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Friday, March 17, 2017

Of spies and taxes

Sorry I've been away. Had a bit of a personal crisis which diverted me from blog duties as well as some important "real world" duties. Let's blast through a couple of recent developments...

GCHQ. Trump keeps doubling, tripling and quadrupling down on his claim that Obama ordered spying on Trump Tower -- and his behavior tells me that Donald may have had an ace up his sleeve all along. Either he knows something or his aides have concocted something.

I seem to be the only one (at least on the left) who considers this theory possible. Before you scoff, a reminder: I was the very first blogger (June 16, 2016) to speak of the Trump/Putin link, in a post that name-dropped Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Roger Stone. I was also one of the few to predict that Trump would win the presidency.

Sean Spicer stunned everyone by repeating a Fox News suggestion that Britain's GCHQ did the actual spying -- not a foolish theory, since NSA and GCHQ have long had an informal "you spy on mine and I'll spy on yours" arrangement. I've made the same suggestion in these pages. Still, it is unheard-of for a White House press spokesperson to blurt out such a suggestion based on nothing more than an unverified Fox News report.

That report, we are told, was based on three unnamed sources. Nice to know that Trump has gotten over his phobic reaction to anonymous sourcing. Maybe the operative principle is Fox May Do What Others May Not.

GCHQ ridiculed Spicer's suggestion that it spied on Trump at Obama's behest. The White House had to apologize.

Meanwhile, Louise Mensch -- a de facto (paid?) spokesperson for British intelligence -- has been strongly intimating that GCHQ was spying on the Russians, as it damned well ought to, and that information on Trump was collected incidentally.
Tapes, FROM @GCHQ, including Team Traitor, talking to Russians. The target would have been THE RUSSIANS.
#ProTip If you don't want to be on tape talking to Russian targets of @GCHQ surveillance, ***don't talk to those Russians***
This scenario makes sense. Nevertheless, the Trumpers insists that Obama personally requested the interceptions, and I consider this display of certainty downright unnerving. Trump is a poker player with many tells, and -- as noted above -- those tells currently indicate a hidden ace.

Here are some interesting questions for you to ponder: If Obama did indeed make the ask, how would Trump know? How can Mensch be so damned sure that Obama did not make the ask? (I would have, if I had been in Obama's position. You probably would have as well.) Why is Mensch so sure that her sources tell her everything? Even if Obama did not request assistance from GCHQ, is there any way for Trump to gin up evidence against him? Remember, FSB can offer its considerable professional help in such matters.

Let's wander a bit further down that fork in the trail. If said ginned-up evidence were made public, how could it be debunked? The debunkers themselves can be easily debunked, because the only people who could expose the fake evidence would be spies. Would our conspiracy-crazed populace believe what a bunch of spies said even if they were telling the truth? Nearly 50 years ago, Richard Helms said "You've just got to trust us; we are honorable men" -- and the world still hasn't stopped laughing.

It's an open question as to whether anyone in our intel community would try to expose Trump as a liar. Never forget that American spy agencies are now headed by Trump's pick, Dan Coats, a former Republican senator from Indiana. Despite his strongly anti-gay stances, Coats is said to be a moderate Republican, insofar as such a thing is possible these days. Nevertheless, he was a Dan Quayle loyalist for many years, and he became Trump loyalist rather early in the campaign, if I recall aright. I can't see Coats saying or doing anything that could harm Trump.

Taxes. Although the world has moved on from the Trump tax return imbroglio, we have additional reasons to believe that Trump himself leaked those pages to David Cay Johnston.

Fair warning: The argument comes to us by way of The Jester, whom I consider the most unnerving of the anti-Trump spy-types. We're talking about an anonymous egomaniac (yes, one can be both things at once) who feels comfortable using Breitbartisms like "SJW" to denigrate liberals. In short: The dude's an asshole. But a good argument is a good argument even when an asshole makes it, which is why your Logic 101 teacher taught you that ad hominem is a fallacy.

The most interesting discovery: The envelope that popped into David Cay Johnston's mailbox bore a Westchester, NY postmark. As it happens, the Trump family owns an estate in Westchester, and members of the family were staying there at the appropriate time.

(Hey, isn't Professor Xavier's School For Gifted Students located in Westchester? Maybe Kitty Pryde or Nightcrawler snatched the documents.)

The Jester also notes that the "leaked" pages stem from 2005, the year Donnie married Melania, who was not yet a citizen. In order for her to obtain her citizenship -- which she acquired in 2006 -- Melania had to show her 2005 tax returns. Those returns had to be (as the Jester puts it) "squeaky clean." The document leaked to David Cay Johnston is a joint filing, which means that it was no doubt prepared with Melania's citizenship issue in mind.

Beyond all of that are the points you've probably already heard before: 1. The two pages given to Johnston do not include much information about sources of income, which is, of course, the stuff we really want. 2. The document is a "CLIENT COPY," indicating that the leak came either from Trump or Melania. (Perhaps his lawyer or his accountant? Nah. That's ridiculous.) 3. Trump -- a.k.a. "John Barron" -- has a long history of leaking information about himself.

Barring an actual confession -- which we probably will never get -- I'd say that we have all the evidence we can reasonably expect. I am personally convinced that Trump leaked those documents.
Very simple, DJT is aware he and/or his circle will turn up in recorded in monitoring of the Russians by the UK, Dutch, and Estonian services. He/his circle will turn up in incidental collection by NSA.

He doesn't have a card, this is his pre-butal for the day this is released. Which is coming.
DailyPUMA's premise is that the FBI, CIA and or Department of Justice had every right to spy on Donald Trump during the campaign. Trump may have funded his entire presidential campaign with income tax evasion money, and that needed to be vetted, although I am not sure it was.
Secondly, Trump and his cronies could have been on international phone calls when the other party was the one being wiretapped.
Alessandro, I agree. It should be noted that Americans who show up in monitored foreign communications are supposed to be subject to "minimization" -- that is, their identities are stripped out of the transcript. But I never could see how minimization could take place without SOMEONE knowing who was who. Besides, context should reveal a lot.
I've lost the link dammit but Trump did say a few days ago that people should expect surprising revelations to emerge on the 'wiretapping' scandal in the next few weeks. So, something is in the wind.

He also had a photo shoot with Angela Merkel during her recent visit and photographers suggested they should shake hands. Merkel looked to Trump and asked whether he wanted that. Trump just looked straight ahead and smirked. This narcissistic asshole never, simply never, misses an opportunity to gratuitously belittle and degrade anyone he deals with if he can get away with it. The country's a train wreck until this nut job gets the boot.

Finally, there is further evidence on Russian oligarchs and Trump Tower.
I'm working up an article on GCHQ also, will probably end up as a flaming bag of dogshit on John Shindler's doorstep.
I am questioning his CYA over GCHQ and his NSA fraternity.
Dear Louise already blocked me.
John, I would love to read what you have to say. I'm very chary of Schindler. Louise...okay, I'm chary of her too, but there's an added factor: I find her attractive. I've learned the hard way not to trust a blonde who could make a bishop kick in a stained glass window. Dames...! They'll double-cross you faster than Ben Turpin performing an exorcism.

Yes, I've been watching a lot of film noir lately. I also just found some tequila.
The worrisome thing about Ms. Mensch is that she seems to be rooting for a Pence presidency. This may be leaping out of the proverbial frying pan into the proverbial fire--especially once Trump has positioned his "people" into the bureaucratic apparatus. Also she is pushing that self-help guru--the one with weirdly tall forehead--and to me that's a total nonstarter.

Also, the first hint of the future was given by Senator Diane Feinstein...did you catch that?
off topic but related:
I keep wondering about Comey and his refusal to let Congress know what is going on. Is it that he has so much and it's so tangled? Is it that something illegal happened and they are trying to conceal? it's all very strange.
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