Thursday, March 30, 2017

Read his lips: YES! "It's the wrong game, with the wrong chips / Though your lips are tempting, they're the wrong lips" - Putin on U.S. election hack charge: "Read my lips: No!" | Would you buy a used car from this man? I wouldn't. - M.N.: Putin denies meddling in US election

It's (NOT!) All Right With Me - Ella Fitzgerald

It's the wrong time, and the wrong place
Though your face is charming, it's the wrong face
It's not her face, but such a charming face
That it's all right with me

It's the wrong song, in the wrong style
Though your smile is lovely, it's the wrong smile
It's not her smile, but such a lovely smile
That it's all right with me

You can't know how happy I am that we met
I'm strangely attracted to you
There's someone I'm trying so hard to forget
Don't you want to forget someone, too?

It's the wrong game, with the wrong chips
Though your lips are tempting, they're the wrong lips

They're not her lips, but they're such tempting lips

That, if some night, you are free

Then it's all right, yes, it's all right with me


Would you buy a used car from this man? I wouldn't. M.N. 

"Рачик, Рачик, а где твоя левая уха?
- А вот она!
- Молодец, правильно. Услышал..."


Vovchick "The Tarantula", why were you so "loud"?!

Published and Updated on 3.21-24-30.17

Snow falls as Putin attends a wreath-laying ceremony marking the Defenders of the Fatherland Day at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow, Russia, Feb 2017

Nice snow job, Vovchick! But why do you look so sad? 

"HECK: ...please, explain briefly to me, and more importantly to the American public, why we should care about Russia's use of U.S. persons of Americans helping Russia destabilize our democracy.

COMEY: Well, like Admiral Rogers, 

I truly believe we are shining city on a hill, to quote a great American. And one of the things we radiate to the world is the importance of our wonderful, often messy, but free and fair Democratic system and the elections that undergird it. And so when there's something by a foreign nation state to mess with that, to destroy that, to corrupt that, it's very, very serious, threatens what is America.

And if any Americans are part of that effort, it's a very serious matter. And so you would expect the FBI to want to understand, is that so? And if so, who did what? But again, I want to be very careful to people who overinterpret my words, to preserve our ability to answer those questions, we're not talking about our work."

Vovchick "The Tarantula", why were you so "loud"?!

Russian Election Interference - Congressional Hearing

The "Tarantula" is an imaginative term introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-California) in her discussion of the "hybrid warfare" and the "spider web" presided over by Mr. Putin at "the center" (2:41:00 on C-SPAN tape). 

"SPEIER: All right, well, thank you both. I actually think that their engagement was an act of war, an act of hybrid warfare and I think that's why the American people should be concerned about it.
Now, in -- in terms of trying to understand this, I -- I think of a spider web, with a tarantula in the middle. And the tarantula, in my view, is Vladimir Putin, who is entrapping many people to do his bidding and to engage with him. And I would include those like Roger Stone and Carter Page and Michael Caputo and Wilbur Ross and Paul Manafort and Rex Tillerson."
There were a lot of "questions that aren't really questions: This hearing was absolutely lousy with these sorts of questions — from members on both sides of the aisle." Against this backdrop however, some of the questions did really shine.

Responding to the Rep. Ileana Ros-Lentinen (R-Florida) good question (I think, probably one of the best questions asked), what was different in this election compared with the previous ones, with regard to the Russian interference, Adm. Mike Rogers answered: "the use of cyber and hacking...", and Dir. Comey made quite an astute, although quite an obvious observation, one of the most valuable and notable ones during this hearing (often a times the most obvious things are the most helpful for the understanding, as strange as it sounds): "They were unusually loud in their intervention. It is as almost they didn't care that we knew, or they wanted us to see what they do. They were very noisy in their interventions..." (2:48:55 on C-SPAN tape

It's never acceptable, we can all agree, for any foreign power to interfere with our electoral process and this committee has long been focused on Russia's reprehensible conduct. And we will remain focused on the threat emanating from Moscow. And I agree with you Director Comey, when you say this investigation that is ongoing, we will follow the facts wherever they lead on a bipartisan level and there will be no sacred cows.
There are many important issues at stake, as you gentlemen have heard. There is bipartisan agreement on the danger of illegal leaks and our ability to reauthorize important programs upon which our intelligence community relies. But I want to assure the American people that there's also bipartisan agreement on getting to the bottom of Russian meddling in our election which must remain the focus of this investigation and yours.
So Admiral Rogers, I agree in what you said that a public acknowledgement of this foreign meddling to be a problem is important as we move forward. And following on Congressman LoBiondo's questions and based on this theme, I'd like to ask you gentlemen if you could describe what, if anything, Russia did in this election that to your knowledge they did or they didn't do in previous elections, how -- how it was -- were their actions different in this election than -- than in previous ones.
ROGERS: I'd say the biggest difference from my perspective was both the use of cyber, the hacking as a vehicle to physically gain access to information to extract that information and then to make it widely, publicly available without any alteration or change. COMEY: The only thing I'd add is they were unusually loud in their intervention. It's almost as if they didn't care that we knew what they were doing or that they wanted us to see what they were doing. It was very noisy, their intrusions in different institutions.
ROS-LEHTINEN: And what specifically based on this loudness did the FBI or the NSA do to prevent or counter this Russian active measure that we read about in the intelligence community assessment? As loud as they were, what did we do to counter that?
COMEY: Well, among other things, we alerted people who had been victims of intrusions to permit them to tighten their systems to see if they couldn't kick the Russian actors out. We also, as a government, supplied information to all the states so they could equip themselves to make sure there was no successful effort to affect the vote and there was none, as we said earlier.
And then the government as a whole in October called it out. And I believe it was Director Clapper and then-secretary Jeh Johnson issued a statement saying this is what the Russians are doing, sort of an inoculation.
ROS-LEHTINEN: And the loudness to which you refer, perhaps they were doing these kinds of actions previously in other elections but they were not doing it as loudly. What -- why do you think that they did not mind being loud and being found out?
COMEY: I don't know the answer for sure. I think part -- their number one mission is to undermine the credibility of our entire democracy enterprise of this nation and so it might be that they wanted us to help them by telling people what they were doing.
Their loudness, in a way, would be counting on us to amplify it by telling the American people what we saw and freaking people out about how the Russians might be undermining our elections successfully. And so that might have been part of their plan, I don't know for sure.
ROGERS: I've -- I agree with Director Comey. I mean, a big difference to me in the past was while there was cyber activity, we never saw in previous presidential elections information being published on such a massive scale that had been illegally removed both from private individuals as well as organizations associated with the democratic process both inside the government and outside the government.
ROS-LEHTINEN: And this massive amount and this loudness, now that it's become public knowledge, now that we have perhaps satisfied their -- their -- their thirst that it has become such a huge deal, do you expect their interference to be amplified in future U.S. elections?
Do you see any evidence of that in European elections or do you think that this public acknowledgment would -- would tamper down the volatility?
COMEY: I'll let my -- maybe I'll just say as initial matter they'll be back. And they'll be in 2020, they may be back in 2018 and one of the lessons they may draw from this is that they were successful because they introduced chaos and division and discord and sewed doubt about the nature of this amazing country of ours and our democratic process.
It's possible they're misreading that as it worked and so we'll come back and hit them again in 2020. I don't know but we have to assume they're coming back.
ROGERS: I fully expect them to continue this -- this level of activity because I -- our sense is that they have come to the conclusion that it generated a positive outcome for them in the sense that calling into question the democratic process for example is one element of the strategy.
We're working closely, we -- our FBI teammates, others working closely with our European teammates to provide the insights that we have seen to try to assist them as they, themselves, France and Germany for example, about to undergo significant national leadership elections over the course of the next two months." 

M.N.: Another interesting exchange at the Hearing, which might or might not have the direct relevance to the subject at hand is quoted below: 

"QUIGLEY: Admiral Rogers, would you give other examples of what you witnessed in your career?

ROGERS: Sometimes, U.S. individuals would be approached by other individuals connected with -- with foreign connections who will misrepresent what not just the researcher, they'll assume an identity if you will, hey I want you to think that I'm actually working for a business, exploring commercial interests, those kinds of things. Create a relationship and then it turns out, there really is no commercial interest, here they're acting as a direct extension of a foreign government...


COMEY: And romance can be a feature. Somebody dating someone to create a close relationship and the U.S. government person thinks that they're in love with this person and -- and vice versa and the other person's actually an agent of a foreign power, that's sort of a classic example.

QUIGLEY: You describe this as naive acquiescence?

COMEY: I don't -- I'm not sure I know what that means, exactly (ph).

ROGERS: I don't know what that really means (ph).

QUIGLEY: You're -- you're going along with it and without really acknowledging, understanding in your mind or being naive about the issue.

COMEY: Sure, that can happen.

ROGERS: Yeah, you see that at times.


See the full transcript

In my opinion, these parts were the highlights of the hearing, they came as close to the attempt at understanding and the analysis of the issues, as they possibly could in the unclassified setting. 

Mr. Comey admitted that he "did not know" the reasons for this unusual "loudnes" and provided his, one of the possible hypothetical explanations: they tried to make a point of being evident, open, even obvious, to display the Russian powers of interference (possibly in the demonstrative response to the putative US, allegedly Mrs. Clinton's interventions in Russian elections of 2012), to impress, to intimidate, and to warn. 

Another possible explanation: some third party, in this case, Germany, as I wrote about these issues previously, carefully, methodically arranged and "assisted" Russia with this "loudness" and demonstrativeness. 
All or many of the implied "pro-Russia" actors in Trump's circle might have been (and/or some still are now, hypothetically) the double Russian - German agents, or the German agents under the Russian covers, and the whole operation was directed by Germany, or jointly with some elements in Russia. 

For Russia (or any other state), this extraordinary, unusual, demonstrative, primitive, blatant "loudness" was like digging her own grave with regard to the US - Russian relations, especially at the time when their improvement and the relief of sanctions is so desired by them, and no doubts, they would understand this very well. Besides, this primitive style is not characteristic of the usually refined and cautious Russian diplomacy, other interventions, or Putin's style of interactions per se. This peculiarity in this affair points to the possible deliberate set-up from the third party. The massive public release (as a massive, blatant, crude, demonstrative attack) of the unaltered hacked information, described by Adm. Rogers, also points in this direction. 

Interestingly enough, the perception of the Russian interference in 2016 as excessively "loud", according to the "Steele's Dossier", existed within the Kremlin walls themselves and was expressed by none less than Sergey Ivanov,  a former Putin's chief of staff, "The Regent", and one of the most powerful and sober-minded Kremlin officials. 

"August 5, 2016: The chief of Putin’s administration, Sergei Ivanov, expresses doubts about the "black PR" campaign being run by Dmitry Peskov, Putin's spokesman, in favor of Trump and against Clinton. Says it's been managed like "an elephant in a china shop" and advises Kremlin to now "sit tight and deny everything," but advises Putin that pro-Trump operation will ultimately be successful." 

It is of note that Sergey Ivanov and, soon after, Mikhail Fradkov, former SVR chief, resigned their official positions during the 2016 US Presidential campaign: Ivanov on August 12, 2016, apparently, soon after he registered his complaint, according to the "dossier", and Fradkov on September 22, 2016 (exactly 40 days later, the symbolism of this number - the traditional mourning period in both Jewish and Russian Orthodox Christian customs is also of note). According to my observations, they appeared to be close to each other, most likely the teammates (once were absent simultaneously from the Russian Security Council meeting together, possibly taking a vacation together or for some other reason). It is unlikely, in my view, that Sergey Ivanov's power share was diminished or affected by this "resignation", and it might have been even enhanced since it relieved him from the everyday routine and gave him more time to devote to his more important and meaningful interests and tasks. He retained his seat on the Russian Security Council and attends its meetings regularly, although appears to avoid the excessive limelight and attention, wisely and probably also out of his natural modesty, as a part of his character. See more on his resignation in this post. S. Ivanov's meeting with Pamela Anderson, who apparently has some sort of the relationship with Assange, is also of note. 

Fradkov was appointed by Putin (on November 2, 2016) and became the Director of the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies as of January 4, 2017, and met with Putin relatively recently, on January 31, 2017 (see also this post). He also does not appear to lose much of his influence, although it might be more informal now. 

Both of them appear to be brainy, experienced, efficient, and utterly professional, and probably used to work well together as a team, maybe even functioning as the power behind the throne. 
My subjective impression (completely independently from the information in the "dossier"), and whatever it is worth, is that both S. Ivanov and M. Fradkov, working as a team, and utilizing their not inconsiderable resources, rich creative imagination and the "strategic vision", might have been intimately and ultimately involved with the "pro-Trump operation" and project, possibly being its coauthors, conductors, directors, coordinators, and managers. Their resignation might have been for the purposes of providing them with the "covers" and also as the marks of their most remarkable, spectacular, and crowning achievements. This is, again, my own, strictly subjective impression, based on the open sources only and exclusively. (I do not have any access and do not feel any particular need for any other sources.) Another reason for their resignations might be their disappointment with the unprofessional or deliberate "loudness" of this affair. 

Thus, we hypothesized two opposite but not the mutually exclusive versions of the possible Ivanov-Fradkov involvement: 1. They were the authors and managers, at least in part, 2. They were enraged by the unprofessional management and resigned in protest and 3. Both. 

Do not get too mad at me, you, two guys; this is just my subjective impression, which might be completely wrong, and I do like you on a personal and human level intuitively, with all the differences in our outlooks. I have no problems saying this, and it might be even natural, after spending some time watching and observing you, apart from all the other issues. But do not misconstrue this statement. And also, there are simply not that many other suitable candidates for these imaginary or not so imaginary roles, at least on the visible horizon, except, of course, the Boss himself, our legendary (in all respects possible) Vovchick, who, of course, very likely, was the overall supervisor and the manager of this "operation". 

The extent of the GRU involvement remains a question, but I started to doubt it, as of late: it is too specialized of an operation, and I do not know if they would be willing to get too closely involved with it, although some assistance is possible. Much, if not all of these speculations (thinking and hypothesizing) of mine are a guesswork, and should be viewed as such. 

The issue of the "dossier" and the issue of the US - Germany - Russia triangle were addressed in this postPaul Gregory argues, rather persuasively, that "The Trump Dossier Is Fake"

"The poor grammar and shaky spelling plus the author’s use of KGB-style intelligence reporting, however, do not fit the image of a high-end London security company run by highly connected former British intelligence figures... 
As someone who has worked for more than a decade with the microfilm collection of Soviet documents in the Hoover Institution Archives, I can say that the dossier itself was compiled by a Russian, whose command of English is far from perfect and who follows the KGB (now FSB) practice of writing intelligence reports, in particular the practice of capitalizing all names for easy reference." 

Was Oleg Erovinkin the author of the "Trump dossier"? 

"Mystery death of ex-KGB chief linked to MI6 spy's dossier on Donald Trump"

"The death of Erovinkin has prompted speculation it is linked to Mr Steele’s explosive dossier, which was made public earlier this month [January 2017]... 
Christo Grozev, an expert on Russia-related security threats, believes Erovinkin is the key source to whom Mr Steele refers in his dossier." 

"The Russian state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported Erovinkin’s body was “found in a black Lexus..." 
["Lex - The Law - are us..." - M.N.]

See also: 

Oleg Erovinkin - GS 

Oleg Erovinkin - From Wikipedia 

Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections - From Wikipedia

Donald Trump–Russia dossier - From Wikipedia

"On December 26, 2016, Oleg Erovinkin, a former KGB/FSB general, was found dead in his car in Moscow. Erovinkin was a key liaison between Igor Sechin, head of Rosneft, and President Putin. Christopher Steele claimed much of the information came from a source close to Sechin. According to Christo Grozev, a journalist at Risk Management Lab, a think-tank based in Bulgaria, the circumstances of Erovinkin's death was "mysterious". Grozev suspected Erovinkin helped Christopher Steele compile the dossier on Trump and suggests the hypothesis that the death may have been part of a cover-up by the government of the Russian Federation.[37][38] Mark Galeotti, Senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations Prague, who specialises in Russian history and security, rejected Grozev's hypothesis.[39][37]"

The useful FBI investigation timeline charts are cited in this article: 
"A timeline of events that unfolded during the election appears to support the FBI's investigation into Trump-Russia collusion"

Igor Sechin's role in this affair remains largely unexplored, beyond of what we know about his interactions with Page (the offer of commission on the sale of 19,5% of Rosneft stock), and this role might be quite significant. 

This hypothetical involvement of the Russian players does not exclude or rule out the "German theory", they might easily coexist. Furthermore, there are some parallels with the resignations, publicized as the "abrupt firing", of the BND chief Gerhard Schindler in April of 2017, possibly also for the reasons of obtaining the convenient and "paradoxical" cover, see more and the links in this post below.  

No intelligence services, especially such sophisticated ones as the Russian, want to be "open, obvious, and loud", and the Russians would be certainly aware of the consequences of this foolish and "unprofessional" behavior. And this is exactly these negative effects that they are dealing with now. 

The Russians were used as the German patsies, mostly for the German purposes and benefits. 

It would be extremely, unforgivably naive, especially for such a seasoned politician as Putin, to suppose that he can install his puppet as the US President, and it is very unlikely that he would not calculate all the possible outcomes in advance. If it was indeed his own plan, it means that either his intellectual capacities are waning (possibly as a result of his illness), or he was heavily influenced, covertly or overtly, by the others. The third, and probably the most likely explanation is that this plan was conceived and carried out by the others, including his German "friends", from the beginning, and he was forced, unwittingly, to adopt it in the process; at first as some facetious joke and a "fishing expedition", and later more and more seriously, as Trump progressed through the elections. I think, that by now he realized how ill-conceived, foolish, and unrealistic this plan was. 

The hypothetical insights into the always complex array (this issue of complexity was addressed at the Hearing) of possible motivations include the revenge and desire "to teach a lesson" for 1) Overthrow of Yanukovich and "taking away" of Ukraine, 2) Percieved meddling into the internal Russian politics and elections 3) Other, including personal factors on Putin's part. 

One of the remarkable features of this spectacle is the abundance of the "telling names", starting with Trump and ending somewhere around Page. I could cite the whole long list, but feel it would be somewhat tactless, and also time-consuming. You can easily guess the meanings yourselves. This feature might correspond with the (Mr. Comey's, among the others) theory of the deliberate show-off performance. This might also be an indication that this affair was in preparation for quite a long time, which allowed to make these suitable selections: somewhere between 5 and 20 years. 

However, much, if not all aspects of this affair are still unknown to us, and judging from the conduct of today's hearing, I completely concur with the Mr. Hall's (see next post) and others' opinion: the Independent Counsel and the independent investigation are needed, and this might be the only way to try to solve this complex puzzle.  



C-SPAN MARCH 20, 2017

Russian Election Interference FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers were among the witnesses at a House Select Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Regarding accusations made by President Trump in his tweets that President Obama wiretapped his New York City Trump Tower residence shortly before the November 2016 presidential election, Mr. Comey told committee members neither he nor his agency has any information to support such claims. He also said no president has the ability to unilaterally order a wiretap, and that such an operation must go through a court process and be ordered by a judge. 

WATCH: Open Hearing On Russia’s Attempts To Influence U.S. Election 



P.S. I would like to respectfully address Mr. Putin and the Russian leadership again, as a private citizen: If you really want the vital improvement in the US - Russian relations, if you want the really productive new era to start in honest, please, do share all the information that you have on this subject with the US intelligence agencies, if you have not done so already. All the information, in its entirety, in toto. It will only be for your own benefit. Everything will be understood correctly and everything will be put in their right places. 

We will get to the very bottom of this, sooner or later, and, of course, it is much better for everyone, including Russia, if it happens sooner rather than later. 

The same applies to the German side and their hypothetical involvement: do disclose voluntarily all the information now, it is much better than if it is dug out later and without your help. There is absolutely no bias against Germany, but all these developments have to be properly analyzed and understood. 

The US - Russia - Germany triangle and the role of the revived German intelligence in it after the WW2 have to be examined under the most powerful microscope, in all their hidden details, and in the historical perspective. 

With regard to the US, Ms. Merkel noted at the joint press-conference during her recent visit, somewhat off-handedly but meaningfully: "Well, I'm here as Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany. I represent German interests.  I speak with the President of the United States, who stands up for, as is right, American interests. That is our task, respectively." Apparently, the meaning of this was that for her these interests do not always and do not necessarily intersect and coincide, but might diverge, and sometimes, a great deal. This sentiment was echoed in the German Defense Minister's statement, in response to Mr. Trump's criticism of inadequate German contributions to NATO: "“NATO does not have a debt account,” von der Leyen said, according to her ministry."

The phenomenon of the growing anti-Americanism in Germany was noted by many observers. 

The unusual, abrupt firing of the BND chief Gerhard Schindler by Ms. Merkel, without any explanations, in the spring of 2016 (note the timing), just two years before his retirement, still remains a mystery. The same Schindler who is credited with restoring the Germany's "security cooperation with Assad regime" just a couple of years earlier. Somewhat strange. 

The role of the Deutsche Bank, a "Global Laundromat", with the long standing ties with the German Intelligence, is especially curious and deserves the closest attention. The most natural and logical question is: were any money laundered through the Deutsche Bank (from the proceeds, banking fees, etc., etc.) illegally diverted to the US Presidential campaign of 2016? 

Were there any unregistered money, possibly in cash transactions? (Imagine the sacks of cash delivered to the Trump Tower...) If this is the case, who supplied them? German Intelligence, Russian Intelligence, Russian oligarchs, all of them together? 

According to the cited "confidential interview", BND and the Russian Intelligence Services do maintain "a formal intelligence sharing agreement" (page 225). 

See more on Merkel's visit in this post.

Mr. Trump claims to spend twice less money on his campaign than Mrs. Clinton. Is this really true? Who and how counted this money, including the hypothetical cash? 

After all, it might be the money that is at the heart of the issue. 

"The president should be asked three questions: Number one, what do you own? Number two, what do you owe? And three, to whom you owe it? And if you resolve those issues, then you remove the cloud (as) we all want a better relationship with Russia," [a Former Defense Secretary] Cohen said." 

Mr. Trump and his circle have nothing to fear from this investigation if nothing wrong was done. Disclose all the information that you have; this might lead to your exoneration and might resolve the issue of legitimacy. Your roles in this affair might be entirely "unwitting". However, if the violations did occur, it is a completely different matter. Whatever it is, the truth must come out, for the benefit of the country. 

I think it would be much better for Mr. Trump if he initiates this independent investigation himself, and if he fully, unconditionally, wholeheartedly supports it. 

This is the very complex, puzzling, confusing, and unprecedented situation. The only solution is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. A truth is a healing. 

Did the foreign interference in 2016 US elections affect their outcome? 

This question remains essentially unanswered. The US intelligence agencies do not address this question in principle because they feel that it is explicitly outside the scope of their duties, responsibilities, and the ethical frame of reference. This question is extremely difficult, maybe impossible to answer: how would you measure the effects of the hypothetical interference? We can only guess, within the broad range of the contradictory opinions, and your guess is just as good as mine. Apparently, the main thing we can do is to investigate the very facts and the extent of this hypothetical and unacceptable interference, with some inferences as to their putative effects. The free media, mainstream and otherwise, might play the leading role in these efforts.

"The first amendment protects a free press for exactly this type of situation, 

to be a check against the abuse of centralized power and to hold the government accountable. I can think of no matter more worthy of concerted press inquiry than the possible subverting of the democratic process by a foreign power to aid an American presidential candidate... 
Surely, the president will call this fake news. But an authoritative, scrupulously factual investigation by a collective of great news organizations could actually be the best antidote. If we can solve the Russia-Trump puzzle, trust in the news media might begin tracking up once again.

Democracy does die in darkness, as the Washington Post’s new motto says. The truth is more important now than ever, as the New York Times new ad says. Now is the time to prove it."

Michael Novakhov  

4.9 - 3.20-24-26.17