The Festering Darkness That is Steve Bannon

Moderators: DrVolin, 82_28, stillrobertpaulsen, Jeff

Re: The Festering Darkness That is Steve Bannon

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Mar 29, 2017 7:21 pm

Ex-Writer: Breitbart Broke the Law
A Breitbart News writer complained to the DOJ that the media site was allegedly cutting shady deals with its landlord, a wealthy Egyptian politician.
03.29.17 12:13 AM ET
A former Breitbart News writer alleged the site was acting as an illegal influence operation for its Washington, D.C. landlord, an obscure Egyptian politician cited this week by a Capitol Hill media association that denied Breitbart press credentials.
Two sources with direct knowledge, including one former Breitbart writer, say a reporter for the pro-Trump news organization was behind a complaint to the Department of Justice implicating then-chairman Steve Bannon and Moustafa El-Gindy, an Egyptian businessman and former legislator and the owner of Breitbart’s Washington office.
Page 1 of Elgindy Foia DocumentCloud
Page 1 of Elgindy Foia
Contributed to DocumentCloud by Cathy Fenlon of The Daily Beast • View document
Anonymous hit counter for DocumentCloud
Page 2 of Elgindy Foia DocumentCloud
Page 2 of Elgindy Foia
Contributed to DocumentCloud by Cathy Fenlon of The Daily Beast • View document
Anonymous hit counter for DocumentCloud
Concerns about that office, nicknamed the Embassy, dogged the organization Monday as it unsuccessfully sought permanent congressional press credentials. Breitbart faced conflict-of-interest questions regarding Bannon’s new role as one of President Donald Trump’s top advisers, a probe into its investors and corporate structure, and questions about El-Gindy and his property.
He bought the Embassy in 2009 for $2.35 million. Breitbart is reported to be seeking new Washington office space, but its years-long relationship with El-Gindy is at the center of allegations that a staunchly “America-first” website illicitly promoted a foreign politician.
A complaint filed with the Justice Department’s National Security Division as the 2016 presidential campaign kicked into gear alleged that Breitbart was acting as a de facto foreign agent for El-Gindy by providing him with friendly coverage. The Daily Beast obtained a copy of the complaint through a Freedom of Information Act request.
El-Gindy, who was first elected to Egypt’s parliament in 2005, has found common ground with Breitbart in his staunch opposition to the country’s Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamed Morsi, the former president backed by the Islamist group who was unseated in a 2013 uprising. El-Gindy later joined a political party backed by Egypt’s current president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who has received favorable Breitbart coverage since then.
El-Gindy, who did not respond to questions about his relationship with Breitbart, previously told Egyptian media that the Embassy provided a needed source of income after the collapse of his tourism business. “When [the revolution] happened, as we all know, tourism was hit hard, so I had to start renting out the property,” he said. “A real-estate agent has been taking care of its rental and I am not usually aware of who it is rented to. I am just a landlord.”
Despite pleading ignorance on his tenants, El-Gindy has given interviews to Breitbart directly. A handful of stories in the two years before the complaint with DOJ was filed refer to him in positive terms, focusing mostly on opposition to Egypt’s Islamist political elements—and ignoring more controversial positions, such as his outreach to the terrorist group Hamas and support for state censorship of blasphemy against Islam. One Breitbart story labeled him a “senior Egyptian statesman” who “has played a pivotal role in the revolutions against former President Hosni Mubarak and the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Even as Breitbart gave him favorable coverage, the DOJ complaint alleged that the media site was likely paying El-Gindy below-market rental rates on the site. If true, that would have amounted to an in-kind payment and, taken with friendly coverage of El-Gindy, could be seen as payments from a foreign government official in exchange for supportive media coverage.
It “appears [Breitbart] has been disseminating what FARA [the Foreign Agent Registration Act] would regard as propaganda on behalf of a foreign principal for financial benefit, and not merely as a financially unconnected news source,” alleged the complaint, which was sent to DOJ from a FedEx Office franchise in Arlington, Virginia, on July 2, 2015. It named both Breitbart generally and Bannon individually as alleged perpetrators.

The Justice Department’s National Security Division declined to comment on whether it took action on the complaint.
Other former Breitbart writers say the site’s relationship with El-Gindy wasn’t entirely clear. “Don’t know much about it unfortunately,” said Ben Shapiro, a former Breitbart editor, in an email. Shapiro never met him, he said, he “just saw the Egyptian flag in the window” of the building.
Controversy surrounding Breitbart’s relationship with El-Gindy and the office space it rents from him surfaced again Monday, as the organization sought press privileges that would allow it to more deeply cover the Trump White House.
During a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Senate Press Gallery on Monday morning, the committee denied Breitbart’s earlier request for permanent press credentials for Capitol Hill, stating that it needed “more answers” before considering the right-wing website’s request again. The committee discussed a request letter sent to it by Breitbart’s Larry Solov late Thursday that was said to show White House chief strategist Steve Bannon had severed ties with Breitbart as of November.
Beyond the letter, which presented a “Word.doc” masthead of Breitbart, a committee member pointed out that beyond “us trusting Larry” there was no other evidence that Bannon had in fact completely cut himself off from the site he previously ran.
The committee also expressed frustration that Breitbart may have “misled” or “lied” to them during an earlier conversation regarding the lease and zoning of the “Breitbart Embassy” near the Capitol in Washington where the website had previously based its operations. Zoning rules for the area do not allow for commercial leases, meaning that only businesses such as those run by, say, independent piano teachers giving lessons would technically be permitted to be run out of the “Embassy.”
Washington D.C. tax records confirm the property is zoned for residential use. They also show that the Embassy has been receiving a homestead property-tax deduction, which is only available for properties used as their owners’ primary residences, not for commercial buildings.
A Breitbart spokesman did not respond to questions about the FARA complaint and the embassy more generally, including its apparent flouting of DC zoning rules.
Breitbart’s former head Bannon, a staunch nationalist and anti-immigration crusader who now serves as President Donald Trump’s chief strategist in the White House, did not respond to requests for comment, either.
Recent reports indicate that Breitbart will seek to leave behind the embassy and the controversies it has entailed as it expands its influence in President Donald Trump’s Washington. A Friday report from USA Today said the organization is seeking more traditional downtown DC office space. ... e-law.html

Steve Bannon's rise forces Breitbart News out of the shadows, and the basement
Paul Singer , USA TODAY Published 10:26 a.m. ET March 23, 2017 | Updated 5:11 a.m. ET March 27, 2017

President-elect Donald Trump's chief strategist Stephen Bannon is causing a social media firestorm with his controversial commentary and projects. Let's take a closer look at some of his past positions. USA TODAY NETWORK

WASHINGTON — Breitbart News has stepped out of the fringes of American politics and is now, quite literally, moving out of the basement as well.

The bare-knuckled conservative news organization has moved its office out of the house where former chief Steve Bannon lived, has begun to reluctantly disclose its ownership, and, in its quest for official recognition, may even go so far as to publicly declare who runs the place.

Breitbart has for the past several years operated, basically, out of Bannon’s house. Bannon was the executive chairman of Breitbart News and the ideological engine behind the site’s bareknuckled anti-immigration, anti-government ideology. He and the site both operated out of a townhouse on Capitol Hill a couple of blocks behind the Supreme Court. It became known as the "Breitbart Embassy," site of lavish parties upstairs and the typing of a staff of young reporters downstairs, whom Bannon referred to as "the Valkyries."

But then Bannon became Trump’s campaign manager last summer and is now chief strategist in the White House.

Breitbart is rising with Bannon and is now trying to become a credentialed member of the Senate Daily Press Gallery, joining The New York Times, USA TODAY and other mainstream news outlets. This would given them access to the Capitol that is on par with congressional staff. It would also allow them to participate in White House "pools," providing coverage of events to the rest of the press corps when space for reporters is limited.

But membership in that club requires a level of transparency Breitbart News has long shunned. The office location is the first hurdle. Breitbart News has declared the Breitbart Embassy as its office address, but that is not really true.

The Embassy is still the official address of Breitbart’s Washington Bureau, but “since the summer we have been transitioning people out of the house,” said spokesman Chad Wilkinson. One of the reasons for the move was security, Wilkinson said. “Some of our employees just weren't comfortable working at a Breitbart office there,” he said. It is, after all, just a townhouse, with no security desk.

Sometime this spring, Breitbart will have a regular office in downtown D.C., Wilkinson predicted. Meanwhile, most of the staff are telecommuting.

It is probably just as well: The Embassy is in a residential neighborhood where it is generally not legal to run an office.

Washington, D.C., property records show the building it is owned by Moustafa El-Gindy, a former Egyptian member of Parliament who has occasionally been quoted in Breitbart news stories. El-Gindy is receiving a homestead deduction on the property, a $72,000 tax credit that requires the owner to maintain residence in the building. He could not be located for comment on this story.

Breitbart CEO Larry Solov told the Senate press gallery that the company has a soon-to-expire lease in the building for corporate housing, offices and entertainment. But zoning rules for the block do not allow commercial leases.

“That area of Capitol Hill is zoned only for residential uses, with a very narrow set of ‘home occupation’ exceptions allowing a resident (as opposed to a rotating group of occasional visitors) to work as an in-home tailor, music tutor, doctor, or the like, or to run a small bed & breakfast,” said Mark Eckenwiler, longtime chair of the zoning committee for the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission, the city government unit for that area.

The uses Solov described to the press gallery “appear to violate the D.C. zoning regulations applicable to that location,” Eckenwiler said. Since the lease is not public, it is impossible to know whether the terms meet the neighborhoods restrictions.

Steve Bannon listens as President Trump speaks at a rally in Louisville, Ky., on March 20, 2017. (Photo: Andrew Harnik, AP)
When Breitbart does get a new office, it will presumably make the address more public than the current address, which appears nowhere on the Breitbart news site. The site also provides no phone number and no way to contact the editors or reporters.

Beyond the address, Breitbart's application for press credentials is also shining new light on the company's management and ownership structure.

The site offers no "masthead," the roster of editors and managers that news organizations traditionally publish in print editions or post on their websites. Solov told the Standing Committee of Correspondents last month that he would consider producing a masthead, but it still has not appeared on the site.

The bigger question is who owns the site, a piece of information Solov admitted he was loath to disclose.

The press gallery rules state that to qualify, a reporter "must not be engaged in any lobbying or paid advocacy, advertising, publicity or promotion work for any individual, political party, corporation, organization, or agency of the U.S. Government, or in prosecuting any claim before Congress or any federal government department, and will not do so while a member of the Daily Press Galleries. Applicants’ publications must be editorially independent of any institution, foundation or interest group that lobbies the federal government, or that is not principally a general news organization."

Solov reluctantly told the Standing Committee in February that Breitbart is partly owned by the Mercer family, one the largest sources of money behind committees supporting President Trump’s campaign last year. Solov would not say which of the Mercers was an owner. Rebekah Mercer helped persuade Trump to hire Bannon as campaign CEO last summer, and she served on the executive committee of Trump's transition team after the election.

Solov also told the committee that Bannon resigned from Breitbart last fall, shortly after the election, but was unable to provide any formal documentation to that effect. He said Bannon simply called him to say he is stepping down. The Standing Committee has asked for more details before its next meeting on Friday.

And while Solov says Bannon is no longer connected to Breitbart News, his influence clearly still lingers at the Breitbart Embassy.

Answering the door at the Breitbart Embassy on Monday was Dan Fleuette, who lists himself on LinkedIn as vice president of production of Victory Film Group, Bannon's political film enterprise. Fleuette shares screenwriting and production credits on several Bannon films, including the 2016 film Clinton Cash. Fleuette has also written for Breitbart News, largely as a sports columnist, but he said he is not on staff now
User avatar
Posts: 26955
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

Re: The Festering Darkness That is Steve Bannon

Postby stillrobertpaulsen » Thu Mar 30, 2017 4:49 pm

More images and links at the link

Russian in hacking probe linked to alt-right stock fraud
Posted on March 6, 2017 by Daniel Hopsicker

ImagePavel ‘Red Eye’ Vrublevsky, a Russian businessman under investigation in the FBI’s probe of Russian hacking in the 2016 Presidential election, shared a business address in John Gotti’s former stronghold of Howard Beach, Queens with a company led by a Tampa Mobster convicted in the “alt-right” stock fraud ring run by Sarasota’s own Andrew Badolato, business partner and Breitbart collaborator of Trump advisor Steve Bannon.

In 2003-2004, Pavel Vrublevsky’s RE Partners LLC listed its business address as 158-49 90th St, a single family residence in Howard Beach the Russians shared with a company involved in pornography and cyber crime, Blue Moon Group Inc..


Got a ‘high sign’ to ‘back up a truck’

Image Blue Moon Group was owned by a Tampa Mobster named Michael J. Muzio. A decade later, Muzio will be sentenced to prison for 13 years in a stock fraud scam led by Steve Bannon partner Andy Badolato.

During the time in question Blue Moon Group was a subsidiary of Genesisintermedia, a company being used by notorious Saudi arms dealer and ‘fixer’ Adnan Khashoggi to pull off a massive $300 million stock fraud.

The resulting scandal, known as STOCKWALK, grew to become the biggest brokerage bankruptcy in American history at that time, and a sheepish German Deutsche Bank was forced to pay a record $278 million penalty to avoid criminal prosecution in the U.S.


When not under indictment Saudi wheeler-dealer Khashoggi winters in Palm Beach, one of Donald Trump’s original “Palm Beach homies,” and is similarly fabulous. The men have been friends and associates for decades. When Khashoggi needed cash, he sold Trump his magnificent yacht at a bargain-basement price.

It’s a rich stew: a hacker with ties to Russian security and organized crime; an American Mobster involved with an alt-right stock fraudster business partner of Steve Bannon; a Saudi fixer and friend of The Donald with decades-long roots in American scandal.

They belong to a charmed circle of people that fiscal watchdogs seem to have given the ‘high sign’ to “back up a truck.”

Hacker, Cyberspy, & Snitch ‘Working Off a Beef’

Image Pavel Vrublevsky’s name first hit the news when the Russian election hacking scandal took off in September of last year when the United States accused a Russian citizen named Vladimir Fomenko of committing a cyber attack on electoral systems in Arizona and Illinois. The attack was carried out from servers Fomenko rented from a Dutch company controlled by Vrublevsky.

More recently Vrublevsky found himself at the heart of the mysterious cyber-treason purge currently roiling Moscow. He is said to have fingered three top Russian cyber-security officials as disloyal to the Kremlin. The men were arrested in dramatic fashion in December; one was dragged out of a meeting with a bag over his head.


His relationships with high-ranking Russian officials were laid out in “Spam Nation,” a recent book by cybersecurity expert Brian Krebs, who places him in the dead center of the current international scandal involving the hacking of U.S. state electoral boards in Arizona and Illinois, the sacking of Russia’s top cybercrime investigators, and efforts to plug the leaks of unflattering data on Russia’s most powerful politicians.

Vrublevsky’s growing notoriety led to closer scrutiny by cyber security researchers, one of whom discovered that his RE (for Red Eye) & Partners LLC shared more than just a business address with American Mob host Mike Muzio.

Muzio was profiled in recent investigative reporting in this space, so the researcher got in touch.

“I’m seen, therefore I am.”

Vrublevsky and the Russians had provided hosting services and payment processing for porn sites and phishing scams, he said, for Muzio’s Blue Moon crew, which ran a number of porn websites, including an inglorious site in Tampa called’s “value proposition” included rigging a so-called “dorm” with forty cameras, and filming the supposed co-eds who lived there twenty-four hours a day, for the edification of anyone with $34. a month.

It achieved a certain fame when the site’s deep-pocketed backers filed and then won a federal lawsuit preventing the city of Tampa from closing down, for being an adult business in a residential neighborhood, the girls’ “dorm.”

It was after this victory that some say the “adult” component of the web truly took flight.

Business at must have really been booming, because in January 2003 Muzio’s Blue Moon Group Inc., supposedly in the music industry, issued a press release touting major purchases.

An “epic day enhancing corporate value”

Had they signed a hot new band? Opened their own recording studio? Not exactly. They announced they’d bought Elvis’ old piano. For $685,000.

“Blue Moon Group Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: BMOO) based in Howard Beach, NY. has announced they have acquired Elvis Presley’s Grand Piano, as well as other collectible mint condition musical assets including: Presley’s 1966 Gibson electric guitar, his red shirt from the movie “Spinout,” and a RCA portable tube radio given to Elvis by RCA in 1955. Blue Moon also bought both Bo Diddley’s Thunderbird guitar and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s stratocaster guitar in a deal which the release stated “was appraised at between $1.2 and $1.3 million dollars.”

Image“Mike Muzio, President of Blue Moon Group, Inc. said, “My background is on Wall Street and today, running a music company is strictly business and entertainment combined. A sound American company like BMOO has to have assets to insure its stockholders security of investment. This is an epic day for the company; the acquisition represents Blue Moon music group’s company image and enhances corporate value in a unique fashion.”

Blue Moon’s glee was short-lived. At least for investors.

Tampa Mob meets the alt-Right

ImageAndy Badolato’s penchant for serial stock fraud and his partnership with Steve Bannon came to light when his Sarasota pad became the hasty replacement for a vacant house in Miami where London’s Guardian newspaper revealed Bannon was registered to vote.

“That Casey Key home puts Steve Bannon on Main Street here in downtown Sarasota,” reported the Sarasota Herald Tribune.

Image“Andy Badolato, owner of the $1.4 million home, is named “VP Marketing and Business Development of Victory Film Group as well as Associate Producer of Bannon’s ‘The Undefeated,” in a press release which quotes Glenn Bracken Evans, Victory Film Group co-founder. The other co-founder? Steve Bannon.”

Badolato’s sudden notoriety led to investigative reporting in this space documenting particulars of his partnership with Bannon in a series of dubiously-legal ventures, during his astonishing decade-long career of unpunished stock fraud.

ImageAlt-right beachcomber and serial stock fraudster Andrew Badolato’s various public companies all floundered like unwanted babies exposed to die on a cliff…
especially his partnerships with Mike Muzio.

Muzio belongs to what was once Santo Trafficante’s Tampa Mob, which author and keen local observer Scott Deitche dubbed the Cigar Store Mafia. Muzio even owned a cigar store.

Part of the proceeds from Badolato’s alt-right stock fraud ring was used to buy interests in a nightclub, as well as a cigar business, according to the indictment charging Muzio with conspiracy to commit securities fraud and money laundering.

International Business Ventures hits the rocks

Andy Badolato and Mike Muzio were partners and joined forces to successfully steer a company they controlled called International Business Ventures Group (IBVG) onto the rocks after a brief but troubled business life.

The company was forced to face problems most new concerns never encounter. The simultaneous incarceration of company officers, for example, when Muzio and two other company officers went to prison at the same time. Abner Alabre of Miramar pled guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud. Brian Taglieri of Jupiter and Ronnie Bass Jr. of Miramar pled guilty to the same charge.

Federal authorities said the three, along with Mike Muzio. ran a Ponzi scheme that that promised investors up to a 100 percent return in just 90 days, defrauding Haitian-American investors of more than $6 million.

Muzio conned clients into purchasing stock in International Business Ventures Group by lying about the company’s success and manipulating the market to make it appear as if the company was actively trading.

Image“The purpose of the scheme was for the defendants and their accomplices to unjustly enrich themselves by misappropriating money from the investors for their personal use by means of materially false and fraudulent misrepresentations and omissions.”
In August 2006 Muio had been convicted in New York State Court of grand larceny and was serving probation when arrested for the IBVG stock fraud, for which he was sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Curiously, Badolato, the Senior Vice President of Corporate Finance, remained free. Suspicions that Badolato has a hall pass from the FBI were widespread.

“Confidential Informants” an invitation to corruption?

Pavel Vrublevsky and Andy Badolato share crucial similarities. One example: the same suspicions voiced about Badolato swirl around Vrublevsky. He, too, is said, in criminal parlance, to be “working off a beef.”

When Vrublevsky found himself convicted of unrelated charges, cybersecurity expert Brian Krebs suspected the suspicious circumstances under which he received an early release from prison involved going to work undercover for the Russian government.

Indeed, to anyone contemplating leaking information hostile to Putin’s Kremlin regarding possible Russian hacking of the U.S. Presidential election, the thought of someone putting a bag over your head and frog-marching you away in front of your co-workers to cold-as-ice Lubyanka prison seems designed to urge interested parties into—at the very least—giving the matter further thought.

Vrublevsky’s accusations have apparently had a chilling effect in Moscow. Today he exhibits the confidence of a man assured of political protection, and guaranteed freedom from local law enforcement. He vehemently denies knowledge or association with Russian hacking, in any form, of the U.S. presidential election.

Then where do rumors of his involvement originate? Vrublevsky maintained he made enemies of people in high places in Russia. That explanation, observers note, hardly squares with being let out of prison early.

No “I” in TEAM

Mike Muzio, Andy Badolato, and Pavel Vrublevsky each belong to an intentionally-unnamed network, in whose (anonymous) name they beavered away, at least until their names came to light once too often, cogs in the gears of transnational organized crime.

Mike Muzio, for example, ran porn sites and ripped off investors on behalf of the Tampa Mob. Although he’s incorporated dozens and dozens of companies in Florida, it seems unlikely— certainly not from his mug shot—that he’s just an over-enthusiastic entrepreneur. A partial list of companies he’s incorporated includes:


Image(1)He’s not an amateur, but a professional fraudster. He’s been involved in 26 civil cases. He’s filed for bankruptcy numerous times: in 1993, 1998, and 2002. And he’s appealed civil judgments and criminal convictions to the U.S. Court of Appeals on four separate occasions.

These networks richly merit being tagged “a continuing criminal conspiracy;” a phrase used often by Federal prosecutors, except in cases when—seemingly inexplicably—they are not.

Among the criminal enterprises these unnamed networks engage in most often—the bread-and-butter plays for when they really need a two-point conversion—are financial fraud—already described here—and drug trafficking.

Example: Three of Andy Badolato’s business partners— Jonathan Curshen & Michael Muzio, today in federal prison for their roles in organized crime, as well as the recently-deceased Frank Musolino, were involved in the drug trafficking organization (or DTO, in the DEA’s ever-changing terminology) based in St. Petersburg, Florida that owned a DC-9 busted in the Yucatan in the biggest drug seizure on an airplane in Mexican history. Authorities discovered 5.5 tons of cocaine.

The drug trafficking organization was being run by the same man who owned Mike Muzio’s Blue Moon Group.


His name, of course, is Adnan Khashoggi.

I've been more focused on Bannon's machinations than the Russian hacking angle, but if Hopsicker is on this, there may be some fire amidst all the smoke. Certainly the Mob angle, Russian and otherwise, deserves closer scrutiny.
"Huey Long once said, “Fascism will come to America in the name of anti-fascism.” I'm afraid, based on my own experience, that fascism will come to America in the name of national security."
-Jim Garrison 1967
User avatar
Posts: 2332
Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2009 2:43 pm
Location: California
Blog: View Blog (37)

Re: The Festering Darkness That is Steve Bannon

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Apr 05, 2017 11:42 am

The Festering Darkness That is Steve Bannon

...removed from the NSC

Robert Costa‏Verified account

Bannon was there to “de-operationalize” the NSC, one official said, and he feels that job has been accomplished...
User avatar
Posts: 26955
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

Re: The Festering Darkness That is Steve Bannon

Postby stillrobertpaulsen » Wed Apr 05, 2017 3:46 pm

seemslikeadream » Wed Apr 05, 2017 10:42 am wrote:The Festering Darkness That is Steve Bannon

...removed from the NSC

Robert Costa‏Verified account

Bannon was there to “de-operationalize” the NSC, one official said, and he feels that job has been accomplished...

Ha, ha, ha. Declare victory and leave - the hallmark of any true loser.

Bannon Taken Off Trump National Security Council in Shake-Up
by Jennifer Jacobs
April 5, 2017, 8:29 AM PDT

President Donald Trump reorganized his National Security Council on Wednesday, removing chief strategist Stephen Bannon from a key committee and restoring the roles of top intelligence and defense officials, according to a person familiar with the decision and a notice published in the Federal Register.

Steve Bannon
Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg

The realignment increases the influence of National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, whose public stances were sometimes at odds with those of Bannon. In addition to gaining greater control over the NSC, McMaster will have the Homeland Security Council under his authority.

The change downgrades the role of Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert, who had been given authority to convene or chair the NSC’s principals committee under Trump’s original structure. He’ll serve those roles now as delegated by McMaster, according to a presidential memorandum dated Tuesday.

The national intelligence director, Dan Coats, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, are again “regular attendees” of the principals committee, as in the Obama administration. Trump downgraded their roles and put Bannon on the committee in a Jan. 28 memorandum.

The secretary of energy, the CIA director and the United Nations ambassador also were added to the principals committee under Wednesday’s revisions.

Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart News, is one of Trump’s most trusted and controversial advisers. He channeled the populist and nationalist sentiment that propelled Trump’s presidential campaign. His placement on the NSC committee drew criticism from some members of Congress and Washington’s foreign policy establishment who said it risked politicizing the security advice provided to the president.

A White House official portrayed the change as a natural progression rather than a demotion for Bannon. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, contended that Bannon was placed on the committee in part to monitor Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and never attended a meeting. He’s no longer needed with McMaster in charge of the council, the official said.

Still, his departure from the NSC role was applauded by some Republicans as well as Democrats. Republican Represenative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida called it “welcome news” in a tweet.

Flynn’s Firing

Trump fired Flynn on Feb. 13 for not disclosing to the president or to Vice President Mike Pence the extent of his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, before Trump’s inauguration. He now is enmeshed in the multiple investigations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether any Trump associates had improper contacts with Russian government agents.

Trump’s selection of McMaster reassured some administration critics. A decorated officer, McMaster has a reputation for speaking truth to authority. In his 1997 book “Dereliction of Duty,” he criticized military officers for failing to challenge former President Lyndon B. Johnson and then-Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara over their handling of the Vietnam War. He wrote that the U.S. lost that war in the political corridors of Washington, not the battlefield.

Mike Flynn’s son lashes out after Bannon’s demotion — and questions Trump’s desire to fight ‘radical Islam’
Brad Reed
05 Apr 2017 at 13:15 ET

Michael Flynn Jr., left, with his father Michael Flynn (Screen cap).

Michael Flynn Jr., the son of former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, lashed out at his father’s successor on Twitter Tuesday.

Reacting to the news that top Trump political strategist Steve Bannon had been removed from the National Security Council, Flynn Jr. attacked current National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster by noting that he wouldn’t even say the words “radical Islam.”

“Fact 1: Flynn/Bannon most loyal to DJT (both out at NSC),” he wrote on Twitter. “Fact 2: McMaster wont say ‘Radical Islam.'”

Flynn Jr. then went on to question whether the White House is really serious about “defeating our enemy.”

Flynn and Bannon were often seen as on the same side in the power struggle on the National Security Council, as reports have claimed they both butted heads with more traditional foreign policy hands, such as Defense Secretary James Mattis. If Flynn Jr.’s tweet is any indication, he seems to believe that the establishment foreign policy forces in the White House are winning the power struggle.

Fact 1: Flynn/Bannon most loyal to DJT (both out at NSC)

Fact 2: McMaster wont say "Radical Islam"

Is WH serious abt defeating our enemy?

— Michael Flynn Jr
"Huey Long once said, “Fascism will come to America in the name of anti-fascism.” I'm afraid, based on my own experience, that fascism will come to America in the name of national security."
-Jim Garrison 1967
User avatar
Posts: 2332
Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2009 2:43 pm
Location: California
Blog: View Blog (37)

Re: The Festering Darkness That is Steve Bannon

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Apr 05, 2017 4:03 pm

Fact 2: McMaster wont say "Radical Islam"

but can he say Pizzagate? :P
User avatar
Posts: 26955
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

Re: The Festering Darkness That is Steve Bannon

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Apr 05, 2017 7:20 pm

Steve Bannon removed from NSC just one day after claim that Jared Kushner was targeting him
By Bill Palmer | April 5, 2017 | 0

Donald Trump’s White House Chief Strategist and close confidant Steve Bannon was removed from his controversial role on the National Security Council today, a move that came with no warning or context or explanation. Some have theorized that perhaps he couldn’t get the security clearance, but major news outlets are reporting that he already has that clearance, and that he’ll be retaining it even after his NSC exit (source: CNBC). However there is a different storyline here worth considering.

Over the past few weeks we’ve all watched Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner make one power play after another which has now placed him in charge of large chunks of the Executive Branch. This doesn’t come as a surprise, as there have been several wild swings in power within the White House since Donald Trump moved in. But what does stand out is that Trump’s close friend Roger Stone accused Kushner yesterday of leaking negative information about Steve Bannon to Morning Joe Scarborough (link).

Stone is too routinely dishonest to ever be taken at his word. But his outburst begged the question of why he was suddenly taking a public cheap shot at his friend Trump’s own son-in-law, and moreover, why he was making such an oddly specific accusation about Kushner. One of the thoughts that came to mind was that Steve Bannon was growing weary of Kushner’s recent power play, and fed the claim to Stone in an attempt at slowing down Kushner’s progress.

Now that we know Steve Bannon is indeed losing influence over Trump to the point that he’s officially had one of his two key White House titles taken away from him today, it lends credence to the theory that Kushner has been moving in on him, and that Bannon put Stone in motion yesterday in a last ditch effort to avoid being removed from the National Security Council, which failed. Of course this feels less like a legitimate White House and more like Game of Thrones. ... -him/2187/
User avatar
Posts: 26955
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

Re: The Festering Darkness That is Steve Bannon

Postby JackRiddler » Wed Apr 05, 2017 8:51 pm


Ain't watched Alex Jones in months, but damn that was worth 14 minutes for the trainwreck.
To Justice my maker from on high did incline:
I am by virtue of its might divine,
The highest Wisdom and the first Love.

Top Secret Wall St. Iraq? & more
User avatar
Posts: 13013
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2008 2:59 pm
Location: New York City
Blog: View Blog (0)

Re: The Festering Darkness That is Steve Bannon

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Apr 05, 2017 9:29 pm

the White House is saying Bannon was only there to keep an eye on Flynn :P

now it's being reported that Bannon threaten to quit if he was push out of the NCS :P :P

he was pushed out
User avatar
Posts: 26955
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

Re: The Festering Darkness That is Steve Bannon

Postby Elvis » Wed Apr 05, 2017 10:04 pm

He’ll serve those roles now as delegated by McMaster, according to a presidential memorandum dated Tuesday.

I read that as, "according to a presidential memorandum Tweeted Tuesday." :blankstare
"Frankly, I don't think it's a good idea but the sums proposed are enormous."
User avatar
Posts: 4855
Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2008 7:24 pm
Blog: View Blog (0)

Re: The Festering Darkness That is Steve Bannon

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Apr 06, 2017 8:14 am

Steve Bannon was talked out of resigning from White House by his Cambridge Analytica partner
By Bill Palmer | April 5, 2017 | 0

Donald Trump has removed his close confidant Steve Bannon from the White House National Security Council, and Bannon is far from happy about it. The New York Times reported that Bannon had threatened to resign over the move. And now Politico is reporting that Bannon only remained in his White House Chief Strategist role because Rebekah Mercer – his business partner at the mysterious firm Cambridge Analytica – talked him into staying.

In the days after Donald Trump was named the winner of the 2016 presidential election, article after article credited the victory to the voter data work conducted by Cambridge Analytica. It’s since come to light that Steve Bannon was the Executive Chairman of the company at the time he took over the Trump campaign, and that billionaire Rebekah Mercer and her family largely fund the company.

It’s been widely theorized (though not in any way substantiated) that Cambridge Analytica was using the data that Russian hackers stole from voter registration databases and allegedly fed to the Donald Trump campaign through the now-infamous Trump Tower email server. But whether this theory is true or not, what does seem more clear is that Bannon and Mercer had been putting their efforts into Cambridge Analytica prior to the 2016 election because they wanted to help someone of their liking get elected.

In any case, we now know that it was Steve Bannon’s former business associate in Cambridge Analytica who convinced him yesterday to hang on to the diminished White House role that he still has (source: Politico). Mercer’s reasoning, according to the source: “this is a long-term play.” Interpret that how you will. But it raises the question of why Bannon’s billionaire backer wants him to remain in the White House even now that his influence over Donald Trump has bottomed out ... tner/2199/

seemslikeadream » Thu Mar 30, 2017 7:33 pm wrote:
Mattathias Schwartz
March 30 2017, 1:01 p.m.
IN 2014, TRACES of an unusual survey, connected to Facebook, began appearing on internet message boards. The boards were frequented by remote freelance workers who bid on “human intelligence tasks” in an online marketplace, called Mechanical Turk, controlled by Amazon. The “turkers,” as they’re known, tend to perform work that is rote and repetitive, like flagging pornographic images or digging through search engine results for email addresses. Most jobs pay between 1 and 15 cents. “Turking makes us our rent money and helps pay off debt,” one turker told The Intercept. Another turker has called the work “voluntary slave labor.”

The task posted by “Global Science Research” appeared ordinary, at least on the surface. The company offered turkers $1 or $2 to complete an online survey. But there were a couple of additional requirements as well. First, Global Science Research was only interested in American turkers. Second, the turkers had to download a Facebook app before they could collect payment. Global Science Research said the app would “download some information about you and your network … basic demographics and likes of categories, places, famous people, etc. from you and your friends.”

“Our terms of service clearly prohibit misuse,” said a spokesperson for Amazon Web Services, by email. “When we learned of this activity back in 2015, we suspended the requester for violating our terms of service.”

Although Facebook’s early growth was driven by closed, exclusive networks at college and universities, it has gradually herded users to agree to increasingly permissive terms of service. By 2014, anything a user’s friends could see was also potentially visible to the developers of any app that they chose to download. Some of the turkers noticed that the Global Science Research app appeared to be taking advantage of Facebook’s porousness. “Someone can learn everything about you by looking at hundreds of pics, messages, friends, and likes,” warned one, writing on a message board. “More than you realize.” Others were more blasé. “I don’t put any info on FB,” one wrote. “Not even my real name … it’s backwards that people put sooo much info on Facebook, and then complain when their privacy is violated.”

In late 2015, the turkers began reporting that the Global Science Research survey had abruptly shut down. The Guardian had published a report that exposed exactly who the turkers were working for. Their data was being collected by Aleksandr Kogan, a young lecturer at Cambridge University. Kogan founded Global Science Research in 2014, after the university’s psychology department refused to allow him to use its own pool of data for commercial purposes. The data collection that Kogan undertook independent of the university was done on behalf of a military contractor called Strategic Communication Laboratories, or SCL. The company’s election division claims to use “data-driven messaging” as part of “delivering electoral success.”

SCL has a growing U.S. spin-off, called Cambridge Analytica, which was paid millions of dollars by Donald Trump’s campaign. Much of the money came from committees funded by the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, who reportedly has a large stake in Cambridge Analytica. For a time, one of Cambridge Analytica’s officers was Stephen K. Bannon, Trump’s senior adviser. Months after Bannon claimed to have severed ties with the company, checks from the Trump campaign for Cambridge Analytica’s services continued to show up at one of Bannon’s addresses in Los Angeles.

“You can say Mr. Mercer declined to comment,” said Jonathan Gasthalter, a spokesperson for Robert Mercer, by email.

FaceBook Elections signs stand in the media area at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, before the first Republican presidential debate. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) Facebook Elections signs in the media area at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Aug. 6, 2015, before the first Republican presidential debate of the 2016 election. Photo: John Minchillo/AP
The Intercept interviewed five individuals familiar with Kogan’s work for SCL. All declined to be identified, citing concerns about an ongoing inquiry at Cambridge and fears of possible litigation. Two sources familiar with the SCL project told The Intercept that Kogan had arranged for more than 100,000 people to complete the Facebook survey and download an app. A third source with direct knowledge of the project said that Global Science Research obtained data from 185,000 survey participants as well as their Facebook friends. The source said that this group of 185,000 was recruited through a data company, not Mechanical Turk, and that it yielded 30 million usable profiles. No one in this larger group of 30 million knew that “likes” and demographic data from their Facebook profiles were being harvested by political operatives hired to influence American voters.

Kogan declined to comment. In late 2014, he gave a talk in Singapore in which he claimed to have “a sample of 50+ million individuals about whom we have the capacity to predict virtually any trait.” Global Science Research’s public filings for 2015 show the company holding 145,111 British pounds in its bank account. Kogan has since changed his name to Spectre. Writing online, he has said that he changed his name to Spectre after getting married. “My wife and I are both scientists and quite religious, and light is a strong symbol of both,” he explained.

The purpose of Kogan’s work was to develop an algorithm for the “national profiling capacity of American citizens” as part of SCL’s work on U.S. elections, according to an internal document signed by an SCL employee describing the research.

“We do not do any work with Facebook likes,” wrote Lindsey Platts, a spokesperson for Cambridge Analytica, in an email. The company currently “has no relationship with GSR,” Platts said.

“Cambridge Analytica does not comment on specific clients or projects,” she added when asked whether the company was involved with Global Science Research’s work in 2014 and 2015.

The Guardian, which was was the first to report on Cambridge Analytica’s work on U.S. elections, in late 2015, noted that the company drew on research “spanning tens of millions of Facebook users, harvested largely without their permission.” Kogan disputed this at the time, telling The Guardian that his turker surveys had collected no more than “a couple of thousand responses” for any one client. While it is unclear how many responses Global Science Research obtained through Mechanical Turk and how many it recruited through a data company, all five of the sources interviewed by The Intercept confirmed that Kogan’s work on behalf of SCL involved collecting data from survey participants’ networks of Facebook friends, individuals who had not themselves consented to give their data to Global Science Research and were not aware that they were the objects of Kogan’s study. In September 2016, Alexander Nix, Cambridge Analytica’s CEO, said that the company built a model based on “hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Americans” filling out personality surveys, generating a “model to predict the personality of every single adult in the United States of America.”

Shortly after The Guardian published its 2015 article, Facebook contacted Global Science Research and requested that it delete the data it had taken from Facebook users. Facebook’s policies give Facebook the right to delete data gathered by any app deemed to be “negatively impacting the Platform.” The company believes that Kogan and SCL complied with the request, which was made during the Republican primary, before Cambridge Analytica switched over from Ted Cruz’s campaign to Donald Trump’s. It remains unclear what was ultimately done with the Facebook data, or whether any models or algorithms derived from it wound up being used by the Trump campaign.

In public, Facebook continues to maintain that whatever happened during the run-up to the election was business as usual. “Our investigation to date has not uncovered anything that suggests wrongdoing,” a Facebook spokesperson told The Intercept.

Facebook appears not to have considered Global Science Research’s data collection to have been a serious ethical lapse. Joseph Chancellor, Kogan’s main collaborator on the SCL project and a former co-owner of Global Science Research, is now employed by Facebook Research. “The work that he did previously has no bearing on the work that he does at Facebook,” a Facebook spokesperson told The Intercept.

Chancellor declined to comment.

Cambridge Analytica has marketed itself as classifying voters using five personality traits known as OCEAN — Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism — the same model used by University of Cambridge researchers for in-house, non-commercial research. The question of whether OCEAN made a difference in the presidential election remains unanswered. Some have argued that big data analytics is a magic bullet for drilling into the psychology of individual voters; others are more skeptical. The predictive power of Facebook likes is not in dispute. A 2013 study by three of Kogan’s former colleagues at the University of Cambridge showed that likes alone could predict race with 95 percent accuracy and political party with 85 percent accuracy. Less clear is their power as a tool for targeted persuasion; Cambridge Analytica has claimed that OCEAN scores can be used to drive voter and consumer behavior through “microtargeting,” meaning narrowly tailored messages. Nix has said that neurotic voters tend to be moved by “rational and fear-based” arguments, while introverted, agreeable voters are more susceptible to “tradition and habits and family and community.”

Dan Gillmor, director of the Knight Center at Arizona State University, said he was skeptical of the idea that the Trump campaign got a decisive edge from data analytics. But, he added, such techniques will likely become more effective in the future. “It’s reasonable to believe that sooner or later, we’re going to see widespread manipulation of people’s decision-making, including in elections, in ways that are more widespread and granular, but even less detectable than today,” he wrote in an email.

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 15: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (L) throws a hat to supporters during a campaign rally aboard the USS Iowa on September 15, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. Donald Trump is campaigning in Los Angeles a day ahead of the CNN GOP debate that will be broadcast from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) Donald Trump throws a hat to supporters during a campaign rally on Sept. 15, 2015, in Los Angeles. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Trump’s circle has been open about its use of Facebook to influence the vote. Joel Pollak, an editor at Breitbart, writes in his campaign memoir about Trump’s “armies of Facebook ‘friends,’ … bypassing the gatekeepers in the traditional media.” Roger Stone, a longtime Trump adviser, has written in his own campaign memoir about “geo-targeting” cities to deliver a debunked claim that Bill Clinton had fathered a child out of wedlock, and narrowing down the audience “based on preferences in music, age range, black culture, and other urban interests.”

Clinton, of course, had her own analytics effort, and digital market research is a normal part of any political campaign. But the quantity of data compiled on individuals during the run-up to the election is striking. Alexander Nix, head of Cambridge Analytica, has claimed to “have a massive database of 4-5,000 data points on every adult in America.” Immediately after the election, the company tried to take credit for the win, claiming that its data helped the Trump campaign set the candidate’s travel schedule and place online ads that were viewed 1.5 billion times. Since then, the company has been de-emphasizing its reliance on psychological profiling.

The Information Commissioner’s Office, an official privacy watchdog within the British government, is now looking into whether Cambridge Analytica and similar companies might pose a risk to voters’ rights. The British inquiry was triggered by reports in The Observer of ties between Robert Mercer, Cambridge Analytica, and the Leave.EU campaign, which worked to persuade British voters to leave the European Union. While Nix has previously talked about the firm’s work for Leave.EU, Cambridge Analytica now denies that it had any paid role in the campaign.

Twickenham, members of Leave EU and UKIP hand out leaflets<br /><br /><br /><br /> Grassroots Out action day on EU membership, London, Britain - 05 Mar 2016</p><br /><br /><br /> <p> (Rex Features via AP Images) Leave.EU signage is displayed in London on March 5, 2016. Photo: Rex Features/AP Images
In the U.S., where privacy laws are looser, there is no investigation. Cambridge Analytica is said to be pitching its products to several federal agencies, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff. SCL, its parent company, has new offices near the White House and has reportedly been advised by Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, on how to increase its federal business. (A spokesperson for Flynn denied that he had done any work for SCL.)

Years before the arrival of Kogan’s turkers, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg tried to address privacy concerns around the company’s controversial Beacon program, which quietly funneled data from outside websites into Facebook, often without Facebook users being aware of the process. Reflecting on Beacon, Zuckerberg attributed part of Facebook’s success to giving “people control over what and how they share information.” He said that he regretted making Beacon an “opt-out system instead of opt-in … if someone forgot to decline to share something, Beacon went ahead and still shared it with their friends.”

Seven years later, Facebook appears to have made the same mistake, but with far greater consequences. In mid-2014, however, Facebook announced a new review process, where the company would make sure that new apps asked only for data they would actually use. “People want more control,” the company said at that time. “It’s going to make a huge difference with building trust with your app’s audience.” Existing apps were given a full year to switch over to have Facebook review how they handled user data. By that time, Global Science Research already had what it needed. ... affiliate/
User avatar
Posts: 26955
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

Re: The Festering Darkness That is Steve Bannon

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Apr 06, 2017 8:22 am

SitRep: Trump Advisor Bannon Predicts Wars With China, Middle East; Pentagon Officials Say Gloves Off in Yemen

Foreign Policy Magazine
Paul McLeary and Adam Rawnsley
Foreign Policy MagazineFebruary 1, 2017

Bannon’s world. For someone who ran a media company — and hosted a radio show — before become President Trump’s top advisor, there’s been an air of mystery surrounding Steve Bannon. The USA Today went back and listened to dozens of recordings of the show he hosted for the conspiracy-minded, ultra-right wing Breitbart media company, and found that much of what he said in 2015 and early 2016 has since been parroted by POTUS.

Earlier this week, Trump made Bannon a member of his National Security Council, taking the highly unusual step of installing a political adviser in the middle of his national security team.

In one episode, Bannon said, “you have an expansionist Islam and you have an expansionist China. Right? They are motivated. They’re arrogant. They’re on the march. And they think the Judeo-Christian West is on the retreat” He went on to predict a war between the U.S. and China within the next decade.

He also predicted “a major shooting war in the Middle East” in the coming years. “To be brutally frank, I mean Christianity is dying in Europe, and Islam is on the rise,” he said in January 2016. “Some of these situations may get a little unpleasant,” Bannon said. “But you know what, we’re in a war.”

Keep an eye on Yemen. Some Pentagon officials are looking at Yemen as a place where the Trump administration might allow the military more room for action than the Obama administration, according to the Washington Post’s Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Missy Ryan.

After the weekend’s Navy SEAL raid on an al Qaeda camp that killed over a dozen fighters — along with the 8 year-old daughter of deceased American cleric Anwar ­al-Awlaki, who was killed in 2011 in a U.S. drone strike – along with Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens, defense officials see more action coming. “We expect an easier approval cycle [for operations] under this administration,” one defense official told the Post. Another former officials with experience in Yemen said that more U.S. troops on the ground in Yemen was “overdue.”

Military clears itself of wrongdoing. Remember back to late 2015, when a group of civilian intelligence analysts at the U.S. Central Command charged that their bosses were tweaking their work to make it look like the war against ISIS in Iraq was going better than facts on the ground warranted? This might surprise you, but a Pentagon investigation due out Wednesday finds little evidence to support those charges. Buzzfeed’s Nancy Youssef first reported the results of the investigation, saying one of the analysts called the report a “whitewash.”

Asking too much of Mattis? Expectations for new Defense Secretary James Mattis are high — with allies and domestic observers expecting him to act as a bulwark against an inexperienced White House’s desire to move fast.

“Mattis is the canary in the coal mine,” signaling the mood of the Trump administration, one foreign official told the Wall Street Journal’s Gordon Lubold and Julian Barnes. That’s a lot to ask of any cabinet member, and let’s not forget that Mattis has bosses: national security advisor Michael Flynn and President Trump, to whom he’s accountable, and whose policies he’s tasked with carrying out.

But the SecDef is wheels up for Asia on Wednesday, stopping off in Japan and South Korea on the first overseas trip of any member of the Trump administration. While there, Mattis will address the North Korean threat, China’s moves in the South China Sea, and calm jittery allies unsure over Trump’s campaign pledges to pull U.S. troops out of overseas bases in the region. Later this month, Mattis will head to an international summit in Germany, where he’ll again be asked to be the leading face for the future of U.S. foreign policy.

Tell us how you really feel. A senior career diplomat “delivered a soaring and thinly-veiled critique of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy in a farewell address Tuesday that pleaded with colleagues to stay in their positions and uphold America’s longstanding policies of openness and liberty,: FP’s John Hudson reports from Foggy Bottom.

“We still owe something to America,” said Tom Countryman, the outgoing under secretary of state for arms control, at a private goodbye party at the State Department. “A policy without professionals is by definition an amateur policy. You have to help make the choices that bring this country forward.”

You down with FSB? A top cybersecurity specialist and his deputy in Russia’s intelligence service, the FSB, are reportedly being accused by the Kremlin of “breaking their oath” by working with America’s Central Intelligence Agency, FP’s Emily Tamkin tells us. “Sergei Mikhailov, allegedly detained at a board meeting last December, and his deputy, Dmitry Dokuchaev, were arrested by the Kremlin on Jan. 27 for treason and illegal hacking. Then, on Tuesday, Russian news agency Interfax, after hearing from unidentified sources, reported that they, along with Ruslan Stoyanov, the head of cybercrime investigations at Kaspersky Labs, and a fourth, as yet unnamed person, are suspected of passing along secret information to the CIA — or of passing it to someone who passed it to the CIA.”

The more you know. Russian defense ministry has just launched a Arabic language version, and is unveiling a Chinese site next month, according to Kremlin-funded Sputnik.

Welcome to SitRep. Send any tips, thoughts or national security events to or via Twitter: @paulmcleary or @arawnsley.


Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is making good on his promises to warm relations with China in contrast to the recent tensions between the two countries over disputed territory in the South China Sea. Reuters reports that Duterte said he’s asking China to pitch in to help with the Philippines’s piracy problem in the Sulu Sea. Duterte says he’d be “glad” if Chinese coast guard vessels patrolled the waters, where Islamist militants have kidnapped sailors and held them for ransom. Duterte has argued for a pivot to Russia and China and away from the U.S. following criticism from American officials over his policy of encouraging the vigilante murders of drug addicts.


Russian-backed rebels in Ukraine are increasing their use of heavy artillery, shelling population centers in territory held by the Ukrainian government and raising the question of what, if anything, President Trump intends to do about it. The Washington Post reports that ten people have died in the fighting already, but all eyes are on the Trump administration to see what its policy will be towards the conflict. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump expressed support for Russia’s annexation of Crimea and skepticism that the Russian troops involved in the operation were actually Russian.

The UN Security Council expressed “grave concern” on Tuesday over the fighting. “The members of the Security Council expressed their full support of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” the Security Council — which includes Russia, and Ukraine on a rotating basis — said in statement. “The members of the Security Council called for an immediate return to a ceasefire regime.”


President Trump’s policy towards Syria and the anti-Islamic State fight is becoming somewhat clearer following claims from U.S.-backed rebels that they had been provided armored vehicles by Washington. The predominantly Kurdish SDF has been among the most effective American allies against the Islamic State but U.S. support for it has come at the cost of mounting irritation from Turkey, which considers the Kurdish groups that compose the SDF to be terrorists. SDF spokesman Talal Sello called the shipment of the vehicles the marker of “a new phase” in the U.S.-SDF relationship, noting that the Obama administration had been less willing to supply the group with more than light weapons.


The New York Times got a hold of some of the Islamic State’s internal documents on its drone program. The terrorist group has been using commercial and purpose-built drones to drop small explosive like grenades on Iraqi forces trying to clear out the city of Mosul. According to the documents, the Islamic State has standardized checklists for drone missions as well as documentation showing the various commercial components used to build and equip the devices. A spokesman for the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition told the times that the terrorist group’s drones have killed about a dozen people and injured 50 so far.


One of the Defense Department’s flagship counter-messaging programs against the Islamic State is bogged down by incompetence and dubious impact, according to an AP investigation. The program, called WebOps, is supposed to use Arabic-speaking personnel to dissuade potential recruits to the Islamic State and counter their message. But the wire service found allegations that WebOps personnel often have weak grasps of Islam and the Arabic language, have awarded contracts based on nepotism, and provided their own misleading assessments about the impact of WebOps on Islamist militants online.

Business of defense

When the Obama administration greenlit the sale of fighter jets to Gulf countries, it let Kuwait and Qatar’s purchases move forward but held back the sale of F-16s to Bahrain until it improved its human rights record. Now, Defense News reports, it looks like the fine print about human rights is no more and the sale will go through unimpeded. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) says he thinks the Trump administration will approve the $2.8 billion sale without any restrictions.

Book deals

In a move that will surprise few, a Navy SEAL is writing a book. Robert O’Neill, a member of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team 6 and the man that, by some accounts, pulled the trigger on the shot that killed Osama Bin Laden, will be publishing a memoir in April about his life with the special operations unit. Matt Bissonnette, a fellow Team 6 alumni and participant in the Bin Laden raid, also published a memoir that touched on the famous raid only to find himself in legal trouble failing to clear it through pre-publication review. O’Neill’s book, by contrast, has been vetted through the pre-publication review process already. ... 12630.html
User avatar
Posts: 26955
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

Re: The Festering Darkness That is Steve Bannon

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Apr 06, 2017 10:23 am

Robert Mercer's Merciless Political Agenda


"The Mercers laid the groundwork for the Trump revolution. Irrefutably, when you look at donors during the past four years, they have had the single biggest impact of anybody, including the Kochs." -- Steve Bannon, Trump's chief strategist.

The publicity shy, Trump-supporting, secretive multi-billionaire hedge-fund tycoon Robert Mercer is a man you wouldn't recognize on the subway, in a supermarket check-out line, or be able to pick out of a line-up. Now, he is finally getting what he has avoided for years; the glare of the public spotlight. A rash of recent articles has unmasked the New York City-based hedge-fund phenomenon. And while Mercer is being reluctantly drawn out of the shadows, his daughter Rebekah, who chaired Mercer's super PAC, Make America Number 1, urged Trump to bring Bannon onto his campaign staff, and subsequently played an important role on Trump's transition team, may be getting over the family's aversion to the limelight.

In late February, The Guardian's Carole Cadwalladr pointed out in a piece titled "Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media," that not only was Mercer "Trump's single biggest donor" (although he apparently originally supported Ted Cruz), he is the money behind a host of major right-wing entities and operations.

Let's go back a bit: According to Cadwalladr, Mercer, a math genius and computer scientist, "started his career at IBM, where he made what the Association for Computational Linguistics called 'revolutionary' breakthroughs in language processing – a science that went on to be key in developing today's AI – and later became joint CEO of Renaissance Technologies, a hedge fund that makes its money by using algorithms to model and trade on the financial markets."

Cadwalladr noted that Medallion, one of Mercer's funds, "which manages only its employees' money, is the most successful in the world – generating $55bn so far. And since 2010, Mercer has donated $45m to different political campaigns – all Republican – and another $50m to non-profits – all rightwing, ultra-conservative."

And while the multi-billionaire is rather generously spreading his wealth to numerous ultra-right and conservative organizations and institutions, he doesn't hedge on his own personal rewards, which includes a "series of yachts," and "a $2.9m model train set" for starters.

However, it is in the realm of political giving that Mercer has become the current king of the roost. In his attempt to reshape the landscape of American politics, Mercer has donated millions to L. Brent Bozell's Media Research Center, where its CNSNews site has been a pursuing a defang the "liberal" news media strategy for decades; is chief among donors to The Heartland Institute, one of the major climate change denial think tanks; and, gave $10 million to Steve Bannon to help get the Breitbart news site on solid financial footing. Mercer had also bankrolled some of Bannon's film projects.

According to Cadwalladr, Breitbart is "the 29th most popular site in America with 2 billion page views a year. It's bigger than its inspiration, the Huffington Post, bigger, even, than PornHub. It's the biggest political site on Facebook. The biggest on Twitter. "

What also drives Mercer is his apparent hatred for all things Clinton, both Bill and Hillary. According to piece by Nathan Reiff posted on Investopedia, Mercer had a key role in publishing "Clinton Cash," the best-selling book that "investigated various financial dealings made by Hillary Clinton and her family and inspired many of the attacks that Donald Trump issued in the presidential campaign season." Mercer gave $1.7 million of the $2.6 million needed by the Florida-based, Steve Bannon-founded Government Accountability Institute, to publish the book. "Clinton Cash" was written by Peter Schweizer, who is also the president of the Government Accountability Institute.

Mercer's Connection to Data Analytics

Cadwalladr's interest in Mercer also revolves around "his connection to Cambridge Analytica, a small data analytics company … .[in which] [h]e is reported to have a $10m stake… " The company "was spun out of a bigger British company called SCL Group, … [which] specializes in 'election management strategies' and 'messaging and information operations,' refined over 25 years in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan. In military circles this is known as 'psyops' – psychological operations."

Cambridge Analytica, which worked for the campaign of Ted Cruz before switching to Trump, also worked the Leave side during the Brexit campaign. Late last year, Cadwalladr wrote about Cambridge Analytica while reporting "about how Google's search results on certain subjects were being dominated by rightwing and extremist sites. Jonathan Albright, a professor of communications at Elon University, North Carolina, who had mapped the news ecosystem and found millions of links between rightwing sites 'strangling' the mainstream media, told me that trackers from sites like Breitbart could also be used by companies like Cambridge Analytica to follow people around the web and then, via Facebook, target them with ads."

Mercer invested in Cambridge Analytica, the Washington Post reported, "driven in part by an assessment that the right was lacking sophisticated technology capabilities." According to "Democracy Now's" Nermeen Shaikh, "Cambridge Analytica, … claims it has psychological profiles of over 200 million American voters."

Mercer also has developed a close friendship with Nigel Farage, the anti-immigration, on-again-off-again leader of the UK Independence Party, and a major player in the campaign. Farage was the first foreign politician to meet president-elect Trump.

In a "Democracy Now" interview with Jane Mayer, author of a recent New Yorker piece titled "The Reclusive Hedge-Fund Tycoon Behind the Trump Presidency: How Robert Mercer exploited America's populist insurgency" it was pointed out that these days, it is said about Mercer and his daughter that they "out-Koched the Koch brothers in the 2016 election."

"Since the election," Democracy Now's Amy Goodman pointed out, "Rebekah Mercer joined the Trump transition team, and Robert Mercer threw a victory party of sorts at his Long Island estate. It was a hero and villain's costume party. Kellyanne Conway showed up as Superwoman. Donald Trump showed up as himself." ... cal-agenda
User avatar
Posts: 26955
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

Re: The Festering Darkness That is Steve Bannon

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Apr 06, 2017 2:05 pm

More Moving Parts

Andrew Harrer
ByJOSH MARSHALLPublishedAPRIL 6, 2017, 9:36 AM EDT
Picking up on my argument from last night about how campaign era figures like Bannon, Flynn et al. (likely Russia scandal compromised figures, mind you) are being nudged to the side in favor of figures like McMaster, McGahn, Mattis, etc, (national security bureaucrats and party regulars) here's a related point.

It was both sickening and comical when we saw that Jared Kushner, half-failed legacy real estate tycoon and Trump son-in-law, showing up in Iraq before the Secretary of State to confer with key leaders about the progress of the battle for Mosul. But there's another dimension of it. (And in any case, the Secretary of State is emerging goober Rex Tillerson, so how bad is it?) Reporting suggests that this wasn't Kushner insisting on a visit to Iraq to investigate matters for himself. It appears more like Pentagon leaders invited Kushner to come along, knowing that they can communicate to Trump via Kushner.

Now, this is a very unfortunate place for the country to be that the President's statutory top military advisor must communicate with the President through his unripe and inexperienced son-in-law who has no experience in any of these matters. But that's where we are. And communication in a corruptish, banana republic type way is better than not communicating at all - at least that appears to be the not unreasonable reasoning of people at the Pentagon. In other words, as embarrassing for the country as it is, I suspect it is yet another of those interrelated developments that I noted here - along with the demotion of Bannon, the shutting down of Cohen-Watnick, the President's volte-face on Syria.
User avatar
Posts: 26955
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

Re: The Festering Darkness That is Steve Bannon

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Apr 07, 2017 10:28 am

Bannon’s Booting From NSC May Not Mean Much After All

White House observers anxiously awaiting a pivot toward tradition from the Trump administration took relief in Wednesday’s sudden announcement that Chief Strategist Steve Bannon had been removed from the National Security Council’s Principals’ Committee.

The decision was met with near-universal approval from D.C.’s foreign policy establishment, who contended since Bannon’s January appointment that a far-right media provocateur-turned-Trump whisperer had no business weighing in on critical national security issues. But several foreign policy experts and former NSC members who spoke with TPM cautioned that it was too early to pop the champagne.

“How many times have we done Lucy with the football with these guys?” asked Derek Chollet, the NSC’s senior director for strategic planning during the Obama administration, in a nod to Charles Schultz’s “Peanuts” cartoon. “This is just a bureaucratic version of Trump’s speech before Congress where he stands up and does something semi-normal and everyone heralds it as the return to normalcy. We should wise up by now.”

“If Steve Bannon was being bounced from the government or banished to some windowless office in the bowels of the Old Executive Office Building, that might suggest something different is at play,” Chollet continued. “But the idea that he’s going to formally stop attending meetings that he wasn’t attending in the first place doesn’t seem to be a sea change in the way decisions in this White House are being made.”

Similarly, James Jeffrey, deputy national security adviser to former President George W. Bush, observed to the New York Times that despite this blow, Bannon “seems to be very close to the president and, by most accounts, still wins many of his battles.”

Bannon retains a top-level national security clearance, the ability to sit in on most NSC meetings, and a West Wing office steps away from the Oval Office door. A flurry of reports out Thursday warned that Bannon’s populist, nationalist worldview is clashing spectacularly with the President’s son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner’s more traditionalist, diplomatic approach, but Bannon remains—at least for now—one of the most influential people in Trump’s small orbit.

The White House worked overtime on Wednesday to downplay Bannon’s role on and removal from the NSC, denying that it was a demotion. Vice President Mike Pence told Fox News that Bannon would “continue to play [an] important policy role,” while Bannon himself framed the move as voluntary, saying he’d successfully managed to “de-operationalize” the NSC as he’d set out to do.

News reports cited anonymous White House officials who claimed Bannon had only attended one or two NSC meetings anyway. Others said he never attended any meetings at all.

More hopeful reads on the situation suggested that Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, who took over as national security adviser following the ouster of the conspiracy-theory-friendly Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, was finally exerting control over the Trump administration’s unstable national security apparatus. This interpretation was bolstered by the addition of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and Energy Secretary Rick Perry to the Principals’ Committee (both of those positions had seats on the Principals’ Committee during the Obama administration).

“I think the move to a more traditional membership for the NSC is a step in the right direction and it suggests that the Trump administration may be heading in a more conventional direction when it comes to national security policy,” Charles Kupchan, Senior Director for European Affairs on Obama’s NSC, told TPM.

“I see the Bannon removal as significant, especially if it’s true he threatened to quit over it as has been reported by some news outlets,” Rebecca Friedman Lissner, a nuclear security expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, concurred.

But all the national security experts agreed one looming question remained unanswered: Even under McMaster’s consolidated control, does the NSC really hold sway in the Trump administration?

Since its founding in 1947, the NSC was intended as the principal forum in which senior agency heads hashed out diplomatic and military options and presented them to the President. The Trump White House has taken a more scattershot approach, staffing up the NSC while also granting huge responsibility to a small team of close aides outside the NSC apparatus.

Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has an expansive foreign policy portfolio focused on Middle East peace and China, while Trump’s deputy assistant, Sebastian Gorka, says he works on counterterrorism strategy. Bold foreign policy pronouncements are made with seemingly little coordination across the government. For example, White House officials said that the administration did not support forcibly removing Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad from power days before Trump signaled that, actually, Assad may need to go.

For Chollet, Obama’s NSC strategic planning director, the fact that Bannon reportedly attended just one or two Principals’ Committee meetings was a sign that it was not the space where such high-level decisions were reached.

“It could be that he’s realized after being there a while that he doesn’t need to sit around and go to PC meetings,” Chollet said. “Everyone tries to figure out what room you want to be in where decisions are being made, and that’s not necessarily uniform from administration to administration.”

Stephen Biddle, a longtime professor at military institutions who has known McMaster for over a decade and praised his record of public service, said he doubts the shakeup at the NSC signaled “an evolution towards an orthodox, professional” national security structure.

Biddle likened the Trump administration to “a medieval palace court where there is a deliberately fluid and deliberately shifting balance of influence among more or less equal power centers.” Viewed this way, “the fact that Bannon just took a hit doesn’t mean he won’t come back,” he said.

“This is an extremely untidy policy development process and one that’s likely to lead to bad to embarrassing results periodically,” Biddle added. “When that happens, whoever has their fingerprints more visibly on the embarrassment of the hour takes a hit, and others advance as he or she retreats. But it keeps happening.” ... d-normalcy
User avatar
Posts: 26955
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

Re: The Festering Darkness That is Steve Bannon

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Apr 08, 2017 10:44 am

Inside the Emerging Trumpian Alt-Right Snuff Novel

Pablo Martinez Monsivais
PublishedAPRIL 7, 2017, 11:27 PM EDT
All signs suggest we're now in the "President Trump has full confidence in Michael Flynn" phase of Steve Bannon's tenure in the Trump White House. I don't know whether this is some moron genius dialectic on Bannon's part or just Karma. But can we miss that the man who gave coherence and verve to Trump's campaign against the 'globalists' and unrooted cosmopolitan elites is about to be booted by the President's Jewish tycoon son-in-law and a group of bankers (yes, Jewish bankers) from Goldman Sachs? These are I confess uncomfortable observations, but consider this ...

It is always important to remember that Steve Bannon came late to Trump's campaign. As pro-Trump as Breitbart News may have been, it was still seen - understandably - as a wild, suicidal and entirely unexpected development when Bannon was put in charge of the campaign on August 17th, 2016, almost a month after the Republican convention.

Before then, Trump had run a thoroughly jingoistic and xenophobic campaign, with protestor beatings and various shades of crypto- and non-crypto racism. All on his own he drew around himself that coterie of "alt-right" white nationalists and neo-Nazis who will likely be his greatest and most lethal contribution to the American political scene. But it was only with Bannon's arrival that Trump took on the much more coherent and consistent language of Europe-derived rightist nationalism, anti-"globalism" and the thinly covert language of anti-Semitism.

Let's be clear. This is no defense of Trump. It was all there all along from rage and intuition and impulse. But Bannon packaged it together and tailored the suit. It was pure Bannon, remember, who was behind the speech that became this notorious anti-Semitic closing ad, released on November 5th, 2016.

And yet here we are and let's not shy away from it. All accounts suggest that Bannon has fallen from grace and will soon be fired by the President. His ouster comes as the loser in a battle with a group of Jewish Goldman Sachs (Cohn, Mnuchin) bankers and the tall, dapper and yet nebbishy Jewish legacy real estate tycoon Jared Kushner. (I'm Jewish. I can say all of this.) It all reads like the kind of alt-right morality play one of Bannon's deplorables might have written in some grand alt-right dystopic novel. Even the non-Jews are veritable auslanders: A key new player is Dina Powell (born Dina Habib), an Egyptian immigrant (albeit a Copt) who was herself a banker at Goldman Sachs in addition to being a Republican policy insider.

Nor is any of this lost on the Bannonites. We keep hearing that in the harum-scarum of the Trump White House the crowd around Kushner is referred to as the "New York Democrats" or various similar formulations. As an older Jewish friend (who reminds me he's been asked his whole life whether he's from New York even though he's from a different part of the country and has never lived in the city) told me yesterday, this language is not accidental. It's a reference to their being Jews.

Only in the world of Trump could such a turn of events be possible - perhaps also inevitable. Trump himself being a 'populist' was always in many ways a ridiculous proposition: a doyen of the wealth, entitlement and hedonism that is the aspiration and milieu of New York's upper crust, Trump connected to his base not through lifestyle but through the experience of disrespect, grievance and the desire for revenge. He ran a campaign which more and more literally and explicitly demonized (especially under Bannon's late guidance) the 'globalist' machinations of Goldman Sachs. Yet, increasingly, he has built an administration run by Goldman Sachs bankers. Of course, it's Goldman Sachs bankers and Jared Kushner and protectionist 'economic nationalist' xenophobes and racists. It's an interesting combination. They've even imported period piece Eastern European racist nationalists to be part of the fun - see, Sebastian Gorka. Of course, it's them and the general officers. But they don't seem to be part of this narrative and drama.

How all this ends is impossible to tell. We're less than a hundred days into Trump's term. We're more at beginnings than endings. From people with a front row seat to the action, I had always heard that Kushner and Bannon got on surprisingly well and that Kushner - who seemingly had no real political views at all before this started - was quite taken by Bannon's 'nationalism'. Perhaps the whole drama is manufactured and the factions less coherent than we're led to believe. The Greek-American Priebus is also said to be on the chopping block. But he barely plays in the narrative, mere ethnographic roadkill of no symbolic significance. Along with the generals, he doesn't fit into this conflict between 'nationalists' and 'New York Democrats'.

The one thing we've always known about Donald Trump is that it's all about Donald Trump - Donald Trump and in a tight inner ring almost coterminous with Trump himself, the Trump family. Different rules apply, or rather there are no rules except what seems to work at the moment for Donald Trump. Until it doesn't. Or until it does again. Populist, real American, Jew, reactionary, cosmopolitan, plutocrat, vicious and violent or bombing for the suffering babies, it's all malleable and subject to revision. But let's stipulate now that if the 'alt-right' wanted to write a betrayal narrative that touched all the ideological erogenous zones on that fetid body of thought they could scarcely have come up with material more charged, melodramatic and grand. ... nuff-novel
User avatar
Posts: 26955
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)


Return to General Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 10 guests