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House panel releases 5,000 additional hours of Jan. 6 riot footage


House Speaker Mike Johnson and Rep. Barry Loudermilk announced Friday the release of 5,000 hours of footage of the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol protest.

“House Republicans again commend Subcommittee Chairman Loudermilk and the entire Committee on House Administration for their ongoing commitment to ensuring that there is full transparency surrounding the events of January 6,” Mr. Johnson, Louisiana Republican, said in a statement. Mr. Johnson called the video release necessary “considering the deeply flawed prior investigation conducted by the partisan January 6 select committee.” Headded,“Uponextensivefurther consultation with the committee, and at my direction, the committee will no longer plan to blur the faces of individuals in the footage, given the significant logistic hurdles involved and the importance of getting this work completed as responsibly and efficiently as possible.”

The committee says law enforcement agencies already have access to the raw footage.

Last November, the committee released the first tranche of footage, roughly 90 hours, with the promise that the rest of the more than 40,000 hours of footage would be posted over the next several months.

The House panel decided to publicly post online all footage that doesn’t contain sensitive security information or that could lead to retaliation against private citizens.

“My subcommittee’s investigation has always been about providing the American people with full transparency and complete accountability about what really happened on January 6, 2021,” Mr. Loudermilk, Georgia Republican, said in a statement. “As such, we have been working tirelessly to make public all U.S. Capitol Police CCTV footage from that day.”

According to Mr. Loudermilk, the footage will be made available to the public within the next few months without blurring or editing. The first batch is already available on the committee’s Rumble page.

All video footage previously released to media outlets was uploaded to an online viewing room for public access. This footage included a video released to former Fox News host Tucker Carlson and other media outlets.

Making the footage available to the public has been a longtime goal of House Republicans and their supporters. Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican, made it a condition when he stepped aside to let former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, win his short-lived speakership in January 2023.

The Justice Department has hunted down those involved in the Capitol protest and charged more than 1,200 with federal crimes.

Since Mr. McCarthy told reporters last year that he would release the footage, defendants in the Jan. 6 cases, their attorneys, news media and nonprofit groups have had limited access to the footage through congressional closed-circuit TV terminals.

Politics & Religion / Re: Nikki Haley
« on: Today at 08:51:01 AM »

(4) ARIZONA PASSES BILL TO ROLL BACK NO-EXCUSE MAIL-IN BALLOTS: The Arizona House of Representatives passed House Bill 2876, which will end no-excuse mail-in ballots and reestablish voting precincts, by a 31-28 party-line vote.
Arizona Rep. Michael Carbone (R) said the bill will make Arizona’s election system more like Florida and Illinois and ensure election results are released in a timely manner.
Why It Matters: The Arizona GOP is attempting to curtail electoral strategies like ballot harvesting by rolling back COVID-era election laws passed in other key battleground states, and likely helped the Biden campaign win in 2020. The Arizona GOP has lost previous efforts to change election laws through the courts, which say federal law blocks states from enforcing “documentary citizenship” for federal elections. While Trump is ahead of Biden in national and battleground state polling, these COVID-era election laws are very likely a deciding factor in the 2024 election and increase the chances of a Biden victory. – R.C.

Politics & Religion / Re: Nikki Haley
« on: Today at 05:58:53 AM »
Agree and well said.

Example of one of your points:  When DeSantis was feuding with Disney she said "Well, we would welcome Disney here in South Carolina."

Politics & Religion / Re: Media, Ministry of Truth Issues
« on: Today at 05:55:37 AM »
Ummm , , , Clueless Boomer here. 

What is a RSS feed?

Politics & Religion / Judicial Watch
« on: March 03, 2024, 06:58:50 PM »

Politics & Religion / Nikki Haley wins!
« on: March 03, 2024, 06:39:34 PM »
In DC.  How perfect.


A soldier in camouflage gear in a forest whose trees have been largely stripped of leaves.
A Ukrainian Army soldier in a forest near Russian lines this month. A C.I.A.-supported network of spy bases has been constructed in the past eight years that includes 12 secret locations along the Russian border.Credit...Tyler Hicks/The New York Times
The Spy War: How the C.I.A. Secretly Helps Ukraine Fight Putin
For more than a decade, the United States has nurtured a secret intelligence partnership with Ukraine that is now critical for both countries in countering Russia.

A Ukrainian Army soldier in a forest near Russian lines this month. A C.I.A.-supported network of spy bases has been constructed in the past eight years that includes 12 secret locations along the Russian border.Credit...Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

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Adam EntousMichael Schwirtz
By Adam Entous and Michael Schwirtz
Adam Entous and Michael Schwirtz conducted more than 200 interviews in Ukraine, several other European countries and the United States to report this story.

Published Feb. 25, 2024
Updated Feb. 28, 2024
Nestled in a dense forest, the Ukrainian military base appears abandoned and destroyed, its command center a burned-out husk, a casualty of a Russian missile barrage early in the war.

But that is above ground.

Not far away, a discreet passageway descends to a subterranean bunker where teams of Ukrainian soldiers track Russian spy satellites and eavesdrop on conversations between Russian commanders. On one screen, a red line followed the route of an explosive drone threading through Russian air defenses from a point in central Ukraine to a target in the Russian city of Rostov.

The underground bunker, built to replace the destroyed command center in the months after Russia’s invasion, is a secret nerve center of Ukraine’s military.

There is also one more secret: The base is almost fully financed, and partly equipped, by the C.I.A.

“One hundred and ten percent,” Gen. Serhii Dvoretskiy, a top intelligence commander, said in an interview at the base.

Now entering the third year of a war that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, the intelligence partnership between Washington and Kyiv is a linchpin of Ukraine’s ability to defend itself. The C.I.A. and other American intelligence agencies provide intelligence for targeted missile strikes, track Russian troop movements and help support spy networks.

But the partnership is no wartime creation, nor is Ukraine the only beneficiary.

It took root a decade ago, coming together in fits and starts under three very different U.S. presidents, pushed forward by key individuals who often took daring risks. It has transformed Ukraine, whose intelligence agencies were long seen as thoroughly compromised by Russia, into one of Washington’s most important intelligence partners against the Kremlin today.

The Ukrainians also helped U.S. officials pursue the Russian operatives who meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election between Donald J. Trump and Hillary Rodham Clinton.Credit...Damon Winter/The New York Times  (MARC:  !!!)

The listening post in the Ukrainian forest is part of a C.I.A.-supported network of spy bases constructed in the past eight years that includes 12 secret locations along the Russian border. Before the war, the Ukrainians proved themselves to the Americans by collecting intercepts that helped prove Russia’s involvement in the 2014 downing of a commercial jetliner, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. The Ukrainians also helped the Americans go after the Russian operatives who meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Around 2016, the C.I.A. began training an elite Ukrainian commando force — known as Unit 2245 — which captured Russian drones and communications gear so that C.I.A. technicians could reverse-engineer them and crack Moscow’s encryption systems. (One officer in the unit was Kyrylo Budanov, now the general leading Ukraine’s military intelligence.)

And the C.I.A. also helped train a new generation of Ukrainian spies who operated inside Russia, across Europe, and in Cuba and other places where the Russians have a large presence.

The relationship is so ingrained that C.I.A. officers remained at a remote location in western Ukraine when the Biden administration evacuated U.S. personnel in the weeks before Russia invaded in February 2022. During the invasion, the officers relayed critical intelligence, including where Russia was planning strikes and which weapons systems they would use.

“Without them, there would have been no way for us to resist the Russians, or to beat them,” said Ivan Bakanov, who was then head of Ukraine’s domestic intelligence agency, the S.B.U.

The details of this intelligence partnership, many of which are being disclosed by The New York Times for the first time, have been a closely guarded secret for a decade.

In more than 200 interviews, current and former officials in Ukraine, the United States and Europe described a partnership that nearly foundered from mutual distrust before it steadily expanded, turning Ukraine into an intelligence-gathering hub that intercepted more Russian communications than the C.I.A. station in Kyiv could initially handle. Many of the officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence and matters of sensitive diplomacy.

Now these intelligence networks are more important than ever, as Russia is on the offensive and Ukraine is more dependent on sabotage and long-range missile strikes that require spies far behind enemy lines. And they are increasingly at risk: If Republicans in Congress end military funding to Kyiv, the C.I.A. may have to scale back.

To try to reassure Ukrainian leaders, William J. Burns, the C.I.A. director, made a secret visit to Ukraine last Thursday, his 10th visit since the invasion.

From the outset, a shared adversary — President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia — brought the C.I.A. and its Ukrainian partners together. Obsessed with “losing” Ukraine to the West, Mr. Putin had regularly interfered in Ukraine’s political system, handpicking leaders he believed would keep Ukraine within Russia’s orbit, yet each time it backfired, driving protesters into the streets.

Mr. Putin has long blamed Western intelligence agencies for manipulating Kyiv and sowing anti-Russia sentiment in Ukraine.

Toward the end of 2021, according to a senior European official, Mr. Putin was weighing whether to launch his full-scale invasion when he met with the head of one of Russia’s main spy services, who told him that the C.I.A., together with Britain’s MI6, were controlling Ukraine and turning it into a beachhead for operations against Moscow.

But the Times investigation found that Mr. Putin and his advisers misread a critical dynamic. The C.I.A. didn’t push its way into Ukraine. U.S. officials were often reluctant to fully engage, fearing that Ukrainian officials could not be trusted, and worrying about provoking the Kremlin.

Ukraine is more dependent on sabotage and long-range missile strikes that require spies far behind enemy lines.Credit...Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

Yet a tight circle of Ukrainian intelligence officials assiduously courted the C.I.A. and gradually made themselves vital to the Americans. In 2015, Gen. Valeriy Kondratiuk, then Ukraine’s head of military intelligence, arrived at a meeting with the C.I.A.’s deputy station chief and without warning handed over a stack of top-secret files.

That initial tranche contained secrets about the Russian Navy’s Northern Fleet, including detailed information about the latest Russian nuclear submarine designs. Before long, teams of C.I.A. officers were regularly leaving his office with backpacks full of documents.

“We understood that we needed to create the conditions of trust,” General Kondratiuk said.

As the partnership deepened after 2016, the Ukrainians became impatient with what they considered Washington’s undue caution, and began staging assassinations and other lethal operations, which violated the terms the White House thought the Ukrainians had agreed to. Infuriated, officials in Washington threatened to cut off support, but they never did.

“The relationships only got stronger and stronger because both sides saw value in it, and the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv — our station there, the operation out of Ukraine — became the best source of information, signals and everything else, on Russia,” said a former senior American official. “We couldn’t get enough of it.”

This is the untold story of how it all happened.

A Cautious Beginning
The C.I.A.’s partnership in Ukraine can be traced back to two phone calls on the night of Feb. 24, 2014, eight years to the day before Russia’s full-scale invasion.

Millions of Ukrainians had just overrun the country’s pro-Kremlin government and the president, Viktor Yanukovych, and his spy chiefs had fled to Russia. In the tumult, a fragile pro-Western government quickly took power.

The government’s new spy chief, Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, arrived at the headquarters of the domestic intelligence agency and found a pile of smoldering documents in the courtyard. Inside, many of the computers had been wiped or were infected with Russian malware.

“It was empty. No lights. No leadership. Nobody was there,” Mr. Nalyvaichenko said in an interview.

He went to an office and called the C.I.A. station chief and the local head of MI6. It was near midnight but he summoned them to the building, asked for help in rebuilding the agency from the ground up, and proposed a three-way partnership. “That’s how it all started,” Mr. Nalyvaichenko said.

The situation quickly became more dangerous. Mr. Putin seized Crimea. His agents fomented separatist rebellions that would become a war in the country’s east. Ukraine was on war footing, and Mr. Nalyvaichenko appealed to the C.I.A. for overhead imagery and other intelligence to help defend its territory.

With violence escalating, an unmarked U.S. government plane touched down at an airport in Kyiv carrying John O. Brennan, then the director of the C.I.A. He told Mr. Nalyvaichenko that the C.I.A. was interested in developing a relationship but only at a pace the agency was comfortable with, according to U.S. and Ukrainian officials.

To the C.I.A., the unknown question was how long Mr. Nalyvaichenko and the pro-Western government would be around. The C.I.A. had been burned before in Ukraine.

Following the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine gained independence and then veered between competing political forces: those that wanted to remain close to Moscow and those that wanted to align with the West. During a previous stint as spy chief, Mr. Nalyvaichenko started a similar partnership with the C.I.A., which dissolved when the country swung back toward Russia.

Now Mr. Brennan explained that to unlock C.I.A. assistance the Ukrainians had to prove that they could provide intelligence of value to the Americans. They also needed to purge Russian spies; the domestic spy agency, the S.B.U., was riddled with them. (Case in point: The Russians quickly learned about Mr. Brennan’s supposedly secret visit. The Kremlin’s propaganda outlets published a photoshopped image of the C.I.A. director wearing a clown wig and makeup.)

Mr. Brennan returned to Washington, where advisers to President Barack Obama were deeply concerned about provoking Moscow. The White House crafted secret rules that infuriated the Ukrainians and that some inside the C.I.A. thought of as handcuffs. The rules barred intelligence agencies from providing any support to Ukraine that could be “reasonably expected” to have lethal consequences.

The result was a delicate balancing act. The C.I.A. was supposed to strengthen Ukraine’s intelligence agencies without provoking the Russians. The red lines were never precisely clear, which created a persistent tension in the partnership.

In Kyiv, Mr. Nalyvaichenko picked a longtime aide, General Kondratiuk, to serve as head of counterintelligence, and they created a new paramilitary unit that was deployed behind enemy lines to conduct operations and gather intelligence that the C.I.A. or MI6 would not provide to them.

Known as the Fifth Directorate, this unit would be filled with officers born after Ukraine gained independence.

“They had no connection with Russia,” General Kondratiuk said. “They didn’t even know what the Soviet Union was.”

That summer, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, blew up in midair and crashed in eastern Ukraine, killing nearly 300 passengers and crew. The Fifth Directorate produced telephone intercepts and other intelligence within hours of the crash that quickly placed responsibility on Russian-backed separatists.

The C.I.A. was impressed, and made its first meaningful commitment by providing secure communications gear and specialized training to members of the Fifth Directorate and two other elite units.

“The Ukrainians wanted fish and we, for policy reasons, couldn’t deliver that fish,” said a former U.S. official, referring to intelligence that could help them battle the Russians. “But we were happy to teach them how to fish and deliver fly-fishing equipment.”

A Secret Santa
In the summer of 2015, Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, shook up the domestic service and installed an ally to replace Mr. Nalyvaichenko, the C.I.A.’s trusted partner. But the change created an opportunity elsewhere.

In the reshuffle, General Kondratiuk was appointed as the head of the country’s military intelligence agency, known as the HUR, where years earlier he had started his career. It would be an early example of how personal ties, more than policy shifts, would deepen the C.I.A.’s involvement in Ukraine.

Unlike the domestic agency, the HUR had the authority to collect intelligence outside the country, including in Russia. But the Americans had seen little value in cultivating the agency because it wasn’t producing any intelligence of value on the Russians — and because it was seen as a bastion of Russian sympathizers.

Trying to build trust, General Kondratiuk arranged a meeting with his American counterpart at the Defense Intelligence Agency and handed over a stack of secret Russian documents. But senior D.I.A. officials were suspicious and discouraged building closer ties.

The general needed to find a more willing partner.

Months earlier, while still with the domestic agency, General Kondratiuk visited the C.I.A. headquarters in Langley, Va. In those meetings, he met a C.I.A. officer with a jolly demeanor and a bushy beard who had been tapped to become the next station chief in Kyiv.

After a long day of meetings, the C.I.A. took General Kondratiuk to a Washington Capitals hockey match, where he and the incoming station chief sat in a luxury box and loudly booed Alex Ovechkin, the team’s star player from Russia.

The station chief had not yet arrived when General Kondratiuk handed over to the C.I.A. the secret documents about the Russian Navy. “There’s more where this came from,” he promised, and the documents were sent off to analysts in Langley.

The analysts concluded the documents were authentic, and after the station chief arrived in Kyiv, the C.I.A. became General Kondratiuk’s primary partner.

General Kondratiuk knew he needed the C.I.A. to strengthen his own agency. The C.I.A. thought the general might be able to help Langley, too. It struggled to recruit spies inside Russia because its case officers were under heavy surveillance.

“For a Russian, allowing oneself to be recruited by an American is to commit the absolute, ultimate in treachery and treason,” General Kondratiuk said. “But for a Russian to be recruited by a Ukrainian, it’s just friends talking over a beer.”

The new station chief began regularly visiting General Kondratiuk, whose office was decorated with an aquarium where yellow and blue fish — the national colors of Ukraine — swam circles around a model of a sunken Russian submarine. The two men became close, which drove the relationship between the two agencies, and the Ukrainians gave the new station chief an affectionate nickname: Santa Claus.

In January 2016, General Kondratiuk flew to Washington for meetings at Scattergood, an estate on the C.I.A. campus in Virginia where the agency often fetes visiting dignitaries. The agency agreed to help the HUR modernize, and to improve its ability to intercept Russian military communications. In exchange, General Kondratiuk agreed to share all of the raw intelligence with the Americans.

Now the partnership was real.

Operation Goldfish

Today, the narrow road leading to the secret base is framed by minefields, seeded as a line of defense in the weeks after Russia’s invasion. The Russian missiles that hit the base had seemingly shut it down, but just weeks later the Ukrainians returned.

With money and equipment provided by the C.I.A., crews under General Dvoretskiy’s command began to rebuild, but underground. To avoid detection, they only worked at night and when Russian spy satellites were not overhead. Workers also parked their cars a distance away from the construction site.

In the bunker, General Dvoretskiy pointed to communications equipment and large computer servers, some of which were financed by the C.I.A. He said his teams were using the base to hack into the Russian military’s secure communications networks.

“This is the thing that breaks into satellites and decodes secret conversations,” General Dvoretskiy told a Times journalist on a tour, adding that they were hacking into spy satellites from China and Belarus, too.

Another officer placed two recently produced maps on a table, as evidence of how Ukraine is tracking Russian activity around the world.

The first showed the overhead routes of Russian spy satellites traveling over central Ukraine. The second showed how Russian spy satellites are passing over strategic military installations — including a nuclear weapons facility — in the eastern and central United States.

The C.I.A. began sending equipment in 2016, after the pivotal meeting at Scattergood, General Dvoretskiy said, providing encrypted radios and devices for intercepting secret enemy communications.

Beyond the base, the C.I.A. also oversaw a training program, carried out in two European cities, to teach Ukrainian intelligence officers how to convincingly assume fake personas and steal secrets in Russia and other countries that are adept at rooting out spies. The program was called Operation Goldfish, which derived from a joke about a Russian-speaking goldfish who offers two Estonians wishes in exchange for its freedom.

The punchline was that one of the Estonians bashed the fish’s head with a rock, explaining that anything speaking Russian could not be trusted.

The Operation Goldfish officers were soon deployed to 12 newly-built, forward operating bases constructed along the Russian border. From each base, General Kondratiuk said, the Ukrainian officers ran networks of agents who gathered intelligence inside Russia.

C.I.A. officers installed equipment at the bases to help gather intelligence and also identified some of the most skilled Ukrainian graduates of the Operation Goldfish program, working with them to approach potential Russian sources. These graduates then trained sleeper agents on Ukrainian territory meant to launch guerrilla operations in case of occupation.

It can often take years for the C.I.A. to develop enough trust in a foreign agency to begin conducting joint operations. With the Ukrainians it had taken less than six months. The new partnership started producing so much raw intelligence about Russia that it had to be shipped to Langley for processing.

But the C.I.A. did have red lines. It wouldn’t help the Ukrainians conduct offensive lethal operations.

“We made a distinction between intelligence collection operations and things that go boom,” a former senior U.S. official said.

‘This is Our Country’
It was a distinction that grated on the Ukrainians.

First, General Kondratiuk was annoyed when the Americans refused to provide satellite images from inside Russia. Soon after, he requested C.I.A. assistance in planning a clandestine mission to send HUR commandos into Russia to plant explosive devices at train depots used by the Russian military. If the Russian military sought to take more Ukrainian territory, Ukrainians could detonate the explosives to slow the Russian advance.

When the station chief briefed his superiors, they “lost their minds,” as one former official put it. Mr. Brennan, the C.I.A. director, called General Kondratiuk to make certain that mission was canceled and that Ukraine abided by the red lines forbidding lethal operations.

General Kondratiuk canceled the mission, but he also took a different lesson. “Going forward, we worked to not have discussions about these things with your guys,” he said.

Late that summer, Ukrainian spies discovered that Russian forces were deploying attack helicopters at an airfield on the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula, possibly to stage a surprise attack.

General Kondratiuk decided to send a team into Crimea to plant explosives at the airfield so they could be detonated if Russia moved to attack.

This time, he didn’t ask the C.I.A. for permission. He turned to Unit 2245, the commando force that received specialized military training from the C.I.A.’s elite paramilitary group, known as the Ground Department. The intent of the training was to teach defensive techniques, but C.I.A. officers understood that without their knowledge the Ukrainians could use the same techniques in offensive lethal operations.

Joe Biden and Petro Poroshenko talking by a stairway.
Petro Poroshenko, then the president of Ukraine, right, and Joseph R. Biden Jr., then the U.S. vice president, during a meeting in Kyiv in 2015.Credit...Pool photo by Mikhail Palinchak

At the time, the future head of Ukraine’s military intelligence agency, General Budanov, was a rising star in Unit 2245. He was known for daring operations behind enemy lines and had deep ties to the C.I.A. The agency had trained him and also taken the extraordinary step of sending him for rehabilitation to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland after he was shot in the right arm during fighting in the Donbas.

Disguised in Russian uniforms, then-Lt. Col. Budanov led commandos across a narrow gulf in inflatable speedboats, landing at night in Crimea.

But an elite Russian commando unit was waiting for them. The Ukrainians fought back, killing several Russian fighters, including the son of a general, before retreating to the shoreline, plunging into the sea and swimming for hours to Ukrainian-controlled territory.

It was a disaster. In a public address, President Putin accused the Ukrainians of plotting a terrorist attack and promised to avenge the deaths of the Russian fighters.

“There is no doubt that we will not let these things pass,” he said.

In Washington, the Obama White House was livid. Joseph R. Biden Jr., then the vice president and a champion of assistance to Ukraine, called Ukraine’s president to angrily complain.

“It causes a gigantic problem,” Mr. Biden said in the call, a recording of which was leaked and published online. “All I’m telling you as a friend is that my making arguments here is a hell of a lot harder now.”

Some of Mr. Obama’s advisers wanted to shut the C.I.A. program down, but Mr. Brennan persuaded them that doing so would be self-defeating, given the relationship was starting to produce intelligence on the Russians as the C.I.A. was investigating Russian election meddling.

Mr. Brennan got on the phone with General Kondratiuk to again emphasize the red lines.

The general was upset. “This is our country,” he responded, according to a colleague. “It’s our war, and we’ve got to fight.”

The blowback from Washington cost General Kondratiuk his job. But Ukraine didn’t back down.

One day after General Kondratiuk was removed, a mysterious explosion in the Russian-occupied city of Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine, ripped through an elevator carrying a senior Russian separatist commander named Arsen Pavlov, known by his nom de guerre, Motorola.

The C.I.A. soon learned that the assassins were members of the Fifth Directorate, the spy group that received C.I.A. training. Ukraine’s domestic intelligence agency had even handed out commemorative patches to those involved, each one stitched with the word “Lift,” the British term for an elevator.

Again, some of Mr. Obama’s advisers were furious, but they were lame ducks — the presidential election pitting Donald J. Trump against Hillary Rodham Clinton was three weeks away — and the assassinations continued.

A team of Ukrainian agents set up an unmanned, shoulder-fired rocket launcher in a building in the occupied territories. It was directly across from the office of a rebel commander named Mikhail Tolstykh, better known as Givi. Using a remote trigger, they fired the launcher as soon as Givi entered his office, killing him, according to U.S. and Ukrainian officials.

A shadow war was now in overdrive. The Russians used a car bomb to assassinate the head of Unit 2245, the elite Ukrainian commando force. The commander, Col. Maksim Shapoval, was on his way to meeting with C.I.A. officers in Kyiv when his car exploded.

At the colonel’s wake, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, stood in mourning beside the C.I.A. station chief. Later, C.I.A. officers and their Ukrainian counterparts toasted Colonel Shapoval with whiskey shots.

“For all of us,” General Kondratiuk said, “it was a blow.”

Tiptoeing Around Trump
The election of Mr. Trump in November 2016 put the Ukrainians and their C.I.A. partners on edge.

Mr. Trump praised Mr. Putin and dismissed Russia’s role in election interference. He was suspicious of Ukraine and later tried to pressure its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate his Democratic rival, Mr. Biden, resulting in Mr. Trump’s first impeachment.

But whatever Mr. Trump said and did, his administration often went in the other direction. This is because Mr. Trump had put Russia hawks in key positions, including Mike Pompeo as C.I.A. director and John Bolton as national security adviser. They visited Kyiv to underline their full support for the secret partnership, which expanded to include more specialized training programs and the building of additional secret bases.

The base in the forest grew to include a new command center and barracks, and swelled from 80 to 800 Ukrainian intelligence officers. Preventing Russia from interfering in future U.S. elections was a top C.I.A. priority during this period, and Ukrainian and American intelligence officers joined forces to probe the computer systems of Russia’s intelligence agencies to identify operatives trying to manipulate voters.

In one joint operation, a HUR team duped an officer from Russia’s military intelligence service into providing information that allowed the C.I.A. to connect Russia’s government to the so-called Fancy Bear hacking group, which had been linked to election interference efforts in a number of countries.

General Budanov, whom Mr. Zelensky tapped to lead the HUR in 2020, said of the partnership: “It only strengthened. It grew systematically. The cooperation expanded to additional spheres and became more large-scale.”

The relationship was so successful that the C.I.A. wanted to replicate it with other European intelligence services that shared a focus in countering Russia.

The head of Russia House, the C.I.A. department overseeing operations against Russia, organized a secret meeting at The Hague. There, representatives from the C.I.A., Britain’s MI6, the HUR, the Dutch service (a critical intelligence ally) and other agencies agreed to start pooling together more of their intelligence on Russia.

The result was a secret coalition against Russia — and the Ukrainians were vital members of it.

March to War
In March 2021, the Russian military started massing troops along the border with Ukraine. As the months passed, and more troops encircled the country, the question was whether Mr. Putin was making a feint or preparing for war.

That November, and in the weeks that followed, the C.I.A. and MI6 delivered a unified message to their Ukrainian partners: Russia was preparing for a full-scale invasion to decapitate the government and install a puppet in Kyiv who would do the Kremlin’s bidding.

U.S. and British intelligence agencies had intercepts that Ukrainian intelligence agencies did not have access to, according to U.S. officials. The new intelligence listed the names of Ukrainian officials whom the Russians were planning to kill or capture, as well as the Ukrainians the Kremlin hoped to install in power.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine at a news conference in Kyiv in March 2022.Credit...Lynsey Addario for The New York Times
President Zelensky and some of his top advisers appeared unconvinced, even after Mr. Burns, the C.I.A. director, rushed to Kyiv in January 2022 to brief them.

As the Russian invasion neared, C.I.A. and MI6 officers made final visits in Kyiv with their Ukrainian peers. One of the MI6 officers teared up in front of the Ukrainians, out of concern that the Russians would kill them.

At Mr. Burns’s urging, a small group of C.I.A. officers were exempted from the broader U.S. evacuation and were relocated to a hotel complex in western Ukraine. They didn’t want to desert their partners.

No Endgame
After Mr. Putin launched the invasion on Feb. 24, 2022, the C.I.A. officers at the hotel were the only U.S. government presence on the ground. Every day at the hotel, they met with their Ukrainian contacts to pass information. The old handcuffs were off, and the Biden White House authorized spy agencies to provide intelligence support for lethal operations against Russian forces on Ukrainian soil.

Often, the C.I.A. briefings contained shockingly specific details.

On March 3, 2022 — the eighth day of the war — the C.I.A. team gave a precise overview of Russian plans for the coming two weeks. The Russians would open a humanitarian corridor out of the besieged city of Mariupol that same day, and then open fire on the Ukrainians who used it.

The Russians planned to encircle the strategic port city of Odesa, according to the C.I.A., but a storm delayed the assault and the Russians never took the city. Then, on March 10, the Russians intended to bombard six Ukrainian cities, and had already entered coordinates into cruise missiles for those strikes.

The Russians also were trying to assassinate top Ukrainian officials, including Mr. Zelensky. In at least one case, the C.I.A. shared intelligence with Ukraine’s domestic agency that helped disrupt a plot against the president, according to a senior Ukrainian official.

When the Russian assault on Kyiv had stalled, the C.I.A. station chief rejoiced and told his Ukrainian counterparts that they were “punching the Russians in the face,” according to a Ukrainian officer who was in the room.

Within weeks, the C.I.A. had returned to Kyiv, and the agency sent in scores of new officers to help the Ukrainians. A senior U.S. official said of the C.I.A.’s sizable presence, “Are they pulling triggers? No. Are they helping with targeting? Absolutely.”

Some of the C.I.A. officers were deployed to Ukrainian bases. They reviewed lists of potential Russian targets that the Ukrainians were preparing to strike, comparing the information that the Ukrainians had with U.S. intelligence to ensure that it was accurate.

Before the invasion, the C.I.A. and MI6 had trained their Ukrainian counterparts on recruiting sources, and building clandestine and partisan networks. In the southern Kherson region, which was occupied by Russia in the first weeks of the war, those partisan networks sprang into action, according to General Kondratiuk, assassinating local collaborators and helping Ukrainian forces target Russian positions.

In July 2022, Ukrainian spies saw Russian convoys preparing to cross a strategic bridge across the Dnipro river and notified MI6. British and American intelligence officers then quickly verified the Ukrainian intelligence, using real-time satellite imagery. MI6 relayed the confirmation, and the Ukrainian military opened fire with rockets, destroying the convoys.

At the underground bunker, General Dvoretskiy said a German antiaircraft system now defends against Russian attacks. An air-filtration system guards against chemical weapons and a dedicated power system is available, if the power grid goes down.

The question that some Ukrainian intelligence officers are now asking their American counterparts — as Republicans in the House weigh whether to cut off billions of dollars in aid — is whether the C.I.A. will abandon them. “It happened in Afghanistan before and now it’s going to happen in Ukraine,” a senior Ukrainian officer said.

Referring to Mr. Burns’s visit to Kyiv last week, a C.I.A. official said, “We have demonstrated a clear commitment to Ukraine over many years and this visit was another strong signal that the U.S. commitment will continue.”

The C.I.A. and the HUR have built two other secret bases to intercept Russian communications, and combined with the 12 forward operating bases, which General Kondratiuk says are still operational, the HUR now collects and produces more intelligence than at any time in the war — much of which it shares with the C.I.A.

“You can’t get information like this anywhere — except here, and now,” General Dvoretskiy said.

Natalia Yermak and Christiaan Triebert contributed reporting.

Audio produced by Patricia Sulbarán.


A home, flying Ukrainian and American flags, standing in the destroyed and mostly abandoned village of Rubizhne in the Kharkiv region, close to the Russian border, in December.Credit...David Guttenfelder for The New York Times
Adam Entous is a Washington-based investigative correspondent and a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. Before joining the Washington bureau of The Times, he covered intelligence, national security and foreign policy for The New Yorker magazine, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. More about Adam Entous

Michael Schwirtz is an investigative reporter with the International desk. With The Times since 2006, he previously covered the countries of the former Soviet Union from Moscow and was a lead reporter on a team that won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for articles about Russian intelligence operations. More about Michael Schwirtz

Politics & Religion / Re: 2024
« on: March 03, 2024, 07:26:17 AM »
Just ruminating on his pluses , , ,

Politics & Religion / Re: 2024
« on: March 03, 2024, 07:08:07 AM »
I'm well aware of the gaps in his resume including lack of relevant life experience, but Vivek speaks MAGA better than Trump.     

Among other things, a VP candidate traditionally serves as the pit bull that allows the Presidential candidate to adopt a loftier persona.  Vivek can do that for sure AND speak lofty pro-American Creed fluently.

Page does not exist.

Politics & Religion / Getting registered to participate on this forum:
« on: March 02, 2024, 01:50:27 PM »

We pride ourselves on a certain level of intelligence, education, competence, respect, and courtesy here.

If you would like to be considered for becoming registered to participate here, please email me at and tell me about yourself with the above criteria in mind with an eye towards articulating what you think you have to offer to our Search for Truth.

The Adventure continues,


In my simplistic way, I have been making this point in conversation when someone starts with the "BTC has no actual substance" argument.  I point out that apart from some proportionately minor applications, gold is but a fiction too, being a cruder version of the blockchain concept as a protection against value debasement and that BTC is simply a better version of the "store of value" function of money.

Politics & Religion / Castle Bravo nuke test
« on: March 02, 2024, 06:35:23 AM »

Castle BRAVO at 70:
The Worst Nuclear Test in U.S. History
Heavy Fallout from Test Sickened People on Marshall Island Atolls and Japanese Fishermen on Lucky Dragon
Blast Equivalent to 1,000 Hiroshimas Vaporized 10 Million Tons of Coral, Sand and Water
“No Place to Hide”: 1954 Model Overlaid Bravo’s Fallout on Northeastern U.S.
U.S. Weapons Designer: “We Didn’t Know What the Hell We Were Doing”

Washington, D.C., February 29, 2024 - Seventy years ago, the U.S. government air-dropped a massive thermonuclear weapon on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands in what turned out to be the largest nuclear test in U.S. history. The Bravo detonation in the Castle test series had an explosive yield of 15 megatons—1,000 times that of the weapon that destroyed Hiroshima and nearly three times the six megatons that its planners estimated. The detonation vaporized some ten million tons of sand, coral and water that turned into a 100-mile-wide fallout cloud spewing radioactive debris on the inhabitants of Marshall Island atolls, U.S. military personnel, and Japanese fishermen aboard the Lucky Dragon. Bravo’s fallout necessitated the evacuation of over 230 people from Rongelap, Rongerik, and Utirik atolls (all part of the U.S. trusteeship for the Marshall Islands), including 28 U.S. military personnel. The immediate health effects were serious and long-lasting, and Rongelap became uninhabitable.

To mark this calamitous event, the National Security Archive today features a selection of key documents on the Bravo test collected from three sources: the Department of Energy’s OpenNet database, Alex Wellerstein’s reconstruction of DOE’s vanished Marshall Islands Nuclear Document Database (MINDD), and from State Department records at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

Included in this update of an Electronic Briefing Book published ten years ago, on the 60th anniversary of the Bravo test, are several films of the Bravo shot, including a U.S. Air Force film report from the commander of Joint Task Force 7, the unit that conducted the Castle Series. That film includes footage of both the Bravo detonation and the evacuation of U.S. personnel and Marshall Islanders in the wake of the test.

Other noteworthy documents in this posting include:

Early reports of radioactive contamination on nearby atolls and on the decisions, days later, to evacuate Rongelap, Utirik and Rongerik.
The secret directive establishing “Project 4.1,” the group charged with producing a “Study of Response of Human Beings Exposed to Significant Beta and Gamma Radiation Due to Fallout from High Yield Weapons.”
Japanese government accounts of the Lucky Dragon (Fukuryu Maru) incident.
An audio recording and transcript of the 31 March 1954 press conference where AEC Chair Lewis Strauss said that an H-bomb could “take out a city … destroy a city.”
The May 1954 petition by Marshall Islanders for an end to nuclear tests in the area.
U.S. Embassy Tokyo telegrams on Bravo’s adverse impact for U.S.-Japanese relations.
Internal U.S. government deliberations over providing compensation to the Japanese government and to Marshall Islanders for losses incurred due to nuclear testing.
Documents concerning the delay in returning inhabitants to Rongelap Atoll because of unsafe conditions.
U.S. government studies from 1954 and 1955 on the radiation and fallout effects of Castle Bravo.
The proceedings of an October 1967 conference sponsored by the Defense Atomic Support Agency on “selected effects of general war,” including reflections and assessments by individuals involved in the initial response to the Bravo crisis.
A comprehensive Defense Threat Reduction Agency report from 2013 on Castle Bravo exposing “legends and lore” about the test.

Politics & Religion / WSJ: UFL shuts down DEI
« on: March 02, 2024, 04:41:17 AM »

No More DEI at the University of Florida
The school closes up the diversity and equity bureaucracy.
The Editorial Board
March 1, 2024 6:39 pm ET


Wonder Land: College Presidents' spineless response to antisemitic protests are the culmination of academia’s plummet the past 50 years which has included grade inflation, speech codes, trigger warnings and ultimately cancel culture. Images: AP/AFP/Getty Images/Zuma Press Composite: Mark Kelly
A handful of states have been trying to extricate their public universities from the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) quagmire. Florida demonstrated on Friday how to do it the easy way by shutting down the DEI bureaucracy.

The University of Florida said it is dismissing all DEI staff, closing its DEI office and halting DEI contracts with outside vendors. The school also announced the laid-off staff would get 12 weeks of severance, and that the $5 million saved from the cost of DEI would go to a “faculty recruitment fund.” That’s a wrap, folks.

The dismissals are intended to bring the university into compliance with a 2023 Florida Board of Governors regulation that says state universities can’t “expend any state or federal funds” to “advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion.” The University of Florida’s approach is notable because it comes without the backdoor attempts to continue DEI programs under other names.

In an administrative memo, the school said those whose jobs are eliminated are “allowed and encouraged to apply . . . for expedited consideration for different positions currently posted with the university.” That’s a good message: The university takes care of its people as long as they are ready to do the work the school needs for academic success.

It’s encouraging to see a major university get back to its core mission of educating young people in math, physics, engineering, literature and the arts. A special cheer for the end of diversity contractors, the recently growing army of consultants-for-hire who have created an industry instructing universities and companies in the politicized language of identity politics, racial affinity groups, and how to impose hiring quotas without calling them quotas.

In a Weekend Interview with James Taranto in these pages in January, University of Florida President Ben Sasse said he supports “the aspirational best parts of diversity and inclusion.” The problem, he said, “is the E,” meaning the substitution of “equity” for “equality,” which supplants the American idea that equal opportunity is the key to a just society.

The era of DEI arose rapidly in recent years, and it has burrowed itself into institutions across American life. It will take leadership to remove it. Kudos to Florida’s government and now its namesake university for ending what has become a divisive political power grab using race, gender and pronouns as cudgels. Who wants to step up next?

Politics & Religion / WSJ: Islamist intimidation in Britain
« on: March 02, 2024, 04:37:55 AM »
Wonder Land: If you were an adversary looking at a U.S. uncertainty about its global leadership, what would you do? Answer: Up the ante—which is exactly what Iran, Russia and others are doing. Images: AP/AFP/Getty Images/Zuma Press Composite: Mark Kelly

Britain’s appeasement of Islamism, and a Conservative government’s unwillingness to enforce the law, has caused a crisis of democracy. For months, the government failed to counter the carnival of hatred that is London’s weekly anti-Israel marches. On Feb. 21, the tide of antidemocratic incitement reached the gates of Westminster, and the mother of parliaments surrendered to the mob.

The Scottish National Party had proposed a motion calling for a cease-fire in Gaza, scheduled to be debated that day. The intention was to pull Labour, the leading opposition party, off the fence on which its leader, Keir Starmer, has so carefully balanced it. Normally, a motion like this goes directly to a vote. This time the speaker of the Commons, Lindsay Hoyle, broke with precedent, surrendering to Labour’s pressure and proposing an amendment that its members could support.

Mr. Hoyle said he interfered with the legislative process because he didn’t want “another attack on this House,” a reference to the 2017 terrorist attack that killed five in and around Parliament. He feared that if he forced Labour moderates to vote against the original motion, he would be endangering their lives.

Mr. Hoyle is fighting for his job, but we can see why he thought discretion was the better part of valor. A mob of Palestinian Solidarity Campaign supporters had besieged Parliament and projected the genocidal slogan “From the river to the sea” onto the Elizabeth Tower, better known as Big Ben. The group’s leader, Ben Jamal, had exhorted his followers to “ramp up pressure” and force the police to “lock the doors of Parliament itself.”

Two members of Parliament have been assassinated since 2016. That year Labour’s Jo Cox was on her way to a surgery when a neo-Nazi shot and stabbed her to death in the street. In 2021 the Conservatives’ David Amess was fatally stabbed by an Islamic State follower at a surgery held in a church. In 2010, Labour’s Stephen Timms was seriously wounded in a knife attack by an al Qaeda sympathizer for, she said, his support of the Iraq war. The sharp rise in threats and harassment since Oct. 7 has forced members to rely in part on private security.

In early February, Mike Freer, a government minister, announced he won’t run for re-election. Mr. Freer, who represents a heavily Jewish constituency of North London, isn’t Jewish but supports Israel and campaigns against antisemitism. He’s endured death threats, homophobic insults, fake bombs left on his doorstep, and an arson attack on his office. He had already been wearing a stab vest to public events on police advice and considers himself “lucky to be alive.”

Labour members get more threats. The party’s “red-green” electoral strategy depends on the Muslim-rich urban vote. While Mr. Starmer talks moderation in Westminster, Labour moderates are menaced by their own voters for insufficient anti-Zionist zeal. Sometimes the fulminators are from the hard left, but they’re usually Muslim. Churchill defined an appeaser as someone who “feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last.” When Labour’s appeasers proffered the Jews and the party’s principles as appetizers, they made themselves the main course.

Last month Rachel Reeves, who will be the next chancellor of the exchequer if the Conservatives continue to self-destruct, was chased in the street by anti-Israel activists. Then, in a Feb. 29 by-election, Labour lost its previously safe seat in the heavily Muslim northern city of Rochdale. The party dropped its candidate, Azhar Ali, after it emerged that he suggested Israel allowed the Oct. 7 attacks as a pretext to invade Gaza. This allowed the extremist George Galloway, who was expelled from Labour in 2003, to win by attacking the party as weak on Gaza.

While diversity remains our strength, at least officially, Britain’s political class fortifies the Westminster “bubble.” The media hector the public about its “far right” objections to immigration. The police appeal limply to “community relations” as if naming the community that needs relationship counseling is above its pay grade. The BBC described the surge in reported antisemitic incidents in October—up 1,350% from a year earlier—as if it were inclement weather, not a victimless crime but one without perpetrators.

Mayor Sadiq Khan denounces “Islamophobia” with the ardor of an identity politician running for re-election. Politicians and columnists sing choruses against the “scourge of antisemitism” but can’t say who’s scourging whom. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says that “from the river to the sea” is racist and that incitement against Jews is “un-British” but he too can’t say who is attacking British democracy. Naming the problem admits its existence, and its scale.

Maria Lovegrove, head of the government’s antiradicalization program, Prevent, says the organization is racing to “flatten the curve, before it becomes a generational radicalizing moment.” That moment passed in the previous generation. A 2018 U.K. government report found that more than 900 British Muslims “of national security concern,” including women, had traveled to “engage with the conflict in Syria”: more than the number then serving in Britain’s armed forces, and more than the Irish Republican Army’s estimated number of active fighters at the time of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

British democracy and society are at a crunch point. Multiculturalism, political correctness and a deliberate failure to enforce immigration law have fostered a domestic-terrorist problem of unprecedented scale and complexity. The vast majority of the British people are repelled by extremism, appalled at the demolition of their values, and outraged by the cowardice of their rulers. Last month the red-green alliance crossed the Rubicon and bullied Parliament into submission. This is how a democracy dies.

Mr. Green is a Journal contributor and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Politics & Religion / WSJ: Panera and Circuses
« on: March 01, 2024, 08:24:16 PM »
Panera Bread and California Circuses
Gov. Gavin Newsom, the $20 minimum wage, and an exemption for a donor.
By The Editorial Board
March 1, 2024 6:36 pm ET

Wonder Land: Whether it’s members of Congress, protesters in the street, even golf tournaments—it’s hard not to notice the rising tide of jerk-like behavior. Images: Storyblocks/TikTok/BidenHQ Composite: Mark Kelly
California is living up to its reputation as the entertainment capital of the world. Witness the political circus unfolding in Sacramento over a doughnut hole that Democrats baked into the state’s $20 fast-food minimum wage for Panera Bread franchise owner Greg Flynn, a donor to Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Democrats last autumn enacted a bill that raised the state minimum wage for fast-food workers to $20 an hour from the current $16 for all workers. But what do you know? The legislation carves out an odd exemption for restaurants that produce and sell bread, which appears to cover only Panera and a couple of bakery chains.

Bloomberg News reported this week that Mr. Newsom pushed for an exemption for Panera as a favor for Mr. Flynn. The franchise king donated $100,000 to Mr. Newsom’s 2021 campaign to fend off a recall and $64,800 to support his re-election. The Governor no doubt would appreciate similar backing when he runs for President.

According to our sources, however, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) rejected a broad carve-out for fast-casual restaurants. The union conceded to an exemption for bakeries—but only for those that baked and sold bread before Sept. 15 of last year. McDonald’s can’t start baking brioche buns to win an exemption.

Mr. Flynn says he opposed the bill, never asked for a special exemption, and suggested only that its “language defining ‘fast food restaurant’ should be amended to exclude fast casual restaurants.” He says he met with the Governor’s staff with other restaurant owners, but he was “surprised when the exemption appeared in the final legislation.”

As we explained last autumn, Democrats were scrambling to jettison a referendum to repeal their 2022 Fast Recovery Act. That law established a state council with sweeping powers to dictate wages, benefits and working conditions for fast-food workers. Unions didn’t want to spend tens of millions of dollars to defend it at the ballot box.

Democrats then decided to repeal the 2022 law and rushed through legislation that established the $20 minimum wage and a state board with more modest authorities over fast-food restaurants. The 25% wage increase, which takes effect in April, will wallop restaurants, especially in lower-income areas.

The lesson for California businesses is that if you want protection from the labor mob that runs Sacramento, you better pass the cannoli. Panera may have to raise wages anyway to compete for workers, but perhaps not if the $20 minimum forces fast-food restaurants to lay off employees or drives them out of business.

After news of the Panera pander went viral on TikTok, Mr. Newsom denied paternity. His spokesperson called the Bloomberg Story “absurd,” and said that “the governor never met with Flynn about this bill.” Assembly Member Chris Holden, the bill’s lead sponsor, also denied knowledge of the carve-out’s conception. Behold the immaculate exemption.

The Governor’s spokesperson added that his legal team doesn’t believe Panera is exempt under the law. If that’s the case, Mr. Flynn may want to ask for his money back. On the other hand, the SEIU, which has donated more than $100,000 to Mr. Holden’s political campaigns, is certainly getting its money’s worth.

Mr. Holden is now pushing a bill that adds exemptions for fast-restaurants in airports, hotels, sports stadiums, theme parks, casinos, state parks and corporate office campuses. Our sources say unions have lobbied for these carve-outs because they fear that the $20 minimum wage could make it harder to organize workers at these venues. Plenty of other Democratic donors, including Silicon Valley giants, could also benefit from these exemptions.

When government is all-powerful, as it is in California, this is how politics works. Politicians pass a punishing law for a special interest, then offer exemptions to donors who can pay the going protection rate. The business model was invented in Sicily.

Politics & Religion / Jared Kushner
« on: March 01, 2024, 07:59:49 PM »
As we have discussed here preiously (thread?) there is good reason to be seriously critical of Jared's deal with the Saudis.   That said, I remember it as being after Trump left office?

Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters
« on: March 01, 2024, 07:48:56 PM »
The world retains its ability to surprise.

BTW The Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores from back in the 70s IIRC named Rabassa was Jewish.  There is a small but powerful Jewish community in Mexico City.

Well, I did see him with the Mothers of Invention at the Fillmore East.  Frankly even though I respected his musicianship, the only album of his I ever cared for was Hot Rats-- wherein he actually took the musically seriously and just PLAYED.

Russia Using Thousands of Musk’s Starlink Systems in War, Ukrainian General Says
Estimate of Russian use suggests Moscow is eroding a major Ukrainian battlefield advantage
James Marson
Thomas Grove
Updated Feb. 15, 2024 2:09 pm ET




(2 min)


In an X Spaces forum on Monday night, Elon Musk spoke with Republican senators about the $95.3 billion aid bill that includes funding for Ukraine. He said there’s ‘no way in hell’ Russian President Vladimir Putin will lose the war in Ukraine. Photo: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters
KYIV—Ukraine’s top military-intelligence officer said Russian invasion forces in his country are using thousands of Starlink satellite internet terminals, and that the network has been active in occupied parts of Ukraine for “quite a long time.”

Lt. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov’s comments in an interview suggest that Russia is starting to acquire Starlink terminals, made by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, at a scale that could cut into a major Ukrainian battlefield advantage. Ukraine’s government said last year that around 42,000 terminals are used by the military, hospitals, businesses and aid organizations.

Starlink, which is more secure than cell or radio signals, is considered so vital to Ukrainian operations that the Pentagon struck a deal with SpaceX last year to help fund access for Kyiv’s forces. Up to now, Russian forces have had no similarly secure communications system.

Russian private firms buy the terminals off intermediaries who pass off purchases as for personal use and deliver the equipment to Russia via neighboring countries, including former Soviet republics, Budanov said. Russian army units down to company level were seeking to acquire Starlink terminals, often by collecting money for the purchases, he said.

Lt. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, Ukraine’s top military-intelligence officer PHOTO: VALENTYN OGIRENKO/REUTERS
“It’s an open market,” said Budanov, who heads Ukraine’s military-intelligence agency, known as HUR. “It’s not a military item.”

A search for Starlink terminals on Russian search engine yields numerous dealers in Moscow and outside the Russian capital who promise to install the systems across the country and the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine.

One website,, promised “tested performance” in the occupied areas of Crimea, Luhansk, Donetsk and Kherson with monthly fees starting at $100 a month. The website provided contacts for a dealer, including a Russian cellphone number and a Yandex email. A representative of the firm declined to speak to a Wall Street Journal reporter.

Another website that uses the name of a German appliance company sells Starlink terminals for nearly 300,000 rubles, or just over $3,000.

Like other space communications systems, Starlink relies on satellites in orbit, infrastructure called ground stations and terminals to allow people to tap in to its high-speed internet connections. Customers use a flat antenna array that needs an unobstructed view of the sky to connect with satellites.

A Starlink for sale in California. PHOTO: DAVID PAUL MORRIS/BLOOMBERG NEWS
SpaceX, which doesn’t want to provide connections to users in countries where regulators haven’t permitted its use, wields significant control over where it offers service and where it doesn’t.

Budanov said Starlink service has worked on occupied territory for “quite a long time,” without elaborating. Asked whether he knew from personal experience, he replied: “Of course.” HUR units often work behind enemy lines.

A spokesman for SpaceX didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Musk previously said SpaceX wasn’t selling to Russia. “To the best of our knowledge, no Starlinks have been sold directly or indirectly to Russia,” he wrote in a post on his social-media platform X on Sunday.

Neither Musk nor Starlink has responded directly to questions about whether the devices could be obtained in other countries and used in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine. Starlink has said SpaceX takes steps to deactivate Starlink terminals if the company determines sanctioned or unauthorized parties are using them.

The Russian Defense Ministry didn’t respond to a request for comment. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier this week that officially Starlink was neither delivered to Russia nor used in the country.

Elon Musk has previously said SpaceX wasn’t selling to Russia. PHOTO: ALAIN JOCARD/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
The Kremlin has steadily tightened its grip on Russia’s communications infrastructure over the last decade. Current regulations force any foreign satellite operator in Russia to pass traffic through one of several ground stations inside the country. It was unclear whether any Starlink traffic abided by those rules. Exceptions can be made only with permission of the country’s Federal Security Service, or FSB.

Access to Starlink has been a politically charged issue since early in the war, when Musk made the service available in Ukraine.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) said in a statement that reports of Russian military use of Starlink terminals were extremely concerning. “SpaceX needs to do everything in its power to ensure the Russian military isn’t using its technology as part of its invasion of Ukraine,” he said.

Last year, when SpaceX said it could no longer fund access for Kyiv, the Pentagon agreed to pay to help keep the service running. Private donors, governments and other organizations also pay for terminals.

Musk said in September that earlier in the war, he had declined a request to activate Starlink service around Sevastopol in Crimea to avoid directly involving his space company with what he described as a plan to sink Russian ships there.

Musk said that if he had agreed to it, SpaceX would have been “complicit in a major act of war and conflict escalation.” He didn’t address how this was different from Ukraine’s use of Starlink in many other operations.

Politics & Religion / Newcomers
« on: March 01, 2024, 01:54:16 PM »
Please put in the Fetterman thread as well.  TY.

Very much worth noting is that the Blob has now begun calling the illegal aliens "newcomers"-- even before their claims of asylum are assessed/adjudicated. 

This is known as a "tell"  :x :x :x

Politics & Religion / Re: Epstein & Ghislaine Maxwell
« on: March 01, 2024, 01:51:19 PM »
Could be ;-)

Politics & Religion / Re: The war on the rule of law; the Deep State
« on: February 29, 2024, 05:14:26 PM »
Thank you.

Politics & Religion / WSJ: SCOTUS right to take Trump's immunity claim
« on: February 29, 2024, 05:10:12 PM »

Why the Supreme Court Had to Hear Trump’s Case
The D.C. Circuit’s ruling was so sweeping that it posed a danger to our constitutional democracy.
By David B. Rivkin Jr. and Elizabeth Price Foley
Feb. 29, 2024 4:43 pm ET

A court room sketch of Donald Trump’s lawyer speaking at an appeals hearing on Mr. Trump’s immunity claim in the D.C. Circuit court in Washington, Jan. 9. PHOTO: BILL HENNESSY/REUTERS
Many observers thought the Supreme Court would decline to consider Donald Trump’s claim that presidential immunity shields him from prosecution for his conduct on Jan. 6, 2021. But on Wednesday the justices announced that they will hear the former president’s case in April. Mr. Trump could eventually face a trial on those charges, but the justices had little choice but to take up this question because the lower court’s ruling was so sweeping and dangerous.

Mr. Trump claims that his allegedly criminal actions were “official acts” taken as president. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia held that it didn’t matter if they were—that no president is entitled to immunity from “generally applicable criminal laws.” That decision violates the separation of powers, threatens the independence and vigor of the presidency, and is inconsistent with Supreme Court precedent.

The justices are unlikely to decide whether Mr. Trump’s actions were in fact “official acts.” Instead, they will consider the key legal question, “whether and if so to what extent does a former president enjoy presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for conduct alleged to involve official acts during his tenure in office.”

That’s a novel question, but in Nixon v. Fitzgerald (1982), the high court held that a president enjoys absolute immunity from civil suits predicated on his “official acts,” even if they fall foul of “federal laws of general applicability.” Justice Lewis Powell wrote that such immunity is a “functionally mandated incident of the President’s unique office, rooted in the constitutional tradition of the separation of powers and supported by our history.” Such lawsuits “could distract a President from his public duties, to the detriment of not only the President and his office but also the Nation that the Presidency was designed to serve.”

Mr. Trump maintains that he believed the 2020 presidential election was riddled with fraud and that his conduct on Jan. 6 was fully consistent with his constitutional obligations to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Whatever the merits of that claim, it raises weighty questions of law and fact that the D.C. Circuit was wrong to brush aside—most centrally, that the president’s power is granted by the Constitution, which, as the supreme law of the land, overrides ordinary, “generally applicable” statutes.

The D.C. Circuit decision opened the door to all manner of constitutional crises. A former president could be prosecuted for ordering a military attack on an American affiliated with a foreign terrorist organization, even though such an order is clearly within his authority as commander in chief. Aggressive prosecutors motivated by ideology or partisanship could use capaciously worded criminal statutes—including those regarding mail or wire fraud, racketeering, false statements and misrepresentations—to challenge almost any presidential action, including those related to national security activities.

As with civil suits, it isn’t enough to say that the former president would have the opportunity to mount a defense in court. The mere possibility of personal prosecution for official actions would chill future presidential decisions. The D.C. Circuit casually disregards this danger, asserting simply that the “public interest” in prosecuting crimes is weightier than the risk of chilling impartial and fearless presidential action. It asserts that a president wouldn’t be “unduly cowed” by the prospect of criminal liability, “any more than a juror” or “executive aide” would be. That analogy is inapt because the president’s responsibilities are much weightier than those of jurors or aides. He alone is the singular head of a constitutional branch of government. As the justices recognized in Nixon v. Fitzgerald, the “greatest public interest” isn’t in enforcing ordinary statutes against the president. Immunity is necessary to ensure he has “the maximum ability to deal fearlessly and impartially with the duties of his office.”

The D.C. Circuit dismissed as “slight” the risk that former presidents will be politically targeted because prosecutors “have ethical obligations not to initiate unfounded prosecutions” and there are “additional safeguards in place,” including the requirement of seeking an indictment from a grand jury. These arguments border on frivolous. Not all prosecutors are ethical, and even those who are may be overzealous. Many cases have featured prosecutorial misconduct or abuse. And the justices have surely heard the saying that a prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich. Lawyers in civil cases are also bound by ethical obligations, but that didn’t vitiate the case for presidential immunity in 1982.

Jack Smith, the special counsel in the Trump cases, has asserted that federal prosecutors make decisions without regard to politics—but his conduct in this case belies that claim. His chief argument against Mr. Trump’s petition for a stay of the D.C. Circuit’s decision denying his immunity was that such a delay would cause “serious harm to the government—and to the public” because the case “presents a fundamental question at the heart of our democracy.” Many Supreme Court cases raise such questions, and Mr. Smith avoids saying what distinguishes this one. The obvious answer is the election timetable.

Mr. Smith’s demand for fast-tracking the Supreme Court’s consideration thus contradicts the D.C. Circuit’s suppositions about prosecutorial ethical probity. Trying Mr. Trump, the all-but-certain Republican nominee for president, before the election is inconsistent with Section 9-27.260 of the Justice Department’s Justice Manual, which makes clear that prosecutors “may never make a decision regarding . . . prosecution or select the timing [thereof] . . . for the purpose or affecting any election, or for the purpose of giving an advantage or disadvantage to any candidate or political party.”

The question of presidential immunity is an important one for our constitutional democracy of separated government powers, and the D.C. Circuit made a grievous error in disposing of it so casually. The justices were right to halt the proceedings until they can give the issue the careful consideration it deserves.

Mr. Rivkin served at the Justice Department and the White House Counsel’s Office during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush Administrations. Ms. Foley is a professor of constitutional law at Florida International University College of Law. Both practice appellate and constitutional law in Washington.

Politics & Religion / Re: Death of NATO
« on: February 29, 2024, 04:10:22 PM »
 :-o :-o :-o

Politics & Religion / GPF: Russia launches Iranian satellite
« on: February 29, 2024, 01:37:18 PM »
Iranian satellite. Relatedly, Russia launched an Iranian-made satellite into orbit on Thursday. According to Iranian media, the satellite will be used for imaging, collecting domestic remote sensing data and testing of satellite technology.

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