“The bombs smashed into a child care center, a refugee camp and a school. They destroyed makeshift clinics and hospitals, disabling essential services for tens of thousands of people.
Over the past year, attacks on buildings in northwestern Syria, which are supposed to be off limits during wartime under international law, grew so frequent that the head of the United Nations launched an inquiry to document the violations.
Secretary General António Guterres’s establishment of the investigation is seen by many diplomats as a success at a United Nations largely stymied by division in the powerful Security Council. Russia, a Syrian government ally and a major perpetrator of these attacks, has cast 14 vetoes in the Security Council since the start of the war in Syria, blocking accountability efforts and hindering humanitarian aid deliveries into Syria.
Since April, at least 60 health facilities in northwestern Syria have been damaged in strikes, and at least 29 of them were on the off limits list. But the United Nations, at least so far, is looking at just seven incidents. A United Nations spokesman would not say how the inquiry’s sites were determined.
Human rights and medical groups that support hospitals in Syria have criticized the inquiry as insufficient, saying it fails to match the gravity of the violations. The inquiry, for example, is looking at only one attack likely to have been carried out by Russia, despite previous investigations by The New York Times that found Russia bombed hospitals at least five times in May and November.”
“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.”
“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 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.”
Meet the KGB Spies Who Invented Fake News
By Adam B. Ellick, Adam Westbrook and Jonah M. Kessel
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.
By Jonathon Morgan and Ryan Fox
Mr. Morgan and Mr. Fox run a cybersecurity company.
Nov. 6, 2018
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
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.
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.
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.
I agree with those commenters who say the president has committed treason. Here is comment that I also endorsed though:
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.
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.