Fake News From Russia, the White House and the FBI

Donald Trump calls any news report that he doesn’t like or he deems detrimental to his agenda, whatever that is, “fake news.” Fake news does exist but it isn’t what Trump presents it to be. Much of it comes from Russian in the form of e-mails or planted news stories laced with blatant lies, fictional events and other misinformation. Some of the latest examples are the current Middle East rift with Qatar based on fake news planted by Russian hackers; Trump’s $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia and former FBI Director James Comey knowingly based his reopening of the Clinton e-mail investigation based on fake Russian intelligence.

Let’s start with Comey’s reopening of the Clinton e-mail investigation just before the election last October from the Business Insider:

James Comey, the former FBI director, knew that a document crucial to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server was fake and created by Russian intelligence, but it played a large role in how he approached the investigation, CNN reported on Friday.

The purportedly fake document, first disclosed by The New York Times in late April and described in more detail by The Washington Post on Wednesday, described an email sent by Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was then the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, to an official at the billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Foundations.

The memo contained a summary of the email, in which Wasserman Schultz supposedly described how Loretta Lynch, the attorney general, had privately assured a Clinton staffer during the campaign that the Justice Department wouldn’t take the email probe too far.

Comey, whom President Donald Trump fired earlier this month amid the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s election interference, apparently doubted the veracity of the memo early. But he told lawmakers about the document in his later briefings and did not imply that it could be fake, according to CNN.

Instead, he told them he feared the document would be leaked and cast doubt on the credibility and independence of the FBI’s email-server probe — part of why he decided to bypass the Justice Department and announce the findings of the investigation in an impromptu press conference in July.

CNN reported that sources close to Comey said he “felt it didn’t matter if the information was accurate, because his big fear was that if the Russians released the information publicly, there would be no way for law enforcement and intelligence officials to discredit it without burning intelligence sources and methods.”

So instead of disclosing the “fake news” about Clinton’s e-mail, Comey decided to compromise the election. Blame Obama for appointing this clown.

Next up is Trump’s fake arms deal with Saudi Arabia from investigative reporter Bruce Reidel at The Brookings institute:

I’ve spoken to contacts in the defense business and on the Hill, and all of them say the same thing: There is no $110 billion deal. Instead, there are a bunch of letters of interest or intent, but not contracts. Many are offers that the defense industry thinks the Saudis will be interested in someday. So far nothing has been notified to the Senate for review. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the arms sales wing of the Pentagon, calls them “intended sales.” None of the deals identified so far are new, all began in the Obama administration.

An example is a proposal for sale of four frigates (called multi-mission surface combatant vessels) to the Royal Saudi navy. This proposal was first reported by the State Department in 2015. No contract has followed. The type of frigate is a derivative of a vessel that the U.S. Navy uses but the derivative doesn’t actually exist yet. Another piece is the Terminal High Altitude Air Defense system (THAAD) which was recently deployed in South Korea. The Saudis have expressed interest in the system for several years but no contracts have been finalized. Obama approved the sale in principle at a summit at Camp David in 2015. Also on the wish list are 150 Black Hawk helicopters. Again, this is old news repackaged. What the Saudis and the administration did is put together a notional package of the Saudi wish list of possible deals and portray that as a deal. Even then the numbers don’t add up. It’s fake news.

Moreover, it’s unlikely that the Saudis could pay for a $110 billion deal any longer, due to low oil prices and the two-plus years old war in Yemen. President Obama sold the kingdom $112 billion in weapons over eight years, most of which was a single, huge deal in 2012 negotiated by then-Secretary of Defense Bob Gates. To get that deal through Congressional approval, Gates also negotiated a deal with Israel to compensate the Israelis and preserve their qualitative edge over their Arab neighbors. With the fall in oil prices, the Saudis have struggled to meet their payments since.

You will know the Trump deal is real when Israel begins to ask for a package to keep the Israeli Defense Forces’ qualitative edge preserved. What is coming soon is a billion-dollars deal for more munitions for the war in Yemen. The Royal Saudi Air Force needs more munitions to continue the air bombardment of the Arab world’s poorest country.

Donald has a penchant for taking credit for things that happened during the Obama administration and then lies about it, thus, fake news from the White House.

Last, but certainly not least, is the crisis in the Middle East with the diplomatic break and blockade of Qatar by Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries that had garnered Trump’s blessing. The whole story that Qatar is sponsoring terrorism may well be based on a fake news story planted by Russian hackers, no doubt under Putin’s direction. Keep in mind that nothing happens in Russia without Putin’s OK. The story was first reported by CNN

US investigators believe Russian hackers breached Qatar’s state news agency and planted a fake news report that contributed to a crisis among the US’ closest Gulf allies, according to US officials briefed on the investigation.

The FBI recently sent a team of investigators to Doha to help the Qatari government investigate the alleged hacking incident, Qatari and US government officials say.

Intelligence gathered by the US security agencies indicates that Russian hackers were behind the intrusion first reported by the Qatari government two weeks ago, US officials say. Qatar hosts one of the largest US military bases in the region. [..]

US officials say the Russian goal appears to be to cause rifts among the US and its allies. In recent months, suspected Russian cyber activities, including the use of fake news stories, have turned up amid elections in France, Germany and other countries.

It’s not yet clear whether the US has tracked the hackers in the Qatar incident to Russian criminal organizations or to the Russian security services blamed for the US election hacks. One official noted that based on past intelligence, “not much happens in that country without the blessing of the government.”

Needless to say, that news as not deterred the crisis which was further exacerbated by the dimwit who occupies the Oval Office by tweeting that he sided with his new bestest friends, the Saudis. It appears that Trump is totally ignorant the Qatar is home of the largest US airbase in the region and the 11,000 troop and US personal stationed there.

Are there lessons here? Sure. Get more than one source before jumping to conclusions and don’t believe anything Trump or his cronies say.