Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
|Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks|
|Russias Gay Demons | by Robert Cottrell|
by Masha Gessen
Riverhead, 515 pp., $28.00
Early in Vladimir Putin’s first presidency I spoke to a Moscow banker, with reason to care on this point, who said he detected no trace of anti-Semitism in Putin personally, but that Putin would encourage popular anti-Semitism in a second if he thought that doing so would serve his interests. So far, Putin has not felt the need to demonize Russia’s Jews. He has instead identified the enemy within as Russia’s homosexuals, whose persecution is one of the main themes of The Future Is History, Masha Gessen’s remarkable group portrait of seven Soviet-born Russians whose changing lives embody the changing fortunes and character of their country as it passed from the end of Communist dictatorship under Mikhail Gorbachev to improvised liberalism under Boris Yeltsin and then back to what Gessen sees as renewed totalitarianism under Putin.
Two of Gessen’s central characters, Masha* and Lyosha, were born into the educated middle class of the 1980s. Two more characters of the same generation have lives touched by great privilege: Seryozha is the grandson of Alexander Yakovlev, who was Gorbachev’s close adviser and a longtime member of the Central Committee; Zhanna is the daughter of Boris Nemtsov, a minister under Yeltsin and a dissident murdered under Putin. All four are encountered first in childhood and referred to throughout by their childhood names. Three characters appear first as adults, with private and public lives. Alexander Dugin is a philosopher who develops an ideology of Russian exceptionalism that wins him fame and favor under Putin. Lev Gudkov is a sociologist who seeks to model the emerging new Russia. Marina Arutyunyan is a psychologist who reestablishes the practice of psychoanalysis in Russia after its disappearance under communism.
Gessen’s deft blending of these stories gives us a fresh view of recent Russian history from within, as it was experienced at the time by its people. It is a welcome perspective. In turbulent periods, anything seems possible. Only with hindsight does causality creep in, and with it the illusion of inevitability. The infinite possibilities of the moment are lost. Through the eyes of her characters, Gessen manages to restore those possibilities, to convey how it felt to imagine that life in the new Russia could go in any direction.
The tension between experience and hindsight is there within Gessen’s writing. She alternately zooms in on the lives of her characters and zooms out to give more general accounts of the major events of the time—the putsch against Gorbachev in 1991, Yeltsin’s shelling of the Russian White House in 1993, the reelection of Yeltsin as president in 1996, the handover of power to Putin in 2000, and so on. How familiar these events appear when Gessen arranges them in their historical order, and how unfamiliar they appear when we see them as fragments of experience. On one side is the historian explaining the rise of Putin as a logical reaction to the failings of Yeltsin. On the other is Masha’s mother, wondering how on earth that dull man she met while selling insurance in St. Petersburg a few years back is now the prime minister.
Gessen was born in Moscow, emigrated to America with her family as a teenager in 1981, and returned to Russia ten years later to pursue a distinguished career as a journalist and LGBT activist. She came back to America in 2013, fearing that if she stayed in Russia, official hostility toward homosexuals could result in her children being seized by the state. Russia’s persecution of homosexuals is the strand of Gessen’s book that shows Putin at his cruelest. She arranges this narrative around Lyosha, who was born near Perm in 1985, and who was fifteen, on holiday in Crimea, when he recognized himself as gay:
When he saw other boys, teenagers like himself or young men, dressed, like he was, in only a pair of small black bathing trunks, he felt heat shoot excruciatingly through his body and a thrilling invisible shiver set in. It happened every day after that first time…. I am a pervert, he thought. I am sick. I am the only person in the world who feels this way.
The early post-Soviet period was not the very worst of times to be gay in Russia. Between 1989 and 1994, according to surveys conducted by the Russian sociologist Yuri Levada, support for “liquidating deviants” fell from 31 percent to 23 percent. It fell again to 15 percent in 1999, shortly before Lyosha had his realization. Homosexuality was no longer illegal. Teachers and doctors could talk about it if they wanted to. Lyosha did not much want to talk, but after a horrible beating from a local thug who was tipped off by a suspicious classmate, he opened up to a school counselor and discovered the liberating power of a sympathetic ear. He returned energized to his studies, graduated with distinction, and came out.
Lyosha built an academic career as a pioneer of gender and LGBT studies at Perm University, but when government-sanctioned hate campaigns made his work impossible and put his life in danger, he left the country. The sadistic murder in 2013 of a young gay man in Volgograd made a deep impression on him, and Gessen’s account of it will make a deep impression on you too. Whatever Putin’s legacy, it includes—among other results of his state-approved homophobia—three bloody beer bottles and one dead boy.
Demonizing homosexuality is, most obviously, a way for Putin to assert Russia’s superiority over the West. The West’s acceptance of homosexuality is given as proof of its moral and social collapse. Putin also sees, correctly, that the equality of all sexual orientations is widely proclaimed in the West but not uniformly accepted, allowing Russia to pose as a beacon of hope for Western reactionaries. To make homosexuality seem truly evil even to Russians who had ceased to think of it as such, Putin conflated it with pedophilia. If, in the age-old anti-Semitic narrative, “they” were conspiring to steal the nation’s money, in Putin’s anti-gay narrative “they” are conspiring to steal the nation’s children.
As Gessen recounts, Putin encountered few obstacles in selling this notion to the public. Politicians competed to imagine new crimes with which LGBT people could be charged and new punishments for them. Even to contest the conflation of homosexuality with pedophilia marked the objector as a friend of the pedophile conspiracy. The crudeness and viciousness of views expressed in parliament and the media verged on the medieval. According to Dmitry Kiselev, a host on state-owned television: “If [gays] should die in a car accident, we need to bury their hearts underground or burn them; they are unsuitable for the aiding of anyone’s life.”
I suppose it is worth pointing out that just as my banker friend did not think Putin to be personally anti-Semitic, so I doubt that Putin hungers to murder homosexuals with his own bare hands. He might even enjoy the company of a gay grandson. When Oliver Stone asked him a question about gay rights in a recent series of interviews, Putin responded much as a middle-aged Western male might have responded forty years ago, jocularly and gingerly:
Putin: Sometimes I visit events where people publicly declare that they’re homosexuals, these events are attended by such people and we communicate and have good relations.
Stone: Is that true in the military as well?
Putin: There’s no restriction.
Stone: No restriction in the military? I mean, if you’re taking a shower in a submarine and you know he’s gay, do they have a problem with that?
Putin: [laughs] Well, I prefer not to go to the shower with him. Why provoke him?
At such moments, thinking of a young man on a park bench in Volgograd with three beer bottles up his rectum, you have to wonder about the mixture in Putin’s character of the stupid, the brilliant, the evil, and the naive.
While Lyosha very wisely gets out of Russia, Seryozha gets by there, Zhanna gets on, and Masha gets involved with the 2011 protest movement organized by Boris Nemtsov—Zhanna’s father—and by Alexei Navalny, a younger dissident. It is an uneasy alliance. Navalny is a nationalist, whereas Nemtsov is the last and best survivor of Yeltsin-era liberalism, perhaps the last true liberal to have held any meaningful political power in Russia. When Nemtsov is murdered within sight of the Kremlin in 2015, apparently for his opposition to Russia’s war in Ukraine, Zhanna blames the killing squarely on Putin. Others report that Putin is both surprised and angered by Nemtsov’s murder, less because he has any affection for Nemtsov than because a high-profile assassination in the center of Moscow is a direct challenge to his own monopoly on violence.
The outlier among Gessen’s seven is Alexander Dugin, the only one to favor repression, to reject freedom, to want more and better Putinism. He is too big and too strange to fit easily into the story, and instead haunts its margins. Dugin has always seemed to me a bogus thinker, a fantasist, an opportunist. But others take him seriously, and he emerges from Gessen’s account as a prodigious consumer and manipulator of philosophy and political science.
Dugin was expelled from college and has been deeply influenced by Heidegger and Hitler. He’s allegedly capable of learning a new European language in two weeks merely from reading books in that language. He appropriates the arguments of the Russian Eurasianists, including the émigré linguist Nikolai Trubetskoy and the Soviet ethnographer Lev Gumilev, to the effect that Russia’s geographical sprawl between Europe and Asia gives the nation a unique, non-Western character. Russia is not a country, but a civilization. The Russian identity belongs not to the Russian Federation but to the “Russian World,” and the West is the natural enemy of the Russian World.
Dugin had his wilderness years in the 1990s, but with the arrival of Putin his influence rocketed. His Eurasian Youth Union marched through Moscow. He was given a teaching job at Moscow State University. When, after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Putin referred on television to “a Russian person, or, to speak more broadly, a person of the Russian World,” Dugin’s happiness was complete. He was putting words into Putin’s mouth that articulated in a suitably lofty manner their common vision of ethnic, cultural, and religious Russian supremacy. Dugin wants his Russian World to be totalitarian, which is to say, a world in which the state polices everybody’s thoughts as well as everybody’s actions. He opposes universal human rights and the rule of law as alien ideas from the hostile West.
Gessen claims in her title that Russia is already totalitarian. I imagine that Dugin would disagree. And from a different perspective, so would I. Take, for example, Gessen’s account of a moment after Masha has been arrested as a political protester in 2012. Under prolonged police investigation, she goes to stay in her mother-in-law’s dacha outside Moscow. The neighboring dacha belongs to a senior police officer called Natalia. The two fall into conversation:
“Hey, you are part of the Bolotnoye case, aren’t you,” she asked when they were having a cigarette Masha’s first night at the dacha. It was cool and quiet and you could see the stars.
“Yeah,” said Masha.
“Who is your investigator?”
“Ah, Timokha!” Natalia’s voice sang with the joy of recognition. “He is one of mine. I had to send three people. It’s a big case. He doing his job?”
“Oh, he is doing his job, all right.”
“Good. Say hi to him there.”
That is not my idea of how life proceeds in a totalitarian society. I sense in this brief exchange humanity and sincerity on both sides. I do not want to generalize too much from this. Many horrible things happen in Russian police stations. But totalitarianism ought surely to be total, if only among the police.
The idea of categorizing dictatorships as either authoritarian or totalitarian is a twentieth-century one. Totalitarianism took as its examples Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. The distinction was of practical significance during the cold war, when there was a political need in the West to distinguish between cruel regimes that the US supported (Pinochet’s Chile, the Shah’s Iran) and cruel regimes that the US opposed (China, the USSR). The former were deemed authoritarian, the latter totalitarian. Totalitarian regimes were beyond hope of improvement; authoritarian regimes were not.
If we accept the distinction between an authoritarian desire to control behavior and a totalitarian desire to control thought, then, as Gessen shows, Russia crossed that line some time ago under Putin. But what if you set Russia alongside North Korea? Putin wants all Russians to think like him, whereas Kim Jong-un would rather his subjects not think at all. That is not a very encouraging distinction, but at the darker end of government, it is surely one worth maintaining.
One problem with trying to understand totalitarianism is that, to the extent it succeeds, it is impenetrable to outsiders. Everything that is said and thought is the product of propaganda. Lev Gudkov, the sociologist in Gessen’s book, has a lucid account of this problem that merits quoting at some length, in Gessen’s paraphrase:
Looking from the outside in, one cannot see, for example, whether people attend a parade because they are forced to do so or because they so desire. Researchers generally assumed one or the other: either that people were passive victims or that they were fervent believers. But on the inside, both assumptions were wrong, for all the people at the parade…and for each one of them individually. They did not feel like helpless victims, but they did not feel like fanatics either. They felt normal. They were members of a society. The parades and various other forms of collective life gave them a sense of belonging that humans generally need…. They would not be lying if they said that they wanted to be part of the parade, or the collective in general—and that if they exerted pressure on others to be a part of a collective too, they did so willingly.
Another problem with trying to arrive at an account of totalitarianism—at least from a Western point of view—is that totalitarian societies are by definition the enemy, so we are not terribly interested in what their better points might be. “After the fall of the Soviet Union made it easier to study the country that had been,” Gessen writes, referring to the work of Sheila Fitzpatrick and others, “academics began noting how much richer private life had been in the USSR than they had once thought, how inconsistent and how widely disregarded the ideology, and how comparatively mild police enforcement became after Stalin’s death.”
This seems to be borne out by the lives of Gessen’s older characters. Even in the 1960s and 1970s, long before Gorbachev cracked open the old certainties, Arutyunyan the psychologist and Gudkov the sociologist were finding that Soviet academia allowed them a fair amount of room to maneuver, as long as this was exercised discreetly and deniably. For example, although you could not study the problems of Soviet society (Soviet society had only solutions), you could still study sociology so long as you pretended to be denouncing Western sociological theories, or if you called it something else. Gudkov’s mentor, Yuri Levada, was allowed to set up a department within the Academy of Sciences called the Institute for Concrete Social Studies. I also admire Gessen’s line that “the Soviet system offered not a vision of the future but the ability to know one’s future, much as tradesmen did in feudal times, and to make very small-scale, manageable decisions about the future.” If this was totalitarianism, you start to see why so many Russians wanted Putin to turn the clock back.
Gudkov argues that, in fact, the clock never moved. It was always striking thirteen. Institutions and systems designed for a totalitarian Soviet Union survived with little or no change into the new Russian state, encouraging totalitarian behavior to return through them. Elections became public displays of support for the regime, just like parades. Public protest was more frequent in Putin’s Russia than it had been in the Soviet Union, but only because the regime had reached a new understanding that street demonstrations changed nothing—on the contrary, they helped to maintain the existing order. Dissidents revealed themselves and were arrested. The rest of society was reassured by the regime’s show of power in shutting the demonstrations down.
Gudkov fears that the Soviet system has reshaped the Russian national character to such an extent that Russians can willingly recreate a totalitarian society among themselves even without compulsion from the state to do so. A corollary of that argument is that Russia can have a totalitarian society even without a totalitarian state—a useful formulation if one takes the view that the ultimate aim of the Putin regime is the accumulation of wealth even more than the accumulation of power. Thus Gessen, when she discusses the ideas of the Hungarian political scientist Bálint Magyar, can speak of Russia as a “mafia state ruling over a totalitarian society.”
With all due respect to Gessen and to Gudkov, the term “totalitarian” is being used loosely here. It may be useful to invoke the prospect of totalitarianism as a rhetorical way of alerting Russians to the fact that their government is a danger to themselves and to others. But to claim that Russia is already totalitarian is to absolve Russians in general from what is done in their name by proposing that they have been indoctrinated into acquiescence. One risks imagining a Russian nation which, freed from thought control, reveals itself to be liberal and freedom-loving. This is exactly the mistake that Westerners made when Soviet communism was on its last legs thirty years ago—and when, as Gessen so poignantly shows, what was revealed was the appetite for a newer and better dictator.
My own view of Putin is that he came to power fully intending to be an authoritarian leader but also to allow some small degree of pluralism in politics and some larger degree of liberalism in private life and business, on the purely pragmatic grounds that he knew from Soviet times the weakness of totalitarianism. He would rather be Lee Kuan Yew than Robert Mugabe. But he found it personally intolerable to be criticized, let alone thwarted, so freedom to oppose him politically soon disappeared. Economics was a closed book to Putin when he took power, but he came to understand that a thriving market economy required a well-functioning rule of law capable of constraining even government—and that was the death knell for the market economy. Freedom in private life lasted rather longer, but was eventually curtailed, most obviously in the sexual domain, when the stagnating regime needed new ways to mobilize popular support.
The theater and film director Andrei Konchalovsky, quoted by Christian Neef in Der Spiegel, sees roughly the same trajectory in Putin’s career, but attributes it to pressure from below:
Putin initially thought like a Westerner, but ultimately realized why every Russian ruler struggles to lead this nation: Because its inhabitants, in accordance with an unshakable tradition, freely delegate all their power to a single person, and then wait for that power to take care of them, without doing anything themselves.
We are close here to the dilemma of Bertolt Brecht’s poem “The Solution,” about the anti-Communist uprising in East Germany in 1953, and a thought that must have struck every observer of Russia at some time or other:
Would it not be easier
|John Raines, 84; was accomplice in 1971 burglary that revealed FBI abuses – The Boston Globe|
|Rumors Fly About The ‘Last Year Of Putin’|
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin attends the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ summit in the central Vietnamese city of Danang on November 11, 2017. Media rumors of his desire to retire from politics went public over the weekend with an article by The Independent. (Photo by JORGE SILVA/AFP/Getty Images)
For the last three months, rumors within Russia media circles have been circulating that Vladimir Putin might not run for president next year. He has yet to make an announcement of his candidacy. And now the Independent newspaper out of London has taken those rumors live. The cat is now out of the bag.
The takeaway: no matter if Putin wins, this is his last turn as President. In six years, at the latest, Russia will be without their longest running president since the days of the Soviet Union.
Gleb Pavlovsky, a former Kremlin advisor and head of the Effective Politics Foundation, told The Independent’s Oliver Carroll that the Putin era has entered a “terminal” phase. “Whichever way you play it, this campaign is about transitioning to a post-Putin Russia,” he told the paper.
Like all things politics, Carroll had to rely on Wall Street’s version of the “whisper numbers” regarding Putin’s desire to run again. The article may ultimately get an answer from Team Putin as to his 2018 election plans. If he runs, everybody knows he is a shoo-in. There is no effective opposition. Even Western darling Alexei Navalny barely polls at 10% and has almost no support in the Rusian parliament. His Progress Party has precisely zero seats.
One of the only real challengers to the United Russia party of Putin are the communists and the ultra-nationalist, ironically named Liberal Democrats, run by Vladimir Zhirinovsky. He would make Putin look like George W. Bush to those who have no love for Donald Trump.
The Communist Party is run by Gennady Andreyevich Zyugano. He garnered 17% of the vote in 2012, the only contender to Putin. Some argue that he is the only contender allowed to run. Others believe that even if Navalny was allowed to run for the presidency despite having no political presence in either house of Congress, that the anti-Russia rhetoric coming from the U.S. would persist. In other words, a Putin exit is by no means a white flag waving high above the Kremlin for Washington to see.
Gennady Zuganov, Russia’sn communist party leader. He came in second against Putin in 2012. Some say United Russia always puts Putin up against weak candidates. Still, Putin’s approval rating is at least 60%. (Photo by MAXIM MALINOVSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
|Scaffolding Collapses in SoHo, Reports of Injuries – NBC New York|
|8:57 PM 11/18/2017 John Raines, accomplice in 1971 burglary that revealed FBI abuses, died at 84 on Nov. 12|
John Raines – Google Search Saturday November 18th, 2017 at 9:02 PM 1 Share John Raines – Google Search Saturday November 18th, 2017 at 9:01 PM John Raines – Google News 1 Share John Raines, accomplice in 1971 burglary that revealed FBI abuses … The Boston Globe–2 hours ago WASHINGTON For 43 years, John Raines, a Temple University religion … Continue reading”8:57 PM 11/18/2017 – John Raines, accomplice in 1971 burglary that revealed FBI abuses, died at 84 on Nov. 12″
|fbi – Google News: EXCLUSIVE: Was DB Cooper’s escape COVERED UP by the FBI? A letter that spent 46 years buried in the feds … – Daily Mail|
fbi – Google News
|fbi – Google News: Investigators: DB Cooper letter confirms suspect, FBI cover-up – seattlepi.com|
fbi – Google News
|The Hidden History of Trumps First Trip to Moscow|
It was 1984 and General Vladimir Alexandrovich Kryuchkov had a problem. The general occupied one of the KGB’s most exalted posts. He was head of the First Chief Directorate, the prestigious KGB arm responsible for gathering foreign intelligence.
Kryuchkov had begun his career with five years at the Soviet mission in Budapest under Ambassador Yuri Andropov. In 1967 Andropov became KGB chairman. Kryuchkov went to Moscow, took up a number of sensitive posts, and established a reputation as a devoted and hardworking officer. By 1984, Kryuchkov’s directorate in Moscow was bigger than ever before—12,000 officers, up from about 3,000 in the 1960s. His headquarters at Yasenevo, on the wooded southern outskirts of the city, was expanding: Workmen were busy constructing a 22-story annex and a new 11-story building.
Story Continued Below
In politics, change was in the air. Soon a new man would arrive in the Kremlin, Mikhail Gorbachev. Gorbachev’s policy of detente with the West—a refreshing contrast to the global confrontation of previous general secretaries—meant the directorate’s work abroad was more important than ever.
Kryuchkov faced several challenges. First, a hawkish president, Ronald Reagan, was in power in Washington. The KGB regarded his two predecessors, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, as weak. By contrast Reagan was seen as a potent adversary. The directorate was increasingly preoccupied with what it believed—wrongly—was an American plot to conduct a preemptive nuclear strike against the USSR.
It was around this time that Donald Trump appears to have attracted the attention of Soviet intelligence. How that happened, and where that relationship began, is an answer hidden somewhere in the KGB’s secret archives. Assuming, that is, that the documents still exist.
Trump’s first visit to Soviet Moscow in 1987 looks, with hindsight, to be part of a pattern. The dossier by the former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele asserts that the Kremlin had been cultivating Trump for “at least five years” before his stunning victory in the 2016 US presidential election. This would take us back to around 2011 or 2012.
In fact, the Soviet Union was interested in him too, three decades earlier. The top level of the Soviet diplomatic service arranged his 1987 Moscow visit. With assistance from the KGB. It took place while Kryuchkov was seeking to improve the KGB’s operational techniques in one particular and sensitive area. The spy chief wanted KGB staff abroad to recruit more Americans.
In addition to shifting politics in Moscow, Kryuchkov’s difficulty had to do with intelligence gathering. The results from KGB officers abroad had been disappointing. Too often they would pretend to have obtained information from secret sources. In reality, they had recycled material from newspapers or picked up gossip over lunch with a journalist. Too many residencies had “paper agents” on their books: targets for recruitment who had nothing to do with real intelligence.
Kryuchkov sent out a series of classified memos to KGB heads of station. Oleg Gordievsky—formerly based in Denmark and then in Great Britain—copied them and passed them to British intelligence. He later co-published them with the historian Christopher Andrew under the title Comrade Kryuchkov’s Instructions: Top Secret Files on KGB Foreign Operations 1975–1985.
In January 1984 Kryuchkov addressed the problem during a biannual review held in Moscow, and at a special conference six months later. The urgent subject: how to improve agent recruitment. The general urged his officers to be more “creative.” Previously they had relied on identifying candidates who showed ideological sympathy toward the USSR: leftists, trade unionists and so on. By the mid-1980s these were not so many. So KGB officers should “make bolder use of material incentives”: money. And use flattery, an important tool.
The Center, as KGB headquarters was known, was especially concerned about its lack of success in recruiting US citizens, according to Andrew and Gordievsky. The PR Line—that is, the Political Intelligence Department stationed in KGB residencies abroad—was given explicit instructions to find “U.S. targets to cultivate or, at the very least, official contacts.” “The main effort must be concentrated on acquiring valuable agents,” Kryuchkov said.
The memo—dated February 1, 1984—was to be destroyed as soon as its contents had been read. It said that despite improvements in “information gathering,” the KGB “has not had great success in operation against the main adversary [America].”
One solution was to make wider use of “the facilities of friendly intelligence services”—for example, Czechoslovakian or East German spy networks.
And: “Further improvement in operational work with agents calls for fuller and wider utilisation of confidential and special unofficial contacts. These should be acquired chiefly among prominent figures in politics and society, and important representatives of business and science.” These should not only “supply valuable information” but also “actively influence” a country’s foreign policy “in a direction of advantage to the USSR.”
There were, of course, different stages of recruitment. Typically, a case officer would invite a target to lunch. The target would be classified as an “official contact.” If the target appeared responsive, he (it was rarely she) would be promoted to a “subject of deep study,” an obyekt razrabotki. The officer would build up a file, supplemented by official and covert material. That might include readouts from conversations obtained through bugging by the KGB’s technical team.
The KGB also distributed a secret personality questionnaire, advising case officers what to look for in a successful recruitment operation. In April 1985 this was updated for “prominent figures in the West.” The directorate’s aim was to draw the target “into some form of collaboration with us.” This could be “as an agent, or confidential or special or unofficial contact.”
Story Continued Below
The form demanded basic details—name, profession, family situation, and material circumstances. There were other questions, too: what was the likelihood that the “subject could come to power (occupy the post of president or prime minister)”? And an assessment of personality. For example: “Are pride, arrogance, egoism, ambition or vanity among subject’s natural characteristics?”
The most revealing section concerned kompromat. The document asked for: “Compromising information about subject, including illegal acts in financial and commercial affairs, intrigues, speculation, bribes, graft … and exploitation of his position to enrich himself.” Plus “any other information” that would compromise the subject before “the country’s authorities and the general public.” Naturally the KGB could exploit this by threatening “disclosure.”
Finally, “his attitude towards women is also of interest.” The document wanted to know: “Is he in the habit of having affairs with women on the side?”
When did the KGB open a file on Donald Trump? We don’t know, but Eastern Bloc security service records suggest this may have been as early as 1977. That was the year when Trump married Ivana Zelnickova, a twenty-eight-year-old model from Czechoslovakia. Zelnickova was a citizen of a communist country. She was therefore of interest both to the Czech intelligence service, the StB, and to the FBI and CIA.
During the Cold War, Czech spies were known for their professionalism. Czech and Hungarian officers were typically used in espionage actions abroad, especially in the United States and Latin America. They were less obvious than Soviet operatives sent by Moscow.
Zelnickova was born in Zlin, an aircraft manufacturing town in Moravia. Her first marriage was to an Austrian real estate agent. In the early 1970s she moved to Canada, first to Toronto and then to Montreal, to be with a ski instructor boyfriend. Exiting Czechoslovakia during this period was, the files said, “incredibly difficult.” Zelnickova moved to New York. In April 1977 she married Trump.
According to files in Prague, declassified in 2016, Czech spies kept a close eye on the couple in Manhattan. (The agents who undertook this task were code-named Al Jarza and Lubos.) They opened letters sent home by Ivana to her father, Milos, an engineer. Milos was never an agent or asset. But he had a functional relationship with the Czech secret police, who would ask him how his daughter was doing abroad and in return permit her visits home. There was periodic surveillance of the Trump family in the United States. And when Ivana and Donald Trump, Jr., visited Milos in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, further spying, or “cover.”
Like with other Eastern Bloc agencies, the Czechs would have shared their intelligence product with their counterparts in Moscow, the KGB. Trump may have been of interest for several reasons. One, his wife came from Eastern Europe. Two—at a time after 1984 when the Kremlin was experimenting with perestroika, or Communist Party reform—Trump had a prominent profile as a real estate developer and tycoon. According to the Czech files, Ivana mentioned her husband’s growing interest in politics. Might Trump at some stage consider a political career?
The KGB wouldn’t invite someone to Moscow out of altruism. Dignitaries flown to the USSR on expenses-paid trips were typically left-leaning writers or cultural figures. The state would expend hard currency; the visitor would say some nice things about Soviet life; the press would report these remarks, seeing in them a stamp of approval.
Despite Gorbachev’s policy of engagement, he was still a Soviet leader. The KGB continued to view the West with deep suspicion. It carried on with efforts to subvert Western institutions and acquire secret sources, with NATO its No. 1 strategic intelligence target.
At this point it is unclear how the KGB regarded Trump. To become a full KGB agent, a foreigner had to agree to two things. (An “agent” in a Russian or British context was a secret intelligence source.) One was “conspiratorial collaboration.” The other was willingness to take KGB instruction.
According to Andrew and Gordievsky’s book Comrade Kryuchkov’s Instructions, targets who failed to meet these criteria were classified as “confidential contacts.” The Russian word was doveritelnaya svyaz. The aspiration was to turn trusted contacts into full-blown agents, an upper rung of the ladder.
As Kryuchkov explained, KGB residents were urged to abandon “stereotyped methods” of recruitment and use more flexible strategies—if necessary getting their wives or other family members to help.
Story Continued Below
As Trump tells it, the idea for his first trip to Moscow came after he found himself seated next to the Soviet ambassador Yuri Dubinin. This was in autumn 1986; the event was a luncheon held by Leonard Lauder, the businessman son of Estée Lauder. Dubinin’s daughter Natalia “had read about Trump Tower and knew all about it,” Trump said in his 1987 bestseller, The Art of the Deal.
Trump continued: “One thing led to another, and now I’m talking about building a large luxury hotel, across the street from the Kremlin, in partnership with the Soviet government.”
Trump’s chatty version of events is incomplete. According to Natalia Dubinina, the actual story involved a more determined effort by the Soviet government to seek out Trump. In February 1985 Kryuchkov complained again about “the lack of appreciable results of recruitment against the Americans in most Residencies.” The ambassador arrived in New York in March 1986. His original job was Soviet ambassador to the U.N.; his daughter Dubinina was already living in the city with her family, and she was part of the Soviet U.N. delegation.
Dubinin wouldn’t have answered to the KGB. And his role wasn’t formally an intelligence one. But he would have had close contacts with the power apparatus in Moscow. He enjoyed greater trust than other, lesser ambassadors.
Dubinina said she picked up her father at the airport. It was his first time in New York City. She took him on a tour. The first building they saw was Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, she told Komsomolskaya Pravdanewspaper. Dubinin was so excited he decided to go inside to meet the building’s owner. They got into the elevator. At the top, Dubinina said, they met Trump.
The ambassador—“fluent in English and a brilliant master of negotiations”—charmed the busy Trump, telling him: “The first thing I saw in the city is your tower!”
Dubinina said: “Trump melted at once. He is an emotional person, somewhat impulsive. He needs recognition. And, of course, when he gets it he likes it. My father’s visit worked on him [Trump] like honey to a bee.”
This encounter happened six months before the Estée Lauder lunch. In Dubinina’s account she admits her father was trying to hook Trump. The man from Moscow wasn’t a wide-eyed rube but a veteran diplomat who served in France and Spain, and translated for Nikita Khrushchev when he met with Charles de Gaulle at the Elysée Palace in Paris. He had seen plenty of impressive buildings. Weeks after his first Trump meeting, Dubinin was named Soviet ambassador to Washington.
Dubinina’s own role is interesting. According to a foreign intelligence archive smuggled to the West, the Soviet mission to the U.N. was a haven for the KGB and GRU (Soviet military intelligence). Many of the 300 Soviet nationals employed at the U.N. secretariat were Soviet intelligence officers working undercover, including as personal assistants to secretary-generals. The Soviet U.N. delegation had greater success in finding agents and gaining political intelligence than the KGB’s New York residency.
Dubinin’s other daughter, Irina, said that her late father—he died in 2013—was on a mission as ambassador. This was, she said, to make contact with America’s business elite. For sure, Gorbachev’s Politburo was interested in understanding capitalism. But Dubinin’s invitation to Trump to visit Moscow looks like a classic cultivation exercise, which would have had the KGB’s full support and approval.
In The Art of the Deal, Trump writes: “In January 1987, I got a letter from Yuri Dubinin, the Soviet ambassador to the United States, that began: ‘It is a pleasure for me to relay some good news from Moscow.’ It went on to say that the leading Soviet state agency for international tourism, Goscomintourist, had expressed interest in pursuing a joint venture to construct and manage a hotel in Moscow.”
There were many ambitious real estate developers in the United States—why had Moscow picked Trump?
According to Viktor Suvorov—a former GRU military spy—and others, the KGB ran Intourist, the agency to which Trump referred. It functioned as a subsidiary KGB branch. Initiated in 1929 by Stalin, Intourist was the Soviet Union’s official state travel agency. Its job was to vet and monitor all foreigners coming into the Soviet Union. “In my time it was KGB,” Suvorov said. “They gave permission for people to visit.” The KGB’s first and second directorates routinely received lists of prospective visitors to the country based on their visa applications.
As a GRU operative, Suvorov was personally involved in recruitment, albeit for a rival service to the KGB. Soviet spy agencies were always interested in cultivating “young ambitious people,” he said—an upwardly mobile businessman, a scientist, a “guy with a future.”
Story Continued Below
Once in Moscow, they would receive lavish hospitality. “Everything is free. There are good parties with nice girls. It could be a sauna and girls and who knows what else.” The hotel rooms or villa were under “24-hour control,” with “security cameras and so on,” Suvorov said. “The interest is only one. To collect some information and keep that information about him for the future.”
These dirty-tricks operations were all about the long term, Suvorov said. The KGB would expend effort on visiting students from the developing world, not least Africa. After 10 or 20 years, some of them would be “nobody.” But others would have risen to positions of influence in their own countries.
Suvorov explained: “It’s at this point you say: ‘Knock, knock! Do you remember the marvelous time in Moscow? It was a wonderful evening. You were so drunk. You don’t remember? We just show you something for your good memory.’”
Over in the communist German Democratic Republic, one of Kryuchkov’s 34-year-old officers—one Vladimir Putin—was busy trying to recruit students from Latin America. Putin arrived in Dresden in August 1985, together with his pregnant wife, Lyudmila, and one-year-old daughter, Maria. They lived in a KGB apartment block.
According to the writer Masha Gessen, one of Putin’s tasks was to try to befriend foreigners studying at the Dresden University of Technology. The hope was that, if recruited, the Latin Americans might work in the United States as undercover agents, reporting back to the Center. Putin set about this together with two KGB colleagues and a retired Dresden policeman.
Precisely what Putin did while working for the KGB’s First Directorate in Dresden is unknown. It may have included trying to recruit Westerners visiting Dresden on business and East Germans with relatives in the West. Putin’s efforts, Gessen suggests, were mostly a failure. He did manage to recruit a Colombian student. Overall his operational results were modest.
By January 1987, Trump was closer to the “prominent person” status of Kryuchkov’s note. Dubinin deemed Trump interesting enough to arrange his trip to Moscow. Another thirtysomething U.S.-based Soviet diplomat, Vitaly Churkin—the future U.N. ambassador—helped put it together. On July 4, 1987, Trump flew to Moscow for the first time, together with Ivana and Lisa Calandra, Ivana’s Italian-American assistant.
Moscow was, Trump wrote, “an extraordinary experience.” The Trumps stayed in Lenin’s suite at the National Hotel, at the bottom of Tverskaya Street, near Red Square. Seventy years earlier, in October 1917, Lenin and his wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya, had spent a week in room 107. The hotel was linked to the glass-and-concrete Intourist complex next door and was— in effect—under KGB control. The Lenin suite would have been bugged.
Meanwhile, the mausoleum containing the Bolshevik leader’s embalmed corpse was a short walk away. Other Soviet leaders were interred beneath the Kremlin’s wall in a communist pantheon: Stalin, Brezhnev, Andropov—Kryuchkov’s old mentor—and Dzerzhinsky.
According to The Art of the Deal, Trump toured “a half dozen potential sites for a hotel, including several near Red Square.” “I was impressed with the ambition of Soviet officials to make a deal,” he writes. He also visited Leningrad, later St. Petersburg. A photo shows Donald and Ivana standing in Palace Square—he in a suit, she in a red polka dot blouse with a string of pearls. Behind them are the Winter Palace and the state Hermitage museum.
That July the Soviet press wrote enthusiastically about the visit of a foreign celebrity. This was Gabriel García Márquez, the Nobel Prize–winning novelist and journalist. Pravda featured a long conversation between the Colombian guest and Gorbachev. García Márquez spoke of how South Americans, himself included, sympathized with socialism and the USSR. Moscow brought García Márquez over for a film festival.
Trump’s visit appears to have attracted less attention. There is no mention of him in Moscow’s Russian State Library newspaper archive. (Either his visit went unreported or any articles featuring it have been quietly removed.) Press clippings do record a visit by a West German official and an Indian cultural festival.
The KGB’s private dossier on Trump, by contrast, would have gotten larger. The agency’s multipage profile would have been enriched with fresh material, including anything gleaned via eavesdropping.
Nothing came of the trip—at least nothing in terms of business opportunities inside Russia. This pattern of failure would be repeated in Trump’s subsequent trips to Moscow. But Trump flew back to New York with a new sense of strategic direction. For the first time he gave serious indications that he was considering a career in politics. Not as mayor or governor or senator.
Trump was thinking about running for president.
|The Hidden History of Trump’s First Trip to Moscow – POLITICO Magazine|
|35 Years with the CIA: Enemies, adversaries and threats to freedom|
By Craig Osth, opinion contributor — 11/19/17 10:00 AM EST
The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill
The Hill 1625 K Street, NW Suite 900 Washington DC 20006 | 202-628-8500 tel | 202-628-8503 fax
The contents of this site are ©2017 Capitol Hill Publishing Corp., a subsidiary of News Communications, Inc.
Scroll down for next story
Signed in as mikenova
Share this story on NewsBlur
Shared stories are on their way…
|35 Years with the CIA: Enemies, adversaries and threats to freedom – The Hill|
|US Ambassador to Russia Attacks Moscow’s Pending Restrictions on US-funded News Agencies|
The U.S. ambassador to Russia on Sunday attacked Moscow’s move toward forcing nine United States government-funded news operations to register as “foreign agents” as “a reach beyond” what the U.S. government did in requiring the Kremlin-funded RT television network to register as such in the United States. Ambassador Jon Huntsman said the Russian reaction is not “reciprocal at all” and Moscow’s move toward regulation of the news agencies, if it is implemented, would make “it virtually impossible for them to operate” in Russia. WATCH: Ambassador Jon Huntsman He said the eight-decade-old Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) under which RT has registered as a foreign agent is aimed at promoting transparency, but does not restrict the television network’s operation in the United States. Russia’s lower house of parliament approved amendments Wednesday to expand a 2012 law that targets non-governmental organizations, including foreign media. A declaration as a foreign agent would require foreign media to regularly disclose their objectives, full details of finances, funding sources and staffing. Media outlets also may be required to disclose on their social platforms and internet sites visible in Russia that they are “foreign agents.” The amendments also would allow the extrajudicial blocking of websites the Kremlin considers undesirable. The Russian Justice Ministry said Thursday it had notified the Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and seven separate regional outlets active in Russia they could be affected. “It isn’t at all similar to what we’re doing under FARA it’s a reach beyond,” Huntsman said. “And, we just think the principles of free media, in any free society and democracy, are absolutely critical to our strength, health, and well-being. Freedom of speech is part of that. So, that’s why I care about the issue. That’s why we in the embassy care about the issue. And, it’s why we’re going to follow the work that is going on in the Duma and the legislation that is being drafted, very very carefully, because we’re concerned about it.” The Justice Ministry said the new requirements in Russia were likely to become law “in the near future.” VOA Director Amanda Bennett said last week that if Russia imposes the new restrictions, “We can’t say at this time what effect this will have on our news-gathering operations within Russia. All we can say is that Voice of America is, by law, an independent, unbiased, fact-based news organization, and we remain committed to those principles.” RFE/RL President Tom Kent said until the legislation becomes law, “we do not know how the Ministry of Justice will use this law in the context of our work.” Kent said unlike Sputnik and other Russian media operating in the United States, U.S. media outlets operating in Russia do not have access to cable television and radio frequencies. “Russian media in the U.S. are distributing their programs on American cable television. Sputnik has its own radio frequency in Washington. This means that even at the moment there is no equality,” he said. Serious blow to freedom The speaker of Russia’s lower house, the Duma, said last week that foreign-funded media outlets that refused to register as foreign agents under the proposed legislation would be prohibited from operating in the country. However, since the law’s language is so broad, it potentially could be used to target any foreign media group, especially if it is in conflict with the Kremlin. “We are watching carefully… to see whether it is passed and how it is implemented,” said Maria Olson, a spokeswoman at the U.S. embassy in Moscow. The Russian amendments, which Amnesty International said would inflict a “serious blow” to media freedom in Russia if they become law, were approved in response to a U.S. accusation that RT executed a Russian-mandated influence campaign on U.S. citizens during the 2016 presidential election, a charge the media channel denies. The U.S. intelligence community concluded in early 2017 that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally directed a campaign to undermine American democracy and help real estate mogul Donald Trump win the presidency. A criminal investigation of the interference is underway in the United States, as are numerous congressional probes. The foreign registration amendments must next be approved by the Russian Senate and then signed into law by Putin. RT, which is funded by the Kremlin to provide Russia’s perspective on global issues, confirmed last week it met the U.S. Justice Department’s deadline by registering as a foreign agent in the United States.
|New US Sanctions to Be Directed at Putin Personally, Piontkovsky Says|
Staunton, November 19 The United States is now prepared to impose sanctions in the harshest possible form, Andrey Piontkovsky says, thus directly affecting not only the business and political entourage of Vladimir Putin but also — and in ways that change the nature of the game — the Kremlin leader himself.
On Youtube yesterday, the émigré Russian analyst says it is his impression that the August 2 sanctions law will be carried out in the harshest possible form and that what is the most revolutionary aspect of the law is that this will be the first case when the head of the Russian state will turn up on this list (youtube.com/watch?v=xvbRqX5fYG0&feature=youtu.be).
The inclusion of Putin on this list is significant, Piontkovsky says, because normally such sanctions are imposed only on absolutely hardened rogues and criminals like Milosevich, the Sudanese president, someone from Equatorial Guinea and so on. For Putin to be on this list and for the Americans to put him there is thus a breakthrough.
He adds that US President Donald Trump, although he has opposed this measure despite signing it, will not be able to interfere with the imposition of sanctions. This is a government law, and any effort to sabotage it will have the most serious consequences for the incumbent of the White House.
In other comments, Piontkovsky argues that the approximately one trillion US dollars in illegal earnings of Russians now stashed abroad must be returned to the first post-mafia government of Russia, something requiring more changes in Russia than just a move to a post-Putin one.
It is a mistake to over-personalize things in the Russian case, he suggests. Putin may leave office but the essence of this mafia system will not change as a result by that alone. But seizing the assets of Putin and other Russians held abroad via the new sanctions law will help promote the necessary changes in Russia and bring closer the day these assets can be returned.
|Israel PM: Security Must Come First in Any Peace Plan|
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he has made clear to the U.S. that Israel’s security concerns must come first as the White House tries to restart a peace process with the Palestinians. His comments Sunday came after Israeli news reports claiming to detail the peace plan under development. At a weekly Cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said “we heard plenty of speculation this weekend” about President Donald Trump’s peace efforts. He then declined to comment, saying only that “my position on this plan will be determined according to Israel’s security and national interests.” Trump took office with hopes of forging what he calls the “ultimate deal” between Israelis and Palestinians. The last round of peace talks collapsed in 2014.
|Mark Osler, Board of Contributors: Mueller investigation team lean, organized, smart | Board Of Contributors|
There is a lot we don’t know about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election. Most importantly, we don’t know who will be implicated and charged beyond the three men already indicted (Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and George Papadopolous). We don’t know how broad the investigation has become. And we certainly don’t know if President Trump will be implicated at all.
That doesn’t mean there’s nothing to observe, and what I see is the outline of a remarkable organization at work. The Mueller team is like a clock: it offers simple information to the public, but a lot of whirring gears and intricate machinery is hidden from view. While we don’t know much about these inner workings, there is much to consider from what we can see on the outside.
First, there is broad consensus that Mueller hired a remarkable team. He cherry-picked from the ranks of the Department of Justice and private firms to get people with singular experience and remarkable talent. For example, I have long told people that Michael Dreeben — a veteran DOJ hand who has argued more than 100 cases in the U.S. Supreme Court — is the best appellate lawyer I have ever seen. He was opposing counsel (working for the George W. Bush administration) in a series of sentencing cases I was involved in, and his talents were prodigious. When Mueller pulled him in, I knew he was hiring for talent rather than partisanship.
Moreover, Mueller has kept the team relatively lean. According to Politico, he now has 17 lawyers on board. Contrast that with Ken Starr’s investigation of Bill Clinton, which peaked at a staff of 225 including employees from the DOJ, people detailed from other agencies and outside consultant and advisers. The lean staffing has probably helped prevent leaks, too. The discipline shown by the Mueller team stands in sharp contrast to Trump’s squad, which has sometimes been fractious and even was caught loudly discussing strategy at an outside table at a DC restaurant adjacent to the New York Times office.
Second, the Mueller team seems to be playing chess three moves ahead. One aspect of that strategic thinking became clear in the last few months: They are working around the president’s pardon power by constructing their investigation in such a way that it cannot be foiled by clemency. For example, consider the way that they handled Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos. He was arrested this past July for lying to the FBI and immediately began cooperating with Mueller. Rather than trumpeting this catch, they kept it very quiet; they bled him dry of information before giving him his deal and only recently unsealed the documents that revealed his plea. Pardoning him wasn’t even on the radar till it was too late. The investigators already had nearly everything of value that he might have to offer.
Similarly, the indictment of Paul Manafort reveals Mueller’s strategy. While the indictment lays out facts that would seem to support charges of tax fraud and tax evasion, those were not among the actual charges. That allows a way to foil a Trump presidential pardon: Mueller could, post-pardon, either go after those new charges or work with state authorities to bring them in state court, where they are unreachable by presidential clemency (which only applies to federal charges). When I was a federal prosecutor in Detroit, we used a similar technique against serial bank robbers. We (the feds) would take half the robberies to the grand jury and pursue the case to conviction (the sentence would usually be about the same as if we included all of the robberies). If something went wrong, we still had another shot with the remaining half, which could be pursued in federal court or sent to the state for prosecution.
Finally, the Mueller team seems to have one of the most essential prosecutorial virtues of all: patience. Often, there is public or political pressure to charge a lot of people quickly, but that can lead to weak cases and mistrials or acquittals. Patience allows the prosecution team to gradually build up cases and sequentially “flip” witnesses, assuring that there is plenty of evidence on each element of a crime before the public fight begins. Certainly, Mueller could have charged a broad group of defendants at once, perhaps even with cookie-cutter charges. That he declined to do so is a sign of experience and wisdom.
Most outcomes of the special counsel’s work are yet to be revealed. What is evident already, however, is the work of a skilled lawyer expertly using the tools of his trade. It is important to remember that such work often results in not charging people who are under public suspicion — and that can be justice, too.
A former federal prosecutor, Mark Osler is the Robert and Marion Short Professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. He has advocated for sentencing and clemency policies rooted in principles of human dignity. He formerly served on the Baylor Law School faculty.
|John Raines – Google Search|
|John Raines – Google Search|
The Boston Globe-2 hours ago
WASHINGTON — For 43 years, John Raines, a Temple University religion professor and ordained Methodist minister, lived with an explosive …
New York Times-Nov 17, 2017
One day in May 1971, John C. Raines, a religion professor at Temple University, had just returned to his home in Germantown, Pa., from …
<a href=”http://Philly.com” rel=”nofollow”>Philly.com</a>-Nov 13, 2017
John Raines, a teacher and cleric who believed the FBI had illegally spied on civil rights leaders and antiwar protesters, drove the getaway car.
<a href=”http://Philly.com” rel=”nofollow”>Philly.com</a>-Nov 16, 2017
As the sun set on March 8, 1971, two central figures in the burglary plot — John Raines, a tall and distinguished looking religion professor at …
Bend Bulletin-17 hours ago
John Raines with his wife, Bonnie, and their grandchildren at home in Media, Pa., Jan. 2, 2014. Raines, a Temple University religion professor …
Temple News-Nov 14, 2017
John Raines, a professor emeritus of religion, died in his Philadelphia home on Sunday from congestive heart failure, the Inquirer reported.
|John Raines, accomplice in 1971 burglary that revealed FBI abuses, dies at 84|
WASHINGTON — For 43 years, John Raines, a Temple University religion professor and ordained Methodist minister, lived with an explosive secret. On March 8, 1971, he and his wife, Bonnie Raines, then the parents of three young children, had joined six other conspirators in burglarizing an FBI office in suburban Philadelphia.
The cache of documents they stole revealed a sweeping campaign of intimidation by the FBI, then led by J. Edgar Hoover, against civil rights and antiwar activists, communists, and other dissenters. One now-infamous document told agents to ramp up interviews with perceived subversives ‘‘to get the point across there is an FBI agent behind every mailbox.’’
Calling themselves the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI, the burglars anonymously distributed the stolen documents to newspapers including the Washington Post. On March 24, 1971, over the objections of Attorney General John Mitchell, the Post became the first publication to report on the FBI surveillance. Other news accounts followed, along with public outrage, and eventually the formation of a committee led by US Senator Frank Church, an Idaho Democrat, that uncovered widespread abuses in the US intelligence agencies.
Hundreds of FBI agents investigated the break-in but failed to identify the burglars, who, if apprehended, would have faced years in prison. Only years after the fact — long after the statute of limitations had expired — did Dr. Raines revealed his identity to Betty Medsger, the Post journalist who had broken the news of the stolen documents.
Get Today’s Headlines in your inbox:
The day’s top stories delivered every morning.
In 2014, Medsger published a book-length account of the story, ‘‘The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI.’’ In an interview, she described the actions of Dr. Raines and his wife as ‘‘one of the most powerful acts of resistance in the history of the country.’’
Her account helped make Dr. Raines, by then in the final years of his life, a hero to civil libertarians. He died Nov. 12 at his home in Philadelphia at 84. The cause was congestive heart failure, according to his wife.
Dr. Raines credited his wife with drawing him into their activism. ‘‘I was dragged along by her enthusiasm,’’ he once told the Los Angeles Times — an account she seemed to confirm, quipping that ‘‘he had more sleepless nights’’ than she did. But Dr. Raines also had a long history of civil rights work.
He had participated in the Freedom Rides to challenge segregation in interstate transit and marched in Selma, Ala., in 1965, when state troopers assaulted protesters with clubs and tear gas. He was angered by Hoover’s antagonism to the movement, and to the untouchable status the FBI director maintained.
‘‘Nobody in Washington was going to hold him accountable,’’ Dr. Raines told NPR in 2014. ‘‘It was his FBI, nobody else’s.’’
With his wife, Dr. Raines had broken into draft board offices to disrupt the Vietnam War draft. But no act of civil disobedience was as daring as the break-in at the FBI office in Media, Pa.
The Raineses were recruited by a Haverford College physics professor, William Davidon, who knew of their protest activities. ‘‘After the chin came off the floor and we started talking about it, it seemed more and more plausible,’’ Dr. Raines recalled.
The conspirators plotted the break-in from the Raineses’ attic. Bonnie Raines, who ran a day care, managed to gain entry and survey the FBI office in advance by posing as a college student seeking information about employment opportunities. In the event of their arrest and imprisonment, the couple arranged for Dr. Raines’s brother to care for their children.
The group scheduled the break-in to coincide with a boxing match in which Joe Frazier would defeat Muhammad Ali — astutely predicting that the momentous sporting event would distract neighbors of the FBI office as well as police. Without much trouble, they used a crowbar to break in, then carried out more than 1,000 files in suitcases. Dr. Raines drove the getaway car to a Quaker farm, where they donned gloves and began combing through the documents.
‘‘Within an hour, we knew we hit the jackpot,’’ Raines recalled.
The documents contained early evidence of COINTELPRO, short for Counterintelligence Program, which, the FBI later acknowledged, was ‘‘rightfully criticized by Congress and the American people for abridging First Amendment rights.’’
Among other revelations, the materials showed that the FBI had systematically surveilled and harassed African-Americans, particularly civil rights activists.
|U.S. Government Arrests 200 MS-13 Gang Members in Central America and At Home|
A major crackdown led to the arrest of more than 200 alleged members and associates of the international street gang, MS-13, officials announced Wednesday.
“Today I am pleased to announce the arrest of 267 MS-13 gang members and associates in conjunction of ICE’s most recent targeted anti-gang effort known as ‘Operation Raging Bull,’” Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan said, NBC News reports.
The Mara Salvatrucha gang, or MS-13, began in the 1980s in Los Angeles. Since then, the FBI said its spread to 46 states, according to the BBC. Its members—which Trump has referred to as “animals”—have also spread to Canada, Mexico, and Central America.
Suspected members of the gang MS-13 remain handcuffed under custody at Isidro Menendez Justice Court in San Salvador, on September 12, 2017. Security forces in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala on Monday and Tuesday arrested more than 1,000 suspected gang members and seized 35 properties, after discovering the gangs were using small businesses they extorted to also launder money. Marvin Reckons/AFP/Getty Images
Trump–who hopes to “destroy” the violent gang–came one step closer, as authorities announced the conclusion of the second phase of “Operation Raging Bull.” The first part of the operation involved an 18-month investigation, which led to the arrest of 53 individuals in El Salvador.
The second phase was conducted across the United States from Oct. 8 to Nov. 11. It resulted in 214 arrests—including 16 U.S. citizens and 198 foreign nationals— with alleged MS-13 ties, Reuters reports. Among the foreign nationals, 5 were legal residents. Criminal charges against them include murder, aggravated robbery, racketeering, narcotics trafficking, firearms offenses and assault, the Los Angeles Times reports.
On Friday, President Donald Trump tweeted about the federal crackdown: “Together, we’re going to restore safety to our streets and peace to our communities, and we’re going to destroy the vile criminal cartel, #MS13, and many other gangs…” he wrote, accompanied by a link to an article, as well as, a news conference video clip.
A few weeks ago, Attorney General Jeff Sessions deemed the MS-13 a priority for the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF).
“Now they will go after MS-13 with a renewed vigor and a sharpened focus. I am announcing that I have authorized them to use every lawful tool to investigate MS-13—not just our drug laws, but everything from RICO to our tax laws to our firearms laws,” Sessions said to the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Philadelphia on Oct. 23.
Despite the hundreds of arrests, there’s still more work to be done.
“This is a great operation, but we are not done,” Homan said, NBC News reports. “And we will not be done until we totally dismantle this organization. The President of the United States has made this a priority and ICE joins him in this.”
|What Russia Did to Control the American Mind and Put Trump in the White House|
Fake news tweets and social media posts that flooded the internet leading up to the 2016 presidential election came from a Russian troll factory that works around the clock like any IT facility—except lies were pumping out to control the American mind and put Donald Trump in the White House.
The Internet Research Agency, which works on behalf of Russia inside a guarded, concrete building in St. Petersburg, has day and night shifts and hundreds of former journalists and bloggers creating thousands of posts with false and controversial information to reach certain quotas.
It was “a merry-go-round of lies,” Vitaly Bespalov, 26, who worked at the agency, told NBC News. “When you get on the carousel, you do not know who is behind you and neither you are aware of who is in front of you—but all of you are running around within the same circle.”
Early this month, Twitter testified before Congress and provided the Senate Intelligence Committee with more than 2,700 accounts tied to the agency, while Facebook identified more than 80,000 pieces of content linked to the agency. Meanwhile, Google found about $4,700 worth of search-and-display ads with dubious Russian ties.
The U.S. intelligence community has said that a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin with ties to the country’s intelligence is likely financing the agency.
Bespalov, who was tasked primarily with discrediting Ukraine, said he believes the agency is linked to the Kremlin.
In his role, Bespalov said he was told to create fake social media accounts and that those of girls got more views.
“We would put name, surname, city … any photo of an attractive girl that I would have managed to find on the internet and then links … all sorts of links,” he said. “Then the girls would get blocked eventually and you would start afresh.”
Some of the agency’s fake accounts pushing pro-Russia sentiment became pro-Trump as early as December 2015, according to the U.S. intelligence community. Trump went on to beat Democrat Hillary Clinton in the general election.
Trolls were grouped by tasks—such as blogging, commenting on posts and publishing content on social media—and separated accordingly across the floors, and had no contact with each other. Employees in the department targeting the U.S. earned between $1,300 and $2,000 per month, more than entry-level trolls who received about $1,000 per month plus bonuses.
“These troll farms can produce such a volume of content with hashtags and topics that it distorts what is normal organic conversation,” Clint Watts, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, told NBC News.
Twitter users in swing states in the U.S. received more fake news than real stories in the days leading up to the 2016 presidential election, and the misinformation helped Trump win become president, according to an Oxford University study.
|Head of Puerto Rico’s electric utility resigns amid questions about slow repairs in hurricane’s wake – Washington Post|
|4:01 AM 11/18/2017 Top Russian Official Tried to Broker Backdoor Meeting Between Trump and Putin New York Times|
Saved Stories Saved Stories – None Trump, Putin, and the Mob – Google News: Top Russian Official Tried to Broker ‘Backdoor’ Meeting Between Trump and Putin – New York Times Trump – Google News: Trump Names Supreme Court Candidates for a Nonexistent Vacancy – New York Times Kushner told Congress he did not recall campaign … Continue reading”4:01 AM 11/18/2017 – Top Russian Official Tried to Broker ‘Backdoor’ Meeting Between Trump and Putin – New York Times”
|4:33 AM 11/18/2017 Have I got a bridge in Brooklyn just for you! Or: The Kazakh soap opera with Trump ties|
Saved Stories Saved Stories – None Putin and American political process – Google News: Roberts: Have I got a bridge in Brooklyn just for you! – Danville Commercial News trump russia treason – Google News: The new Democratic spin cycle launders money, gets out sleaze – Youngstown Vindicator Lambro: Russian investigation manages to jog Jeff … Continue reading”4:33 AM 11/18/2017 – Have I got a bridge in Brooklyn just for you! Or: The Kazakh soap opera with Trump ties”
|Manafort didn’t just consult for Russian-backed politicians in Ukraine he also helped them form a new party – Business Insider|
|russian organized crime in us – Google News: Kushner failed to disclose outreach from Putin ally to Trump campaign – NBCNews.com|
russian organized crime in us – Google News