NEWSWATCH: House Intelligence Committee Report on Russia Investigation; Excerpt: Introduction and Overview

Kremlin and St. Basil's at Night

The U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has issued a redacted version of a March 22, 2018, report on its investigation of Russia’s activities surrounding the 2016 U.S. election.  PDF versions are available at intelligence.house.gov/UploadedFiles/HPSCI_-_Declassified_Committee_Report_Redacted_FINAL_Redacted.pdf and docs.house.gov/meetings/IG/IG00/20180322/108023/HRPT-115-1.pdf.

U.S. Capitol file photoThe Committee found no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, yet was critical of both major presidential campaigns:

“While the Committee found no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded, coordinated, or conspired with the Russian government, the investigation did find poor judgment and ill-considered actions by the Trump and Clinton campaigns. …”



An excerpt follows:

House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Report on Russian Active Measures
March 22, 2018

* * *

Introduction and Overview

(U) Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election was nothing novel for the Kremlin. The Kremlin aspires to sow chaos and discord and advance its agenda in targeted nations, particularly in Europe and former Soviet republics such as the Baltics and Ukraine. To do this, Russia effectively combines decades of experience in propaganda and psychological warfare techniques with its vast media apparatus, a strata of well-educated and proficient technicians, and a robust intelligence and security corps.

(U} In the United States, Russian cyberattacks related to the 2016 elections starkly highlighted technical vulnerabilities in U.S. digital infrastructure and bureaucratic shortcomings that were exploited by the Kremlin. Russia’s active measures campaign achieved its primary goal of inciting division and discord among Americans. For more than a year, U.S. politics have been consumed by bitter recriminations, charges, and counter-charges about the attacks. The reliability of the democratic vote-the bedrock of the U.S. republic-was widely and repeatedly questioned.

(U) At the time of the 2016 U.S. presidential election cycle, the Committee was already concerned with Russian malfeasance and aggression in levels that had not been seen since the Cold War. In fact, the IAA for fiscal years 2016 and 2017 included multiple provisions to improve the United States’ ability to counter Russian aggression. However, the Kremlin’s malicious activities during the 2016 U.S. presidential election triggered the Committee to announce a specific inquiry into Russia’s campaign (see Appendix B). The bipartisan parameters focused the investigation and this report-this Committee examined:

(1) Russian cyber activity and other active measures that were directed against the United States and its allies;

(2) whether the Russian active measures include links between Russia and individuals associated with presidential campaigns;

(3) the U.S. government response to these Russian active measures and what we need to do to protect ourselves and our allies in the future; and

(4) what possible leaks of classified information took place related to the Intelligence Community’s assessment of these matters.1 The Committee interviewed 73 witnesses, conducted 9 hearings and briefings, reviewed approximately 307,900 documents, and issued 20 subpoenas. This allowed the Committee to find answers crucial for identifying and addressing institutional weaknesses to assist the United States with identifying and
responding to inevitable hostile acts in the future.



(U) While the 2016 U.S. presidential election helped focus American attention on Russian cyber and information operations, the Russian government has conducted active measure campaigns in Europe for years. Believing it is engaged in an information war with the West, Russia’s influence activities employ an array of tactics-usually tailored to the target country’s population and environment-in an effort to accomplish the Kremlin’s goals. These goals generally include influencing an opponent’s leadership and population, advancing a narrative, or inducing a behavior change. The factors that make these campaigns successful also make them hard to counter. However, governments, non-governmental organizations, and media organizations in Europe have begun taking actions to address and mitigate the threat that Russian influence campaigns pose.

(U) The Russian active measures campaign against the United States was multifaceted. It leveraged cyberattacks, covert platforms, social media, third-party intermediaries, and state-run media. Hacked material was disseminated through this myriad network of actors with the objective of undermining the effectiveness of the future administration. This dissemination worked in conjunction with derisive messages posted on social media to undermine confidence in the election and sow fear and division in American society.

(U) The U.S. government’s subsequent response to the Russian active measures campaign during the 2016 election was slow [REDACTED] As that picture evolved, the FBl’s notification to victims and oversight committees was inconsistent in timeliness and quality, which contributed to the victims’ failure to both recognize the threat and defend their systems. State and local governments were slow to grasp the seriousness of the threat and when notified of breaches continued to resist any action that implied federal direction or control. Some states opted not to cooperate with important defensive measures offered by the DHS. While no tabulation systems, or systems that count votes, were impacted, the overall security posture of the U.S. federal, state, and local governments was demonstrated to be inadequate and vulnerable.

(U) The Committee’s investigation also reviewed the opening, in summer 2016, of a FBI enterprise counterintelligence investigation into [REDACTED] Trump campaign associates:
[REDACTED] Carter Page [REDACTED] Because of “the sensitivity of the matter,” the FBI did not notify congressional leadership about this investigation during the FBl’s regular counterintelligence briefings.

Three of [REDACTED] original subjects of the FBI investigation have been charged with crimes and the Committee’s review of these cases covers the period prior to the appointment of Special Counsel in May 2017.

(U) While the Committee found no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded, coordinated, or conspired with the Russian government, the investigation did find poor judgment and ill-considered actions by the Trump and Clinton campaigns. For example, the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between members of the Trump campaign and a Russian lawyer who falsely purported to have damaging information on the Clinton campaign demonstrated poor judgement. The Committee also found the Trump campaign’s periodic praise for and communications with Wikileaks – a hostile foreign organization-to be highly objectionable and inconsistent with U.S. national security interests. The Committee also found that the Clinton campaign and the DNC, using a series of cutouts and intermediaries to obscure their roles, paid for opposition research on Trump obtained from Russian sources, including a litany of claims by high-ranking current and former Russian government officials. Some of this opposition research was used to produce sixteen memos, which comprise what has become known as the Steele dossier.

(U) The effectiveness and relatively low cost of information operations, such as the dissemination of propaganda, make it an attractive tool for foreign adversaries. Unless the cost-benefit equation of such operations changes significantly, the Putin regime and other hostile governments will continue to pursue these attacks against the United States and its allies. Based on the investigation, the Committee recommends several solutions to help safeguard U.S. and allies’ political processes from nefarious actors, such as the Russians. …





 

VIDEOS: Russia and 2016 Elections – Senate Intelligence Committee Hearing

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The Senate Intelligence Committee hears testimony from witnesses on cybersecurity, #Russian hacking capabilities and U.S. and European elections, in two sessions on March 30, 2017.









 

Trump Wins

Donald Trump file photo

At approximately 2:40 a.m. Wednesday, Fox News finally called Pennsylvania for Donald Trump, pushing Trump to 274 electoral votes and counting, with 270 needed to win the Presidency.

At approximately 2:45 a.m., Vice President-Elect Mike Pence and his family took the stage at Trump Election Night Headquarters, with Pence announcing the result and introducing President-Elect Trump, who appeared on-stage several minutes later with some of his family.



Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton reportedly called Trump to concede.

Trump called for unity, healing and for the country to come together.  He pledged to be President for all Americans.

He particularly called out to his opponents for guidance and help, to work together.

Trump aspired to rebuild the nation as one working together for the American Dream, including national growth and renewal.

In particular, he spoke of the need to rebuild inner cities and help veterans.



White House File Photo

[featured images are file photos]





Voters in a State of Sin Should Not Vote

File Photo of Polling Place Sign in Multiple Languages, adapted from image at justice.gov

Just as voters who are drunk or high on drugs should not vote, voters in a state of sin also should not vote.

The last thing the country needs is to have persons with clouded judgment or clouded motives exercising political power, including exercising the power to vote.  Yet that is exactly what we would get, with voters casting ballots while in a state of sin.

Voting in a state of sin would distort judgment and perceptions, make it harder to act for good and make it easier to act for ill.

Sin clouds judgment and reorients priorities in the wrong direction.  Habits of sin also make it easier for forces of temptation, including personified evil, to work their way into perceptions, thinking and decisionmaking.



Making matters worse, we have an election where sin has been infused into certain political ideologies.  It is as if some candidates for President, for example, would like to be Enabler-in-Chief instead of Commander-in-Chief.

An Enabler-in-Chief would be someone who provides the serious sinner with the false pseudo-comfort of an “easy” way out, being told by the candidate that their evil doings, such as moral depravity, prenatal childkilling, euthanasia or so-called “assisted suicide”, are just fine, that there is no need to deal with the anxiety of confronting their guilty conscience, confessing the truth, repenting, converting and seeking a new life.

Now, some might try to argue that everybody is a sinner, and perhaps try to manipulate the question brush the whole matter aside.

To some extent that is true, although it is possible, for example, for a Catholic voter to go to Confession, receive Absolution, declare and seek a complete rejection of sin, then vote.

Nevertheless, let us revise the imperative to refer to serious sin, or rather grave sin or mortal sin.  Those who have killed others, without doing so in legitimate self-defense or the defense of others, should not vote.  That includes those who have involved themselves with prenatal child-killing, so-called “abortion.”  Exceptions might be made for those who have sincerely repented and converted, which, for Catholics, would mean taking the necessary steps, currently in place, to have their automatic Excommunication lifted.



An added problem such a voter gets into, however, is that, when a candidate is pro-abortion, or otherwise promotes serious sin, it becomes sinful to even engage in the act of voting, in favor of the Candidate Promoting Sin.  And doing so also would call into question the sincerity of the sinful voter’s claim to have repented.

For example, consider a voter who is a chronic masturbator, who sometimes has seized opportunities to fornicate, who got themselves involved with a pregnancy as the male or the female, and then got connected with an abortion murdering their child in the womb, either as the mother or as the father.  Perhaps the childkiller/ fornicator/ masturbator takes advantage of the current Pope’s Year of Mercy option to clear their status and escape damnation just by going to Confession.  And perhaps, with God’s Grace, they even abstain from masturbating and further fornicating.  If they then squander their new-found Graces, and cast aside their new life of freedom from evil by voting for a pro-abortion candidate, their repentance would be in doubt, and they would be sinning anew.

Those who have engaged in sexual gratification or activity of any kind, outside of Sacramental Marriage, are in a state of grave sin and should not vote.That includes adultery, fornication, sodomy, solo masturbation, mutual masturbation, the viewing of pornography and perhaps even looking at some other person in a lustful manner.

Christ said clearly that looking at another person with lust is like committing adultery in the heart.

Another problem today is that there are those who are so entrenched in sin that they have built up all sorts of structures sustaining it, such as cohabitating in a sinful “relationship” with shared housing, or using their business life to promote sin, such as belonging to a law firm that boasts about employing persons living in sin.

Those engaging in theft, or dishonesty, or other grave sins also should abstain from voting, although some might argue about how serious or large the theft or dishonesty has to be.

What is particularly bizarre in the current election is the presence of candidates promoting abortion.  The only “religions” pushing for the killing of children, in the womb or already born, are ancient demon-worshiping pagan rites and subsets of Satanists.  So one confronts a situation of an ideology of child-killing embraced only by demon-worshiping pagans, certain Satanists, and a handful of political parties and their minions.  That the political parties doing so try to recast the matter with manipulative false arguments, perhaps seeking to portray the evil as something opposite, is not only not surprising.  False arguments and manipulation, and evil trying to pose as “good” is a common modus operandi of evil. In the Gospel we even see that the devil itself tried to misquote Holy Scripture when seeking to tempt Christ in the desert.

We need voters thinking clearly, acting for good; we do not need the country’s future disrupted and diverted by voters in an altered state of bad judgment and corrupt spirituality, perhaps additionally with devils pushing them to think themselves clever if they vote for the devils’ candidate.

Yet, in this narcissistic childish culture, perhaps it would be easier to put it another way.

Voters in a state of sin are not really themselves.  It would be analogous to them being drunk or high on drugs, or in some other altered state.

While in a state of sin, they are in conflict with the true them, as well as in conflict with their true hearts.  The Law of God, God’s Law of Love that stands in conflict with sin, is engraved on the flesh tablets of the human heart. If we sin, we not only stand in conflict with God; we stand in conflict with our own true hearts.

At the very least, voters in a state of sin have clouded judgment, distracted distorted perceptions, and motivations that are different from the motivations that they would have as their true selves, in union with God, as the good person, the real person God Created them to be.

Voters in a state of sin, particularly a state of grave sin, should not vote.





NEWSLINK Fox News: “Illegal aliens surging to US-Mexico border in race against Election Day”

Mexico Map

“Americans aren’t the only ones motivated by Tuesday’s election. The presidential race has immigrants from around the world racing to the U.S.-Mexican border, as the cartels exploit a powerful narrative: get into the U.S. while you still can.

‘Smugglers are telling them that they need to come across now while there’s a chance,’ said Art Del Cueto, a Border Patrol agent in Tucson, Ariz., whose views were echoed by another agent in Texas.”

NEWSLINK Daily Signal: “Planned Parenthood Entities Spend Over $38 Million to Elect Democrats”

Hands of Man in Suit Taking Cash From Envelope

“In the past three election cycles, PlannedParenthood’s advocacy and political arms, employees, and their families have spent over $38 million to elect or defeat candidates for federal office who decide how much taxpayers subsidize the nation’s largest abortion provider.”

In Election, Let’s Pray to Do God’s Will

U.S. Map

Scripture says, if God is not the Architect, in vain do the builders labor.

Let’s pray to do God’s Will.

In the upcoming #election, let’s pray to do God’s Will with how each of us casts a vote, as well as with our other democracy-related activities, such as conversations, bumper stickers, yard signs, online posts, volunteering activities and so forth.

Some people might refuse to do this, to which we ask, “why?”

Are they afraid to pray? Or do they refuse to do God’s Will.

Let’s …

(1) pledge to do God’s Will

(2) pray to God, along the lines of, “God, I choose to do Your Will in this election. God, please help me to do Your Will. God, please help me to learn and know Your Will, and to act on it.”




In the process, we admit that God is Real, and that we are not God.

Before getting into any arguments about what God’s Will is, or how we feel about the election or any candidate or any issue, we admit that we should put God’s Will before our own.

We agree to cooperate with God, to lay the foundations for right judgment (i.e., right assessments) and right action.

If we do not seek to do God’s Will, if we choose to neglect our attentiveness to God or reject the notion, we run the risk of doing something that is not God’s Will.

By definition, we run the risk of opposing God’s Will, and we run the risk of finding ourselves fighting against God.

At the very least, we risk wasting time and resources, and having to back-track later to get back on course. As Scripture says, “If God is not the Architect, in vain do the builders labor.” Imagine trying to build a house, only to discover the plans were wrong, and it had to be torn back down, in whole or in part, and that we had to start over from scratch. If God is not the Architect, in vain do the builders labor.

Let’s pray to do God’s Will.



If someone tries to deny that God is Real, are they being realistic?

Even the demons could not bring themselves to deny that God is Real. The demons would start howling in the presence of Christ, proclaiming that Jesus is the Son of God. They knew, and still know, all too well that God is Real (and incidentally, that they are doomed to Eternal pointlessness, suffering and damnation in hell; that, in the end, humans who are Saved will take the places in Heaven that the demons were stupid enough to lose; and that ultimately there is nothing that evil can do about it.)

If someone admits that God is Real, yet refuses to pray, why are they afraid to pray?

If someone refuses to do God’s Will, why?

God’s Law of Love is engraved on the fleshy tablets of the human heart. So, in the end, someone who rebels against God ultimately is in conflict within themselves, in conflict with God’s Love, and God’s Law, already placed within their heart.

Have those who refuse to do God’s Will been trapped into an addiction, or bad habits or some kind of false fulfillment?  Are they, perhaps, propped up by seemingly “trendy” arguments that actually are false arguments, contradictory to God and God’s Law of Love?

Or if someone brushes aside the call to pray to do God’s Will, are they already on the right track, yet afraid to take on difficult choices in an imperfect human season.

Or do they know the right course, deep down, yet are cowardly, and not wanting to answer the call to do more. Are they like the earlier Jonah, who wanted to “run off and hide” rather than carry out God’s Will in a more involved role. Are they like the earlier Thomas More, who became a “go-along-to-get-along” participant in a bad government, instead of speaking out for the truth earlier, rather than waiting for the perjury of a bad man to finally force his hand. Are they lacking the energy of a Saint Dunstan, who helped better rulers, but refused to become involved with worse rulers, even if it meant fleeing into exile.

Are they like the younger Archbishop Bergoglio, who apparently remained mostly quiet in the face of the Argentine Junta, not ready to be more like Archbishop Oscar Romero or Saint Thomas Becket, who shed their blood for Christ at the altar rather than cower before evil.

Let’s pray to do God’s Will.


NEWSLINK Live Action: “MYTH VS. REALITY: PLANNED PARENTHOOD AND BLACK GENOCIDE” 7.11.11

U.S. Map

“… Planned Parenthood was founded to curtail the “mongrel” population. Margaret Sanger wanted to discourage poor people of color from breeding, and to this day, whether they admit it or not, the foundation she created carries out her purpose. Abortion kills a disproportionate number of black babies. …”

With Donald Trump expressing repentance, will we refuse forgiveness?

White House File Photo

Since Donald Trump is a man in his seventies apologizing for something said, or done, many years ago, some of the themes that emerge — in this Judeo-Christian nation reacting to the attack video — are themes of repentance, forgiveness and conversion of heart.

Do we believe Donald’s repentance? Do we refuse forgiveness? How has he progressed in his conversion of heart in the years since?

In the parable of the Prodigal Son, remember, when the prodigal son decided to return to the father, in a spirit of humble penitence, the father met him halfway. The father caught sight of the son at a distance, was deeply moved, and rushed to meet him.

With Donald expressing contrition, will we meet him halfway? Will we refuse forgiveness?



Should Donald ask permission to go to Confession in the Catholic Church? And should he challenge all Catholics to do the same?

What complicates matters is that Trump’s chief political adversaries are themselves connected with alleged, or actual, activities harming women.

If truth and reconciliation is needed, are the Clintons willing to admit to everything, and are they, like Trump, also willing to apologize and seek repentance and conversion. What becomes problematic is that they have made one of their most widespread, harmful attacks on woman a foundation of their political lives, namely prenatal child-killing, often recast by the pseudo-clinical euphemism of “abortion.”



NEWSWATCH: “DOJ hints at shaming Russia for political hacks” – The Hill

Binary Code with Stylized Eye

… Justice Department officials dropped hints … they plan to hold Russia accountable for what is suspected to be a broad hacking campaign targeting U.S. political organizations and election databases. … Assistant Attorney General John Carlin, who leads the National Security Division * * * listed Russia as one of the ‘four main actors’ involved in supporting hackers targeting the U.S., alongside North Korea, Iran and China. The U.S. has taken action against hackers from the other three states, he noted, over hacks against Sony Pictures, financial institutions and U.S. companies. … ‘The message is clear: You are not safe because you are doing it under another nation’s flag. We can figure out who did it … and when we do, we’re committed to holding people accountable.’

Click here for The Hill: “DOJ hints at shaming Russia for political hacks”





NEWSWATCH: “Report: Bayh Ruled Inactive Voter” – Roll Call

U.S. Capitol file photo

Election officials have twice ruled that former Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh is an inactive voter after they failed to confirm that he lives in Indianapolis, which he claims as home. … [Bayh] is running for his old Senate seat but his opponent’s campaign has portrayed him as more a creature of Washington than Indiana. Bayh’s voting status was first ruled inactive in 2014, and then again last week …. Election officials sent multiple postcards to Bayh’s Indianapolis condo but did not receive a response. … another report [showed] Bayh listed his Washington homes as his main residence as opposed to … Indianapolis.

Click here for Roll Call: “Report: Bayh Ruled Inactive Voter”



NEWSWATCH Deal Hudson/The Christian Review: “The Catholic Church Doesn’t Really Care About Abortion”

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception file photo, adapted from image at loc.gov

… To make matters even more stark, Hillary Clinton has made the support of Planned Parenthood, the proven seller of infant body parts, part of her political platform, while the platform of her Democratic Party has announced a more extreme pro-abortion clause than in previous elections. Donald Trump, on the other hand, has promised to sign a bill defunding Planned Parenthood and has published a list of potential #SupremeCourt nominees all in the mold of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

* * *

Pro-life Catholics need to wake up and realize that most of the ‘officialdom’ of the Catholic Church in the U.S. is already rolling out a national campaign that is virtually an arm of the Democratic Party. If you don’t believe me, start tracking the various conferences and forums being offered in your diocese, drill down to look at the host organization, the speakers, and their topics. Better yet, attend one and publicly voice your pro-life preferences and see what happens.

Click here for Deal Hudson/The Christian Review: “The Catholic Church Doesn’t Really Care About Abortion”



NEWSWATCH Roll Call: “Shakeup at Top of Trump Campaign”

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Donald Trump’s campaign is making its second major staff change …. Kellyanne Conway, a veteran Republican pollster who has been an adviser to the campaign, will take over as campaign manager [and] Stephen Bannon … executive chairman of Breitbart News … a former banker for Goldman Sachs, will serve as campaign chief executive, a new position. … Breitbart News has been consistently supportive Trump and has even defended former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski … accused of assaulting Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields, who has since resigned from the organization. … Paul Manafort, the campaign’s chairman, will remain in that position, but … his role will be diminished after friction … over the direction of the campaign. Manafort himself has been a distraction … [AP] reported … Manafort helped a pro-Russia group in Ukraine secretly route more than $2 million in payments to two Washington lobbying firms to try to influence U.S. policy.

Click here for Roll Call: “Shakeup at Top of Trump Campaign”