Sunday, August 7, 2016

Where's The Fake "Iran Ransom" Story Going?

Republicans have been bringing up the "Obama administration paid ransom to Iran" lie a lot in the last two weeks, and I've wondered what the next step is.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump says his Democratic opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was responsible for negotiations that led to a $400 million U.S. payment to Iran. Reacting to a Wall Street Journal story published Wednesday that described the delivery of the cash to Tehran in January, Trump accused Clinton on Twitter of having opened talks to give Iran the money.

Trump expanded on his remarks later, saying the money was a ransom payment for four Americans detained in Iran, that Iran released a video of the cash being unloaded from a plane in Tehran and that Iran only released a group of U.S. sailors it had captured in the Persian Gulf because it was about to be paid. These claims range from the incorrect to the unsupported.

TRUMP, in a tweet Wednesday: "Our incompetent Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, was the one who started talks to give 400 million dollars, in cash, to Iran. Scandal!"

THE FACTS: Trump is wrong about Clinton's involvement. The $400 million payment - plus $1.3 billion in interest to be paid later - is a separate issue from the Iran nuclear deal that Clinton initiated. The process that resulted in the payout started decades before she became secretary of state. 

This was all made public as part of the Iran nuclear deal negotiations last year.  So again, why are Republicans bringing it up now and so obviously lying about Clinton somehow being in charge of the State Department in 1979?  Why are Republicans so desparate to tie Clinton to Iranian "wrongdoing"?

Here's the answer to your question.

An Iranian scientist accused of providing information on his country's nuclear program to the United States has been executed for treason, an Iranian judiciary spokesman said Sunday.

Shahram Amiri was charged with spying for enemies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, spokesman Gholamhosein Mohseni-Ejei said in his weekly news conference, the Iranian Student News Agency reported.

"Amiri had access to confidential military secrets and was connected to our No. 1 enemy, the Great Satan,” Mohseni-Ejei said. "He was sentenced to death in primary court, and the sentence was confirmed by Supreme Court" after Amiri appealed.

Mohseni-Ejei said U.S. officials had been unaware that Iran was monitoring Amiri's efforts for the West.

"The CIA thought that its movements were kept away from the eye of Iranian Intelligence Ministry," Mohseni-Ejei said. "They took Amiri to Saudi Arabia."

Amiri, 38, disappeared while on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in 2009. He re-emerged a year later in the U.S., claiming in a video that he had been abducted, interrogated, tortured and offered millions in bribes while under "intense psychological pressure" by the CIA. He said he rejected the U.S. effort to break him.

The U.S. said in 2010 that Amiri had defected voluntarily and was paid millions of dollars for providing "useful information."

The Iranian regime executing scientists as "Western spies" is nothing new.  What's new is Republicans blaming Clinton for it.

An Iranian nuclear scientist has been hanged for treason for providing secrets to the US, Tehran has confirmed, less than a year after emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server were released apparently referencing Shahram Amiri as “our friend.”

Amiri had once claimed to be abducted by the CIA, but emails on the Clinton email server released last summer seemed to have confirmed what US officials had been saying at the time: Amiri helped the United States learn about Iran’s nuclear weapons capabilities but then had second thoughts.

Amiri went missing in 2009 after going on religious pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. He emerged in the United States in 2010 and eventually had gone to Iran’s special interest section at the Pakistan embassy seeking help to get back Iran.

In one email exchange dated in July 2010, Clinton’s lead foreign affairs advisor, Jake Sullivan, flagged Clinton to unwanted media attention regarding Amiri’s desire to go back.

“The gentleman you have talked to Bill Burns about has apparently gone to his country’s interests section because he is unhappy with how much time it has taken to facilitate his departure,” Sullivan wrote. “This could lead to problematic news stories in the next 24 hours. Will keep you posted.”

A day after the email exchange, Clinton made a public statement July 13, 2010, that Amiri was under no pressure. “He’s free to go. He was free to come. Those decisions are his alone to make.”

The emails were part of some 30,000 released by the State Department.

In other words, the Republicans are dead sure that they've got Clinton cold here.  You know, just like Benghazi!


The October Suprise This Year Is That There Is None

If Julian Assange has been hand-delivered evidence from Putin and Russian intelligence that will "put Hillary Clinton away" the fear now is that he's waiting until the last two weeks of the election to use it to bury her and assure a Trump victory. I don't buy it at all and think it's hogwash, especially since all the DNC leaks have done so far is gotten rid of the bad apples in the DNC and has done the Democrats a favor. The larger point is given so much evidence that Russia is behind this, what can the Obama administration actually do?

The administration insists it has improved its ability to respond quickly to cyberattacks, and officials increasingly say they support publicly calling out foreign nations that hack the United States. One administration official noted that it took just five weeks for President Barack Obama to impose economic sanctions against North Korea in response to the destructive late-2014 hacking of Sony Pictures.

Yet current and former officials acknowledge that constructing a public response isn't an instant task. Merely preparing a declassified explanation of who perpetrated an attack or readying economic sanctions takes weeks. Bringing criminal charges — as the Justice Department has done with state-backed hacking suspects in Iran and China — can require years.

And the U.S. has never leveled any official public reprisal for hacking by Russia, despite years of evidence that hackers linked to Vladimir Putin’s regime have carried out intrusions of the White House, State Department and Pentagon.

Obama himself preached caution at a news conference this week. Imposing penalties, he said, “requires us to really be able to pin down and know what we’re talking about.”

The prospect of a lengthy wait is unnerving for Clinton supporters, who see potential repeats of last month’s mass release of Democratic National Committee emails as one of a handful of unpredictable curveballs that could still toss the White House to Donald Trump. Democrats have charged that the website WikiLeaks dumped the emails as part of a Russian effort to aid Trump, who has praised Putin and expressed doubts about U.S. commitments to allies in Eastern Europe.

Russia has denied having anything to do with the DNC hacks or a separate breach aimed at donors to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. But if the U.S. concludes that Putin’s regime is to blame, a growing chorus of security hawks says the White House must make it clear that such meddling in the U.S. political system cannot stand.

“If in fact you could definitively or strongly develop a case for attribution against Russia, that in fact the Russians should be confronted with it and we should confront them publicly with it,” former Obama administration National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said Thursday during a POLITICO Playbook breakfast.

“I don’t think countries are paying a price for this kind of activities,” Stephen Hadley, who held the same post under George W. Bush, said at the same event.

Calls for action have also come from several congressional Democrats and Republicans who serve on defense, law enforcement or intelligence committees, as well as a bipartisan group of 31 security and counterterrorism experts who urged Obama to “take prompt actions” that would “deter foreign actors from pursuing such tactics in the future.”

“This is not a partisan issue,” wrote the experts from the Aspen Institute Homeland Security Group, who included Bush Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and former CIA directors Michael Hayden and William Webster. They added: “Our president should be chosen by American citizens, not by foreign adversaries or interests.”

The prospect of Trump winning with Russian help has even gotten Republicans scared enough to back the Obama administration on this. That to me says everything, that there is actually somebody they hate more than Obama and Clinton: Putin and Trump.

Sunday Long Read: Unraveling The Sweater

Vanity Fair's Mark Seal takes a look at the case against Bill Cosby, and the sexual assault charges from 2004 that ended up opening the floodgate and strengthened the push to extend statute of limitations laws on sexual assault crimes.

It began with a young woman screaming in her sleep.

Andrea Constand, then 31, had left her job as director of operations of the women’s basketball team at Temple University, in Philadelphia, to return home outside of Toronto to live with her parents. She planned to begin studies to become a massage therapist. Six feet tall, her red hair a mass of curls, she was, her father would say, “the most truthful, honest, and faithful kid I’ve ever met.” Her prowess on the basketball court had attracted scholarship offers from dozens of colleges, and later she played professionally in Sicily before finding a job at Temple University, the alma mater of Bill Cosby. But when she returned home her upbeat personality had dimmed into darkness. She suffered from nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, sleeplessness, and depression, and she isolated herself from her friends and her family.

When her mother, Gianna, asked her what was wrong, Andrea wouldn’t answer. Then, on January 12, 2005, after experiencing a “flashback,” she told her mother that Bill Cosby had sexually assaulted her. Cosby had been attracted to Andrea the first time he saw her, at a Temple basketball game. “Before he acted upon that interest, he needed to develop a friendship with her,” according to a police affidavit. He courted her with his stardom, power, and influence, inviting her to dinners with academics and entertainment-industry professionals, and offering her fatherly advice about her life and career plans. She had no romantic interest in the television star, 36 years her senior, and she has said she twice rebuffed what she called his embarrassing sexual advances, once when he unbuttoned her pants and began touching her. Still, she trusted him, so when he called in January 2004, offering to discuss her life and career and telling her that they would be alone and to “dress in comfortable clothing,” she accepted.

Arriving at 8:45 P.M. at his sprawling home on five lush acres in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, one of his three residences (the other two are in rural Massachusetts and Los Angeles), “she came in through the kitchen door,” Cosby would later say. She told him that she was considering changing jobs, leaving her demanding position at Temple, and that making the decision had drained her. After pouring her a glass of wine, she said, Cosby went upstairs and returned with what he called “three friends,” three blue pills which, he said, “will make you feel good. The blue things will take the edge off.”

Constand asked if they were herbal.

“Yes,” said Cosby, according to her account. “Down them. Put them down. Put them in your mouth.”

She did. He urged her to taste the wine, but she protested that she hadn’t eaten all day. “Just taste the wine,” he pressed.

So she did. They continued to talk, but after 20 or 30 minutes her vision blurred, and she found it difficult to speak.

“I can’t even talk, Mr. Cosby,” she told him.

Her legs were “rubbery and like jelly.” She had lost any sense of place and time, was “in and out” of awareness, “frozen” and “paralyzed.” “Everything was blurry and dizzy,” she told the police. “I couldn’t keep my eyes open.”

Cosby said he was going to lay her down on the couch. “I’m going to let you relax,” he said, leading her to the couch. Suddenly, she felt him behind her. “I was aware that his hands were on my breasts,” she said. “His hands were in my pants and his fingers in my vagina . . . . I also remember him taking my right hand and placing my hand on his penis . . . . I was unable to move my body. I was pretty much frozen.”

Seal does a pretty good job here exploring the case, the history, the stories of the women who came forward, and the difficulty in proving assault in a courtroom.  I can understand people being uncomfortable reading it, but it's something that I believe you should do.
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