Posts Tagged ‘Corruption’

By John W. Whitehead

“All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible.”― Frank Herbert

Power corrupts.

Worse, as 19th-century historian Lord Acton concluded, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about a politician, an entertainment mogul, a corporate CEO or a police officer: give any one person (or government agency) too much power and allow him or her or it to believe that they are entitled, untouchable and will not be held accountable for their actions, and those powers will eventually be abused.

We’re seeing this dynamic play out every day in communities across America.

A cop shoots an unarmed citizen for no credible reason and gets away with it. A president employs executive orders to sidestep the Constitution and gets away with it. A government agency spies on its citizens’ communications and gets away with it. An entertainment mogul sexually harasses aspiring actresses and gets away with it. The U.S. military bombs a civilian hospital and a school and gets away with it.

Abuse of power—and the ambition-fueled hypocrisy and deliberate disregard for misconduct that make those abuses possible—works the same whether you’re talking about sexual harassment, government corruption, or the rule of law.

For instance, 20 years ago, I took up a sexual harassment lawsuit on behalf of a young woman—a state employee—who claimed that her boss, a politically powerful man, had arranged for her to meet him in a hotel room, where he then allegedly dropped his pants, propositioned her and invited her to perform oral sex on him.

Despite the fact that this man had a well-known reputation for womanizing and this woman was merely one in a long line of women who had accused the man of groping, propositioning, and pressuring them for sexual favors in the workplace, she was denounced as white trash and subjected to a massive smear campaign by the man’s wife, friends and colleagues (including the leading women’s rights organizations of the day), while he was given lucrative book deals and paid lavish sums for speaking engagements.

William Jefferson Clinton eventually agreed to settle the case and pay Paula Jones $850,000.

Here we are 20 years later and not much has changed.

We’re still shocked by sexual harassment in the workplace, the victims of these sexual predators are still being harassed and smeared, and those who stand to gain the most by overlooking wrongdoing (all across the political spectrum) are still turning a blind eye to misconduct when it’s politically expedient to do so.

This time, it’s Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein—longtime Clinton associate and a powerhouse when it comes to raising money for Democrats—who is being accused of decades of sexual assaults, aggressively sexual overtures and harassment.

I won’t go into the nauseating details here. You can read them for yourself at the New York Times and the New Yorker.

Suffice it to say that it’s the same old story all over again: man rises to power, man abuses power abominably, man intimidates and threatens anyone who challenges him with retaliation or worse, and man gets away with it because of a culture of compliance in which no one speaks up because they don’t want to lose their job or their money or their place among the elite.

From what I’ve read, this was Hollywood’s worst-kept secret.

In other words, everyone who was anyone knew about it. They were either complicit in allowing the abuses to take place, turning a blind eye to them, or helping to cover them up.

It’s not just happening in Hollywood, however.

And it’s not just sexual predators that we have to worry about.

For every Harvey Weinstein (or Roger Ailes or Bill Cosby or Donald Trump) who eventually gets called out for his sexual misbehavior, there are hundreds—thousands—of others in the American police state who are getting away with murder—in many cases, literally—simply because they can.

The cop who shoots the unarmed citizen first and asks questions later might get put on paid leave for a while or take a job with another police department, but that’s just a slap on the wrist. The shootings and SWAT team raids and excessive use of force will continue, because the police unions and the politicians and the courts won’t do a thing to stop it. Case in point: The Justice Department will no longer attempt to police the police when it comes to official misconduct. Instead, it plans to give police agencies more money and authority to “fight” crime.

The war hawks who are making a profit by waging endless wars abroad, killing innocent civilians in hospitals and schools, and turning the American homeland into a domestic battlefield will continue to do so because neither the president nor the politicians will dare to challenge the military industrial complex. Case in point: Rather than scaling back on America’s endless wars, President Trump—like his predecessors—has continued to expand America’s military empire and its attempts to police the globe.

The National Security Agency that carries out warrantless surveillance on Americans’ internet and phone communications will continue to do so, because the government doesn’t want to relinquish any of its ill-gotten powers. Case in point: The USA Liberty Act, proposed as a way to “fix” all that’s wrong with domestic surveillance, will instead legitimize the government’s snooping powers.

Unless something changes in the way we deal with these ongoing, egregious abuses of power, the predators of the police state will continue to wreak havoc on our freedoms, our communities, and our lives.

Police officers will continue to shoot and kill unarmed citizens. Government agents—including local police—will continue to dress and act like soldiers on a battlefield.

Bloated government agencies will continue to fleece taxpayers while eroding our liberties. Government technicians will continue to spy on our emails and phone calls. Government contractors will continue to make a killing by waging endless wars abroad.

And powerful men (and women) will continue to abuse the powers of their office by treating those around them as underlings and second-class citizens who are unworthy of dignity and respect and undeserving of the legal rights and protections that should be afforded to all Americans.

As Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at the at the University of California, Berkeley, observed in the Harvard Business Review, “While people usually gain power through traits and actions that advance the interests of others, such as empathy, collaboration, openness, fairness, and sharing; when they start to feel powerful or enjoy a position of privilege, those qualities begin to fade. The powerful are more likely than other people to engage in rude, selfish, and unethical behavior.”

After conducting a series of experiments into the phenomenon of how power corrupts, Keltner concluded: “Just the random assignment of power, and all kinds of mischief ensues, and people will become impulsive. They eat more resources than is their fair share. They take more money. People become more unethical. They think unethical behavior is okay if they engage in it. People are more likely to stereotype. They’re more likely to stop attending to other people carefully.”

Power corrupts. And absolute power corrupts absolutely.

However, it takes a culture of entitlement and a nation of compliant, willfully ignorant, politically divided citizens to provide the foundations of tyranny.

As researchers Joris Lammers and Adam Galinsky found, those in power not only tend to abuse that power but they also feel entitled to abuse it: “People with power that they think is justified break rules not only because they can get away with it, but also because they feel at some intuitive level that they are entitled to take what they want.”

That sense of entitlement and immunity from charges of wrongdoing dovetails with Richard Nixon’s belief that “when the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.”

For too long now, America has played politics with its principles and allowed the president and his colleagues to act in violation of the rule of law.

“We the people” are paying the price for it now.

Americans have allowed Congress, the White House and the Judiciary to wreak havoc with our freedoms. They have tolerated an oligarchy in which a powerful, elite group of wealthy donors is calling the shots. They have paid homage to patriotism while allowing the military industrial complex to spread death and destruction abroad. And they have turned a blind eye to all manner of wrongdoing when it was politically expedient.

This culture of compliance must stop.

The empowerment of petty tyrants and political gods must end.

For starters, let’s go back to the basics: the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Let’s recommit to abiding by the rule of law.

Here’s what the rule of law means in a nutshell: it means that everyone is treated the same under the law, everyone is held equally accountable to abiding by the law, and no one is given a free pass based on their politics, their connections, their wealth, their status or any other bright line test used to confer special treatment on the elite.

Let’s demand scrutiny and transparency at all levels of government, which in turn will lead to accountability.

We need to stop being victimized by these predators.

As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, I’m not just talking about the political predators in office, but the ones who are running the show behind the scenes—the shadow government—comprised of unelected government bureaucrats whose powers are unaffected by elections, unaltered by populist movements, and beyond the reach of the law.

There is no way to erase the scars left by the government’s greed for money and power, its disregard for human life, its corruption and graft, its pollution of the environment, its reliance on excessive force in order to ensure compliance, its covert activities, its illegal surveillance, and its blatant disdain for the rule of law.

“We the people”—men and women alike— have been victims of the police state for so long that not many Americans even remember what it is to be truly free anymore. Worse, few want to shoulder the responsibility that goes along with maintaining freedom.

Still, we must try.

 

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A new bombshell joint report issued by two international weapons monitoring groups Tuesday confirms that the Pentagon continues to ship record breaking amounts of weaponry into Syria and that the Department of Defense is scrubbing its own paper trail. On Tuesday the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) produced conclusive evidence that not only is the Pentagon currently involved in shipping up to $2.2 billion worth of weapons from a shady network of private dealers to allied partners in Syria – mostly old Soviet weaponry – but is actually manipulating paperwork such as end-user certificates, presumably in order to hide US involvement.

The OCCRP and BIRN published internal US defense procurement files after an extensive investigation which found that the Pentagon is running a massive weapons trafficking pipeline which originates in the Balkans and Caucuses, and ends in Syria and Iraq. The program is ostensibly part of the US train, equip, and assist campaign for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF, a coalition of YPG/J and Arab FSA groups operating primarily in Syria’s east). The arms transfers are massive and the program looks to continue for years. According to Foreign Policy’s (FP) coverage of the report:

 

The Department of Defense has budgeted $584 million specifically for this Syrian operation for the financial years 2017 and 2018, and has earmarked another $900 million of spending on Soviet-style munitions between now and 2022. The total, $2.2 billion, likely understates the flow of weapons to Syrian rebels in the coming years.

But perhaps more shocking is the following admission that Pentagon suppliers have links with known criminal networks, also from FP:

 

According to the report, many of the weapons suppliers — primarily in Eastern Europe but also in the former Soviet republics, including Kazakhstan, Georgia, and Ukraine — have both links to organized crime throughout Eastern Europe and spotty business records.

The sheer amount of material necessary for the Pentagon program — one ammunition factory announced it planned to hire 1,000 new employees in 2016 to help cope with the demand — has reportedly stretched suppliers to the limit, forcing the Defense Department to relax standards on the materials it’s willing to accept.

It is likely that the organized crime association is the reason why the Pentagon has sought to alter its records. In addition, the sheer volume of weaponry continuing to ship to the Syrian battlefield and other parts of the Middle East means inevitable proliferation among unsavory terror groups – a phenomenon which has already been exhaustively documented in

connection with the now reportedly closed CIA program to topple the Syrian government. The associations and alliances among some of the Arab former FSA groups the DoD continues to support in the north and east remains fluid, which means means US-supplied weapons will continue to pass among groups with no accountability for where they end up.

One of the authors of the OCCRP/BIRN report, Ivan Angelovski, told Foreign Policy that, “The Pentagon is removing any evidence in their procurement records that weapons are actually going to the Syrian opposition.” The report is based on internal US government memos which reveal that weapons shipment destination locations have been scrubbed from original documents.

Is an EUC (End User Certificate) still an EUC if it doesn’t include an end user?

Balkan insight, which is hosting the original investigative report: “Seven US procurement documents were whitewashed to remove reference to ‘Syria’ after reporters contacted the Pentagon to enquire about whether the exporting countries – Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Ukraine and Georgia – had been informed of the destination.”

The fact that Foreign Policy, which is the foremost establishment national security publication in the world, would admit that the Pentagon’s Syria weapons procurement program is tied to East European organized crime is itself hugely significant. At this point the evidence is simply so overwhelming that even establishment sources like FP – which itself has generally been pro-interventionist on Syria – can’t deny it.

FP further reports that the Pentagon program “appears to be turbocharging a shadowy world of Eastern European arms dealers.” And adds further that, “the Pentagon is reportedly removing documentary evidence about just who will ultimately be using the weapons, potentially weakening one of the bulwarks of international protocols against illicit arms dealing.”

Map/Infographic produced as part of the OCCRP/BIRN report, itself confirmed by Foreign Policy magazine. Notice the map denotes that prior CIA weapons went directly to Idlib province (northwest, section in green) and the Golan border region (south). Both of these areas were and continue to be occupied by al-Qaeda (in Idlib, AQ’s Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham). In Idlib specifically, analysts have confirmed genocidal cleansing of religious minorities conducted by AQ “rebels” directly assisted by CIA weapons.

Late last month we featured the story of Bulgarian journalist Dilyana Gaytandzhieva, who was fired from her job after being interrogated by national intelligence officials for exposing the same Pentagon arms network which is the subject of the latest OCCRP/BIRN investigation. At the time, Al Jazeera was the only major international outlet which covered the story, which confirmed that Bulgarian agents interrogated Gaytandzhieva and “tried to find out her sources.” An anonymous source had leaked a large trove of internal government files connected to the arms trafficking to the East European-based Trud Newspaper journalist, which was the basis of her reporting. The newest investigation released Tuesday appears to include some of the same documents, also confirmed by Gayandzhieva.

Read the full OCCRP/BIRN investigation here.

Read Zero Hedge’s original coverage of the Pentagon’s Balkan arms pipeline here.

Authored by John Whitehead

I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The U.S. government will lead the American people in — and the West in general — into an unbearable hell and a choking life.”—Osama bin Laden (October 2001)

Ironically, we mark the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the same week we celebrate the 230th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution.

While there has been much to mourn since 9/11, there has been very little to celebrate.

 

Here is what it means to live under the Constitution today.

The First Amendment is supposed to protect the freedom to speak your mind (the media, as well), worship, assemble, and protest nonviolently without being bridled by the government. Despite the clear protections found in the First Amendment, Americans continue to be censored, silenced and prosecuted for challenging government misconduct and corruption.

The Second Amendment was intended to guarantee “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.” Essentially, this amendment was intended to give the citizenry the means to resist tyrannical government. Yet while gun ownership has been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court as an individual citizen right, Americans remain powerless to defend themselves against SWAT team raids and militarized government agents armed to the teeth.

The Third Amendment prohibits the military from entering any citizen’s home without “the consent of the owner.” Yet with the police increasingly training like, acting like, and arming themselves like military forces, we now have what the founders feared most—a standing army on American soil.

The Fourth Amendment prohibits the government from conducting surveillance on you or touching you or invading you, unless they have some evidence that you are guilty of a crime. Unfortunately, the Fourth Amendment has been all but eviscerated by an unwarranted expansion of police powers that include strip searches, surveillance and home invasions.

The Fifth Amendment and the Sixth Amendment work in tandem. These amendments supposedly ensure that you are innocent until proven guilty, and government authorities cannot deprive you of your life, your liberty or your property without the right to an attorney and a fair trial before a civilian judge. However, in our suspect/surveillance society, these fundamental principles have been upended.

The Seventh Amendment guarantees citizens the right to a jury trial. Yet when the populace has no idea of what’s in the Constitution, that inevitably translates to an ignorant jury incapable of distinguishing justice and the law from their own preconceived notions and fears.

The Eighth Amendment is supposed to protect the rights of the accused and forbid the use of cruel and unusual punishment. However, the Supreme Court’s determination that what constitutes “cruel and unusual” depends on the “evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society” leaves us with little protection in the face of a society lacking in morals altogether.

The Ninth Amendment provides that other rights not enumerated in the Constitution are nonetheless retained by the people. Popular sovereignty—the belief that the power to govern flows upward from the people rather than downward from the rulers—has been turned on its head by a centralized federal government that sees itself as supreme.

As for the Tenth Amendment’s reminder that the people and the states retain every authority that is not otherwise mentioned in the Constitution, that assurance of a system of government in which power is divided among local, state and national entities has long since been rendered moot by the centralized Washington, DC, power elite—the president, Congress

and the courts. Through its many agencies and regulations, the federal government has stripped states of the right to regulate countless issues that were originally governed at the local level.

If there is any sense to be made from this recitation of freedoms lost, it is simply this: our individual freedoms have been eviscerated so that the government’s powers could be expanded.

Yet those who gave us the Constitution and the Bill of Rights believed that the government exists at the behest of “We the People.” We have the power to make and break the government.

Still, it’s hard to be a good citizen if you don’t know anything about your rights or how the government is supposed to operate.

Americans are constitutionally illiterate.

Most citizens have little, if any, knowledge about their basic rights. And our educational system does a poor job of teaching the basic freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Thirty-five percent of Americans cannot name a single branch of the government. Only a quarter of Americans know it takes a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate to override a presidential veto. One in five Americans incorrectly thinks that a 5-4 Supreme Court decision is sent back to Congress for reconsideration. And more than half of Americans do not know which party controls the House and Senate.

Only one out of a thousand adults could identify the five rights protected by the First Amendment. Teachers and school administrators do not fare much better. One study found that one out of every five educators was unable to name any of the freedoms in the First Amendment. In fact, while some educators want students to learn about freedom, they do not necessarily want them to exercise their freedoms in school.

Government leaders and politicians are also ill-informed.

So what’s the solution?

Thomas Jefferson recognized that a citizenry educated on “their rights, interests, and duties” is the only real assurance that freedom will survive. As Jefferson concluded in 1820: “This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”

From the President on down, anyone taking public office should have a working knowledge of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and should be held accountable for upholding their precepts. I’d go so far as to require students to pass a citizenship exam before graduating from grade school.

Here’s an idea to get educated and take a stand for freedom: anyone who signs up to become a member of The Rutherford Institute gets a wallet-sized Bill of Rights card and a Know Your Rights card.

If this constitutional illiteracy is not remedied and soon, freedom in America will be doomed.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we have managed to keep the wolf at bay so far. Barely.

Our national priorities need to be re-prioritized.

For instance, Donald Trump wants to make America great again.

I, for one, would prefer to make America free again.

Why No One Can Trust FaceBook

Posted: September 11, 2017 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

It becomes harder and harder to overstate the corruption and treachery of the online ad industry. Lord knows I’ve tried.

Among its other accomplishments, Facebook has become famous for its lunatic metrics and bizarre rationalizations.

 

You would think a company that built its business on the promise of putting sophisticated data to work for advertisers would have the sense not to release numbers that are patently ridiculous.

But time and again Facebook has undermined its credibility by making claims that are easily proven to be false, and then defended these claims with statements that are absurd.

This week it was reported that Facebook was claiming to reach 41 million Americans between the ages of 18-24. If Facebook reached every American between 18 and 24 they’d still be 10 million short. There are only 31 million of them.

But Facebook’s ability to reach imaginary people isn’t just limited to its home base here in the US. According to their metrics, they have also developed the amazing technology to reach non-existent people all over the world.

Below is a chart from AdNews in Australia that sums up Facebook’s “branded storytelling.”

We are so used to bullshit from the online ad industry that this latest round of nonsense should surprise no one.

The online ad industry — the most corrupt and fraud-laden medium anyone’s ever seen — famously gave us the wonderful acronym NHT for Non-Human Traffic. Now Facebook has given us NEP’s — Non-Existing People.

Facebook has been ridiculed all over the world for this obvious fakery. And they will pay the exact same price they’ve paid every time they’ve been found to be lying about their numbers — nothing, nada, zilch. The marketing and advertising industries have reached a point of such exquisite incompetence that nothing any of these creeps does has any consequences. They are liars and we are fools.

I loved Facebook’s explanation for their metrics:

“They are designed to estimate how many people in a given area are eligible to see an ad a business might run. They are not designed to match population or census estimates.”

There must be a planet on which that preposterous nonsense makes sense, but I’ll be damned if I know where it is.

Is it any wonder Facebook is fighting to the bitter end to block 3rd party monitoring and auditing of its numbers? If the numbers they brazenly release to the public are this dishonest, can you imagine the horseshit they feed their credulous clients in private?

 

We have written frequently about the internal Clinton Foundation power struggle between Chelsea Clinton and Doug Band over the previous couple of weeks (see here, here and here).  It all started back in 2011 when, as Chelsea started to take a more senior role at the Clinton Foundation, she became increasingly concerned about an internal audit that exposed glaring conflicts of interest throughout the Foundation with an emphasis on Doug Band and his company, Teneo, who she thought had inappropriately sought favors from the State Department during Hillary’s tenure as Secretary of State.  A Politico article from March 2015, summarized Chelsea’s rise at the Foundation and how it threatened some long-time Clinton allies who had grown quite accustomed to the status quo.

 

But Chelsea Clinton’s rise at times has seemed to threaten some veteran Clinton aides who had carved out influential—and lucrative—positions after long service with her parents. She is blamed in some quarters for marginalizing both Lindsey and Doug Band, who rose from the president’s body man to build and help run the foundation’s Clinton Global Initiative. A third Clinton veteran, Ira Magaziner, saw his portfolio at the foundation diminished during Braverman’s tenure, and sources say Magaziner’s role remains under scrutiny.

Now, new WikiLeaks emails reveal additional details behind the the man, Eric Braverman, who was brought in as CEO by Chelsea to change the controversial practices of the Foundation but abruptly resigned a short time later after being pushed out by long-time Clinton loyalists who had apparently grown very comfortable with the status quo.

Below is the new email exchange which begins when Neera Tanden warns John Podesta to “keep tabs on Doug Band” who she assumed was the insider who told NBC to “follow the money and find the real HRC scandal.”  Interestingly, John Podesta writes back quickly to identify the real source as former Clinton Foundation CEO Eric Braverman which seems to be shocking to Tanden who replies simply, “Holy Moses.”

Eric Braverman

 

So who is Eric Braverman?  The following excerpts from a Politico article offer the best summary of Braverman and his efforts, as a newly installed CEO, to breakup the Clinton Foundation scandal machine only to be pushed out by Clinton loyalists after only a year and a half in his new position.

In December [2014], the board of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation approved a salary of more than $395,000, plus bonus, for its Yale-educated CEO, Eric Braverman, while voting to extend his board term through 2017, according to sources familiar with the arrangement. Braverman, who had worked with Chelsea Clinton at the prestigious McKinsey & Company consultancy, had been brought in with the former first daughter’s support to help impose McKinsey-like management rigor to a foundation that had grown into a $2 billion charitable powerhouse.

 

But in January, only weeks after the board’s show of support and just a year and a half after Braverman arrived, he abruptly resigned, and sources tell  Politico his exit stemmed partly from a power struggle inside the foundation between and among the coterie of Clinton loyalists who have surrounded the former president for decades and who helped start and run the foundation. Some, including the president’s old Arkansas lawyer Bruce Lindsey, who preceded Braverman as CEO, raised concerns directly to Bill Clinton about the reforms implemented by Braverman, according to sources, and felt themselves marginalized by the growing influence of Chelsea Clinton and the new CEO she had helped recruit.

 

The previously untold saga of Braverman’s brief, and occasionally fraught tenure trying to navigate the Clintons’ insular world highlights the challenges the family has faced trying to impose rigorous oversight onto a vast global foundation that relies on some of the same loyal megadonors Hillary Clinton will need for the presidential run sources have said she is all but certain to launch later this year.

 

Already, a spate of recent news stories in  Politico and elsewhere have highlighted questions about the foundation’s aggressive fundraising both before and during Braverman’s tenure, including the  news that the foundation had been accepting contributions from foreign governments with  lax oversight from the State Department when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. The foundation has been Clinton’s main public platform since she left State in February 2013.

 

The hiring a few months later of Braverman, who had been a partner in McKinsey’s Washington office, was seen as validation of Chelsea Clinton’s view that the foundation needed to address recommendations from a 2011 audit for tighter governance and budgeting, as well as more comprehensive policies to vet donors and avoid conflicts of interest.

 

When Braverman arrived to replace Lindsey as CEO, he moved quickly to adopt the auditor’s recommendations, and then some. He diversified the foundation’s board beyond the Clintons and their longtime political allies and restructured its finance department. He oversaw the creation of a $250 million endowment and implemented data-driven analytics to measure the effectiveness of foundation programs.

 

No public explanation was offered for Braverman’s resignation.

Of course, given that the email exchange between Podesta and Tanden, and the following tweet from NBC’s Joe Scarborough,  occurred just days after Braverman was relieved of his duties in March 2015 it does seem likely that he was the “source close to the Clintons” who told Ron Fournier “to follow the money and find the real HRC scandal.”

“@JoeNBC: A source close to the Clintons tell @ron_fournier to “follow the money” and find the real HRC scandal. http://t.co/lPTQY0L0o4

Ironically, Braverman’s resignation also came shortly after the following email from Huma Abedin showing that Hillary directly approached the King of Morocco to host a meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative.  In return, the King had promised “$12 million both for the endowment and to support the meeting.”  Huma concludes her email by saying “she [Hillary] created this mess and she knows it.”

Eric Braverman

 

So was this the questionable “contribution from foreign governments with  lax oversight” that ultimately caused Braverman to resign?

More importantly, where is Eric Braverman now?  Clearly, at one point, Braverman expressed some interest in exposing the deep corruption within the Clinton Foundation…now, with all of the new WikiLeaks disclosures, would seem like an opportune time to do just that.

This is a story that refuses to go away. Recall the post from earlier this month, Backlash Grows Months After the FBI’s Sham Investigation Into Hillary Clinton, in which we learned:

 Feeling the heat from congressional critics, Comey last week argued that the case was investigated by career FBI agents, “So if I blew it, they blew it, too.”

But agents say Comey tied investigators’ hands by agreeing to unheard-of ground rules and other demands by the lawyers for Clinton and her aides that limited their investigation.

 

“In my 25 years with the bureau, I never had any ground rules in my interviews,” said retired agent Dennis V. Hughes, the first chief of the FBI’s computer investigations unit.

Instead of going to prosecutors and insisting on using grand jury leverage to compel testimony and seize evidence, Comey allowed immunity for several key witnesses, including potential targets.

What’s more, Comey cut a deal to give Clinton a “voluntary” witness interview on a major holiday, and even let her ex-chief of staff sit in on the interview as a lawyer, even though she, too, was under investigation.

Agreed retired FBI agent Michael M. Biasello: “Comey has singlehandedly ruined the reputation of the organization.”

Comey made the 25 agents who worked on the case sign nondisclosure agreements. But others say morale has sunk inside the bureau.

“The director is giving the bureau a bad rap with all the gaps in the investigation,” one agent in the Washington field office said. “There’s a perception that the FBI has been politicized and let down the country.”

While the above article focused on the opinions of retired agents, today’s article zeros in on the growing frustrations of current agency employees.

The Daily Caller reports:

FBI agents say the bureau is alarmed over Director James Comey deciding not to suggest that the Justice Department prosecute Hillary Clinton over her mishandling of classified information.

According to an interview transcript given to The Daily Caller, provided by an intermediary who spoke to two federal agents with the bureau last Friday, agents are frustrated by Comey’s leadership.

“This is a textbook case where a grand jury should have convened but was not. That is appalling,” an FBI special agent who has worked public corruption and criminal cases said of the decision. “We talk about it in the office and don’t know how Comey can keep going.”

Another special agent for the bureau that worked counter-terrorism and criminal cases said he is offended by Comey’s saying: “we” and “I’ve been an investigator.”

After graduating from law school, Comey became a law clerk to a U.S. District Judge in Manhattan and later became an associate in a law firm in the city. After becoming a U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, Comey’s career moved through the U.S. Attorney’s Office until he became Deputy Attorney General during the George W. Bush administration.

After Bush left office, Comey entered the private sector and became general counsel and Senior Vice President for Lockheed Martin, among other private sector posts. President Barack Obama appointed him to FBI director in 2013 replacing out going-director Robert Mueller.

“Comey was never an investigator or special agent. The special agents are trained investigators and they are insulted that Comey included them in ‘collective we’ statements in his testimony to imply that the SAs agreed that there was nothing there to prosecute,” the second agent said. “All the trained investigators agree that there is a lot to prosecuted but he stood in the way.”

Indeed, there were many red flags surrounding Comey from the beginning. So much so that I wrote an article in 2013 titled, So Who is James Comey, Obama’s Nominee to Head the FBI?

 In light of the latest revelations that the NSA is spying on the communications of millions of Verizon customers courtesy of information provided by the FBI, it probably makes sense to know a little more about Obama’s nominee to head that Bureau.  That man is James Comey, and he was a top Department of Justice attorney under John Ashcroft during the George W. Bush Administration (since then he has worked at Lockheed Martin and at the enormous Connecticut hedge fund Bridgewater Associates).  This guy defines the revolving door cancer ruining these United States.

Now back to The Daily Caller.

 According to Washington D.C. attorney Joe DiGenova , more FBI agents will be talking about the problems at bureau and specifically the handling of the Clinton case by Comey when Congress comes back into session and decides to force them to testify by subpoena.

DiGenova told WMAL radio’s Drive at Five last week, “People are starting to talk. They’re calling their former friends outside the bureau asking for help. We were asked to day to provide legal representation to people inside the bureau and agreed to do so and to former agents who want to come forward and talk. Comey thought this was going to go away.”

He explained, “It’s not. People inside the bureau are furious. They are embarrassed. They feel like they are being led by a hack but more than that that they think he’s a crook. They think he’s fundamentally dishonest. They have no confidence in him. The bureau inside right now is a mess.”

He added, “The most important thing of all is that the agents have decided that they are going to talk.”

Corruption in the USA has now reached the level where it starts destroying the entire fabric of society itself. This is a very dangerous moment.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte arrived in China to meet with Chinese Premier Xi Xinping. Duterte has become a very controversial figure in Asian politics as he has publicly excoriated U.S. President Barack Obama’s treatment of him and his country.

Duterte has pursued a frank and brutal policy to clean up drug trafficking and crime in the Philippines while at the same time backing away from U.S. influence over the former U.S. colony.

His meeting with Xinping comes after multiple public clashes with Obama which has led to ending joint sea patrols with the U.S. Seventh Fleet in the disputed South China Sea.

These increased patrols and diplomatic overtures in Southeast Asia, particularly with Vietnam are all part of the ‘Asian Pivot’ of which Hillary Clinton was the architect during her reign as Secretary of State.

That Duterte is looking to mend fences with China after the ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands back in June which denied China’s historical claims to much of the South China Sea is telling.

Because the Philippines has been the loudest opponent of China’s territorial claims.

Vietnamese Waffling

Across the way, Vietnam, on the other hand, has been vocal and taken steps to make substantive claims in the Paracels, it has also been willing to negotiate with China on this issue.

Tensions in the region are always high given the historical backdrop of past Chinese invasions. Vietnamese political moves, in particular, are largely built based on fear of future Chinese colonization, either de facto or through economic means.

This is why, in particular, Vietnam is willing to green light the reopening of Cold War Era Russian military bases there and invite Russian investment in industries normally closed to significant foreign investment like oil production, including offshore exploration and refining.

Talks between Gazprom Neft and state-owned PetroVietnam broke down over the sale of 49% of the refinery at Dun Quat in January, but the fact that Russia got that far in negotiations for that big a stake is itself significant. Vietnam has been desperate to get Dun Quat sold to expand its capacity for three years now but has been unsuccessful in getting a deal done.

This is likely due to a mix of pressures behind the scenes as the U.S. continues to put pressure on the country to not make ties between it and the emerging Russia/China alliance too strong. And Prime Minister Dung has played his poor hand well to get Vietnam concessions from everyone while remaining, at least nominally, independent.

Don’t be surprised in the near future if Vietnam’s terms on Dung Quat become acceptable to Gazprom Neft if the Russians go through with reopening those bases mentioned above.

Russia is seen as a calming influence on any imperial ambitions of the Chinese by regional actors. It has little to do with Russian territorial imperialism. Vietnam is an important strategic and commercial hub in the region historically and it will be difficult for the U.S.’s pivot there to do anything but delay the inevitable.

Flipping the Philippines

The Philippines understands this as well and Duterte’s breaking with the U.S. leadership publicly hands China a grand opening to firm up support within ASEAN – the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Ties with Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia and Singapore are strong thanks to strong trade relations.

Xinping just made a deal with Cambodia to help modernize its military.

Once Obama leaves office, U.S. support for Indonesia will drop off a cliff. His personal ties there have ensured a flood of money into that country. It will now have to make deals without that crutch in its back pocket.

While for China, with its soft-peg to the strengthening U.S. dollar, they have very smartly deepened the market for clearing trade directly in local currencies, bypassing the U.S. dollar and insulating these countries from the worst of a dollar bull market, which is again underway, as I discussed last week.

It is also why China is devaluing the Yuan slowly in order to protect its ASEAN trading partners by keeping its real effective exchange rate from rising further and gutting two-way trade.

None of this is lost on Duterte. The resistance to China’s influence over ASEAN is crumbling as China, smartly, has pivoted a larger portion of its trade towards its regional neighbors. With the depression in Europe and the weakness of the Euro, trade between the regions no longer makes sense.

The Philippines cannot be a hold out against the tide of waning U.S. influence in the region lest all the work he’s done to clean up the corruption and violence – regardless of what you may think of his methods – will come to naught.

His trip to China this week is very bad news for Clinton and Obama and it is very likely that the Asian Pivot policy will unravel in short order.