House Intel Hearing On Russia-Ukraine Provides Rare Oversight Of Our Intel Agencies

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Intel Chiefs from Left to right–Chris Wray(FBI), General Nakasone(NSA), Gina Haspel(former CIA Director), William Burns(CIA Director) and Lt. Gen Scott Berrier(DIA)

A House Intelligence Committee hearing on the Russia-Ukraine war provided a rare opportunity for members of Congress to conduct a backhanded oversight of our intelligence agencies. The hearing, which assembled all the alphabet agency chiefs(FBI, NSA, CIA & DIA) in one room(a very rare occurrence), afforded members of Congress a unique opportunity to raise other domestic issues of public concern regarding our intel agencies. Oversight of our intelligence agencies, as you may know, is an issue Congress has dragged its feet on, ever since the terrorist attacks in September 2001, so this was a breath of fresh air.

Rep Chris Stewart(R-UT) questioned FBI Director Wray about the controversial NSO Spyware Pegasus , which several media reports indicated last year, was being used by dictators worldwide, to illegally track/spy on political dissidents and even journalists. Rep Stewart wanted to know whether Pegasus was being used on U.S. persons for investigative purposes. Director Wray assured Rep Stewart that the FBI purchased Pegasus in 2019 only for “testing and evaluation purposes“, adding that it has never been used on any U.S. person for investigative purposes.

Rep Stewart then asked why the FBI would test a spying software if it didn’t intend to use it? Director Wray, acknowledging that this was a good question, maintained that Pegasus has never been used for investigative purposes on U.S. persons, and that FBI routinely tests products out there, that could be dangerous in the wrong hands.

Rep Joaquin Castro(D-TX) followed up on Rep Stewart’s questioning re Pegasus software. He wanted to know whether foreign governments have used Pegasus to target U.S. persons. Director Wray indicated that such a question would be better answered in a classified setting, so we are left hanging on that issue. Yay!!

Another interesting line of questioning came from Rep Elise Stefanik(R-NY) who brought up a very troubling case of an FBI counterterrorism informant, who was not only known to have violated the law multiple times, but whose Limo company led to the deaths of some 20 innocent New Yorkers, ruining the lives of their surviving family members. The crux of Rep Stefanik’s question, an excellent one that quite frankly isn’t asked often enough, was whether informants used in counterterrorism cases, are vetted to make sure they are not criminals. Director Wray assured Rep Stefanik that there are strict rules in place regarding the conduct of FBI informants, even when it comes to counterterrorism cases. This was a very important question because there is a widely held belief out there that in counterterrorism cases, “anything goes”, including the use of criminals/criminal gangs to go after/harass terrorism suspects–people who often times, have not been convicted of anything. A sad state of affairs indeed.

Bottom line folks, the hearing today showed just how important it is to have proper oversight of our intelligence agencies, something Yours Truly has been screaming about. There is absolutely no reason why questions about Pegasus spyware and other intelligence-related questions cannot be aired in a public forum like it happened today. Simply put, not every intelligence-related hearing has to be in a private setting. There are enough topics of public interest that can be safely discussed in public. Hopefully when U.S. Senators get their go-around with these intelligence chiefs, somebody will pop the $1 million question–the plight of targeted individuals in the U.S., which maybe, just maybe, may solve the Havana Syndrome mystery.

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OathKeepers Indictment Raises Serious Questions About Higher Up Involvement

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The bombshell seditious conspiracy indictment of 11 members of the militia group OathKeepers following their involvement in the January 6th insurrection, is raising serious questions as to how far up the law enforcement, military, and intelligence food chain, the conspiracy went. Specifically, given the level of tactical military sophistication they displayed on January 6th, there are valid questions as to whether Trump-allied senior members of U.S. law enforcement, military, and intelligence apparatus, gave material support, or even worse, are still members of this dangerous militia group that attempted to violently overthrow the government. A segment on CNN’s Outfront with Erin Burnett(01/13/22) delved into this very topic.

The full Outfront segment is available here, but the relevant clip is below.

Host Erin Burnett said in relevant part: “Prior planning, coordination, sedition, weapons. The 11 people charged today, were[in a]conspiracy, and they are not small fish, like many of the more than 700 people already charged, some of who may have been wrapped up in the moment. Not the case with these individuals. This group had a level of combat training, they were prepared to use force, they had a stash of weapons that they brought for that specific intent, and the question tonight is…now you’ve got a conspiracy, you’ve got planning, you’ve got it all laid out. How much higher does that go?”

Any reasonable person presented with the OathKeepers indictment would reasonably conclude, as host Erin Burnett did, that given the sophistication of their January 6th operation, people higher up in the law enforcement, military, intelligence and even political food chain, were providing material support to the OathKeepers. Providing material support to this dangerous militia group would also necessarily imply that they are members of the group–a scary thought indeed.

CNN’s Sara Sidner followed up with an in depth look at OathKeepers leader Stewart Rhodes in an appearance on New Day (01/14/22), where she dropped a bombshell that further bolsters the troubling prospect that the OathKeepers may have enjoyed material support from insiders within our law enforcement, military and intelligence ranks.

Sara Sidner said: “One of the things the OathKeepers do, is they try and recruit either current or former military, current or former members of law enforcement, current or former people who have been part of the intelligence apparatus in the United States, whether it be the FBI , CIA, anybody that they can get and bring into the organization, and when you think about that, it means that they have tactical training to do something like this[January 6th], and to plan something like this.”

This raises serious questions including but not limited to, what kind of arms and illegally acquired intelligence the OathKeepers currently have, whether in light of this indictment, it’s still okay to have active members of our law enforcement, military, and intelligence apparatus being active members of this violent militia group, etc.

Bottom line folks, Erin Burnett’s question as to how high up this conspiracy goes, is a very serious one, that needs to be seriously addressed by Congress, especially the January 6th Committee, and the mainstream media. For the record, this question has been raised before by concerned members of the public, including Yours Truly, but always treated as one requiring a voluntary answer from our law enforcement, military and intelligence brass. Given the seriousness of this OathKeepers indictment, this question should no longer be one that requires a voluntary answer. The mainstream media and Congress, preferably the January 6th Committee, must demand an answer from leaders in our law enforcement, military and intelligence agencies, as to how much the OathKeepers have infiltrated their ranks. This is a serious national security problem, and it should be treated as such. A major part of the January 6th Committee’s mission is to prevent another January 6th-type insurrection. Reasonable people will agree that rooting out extremism within our law enforcement, military, and intelligence ranks will go a long way in fulfilling that mission.

Specific emphasis should be placed on Trumper states like Texas, which has a heavy OathKeepers presence, and was involved all the way to the top(AG Paxton and other political leaders) in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. What other nefarious activities are the OathKeepers enlisted for in such states? Did the Texas political establishment provide material support to the OathKeepers, for their January 6th operation?

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Moderate House Dems Shoot Down AOC’s Intel Oversight Amendment

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On 12/9/21 Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez(D-NY) introduced an amendment(Amendment 148 to H.R. 5314–Protect Our Democracy Act), that would have restored the oversight powers Congress always intended the Government Accountability Office(GAO) to have, including over our intelligence agencies. Our intelligence agencies, as everyone knows, are notoriously impervious to any Congressional oversight, and often hide behind a vague 1988 Department of Justice opinion to justify their need for secrecy. Rep Ocasio-Cortez’s amendment would have taken away that cover, ensuring much-needed transparency from our intelligence agencies. Surprisingly, 23 Centrist Democrats voted with House Republicans to kill her amendment.

As Rep Ocasio-Cortez correctly pointed out on the House floor, given the kinds of abuses we’ve witnessed during Trump’s presidency, it is only prudent that we restore GAO’s oversight powers over all federal agencies, including our intelligence agencies. Any reasonable person would agree, that it is foolhardy to assume that former President Trump abused all other federal agencies for his selfish political interests, except our intelligence apparatus, the easiest ones to abuse given the secrecy with which they are allowed to operate.

Rep Ocasio-Cortez said on the House floor: “Since it’s creation in 1921, the Government Accountability Office(GAO) has had the purview to conduct oversight of all federal agencies with the goal of reducing waste, fraud and abuse, and holding accountable bad actors. However and unfortunately, most of our intelligence agencies today are not fully cooperative with the GAO, pointing to an outdated and vague 1988 Department of Justice opinion. Our amendment would allow the GAO to act as a check on this behavior, not creating new powers, but restoring the power Congress always intended the GAO to have. This amendment is welcomed by many in the intelligence community, who want to protect their important work and resources from abuse, particularly after the last presidency we just endured. We drafted this amendment in partnership with the community and I’m proud to have the support of Representative Adam Schiff who serves as the Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. In fact many of my colleagues have already taken a stand in support of this legislation because in 2010, the House passed a virtually identical amendment.”

The amendment failed with a final tally of 233 nays, 196 yeas, with 4 members not voting. Among the 233 nays were 23 Centrist Democrats who Yours Truly is compelled to name. The nay Dems included Reps Cynthia Axne(IA), Cheri Bustos(IL), Matt Cartwright(PA), Angie Craig(MN), Antonio Delgado(NY), Val Demings(FL), Jared Golden(ME), Josh Gottheimer(NJ), Chrissy Houlahan(PA), Conor Lamb(PA), Susie Lee(NV), Elaine Luria(VA), Tom O’Halleran(AZ), Chris Pappas(NH), Kurt Schrader(OR), Kim Schrier(WA), Terri Sewell(AL), Mikie Sherrill(NJ), Abigail Spanberger(VA), David Trone(MD), Filemon Vela(TX), Jennifer Wexton(VA), Susan Wild(PA).

Ever since the Patriot Act was enacted after the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001, there have been growing calls from civil libertarians and others, for there to be some checks on the almost absolute powers we granted our intelligence agencies after the 9/11 attacks. The reasoning behind this is pretty simple–power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Fast forward to the Trump administration and the abuses we witnessed occurring across all federal agencies–(DOJ being used for the Big Lie, Military on Black Lives Matter protesters in DC, numerous abuses of DHS, “failure” by our intel agencies to anticipate Jan 6th insurrection)– and the need to look into our intel agencies becomes an absolute necessity. It’s against this backdrop that Rep Ocasio-Cortez, with the support of many in the intel community, are pushing for more transparency. One would assume given these set of circumstances, that more oversight would be a no-brainer for Democrats, but apparently not.

Concerns about possible abuses of our intel agencies run the gamut, from the mundane warrantless snooping of our electronic communications (emails, texts, voicemails, etc), to much more serious allegations that if proven, constitute serious violations of our commitments under the United Nations Conventions Against Torture(CAT). These include allegations of 24/7 organized stalking, non-consensual for-profit human experimentation on people entered on terrorism watchlists by weapons manufacturers and others in Big Tech(remote neuromonitoring), militarized attacks on civilians(usually watchlisted) with directed energy weapons, manufactured terrorism cases, etc. These are serious human rights violations that can only come to light through proper oversight. It also bears pointing out that similar egregious abuses have in the past been attributed to our intel agencies, a recent good example being the non-consensual experimentation on U.S. civilians using radiation. President Clinton in 1995, did the just and moral thing by not only exposing this inhumane conduct, but also making whole the surviving victims. The same can be done today.

Bottom line folks, Rep Ocasio-Cortez deserves a lot of praise for pushing for reform on a topic most politicians, and quite frankly the mainstream media, have been terrified to venture into. One only hopes that she musters the courage to push on with it, despite the recent setback on the House floor. Simply put, time has come for our intel agencies to be subjected to some real oversight.

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Is Barr’s DOJ Targeting Sen Burr To Thwart His TrumpRussia Collusion Findings?

Senator Richard Burr(R-NC) and U.S. Attorney General William Barr (right)

On Thursday’s edition of MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show (TRMS), host Maddow advanced a provocative theory as to the real reason Attorney General Barr’s Department of Justice (DOJ) may be going after senate intelligence committee chairman Richard Burr(R-NC) for possible covid-19 insider trading. According to Maddow, DOJ and by extension AG Barr’s pursuit of senator Burr may have very little to do with the serious covid-19 insider trading allegations, and more to do with the fact that senator Burr was getting ready to release the final installment of his committee’s findings on whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 election.

Host Rachel Maddow said, “As bad as the insider trading allegations are against Senator Burr, we also simultaneously have to worry whether the U.S. justice department under Attorney General William Barr might be targeting Senator Burr for reasons that are less about insider trading and more about convenience to the Trump administration. Sen Burr you will recall, has led the only functional bipartisan congressional investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. His committee’s findings have supported the intelligence community’s conclusions that for example, Russia interfered in the 2016 election to support Donald Trump’s candidacy. That is something President Trump continues to deny as recently as an interview that aired this morning. More to the point though, Senator Burr’s committee is set to release it’s final report on the Russia issue in the coming months and that last installment we are expecting is on ‘possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.’ That’s what Burr is working on right now, but he’s had to step down as chair of the committee.”

As Maddow correctly points out, given AG Barr’s demonstrable pattern of acting as president Trump’s personal defense attorney, it is not entirely implausible for one to conclude that the AG’s pursuit of senator Burr is also about defending Trump from a potentially damning senate intelligence committee finding that the Trump campaign did indeed collude with Russia in 2016. Maddow also correctly points out that an investigation into a sitting U.S. senator, especially one who chairs the powerful senate intelligence committee, must have been approved at the very highest levels of DOJ meaning AG Barr’s footprints are all over this.

Bottom line folks, AG Barr has so tarnished DOJ’s reputation that even when it undertakes a valid high profile criminal prosecution like senator Burr’s, the general perception among members of the public is that it must have something to do with helping president Trump politically. The very same thing happened during Jeffrey Epstein’s high profile criminal prosecution. I will say again what I have repeatedly stated before and that is, the only way DOJ can cure its tarnished reputation is for career officials within the DOJ to pressure AG Barr to step aside. Because it is highly unlikely that Trump will ever push aside his trusted defender, the onus is on career DOJ officers to begin demanding that AG Barr step down for the good of the department. Simply put, continued silence by career DOJ officials regarding AG Barr’s conduct at this juncture is tantamount to complicity.

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Unpatriotic GOP Members Of House Intel Committee Should Resign

Rep Mike Conaway(R-TX)

On July 3, 2018 a bipartisan Senate Intel Committee concluded without any reservations that Russia did interfere in the 2016 elections to help Trump and his GOP. The bipartisan Senate Intel Committee essentially affirmed the conclusion of virtually all U.S. Intel agencies regarding Russian meddling in the 2016 elections so this was by no means “bombshell” news.


A few months earlier however a totally partisan House Intel Committee led by Rep Devin Nunes and Rep Mike Conaway abruptly concluded with the very strange finding that Russia did interfere, but not to help the Trump campaign–a totally bogus finding meant only to shield President Trump and hide the truth about Russian meddling from the American public.

Now that the Senate Intel Committee has come up with a credible report, these GOP members of Congress should be called out for their shameful actions. That a sitting member of the U.S. Congress would go out of their way to stonewall an investigation into a hostile foreign power(Russia) interfering with our elections is inexcusable. Even more troubling, some if not all of these GOP members of Congress are running for re-elections this Midterms 2018. One wonders why someone would aspire to be a member of the U.S. Congress when you are giving aid and comfort to the enemy–in this case our deadliest enemy.

Bottomline Dems should demand that the shameful GOP members of the House Intel Committee resign because their unpatriotic actions regarding TrumpRussia investigation render them unfit for office.

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