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Metamorphosis of secular Turkey to Islamic dictatorship – cause for concern

The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka’s bizarre book we had to read in high school, back in the olden days, where a man awoke one morning as a cockroach – I know, a weird analogy, but the evolution of Turkey from a modern secular country to an Islamic dictatorship did not happen overnight.

Sometimes revolution is sudden and violent and sometimes it is a gradual slide always couched in terms of national security and preserving the nation.

Turkey has followed the latter. For the past five years or so, my colleague Kimberly Dvorak (links here and here), has been chronicling the metamorphosis of Turkey from NATO member and EU applicant to an oppressive, Islamic dictatorship. The very event Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, feared the most.

Turkey’s evolution from a secular to Islamic state was gradual, at first, a move against

journalists that published “lies” about Erdogan’s private wealth, a preemptory strike against the military to prevent a coup d’état, imprisonment of attorneys and judges who would question the legality of Erdogan’s methods, police who would enforce judicial decrees, and academics who would protest against the regime. Erdogan even went so far as to frame a false flag coup d’état to justify the final consolidation of power against the military and Kurdish party.

Then along came the Syrian insurrection. Erdogan quickly dumped his old friend, Bashar al-Assad of Syria, and embraced the refugees of war as he allowed the US to export weapons from Libya to arm al-Qaeda’s fight to overthrow Assad. Even the original “Arab Spring” rebels abandoned their fight to prevent Syria from becoming the apocalyptic Sunni-Shia battleground.

But Syria offered Erdogan the perfect excuse to consolidate his power by using the fight against ISIS as a means to crackdown on the Kurds within and without Turkey.

But Turkey matters to the West because it is the gateway to Europe, which has been the targeted prize of the Ottomans for a thousand years and opens Europe’s 300 millions of Christian Europeans to Islam.

Turkey is a NATO member, possessed of the battle plans and secrets that protect Europe from attack from the East but not from within. Turkey has demonstrated its intent by demanding billions of Euros to stem the tide of Muslim refugees from flooding an already staggered Europe.

Turkey is now partnering with Russia to turn the Black Sea into a Russian lake and to build the South Stream gas pipeline to provide Turkey with a Russian gas supply – a powerful tool for political posturing for Turkey against the EU.

Is all this hype about Russian hacking just a move by the US government and the Department of Homeland Security to gain control over US elections to “protect us” from hacking? Ever wonder how dictators always have such convincing margins of victory?

Of course, Russia, China, Iran and even our allies are hacking into our systems just as we are hacking into theirs, just ask German Chancellor Angela Merkel who had her private cell phone hacked by the US. Spying has a long-standing history in statecraft.

Indeed, news reports surfaced prior to the election of concerns over widespread voter fraud and hacking, but thankfully the Department of Homeland Security stepped up and said it would assume responsibility for elections across the US. That’s reassuring!

But there has been no credible evidence that anybody hacked into our voting machines or systems, despite many of them being purchased from George Soros’ owned companies. If hacking were truly a concern then voters have many options available to secure our electoral processes.

The best way to prevent hacking of elections is to use paper ballots that are sequentially numbered, hand count ballots with verifiers, and a really novel idea – require voter lists that are vetted against multiple sources and require IDs at the polling place. Sure it will take longer to count ballots, but the integrity will be validated. Of course, ballots can be counterfeited but diligence in registration and balloting at local polling places is the best safeguard. Verifying voter tallies at each level would make hacking obvious.

The counter-ID arguments are smokescreens for the disestablishment of the poor. The poor, even homeless, have ATM cards, ETF deposits, and ID to enter the systems. It is not undemocratic to ensure the people voting are entitled to vote. Anything else is ballot stuffing.

So the lesson learned from Turkey is that a secular country can be transformed into an authoritarian dictatorship through the implementation of the tools of the state.

But can you imagine the lunacy of the people ceding control of our right of electing our leaders to the very government our Constitution was crafted to protect us against the imposition of dictatorship? Voting is the final check and balance on the direction of our government.

The last three national elections have shown that 60% of the people believe the government is on the wrong path and the elections demonstrated the commitment to changing that course.

Let Turkey serve as a wake-up call for us all that revolution can occur in a modern republic when the people lack diligence over the actions of the state. We must insist our elections are controlled at the local and state levels if we are to have any hope of preserving our Constitutional republic.

Semper fi, Colonel sends

Hack, hack, hack, did Russia meddle?

This week in an open door Senate hearing, the nation’s top intelligence director James Clapper, told lawmakers that the Russian government used a multi-faceted campaign of hacking, fake news and propaganda to sway US voters before they went to the ballot box for the 2016 presidential election.

Watch Kimberly’s CW6 News TV segment here

“I don’t think we’ve ever encountered a more aggressive or direct campaign to interfere with our election process,” said James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence a political appointee of President Obama.

On Friday, intelligence officers made their way to Trump Tower to brief the incoming president. Three agencies of the 17- member Intel community claimed their unclassified Russian hacking report would provide ironclad evidence the Ruskies have been up to no good when it comes to America’s elections.

Nevertheless, the lackluster details of the report were leaked to NBC News and that prompted a famous President-elect Donald Trump Tweet that read: “I am asking the chairs of the House and Senate committees to investigate top secret intelligence shared with NBC prior to me seeing it.”

Not only does the report lack a smoking gun, the Intel report found only two (CIA & FBI) of the three agencies reported high confidence, while the NSA said it was moderately confident that Russia interfered in the elections. Hardly the blockbuster Americans were expecting. However, the 25-page report (including lots of empty pages) was littered with so-called fake news that “apparently” swayed voters, even though the Director of National Intelligence Clapper repeatedly told Capitol Hill lawmakers they found no evidence Russia hacked voting machines nor could they confirm Vladimir Putin swayed voters.

Clapper did say there were ample examples of Russian-run media outlets providing plenty of stories that were unkind to Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton. The funny thing about the “fake news” is that the root of the stories was anchored in fact. The Democrat National Committee, Hillary Clinton, and John Podesta all had their email accounts hacked and the information was released to WikiLeaks who found ample readers wanting to know what was really going on behind the scenes at the DNC. Despite the Democrats complaints, WikiLeaks has a bi-partisan history and has hit both political parties as well as receiving scorn from both parties. For example, WikiLeaks released all of GOP Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s emails, unsavory details about the unpopular war in Iraq that Army Private Bradley/Chelsea Manning removed from government computers as well as the massive surveillance state the US maintains.

Regarding election enthusiasm, there is no question the Russian’s exploited the 2016 election. They aggressively took information that was somewhat known within the journalistic world but wasn’t really being widely reported. Once the information made it to WikiLeaks a lot of journalists were able to confirm the damning information. As a result of the fact that the Obama administration has consistently slowed the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) process, leaving many journalists unable to correctly report the news.

Another point, when the Russian government saw the released hacked emails, it was easy to write the slant based on “true email facts.” The IC report relies on Russian TV “RT” that is a Russian state-run outlet as the main boogieman. Of course, the various Intel talking heads tried to debunk WikiLeaks, but so far, they have yet to get a story wrong.

As for the so-called “fake news,” it’s based on “facts.” Unless the Main Stream Media (MSM) forgot to report the story, Putin didn’t tell Mrs. Clinton to use a “home-brewed” unencrypted, private email server that was separate from the State Department. Nor did he counsel Clinton to mix State Department business with Clinton Foundation business and he certainly did not tell Clinton to fundraise rather than campaign, the fault rests with the former Secretary of State. On the other hand, Podesta allegedly fell for a phishing campaign that convinced him to reveal his email password opening all of his emails to hackers, although WikiLeaks reported the leaks were from an insider.

Nobody knows for certain how the oodles of scandals that followed Clinton around like the plague changed the minds of voters; America has become a very polarized country. If anything the Russian influence highlighted and exploited the glaring facts that the journalistic world may not be a fair broker. The leaked emails demonstrated that the MSM might not be reporting all the information that comes their way.

The voters spoke loud and clear. A Rasmussen poll found last week that 48 to 31 percent of the American electorate believe the MSM media is still reporting Trump unfairly and are turning the channel.

Chances are if the majority of Americans read the IC report, “Key Judgments Russian efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election” they would see the politicized Intel community highlights “Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the US- led liberal democratic order, but these activities demonstrated a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations.”

The declassified IC report claims the conclusions reached, mirror the highly classified assessment but “does not include the full supporting information on key elements of the influence campaign.”

  • Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him. All three agencies agree with this judgment. CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment. NSA has moderate confidence.
  • Moscow’s approach evolved over the course of the campaign…When it appeared that Secretary Clinton was likely to win the election, the Russian influence campaign began to focus more on undermining her future presidency.
  • Moscow’s influence campaign followed a Russian messaging strategy that blends covert intelligence operations—such as cyber activity—with overt efforts by Russian Government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or “trolls.”
  • Russia’s intelligence services conducted cyber-operations against targets associated with the 2016 US presidential election, including targets associated with both major US political parties.
  • Russian military intelligence (General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate or GRU) used the Guccifer 2.0 persona and DCLeaks.com to release US victim data.
  • Russian intelligence obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple US state or local electoral boards.
  • Russia’s state-run propaganda machine contributed to the influence campaign by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences. We assess Moscow will apply lessons learned from its Putin-ordered campaign aimed at the US presidential election to future influence efforts worldwide, including against US allies and their election process.

Incoming National Security Advisor for President-elect Trump, Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn has been worried about the intelligence communities’ increasing politicization and leadership’s new trend of telling the Commander in Chief what he wants to hear rather than the cold hard facts. In 2010, he penned a position paper titled “Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan” The tough-talking general believes the IC needs to refocus its energy on human intelligence and “in the field” operations to better access what the enemy is feeling and doing. “Because the United States has focused the overwhelming majority of collection efforts and analytical brainpower on insurgent groups, our intelligence apparatus still finds itself unable to answer fundamental questions about the environment in which we operate and the people we are trying to protect and persuade,” Gen Flynn wrote. “I felt the Intel system was way too politicized, especially in the Defense Department.”

In closing, there can be little doubt that Russia has engaged in both and cyber-sabotage and cyber-espionage against America and its allies. But America’s flirtation with coining news you don’t agree with, as “fake news” doesn’t mean it is true or not.

The US should heed the warning from Adolf Hitler’s chief propagandist, Joseph Goebel’s slogan, “If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.”

America’s new Ministry of Propaganda

As the 2016 election post-mortem results rolled in, Americans learned the Main Stream Media (MSM) is largely in the tank for the left. For example, CNN/ABC’s Donna Brazile and fellow Democrats were caught red-handed with emails released by WikiLeaks that showed they were providing Hillary Clinton with pre-debate questions and/or a healthy dose of negative news for Mr. Trump.

However, the fallout from the media bias may not be what the voters think, as Ms. Brazile’s and the media’s outing produced no firings, instead, Congress rewarded their behavior by creating America’s first “Ministry of Propaganda.”

If voters prefer Russia’s or Turkey’s state-run media, they will be pleased with the new law enacted by Congress, and signed into law by President Obama as an add-on buried in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The Friday night before Christmas, President Obama quietly signed into law the $611 billion, 1,576-page 2017 NDAA that included the controversial assault on America’s media status guaranteed by the First Amendment.

During the brutal 2016 presidential campaign, many Clinton supporters argued or tried to sell the American population on the postulation that Hillary Clinton was the prohibitive front-runner, but once the results were in, they claimed it was the so-called “fake news” that undermined the election process and gave Mr. Trump the win.

Dubiously dubbed the “Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act,” the bipartisan amendment demands through a new government tax that the new federal program will “educate” journalists, media outfits, and other so-called propaganda outlets what exactly the news is and relinquish media’s control to the US government’s interpretations of facts or fiction.

The sponsors insist the new program will only promote the beltway’s “foreign policy goals,” whatever that means. The potential for government cover-ups of embarrassing actions under the guise of national security will force all journalists to tow the proverbial line and destroy an adversarial media.

According to the new law, the Global Engagement Center should “develop, plan, and synchronize … whole-of-government initiatives to expose and counter foreign propaganda and disinformation directed against United States national security interests and proactively advance fact-based narratives that support United States allies and interests. It should also work to establish cooperative or liaison relationships with foreign partners and allies … and other entities, such as academia, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector.”

Many critics argue that non-profits, businesses, universities, K-12 schools, could be reigned into the campaign and forced to promote any presidential administration propaganda.

This latest hoopla centers on Russia. The Ruskies are the easiest boogieman, as America’s old Cold War foe has become a reliable enemy to keep the US military machine cranking out billions in weaponry contracts.

“I’ll be the first one to come out and point at Russia if there’s clear evidence, but there is no clear evidence — even now,” Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said. “There’s a lot of innuendo, lots of circumstantial evidence, that’s it.”

But as the post-election autopsy highlights, it was the Washington Post and the New York Times that the voters thought were disseminating “fake news.” WikiLeaks provided ample evidence the traditional media were trying to protect their access and secrets.

In an attempt to protect those potential career-ending mistakes, Congressmen Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Ted Lieu (D-CA) introduced controversial legislation, H.R. 5181 and they say is a whole-government approach without the bureaucratic restrictions to counter foreign disinformation and manipulation, which they believe threaten the world’s security and stability. As Russia continues to spew its disinformation and false narratives, they undermine the United States and its interests in places like Ukraine, while also breeding further instability in these countries,” Kinzinger explained in a statement. “The United States has a role in countering these destabilizing acts of propaganda, which is why I’m proud to introduce [the aforementioned bill]. This important legislation develops a comprehensive U.S. strategy to counter disinformation campaigns through interagency cooperation and on-the-ground partnerships with outside organizations that have experience in countering foreign propaganda. From Ukraine to the South China Sea, foreign disinformation campaigns do more than spread anti-Western sentiments — they manipulate public perception to change the facts on the ground, subvert democracy and undermine U.S. interests,” Congressman Lieu said. “In short, they make the world less safe.”

The Bill charges the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, the Director of National Intelligence, and a Broadcasting Board of Governors to “establish a Center for Information Analysis and Response, to rid their idea of disinformation, in an effort to “develop and disseminate fact-based narratives.”

According to the bill’s text, the goal will identify “current and emerging trends in foreign propaganda and disinformation, including the use of print, broadcast, online and social media, support for third-party outlets such as think tanks, political parties, and nongovernmental organizations, and the use of covert or clandestine special operators and agents to influence targeted populations and governments in order to coordinate and shape the development of tactics, techniques, and procedures to expose and refute foreign misinformation and disinformation.”

A companion bill, also named the Countering Information Warfare Act of 2016 (S. 2692), was introduced by Senator Rob Portman (R-OHIO). “These countries spend vast sums of money on advanced broadcast and digital media capabilities, targeted campaigns, funding of foreign political movements, and other efforts to influence key audiences and populations,” Portman explained, adding that while the US spends a relatively small amount on its Voice of America, the Kremlin provides enormous funding for its news organization, RT. Surprisingly, there is currently no single US governmental agency or department charged with the national level development, integration and synchronization of whole-of-government strategies to counter foreign propaganda and disinformation.”

If these reports are true, Americans should worry that free speech may be regulated by the Broadcasting Board and therefore, not the arbiter of watchdog journalism the founding fathers promised.

According to a New American article, the founders insisted, “Journalists and pamphleteers were certainly vital to spreading the ideas of American rebellion against the English—names like Thomas Paine and Samuel Adams were nearly synonymous with the American Revolution, and they certainly weren’t alone. Though propaganda and distortion of the news were common as well. When the framers of the Constitution met to discuss the construction of the new government at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, freedom of the press and what it would mean for the future of the country was certainly on their minds.”

Even an observer of American values, Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville concluded the importance of free speech. “When the right of every citizen to a share in the government of society is acknowledged, everyone must be presumed to be able to choose between the various opinions of his contemporaries and to appreciate the different facts from which inferences may be drawn. The sovereignty of the people and the liberty of the press may therefore, be regarded as correlative, just as the censorship of the press and universal suffrage are two things which are irreconcilably opposed and which cannot long be retained among the institutions of the same people.”

The cornerstone of America’s free spirit and perpetual growth rests with the freedom of all media. In fact, it’s enshrined in the First Amendment to emphasize governmental misdoings no matter the political party in charge.

As of late, the MSM is happy to propagate that it is President-elect Donald Trump who will violate and punish journalists he does not agree with, but ultimately, the MSM journos can blame President Obama as he signed the new program into law. The same new government program will have the power to decide whether or not to throw a whistleblower in jail for disclosing embarrassing facts to the media or if the government chooses to spy on reporters seeking to uncover corrupt politicians.

Nonetheless, President Obama has pushed back on his critical actions against members of the media. “I am a strong believer in the First Amendment and the need for journalists to pursue every lead and every angle,” he told a Rutgers University paper. “I think that when you hear stories about us cracking down on whistleblowers or whatnot, we’re talking about a really small sample. Some of them are serious. Where you had purposeful leaks of information that could harm or threaten operations or individuals who were in the field involved with really sensitive national security issues.”

However, the new freedom of press law could prevent the information from ever being disseminated to the general public in the first place.

U.S. Clients Are Not Our ‘Friends’

Like the U.S. abstention on UNSCR 2334, John Kerry’s speech on settlements and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict comes too late to do any good, but it did contain at least one very important statement about U.S. foreign policy that can be applied to many other issues:

Regrettably, some seem to believe that the U.S. friendship means the U.S. must accept any policy, regardless of our own interests, our own positions, our own words, our own principles, even after urging again and again that the policy must change. Friends need to tell each other the hard truths, and friendships require mutual respect.

Kerry is entirely right on this point. Regrettably, the Obama administration has more often given in to what its clients want in the name of “reassurance” while putting “our own interests, our own positions, our own words, our own principles” second. That is how they have handled the relationship with Israel: showering them with weapons and aid in exchange for no positive change in their behavior.

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Russian embassy in Syria shelled twice

Two mortar rounds were fired at the Russian embassy in Damascus on Wednesday, the foreign ministry in Moscow said, adding that no casualties or damage had been caused.

“From 1:00 pm to 1:19 pm Moscow time (1000 GMT to 1019 GMT), the Russian embassy was bombarded by terrorists. One mortar, which luckily didn’t explode, landed in the courtyard inside the embassy premises,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

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OMG, the Ruskies are coming… the Ruskies are coming. Really!

This week the GOP House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes wrote a letter to the country’s 17 intelligence directors asking them for a closed-door Congressional briefing to find out if Russia tampered with the presidential elections. They declined.

Watch Kimberly’s CW6 TV segment here

The California lawmaker expressed concern with conflicting media reports and wrote in his letter: “The Committee has an urgent need to accurately understand the current IC[Intelligence Community] assessment of alleged Russian cyber-activities relating to the election and any disagreements among IC components.”

However, Maryland Senator Ben Cardin disagreed and told CNN’s WBAL: “What has been publicly released by our Intelligence Community is that the United States was attacked by cyber and that Russia, at the highest levels, signed off on that type of attack and their purpose was to interfere with our free elections.”

So there you have it, another he said, she said inside the beltway. A more likely explanation lies within the story being politically based but not empirically supported.

Proof comes from average Americans. Only one-third of US voters say they believe Russia influenced the 2016 presidential election, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.

And when it comes to interfering with elections, it’s the Central Intelligence Agency who has plenty of experience. “The CIA got its start trying to influence the outcome of Italy’s elections in 1948, as author Tim Weiner documented in his book “Legacy of Ashes,” in an effort to keep Communists from taking power. Five years later, the CIA engineered a coup against Mohammad Mossadeq, Iran’s democratically elected leader, when the United States and Britain installed the Shah. The military coup that overthrew Mosaddeq and his National Front cabinet was carried out under CIA direction as an act of U.S. foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of government, the agency concluded in one of its own reports, declassified around the 60th anniversary of those events, which were engineered in large part by Kermit Roosevelt Jr., a grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt.”

Nevertheless, the usual suspects in Washington DC continue to push the latest “conspiracy theory” in an effort to remain relevant and to reject reality as the new Trump administration blows into town next month.

Senators John McCain, Chuck Schumer and an unnamed group of bipartisan lawmakers will try to form a Senate select committee to explore the idea that Russia influenced the 2016 election cycle. However, GOP Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said he would employ existing committees to investigate what exactly Russia did or didn’t do.

President-elect Donald Trump continues to push back, via Twitter, that it was Russia who gave him the Oval Office, nor has he included the “hack” within his 100 days agenda.

Mr. Trump’s incoming chief of staff, Reince Priebus, told Fox News Sunday that the president-elect “would accept the conclusion if these intelligence professionals would get together, put out a report, show the American people that they are actually on the same page.”

Conversely, on Sunday CNN’s State of the Union, McCain said Russia did interfere with the 2016 election. “We need to get to the bottom of this. The question is now, how much and what damage? And what should the United States of America do?”

On a rare occasion, President Obama agreed with McCain and has ordered a full study to be put on his desk before he leaves on January 20th.

Meanwhile, Obama acknowledged that he learned about the DNC cyber attacks “early last summer.”

That information came last Wednesday via The New York Times when they disclosed the “Democrat National Committee had virtually no protections for its electronic systems, and Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman, John D. Podesta, had failed to sign up for the ‘two-factor authentication’ on his Gmail account. Doing so probably would have foiled what Mr. Obama called a fairly primitive attack.”

California Democrat Adam Schiff, a ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee said, “The response should mix additional economic sanctions along with our allies, and clandestine means of exacting a cost on the Russians for their flagrant meddling in our election. I have little confidence that the incoming president will take the actions necessary to make the Russians pay any price for the most consequential ‘active measures’ campaign against us in history.”

Nonetheless, it was WikiLeaks that published 30,000 emails for the world to read and there is little doubt that the government investigation into the alleged hacking will decide if WikiLeaks is an arm of the Russian government or an honest broker for whistleblowers.

Perhaps, President-elect Trump can send a strong message in his bid to “drain the swamp” by pardoning NSA’s Edward Snowden, WikiLeak’s Julian Assange, as well as other whistleblowers currently serving prison terms for disclosing illegal or inappropriate conduct by the US government and its officials. Assange and Snowden are currently serving self-imposed prison terms without ever having been charged with a crime based solely on their publication of illegal or embarrassing US government activities.

By pardoning these whistleblowers, the President-elect will send a strong message to government officials that illegal and inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated in his administration and whistleblowers will be treated appropriately under US laws.

It’s also important to keep in mind the press serves, as an integral part of our Constitutional First Amendment “checks and balances.” The media should not operate under fear of arrest and incarceration for publishing alleged illegal and inappropriate activities. If Mr. Trump truly intends to “drain the swamp,” he needs an inquisitive press and conscience-based whistleblowers to step forward without fear of recrimination.

OMG, the Ruskies are coming… the Ruskies are coming. Really!

This week the GOP House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes wrote a letter to the country’s 17 intelligence directors asking them for a closed-door Congressional briefing to find out if Russia tampered with the presidential elections. They declined.

Watch Kimberly’s CW6 TV segment here

The California lawmaker expressed concern with conflicting media reports and wrote in his letter: “The Committee has an urgent need to accurately understand the current IC[Intelligence Community] assessment of alleged Russian cyber-activities relating to the election and any disagreements among IC components.”

However, Maryland Senator Ben Cardin disagreed and told CNN’s WBAL: “What has been publicly released by our Intelligence Community is that the United States was attacked by cyber and that Russia, at the highest levels, signed off on that type of attack and their purpose was to interfere with our free elections.”

So there you have it, another he said, she said inside the beltway. A more likely explanation lies within the story being politically based but not empirically supported.

Proof comes from average Americans. Only one-third of US voters say they believe Russia influenced the 2016 presidential election, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.

And when it comes to interfering with elections, it’s the Central Intelligence Agency who has plenty of experience. “The CIA got its start trying to influence the outcome of Italy’s elections in 1948, as author Tim Weiner documented in his book “Legacy of Ashes,” in an effort to keep Communists from taking power. Five years later, the CIA engineered a coup against Mohammad Mossadeq, Iran’s democratically elected leader, when the United States and Britain installed the Shah. The military coup that overthrew Mosaddeq and his National Front cabinet was carried out under CIA direction as an act of U.S. foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of government, the agency concluded in one of its own reports, declassified around the 60th anniversary of those events, which were engineered in large part by Kermit Roosevelt Jr., a grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt.”

Nevertheless, the usual suspects in Washington DC continue to push the latest “conspiracy theory” in an effort to remain relevant and to reject reality as the new Trump administration blows into town next month.

Senators John McCain, Chuck Schumer and an unnamed group of bipartisan lawmakers will try to form a Senate select committee to explore the idea that Russia influenced the 2016 election cycle. However, GOP Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said he would employ existing committees to investigate what exactly Russia did or didn’t do.

President-elect Donald Trump continues to push back, via Twitter, that it was Russia who gave him the Oval Office, nor has he included the “hack” within his 100 days agenda.

Mr. Trump’s incoming chief of staff, Reince Priebus, told Fox News Sunday that the president-elect “would accept the conclusion if these intelligence professionals would get together, put out a report, show the American people that they are actually on the same page.”

Conversely, on Sunday CNN’s State of the Union, McCain said Russia did interfere with the 2016 election. “We need to get to the bottom of this. The question is now, how much and what damage? And what should the United States of America do?”

On a rare occasion, President Obama agreed with McCain and has ordered a full study to be put on his desk before he leaves on January 20th.

Meanwhile, Obama acknowledged that he learned about the DNC cyber attacks “early last summer.”

That information came last Wednesday via The New York Times when they disclosed the “Democrat National Committee had virtually no protections for its electronic systems, and Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman, John D. Podesta, had failed to sign up for the ‘two-factor authentication’ on his Gmail account. Doing so probably would have foiled what Mr. Obama called a fairly primitive attack.”

California Democrat Adam Schiff, a ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee said, “The response should mix additional economic sanctions along with our allies, and clandestine means of exacting a cost on the Russians for their flagrant meddling in our election. I have little confidence that the incoming president will take the actions necessary to make the Russians pay any price for the most consequential ‘active measures’ campaign against us in history.”

Nonetheless, it was WikiLeaks that published 30,000 emails for the world to read and there is little doubt that the government investigation into the alleged hacking will decide if WikiLeaks is an arm of the Russian government or an honest broker for whistleblowers.

Perhaps, President-elect Trump can send a strong message in his bid to “drain the swamp” by pardoning NSA’s Edward Snowden, WikiLeak’s Julian Assange, as well as other whistleblowers currently serving prison terms for disclosing illegal or inappropriate conduct by the US government and its officials. Assange and Snowden are currently serving self-imposed prison terms without ever having been charged with a crime based solely on their publication of illegal or embarrassing US government activities.

By pardoning these whistleblowers, the President-elect will send a strong message to government officials that illegal and inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated in his administration and whistleblowers will be treated appropriately under US laws.

It’s also important to keep in mind the press serves, as an integral part of our Constitutional First Amendment “checks and balances.” The media should not operate under fear of arrest and incarceration for publishing alleged illegal and inappropriate activities. If Mr. Trump truly intends to “drain the swamp,” he needs an inquisitive press and conscience-based whistleblowers to step forward without fear of recrimination.

Solidly Blue California defies Trump to enforce immigration law

It’s been more than a month since the contentious presidential election cycle ended with a Donald Trump victory. But that hasn’t stopped navy-blue California state politicians from ramping up rhetoric telling any newscaster that will listen Trump will be met with condemnation in the Golden State.

“It is up to us to pass policies that would firewall Californians and what we believe from the cynical, short-sighted, and reactionary agenda that is rising in the wake of the election,” State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D) bloviated. He continued to say, “unity must be separated from complicity…Californians do not need healing. We need to fight.”

The fiery talk isn’t new in California, Trump only received 31-percent of the vote in the limousine liberal state.

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Germany Submits to Sharia Law

A German court has ruled that seven Islamists who formed a vigilante patrol to enforce Sharia law on the streets of Wuppertal did not break German law and were simply exercising their right to free speech. The “politically correct” decision, which may be appealed, effectively authorizes the Sharia Police to continue enforcing Islamic law in Wuppertal.

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US military drones operating from Tunisia

It all started in Tunisia when Mohamed Bouazizi, a fruit vendor set himself on fire and gave birth to the Arab Spring in 2011. His uncle Ridha Bouazizi, who is also a fruit vendor said, “These government inspectors used to confiscate our goods and demand bribes. It was because of their tyranny that Mohammed set himself on fire.”

Watch CW6 San Diego news TV segment here

Self-rule in the tiny African nation has been messy, but ultimately a new country emerged from the turbulent Arab Spring with a somewhat successful transition and returned to the business of living life.

Enter the US.

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