The Russian woman arrested this week on charges of being a foreign agent has ties to Russian intelligence operatives and was in contact with them while in the United States, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
Maria Butina, 29, also cultivated a “personal relationship” with an American Republican consultant as part of her cover and offered sex to at least one other person “in exchange for a position within a special interest organization,” according to a court filing.
After a hearing on Wednesday afternoon, U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson denied Butina’s request to be released on bail, finding that no combination of conditions would ensure her return to court.
Prosecutors with the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington had argued strongly against her release, noting “her history of deceptive conduct.” They said Butina could slip into a Russian Embassy or a Russian diplomatic vehicle and get out of the country, and had connections with wealthy business executives linked to the Putin administration.
In the middle of Tuesday’s presidential walkback about Russian election interference, I couldn’t (or maybe I could, I’m not sure) help but think of a scene from the 1997 comedy “Excess Baggage.” In the scene, would-be car thief but inadvertently-turned-kidnapper Benicio del Toro asks his unexpected victim Alicia Silverstone, who had been hiding in the trunk of her dad’s expensive car, “How stupid do you think I am?” To which Silverstone replies, “How stupid is there?” To my mind, that just about sums it up when it comes to the president’s view of the American people.
To review the events this week, for the benefit of anyone who until recently has been hiding in the trunk of their own car, President Trump was attempting by the addition of a contraction to rectify what CNN’s Anderson Cooper rightly described as “one the most disgraceful performances” ever given by an American president at a summit.
In Helsinki on Monday, US President Donald Trump touted the “direct, open, deeply productive dialogue” he had with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
And experts warn Putin played Trump like a fiddle.
That was the broad consensus of national-security and intelligence veterans following a bizarre press conference during which Trump stood next to Putin and spent more time denigrating his political opponents and intelligence agencies than he did a hostile foreign power.
Asked by Reuters’ Jeff Mason on Monday whether he held Russia accountable for anything, Trump stunned observers when he said he held “both countries responsible” for the deterioration in US-Russia relations.Trump failed to mention Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine, its annexation of Crimea, its involvement in Syria, and its aggressive cyber operations around the globe, as well as allegations that it has poisoned former Russian spies abroad, that it played a role in the downing of a Malaysian airliner in 2014, and, above all, that it interfered in the 2016 US election.
In 2016, our country was targeted by an attack that had different operational objectives and a different overarching strategy, but its aim was every bit as much to devastate the American homeland as Pearl Harbor or 9/11. The destruction may not send pillars of smoke into the sky or come with an 11-digit price tag, and there’s no body count or casualty statistics—but the damage done has ravaged our institutions and shaken our belief in our immovability. But two years on, we still haven’t put any boats or men in the proverbial water. We still have not yet acted—just today, President Donald Trump, a beneficiary of this attack, exonerated the man who ordered it: Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.
Remember when I wondered why CIA leaker Josh Schulte was found with kiddie porn on his computers? A tweet by the US district attorney’s office in New York spawned a comment that makes it all make sense:
I wonder if he was being blackmailed to send national security stuff to Wikileaks because he was a pedophile?
— Connie Rodebaugh (@connie_rodeconn) June 19, 2018
Of course this is what happened. Even so, I’m surprised Schulte’s dirty little secret didn’t derail his intel career much sooner than it did.
Sonic attacks on American diplomats continue, this time in China.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that an incident involving a US government employee stationed in China who reported “abnormal sensations of sound and pressure” suggesting a mild brain injury has medical indications that are “very similar” and “entirely consistent” to those experienced by American diplomats posted in Havana.
US officials have issued a health alert in China following the incident. Additionally, the US State Department is looking into whether the incident is similar to what happened in Cuba in 2016 and 2017, a US diplomatic official told CNN, which the US government characterized as a “sonic attack.” That incident led to a reduction in staffing at the US Embassy in Havana.
In the current environment, the U.S. military is stretched too thin and lacks the strategic purpose and resources to effectively employ this strategy. There is no guiding principle for the employment of naval force and yet the Navy continues to be used as an active tool of diplomacy in an era without strategic priorities. As globalization continues to take hold but the U.S. begins to focus inward, the role of the Navy must be better defined. In April of 1991, as the U.S. faced a period of unchallenged superiority with the demise of the Soviet Union, then CNO Admiral Frank Kelso made the following statement in Proceedings:
We must shift the objective of our “National Security Strategy” from containing the Soviet Union to maintaining global stability. Our evolving strategy must focus on regional contingencies in trouble spots wherever our national interests are involved.
Source: U.S. Naval Institute Blog
When the family and I toured San Diego this spring we took a harbor cruise around Coronado Bay. Here the Coronado Bay Bridge acts as a prominent landmark for the surface fleet of Naval Base San Diego, tucked just inside the bridge. On your first trip out as a fresh-out-of-bootcamp sailor you’ll inevitably be told to crank down the ship’s mast to avoid hitting the bridge.
On your last pass under the bridge, however, there is a different ceremony. It is a local San Diego navy tradition that on your last trip under the Coronado Bay Bridge you toss your cover (or “Dixie Cup,” as the white enlisted canvas hats are known) into the water. So many times I passed under the bridge that I really, really looked forward adding my cover to the submerged pile beneath the bridge. That day came for me on Monday, 20 January 1992 when I rode the USS Elliot (DD-967) back from my last WestPac deployment. It was the day before my 23rd birthday.
This is supposed to be the latest on Joshua Adam Schulte, the former CIA worker suspected of passing hacking secrets to WikiLeaks. This case raises so many questions:
- If Schulte is suspected, why hasn’t he been charged?
- Did what Schulte post online to GitHub qualify as classified information?
- There’s nothing worse than child pornography. Doesn’t it seem convenient that Schulte was found with a bunch of it on his computer? His job was to break into computers. He almost certainly worked with expert colleagues whose job was also to break into computers. How could we possibly know that he wasn’t framed?
- If Schulte is allegedly into child porn, how did he ever get a security clearance?
- Did the government really think that quoting IRC logs of one of Schulte’s friends mentioning child porn was proof of anything other than a joke?
All of these parts mentioned in this case seem like they’ve been carefully chosen to paint a picture. Bottom line: If Schulte did leak the classified material, he should go to jail. If he willingly collected child pornography, he should go to jail. The onus is on the government to prove these charges (or possible charges) and so far I have not seen much to convince me.
Joshua Adam Schulte, the former CIA worker suspected of passing the agency’s hacking secrets to WikiLeaks, previously posted the source code for an internal CIA tool to his account on the public code-sharing site GitHub, The Daily Beast has learned.That potential red flag was apparently missed by the spy agency just months after Edward Snowden walked out of the National Security Agency with a thumb drive of secrets in 2013. A spokesman for the CIA declined to comment.Schulte, 29, worked at the CIA from 2010 to 2016. He was raided by the FBI on March 23, 2017, roughly two weeks after Julian Assange began releasing 8,000 CIA files under the rubric “Vault 7.” The files had been copied from an internal agency wiki sometime in 2016, and contained documentation and some source code for the hacking tools used by the CIA’s intrusion teams when conducting foreign surveillance.
This is a great story on a Savannah police officer who left the C.I.A. to help make his own neighborhood a better place, forgoing a large salary to do so. He’s a thinking cop who, rather than always reach for his gun, applies thinking to each situation to reach the best outcome.
Georgia’s law-enforcement-training program does not teach recruits to memorize license plates backward in mirrors. Like many of Skinner’s abilities, that skill was honed in the C.I.A. He joined the agency during the early days of America’s war on terror, one of the darkest periods in its history, and spent almost a decade running assets in Afghanistan, Jordan, and Iraq. He shook hands with lawmakers, C.I.A. directors, the King of Jordan, the Emir of Qatar, the Prime Minister of Singapore, and Presidents of Afghanistan and the United States. “I became the Forrest Gump of counterterrorism and law enforcement,” he said, stumbling in and out of the margins of history. But over the years he came to believe that counterterrorism was creating more problems than it solved, fuelling illiberalism and hysteria, destroying communities overseas, and diverting attention and resources from essential problems in the United States.
Meanwhile, American police forces were adopting some of the militarized tactics that Skinner had seen give rise to insurgencies abroad. “We have to stop treating people like we’re in Fallujah,” he told me. “It doesn’t work. Just look what happened in Fallujah.” In time, he came to believe that the most meaningful application of his training and expertise—the only way to exemplify his beliefs about American security, at home and abroad—was to become a community police officer in Savannah, where he grew up.