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Sunday, June 16, 2019

MULTIPLE UPDATES: Is This One Of Unknown's Black Swan Events?

For some time now commenter Unknown has been asserting that "Black Swan" events have been planned by the Deep State to bring down Trump. Could the latest NYT leak--obviously a leak--be such an event? Note that it's headlined as an "escalation" rather than "retaliation," as one might expect from the article--U.S. Escalates Online Attacks on Russia’s Power Grid:

WASHINGTON — The United States is stepping up digital incursions into Russia’s electric power grid in a warning to President Vladimir V. Putin and a demonstration of how the Trump administration is using new authorities to deploy cybertools more aggressively, current and former government officials said. 
In interviews over the past three months, the officials described the previously unreported deployment of American computer code inside Russia’s grid and other targets as a classified companion to more publicly discussed action directed at Moscow’s disinformation and hacking units around the 2018 midterm elections.

It seems clear that any energy sector accident at all in Russia will now be suspected Trumpian sabotage. Suppose another Chernobyl accident should occur? Trump. He's a maniac, bringing us close to nuclear holocaust. He's "literally" Hitler, or worse--he's Trump!

Importantly:


Two administration officials said they believed Mr. Trump had not been briefed in any detail about the steps to place “implants” — software code that can be used for surveillance or attack — inside the Russian grid.
Pentagon and intelligence officials described broad hesitation to go into detail with Mr. Trump about operations against Russia for concern over his reaction — and the possibility that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials, as he did in 2017 when he mentioned a sensitive operation in Syria to the Russian foreign minister.

An administration out of control! And in the dark! Trump is a cyber/twitter attack on our political grid! Someone please take him out before we're all killed!

Or am I somehow getting the message wrong? I don't think I am. And the hope seems clear enough as well--to provoke a response from Trump that will play into the Deep State/Establishment narrative of a dangerously unbalanced and incompetent president who must be removed, no later than 2020 but preferably tomorrow. Impeachment, 25th Amendment? Something, anything?

Trump has responded, calling the report "NOT TRUE" and a "virtual act of Treason", labeling the NYT as "THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE":

Donald J. Trump

Verified account

@realDonaldTrump
Do you believe that the Failing New York Times just did a story stating that the United States is substantially increasing Cyber Attacks on Russia. This is a virtual act of Treason by a once great paper so desperate for a story, any story, even if bad for our Country.....
6:15 PM - 15 Jun 2019

Donald J. Trump

Verified account

@realDonaldTrump

.....ALSO, NOT TRUE! Anything goes with our Corrupt News Media today. They will do, or say, whatever it takes, with not even the slightest thought of consequence! These are true cowards and without doubt, THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE! 
6:15 PM - 15 Jun 2019

Is Chris Wray's FBI on this leak case?

UPDATE 1: Interesting response from the NYT--John Bolton had no concerns about this story. That would be the same John Bolton concerning whom the WaPo reported on May 8:

President Trump is questioning his administration’s aggressive strategy in Venezuela following the failure of a U.S.-backed effort to oust President Nicol├ís Maduro, complaining he was misled about how easy it would be to replace the socialist strongman with a young opposition figure, according to administration officials and White House advisers. The president’s dissatisfaction has crystallized around national security adviser John Bolton and what Trump has groused is an interventionist stance at odds with his view that the United States should stay out of foreign quagmires. Trump has said in recent days that Bolton wants to get him “into a war” ...


Replying to 
Accusing the press of treason is dangerous. We described the article to the government before publication. As our story notes, President Trump’s own national security officials said there were no concerns.


UPDATE 2: I presume that part of what's driving these events is the belief that, from a political standpoint, Trump can't afford to sack Executive Branch officials whose replacements would require Senate confirmation. IOW, the Deep State is counting on cooperation from Senate NeverTrumpers.

UPDATE 3: More from NYT:

But now the American strategy has shifted more toward offense, officials say, with the placement of potentially crippling malware inside the Russian system at a depth and with an aggressiveness that had never been tried before. It is intended partly as a warning, and partly to be poised to conduct cyberstrikes if a major conflict broke out between Washington and Moscow. 
...
But the action inside the Russian electric grid appears to have been conducted under little-noticed new legal authorities, slipped into the military authorization bill passed by Congress last summer. The measure approved the routine conduct of “clandestine military activity” in cyberspace, to “deter, safeguard or defend against attacks or malicious cyberactivities against the United States.” 
Under the law, those actions can now be authorized by the defense secretary without special presidential approval. 
“It has gotten far, far more aggressive over the past year,” one senior intelligence official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity but declining to discuss any specific classified programs. “We are doing things at a scale that we never contemplated a few years ago.”

So, view that in light of the passage regarding Trump not being briefed "in detail" out of fear that he would countermand the operations.

Get it? It's the whole ICA Russia narrative. Bolton wants to take action against any actor engaged in cyber operations against the US. Well, didn't Russia hijack our 2016 election? The ICA says so--they wanted to support Trump and Trump won. QED!

Which is why Barr and Durham need to sort out the ICA ASAP. And move to protect the President's status as CINC.

UPDATE 4: There's a lot of speculation out there about both this NYT story as well as the Gulf of Oman tanker attack. I don't really want to go to the second story because there are so many moving parts involved there. Rather, I'd prefer to point out the fact that John Bolton is National Security Adviser.

Yes, of course you knew that. But, that means he's the common denominator in it all.

Trump has expressed frustration at Bolton's repeated attempts to maneuver him into war. Trump has had to several times publicly contradict Bolton, including re one of Trump's signature successes, North Korea, in stark terms.

Consider, too: Exactly why would hostile countries such as Russia or China want to negotiate about anything at all with the US, after Bolton essentially confirmed the article that Trump said was NOT TRUE (his caps, not mine)? Does that sound like it would work well with Trump's well known MO of doing deals? And wasn't that cute--the NYT set Trump up to deny the article, then launched Bolton's confirmation? Who thinks Trump was amused by that?

John Kirakou gives a flavor for the dynamics at play with Bolton in Bolton’s Long Goodbye:

The right-wing Washington Examiner reported this week that Bolton acknowledged these reports [that the NSC is in disarray under his "leadership" and he's on thin ice] but in a back-handed way. [Bolton] said in a Wall Street Journal podcast that he believes five countries are spreading “lies about dysfunction in the Trump administration.” Those countries are North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Russia, and China. That’s laughable. 
What Bolton is saying is that there is a vast and incredibly well-coordinated international conspiracy that includes some of the most important countries in the world, the main purpose of which is to embarrass him. That sounds perfectly rational, right? 

Of course, a more rational person might conclude that Bolton has done a terrible job, that the people around him have done a terrible job, that he has aired his disagreements with Trump in the media, and that the President is angry about it. That’s the more likely scenario. 
... [Insert long litany of Bolton screwups and undercutting Trump.] 
All of this has made Trump angry. He’s constantly being one-upped by one of the Washington swamp monsters he promised to rid the city of. He finally seems to have come to realize that even establishment Republicans dislike and distrust John Bolton. And now he understands why. 
Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s chief of staff, has very quietly and discreetly begun informal meetings with a list of a half-dozen possible replacements for Bolton. Let’s hope he finds one that he and Trump both like sooner, rather than later.

38 comments:

  1. Trump dispatched Abe to Iran with a proposal, which if accepted, would have restarted negotiations with Iran and perhaps led to a new agreement on restricting their offensive nuclear weapons program. The attack on the Japanese tanker was conducted while Abe was in Tehran and the proposal was being evaluated. That entreaty is now dead in the water. Cui bono?

    Obama repatriated hundreds of billions of embargoed dollars back to Iran (including some untraceable billions in cash) for a Chicago style kickback fee. Iran owes him big time. Not rocket science.

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    1. I don't see that Iran owes Iran anything for that money. The money was to pay for the nuclear agreement. The question cui bono remains, however. A false flag op is a possibility. Gulf of Tonkin, Iraqi weapons of mass destruction--this would be just one more deception.

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    2. The circle I can't square here, regarding the timing of the Gulf incidents, is that if the damage really was caused by mines, isn't this a chronologically random event? Or could someone have placed the mines just ahead of the ships, at just the right time? Any thoughts on this?

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    3. The one thing that seems clear is that there were no mines involved--not of the usual variety. The claim has been made that "limpet" mines were used--mines that are physically attached to the hull of the vessel. That's a possibility, and it's what the US claims. The ship owner says "flying objects" were involved--drones, rockets?

      https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/japanese-tanker-owner-contradict-u-s-officials-over-explosives-used-n1017556

      "We received reports that something flew towards the ship," said Yutaka Katada, president of Kokaku Sangyo Co. at a press conference. "The place where the projectile landed was significantly higher than the water level, so we are absolutely sure that this wasn’t a torpedo.

      "I do not think there was a time bomb or an object attached to the side of the ship."

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  2. This story enrages me. Once again, the NYT demonstrates its insouciant disregard for the consequences of its actions, stepping around, of course, what you point out, that this could and probably is a Deep State attempt to embarrass Trump (he's so crazy his intelligence ops have to keep secrets from him).

    If this program, as described, really exists, and was meant to be kept secret (operationally, not from Trump), then the NYT is back in the treason game (nothing new there). More importantly, though, if it exists, we need to know exactly why it exists. The Deep State may be more out of control than any of us, including the far right conspiracy theorists at Zero Hedge, imagine.

    I don't know how others might view this, but if Russia did this to us, wouldn't that be close to an act of war? Second, I'm not sure this kind of espionage is something out government ought to be involved in. Is morality completely dead? Is the US really the Evil Empire? Obviously, two can play this game, in which case, everyone, Russians and Americans, loses.

    We can and ought to be doing this to Iranian centrifuges. We're at war with them (admittedly, an extreme view, but seizing an embassy is an act of war). Even so, such a program should be kept secret.

    But let's take the NYT at its word: intelligence ops in the government concealed an ongoing program from the CIC. This is madness! It's Dr. Strangelove! And, at the very least, it is sedition, and probably treason. Those responsible should go to jail for life.

    So, I'm curious to know if 1) the program as described exists 2) if so, who authorized it 3) if said program was concealed from the president.

    If this is an issue that falls under Barr's purview, I pray to God he comes out with a flamethrower. I want to know who leaked it (indict), I want to know why it exists. Damn!

    Is this all part of the muh Russia narrative? Are there maniacs in Washington who actually want to see us engaged in a shooting war with Russia?

    How does the NYT, or anyone, expect the Russians to respond? Also, it isn't like when it comes to computers and software Russians and East Europeans are stupid. Russians obliterated us in chess, math & ballroom dancing. Don't bait the bear!

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    1. "The Deep State may be more out of control than any of us, including the far right conspiracy theorists at Zero Hedge, imagine."

      Yes.

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  3. We are on the very same wave length. There is an article over at Zero Hedge called "Waiting for the Black Swan" that I found horrifying. I, personally believe that all Global Enemies, DS Powers and Armies of Enemy Cells that are strategically planted everywhere in the United States are ready to converge and rain down hell-fire upon us by every means necessary. To them, America must be destroyed and we are all expendable. I don't know how we stop this! I do know many of us will die trying. Forgive me for being so dark but I am very informed on most fronts of this war and the writing appears to be on the wall. It is time to take off rose-colored glasses and see the body and soul thrashing killer monster that stands before you. It is not coming. It is Here!

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  4. Time to bring the Deep State under control. In fact, way past time.

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    1. Barr is said to be dedicated to protecting the institution of the presidency--the unitary executive. It seems to me that he's the guy who needs to take charge when part of the executive branch is seeking to undermine the president.

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    2. Here's what the Constitution says regarding the Executive Branch.

      Article II

      Section 1

      1. The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.

      If you don't like Donald Trump, defeat him at the ballot box!!!

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    3. Ever hear of the "living Constitution"? The Deep State believes in that--fervently.

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    4. "living constitution"? I'll stick with the original one, thank you. Give me a Justice Thomas.

      It's just like the United Church of Christ and their belief that God is still speaking. Which He is, of course. But that church seems to think that He's starting to contradict Himself.

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  5. Freedom of the Press should not include what is occurring with the NYT and the WaPo. The President is right; they are the enemies of the people.

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  6. As I commented previously, Barr views the coming battle as a legal matter in which he hopes to restore the rule of law by scrupulously adhering to proper ethics and judicial processes that were trampled under the prior Administration. This is noble and would be the correct course of action in a vacuum. However, his investigations will quickly become irrelevant if the Deep State succeeds in turning over the game board and delivering a knockout blow before Barr throws his first punch. Washington DC is in full war footing and Barr The Gentleman is not what the country needs at this turning point. He needs to call a staff meeting of his most trusted lieutenants and kick them into high gear before things get out of hand.

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    1. "He needs to call a staff meeting of his most trusted lieutenants and kick them into high gear before things get out of hand."

      I tend to agree. These developments may--or at least in part--represent Deep State recognition that Barr, left to operate as he prefers, is a dire existential threat. Therefore, they need to upset the chess board that Barr will control if left to operate freely. He has shown that Congress can't stop him, so ...

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    2. I think it's important never to forget just how really, really naughty the IC & all the Deep State players have been - especially recently but even well before Trump. What if we were told, as just one example, the true breadth and depth of the endless failures of our government to combat Chinese tech and military espionage over the years, while at the same time that same government of ours gave away the farm to them economically? How do you suppose that would go down with the American people? How would we react to its having been hidden from us all this time?

      This is a dominoes thing, and they know it.

      If and when the public starts to get a good look at how these people operate, the blood will be in the water and the public will want to see more...and more...and more. And once the cover is blown, the benefit of the doubt will work against all the lies and stories they invent to try and escape blame. This is where they do not want to go. Not now, not ever.

      If Barr's investigation is allowed to get to this point - where the bad guys lose the public benefit of the doubt - things will get real, for quite a while, and the reputational blood shed will be ugly. Or beautiful, depending on where you sit.

      There is almost no limit the guilty won't go to to keep this thing from ever getting to this point of no return. If we could get hidden cameras on all the Deep State players over the next couple years, we’d be set for a hundred years or more of clean government, so much would the public learn about how power in high places really works.

      I for one am prepared to buckle up; God willing, this ride's going to get rough eventually, no matter who in the end prevails.

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    3. Well put.

      "the true breadth and depth of the endless failures of our government to combat Chinese tech and military espionage over the years, while at the same time that same government of ours gave away the farm to them economically?"

      Don't get me started.

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    4. "There is almost no limit the guilty won't go to to keep this thing from ever getting to this point of no return."

      Six ways to Sunday.

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  7. This "news" reminds me of the Reagan years, with constant "reporting" that Reagan's aids argue and hide info from Reagan.
    I'm sure this "news" is the typical BS intended to sow discord within the White House. I guess somebody doesn't like Bolton, so squeals to the NYT. I'm pretty sure Trump laughs at this tactic, then sends some tweets.
    Also, regarding "hacking" the Russian elec grid - no. That's as plausible as the story that Russia "hacked" our elec grid.
    It was a complete lie, just as this "news" story is.

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  8. "I guess somebody doesn't like Bolton ..."

    It is, however, fact that Trump has repeatedly contradicted Bolton in public and distanced himself from Bolton's policies. I'll freely admit--I don't get why Trump hired him. Bolton is being Bolton. There's no mystery there.

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    1. Trump seems comfortable playing the "good cop" man of reason in contrast to his "bad cops" Lighthizer, Ross, Bolton, etc.

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    2. I don't think that's the dynamic at all. Trump publicly expressed irritation that Bolton (and probably Pompeo) were trying to get him into a war in Venezuela--a caper that was clearly a debacle. Then:

      https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/11/politics/trump-north-korea-kim-jong-un-letter-john-bolton/index.html

      https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/02/world/middleeast/us-iran-mike-pompeo.html

      A president playing "good cop" to his advisers' "bad cops" suggests that the president isn't fully in charge of his own administration, doesn't pick his own advisers who represent his true policies. I think the dynamic with Bolton is quite different than that with his economic advisers.

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  9. I don't get why Trump hired him. Bolton is being Bolton. There's no mystery there.

    I agree with that opinion.

    I think Trump appointed Bolton mostly because he had seen Bolton on TV many times.

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    1. I suppose his reasonin was that he could keep control while satisfying the war party in the Senate. Not so eay--a lesson he's learning the hard way. The problem that Trump has always faced is the hurdle of Senate confirmation.

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    2. Also, my recollection is that Bolton was pushed on Trump early (by Pence?) but was rejected. Why did he give him another look? Maybe a deal for support on other things. A lot of this, IMO, has to do with Senate GOP.

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  10. The Good Guys essentially took the field in March 2016 when Mike Rogers was informed of the illegal spying on US citizens via weaponized access to the NSA database. That was more than 3 years ago, and the only push-back that occurred is the Comey/McCabe/Strzok firings and several other conspirators forced into early retirement. And one could argue that Wray is no different than Comey.

    On the flip side, the Bad Guys have inflicted professional and financial ruin on Mike Flynn, put Papadopolous in prison on bogus charges, and are now in the process of imposing de facto Capital Punishment on Manafort for a white collar crime. What's worse, the Bad Guys are now going for the jugular, and innocent people are being harmed all over the planet because the Sheriff won't leave his office. Perpetual delay is just losing in slow motion. Barr needs to saddle up or turn in his badge.

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    1. I remain convinced that Barr has, in fact, saddled up. Prosecutions don't happen over night and Barr can't be blamed for prior delays.

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    2. I agree with both of you. Barr indeed may be the man we need. And these things take time. OTOH, when I look at the field, there is no question that the Deep State is and has been running up the score. Not one miscreant, not one leaker, seditionist, FBI agent, etc., has been indicted. The Senate intelligence committee leaker, what did he end up with? A paid vacation to Venice? And how is McCabe still walking around?

      So, yes, I'd like to see some blood in the water. I will say this. If nothing happens before the end of the year indictment-wise, I'm going to give up.

      So, to the barricades, Mr. Barr.

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    3. You're right that at the end of the game what matters is the score, and that our side hasn't done a lot of scoring. However, in football terms we have been moving the ball and forced the other side to play an ever more exhausted defense. The truth is coming out, willy nilly.

      I too want some scoring.

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    4. Add my name to those who want some scoring. But do we want to score, or to win? I'm guessing that securing winnable cases takes time. And Barr's a top-notch professional.

      I think, and hope, that when some indictments come, they'll come left and right.

      And remember, we might be losing some battles but we want to win the war.

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  11. I had hesitated to comment earlier, so as not to hijack the thread, or appear overly pedantic, but the point of the Black Swan phenomena (as articulated by Nasim Taleb's influential 2007 book, "The Black Swan") is that black swan events cannot be predicted or forecast from available evidence, i.e. they are surprises.

    That someone can address the possibility or potential means, by definition, it is not a rare and unpredictable outlier event. Once the possibility or potential is addressed, such knowledge is taken into account in behavior, mitigating risk exposure--even mitigating event occurrence by the change in overall behavior.

    Now, it is also true that people often don't take counsel against likely events. Needless, a disastrous outcome does not make it a Black Swan event.

    I believe the Rumsfeldian coinage would be the "known unknown." We known such events occur, we just don't know what they are or what triggers the event. This is so even when hindsight provides a 20-20 explanation.

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    1. Actually, I looked it up before using the term and decided that overall it wasn't so inappropriate

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_swan_theory

      "Taleb states that a black swan event depends on the observer. For example, what may be a black swan surprise for a turkey is not a black swan surprise to its butcher; hence the objective should be to "avoid being the turkey" by identifying areas of vulnerability in order to "turn the Black Swans white"."

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    2. I take your point. Most of our experiences are as the turkey, and not the butcher (or farmer) who causes the black swan event for the unsuspecting bird.

      The butcher is wholly outside the turkey's experience, so the bird's vulnerability to the butcher is an unknown. Turning the unknown into a known--turning a black swan white--is certainly a route to mitigating the event.

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    3. I wanted to use Unknown's words if possible, since he was the one who had been pushing this issue.

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  12. Replies
    1. The blog has some interesting points, but the title is quite misleading--at no point does it explain HOW Bolton became president, except to quite a Brit who says Trump is "a fool." I don't buy that.

      Here's an alternative view that I hope is more realistic: Iran and Trump -- Here's what's really going on. The point re US troop movements is especially important.

      My other hope, which I've expressed, is that a savvy political adviser whom Trump respects, someone like Kellyanne Conway (NOT the Kushners) who's been with him the whole time, will convince Trump--who notoriously doesn't like firing people, despite perceptions--that he has to pull the plug. As I've said, it's problematic because of Senate GOPers who are in the War Party. The generals pushing back would be a big help, and sooner or later Trump should hear from them.

      Hiring Pompeo and Bolton was hugely mistaken. They're insane and have to go--sooner rather than later.

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