resumed enriching uranium at an underground site at Natanz, one whose existence had been exposed just three years before.... 

Hawks in the Bush administration like Vice President Dick Cheney urged Mr. Bush to consider a military strike against the Iranian nuclear facilities before they could produce fuel suitable for a weapon. Several times, the administration reviewed military options and concluded that they would only further inflame a region already at war, and would have uncertain results. 

For years the C.I.A. had introduced faulty parts and designs into Iran’s systems--even tinkering with imported power supplies so that they would blow up--but the sabotage had had relatively little effect. General James E. Cartwright, who had established a small cyberoperation inside the United States Strategic Command, which is responsible for many of America’s nuclear forces, joined intelligence officials in presenting a radical new idea to Mr. Bush and his national security team. It involved a far more sophisticated cyberweapon than the United States had designed before. 

The goal was to gain access to the Natanz plant’s industrial computer controls. That required leaping the electronic moat that cut the Natanz plant off from the Internet — called the air gap, because it physically separates the facility from the outside world. The computer code would invade the specialized computers that command the centrifuges. 

The first stage in the effort was to develop a bit of computer code called a beacon that could be inserted into the computers, which were made by the German company Siemens and an Iranian manufacturer, to map their operations. The idea was to draw the equivalent of an electrical blueprint of the Natanz plant, to understand how the computers control the giant silvery centrifuges that spin at tremendous speeds. The connections were complex, and unless every circuit was understood, efforts to seize control of the centrifuges could fail.... 

When Colonel Qaddafi gave up his nuclear weapons program in 2003, he turned over the centrifuges he had bought from the Pakistani nuclear ring, and they were placed in storage at a weapons laboratory in Tennessee. The military and intelligence officials overseeing Olympic Games [Stuxnet] borrowed some for what they termed “destructive testing,” essentially building a virtual replica of Natanz, but spreading the test over several of the Energy Department’s national laboratories to keep even the most trusted nuclear workers from figuring out what was afoot.

Those first small-scale tests were surprisingly successful: the bug invaded the computers, lurking for days or weeks, before sending instructions to speed them up or slow them down so suddenly that their delicate parts, spinning at supersonic speeds, self-destructed. After several false starts, it worked. One day, toward the end of Mr. Bush’s term, the rubble of a centrifuge was spread out on the conference table in the Situation Room, proof of the potential power of a cyberweapon. The worm was declared ready to test against the real target: Iran’s underground enrichment plant.

“Previous cyberattacks had effects limited to other computers,” Michael V. Hayden, the former chief of the C.I.A., said, declining to describe what he knew of these attacks when he was in office. “This is the first attack of a major nature in which a cyberattack was used to effect physical destruction,” rather than just slow another computer, or hack into it to steal data.... 

In fact, thumb drives turned out to be critical in spreading the first variants of the computer worm; later, more sophisticated methods were developed to deliver the malicious code. 

The first attacks were small, and when the centrifuges began spinning out of control in 2008, the Iranians were mystified about the cause, according to intercepts that the United States later picked up. “The thinking was that the Iranians would blame bad parts, or bad engineering, or just incompetence,” one of the architects of the early attack said.

The Iranians were confused partly because no two attacks were exactly alike. Moreover, the code would lurk inside the plant for weeks, recording normal operations; when it attacked, it sent signals to the Natanz control room indicating that everything downstairs was operating normally. “This may have been the most brilliant part of the code,” one American official said.... 

But by the time Mr. Bush left office, no wholesale destruction had been accomplished. Meeting with Mr. Obama in the White House days before his inauguration, Mr. Bush urged him to preserve two classified programs, Olympic Games [Stuxnet] and the drone program in Pakistan. Mr. Obama took Mr. Bush’s advice.

Mr. Obama came to office with an interest in cyberissues, but he had discussed them during the campaign mostly in terms of threats to personal privacy and the risks to infrastructure like the electrical grid and the air traffic control system. He commissioned a major study on how to improve America’s defenses and announced it with great fanfare in the East Room. 

What he did not say then was that he was also learning the arts of cyberwar. The architects of Olympic Games would meet him in the Situation Room, often with what they called the “horse blanket,” a giant foldout schematic diagram of Iran’s nuclear production facilities. Mr. Obama authorized the attacks to continue, and every few weeks — certainly after a major attack — he would get updates and authorize the next step. Sometimes it was a strike riskier and bolder than what had been tried previously.

“From his first days in office, he was deep into every step in slowing the Iranian program..."...a senior administration official said.... 

But the good luck did not last. In the summer of 2010, shortly after a new variant of the worm had been sent into Natanz, it became clear that the worm, which was never supposed to leave the Natanz machines, had broken free, like a zoo animal that found the keys to the cage. It fell to Mr. Panetta and two other crucial players in Olympic Games — General Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Michael J. Morell, the deputy director of the C.I.A. — to break the news to Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden. 

An error in the code, they said, had led it to spread to an engineer’s computer when it was hooked up to the centrifuges. When the engineer left Natanz and connected the computer to the Internet, the American- and Israeli-made bug failed to recognize that its environment had changed. It began replicating itself all around the world. Suddenly, the code was exposed, though its intent would not be clear, at least to ordinary computer users.

“We think there was a modification done by the Israelis,” one of the briefers told the president, “and we don’t know if we were part of that activity.” 

Mr. Obama, according to officials in the room, asked a series of questions, fearful that the code could do damage outside the plant. The answers came back in hedged terms. Mr. Biden fumed. “It’s got to be the Israelis,” he said. “They went too far.” 

In fact, both the Israelis and the Americans had been aiming for a particular part of the centrifuge plant, a critical area whose loss, they had concluded, would set the Iranians back considerably. It is unclear who introduced the programming error. 

The question facing Mr. Obama was whether the rest of Olympic Games was in jeopardy, now that a variant of the bug was replicating itself “in the wild,” where computer security experts can dissect it and figure out its purpose.

“I don’t think we have enough information,” Mr. Obama told the group that day, according to the officials. But in the meantime, he ordered that the cyberattacks continue. They were his best hope of disrupting the Iranian nuclear program unless economic sanctions began to bite harder and reduced Iran’s oil revenues.
Within a week, another version of the bug brought down just under 1,000 centrifuges. Olympic Games [Stuxnet] was still on. 

American cyberattacks are not limited to Iran, but the focus of attention, as one administration official put it, “has been overwhelmingly on one country.” There is no reason to believe that will remain the case for long. Some officials question why the same techniques have not been used more aggressively against North Korea. Others see chances to disrupt Chinese military plans, forces in Syria on the way to suppress the uprising there, and Qaeda operations around the world. “We’ve considered a lot more attacks than we have gone ahead with,” one former intelligence official said.

Mr. Obama has repeatedly told his aides that there are risks to using -and particularly to overusing-the weapon. In fact, no country’s infrastructure is more dependent on computer systems, and thus more vulnerable to attack, than that of the United States. It is only a matter of time, most experts believe, before it becomes the target of the same kind of weapon that the Americans have used, secretly, against Iran." 

"This article is adapted from Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power, [by David E. Sanger of the New York Times] to be published by Crown on Tuesday."

"A version of this article appears in print on June 1, 2012, on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Obama Order Sped Up Wave Of Cyberattacks Against Iran."


Added: 'Obama's General' admits leaking Stuxnet details to NY Times:

10/17/2016, "'Obama's General' Pleads Guilty to Leaking Stuxnet Operation [to David E. Sanger of the NY Times],"  Foreign Policy


Added: In Jan. 2017 Obama pardoned his friend who leaked Stuxnet details to the NY Times

1/17/2017, "Obama Pardons James Cartwright, General Who Lied to F.B.I. in Leak," NY Times


Related links:

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Obama gave $139 million in spy equipment to UK government 2009-2012. UK GCHQ desperate to please Obama to help UK standing in the world. Lenient UK surveillance regulations key selling point. Many thanks to Edward Snowden for providing US taxpayers with this information-UK Guardian, 8/1/2013

Obama gave $139 million in spy equipment to UK government from 2009 to 2012. UK was expected to fulfill Obama and US NSA surveillance needs. UK’s more lenient surveillance regulations a key selling point for Obama:

Aug. 1, 2013, “Exclusive: NSA [US taxpayers] pays £100m  in secret funding for GCHQ,” [$139,426,261 US dollars] UK Guardian, Nick Hopkins, Julian Borger 

*Secret payments revealed in leaks by Edward Snowden 
*GCHQ expected to ‘pull its weight’ for Americans
*Weaker regulation of British spies ‘a selling point’ for NSA 

The US government has paid at least £100m [$139,426,261 US dollars] to the UK spy agency GCHQ [equivalent of US NSA] over the last three years [2009-2012] to secure access to and influence over Britain’s intelligence gathering programmes. The top secret payments are set out in documents which make clear that the Americans expect a return on the investment, and that GCHQ has to work hard to meet their demands. “GCHQ must pull its weight and be seen to pull its weight,” a GCHQ strategy briefing said.

The funding underlines the closeness of the relationship between GCHQ [UK spy operations] and its US equivalent, the National Security Agency. But it will raise fears about the hold Washington has over the UK’s biggest and most important intelligence agency, and whether Britain’s dependency on the NSA has become too great.

In one revealing document from 2010, GCHQ acknowledged that the US had “raised a number of issues with regards to meeting NSA’s minimum expectations”. It said GCHQ “still remains short of the full NSA ask”.

Ministers have denied that GCHQ does the NSA’s “dirty work”, but in the documents GCHQ describes Britain’s surveillance laws and [more lenient] regulatory regime as a “selling point” for the Americans.

The papers are the latest to emerge from the cache leaked by the American whistleblower Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who has railed at the reach of the US and UK intelligence agencies.

Snowden warned about the relationship between the NSA and GCHQ, saying the organisations have been jointly responsible for developing techniques that allow the mass harvesting and analysis of internet traffic. “It’s not just a US problem,” he said. “They are worse than the US.”

As well as the payments, the documents seen by the Guardian reveal:

GCHQ is pouring money into efforts to gather personal information from mobile phones and apps, and has said it wants to be able to “exploit any phone, anywhere, any time”.

Some GCHQ staff working on one sensitive programme expressed concern about “the morality and ethics of their operational work, particularly given the level of deception involved”.

The amount of personal data available to GCHQ from internet and mobile traffic has increased by 7,000% in the past five years – but 60% of all Britain’s refined intelligence still appears to come from the NSA.

GCHQ blames China and Russia for the vast majority of cyber-attacks against the UK and is now working with the NSA to provide the British and US militaries with a cyberwarfare capability.

The details of the NSA payments, and the influence the US has over Britain, are set out in GCHQ’s annual “investment portfolios”. 

The papers show that the NSA gave GCHQ £22.9m in 2009. 

The following year (2010) the NSA’s contribution increased to £39.9m, which included £4m to support GCHQ’s work for Nato forces in Afghanistan, and £17.2m for the agency’s Mastering the Internet project, which gathers and stores vast amounts of “raw” information ready for analysis.

The NSA also paid £15.5m towards redevelopments at GCHQ’s sister site in Bude, north Cornwall, which intercepts communications from the transatlantic cables that carry internet traffic. “Securing external NSA funding for Bude has protected (GCHQ’s core) budget,” the paper said.

In 2011/12 the NSA paid another £34.7m to GCHQ. [Running tally: 113.2 million British pounds= $157,671,696 US dollars].  

The papers show the NSA [US taxpayers] pays half the costs of one of the UK’s main eavesdropping capabilities in Cyprus

In turn, GCHQ has to take the American view into account when deciding what to prioritise.

A document setting out GCHQ’s spending plans for 2010/11 stated: 

“The portfolio will spend money supplied by the NSA and UK government departments against agreed requirements.”

Other documents say the agency must ensure there has been “an appropriate level of contribution … from the NSA perspective”.

The leaked papers reveal that the UK’s biggest fear is that “US perceptions of the…partnership diminish, leading to loss of access, and/or reduction in investment … to the UK”.

When GCHQ does supply the US with valuable intelligence, the agency boasts about it. In one review, GCHQ boasted that it had supplied “unique contributions” to the NSA during its investigation of the American citizen responsible for an attempted car bomb attack in Times Square, New York City, in 2010.

No other detail is provided – but it raises the possibility that GCHQ might have been spying on an American living in the US. The NSA is prohibited from doing this by US law.

Asked about the payments, a Cabinet Office spokesman said: “In a 60-year alliance it is entirely unsurprising that there are joint projects in which resources and expertise are pooled, but the benefits flow in both directions.”

A senior security source in Whitehall added: “The fact is there is a close intelligence relationship between the UK and US and a number of other countries including Australia and Canada. There’s no automaticity, not everything is shared. A sentient human being takes decisions.”

Although the sums represent only a small percentage of the agencies’ budgets, the [US taxpayer] money has been an important source of income for GCHQ. The cash came during a period of cost-cutting at the agency that led to staff numbers being slashed from 6,485 in 2009 to 6,132 last year.

GCHQ seems desperate to please its American benefactor and the NSA does not hold back when it fails to get what it wants. On one project, GCHQ feared if it failed to deliver it would “diminish NSA’s confidence in GCHQ’s ability to meet minimum NSA requirements”. Another document warned: “The NSA ask is not static and retaining ‘equability’ will remain a challenge for the near future.”

In November 2011, a senior GCHQ manager working in Cyprus bemoaned the lack of staff devoted to one eavesdropping programme, saying: “This is not sustainable if numbers reduce further and reflects badly on our commitments to the NSA.”

The overriding necessity to keep on the right side of the US was revealed in a UK government paper that set out the views of GCHQ in the wake of the 2010 strategic defence and security review. The document was called: “GCHQ’s international alliances and partnerships: helping to maintain Britain’s standing and influence in the world. It said: “Our key partnership is with the US. We need to keep this relationship healthy. The relationship remains strong but is not sentimental. GCHQ must pull its weight and be seen to pull its weight.”

Astonishingly, the document admitted that 60% of the UK’s high-value intelligence “is based on either NSA end-product or derived from NSA collection”. End product means official reports that are distillations of the best raw intelligence.

Another pitch to keep the US happy involves reminding Washington that the UK is less regulated than the US. The British agency described this as one of its key “selling points”. This was made explicit two years ago when GCHQ set out its priorities for the coming years.

“We both accept and accommodate NSA’s different way of working,” the document said. “We are less constrained by NSA’s concerns about compliance.”

GCHQ said that by 2013 it hoped to have “exploited to the full our unique selling points of geography, partnerships [and] the UK’s legal regime”.

However, there are indications from within GCHQ that senior staff are not at ease with the rate and pace of change. The head of one of its programmes warned the agency was now receiving so much new intelligence that its “mission management … is no longer fit for purpose”.

In June, the government announced that the “single intelligence account” fund that pays for GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 would be increased by 3.4% in 2015/16. This comes after three years in which the SIA has been cut from £1.92bn to £1.88bn. The agencies have also been told to make £220m savings on existing programmes.

The parliamentary intelligence and security committee (ISC) has questioned whether the agencies were making the claimed savings and said their budgets should be more rigorously scrutinised to ensure efficiencies were “independently verifiable and/or sustainable”.

The Snowden documents show GCHQ has become increasingly reliant on money from “external” sources. In 2006 it received the vast majority of its funding directly from Whitehall, with only £14m from “external” funding. In 2010 that rose to £118m and by 2011/12 it had reached £151m. Most of this comes from the Home Office.”