Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Purge Continues

Meanwhile, over in the Trumpisphere, right-wing media outlets are gleefully printing lists of insufficiently loyal government employees who must be terminated in the name of Glorious Orange Leader.

Conservative news outlets, including one with links to a top White House official, are singling out individual career government employees for criticism, suggesting in articles that certain staffers will not be sufficiently loyal to President Donald Trump by virtue of their work under former President Barack Obama. 
The articles — which have appeared in Breitbart News, the Conservative Review and other outlets — have alarmed veteran officials in both parties as well as current executive branch staffers. They say the stories are adding to tensions between career staffers and political appointees as they begin to implement Trump’s agenda, and they worry that the stories could inspire Trump to try purging federal agencies of perceived enemies.

The claims posted on the conservative sites include allegations of anti-Israel and pro-Iran bias against staffers at institutions such as the State Department and the National Security Council. Breitbart News, whose former executive chairman Steve Bannon is now Trump’s chief strategist, has even published lists of workers that the president should fire. 
Washington veterans say they can’t recall similar targeting of government employees, who are required to stay apolitical and generally shun the spotlight.
“It’s deeply unfair to single people out and question their loyalty,” said William Burns, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a former longtime diplomat. “It’s demoralizing for institutions. It’s demoralizing for professionals, and it’s offensive.”

The biggest bullseye continues to be on the back of the State Department career diplomats as the Trump regime continues the quest to dismantle American diplomacy and guarantee endless war.  The purge is especially targeting those who helped with the Iranian nuclear deal.

Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, a career civil service officer in State’s policy planning office who's been targeted in the past, has come under renewed fire because of her role shaping the Iran nuclear deal and other Iran policy during the Obama administration. Nowrouzzadeh, an American-born U.S. citizen of Iranian descent who joined the government in 2005 during the Bush administration, also has been criticized for once working for the National Iranian American Council, an activist group that some on the right accuse of lobbying on behalf of the Iranian government. 
According to Nowrouzzadeh’s LinkedIn profile and NIAC, she was an intern in the organization more than a decade ago. NIAC President Trita Parsi said Nowrouzzadeh interned part-time as a college undergraduate. “At the time our organization was very new, and our focus was primarily on voter registration," Parsi said. "We had no profile or position on foreign policy matters at that time.” 
Parsi also denied suggestions that his organization is tied to the Iranian regime. “The idea we’re an agent for the Iranian regime is preposterous,” he said. “We are the largest Iranian-American grass-roots organization, sustained by our own community, who overwhelmingly opposes the government in Iran.” 
Alan Eyre, director of the Office of the Middle East and Asia at State’s Bureau of Energy Resources, has also been targeted. Eyre served as State’s first Persian-language spokesman, and he’s been involved in Iran nuclear talks and outreach to Iranians. 
Calling him a “leftist State Department official,” the Conservative Review published an article this week reviewing Eyre's Twitter feed, saying he’s retweeting articles that are critical of Trump. But Eyre’s Twitter feed also includes plenty of Trump-friendly retweets that the article doesn't mention. 
Other targets for conservative news outlets have included Chris Backemeyer, State’s deputy assistant secretary for Iran; Michael Ratney, who deals with Syria and Israeli-Palestinian issues at State; and Anne Patterson, a recently retired former ambassador to Egypt and Pakistan. 
Secretary of Defense James Mattis wanted to tap Patterson as his undersecretary of defense for policy, but he ultimately withdrew her name from consideration after encountering resistance from the White House, another chilling signal to career officials. In a statement to POLITICO, Patterson said: "I believe that it is important for our elected officials, their appointees, and career civil service and foreign service personnel to know and respect the boundaries between their different roles."

Considering executive departments are now being larded with Trump loyalists to make sure employees are faithful to Trump first, of course this is the result.   This is one of those nice little incremental changes from a democracy to a bloody, brutal dictatorship that's happening before our eyes: loyalty tests for civil servants, the state media calling for purges and pograms as those left from the previous administration must be traitors, and watchful eyes making sure that departments are run "correctly".

This is how we are losing the American republic, guys.  In real time.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

If you were wondering on the time frame of why Devin Nunes went to the press yesterday afternoon in a brazen attempt to wreck the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign, wonder no more. Late last night CNN dropped a blockbuster on the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia:  leaks indicate that Trump campaign officials may have been involved with -- you guessed it -- the Russian leaks of DNC emails to hurt Hillary.

The FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton's campaign, US officials told CNN. 
This is partly what FBI Director James Comey was referring to when he made a bombshell announcement Monday before Congress that the FBI is investigating the Trump campaign's ties to Russia, according to one source. 
The FBI is now reviewing that information, which includes human intelligence, travel, business and phone records and accounts of in-person meetings, according to those U.S. officials. The information is raising the suspicions of FBI counterintelligence investigators that the coordination may have taken place, though officials cautioned that the information was not conclusive and that the investigation is ongoing.

It's what many of us suspected all along, but finding proof of it remains the key and always has.  Again, the Trump regime has been busy attacking the investigation for a couple weeks now, implying that there's a massive Scary Black Guy conspiracy to wiretap Trump, and it especially serves to explain the sudden Nunes press conference that came out ahead of this story.  My guess is that CNN called and asked for a comment earlier Wednesday morning or late Tuesday, the White House refused, and then Nunes was dispatched yesterday afternoon.

One law enforcement official said the information in hand suggests "people connected to the campaign were in contact and it appeared they were giving the thumbs up to release information when it was ready." But other U.S. officials who spoke to CNN say it's premature to draw that inference from the information gathered so far since it's largely circumstantial. 
The FBI cannot yet prove that collusion took place, but the information suggesting collusion is now a large focus of the investigation, the officials said. 
The FBI has already been investigating four former Trump campaign associates -- Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Carter Page -- for contacts with Russians known to US intelligence. All four have denied improper contacts and CNN has not confirmed any of them are the subjects of the information the FBI is reviewing. 
One of the obstacles the sources say the FBI now faces in finding conclusive intelligence is that communications between Trump's associates and Russians have ceased in recent months given the public focus on Russia's alleged ties to the Trump campaign. Some Russian officials have also changed their methods of communications, making monitoring more difficult, the officials said. 
Last July, Russian intelligence agencies began orchestrating the release of hacked emails stolen in a breach of the Democratic National Committee and associated organizations, as well as email accounts belonging to Clinton campaign officials, according to U.S. intelligence agencies. 
The Russian operation was also in part focused on the publication of so-called "fake news" stories aimed at undermining Hillary Clinton's campaign. But FBI investigators say they are less focused on the coordination and publication of those "fake news" stories, in part because those publications are generally protected free speech. 
The release of the stolen emails, meanwhile, transformed an ordinary cyber-intrusion investigation into a much bigger case handled by the FBI's counterintelligence division.

Again, "largely circumstantial" evidence won't finish off Trump, and other journalists and outlets have implied the connection before.  But now we know what the stakes are being played for, and that the FBI is now suggesting that the DNC leaks are connected to the Trump investigation.  If there's proof, if somebody rolls over and talks on this, Trump goes down in flames.

We'll see what becomes of this, but again, this is the story of the century if it pans out.

Or hey, if it doesn't, that could still very well be true.


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