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EXCLUSIVE: FBI's War Crimes Unit and the International Human Rights Unit on the Chopping Block

EXCLUSIVE: FBI’s War Crimes Unit on the Chopping Block


A special unit within the Federal Bureau of Investigation that handles war crimes may be shut down imminently, according to officials familiar with the administration’s decision-making process. The FBI’s International Human Rights Unit takes the lead on investigating individuals within the United States who have been accused of committing international crimes, including war crimes, torture, genocide, female genital mutilation, and the recruitment of child soldiers. It also investigates international crimes committed against or by U.S. citizens abroad and enforces immigration statutes that can be invoked against abusers who cannot be prosecuted for their underlying crimes for whatever reason. The rationale for suddenly scaling back the United States’ commitment to investigating and prosecuting war criminals is unclear. President Donald Trump’s National Security Strategy recognizes the importance of the United States taking the lead on this imperative policy objective


Together, these entities work to prevent the United States from becoming a safe haven for individuals who commit serious human rights abuses. In addition to focusing on perpetrators who make their way here, the FBI component also investigates situations in which Americans are either the victims or the perpetrators of atrocities overseas. In so doing, it leverages the FBI’s intelligence capabilities, vast network of field agents and analysts, and contacts within diaspora communities. It has also cultivated international partnerships with foreign law enforcement entities (such as Interpol), nongovernmental organizations, and others to research and build cases. Once developed, these dossiers can be handed off to domestic FBI field offices and the Justice Department for indictment and prosecution. The reality is that the Justice Department cannot succeed in its prosecutorial work without skilled and dedicated investigators to identify perpetrators, witnesses, and evidence within their fields of operation around the country.

The timing of this potential closure is surprising. This team of specialized units, working in conjunction with FBI field offices and state prosecutors, recently won a significant victory with the conviction of “Jungle Jabbah,” a ruthless warlord who committed atrocities—including cannibalism—in Liberia and was later found living comfortably in Pennsylvania. (See Just Security’s prior coverage here and here). Numerous other perpetrators of atrocities from Guatemala and the former Yugoslavia have also been successfully prosecuted based upon this Unit’s investigations. What’s more, attesting to his support for this work, President Trump finally succeeded in deporting Jakiw Palij, who is believed to be the last Nazi living in the United States—a diplomatic feat that Presidents Obama and Bush were not able to accomplish.


If the FBI’s International Human Rights Unit is disbanded, its portfolio (but not the majority of the staff) will apparently shift to other Civil Rights Unit staff. The Civil Rights Unit is already fully engaged in their day jobs, pursuing violations of the federal civil rights statutes, particularly on behalf of vulnerable members of American communities. Saddling it with this additional responsibility threatens to jeopardize its core civil rights mission and deemphasize new war crimes cases. In addition, removing expertise from within the Bureau will undermine operations in the field when it comes to these most specialized of cases. Individual FBI field agents, however talented, rarely confront international cases in which crime scenes, physical evidence, and potential witnesses may all be overseas. Experts within the FBI’s International Human Rights Unit work up the cases and then, after handing them off, continue to provide support to investigators and prosecutors in the field, helping to link them with foreign counterparts, enable witness interviews, and connect to additional lead and background sources. New investigations will inevitably suffer absent this dedicated team of war crimes investigators.


Ex-CIA agent: US allies fear Trump will leak classified intel to Putin

Ex-CIA agent: US allies fear Trump will leak classified intel to Putin

'Trump's actions are making us all less safe,' according to a 30-year veteran of the CIA.


In an alarming new op-ed published in the Washington Post, former CIA agent Steven Hall warns that Trump’s attacks on his own intelligence agencies have gotten so bad that his actions are threatening national security and “making us all less safe.” Hall, a CIA veteran who ran and managed Russian operations for more than 30 years, expressed his concern that Trump’s constant public attacks and hostility toward the intelligence community will not only harm morale among the workforce but will also damage America’s relationships with allied intelligence agencies.

“Many have already taken note of Trump’s cavalier attitude toward sensitive information, as well as his apparent failure to understand the basic rules of intelligence sharing,” he wrote. “Recall when our president shared sensitive intelligence obtained from one of our foreign partners with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, for example.” Trump’s carelessness and lack of regard for the sensitive nature of classified intelligence “will have a chilling effect” on intelligence sharing, Hall warned, noting that our allies likely fear he will leak sensitive information to Putin.

“I would be deeply surprised if many of our best intelligence allies were not already holding back information they would normally pass to their U.S. counterparts, for fear Trump might not be able to keep a secret,” Hall wrote. “Their concerns might even be darker when they consider the possibility that our president has reportedly discussed sensitive matters with Russian President Vladimir Putin behind closed doors with no record of the conversation,” he added.

Hall was referring to recent reports that Trump has withheld details of his previous talks with Putin from top officials in his administration, including confiscating notes from an interpreter who was present during one of the meetings.


Ex-fed prosecutor: Whitaker only pulled out of hearing because he couldn't cite executive privilege

Ex-federal prosecutor reveals Whitaker only pulled out of hearing after he realized he couldn’t cite executive privilege


Former Federal Prosecutor Renato Mariotti explained he might know the reason acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker pulled out of the Congressional hearing set for Friday. In a long Twitter thread, Mariotti said that House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) gave Whitaker the questions he would be asked ahead of time. The goal being to explain none of the questions would apply to the executive privilege rules.

“Nadler did so because during the past two years when the GOP controlled Congress, Trump Administration officials would routinely refuse to answer questions without invoking executive privilege,” Mariotti said. “They did so knowing that Congressional Republicans wouldn’t compel their testimony.”

The former prosecutor explained that it isn’t “proper” to refuse due to executive privilege unless the president has formally proclaimed it. Nadler gave the question in advance to give Trump time to actually invoke the privilege. Whitaker couldn’t walk into the hearing and say he was surprised by the questions and couldn’t answer because the president needs time.

“Similarly, Nadler prepared to subpoena Whitaker in case Whitaker refused to answer any of the questions,” Mariotti continued. “A voluntary witness (as Whitaker was) can refuse to answer questions, but a witness appearing pursuant to a subpoena is required to testify. If Whitaker was subpoenaed and refused to answer questions at that point, Congress could refer him to the [Justice Department] for Contempt of Congress.”


Posted by KelleyKramer | Fri Feb 8, 2019, 03:53 AM (5 replies)

Trump Treasury Department lifts sanctions on three Russian firms with ties to Oleg Deripaska

This is one of the main reasons why Putin put his own puppet/stooge in the US White House ...

Treasury Department lifts sanctions on three Russian firms with ties to Oleg Deripaska


(CNN)The Trump administration on Sunday formally lifted sanctions on three Russian firms with links to oligarch Oleg Deripaska, including Rusal, the world's second-largest aluminum producer. On Dec. 19, the Treasury Department notified Congress of its intent to lift the sanctions saying the companies were sanctioned because of their ownership and control by Deripaska, not for the conduct of the companies themselves.

The Treasury Department said that Rusal and EN+ Group, the holding company of the Russian aluminum giant, as well as energy firm JSC EuroSibEnergo had made significant restructuring and corporate governance changes to diminish Deripaska's ownership and sever his control to allow them to meet the criteria to be delisted within the 30 days.

"EN+, Rusal and ESE have reduced Oleg Deripaska's direct and indirect shareholding stake in those companies and severed his control," the Treasury Department said in a statement. "This action ensures that the majority of directors on the EN+ and Rusal boards will be independent directors -- including U.S. and European persons who have no business, professional or family ties to Deripaska...and that independent U.S. persons vote a significant bloc of the shares of EN+."


Democrats and some Republicans had said they believe the Treasury Department had cut a bad deal that doesn't sufficiently prevent the Russian oligarch from maintaining influence over the company even though his personal ownership stake in Rusal was reduced. Under the arrangement, Deripaska's ownership in EN+ drops from roughly 70% to roughly 45%, and he can vote only 35% of his shares, according to documents explaining the terms of the deal. But his shares are spread out to various entities, including to a foundation he started two decades ago, his ex-wife and father-in-law as well as the sanctioned Russian bank, VTB. The terms of the agreement say voting rights of these shares will be given to third parties with no ties to Deripaska.


Editorial about Trump: You Can't Get There From Here

I found this article by accident and am not familiar with the website, but it seems pretty point on IMHO. I get so sick of tv pundits trying to figure out Trumps 'plan' or what his 'strategy' is. There is no plan! No strategy!

This is not complicated, it really is this simple... Trump is a complete dumbass who lies and makes shit up as he staggers and stumbles across the yard, stepping in one pile of shit after another.

Here are four paragraphs, wish I could have posted the entire article here ............

You Can't Get There From Here


There was some concern about that speech, because Trump had been doing that Trump thing where he gets bored and flutters his eyelids and then veers psychedelically off-script and begins drawling about some bizarre shit that no one can quite place or even parse. For a while, that meant interrupting himself to explain how smugglers bring women across borders into Texas and California and Arizona with specific types of tape over their mouths—he would list the types of tape that the smugglers used, usually mentioning that it was blue. “They get off the road and they drive out into the desert, and they come on, they make a left turn,” he told a media gaggle on January 4. “Usually it’s a left, not a right.” The Washington Post dutifully attempted to run down where Trump might have been getting this, and mostly failed. It could have been a chopped-and-screwed remix of something a border patrol agent told him, it could have been from the sequel to Sicario, some poreless beige security goblin might have leered it out from within a box next to Lou Dobbs. Joan Collins might have whispered it to him in a dream.


This is also true, and maybe even especially true, when Trump is obviously lying. Even before he banged his own personal left turn and began his full-tilt drive into the desert of cognitive decline, Trump was not an especially nuanced or strategic person. His mind is not what it was, and at its peak it was more of a Magic 8 Ball than a supercomputer. He can’t learn anything because he can’t listen to other people if they aren’t speaking from inside a television; he can’t remember what he hears there because he can’t really care unless it’s about him. These deficits are clear when Trump is extemporizing on furloughed workers cutting deals with the milkman or imagining cartoon coyotes piloting sedans full of duct-taped women across the Rio Grande, but they are even clearer when he tells knowing lies. The former tend to be about other people, and so tend to be both lurid and half-assed; he only really ever applies himself when the lies involve himself.

This gives these lies the advantage of being heartfelt, but it also strips them down. The stories he tells about workers gladly giving up their paychecks for his drowsy racist fantasies and the villains working against him are mostly just sounds he makes to keep himself interested; he might have noticed that they drew louder-than-usual hoots from the seething grandparents and dead-ender rubes at his rallies, but he also might not have. His lies, though, are more elemental. They are never anything more than the opposite of truth. If Trump keeps insisting that he’s not being investigated for his relationship to Russia in gratuitous and unconvincing ways, it’s not because he’s trying to leverage some advanced placement Dealpoint or exploit some hidden businessman’s trick or angle. It’s because he’s literally fucking being investigated for his relationship with Russia and because he very much wants people to think he’s not, and because that’s honestly the best he can do because his brain is an old donut bobbing around in a toilet.

Trump is so relentlessly dishonest and so plainly diminished and so sorely overmatched that, at this point, he can only be taken at his word. This isn’t to say that you should believe what he’s saying, although you surely don’t need me to tell you that. It just means that what he does, from here until whenever his helicopter leaves the White House lawn for the last time, will never be anything but what it appears to be.

If he appears to be confronting an emerging truth that makes him look bad with a flailing childish insistence that Actually The Opposite Is True, it’s because he is. If it looks like he’s numbly ventriloquizing the rancid words of one of the aspiring genocidaires tasked with writing his more high-flown addresses, it’s because he is. If it appears that he is taking some cruel promise made idly at some point in the past and then spinning stupid stories to justify seeing that promise through, it’s because that is just what he’s doing. Trump repeats the same five or six phrases like a defective Teddy Ruxpin not because he’s trying to brainwash or brand but because he can only hold like 175 words in his head at one time and is just kind of mushing the button that seems most appropriate for the situation over and over again. There will be no new work done until he’s out of this job, not just because the venal and idiotic criminality that has defined his life belatedly appears to be catching up with him but because it simply isn’t in him to do new work, and because his current job transparently doesn’t matter to him at all. He’ll believe that he’s getting away with it—that he’s winning and commanding and leading—until the cuffs close or the lights go out, and he will always act that way. He will spend the rest of his life trying to demonstrate that he was right about whatever it was that he said or did before.

More on the link-



Trump Confidant Roger Stone Indicted On 7 Counts Related To 2016 Election Attack

Trump Confidant Roger Stone Indicted On 7 Counts Related To 2016 Election Attack


Roger Stone, the longtime Republican political operator and confidant of Donald Trump, has been arrested in Florida after being indicted on seven counts including obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements in connection with the Russian attack on the 2016 election. Stone will make an initial appearance at 11 a.m. at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The indictment, returned by a grand jury impaneled by Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller, is the first to charge an American in connection with one of the best-known aspects of Russia's attack on the 2016 election: the theft and release of emails that embarrassed political targets including significant figures in the Democratic Party.

In the indictment, the special counsel alleges that Stone was in regular contact both with Wikileaks, listed as Organization 1, and the Trump campaign during critical times around the release of emails stolen from the DNC and a Clinton campaign official.

"After the July 22, 2016 release of stolen DNC emails by Organization 1, a senior Trump Campaign official was directed to contact STONE about any additional releases and what other damaging information Organization 1 had regarding the Clinton Campaign," the indictment reads. "STONE thereafter told the Trump Campaign about potential future releases of damaging material by Organization 1."

More on the link-



Statement from President of the Association of Flight Attendants on the Shutdown.. Wow powerful!

The shutdown is not a political game of football, there are serious and real consequences that are putting Americans in danger. A powerful statement from the President of the AFA, especially at the end .....

"This is about our safety, & security, & our jobs, & our entire country's economic stability… Leader McConnell, you can fix this today… This is not a political game. Open the government today."



New report reveals far-right individuals committed every extremist-related murder in US in 2018

A new report reveals far-right individuals were responsible for every extremist-related murder committed in the United States in 2018.

Experts warn of far-right threat as two separate violent plots are foiled in one week




The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released its annual report on extremism within the United States this week, revealing that individuals linked to or affiliated with the far-right were responsible for every extremist-related murder committed in the United States in 2018. The report notes far-right extremists were responsible for 50 murders in the 2018, making it the fourth deadliest year on record for domestic extremism in the United States. What’s perhaps more alarming is that those murders only represent the tip of the iceberg.

Just this week, authorities uncovered two separate violent plots in New York and Utah, both of which were planned out by suspects with far-right leanings, but thankfully not carried out.

On Tuesday, The Denver Post reported that police and FBI agents in Utah had arrested 27-year-old Christopher Wayne Cleary of Denver, Colorado for threatening to kill “as many girls as I see.” According to a probable-cause statement, Clearly said his virginity was a motive for plotting to carry out the attack. Cleary’s motivations are straight from the incel (or involuntarily celibate) community, a virulently misogynistic online group which began as a support group of sorts for celibate men but has morphed into a toxic online community which regularly advocates rape and has a proven track record of inspiring real-world violence. Mass-murderers Elliot Rodger, Alek Minassian, and, most recently, Scott Paul Beierle were all directly inspired by the incel “ideology.”

The same day as Cleary’s arrest, police in upstate New York arrested and charged four men who were allegedly plotting to attack the nearby Muslim community of Islamberg, which has been the target of Islamophobic conspiracy theories for years. Police accused the group, which includes three young men and one 16-year-old, of stashing improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and 23 rifles and shotguns in preparation for the attack. The grandmother of 20-year-old suspect Brian Colaneri told BuzzFeed News that he had been “manipulated” by fellow alleged plotter Vincent Vetromile. As The Daily Beast reported, Vetromile’s social media was full of far-right tropes — such as referring to Muslims immigrants as “rapefugees” — and posts praising President Donald Trump.

The two sets of arrests were made the same week that white supremacist James Jackson pleaded guilty in New York City to several charges of murder and hate crimes, as well as “Murder as a Crime of Terrorism,” the first ever prosecution of its kind in the state.

More on the link-



Mitch McConnell Is Spending the Shutdown Confirming More Trump Judges

Mitch McConnell Is Spending the Shutdown Confirming More Trump Judges



After a record-shattering 84 confirmed judges, last week the Trump administration put forth its first new slate of names for federal judgeships in 2019. All six were men, and apparently all six were white, although the White House declined to answer any questions about their backgrounds.

Senate Republicans have also apparently been mulling the idea of a rules change that would allow them to move even faster on judicial nominations, with Sen. Todd Young, R-Indiana, telling Hugh Hewitt on Monday that the GOP conference may soon consider different ideas for ways to cut down debate time on Trump’s mountain of judicial nominees. The government shutdown has now dragged into its 33rd day, but the Republican obsession with jamming judges through continues to comically accelerate

The interest in ramming judges through has only picked up since the midterm elections. “If the Democrats had acquired a majority in the Senate, they could have blocked every person President Trump nominated for federal judgeships,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich wrote in an op-ed post-election, noting that judicial appointments were “the biggest achievement of Trump’s first two years, and now it is likely guaranteed to continue.” Carrie Severino, the chief counsel and policy director of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, told Politico at the time that “Executive orders don’t outlast the president, legislation can change, but these judgeships last a long time,” adding that there are “a lot of Never-Trumpers and conservatives who have had to admit, sometimes begrudgingly, that ‘Wow, this has been a home run.’ ”

The unprecedented number of conservative-approved judicial nominees McConnell has waved through the Senate—a process for which he laid the groundwork before Trump was elected—stands to shift much of the burden of conservative policymaking away from an increasingly paralyzed Senate. In the coming years, battles over voting rights, health care, abortion, regulation and campaign finance, among other areas, are less likely to be decided in Congress than in the nation’s courthouses. In effect, McConnell has become a master of the Senate by figuring out how to route the Republican agenda around it.


But while progressives still hope that an independent judiciary will act as a check on Donald Trump, McConnell is taking a longer view—doing something rather more apocalyptic and decidedly more cynical. He continues to pack the judicial branch with extremely young, radically conservative white Christian men who will—assuming constitutional democracy survives—continue to deliver wins on gun rights and anti-abortion rights as well as the deregulation of environmental, consumer, labor, and other safeguards, long after Trump leaves office. These picks will also continue to work to circumscribe the vote itself, through gerrymandering, voter suppression, and limitless money in politics.


Florida Secretary of State Michael Ertel Resigns Over Photos of Him in Blackface Costume

Florida Secretary of State Michael Ertel Resigns Over Photos of Him in Blackface Costume

The Republican official wore blackface, lipstick, and fake breasts to mock Hurricane Katrina victims in 2005.


Florida’s secretary of state resigned Thursday after photographs were unearthed of him dressed in blackface.

The images in question, obtained by The Tallahassee Democrat, show Sec. Michael Ertel dressed for a Halloween party in blackface makeup, red lipstick, earrings, a New Orleans Saints headwrap, and fake breasts. Ertel wore a purple t-shirt with the words “Katrina Victim” written on it. The photos were reportedly taken in 2005, only a few months after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans.

“There’s nothing I can say,” Ertel told the Democrat last week, upon being confronted with the photos. The newspaper reportedly approached the governor’s office on Thursday morning with the photographs, and by the afternoon, the office announced that Ertel had resigned.

Ertel only took office on Jan. 8, after being appointed by newly elected Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Eight months before the photos were taken, Ertel was named supervisor of elections for Seminole County by then-Gov. Jeb Bush.


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