Is This What You Call Freedom?

Yes, I know I haven’t blogged in eight months. So sue me. I write when something bothers me, I have to speak about it, and microblogging on Twitter or Quodverum doesn’t lend itself to a full expression of my thoughts.

And this article motivates me to write. As I read it, I found myself asking, what kind of Orwellian thinking spawned this monstrosity? How did we get to this point, where we Americans became serfs and vassals?

If you work for a small business, you might get access to a 401(k)

The “centerpiece” (in Grassley’s view) of the reform concerns increasing access to 401(k) savings plans for small-business employees.

Trump signed an executive order in 2018 to encourage “multiple-employer plans” noting that only 53% of workers at small businesses are offered retirement benefits. The plans on Capitol Hill would go further and allow small business to join plans with companies in different industries, so-called “open” MEPs. According to a Senate Finance Committee summary, open MEPs will allow small businesses to “obtain more favorable pension investment results and more efficient and less expensive management services.”

Where in the Constitution does the federal government find the power to tell you what kind of retirement plan you can or cannot participate in? The very wording “allow small business” reveals where the power lies. If you own a small business, you have to go begging to the federal government for permission to use a certain type of retirement vehicle?

If Congress wants to create a tax-favored retirement plan like a 401K, I have no problem with that. But where do they get off deciding who can and who cannot take advantage of it? Where do they find the power to do that in our Constitution?

The answer is, they don’t. It’s not there. They made it up, like much else that they’ve made up, stealing power from the states and from the citizens, abrogating it to themselves because no one complained loudly enough. It is part and parcel of the takeover of our freedoms by our betters who think they should tell us how to live, where to live, and how we ought to conduct our personal business.

A summary of the Wyden bill describes it working this way: “If a 401(k) plan provides a 100% matching contribution on the first 5% of salary reduction contributions made by a worker, then a 100% matching contribution must be made for student loan repayments equal to 5% of the worker’s pay.” (It would be mandatory if an employer is offering a match, but they can offer whatever match they want.)

Shai Akabas, who steers the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Commission on Retirement Security and Personal Savings, noted that “allowing people to sort of walk and chew gum at the same time when it comes to both making progress on their student debt but also make inroads on their retirement can be a useful policy goal to have.”

“a 100% matching contribution must be made“. So the government believes it has the right to require that business provide certain levels of retirement assistance to employees? Guess which option most businesses will take.

And I love this. We, your benevolent government are going to “allow” you to “sort of walk and chew gum”. How kind of them. How thoughtful. How completely master-like of them. Hey, you serfs over there. Here’s a bone. Hope you enjoy it.

We didn’t get here overnight, and we’re not going to get rid of it overnight. The current Congress believes this is their job.

Lawmakers and observers are voicing optimism that closely linked private retirement reform bills, one from the House Ways and Means Committee, and one from the Senate Finance Committee, will soon be merged and sent to President Trump’s desk.

At a recent Senate hearing, Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley voiced optimism that the House would send its bill “over to us at some point this month.”

If passed, it would be the first major retirement legislation since 2006. Richard Neal, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, noted that the bill “represents a major bipartisan accomplishment” when it was passed out of his committee.

“a major bipartisan accomplishment”. Lawmakers “voicing optimism”. They are literally excited about granting us peons permission to access retirement plans that they’ve designed for us.

Orwell would shake his head in amazement that we have fallen for the lies.

The rest of the article is more of the same crap. Congress is filled with enthusiasm by the tidbits of freedom they’re willing to hand out to us.

There is only one way out of this mess. We have to change the attitudes of an entire nation and raise up lawmakers who will stick to their knitting and actually honor the oath of office they take.

That shouldn’t be too hard, right?

Dems Are A Threat To Women

This recent dustup in the Kavanaugh hearing is another foray in a long list of Dem smear campaigns to tilt an election. Roy Moore, Herman Cain, Clarence Thomas, the Duke lacross team. The sheer hypocrisy of defending Keith Ellison against proven charges while smearing Kavanaugh with unproven, unprovable charges puts the lie to Dems claims that they care about women.. At best what we have here is a he said she said situation with no possible resolution. She says he did it. He says he’s never done that.

But, the Dems don’t care if her allegation is true. Their goal is to cast doubt on Kavanaugh’s character so as to peel away enough votes to deny his confirmation. They’re just using Christine Blasey Ford. And she’s perfectly happy with being used, because she desires the intended outcome. In fact, I’m certain she is proud of the role she is playing in undermining Kavanaugh’s chances at a SCOTUS seat.

But there are ample reasons to distrust her claims. She can’t recall the date, the location or much about the party. She claims that Kavanaugh was stumbling drunk yet he had no problem overpowering her. Yet, incredibly, she had no problem escaping. At one point, she claims, he covered her mouth so completely that she feared he would, unintentionally, kill her. But, people who are in traumatic situations such as she describes never forget the details. The entire incident is imprinted on their mind in perpetuity. Yet she can’t even recall how she got to the house where the party was. That’s not a detail a rape victim would forget.

Added to that is the fact that she’s a leftist advocate, an open borders advocate and a proud member of the Resistance,

and her parents were involved in a foreclosure case which Judge Kavanaugh’s mother presided over,

and the suspicious nature of these last second charges looms large. But the charge is merely the vehicle. The destination is to defeat the Kavanaugh nomination. It’s up to the GOP to put a stop to it. Just as they did in Justice Clarence Thomas’ nomination hearings.

Kavanaugh has hired an attorney. And not just any attorney. She’s one of the best.

But there’s a larger issue at play here that deeply offends me. Being the father of three daughters, I have a soft spot in my heart for women. I see the things they have to deal with and the obstacles that they have to overcome. From childhood I taught my daughters that there was nothing they couldn’t achieve if they set their minds to it. No matter what the world tells you, believe in yourself. I also told them that if any man ever laid a hand on them, they should tell me. And I made it quite clear to the men they dated and the ones they married that violence against my daughters would be met with extreme violence on them.

There are many women that have to deal with sexual violence. It’s the nature of mankind. There is no excuse for it, and there is no defense for it. None whatsoever. Even if a woman hits you, walk away. Far too many women are killed by angry paramours that the law is toothless to deal with until the woman is lying on the floor dead. We even tend to discount self defense claims when a woman kills a violent partner. So, when it comes to violence against women, the deck is stacked heavily against them.

So, when woman make false claims of sexual abuse, they increase the suspicion raised when ANY woman makes such a claim. And that increases the danger against all women. This angers me. It’s grossly unfair to genuinely abused women to suffer because other, unprincipled people are willing to use false charges as a political cudgel. It is my prayer that Kavanaugh will decide to persue a defamation case against Ford. It’s time to make the liars pay.

Our laws need to change. If an abuser’s threats can be proven in court, that should be sufficient to put them in prison for at least a year – for each proven offense. Currently the court issues restraining orders. How many women with restraining orders die annually?

If an accuser’s claims can be provent false in court, the accuser needs to go to jail for five years. We must build disincentives into our legal system to discourage abuse; both real abuse and false abuse.

The Real John McCain

I wrote an entire Twitter thread about John McCain, but I thought it would be good to memorialize the man here on my blog as well. For those who have read the thread, this article will expand on that material in much greater detail.

Before I begin discussing the man, I should lay my biases on the table. I have despised John McCain for a very long time. The reason will become apparent as you read through this material. To be fair to him, you need to know that up front.

John McCain had several enduring character traits which he displayed throughout his long life. He had a penchant for abandoning those to whom he had sworn allegiance, he didn’t hesitate to stab in the back anyone that got in his way in his efforts to advance himself, he consistently inflated his life story to make himself look better, and he was particularly churlish with those who got on his wrong side. These are not my opinions. They are provable facts as you will see.

His problematic side surfaced early in his career.

John was a wild man. He was funny, with a quick wit and he was intelligent. But he was intent on breaking every USNA regulation in our 4 inch thick USNA Regulations book. And I believe he must have come as close to his goal as any midshipman who ever attended the Academy. John had me “coming around” to his room frequently during my plebe year. And on one occasion he took me with him to escape “over the wall” in the dead of night. He had a taxi cab waiting for us that took us to a bar some 7 miles away. John had a few beers, but forbid me to drink (watching out for me I guess) and made me drink cokes. I could tell many other midshipman stories about John that year and he unbelievably managed to graduate though he spent the majority of his first class year on restriction for the stuff he did get caught doing. In fact he barely managed to graduate, standing 5th from the bottom of his 800 man graduating class. I and many others have speculated that the main reason he did graduate was because his father was an Admiral, and also his grandfather, both U.S. Naval Academy graduates.

When McCain was a young flyer in the Navy, he demonstrated an uncanny knack for getting into trouble. It’s easy to see how he got the label “The Maverick”. He often ignored the rules.

In his early aviator days, McCain was known for his aggressive hot-dogging as a pilot, not unlike Tom Cruise’s “Maverick” in “Top Gun.” On March 12, 1960, the 23-year-old lieutenant was playing it fast and loose during a training mission in his AD-6 Skyraider. He was practicing a landing when he crashed into Corpus Christi Bay, shearing the skin off his plane’s wings.

In his autobiography, McCain claims that “the engine quit while I was practicing landings,” but a Navy investigation board saw it differently, stating that he used “a power setting too low to maintain level flight in a turn.”

….

Just over a year later in December 1961, McCain was in a Skyraider once again, this time during a training mission over southern Spain, when he flew into electrical wires, causing a local blackout. It was reported that when he returned to the carrier USS Intrepid, 10 feet of power line trailed from his plane, along with a severed oil line, but he managed to land safely.

….

On November 28, 1965, McCain was flying back to his family in Meridian, Mississippi, from the Army-Navy game in Philadelphia, with Christmas presents for the family stashed on the plane. Over Chesapeake Bay, his engine failed, and he was forced to bail out. Biographer Robert Timberg described the scene: “‘I’ve got a flame-out,'” he radioed. He went through the standard relight procedures three times. At one thousand feet, he ejected, landing on the deserted beach moments before the plane slammed into a clump of trees. … The Navy classified it as a ‘routine ejection’.”

After a Naval investigation, it was determined that the plane had failed due to an “undetermined component of the engine.”

For most Navy fliers, three such incidents could end their career. But John McCain had an ace up his sleeve. His father, Admiral John S. McCain Jr., was a highly respected Admiral and his grandfather, Admiral John S. McCain Sr. was as well. So, despite his flawed record, John’s career continued. At the time of these crashes, his father was Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe, stationed in London.

In 1965 he met and married Carol Shepp, a successful swimsuit, and runway model. He adopted her two children, and they produced another child during the marriage. In 1967, McCain volunteered for duty in Vietnam and was assigned to the aircraft carrier, USS Forrestal. It was there that John’s true character would be revealed.

On July 29, 1967, a tragic chain of errors led to a disaster aboard the carrier. Planes were staged on the carrier in preparation for missions over Vietnam when a flight crew, ignoring published safety procedures, connected a Zuni rocket while a plane was still parked. An electrical malfunction caused the rocket to fire.

It launched across the deck, traveling 100 yards before puncturing the 400-gallon main fuel tank of an A4 Skyhawk parked on the port side, next to McCain’s aircraft. The ensuing fire, combined with bombs that exploded in the aftermath, caused the deaths of 134 men, 18 of whom were unidentifiable from the remains, and injured 161 others. The entire firefighting crew that responded to the blaze initially was killed in the first bomb blast along with the pilot, Lt. Cmdr. Fred White, and crew member of the A4 that was struck by the rocket. A fragment also pierced an external fuel tank on another A4, spilling more fuel on the deck.

John McCain escaped without injury. None of this reflects poorly on his record, but what he did subsequent to the incident does. After jumping from his plane and escaping the flames, McCain proceeded to the pilot ready room, where he observed the carnage occurring above without participating in the effort to save the ship or his shipmates.

Whatever the circumstances of the fire’s origins, McCain did not stay on deck to help fight the blaze as the men around him did. With the firefighting crew virtually wiped out, men untrained in fighting fires had to pick up the fire hoses, rescue the wounded or frantically throw bombs and even planes over the ship’s side to prevent further tragedy. McCain left them behind and went down to the hangar-bay level, where he briefly helped crew members heave some bombs overboard. After that, he went to the pilot’s ready room and watched the fire on a television monitor hooked to a camera trained on the deck.

He wasn’t done. After abandoning his shipmates in a disaster that killed 134 of his shipmates, McCain went AWOL.

When New York Times reporter Apple finished gathering his notes on the fire, McCain boarded a helicopter with him and flew to Saigon. Given that fires still burned on the ship and some of his fellow airmen were gravely wounded and dying, McCain’s assertion that he left the carrier for “some welcome R&R” in Saigon has a surreal air. Apple, now dead, said nothing in his news reports about inviting McCain to leave the ship, although he did report talking to him in Saigon later that day. McCain does not mention receiving permission to leave the still-burning ship. Merv Rowland, a commander and chief engineering officer of the Forrestal at the time of the fire, told me that he had not known that McCain left the ship within 30 hours of the fire and that he found this “extraordinary.” Rowland added that only the severely wounded were allowed to leave the ship and that no one, as far as he knew, would have been given permission to fly to Saigon for R&R. McCain’s quick flight off the Forrestal meant that he missed the memorial service for his dead comrades held the following day in the South China Sea.

McCain has talked about that incident in his book and in interviews, and he claims that he was injured, though not seriously, during the incident. The evidence proves otherwise. There is no record of him being treated in sick bay, and his father wrote a letter to relatives stating, “Happily for all of us, he [John] came through without a scratch.” He makes other claims that are equally false. All his claims have a common thread. They enhance his public image.

This is his interview aboard the Forrestal, before he left for Saigon, while the ship was still burning. He doesn’t seem to be affected at all by the carnage he witnessed. One wonders how everyone near him could be “badly maimed or killed” yet he escaped without a scratch. I think it’s more likely he wasn’t even there. He’d already left for the ready room.

 

His story picks up in Saigon.

Apple filed two stories about McCain’s time in Saigon. Apple’s first story said: “Today, hours after the fire that ravaged the flight deck and killed so many of his fellow crewmen, commander McCain sat in Saigon and shook his head. ‘It was such a great ship,’ he said.”4 Apple’s second story was filed three months later, just after McCain was shot down over Hanoi. In that story Apple wrote: “It was almost three months ago that the young, prematurely gray Navy pilot was sitting in a villa in Saigon, sipping a Scotch with friends and recalling the holocaust that he had managed to live through. He was John Sydney [sic — spelling is Sidney] McCain, 3rd, a lieutenant commander. The day before, he had watched from the cockpit of his Skyhawk attack plane as flames suddenly engulfed the flight deck of the Forrestal, on which his squadron was based. ‘It’s a difficult thing to say,’ he remarked after a long time. ‘But now that I’ve seen what the bombs and the napalm did to the people on our ship, I’m not so sure that I want to drop any more of that stuff on North Vietnam.’ ”5

While his ship limped into port in Subic Bay for repairs, McCain sat in a bar in Saigon bemoaning his fate. As his shipmates mourned the tragic loss of men and conducted their burials, he sipped Scotch and relaxed, AWOL from duty. A week later he rejoined his ship in Subic Bay and immediately asked for a transfer to the USS Oriskany.

Three months later he was shot down on a bombing mission over North Vietnam.

There are two medals that we veterans especially revere; the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Prisoner of War medal. Men who have received those awards are held in the highest esteem. Because of this, I will not comment on McCain’s time in the Hanoi Hilton. The men who were held there were subjected to horrible torture by the communists of Vietnam and by Cuban interrogators (a little-known fact about that war.) Whatever McCain did or didn’t do in the Hanoi Hilton, it is not my place to comment on it. It is a fact that most men broke under torture, unable to resist the cruel methods used. A small band, however, managed to resist.

I will, however, let a shipmate who was also a POW, tell his story.

First, his ejection over North Vietnam resulted in serious injuries which were exploited by his torturers.

John was badly injured when he was shot down. Both arms were broken and he had other wounds from his ejection. Unfortunately this was often the case — new POW’s arriving with broken bones and serious combat injuries. Many died from their wounds. Medical care was non-existent to rudimentary. Relief from pain was almost never given and often the wounds were used as an available way to torture the POW. Because John’s father was the Naval Commander in the Pacific theater, he was exploited with TV interviews while wounded. These film clips have now been widely seen. But it must be known that many POW’s suffered similarly, not just John. And many were similarly exploited for political propaganda.

One aspect of McCain’s POW experience that he has consistently exploited to portray himself as a uniquely brave person is his refusal to accept early release. What he doesn’t tell you is that he wasn’t the only one or that he was required by the code of conduct to refuse.

John was offered, and refused, “early release.” Many of us were given this offer. It meant speaking out against your country and lying about your treatment to the press. You had to “admit” that the U.S. was criminal and that our treatment was “lenient and humane.” So I, like numerous others, refused the offer. This was obviously something none of us could accept. Besides, we were bound by our service regulations, Geneva Conventions and loyalties to refuse early release until all the POW’s were released, with the sick and wounded going first.

While McCain was in prison in North Vietnam, his wife was involved in a terrible accident. She was thrown through the windshield and broke both of her legs, her pelvis, and one arm. In order to save her legs, doctors had to remove so much bone that she was five inches shorter. She was confined to a wheelchair, was required to use a catheter and gained a considerable amount of weight due to inactivity. John’s response was to chase after other women.

Eventually, he settled on Cindy, a beautiful and quite wealthy heiress and married her shortly after divorcing Carol. While she walks with a limp and the wrinkles on her face reveal a lifetime of painful suffering, she still displays the beauty that won her the modeling contracts of her youth.

With amazing grace, she refuses to blame her disfigurement for their divorce.

‘My marriage ended because John McCain didn’t want to be 40, he wanted to be 25. You know that happens…it just does.’

She’s right. It’s true that some men are that way. But a decent man would have stood by his wife and honored his vow “til death do us part”. John McCain was not a decent man.

Another character flaw would be revealed during the Keating Five scandal. Charles Keating was a wealthy savings and loan owner who bankrolled McCain’s Senate campaign and lavished him with favors; private jet trips around the country, “private vacations at his vast, palatial spa in the Bahamas” and other favors. In return, he expected to be treated well by legislation that favored his companies.

John McCain wasn’t the only Senator involved in the scandal, but he was one of two that survived. His choice of methods to survive reveals his true nature.

“Since Keating’s collapse, you find yourself doing obscene things to save yourself from the Senate Ethics Committee’s investigation. As a matter of course, you engage in backbiting behavior that will turn you into an outcast in the Senate if you do survive.

They say that if you put five lobsters into a pot and give them a chance to escape, none will be able to do so before you light the fire. Each time a lobster tries to climb over the top, his fellow lobsters will pull him back down. It is the way of lobsters and threatened United States senators.

And, of course, that’s the way it is with the Keating Five. You are all battling to save your own hides. So you, McCain, leak to reporters about who did Keating’s bidding in pressuring federal regulators to change the rules for Lincoln Savings and Loan.

When the reporters fail to print your tips quickly enough–as in the case of your tip on Michigan Senator Donald Riegle–you call them back and remind them how important it is to get that information in the newspapers.”

Add backstabbing to his list of character flaws. By this point in his life, he had demonstrated a remarkable ability to survive the most difficult of circumstances not by bravery or uncommon courage but by the meanest of behaviors.

It should come as no surprise then to discover that he committed the most monstrous betrayal of all. He abandoned his fellow POWs and MIAs. He was not alone. After the POWs were returned from Vietnam in 1973, many people wanted to put the war behind them. It was inconvenient to admit that men were left behind, so the government went to great efforts to conceal those facts. Despite many credible reports of POW sightings, the government continued to insist that all the men had been returned.

This apparently satisfied many Americans, and given the atmosphere at the time, it’s not surprising. However, there was one group that would not accept those claims and insisted on a full accounting, not only of the POWs and MIAs of the Vietnam War but also of the Korean War and World War II. It was the League of Families of POW/MIA Families. They fought tooth and nail with the government to get a full accounting of the missing. By 1991 they had gained enough traction to get a bill introduced in Congress. Named the Truth Bill, it’s purpose was to require complete transparency from the government regarding the missing.

“[The] head of each department or agency which holds or receives any records and information, including live-sighting reports, which have been correlated or possibly correlated to United States personnel listed as prisoner of war or missing in action from World War II, the Korean conflict and the Vietnam conflict, shall make available to the public all such records held or received by that department or agency.”

The bill was opposed by John McCain. When it failed, it was reintroduced. When that failed, McCain introduced his own version, designed to bury the issue forever.

Bitterly opposed by the Pentagon (and thus McCain), the bill went nowhere. Reintroduced the following year, it again disappeared. But a few months later, a new measure, known as “the McCain Bill,”suddenly appeared. By creating a bureaucratic maze from which only a fraction of the documents could emerge—only records that revealed no POW secrets—it turned the Truth Bill on its head. The McCain bill became law in 1991 and remains so today. So crushing to transparency are its provisions that it actually spells out for the Pentagon and other agencies several rationales, scenarios, and justifications for not releasing any information at all—even about prisoners discovered alive in captivity. Later that year, the Senate Select Committee was created, where Kerry and McCain ultimately worked together to bury evidence.

McCain was also instrumental in amending the Missing Service Personnel Act, which had been strengthened in 1995 by POW advocates to include criminal penalties, saying, “Any government official who knowingly and willfully withholds from the file of a missing person any information relating to the disappearance or whereabouts and status of a missing person shall be fined as provided in Title 18 or imprisoned not more than one year or both.” A year later, in a closed House-Senate conference on an unrelated military bill, McCain, at the behest of the Pentagon, attached a crippling amendment to the act, stripping out its only enforcement teeth, the criminal penalties, and reducing the obligations of commanders in the field to speedily search for missing men and to report the incidents to the Pentagon.

It’s difficult to explain McCain’s execrable treatment of his fellow POWs and MIAs. Many have puzzled over the reasons for his behavior. I find it entirely consistent with his abandonment of his Forrestal shipmates when tragedy struck. This, more than anything else, is the reason I have long despised McCain and do not mourn his death.

By the time the Senate Select Committee formed, it’s likely that any servicemen still in captivity in Vietnam had been executed. The US had begun the process of normalization of relations with Vietnam, and the existence of US servicemen in Vietnam would have been an embarrassment. Since the US had obviously written them off, the communists wouldn’t have hesitated to remove the obvious obstacle in the way of normalization.

Another aspect of McCain’s character was his mercurial temper and his penchant for payback.

I can verify that John has an infamous reputation for being a hot head. He has a quick and explosive temper that many have experienced first hand. Folks, quite honestly that is not the finger I want next to that red button.

Evidence of that is easily found. Here he is berating the President of the National League of POW/MIA Families at a Congressional hearing.

Over time, McCain’s character became evident to many. So much so that reporters would actually ask him about it. He, of course, denied that he was that way.

But actions spoke louder than words. In the latter years of his life, his true character surfaced more and more. His own party was forced to admit that he had tried to use the IRS to destroy people. And in a final act of betrayal, he collaborated with Democrats in an effort to undermine his own party’s President, leading to lawsuits which I assume are now null.

In his final act of spiteful bitterness, McCain banned several people from attending his funeral in DC.

Now, as he lies in state in the Capitol Rotunda, an honor reserved for Presidents and other notables, his fellow politicians speak in glowing terms of his patriotism, integrity, and love of America. As always, they are lying. Somehow, for John McCain, that seems appropriate.

UPDATE: A lot of people in my Twitter feed are demanding that I accept the fact that John McCain caused the Forrestal fire because he wet-started his plane, triggering the Zuni rocket. They also claim that the JAG report is falsified because McCain’s father ordered it. Furthermore, they claim that both 1000 pound bombs mounted on McCain’s plane fell off and subsequently exploded, and he should have known better than to use them. I know people want to believe that, but it’s simply false. Here’s why.

  1. None of the A4 Skyhawks were carrying Zuni rockets that day. Only the F4B’s had Zuni’s mounted.
  2. ALL of the planes staged on the deck were facing inward. Therefore, a wet-start would NOT have hit another plane
  3. ALL of the weaponry on an A4 Skyhawk is mounted under the wing, directly below the jet’s intakes
  4. The A4 Skyhawk’s exhaust comes out the tail end of the plane, far behind the wing-mounted weapons.
  5. The plane that was hit by the Zuni rocket was lined up facing the A4 Skyhawk that suffered a main fuel tank rupture which then ignited.
  6. Only one bomb exploded initially, and it was under Lt. Cdr. White’s plane (the plane that was struck by the Zuni rocket). He was killed in the explosion.

For more detail, read my Twitter thread.

The Trump Tower Meeting

On June 9, 2016, a meeting took place at Trump Tower. The participants in the meeting were Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, Robert Goldstone, Natalia Veselnitskaya, Irakly “Ike” Kaveladze, Anatoli Samochornov, and Rinat Akhmetshin. With the exception of Natalia Veselnitskaya, all the participants were American citizens. To understand what took place, you need to know each of the players and why they were at the meeting.

All of the following information about the meeting and its participants is derived from their testimony before Congress, which you may review if you like.

Anatoli Samochornov is a professional translator who was born in Russia and now lives in New York.  He has a Masters in Linguistics and Interpreting and a Masters in Business Administration. He has provided his services to John Kerry, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, President Obama and hundreds of CEOs and attorneys. He became an American citizen in 2002. He was hired by Natalia Veselnitskaya for her trip to New York in June and participated in a number of meetings with her, including meetings with lawyers from Baker Hostetler, representatives of Fusion GPS (including Bruce Simpson) and the Trump Tower meeting.

Irakly “Ike” Kaveladze is an American businessman living in California and specializing in accounting and finance. He was born in Georgia and moved to America in 1991. He became an American citizen in 2001. He is a Senior Vice President of Crocus Group and reports directly to Emin Agalarov’s father, Aras Agalarov, a Russian businessman. Emin is a Russian entertainer with aspirations to perform in America. Ike attended the meeting on behalf of Aras, whose son had requested the meeting.

Rinat Akhmetshin is an American lobbyist and consultant living in Washington, D.C. He holds a Ph.D. in Bioorganic Chemistry. He was born in Russia and emigrated to America in 1994. He became a US citizen in 2009. He has represented the governments of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. He has never represented the Russian Federation. He served in the Russia military in a support unit for an intelligence company. He never served as an intelligence agent, either for the Soviet Army or for the Soviet intelligence services. (This will become important later.)

He was hired in 2015 by the law firm Baker Hostetler that represented Prevezon Holdings in a civil forfeiture case in the Southern District of New York. He was retained to review Russian documents and video depositions regarding the activities of Willam Browder, about whom you will learn much later. He also worked as a consultant and lobbyist for the Human Rights Accountability Global Initiative, a human rights organization founded by Denis Katsyv, the principal owner of Prevezon Holdings. In that capacity, he informed Congress of the multitude of inaccuracies he had found in William Browder’s testimony and documentation. He also informed both Katsyv and Veselnitskaya of the fraudulent nature of Browder’s documentation and testimony presented to Congress.

He went to lunch with Veselntiskaya, Kaveladze, and Samochornov on June 9th, and Veselnitskaya mentioned that she had a meeting with Donald Trump Jr. She asked him if he’d like to go along, and he agreed to go with them. The Times wrote a lengthy article about him, but keep in mind their bias when reading it.

Natalia Veselnitskaya is a Russian citizen and private attorney representing Denis Katsyv and Prevezon Holdings as co-counsel in the civil forfeiture case mentioned above. In her capacity as co-counsel, she had occasion to interact with Bruce Simpson of Fusion GPS and Rinat Akmetshin, both of whom were retained by Baker Hostetler to conduct research on William Browder. The case against Prevezon was initiated by the Southern District of New York at the insistence of William Browder who convinced the DoJ that Prevezon Holdings had stolen money from him.

Like many US attorneys, Veselnitskaya began her career as an assistant DA before entering private practice. She has no connections with the Russian government or Russian intelligence services other than her interactions with Russian officials in the course of her legal work. She had asked for the meeting by approaching Aras Agalarov who then contacted his son Emin. Emin then asked his promoter, Bob Goldstone, to approach the Trumps with the information.

Here’s how the approach occurred. Emin Agalarov, Bob Goldstone’s client, called him to request a meeting with the Trumps.

“I received a call from Emin that morning, and he asked me if I could contact the Trumps with something interesting and said that a well-connected Russian attorney had met with his father that morning in his father’s office and had told him that they had some interesting information that could potentially be damaging regarding funding by Russians to the Democrats and to its candidate, Hillary Clinton.”

Goldstone independently decided to approach Donald Trump Jr. about the meeting. He sent Trump an email that grossly inflated what he had been told by Emin. This is the email:

“Good morning
Emin just called-and asked me to contact you with something very interesting.
The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump helped along by Aras and Emln.
What do you think is the best way to handle this information and would you be able to speak to Emin about it directly?
I can also send this info to your father via Rhona, but it Is ultra sensitive so wanted to send to you first.
Best ·
Rob Goldstone”

Trump Jr. responded with the following:

“Thanks Rob I appreciate that. I am on the road at the moment but perhaps I just speak to Emin first. Seems we have some time and if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer. Could we do a call first thing next week when I am back?”

Trump Jr.’s response is entirely predictable. He thinks he’s getting information that could be damaging to Hillary. What politician on the face of the earth would turn something like that down? But he was skeptical, so he didn’t tell anyone else about what he thought the content of the meeting would be.

So, at about 4 PM on June 9, the four “Russians”, three of whom were US citizens and longtime residents of the US, attended a meeting in Trump Tower. Kaveladze knew what Aras had told him – there would be damaging information about Clinton and the DNC. Akmetshin did not know what the meeting was about. Samochornov merely knew that he was to act as Veselnitskaya’s translator. Veselnitskaya brought a twelve-page document with her and was prepared to discuss William Browder’s tax and investment fraud, the Magnitsky Act, and the adoption of Russian children by Americans. Veselnitskaya used her knowledge of Bill Browder’s activities as a “hook” to get the meeting. That was the damaging information that she told Aras that she had.

The damaging information was the fact that the Ziff brothers, billionaire Clinton donors, were involved in Browder’s tax and investment frauds.

Goldstone attended the meeting because he was the one who initiated it. Kusher and Manafort attended because Trump Jr. invited them. Neither knew what the meeting was about before it began.

“While Rob said he would send me the names of the attendees for the June 9th meeting, he never did. As a result, I had no advance knowledge of who would attend. I told Rob that Jared Kushner and our newly hired campaign manager Paul Manafort would likely also attend. I then asked Jared and Paul if they could attend, but told them none of the substance or who was going to be there since I did not know myself. Because we were in the same building Paul, Jared, and I would routinely invite one another to attend meetings at a moment’s notice.”

Now that you know the players, let’s see what the media has reported about them.

Natalia Veselnitskaya, Russian lawyer at Trump Tower meeting, worked with government officials, report says This misleading headline is on a story that merely repeats information already known by investigators.

“The emails the Dossier organization said it was sent suggest Natalia Veselnitskaya worked closely with a top official in Russia’s prosecutor-general’s office to fend off a U.S. fraud case against one of her clients.”

It is already known that Veselnitskaya’s client, Denis Katsyv, was being extorted. Veselnitskaya worked with Russian officials to bring to justice the extortionists.

Lawyer Who Met With Donald Trump Jr. Has Ties To Russian Government This misleading headline is in a story that says she works as a lawyer. The deceptive use of the word “advocating” is another word for a history of representing clients, which is what any lawyer making money does. How many American lawyers could we say the exact same thing about?

“Veselnitskaya has a history of advocating for the Russian government. Her clients include “state-owned businesses and a senior government official’s son,” reports the New York Times.

She also was married to a former deputy transportation minister in the Moscow region.”

Who is Natalia Veselnitskaya? low-level attorney or Kremlin power broker? This article is at least somewhat honest although still misleading.

“The truth may end up being a blurry combination of both. Veselnitskaya is no Kremlin power broker, having spent most of her career working on business disputes in the courtrooms of the Moscow region, a province that surrounds but does not include the city itself.

Nevertheless, in recent years she had taken on a high-profile case that aligned with Kremlin objectives and was followed closely by top officials. A source who knows her also told the Guardian she has a long-standing personal connection with Yuri Chaika, Russia’s powerful prosecutor-general.”

The high-profile case? USA v. Prevezon. Why is it aligned with Kremlin objectives? Because if Bill Browder’s fraud is exposed, it’s possible the Magnitsky Act could be overturned, an outcome that the Kremlin would applaud openly. The fact that Veselnitskaya’s interest in representing her client happens to align with the Kremlin’s desires is not proof of collaboration between the two. Nor is it proof of a close relationship. Her personal connection with Uri Chaika is the same as many US attorney’s connections to well-known prosectors or jurists. Would we accuse any of them of being in cahoots with the government as a result? The smear is obvious and the reason for it even more obvious.

Veselnitskaya is most often referred to in the media as “Kremlin-linked attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya”.

Ex-Soviet counter-intelligence officer says he attended Trump Jr. meeting This is the worst kind of “reporting” imaginable. First, Anatoli was never an officer. Second, he never worked in intelligence. He was assigned to a support unit that was assigned to an intelligence company. Although his testimony doesn’t specify, it’s not hard to figure out what he may have been doing. Support units provide security so the intel guys can do their work. The intel guys don’t share what they learn with the support unit.

The Russians at the Trump Tower meeting  I especially like this one. It’s a perfect example of how the media can twist facts into knots and make them appear to mean something entirely different

“The group of Soviet-born individuals that top Trump campaign officials met last summer include a cast of characters accused of tactics that read like a Cold War spy novel — including allegations of secret lobbying campaigns and links to money laundering investigations and counterintelligence.”

“Soviet-born individuals” – works better than American citizens when you’re trying to imply something nefarious. “Cast of characters” evokes images of shady characters. “Cold War spy novel” implies that this was an intelligence operation run by Russia to hurt the US. “Allegations of secret lobbying campaigns” – IOW, unproven, but hey, they’re Russians, so it has to be nefarious, right? “links to money laundering investigations”? Yes, Veselnitskaya is co-counsel for Prevezon, which was accused of money laundering by Bill Browder. “and [links to] counterintelligence”. Yeah, Rinat was a sergeant in a support unit, but hey, they were located in the same place, so links, right? This paragraph is so pregnant with innuendo that it’s ready for delivery.

So what are the facts? Veselnitskaya is a private lawyer representing her client, Denis Katsyv, and his company, Prevezon Holdings, in an asset forfeiture case. During the course of the litigation, she discovered, through the work of Fusion GPS and Rinat Akmetshin, that Bill Browder had defrauded the Russian government, lied to the US Congress (and the press) and convinced them to pass the Magnitsky Act, which led to Russia banning adoptions to US parents. Browder then went to the DoJ lawyers and convinced them that Prevezon was laundering money that they had stolen from him, by purchasing properties in the US. The DoJ, without investigating further, took Browder’s word and opened a case against Prevezon.

When Veselnitskaya learned this, she became angry. She began contacting anyone who would listen, asking them to please look into Browder’s lies. She talked to the co-counsels at Baker Hostetler. She talked to the DoJ lawyers that were prosecuting her client. She spoke to Congressmen and their staff. And she spoke to Donald Trump Jr. In each case, she passed along the information she had gotten from Fusion GPS and Akmetshin and asked them to investigate. She hoped that, when the facts became known, not only would her client’s case be vacated but the Magnitsky Act, which was born in fraud, would be overturned.

Thousands of words have been written about this case. Many of them are either false or misleading. Here’s the reality. The meeting was about the Magnitsky Act and Russian adoptions. The info on the Ziff brothers was shared in passing, but hardly anyone remembers it. What follows is the summary of the meeting by the participants.

Donald Trump Jr.

“As it later turned out, my skepticism was justified. The meeting provided no meaningful information and turned out to be not about what was represented. The meeting was instead primarily focused on Russian adoptions , which is exactly what I said over a year later in my statement of July 8, 2017.”

Bob Goldstone

I said to him, Don, I really want to apologize. This was hugely embarrassing. I have no idea what this meeting was actually about.

Jared Kushner

I arrived at the meeting a Iittle late. When I got there, the person who has since been identified as a Russian attorney was talking about the issue of a ban on U.S. adoptions of Russian children. I had no idea why that topic was being raised and quickly determined that my time was not well-spent at this meeting.

Paul Manafort

Paul Manafort declined to provide a statement regarding the meeting but provided his notes

Bill browder Offshore – Cyprus
133m shares
Companies
Not invest – loan
Value in Cyprus as inter Illici
Active sponsors of RNC
Browder hired Joanna Glover
Tied into Cheney
Russian adoption by American families

Irakly “Ike” Kaveladze

“A. She asked me a few days later, she asked me how was meeting, and I responded.

Q. Do you recall what you said?

A. I said the meeting was boring and there was no negative information about — and they got nothing on Hillary.”

Anatoli Samochornov

“Q. Do you remember any specific discussion about the Russian ban on U.S. adoption of Russian children?

A. That was what was the general topic that Akhmetshin talked about .

Q. Did anyone ask that Donald Trump, Sr.,take any action regarding the Magnitsky Act or theGlobal Magnitsky Act if elected?

A No.”

Rinat Akhmetshin

“Q. And do you recall what you said to them?

A. I said like, you know, I — you know, guess what? Something funny. I was in a meeting and It was like such bullshit, and that kind of — but — and they said, “Can we write about this?” Of course, journalists are always interested. I said, “Absolutely not. It’s not my secret, and you cannot write about this.”

Natalia Veselnitskaya

“All my conversations regarding the Magnitsky Act revolved solely around the fact that in 2012, under the pretense of normalizing the trade relations with Russia, dictated by a group of self-serving profiteers, an act was passed that was based on a mendacious story that has been used to incite hatred between our countries, undermine social and mental relations, including the introduction of an adoption ban, and to manipulate public opinion and politicians.”

“I do not remember that I referenced anything but the Magnitsky Act (USA), the law banning adoptions (Russia) and the sentence on Browder (and then possibly by mentioning that he was “sentenced for tax fraud”), however, neither the mentioned documents nor any of the thousands of pages I used as evidence in my investigation did I bring with me to the meeting as there was no need in bringing them. It is my understanding that this meeting should have been of a referencing nature where I would have been referred to people of my interest, i.e. Congressmen or Senators interested in legal integrity in adopting laws in the USA and conducting investigation of the situation where, the USA, without doing any due diligence on 1) the data provided by Mr. Browder who had been under criminal investigation for 12 years by that time and 2) disseminated by his registered and not registered lobbyists and 3) the motives of submission of such data, adopted a public law that in my opinion initiated the beginning of the end of normal allied relations between our countries, their citizens, the negative consequences of which for each of us are difficult to overestimate.”

b) Did you or anyone at the meeting mention the Magnitsky Act? If so, what was the discussion?

Yes, I did mention it within the context of what is said in Paragraph “a”. I also said that no one had ever conducted an investigation into the circumstances in question prior to adopting said act. There had never been any conclusions made by independent professional experts, nor had there been any open debates involving people who could have taken professional part in such a discussion as opposed to the monologues recorded by Browder’s employees and disseminated among the congressional representatives in advance. I cannot even imagine the faces and thoughts of the respected Congressmen if they heard and saw the documents proving that everything that has been said on Capitol Hill on Browder’s initiative over the past six years is a monstrous lie that has led to the adoption of such an act that has resulted in a cold war, discord, hatred, disruption of economic and social relations, including the adoptions ban.”

2. All communications to, from, or copied to you, to, from or related to any Trump campaign officials or family members.

Not available and have never been available.

3. All documents concerning the Russian influence campaign in connection with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Not available and have never been available. Nor do I know anyone who would be in possession of such documents or knew about something ike that.

4. All documents concerning the hacked emails belonging to the Democratic National Committee (DNC), John Podesta, Hillary Clinton, or the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton.

Not available and have never been available.

5. Please provide all documents related to Fusion GPS or Christopher Steele.

Not available and have never been available.

I do not know Christopher Steele. I first heard of him from US media.”

I’ll leave it to my readers to decide if the Trump Tower meeting has been misrepresented by the media and Democrat politicians for the past year.

UPDATE: This article clarifies an issue that has made the rounds on social media. The charge is that since Loretta Lynch had to approve a visa for Veselnitskaya at the last possible minute, it’s obvious that the meeting was a setup. However, as this article points out, the request for the visa was made by the Justice Department in conjunction with the Prevezon case, and not for some nearious purpose.

Homeland told The Hill that Veselnitskaya was allowed to enter the United States on multiple occasions between September 2015 and February 2016 under a “Significant Public Benefit Parole” document requested by the Justice Department so she could participate in a court case for a client.

The request was done “in concurrence” with the U.S. attorney’s office in New York City, which was enforcing a civil asset forfeiture case against Prevezon Holdings, a company owned by Russian businessman Denis Katsyv, whom Veselnitskaya represented as a private attorney in their home country.

Katsyv is one of three Moscow businessmen connected to a lobbying campaign against the Magnitsky Act, a U.S. law punishing Russia for human rights violations. The lobbying campaign was spearheaded in Washington by Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, who was revealed on Friday to have been in an election-year meeting with Veselnitskaya and Donald Trump Jr.

Homeland’s statement confirmed court testimony and records cited by The Hill on Wednesday that Veselnitskaya was initially turned down for a visa to enter the United States and required the special immigration parole permission as late as January 2016. The court records did not indicate how she entered the country after that time.

A federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan told the court in a hearing in January 2016 that the “extraordinary circumstances” parole request needed to be approved by Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

Burial at Sea

A Marine buddy shared this with me. I felt others would appreciate what the Colonel had to say. The sacrifice our military men and woman make powerfully affects those who love them.

by Lt. Col. George Goodson, USMC (Ret)

In my 76th year, the events of my life appear to me, from time to time, as a series of vignettes.  Some were significant; most were trivial.

War is the seminal event in the life of everyone that has endured it.  Though I fought in Korea and the Dominican Republic and was wounded there, Vietnam was my war.

Now 42 years have passed and, thankfully, I rarely think of those days in Cambodia , Laos , and the panhandle of North Vietnam where small teams of Americans and Montangards fought much larger elements of the North Vietnamese Army.  Instead I see vignettes: some exotic, some mundane:

*The smell of Nuc Mam.

*The heat, dust, and humidity.

*The blue exhaust of cycles clogging the streets.

*Elephants moving silently through the tall grass.

*Hard eyes behind the servile smiles of the villagers.

*Standing on a mountain in Laos and hearing a tiger roar.

*A young girl squeezing my hand as my medic delivered her baby.

*The flowing Ao Dais of the young women biking down Tran Hung Dao.

*My two years as Casualty Notification Officer in North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland 

It was late 1967.  I had just returned after 18 months in Vietnam.  Casualties were increasing.  I moved my family from Indianapolis to Norfolk, rented a house, enrolled my children in their fifth or sixth new school, and bought a second car.

A week later, I put on my uniform and drove 10 miles to Little Creek, Virginia.  I hesitated before entering my new office.  Appearance is important to career Marines.  I was no longer, if ever, a poster Marine.  I had returned from my third tour in Vietnam only 30 days before.  At 5’9″, I now weighed 128 pounds – 37 pounds below my normal weight.  My uniforms fit ludicrously, my skin was yellow from malaria medication, and I think I had a twitch or two.

I straightened my shoulders, walked into the office, looked at the nameplate on a Staff Sergeant’s desk and said, “Sergeant Jolly, I’m Lieutenant Colonel Goodson.  Here are my orders and my Qualification Jacket.”

Sergeant Jolly stood, looked carefully at me, took my orders, stuck out his hand; we shook and he asked, “How long were you there, Colonel?”  I replied, “18 months this time.”  Jolly breathed, “You must be a slow learner, Colonel.”  I smiled.

Jolly said, “Colonel, I’ll show you to your office and bring in the Sergeant Major.  I said, “No, let’s just go straight to his office.”  Jolly nodded, hesitated, and lowered his voice, “Colonel, the Sergeant Major.  He’s been in this job two years.  He’s packed pretty tight.  I’m worried about him.”  I nodded.

Jolly escorted me into the Sergeant Major’s office.  “Sergeant Major, this is Colonel Goodson, the new Commanding Officer.”  The Sergeant Major stood, extended his hand and said, “Good to see you again, Colonel.”  I responded, “Hello Walt, how are you?”  Jolly looked at me, raised an eyebrow, walked out, and closed the door.

I sat down with the Sergeant Major.  We had the obligatory cup of coffee and talked about mutual acquaintances.  Walt’s stress was palpable.  Finally, I said, “Walt, what the hell’s wrong?”  He turned his chair, looked out the window and said, “George, you’re going to wish you were back in Nam before you leave here.  I’ve been in the Marine Corps since 1939.  I was in the Pacific 36 months, Korea for 14 months, and Vietnam for 12 months.  Now I come here to bury these kids.  I’m putting my letter in.  I can’t take it anymore.”  I said, “OK Walt.  If that’s what you want, I’ll endorse your request for retirement and do what I can to push it through Headquarters Marine Corps.”

Sergeant Major Walt Xxxxx retired 12 weeks later.  He had been a good Marine for 28 years, but he had seen too much death and too much suffering.  He was used up.

Over the next 16 months, I made 28 death notifications, conducted 28 military funerals, and made 30 notifications to the families of Marines that were severely wounded or missing in action.  Most of the details of those casualty notifications have now, thankfully, faded from memory.  Four, however, remain.

MY FIRST NOTIFICATION

My third or fourth day in Norfolk, I was notified of the death of a 19-year-old Marine. This notification came by telephone from Headquarters Marine Corps.  The information detailed:

*Name, rank, and serial number.

*Name, address, and phone number of next of kin.

*Date of and limited details about the Marine’s death.

*Approximate date the body would arrive at the Norfolk Naval Air Station.

*A strong recommendation on whether the casket should be opened or closed.

The boy’s family lived over the border in North Carolina, about 60 miles away.  I drove there in a Marine Corps staff car.  Crossing the state line into North Carolina, I stopped at a small country store/service station/Post Office.  I went in to ask directions.

Three people were in the store.  A man and woman approached the small Post Office window.  The man held a package.  The store owner walked up and addressed them by name, “Hello John.  Good morning Mrs. Cooper.”

I was stunned.  My casualty’s next-of-kin’s name was John Cooper!

I hesitated, then stepped forward and said, “I beg your pardon.  Are you Mr. and Mrs. John Cooper of (address)?

The father looked at me – I was in uniform – and then, shaking, bent at the waist, he vomited.  His wife looked horrified at him and then at me.  Understanding came into her eyes and she collapsed in slow motion.  I think I caught her before she hit the floor.

The owner took a bottle of whiskey out of a drawer and handed it to Mr. Cooper who drank.  I answered their questions for a few minutes.  Then I drove them home in my staff car.  The store owner locked the store and followed in their truck.  We stayed an hour or so until the family began arriving.

I returned the store owner to his business.  He thanked me and said, “Mister, I wouldn’t have your job for a million dollars.”  I shook his hand and said; “Neither would I.”

I vaguely remember the drive back to Norfolk.  Violating about five Marine Corps regulations, I drove the staff car straight to my house.  I sat with my family while they ate dinner, went into the den, closed the door, and sat there all night, alone.

My Marines steered clear of me for days.  I had made my first death notification.

THE FUNERALS

Weeks passed with more notifications and more funerals.  I borrowed Marines from the local Marine Corps Reserve and taught them to conduct a military funeral: how to carry a casket, how to fire the volleys and how to fold the flag.

When I presented the flag to the mother, wife, or father, I always said, “All Marines share in your grief.”  I had been instructed to say, “On behalf of a grateful nation….”  I didn’t think the nation was grateful, so I didn’t say that.

Sometimes, my emotions got the best of me and I couldn’t speak.  When that happened, I just handed them the flag and touched a shoulder.  They would look at me and nod.  Once a mother said to me, “I’m so sorry you have this terrible job.”  My eyes filled with tears and I leaned over and kissed her.

ANOTHER NOTIFICATION

Six weeks after my first notification, I had another.  This was a young PFC.  I drove to his mother’s house.  As always, I was in uniform and driving a Marine Corps staff car.  I parked in front of the house, took a deep breath, and walked towards the house.  Suddenly the door flew open, a middle-aged woman rushed out.  She looked at me and ran across the yard, screaming “NO! NO! NO! NO!”

I hesitated.  Neighbors came out.  I ran to her, grabbed her, and whispered stupid things to reassure her.  She collapsed.  I picked her up and carried her into the house.  Eight or nine neighbors followed.  Ten or fifteen minutes later, the father came in followed by ambulance personnel.  I have no recollection of leaving.

The funeral took place about two weeks later.  We went through the drill.  The mother never looked at me.  The father looked at me once and shook his head sadly.

ANOTHER NOTIFICATION

One morning, as I walked in the office, the phone was ringing.  Sergeant Jolly held the phone up and said, “You’ve got another one, Colonel.”  I nodded, walked into my office, picked up the phone, took notes, thanked the officer making the call, I have no idea why, and hung up.  Jolly, who had listened, came in with a special Telephone Directory that translates telephone numbers into the person’s address and place of employment.

The father of this casualty was a Longshoreman.  He lived a mile from my office.  I called the Longshoreman’s Union Office and asked for the Business Manager.  He answered the phone, I told him who I was, and asked for the father’s schedule.

The Business Manager asked,  “Is it his son?”  I said nothing.  After a moment, he said, in a low voice, “Tom is at home today.”  I said, “Don’t call him.  I’ll take care of that.”  The Business Manager said, “Aye, Aye Sir,” and then explained, “Tom and I were Marines in WWII.”

I got in my staff car and drove to the house.  I was in uniform.  I knocked and a woman in her early forties answered the door.  I saw instantly that she was clueless.  I asked, “Is Mr. Smith home?”  She smiled pleasantly and responded, “Yes, but he’s eating breakfast now.  Can you come back later?”  I said, “I’m sorry.  It’s important.  I need to see him now.”

She nodded, stepped back into the beach house and said, “Tom, it’s for you.”

A moment later, a ruddy man in his late forties, appeared at the door.  He looked at me, turned absolutely pale, steadied himself, and said, “Jesus Christ man, he’s only been there three weeks!”

Months passed.  More notifications and more funerals.  Then one day while I was running, Sergeant Jolly stepped outside the building and gave a loud whistle, two fingers in his mouth……. I never could do that….. and held an imaginary phone to his ear.

Another call from Headquarters Marine Corps.  I took notes, said, “Got it.” and hung up.  I had stopped saying “Thank You” long ago.

Jolly, “Where?”

Me, “Eastern Shore of Maryland.  The father is a retired Chief Petty Officer.  His brother will accompany the body back from Vietnam ….”

Jolly shook his head slowly, straightened, and then said, “This time of day, it’ll take three hours to get there and back.  I’ll call the Naval Air Station and borrow a helicopter.  And I’ll have Captain Tolliver get one of his men to meet you and drive you to the Chief’s home.”

He did, and 40 minutes later, I was knocking on the father’s door.  He opened the door, looked at me, then looked at the Marine standing at parade rest beside the car, and asked, “Which one of my boys was it, Colonel?”

I stayed a couple of hours, gave him all the information, my office, and home phone number and told him to call me, anytime.

He called me that evening about 2300 (11:00 PM).  “I’ve gone through my boy’s papers and found his will.  He asked to be buried at sea.  Can you make that happen?”  I said, “Yes I can, Chief.  I can and I will.”

My wife who had been listening said, “Can you do that?”  I told her, “I have no idea.  But I’m going to break my ass trying.”

I called Lieutenant General Alpha Bowser, Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force Atlantic, at home about 2330, explained the situation, and asked, “General, can you get me a quick appointment with the Admiral at Atlantic Fleet Headquarters?”  General Bowser said, “George, you be there tomorrow at 0900.  He will see you.”

I was and the Admiral did.  He said coldly, “How can the Navy help the Marine Corps, Colonel.”  I told him the story.  He turned to his Chief of Staff and said, “Which is the sharpest destroyer in port?”  The Chief of Staff responded with a name.

The Admiral called the ship, “Captain, you’re going to do a burial at sea.  You’ll report to a Marine Lieutenant Colonel Goodson until this mission is completed…”

He hung up, looked at me, and said, “The next time you need a ship, Colonel, call me.  You don’t have to sic Al Bowser on my ass.”  I responded, “Aye Aye, Sir” and got the hell out of his office.

I went to the ship and met with the Captain, Executive Officer, and the Senior Chief.  Sergeant Jolly and I trained the ship’s crew for four days.  Then Jolly raised a question none of us had thought of.  He said, “These government caskets are airtight.  How do we keep it from floating?”

All the high-priced help including me sat there looking dumb.  Then the Senior Chief stood and said, “Come on Jolly.  I know a bar where the retired guys from World War II hang out.”

They returned a couple of hours later, slightly the worse for wear, and said, “It’s simple; we cut four 12” holes in the outer shell of the casket on each side and insert 300 lbs of lead in the foot end of the casket.  We can handle that, no sweat.”

The day arrived.  The ship and the sailors looked razor-sharp.  General Bowser, the Admiral, a US Senator, and a Navy Band were on board.  The sealed casket was brought aboard and taken below for modification.  The ship got underway to the 12-fathom depth.

The sun was hot.  The ocean flat.  The casket was brought aft and placed on a catafalque.  The Chaplain spoke.  The volleys were fired.  The flag was removed, folded, and I gave it to the father.  The band played “Eternal Father Strong to Save.”  The casket was raised slightly at the head and it slid into the sea.

The heavy casket plunged straight down about six feet.  The incoming water collided with the air pockets in the outer shell.  The casket stopped abruptly, rose straight out of the water about three feet, stopped, and slowly slipped back into the sea.  The air bubbles rising from the sinking casket sparkled in the sunlight as the casket disappeared from sight forever….

The next morning I called a personal friend, Lieutenant General Oscar Peatross, at Headquarters Marine Corps and said, “General, get me out of here.  I can’t take this anymore.”  I was transferred two weeks later.

I was a good Marine but, after 17 years, I had seen too much death and too much suffering.  I was used up.

Vacating the house, my family and I drove to the office in a two-car convoy.  I said my goodbyes.  Sergeant Jolly walked out with me.  He waved at my family, looked at me with tears in his eyes, came to attention, saluted, and said, “Well Done, Colonel.  Well Done.”

I felt as if I had received the Medal of Honor!

The Surveillance State

In 2015, former Congressman Dennis Kuchinch received confirmation of what he had long suspected. The Obama administration had eavesdropped on his conversation with Moammar Qaddafi’s son, Saif el-Islam Qaddafi. A reporter from the Washington Times played a recording of the phone call and asked Kuchich for confirmation.

The newspaper’s investigative reporters called me, saying they had obtained a tape of a sensitive telephone conversation that they wanted me to verify.

When I met them at a Chinese restaurant in Washington, they played back audio of a call I had taken in my D.C. congressional office four years earlier.

The call had been from Saif el-Islam Qaddafi, a high-ranking official in Libya’s government and a son of the country’s ruler, Moammar Qaddafi.

This was not an isolated instance of spying on innocent citizens by the US government. In fact, the FISA court had ordered changes to the handling of NSA data in 2011 due to discoveries that procedures put in place were “statutorily or constitutionally deficient”.

In late 2012 CBS revealed that they had discovered a “RAT” (Remote Access Trojan) installed on reporter Sharyl Atkisson’s computer. At the time, Atkisson was a thorn in the side of the Obama administration, breaking story after story of scandals that the administration was involved in. To this day, Atkisson has not been able to get the government to pursue her case.

In May 2013 news broke that the administration had wiretapped AP journalists, invoking outrage in the journalism community.

Two weeks later, Reuters revealed that unfettered surveillance of American citizens had been “ongoing” since the controversial 2001 Patriot Act. The phone records of millions of Americans had been routinely swept up with the cooperation of all the major landline and mobile telephony companies, either voluntarily or by court order. Although privacy advocates were outraged, the government tried to blunt the impact by insisting that “strict controls were in place to ensure the program did not violate civil liberties” and claimed that “the collection of data did not include listening to the calls”. Dennis Kucinich would obviously disagree.

The next day the news of Edward Snowden’s theft of millions of NSA documents broke. Over the following twelve months, as more and more revelations were published, the outrage grew to the point that both the White House and Congress had to address the issues. Not only were phone records being swept up, but personal information was being gleaned from major US companies, including Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, and Google. Furthermore, Snowden’s theft revealed that Britain had an even more intrusive spying system in place, tapping into major fiber optic cables and sweeping up data from “Verizon Business, British Telecommunications, Vodafone Cable, Global Crossing, Level 3, Viatel and Interoute.” Even more troubling, British GHCQ shared their raw data with NSA, allowing them to bypass the normal legal niceties tied to the collection of data by US intelligence agencies.

As troubling as these issues are, they are not out of the ordinary for the US intelligence community. The Church Committee congressional inquiry, dating back to 1974, had uncovered similar issues related to intelligence abuses, which lead to the creation of the FISA court and a series of laws designed to rein in out of control and unconstitutional intelligence gathering. And former Director J. Edgard Hoover’s abuses of intelligence are legendary.

In 2014, as Congress was passing laws to rein in the intelligence community, Edward Snowden agreed to an interview with a reporter writing for Wired. In a wide-ranging and lengthy interview, Snowden discussed some of the discoveries that led to his decision to steal and leak top secret information.

Among the discoveries that most shocked him was learning that the agency was regularly passing raw private communications—content as well as metadata—to Israeli intelligence. Usually information like this would be “minimized,” a process where names and personally identifiable data are removed. But in this case, the NSA did virtually nothing to protect even the communications of people in the US….

Another troubling discovery was a document from NSA director Keith Alexander that showed the NSA was spying on the pornography-viewing habits of political radicals. The memo suggested that the agency could use these “personal vulnerabilities” to destroy the reputations of government critics who were not in fact accused of plotting terrorism. The document then went on to list six people as future potential targets. (Greenwald published a redacted version of the document last year on the Huffington Post.)

Snowden was astonished by the memo. “It’s much like how the FBI tried to use Martin Luther King’s infidelity to talk him into killing himself,” he says. “We said those kinds of things were inappropriate back in the ’60s. Why are we doing that now? Why are we getting involved in this again?”

Rather than “again”, Snowden should have wondered why the US was still involved in these kinds of abuses after so many years had passed and so many laws had been enacted to attempt to put a stop to them. Because the truth is, this behavior has never stopped. There is a reason that Senator Chuck Schumer warned Trump that the intelligence community has “six ways from Sunday of getting back at you”.

In October more outrage ensued when it was revealed that the US had been snooping on world leaders’ cell phone conversations. Obama, typically, insisted he knew nothing about it and would see to it that it was fixed. In March of the following year, he would propose what would be called “a far-reaching overhaul” of the way NSA collects data.

The overhaul, which would need to be approved by Congress, would have the NSA end the collection of data on Americans’ phone-calling habits, with the agency only able to obtain specific records with the permission of a judge. The records would be housed with the phone companies, which would no longer be required to hold onto the data for any specific period of time. Currently the NSA retains the phone data for five years.

As satisfying as this might have been to privacy advocates, the Obama administration had no intentions of stopping its illegal spying on US citizens. In fact, as the 2016 election season began ramping up, they would begin wholesale capture of phone conversations of all their political opponents, including Rand Paul and Donald Trump. The basis for these claims was a Circa report that provided specific details about NSA spying on US congressmen as well as campaign operatives, including those in the Trump campaign and transition team.

In fact, it’s safe to assume that when Trump announced his candidacy in June of 2015, the Obama administration was spying on every GOP candidate and their staff. It should have come as no surprise then when Trump tweeted that he had been wiretapped.

Instead, the media and other politicians scoffed, calling Trump’s claims “delusional”.

A lot fewer are laughing now. In April 2017, the National Intelligence Director Dan Coats declassified a FISA court document that would change the conversation regarding spying permanently.

Among other things, the document revealed appalling abuses of the 702 “about” queries and the extensive unmasking of US citizens.

A review conducted by the OIG and OOC revealed that abuses dated back to at least April of 2015 and had been ongoing since that time.

Not only had the abuse been ongoing for some time, but it had included the exposure of raw intelligence data to private contractors, including Fusion GPS of the infamous Steele dossier. The abuses stopped on April 18, 2016, forcing the administration to use other means to continue its surveillance of the Trump campaign.

The abuses stopped because of the courageous actions of one man, Admiral Rogers, Director of the NSA. In the fall of 2015, Rogers discovered what would become known as the unmasking scandal. As the date for re-certification of minimization procedures was approaching, Adm. Rogers notified the FISA court that he had uncovered a problem, but he needed more time to determine the scope of the issue. He did this verbally, two days before the CIA Director (John Brennan), the FBI Director (James Comey), the NCTC Director (Nicholas Rasmussen) and the NSA Director (Adm. Rogers) were set to certify that there were no systemic abuses occurring. His actions alerted the court to his upcoming written submission two days later, that abuses had in fact occurred. Had it not been for Adm. Roger’s actions, the court would have re-certified the procedures and the abuses would have continued unabated. This would have been perjury by the Directors, but that seemed to be the least of their concerns. Gathering intelligence on their political opponents was more important than following the law.

James Clapper, Dan Coats’ predecessor, tried, unsuccessfully, to have Adm. Rogers fired before he could submit his evidence to the court. However, Rogers persisted, eventually leading to the now-declassified memo instructing the intelligence agencies to no longer allow any “about” queries and to destroy all records of about queries conducted before the date of the order. His actions forced the Obama administration’s hand. They desperately needed to continue spying on the Trump campaign.

In March 2016 Hillary Clinton’s emails were published by Wikileaks. Although it would be two more months before Trump would secure the GOP nomination, it was becoming apparent that he would likely be the nominee. It was important that some sort of offsetting Trump scandal could be exposed, in order to take some of the heat off of Hillary. In April, Crowdstrike announced that the DNC had been hacked by the Russians, and the Russian collusion story began to take shape. (As I wrote quite a long time ago, there may have been a hack, but it was not the source of the Hillary email leak. Nor was Guccifer 2.0. Rather, that was an elaborate attempt to deceive and to confirm the Russian version of the hacking story.)

In July the FBI tried and failed to obtain a FISA warrant on four Trump associates, so they could continue their spying. (Failing to obtain a FISA warrant is almost unprecedented.) In October, having been told by the court to narrow the scope of their application, they successfully obtained a warrant for Carter Page, which would allow them access to all communications of every person Page came in contact with. In order to obtain the warrant, they had to certify to the court that Carter Page was likely to be an agent of the Russian government, a fact they knew to be false at the time of the application. In fact, Page had assisted the FBI in the successful conviction of one Russian agent in 2015 and the expulsion of two others, and the FBI agents had concluded that Page was unaware he was interacting with a Russian spy. Page confirmed this in his Congressional testimony.

By this time, the Russian collusion story was well underway, and the Obama administration had high confidence that Hillary would be Barack’s successor. Much to their surprise, she lost the election, and all their illegal behavior was at risk of exposure. Now, in 2018, we have to come to “Spygate”, the dawning realization that Obama employed all the powers of his office to spy on and attempt to implicate Trump in a Russian collusion narrative that has hung over his Presidency like a black cloud to this day.

Everytown’s Deceitful Claims.

A lot of news media and politicians have been repeating the claim that there have been 18 school shootings in 2018. This claim originates with Everytown.org, a gun control advocacy group. Here’s the truth about their claim.

  1. 2/14/2018 Parkland, FL Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School High School Attack on other persons(s) resulting in injury or death

    – Yep, that’s a school shooting – AR-15

  2. 2/8/2018 New York, NY The Metropolitan High School High School Gun fired but no one injured

    http://abc7ny.com/teen-in-custody-after-shot-fired-inside-bronx-high-school/3054112/ A student shot a hole in the floor. No injuries. Probably a negligent discharge

  3. 2/5/2018 Maplewood, MN Harmony Learning Center K-12 School Gun fired but no one injured

    http://www.startribune.com/child-fires-maplewood-officer-s-gun-no-one-injured/472812903/ A child fired a police officer’s gun by reaching in and pressing the trigger.

  4. 2/5/2018 Oxon Hill, MD Oxon Hill High School High School Attack on other persons(s) resulting in injury or death

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/oxon-hill-high-school-student-shot-in-school-parking-lot/2018/02/05/5065f3f4-0acc-11e8-bbfa-97e2d3b4a7f1_story.html?utm_term=.828ec7a4e998 two students shot another student inside an SUV parked in the school lot when school was not in session. He survived.

  5. 2/1/2018 Los Angeles, CA Salvador B. Castro Middle School Middle School Gun fired unintentionally resulting in injury or death

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-los-angeles-school-shooting-20180201-story.html A 12-year-old girl had a loaded gun in her backback. When she dropped it, four people were injured, one critically.

  6. 1/31/2018 Philadelphia, PA Lincoln High School High School Attack on other persons(s) resulting in injury or death

    http://6abc.com/man-32-killed-outside-lincoln-high-school-in-mayfair-idd/3013312/ A 32-year-old man was shot in killed in the school parking lot after a game

  7. 1/26/2018 Dearborn, MI Dearborn High School High School Gun fired but no one injured

    http://dearbornschools.org/district/news/188-clarifying-january-26,-2018-incident-at-dearborn-high-school A single shot was fired in the air not on the school property

  8. 1/25/2018 Mobile, AL Murphy High School High School Gun fired but no one injured

    http://www.al.com/news/mobile/index.ssf/2018/01/shots_fired_at_mobiles_murphy.html A 16-year-old student pointed a gun at another student, then ran outside and fired four shots

  9. 1/23/2018 Benton, KY Marshall County High School High School Attack on other persons(s) resulting in injury or death

    https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/local/2018/02/08/marshall-county-high-school-kentucky-shooting-timeline/1074262001/  2 dead, 18 wounded –  yep, a school shooting – handgun

  10. 1/22/2018 Gentilly, LA The NET Charter High School High School Attack on other persons(s) resulting in injury or death

    http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2018/01/shooting_near_net_charter_high.html A drive-by shooting in the parking lot – one student grazed

  11. 1/22/2018 Italy, TX Italy High School High School Attack on other persons(s) resulting in injury or death

    https://www.mysanantonio.com/news/texas/article/Sheriff-Shooting-at-Texas-high-school-suspect-12514925.php A 16-year-old boy shot a girl – she survived

  12. 1/20/2018 Winston-Salem, NC Wake Forest University College or University Attack on other persons(s) resulting in injury or death

    http://myfox8.com/2018/01/20/winston-salem-state-university-student-dies-after-being-shot-at-event-at-wake-forest-university/ A Winston-Salem State football player was shot and killed at an event on campus

  13. 1/15/2018 Marshall, TX Wiley College College or University Gun fired but no one injured

    https://www.ktbs.com/news/east-texas/shooting-reported-at-wiley-college-in-marshall/article_a161689a-fa2a-11e7-9338-3bf76949bb06.html A shooting in the parking lot – one bullet went through a window – no one injured

  14. 1/10/2018 San Bernardino, CA California State University, San Bernardino College or University Gun fired but no one injured

    https://www.sbsun.com/2018/01/10/shots-reported-fired-at-cal-state-san-bernardino-classes-canceled/ A shot from off campus shattered a window on campus

  15. 1/10/2018 Sierra Vista, AZ Coronado Elementary School Elementary School Attempted or completed suicide, with no intent to injure other person

    http://www.kvoa.com/story/37227238/sierra-vista-school-on-lockdown-after-fatal-shooting A 14-year-old killed himself in a school bathroom

  16. 1/10/2018 Sierra Vista, AZ Coronado Elementary School Elementary School Attempted or completed suicide, with no intent to injure other person

    http://www.tucsonnewsnow.com/story/37226015/school-shooting-cochise-county-coronado-elementary-lockdown-suicide-sierra-vista An eighth-grader committed suicide

  17. 1/10/2018 Denison, TX Grayson College Community College Gun fired but no one injured

    http://www.kxii.com/content/news/Bullet-fired-through-classroom-at-Grayson-College–469653223.html An accident discharge caused by negligence

  18. 1/4/2018 Seattle, WA New Start High School High School Gun fired but no one injured

    http://b-townblog.com/2018/01/04/shot-fired-at-new-start-high-school-in-burien-thursday-no-injuries-reported/ Two shots were fired outside a school. One hit the school.

So, even though Everytown claims eighteen school shootings, only two qualify for what we understand to be school shootings – where a person enters a school and randomly shoots students. Of the other sixteen, eight resulted in no injuries. Six occurred either off the school grounds or in the parking lot. Two were suicides. It’s laughable that the media touts this claim but not surprising. Truth is not their agenda.

Another detail of note is that the two school shootings involved a rifle (AR-15) in one and a handgun in the other.

It would be nice if gun control activists were at least honest with their facts, but I guess that’s too much to ask.

Increased Sealed Cases – Something Big Is Going On

There’s been chatter on the internet for a while about a dramatic increase in sealed indictments. All sorts of rumors have been flying about thousands of people going to Guantanamo Bay and military tribunals for traitors, hangings for treason, etc., etc. There’s even a Twitter hashtag about it.

I should be clear. I do not believe in the so-called “Deep State”. Nor do I believe in conspiracy theories. They’re always based on unprovable “facts” and therefore, well, unprovable. I do not disagree that there are evil or unethical or greedy people in government. It would be foolish to believe there were not. However, I think it’s important to remember that the people who work in government are your neighbors, family, and friends. Many of them are good people working hard for America and want only the best. Some allow their politics to get in the way of their objectivity. As has become obvious with the recent revelations about the FISA court, that can lead to all sorts of bad outcomes. I may have to write another post about that, but suffice it to say, no one is going to be charged with sedition or treason. If you don’t believe me, look up the laws and read the elements. The actions of the pro-Clinton unethical officials in government do not meet the definition of treason or sedition. Yes, they will be going to prison – for a long time.

But back to the issue at hand. The rumors about indictments caught my attention. So much so, that I repeated them without questioning whether they were true. I did do some research, but not as much as I should have. The story seems to have first surfaced on the Hal Turner Radio Show when he announced 4,289 sealed indictments in the federal court system. Later, that number was increased to 9,000. It’s now been increased to 13,605. So, when someone challenged me on the number, I decided to take the bull by the horns and do the research myself. I created a spreadsheet, and I gathered data from 15 of the 94 federal District Courts. (This is the Excel spreadsheet so you can read it yourself. SealedFederalCases)

I searched for Sealed v. Sealed from 2006 through 2017. Then, I also searched for the period 10/1/ to 2/21 for each year from 2009 to 2018. I looked at the gross change from year to year as well as the percentage change. Before I give you the results, I have to first explain something. Sealed v. Sealed is not only indictments. It includes Magistrate Judge’s orders, wiretaps, pen registers, search warrants, seizure warrants, and other issues before the court. So, to claim that any increase is entirely attributable to sealed indictments is at a minimum misleading. I am not accusing other researchers of lying. It’s entirely possible that they simply misunderstood what Sealed v. Sealed means. I don’t claim to fully understand it. Since they are sealed cases, it’s impossible to know anything about them other than the fact that they are sealed. Keep this in mind when you read my results.

Year to year, from 2006 to 2017, the number of sealed cases in the sample I tested increases. The range of increase is from 10% to 36%. The original stories on this compared 2006 to the October 2017 to February 2018 period. This is very misleading. First of all, they used a 2009 court report that discusses sealed indictments among many other things for 2006. That report studied 1,077 cases. But, my search found 2,904 for 15 courts. So, the report is clearly not comprehensive. Projecting from the 15 I gathered data for, there would likely be in the neighborhood of 18,000 sealed cases nationwide in 2006. (2,907/15) X 94 =18,198.4. So, comparing 2006 to October 2017 to February 2018 gives a false impression about the increase in sealed cases, and calling them sealed indictments misrepresents what they are. Of the 1.077 cases discussed in the report, 284 were sealed indictments. If this is representative of a typical year, ten approximately one quarter (26.36%) of the sealed cases are indictments.

Now for the data. From 2009 to 2017, there has been a steady increase in sealed cases in federal District Courts. I have no idea why. The largest increase was in 2017. Comparing the average from 2009 to 2016, 2017 shows a 71.16% increase. But that’s misleading because the cases have been steadily increasing all along. However, what is notable is that from 2016 to 2017 there was a 36.72% increase, the largest increase in any year to year comparison. Furthermore, the October 2017 to February 2018 increase is notable. Compared to the average of 2009 to 2017, the 2017-2018 increase is 63.12%, but compared to 2016-2017, the 2017-2018 increase is a 26.3%! It should be noted that the number of sealed cases has steadily increased over the years, but the increase in the last quarter of 2017 and the first two months of 2018 is an outlier. The average for the period of Oct through February in the seven previous years is 6%. Adding the last period increases the average by 2.5% to 8.5%.

What does this mean? It’s hard to say. What it indicates is that there is a dramatically increased level of secret activity before the courts, especially in the past five months. It’s entirely possible (but not likely) that this has nothing to do with all the investigations going on right now. It much more likely that, buried in that huge increase in sealed cases, there are indictments for people involved in the FISA warrant cases, the Uranium One cases, the Clinton Foundation cases, and other cases we may not even be aware of.

If you are one of those who thinks Jeff Sessions has been doing nothing for the past year plus, you might want to rethink that. And to answer your question, the media isn’t reporting this because they no longer investigate. They simply regurgitate.

UPDATE: I have made a number of changes, particularly to the percentage statements, based upon the kind suggestions offered to me by Richard, who commented on the article asking me for a discussion of its contents. As he rightly pointed out, the statement “increase is 163.12%” incorrectly stated the increase. Had I stated “this represents 163.12% of the previous number”, that would have been correct. I also, at his suggestion, added a disclaimer indicating that the numbers have been steadily increasing and therefore should not be entirely attributed to unusual activity.

Projecting from the numbers, it’s possible that there were around 1,400 new sealed indictments filed from October 2017 to February 21, 2018. Given the claims that there are now 51,000 sealed indictments, it’s likely that number is closer to 13,443 actual indictments. But all of this is assuming that the 2009 report of 2006 cases are representative of current practice.

The House Memo

I have downloaded the House Memo, which you can download from my blog. I have also created a searchable copy. I did this by processing the OCR using Wondershare PDF Editor Pro, which does not alter a document in any way other than the fact that some characters may be unintelligible due to the nature of OCR conversion.

HouseGOPMemo

HouseGOPMemo-searchable

I will comment on the memo later, by adding to this post.

There are several things in the memo that I did not know. First, the most troubling part.

On October 21, 2016, DOJ and FBI sought and received a FISA probable cause order (not under Title VII) authorizing electronic surveillance on Carter Page from the FISC. Page is a U.S. citizen who served as a volunteer advisor to the Trump presidential campaign. Consistent with requirements under FISA, the application had to be first certified by the Director or Deputy Director of the FBI. It then required the approval of the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General (DAG), or the Senate-confirmed Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division.

The FBI and DOJ obtained one initial FISA warrant targeting Carter Page and three FISA renewals from the FISC. As required by statute (50 U.S.C. §1805(d)(l)), a FISA order on an American citizen must be renewed by the FISC every 90 days and each renewal requires a separate finding of probable cause. Then-Director James Comey signed three FISA applications in question on behalf of the FBI, and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe signed one. Then-DAG Sally Yates, then-Acting DAG Dana Boente, and DAG Rod Rosenstein each signed one or more FISA applications on behalf of DOJ.

What’s troubling about this? Carter Page was a volunteer for the Trump campaign. He left the campaign in September 2017. So what was the basis for the warrant renewals? One of the renewals occurred during the transition (after the election), and two of the renewals occured after Trump took office. If Carter Page was the subject of the warrants, how was the FBI able to legally surveil Trump and his advisors? Remember, we already know that Gen. Flynn’s phone calls to the Russian Ambassador during the transition were recorded and leaked to the press. So, apparently more than just Carter Page were being surveilled.

The parts about Steele are especially troubling.

1) The “dossier” compiled by Christopher Steele (Steele dossier) on behalf of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application. Steele was a longtime FBI source who was paid over $160,000 by the DNC and Clinton campaign, via the law firm Perkins Coie and research firm Fusion GPS, to obtain derogatory information on Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.

a) Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior DOJ and FBI officials.

b) The initial FISA application notes Steele was working for a named U.S. person, but does not name Fusion GPS and principal Glenn Simpson, who was paid by a U.S. law firm (Perkins Coie) representing the DNC (even though it was known by DOJ at the time that political actors were involved with the Steele dossier). The application does not mention Steele was ultimately working on behalf of—and paid by—the DNC and Clinton campaign, or that the FBI had separately authorized payment to Steele for the same information.

2) The Carter Page FISA application also cited extensively a September 23, 2016, Yahoo News article by Michael Isikoff, which focuses on Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow. This article does not corroborate the Steele dossier because it is derived from information leaked by Steele himself to Yahoo News. The Page FISA application incorrectly assesses that Steele did not directly provide information to Yahoo News. Steele has admitted in British court filings that he met with Yahoo News—and several other outlets—in September 2016 at the direction of Fusion GPS. Perkins Coie was aware of Steele’s initial media contacts because they hosted at least one meeting in Washington D.C. in 2016 with Steele and Fusion GPS where this matter was discussed.

It is the responsibility of the FBI, under current law, to reveal to the court any information to the court that reveals information exculpatory to the subject of the surveillance request. The partisan nature of the information being used to justify the warrant should have been revealed to the court from the beginning. It is then up to the court to decide if the warrant is justified.

a) Steele was suspended and then terminated as an FBI source for what the FBI defines as the most serious of violations—an unauthorized disclosure to the media of his relationship with the FBI in an October 30, 2016, Mother Jones article by David Corn. Steele should have been terminated for his previous undisclosed contacts with Yahoo and other outlets in September—before the Page application was submitted to the FISC in October—but Steele improperly concealed from and lied to the FBI about those contacts.

So, why wasn’t Steele charged with lying to the FBI, like Flynn was? Because Steele was useful, and Flynn was a target.

b) Steele’s numerous encounters with the media violated the cardinal rule of source handling—maintaining confidentiality—and demonstrated that Steele had become a less than reliable source for the FBI.

3) Before and after Steele was terminated as a source, he maintained contact with DOJ via then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, a senior DOJ official who worked closely with Deputy Attorneys General Yates and later Rosenstein. Shortly after the election, the FBI began interviewing Ohr, documenting his communications with Steele.

For example, in September 2016, Steele admitted to Ohr his feelings against then candidate Trump when Steele said he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.” This clear evidence of Steele’s bias was recorded by Ohr at the time and subsequently in official FBI files—but not reflected in any of the Page FISA applications.

a) During this same time period, Ohr’s wife was employed by Fusion GPS to assist in the cultivation of opposition research on Trump. Ohr later provided the FBI with all of his wife’s opposition research, paid for by the DNC and Clinton campaign via Fusion GPS. The Ohrs’ relationship with Steele and Fusion GPS was inexplicably concealed from the FISC.

When senior law enforcement officials conceal relevant information from the court while in the process of seeking warrants to surveil US citizens, they have abrogated their duties to America and violated their oaths. This alone is justification for sacking every one of them. It also justifies opening criminal investigations into their conduct. I suspect it will not be long before a special counsel is appointed to look into these matters.

There is enough troubling information in this memo to spur further investigation. Hopefully, more information will come out that will either corroborate or refute these findings.