Russian President Vladimir Putin, November 2016. (Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
MR. PUTIN: Operative in the Kremlin
By Fiona Hill and Clifford G. Gaddy
Brookings Institution Press. 533 pp. $32
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Remember the unverified “dossier” assembled by a shadowy foreign intelligence veteran who alleged all manner of nefarious, kinky and compromising ties between Donald Trump and Russia? Well, now the Trump team has its own dossier on Russian President Vladimir Putin. It’s better sourced, convincingly written, damning in its conclusions — and its author is scheduled to start working at the White House on Monday.
Fiona Hill, the incoming senior director for Russia and Europe on President Trump’s National Security Council staff, is the co-author of “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin,” essentially a 500-page pscyhological profile of the Russian leader, from his early KGB years through his rise and rule at the Kremlin. It’s hard to know who really runs U.S. foreign policy these days, but to the extent that Hill can influence the Trump administration’s views on Russia, this book suggests a more clear-eyed, realpolitik perspective on Putin’s intentions and capabilities, with low expectations for the rapprochement Trump imagined during the 2016 campaign. In this telling, Putin sees the United States as a malicious, incompetent and disrespectful power, an obstacle in his relentless effort to restore and expand the might of the Russian state.
His own might, too, of course. The greatness of Mother Russia is his goal, but the power of Vladimir Putin is his means.
(Brookings Institution Press)
First published in 2013 and updated in 2015, the book breaks down Putin’s overlapping personas, showing how they shape his dominance at home and rivalries abroad. Hill and co-author Clifford G. Gaddy of the Brookings Institution list six identities that they think make up Putin’s “mental outlook, his worldview” — the Statist, the History Man, the Survivalist, the Outsider, the Free Marketeer and the Case Officer.
The last identity is especially relevant, because underlying everything in this book is a vision of Putin as manipulator — he is “a master at manipulating information, suppressing information, and creating pseudo-information” — and as extortionist, deploying blackmail against opponents, allies and (take note here, President Trump) foreign leaders. “As he can fully trust only himself,” Hill and Gaddy write, “Putin applies extortionary methods to everyone else — basically mutually assured incrimination to ensure loyalty.”
When the authors call Putin a “statist,” they do not imply an ideological vision of a command economy; they see no ideology in him at all. Putin regards Russia’s post-Soviet stumbles of the 1990s — beholden to the West, rudderless at home — as an unforgivable humiliation he must avenge. He declared himself a “servant of the state” in a 5,000-word manifesto he issued shortly before first reaching the presidency. “Putin pledged to rebuild the Russian state, protect Russia’s sovereignty, preserve domestic stability and unity, and ensure national security,” Hill and Gaddy recount. He did not, they note archly, explain how he would do so.
The tools at his disposal include deft historical symbolism — Putin the History Man is an avid reader of Russia’s trials and glories, and he appreciates “useful history” that reinforces the centrality of the state. The story of his own family helps. Putin stresses his deep roots, back to the early 17th century, in the Ryazan province southeast of Moscow. Putin the Survivalist notes how his parents made it through the siege of Leningrad, although his older brother did not. “This personal story of death and survival,” the authors write, “fits neatly into the general context of Russia’s national historical narrative. . . . Every survived calamity reaffirms the special status of Russia in history.”
Those who ignore history may be condemned to repeat it, but those who know it well are inclined to exploit it.
Even those political leaders most embedded in the machinery of governing and influence portray themselves as outsiders, but Putin’s outsiderness is instructive. He is of relatively humble origins. He was rarely at the center of things early in his professional life, missing the ferment of the Gorbachev years while serving in Dresden with the KGB, and then spending much of the 1990s as a top municipal official in St. Petersburg. This created a gap in his cultural knowledge and political references. The 1970s and 1990s are his touchstones, but “the pluralistic, creative part of the late 1980s, the Gorbachev era of optimism, is the missing link,” the authors assess. He relishes inappropriate humor (testicle-related jokes, in particular, are a Putin specialty) and likes to make a show of dressing down subordinates or oligarchs. “The public loves to see him admonishing figures they do not like in the same language that they would use if they had the opportunity,” the authors note, in one of the book’s many Trumpian echoes.
“The Outsider is pragmatic. He has no vested interests in policies or in ideologies,” Hill and Gaddy emphasize. “In a system so burdened by ideology, only an outsider could clearly see the flaws of the system.”
Putin is a Free Marketeer in sort of an “Art of the Deal” sense. “Capitalism, in Putin’s understanding, is not production, management, and marketing. It is wheeling and dealing. It is not about workers and customers. It is about personal connections with regulators. It is finding and using loopholes in the law.” For Putin, the economy is a “battlefield,” the authors write, and both as deputy mayor of St. Petersburg and later at the Kremlin, Putin “used methods of coercion” that relied on deep knowledge of the personal foibles and financial misdeeds of his opponents. Whether it was local politicians, foreign business leaders, or, say, former Ukrainian president Viktor Yunakovych, “the focus was on finding and using leverage.”
Here is the Case Officer. Because of his 15 years in the KGB, Putin is skilled in “studying the mind of the targets, finding their vulnerabilities, and figuring out how to use them.” This is how he has managed Russia’s oligarchs, the authors say, using their wealth — and their desire for more — against them.
“Money is ever-present in the system, but it is not money that guarantees loyalty or holds the top level together,” Hill and Gaddy explain. “Instead, it is the fact that the money derives from activity that is or could be found to be illegal. Participants in the system are not bought off in the classic sense of that term. They are compromised; they are made vulnerable to threats. . . . Corrupt, even illegal, activity will be kept secret as long as the individual continues to play the game.” And the referee and star player is Putin himself. This is not an old-boy network, but a “one-boy network.”
There are gaps in this book. Cyber warfare makes but a fleeting appearance, while the death of Putin critics in, shall we say, suspicious circumstances is not a focus, either. And the authors fall in love with their profile approach a bit too much. They’re convinced for instance, that a 1970s American management book is central to Putin’s worldview because he cited it in his dissertation, and contort themselves to make the case. (Maybe he just wasn’t that into it.) Even so, I suspect “Mr. Putin” offers American leaders a better sense of the man than one gets from looking into his eyes and seeking his soul, or from offering his government a misspelled reset button.
It is not clear, though, that he has a good sense of the West, or of the United States in particular. This country is an abstraction for him; he knows few Americans, and those he knows, such as George W. Bush and Obama, he does not like. (Henry Kissinger is Putin’s favorite American, regarding him “literally the German in the White House,” the authors mention.) Instead, Putin views the United States through the insult of NATO expansion, the shame of the Kosovo intervention and the insidious support for pro-democracy nongovernmental organizations that only undercut Russian unity. He believes all local protesters are driven by “fringe minorities and professional oppositionists, or by foreign funding and intervention.”
Does he believe that or, like other leaders we know, is he simply deligitimizing legitimate protests? And here the authors offer an unnerving interpretation. “Putin has spent a great deal of time in his professional life bending the truth, manipulating facts, and playing with fictions,” they write. “He is also, we conclude, not always able to distinguish one from the other.”
Meet the new boss, Fiona Hill. Maybe not so different from the other boss you’ve studied so closely. When you’re ready, I know just the next book for you to write.
When America toes Moscow's line POLITICO.eu At times, the Obama administration's fear of angering Putin reached absurd heights. For example, when the U.S. announced a surge of new troops in Afghanistan—at a time when other American allies were leery of making fresh commitments to a war that had ...
Staffan de Mistura has been trying for nearly three years to achieve a political settlement to end Syria's civil war, which has just entered its seventh year. The U.N. special envoy for Syria does not underestimate the serious challenges that exist, but he says there has been incremental progress and that all sides are engaged in serious, substantive negotiations during the fifth round of peace talks. Deal will take patience, time The group discussed a broad range of issues, including governance, the political transition, elections and counterterrorism measures. “Both the government and the opposition demonstrated a new form of maturity and commitment to continue the process notwithstanding mutual recriminations and notwithstanding the fact that there are many serious, grave developments taking place on the military side inside the country,” said de Mistura. De Mistura said the negotiations were moving on several parallel fronts and nothing would be agreed to until everything was agreed to. And he said that would take patience and time. “Last time we said that the train is in the station already,” said de Mistura. “I think we can say, especially Switzerland, where trains are very precise, that the train is moving out of the station, slowly, but moving out of the station.” Envoy quiets rumors De Mistura ended rumors about his imminent resignation as special envoy by saying they should be taken seriously only if either he or the U.N. secretary-general announces that he is leaving. For now, he plans to go to New York next week to consult with the secretary general and the Security Council on a date for the sixth round of intra-Syrian peace talks.
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Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles met with OAS Secretary-General Luis Almagro in Washington on Friday, and denounced the actions taken when the Venezuelan Supreme Court gutted the opposition-controlled Congress of its vestiges of power earlier this week. Capriles spoke to media after the meeting, calling the actions a coup d'état. He said a dialogue with President Nicolas Maduro was nearly impossible, and that all he wanted was for democracy to be restored to the South American country. "All of the statements point to the same thing and we have to call it what it is -- there has been a rupture of the constitutional order; there was a coup d'état and we must return the constitutional thread to my country," he said. Governments across Latin America have condemned the power grab, which the head of the Organisation of American States likened to a "self-inflicted coup" by a socialist Maduro. The United Nations' top human rights official expressed "grave concern" and called on the high court to reverse its decision. In Caracas Friday, national guardsmen in riot gear fired buckshot and swung batons at a small group of students who gathered outside the Supreme Court. Several protesters were arrested and some journalists covering the demonstration had their cameras seized by the police before the group reassembled elsewhere. Capriles said he believes fear was the driving force behind the actions, calling this the last stages of the Maduro regime.
A delegation of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in the Turkish parliament is expected to meet Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ on April 3 to discuss the decision by jailed HDP co-chairman Selahattin Demirtaş to go on hunger strike, together with another MP, Abdullah Zeydan, in protest at prison conditions, HDP deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder said in an interview with Fox TV Turkey on March 31
When the Taliban officially kick off their new fighting season within weeks, they’ll pick up where they left off last year: threatening several provincial capitals and stretching Afghan forces to their limit.
When America toes Moscow's line POLITICO.eu At times, the Obama administration's fear of angering Putin reached absurd heights. For example, when the U.S. announced a surge of new troops in Afghanistan—at a time when other American allies were leery of making fresh commitments to a war that had ...
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The battle to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad appears to be over - at least as far as the Trump administration is concerned. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said Thursday that Washington’s “priority is no longer to sit and focus on getting Assad out.” Haley’s remarks drew the ire of American lawmakers who have argued for a more robust U.S. effort to topple Assad. Republican Senator John McCain warned the Trump administration against making a "Faustian bargain" (a deal with the devil) with the Syrian government’s ally Russia. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham warned that taking the focus off Assad would be “the biggest mistake since president Obama failed to act after drawing a red line against Assad's use of chemical weapons." Hours later, U.S. officials tempered the ambassador’s remarks, saying the U.S. is interested in trying to create the conditions so that the Syrian people can pick their own government - one without Assad. Some Middle East analysts say similar, albeit vaguer, comments by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson this week in Ankara also signal regime change is off the table. These analysts argue Haley’s remarks merely reflect the reality on the ground - that Assad’s survival after a brutal six-year-long conflict appears assured. Expected move Many analysts had been expecting President Donald Trump's administration to inch closer to a much more explicit shift in U.S. policy in Syria - one exclusively focused on the war against the Islamic State. Some analysts say the administration has little alternative now. They trace the policy reversal to the Obama administration, which in its last months also was signaling an acceptance of Assad staying in power, if only in the short-term during a political transition. In a roundtable discussion this week on the future of the conflict on Syria, analyst Sam Heller of The Century Foundation, a U.S. policy research institute, argued that not much is left of the revolutionary opposition. “When we say that the Assad regime has ‘won the war,’ we mean it’s achieved a strategic victory in Syria’s central civil conflict: the war between, in approximate terms, the regime and its mixed revolutionary-Islamist opposition in western Syria,” he said. According to Heller, much of the main armed opposition to Assad has been neutralized and diverted away from the insurgency against the government by regional powers who are using rebel militias for their own security projects in war-torn Syria. That includes the Turks, who have carved out a sweep of territory in northern Syria to keep Islamic State militants away from its border and block Syrian Kurds from uniting Kurdish-majority cantons. The U.S. has persuaded other Arab Sunni and Turkmen militias to throw in their lot with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, and to focus on battling the Islamic State. The U.S. is generally working with splinter groups or rejects from the main anti-Assad rebel force, the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Rebel militias not participating in the Turkish intervention or who are not aligned with the fight against the Islamic State have seen foreign backers cut their arms supplies. Heller says the future for FSA militias is bleak. “The choice they now seem to face is between being reincorporated into the extant Syrian state (Assad’s state), serving in a Turkish or Jordanian cross-border protectorate or indefinite exile. Or they can die with the jihadists, which is also an option. They can and will continue to fight, but they’ll likely be doing so alone, against insurmountable odds, and at a terrible cost to their civilian families and communities.” Tahrir al-Sham group takes lead Most recent breakout assaults by rebel militias have been led by a former al-Qaida affiliate. It has joined with other Islamist rebel militias in a group called Tahrir al-Sham, and last week assaulted the Syrian town of Hama, managing to advance to within 10 kilometers of its center. Other insurgents also recently launched an offensive on government-held areas in the Damascus suburb of Jobar. But there’s little prospect the Hama and Jobar offensives can be translated into major threats to the government, which was bolstered when Russia's military intervened to back Assad more than a year ago. In December, the government, backed by Iranian and Shi'ite militias, recaptured the rebel redoubt in the eastern half of Aleppo. Since December, Syrian government forces and foreign fighters have been pressing their military edge, slowly winning back rebel-held areas near the Syrian capital and squeezing Tahrir al-Sham and other Islamist militias in the northern Syrian province of Idlib, to the west of Aleppo. Several military observers from European governments told VOA in recent weeks that they see no way that opposition forces can threaten Assad’s hold over the main western and coastal cities of Syria. They do expect fighting to continue, though, led by Tahrir al-Sham. Aron Lund, an analyst with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a research institute in Washington, agrees with those assessments. At The Century Foundation’s roundtable, he predicted: “There will be fighting for a long time and Syria may remain a failed state in many respects, and, of course, some unscripted event could still turn all assumptions upside down. But as things stand, Assad is definitely over some sort of threshold.” Lund says Western and Arab governments that had sought regime change in Syria have now mostly accepted that their side has no path to victory. "They are coming to terms with the fact that Assad is staying, while deciding to what extent they want to play spoilers. They’re not willing to say it publicly, but it’s happening,” Lund said.
A formal statement is due around noon in Moscow on Saturday when the first pictures of the gold will be revealed to the world's media. Picture: The Siberian Times
The former tunnel and at undisclosed location in Irkustk region is today under the protection of the Russian national guard after the sensational discovery exactly century after Tsar Nicholas II was deposed.
Rail carriages packed with gold bullion bearing the Romanov insignia along with 'other treasures' - in the possession of anti-Bolshevik forces as they retreated from the Red Army after the Russian Revolution - was hidden in 1918, according to sources quoted by multiple Russian news agencies.
At least one 'crown once worn by the last Russian emperor' is in the collection, it was reported early today.
Unlike last year's claim of Nazi gold hidden in Poland, today's report is 'genuine and verified by competent state organs' under direct Kremlin orders, said a source close to the discovery.
A formal statement is due around noon in Moscow on Saturday when the first pictures of the gold will be revealed to the world's media.
The former tunnel and at undisclosed location in Irkustk region is under the protection of the Russian national guard. Picture: The Siberian Times
The first consignments will be moved to the Russian Central Bank within hours. The treasure has been claimed already by the Russian state in a closed-doors court case beginning at 00.01 on Saturday in Irkutsk under tight security.
The stash 'more than compensates for the cost of sanctions imposed by Western governments', said an informed insider early today.
The location of the gold was discovered after a secret code giving the coordinates of the location in Irkutsk region - originally found deep in the Stalin era - was cracked by a 21 year old mathematics protege who studies in Tomsk.
The document was seized from a Kolchak aide in 1919 and has lain for years in a Russian national archive in Moscow.
Russia's gold pictured in vaults of Kazan State Bank in 1918. Pictures: The Siberian Times
Over the decades, experts have failed to understand the bizarre instructions written in Russian, French and English.
'It was simple once I understood the importance of the numbers 1 and 4 and their complex interrelationship,' said the student in an interview with TASS news agency.
The mathematics genius, who has not been named because his is also a 'hacking maestro' suspected by the FBI of involvement in penetrating Hillary Clinton's emails, took less than one hour to crack the decades-old formula designed to inform royalists the location of the treasure.
Since the defeat of Admiral Alexander Kolchak, leader of the White Russian forces, there has been speculation about the tsar's gold, and where it was stashed.
In the months leading up to July 1918, when abdicated ruler Nicholas II and his family were shot on Lenin's orders, it is estimated that 73% of the world's largest gold reserves were held in Kazan, a city on the Volga River, before most was shifted further east into Siberia.
It had been moved here for security reasons during the First World War.
Alexander Kolchak. Picture: The Siberian Times
Grainy pictures from the vaults of a Kazan bank highlight that gold and other other precious metals of untold value were held here. It is known that huge stocks of gold were removed to Omsk in Siberia by train on 13 October 1918.
One month later Kolchak was proclaimed Supreme Ruler of the country and Omsk was briefly the capital city of anti-Bolshevik Russia.
One theory is that as the gold was transported east from Omsk and some of a suspected 1,600 tons of royal bullion sank into Lake Baikal near Cape Polovinny after a train accident.
Mini-submarines scored Lake Baikal in 2010 for a cargo of gold that was reported to have fallen from a derailed train into the lake.
Separate claims suggested gold was carried towards Imperial China by troops loyal to Kolchak across frozen Baikal in the winter of 1919-20.
Other claims suggested gold was buried in Krasnoyarsk region.
Mini-submarines scored Lake Baikal in 2010 for a cargo of gold that was reported to have fallen from a derailed train into the lake. Pictures: Channel 1 TV, The Siberian Times
In 1928, a New York court was told that the gold was elsewhere - buried in woods near Kazan.
There have been claims the value of tsarist gold could be as much as $80 billion.
Provisional estimates from the site in Irkutsk region suggest the stash is worth 'a little less than $30 billion'.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Friday sanctioned 11 North Koreans and one North Korean company for their links to the country's weapons programs, banks and commodities trade, the U.S. Treasury said.
The day after Donald Trump fired him, Michael Flynn had no friends in Washington but one: Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House intelligence committee.
Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, had been laid low before. In 2014, the heads of US intelligence and Pentagon intelligence pushed Flynn out. His relationship with the US intelligence agencies never quite recovered. Flynn’s subsequent penchant for inflammatory, erratic and even bigoted statements left few, particularly in security circles, willing to defend him.
Банк Credit Suisse стал объектом международного налогового расследования. Следственные действия прошли в офисах швейцарского банка в Париже, Лондоне и Амстердаме в связи c подозрениями в причастности к уклонению от уплаты налогов его клиентами.
FBI director James Comey during a House Intelligence Committee hearing (Screenshot)
On Oct. 28, 2016, four months after declining to bring a case against former Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton for her use of an unsecured e-mail server during her time as secretary of state, FBI director James Comey wrote a stunning letter to members of Congress, informing the legislative branch that the bureau was investigating new documents pertinent to that investigation.
On Nov. 7, 2016—one day before the 2016 presidential election—the FBI director announced the bureau found nothing new in those documents. The following day Donald Trump, Clinton’s rival throughout the campaign, was elected president.
The circumstances surrounding Trump’s election cannot be singularly attributed to Comey’s revelation of an FBI probe into Clinton’s emails. But one thing is certain: when voters went to the polls on Election Day, they did so under the false narrative that only one of the candidates had been the subject of a criminal investigation. In fact, in July 2016, around the same time that Comey originally declined to bring charges against Clinton, the FBI began investigating the Trump campaign’s connection to Russian operatives actively trying to influence the U.S. election.
The stark difference between FBI director James Comey’s radio silence on the bureau’s continuing investigation into then-candidate Trump, and the director’s willingness to discuss the investigation into former Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s private email server raises serious questions—chief among them, why? What was behind the unwillingness to disclose an ongoing investigation into Trump’s ties to the Russian government?
According to a WhoWhatWhy exposé, published Thursday on AlterNet, the FBI declined to inform the U.S. public about ties between Trump and the Russian government for fear of exposing informants and “[jeopardizing] a long-running, ultra-sensitive operation targeting mobsters tied to Russian President Vladimir Putin — and to Trump.”
A two month-long investigation by the publication revealed that FBI agents likely feared exposing an ongoing operation against “an organized crime network headquartered in the former Soviet Union.” This Russian mob “is one of the Bureau’s top priorities,” spans several decades, and is intricately linked with associates of Trump and businesses the president owns.
As the report notes, federal officials were intent on protecting an FBI source—a convicted criminal with deep links to the organized crime network—upon whom the bureau came to rely for information about this crime network. Some federal officials “were so involved in protecting this source” they later became a part of his personal defense counsel; upon his conviction government attorneys urged for “extreme leniency” toward this man.
The article further reveals that among the many details Comey was unable to discuss during his Mar. 20 testimony into the government’s investigation of Trump associates and Russian operatives was the fact that “for more than three decades the FBI has had Trump Tower in its sights,” monitoring its occupants’ deep ties to organized crime networks. According to the report, one former Trump Organization adviser, Felix Sater, fits the bill for the FBI’s source into the Russia-based crime ring.
Sater, a Russian-born real estate developer, is a convicted felon; in 1998, he was charged in a massive $40 million stock fraud scheme involving members of the Genovese and Bonanno families. According to the Miami Herald, shortly thereafter, Sater “began spying for the CIA” and a “was able to track down a dozen Stinger missiles equipped with powerful tracking devices on the black market.” In return for buying the missiles, Sater avoided jail time. According to WhoWhatWhy, separate legal filings on Sater’s behalf indicate “he ‘reported daily’ to the FBI for many years.”
Sater later altered his public name to Satter and became a senior adviser for Bayrock Group LLC, a real-estate development company based in New York. Through his work with Bayrock, Stater worked on Trump SoHo, and was a senior advisor to Donald Trump and The Trump Organization beginning in 2006.
In 2009, Sater was formally sentenced in the racketeering case, and was asked to pay a $25,000 fine with no prison time. The Miami Herald notes that Sater also avoided paying the victims of his scheme, which given the scope of his conviction, is “mandatory under federal law.”
Much of Sater’s background was sealed, preventing fellow investors and clients from learning about his criminal past. Civil lawsuits brought against Bayrock charge the company with “concealing Sater’s 1998 $40 million federal racketeering conviction, and subsequent 2009 sentencing.” As investors sought to reveal Sater’s criminal background. federal agents argued that exposing it would undermine national security. As the Miami Herald reports, at one hearing, the judge presiding the case said it had made it to the top levels “of a national law enforcement security agency. I should say agencies—plural.” The judge also dubbed Sater “John Doe” to “protect the life of the person.”
Fred Oberlander, an attorney who represented a former Bayrock employee, was provided access to highly sensitive documents involving Sater’s work as a government informant. According to WhoWhatWhy, on Feb. 10, 2012, the US Court of Appeals instructed Oberlander he could not “inform the legislative branch of the United States government what he knew about” Sater.
Oberander’s attorney Richard Lerner, in a statement to WhoWhatWhy, said his client being forbidden from speaking with Congress “may well be the first and only hyper-injunction in American history.”
“If there are others who have been scared silent by judges who wish to nullify Congressional and public oversight, we may never know,” Lerner added. “That is frightening.”
The U.N. envoy for Syria wrapped up a fifth round of talks between opposition leaders and the government, pointing to “incremental” progress while acknowledging no peace deal is foreseeable as the country enters its seventh year of war.
Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called out Russia on Friday for "aggression" and "mucking" around in the election during separate overseas remarks.
Mattis joined the United Kingdom defense secretary Michael Fallon in London where they answered questions on Russia and North Korea.
One of the reporters asked Mattis about last month's alleged Russian violation of the I.N.F Treaty, which was signed by former president Ronald Regan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev. The 1987 treaty that Russia is accused of violating "bans the testing, production and possession of American and Russian intermediate-range missiles based on land," the New York Timesreported.
"Do you think it's time for the United States to exit that treaty?" the reporter asked.
"Russia's violations of international law are now a matter of record from what happened with Crimea to other aspects of their behavior in mucking around inside other people's elections and that sort of thing," Mattis said.
Mattis went on to say that the North Atlantic Trade Organization (NATO) stands "united," and that Article 5 will continue to be the bedrock of the NATO alliance.
"Secretary Mattis, one of your generals has said that Russia may be arming the Taliban in Afghanistan and there is also the presence of Islamic State in the country," a Daily Mail reporter asked. "How concerned are you by these factors and what will you do about it?"
Mattis responded by saying that the Russian activity "gives us concern," but he couldn't say whether activity had manifested into weapons yet.
"We look to engaging with Russia on a political or diplomatic level, but right now, Russia is choosing to be a strategic competitor," Mattis said. "And we are finding that we can only have very modest expectations at this point in areas where we can cooperate with Russia contrary to how we were just 10 years ago, 5 years ago."
"It's no longer a cooperative engagement with them right now. It's when we're going to have to carve out diplomatically some kind of maneuver room here assuming Russia can change its behavior and act in accordance with international norms and international law," Mattis added.
Tillerson also delivered remarks at a NATO meeting in Brussels, where he said that U.S. sanctions against Russia will stay in place until Moscow "reverses the actions" it has taken against Ukraine, CNN reported.
"American and NATO support for Ukraine remains steadfast. As we have repeated at every ministerial and summit since Russia launched its campaign of aggression against Ukraine, NATO allies stand firm in our support of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," Tillerson said.
"We will continue to hold Russia accountable to its Minsk commitments. The United States sanctions will remain until Moscow reverses the actions that triggered our sanctions," Tillerson added.
"We want to see the US foreign policy, not just quotes," a Russian foreign ministry spokesperson said in response to Tillerson's remarks.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump will seek to rebuild the U.S. relationship with Egypt at a Monday meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi focused on security issues and military aid, a senior White House official said on Friday.
The Inspectors General (IG) of the Intelligence Community (IC), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Department of Justice (DOJ) announced today the release of a joint report on the domestic sharing of counterterrorism information. The IGs’ review was conducted in response to a request from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and the Senate Judiciary Committee.
One of the things I endeavor to remind people of consistently when I am asked to speak to groups around the country is to consider the possibility that we are led by a pack of idiots. This is not out of any animus toward our leadership class, but borne out of experience. I have seen cabinet secretaries who type with two fingers. I have listened as senior staffers with authority over constructing legislation in a particular scientific field engage in debate on whether or not the moon landing was a hoax. I have seen a man charged with revolutionizing incredibly complex government information technology systems who did not know how to use a thumb drive. I have seen the bill from a highly paid consultant, an incredibly expensive bill, for a PowerPoint deck that I had seen him present for another client with different logos. And, more personally, I have been told at many varied points in my career by accomplished people why the thing I wished to build was impossible, why it would be a failure, and why I should instead join company X, Y, or Z, none of which are relevant or in some cases even exist today. This is why we should never forget the possibility that underneath the façade of government and business, which projects authority and success, there are a host of fools who are just along for the ride and got to where they are by dint of internal politics, a nice resume, and good timing.
This brings us to the discovery of James Comey’s Twitter account. Comey mentioned in passing at a public event the other day that he had to be on Twitter these days, and that he has an Instagram account but only follows his family and his daughter’s boyfriend. This was a very foolish thing to say, because it immediately set the internet sleuths going – and thanks to Instagram’s algorithm, it made it very easy to find Comey’s accounts. He even named the blasted thing after Reinhold Niebuhr – the subject of his college thesis. It took a lone Gawker writer four hours to find him.
There is only one person currently following the account: Benjamin Wittes of Lawfare. Wittes is no Twitter neophyte. He is an active user with more than 25,000 followers, and he only follows 1,178 accounts—meaning he is not a subscriber to the “followback” philosophy. If he is following a random egg—and is the only account following it—there is probably a reason. That reason could be the fact that, as Wittes wrote here, he is a personal friend of James Comey. (We’ve reached out to Wittes for comment but have yet to hear back.) Project Exile happens to be a federal program that James Comey helped develop when he was a U.S. attorney living in Richmond. And then, of course, there are the follows.
What I take away from this is that James Comey, for all of his stature and plaudits he has received, is an idiot when it comes to use of social media, and a fool if he didn’t think his comment was going to lead to him being found out. Let us hope for our sakes that this is an isolated bit of foolishness. But that seems unlikely.
FBI Director James B. Comey addresses the Intelligence and National Security Alliance Leadership Dinner in Alexandria, Va., Wednesday, March 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen) more >. View Comments Print. By Andrew Blake - The Washington Times ...
WASHINGTON – A reporter for the website Gizmodo says she's uncovered a stealth Twitter account that she believes belongs to FBI Director James Comey. Comey acknowledged in a speech Wednesday that he was "on Twitter now," though he did not reveal ...
Until yesterday, FBI chief James Comey seemed like a pretty savvy internet user. The guy knows that you're supposed to cover your webcam with tape to hide from the NSA and WhatsApp is a fantastic way to communicate securely—even if he hates you for ...
James Comey, for all of his stature and plaudits he has received, is an idiot when it comes to use of social media. By Ben Domenech. Ben Domenech. By Ben Domenech. March 31, 2017. One of the things I endeavor to remind people of consistently when I ...
Social Cues is our look at what people are talking about across Twitter and Facebook. CNET. So much for FBI agents staying hidden and undercover. People on Twitter swarmed the account @projectexile7 after a Gizmodo reporter connected a series of ...
The Latest: Senator says Russia undermined trust in media Washington Post WASHINGTON — The Latest on the Senate intelligence committee's hearing on Russian interference in last year's presidential election (all times local):. 10:40 a.m.. Sen. Mark Warner is alleging that Russia continually sought to undermine American trust ...