Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Zuesse: Russiagate Investigation Now Endangers Obama - Eric Zuesse

by Eric Zuesse

Hat tip: Dr. Jean-charles Bensoussan

Former US President Barack Obama is now in severe legal jeopardy, because the Russiagate investigation has turned 180 degrees; and he, instead of the current President, Donald Trump, is in its cross-hairs.

The biggest crime that a US President can commit is to try to defeat American democracy (the Constitutional functioning of the US Government) itself, either by working with foreign powers to take it over, or else by working internally within America to sabotage democracy for his or her own personal reasons. Either way, it’s treason (crime that is intended to, and does, endanger the continued functioning of the Constitution itself*), and Mr. Obama is now being actively investigated, as possibly having done this. The Russiagate investigation, which had formerly focused against the current US President, has reversed direction and now targets the prior President. Although he, of course, cannot be removed from office (since he is no longer in office), he is liable under criminal laws, the same as any other American would be, if he committed any crime while he was in office.

December 17th order by the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Court severely condemned the performance by the FBI under Obama, for having obtained, on 19 October 2016 (even prior to the US Presidential election), from that Court, under false pretenses, an authorization for the FBI to commence investigating Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign, as being possibly in collusion with Russia’s Government. The Court’s ruling said:

In order to appreciate the seriousness of that misconduct and its implications, it is useful to understand certain procedural and substantive requirements that apply to the government’s conduct of electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes. Title I of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA ), codified as amended at 50 USC. 1801-1813, governs such electronic surveillance. It requires the government to apply for and receive an order from the FISC approving a proposed electronic surveillance. When deciding whether to grant such an application, a FISC judge must determine among other things, whether it provides probable cause to believe that the proposed surveillance target is a “foreign power” or an agent a foreign power...
...The government has a heightened duty of candor to the FISC in ex parte proceedings, that is, ones in which the government does not face an adverse party, such as proceedings on electronic surveillance applications. The FISC expects the government to comply with its heightened duty of candor in ex parte proceedings at all times. Candor is fundamental to this Court’s effective operation...
...On December 9, 2019, the government filed, with the FISC, public and classified versions of the OIG Report... It documents troubling instances in which FBI personnel provided information to NSD[National Security Division of the Department of Justice] which was unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession. It also describes several instances in which FBI personnel withheld from NSD information in their possession which was detrimental to their case for believing that Mr. [Carter] Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power...
On December 18th, Martha McCallum, of Fox News, interviewed US Attorney General Bill Barr, and asked him (at 7:00 in the video) how high up in the FBI the blame for this (possible treason) goes:

MACCALLUM: Were you surprised that he [Obama’s FBI Director James Comey] seemed to give himself such a distance from the entire operation?
“JAMES COMEY: As the director sitting on top of an organization of 38,000 people you can’t run an investigation that’s seven layers below you. You have to leave it to the career professionals to do.”
MACCALLUM: Do you believe that?
BARR: No, I think that the — one of the problems with what happened was precisely that they pulled the investigation up to the executive floors, and it was run and bird dogged by a very small group of very high level officials. And the idea that this was seven layers below him is simply not true.
The current (Trump) A.G. there called the former (Obama) FBI Director a liar on that.
If Comey gets heat for this possibly lie-based FBI investigation of the US Presidential nominee from the opposite Party of the sitting US President (Comey’s own boss, Obama), then protecting himself could become Comey’s top motivation; and, in that condition, protecting his former boss might become only a secondary concern for him.

Moreover, as was first publicly reported by Nick Falco in a tweet on 5 June 2018 (which tweet was removed by Twitter but fortunately not before someone had copied it to a web archive), the FBI had been investigating the Trump campaign starting no later than 7 October 2015. An outside private contractor, Stefan Halper, was hired in Britain for this, perhaps in order to get around laws prohibiting the US Government from doing it. (This was ‘foreign intelligence’ work, after all. But was it really? That’s now being investigated.) The Office of Net Assessment (ONA) “through the Pentagon’s Washington Headquarters Services, awarded him contracts from 2012 to 2016 to write four studies encompassing relations among the US, Russia, China and India”. Though Halper actually did no such studies for the Pentagon, he instead functioned as a paid FBI informant (and it’s not yet clear whether that money came from the Pentagon, which spends trillions of dollars that are off-the-books and untraceable), and at some point Trump’s campaign became a target of Halper’s investigation. This investigation was nominally to examine “The Russia-China Relationship: The impact on US Security interests.” Allegedly, George Papadopoulos said that “Halper insinuated to him that Russia was helping the Trump campaign”, and Papadopoulos was shocked at Halper’s saying this. Probably because so much money at the Pentagon is untraceable, some of the crucial documentation on this investigation might never be found. For example, the Defense Department’s Inspector General’s 2 July 2019 report to the US Senate said “ONA personnel could not provide us any evidence that Professor Halper visited any of these locations, established an advisory group, or met with any of the specific people listed in the statement of work.” It seems that the Pentagon-contracted work was a cover-story, like pizza parlors have been for some Mafia operations. But, anyway, this is how America’s ‘democracy’ actually functions. And, of course, America’s Deep State works not only through governmental agencies but also through underworld organizations. That’s just reality, not at all speculative. It’s been this way for decades, at least since the time of Truman’s Presidency (as is documented at that link).

Furthermore, inasmuch as this operation certainly involved Obama’s CIA Director John Brennan and others, and not only top officials at the FBI, there is no chance that Comey would have been the only high official who was involved in it. And if Comey was involved, then he would have been acting in his own interest, and not only in his boss’s — and here’s why: Comey would be expected to have been highly motivated to oppose Mr. Trump, because Trump publicly questioned whether NATO (the main international selling-arm for America’s ‘defense’-contractors) should continue to exist, and also because Comey’s entire career had been in the service of America’s Military-Industrial Complex, which is the reason why Comey’s main lifetime income has been the tens of millions of dollars he has received via the revolving door between his serving the federal Government and his serving firms such as Lockheed Martin. For these people, restoring, and intensifying, and keeping up, the Cold War, is a very profitable business. It’s called by some “the Military-Industrial Complex,” and by others “the Deep State,” but by any name it is simply agents of the billionaires who own and control US-based international corporations, such as General Dynamics and Chevron. As a governmental official, making decisions that are in the long-term interests of those investors is the likeliest way to become wealthy.

Consequently, Comey would have been benefitting himself, and other high officials of the Obama Administration, by sabotaging Trump’s campaign, and by weakening Trump’s Presidency in the event that he would become elected. Plus, of course, Comey would have been benefitting Obama himself. Not only was Trump constantly condemning Obama, but Obama had appointed to lead the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 Presidential primaries, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who as early as 20 February 2007 had endorsed Hillary Clinton for President in the Democratic Party primaries, so that Shultz was one of the earliest supporters of Clinton against even Obama himself. In other words, Obama had appointed Shultz in order to increase the odds that Clinton — not Sanders— would become the nominee in 2016 to continue on and protect his own Presidential legacy. Furthermore, on 28 July 2016, Schultz became forced to resign from her leadership of the DNC after WikiLeaks released emails indicating that Schultz and other members of the DNC staff had exercised bias against Bernie Sanders and in favor of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 Democratic primaries — which favoritism had been the reason why Obama had appointed Shultz to that post to begin with. She was just doing her job for the person who had chosen her to lead the DNC. Likewise for Comey. In other words: Comey was Obama’s pick to protect Clinton, and to oppose Trump (who had attacked both Clinton and Obama).

Nowadays, Obama is telling the Party’s billionaires that Elizabeth Warren would be good for them, but not that Sanders would — he never liked Sanders. He wants Warren to get the voters who otherwise would go for Sanders, and he wants the Party’s billionaires to help her achieve this (be the Party’s allegedly ‘progressive’ option), so that Sanders won’t be able to become a ballot option in the general election to be held on 3 November 2020. He is telling them whom not to help win the Party’s nomination. In fact, on November 26th, Huffington Post headlined “Obama Said He Would Speak Up To Stop Bernie Sanders Nomination: Report” and indicated that though he won’t actually say this in public (but only to the Party’s billionaires), Obama is determined to do all he can to prevent Sanders from becoming the nominee. In 2016, his choice was Hillary Clinton; but, today, it’s anyone other than Sanders; and, so, in a sense, it remains what it was four years ago — anyone but Sanders.

Comey’s virtually exclusive concern, at the present stage, would be to protect himself, so that he won’t be imprisoned. This means that he might testify against Obama. At this stage, he’s free of any personal obligation to Obama — Comey is now on his own, up against Trump, who clearly is his enemy. Some type of back-room plea-bargain is therefore virtually inevitable — and not only with Comey, but with other top Obama-appointees, ultimately. Obama is thus clearly in the cross-hairs, from now on. Congressional Democrats have opted to gun against Trump (by impeaching him); and, so, Trump now will be gunning against Obama — and against the entire Democratic Party (unless Sanders becomes its nominee, in which case, Sanders will already have defeated that Democratic Party, and its adherents will then have to choose between him versus Trump; and, so, too, will independent voters).

But, regardless of what happens, Obama now is in the cross-hairs. That’s not just political cross-hairs (such as an impeachment process); it is, above all, legal cross-hairs (an actual criminal investigation). Whereas Trump is up against a doomed effort by the Democratic Party to replace him by Vice President Mike Pence, Obama will be up against virtually inevitable criminal charges, by the incumbent Trump Administration. Obama played hardball against Trump, with “Russiagate,” and then with “Ukrainegate”; Trump will now play hardball against Obama, with whatever his Administration and the Republican Party manage to muster against Obama; and the stakes this time will be considerably bigger than just whether to replace Trump by Pence.

Whatever the outcome will be, it will be historic, and unprecedented. (If Sanders becomes the nominee, it will be even more so; and, if he then wins on November 3rd, it will be a second American Revolution; but, this time, a peaceful one — if that’s even possible, in today’s hyper-partisan, deeply split, USA.)

There is no way that the outcome from this will be status-quo. Either it will be greatly increased further schism in the United States, or it will be a fundamental political realignment, more comparable to 1860 than to anything since. The US already has a higher percentage of its people in prison than does any other nation on this planet. Americans who choose a ‘status-quo’ option will produce less stability, more violence, not more stability and a more peaceful nation in a less war-ravaged world. The 2020 election-outcome for the United States will be a turning-point; there is no way that it will produce reform. Americans who vote for reform will be only increasing the likelihood of hell-on-Earth. Reform is no longer an available option, given America’s realities. A far bigger leap than that will be required in order for this country to avoid falling into an utter abyss, which could be led by either Party, because both Parties have brought the nation to its present precipice, the dark and lightless chasm that it now faces, and which must now become leapt, in order to avoid a free-fall into oblivion.

The problem in America isn’t either Obama or Trump; it’s neither merely the Democratic Party, nor merely the Republican Party; it is instead both; it is the Deep State. That’s the reality; and the process that got us here started on 26 July 1945 and secretly continued on the American side even after the Soviet Union ended and Russia promptly ended its side of the Cold War. The US regime’s ceaseless thrust, since 26 July 1945, to rule the entire world, will climax either in a Third World War, or in a US revolution to overthrow and remove the Deep State and end its dictatorship-grip over America. Both Parties have been controlled by that Deep State, and the final stage or climax of this grip is now drawing near. America thus has been having a string of the worst Presidents — and worst Congresses — in US history. This is today’s reality. Unfortunately, a lot of American voters think that this extremely destabilizing reality, this longstanding trend toward war, is okay, and ought to be continued, not ended now and replaced by a new direction for this country — the path toward world peace, which FDR had accurately envisioned but which was aborted on 26 July 1945. No matter how many Americans might vote for mere reform, they are wrong. Sometimes, only a minority are right. Being correct is not a majority or minority matter; it is a true or false matter. A misinformed public can willingly participate in its own — or even the world’s — destruction. That could happen. Democracy is a prerequisite to peace, but it can’t exist if the public are being systematically misinformed. Lies and democracy don’t mix together any more effectively than do oil and water.

*  *  *

* The given official US definition of “treason” (see top of page 3 there) is “Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason.” Any US official has sworn to uphold and defend, never to subvert, the Constitution of the United States, and this is defining the US, itself, as being the continued functioning of the US Constitution. Treason is thus the supremely illegal act under US law, the act that violates any US official’s oath of office. (When treason is perpetrated by someone who is not a US official, it is still a severe crime, but less severe than it is for any US official.) The phrase “levies war against them” means war against the functioning of the Constitution that is their supreme law. “Or” means alternatively, and “adheres to their enemies” means is a follower of any person or other entity that seeks to impose a different constitution. “Enemies” is not defined — it need not be a foreign opponent; it may be a domestic opponent of the US Constitution. Thus, an American can be an enemy of the United States of America. In fact, the official definition explicitly refers ONLY to an entity “owing allegiance to the United States.” (Obviously, that especially refers to any US official.) This is how a “traitor” is understood, in US law. Obviously, the worst traitor would be one who committed the treasonous act(s) while a US official.

Eric Zuesse

Source: https://www.zerohedge.com/political/zuesse-russiagate-investigation-now-endangers-obama

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Israel to withhold $43M in taxes from PA over 'pay-for-slay' policy - News Agencies , Israel Hayom Staff

by News Agencies , Israel Hayom Staff

The sum represents funds that Israel says the PA has used to pay the families of Palestinian terrorists who have been jailed or killed as a result of attacking Israelis.

Israel to withhold $43M in taxes from PA over 'pay-for-slay' policy
PA President Mahmoud Abbas | Photo: AFP

The security cabinet on Sunday voted to withhold $43 million of tax funds from the Palestinian Authority over its "pay-for-slay" policy that has long been condemned by Israel and the US as a practice that encourages violence.

The sum represents funds that Israel says the PA has used to pay the families of Palestinian terrorists who have been jailed or killed as a result of attacking Israelis.

Israel maintains that the so-called "Martyrs Fund" rewards violence. The Palestinians say the payments are needed to help vulnerable families affected by the conflict with Israel.

Under past agreements, Israel collects customs and other taxes on behalf of the Palestinians and transfers the money to the Palestinian Authority. These monthly transfers, about $170 million, are a key source of funding for the budget of the PA, which administers parts of Judea and Samaria.

Israel last year passed a law deducting parts of these transfers that it said were supporting terrorists' families. Sunday's decision was a continuation of that policy.

In February, after Israel withheld $140 million, the PA said it would reject all transfers to protest the Israeli policy. But six months later, with the Palestinian Authority in a deep financial crisis, the sides worked out a deal to resume most of the transfers.

PA official Hanan Ashrawi denounced the latest Israeli move, calling it a "blatant act of theft and political extortion."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office declined to comment.

The total amount of money withheld now equals some 6.8% of tax funds due to the PA. The full remittances make up around half of the budget of the PA.

"For too long, we allowed the PA to pay salaries to terrorists. That party is over," Deputy Defense Minister Avi Dichter said on Twitter.

The United States passed legislation last year to sharply reduce aid to the PA unless it stopped the stipends. The measure, known as the Taylor Force Act, was named after a 29-year-old American military veteran fatally stabbed by a Palestinian while visiting Israel in 2016.

Washington has further slashed hundreds of millions of dollars to humanitarian organizations and UN agencies which aid the Palestinians as it seeks to pressure PA President Mahmoud Abbas to come back to the negotiating table.

News Agencies , Israel Hayom Staff

Source: https://www.israelhayom.com/2019/12/30/israel-to-withhold-43-million-in-taxes-from-pa-over-pay-for-slay-policy/

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US strikes on Iran-backed militia in Iraq, Syria kill at least 25 - Israel Hayom Staff , News Agencies

by Israel Hayom Staff , News Agencies

Our battle with America and its mercenaries is now open to all possibilities," says spokesman for Iran-backed Hezbollah Brigades. Lebanon's Hezbollah: Those who took the decision to carry out the attack "will soon discover how stupid this criminal decision was."

US strikes on Iran-backed militia in Iraq, Syria kill at least 25
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, right, listen as Secretary of Defense Mark Esper delivers a statement on Iraq and Syria, at US President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago property, Sunday | Photo: AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

An Iranian-backed militia said Monday that the death toll from US military strikes in Iraq and Syria against its fighters has risen to 25, vowing to exact revenge for the "aggression of evil American ravens."

The announcement in Baghdad came a day after US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Washington had carried out military strikes targeting the Iranian-backed Iraqi militia blamed for a rocket attack that killed an American contractor in Iraq last week.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the strikes send the message that the US will not tolerate actions by Iran that jeopardize American lives.

The US military said "precision defensive strikes" were conducted against five sites of Kata'ib Hezbollah, or Hezbollah Brigades in Iraq and Syria.

"Our battle with America and its mercenaries is now open to all possibilities," Kata'ib Hezbollah said in a statement around midnight Sunday. "We have no alternative today other than confrontation and there is nothing that will prevent us from responding to this crime."

The US blames the militia for a rocket barrage Friday that killed a US defense contractor at a military compound near Kirkuk, in northern Iraq. Officials said as many as 30 rockets were fired in that attack.

Iraq's Hezbollah Brigades, a separate force from the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah, operates under the umbrella of the state-sanctioned militias known collectively as the Popular Mobilization Forces. Many of them are supported by Iran.

The Popular Mobilization Forces said Sunday that the US strikes killed at least 19 of Kata'ib Hezbollah's members. But Kata'ib Hezbollah spokesman Mohammed Mohieh told The Associated Press on Monday that the death toll rose to 25. At least 51 militiamen were wounded and some of them were in serious condition, he said, adding that the militia group's commanders would decide on the retaliation.

In Tehran, foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi condemned the US strikes against Kata'ib Hezbollah as an "obvious case of terrorism" and accused Washington of ignoring Iraq's sovereignty.

Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah also blasted the "brutal American aggression," saying those who took the decision to carry out the attack "will soon discover how stupid this criminal decision was."

Kata'ib Hezbollah is led by Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, one of Iraq’s most powerful men. He once battled US troops and is now the deputy head of the Popular Mobilization Forces. In 2009, the State Department linked him to the elite Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, designated a foreign terrorist organization by President Donald Trump earlier this year.

The US maintains some 5,000 troops in Iraq, at the invitation of the Iraqi government to assist and train in the fight against the Islamic State group.

The attack that killed the American contractor and US counter-strikes come as months of political turmoil roil Iraq. About 500 people have died in anti-government protests, most of them demonstrators killed by Iraqi security forces.

The mass uprisings prompted the resignation last month of Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, who remains in a caretaker capacity.

In a statement, Abdul-Mahdi said Esper had called him about a half-hour before the US strikes on Sunday to tell him of US intentions to hit bases of the militia suspected of being behind Friday's rocket attack. Abdul-Mahdi said he asked Esper to call off the US plan.

Israel Hayom Staff , News Agencies

Source: https://www.israelhayom.com/2019/12/30/us-hits-iran-backed-militia-in-syria-and-iraq-warns-of-additional-actions/

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Comey's FBI vs. the FISA Court - Les Still

by Les Still

FISA policies are only as good as the people implementing them, and it looks as if for some time now the people in charge have acted irresponsibly if not with bias or even illegality.

During his interview with Chris Wallace, James Comey was reminded of what he had said about FISA warrant applications: "I have total confidence that the FISA process was followed and that the entire case was handled in a thoughtful, responsible way by DoJ and the FBI. The notion that the FISA process was abused is nonsense.” 

The Horowitz report soundly contradicted Comey’s strong defense. During further questioning by Wallace, Comey finally had to admit he was wrong and IG Horowitz was right. But, you know, it really wasn’t that bad. It was just a little “sloppiness” on the part of the FBI, he seemed to say.

The ACLU has written numerous papers exposing evidence of the FBI’s long history of abusing its surveillance powers. In one paper they documented a series of repeated malfeasance by reviewing several prior IG reports. The title of the paper was “More About Intelligence agencies (CIA/DNI) Spying.” They based this on a series of five audits by the IG. The reports had confirmed, “widespread FBI mismanagement and misuse and abuse of power.” It was determined the FBI had never implemented all the recommendations the IG had mandated in previous reports. Furthermore, there was doubt expressed by the IG whether “The reforms, even if implemented, would be sufficient.”

Now, we have the latest by IG Michael Horowitz, which found there had been 17 errors and omissions committed by Comey’s FBI in the Russian investigation. One of the most egregious involved Carter Page, an Annapolis graduate and naval officer who had been an important informant for the CIA. At one point in the FISA process an FBI attorney inserted the words “not a source” in an email he’d received from the CIA. That was one of the “little mistakes” Comey has referred to -- except that Horowitz considered it as being unlawful and the lawyer who did this has been referred for criminal prosecution by the IG.

When Wallace questioned Comey about this revelation gleaned from the Horowitz report, Comey dismissed the seriousness of the question by saying, “This has not been resolved -- it’s just some lawyer changing something sent to another member on the team.” 

During his April 26, 2018 interview with Bret Baier, Comey claimed that the Steele Dossier was just a small part of a “larger mosaic of evidence” submitted to FISA. The press has bought this narrative and has presented it as fact. Therefore, much of the public believes it. However, Horowitz contradicts both Comey and the press by finding that the dossier was critical and essential in seeking FISA warrants.

It is important to understand that the FISA court is different from everyday courts in one very important way. In legal terms, it’s proceedings are ex parte meaning there are no adversarial proceedings and the FISA court judge only hears one side. Carter Page had no representation and had no way to let the court know that he worked for the CIA. The most important question becomes, why didn’t Brennan intervene and inform Comey that Page had been working for him? 

The misuse and abuse of the FISA court and blaming it on the rank and file of the FBI is unacceptable and this is what Andrew McCabe and James Comey did. McCabe, who was fired by the FBI and is now a CNN commentator, told Wolf Blitzer, “The biggest mistake, I think, is the process that was in place essentially left so much responsibility on the lowest level of FBI agents and supervisors involved in a process. Once those mistakes are baked in, they become very, very hard for the layers of oversight to uncover.” Comey, too, seemed to want to blame lower-level FBI agents when he said, “As the director sitting on top of an organization of 30,000 people you can’t run an investigation that’s seven layers below you. You have to leave it to the career professionals to do.”
Anyone paying attention at the time this was going on and then seeing Horowitz’s report would have been able to determine this whole Crossfire Hurricane operation was conducted by the very top layers of leadership in the FBI, not seven layers below. That’s one of the reasons Horowitz asserted FBI leadership had not been vindicated by his report.

During the most recent interview with Chris Wallace, Comey was asked, “If you were still FBI director would you resign?” Comey’s startling response was, “No, I don’t think so.” He declared, “There were far more consequential mistakes that were made during my tenure [as FBI director].” What, pray tell, is more consequential than:

  1. Having one of Comey’s FBI lawyers committing the crime of altering evidence to make it look like Carter Page was not a CIA resource?
  2. Having one of your lawyers referred for criminal prosecution? The Epoch Times summarized it thisway:
Eventually, Horowitz replied, “I think it’s fair for people to sit there and look at all of these 17 events and wonder how it could be purely incompetence.”He also said that he “agrees completely” with the assertion that someone at the FBI needs to be fired. The “culture” also needs to be “changed” at the FBI, he added.After being questioned by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), the Inspector General also said he couldn’t rule out bias in later stages of the FBI’s investigation.
  1. Being told by Inspector General Horowitz that his report, “Doesn’t vindicate anybody at the FBI, including the leadership.” Comey responded, “Maybe it depends on how we understand the words…” Is this another classic dodge like “it depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is?”
  2. Having Christopher Steele’s dossier debunked?
  3. General Michael Flynn not being mirandized or Comey admitting he did not follow normal procedures by taking advantage of the situation? He said, “It is something I probably wouldn't have done or maybe gotten away with in a more organized administration.” He continued, “I thought It’s early enough, let’s just send a couple guys over.” Sidney Powell, Flynn’s lawyer, called this “An outrageous abuse of power.” She said, “Even Christopher Wray has said, ‘it will never happen again.’”
  4. Having Comey’s FBI chastened by the FISA Court?
FISA policies are only as good as the people implementing them, and it looks as if for some time now the people in charge have acted irresponsibly if not with bias or even illegality. Perhaps the latter is why we are beginning to see announcements like this one from the American Center for Law and Justice: “Right now, we're engaged in a major lawsuit against the Deep State FBI. We've already forced the FBI to agree to turn over thousands of emails between Comey's circle of corruption about spies placed in the White House.”

When you see potential lawsuits like this appearing, and other potential suits by Carter Page, as suggested by Lindsey Graham, the scathing letter to the FBI by the head of the FISA court, and Durham opening a criminal investigation, members of the Deep State might want to begin lawyering up.

Les Still

Source: https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2019/12/comeys_fbi_vs_the_fisa_court.html

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Some of the $1.5 billion cash that Obama gave to Iran traced to Iran-backed terror groups - Thomas Lifson

by Thomas Lifson

To the surprise of nobody but morons and Obama supporters.

When President Barack Obama shipped $1.7 billion in cash to Iran as part of his nuclear deal, he was funding terrorists. It was entirely predictable, for his partners in the deal are committed to the destruction of Israel first, and then of the United States, once they have the nuclear means to do so.

The Armageddon that would break out after the US defends itself is a feature, not a bug in this plan, for the return of the Twelfth Mahdi will accompany the climactic global conflagration, and bring about the end of history, with Islam triumphant.

So, expecting the Mullahs to cozy up to the US in return for a vast amount of cash is foolish at best. That money was just a means to an end that includes killing infidels, with priority given to Jews in Israel.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamei (Photo credit: President of Russia)

Bill Gertz, whose Pentagon sources are second to none, reports that the actual cash bills sent to Iran have made their way to Hezb’allah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, and to the hardline Quds forces of Iran: The U.S. government has traced some of the $1.7 billion released to Iran by the Obama administration to Iranian-backed terrorists in the two years since the cash was transferred.
According to knowledgeable sources, Iran has used the funds to pay its main proxy, the Lebanon-based terrorist group Hezbollah, along with the Quds Force, Iran’s main foreign intelligence and covert action arm and element of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. (snip)
The U.S. money supplied to Iran as part of an arms settlement dating back to the 1970s also has been traced to Iran’s backing of Houthi rebels seeking to take power in Yemen. Iran has been supporting the Yemen rebels as part of a bid to encircle and eventually take control of Saudi Arabia.
“The enormous financial windfall the Iranian regime received because of the deal — access to more than $100 billion, including $1.8 billion in cash — has not been used to better the lives of the Iranian people,” Mr. Trump said Jan. 12. “Instead, it has served as a slush fund for weapons, terror, and oppression, and to further line the pockets of corrupt regime leaders.”
What’s done is done. That money will continue to fund attacks and advance the mullahs’ goal of Armageddon. Thanks, Obama. Nobody is surprised but morons and your supporters.

Thomas Lifson

Source: https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2019/12/some_of_the_15_billion_cash_that_obama_gave_to_iran_traced_to_iranbacked_terror_groups.html

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Elle Magazine Puts Fake Feminist Linda Sarsour on List of “Women in Politics to Watch” - Robert Spencer

by Robert Spencer

Feminism now encompasses Sharia oppression and sexual harassment.

Elle magazine last week published a list of “20 Women of Color in Politics to Watch in 2020.” Elle has faced a backlash for including the vehemently anti-Semitic Leftist activist Linda Sarsour, who is the palest “woman of color” since Rachel Dolezal, on the list. But no one seems to have noticed another problem: Sarsour is no feminist.

Remember that back in 2017, Asmi Fathelbab, a former employee of the Arab American Association in New York when feminist heroine Linda Sarsour was its executive director, accused Sarsour of dismissing her claims of sexual assault and harassment, and following through on threats to destroy Fathelbab’s attempts to get a job if she didn’t retract the charges.

Sarsour, said Fathelbab, “oversaw an environment unsafe and abusive to women. Women who put [Sarsour] on a pedestal for women’s rights and empowerment deserve to know how she really treats us.” Fathelbab charges Majed Seif, a Muslim who lived in the building that also housed the Arab American Association’s offices, “would sneak up on me during times when no one was around, he would touch me, you could hear me scream at the top of my lungs. He would pin me against the wall and rub his crotch on me. It was disgusting. I ran the youth program in the building and with that comes bending down and talking to small children. You have no idea what it was like to stand up and feel that behind you. I couldn’t scream because I didn’t want to scare the child in front of me. It left me shaking.”

But Sarsour had no interest in, or patience for, Fathelbab’s allegations. “She called me a liar because ‘Something like this didn’t happen to women who looked like me. How dare I interrupt her TV news interview in the other room with my ‘lies.’…She told me he had the right to sue me for false claims…. She told me I’d never work in NYC ever again for as long as she lived. She’s kept her word. She had me fired from other jobs when she found out where I worked. She has kept me from obtaining any sort of steady employment for almost a decade.”

Fathelbab got no more sympathetic a hearing from the president of the Arab American Association’s board of directors, Ahmed Jaber. “Jaber told me my stalker was a ‘God-fearing man’ who was ‘always at the Mosque,’ so he wouldn’t do something like that. He wanted to make it loud and clear this guy was a good Muslim and I was a bad Muslim for ‘complaining.’”

Another individual who was familiar with Sarsour, Fathelbab, Seif and the entire situation said: “It’s always going to be the woman’s fault over there. And Sarsour was there to protect the men. She’s not for other women. The only women she’s for is for herself.” Another added: “Sarsour is only a feminist outwardly. Her interactions toward women in that building were atrocious. She would protect the patriarchy and in return they would promote her.”

Asmi Fathelbab’s accusations at the Arab American Association played out in full accord with Sharia. In cases of sexual misbehavior (zina), only men can testify. Women can’t testify at all, even in cases in which they were involved, and four male witnesses are required (Reliance of the Traveller, o24.9). These witnesses must have seen the act itself. Consequently, it is very difficult to convict men of zina. As long as they deny the charge and there aren’t four witnesses, they will get off scot-free, because the woman’s testimony is inadmissible. Even worse, if a woman accuses a man, she may end up incriminating herself.

And so it was with Asmi Fathelbab. Now that she has come forward, expect Sarsour to react yet again in accord with the tried-and-true Islamic supremacist practice of claiming that Fathelbab is motivated by “hatred,” and that the whole thing is another “Islamophobic,” “racist” conspiracy designed to bring down a proud, hijab-wearing “Palestinian” Muslima.

And feminists will almost certainly fall for it again, hook, line and sinker. That Linda Sarsour is lionized in Elle as a feminist heroine, instead of identified as the promoter and enabler of Sharia oppression of women that she is, is an indication of how entranced by fantasy our public discourse has become.

Robert Spencer

Source: https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/2019/12/elle-magazine-puts-fake-feminist-linda-sarsour-robert-spencer/

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Terror Strike on Hanukkah in New York - Lloyd Billingsley

by Lloyd Billingsley

Son of rabbi among five victims, stabbed with a machete.

On Saturday in Monsey, New York, at least 100 people gathered in the home of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg. Shortly before 10 p.m., as the rabbi was lighting the candle on the seventh night of Hanukkah, a man with face partially covered burst into the home and began stabbing people with a machete. 

“I was praying for my life," Aron Kohn, 65, told reporters, “he started attacking people right away as soon as he came in the door. We didn’t have time to react at all.” The intruder stabbed five people, including the rabbi’s son. Other stabbing victims were reported in critical condition. 

One attendee followed the attacker and got his license number. That number was picked up as the suspect crossed the George Washington Bridge and when police arrested him in New York City early Sunday, he was covered in blood. 

News reports identified the stabber as Thomas Grafton but others named him as Grafton Thomas, 37, an African American from Greenwood Lake, New York, some 20 miles from Monsey.  As the New York Daily News reported, Thomas has one prior arrest “which is sealed, making the bloody machete rampage inside an Orthodox rabbi’s home in which five people were wounded all the more incomprehensible.” The default response, as Daniel Greenfield noted, was meaningless statements “about the evils of hatred.”

New York’s Democrat attorney general Letitia James, a former New York City Council member and public advocate, proclaimed “zero tolerance for acts of hate of any kind and we will continue to monitor this horrific situation.” 

Democrat presidential candidate Andrew Yang tweeted “Anti-Semitism is a horrifying scourge that has no place in America. We must do all we can to prevent, punish and investigate these crimes and protect all who gather and worship in peace.” Fellow candidate Julian Castro denounced “what appears to be another hateful attack,” adding “We must combat the rise of anti-Semitism and hate.” 

New York governor Andrew Cuomo cited recent attacks, “motivated by hate. They are doing mass attacks. These are terrorists in our country perpetrating terrorism on other Americans, and that's how we should treat it and that's how I want the laws in this state to treat it.”

The Hanukkah stabbings follow a series of anti-Semitic attacks in the New York area. Last Monday, as authorities are charging, Steven Jorge, 28, punched a Jewish man, 65, in the face, knocked him to the ground then kicked him repeatedly while yelling “fuck you Jew!” The next day a group of teenagers in Crown Heights knocked a Jewish man to the ground. 

On Tuesday afternoon, a Jewish man was assaulted by a group of teenagers in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights. The teens followed the victim down the street, with one hitting him in the head and knocking him to the ground. A case of aggravated harassment in Brooklyn was also reported, and none of the cases involved provocation by the victims. That was also the case on December 10 in Jersey City. 

As NBC News reported, “hate-fueled domestic terrorism motivated the harrowing and prolonged shooting attack that killed three people inside a Jersey City kosher market and took the life of a veteran police detective.” In the “targeted attack,” suspects David Anderson and Francine Graham, heavily armed with rifles, handguns, and a shotgun, “were bent on taking out Jewish people and members of law enforcement.” 

Police officers Ray Sanchez and Ferenella Fernandez were wounded in the attack. The dead included detective Joseph Seals, a father of five; Mindel Ferencz, co-owner of the grocery; rabbinical student Moshe Deutsch, 24, and store employee Douglas Miguel Rodriguez. Both attackers, found dead in the store, had been associated with the Black Hebrew Israelites, according to NBC, “a movement whose members have been known to rail against white people and Jews.” 

As Joseph Klein noted, the Hebrew Israelites are part of “a black supremacist group known as The House of Israel,” based in New York. The Southern Poverty Law Center flags “black supremacist groups on the extremist fringe of the Hebrew Israelite movement.” This group believes they are “God's true chosen people because they, not the people known to the world today as Jews.” The group has been defended by the New York Times as innocent street preachers who practice “tough love.” 

At this writing, any connections of Grafton Thomas to black supremacist groups remain unclear. On Sunday, Thomas pleaded not guilty to five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary. Bail was set at $5 million and Thomas remains in jail. 

President Trump condemned the “horrific” attack at the rabbi’s home and tweeted: “We must all come together to fight, confront, and eradicate the evil scourge of anti-Semitism. Melania and I wish the victims a quick and full recovery.”Earlier in December, the president issued an executive order targeting anti-Semitism on college campuses.

Also on Sunday, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, a former Democra presidential candidate, told Fox News, “An atmosphere of hate has been developing in this country over the last few years. A lot of it is emanating from Washington and it’s having an effect on all of us.”

Lloyd Billingsley

Source: https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/2019/12/terrorist-attack-hanukkah-celebration-lloyd-billingsley/

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Germany Puts Its Head in Russia's Energy Pipeline Noose - Soeren Kern

by Soeren Kern

Trump -- has criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her refusal to increase defense spending while at the same time supporting the pipeline that will funnel billions of dollars to Russia

  • A report by the Swedish Defense Research Agency found that Russia has threatened to cut energy supplies to Central and Eastern European more than 50 times. Even after some of those states joined the European Union, Russian threats continued.
  • Not surprisingly, Germany's current Social Democratic Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, has criticized the U.S. sanctions as foreign interference. "Decisions on European energy policy are made in Europe, not the USA," he tweeted on December 12. "We fundamentally reject foreign interventions and sanctions with extraterritorial effects."
  • U.S. President Donald Trump, like his predecessor Barack Obama, has opposed the pipeline project. Trump in particular has criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her refusal to increase defense spending while at the same time supporting the pipeline that will funnel billions of dollars to Russia.... "So, we're supposed to protect you against Russia and you pay billions of dollars to Russia and I think that's very inappropriate. Germany will have almost 70 percent of their country controlled by Russia with natural gas. You tell me, is that appropriate?" — U.S. President Donald J. Trump.
  • "One must assume that Putin's pet pipeline is not really a business venture — and that the fools are the Europeans, in particular the Germans.... In short, Nord Stream 2 could make Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic states less secure, undermine the EU's security strategy, give Russia a big stick for threatening Eastern Europe and sow discord among NATO allies. To Mr. Putin, causing so much trouble for a mere $11 billion must seem like a bargain. For Europe it is a trap.... The mystery is why Germany has fallen into it and has been twisting French arms to do the same." — The Economist.

U.S. President Donald Trump, like his predecessor Barack Obama, has opposed the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project. Trump in particular has criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her refusal to increase defense spending while at the same time supporting the pipeline that will funnel billions of dollars to Russia. Pictured: Merkel and then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, along with other European leaders, take part in the launch ceremony for the first leg of the Nord Stream gas pipeline, on November 8, 2011 in Lubmin, Germany. (Image source: kremlin.ru)

A Swiss company working on the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline directly linking Russia to Germany has suspended pipelaying operations after U.S. President Donald J. Trump signed into law new sanctions.

The sanctions are part of an effort by the United States to halt completion of the €9.5 billion ($10.5 billion) pipeline, which would double shipments of Russian natural gas to Germany by transporting the gas under the Baltic Sea. Opponents of the pipeline warn that it will give Russia a stranglehold over Germany's energy supply. Proponents counter that with European domestic natural gas production in rapid decline, the pipeline will enhance security of supply.

American sanctions may delay Nord Stream 2, but they are probably too late to kill the project. More than 80% of the 1,230-km (764-mile) pipeline has already been laid and the project is expected to be completed in 2020, according to Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak.

On December 17, the U.S. Senate, by a vote of 86 to 6, passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the annual defense spending bill, which includes the Nord Stream 2 sanctions language. The measure previously cleared the U.S. House of Representatives on December 11 by a vote of 377 to 48. President Trump signed it into law on December 20.

The legislation requires the U.S. State and Treasury departments to submit a report within 60 days that identifies "vessels that are engaged in pipe-laying at depths of 100 feet or more below sea level for the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, the TurkStream pipeline project [a new gas pipeline stretching from Russia to Turkey across the Black Sea] or any project that is a successor to either such project."

Approximately 350 companies are involved in building the undersea link, including the Swiss company Allseas Group SA, whose ships have been laying the last section of pipe in Danish waters.

On December 21, Allseas said that it had suspended its activities until further notice. Its decision came after U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson warned AllSeas CEO Edward Heerema that the company would face "crushing and potentially fatal" sanctions if it continued work on the pipeline:
"Allseas and its key personnel who knowingly sell, lease, or provide those vessels for the Nord Stream 2 project will be sanctioned if those activities do not cease immediately. For the next half decade your company and those personnel will be entirely barred from the U.S. In the meantime, any transactions they attempt to conduct with anyone who is in the U.S. or using the U.S. financial system will be blocked. Moreover, all property you have within our jurisdiction will be frozen, including assets related to Allseas USA headquartered in Houston, TX, any financial assets in U.S. banks, and any physical vessels or materials owned by Allseas that come into the U.S. ...
"If you were to attempt to finish the pipeline in the next 30 days, you would devastate your shareholders' value and destroy the future financial viability of your company."
Russia will now have to find alternative vessels to complete the pipeline. This will result in delays and additional costs to completing the pipeline, but it is unlikely to halt the project. On December 26, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said that only 160 km (99 miles) of the pipeline remains to be completed and that Russian ships would finish the work within months.

During his nomination hearing on October 25, John Sullivan, the next U.S. Ambassador to Russia, said that sanctions may impose a substantial cost on Russia, but will not stop the pipeline: "My concern is we may already have reached the point where the Russians will have the resources and ability to complete the pipeline no matter what we do."

U.S. lawmakers have warned that the pipeline would funnel billions of dollars to Moscow and help Russian President Vladimir Putin solidify his influence in Europe. The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Republican Senator James Risch, said in a statement:
"Projects such as the Nord Stream 2 pipeline are a threat to European energy security and a provocation by the Russian government. Imposing sanctions that will prevent the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is an important tool to counter Russia's malign influence and to protect the integrity of Europe's energy sector.... I hope all parties involved will realize that stopping this project is in the best interest of our friends and allies who wish to curb Putin's efforts to make Europe reliant on Russian energy."
Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen added:
"The Nord Stream 2 project is another means by which Russia can spread its malign influence by exploiting Europe's energy dependence — a tactic that the Kremlin has a history of deploying. Many European leaders have voiced their concerns loud and clear regarding this pipeline and the threat it poses to Europe's independence.... I believe that this bill will help preserve our collective efforts within the transatlantic alliance to counter Russian aggression."

A German-Russian Project

Nord Stream 2 is led by Russia's Gazprom, with half of the funding provided by Germany's Uniper and Wintershall, the Anglo-Dutch company Shell, Austria's OMV and France's Engie.

Despite the multinational participation, the pipeline is essentially a German-Russian project promoted from its inception by Germany's center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), which, even during the Cold War, viewed closer economic ties with Russia as a way to defuse East-West tensions.

Germany's former SPD chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, a confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been Europe's leading proponent of the pipeline. Schröder, who led Germany between 1998 and 2005, has been the Chairman of Shareholders' Committee of Nord Stream since 2006. He is also Chairman of the Board of Directors of Rosneft, Russia's biggest oil producer. He has used his connections in Germany and elsewhere in Europe to lobby for both Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2.

In 2017, when Nord Stream was suffering from several serious setbacks, the former SPD leader and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel revived the project, as did his successor, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is now Germany's president.

Not surprisingly, Germany's current Social Democratic Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, has criticized the U.S. sanctions as foreign interference. "Decisions on European energy policy are made in Europe, not the USA," he tweeted on December 12. "We fundamentally reject foreign interventions and sanctions with extraterritorial effects."

Europe is, in fact, deeply divided over the Nord Stream project and Germany is in the minority position. Russia is the largest supplier of natural gas to the EU, according to Eurostat. Just over 40% of EU imports of natural gas come from Russia, followed by Norway (at around 35%). Nord Stream 2, when combined with the existing Nord Stream 1, would concentrate 80% of the EU's Russian-imported gas along that pipeline route.

Germany's Nordic, Baltic and Eastern European neighbors have accused Berlin of ignoring their concerns that the pipeline is a threat to Europe's energy security and that it will strengthen Gazprom's already dominant position on the market.

A report by the Swedish Defense Research Agency found that Russia has threatened to cut energy supplies to Central and Eastern European more than 50 times. Even after some of those states joined the European Union, Russian threats continued.

In December 2018, the European Parliament, by a vote of 433 to 105, condemned Nord Stream 2 as "a political project that poses a threat to European energy security." It called for the project to be cancelled.

Ukraine has said that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline will deprive the country of more than $3 billion in transit fees and undermine existing economic sanctions imposed by the West to compel Russia to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine and end its occupation of Ukraine's Crimea region.

Roughly one-third of Russia's gas supplies to the EU currently pass through Ukraine, but a ten-year pipeline contract between Russia and the Ukraine expires on December 31, 2019.

Nord Stream 2 should have been operational at the end of 2019, but the project was delayed after applications to lay pipes under Danish waters were left pending since April 2017. Nord Stream Chairman Gerhard Schroeder blamed U.S. political pressure on Denmark as the main reason for the delay in approving the permits. "Denmark is putting Europe's energy security at risk," he said.

After Denmark's Social Democratic Party won the Danish general elections in June 2019, the new government removed the last major hurdle to complete the Russian-led project. On October 30, the Danish Energy Agency approved a permit for Nord Stream to lay pipes in a 147-km section in the Danish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) southeast of the Danish island Bornholm in the Baltic Sea.

A Russian Trap

U.S. President Donald Trump, like his predecessor Barack Obama, has opposed the pipeline project. Trump in particular has criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her refusal to increase defense spending while at the same time supporting the pipeline that will funnel billions of dollars to Russia.

Ahead of a NATO summit in Brussels in July 2018, Trump said that it was "very inappropriate" that the United States was paying for European defense against Russia while Germany, the biggest European economy, was supporting gas deals with Moscow. He added that Germany had become "a captive" to Russia:
"When Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia, we're supposed to be guarding against Russia and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia.
"We're protecting Germany, we're protecting France, we're protecting all of these countries. And then numerous of the countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russia where they're paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russia.
"So, we're supposed to protect you against Russia and you pay billions of dollars to Russia and I think that's very inappropriate. Germany will have almost 70 percent of their country controlled by Russia with natural gas. You tell me, is that appropriate?
"Germany is totally controlled by Russia, because they are getting 60 to 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline.
"I think these countries have to step it up [on defense spending], not over a 10-year period, they have to step it up immediately. Germany is a rich country, they talk about increasing it a tiny bit by 2030. Well they could increase it immediately, tomorrow, and have no problem.
"If you look at it, Germany is a captive of Russia. They got rid of their coal plants, they got rid of their nuclear, they're getting so much of their oil and gas from Russia. I think it is something NATO has to look at. It is very inappropriate."
In February 2019, the London-based Economist magazine warned that, because of Chancellor Merkel's dependence on her coalition partner, the SPD, to remain in power, Germany had fallen into a Russian trap:
"When a megaproject makes no commercial sense, there are two possibilities. Either its sponsors are fools, or they have other motives. Since Vladimir Putin is no fool, one must assume that his pet pipeline is not really a business venture — and that the fools are the Europeans, in particular the Germans....
Economically, it is unnecessary.... European demand for imported gas, because of energy efficiency, weak demand for manufacturing and the rise of renewables, is not expected to reach a level that would require the new pipeline anytime soon. Unsurprisingly, Russia's majority state-owned energy behemoth, Gazprom, is the scheme's only shareholder.
"The project's real aims are political. There are three main aspects to this. First, Nord Stream 2 harms Poland and Ukraine, two countries that Putin loathes and one that he invaded in 2014. Currently most Europe-bound Russian gas passes through Ukraine. Nord Stream 2 will make it easier for Russia to cut supplies to Ukraine without affecting Germany; it will stop Ukraine from dragging Germany into a dispute with Russia by interfering with the supply of gas; and it will deprive the Ukrainian government of transit fees. Without Nord Stream 2, there is a limit to how much mischief Russia can do to Ukraine before it endangers its own economy....
"Nord Stream 2 will increase Europe's dependence on Russian energy.... By cutting out transit countries and fee it will be able to charge its customers less. This will be good for German energy consumers at least in the short term. But further relying on Russia contradicts EU policy, which for the past decade has been to diversify its energy supply, partly for security reasons....
"Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, appears to value cheap energy more than European security. This is rash. As Russia has demonstrated in 2006 and 2009, when it restricted the supply of gas through Ukraine, it is ready to use gas as a political weapon.
"Initially, Nord Stream has divided Western allies, setting Eastern Europe against much of Western Europe, and driving a wedge between Europe and America, which has long opposed the pipeline....
"In short, Nord Stream 2 could make Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic states less secure, undermine the EU's security strategy, give Russia a big stick for threatening Eastern Europe and sow discord among NATO allies. To Mr. Putin, causing so much trouble for a mere $11 billion must seem like a bargain. For Europe it is a trap.
"The mystery is why Germany has fallen into it and has been twisting French arms to do the same. Since the invasion of Ukraine, Mrs. Merkel has become one of the strongest advocates of EU pressure on Russia. Perhaps the demands of German businessmen heightened since her wrongheaded decision to close Germany's nuclear power stations in 2011, trump all else. Or perhaps something darker is at fore. She relies for her coalition on the Social Democrats (SPD), staunch defenders of Nord Stream 1 and 2. The SPD's Gerhard Schroeder, a former chancellor, now sits on the board of Nord Stream 2 as well as Rosneft, Russia's oil giant.
"No one has proved that any of this has influenced German policy towards Russia, but many Germans are alarmed at the possibility."
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Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/15353/germany-russia-nord-stream-pipeline

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