Category Archives: Congress

Diamond & Silk Take it to Congress | Apr 27 2018

Diamond and Silk Testify Before Congress on Social Media Censorship Against Conservatives

|| Breitbart

“Diamond and Silk testified before Congress over social media censorship against conservatives, Thursday, with Diamond declaring during their testimony that “censorship is no hoax.”

“We would like to thank the judiciary committee for allowing us the opportunity to voice our concerns about conservatives being targeted and censored on social media platforms,” opened Lynette Hardaway, who is better known as Diamond. “Facebook along with other social media sites have taken aggressive actions to silence conservative voices such as ourselves by deliberately restricting and weaponizing our page with algorithms that censored and suppress our free speech. These bias algorithms are tactics designed to pick up on keywords, thus telling the pages how to behave in ways that repress and stifle expressed ideas including shadow-banning, which blocked our content from being seen by our followers while depriving our brand through the demonetization of our videos.”

“Followers stop receiving notifications when we posted videos & content. Followers were also mysteriously unliked from our page. Subtle and slowly Facebook used one mechanism at a time to diminish our reach by restricting our page so that our 1.2 million followers would not see our content thus silencing our conservative voices,” she continued. “When we reached out to Facebook for an explanation, they gave us the runaround. Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress and stated that the most important thing he cared about was making sure no one interferes in the 2018 elections. But after doing our research we wondered if Mark Zuckerberg was using Facebook to interfere in the 2018 elections by labeling users accounts as either Liberal, Very Liberal, Moderate, Conservative, or Very Conservative.”

“This is one of the main underhanded ways to censor conservatives. So if I’m labeled as Very Liberal without the option to edit it, update and correct this setting, then algorithms are already put into place which allows advertisers that have Liberal views, services & causes to target me,” Hardaway explained, before adding that, “Diamond and Silk’s personal Facebook page has been labeled by Facebook as Very Liberal.”

Hardaway then declared that, “Even though we are not Very Liberal, Facebook does not give us the option to change this label to Conservative, making it less likely for us to see advertisement, news stories and services from a conservative point of view,” before asking, “If Facebook labeled our user account as very liberal and got it wrong, how many more other users account have they gotten wrong?”

Pointing to a screenshot of a Facebook notification which informed Diamond and Silk that restrictions had been placed on their Facebook page, and then to screenshots of their followers complaining that they can’t see their videos, Hardaway proclaimed, “They’re not receiving notification… They can’t watch our videos.”

Hardaway also showed screenshots comparing the number of views they used to get on videos compared to now, noting that anti-Trump pages with half the amount of followers were able to rack up hundreds of thousands of views, while Diamond and Silk’s views had dropped to just thousands.

“In 2016 with less than one million followers, our page reach would garner between 5 to 8 million people reached within a week. All of that changed when algorithms were placed on our page to suppress our reach,” she expressed, claiming that “YouTube also demonetized 95 percent of our videos in August of 2017 and categorized our videos as ‘hate speech,’ even though our account was in good standing.”

….Continue reading more @ Breitbart

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Pentagon Kills LifeLog Project

| Wired – Feb 04 2004

The Pentagon canceled its so-called LifeLog project, an ambitious effort to build a database tracking a person’s entire existence.

Run by Darpa, the Defense Department’s research arm, LifeLog aimed to gather in a single place just about everything an individual says, sees or does: the phone calls made, the TV shows watched, the magazines read, the plane tickets bought, the e-mail sent and received. Out of this seemingly endless ocean of information, computer scientists would plot distinctive routes in the data, mapping relationships, memories, events and experiences.

LifeLog’s backers said the all-encompassing diary could have turned into a near-perfect digital memory, giving its users computerized assistants with an almost flawless recall of what they had done in the past. But civil libertarians immediately pounced on the project when it debuted last spring, arguing that LifeLog could become the ultimate tool for profiling potential enemies of the state.

Researchers close to the project say they’re not sure why it was dropped late last month. Darpa hasn’t provided an explanation for LifeLog’s quiet cancellation. “A change in priorities” is the only rationale agency spokeswoman Jan Walker gave to Wired News.

However, related Darpa efforts concerning software secretaries and mechanical brains are still moving ahead as planned.”

….Continue reading more @ Wired
“Facebook is an American online social media and social networking service company based in Menlo Park, California. Its website was launched on February 4, 2004, by Mark Zuckerberg, along with fellow Harvard College students and roommates Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes.”
 – wiki

Zuckerberg Gets Grilled in Front of Congress | Apr 11 2018

IF CONGRESS DOESN’T UNDERSTAND FACEBOOK, WHAT HOPE DO ITS USERS HAVE?

|| Wired

“What many young people feel about Facebook is they’ve kind of turned on us,” said Emmanuel Sessegnon, as he waited to enter the hearing room. “Whereas before we had this expectation when I signed up when I was 13, that when you’re on Facebook what you want to be public will be public, but what you want to be private will be private. What we see here is all this information that was leaked out by Facebook to these third-party companies…”

 

FACEBOOK CEO MARK Zuckerberg received a less than warm welcome in Washington, DC, where he testified before a joint hearing of two Senate committees Tuesday. Among the crowds of spectators lining up to watch Zuckerberg get grilled were members of the activist group CodePink, wearing oversized sunglasses with the words, “Stop Spying,” written across them. Another group wore t-shirts with the hashtag #DeleteFacebook scrawled on them in red Sharpie.

“What many young people feel about Facebook is they’ve kind of turned on us,” said Emmanuel Sessegnon, as he waited to enter the hearing room. “Whereas before we had this expectation when I signed up when I was 13, that when you’re on Facebook what you want to be public will be public, but what you want to be private will be private. What we see here is all this information that was leaked out by Facebook to these third-party companies, we just feel its inappropriate.”

Zuckerberg came to Congress to answer for a series of scandals that have plagued the company since at least the 2016 election. The first, of course, was the news that a Russian propaganda group called the Internet Research Agency used Facebook ads, fake accounts, and pages to influence voters in the run-up to the 2016 US election. The most recent was Facebook’s admission that a data firm named Cambridge Analytica received unauthorized accessto up to 87 million users’ private data without their consent beginning in 2014.

Anyone expecting Tuesday’s hearing to be a bloodbath, however, likely came away disappointed. The five-hour marathon felt more like Social Media 101, as Zuckerberg spent the bulk of his time in the hot seat walking through Facebook’s terms of service, the way advertisers target users, the way app developers access people’s information, and how and when and why Facebook collects and stores data. For close observers of both the company and the online ad ecosystem in general, the questions were largely rudimentary. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

FACEBOOK CEO MARK Zuckerberg received a less than warm welcome in Washington, DC, where he testified before a joint hearing of two Senate committees Tuesday. Among the crowds of spectators lining up to watch Zuckerberg get grilled were members of the activist group CodePink, wearing oversized sunglasses with the words, “Stop Spying,” written across them. Another group wore t-shirts with the hashtag #DeleteFacebook scrawled on them in red Sharpie.

“What many young people feel about Facebook is they’ve kind of turned on us,” said Emmanuel Sessegnon, as he waited to enter the hearing room. “Whereas before we had this expectation when I signed up when I was 13, that when you’re on Facebook what you want to be public will be public, but what you want to be private will be private. What we see here is all this information that was leaked out by Facebook to these third-party companies, we just feel its inappropriate.”

Zuckerberg came to Congress to answer for a series of scandals that have plagued the company since at least the 2016 election. The first, of course, was the news that a Russian propaganda group called the Internet Research Agency used Facebook ads, fake accounts, and pages to influence voters in the run-up to the 2016 US election. The most recent was Facebook’s admission that a data firm named Cambridge Analytica received unauthorized access to up to 87 million users’ private data without their consent beginning in 2014.

Anyone expecting Tuesday’s hearing to be a bloodbath, however, likely came away disappointed. The five-hour marathon felt more like Social Media 101, as Zuckerberg spent the bulk of his time in the hot seat walking through Facebook’s terms of service, the way advertisers target users, the way app developers access people’s information, and how and when and why Facebook collects and stores data. For close observers of both the company and the online ad ecosystem in general, the questions were largely rudimentary. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.”

….Continue reading @ Wired.com

 

FOUR QUESTIONS CONGRESS SHOULD ACTUALLY ASK MARK ZUCKERBERG

|| Wired

 

“Mark Zuckerberg testified for almost five hours Tuesday in a televised Senate hearing about Facebook’s privacy practices and data abuse. More than 40 Senators had five minutes each to ask questions. Zuckerberg’s most frequent response? “My team will follow up with you.” House members will have their own chance to coax answers from the evasive Facebook CEO on Wednesday when he testifies before that chamber’s Energy and Commerce Committee.

It’s a rare opportunity. Zuckerberg has been heavily coached for the DC leg of his apology tour, but for the controlling CEO, with a cautiously curated personal brand, these hearings provide a forum to pin him down with facts and get his statements on the record.

The impetus for the hearing was the scandal over Cambridge Analytica, which collected data on 87 million Facebook users without their consent. But some of the most telling lines of inquiry on Tuesday focused on the longstanding tradeoffs from Facebook’s business model and the mechanics of data collection that Zuckerberg would prefer to obscure: How Facebook tracks you online and offline; what personal data you inadvertent reveal; how a $477 billion company that makes money from advertisers might still respect privacy.

There were few revelations, and a longer list of not-quite-answered questions. Some lawmakers had clearly been briefed by tech-savvy Facebook critics, but still couldn’t quite hit it home.

Toward the end of the hearing, Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) attempted to list the questions where she thought Zuckerberg had been less than candid. “During the course of this hearing these last four hours you’ve been asked several critical questions for which you don’t have answers,” Harris said.

With that in mind, we offer these suggested queries for House members:

1. How does Facebook track users when they’re not on Facebook?

Users are now accustomed to the notion that Facebook harvests every post, like, comment, and share to build profiles that inform the ads it displays to a user. But senators sounded a lot like ordinary Facebook users when they asked about whether, or how, Facebook tracks them when they are not on the social network. Consider this exchange with Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi).

Wicker: There have been reports that Facebook can track a user’s internet browsing activity even after that user has logged off of the Facebook platform. Can you confirm whether or not this is true?

Zuckerberg: Senator, I want to make sure I get this accurate, so it would probably be better to have my team follow up afterwards.

Wicker: You don’t know?

Zuckerberg: I know that people use cookies on the internet and that you can probably correlate activity between sessions. We do that for a number of reasons including security and including measuring ads to make sure the experience is the most effective, which of course people can opt-out of but I want to make sure that I’m precise.

Zuckerberg also got a lot of mileage from the line that Facebook doesn’t sell your data, until Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) shut him down by responding, “You clearly rent it!” Why not delve more into this rental agreement? The Wall Street Journal’s recent breakdown of all the data shared just to organize a pizza party is a good start.

Committee members could also ask about Facebook Pixel, its Like button, or other Facebook plugins that track consumers around around the web, even when they’re not logged in to Facebook. They could also probe more deeply about how data from Facebook gets combined with other sources, including shopping histories and public records.

2. Does Facebook behave like a monopoly?

Quite a few legislators asked tried to get Zuckerberg to admit that Facebook is a monopoly. Zuckerberg was asked to name Facebook’s competitors and identify a viable alternative for users who want to leave Facebook and go elsewhere. Zuckerberg responded that the typical American uses eight different communication apps, neglecting to mention that Facebook owns a few of those other apps too, including Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger.

A straighter route might be to ask Facebook about specific instances where it has allegedly engaged in anticompetitive behavior, such as brazenly copying Snapchat’s features or acquiring Onavo, a tool that help Facebook identify the next Snapchat it needs to buy or crush.

3. Pull out a laptop and ask Zuckerberg to walk us through the process of changing the privacy settings on a Facebook account.

This would be mostly for dramatic effect, but in keeping with this week’s corporate theater. But it would also prove a point. Zuckerberg repeatedly insisted that users own their own data, can remove it at any time, and can control who has access to it while they are on Facebook.

Exercising that control is not that simple, however. Start with Facebook’s 3,200-word user agreement. “I say this gently: Your user agreement sucks,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-Louisiana) told Zuckerberg. “The purpose of the user agreement is to cover Facebook’s rear end. It is not to inform your users about their rights. You know that and I know that.”

Then there are Facebook’s privacy controls, which are famously difficult to find and opaque. Warning: this question could go well over your five minute allotment.”

….Continue reading more @ Wired.com

44 Democrats & Pakistani Awan Bros in Congress IT Scandal Heats Up | Apr 3 2018

‘The Biggest Story You Never Hear About’: Reporter Sounds The Alarm On Awan Brothers Scandal

|| TGP

New Congressional documents reveal all 44 House Democrats who hired IT staffer Imran Awan waived the background check on the shady Pakistani national. 

“The Daily Caller reports:

‘Every one of the 44 House Democrats who hired Pakistan-born IT aides who later allegedly made “unauthorized access” to congressional data appears to have chosen to exempt them from background checks, according to congressional documents.

All of them appear to have waived background checks on Imran Awan and his family members, even though the family of server administrators could collectively read all the emails and files of 1 in 5 House Democrats, and despite background checks being recommended for such positions, according to an inspector general’s report. The House security policy requires offices to fill out a form attesting that they’ve initiated background checks, but it also includes a loophole allowing them to simply say that another member vouched for them.

The reporter behind the new Awan report, the Daily Caller’s Luke Rosiak, joined Fox Business Network Monday to discuss his story.

“If they would have run this background check it would have found out not only multiple criminal convictions, but $1 million bankruptcy, a dozen lawsuits… it would have found a whole host of major red flags and the Democrats didn’t do any of those checks,” Rosiak told host Maria Bartiromo.

“As a result they gave these guys access to everything and IG determined that they were funneling data off the House network.”

“This is the biggest story that you never hear about,” Rosiak added.

 “It’s a hack on the Congress by foreigners and the Democrats didn’t care about it, they didn’t stop it. These are the same people who were talking constantly about cyber breaches and Russia. And if you care about one, you’ve got to care about the other.”

“So why haven’t they addressed it?”

“It basically destroys that Russian narrative just because it shows that they didn’t actually care about cyber-security and they haven’t responded to this. And thirdly, it could just be a question of, do these guys have something on members of Congress?” the Daily Caller reporter said.

IT specialist Imran Awan worked for Debbie Wasserman Schultz for thirteen years since she was first elected to national office in 2004 as a Florida representative. She only fired him after he was arrested and would have kept paying her “IT expert” even after he fled to Pakistan. The Awan brothers IT ring had access to emails and computer data from an estimated 800 lawmakers and staffers.

Three Pakistani brothers who managed the IT affairs for several Democratic government officials were relieved of their duties in February on suspicion that they accessed specific computer networks without permission, also known as hacking Imran Awan, who started working for Wasserman Schultz in 2005, received $164,600 in 2016, with close to $20,000 of that coming from Wasserman Schultz.

His brother Jamal, who started working as a staffer in 2014, was paid $157,350.12 in 2016. Abid, who started working in 2005, was paid $160,943 in 2016. Imran’s wife, Hina Alvi, who was employed as a staffer since February 2007, was paid 168,300 in 2016. Rao Abbas was paid $85,049 in 2016. Abid, Imran, and Jamal Awan were barred from computer networks at the House of Representatives in February.”

…Continue reading more @ The Gateway Pundit

Mitch McConnell and the Communist China Connection | Mar 18 2018

How McConnell and Chao used political power to make their family rich

|| New York Post

Peter Schweizer, who delved into the Clinton Foundation’s dealings in 2016’s “Clinton Cash,” has turned his sights to the money-making machinations of DC’s political elite.

His new book, “Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends,” — due out Tuesday from Harper Collins — exposes how politicians engage in “corruption by proxy” by exploiting family and business ties to enrich themselves and their relatives.

Here, The Post’s Larry Getlen details the book’s revelations on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, ex-Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and others:

In 2004, current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his wife, current US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, had an average net worth of $3.1 million. Ten years later, that number had increased to somewhere between $9.2 million and $36.5 million.

One source of the windfall, according to a new book from Peter Schweizer, was a 2008 gift from Chao’s father, James Chao, for somewhere between $5 million and $25 million. But this gift could be seen as more than just a gift. It may have been acquired, according to Schweizer, thanks to the couple’s fealty to China, the source of the Chao family fortune. And that fealty may have occurred at the expense of the nation they had pledged to serve.

“Secret Empires,” the new book from the “Clinton Cash” and “Throw Them All Out” author, details myriad examples of corruption from members of both major political parties. Rather than focusing on direct forms of corruption, such as bribes, Schweizer hones in on the more indirect graft of the modern era.

Rather than risk their careers taking bribes for potentially minuscule rewards, Schweizer points out how today’s politicians are savvier, engaging in what he calls “corruption by proxy.”

While politicians and their spouses are often subject to rigid regulations on what gifts they can accept and what sort of business they can conduct, others around them — like their friends or children have no such obstacles. So while a politician could theoretically wind up in prison for accepting $10,000 for doling out favors, establishing overseas connections that could land your children multi-million-dollar deals is harder to detect, and often legal.

“Foreign governments and oligarchs like this form of corruption because it gives them private and unfettered gateways to the corridors of Washington power,” Schweizer writes. “Foreign entities cannot legally make campaign contributions, so using this approach creates an alternative way to curry favor and influence America’s political leaders. Simply camouflaging these transactions as business agreements provides another shield of plausible deniability.”

As Schweizer tells it, the Chao family fortune derives from the Foremost Group, a shipping company that Chinese native James Chao, a classmate of former Chinese president Jiang Zemin at Jiao Tong University, founded in New York in 1964. Chao remains Foremost’s chairman today, and his daughters Angela and Christine are the company’s deputy chairwoman and general counsel, respectively. Elaine Chao worked there in the 1970s, and has been quoted as saying, “Shipping is our family tradition.”

The success of Foremost is largely due to its close ties to the Chinese government, in particular the China State Shipbuilding Corp. (CSSC), a corporation with which Foremost has done “large volumes of business.”

The CSSC, Schweizer writes, is “a state-owned defense conglomerate … at the heart of the Chinese government’s military-industrial complex.” The main goal of the CSSC is to strengthen the Chinese military. James and Angela Chao have both sat on the board of a CSSC offshoot.

While Foremost is an American company, “their ships have been constructed by Chinese government shipyards, and some of their construction financed by the Chinese government.” In addition, writes Schweizer, “their crews are largely Chinese,” despite US Transportation Secretary and company founder’s daughter Elaine Chao having once said that “ships crewed by Americans are ‘a vital part of our national security.’”

Given all this, it’s worth noting how both McConnell and Chao, in their roles as high-ranking US officials, have personally interacted with, and then gone considerably soft on, China since their 1993 wedding.

When Senator McConnell — who took hardline positions against China prior to his marriage — met with high-ranking Chinese officials in 1994, it was not in his capacity as senator, but via a personal invitation from the CSSC arranged by James Chao. McConnell met with Zemin, then the country’s president, and vice-premiere Li Lanqing. After this meeting, McConnell “would increasingly avoid public criticism of China.” More meetings like it would follow in the years to come.

“As the Chaos and the Chinese government went into business together, the Chaos-McConnells tied their economic fate to the good fortunes of Beijing,” Schweizer writes. “Were McConnell to critique Beijing aggressively or support policies damaging to Chinese interests, Beijing could severely damage the family’s economic fortunes.”

In the ensuing years, McConnell has loudly defended China in its actions against Hong Kong and Taiwan, even claiming that “the United States needed to be ‘ambiguous’ as to whether we would come to the defense of Taiwan if attacked by China.” When Sen. Jesse Helms introduced the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act, pledging support for Taiwanese independence, in 1999, it had “twenty-one co-sponsors and heavy Republican support. But McConnell was not on the list.”

When Congress required China to document annual progress on human rights in order to maintain its trade status in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square massacre, ditching the requirement became a priority for the country. In 2000, “McConnell cosponsored S.2277, which would do just that.”

McConnell also fought attempts to punish China for vigorously undervaluing its currency, a tactic that led Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to invoke the nuclear option, changing Senate rules on voting. The bill passed, 63-35, with McConnell voting against.

Chao has also done her part to support her ancestral home.

When she served as Secretary of Labor under George W. Bush, her department resisted efforts to “call out the Chinese government over its workers rights practices.” When a petition was filed against China on the subject of worker’s rights based on the US Trade Act of 1974, Chao opposed it.

After a bipartisan congressional report citing Chinese espionage against the US circulated in 2000, Chao “was critical of the report,” making clear she “in no way” agreed with its findings, and, Schweizer writes, “dismiss[ing] the idea that China could pose any threat to the United States.”

…..Continue reading more @ NY Post

 

Legal Irrational Exuberance? Turley on Devin Nunes, Lawrence Tribe and the law | Feb 15 2018

When Mania Goes Mainstream: Experts Claim Nunes Could Be Indicted Next

|| Jonathan Turley

“Below is my column in the Hill Newspaper on the recent column in the New York Times by Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe and others that Devin Nunes could be charged with obstruction of justice. The column contains highly dubious uses of both history and precedent to advance this latest claim of criminality.  The ABA Journal and other papers have reported on the theory without any objective of its meritless foundation in constitutional law.  The basis for such claim is so attenuated as to border on the fanciful.   There are serious possible crimes being alleged without twisting the criminal code to go after supporters of President Trump.

For a year, some of us have questioned calls for the prosecution of President Trump for obstruction of justice. Every ill-conceived statement or tweet by Trump is proclaimed as “smoking gun” evidence of this seemingly catch-all crime. As the “resistance” to Trump grew, so did the expansion of the interpretation of the crime. It became increasingly more difficult to determine not what is obstruction but what is not obstruction. A recent column in the New York Times seems to have the answer: Prosecute them all and let God sort them out.

The column by Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Tribe, (right), American Constitution Society president Caroline Fredrickson and Brookings Institution fellow Norman Eisen argued that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) could now join Trump in the criminal dock. His crime? Writing a memo alleging FBI abuses that was released by a vote of the majority of a committee overseeing the FBI.

The column entitled “Is Devin Nunes Obstructing Justice?” captures the distemper that has overtaken legal analysis. It appears that anyone deemed as supporting Trump can now be charged with the same nebulous crime. After all, if Trump is actively trying to obstruct a federal investigation, surely those who actively support him or oppose the investigation are no less guilty of the same offense.It is not that easy for federal courts, which traditionally follow the opposite inclination under the “rule of lenity.” Courts tend to not only define criminal laws narrowly but rule in favor of defendants in areas of ambiguity. These and other experts appear to view ambiguity as an invitation for creativity in finding ways to indict Trump. There is a real danger to civil liberties by the continuing effort to endlessly expand criminal definitions. Trump will not be our last president and these new overarching definitions will remain with us as a type of unpaid bill. It will be citizens who pay that legal bill.

The latest obstruction claim asserts that “by writing and releasing the memo, the chairman may just have landed himself, and his staff members, in the middle of Robert Mueller’s obstruction of justice investigation.” Of course, there is the obvious complication of the immunity afforded to members of Congress under the Speech and Debate Clause of Article I.

In Gravel v. United States, the Supreme Court reaffirmed this immunity for not just members but staff after Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) read portions of the Pentagon Papers before a congressional committee. Ironically, Gravel was supporting the New York Times, which first published the papers in defiance of the Nixon administration.

While acknowledging the “strong bulwark” of immunity, the authors work mightily to limit the possible use of immunity, including some creative use of history. For example, they note that the Supreme Court did not extend immunity as far as Gravel’s publication of the papers in a later book. However, the court supported the immunity over the disclosure through the committee.

If anything, Nunes is in a much stronger position than Gravel. Nunes did not unilaterally release the memo like Gravel and he did so in a committee with direct oversight of the FBI. Conversely, the Pentagon Papers were read at an entirely unrelated subcommittee on buildings and grounds of the Senate Public Works Committee.

It is equally dubious to suggest that the memo may be found to have “mere peripheral connection to legislative acts” or a pure political act to deny immunity. The basis for this claim is simply that the authors and Democrats disagree with the conclusions of the memo. No competent federal judge would rule that such a memo is unrelated to the legislative purpose of oversight over the FBI

Even more bizarrely, there was this warning: “Nunes would do well to remember what befell Senator Daniel Brewster of Maryland.” Nunes would be understandably confused by the historical reference. Brewster claimed immunity over the acceptance of alleged bribes. This facially ridiculous argument was rejected by the Supreme Court, though Brewster was later acquitted of bribery and had the remaining convictions overturned on other grounds.

Where experts argued for months about the dubious crime of “collusion” with the Russians, these experts are now arguing for a crime of “collaboration” with the White House. The idea is that, if Nunes or his staff coordinated in the issuance of the memo, they could be charged for casting doubt on the conduct of the FBI in the early investigation of the Russian matter.

The suggestion of an obstruction case against Nunes reduces the criminal code to a virtual professorial parlor game. For a year, experts have assured eager (if not desperate) audiences that a criminal case against Trump is now in sight. For example, Tribe and Eisen have been alleging a host of unlawful acts, including a lawsuit alleging unconstitutional emoluments that was thrown out by a federal judge in December.”

….Continue reading more @ Jonathan Turley

Feinstein linked to ‘fake’ Steele Dossier Scandal | Feb 13 2018

Intriguing Links Emerge In GOP Led Dossier Investigation

|| Daily Caller

“The Republican-led investigation into the infamous anti-Trump dossier has recently revealed several intriguing links between Christopher Steele, lawyers, lobbyists, Democratic politicians, a former State Department official, and a Russian oligarch close to Vladimir Putin.

Most of the revelations come thanks to Sen. Chuck Grassley. The Iowa Republican released a letter in January that cited the names of several political operatives and lawyers who had not previously been linked to the dossier Steele wrote while on the payroll of the Clinton campaign and DNC.

And Thursday, a batch of text messages leaked to Fox News revealed that Steele used a back channel to communicate with Democratic Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Oleg Deripaska, a Russian aluminum magnate who is allied with Putin, is party to several of the connections. The billionaire has also worked closely in the past with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The Steele connections are being investigated by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Grassley chairs, and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The implications of the contacts remain to be seen, but they are worth watching as the investigation into the dossier goes on.

Lobbyist back channel between Warner and Steele 

Adam Waldman, a Washington, D.C., lobbyist who works for Deripaska, emerged on the scene out of nowhere last week when Fox News published a batch of text messages he exchanged in 2017 with Warner.

Waldman first approached Warner in March 2017 seeking to discuss a possible extradition deal for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

Waldman, who owns Endeavor Law Firm, also represented that he had ties to Steele as well as to Deripaska.

“Chris Steele asked me to call you,” Waldman wrote to Warner on March 17, 2017.

Warner attempted to set up a phone call with Steele and suggested that he wanted to keep the matter a secret from other members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. But the negotiations appeared to end in May because Waldman said that Steele was reluctant to meet without a letter signed both by Warner and North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“Seems very weird that he won’t do a call. What wud a letter do to deal with his concerns,” Warner wrote in late April.

Waldman sent several text messages over the following weeks, but Warner did not reply.

Waldman’s relationship to Steele is odd because of his work for Deripaska as well as for Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. (RELATED: Steele’s Back Channel To Democratic Senator Was Lobbyist For Russia’s Foreign Minister)

Deripaska hired Waldman in 2009 to help him with a struggle over his visa, which the State Department revoked in 2006 because of alleged ties to Russian mobsters.

Waldman registered as a foreign agent in 2010 after signing on to work for Lavrov to help with the Deripaska visa problem. That relationship ended in May.

In his texts, Waldman suggested to Warner that he was in touch with the Justice Department regarding Deripaska.

“Deripaska is in London Monday-Thursday and I might be able to arrange a mtg w him too if you wish. I discussed it with him today and he seemed interested,” Waldman wrote.

He also suggested making Deripaska available for an interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee. Those talks later broke down because the committee declined to give Deripaska immunity.

Waldman has not responded to numerous requests for comment about his relationship to Steele.

A second Steele-Warner back channel?  

One name recently linked to the dossier is Daniel Jones, a former investigator for Democratic California Sen. Dianne Feinstein when she chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Jones was named in the January letter that Grassley sent to Clinton campaign and DNC officials seeking communications with a list of people linked to the dossier. Jones, who worked for Feinstein until Dec. 2015, also appears to have links to Steele as well as to Warner.

In his text messages with Warner, Waldman wrote that “[Steele] said he will also speak w Dan Jones whom he says is talking to you.”

“I pointed out there is no privilege in that discussion although Dan is a good and very trustworthy guy,” he added later.

“I encouraged him to engage with you for the sake of the truth and of vindication of the dossier,” added Waldman.

“[Steele] said Dan Jones is coming to see you,” Waldman wrote later. “I suggest you explain to Dan why a call is the necessary first step rather than a letter from your perspective.”

Jones, who operates the Penn Quarter Group, a consulting firm, did not respond to a voice mail or private message on Twitter.”

….Continue reading @ Daily Caller

Democrats Like Speier Criticize Security Breaches, Yet Ignore their own in Awan Bros Scandal | Feb 04 2018

Intel Committee Dems ‘Dangerous,’ ‘Negligent’ In Handling Of Breach By Their Own IT Aide

|| Daily Caller

“Three Democrats on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence have been “dangerous” and “negligent” by seemingly failing to react to evidence of a major security breach by their own IT aides, a former Air Force colonel and career intelligence staffer charged. In light of this, he told The Daily Caller News Foundation, their concerns on committee Republicans voting to release a classified memo ring hollow.

The House inspector general found that a family of Pakistanis working for Democrats made “unauthorized access” to House servers, logging in using members’ personal usernames, covering their tracks, and continuing to access servers even after efforts to stop them. The IG found evidence that data from 17 members may have been funneled onto one server, which law enforcement said was later physically stolen.

Intelligence committee members Democratic Reps. Joaquin Castro of Texas, Andre Carson of Indiana, and Jackie Speier of California employed the aides until they were banned from the network in February 2017. Castro and Speier both said they did not know of any cybersecurity breach, but then they refused to respond when TheDCNF revealed two reports by the House’s internal investigator that showed there was a breach.

“As a member you have an obligation and a responsibility to know. To say you don’t know is a cop-out and excuse. You had no interest in it nor did you care about safeguarding official government documents,” James Waurishuk, a retired Air Force colonel, senior career strategic intelligence officer and National Security Council staffer, told TheDCNF. People with clearances, he said, are obligated to proactively find and report threats.

One of the aides, Imran Awan, had a secret email address — 123@mail.house.gov — that was set up in the name of an intelligence specialist who works for Carson. The secret address remained active after Imran’s main account was blocked. In August, TheDCNF discovered in civil court documents that the address actually belonged to Imran, and alerted Carson’s office of the vulnerability. Carson spokeswoman Jessica Gail did not openly express any alarm.

“Where someone has knowledge that something wasn’t right and rather than make an issue of it — the individual was a friend or someone they had to deal with every day and they wanted to turn a blind eye — in the end it winds up catching both of them,” Waurishuk told TheDCNF. “If you fail to follow the necessary procedures, then depending on the level, people go to jail for that.”

Democrats are “outraged over publishing the memo in accordance with House rules, yet they have nothing to say at all about major security breaches by a staffer they themselves employed,”a Republican intel committee source told TheDCNF on background because the person was not authorized to comment. “Their level of concern about information security issues obviously depends on that issue’s political ramifications for themselves and their party.”

Ranking Member of the intelligence committee Democrat Adam Schiff has attacked the GOP for voting to release a classified memo Republicans say shows abuses of spying authority. Democrats charge Republicans are showing a disregard for security procedures. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said committee Chairman Devin Nunes “has disgraced the House Intelligence Committee.” Republicans say the document contains information that Americans have a right to know about.

The Awans were banned from the House network in February but not arrested. Yet in April, Awan was in a House office building at midnight and left a government laptop with the username RepDWS in a decommissioned phone booth.

“With these three members on intel with this whole investigation going on with FISA and unmasking, did these individuals have any access to that info?” Waurishuk asked of that incident and the active email address tied to Carson’s office. “I’d like to see Schiff briefed on this and see what he knows about it.”

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