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Intelligence agencies clash with Trump over Russia allegations
Tom Eley, WSWS, Feb 16 2017
Only one month into his administration, and two days after the ouster of Gen Flynn, Pres Trump faces the growing prospect of congressional investigations into alleged ties to Moscow. Powerful sections of the Pindosi ruling class are seeking to put Pindostan on a war footing against Russia in a campaign orchestrated by the major intelligence agencies, acting through their preferred media conduits, the NYT and the WaPo. The crisis deepened on Wednesday, with the NYT & WaPo claiming new revelations based on unnamed current and former intelligence sources, and leading Congress critturs of both sexes in calling for an investigation into Trump’s alleged connections to Russian intelligence agencies, both prior to and after the November election. Meanwhile, figures in and around the Demagog Party began to allude to impeachment, drawing comparisons to Watergate. Trump responded Wednesday by publicly attacking the intelligence agencies he nominally directs, declaring the leaks to the NYT & WaPo “illegal” and “criminal” at a joint press conference with Netanyahu. He made similar comments earlier in the day in a Twitter post, raising the prospect that the White House could attempt to organize a purge of the CIA, FBI and NSA. Trump said at the White House appearance with Netanyahu:
From intelligence, papers are being leaked, things are being leaked! It’s a criminal action, a criminal act, and it’s been going on for a long time before me, but now it’s really going on!
The litany of unsubstantiated allegations of Russian control over Trump continued. The lead NYT report Wednesday cited “four current and former Pindo boxtops” in claiming:
Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intel boxtops in the year before the election.
Wednesday’s lead WaPo article cited a seemingly endless list of unnamed sources, including boxtops “who spoke on the condition of anonymity”, “current and former Pindo boxtops”, “boxtops inside the NSC”, “several … senior boxtops … who discussed the sensitive matter on the condition of anonymity” and unnamed “Senior Obama administration boxtops.” In neither the NYT nor the WaPo is a single source named. No statement is independently corroborated. No further evidence is presented, beyond the anonymous statements themselves along with broad accusations over “Russian interference” in the Pindosi elections, which are presented as fact. It is now well established that Flynn’s Dec 29 phone call with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak, in which the incoming national security adviser reportedly indicated that sanctions targeting Russia would be reviewed by the Trump administration, was secretly recorded by the NSA. There would be nothing illegal in such a discussion, and numerous historical precedents exist, some of them far more egregious than the claims being made about Flynn’s call, including the notorious instance of Reagan campaign officials intervening to prevent the release of Pindo hostages in Iran until after the Nov 1980 election. Instead, the intelligence agencies seized on the conversation to drive out Flynn, who advocated a temporary understanding with Russia so that Pindostan could quickly move against Iran and potentially China. The NSA shared the transcript of the Flynn call with the FBI. At some point, multiple unnamed intelligence agents then shared the transcript with the media, as well as politicians and government officials. By last weekend, the transcript, which the White House refused to allow Flynn to review, was circulating widely in Washington. Flynn tendered his resignation on Monday evening. A concession from the Trump administration to the anti-Russia campaign, Flynn’s ouster only emboldened it. The intervention of the intelligence apparatus against Trump has become so heavy-handed that on Wednesday it brought a warning from neocon writer Eli Lake, who supported Hillary Clinton in the general election. Lake wrote on Bloomberg:
Normally intercepts of Pindo boxtops and other creeples are some of the most tightly held government secrets. This is for good reason. Selectively disclosing details of private conversations monitored by the FBI or NSA gives the permanent state the power to destroy reputations from the cloak of anonymity. This is what police states do.
The warfare within the ruling class is being waged along a front that extends from the intelligence agencies through the Rethug Party and into the Trump White House itself, as evidenced by the number of leaks coming from “current administration boxtops.” It is notable that VP Pence, who would assume the presidency if Trump were to be impeached or resign, has been kept above the fray by all sides in the conflict. Tuesday brought an ominous signal that the military may become involved. Army Gen Raymond Thomas, head of SOCOM, commented on the controversy that day, while speaking at a public event in Maryland. He said:
Our government continues to be in unbelievable turmoil! I hope they sort it out soon, because we’re a nation at war!
Later, when given an opportunity to clarify his comment, Thomas instead reiterated it, saying:
As a commander, I’m concerned our government be as stable as possible.
Walnuts McCain and Lindsey Graham have indicated support for the formation of a special committee to investigate the alleged ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. In an appearance on ABC Good Morning Pindostan, Graham announced his support for a full investigation into the Trump administration, suggesting a joint select committee. He said:
If it is true, it is very, very disturbing to me, and Russia needs to pay a price when it comes to interfering in our democracy and other democracies! And any Trump person who was working with the Russians in an unacceptable way also needs to pay a price!
Graham came to the political essence of the controversy when host George Stephanopoulos, quoting Thomas Friedman of the NYT, asked him:
What is going on between Donald Trump and the Rethugs?
Trump is an outlier when it comes to the Russians. I do not know one Rethug senator who believes Russia is anything but an enemy. … I can’t explain Donald Trump’s view of Russia.
Graham’s views were echoed by Bob Corker, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who told NBC Morning Joe:
Let’s get everything out as quickly as possible on this Russia issue! … Maybe there’s a problem that obviously goes much deeper than what we now suspect! Is the White House going to have the ability to stabilize itself.
Rethug Congressional leaders McConnell and Ryan have both accepted as fact alleged Russian “interference” in the Pindosi election, while Demagogs have begun to raise the possibility of impeachment. They have called for investigations by the regular congressional committees, while stopping short of acceding to demands for the formation of a special investigative committee. DNC senior adviser Zac Petkanas said in a statement:
This is already bigger than Watergate! The sanctity of our democracy demands an immediate, independent, transparent investigation into the connections between Donald Trump, his staff, and the Russian government!
There are many problems with this fallacious comparison, but one fundamental difference. In 1972 Richard Nixon used illegal methods to harass and discredit political opponents at a moment when leading sections of the Demagog Party, adapting to mass popular anger, had presented themselves as opponents of the war in Vietnam. Responding to this mood, the WaPo & NYT investigated Nixon’s abuses, uncovering the Watergate scandal that lead to the resignation of Nixon, and ultimately, the end of the Vietnam War. Forty-five years later, the NYT & WaPo, serving as mouthpieces of the CIA, are leading the charge against Trump from the right, not to accommodate mass popular antiwar sentiment, but for the opposite purpose, to help prepare the political conditions for war with Russia.
Demagogs seek to channel opposition to Trump behind anti-Russia offensive
Joseph Kishore, WSWS, Feb 16 2017
Two distinct processes have emerged in the month since the inauguration of Donald Trump. Millions of people in Pindostan and internationally have participated in protests against the fascist policies of the new government. They are motivated by genuine and deeply felt anger over the administration’s attack on immigrants and its cabinet of billionaires and social reactionaries. At the same time, much of the media and major sections of the political establishment have been carrying out an escalating campaign against Trump that is of a very different character. In close coordination with the intelligence agencies, Trump’s establishment critics are seeking to hijack the opposition of workers and youth to Trump and channel it behind their own imperialist and militarist agenda. The WaPo outlined the essential foreign policy concerns of the ruling class in an editorial published Wednesday, following the resignation of Michael Flynn. The WaPo wrote of Pres Trump:
He can begin to undo the damage by choosing a new national security advisor. The past two weeks have seen some welcome corrections by Mr Trump to what looked like potentially rash departures from previous Pindosi policies, and he still has some fixes to make, above all improving relations with the European powers and changing his dangerously appeasing stance toward Mr Putin.
The same basic line is repeated in innumerable newspaper editorials, on cable news programs and late night talk shows, and from both Rethug and Demagog pols. Lindsey Graham, one of the most rabid Russophobes, declared Wednesday that an unsubstantiated report in the NYT about contacts between Trump’s election campaign and Russian intelligence officials was a “game-changer” that justified an independent bipartisan investigation. Elizabeth Warren, who allegedly represents the left wing of the Demagogs, issued a statement asserting:
The President owes the Pindo creeple a full account of his Administration’s dealings with Russia. … Congress must pull its head out of the sand and launch a real, bipartisan, transparent inquiry into Russia. Our national security is at stake.
Bernie Sanders, a fake ‘independent’ within the leadership of the Senate Demagogs, called for the Senate Intelligence Committee to “thoroughly investigate if Russia coordinated with Trump and his campaign.” Michael Moore, who can be counted on to trail behind the Demagog, tweeted:
The Demagogs want to force a “correction” in the foreign policy of the Trump government, bringing it into line with the economic, political and military campaign against Russia initiated by the CIA under Obama. The response of Sanders is particularly significant given his central role over the past year in diverting anger over social inequality behind the campaign of Clinton, the candidate of Wall Street, who focused her opposition to Trump on the latter’s alleged ties to Russia. In a meeting of Demagog senators on Tuesday, Sanders was reportedly asked by party leaders to placate popular anger that has erupted at constituency meetings held by Demagog Congress critturs. According to Senator Joe Manchin, Sanders was told by Minority Leader Charles Schumer and others that he might be the only person who can make sure that this anger is “directed in all the right proper channels,” that is into protests exclusively against the Rethugs. As WSWS has warned, these protests lack an independent program and are politically dominated by organizations oriented to the Demagog Party. This creates the danger that they will be suppressed or channeled behind the warmongering policies of the CIA and the Pentagon, to shift the “narrative” in pro-war direction. This is precisely what the Demagog Party is attempting to do. The furor over Flynn’s phone calls with Russia and Trump’s ties to Putin has served to bury public discussion of the anti-Muslim ban, the attack on refugees, the fascistic character of the new administration and the cabal of CEOs, bankers and ex-generals in Trump’s cabinet.
What if the anti-Russia campaign is successful? The Demagog Party and the organizations that surround it are committing themselves to a policy that has catastrophic consequences. They would presumably consider the outbreak of war with nuclear-armed Russia a great triumph. This would not be the first time that a popular movement, lacking a clearly-defined working class character and socialist program, was employed by the ruling class to achieve its own ends. In Egypt, the massive demonstrations that erupted in 2013 against the right-wing Muslim Brotherhood government were utilized by the military and its political agents to reestablish a military dictatorship two years after the downfall of the US-backed dictator Hosni Mubarak. The political situation poses immense dangers. The brutal character of the Trump administration does not make its opponents in the IC any less reactionary. They are conspiring to unleash not only bigger and more bloody wars abroad, but also war on the working class at home. The same think-tanks that call for war preparations against Russia in order to maintain Pindosi domination of Eurasia insist that workers in Pindostan must be made to “sacrifice” in the form of massive cuts in social programs and pensions, to pay for a huge increase in military spending. The working class does not want war. There is virtually no popular support for a conflict with Russia or China, or an expansion of military aggression in the MENA. There remains deep opposition to social inequality and the attack on democratic rights. The radicalization of the working class must be given a conscious and organized political form. It must be guided by a socialist program. The critical question posed by the mounting political crisis and the growth of social protest is that of revolutionary leadership.
Behind the Flynn resignation and Trump crisis
Patrick Martin, WSWS, Feb 16 2017
The Trump administration is facing an escalating political crisis following the Monday evening resignation of Michael Flynn. There are growing calls from the media and sections of the political establishment for congressional investigations into Flynn’s contacts with Russia prior to Trump’s inauguration, and demands that Trump explain what he knew about the contacts and whether Flynn was operating with his knowledge and approval. On Tuesday afternoon, it was reported that the FBI interviewed Flynn soon after Trump’s inauguration about his telephone conversation with Russian ambassador to Washington Sergei Kislyak on Dec 29 2016, which was secretly monitored and recorded by the NSA. The WaPo revealed that DoJ boxtops informed the White House several weeks ago that Flynn had discussed sanctions on Russia with the ambassador, and that his repeated denials of that fact were false. A transcript of the Flynn-Kislyak conversation is reportedly circulating at the highest levels of official Faschingstein. In the corporate-controlled media a series of commentators serving as conduits for material provided by the CIA and NSA have begun to raise the specter of impeachment or a Nixon-style forced resignation. A raging conflict within the Pindo ruling elite has erupted to the surface of political life. The battle involves the major institutions of the capitalist state, the White House, CIA, NSA, FBI and Pentagon, as well as Congress critturs of both sexes. At the center of this conflict are divisions over foreign policy and concerns within the MIC that the Trump administration is not taking a sufficiently aggressive line against Russia. The campaign against Trump is no less reactionary and militaristic than the new administration itself. It has a definite logic, leading to an escalation of the political and military confrontation with Russia, with potentially catastrophic consequences for the entire world. This campaign is the central preoccupation of the Demagogs. Throughout the final months of the 2016 election, Clinton repeatedly attacked Trump as a political stooge of Putin while presenting herself as the more reliable defender of Pindo imperialism. The issue was raised again during the post-election transition with claims that “Russian hacking” was responsible for Trump’s surprise victory. Following Trump’s inauguration, the theme has been taken up once more, with Demagogs and some Rethugs acting as the political spearhead of the CIA and Pentagon. Demagogs seized on Flynn’s resignation to raise the Watergate-era question:
What did the president know and when did he know it?
Their contention is that when Flynn telephoned Kislyak on Dec 29, the same day that Obama imposed new sanctions on Russia, Flynn was conveying assurances from Trump that those sanctions would be relaxed or discarded outright once Trump entered the White House. The most strident comments came from Eric Swalwell of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, who declared:
Trump aides have improper relationships with Russia. Trump himself is implicated. The Rethugs may have the majorities in Congress and their candidate may have won the White House, but we are not helpless. We have the Pindo sheeple and the Pindo creeple too, and they will not be satisfied until they know whether the president is with us or with Russia!
Swalwell would have been more truthful if he had said the Demagogs “are not helpless” because they have the CIA, the NSA and much of the DoD behind them, powerful sections of the state apparatus that have made an enormous strategic investment in preparing for war with Russia. The Demagog Party oozes complacency and passivity when it comes to Trump’s cabinet nominations and his issuance of anti-democratic and unconstitutional executive orders. This is because whatever their tactical criticisms of these elements of Trump’s policy, they are in line with the interests of the corporate and financial aristocracy that both parties represent. But when given the chance to wage a McCarthy-style campaign claiming that Trump is a Russian stooge, they charge into battle frothing at the mouth. It is significant that some Senate Rethugs have also distanced themselves from Trump over this issue, not just warmongers like John McCain and Lindsey Graham. The Senate Rethug leadership has agreed to investigate alleged Russian interference in the Pindo elections and to include Flynn’s contacts with Russia within the scope of the inquiry. Pindo imperialism seeks to counter its declining world economic position by exploiting its unchallenged global military dominance. It sees as the principal roadblocks to its hegemonic aims the growing economic and military power of China and the still-considerable strength of Russia, possessor of the world’s second-largest nuclear arsenal, the largest reserves of oil and gas, and a critical geographical position at the center of the Eurasian land mass. Trump’s opponents within the ruling class insist that Pindo foreign policy must target Russia, with the aim of weakening the Putin regime or overthrowing it. This is deemed a prerequisite for taking on the challenge posed by China. Numerous Faschingstein think-tanks have developed scenarios for military conflicts with Russian forces in the Middle East, in Ukraine, in the Baltic States and in cyberspace. The national security elite is not prepared to accept a shift in orientation away from the policy of direct confrontation with Russia along the lines proposed by Trump, who would like for the present to lower tensions with Russia in order to focus first on China.