Sunday, August 21, 2016

How Putin’s Spies Infiltrated the Trump Campaign - by 20committee: "during his years in Kyiv, Manafort’s translator and sidekick was Konstantin Kilimnik, who had spent several years with Russian military intelligence or GRU. Although Kilimnik made no effort to hide his Kremlin affiliation, he and Manafort became fast friends. To anybody familiar with Russian intelligence, Kilimnik was very likely Manafort’s spy-handler. At best, he was an access agent for GRU, assessing the American for possible espionage... The case of Paul Manafort demonstrates how Moscow uses money and connections to influence Western politics – even in the United States. The West’s political class is vulnerable to Russian exploitation. Manafort’s demise this week is a rare case when the public gets to see this messy reality exposed."

"The scandal had not yet died down – including awkward questions about where this vast sum of money really came from – when worse appeared. Now we have learned that, during his years in Kyiv, Manafort’s translator and sidekick was Konstantin Kilimnik, who had spent several years with Russian military intelligence or GRU. Although Kilimnik made no effort to hide his Kremlin affiliation, he and Manafort became fast friends.
To anybody familiar with Russian intelligence, Kilimnik was very likely Manafort’s spy-handler. At best, he was an access agent for GRU, assessing the American for possible espionage. “There are no former intelligence officers,” as Vladimir Putin has stated, and one can only imagine the glee in Moscow when Manafort was appointed Trump’s campaign manager... 
The case of Paul Manafort demonstrates how Moscow uses money and connections to influence Western politics – even in the United States. The West’s political class is vulnerable to Russian exploitation. Manafort’s demise this week is a rare case when the public gets to see this messy reality exposed."

Donald Trump and his former advisor Paul Manafort

How Putin’s Spies Infiltrated the Trump Campaign 

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Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency entered a new crisis at the end of this week with the resignation of Paul Manafort, his campaign manager, amid allegations of dirty money and Kremlin connections.
Manafort was brought into the campaign in late March to give the Trump campaign focus as it prepared for the Republican party convention. His predecessor, Corey Lewandowski, possessed limited political experience and had been managing a sandwich shop before he was hired to head up Trump’s presidential bid.
Although Manafort possessed ample political experience, not all of it was welcome. The veteran 67-year-old Republican consultant had helped to elect Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, then George H. W. Bush in 1988, but he had not worked on a Republican presidential campaign since Bob Dole’s failed bid in 1996.
Manafort instead spent ample time overseas, serving as a fixer for various foreign governments – not all of them savory or democratic. Among the regimes Manafort worked for include anti-communist rebels in Angola, Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, and Zaire’s notorious dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.
Some of Manafort’s clients were worse than unsavory. He spent four years in the early 1990s lobbying on behalf of a Kashmiri advocacy group that FBI investigation determined was actually a front group for Pakistani intelligence, the notorious ISI. For helping Pakistan’s ISI, which is infamous for its support to jihadist terrorism, Manafort’s firm received $700,000.
Connections to the ISI should have been sufficient to raise uncomfortable questions about Manafort, but the cause of his downfall this week is his open ties to corrupt oligarchs and Kremlin fronts in Ukraine. That he had spent several years in Kyiv lobbying for Viktor Yanukovych, who served as the country’s president from early 2010 to early 2014, was hardly a secret.
Indeed, Manafort was critical to Yanukovych’s rise to power, since the American fixer coached the colorless Communist functionary in modern politics. After losing elections in 2004 to the Western-oriented Orange Revolution, Yanukovych understood he needed to update his look and his message. That was what Manafort was for.
The Republican consultant taught Yanukovych how to present messages to different audiences and it paid off when his client won the presidency in January 2010. However, once in power, Yanukovych ruled in a distinctly pro-Moscow fashion. It was no secret that the new president and his Party of Regions were clients of Vladimir Putin, whose security services, above all the Federal Security Service or FSB, were allowed free reign in Ukraine as long as Yanukovych ruled in Kyiv.
Manafort was there every step of the way, and if he objected to his client’s thuggish and corrupt ways, there is no record of it. Everything was fine until Yanukovych fell in February 2014 when he was impeached by parliament and popular protests convulsed the country. When Yanukovych’s thugs attacked protestors in Kyiv, killing nearly a hundred – some of the shooting of unarmed protestors was done by FSB operatives sent to Kyiv to bolster the ailing regime – his position became untenable and he promptly fled to Russia, where he remains.
It was widely known that Manafort spent a decade advising Yanukovych, yet that did not deter Trump from appointing him his campaign manager. For Trump, who openly admires Putin, perhaps Moscow links were considered a plus. Whispers continued that Manafort’s role in Kyiv, between oligarchs and Kremlin connections, was worse than publicly acknowledged.
Nevertheless, Manafort guided his new client through the Republican convention in Cleveland last month, winning him the party’s nomination. He stood by Trump as, post-convention, the newly-anointed nominee engaged in a remarkable bout of self-immolation, between insulting the family of a dead American soldier to asking the Kremlin to find Hillary Clinton’s missing emails. As Trump committed political suicide before the cameras, Manafort remained loyal and upbeat.
That said, the convention raised questions. In Cleveland, Trump operatives rewrote the Republican party platform, watering it down from promising to provide Ukraine with “lethal defensive weapons” to merely “appropriate assistance.” Although the Trump campaign denied it had a hand in this rewrite, this was quickly proven false. While some saw Manafort behind this change, he weathered that storm, though he was hardly helped by Trump’s bizarre on-camera insistence that Putin is not “in” Ukraine – despite the presence of tens of thousands of Russian troops in Crimea and the Donbas.
Then everything unraveled this week. First came reports that Manafort had been the recipient of vast largess by the Party of Regions. Anti-fraud investigators in Kyiv discovered a ledger showing that between 2007 and 2012, Manafort was promised $12.7 million in off-the-books cash payments by Yanukovych’s ruling party.  At a minimum, Manafort had served as a foreign agent without registering as one, as required by American law. The documents appear authentic and, given the lawyerly evasiveness of Manafort’s denials, there’s no reason to doubt this story.
The scandal had not yet died down – including awkward questions about where this vast sum of money really came from – when worse appeared. Now we have learned that, during his years in Kyiv, Manafort’s translator and sidekick was Konstantin Kilimnik, who had spent several years with Russian military intelligence or GRU. Although Kilimnik made no effort to hide his Kremlin affiliation, he and Manafort became fast friends.
To anybody familiar with Russian intelligence, Kilimnik was very likely Manafort’s spy-handler. At best, he was an access agent for GRU, assessing the American for possible espionage. “There are no former intelligence officers,” as Vladimir Putin has stated, and one can only imagine the glee in Moscow when Manafort was appointed Trump’s campaign manager.
That role has ended with Manafort’s resignation. A shake-up this week reduced the seasoned fixer’s role as Trump tried to re-brand his damaged campaign to take on Hillary Clinton in early November. The exposure of Manafort’s long relationship with GRU was the final straw. Even Trump, for all his overt “bromance” with Putin, could not be seen to have such an obvious Kremlin proxy heading his campaign for the White House.
It is nevertheless shocking that Manafort burrowed his way into the Trump campaign as deeply as he did. There are lessons here for Europe – and especially Germany. America is only now experiencing what Europe has already gone through – a world where parties on both the left and the right are wooed by the Kremlin, which brings cash and favors.
Germany, with its rich reservoirs of Russlandversteher, is especially vulnerable. On the left, Die Linke retains longstanding ties to Moscow, with whom it shares antipathy toward NATO and the Americans. On the rising right, where Merkel’s failed refugee policies provide fodder for Kremlin propaganda every day, the AfD and others more extreme court Russian favor and sponsorship as Germany looks towards national elections next year.
The case of Paul Manafort demonstrates how Moscow uses money and connections to influence Western politics – even in the United States. The West’s political class is vulnerable to Russian exploitation. Manafort’s demise this week is a rare case when the public gets to see this messy reality exposed. Germany is no different – and Germans who value their democracy will pay attention as 2017 approaches.
(This article appeared in German in BILD — you can read it here.)

Filed under: CounterintelligenceEspionage  

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ON POINT: Russia Rattles Sabers in Ukraine

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Signs of a shift in Trump's campaign — too little, too late? - Los Angeles Times

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Los Angeles Times

Signs of a shift in Trump's campaign — too little, too late?
Los Angeles Times
Clinton said this month that she had "short-circuited" her reply during a Fox News interview when she said FBI Director James BComey had concluded her public statements on the issue were truthful. He had not. Comey had said there was no evidence she ...

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Hillary Clinton Is Now Blaming Email Scandal On Ex-Secretary Of State Colin Powell - The Inquisitr

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Hillary Clinton Is Now Blaming Email Scandal On Ex-Secretary Of State Colin Powell
The Inquisitr
This was supposed to be one of the reasons the FBI, under director James BComey, decided not to pursue any criminal charge against the presidential nominee. The conversation between Hillary Clinton and Colin Powell will reportedly be detailed in the ...

A turbulent week for Trump overshadows Clinton's vulnerabilities - Washington Post

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Washington Post

A turbulent week for Trump overshadows Clinton's vulnerabilities
Washington Post
Her recent characterization of FBI Director James BComey's comments about her use of a private email server as secretary of state earned negative ratings from media fact checkers. Only after it was apparent that her version of what Comey had said was ...

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The FBI's misstep on Clinton's emails - Washington Post

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Washington Post

The FBI's misstep on Clinton's emails
Washington Post
THE DIRECTOR of the FBI, James BComey, did the right thing in announcing the results of the bureau's investigation of Hillary Clinton's email in early July. Realizing that the case was hyper-sensitive in the middle of a presidential campaign, Mr ...

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Page 2

Iraq hangs 36 men accused of 2014 terrorist massacre

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August 21, 2016, 4:28 PM (IDT)
The 36 men executed Sunday in Nasiriyah jail were found guilty of taking part in the massacre of 1.700 Iraqi army recruits kidnapped at Camp Speicher near Tikiit in northern Iraq in 2014. Islamic State claimed responsibility. The killers were captured when Tikrit was liberated from ISIS last year and sentenced to death some moths ago. Last month, more than 300 people were slaughtered in the worst ever single bomb attack to strike Baghdad, after which prime minister, Haider al-Abadi gave the order to expedite the execution of inmates condemned to death in terrorism cases.

ISIS Suicide Bomber Who Killed 50 in Turkey Was Between 12 and 14 Years Old 

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(ISTANBUL) — An Islamic State group suicide bomber as young as 12 years old attacked an outdoor Kurdish wedding party in southeastern Turkey, killing at least 51 people and wounding dozens of others, the Turkish president said Sunday.
The bombing late Saturday in Gaziantep, near Turkey’s border with Syria, was the deadliest attack in Turkey this year.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking live on national television in front of Istanbul’s city hall, said the attacker was aged between 12 and 14. He said 69 people were wounded, with 17 of them in critical condition.
“It was clear that Daesh had such an organization in Gaziantep or was attempting to make room for itself in recent times,” Erdogan said, using an alternative acronym for IS. “Many intensive operations were conducted, are being conducted. Of course our security forces will be conducting these operations with even greater intensity.”
A bus driver who shuttled some of the guests from Siirt to Gaziantep said that he couldn’t believe the party was targeted.
“This was a wedding party. Just a regular wedding party,” Hamdullah Ceyhan told Anadolu. “This attack was deplorable. How did they do such a thing?”
Turkey has been rocked by a wave of attacks in the past year that have either been claimed by Kurdish militants linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party — known by its acronym PKK — or were blamed on IS. In June, suspected IS militants attacked Istanbul’s main airport with guns and bombs, killing 44 people. A dual suicide bombing blamed on IS at a peace rally in Turkey’s capital, Ankara, in October killed 103 victims.
The attack comes as the country is still reeling from last month’s failed coup attempt, which the government has blamed on U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen and his followers. Gulen denies any involvement.
Earlier, Erdogan said there was “absolutely no difference” between IS, Kurdish rebels and Gulen’s movement, calling them terrorist groups.
“These bloodthirsty organizations and the powers behind them have neither the will nor power to silence the calls to prayer, lower the flag, divide our motherland and break up our nation,” he added.
Earlier this week, a string of bombings blamed on the PKK that targeted police and soldiers killed at least a dozen people. A fragile, 2 ½ yearlong peace process between the PKK and the government collapsed last year, leading to a resumption of the three-decade-long conflict.
In Gaziantep, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek and the country’s health minister visited the wounded and inspected the site of the attack.
“This is a massacre of unprecedented cruelty and barbarism,” he told reporters. “We … are united against all terror organizations. They will not yield.”
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim condemned the bombing, which he said turned “a wedding party into a place of mourning” and he vowed to prevail over the “devilish” attacks.
Opposition parties have also denounced the attack. The main opposition Republican People’s Party will be holding an emergency meeting in the late afternoon and a delegation was being sent to Gaziantep by the Nationalist Movement Party. Supporters of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party will be holding a protest against the attack in Istanbul.
Foreign governments, including the U.S., Sweden, Greece, France, Bahrain, Qatar and Jordan, have condemned the attack.
Police sealed off the site of the explosion and forensic teams moved in.
Hundreds of residents had gathered near the site chanting “Allah is great” as well as slogans denouncing attacks.
Turkish authorities issued a media blackout on coverage of the attack until the investigation is completed.
Suzan Fraser contributed to this report from Ankara.
Suzan Fraser contributed to this report from Ankara.

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Is a hate crimes bill to protect police needed? - The Courier-Journal

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The Courier-Journal

Is a hate crimes bill to protect police needed?
The Courier-Journal
It was a low-key shift on a warm July night until Louisville Metro Police Officer DeAris Hoard got the “shots fired” call. Hoard, a 25-year-old who has spent three years on the force, had handled minor problems so far: a stolen phone, a noise complaint ...

FBI Investigating U.S. Ties To Alleged Corruption By Former Ukraine President - Huffington Post

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Huffington Post

FBI Investigating U.S. Ties To Alleged Corruption By Former Ukraine President
Huffington Post
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The FBI and U.S. Justice Department are investigating possible U.S. ties to alleged corruption involving the former president of Ukraine, including the work of firms headed by political operatives Paul Manafort and Tony Podesta, ...

FBI, DOJ launch Probe into Firm of John PodestaBreitbart News
FBI probing possible US ties to corruption involving former Ukrainian gov'tFox News Latino

Report: FBI, DOJ looking at Manafort in Ukraine investigationThe Hill Welle-
 Washington Examiner (blog) 

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FBI's attempt to show Clinton probe was nonpartisan keeps running into politics - Washington Post

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Washington Post

FBI's attempt to show Clinton probe was nonpartisan keeps running into politics
Washington Post
The political dust-up over the FBI handing documents about the Hillary Clinton email investigation to Congress is intensifying, with Republicans complaining the materials were turned over in such a way that assessing them is difficult and Democrats ...
Just the FBI's Notes on Hillary Clinton's Investigation Require Top SecurityCharisma News 

GOP speechwriter may vote for Hillary ClintonBaltimore Sun

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Turkish PM opens door for Russian use of Incirlik

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August 21, 2016, 10:17 AM (IDT)
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Saturday that Russia could possibly use country's southern Incirlik Air Base if it becomes necessary. This confirmed DEBKAfile’s prediction that Moscow, after gaining an air base in Iran last week, would also seek access to the strategic base in southern Turkey in the light of the Putin-erdogan rapprochement. Yildirim added that since Incirilik was available to the warplanes of the United States, Qatar,German and other nations fighting the Islamic State in Syria, Russia would be granted the same privilege – if necessary.
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Page 3

London mayor calls on Labour Party members to replace leader

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London’s new mayor has urged fellow members of the opposition Labour Party to ditch their leader in hopes of choosing someone more likely to win a national election.

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Turkey’s president: Suicide bomber in wedding party attack was between 12 and 14 years old 

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Turkey’s president: Suicide bomber in wedding party attack was between 12 and 14 years old.

At least 50 killed, nearly 100 injured in blast at wedding in Turkey – video 

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Emergency services rush to the scene of an explosion at a wedding in Gaziantep in southern Turkey. At least
50 people were killed at the outdoor ceremony on Saturday night. The deputy PM said the attack appeared to be a suicide bombing
Continue reading...

Tens of Thousands Rally to Support Yemen's Houthis - Newsweek

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Tens of Thousands Rally to Support Yemen's Houthis
Houthi governing council says it will form a new government soon as G18 ambassadors condemn 'unconstitutional and unilateral actions.' By Reuters On 8/20/16 at 9:52 PM. Get Adobe Flash player. video default image Close. Tens of Thousands Rally for ...
World Digest: Aug. 20, 2016Washington Post
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London Mayor Khan Backs Corbyn Challenger for Labour Leadership - Bloomberg

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London Mayor Khan Backs Corbyn Challenger for Labour Leadership
London Mayor Sadiq Khan called on members of the U.K. opposition Labour Party to oust Jeremy Corbyn as their leader in a vote that starts Monday, saying Corbyn is “extremely unlikely” to lead Labour back to power. Khan, who is the most powerful Labour ...
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Obamacare has gone from the President's greatest achievement to a 'slow motion death spiral' - Business Insider

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Business Insider

Obamacare has gone from the President's greatest achievement to a 'slow motion death spiral'
Business Insider
It has not been a good week for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare. A slew of news, from insurers dropping out to possible fraud among healthcare providers, has all accumulated in a deluge of negative headlines for one of ...

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Page 4
 news articles »

Erdogan Tells Poroshenko Turkey Won't Recognize Crimea As Russian

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reassured his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko that Ankara will continue to recognize the Crimean Peninsula, which was illegally annexed by Russia, as Ukrainian territory.

Syrian Warplanes Fly Over Northern City Despite U.S. Warning

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Syrian government warplanes on August 20 flew over a flashpoint northeastern city despite a warning from U.S. officials against making air strikes where it has military advisers.

At Least 50 Dead, Dozens Wounded In Turkey Wedding Blast

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Turkish officials say
the death toll from an attack on a wedding party carried out by a child suicide bomber in the southeastern city of Gaziantep has risen to 50. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the suicide bomber was between the ages of 12 and 14.

Suicide Sparks Renewed Efforts To Decriminalize Drug Use In Georgia

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A suicide in Georgia has given new life to efforts to soften the country's harsh drug laws as the country heads toward parliamentary elections.

Plucky Russian Newspaper Stands By Warning Against ‘Distorted’ TV News

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Thousands of kilometers from the Kremlin’s watchful eye, a plucky newspaper in Siberia is practicing its own brand of independent journalism and running a unique antipropaganda campaign after being tarred earlier this year by state-controlled Russian media.

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Page 5

Iran Unveils New Long-Range Missile-Defense System

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Iran has released images of its first domestically built long-range missile defense system, the Bavar-373.

Russia’s Critics Fear Political Murders by Kremlin Are on the Rise 

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Mysterious deaths and close calls have some opposition figures worried that political murder is resurgent in Russian foreign policy.

London mayor Sadiq Khan says 'Jeremy Corbyn must go'

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Kalashnikov to sell model AK-47 assault rifles at Moscow Airport

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“Kalashnikov is one of the most popular brands that comes to mind for most people in the world when they hear about Russia,” Vladimir Dmitriev, the company’s marketing chief, said in a news release.
"So we are pleased to provide everyone with an opportunity to take home a souvenir with our brand on it."
However, given the obvious security considerations, the company said the fake guns will be made of plastic and easy to distinguish from the real thing.
They will sit alongside other goods such as “I Love AK” t-shirts, when the store opens for business at Sheremetyevo International Airport, which handled more than 31 million passengers a year.
If the gun looks too credible  it could well be confiscated by UK customs with the import of being banned under the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006.
It is also illegal to possess an imitation firearm without reasonable excuse - such as film-making or historical re-enactments.

Kalashnikov to sell model AK-47 assault rifles at Moscow Airport 

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Hopes rise for deal to end 40-year frozen conflict in Cyprus

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Page 6

US election: Trump campaign spending still lags far behind Clinton

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Donald Trump's election campaign doubled its spending last month but still lags far behind US presidential rival Hillary Clinton, figures show.

Morocco king urges diaspora to reject Islamist extremism

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The king of Morocco calls on his people living abroad to defend a tolerant form of Islam, after recent attacks involving militants of Moroccan origin.

Ex-U.S. Navy SEAL author agrees to pay $6.8 million to government: NY Times

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A former U.S. Navy SEAL who wrote a book about the daring operation on Osama Bin Laden's compound in Pakistan has agreed to forfeit $6.8 million in book royalties and speaking fees, the New York Times reported on Friday, citing federal court documents.

German minister wants facial recognition systems at airports, train stations

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's Interior Minister wants to introduce facial recognition software at train stations and airports to help identify terror suspects following two Islamist attacks in the country last month.

Syrian rebels prepare attack from Turkey on Islamic State town

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BEIRUT (Reuters) - Hundreds of Syrian rebels are preparing to launch an operation to capture a town held by Islamic State at the border with Turkey, a senior Syrian rebel said on Sunday, a move that would frustrate Kurdish hopes to expand further in that area.

Trump calls on GOP to improve African-American outreach

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FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said Saturday that his party must do a better job appealing to African-American voters and that he wants the GOP to become their political home as it was in the era of Abraham Lincoln....
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Page 7

Trump's campaign spending at half the rate of Clinton's

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Donald Trump doubled his campaign expenses last month, yet was still spending at a far slower clip than Hillary Clinton....

Garry Kasparov: Vetting Donald Trump’s Kremlin contacts

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A major point in Donald Trump’s foreign policy speech this week was that the U.S. needs to examine immigrants to make sure they aren’t sympathetic to radical Islam. He called it “extreme vetting,” which sounds like a new euphemism for torture, a practice Trump has already endorsed.
Putting aside the un-American nature of the discrimination Trump is proposing, an ideological pop quiz is unlikely to stop any ISIS terrorists who politely stand on line at the U.S. border. Or does Trump plan on charging them with perjury for lying on a questionnaire after they’ve committed a terror attack?
As usual, Trump’s plans combine impracticality with hatemongering and a cure worse than the disease. Perhaps the Republican Party could have provided Hillary Clinton with a worthy opponent had the GOP done some extreme vetting of its own.
Trump’s campaign could also use a better screening process. For example, “Are you or anyone on your staff currently employed by a hostile foreign power?” or “Have you received any suitcases of cash from Moscow lately?” or “When was the last time you had dinner with Vladimir Putin?” Trump likes to rail against “Washington insiders,” but we should be more worried about his Moscow insiders.
It was revealed this week that secret handwritten ledgers committed $12.7 million in payments from the Ukrainian puppet regime of Viktor Yanukovych to Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who worked for Yanukovych for a decade. It is as yet unknown whether or not Yanukovych’s puppet master, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, was also the paymaster. Since the only consistent thing about the Trump campaign is scandal, we can expect further revelations to come soon.
I’m not even sure what’s more likely at this point, that Trump failed to properly vet Manafort or that he knew the man was likely on the Kremlin payroll and didn’t care. After all, Trump on Wednesday attended his first classified security briefing accompanied by retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who is happy to appear on Russia Today, Putin’s global propaganda network, and who sat next to Putin at a Russia Today gala last year.
And Trump himself had no problem encouraging (sarcastically? who knows) Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails.
The tsunami of media attention Trump receives worked to his advantage in the crowded GOP primary, but now it’s providing scrutiny he cannot withstand. This is why the sort of people Manafort usually works for abolish the free press as soon as possible. Trump’s campaign has already banned various papers from his events — a good indication of what he and his gang think about the First Amendment.
Nor does a more recent hire inspire confidence in Trump’s judgment. On Tuesday, he brought in Stephen Bannon, the top exec at Breitbart News, an outlet that traffics in the inflammatory rhetoric and conspiracy theories that fueled Trump’s rise as a hero of the right-wing fringe.
Bannon might supplant Manafort or they might work well together, considering Manafort’s alleged role in using the politics of ethnic division to foment unrest in Crimea.
Putin has been very successful in exploiting the openness of the free world’s economic and political structures to increase his influence. His propaganda is beamed directly into homes around the world; his billionaire cronies buy into influential companies like Facebook; Kremlin resources support far-right candidates across Europe and disruptive causes like Brexit — and Trump.
As I’ve been pointing out for a decade, it’s easier to understand Putin’s Russia if you think of it as a crime syndicate, a Mafia, instead of a typical political system. Putin is the godfather, and his ever-shrinking inner circle is the only family he can trust. In return for the freedom to enjoy their looted riches in the West, they serve as Putin’s operatives among the wealthy and powerful of the free world. Their social and financial access becomes increasingly useful as Putin’s foreign aggression and domestic crackdowns turn him into a geopolitical pariah.
And so it would be foolish to dismiss as mere celebrity gossip the recent news that Trump’s daughter Ivanka vacations with Wendi Deng, who is a good friend of Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich and who is romantically linked with Putin himself. It’s exactly the sort of discreet personal channel Putin prefers. Like anyone raised in the Soviet Union, I tend to think that paranoia is a healthy response to reality. I believe in coincidences, but I also believe in the KGB.
“Follow the money!” is the most memorable line from the great movie about Watergate, “All the President’s Men.” Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein follow the money far enough to bring down President Richard Nixon. I don’t know who will be this year’s Woodward and Bernstein, but all I can tell them is “Follow the rubles!”
Kasparov is the chairman of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation and the author of “Winter Is Coming.”
donald trump
vladimir putin
hillary clinton
2016 election
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Report: Donald Trump's companies at least $650 million in debt

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Donald Trump’s properties are indebted to a number of large financial institutions, including some that he’s repeatedly maligned on the campaign trail, according to a new report by the New York Times.
The newspaper found that holdings by Trump have debt amounting to at least $650 million -- a far cry from the amount ($315 million) filed on the personal financial disclosure forms he gave to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
The campaign addressed the discrepancy to the Times, attributing it to the limited information the FEC actually requires on such forms:
Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, said that Mr. Trump could have left the liability section on the form blank, because federal law requires that presidential candidates disclose personal liabilities, not corporate debt. Mr. Trump, he said, has no personal debt.
“We overdisclosed,” Mr. Weisselberg said, explaining that it was decided that when a Trump company owned 100 percent of a property, all of the associated debt would be disclosed, something that he said went beyond what the law required.
Notably, one of these -- a Manhattan office building which Trump partly owns -- “carries a $950 million loan,” according to the Times. Goldman Sachs and the Bank of China are two of the building’s four lenders.
Trump, while on the trail, has repeatedly slammed his political rivals for their connections to Goldman Sachs. After news reports revealed back in January that his then-primary opponent Texas Sen. Ted Cruz had received two loans from Goldman Sachs and Citibank (totaling as much as $1 million) to fund his Senate campaign, Trump criticized Cruz as being beholden to banks.
“I know the guys at Goldman Sachs. They have total, total control over him. Just like they have total control over Hillary Clinton,” Trump said at a rally in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in February, suggesting Clinton’s paid speeches to banks like Goldman Sachs also put her squarely in Wall Street’s pockets. In contrast, the billionaire said of such financial institutions: “They have no control over Donald Trump. I don’t want their money. I don’t need their money.”
Trump has also hammered away at China while campaigning, saying repeatedly that the country “is taking our jobs, they’re taking our money.”
In the past, the GOP nominee has seemed to dismiss corporate debt -- even bragging to the press that he was the “king of debt.”
“Nobody knows debt better than me. I’ve made a fortune by using debt and if things don’t work out, I renegotiate the debt,” Trump told “CBS This Morning” co-host Norah O’Donnell in June. “Well, you go back and you say, ‘Hey, guess what? The economy just crashed. I’m going to give you back half.’”
“If I do a deal in a corporation as an example and if the economy goes bad, I’ll often times renegotiate that debt. But that’s a different thing, that’s just a corporate thing,” Trump said then. “And other people like me, very big people in the world of business, they do that.”
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First on CNN: Feds investigate Manafort firm as part of Ukraine probe

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  • Investigators in Ukraine have alleged Yanukovych and members of his party ran a corrupt regime
  • Ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has not been the focus of the probe
Washington (CNN)FBI and Justice Department prosecutors are conducting an investigation into possible US ties to alleged corruption of the former pro-Russian president of Ukraine, including the work of Paul Manafort's firm, according to multiple US law enforcement officials.
The investigation is broad and is looking into whether US companies and the financial system were used to aid alleged corruption by the party of former president Viktor Yanukovych.
Manafort, who resigned as chairman of Donald Trump's campaign Friday, has not been the focus of the probe, according to the law enforcement officials. The investigation is ongoing and prosecutors haven't ruled anything out, the officials said.
The probe is also examining the work of other firms linked to the former Ukrainian government, including that of the Podesta Group, the lobbying and public relations company run by Tony Podesta, brother of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
Anti-corruption investigators in Ukraine have alleged Yanukovych and members of his party ran a corrupt regime. He fled to Russia following a public uprising in 2014.
The FBI, Justice Department and Manafort declined to comment. A Washington attorney who represents Manafort and Yanukovych didn't respond to a request for comment.
The Podesta group issued a statement saying it hired lawyers to examine its relationship with a not-for-profit organization linked to the ousted Ukrainian regime.
"The firm has retained Caplin & Drysdale as independent, outside legal counsel to determine if we were misled by the Centre for a Modern Ukraine or any other individuals with regard to the Centre's potential ties to foreign governments or political parties," the statement said.
It continued: "When the Centre became a client, it certified in writing that 'none of the activities of the Centre are directly or indirectly supervised, directed, controlled, financed or subsidized in whole or in part by a government of a foreign country or a foreign political party.' We relied on that certification and advice from counsel in registering and reporting under the Lobbying Disclosure Act rather than the Foreign Agents Registration Act. We will take whatever measures are necessary to address this situation based on Caplin & Drysdale's review, including possible legal action against the Centre."
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Campaign email revelation shows Paul Manafort secretly paid for Ukraine lobbying

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Malaysia Sun Saturday 20th August, 2016
campaign email revelation shows paul manafort secretly paid for ukraine lobbying
• Emails point fingers at Paul Manafort, Rick Gates as foreign agents involved in covert lobbying
• Trump shocks critics, expresses “regret” over caustic rhetoric during campaign; airs first TV ad
• Clinton claims Colin Powell advocated private email server; campaign to stop accepting donations
WASHINGTON, U.S. – Newly discovered emails reveal that a covert lobbying operation was conducted by a firm run by Donald Trump's campaign on behalf of Ukraine’s then ruling party, in order to sway American opinion towards a pro-Russian government.
According to reports, the lobbying included attempts to secure positive press coverage of officials in leading publications like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press, while also downplaying the need for sympathy towards the imprisoned rival of Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych.
The emails reveal that Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates did not reveal their work as foreign agents as required by laws, while Gates personally orchestrated the work of two prominent Washington lobbying firms involved.
Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian lawmaker, held that the campaign chairman should be questioned by Ukrainian investigators over almost $13 million he allegedly received from a secret account as payment for his lobbying work.
He said, “We state that Mr. Manafort received $12,774,869 from Nov. 20, 2007, until Oct. 5, 2012, from a shadow account of the Party of Regions, which was filled in a non-transparent, corrupt way.”
Further, Manafort’s name has been mentioned several times in so-called “black accounts” recording illegal off-the-books payments linked to Yanukovych’s political party, but Manafort said that “there is no evidence of ‘cash payments’ made to me by any official in Ukraine.”
He continued, “The simplest answer is the truth: I am a campaign professional. It is well known that I do work in the United States and have done work on overseas campaigns as well. I have never received a single 'off-the-books cash payment' as falsely 'reported' by The New York Times.”
Two Americas: Immigration
Meanwhile, Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump is airing the first ad of his election campaign, titled "Two Americas: Immigration," in Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida.
The ad focuses on security, especially with regards to immigration, and attempts to contrast an America under Trump’s helm with one under rival Hillary Clinton’s.
In Clinton’s America, “The system stays rigged against Americans. Syrian refugees flood in. Illegal immigrants convicted of committing crimes get to stay. Collecting Social Security benefits, skipping the line. Our border open. It's more of the same, but worse.”
Trump’s America, according to the advert, will be “secure. Terrorists and dangerous criminals: kept out. The border: secured. Our families: safe. Change that makes America safe again.”
The Republican Party forges on despite widening fissures, with recent polls indicating that 8 out of 10 Republicans have a favourable opinion of their party right now.
The chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) has stated that Trump’s nomination will not cause the Party to lose control of the House.
He said, “We’re not going to lose the House. We see no evidence of that. We’re not seeing down-ballot negative effect. We obviously know the competitive seats. But they’re all right side up. They’re all beating their opponents, some by pretty substantial margins. Even in district where our nominee is not doing well and Hillary [Clinton] is, we’re still winning in the House seats.”
However, he clarified that the Party will not let its guard down even on the safest of races, and added, “I would say, generally, everybody is focused on the presidential race, clearly, that’s on the top of mind everywhere you go. But, as I go around, our House members remain in good shape.”
Further, Trump took critics by surprise when he claimed seemingly heartfelt “regret” towards his use of acerbic language over the duration of his campaign.
He said during a speech in Charlotte that, “Sometimes, in the heat of debate and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that, and I regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain. Too much is at stake for us to be consumed with these issues.”
Although social media users were gobsmacked, Clinton’s campaign took to defusing the sudden burst of hope, claiming to undo the idea that the speech could mean a “new” Donald Trump.
Welcome to Louisiana: But not for a photo op
Trump has also planned to visit the flooded state of Louisiana with running mate Mike Pence on Friday, despite advice against touring the area.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards' office said that the duo was welcome, despite not having discussed plans to visit earlier.
A statement from the office read, “We welcome him to (Louisiana), but not for a photo op. Instead, we hope he'll consider volunteering or making a sizable donation to the LA Flood Relief Fund to help the victims of this storm.”
At least 13 people have died and 4,000 homes damaged after a deluge of more than 2 1/2 feet across the state.
At a rally on Thursday, Trump had expressed that his prayers were with the people affected in the state “that is very special to me.”
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich pointed out that President Barack Obama was yet to make a trip to the state, and said, “It is good Trump and Pence are going to Louisiana to help fellow Americans who are in pain. Sad that Obama can't leave vacation for one day.”
Pence also filled in a personal financial disclosure form that shows his salary as Indiana governor is his main source of income.
The form, required under federal law, lists $173,860 in salary for Pence and adds that Karen Pence's earnings from a towel charm business and her work as a self-employed artist each bring in less than $1,001.
Swirling in scandal
Hillary Clinton’s email scandal remains a hot topic, with the latest revelation being that former Secretary of State Colin Powell allegedly recommended on two occasions that Clinton use a private email account for unclassified communication.
Clinton’s testimony to the FBI stated that Powell made the suggestions at a small dinner party shortly after Clinton took over at the State Department in 2009, and once again within an email exchange around the same time.
Powell's office, however, said, “General Powell has no recollection of the dinner conversation. He did write former Secretary Clinton an email memo describing his use of his personal AOL email account for unclassified messages and how it vastly improved communications within the State Department. At the time there was no equivalent system within the Department. He used a secure State computer on his desk to manage classified information.”
The Clinton Foundation announced that if the former Secretary of State is elected president, it would no longer accept donations from corporations or foreign entities.
The decision was revealed amid rising criticism against how the foundation operated during her tenure as secretary of state and potentially allowed donors to seek special access through her government post.
Donald Trump and his campaign claimed that the decision was made too late, and new campaign manager Kellyanne Conway added, “Follow the money with these people. They’re low-class grifters and gifters at every turn, whether it’s the money they make giving speeches, whether it’s the pay-for-play at the State Department.”
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Report: FBI, DOJ looking at Manafort in Ukraine investigation

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The Department of Justice and the FBI are looking at Paul Manafort as part of a broad investigation into alleged corruption in Ukraine, according to CNN.
The investigation is instead broadly examining whether U.S. corporations and financial institutions had been used to aid former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was driven out of office, CNN reports.
Manafort worked for Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, though much of his activities are not publicly known. He has said the work did not trigger disclosure under the U.S. foreign lobbying law, the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
The Podesta Group and Mercury, two Washington lobbying and PR firms, worked for a client introduced to them by Manafort — the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, a non-profit that had ties to Yanukovych’s political party.  
The former client — who paid the the two firms $2.2 million from 2012 to 2014 — assured them that it had no backing from foreign governments or parties.
The CNN report says that other firms that had been involved with Manafort have also been caught up in the Justice Department investigation, including the Podesta Group. However, the report does not list Mercury as being part of the probe.
CNN cites law enforcement officials saying that prosecutors “haven’t ruled anything out.”  
The Podesta Group on Friday announced that it had hired a law firm to look into whether the former client misled it about its sources of funding. 
“The firm has retained Caplin & Drysdale as independent, outside legal counsel to determine if we were misled by the Centre for a Modern Ukraine or any other individuals with regard to the Centre’s potential ties to foreign governments or political parties,” said Podesta Group CEO Kimberley Fritts in a statement. 
Podesta's advocacy activities were disclosed under the domestic lobbying statute, the Lobbying Disclosure Act, but not FARA. Both Mercury and the Podesta Group did so because of a signed statement from the client and an outside legal opinion. 
“When the Centre became a client, it certified in writing that ‘none of the activities of the Centre are directly or indirectly supervised, directed, controlled, financed or subsidized in whole or in part by a government of a foreign country or a foreign political party.’ ”
“We relied on that certification and advice from counsel in registering and reporting under the Lobbying Disclosure Act rather than the Foreign Agents Registration Act. We will take whatever measures are necessary to address this situation based on Caplin & Drysdale’s review, including possible legal action against the Centre.” 
Mercury has retained Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom to “to look into the matter,” said Kenneth Gross, the leader of Skadden’s political law practice, on Friday. 
The two firms made the statements about outside hires prior to the CNN reporton Friday evening. 
Yanukovych was ousted after a public uprising in Ukraine in 2014 and fled to Russia. 
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DC Firm Questions Its Ties to Ukraine Group Linked to Manafort

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A prominent Washington lobbying firm has hired investigators to determine whether it was improperly working with pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians who also employed Paul Manafort, the former chairman of Republican Donald Trump's presidential campaign.
The Podesta Group said Friday that it had hired a law firm to examine its relationship with a not-for-profit European organization that also hired Manafort and was linked to the ousted Ukrainian regime. It said lawyers would look into whether it had been "misled" by the group, called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine.
“We will take whatever measures are necessary to address this situation," the Podesta Group said, including possible legal action against the group.
The Podesta Group said the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine pledged in writing that none of its activities were controlled or financed by a foreign government or political party. The Podesta Group lobbied lawmakers in Washington for positions favored by the pro-Russian group.
Controversy surrounding Manafort's ties to pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians coincided with his resignation Friday as Trump's campaign manager.
Manafort has been the subject of extensive news coverage over his work for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich that allegedly involved overseeing millions of dollars in secret payments. Manafort denied that he received any off-the-books cash payments.
CNN reported Friday that FBI and Justice Department prosecutors were investigating whether U.S. companies were used to aid alleged corruption by the party of Yanukovich.
Law enforcement officials told CNN the investigation included the work of Manafort's firm, although they said he was not the focus of the probe. The officials said the investigation was also examining the work of the Podesta Group.
The Podesta Group is run by Tony Podesta, brother of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

Manafort out, a step ahead of authorities?

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trump, manafort, russia, fbi - Google Search

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First on CNN: Feds investigate Manafort firm as part of Ukraine probe

CNN-18 hours ago
He fled to Russia following a public uprising in 2014. The FBI, Justice Department and Manafortdeclined to comment. A Washington attorney ...
10 things you need to know today: August 17, 2016
In-Depth-The Week Magazine-Aug 17, 2016
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trump, manafort, russia - Google Search

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Donald Trump Aide Paul Manafort Scrutinized for Russian Business ...

<a href="" rel="nofollow"></a>-Aug 18, 2016
Donald Trump's campaign chairman was a key player in multi-million-dollar business propositions with Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs — one ...
Garry Kasparov: Vetting Donald Trump's Kremlin contacts
Opinion-New York Daily News-Aug 18, 2016
Manafort's man in Kiev
In-Depth-Politico-Aug 18, 2016
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America's Top Spies and Analysts Warn of Real Threat of a Trump Presidency: 5 Leaders Who Have Spoken out

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Michael J. Morell, former acting director and deputy director of the CIA
Starting next week, Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump, the two major-party candidates for the presidency of the United States, will begin receiving national security briefings from intelligence officials. 
One senior intelligence official, speaking to the Washington Post on August 3 on the condition of anonymity, contended “he would decline to participate in any session with Trump…citing not only concern with Trump’s expressions of admiration for Russian President Vladi­mir Putin but seeming uninterest in acquiring a deeper or more nuanced understanding of world events.”
The unnamed official’s defiance came during a week in which Trump expressed acceptance of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and was reported to have repeatedly asked a foreign policy adviser why the U.S. couldn’t just use nuclear weapons at will—and a week following his quip to reporters that he hoped Russia would hack into Clinton’s personal email server to unveil the 30,000 emails she said were deleted because they were personal in nature and not part of her conduct of government business during her tenure as secretary of state.
And those were just Trump’s latest unconventional utterances on matters of national security. He has, during the course of the presidential campaign, called for practices that defy international law, including (but not limited to) the execution of family members of ISIS fighters, waterboarding andother forms of torture, and the bombing of areas held by ISIS despite the fact these locations are largely populated by civilians (7:54). And despite his nuke-happy stance, at a Republican primary debate in December. Trump displayed ignorance of the military’s “nuclear triad” setup, which refers to the three delivery systems by which nukes can be launched: intercontinental missile, bomber aircraft or submarine.
Then there’s his backtracking on how he’d defeat ISIS. In March, Trump called for a commitment of between 20,000-30,000 U.S. troops to take on the terrorist insurgency; in an interview with theWashington Post editorial board two weeks later, he denied having done so.
As Trump’s foreign policy faux pas continue to pile up, former officials and military leaders are stepping into the light to express their concerns about the temperament and actions of candidate Trump, whom they contend to be unfit for the role of commander-in-chief. Here, we examine some recent statements by those who dare to be named. 
1. Michael J. Morell, former acting director and deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Morell is alarmed by Trump’s rhetoric—not just what it portends for the fate of America in the world should his bid for the presidency succeed, but also for the damage it is doing right now.
“The dangers that flow from Mr. Trump’s character are not just risks that would emerge if he became president,” Morell wrote in an essay on Friday’s New York Times op-ed page. “[They are] already damaging our national security.”
Morell asserts that Trump has already been played by Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, himself a product of the former Soviet Union’s infamous spy agency, the KGB. In fact, he says, "In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation." Morell explains:
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was a career intelligence officer, trained to identify vulnerabilities in an individual and to exploit them. That is exactly what he did early in the primaries. Mr. Putin played upon Mr. Trump’s vulnerabilities by complimenting him. [Trump] responded just as Mr. Putin had calculated.
It’s not just Trump’s backtracking on whether it’s OK for Russia to annex Crimea (Trump was against it before he was for it, as he is now), or his invitation to Russia to hack into the email server his Democratic opponent used when she was secretary of state, or a report that the GOP standard-bearer is eager to push the nuclear button that has Morell worried; it’s the very list of traits that form Trump’s personality. Morell writes:
These traits include his obvious need for self-aggrandizement, his overreaction to perceived slights, his tendency to make decisions based on intuition, his refusal to change his views based on new information, his routine carelessness with the facts, his unwillingness to listen to others and his lack of respect for the rule of law.
Having worked for presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Morell knows the pressures commanders-in-chief face. He says he is neither Republican nor Democrat, and has voted for politicians of both parties. This time around, he writes, there’s no doubt he will vote for the Democrats’ presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, citing her attention to detail and the views of others; he also says she leaves consideration of domestic politics outside the Situation Room door. (When others hesitated to launch the raid on the bin Laden compound on the eve of the annual White House Correspondents dinner, he writes that Clinton said, “Screw the White House Correspondents dinner.”)
Morell’s op-ed, with its character insights into world leaders, is the most powerful expression yet of the unease and alarm being felt by many in the national security establishment by Trump’s antics and obvious lack of foreign policy knowledge. With its publication, Morell joins a growing list of intelligence figures and former military leaders who are uncharacteristically speaking of what they see as the dangers to the nation posed by a potential Trump presidency. 
2. Michael Hayden, former CIA and NSA director, former U.S. Air Force general.
In a July 27 interview with Eli Lake of Bloomberg News, Hayden took aim at Trump’s invitation to Russia to hack Clinton’s email server, saying:
If [Trump] is talking about the State Department e-mails on her server, he is inviting a foreign intelligence service to steal sensitive American government information," Hayden said. "If he is talking about the allegedly private e-mails that she destroyed, he is inviting a foreign intelligence service to violate the privacy of an individual protected by the Fourth Amendment to the American Constitution.
Perhaps he doesn't know what he's talking about. Just a theory.
3. John Allen, retired U.S. Marine general, veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Days after he spoke on behalf of Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention, Allen sat down with George Stephanopoulos for an interview on the ABC News program, “This Week.”Acknowledging concerns expressed by some over the involvement of a former general in partisan politics, Allen said he was moved to make his DNC speech because of Trump's comments advocating torture and the killing of the families of terrorists. "That was the reason I came off the bench,” he told Stephanopoulos. “I don't intend to stay out there to be politically active."
Should Trump win the presidency, Allen said, the Republican candidate’s call for the violation of international law by members of the military “put us on a potential track for a civil-military crisis the like of which we have never seen in this country.” He continued:
You know, from the moment that those of us who are commissioned—and of course all of our enlisted troops as well—assume the mantle of our responsibility in uniform, when we swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution, which is a document and a set of principles and it supports the rule of law, one of those is to ensure that we do not obey illegal orders.
It's an inherent responsibility in who we are. And so what we need to do is ensure that we don't create an environment that puts us on a track conceivably where the United States military finds itself in a civil military crisis with a commander in chief who would have us do illegal things.
4. John Hutson, retired U.S. Navy rear admiral, the Navy’s former top lawyer.
Hutson also addressed the Democratic National Convention, citing many of the same concerns as Allen. Here’s an excerpt from his speech:
Donald Trump calls himself the law-and-order candidate—but he will violate international law. In his words, he endorses torture—at a minimum. He’ll order our troops to commit war crimes, like killing civilians. And he actually said, you have to take out [terrorists’] families. And what did he say when he was told that was illegal? He said, ‘Our troops won’t refuse. Believe me.’ This morning, this very morning, he personally invited Russia to hack us. That’s not law and order; that’s criminal intent.
5. John Noonan, former U.S. Air Force captain and Minuteman III nuclear missile launch officer, former foreign policy adviser to Trump’s Republican primary opponent Jeb Bush.
Noonan, described by Mother Jones’ Becca Andrews as “a devout #NeverTrumper,” issued a tweet storm upon learning of a report by MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough alleging that Trump repeatedly asked an unnamed foreign policy adviser why the United States couldn’t issue a first launch of nuclear weapons.
Here, we piece together a few of Noonan’s tweets (read the whole tweet storm):
I don’t know if Scarborough is telling whole truth here. Anonymous sources suck. BUT... if he is... buckle the hell up. Because Trump would be undoing six decades of proven deterrence theory. The purpose of nukes is that they are never used. Trump disagrees? This would be the single greatest strategic shift in U.S. national security in decades. In a Trump presidency, our foreign policy would be this. "Leave our alliances, fall back on a nuclear first use policy." Does he understand just how F'ing dangerous that is? But what really concerns me, as a former nuke guy, is the idea of a narcissist walking around with nuclear authenticators…[I]magine having to turn launch keys not knowing if we were under attack or if it was b/c foreign leader said a mean thing on Twitter.
Noonan also asserts that Trump “doesn’t have a clue about” the nuclear triad. In the December debate in which Trump seemed to prove that point, he punted with the following comment
The biggest problem we have today is nuclear—nuclear proliferation, and having some maniac, having some madman, go out and get a nuclear weapon. In my opinion, that is the biggest single problem that our country faces.
Adele M. Stan is AlterNet's senior Washington editor. Follow her on Twitter @addiestan.
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Former CIA director fears Trump 'crisis in civil-military relationships'

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The nuclear chain of command is not built for debate, former CIA Director Michael Hayden said Wednesday, warning of the consequences of a Donald Trump presidency should the Republican nominee get elected and decide to push the button.
Echoing concerns from retired four-star Marine Gen. John Allen, who on Sunday predicted a "military civil crisis" if Trump is elected, Allen told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that he feared that "we may be setting up the circumstances that create a crisis in civil-military relationships." Hayden quickly added that he did not mean "nuclear annihilation but steps far below pressing the nuclear trigger."
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"What happens within the armed forces when, we fear, perhaps these kind of decisions for a military that does defer to civilian leadership. What then happens?" asked Hayden, who also led the National Security Agency. "It may actually strain and test the fabric of our civilian military control."
Despite his strong concerns about Trump, unlike Allen, who endorsed Clinton, Hayden said he was not yet prepared to say he would vote for the former secretary of state.
Asked what concerns him most about Trump, Hayden responded: "How erratic he is."
"I can argue about this position or that position. I do that with the current president," Hayden explained. "But he's inconsistent. And when you're the head of a global superpower, inconsistency, unpredictability, those are dangerous things. They frighten your friends and they tempt your enemies. And so I would be very, very concerned."
Panelist Harold Ford then asked Hayden whether any of his peers whom he respects greatly is advising Trump, and he responded, "No one."
Co-host Joe Scarborough pressed on the timeframe between when Trump would hypothetically decide to launch a nuclear weapon and when they are launched. Hayden remarked that it would depend on the situation, but added, "the system is designed for speed and decisiveness. It's not designed to debate the decision."

In Maze of Trump’s Empire, Unknown Ties and $650 Million in Debt

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On the campaign trail, Donald J. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, has sold himself as a businessman who has made billions of dollars and is beholden to no one.
But an investigation by The New York Times into the financial maze of Mr. Trump’s real estate holdings in the United States reveals that companies he owns have at least $650 million in debt — twice the amount than can be gleaned from public filings he has made as part of his bid for the White House. The Times’s inquiry also found that Mr. Trump’s fortunes depend deeply on a wide array of financial backers, including one he has cited in attacks during his campaign.
For example, an office building on Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan, of which Mr. Trump is part owner, carries a $950 million loan. Among the lenders: the Bank of China, one of the largest banks in a country that Mr. Trump has railed against as an economic foe of the United States, and Goldman Sachs, a financial institution he has said controls Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, after it paid her $675,000 in speaking fees.
Real estate projects often involve complex ownership and mortgage structures. And given Mr. Trump’s long real estate career in the United States and abroad, as well as his claim that his personal wealth exceeds $10 billion, it is safe to say that no previous major party presidential nominee has had finances nearly as complicated.
As president, Mr. Trump would have substantial sway over monetary and tax policy, as well as the power to make appointments that would directly affect his own financial empire. He would also wield influence over legislative issues that could have a significant impact on his net worth, and would have official dealings with countries in which he has business interests.
Yet The Times’s examination underscored how much of Mr. Trump’s business remains shrouded in mystery. He has declined to disclose his tax returns or allow an independent valuation of his assets.
Earlier in the campaign, Mr. Trump submitted a 104-page federal financial disclosure form. It said his businesses owed at least $315 million to a relatively small group of lenders and listed ties to more than 500 limited liability companies. Though he answered the questions, the form appears to have been designed for candidates with simpler finances than his, and did not require disclosure of portions of his business activities.
Beyond finding that companies owned by Mr. Trump had debts of at least $650 million, The Times discovered that a substantial portion of his wealth is tied up in three passive partnerships that owe an additional $2 billion to a string of lenders, including those that hold the loan on the Avenue of the Americas building. If those loans were to go into default, Mr. Trump might not be held personally liable, but the value of his investments would sink.
Mr. Trump has said that if he were elected president, his children would be likely to run his company. Many presidents, to avoid any appearance of a conflict, have placed their holdings in blind trusts, which typically involves selling the original asset, and replacing it with different assets unknown to the seller.
Mr. Trump’s children seem unlikely to pursue that option.
Richard W. Painter, a professor of law at the University of Minnesota and, from 2005 to 2007, the chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, compared Mr. Trump to Henry M. Paulson Jr., a former chief executive of Goldman Sachs whom Mr. Bush appointed as Treasury secretary.
Professor Painter advised Mr. Paulson on his decision to sell his Goldman Sachs shares, saying it was clear that Mr. Paulson could not simply have placed that stock in trust and pretended it did not exist.
If Mr. Trump were to use a blind trust, the professor said, it would be “like putting a gold watch in a box and pretending you don’t know it is in there.”

‘We Overdisclosed’

“I am the king of debt,” Mr. Trump once said on CNN. “I love debt.” But in his career, debt has sometimes gotten the better of him, leading to at least four business bankruptcies.
He is, however, quick to stress that these days his companies have very little debt.
Mr. Trump indicated in the financial disclosure form he filed in connection with this campaign that he was worth at least $1.5 billion, and has said publicly that the figure is actually greater than $10 billion. Recent estimates by Forbes and Fortune magazines and Bloomberg have put his worth at less than $5 billion.
The Republican presidential nominee has an interest in more than 30 U.S. properties, roughly half of which have debt on them.
OPEN Graphic
To gain a better understanding of Mr. Trump’s holdings and debt, The Times engaged RedVision Systems, a national property information firm, to search publicly available data on more than 30 properties in the United States. The Times identified these assets through Federal Election Commission filings, information provided by the Trump Organization and records, such as filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The search covered thousands of pages of public information, including loan documents, land leases and property deeds. It concentrated on Mr. Trump’s commercial holdings, including office towers, golf courses, a vineyard in Virginia and even an industrial building in South Carolina that he ended up with after a troubled business venture involving Donald Trump Jr. The inquiry also examined some of Mr. Trump’s residential properties, including his penthouse apartment on Fifth Avenue and a house he owns in Beverly Hills, Calif. The examination did not include Mr. Trump’s dealings outside the United States.
That Mr. Trump seems to have so much less debt on his disclosure form than what The Times found is not his fault, but rather a function of what the form asks candidates to list and how.
The form, released by the Federal Election Commission, asks that candidates list assets and debts not in precise numbers, but in ranges that top out at $50 million — appropriate for most candidates, but not for Mr. Trump. Through its examination, The Times was able to discern the amount of debt taken out on each property, and its ownership structure.
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US Pentagon hires private intelligence contractor for Syria operations 

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