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01 December 2017


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I think so, since the offense would be erased. Retired service members do not receive "pensions." They receive "retired pay." This is pay at a reduced rate (based on grade and length of service) in acknowledgement of their continued membership in the armed forces "club." Civilians seem to have a hard time understanding the difference between "former" and "retired" with regard to military people. TTG, J and I are "retired." We are still serving. We never got a gold watch. Some years ago i lectured at the Navy post-grad school at Monterey, California. My host , a civilian contract professor, told me how hard it would be to get me on the facility based on his experience. In the event, I drove up to the gate, showed the USMC sentry my ID Card. He came to attention, saluted me with "Good morning, Colonel" and waved us through the gate. My host shook his head and said "just like that?" Yes, just like that. pl


rat poison is so "yesterday"... Po210 is the modern way, and not available to first-best street urchin.


yes, as long as there is no collaboration,collusion case, there can't be an obstruction of justice for firing Comey, Could Comey be in trouble if they can prove he was witch hunting to obstruct US elections and elected president?


Publius, is this the email on your mind? Why fit this flimsy piece of evidence in? Surely easy to imagine how this snippet could be fitted into whatever chain of dot-connection. ...



Best approach is to slaughter Donald for his bromance with Putin, but not go too far betting on Putin re Syria. Brent


That said, it's obvious the "Assad must go" message is firmly ingrained on the their minds. Had to be? Apparently 'The real Donald' threatened to moderate that narrative in early Dec. 2015. Nothing more, nothing less.

Another snippet:I suspect her negative trust ratings are locked in through election day. If there is a Trump ISIS video the campaign release it. If not, her untrustworthy numbers will remain further locked at high levels. These trust problems are self-induced and keep occurring.

Context, quite possibly one of her more stupid statements. No doubt:


There is no SIGINT on this. I've spoken with people who know.

Tacitus, I can understand your objections to the more speculative parts of Bobo's post.

But if that was the case, wouldn't that suggest that the whole partisan uproar about unmasking American names in US domestic SIGINT was only political thunder? Don't forget the real or rumored copy-activities by the outgoing admin around the same time. ;)

I may be as misguided as Bobo, but it feels, whatever authorities were involved in the Flynn case, it might make sense it was the FBI and they indeed had whatever SIGINT. Triggered the whole unmasking debate, didn't it?


Another innocent question: Would SIGINT be termed SIGINT in Cybersecurity, Cyberwarfare, Cyberdefense?

Needing the same necessary knowledge to interpret/read it?


English Outsider,

No, that's not what we were talking about. We were talking about the tax cut, not "Trump's reforms" in general.

VV's point: "The Middle Class gets a piece of coal (for Christmas)", and I agreed. That's is so obvious and unrefutable.

The Republicans in House and Senate could not defend this bill in an open debate..


Apologies for that but Putin responding to a request from Flynn just didn't seem right to me and it now turns out that the Kremlin is denying that Flynn influenced the decision on retaliation in any way.


So was Kislyak serving Prime BS to Flynn or has someone doctored the transcript of the call?

After all, he's only been at it for a couple of months.

Something wrong there. Ah, now I remember, he started May 17, 2017.

After all, he's only been at it for several months.

That's better.

Publius Tacitus

You call it "flimsy." That's your opinion. Knowing Budowsky, as I do, this was what in poker is called a "tell." It shows the mindset.
Trump's policy pronouncements during the campaign on issues like Syria and Russia did threaten the Washington status quo. I don't know specifically who came up with the idea of manufacturing the charge that Trump and Russia were in cahoots, but the thought was there when Budowsky and Podesta were exchanging emails.

Publius Tacitus

Heavens no. The unmasking was real. What I'm telling you is that there is no SIGINT showing Russia going direction to anyone (including its operatives) to say and/or do things on behalf of boosting Trump's campaign. The unmasking provides further evidence of the corruption of the NSA and the CIA in interfering in the US election.


A very concise summary of the case by Sidney Blumenthal: Flynn Plea Shows Collusion With... Israel?
Michael Flynn's guilty plea to lying to the FBI falls short on Russia "collusion" but points to the Trump administration acting on Israel's behalf, says author and journalist Max Blumenthal


I found this legal blog post interesting as it suggests Manafort may have a good case that his indictment is beyond the legal scope of Mueller's investigation:


Presumably Manafort will be able to afford then quality lawyering needed to support such a case?


Heavens no. The unmasking was real.

PT, I do not in the least doubt that. Quite the opposite it was central to my argument.

To go back to what drew my attention initially: UN events. Should I assume that the outgoing admin was/could/should-have-been aware of activities by the outgoing admin? And how standard a procedure would that attempt at postponement and interference be?

It simply feels that in our general context whatever was "unmasked" was SIGINT. And, yes as always, I babble from a nitwit perspective.

David Habakkuk

Colonel Lang,

An enormous strength of what was originally the Soviet Army Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth, and became the Foreign Army Studies Office, has been the long historical view. So your fellow VMI alumnus Colonel David Glantz was a critical figure in emancipating the historiography of the Eastern Front from overdependence on German sources. Among much else, Bruce Menning and Jacob W. Kipp produced invaluable material on the history of ‘operational art’.

To my lasting regret, when not long after the organisation was founded in 1986 I began to realise that the consensus that radical change in the Soviet Union was unlikely was questionable, I had not heard of it. But I had not come across the remarkable group which the late John Steinbruner assembled at Brookings – a different place then from now – when he was in charge of their foreign policy programme.

Among others, Ambassador Raymond Garthoff had pioneered the academic study of Soviet military strategy at RAND in the ‘Fifties, before being recruited into the Office of National Estimates which William Langer and Sherman Kent created at the CIA when Walter Bedell Smith ran the organisation. Meanwhile, Michael MccGwire had been the Royal Navy’s leading expert on its Soviet counterpart.

A particular bugbear of MccGwire’s was the maxim ‘judge capabilities not intentions.’ The problem was not that it was simply false, but rather that it was what is often that most dangerous of things – a half truth. In his view, there was a propensity in the West to conflate two different kinds of analysis, both necessary, but distinct.

Confronted by a powerful adversary with clearly offensively-oriented military planning, there really is no need to make specific assumptions about intentions to think that prudent contingency planning for war is appropriate. At this level of analysis, it is commonly perfectly proper to treat intentions as a secondary variable, and focus on capabilities.

However, there is no way one can duck out of the attempt to get the best estimate one can of intentions, unless one is happy to be ‘blindsided’ by unexpected actions from other powers, and in particular, unexpected responses to one’s own actions.

In both MccGwire’s case and that of Garthoff their views had evolved over time, partly because they had realised that early estimates of Soviet capabilities had had been inflated, with knock-on implications for assessments of intentions. So, by 1960, Garthoff had established that, of the 175 Soviet divisions, one third were at full strength, one third partial strength, and one third cadre.

By 1959, meanwhile, MccGwire had realised that the armament and deployment characteristics of the major part of the vast fleet of submarines the Soviets had started building at the start of the decade were suited not to attacking NATO’s transatlantic lines of communication but to countering possible D-Day style operations in the Baltic or Black Sea.

As a 17-year-old midshipman on the battleship HMS Rodney, fresh out of the Darmouth naval college, MccGwire had, like your uncle, been present at the North African landings in November 1942. So it was not so difficult for him to contemplate the possibility that what might be in the mind of a Soviet planner was the fact it took less than a year from Pearl Harbour for Americans to be engaged in major amphibious operations in Africa, having meanwhile essentially defanged the Japanese naval challenge at Midway.

So, critical parts of the truth turned out to lie on the surface. In the Marxist-Leninist worldview, the risk of war in the international system came from ‘imperialist’ powers attempting to resist the ineluctable dynamics of history, by resorting to military action.

A critical case where MccGwire thought that misunderstandings of Soviet intentions had led to unintended and understood consequences was the introduction of ‘flexible response.’ Intended to boost the ‘credibility’ of ‘deterrence’, its actual effect had been – after a delay – to precipitate a change in Soviet planning assumptions, from the belief that escalation to nuclear war was inevitable, to the belief that it might be possible to avoid it.

Ironically, however, the initial effect was to increase the perceived need for capabilities for a conventional ‘blitzkrieg’ into Western Europe, and for naval forces. On top of this, in the course of the late ‘Sixties and ‘Seventies Soviet planners were concluding that they could not give any operational meaning to the notion of ‘victory’ in a nuclear war.

So when in 1977 Richard Pipes produced his famous article explaining ‘Why the Soviet Union Thinks It Could Fight & Win a Nuclear War’ he was simply wrong.

And because the conventional and naval build-ups were, incorrectly, interpreted as a complement to a nuclear war-fighting strategy, rather than a replacement for it, the effect was to consolidate a long-standing mistaken view of Soviet military strategy as in large measure political, aimed at ‘escalation dominance.’

Moreover, Soviet professions of interest in nuclear arms limitation, and the whole of Gorbachev’s ‘new thinking’, were interpreted as attempts at ‘reflexive control.’ By contrast, from the summer of 1987 onwards, both Garthoff and MccGwire were arguing that changes in Soviet negotiating positions on conventional arms control very strongly suggested that a radical revision of the whole Soviet security posture was likely.

Had I been aware of the Soviet Army Studies Office at the time, I might have had a better understanding of what we were being told when in February 1989 we interviewed General-Mayor Valentin Larionov, then about to retire as a Professor at the General Staff Academy in Moscow for a couple of BBC Radio documentaries.

He was a scholarly man with steel teeth – a vivid reminder of how poor the country was – and an almost exact contemporary of MccGwire’s, having as I learnt later also gone to war in 1942, and seen action at Kursk, Warsaw, Prague and Berlin. It was clear that his secretary – a very beautiful Russian girl – disapproved of us. He himself was evidently slightly bemused at the unaccustomed experience of being interviewed by the BBC, but, if people wanted to ask him to explain, he would do his best to do so.

To understand the roots of the ‘new thinking’, he told us, one had to go back to the realisation of Soviet planners back in the ‘Seventies that it was not possible to win a nuclear war. He then talked about a Soviet strategist of the ‘Twenties, Aleksandr Svechin, who he said had been ‘repressed’ under Stalin. And he discussed the 1986 study ‘Game Plan’ by Brzezinski, whom he described as ‘nash drug (our friend) a Pole.’

What I learnt later after I discovered Kipp’s work was that Larionov had compiled and co-authored the classic Soviet statement of the strategy of winning a nuclear war by pre-emption, the initial 1962 edition of the study of ‘Military Strategy’ published under the name of Marshal Sokolovskiy.

As to Svechin, I discovered that he had been at heart of arguments that had played a crucial role both in the histories of Germany and Russia. In the former country, the decisive victory against France in 1870-1 had reinforced the tendency of the General Staff to focus on the ‘Napoleonic’ side of Clausewitz.

The most incisive sceptic was a veteran of that war who had become a great (civilian) pioneer of military history, Hans Delbrück. In his analyses of past wars, he insisted on the importance of grasping both the ‘Napoleonic’ side in Clausewitz and the insistence on the strengths of the defence, distinguishing between wars of ‘destruction’ and ‘attrition’, and emphasising the importance of grasping what was appropriate when and where.

Quite rightly, Delbrück thought that the General Staff’s determination to go for ‘destruction’ alike in East and West in 1914 and subsequently was a hideous gamble, condemning Germany to a fight to the finish with Russia and Britain at the same time.

Rather than 1870-71, Svechin had started out reflecting on the lessons of the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-5, which had brutally exposed his country’s backwardness. It was this which led to the focus on the ‘operational’ level of war, between tactics and strategy. Following and building on Delbrück, Svechin was consistently sceptical of those in Russia who thought that successful ‘Napoleonic’ strategies of ‘destruction’ could avoid the need for a war of ‘attrition.’ However, in the arguments of the ‘Twenties, he lost out to Tukhachevsky.

As Kipp brought out, this was part of the background to Stalin’s determination to transform a backward peasant society overnight into one capable of producing the weaponry required to fight modern industrial war. In 1941 rival ‘Napoleonic’ conceptions clashed. What resulted were quite unnecessarily catastrophic initial defeats at the ‘operational’ level for the Red Army, but in the end it was Hitler and Germany who came most decisively unstuck as a result of the failure to see that if the capabilities for ‘operational’ success can force victory at the strategic level then confidence in them can be a snare and a delusion.

One then however comes to several ironies. Actually, it is precisely nuclear weapons which, at the outset of the Cold War, made it natural to see a hot war as likely to involve strategies of ‘destruction.’ Absent such weapons, the best the Soviets could hope for would be that such strategies might achieve ‘operational’ successes which could eliminate the bridgeheads on which the vastly superior American military-industrial potential, once remobilised, could be deployed. This was not a gamble which had worked out well for the Germans and Japanese.

Another is that, with Soviet leaders after 1945, as with German after 1871, dramatic success lead to ‘hubris.’ In particular, by attempting to realise what were in essence the agendas of radical Pan-Slavs of the pre-1914, and also pushing towards Turkey and Iran, Stalin scored a catastrophic ‘own goal.’ Doing so was inherently likely to do precisely what he had not anticipated – produce a united front of the ‘imperialist’ powers preparing for possible war against him.

It also – as Larionov’s remark implied – trapped Russia into trying to control populations it could not realistically expect to subordinate in the long term, in a situation were retreat was liable to trigger destabilisation within the Soviet Union itself (as it did.) Last but hardly least, it mean that refugees from these states would, very naturally, attempt to enlist the power of the United States against the Soviet Union.

It is hardly surprising that those who have been its victims are inclined to see Soviet and Russian power in the worst light. But it not infrequently made for dubious judgements in the Cold War, and at the moment old traumas are intensifying the propensity to interpret the Putin ‘sistema’ as some kind of ‘return of Karla’, which in turn has facilitated the ludicrous attempts of Western élites to escape facing up to their own follies by scapegoating the Russians.

Keith Harbaugh

Not sure if this is the best place for this comment,
but it is not unreasonable to attach it here.

Byron York, "sundance", and Andrew McCarthy
analyze Flynn's actions and the (over)reaction to them
in the following (which includes some excerpts).
York gives a very detailed review of the Flynn situation,
while McCarthy emphasizes the role of Peter Strzok played.

"Comey told Congress
FBI agents didn't think Michael Flynn lied"

by Byron York, Washington Examiner, 2018-02-12

In March 2017, then-FBI Director James Comey briefed a number of Capitol Hill lawmakers on the Trump-Russia investigation. ... According to two sources familiar with the meetings, Comey told lawmakers that the FBI agents who interviewed Flynn did not believe that Flynn had lied to them, or that any inaccuracies in his answers were intentional. As a result, some of those in attendance came away with the impression that Flynn would not be charged with a crime pertaining to the Jan. 24 interview.

Nine months later, with Comey gone and special counsel Robert Mueller in charge of the Trump-Russia investigation,
Flynn pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to the FBI in that Jan. 24 questioning.

"Byron York Ponders The Flynn Puzzle Question…"
by "sundance", 2018-02-12

"The Curious Michael Flynn Guilty Plea"
New developments in Flynn's case
raise questions about the circumstances under which he pled guilty to lying to the FBI.
by Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review, 2018-02-13

Strzok did not decide on his own to interview Flynn.
We know the matter was being monitored at the highest level of the Justice Department,
by then–acting attorney general Sally Yates and then–FBI director James Comey.
Strzok and a colleague were assigned to interview Flynn.
More importantly, Strzok apparently reported that he believed Flynn had been truthful.
Shortly after the interview occurred, it was reported that the FBI had decided no action would be taken against Flynn.
On March 2, Comey testified to a closed session of the House Intelligence Committee that, while Flynn may have had some honest failures of recollection during the interview, the agents who questioned him concluded that he did not lie.

Far from setting Flynn up, it seems that Strzok would exculpate him.
Flynn was prosecuted not because Strzok is an anti-Trump zealot,
but apparently because Strzok’s finding that Flynn was truthful was negated by Mueller’s very aggressive prosecutors.
Did they decide they knew better than the experienced investigators who were in the room observing Flynn’s demeanor as he answered their questions?

Of course, the point is moot now because Flynn has admitted his guilt.
Still, I wonder whether Mueller’s team informed Flynn and his counsel,
prior to Flynn’s guilty plea to lying to the FBI,
that the interviewing agents believed he had not lied to the FBI.

There are a few other oddities about the case.

After Flynn pled guilty,
I argued that this showed Mueller did not have a collusion case.
If he did, he would have forced Flynn to plead guilty to some kind of criminal conspiracy involving the Trump campaign and Russia,
and had Flynn implicate his Trump World coconspirators in the course of allocuting in court.
Instead, Flynn pled out to a mere process crime,
giving Mueller a scalp but not much else.

The judge who accepted Flynn’s guilty plea was Rudolph Contreras.
Mysteriously, just days after taking Flynn’s plea, Judge Contreras recused himself from the case.
The press has been remarkably uncurious about this development.
No rationale for the recusal has been offered,
no explanation for why, if Judge Contreras had some sort of conflict,
the recusal came after the guilty plea, not before.

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