Opinion | ‘They’re Doing It as We Sit Here’ – The New York Times Editorial

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The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

“If you were searching for a metaphor for the withering ideal of American public service — the one that puts country before party, truth before “narrative” or “brand” — it’d be hard to do better than the painful spectacle of Robert Mueller trying, in his halting voice, to sound the alarm on Wednesday about Russian subversion of American democracy.

It’s the same alarm that virtually every member of America’s intelligence and law enforcement communities has been ringing for the last three years: Russia attacked our elections in 2016 and is intensifying its efforts today. “It wasn’t a single attempt,” Mr. Mueller said. “They’re doing it as we sit here.”

Appearing before two congressional committees rife with politicians intent on using him to fill out their own versions of reality, Mr. Mueller seemed frail and at times even confused. But he successfully rebuffed nearly all efforts to draw him beyond the boundaries of evidence established in the report he delivered about Russian interference in the 2016 elections. The exceptions came when representatives actually showed an interest in Russian meddling and Donald Trump’s embrace of it. “I hope this is not the new normal,” Mr. Mueller said at one point, in response to a question about whether American candidates might now feel free to welcome foreign influence, “but I fear it is.”

The “sweeping and systemic” nature of that interference was the most unequivocal finding of Mr. Mueller’s 448-page report, though just as disturbing was the report’s meticulous recounting of the ways the Trump campaign accepted and even encouraged it.”

In Push for 2020 Election Security- Top Official Was Warned: Don’t Tell Trump – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — In the months before Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to resign, she tried to focus the White House on one of her highest priorities as homeland security secretary: preparing for new and different Russian forms of interference in the 2020 election.

President Trump’s chief of staff told her not to bring it up in front of the president.

Ms. Nielsen left the Department of Homeland Security early this month after a tumultuous 16-month tenure and tensions with the White House. Officials said she had become increasingly concerned about Russia’s continued activity in the United States during and after the 2018 midterm elections — ranging from its search for new techniques to divide Americans using social media, to experiments by hackers, to rerouting internet traffic and infiltrating power grids.

But in a meeting this year, Mick Mulvaney, the White House chief of staff, made it clear that Mr. Trump still equated any public discussion of malign Russian election activity with questions about the legitimacy of his victory. According to one senior administration official, Mr. Mulvaney said it “wasn’t a great subject and should be kept below his level.”

Even though the Department of Homeland Security has primary responsibility for civilian cyberdefense, Ms. Nielsen eventually gave up on her effort to organize a White House meeting of cabinet secretaries to coordinate a strategy to protect next year’s elections.

Russia Picked Donald Trump and Ran Him for President- Former Israeli Intelligence Officer Says – BY CRISTINA MAZA – Newsweek

“Russia chose Donald Trump as the U.S. presidential candidate who would be most advantageous to Moscow, and used online tactics to win him the presidency, according to a former agent of the Israeli intelligence agency the Mossad.

“Officials in Moscow looked at the 2016 U.S. presidential race and asked, ‘Which candidate would we like to have sitting in the White House? Who will help us achieve our goals?’ And they chose him. From that moment, they deployed a system [of bots] for the length of the elections, and ran him for president,” former Mossad chief Tamir Pardo told the audience at the Marker’s digital conference in Israel on Monday, where experts gathered to discuss online disinformation campaigns and bots.

“What we’ve seen so far with respect to bots and the distortion of information is just the tip of the iceberg. It is the greatest threat of recent years, and it threatens the basic values that we share—democracy and the world order created since World War Two,” Pardo noted, according to Haaretz.”

Source: Russia Picked Donald Trump and Ran Him for President, Former Israeli Intelligence Officer Says

Meet the KGB Spies Who Invented Fake News – By Adam B. Ellick- Adam Westbrook and Jonah M. Kessel – The New York Times

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Meet the KGB Spies Who Invented Fake News

By Adam B. Ellick, Adam Westbrook and Jonah M. Kessel

via Breaking News, World News & Multimedia – The New York Times

David Lindsay:

This is an excellent video piece about the KGB’s Disinformation work in the 1980’s.

It is unfortunate that the jounalists badly overreach, in suggesting that the KGB invented Fake News in the Cold War. Fake News, or disinformation and propaganda,  was referenced and esteemed in The Art of War by SunTsu over a  thousand years ago.

Opinion | Russians Meddling in the Midterms? Here’s the Data – The New York Times

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InconvenientNews.Net

By Jonathon Morgan and Ryan Fox
Mr. Morgan and Mr. Fox run a cybersecurity company.

Nov. 6, 2018

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CreditCreditIllustration by Jeffrey Henson Scales, photographs by Matt Anderson Photography/Moment and Blend Images-Hill Street Studios/Brand X Pictures, via Getty Images

“Since the 2016 United States presidential election, which Russian operatives influenced through a coordinated campaign of disinformation on social media, platforms like Twitter and Facebook have taken steps to address the problem. Thousands of “sock puppet” personas with hundreds of thousands of followers have been taken down on Facebook, for example, and cannot easily be rebuilt. Twitter has reduced the risk that propaganda is spread through automated accounts, or bots.

Such efforts may be helping. The consensus among researchers monitoring the 2018 midterm elections is that there has been less of the specific sort of interference the Russians engaged in two years ago, when they attempted to aggravate social tensions in…

View original post 106 more words

The Plot to Subvert an Election: Unraveling the Russia Story So Far – By Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti – NYT

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But to travel back to 2016 and trace the major plotlines of the Russian attack is to underscore what we now know with certainty: The Russians carried out a landmark intervention that will be examined for decades to come. Acting on the personal animus of Mr. Putin, public and private instruments of Russian power moved with daring and skill to harness the currents of American politics. Well-connected Russians worked aggressively to recruit or influence people inside the Trump campaign.

To many Americans, the intervention seemed to be a surprise attack, a stealth cyberage Pearl Harbor, carried out by an inexplicably sinister Russia. For Mr. Putin, however, it was long-overdue payback, a justified response to years of “provocations” from the United States.

And there is a plausible case that Mr. Putin succeeded in delivering the presidency to his admirer, Mr. Trump, though it cannot be proved or disproved. In an election with an extraordinarily close margin, the repeated disruption of the Clinton campaign by emails published on WikiLeaks and the anti-Clinton, pro-Trump messages shared with millions of voters by Russia could have made the difference, a possibility Mr. Trump flatly rejects.

via The Plot to Subvert an Election: Unraveling the Russia Story So Far – The New York Times

DL: This long article makes me want to weep, and then, go to work. Help support the blue wave, vote Democratic in the next congressional elections. For many and whatever reasons, Trump is Putin’s stooge, and he needs supervision from a patriotic congress, who will protect the Mueller investigation.

Opinion | Resign- Mike Pompeo. Resign- John Bolton. – by Bret Stephens – NYT

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Before the word “resignation” became a euphemism for being fired, it connoted a sense of public integrity and personal honor. Attorney General Elliot Richardson and his deputy, William Ruckelshaus, showed both qualities when they resigned from the Nixon administration during the Saturday Night Massacre in 1973. Jimmy Carter’s secretary of state, Cyrus Vance, did likewise when he resigned during the Iran hostage crisis in 1980.

Assuming Mike Pompeo and John Bolton still have their own senses intact, they too should resign following the epic disgrace of the U.S.-Russia summit in Helsinki on Monday. So should their senior staff.

I don’t suggest this lightly. I’ve known both men for years, respect them, and wrote friendly columns when they took their current jobs. I share many of their hawkish views, and have applauded some of the administration’s controversial foreign policy decisions, particularly the withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

I’m also cognizant of two factors weighing against resignation. First, cabinet members and other senior White House officials owe a president deep loyalty whatever their policy differences — the sort of loyalty George Marshall showed when he declined to resign as secretary of state despite his fierce opposition to Harry Truman’s decision to recognize Israel.

via Opinion | Resign, Mike Pompeo. Resign, John Bolton. – The New York Times

David Linday

I agree with those commenters who say the president has committed treason. Here is comment that I also endorsed though:

ChristineMcM
Massachusetts

“By continuing to serve the president, Pompeo and Bolton and their top aides are not — as they doubtlessly tell themselves in humiliating moments like this one — cleaning up after him. They are covering up for him.”

I’d use another word: “enabling,.” As they sit their silently, clearly uncomfortable with, hints of benign smiles on their faces, they form a wall of complicity with a president who is out for himself, even if that means embracing an autocrat.

I’ve wondered too just what Pompeo and Bolton are doing by participating in this wretched administration that violates just about everything they’ve stood for all their professional lives.

I may not have agreed with them, but I never doubted their patriotism and desire to serve America.

They look like so many pictures on a wall, disposable, and immovable, with no impact on a presidency run amok.

It’s also tiring to hear the most likely excuse, “if we don’t stay, things will get worse.”

So let them! Let the world and America see the full impact of the president’s folly. Don’t protect him or lend the aura of respectability.

If you can’t rein the president as he blows up 70 years of US foreign policy making, then leave.

Your departures just might bring more Americans to their senses as they follow the Pied Piper of Putin over a cliff.

Opinion | For Trump Failure Is the Only Option – by Paul Krugman – NYT

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So Donald Trump went to a NATO summit, insulted our allies, then made the absurd demand not just that they increase defense spending — which they should — but that they raise it to 4 percent of G.D.P., much higher than the bloated military spending in his own budget. He then claimed, falsely, to have won major concessions, and graciously declared that it is “presently unnecessary” to consider quitting the alliance.

Was there anything our allies could have done that would have mollified him? The answer, surely, is no. For Trump, disrupting NATO doesn’t seem to be a means to an end; it’s an end in itself.

Does all of this sound familiar? It’s basically the same as the story of the escalating trade war. While Trump rants about other countries’ unfair trade practices — a complaint that has some validity for China, although virtually none for Canada or the European Union — he hasn’t made any coherent demands. That is, he has given no indication what any of the countries hit by his tariffs could do to satisfy him, leaving them with no option except retaliation.

So he isn’t acting like someone threatening a trade war to win concessions; he’s acting like someone who just wants a trade war. Sure enough, he’s reportedly threatening to pull out of the World Trade Organization, the same way he’s suggesting that the U.S. might pull out of NATO.

via Opinion | For Trump, Failure Is the Only Option – The New York Times

David Lindsay:   Another hard hitting piece by Krugman, who goes on to say that Trump acts like he is a Russian agent. His choices weaken NATO and make Putin stronger in his work to expand Russia.

Opinion | The Art of Containing Trump (and Putin) – By Stephen Sestanovich – NYT

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Divided administrations produce incoherent diplomacy. That’s why President Trump’s meeting next Monday in Helsinki, Finland, with Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, is unlikely to go well. In their preparations for the summit, Mr. Trump and his advisers appeared to recognize the need for greater discipline and focus. These could, if sustained, be the ingredients of a more promising phase in Russian-American relations. But to reach that goal, Mr. Trump has to accept something he will find extremely distasteful — a diminished role for himself.

Few new presidents have been so completely at odds with their top advisers on a major foreign policy problem as Mr. Trump has always been on Russia. He is guided by a longstanding desire to “get along” with Mr. Putin; the senior members of his team start with deep suspicion and hostility. A paralyzing confusion has been the result.

That may be changing — and on some of the most sensitive issues dividing Moscow and Washington. When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo assured Congress last month that Mr. Trump would take a firm stand in Helsinki on election meddling, the president’s immediate response (on Twitter) was to remind us that according to the Russians, meddling never happened. Then, as though someone had advised him this was the wrong answer, he changed course. “We don’t want anybody tampering with elections,” he told an interviewer.

The president also let others tidy up his foolish remarks on Ukraine. After he said he might consider recognizing Russia’s seizure of Crimea in 2014, his national security adviser, John Bolton, called that view “not the position of the United States.” All the president meant, Mr. Bolton insisted, was that he would hear Mr. Putin out. Soon Mr. Trump shrugged off his earlier statement. “I’ll talk to him about everything,” he explained.

via Opinion | The Art of Containing Trump (and Putin) – The New York Times

Editorial | Trump’s Shadowy Money Trail – The New York Times

“This sort of suspicious cash was at the heart of a recent report by The Washington Post that found that in the decade before the election, Mr. Trump did something unusual for a real estate developer — he all but stopped borrowing money. Multiple bankruptcies had no doubt exhausted his welcome at any reputable bank, so perhaps the man who called himself the “King of Debt” became more prudent, or he simply faced reality. What happened next, though, was more unusual. Beginning in 2006, the Trump Organization spent $400 million in cash on various projects. The president’s son Eric said they were able to do that with cash generated by other Trump businesses, even at the height of the Great Recession. That explanation has raised the eyebrows of business experts.

It also contradicts what Eric and his older brother, Donald Trump Jr., said in the years before the word “Russian” became radioactive for them.

“Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross section of a lot of our assets,” Donald Jr. said in 2008. “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

The golf writer James Dodson said last year that during a visit to a Trump golf course in 2013, Eric told him of his family company’s financing: “Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.” “

via Opinion | Trump’s Shadowy Money Trail – The New York Times

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