Clinton Conspiracy

I just finished reading the DOJ Inspector General report on FBI Operation CROSSFIRE HURRICANE, the investigation of an alleged conspiracy between members of the Donald Trump campaign team – George Papadopolous, Carter Page, Paul Manafort and Lt. General Michael Flynn – and Russia. After reading the report, I read Papadopolous’ book of his experiences, which included twelve days in a minimum security Federal prison for “lying to the FBI,” a charge he was coerced into pleading guilty too. I was also reminded of The Intelligence Farce report put out by the outgoing Obama Intelligence Community just before Donald Trump took office as President of the United States. As I read the DOJ IG report, it became more and more obvious that the entire Russia hoax was another Clinton conspiracy,

Although Democrats claimed the report “exonerated” the FBI, IG Michael Horowitz said it didn’t. During a Senate hearing, he said the report “doesn’t vindicate anybody” when asked if the report vindicated FBI leadership as disgraced former FBI director James Comey had claimed. Democrats and the media (which are basically one and the same) seized on the statement that the IG found no testimonial or documentary evidence of political bias as dismissal of the claim. However, all that statement says is that the IG didn’t find evidence to support it, not that it didn’t occur. In fact, one FBI lawyer who was heavily involved in the FISA Court applications was found to have altered an Email that proved that Carter Page, himself a former intelligence officer, was a source for another intelligence agency. This particular attorney had sent out text messages expressing his dismay at Hillary Clinton’s loss. Peter Strozk, who initiated CROSSFIRE HURRICANE, and attorney Lisa Page, who was involved in the investigation, had exchanged text messages in which they expressed their disdain for Donald Trump and support for Hillary Clinton.

To understand the report, it is important to understand the role of a government inspector general. As the term implies, inspector generals were initially established in military organizations to ensure that regulations, policies and procedures have been followed. An office of the inspector general has been established in all Federal government departments and agencies. State and local governments also often include an inspector general. The IG does not conduct criminal investigations, but in the event criminal activity is found, it is referred to the appropriate agency for investigation and prosecution. This occurred in the case of the FBI attorney who was found to have altered a document to change its meaning. The recently released report focuses solely on CROSSFIRE HURRICANE and actions taken in conjunction with applications for FISA authorization for initial and continual surveillance of Carter Page. The IG determined that there were no less than 17 improper actions by FBI personnel in regard to the four FISA court applications. Be advised that a criminal investigation led by US attorney John Durham is underway.

CROSSFIRE HURRICANE was opened after the FBI received information from a “friendly foreign government,” in this case the Australian government, that George Papadopoulous, a young energy expert who had joined the Trump campaign as a volunteer policy advisor, had told an Australian diplomat, one Alexander Downer, that Russia had information on Hillary Clinton. Papadopolous, who met Downer at the suggestion of an Australian acquaintance, denies any recollection of any such statement. Papadopolous contradicts the media claim that the encounter was an accidental meeting at a bar and states that he had an appointment to meet Downer and that rather than being drunk, he only had one gin and tonic. He also states that Downer expressed admiration for Hillary Clinton and admonished him for his views on energy in Northern Cyprus and for Donald Trump’s criticism of British Prime Minister David Cameron. The operation was opened as a “full investigation” by Peter Strozk, who was later fired for inappropriate text messages regarding Donald Trump and his supporters to FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom he was involved in an illicit relationship. FBI agents in Chicago went to Papadopolouos’ Chicago home. During the questioning, they asked when Papadopolous met one Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese professor who told him that the Russians had dirt on Clinton. Relying solely on memory of an event that occurred a year before, Papadoplous said that it was before he joined the campaign. Actually, it was just after that when he met Mifsud, who later told him about the Russian claims. The FBI used the mistake as an excuse to charge the young man with “lying to the FBI,” a charge the agency will use when they have nothing else to charge a suspect with. (They also charged Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn with the same charge.)

Immediately after (or perhaps before) Strozk opened CROSSFIRE HURRICANE, a British operative named Christopher Steele presented documents he had compiled for Fusion GPS, a US firm that had been hired by the Clinton campaign to dig up dirt on Trump. Steele was a former agent for MI6, the prestigious British intelligence agency popularized in the novels written by former British naval intelligence agent Ian Fleming and the subsequent James Bond movies. Although Steele was represented by the FBI as a “senior intelligence” official, he was actually midlevel. Steele had been contracted as an FBI Confidential Human Source, a paid informant. However, he did not inform his FBI handler of his efforts on behalf of Fusion GPS and his handler was not aware of his efforts. He told the IG that had he known, he’d have told the FBI that Steele was not reliable and that, contrary to assertions made by the FBI in FISA applications, none of his information had been used in criminal investigations. Steele’s status as an FBI CHS was revoked after he was found to have provided information to the media. However, even though he was no longer considered reliable by the FBI, he continued to provide information through Bruce Ohr, a senior official with the DOJ. Ohr and Steele had known each other for several years. In fact, it was Ohr who recommended Steele as a CHS. Ohr did not reveal his actions to his superiors and would later be disciplined for his failures. Ohr did inform the FBI that Steele had developed a hatred for Trump. In fact, Steele became frustrated because the FBI didn’t seem to be acting on his information.

As it turned out, Steele’s information was found to be from sub-sources, and that the information was suspect. When interviewed by the IG, Steele’s principle sub-source claimed the report was essentially bogus. The CIA had already classified it as “internet rumor.” The source revealed that the infamous “Golden Showers” story had been concocted by people who were drinking at a bar as a joke. Yet even though the FBI discredited the dossier, FBI personnel continued to use it as justification for surveillance of Carter Page.

Carter Page is an American businessman, a graduate of the US Naval Academy and former naval intelligence officer. His business dealings with Russia led to him being monitored by US intelligence agencies. The IG report reveals that Page was a source for another intelligence agency (probably CIA), but this information was deliberately withheld from the FISA Court. Although there are claims that a FISA warrant was opened on him as far back as 2014, it is definite that a warrant was opened in October 2016, after he had left the campaign. The IG report reveals that a CHS who had some ties with the Trump campaign suggested that he be monitored. (That there were CHSs in the Trump campaign is eyebrow-raising. The IG claims that none were affiliated with CROSSFIRE HURRICANE but that doesn’t mean they weren’t feeding information to the FBI.) Page, like millions of other Americans, was opposed to the anti-Russia policies of the US government and was outspoken in his views. Papadopolus was also pro-Russia to some extent, but his main philosophy was opposition to the Erdogan government of Turkey. He believes that Erdogan is a radical Islamist who believes in the establishment of Shari Law. His main focus was on the establishment of a coalition made up of Cyprus, Egypt, Greece and Israel to distribute energy found in Northern Cyprus rather than Turkey, which invaded the island in 1974 and continues to occupy the northern third of the island. It was apparently his position on Cyprus that provoked the ire of Australian High Commissioner Alexander Downey as he berated the young American for his and Donald Trump’s views during their brief meeting at a posh London watering hole for the elite, that and Downer’s preference for and connections to Hillary Clinton – Downer had engineered a massive Australian government contribution to the Clinton Foundation ($25 million) to allegedly combat AIDS.

While serving as an FBI CHS, Steele made several appearances in front of US media in which he advanced his “findings” about candidate Trump. His appearances were engineered by Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, who was working for the Clinton campaign. His appearances were obviously intended to hurt candidate Trump, which raises a question: Christopher Steele is British and is a former member of MI6. Why doesn’t his reporting constitute “foreign influence” on a US election? The same can be said for Alexander Downer, an Australian politician/diplomat who made the (allegedly) initial report to the FBI that served as the basis for CROSSFIRE HURRICANE? The answer is obvious – both Steele and Downer are Clinton supporters and in Steele’s case for sure, were desperate to prevent the election of Donald Trump.

WITCH HUNT!

I am in the process of reading through the Mueller Report. So far, I’m a little over a quarter of the way through but I have become convinced that it truly was a witch hunt! The Office of the Special Counsel found absolutely nothing to indicate that the Trump Campaign was in touch with representatives of the Russian government. Nevertheless, they went after people ruthlessly in an attempt to come up with “something.” Yes, they were able to get convictions of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates for financial crimes but found nothing to tie them to alleged Russian “interference” in the election. For that matter, the “interference” they found seems to be based solely on the allegations made by John Brennan and James Comey in the “report” they released after the election, a report that claimed news reports on the Russian TV/Internet station RT was “interference.” They also seemed to have taken claims made by Facebook and Twitter that certain accounts belonged to Russians at face value.

There are two things that I’ve found so far in the report that really jump out – the claim by Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya that the Russian government had proof that former American Bill Browder and his associate made contributions to Democrats and the Clinton Foundation and that Paul Manafort Emailed Jared Kushner three days before the election and expressed his fears that in the event Trump won, Clinton supporters would claim that Russians tampered with voting machines and changed the vote, which is exactly what happened.

More to come……………………………………………………………

 

The Travesty of Obamagate

A second prominent Democrat, one Mary Anne(a) Marsh, a consultant and activist, has admitted on national television that the Trump Administration spied on Donald Trump.  Marsh appeared on Judge Janine’s program on Fox recently and stated that not only did the Obama Administration began spying on Donald Trump “in the spring of 2015,” it is a well-known fact. Now, just who is supposed to have known this fact is NOT known, but it obviously means it was known within not only the Trump Administration, but also within the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign. Marsh’s comments confirm what former DOD under secretary Evelyn Farkas admitted a month ago, and which Farkas has been trying to say she didn’t say. (Farkas apparently realizes she was confirming an illegal act but Marsh apparently doesn’t realize it.

There are a number of issues in play. For one thing, surveillance of US citizens without authorization by a court is illegal and even if such surveillance is conducted, the information is classified. That means that if it is “well known” as Marsh claims, someone was disclosing classified information to people who had no “need to know.” That in itself is felony. It also indicates that the information was used for political purposes; both Farkas and Marsh were involved with the Clinton campaign. It also means that a lot of Democratic politicians, including Congressman Adam Schiff and Senator Mark Warner, know the surveillance took place – AND THAT IT WAS ILLEGAL! It also implicates a lot of people high up in the Obama Administration, INCLUDING OBAMA HIMSELF! It has already been revealed that the individual who unmasked members of the Trump team, and now it appears, Trump himself, was very high up in “the intelligence community,” and that it was not Director Comey of the FBI. That leaves former Director of Intelligence General James Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan – and former President Barack Obama himself.

The admission of spying on Donald Trump raises a lot of questions. For example, who else was spied on? President Trump didn’t declare his presidency until June, and Marsh indicated that the spying took place “in the spring.” (Granted, June is partly in the spring.) It’s likely that Obama and the Democrats were so confident that Hillary Clinton was going to win that they’d never be found out, which seems to be what Evelyn Farkas indicated in her fear that the Trump Administration would learn “what we knew and how we knew it.”

Regardless, #Obamagate is just beginning!

 

 

Evelyn Farkas Farked Up

Almost a month ago on March 2, former Deputy Secretary of Defense Evelyn Farkas appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program and discussed the intelligence gathering of the Obama White House with host Mika Brzezinski, a well-known journalist and member of the Democratic Party. In the clip, which can be seen in its entirety, Ms. Farkas basically indicted both herself and the Obama Administration for conducting surveillance of President Donald Trump, apparently both when he was a candidate and during the interim between his election and inauguration. Ms. Farkas, who is well-known for her outspoken criticism of Donald Trump and who has written a number of negative articles about him and criticized him on MSNBC, allowed herself to use the pronoun “we” when discussing intelligence on Mr. Trump and how she “encouraged” the Obama Administration to move this intelligence to “the Hill” prior to the inauguration.

The clip remained unnoticed for almost a month, probably because it appeared on MSNBC where it was only seen by people who are largely critical of the president. It finally came to light a few days ago thanks to members of the conservative media who first made it known on the web site Conservative Treehouse on March 28. The unedited clip has since become widely circulated. Of course, Democrats defend Farkas, who claims her comments were “taken out of context.” In fact, her comments are very straight forward and can only be taken as she uttered them. Incidentally, her comments were made TWO DAYS BEFORE President Trump’s widely criticized tweet in which he asserted that President Obama had the Trump Tower “wiretapped.” (The word is in italics in his tweet.)

It turns out that Farkas, who carries the title “doctor,” is a “Russia expert” with a decidedly anti-Russia bent. During her tenure, she argued that the United States should equip the Ukrainian military with “heavy weapons.” She resigned her post in 2015 and then is alleged to have become an advisor to the Hillary Clinton campaign. The daughter of a Hungarian immigrant – which may explain her anti-Russia bias – Farkas wrote a paper condemning presidential candidate George W. Bush and the Republican Party’s policies for a buildup of the military after Bill Clinton had practically destroyed it. Farkas was a Clinton Administration representative on an international organization team in Bosnia in 1996 then served as an election observer in 1997. She is a member of the Center for National Policy, a left-wing organization based in DC that represents itself as a “non-partisan” think tank “dedicated to advancing the economic and national security of the United States. (Secretary of Defense General James Mattis is a representative of their Edmund S. Muskie Distinguished Service Award, as is Senator John McCain.) During the Bush Administration, she was a staff member on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In her appearance, the basically outlines how the Obama Administration (and evidently the Clinton Campaign) worked feverishly to gather intelligence on candidate, then President-elect Trump, and make it known on “the Hill,” meaning to Democratic members of Congress. By using the pronoun “we,” she implies that she was personally involved in the spreading of classified intelligence information among members of Congress, some of whom may not have been (and most likely weren’t) cleared for classified information. She now claims that her comments were taken out of context and that she didn’t have access to classified information but her comments imply that she did, which means that someone in the Obama Administration was feeding classified intelligence documents to her and the Clinton Administration.

Where will this go? If Democrats have their way, not far. However, Republicans are in charge and they’re not going to let this die. As I’ve been saying, #Obamagate is just beginning.

 

The Russian “Intelligence” Farce

Our country is in crisis. For the first time in American history, the losing political party in the presidential election is making every possible effort to delegitimize the new president. The effort centers around the two most prominent, at least in their own minds, newspapers in the United States, the New York Times and the Washington Post. Both papers came out vigorously against Donald Trump before the election and now that he’s president, they’re doing everything they can to oppose him. It’s no accident – both papers, particularly the New York Times, have long been propaganda outlets for the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Party. Neither paper – or any other media outlet – has an inside track on government and the White House but they try to give the impression that they do. They publish “breaking news” based on “information” provided by “sources” who go largely unidentified. Neither paper can be believed but they serve as the basis for most of the national political news published in the United States.

Having a dishonest media is a major part of the problem but there’s also another. Thanks to books and movies, many Americans have a misperception of the abilities of the various “intelligence” agencies of the Federal government. Thanks to James Bond and other such fictional heroes, they think that intelligence agents – spies – know everything about other governments. In fact, “intelligence” is actually speculation. How do I know this? For two reasons – first, I spent twelve years in the military and was briefed by intelligence officers and, second, I have more than a passing interest in history, particularly military history, and know more than a little about the role played by military intelligence over the past century and a half. I know that “intelligence” is actually supposition based on information that has been obtained by a variety of sources and which may or may not be valid.

“Intelligence,” which is actually a misnomer, has been a function of military forces and governments for many centuries, but it has become more refined since the 1930s due to the development of new methods of obtaining the information that constitutes what the military, and now government, refers to by that term. In the United States, Army and Marine Corps general staffs, at levels ranging from their general headquarters down to the battalion level, the Intelligence function is referred to as G-2. The Air Force and Navy refer to the same functions as simply “intelligence.” Their function is to obtain information to provide to commanders to allow them to make command decisions, information that can be anything from enemy troop strengths and positions to secrets.  In addition to military information, intelligence includes economic, agricultural and civilian education and morale information, among many things. This information may be collected by simply reading newspapers, but can also include interrogation of prisoners of wars or defectors as well as interception of enemy dispatches. It might also be derived by agents working undercover, or from paid sources inside enemy camps or countries. Since the 1930s, intelligence has also been derived by intercepting communications, including telegraphs, telephones and radio. With the advent of the internet, it also includes digital information obtained by breaking into servers used by the target government or military force. In recent years, there has been much talk of “cyberwar,” which is nothing more than interfering with internet communications in some way. However, there is a difference between electronic eavesdropping and hacking into a server in order to disrupt communications. Eavesdropping is passive while hacking is aggressive.

Prior to 1947, intelligence in the United States was primarily a military function. It still is to a large extent, with the various intelligence “agencies” depending to a large extent on the military for it’s intelligence-gathering functions. For example, the National Security Agency (which was often referred to as “No Such Agency” in the 50s and 60s), depends heavily on the Air Force, Army and Navy for its intelligence collection. All three services have special units whose role is monitoring of communications of foreign governments and military forces by recording transmissions. All told, there are now sixteen or seventeen intelligence-gathering agencies in the United States government and all but four are either part of or directly involved with the military, and with good reason because it is the military – and the military’s commander-in-chief, the president – who are in most need of intelligence. It is important to understand that every single one of the sixteen or seventeen intelligence agencies are all part of the Executive Branch of government and, as such, are ultimately responsible to the President of the United States.

“Raw intelligence” is meaningless because it can be interpreted in various ways, and may or may not be valid. Therefore, intelligence has to be analyzed and interpreted and turned into a report, which is then passed to the commander who needs it. A failure to properly interpret intelligence can change the course of history, and can lose battles and wars, as happened in the European Theater of Operations in World War II when General Dwight Eisenhower’s vast intelligence staff failed to detect the massive buildup of German troops in the Ardennes in preparation for their attack on inexperienced American divisions that became the famous Battle of the Bulge. Fortunately, the German attack stalled when their vehicles ran out of fuel and the surrounded 101st Airborne Division was kept in the fight by aerial resupply. Even more important, General George Patton’s own G-2 had correctly predicted the attack and his Third Army was able to break away and rush to the aide of the beleaguered paratroopers.

The claim that “the Russians” were behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee Emails was made immediately after WikiLeaks released the Emails by Robby Smook of the Hillary Clinton Campaign, which is a good indication that the claim was a fabrication designed to lessen the effect of the revelations. The allegation is based on claims by a computer security firm called CROWDSTRIKE the DNC had contracted to monitor it’s network. However, when the FBI looked into the claim, it was not allowed to look at the DNC’s computers but instead relied solely on information provided by CROWDSTRIKE, a company founded by a Russian émigré named Dmitri Alperovitch who came to the United States as a teenager when his father took a job with the Tennessee Valley Authority, after emigrating to Canada on a visa.  Alperovitch has a connection to Hillary Clinton dating back to when she was Secretary of State.

In January, the Obama Administration released an “intelligence assessment” of Russian hacking efforts. However, the “report” really doesn’t say anything and offers nothing other than supposition. The report was made public largely thanks to the outgoing director of the CIA, James Brennan, who has strong leftist beliefs and admittedly once voted for the Communist Party, USA candidate for president because he “didn’t agree” with the other two parties. Although Director Comey of the FBI strongly agreed with the analysis, Admiral Mike Rogers of the NSA was less in agreement and only expressed moderate agreement. In fact, all that has been heard about the claim are allegations, with one of the most recent coming from a former NSA director who retired before Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president.

A new twist came about back on March 2 when former Deputy Secretary of Defense Evelyn Farkas made a startling admission that she had encouraged the Obama Administration to leak classified information to “the Hill.” Farkas made her statement on March 2, two days before President Trump tweeted that Barack Obama had Trump Tower “wiretapped” but the media failed to pick up on it. Her comments came to light thanks to conservative bloggers who had seen the segment. Farkas, who served as an advisor to the Hillary Clinton campaign, is now downplaying the significance of her comments, claiming that she did not have access to classified information even though her words plainly indicate that she did. Farkas, who is alleged to be an “expert” on Russia, was not in intelligence and only had access to reports, not to the actual intelligence on which they were based. In fact, Farkas shot her mouth off about Donald Trump’s alleged “ties” to Russia all through the campaign and is often quoted by leftist journalists in articles on the subject. She was a member of the Obama administration and has no credibility as an impartial observer (nor does Brennan.) It is no wonder that many conservative journalists such as Tucker Carlson and Britt Hume believe that Democrats invented the story because they still can’t understand how Trump won the election.

Last week the House Intelligence Committee had a “hearing” with FBI Director Comey and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers and this week the Senate Intelligence Committee got in the act. I watched the House hearing in its entirety but have no intention of watching the Senate hearing after seeing Virginia Senator Mark Warner claim that Russian intelligence “paid 1,000 hackers” to put out “fake news” against Hillary Clinton just before the election. Now, where did the 1,000 number come from? In fact, it was the Clinton campaign that was using paid trolls to post anti-Trump and pro-Clinton screeds in comment sections on news sites. Warner, whose entire adult life has been spent in Democratic Party politics, is coming out to be just as much of a snake oil salesman as Congressman Adam Schiff. The reality is that there is plenty of information available about the Clintons, so much that there’s no need for “fake news” about them.

There is one thing that needs to be addressed, and that is that even if there is “intelligence” that members of the Trump campaign and even the administration have “ties” to Russia, this is not reason for concern. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and since then Americans have been doing business in Russia. Paul Manafort, for example, is a political consultant who did work, not in Russia, but in Ukraine. Former EXXON CEO Rex Tillerson was head of a large corporation that has been engaged in oil exploration in Russia since the 1990s. Donald Trump held the 2013 Miss Universe Contest in Moscow. Those are all legitimate business interests and they are but three of literally tens of thousands of Americans who have done business with or in Russia over the past three decades. Some, in fact, were associated with the Clinton campaign. For that matter, former President Bill Clinton gave a speech in Moscow. He also accepted a $500,000 payment from a Russian bank and his wife approved the sale of an American uranium company to Russia.

It’s all a farce and the American people are once again getting the shaft by the Democratic Party.

The Russians (and Donald Trump) Did It!

http://intelligence.house.gov/

I just finished watching yesterday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing with FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers. I came away from it with the opinion that the Democrats on the committee are only interested in advancing a political agenda, as evidenced by the many, many statements they made rather than actually asking questions of the two subjects. Those statements were all based on information taken from the media, which is ironic because Director Comey made clear that media accounts regarding classified information are almost without exception inaccurate. (He gave them an accuracy of maybe ten percent.)  He also said that the “sources” used by the media are often some distance removed from the actual information and that the information they provide members of the media is usually inaccurate. Yet, even after he made this statement, the Democrats on the committee continued to read their obviously pre-written statements that were largely based on media accounts. Such a travesty!

The purpose of the hearings was, at least ostensibly, to hear from the two agency directors regarding the ongoing investigation into Russian “meddling” in the 2016 presidential election. The Director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, was not there, probably because he just took over the agency. At the time of the alleged “meddling,” the CIA director was John Brennan, an Obama appointee who left office on January 20. Congressman Trey Gowdy, a former Federal prosecutor, insinuated that Brennan may have been responsible for some of the highly illegal leaks of information that have appeared in the media since President Trump’s election, leaks that Director Comey made clear are criminal and that the leakers should be found and prosecuted. The most serious is the leaking of information pertaining to Lt. General Mike Flynn, the short-lived Director of Intelligence in the Trump Administration. (Gowdy may have even been insinuating that Obama himself is the leaker. Someone in his administration authorized the “unmasking” of the general after his voice was found on recordings of the Russian ambassador.)

As the hearings proceeded, it became obvious that the object of Democrats was to attempt to influence Director Comey to investigate/prosecute various members of the Trump circle, particularly General Flynn. Congresswoman Terri Sewell, a black woman from Alabama, was the attack dog. She kept harping on General Flynn, insinuating that he is a criminal, in spite of Director Comey’s continual refusal to answer her questions. Comey had made it clear at the beginning of the hearing that he was not going to answer any questions related to individuals or information that had appeared in the media. (It has recently come to light that General Flynn’s company was paid $500,000 for consulting work for a Dutch company that is suspected of “having ties” to Turkey.) Sewell was obviously trying to get Comey to have Flynn charged for not registering as a foreign agent (which he did on March 8.) GOP Congressman Trey Gowdy, insinuated that the Obama White House leaked information about General Flynn that had been obtained illegally by the NSA. Remember that General Flynn is alleged to have engaged in a number of conversations with the Russian ambassador, information that could have only been obtained by surveillance, which is illegal since General Flynn is an American citizen and surveillance requires a court order.

When it comes to the actual Russian “interference” in the election, very little was actually said about it. At the beginning of the hearing, Congressman Nunes solicited statements from both directors that there is no evidence that the Russians changed the vote in any of the states that President Trump won by a narrow margin. Both Director Comey and Admiral Rogers stated that there is no evidence of any Russian interference in the actual election in those states. The two directors referred to the findings of the three intelligence agencies – CIA, FBI and NSA – that the Russians meddled in the election primarily by spreading “propaganda” on the Russian government-owned television station RT and it’s associated web site designed to hurt Mrs. Clinton. (There was no mention of the American propaganda stations – ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and MSNBC. However, as stated previously, Director Comey stated that their stories are highly inaccurate.) In reality, the information I’ve seen on RT was no different than accounts I have seen on other outlets dating back to the 1990s. Both Director Comey and Admiral Rogers referred to Russia as an “adversary” of the United States, but neither actually stated why they considered the two countries to be adversaries. (Adversary is not the same as an enemy – adversary is actually synonymous with opponent, as in a contest.)

Are Russia and the United States actually in competition with one another? If so, just how? Back when the Soviet Union was still in power, there was the matter of ideology as the Soviet Union was the leading advocate of the spread of communism. Those days are over, however. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and since then Russia and the United States have had a different kind of relationship. Russia is not trying to manipulate ideology in the West; in fact, Russia is now capitalist even if the country is run, at least allegedly, by an oligarchy (another word that is often thrown about without consideration – some allege that the United States is an oligarchy, or was before Donald Trump became president. Since then, it’s often called fascist – by people who are actually Marxist themselves.) The truth is that the United States has nothing Russia wants. Yes, Russia now owns a company that owns a uranium mine in the US but it also has large uranium reserves of its own, more than twice as much as the United States. It’s the same with oil – Russian oil reserves are more than double those of the United States. The fear and hatred of Russia characteristic of so many Americans, particularly those in government, is actually a holdover from the Cold War combined with animosity over Russia’s occupation of Crimea and influence in Ukraine, both of which have strong connections to Russia dating back for centuries. It’s actually Europe that fears Russia, and that fear has spread into elements in the United States.

Director Comey stated something that has been made public in the past, that the FBI never had access to the Democratic National Committee’s computer servers. The claim that they were hacked by “the Russians” (the hackers were actually not from the Russian government, but are alleged to have been working for it) is based on information provided by a third party internet security company contracted by the DNC. He alleged that this is not abnormal, but that the FBI often depends on information from third party internet security companies when investigating cyber crimes.

Personally, I doubt that the hearings and the House (and FBI) investigations will accomplish anything. One writer has referred to the hearing as a “nothing burger.” I tend to agree.

 

 

The Military, Heroism and “Gold Star Families”

 

DFC                                    AirMedal

The current flap over Pakistani immigrant Khizr Khan’s appearance at the Democratic convention prompted me to write about something that’s been bugging me for a long time. There seems to be a belief that anyone who serves in the military is a hero, particularly those who’ve died, and some seem to think that family members of military members and of those who died while in military service are somehow deserving, although deserving of what I’m not sure.

In the summer of 1963 my dad signed a document granting permission for me to enlist in the United States Air Force. He – or my mother – had to sign it because my birthday is late in the year and I was still seventeen when I graduated from high school a few weeks before. Air Force regulations required that although seventeen-year olds could enlist, they had to have parental permission. My dad had been in the Army Air Corps during World War II – his brother had also and had remained in service for twenty years – and he had mixed emotions about my plans to join the Air Force. He would have preferred that I stay home and farm, or perhaps go to college. I had been accepted at several colleges but didn’t know where the money was going to come from. I would also be subject to the draft once I turned eighteen and as a single teenager, would have been prime meat. So, daddy signed. (I heard later that my maternal grandmother accused him of “signing Sam’s life away.” No one ever told me until after she was dead.) A few months later I turned 18 but by that time I was already in the Air Force and in the final weeks of training to become a jet aircraft mechanic.

When my dad signed the papers for me to join the Air Force, the United States was not at war, at least not officially. Yes, we had military personnel in some Asian country called Vietnam few Americans were even aware of it. I wasn’t expecting to go to war myself and certainly wasn’t expecting to see combat, although I wouldn’t have minded. As it turned out, I spent 12 years in the Air Force with a good chunk of it in Vietnam where I saw war up close and personal. However, it was MY service and my family didn’t have a damn thing to do with it. I collected quite a few medals and decorations during those 12 years but just because I’m a decorated combat veteran doesn’t make me a hero. Had I died, it would have been my death, not theirs, and while they would have grieved over me, they were deserving of a no particular status other than that of a family that had lost a son. It wouldn’t have mattered if I’d died wrapping my car around a tree, I’d have been dead just the same as if I’d been shot down on a mission over North Vietnam. Maybe my mother would have joined Gold Star Mothers but somehow I doubt it since she never joined the DAR even though she had ancestors who fought in the American Revolution. No member of my family has ever joined the DAR, the DOC, SAR or SOC. I’m a member of three veterans organizations, one which I had a role in founding, another I was coerced into joining and the DAV, which I joined because I’m a disabled veteran and I thought they’d be of help dealing with the VA (I was wrong, they’re not.)

In recent years – mainly since Reagan – an idea has developed that anyone who’s ever served in the military is some kind of hero. People like to greet veterans with “thank your for your service” or, if a veteran “welcome home.” Now, I don’t care for such bullshit. I do sometimes wear caps, one that says “C-130 Hercules Vietnam” and one with an emblem of the Distinguished Flying Cross on it but I don’t wear them to get recognition. I only wear them in hopes of attracting the attention of a fellow C-130 veteran so I can tell them about the organization I helped found. I don’t want anyone to thank me for my service because I didn’t do it for them and I don’t need to be welcomed home. I don’t want anyone to think me a hero because I’m not, even if I did fly some 1,500 combat sorties. My dad flew 30 missions over Germany and Occupied Europe during World War II and he didn’t think of himself as any kind of hero. He put his DFC and Air Medal lapel pins in the lapel of his suit but he hardly ever wore a suit. The fact is that just being in the military -and even being in combat – doesn’t make a person a hero, not even if they die while in service. To be a hero, a person has to do something heroic.

The modern perception of military service seems to be shaped largely on the service of the men who served during the period from World War II to Vietnam when military service was to a large extent compulsory, as it was in World War I and the Civil War. Young men were forced to serve in the military against their will, and their service was seen as sacrificial, particularly by politicians eager to get their vote after they returned to civilian life. But military service hasn’t been compulsory in the United States since early 1973 when the Department of Defense announced that there was no longer a need to draft men for military service. (The end of the draft came as the United States withdrew the last military personnel from South Vietnam.) Since that time, all men and women who have served or are serving in the military are there of their own free will. They are making no sacrifice as their fathers and grandfathers did who were drafted into interrupting their lives for a period of military service. They are compensated with a pay check, a pay check that is substantial for men and women in the modern military and often in excess of what they would likely be making in civilian life. This is true even of the lowest ranking enlisted men and women. Those who elect to stay in the military for a 20-year career draw 50% of their base pay; those who stay longer draw a higher percentage all the way up to 75%, which can amount to a considerable sum for senior officers and enlisted men and women.

Contrary to popular belief by those who’ve never served, military service isn’t particularly hard. New recruits must complete a period of basic training which consists primarily of physical conditioning and military training in regulations and such disciplinary skills as learning to march in formation and small arms training. Upon completion of basic training, a new recruit is sent on to additional training that may involve additional military training if they’re assigned to the infantry but may be classroom and practical training to learn a particular technical skill. Such courses consist of as little as a few weeks from some skills to as much as two years for skills such as nuclear reactor operators. Some new officers are sent to special courses such as military pilot training or submarine officer training. Once a young man or woman has completed their training, they are assigned to an operational unit, which may be a combat unit but could also be support. If they are assigned to a combat unit, they can expect to spend their time in continued training since combat units aren’t engaged unless they are actually in a combat zone. Military training in itself can be dangerous and hundreds of young men and women die each year in accidents, both while on duty and in vehicle accidents when off duty. In fact, accidental military deaths have exceeded deaths from hostile actions in many years since the beginning of the so-called “War on Terror” after the 9/11 attacks. This was true in the years 2002 and 2003 and has been true since 2008. In fact, in the years from 1980 to 1989, accidental deaths in the military exceeded 1,000 a year; the most hostile deaths in a year since 2002 is 847 in 2007. My point is that a military member is more likely to die due to accident than from hostile action. Military Deaths by Year, which brings me to my next point.

Just because a person serves in the military – or dies while on active duty – does not make them heroic. There have been men who truly were heroic in the military, starting with Sgt. Alvin C. York in World War I and continuing through such men as Lt. Audie Murphy, Major Edwin Dyess and Colonel Paul I. “Pappy” Gunn, but such men usually became heroes because of desperation. York decided to take matters in his own hands when he saw his buddies being mowed down by German machine guns, Murphy defended his men against a German attack, Dyess carried out attacks on Japanese ships in Subic Bay in one of the few remaining Air Corps fighters left in the Philippines and Gunn waged an essentially one-man war against the Japanese to free his family from captivity in Manila. Since then, military heroes tend to have been men who performed “selfless” acts such as jumping on hand grenades, acts that might be more correctly identified as thoughtless since they happened so quickly the individual didn’t have time to consider the ramifications of his actions.

In truth, much of what is hailed as heroism is merely a military member doing the job they were trained to do, whatever it may be. Some medals – the Bronze Star in particular – are often awarded as commendations for routine performance of one’s administrative duties. In fact, the Bronze Star was originally authorized as a counterpart to the Air Medal, which was authorized in 1942 to recognize the role of airmen flying combat missions – often against great odds – at a time when ground forces had yet to enter combat. A colonel felt that infantrymen, in particular, should be awarded some kind of decoration to recognize that they had been in combat. No particular act of valor was required for award of the medal – any soldier who had qualified for the combat infantryman’s badge was eligible – and the award was also approved for administrative actions, such as maintaining files in an orderly room.  The Bronze Star It and the Air Medal were equal in prestige – until 1985 when military politics led to the elevation of the Purple Heart from a low-level award to prominence above the Meritorious Service Medal and dropped the Air Medal to the lowest precedence of any combat award and below the level of the MSM, which is only awarded for non-combat  service. (By doing so, the DOD robbed hundreds of Army Air Corps and pre-1985 USAF airmen of the recognition they so richly deserved for their meritorious service in aerial flight.)

Military medals are a story in themselves. Prior to the Civil War, there were no medals and even then, the Confederacy did not recognize its heroes with medals. The Medal of Honor was authorized during the war and was often awarded for such mediocre actions as reenlisting. (Hundreds of Medals of Honor were taken away when the criteria for the medal was changed in the early Twentieth Century.) The Distinguished Service Cross and Silver Star were authorized just before World War I and the Purple Heart was authorized in 1932 for presentation primarily to men who had been wounded. The Distinguished Flying Cross was authorized in 1926; it was awarded to civilians such as the Wright Brothers and Amelia Earhart. The Air Medal and Bronze Star came along during World War II, along with the Legion of Merit, which is essentially an award for high-ranking officers. Since Vietnam, a veritable library of new awards have been authorized, to the point that it seems that the modern military man and woman gets medals just for showing up for chow! In short, most military medals today are meaningless.

This brings us to “gold star families,” a term little heard of before a Pakistani immigrant named Khizer Khan made a speech at the Democratic Convention. To begin with, there is no such thing as a “gold star family.” It’s a term that the Army has on its web site to refer to families of military members who lost their lives on active duty. However, there’s no official organization or recognition of such families even though the military was authorized to present lapel buttons to family members – parents, spouses, children, step-children, brother and sisters – of those who die while  on active duty starting in 1947. The lapel button carries no significance and no benefits to those to whom it is presented except recognition. It’s something for family members to have to remember their family member, the same as the flags used to drape coffins and which are then presented to the family, usually to either the wife or mother of the deceased. The design is different for those who died in a combat theater, regardless of the cause of death. There is no organization and they have no official standing.

There is, however, a formal organization for Gold Star Mothers, women whose son or daughter has died while on active military service. Gold Star Mothers was formally organized in 1928 when the mother of a US Army Air Services pilot who died during the war decided to start an organization for mothers of men who had died while in military service. They got their name from the gold-starred flags family members displayed in their windows during the recent war – families with men in uniform displayed a flag with a blue star and those whose sons were lost displayed gold stars. The blue and gold starred flags became prominent during World War II but they died out after the Korean War. They were not popular during the Vietnam War – in fact, they were hardly ever mentioned. They were resurrected in the 1990s and began attracting some attention from the media – and politicians. In September, 2012 Barrack Obama proclaimed the last day of September as “Gold Star Mothers and Families Day.” However, the memo must have got lost because no one seems to know anything about it.

Families of men and women who die while on active duty have recognition, but not status or standing, as members of the media proclaimed that Khizer Khan and his wife have. The Khans claimed they have made some kind of sacrifice because their son died in Iraq. In fact, they have made no sacrifice at all and whether their son’s death was a sacrifice is debatable. Captain Khan’s commander, Maj. General Dana Pittardi, (Gen. Pittard was Bill Clinton’s military aide 1996-1999), wrote a piece for the Washington Post but was very vague as to how the officer died. He says only that he was killed by a suicide bomber and that he “may” have been trying to prevent the death or injury of innocent Iraqis. The captain was awarded a Purple Heart, which is awarded to all military personnel who die as a result of enemy action, and a Bronze Star, which is basically a glorified commendation medal. If his actions had been seen as “heroic,” he would have been awarded at least a Silver Star and possibly a Distinguished Service Cross. In the Khan’s minds, their son died a hero but in reality he was the victim of a bomb. Regardless, their son’s death reflects solely on him, not on them.

Military valor reflects solely on the individual, not corporately on their family, regardless of how close. My actions while in the military reflect solely on me and if I’d died, while my family would have suffered loss, they would have made no sacrifice. Neither would I if my son’s submarine had gone to the bottom of the China Sea while they were playing cat and mouse with the Chinese navy. Several of my ancestors served in the Revolutionary War but I have never been a member of the Sons of the Revolution and no one in my family has ever joined the DAR (except my great-aunt.) At least two of my ancestors were Confederate soldiers but I’ve never joined the Sons of Confederate Veterans – and never will. My valor is my own and no one else’s. Similarly, while I’m proud of my father for flying 30 missions in B-24s over Europe, his service is no reflection on me, nor was it a reflection on his parents, brothers and sisters.

What I’m saying is that military service and any recognition for it only applies to the one who serves, not their mother, father, spouse, brother, sister, children, grandchildren or anyone else.