The emerging strategy is to pair offers of minor concessions to Americans and Trump with demands for giveaways to business, including a bigger supply of low-wage workers and welfare-funded consumers. The immigration “pairing” strategy is being pushed by the industry-backed Business Policy Council, in cooperation with GOP Sen. Thom Tillis.
The strategy collides with Trump’s emphasis on raising Americans’ wages via “merit-based immigration,” which is also backed by a new productivity-boosting immigration drafted by two GOP Senators, David Perdue and Tom Cotton. “Real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals: to improve jobs and wages for Americans, to strengthen our nation’s security, and to restore respect for our laws,” Trump told Congress February 28.
The business push for “pairing” creates a risk for the many Americans worried about cheap-labor migration, said Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. President Trump “has the potential to be taken to the cleaners by [Sen.] Chuck Schumer because [immigraton] is something he doesn’t know anything about… hopefully [Steve] Bannon and [Stephen] Miller will prevent this from happening.”
Tillis and lobbyists at the BPC described their emerging “pairing” strategy at a recent press event.
“We have to have border security,” Tillis said in a conversation with Haley Barbour, the co-chair of the BPC’s immigration advocacy task force, who also runs a lobbying firm, the BGR Group. Tillis continued:
To me, it is absolutely essential [border security] be one of the first measures that we pass. Now the question is what can we pair with it that will start creating some sort of consensus going … around a series of other things that we can talk about, but we are not going to put in the [first] bill because if it gets too convoluted, if it becomes too comprehensive, than it starts falling apart.
In 2013, business groups allied with Democratic leader Sen. Chuck Schumer to push a huge “comprehensive immigration reform” bill that provided amnesty and a huge flow of new migrants and workers. Schumer’s “Gang of Eight” bill was defeated because House Speaker John Boehner stalled business groups until public opposition became undeniable.
“Think about [pairing] DACA [President Barack Obama’s 2012 mini-amnesty for young illegals] with border security…. Think about [pairing more] work visas with E-Verify and other enforcement actions against employers,” Tillis said. E-Verify is a federal website that can help screen out illegal during job interviews. However, business lobbying has persuaded Congress to keep the use of E-Verify system voluntary, not mandatory.
E-Verify is a federal website that helps employers identify illegal aliens seeking jobs. However, business lobbying has persuaded Congress to keep the use of E-Verify system voluntary, not mandatory.
Tillis also dismissed Trump’s election-winning promise of a border wall, by suggesting that Congress deny funds for construction of a wall or fence along stretches of the border in favor of “other capabilities.” Border security, he said, “is one of the first things we need to do… [but] it seems to me we could get to a reasonable compromise on a bill that I think will be less costly and more effective than just the concept of a structure. Walls need to be where wall are, but other capabilities need to be elsewhere.”
Barbour and other BPC officials pushed the “pairing” strategy throughout the press event. “The idea of pairing… makes a lot of sense,” said Michael Chertoff, the former Secretary of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush. Chertoff is the co-chair of the BPC’s Immigration Task Force.
Tillis’ office did not respond to Breitbart’s emails. Barbour declined an interview request.
Tillis’s policy goals are shaped by the needs of North Carolina’s agriculture industry, which continues to rely on cheap labor for harvesting crops, instead of developing high-productivity crop harvesting machines.
But he is also indirectly backed by his political neighbor, South Carolina’s Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has repeatedly helped his state’s tourism and golfing resorts bring in wage-cutting foreign workers instead of raising wages to hire Americans. In a March 15 interview with Bloomberg, Graham echoed Barbour’s pairing strategy, saying:
The first one would combine ramped-up enforcement, starting with “the bad dudes,” and the legalization of [DACA] illegal immigrants who came here as minors. Republicans are open to that legalization, he said, and it “would be hard for Democrats to say no to securing the border and helping these 800,000 kids have a better life.”
The second one would legalize adult illegal immigrants working in agriculture and tourism, and at the same time require employers to use the e-verify program to make sure all new hires are legal workers.
Third, Graham would legalize those remaining illegal immigrants who passed a background check and paid a fine. In return he wants to shift legal immigration toward recruiting people with high skills rather than reuniting extended families. “The immigration system of the future would be merit-based,” he says.
In late 2012, Graham played a key role with Schumer in launching the 2013 “Gang of Eight” immigration bill.
The “pairing” deals sketched by Barbour, Tillis and Graham would allow a border wall plus an amnesty and the expanded work-permit program, which would give Democrats the future voters they want and also give business groups the new inflow of taxpayer-supported customers and wage-cutting white-collar workers that they want. That endless inflow of new workers would make it more difficult for white-collar and blue-collar Americans to win higher salaries as the economy expands.
During the 2016 election campaign, Trump promised to pass a pro-American immigration reform law. “The fundamental problem with the immigration system in our country is that it serves the needs of wealthy donors, political activists, and powerful, powerful politicians … It does not serve you, the American people,” he said.
“When politicians talk about immigration reform, they usually mean the following, amnesty, open borders, lower wages … [but] it should mean improvements to our laws and policies to make life better for American citizens,” Trump said on August 31, adding:
We have to listen to the concerns that working people, our forgotten working people, have over the record pace of immigration and it’s impact on their jobs, wages, housing, schools, tax bills and general living conditions…
While there are many illegal immigrants in our country who are good people, many, many, this doesn’t change the fact that most illegal immigrants are lower skilled workers with less education, who compete directly against vulnerable American workers, and that these illegal workers draw much more out from the system than they can ever possibly pay back. And they’re hurting a lot of our people that cannot get jobs under any circumstances …
The basic problem for reformers is that they “have to get eight Democratic Senators to vote” for a reform, Krikorian said. The offer of a DACA amnesty “might be enough to get eight of those Democrats from Trump-voting states to go along with E-Verify and legal immigration [reform]” which would end the wage-cutting chain immigration of unskilled family relatives, he said. “That would be a good deal,” Krikorian added.
“The worst case is [legislators] legalize the DACAs in exchange for some phony-baloney border bill that they don’t need,” because Congress has already authorized construction of the wall, said Krikorian.
In his February 28 speech to Congress, Trump outlined his “merit-based” immigration reform, which would emphasize skilled immigration of college graduates, and likely lower the annual “family chain” inflow of roughly 800,0000 unskilled relatives of recent immigrants.
Nations around the world, like Canada, Australia and many others –- have a merit-based immigration system. It is a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially. Yet, in America, we do not enforce this rule, straining the very public resources that our poorest citizens rely upon. According to the National Academy of Sciences, our current immigration system costs America’s taxpayers many billions of dollars a year.
Switching away from this current system of lower-skilled immigration, and instead adopting a merit-based system, will have many benefits: it will save countless dollars, raise workers’ wages, and help struggling families –- including immigrant families –- enter the middle class.
I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals: to improve jobs and wages for Americans, to strengthen our nation’s security, and to restore respect for our laws.
Trump did not say his plan would exclude amnesty or lower the annual inflow of immigrants — but immigration reformers, such as Krikorian, say they would be willing to accept a congressional amnesty if the deal also lowered the annual inflow of legal immigrants which forces down wages and consumer welfare spending.
Under the current cheap-labor economic strategy, the federal government does not repatriate the 11 million illegals, and it grants citizenship to roughly 1 million foreigners per year, mostly to the family relatives of prior unskilled immigrants. Only about one-in-five new immigrants have college degrees. Immigrants without college degrees tend to receive more in welfare and aid payments than they return in federal, state and local taxes. That inflow lowers salaries and wages, which boosts investors’ income by roughly $500 billion per year, according to a Harvard analysis.
The U.S. government also provides temporary work permits to roughly 1 million foreign contract workers, creating a population of roughly 1.4 million temporary white-collar foreign workers in the United States. Tillis and 30 other Senators recently called for agencies to not waste any of the 66,000 H-2B worker visas which companies use to hire foreign workers instead of American workers.
In contrast, Trump has called for pro-American reforms of the contract-worker programs. “I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program,” Trump said in a March 2016 statement. “No exceptions,” he added.
Each year, four million Americans enter the workforce and are required to compete for good jobs against the two million new immigrants and temporary workers.
Tillis, however, is focused on pushing his pro-business “pairing” strategy. “We know most of the solutions, we have to figure out … how to silence the voices at either end of the political spectrum that are the reason we haven’t been successful in the past, and solve the problem,” Tillis told the business lobbyists at the March 2 meeting.
While the Trump administration focuses on securing the southern border, most illegal immigrants enter the United States legally and stay after their visa expires, a new study reveals. That’s because, incredibly, the U.S. doesn’t have an adequate system to assure the foreigners leave when they’re supposed to. This has been a serious problem for years and in fact some of the 9/11 hijackers overstayed their visa to plan the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil. More than a decade and a half later little has changed. Securing the famously porous southern border is essential to national security but so is a reliable system that cracks down on visa overstays.
How bad is the problem? More than half of the undocumented people living in the U.S. entered the country with visas that expired, according to a report issued this month by a New York-based think tank dedicated to studying international migration. The study analyzes Department of Homeland Security (DHS) statistics from 2014 and finds that two-thirds of foreigners who arrived did not cross the border illegally, but rather were admitted on non-immigrant temporary visas and overstayed their period of admission or otherwise violated the terms of their visas. “Overstays accounted for about two-thirds (66 percent) of those who arrived (i.e., joined the undocumented population) in 2014,” the report states.
Visa overstays exceeded illegal border crossings, Entries Without Inspection (EWI), every year since 2007, the report says, and 600,000 more overstays than EWIs have arrived since 2007. Most illegal immigrants in the U.S. come from Mexico, the DHS figures used to compile the report show, about one-third of them visa overstays. This translates into 4.5 million visa overstays from Mexico in the year that was studied. California has the largest number of overstays (890,000), followed by New York (520,000), Texas (475,000), and Florida (435,000). Not surprisingly, California and Texas have the biggest chunk of illegal border crossers from Mexico, with 1.7 million and 1.3 million respectively. Other states, such as Hawaii, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, also have large numbers of visa overstays, the report states.
The study was actually published to make a case against building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, but in the process highlights the visa overstay crisis which compromises national security just as much as the porous border. Judicial Watch has reported on both for years and obtained public records that help illustrate the severity of the matter. The bottom line is that Islamic terrorists are using both avenues to enter the U.S. As part of an ongoing investigation on the Mexican border, Judicial Watch has published a series of articles documenting how Middle Eastern terrorists have joined forces with Mexican drug cartels to infiltrate the U.S. and train in southern border towns near American cities. Sources include local, state and federal law enforcement officials as well as military figures on both sides of the border.
The threat created by visa overstays has also been well documented. Just last year Judicial Watch obtained DHS figures showing that more than half a million foreigners with expired visas—like four of the 9/11 jihadists—remained in the country, thousands of them from terrorist nations like Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Syria. More than 45,000 Mexicans overstayed their visa, according to the DHS records, and thousands more from El Salvador, Ecuador, Venezuela and China. The visas are granted for “business or pleasure” and the foreigners come via sea or air port of entry. For nearly a decade a number of federal audits have offered the alarming figures associated with visa overstays, including one released back in 2011 that estimates half of the nation’s illegal immigrants entered legally with visas.
A few years after the 2001 terrorist attacks Congress launched a system that was supposed to track the entry and exit of foreign nationals by using electronically scanned fingerprints and photographs. But five years and $1 billion later, the system, U.S. Visitor and Immigration Status Indicator Technology (US VISIT), still had serious flaws. A few years later the investigative arm of Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), published a report confirming that nearly half of the nation’s illegal aliens entered the U.S. legally and overstayed their visas undetected. In the years that followed the government did little to improve what has developed into a dire national security disaster. In 2011 yet another federal audit confirmed that the U.S. had lost track of millions who overstayed their visas and two years later the crisis intensified when DHS lost track of 266 dangerous foreigners with expired visas. The government determined that they “could pose a national security or public safety concerns,” according to the director of Homeland Security and Justice at the GAO.
Police: Illegal Alien Suspects Charged After Allegedly Raping and Sodomizing 14-Year-Old Maryland High School Student
Two suspects reportedly in the U.S. illegally allegedly raped and sodomized a 14-year-old Maryland high school student on Thursday after trapping her in a bathroom stall during the school day, according to police.
ABC7 reporter Kevin Lewis posted a statement of probable cause from the Montgomery County Police Department on Mar. 17 on Twitter that quickly went viral:
JUST IN: The court documents in the alleged Rockville High School midday rape describe a terribly gruesome, violent, unconscionable attack. pic.twitter.com/5RcUD5wZ9M
— Kevin Lewis (@ABC7Kevin) March 17, 2017
A detective from the Special Victims Investigations Division Child Abuse/Sex Assault (SVID CA/SA) interviewed the victim, identified as “Victim A,” on Mar. 16. The young victim was allegedly orally, anally, and vaginally raped. Below is a transcript from three of the four available pages from the detective’s statement of probable cause:
One March 16, 2017, your affiant, a duly sworn Montgomery County Police Detective, currently assigned to the Special Victims Investigations Division Child Abuse/Sex Assault (SVID CA/SA), began an investigation into the allegation of rape of a minor, known to your affiant, and referred to as Victim A from this point forward.
Victim A is a 14-year-old female (DOB: 4/16/2002) who attends Rockville High School located at 2100 Baltimore Road, Rockville, Montgomery County, Maryland 20851.
On March 16, 2017, Victim A told school staff that she was sexually assaulted by two boys in the school bathroom. Victim A was interviewed by Detective K. Carvajal and your affiant. During the interview Victim A disclosed the following:
Victim A was in the school hallways when she met with the two other students later identified as Jose O. Montano and Henry E. Sanchez Milian. Victim A knew Montano as a friend and did not know Sanchez Milian personally. Montano and Victim A engaged in a conversation and Montano asked Victim A for a hug. Then Montano slapped her butt and asked her to come with him and his friend, Sanchez Milian. They were walking near the gym area when they passed by the bathroom. Montano asked Victim A for sex, which she refused. Montano asked again, more persistently and pushed Victim A into the boy’s bathroom. Montano then pushed Victim A into the one bathroom stall with a door. Sanchez Milian came in and left.
Victim A was holding a sink to avoid going into the bathroom when Montano grabbed her hand and pulled her into the stall. Montano pushed Victim A into the corner of the stall and kissed her neck. Montano then unzipped Victim A’s top and and pulled her breasts out to play with. Victim A again told Montano to stop.
Sanchez Milian came into the stall. Montano unbuckled Victim A’s pants and pulled it down. Montano pressed his body against Victim A. Victim A tried to push Montano off. Montano grabbed Victim A’s arms and turned her around. Montano bent Victim A over the toilet. Victim A again said to stop.
Montano and Sanchez Milian spoke to each other in Spanish. Then Sanchez Milian sat in front of Victim A on the toilet with his penis pulled out. Sanchez Milian forced his penis inside Victim A’s mouth and forced oral sex. Victim A tried to lift up but Sanchez Milian held the back of Victim A’s head. During the same time, Montano attempted to force anal intercourse with Victim A. Victim A felt Montano’s penis against her butt and felt pain. Victim A cried out in pain. Sanchez Milian told Victim A to calm down. Montano then forced vaginal intercourse with Victim A from behind. Montano pulled Victim A’s hands behind her back. Montano also grabbed her breasts. Montano moved faster. Victim A was able to lift her head to say stop. Montano replied that he was almost there. Montano took a deep breath and stopped. Once Montano pulled his penis from Victim A’s vagina, Montano and Sanchez Milian switched positions.
Montano sat down on the toilet in front of Victim A. Victim A observed blood on Montano’s penis. Victim A stated she was on her menstrual cycle. Montano took Victim A’s head and forced his penis inside her mouth, forcing oral sex. Montano held the back of Victim A’s head. At the same time, Sanchez Milian penetrated Victim A’s anus with his penis and forced anal intercourse with Victim A. Then Sanchez Milian pulled out and penetrated Victim A’s vagina with his penis. Sanchez Milian forced vaginal intercourse with Victim A. Sanchez Milian held onto Victim A’s hands against her waist while he forced anal and vaginal intercourse. Victim A repeatedly said to stop.
They heard the door. Sanchez Milian left and Montano told Victim A to be quiet. Montano also put his hand over Victim A’s mouth to keep her quiet. Sanchez Milian returned. Montano and Sanchez Milian again talked to each other again in Spanish. Sanchez Milian gave Victim A his jacket and put it over her head. They act like “body guards” and walk out of the bathroom. Then Montano and Sanchez Milian leave. Victim A enter [sic] girl’s bathroom. When Victim A exited the girl’s bathroom, she saw Montano and Sanchez Milian returning towards her. Victim A drop [sic] Sanchez Milian’s jacket on a railing and left the area to go to class, where she told staff.
On March 16, 2017, Montano was interviewed at which time he denied having any sexual contact with Victim A. Montano stated they went into the bathroom to tell jokes.
On March 16, 2017, the MCPD Forensic Specialist processed the boy’s bathroom and suspected blood that may be mixed with male fluid.
Police released a mugshot of the suspect Sanchez, but not Montano, since he is 17 and thus still a minor.
Prosecutors told Lewis that the 17-year-old Montano, originally from El Salvador, has arrived in U.S. eight months ago, but whether or not he was an illegal alien “was not immediately known.” The 18-year-old Sanchez Milian had an active “pending alien removal” case against him in the federal judicial system, and had arrived in the U.S. seven months ago, according to prosecutors. He is from Guatemala. Despite his age, Sanchez Milian was allowed to enroll as a freshman at Rockville High School, according to court officials.
Both Montano and Sanchez Milian face “first-degree rape and two counts of first-degree sexual offense,” according to WTOP.com. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) placed an immigration detainer request on the 18-year-old Sanchez, but would not comment on Montano’s case as he is still a minor.
Coulter: Trump Administration Starting to Look Like Every Other GOP Administration — Get Back to Immigration, Jobs, Trade
Tuesday on Sean Hannity’s nationally syndicated radio show, conservative commentator Ann Coulter, author of “In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome!” warned Trump to get past health care policy and tax cuts and resume working on what he ran on, which included immigration and the economy.
Coulter warned the Trump administration was already beginning to resemble previous Republican administrations and she cited the indication Trump was willing to increase military spending.
“Trump has got to get off this stuff, and he’s got to get off tax cuts and get back to what got him elected,” Coulter said. “He wasn’t elected by Goldman Sachs. He got 1 percent of their vote. He wasn’t elected by the donor class. He spent less on television advertising, and that’s what the cost is, than even Bernie Sanders did per vote. He doesn’t owe the donors. Get back to the law. Get back to deportations. Get back to the trade deals.”
“This is starting to look like every other Republican administration — massive spending on the military, which wastes $125 billion per year according to a McKenzie report,” she continued. “He’s moving money from one swamp to another. We don’t want war. We want more jobs, a wall and lots of deportations — not all this stuff that is indistinguishable from the Jeb Bush administration.”
Crowdstrike, the cybersecurity company working for the Democratic National Committee (DNC), released a report tying “Russian hacking” to an incident that never happened, yet even after the report had been debunked, FBI Director James Comey still referred to Crowdstrike as a “highly respected private company” at a Senate hearing.
Executives from Crowdstrike and Director Comey are both scheduled to testify in front of the House Intelligence Committee set for Monday morning at 10 am.
By issuing a still-unrestricted report about an incident that never happened and then tying it to the alleged Russian hacks that Democrats claim tipped the elections for Pres. Trump, the DNC-employed Crowdstrike’s credibility deserves to be called into question, however, despite excellent reporting by cybersecurity expert Jeffrey Carr, Bloomberg’s Leonid Bershidsky, and Voice of America reporter Oleksiy Kuzmenko, the media has ignored the story and continued to cite Crowdstrike’s work… even after the Ukrainian Defense Ministry issued a statement on January 6th, 2017 refuting Crowdstrike’s claims.
Even more troubling than the media malfeasance about the discredited Crowdstrike report, in testimony in front of the Senate intelligence committee on January 10 – four days after the Ukrainian DOD denied Crowdstrike’s report — Director Comey admitted that the FBI had been denied access to the DNC servers and praised Crowdstrike, without mentioning that they worked for the DNC or that their recent report had been debunked.
The Crowdstrike report, titled “Use of Fancy Bear Android Malware in Tracking of Ukrainian Field Artillery Units“, was issued by the company on December 22, 2016. It’s a slickly produced document, with a frightening comic book-style cover and plenty of charts and graphs. Crowdstrike’s villain in the report is Fancy Bear, which they say is a hacking group controlled by Russia’s GRU intelligence agency. Crowdstrike itself gave the group the name Fancy Bear, with ‘Bear’ referring to Russia and ‘Fancy’ referring to the song Fancy by Iggy Izalea.
On June 15, 2016 Crowdstrike claimed that Fancy Bear was behind the DNC hacks in an article title Bears in the Midst: Intrusion into the Democratic National Committee. That post came the day after the Washington Post published an article claiming Russian government hackers penetrated DNC and stole opposition research on Trump, quoting Crowdstrike’s co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch, who is scheduled to testify Monday in front of the House Intel committee hearing. In that June WaPo article, Alperovitch seemed unsure on details but pinned the hack on Fancy Bear:
CrowdStrike is not sure how the hackers got in. The firm suspects they may have targeted DNC employees with “spearphishing” emails. These are communications that appear legitimate — often made to look like they came from a colleague or someone trusted — but that contain links or attachments that when clicked on deploy malicious software that enables a hacker to gain access to a computer. “But we don’t have hard evidence,” Alperovitch said. The two groups did not appear to be working together, Alperovitch said. Fancy Bear is believed to work for the GRU, or Russia’s military intelligence service, he said.
In light of his possible testimony Monday, it’s worth noting Alperovitch’s statements in the June 2016 Washington Post article that there’s no “hard evidence” of how the hack occurred and that Fancy Bear is “believed to work” for GRU.
That June WaPo article also quoted Crowdstrike’s President and former FBI agent Shawn Henry, who is also scheduled to testify Monday.
“It’s the job of every foreign intelligence service to collect intelligence against their adversaries,” said Shawn Henry, president of CrowdStrike, the cyber firm called in to handle the DNC breach and a former head of the FBI’s cyber division. He noted that it is extremely difficult for a civilian organization to protect itself from a skilled and determined state such as Russia.
If Henry’s statement to the Washington Post seems more political than technical, that’s because Crowdstrike was being utilized by their clients at the Democratic National Committee to put out a narrative about Russian hacking to use against the Trump campaign. As later confirmed by a laudatory piece in Esquire magazine, starting in June 2016 the DNC used Crowdstrike executives Alperovitch and Henry as part of an anti-Trump publicity plan related to allegations of Russian hacking:
The DNC wanted to go public. At the committee’s request, Alperovitch and Henry briefed a reporter from The Washington Post about the attack.
The Democrats’ attempts to smear Donald Trump with allegations of Russian involvement failed to win them the election and by December the Obama administration was taking a number of steps to make the incoming president’s job as difficult as possible. On December 13th, the New York Times published a major piece pushing the narrative – without any new definitive technical evidence – that the Russians were behind “a cyberespionage and information-warfare campaign devised to disrupt the 2016 presidential election, the first such attempt by a foreign power in American history.”
If influential media outlets like the New York Times were completely sold on the Democrat-promote idea that the Russian government was behind hacking operations intended to hurt Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, independent technical experts were not so sure. On the same day that the Times published its piece, cybersecurity expert Jeffrey Carr wrote that while there was technical evidence that the Hacker’s may have spoken Russian, that there “is also ZERO technical evidence to connect those Russian-speaking hackers to the GRU, FSB, SVR, or any other Russian government department.”
Carr continued to eviscerate those claims, such as an October statement released by the Director of National Intelligence:
The ODNI/DHS statement’s opening paragraph ends with their rationale for placing blame on the Russian government:
“We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.”
I have no explanation for what the author of that statement was thinking when he or she composed it. It is, in my opinion, ludicrous on its face. There is nothing about the attacks against the DNC, the DCC, high profile email accounts like Podesta’s, or even election data bases like those in Arizona and Illinois (that the ODNI/DHS statement specifically excluded) which preclude them from being attacked by any individual hacker or hacker team from anywhere in the world, on their own, and without any government control or direction.
What could provide the link between the Russian intelligence agency GRU and Fancy Bear, the group that Crowdstrike claimed was behind the DNC hack? Enter the Ukrainian story.
Crowdstrike needed to strengthen the hack’s connection to the GRU, as Dmitri clearly stated in an interview he did with PBS on December 22:
…this is why we wanted to produce more evidence that raises the level of confidence that we have, even internally, that this is Russian intelligence agency called the GRU.
That interview was part of the promotional campaign for Crowdstrike’s ominous December 22nd “Use of Fancy Bear Android Malware in Tracking of Ukrainian Field Artillery Units” report, which claims that it provides evidence that “further supports CrowdStrike’s previous assessments that FANCY BEAR is likely affiliated with the Russian military intelligence (GRU)”.
The Crowdstrike report opens with a few key claims about malware that they say infected tablets, including:
• From late 2014 and through 2016, FANCY BEAR X-Agent implant was covertly distributed on Ukrainian military forums within a legitimate Android application developed by Ukrainian artillery officer Yaroslav Sherstuk.
• Successful deployment of the FANCY BEAR malware within this application may have facilitated reconnaissance against Ukrainian troops. The ability of this malware to retrieve communications and gross locational data from an infected device makes it an attractive way to identify the general location of Ukrainian artillery forces and engage them.
• Open source reporting indicates that Ukrainian artillery forces have lost over 50% of their weapons in the 2 years of conflict and over 80% of D-30 howitzers, the highest percentage of loss of any other artillery pieces in Ukraine’s arsenal.
In other words, Crowdstrike was making a truly shocking claim: that the Ukrainian military had lost 80 percent of its D-30 Howitzers due to malware installed by the Russian hacking group FancyBear that they said is connected to the GRU.
The Crowdstrike report provided just the connective tissue that was needed in late December to connect the Russian government to a shocking example of cyberespionage affecting the real world, but it had one big problem; it wasn’t true.
True to form, however, the establishment media simply took Crowdstrike’s word and failed to fact-check the report.
Within the day, major establishment media outlets faithfully promoted Crowdstrike’s tale of Russian hacking destroying 80 percent of Ukrainian D-30 Howitzers. In addition to the PBS interview mentioned above, Forbes, Newsweek, The Inquirer, Reuters, Engadget and others were echoing Crowdstrike’s claim that this was a major piece of new proof for the GRU’s involvement in the DNC hacks.
However, some dissenting voices began to speak up. On the same day that the report was released, a Bloomberg article by Leonid Bershidsky was published criticizing the level of confidence that Crowdstrike was placing in their new statements. Bershidsky cites several first-hand sources associated with the Ukrainian military who were criticizing Crowdstrike’s report:
Yaroslav Sherstyuk, the Ukrainian military officer who developed the application, reacted angrily on Facebook to the CrowdStrike report, saying he never published the software on any public forums and encouraging fellow Ukrainian servicemen to keep using the latest version of his app. Via Facebook Messenger, he told me that he didn’t believe an infected version of the app even existed. “This is a hoax to scare everyone and make us go back to the old methods of targeting fire,” he wrote. A CrowdStrike spokesperson did not respond when I asked if it had contacted Sherstyuk. He said it hadn’t.
The spokesperson, Ilina Dimitrova, wrote that “it is indisputable that the app has been hacked with Fancy Bear malware — we have published the indicators related to it and they have been confirmed by others in the cybersecurity community.” CrowdStrike said that it found the infected app “in limited public distribution on a Russian language, Ukrainian military forum.” I doubt anyone in the Ukrainian military would download software for targeting artillery fire from a forum. Typically, they obtain it directly from known developers such as Sherstyuk. If I can contact him directly, so can Ukrainian artillery officers seeking to improve their performance in battle.
Hence, it’s hard for me to believe that this infected app — found somewhere on the internet and likely never used by Ukrainian soldiers — offers evidence tying the GRU to APT28.
There was more good reporting the next day when Voice of America (VOA) reporter Oleksiy Kuzmenko’s article titled Skeptics Doubt Ukraine Hack, Its Link to DNC Cyberattack was published. Like Bershidsky he referenced the developer of the app, who had in a Facebook post called the Crowdstrike report “delusional.” Kuzmenko also interviewed a Ukrainian military technical advisor named Pavlo Narozhnyy, who admitted that tablets had been sent to the Ukraine’s armed forces, but also made a stunning statement that directly contradicts the premise of Crowdstrike’s report.
He told VOA that contacts in the Ukrainian military units that used the app reported no losses of D-30 howitzers, which contradicts large battlefield losses referenced in the CrowdStrike report.
“I personally know hundreds of gunmen in the war zone. None of them told me of D-30 losses caused by hacking or any other reason,” Narozhnyy stressed to the VOA.
Kuzmenko also reported that the equipment statistics cited in the report had come not from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), as Crowdstrike had claimed, but instead from a pro-Russian propagandist’s blog:
The article is an English translation from a post first published by Boris Rozhin, a popular Russian blogger, who covers Russian military operations under the moniker “Colonel Cassad” from Russian-annexed Crimea.
His posting provides a table, based on what he said was data from the IISS reports, that shows Ukraine had 369 D-30 howitzers in 2013 and 75 in 2016. It included links to Rozhin said were the original IISS studies uploaded to a Russian torrent site dedicated to pushing pirated software and movies.
Although the source of the information listed by CrowdStrike is not the actual website of IISS, CrowdStrike defended its findings.
With both their sourcing and underlying claim refuted, Crowdstrike could have at that point admitted that they were wrong, issued a retraction, and pulled the report. Given the size of their error and the importance of the entire topic of alleged Russian hacking to international affairs, a retraction would not only have been the responsible thing to do but a necessity for anyone concerned about presenting the truth.
Instead, Crowdstrike chose to simply ignore the heart of the criticism and defend themselves, telling VOA in an email that it “is indisputable that the app has been hacked with FANCY BEAR malware — we have published the indicators related to it and they have been confirmed by others in the cybersecurity community.” Pavlo Narozhnyy remained skeptical even of that claim and told VOA he would like to see more proof.
The critiques by Bloomberg and VOA were ignored by the establishment media, however, who had bigger fish to fry a week later when the Obama administration delivered a one-two punch on the Russian hacking story.
On December 29, the Obama White House announced sanctions against Russia over the allegations of hacking, ordering 35 Russian diplomats to leave the United States. On the same day, Obama’s DHS and FBI released a joint analysis report (JAR) that they thought would cement the Russian hacking connection once and for all.
Once again, the lapdog media did its part and acted as stenographers for the Obama administration on the ‘Russian hacking’ narrative. The New York Times declared Obama Strikes Back at Russia for Election Hacking, while the Washington Post trumpeted Obama administration announces measures to punish Russia for 2016 election interference.
Criticism of the Crowdstrike report from a week earlier went down the memory hole.
Then on January 3, cybersecurity expert Jeffrey Carr posted an article on Medium titled The GRU-Ukraine Artillery Hack That May Never Have Happened. This was another devastating critique of Crowdstrike’s report, but like the VOA and Bloomberg articles, it was ignored by the establishment media. Carr sums up the Crowdstrike report by saying:
Crowdstrike’s latest report regarding Fancy Bear contains its most dramatic and controversial claim to date; that GRU-written mobile malware used by Ukrainian artillery soldiers contributed to massive artillery losses by the Ukrainian military. “It’s pretty high confidence that Fancy Bear had to be in touch with the Russian military,” Dmitri Alperovich told Forbes. “This is exactly what the mission is of the GRU.”
Once again, the establishment media had failed to do basic technical vetting on the claims of Russian hacking by Crowdstrike and were exposed by a few brave, lone voices in the media wilderness.
However, the most devastating rebuttal of Crowdstrike’s December 22 report came from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense itself.
On January 6, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry posted a denial on their official website, stating flatly that the claim that 80 percente of D-30 Howitzers had been destroyed by Russian malware was false. (The following is a Google Translate version of the Ukrainian information posted by their defense ministry.)
In connection with the emergence in some media reports which stated that the alleged “80% howitzer D-30 Armed Forces of Ukraine removed through scrapping Russian Ukrainian hackers software gunners,” Land Forces Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine informs that the said information is incorrect .
According Command Missile Forces and Artillery Land Forces of Ukraine, artillery weapons lost during the time of ATO times smaller than the above and are not associated with the specified cause. Currently, troops Missile Forces and Artillery Army Forces of Ukraine fully combat-ready, staffed and able to fulfill the missions.
Ministry of Defence of Ukraine asks journalists to publish only verified information received from the competent official sources. Spreading false information leads to increased social tension in society and undermines public confidence in the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
As Jeffrey Carr summed it up, “Not only did Crowdstrike choose to quote improbably high losses estimated by a Pro-Russia analyst, we now have confirmation from Ukraine’s MOD that (1) those figures were wrong, (2) Crowdstrike’s reason for the losses were wrong, and (3) Crowdstrike’s spread of false information caused harm.”
This produced more crickets from the establishment media that had used Crowdstrike as the basis of their narrative for months.
Worse than the obvious media malpractice that left Crowdstrike’s claims fully debunked, the DNC-employed group continued to be given praise by embattled FBI Director James Comey, even after this shocking refutation by the Ukrainians.
On January 10th, Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee and made a stunning admission: despite “multiple requests at different levels,” the Democratic National Committee had denied the FBI’s requests to examine the servers themselves. Instead, the FBI took the word of Crowdstrike, who Comey called a “highly respected private company.”
It bears repeating that this complimentary assessment by James Comey of Crowdstrike came days after the Ukrainian military itself had challenged the basic factual premise of their report from just weeks earlier.
Furthermore, Comey’s January 10th testimony praising Crowdstrike – who was working for the DNC at the time, remember – came after the DNC had told Buzzfeed on January 4th, days before Comey testified, that the FBI had never asked to examine their servers in the first place. DNC deputy communications director Eric Walker had said in an email that:
The DNC had several meetings with representatives of the FBI’s Cyber Division and its Washington (DC) Field Office, the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, and U.S. Attorney’s Offices, and it responded to a variety of requests for cooperation, but the FBI never requested access to the DNC’s computer servers.
This claim by a DNC official that the FBI had never asked for access to the servers clearly rankled some within the Bureau because the next day The Hill reported that an anonymous source not only contradicted the DNC’s claim, but said that the DNC’s lack of cooperation had caused severe problems for the investigation:
“The FBI repeatedly stressed to DNC officials the necessity of obtaining direct access to servers and data, only to be rebuffed until well after the initial compromise had been mitigated,” the official said.
“This left the FBI no choice but to rely upon a third party for information. These actions caused significant delays and inhibited the FBI from addressing the intrusion earlier.”
If any of this raised any suspicions for James Comey, he failed to show it in his January 10th testimony. Instead, Comey calmly told the Senate committee that while he would have liked to have the information directly from the DNC servers, that he was okay with getting the information from the company that they employed, the “highly respected” Crowdstrike. As The Hill reported:
“We’d always prefer to have access hands-on ourselves if that’s possible,” Comey said, noting that he didn’t know why the DNC rebuffed the FBI’s request.
But none of this behavior by the DNC, Crowdstrike, or James Comey fit the media’s narrative that somehow Donald Trump was connected to the Russians who had helped to throw him the election because… something. For the establishment, the technical details didn’t matter, Crowdstrike’s connection to the Democrats didn’t matter, their gross errors and misstatements didn’t matter, none of it mattered. The media pile-on of Donald Trump would continue after his inauguration and right through to this day.
Now, on Monday at 10 am, FBI Director James Comey and Crowdstrike’s Dmitri Alperovitch and Shawn Henry are all scheduled to testify in front of the House Intelligence Committee, and once again Republicans will have a chance to question Comey and Crowdstrike and finally bring some clarity to the American people.
The only question at this point is whether the House Republicans will do their duty to the American people to shed light on the story, or allow the members of the opposition party – Democrats and the media alike – to continue to spread disinformation.
Patrick J. Buchanan
The big losers of the Russian hacking scandal may yet be those who invested all their capital in a script that turned out to based on a fairy tale.
In Monday’s Intelligence Committee hearings, James Comey did confirm that his FBI has found nothing to support President Trump’s tweet that President Obama ordered him wiretapped. Not unexpected, but undeniably an embarrassment for the tweeter-in-chief.
Yet longer-term damage may have been done to the left. For Monday’s hearing showed that its rendering of the campaign of 2016 may be a product of fiction and a fevered imagination.
After eight months investigating the hacking and leaking of the emails of Clinton campaign chief John Podesta and the DNC, there is apparently no evidence yet of Trump collusion with Russia.
Former Director of National Intelligence Gen. James Clapper has said that, as of his departure day, Jan. 20, he had seen no evidence of a Russia-Trump collusion.
Former acting CIA Director Michael Morell also made that clear this month: “On the question of the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russians here, there is smoke, but there is no fire, at all. … There’s no little campfire, there’s no little candle, there’s no spark. And there’s a lot of people looking for it.” Morell was a surrogate for the Hillary Clinton campaign.
But while the FBI is still searching for a Trump connection, real crimes have been unearthed — committed by anti-Trump bureaucrats colluding with mainstream media — to damage Trump’s presidency.
There is hard evidence of collusion between the intel community and The New York Times and The Washington Post, both beneficiaries of illegal leaks — felonies punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
While the howls have been endless that Trump accused Obama of a “felony,” the one provable felony here was the leak of a transcript of an intercepted conversation between Gen. Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador.
That leak ended Flynn’s career as national security adviser. And Director Comey would neither confirm nor deny that President Obama was aware of the existence of the Flynn transcript.
So where do we stand after yesterday’s hearing and eight-month FBI investigation? The Russians did hack Podesta’s email account and the DNC, and while the FBI has found no evidence of Trump campaign collusion with the Russians, it is still looking.
However, the known unknowns seem more significant.
How could DNI Director Clapper and CIA Director Morell say that no connection had been established between Trump’s campaign and the Russians, without there having been an investigation? And how could such an investigation be conclusive in exonerating Trump’s associates — without some use of electronic surveillance?
Did the FBI fly to Moscow and question Putin’s cyberwarfare team?
More questions arise. If, in its investigation of the Russian hacking and a Trump connection, the FBI did receive the fruits of some electronic surveillance of the Trump campaign, were Attorney General Loretta Lynch, White House aides or President Obama made aware of any such surveillance? Did any give a go-ahead to surveil the Trump associates? Comey would neither confirm nor deny that they did.
So, if Obama were aware of an investigation into the Trump campaign, using intel sources and methods, Trump would not be entirely wrong in his claims, and Obama would have some ‘splainin’ to do.
Is the FBI investigating the intelligence sources who committed felonies by illegally disclosing information about the Trump campaign?
Comey would not commit to investigate these leaks, though this could involve criminal misconduct within his own FBI.
Again, the only known crimes committed by Americans during and after the campaign are the leaks of security secrets by agents of the intel community, colluding with the Fourth Estate, which uses the First Amendment to provide cover for criminal sources, whom they hail as “whistleblowers.”
Indeed, if there was no surveillance of Trump of any kind, where did all these stories come from, which their reporters attributed to “intelligence sources”?
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from any role in the Russian hacking scandal. But the Justice Department should demand that the FBI put the highest priority on investigating the deep state and its journalistic collaborators in the sabotage of the Trump presidency.
If Comey refuses to do it, appoint a special counsel.
In the last analysis, as Glenn Greenwald, no Trumpite, writes for The Intercept, the real loser may well be the Democratic Party.
If the investigation of Russiagate turns up no link between Trump and the pilfered emails, Democrats will have egg all over their faces. And the Democratic base will have to face a painful truth.
Vladimir Putin did not steal this election. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama lost it. Donald Trump won it fair and square. He is not an “illegitimate” president. There will be no impeachment. They were deceived and misled by their own leaders and media. They bought into a Big Lie.
Senator Rand Paul weighed in on James Comey’s “wiretap” denials Monday afternoon, telling Fox’s Neil Cavuto that “somebody was spying on the Trump campaign” even if they didn’t use an “old-fashioned bug.”
From Fox News:
“Everybody admits that somebody spied on Mike Flynn, and he was part of the Trump campaign,” Paul said. “It sounds like what the president said has already been proven to be true.”
He said that the media is confused, because they think that wiretapping means placing an “old-fashioned bug” on someone’s telephone.
If you haven’t looked recently, most of our telephones don’t have wires,” Paul said. “‘Wiretapping’ is a broad term for surveillance.
Cavuto said that surveilling Flynn is one thing, but he pressed Paul if Trump himself was tapped.
“I think ‘wiretapping’ to Donald Trump probably meant spying. And I think ‘Donald Trump’ or the ‘campaign’ also probably meant Mike Flynn,” Paul said. “So I think really we’re arguing circles around something that most people are admitting.”
“Somebody was spying on the Trump campaign and … Mike Flynn lost his job because of an illegal felony in which somebody released the results of spying on the Trump campaign.”
As the highest level ever NSA whistleblower William Binney said earlier this month, the government is spying on everyone, including Trump, and the FISA courts are “simply out there for show” to give the false impression “the government is following the law, and being looked at and overseen by the Senate and House intelligence committees and the courts.”
As Binney said, the real spying is being “done outside of the courts” and “outside of the Congress.”
I guarantee everything Trump and everyone connected to him did was being spied on by the deep state just as everything he and his staff are doing now is also being spied on by the deep state and leaked to The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Washington DC is the swamp and hack politicians like Trey Gowdy are not going to drain it. As Rush Limbaugh said rightly about these hearings earlier today: “the objective is that Trump either stops this reform business he’s got, stops this drain-the-swamp stuff, and starts letting the Washington Republicans run the town again, or they’re gonna impeach him.”
In an attempt to increase pressure on sanctuary cities, the Department of Homeland Security has published its first weekly list of all 118 localities refusing to cooperate with the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown.
Each week, the list will publish every detention request rejected by local jails — detailing the relevant agency, the status of the immigrant, and the charges they are facing.
The first report was published this Monday, listing 206 cases in which illegal aliens were arrested and consequently released from jail without charge, despite recommendations from the Immigration and Crime Enforcement agency (ICE) to detain them for at least 48 hours.
The cases listed took place between January 28th to February 3rd, Donald Trump’s second week in office.
In his executive order signed January 25th designed to properly enforce immigration policy, Trump said regular lists were necessary to better inform the public “regarding the public safety threats associated with sanctuary jurisdictions.”
“When it comes to public safety, there is no place for politics; no Republicans, no Democrats, just citizens, and good citizens,” Trump said. We want safe communities. We demand safe communities for everyone.”
A poll conducted by the University of California Berkeley in January found that in the state of California, where sanctuary cities are particularly prominent, 74 percent would like to see them abolished.
In February, the state’s Democrat-controlled legislature proposed a bill to make California a “sanctuary state,” although it could risk the loss of federal funding if it does so.
The issue of “sanctuary cities” was a major theme in the 2016 presidential election. On July 1, 2015, a young woman, Kate Steinle, was shot and killed while walking on a pier with her father by an illegal alien who had several felony convictions and had been deported several times already.
Former DNC chairwoman and disgraced CNN commentator Donna Brazile has admitted that she relayed confidential questions to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in advance of last year’s primary debate.
Writing in Time magazine, Brazile said she would “forever regret” the decision, which was revealed after WikiLeaks published thousands of emails belonging to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
“When I was asked last July to step in temporarily as D.N.C. Chair,” Brazile explained, “I knew things were amiss. The D.N.C. had been hacked, and thousands of staff emails and documents were plastered on various websites. Staff were harassed, morale suffered, and we lost weeks of planning. Donors were harassed, and fundraising fell off.”
“Then in October, a subsequent release of emails revealed that among the many things I did in my role as a Democratic operative and D.N.C. Vice Chair prior to assuming the interim D.N.C. Chair position was to share potential town hall topics with the Clinton campaign,” Brazil added.
But in her Time letter, Brazile said “the media narrative” about her being in cahoots with the Clinton campaign “played out just as the Russians had hoped, leaving Sanders supporters understandably angry and sowing division in our ranks.”
The WikiLeaks hack, Brazile said, is evidence that there must be a continued investigation into Russia’s interference in the presidential election.
“Let me be clear,” Brazile wrote, “this is not just the price of politics. This is not normal. We cannot let this stand. Our democratic process itself was attacked and harmed, and all Americans should be concerned.”
Former Obama Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has stated that he has seen no evidence — from the NSA, FBI, and CIA — proving “collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians.”