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TBR Neews November 2, 2016

Nov 02 2016

A Compendium of Various Official Lies, Business Scandals, Small Murders, Frauds, and Other Gross Defects of Our Current Political, Business and Religious Moral Lepers.

“When a government is dependent upon bankers for money, they and not the leaders of the government control the situation, since the hand that gives is above the hand that takes… Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain.”- Napoleon Bonaparte, 1815

 

“Corrupted by wealth and power, your government is like a restaurant with only one dish. They’ve got a set of Republican waiters on one side and a set of Democratic waiters on the other side. But no matter which set of waiters brings you the dish, the legislative grub is all prepared in the same Wall Street kitchen”. – Huey Long

 

“I fired [General MacArthur] because he wouldn’t respect the authority of the President. That’s the answer to that. I didn’t fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that’s not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail “- Harry S Truman

 

“When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.” -Thomas Jefferson.

 

“Democracy is the art of running the circus from the monkey cage”

– H.L. Mencken

 

 “For a quarter of a century the CIA has been repeatedly wrong about every major political and economic question entrusted to its analysis.” 

-Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan

The New York Times, 1991.

 

Don’t tell a lie! Some men I’ve known
Commit the most appalling acts,
Because they happen to be prone
To an economy of facts;
And if to lie is bad, no doubt
’Tis even worse to get found out!

 

My children, never, never steal!
To know their offspring is a thief
Will often make a father feel
Annoyed and cause a mother grief;
So never steal, but, when you do,
Be sure there’s no one watching you.

 

The Wicked flourish like the bay,
At Cards or Love they always win,
Good Fortune dogs their steps all day,
They fatten while the Good grow thin.
The Righteous Man has much to bear;

                              The Bad becomes a Bullionaire!

 The Voice of the White House  

Washington, D.C.  November 2, 2016:”As the election approaches, the Internet is filled with serious and very negative information about the candidate who thought she had connected with the power elite and was guaranteed of election. The released documents show Clinton and her people as ruthless, amoral, conniving and lying constantly. The damage the release of these obviously authentic papers has done, and will do, to the Democratic party is incalculable and their contents are spreading, via the Internet, throughout the land and unto all the inhabitants thereof. And the revelations of FBI investigations has caused the Clinton camp to scream with rage that the FBI director ought to be arrested. Given her past, and present, record of activities, it is Frau Clinton that ought to be arrested but this will never happen. Why? She knows too much.”

The looming age of US aggression

October 30, 2016

by Stephen Kinzer

The Boston Globe

Presidential candidates always promise to win wars. When asked how, they say they will do it by using “the world’s greatest military.” Throughout history, though, most wars have ended with negotiated peace, not absolute victory. That requires diplomacy. Yet neither of our presidential candidates has shown any true appreciation for diplomacy. One scorns the very idea of compromise. The other was secretary of state for four years without carrying out a single major negotiation. Whoever wins next week’s election, the United States is likely to become more aggressive in the world. The era of Obama was hardly a golden age for diplomacy, but in comparison with what lies ahead, it will seem so.

Americans are not in the habit of compromising with other countries. Our vast power has accustomed us to command. We dominate every alliance of which we are a member. Because we can fight wars so well, we have allowed our diplomatic skills to atrophy. That is dangerous. Today’s conflicts are maddeningly difficult to resolve by military means. They cry out for creative diplomacy, but diplomacy is a hard sell in the United States.

The greatest diplomatic opportunity we missed in recent years came in 2012, when Kofi Annan, named by the United Nations and the Arab League to mediate the Syria crisis, invited all warring parties to negotiate. The United States refused. Any negotiated accord would necessarily have accommodated the interests of the Syrian government and other forces we oppose. We found that unacceptable. Rather than negotiate, we stuck to our traditional policy: Talk to your friends, bomb your enemies. That policy does not fit the modern world’s turbulent geopolitics. Now, with American power less overwhelming than it once was, we best protect our interests by calming crises through diplomacy, even at some geopolitical cost, rather than by trying to bluster or bomb our way to total victory.

In the decades ahead, American security will depend largely on our success in dealing with Russia and China. Plotting our relationship with those two giant nations is a daunting conceptual challenge. It is precisely the kind of challenge for which diplomacy was invented. Yet in both cases, diplomats have been pushed aside. The task of dealing with Russia and China has been given mainly to the Pentagon, not the State Department. This has led to a policy based on threats, confrontation, provocative military adventures, and tit-for-tat escalation.

Those who promote this policy believe the United States must show insolent challengers the face of American power. They see Russia and China not as protecting their own interests in their neighborhoods, but as bullies who must be disciplined. The world will only remain moderately stable, they believe, if the United States continues to slap down Russia and China whenever they try to assert themselves. Diplomats also recognize the value of an occasional slap-down, but only as an adjunct to negotiation — not the other way around.

In recent years, although the United States has not pursued diplomacy as intently as today’s world demands, we have enjoyed some notable successes at the conference table. Breakthrough accords with Iran and Cuba were products of classic diplomacy — and both are intensely criticized by those who believe there should be no compromise with “hostile” states. In other places, such as Libya and Sudan, we abandoned diplomacy too soon, with tragic results. Today the thought of a negotiated solution in Afghanistan fills Washington with horror because it would entail compromise with groups we detest. We consider it preferable to keep fighting there, even if it means indefinite war, than to negotiate an unpleasant compromise and withdraw.

The job of professional diplomats is to advance national interest by means other than force. Today, however, diplomats do not shape American security policy. That is the job of generals and admirals, along with hundreds of anonymous memo-writers at the National Security Council. Frustrated diplomats are often reduced to the role of handmaidens. They are expected to prepare the way for confrontation, issue threats, cheer for escalation, and then, when conflict ends, clean up the mess. Many Americans still consider diplomacy to be little more than a sideshow, what Richard Nixon called a “nicey-nice little powder-puff duel” that unfolds without meaning while our military does the real work of world-shaping. This view has echoed through the 2016 presidential campaign.

Ronald Reagan trenchantly observed that “diplomacy, the most honorable of professions, can bring the most blessed of gifts, the gift of peace.” Yet this year’s presidential candidates seem to consider the idea of sitting around a table with other countries as vaguely un-American. It implies not getting everything we want. That feels like a step back from power. If we have the strength to impose our will on others, both presidential candidates argue, there is no reason to compromise — which means no need for diplomacy. Empires that approach the world this way never thrive for long. accommodated the interests of the Syrian government and other forces we oppose. We found that unacceptable. Rather than negotiate, we stuck to our traditional policy: Talk to your friends, bomb your enemies. That policy does not fit the modern world’s turbulent geopolitics. Now, with American power less overwhelming than it once was, we best protect our interests by calming crises through diplomacy, even at some geopolitical cost, rather than by trying to bluster or bomb our way to total victory.

In the decades ahead, American security will depend largely on our success in dealing with Russia and China. Plotting our relationship with those two giant nations is a daunting conceptual challenge. It is precisely the kind of challenge for which diplomacy was invented. Yet in both cases, diplomats have been pushed aside. The task of dealing with Russia and China has been given mainly to the Pentagon, not the State Department. This has led to a policy based on threats, confrontation, provocative military adventures, and tit-for-tat escalation.

Those who promote this policy believe the United States must show insolent challengers the face of American power. They see Russia and China not as protecting their own interests in their neighborhoods, but as bullies who must be disciplined. The world will only remain moderately stable, they believe, if the United States continues to slap down Russia and China whenever they try to assert themselves. Diplomats also recognize the value of an occasional slap-down, but only as an adjunct to negotiation — not the other way around.

In recent years, although the United States has not pursued diplomacy as intently as today’s world demands, we have enjoyed some notable successes at the conference table. Breakthrough accords with Iran and Cuba were products of classic diplomacy — and both are intensely criticized by those who believe there should be no compromise with “hostile” states. In other places, such as Libya and Sudan, we abandoned diplomacy too soon, with tragic results. Today the thought of a negotiated solution in Afghanistan fills Washington with horror because it would entail compromise with groups we detest. We consider it preferable to keep fighting there, even if it means indefinite war, than to negotiate an unpleasant compromise and withdraw.

The job of professional diplomats is to advance national interest by means other than force. Today, however, diplomats do not shape American security policy. That is the job of generals and admirals, along with hundreds of anonymous memo-writers at the National Security Council. Frustrated diplomats are often reduced to the role of handmaidens. They are expected to prepare the way for confrontation, issue threats, cheer for escalation, and then, when conflict ends, clean up the mess. Many Americans still consider diplomacy to be little more than a sideshow, what Richard Nixon called a “nicey-nice little powder-puff duel” that unfolds without meaning while our military does the real work of world-shaping. This view has echoed through the 2016 presidential campaign.

Ronald Reagan trenchantly observed that “diplomacy, the most honorable of professions, can bring the most blessed of gifts, the gift of peace.” Yet this year’s presidential candidates seem to consider the idea of sitting around a table with other countries as vaguely un-American. It implies not getting everything we want. That feels like a step back from power. If we have the strength to impose our will on others, both presidential candidates argue, there is no reason to compromise — which means no need for diplomacy. Empires that approach the world this way never thrive for long.

Russia tells rebels to leave Syria’s Aleppo by Friday evening

November 2, 2016

Reuters

Russia on Wednesday told anti-government rebels holed up in Syria’s Aleppo to leave by Friday evening, signaling it would extend a moratorium on air strikes against targets inside the city.

The Russian Defence Ministry, which is helping forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad try to retake full control of Aleppo, said rebels would be allowed to exit the city unharmed and with their weapons between 0900 and 1900 local time on Nov. 4 via two special corridors.

Civilians and the sick and wounded would be allowed to leave via six other corridors, it said.

President Vladimir Putin had ordered the pause in fighting “to avoid senseless victims,” the Defence Ministry said, saying that Syrian authorities would ensure that Syrian troops pulled back from the two corridors designated for rebels.

Russia and its Syrian allies say they halted air attacks on Aleppo on Oct 18. Western governments had alleged that the strikes had been killing civilians in large numbers, an allegation Moscow denied.

Humanitarian pauses designed to allow both rebels and civilians to exit the city have been organized by Moscow and Damascus before, but have largely failed amid continued violence with both sides accusing the other of stopping people from leaving.

A Kremlin spokesman said on Tuesday that the moratorium on air strikes was still in force, but could not be extended if rebels in the city did not halt their attacks.

The Russian Defence Ministry said on Wednesday that rebels inside Aleppo had taken heavy losses during fighting and were effectively trapped.

All attempts by the rebels to break through in Aleppo have failed,” the ministry said. “The terrorists have suffered heavy losses in lives, weapons and equipment. They have no chance to break out of the city.”

(Writing by Denis Pinchuk and Andrew Osborn; editing by John Stonestreet)

SECRECY NEWS

From the FAS Project on Government Secrecy

Volume 2016, Issue No. 88

November 1, 2016

A THOUSAND ADVISORY COMMITTEES, AND MORE FROM CRS

As of last year, there were 1,009 federal advisory committees comprised of 72,220 members who provided advice to the government at a cost of more than $367 million.

The operations of these federal advisory committees — which may also include commissions, councils, task forces, or working groups — are examined in a newly updated report from the Congressional Research Service. See Federal Advisory Committees: An Introduction and Overview by Wendy Ginsberg and Casey Burgat, October 27, 2016.

Other new and updated CRS reports that have not been made publicly available online include the following.

Bahrain: Reform, Security, and U.S. Policy, updated October 28, 2016

Iran: Politics, Human Rights, and U.S. Policy, updated October 25, 2016

Israel: Background and U.S. Relations, updated October 28, 2016

Ukraine: Current Issues and U.S. Policy, updated October 27, 2016

Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Program: Background and Issues for Congress, updated October 25, 2016

Navy Virginia (SSN-774) Class Attack Submarine Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress, updated October 25, 2016

Navy Columbia Class (Ohio Replacement) Ballistic Missile Submarine (SSBN[X]) Program: Background and Issues for Congress, updated October 25, 2016

Department of Homeland Security Preparedness Grants: A Summary and Issues, October 28, 2016

DHS Appropriations FY2017: Security, Enforcement, and Investigations, October 27, 2016

Treatment of Noncitizens Under the Affordable Care Act, updated October 27, 2016

Video Broadcasting of Congressional Proceedings, October 28, 2016

The Social Security Retirement Age, October 28, 2016

Social Security: Calculation and History of Taxing Benefits, updated October 27, 2016

Did a Thermostat Break the Internet?, CRS Insight, October 26, 2016

CIA RELEASES DRAFT HISTORY OF BAY OF PIGS

The Central Intelligence Agency yesterday released a long-sought draft of the fifth volume of its internal history of the 1961 invasion of the Bay of Pigs.

The release was among the first tangible results of this year’s amendments to the Freedom of Information Act, which imposed a 25 year limit on the exemption for “deliberative” files. As a result, the 1984 draft history could no longer be legally withheld.

CIA said in a cover note that “This fifth draft volume was not publishable in its present form, in the judgment of CIA Chief Historians as well as other reviewers, because of serious shortcomings in scholarship, its polemical tone, and its failure to add significantly to an understanding of the controversy over the Bay of Pigs operation.”

Indeed, the new “volume is strange, in some respects, and interesting,” said Villanova Prof. David M. Barrett, who had filed a lawsuit last summer for release of the draft history.

“Essentially, it is a critical history of the Inspector General’s critical report on Bay of Pigs, which mainly blamed CIA incompetence for the failure at Bay of Pigs.  [The author, CIA historian Jack] Pfeiffer says IG Lyman Kirkpatrick’s report was, itself, biased and incompetent.  Pfeiffer says the most obvious cause of failure at Bay of Pigs was JFK’s decision to cancel a planned 2nd airstrike in support of the invaders at Bay of Pigs,” Barrett said.

He noted several highlights:

Author Pfeiffer describes one of the IG report’s authors as probably mentally ill (p. 75).  Writing in about 1983, Pfeiffer says that CIA had kept the IG report and other internal analyses of Bay of Pigs classified Secret in order to avoid airing its “dirty laundry.” (p. 4).

Pfeiffer says CIA hired a couple of people to write the true story of Bay of Pigs with the hope of having Life Magazine or another outlet publish it.  Only State Dept objections stopped that from being pursued, though the authors did write the article. (p. 87-90)

At the end, Pfeiffer suggests in a footnote that the history program (where he worked!) should probably be abolished, and the raw materials it possessed should be destroyed; the Operations Directorate was hostile to it, and it was hard to see the point of the program. (p. 146)

“Not quite earth-shaking history, but I think the real story is that CIA spent much effort and money over the past 5 years to prevent [release] of this document,” Barrett said.

The National Security Archive, which had previously filed suit to obtain the document, hailed its release here.

How Hillary Clinton Poisoned American Politics

Crazy conspiracy theories dominate the final days before Nov. 8

November 2, 2016

by Justin Raimondo

AntiWar

FBI Director James Comey’s decision to reopen the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified information has the Clintonites falling back on their tried-and-true response to all the revelations coming from WikiLeaks and other sources – it’s all a Russian plot. Except, this time, the hysteria has reached such a fever pitch, and the conspiracy theories are so unhinged, that the political discourse in this country will be poisoned for years to come.

It started with Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), who told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer:

“So the question is: Where did these [emails] come from? How did they get to the FBI? Is Russia involved in this? We don’t have a clue where this stuff is coming from.”

We don’t know if Ryan was drunk (again) when he said this, but his nickname of “Congressman Moonbeam” seems well-earned, and the implication of his remarks – that the FBI is in league with the Russians – underscores his marginality. However, it wasn’t long before the marginal started merging with the mainstream. In tandem with Rya, Howard Dean, former presidential candidate and once head of the Democratic party, tweeted:

“Ironically, Comey put himself on the same side as Putin.”

Now Dean may be a bit more credible than Ryan, but who can forget the “Dean scream” that dramatized his loonier side, and effectively knocked him out of contention for the Democratic presidential nomination? And then there were those payments from the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, a nutty Marxist-Islamist cult, in return for serving as their front man. And so while Dean may be better known, what he’s know for isn’t exactly adding to his credibility, and so we can safely relegate this kind of conspiracy theorizing to the fringes of the Democratic party spectrum. Right?

Wrong. Here is longtime Clintonite strategist James Carville opining that “It’s unprecedented … the House Republicans and the KGB are trying to influence our democracy.” Well, okay, who listens to Carville, anyway? He’s so yesterday! Well, then, get a load of Harry Reid, who leads the Senate’s Democrats, repeating a different version of the same nonsense in a letter to Comey:

“In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government – a foreign interest hostile to the united states, which Trump praises at every opportunity. The public has a right to know this information. I wrote to you months ago calling for this information to be released to the public. There is no danger to American interests from releasing it. And yet, you continue to resist calls to inform the  public of this critical information.”

It’s so “explosive” that it exploded into utter nothingness, according to the New York Times this [Tuesday] morning:

“For much of the summer, the F.B.I. pursued a widening investigation into a Russian role in the American presidential campaign. Agents scrutinized advisers close to Donald J. Trump, looked for financial connections with Russian financial figures, searched for those involved in hacking the computers of Democrats, and even chased a lead – which they ultimately came to doubt – about a possible secret channel of email communication from the Trump Organization to a Russian bank.

“Law enforcement officials say that none of the investigations so far have found any conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government. And even the hacking into Democratic emails, FBI and intelligence officials now believe, was aimed at disrupting the presidential election rather than electing Mr. Trump.”

As Gertrude Stein once put it, “There’s no there there.” She was talking about Oakland, California, but might just as well have been describing the inside of Harry’s brain.

And, yes, you read the above cited Times story right: instead of going after terrorists, or ordinary criminals, for months the FBI has been chasing down rabbit holes looking for Trump’s alleged links to the nonexistent International Kremlin/Alt-Right/Putinist Conspiracy. We have returned to the halcyon days of J. Edgar Hoover, when people were investigated and harassed for their political views at the instigation of their ideological opponents.

Oh, but the FBI was too “overburdened and undermanned” to keep Omar Mateen on their radar.

In this election, the tragic and the comic mix and merge, but surely the former is dominant in the latest of Franklin Foer’s Russophobic effusions. Formerly the editor of The New Republic, who was unceremoniously dumped by its new owner, Foer has teamed up with the Clinton campaign as its unofficial conspiracy theorist, spinning tales of Trump’s “links” to the Russians. He’s the Alex Jones of the Clinton crowd, except that not even Jones would be caught dead promoting the kind of incoherent nonsense in Foer’s latest screed.

According to Foer, Trump has a “secret server” set up specifically to communicate with his Kremlin Masters. We know this because a “computer scientist” who wants to be known only as “Tea Leaves,” and other “experts” – who also don’t want to tell us their names – have supposedly “discovered” this Secret Link. The server connects to the Alfa Bank, which is located in – cue in scary music – Russia! And guess what!? This closed communication link was especially active during politically sensitive times! This, according to Foer and his anonymous band of “experts,” is conclusive proof that The Donald is a secret agent of the KGB, intent on polluting our precious bodily fluids with icky Russian cooties.

The only problem with this wacky conspiracy theory is that there’s a prosaic explanation for the existence of this “suspicious” online traffic: the Trump Organization had hired a company to send out ads for their hotels. The online traffic to Alfa Bank meant only that several employees of that bank had stayed in Trump’s hotels and were being solicited to do so again. And in spite of the “scientific”-looking chart displayed in the Foer piece, in fact the online traffic to and from Alfa didn’t “peak” when the US political scene got hot: “That’s wrong,” writes Timothy B. Lee in the anti-Trump pro-Hillary Vox.com. “If anything, the chart shows the opposite of that.”

As Lee puts it:

“Foer claims that the pattern of traffic between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank servers is highly unusual – so unusual that it can best be explained as a secretive communication link between Donald Trump and the Kremlin.

“But in this case, there seems to be a plausible and perfectly innocent explanation for the traffic pattern suggested by an IT consultant named Naadir Jeewa and endorsed by security expert Robert Graham: The Trump organization is sending out promotional emails about Trump hotels, and one or more Alfa Bank employees is on the recipient list.

“This is actually the explanation that’s suggested by Occam’s razor because – as Foer himself acknowledges in his story – the server was originally registered by an email marketing firm called Cendyn. The Trump organization seems to have hired Cendyn to send out emails promoting Trump’s hotels, a service Cendyn has been providing since the Trump server was registered in 2009. So the most obvious explanation for the traffic is that Cendyn is using its server for its intended purpose.”

When Hillary Clinton’s Twitter account tweeted Foer’s farrago and declared “It’s time for Trump to answer serious questions about his ties to Russia,” cyber-security expert Robert Graham replied on his blog:

“This is nonsense. The evidence available on the Internet is that Trump neither (directly) controls the domain “trump-email.com,” nor has access to the server. Instead, the domain was setup and controlled by Cendyn, a company that does marketing/promotions for hotels, including many of Trump’s hotels. Cendyn outsources the email portions of its campaigns to a company called Listrak, which actually owns/operates the physical server in a data center in Philadelphia.”

So the server wasn’t even owned by the Trump Organization. And yet it took the FBI months, and “journalists,” including even The Intercept, “weeks” to conclude that this story is completely bogus. The US taxpayers should demand their money back – not to mention Pierre Omidyar.

Even after this sloppy McCarthyite smear was debunked, the Clinton campaign breathlessly repeated the charges: “This secret hotline may be the key to unlocking the mystery of Trump’s ties to Russia”! What this perfervid fantasy is the actually key to is the hysterical desperation of the Clinton campaign as it is engulfed in daily scandals that threaten to sink it beneath the electoral waves.

Are you laughing – or crying – yet? Oh, but I’m not done! If you think this grade-B conspiracy theory is the lowest form of electoral entertainment, then you obviously haven’t read David Corn’s latest entry into the Smear Trump Sweepstakes. Glenn Greenwald – no friend of Trump’s – describes it as “an unnamed person, from an unknown country, who used to work in an unnamed agency, claims Trump is a Russian agent.” How did the real estate mogul become a tool of the Kremlin? Well, you see, Trump once traveled to Russia, where he was suborned by one of those slinky-looking Russian ladies and “Russian intelligence had ‘compromised’ Trump during his visits to Moscow and could ‘blackmail him.’”

Yes, they’re blackmailing Trump over a sexual indiscretion – because that would destroy him for sure! And it’s all in a “secret memo” that only Corn, the editors of Mother Jones, and their Mysterious Veteran Spook have seen.

On one level, this is hysterically funny; it’s grade-C thriller material that is likely to be found at the bottom of some publisher’s slush pile. On another level – the political level – it is immensely depressingly significant – because these people are “liberals,” even “leftists.” They aren’t stupid: they know the ignominious history of witch-hunting in this country. I’d call this McCarthyism – but even Joe McCarthy had some actual evidence to back up his claims of “foreign agents” lurking in the corridors of power. Corn, Foer, and the Clinton campaign are simply retailing lies.

What’s depressing about this is the fact that, if Hillary wins, it isn’t going to stop. Far from it: the new “red scare” will accelerate, as her political enemies are tarred with the “KGB agent” brush. And when the notoriously vindictive Democratic candidate takes revenge not only on her domestic political enemies, but on the Russians, an ugly – and dangerous – confrontation is in the cards. She’ll sic the FBI on Trump’s supporters, and Trump himself, and she’ll unleash the US military and our allies on Putin – and then, watch out.

That American liberalism has degenerated into a Russophobic, warmongering, witch-hunting ideology so quickly is one of the most astonishing ideological transformations in our political history. And all in the name of garnering partisan political advantage. As Donald Trump would put it: Sad!

U.S. militia girds for trouble as presidential election nears

November 2, 2016

by Justin Mitchell and Andy Sullivan

Reuters

JACKSON, Ga.-Down a Georgia country road, camouflaged members of the Three Percent Security Force have mobilized for rifle practice, hand-to-hand combat training — and an impromptu campaign rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

“How many people are voting for Trump? Ooh-rah!” asks Chris Hill, a paralegal who goes by the code name “Bloodagent.”

“Ooh-rah!” shout a dozen militia members in response, as morning sunlight sifted through the trees last weekend.

As the most divisive presidential election in recent memory nears its conclusion, some armed militia groups are preparing for the possibility of a stolen election on Nov. 8 and civil unrest in the days following a victory by Democrat Hillary Clinton.

They say they won’t fire the first shot, but they’re not planning to leave their guns at home, either.

Trump’s populist campaign has energized militia members like Hill, who admire the Republican mogul’s promise to deport illegal immigrants, stop Muslims from entering the country and build a wall along the Mexico border. Trump has repeatedly warned that the election may be “rigged,” and has said he may not respect the results if he does not win. At least one paramilitary group, the Oath Keepers, has called on members to monitor voting sites for signs of fraud

Armed paramilitary groups first gained prominence in the early 1990s, fueled by confrontations in Ruby Ridge, Idaho and Waco, Texas, culminating in a militia sympathizer’s 1995 bombing of a federal office building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people.

Their numbers dwindled following that attack but have spiked in recent years, driven by fears that President Barack Obama will threaten gun ownership and erode the power of local government. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups, estimates there were 276 active militias last year, up from 42 in 2008.

In recent years, armed groups have confronted federal authorities in a series of land-use disputes in the western United States. Federal officials fear more clashes could come after seven militants were acquitted on conspiracy charges for occupying a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon.

Many fear Clinton would push the county further to the left.

“This is the last chance to save America from ruin,” Hill said. “I’m surprised I was able to survive or suffer through eight years of Obama without literally going insane, but Hillary is going to be more of the same.”

EXTREMIST GROUPS EMBOLDENED

The Oath Keepers, a prominent anti-government force that sent gun-toting members to the 2014 race riots in Ferguson, Missouri, called on members last week to monitor voting sites on election day for any signs of fraud.

An hour south of Atlanta, the Three Percent Security Force started the day around the campfire, taking turns shooting automatic pistols and rifles at a makeshift target range. They whooped with approval when blasts from one member’s high-powered rifle knocked down a tree.

The group operates independently, but is affiliated with a national armed movement that calls for members to defend individual rights in the face of what they see as an overreaching federal government. The movement draws its name from the notion that no more than 3 percent of the American population fought in the Revolutionary War against Britain.

Amid the war games, Hill weighed plans for a possible armed march on Washington if Clinton wins.

He said he doesn’t want his members leading the way, but they will defend the protesters if need be. His group will not hesitate to act if a President Clinton tries to disarm gun owners, he said.

I will be there to render assistance to my fellow countrymen, and prevent them from being disarmed, and I will fight and I will kill and I may die in the process,” said Hill, who founded the militia several years ago.

Trump’s candidacy has emboldened extremist groups to speak more openly about challenging the rule of law, said Ryan Lenz, a researcher at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“Prior to this campaign season, these ideas were relegated to sort of the political fringe of the American political landscape,” he said. “Now these ideas are legitimized.”

Over the past week, some prominent Trump supporters have hinted at violence.

“If Trump loses, I’m grabbing my musket,” former Illinois Representative Joe Walsh wrote on Twitter last week. Conservative commentator Wayne Root fantasized about Clinton’s death while speaking at a Trump rally in Las Vegas on Sunday.

Back in Georgia, the Three Percent Security Force wrapped up rifle practice in the midday sun. They then headed further into the trees to tackle an obstacle course with loaded pistols at their sides, ready for whatever may come.

“We’ve building up for this, just like the Marines,” he said. “We are going to really train harder and try to increase our operational capabilities in the event that this is the day that we hoped would never come.”

(Editing by Stuart Grudgings)

 

Two US police officers killed in Iowa

Two US police officers were killed in the Midwestern state of Iowa in what the police called “ambush-style” shootings. A search for suspects is underway.

November 2, 2016

DW

Authorities in Des Moines, the capital of the US state of Iowa, said on Wednesday that two officers were shot dead.

“The shootings appear to have been ambush-style attacks,” said Des Moines Police Department spokesman Paul Parizek , adding that police were conducting a search for possible suspects.

“It doesn’t look like there was any interaction between these officers and whoever the coward is that shot them as they sat in their cars,” he said.

Pictures at the scene of the shootings show some officers wearing combat gear.

One officer was found dead about 1 a.m. local time (0600 UTC) in Urbandale, a suburb of Des Moines. Police found the second officer’s body in the city about half an hour later, NBC News reported.

Both officers were shot in their squad cars about two miles (3 kilometers) apart, Parizek said.

“There is a clear and present danger to police officers right now,” he added. “There is definitely danger out there right now.”

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad released a statement saying his office had been alerted to the shootings.

“An attack on public safety officers is an attack on the public safety of all Iowans,” the statement read.

No further information on possible suspects was immediately available.

 FBI releases docs from 2001 Rich investigation days before election

November 1, 2016

by Tom LoBianco and Pamela Brown

CNN

Washington (CNN) — The FBI on Tuesday — one week from Election Day — released heavily redacted files from its 2001 investigation of President Bill Clinton’s pardon of Marc Rich.

The release — issued by an automated FBI Twitter account — quickly drew complaints from Democrats who have assailed FBI Director James Comey for his decision last week to tell Congress the bureau was reviewing emails potentially related to Hillary Clinton’s private server. The bureau has been accused by some of meddling in the final days of a hard-fought election.

The FBI’s tweet led some to conclude the documents were related to the Clintons’ charitable foundation, but the tweet was referring to Bill Clinton’s presidential library, which is governed by the William J. Clinton Foundation.

The bureau Tuesday posted 129 pages from its 2001 investigation of Rich, a former hedge-fund trader who had been indicted on multiple counts of tax evasion.

Bill Clinton pardoned Rich on his last day in office, one of his most controversial decisions as president. The FBI closed its investigation of Clinton’s pardon for Rich in 2005 and no charges were filed against the former president.

“Absent a (Freedom of Information Act) litigation deadline, this is odd. Will FBI be posting docs on Trump’s housing discrimination in ’70s?” tweeted Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Clinton’s campaign.

The FBI defended its actions in a statement Tuesday evening.

“The FBI’s Records Management Division receives thousands of FOIA requests annually which are processed on a first in, first out basis,” the bureau said. “By law, FOIA materials that have been requested three or more times are posted electronically to the FBI’s public reading room shortly after they are processed. Per the standard procedure for FOIA, these materials became available for release and were posted automatically and electronically to the FBI’s public reading room in accordance with the law and established procedures.”

The release was posted on Twitter by @FBIRecordsVault, an account that posts material from FOIA requests on subjects of public interest.

Prior to Sunday, the account hadn’t tweeted since October 2015. A law enforcement official told CNN that the Twitter account is an automatic feed and the tweets are not done manually. The official said the feed was down for a year until Sunday, when it was fixed and then began tweeting automatically.

The account has recently released documents related to Donald Trump’s father, Fred Trump, and the report on Hillary Clinton’s email use at the State Department. It’s not clear that the eight pages of documents about Fred Trump were related to accusations of housing discrimination referenced by Fallon.

Comey, who was once a registered Republican, has been criticized by both Democrats and Republicans during the presidential campaign. Republicans ripped him over the summer when he recommended the Justice Department not pursue criminal charges over Clinton’s use of a private server, a decision he announced in the days after Attorney General Loretta Lynch met with President Clinton on a tarmac in Phoenix.

He has also come under fire in the last week for his donations to the 2008 and 2012 Republican nominees, John McCain and Mitt Romney.

Previously, Comey had enjoyed broad bipartisan support throughout his career. In 2001, he was nominated to be the federal prosecutor for Manhattan by President George W. Bush and was backed by Sen. Chuck Schumer, who is currently in line to become the Senate’s top Democrat after the election.

Comey’s pursuit of Rich while he was a fugitive living in Switzerland was cited in media reports from 2001 as part of his record which ultimately led to the high-profile job as New York City’s top federal prosecutor.

CNN’s Wesley Bruer contributed to this report.

 

Here’s the Problem With the Story Connecting Russia to Donald Trump’s Email Server

November 1 2016

by Sam Biddle, Lee Fang, Micah Lee, Morgan Marquis-Boire

The Intercept

On Monday night, Slate’s Franklin Foer published a story that’s been circulating through the dark web and various newsrooms since summertime, an enormous, eyebrow-raising claim that Donald Trump uses a secret server to communicate with Russia. That claim resulted in an explosive night of Twitter confusion and misinformation.

The gist of the Slate article is dramatic — incredible, even: Cybersecurity researchers found that the Trump Organization used a secret box configured to communicate exclusively with Alfa Bank, Russia’s largest privately-held commercial bank. This is a story that any reporter in our election cycle would drool over, and drool Foer did:

The researchers quickly dismissed their initial fear that the logs represented a malware attack. The communication wasn’t the work of bots. The irregular pattern of server look-ups actually resembled the pattern of human conversation — conversations that began during office hours in New York and continued during office hours in Moscow. It dawned on the researchers that this wasn’t an attack, but a sustained relationship between a server registered to the Trump Organization and two servers registered to an entity called Alfa Bank.

These claims are based entirely on “DNS logs,” digital records of when one server looks up how to contact another across the internet. The logs, first gathered by an anonymous researcher going by the moniker “Tea Leaves” (an irony that should be lost on no one) and shared with a small group of academics, were provided to The Intercept and a handful of other news organizations. The New York Times, the Washington Post, Reuters, the Daily Beast, and Vice all examined these materials to at least some extent and did not publish the claims.

You can think of DNS like a phone book that maps people’s names to their phone numbers. For example, every time Alice wants to call Bob, she first looks up Bob’s phone number in the phone book, and then she dials the number into her phone. However, it’s possible that Alice might look up Bob’s phone number and not call him on the phone. It’s even possible that she might look up Bob’s phone number over and over on a regular basis, over the course of months, without actually calling him. The DNS look-ups that The Intercept and others (including Slate) reviewed are similar to records of Alice looking up Bob’s phone number in the phone book, but to call that evidence of sinister collusion between the two is, politely, a stretch. These DNS records alone simply cannot prove that any specific messages were sent at those times. In fact, they can’t really prove anything at all, and certainly not “communication” between Trump and Alfa. This cannot be overstated: No one, not Tea Leaves, not his academic peers, and not Franklin Foer, can show that a single message was exchanged between Trump and Alfa.

Inconsistencies

Putting aside how little there actually is to read in these tea leaves, the information we reviewed was filled with inconsistencies and vagaries. The Intercept (and other outlets) were presented with three documents: an academia-style white paper about the server, an analysis of that white paper, and a sprawling dossier on Alfa Bank. The author of the analysis paper refused to comment on the record or allow his name to be published. Both Tea Leaves and the analysis author said they did not know who wrote the other documents, and would not say how they obtained them. Professor L. Jean Camp, an esteemed computer scientist quoted at length in the Slate piece and also interviewed by The Intercept, said she knew the author of the Alfa Bank document — compiled with the exhaustive detail of a political oppo team, not a university researcher — but would not reveal who it was. Tea Leaves himself told The Intercept that he had to keep his identity and methods secret because “I run a cybersecurity company and I do not want DDOS and never have we been DDOS, nor do I want other attention.”

Looking at the documents themselves provided further oddities and errors. The white paper contends the following:

The Spectrum Health IP address is a TOR exit node used exclusively by Alfa Bank, i.e., Alfa Bank communications enter a Tor node somewhere in the world and those communications exit, presumably untraceable, at Spectrum Health. There is absolutely no reason why Spectrum would want a Tor exit node on its system.

This is simply untrue and easy to disprove using publicly available information: The Intercept confirmed that the IP address in question, and all other IP addresses on Spectrum Health’s network, did not host a Tor node during the time period.

On Tea Leaves’ WordPress site, he claimed that “only two networks resolved the mail1.trump-email.com host.” This is contradicted by the very works of analysis furnished by Tea Leaves’ collaborators: The author of the white paper found that at least 19 IP addresses, all belonging to different networks except for the two that belong to Alfa Bank, had looked up Trump’s server. And these are only the 19 the author was able to observe in a short time period — it can’t be ruled out that there were many more, which quickly deflates the portrait of a shady Russian backchannel.

The white paper included DNS look-up data, but not nearly enough to reproduce the results. Rather than the 19 IP addresses we expected to see, the data only included three, and the DNS look-ups were not for the same time period that the paper described. Tea Leaves published a different set of data on the dark web, which we also looked at, but this set of data only included a total of four IP addresses. When we pressed Tea Leaves for the complete set of data so we could attempt to reproduce the analysis, he gave us a new, more comprehensive set of data, but still that included a total of only eight IP addresses, and it was missing an IP address belonging to a VPN service in Utah that accounted for a significant portion of the DNS look-ups described in the paper.

What percentage of DNS look-ups for Trump’s email server could Tea Leaves and his colleagues observe, out of all DNS look-ups for that server on the whole internet? How can they be sure that the majority of DNS look-ups for Trump’s email server originated from Alfa Bank, when much of the data they collected didn’t even include DNS look-ups from IPs described in their own paper? What’s their margin of error? None of the analysis that we (and other journalists) obtained answered these questions.

The Simplest Explanation

Although the Slate article mentions Occam’s Razor, Foer never actually takes seriously the simplest plausible explanation for all of this: The Trump Organization owns a bunch of expensive, obnoxious spam servers that churn out marketing emails for its expensive, obnoxious hotels. Spectrum Health, an entity in this story whose presence never made any sense, provided the following statement:

Our experts have conducted a detailed analysis of the alleged internet traffic and did not find any evidence that it included any actual communications (no emails, chat, text, etc.) between Spectrum Health and Alfa Bank or any of the Trump organizations. While we did find a small number of incoming spam marketing emails, they originated from a digital marketing company, Cendyn, advertising Trump Hotels.

Spectrum also provided us with something not even Tea Leaves could: a copy of an email sent from the mail1.trump-email.com server. Did it contain a Cyrillic cipher?

Now, these emails are from outside the time period observed by Tea Leaves et al. and only represents one data point. On the other hand, we now have one checkmark in the “this is just some dumb spam server” column, and zero in the “this is a hotline to Putin’s bedroom” column. Mandiant, a cybersecurity firm Alfa Bank hired to investigate the DNS logs once reporters came knocking, provided another deeply plausible explanation: All of the look-ups were the result of Alfa’s mail servers trying to figure out who was spamming them so much.

The information presented is inconclusive and is not evidence of substantive contact or a direct email or financial link between Alfa Bank and the Trump Campaign or Organization. The list presented does not contain enough information to show that there has been any actual activity opposed to simple DNS look-ups which can come from a variety of sources including anti-spam and other security software.

Security researcher Rob Graham points out that it’s a stretch to even claim that this server is truly “Trump’s”:

The evidence available on the internet is that Trump neither (directly) controls the domain “trump-email.com,” nor has access to the server. Instead, the domain was setup and controlled by Cendyn, a company that does marketing/promotions for hotels, including many of Trump’s hotels. Cendyn outsources the email portions of its campaigns to a company called Listrak, which actually owns/operates the physical server in a data center in Philadelphia. …

… When you view this “secret” server in context, surrounded by the other email servers operated by Listrak on behalf of Cendyn, it becomes more obvious what’s going on. In the same internet address range of Trump’s servers you see a bunch of similar servers, many named [client]-email.com. In other words, trump-email.com is not intended as a normal email server you and I are familiar with, but as a server used for marketing/promotional campaigns.

Paul Vixie, quoted throughout the Slate story, is a legendary figure in the history of the internet whose expertise is near unparalleled when it comes to DNS. But even Vixie conceded to The Intercept that Tea Leaves’ evidence was conclusive of nothing: “It’s a perfect he-said, she-said situation. … Mandiant is guessing no. I am guessing yes. Neither of us has direct evidence.”

There are other, non-technical issues with the Foer piece. For one, the political connections between Trump and Alfa Bank are presented to the reader by highlighting the relationship between Trump and Richard Burt, a consultant who drafted a Trump campaign speech. Burt, Foer charges, “serves on Alfa’s senior advisory board.” Burt has indeed worked for years as an adviser to Alfa Bank and its founder, Mikhail Fridman. But he no longer serves on the board of Alfa Capital Partners, the Moscow-based fund associated with Alfa Bank. That company closed shop over a year ago. Foer made the same allegation in another piece published by Slate in July.

Could it be that Donald Trump used one of his shoddy empire’s spam marketing machines, one with his last name built right into the domain name, to secretly collaborate with a Moscow bank? Sure. At this moment, there’s literally no way to disprove that. But there’s also literally no way to prove it, and such a grand claim carries a high burden of proof.

Without more evidence it would be safer (and saner) to assume that this is exactly what it looks like: A company that Trump has used since 2007 to outsource his hotel spam is doing exactly that. Otherwise, we’re all making the exact same speculation about the unknown that’s caused untold millions of voters to believe Hillary’s deleted emails might have contained Benghazi cover-up PDFs.

Given equal evidence for both, go with the less wacky story.

Clinton aide advised: ‘Dump all those emails’

November 1, 2016

by Katie Bo Williams

The Hill

Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman advised a longtime aide that they were “going to have to dump all those emails” on the day that a report revealed Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email server while secretary of State, according to stolen emails released Tuesday by WikiLeaks.

“Not to sound like Lanny, but we are going to have to dump all those emails so better to do so sooner than later,” says the March 2015 message, labeled as from John Podesta to Cheryl Mills and apparently referencing longtime Clinton confidant Lanny Davis.

“Think you just got your new nick name,” Mills replied.

Clinton campaign officials have refused to confirm the authenticity of the emails, which are believed to have been stolen from Podesta’s personal account by Russian government hackers.

Previously released emails have revealed some advisers were frustrated that Clinton hadn’t made information about the server public sooner.

“Why didn’t they get this stuff out like 18 months ago? So crazy,” policy adviser Neera Tanden wrote to Podesta that same evening, March 2, 2015.

“Unbelievable,” Podesta replied.

Other messages show the Clinton campaign caught unprepared for the New York Times story, published weeks before Clinton launched her bid for the White House.

Also on March 2, Podesta asked future campaign manager Robby Mook if he had seen it coming.

“Did you have any idea of the depth of this story?” Podesta asked Mook in an email late on the evening.

“Nope,” Mook responded after 1 a.m. that night. “We brought up the existence of emails in reserach [sic] this summer but were told that everything was taken care of.”

In other messages, Clinton’s aides spent hours debating language for Clinton to use defending and eventually apologizing for her actions.

WikiLeaks releases 26th batch of #PodestaEmails from Clinton campaign chair

November 2, 2016

RT

Wikileaks has released a new tranche of correspondence from the hacked email account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta.

The latest release consists of over 1,100 emails. More than 43,000 emails have now been published by the whistleblowing site, which has pledged to make public a total of 50,000 in the run up to next week’s US presidential election.

Tuesday’s email release divulged more details on the Clinton team’s reaction to her email server scandal and gave further insight into its relationship with the MSM.

‘Keep this whole enterprise under wraps’

An email from early September 2008 outlines how Google helped President Barack Obama’s transition team to set up ‘secure data rooms’ for sharing information such as “policy promises, as well as legal documents like expense reimbursements and contribution forms”.

The email from Obama aide Chris Lu, who is currently the deputy secretary of labor, explains how the “data rooms” can be accessed by staff – and emphasizes the importance of maintaining secrecy over their discussions.

“The one thing you should know is that contrary to the log-in instructions, we’re not giving out “transition2008.com” email addresses. We think that would compromise our ability to keep this whole enterprise under wraps,” he writes.

The secrecy reminder is somewhat surprising, given the role Citigroup played in picking Obama’s cabinet even before the election.

‘In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king’

An email thread with the subject title ‘Lanny’ shows an apparent difference of opinion between Hillary Clinton and her staff regarding Lanny Davis, lawyer and former special counsel to President Bill Clinton.

On May 11, 2015, Clinton senior adviser, Philippe Reines writes: “Hrc is anxious to move forward with the commitment that I will keep him focused and in line. Do you guys need to run any more traps on your end or can I reach out to enlist him?”

Huma Abedin confirms that Clinton called her and said she wants Davis, to which Jennifer Palmieri responds, “Think we are stuck with Lanny for the brothers”.

John Podesta adds his two cents commenting: “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”

The campaign team’s issues with Davis came to light in a previously leaked email from March 2015 where they came down hard on TV remarks he made suggesting a review of her private server.

In the Nevada desert, Bundy family warns of another standoff

November 1, 2016

by Kevin Sullivan and Juliet Eilperin

The Washington Post

BUNKERVILLE, Nev. — Less than a week after being acquitted at a trial over last winter’s armed occupation of an Oregon federal wildlife refuge, Nevada rancher Ryan Bundy said another protest action will be justified if President Obama goes ahead with plans to create a huge national monument abutting the Bundy family’s ranch here.

“Absolutely! That’s the best thing in the world for [people] to do,” Bundy said Monday in a telephone interview from an Oregon jail, where he is being held pending a February trial related to a separate armed standoff in 2014 with federal agents at his family’s ranch.

“Read the Declaration of Independence,” he said. “It says right there that if the government becomes abusive, it’s our right and our duty to abolish that government. If the government won’t restrain itself, whatever happens is their own fault.”

The suggestion of a potential uprising underscores the extent to which two competing political movements — defiance of federal authority, and Obama’s determination to permanently protect vast federal lands — could collide next in this arid patch of land 110 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

Federal officials were alarmed by the jury’s decision to acquit Bundy, his brother Ammon and five others who staged a 41-day occupation early this year at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in remote eastern Oregon.

While supporters of the Bundys hailed the surprise verdict as a victory against what they see as federal overreach, federal officials said it could embolden anyone with a grievance to take over government property and endanger federal workers.

Ryan Bundy is angry that Obama, before he leaves office, may use his executive power under the 1906 Antiquities Act to impose new restrictions on Gold Butte, a 350,000-acre parcel of pristine desert wilderness just south of the Bundy family’s ranch.

Obama administration officials said federal officials were rattled by the Oregon verdict, but individuals briefed on the process say the White House is pushing ahead with plans to create a monument that would permanently preserve a federally owned tract filled with soaring peaks, exotic red sandstone formations, an imperiled desert tortoise population and thousands of ancient Native American rock etchings called petroglyphs.

Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), who has worked to protect the area for years, has described a monument designation as one of his final goals before retiring this year.

Bundy, 44, wouldn’t say whether he and his family would encourage some kind of anti-government action over Gold Butte, because “I never say what we will do.” But asked whether violence was ever justified against an abusive government, Bundy said: “Ask George Washington.”

Repeating an argument common in the West but disputed by most mainstream constitutional scholars, Bundy said the Constitution does not grant the federal government power to own large tracts of land, nor does the president have legal authority to create national monuments. Bundy said that creating the Gold Butte monument would be an abuse of presidential power and a valuation of tourism and endangered species over the economic needs of struggling communities.

“The government should be scared. They are in the wrong. The land does not belong to the government. The land belongs to the people of Clark County, not to the people of the United States,” said Bundy, who spoke over the phone as his wife, Angie, sat nearby beneath a shady mesquite tree at the family’s 160-acre ranch on the parched banks of the Virgin River.

“The only peaceful resolution to all this is for them to obey the Constitution,” he said. “Read it, understand it, abide by it. There doesn’t have to be violence. None of that has to happen if they would just abide by the Constitution.”

That kind of talk is exactly what officials have worried about after the Oregon verdict. They fear that a potential flash point for anti-government action could be Obama’s fast-paced creation of national monuments where grazing, timber-cutting, mining and other commercial activities are generally prohibited. Obama has already created or expanded 27 national monuments, more than any other president since Franklin D. Roosevelt.

For many generations, ranchers in Bunkerville have paid a fee to graze their cattle on the Gold Butte land, but nearly all of them allowed the Nature Conservancy and other groups to buy out their permits years ago. The Bundy family, which has fewer than 600 head of cattle, is the last full-time ranching family in the area. Their animals still graze for free, as they have for years, in defiance of federal courts twice ordering the Bundys to desist. The family has refused to pay more than $1 million in fees and fines.

When officials from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the National Park Service tried to finally remove the cattle in 2014, they were met by the Bundy family and hundreds of armed supporters.

Fearing bloodshed, authorities eventually retreated. Earlier this year, family patriarch Cliven Bundy, along with sons Ammon and Ryan, and 16 others, were charged with an array of federal firearms, conspiracy and assault counts in the 2014 incident. They face trial in Nevada in February.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has called the Nevada standoff the worst moment of her tenure. And after last week’s acquittal in Oregon, she warned her employees,

including those at the BLM, to “take care of yourselves” and “remain vigilant.”

A coalition of environmentalists, tribal groups, academics and some business owners eagerly support the Gold Butte plan.

“Gold Butte has captivating landscapes that Americans across the country would love to explore,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said in an interview. “But it’s also home to thousands of archaeological sites that currently have no protection and that could be enjoyed and studied for future generations.”

In the two years since BLM staffers withdrew from the area, there has been vandalism, graffiti and habitat degradation through off-road vehicle use, according to a report by Friends of Gold Butte, a group that supports a national monument for the wilderness.

Reid has been the highest-profile advocate for the project. He has devoted much of his career to brokering such deals: During his 34 years in Congress, the amount of federal land off limits to development in Nevada has grown from 67,000 acres to 4.8 million acres.

Speaking on the Senate floor just after Bundys were arrested this year, Reid said: “I’ve tried to protect Gold Butte for a long time. And the reason we haven’t been able to do anything to this point is the Bundy boys and their pals. So that’s why I’m grateful for the Antiquities Act. Because of this legislation and because of the fact that the Bundys are in jail, I’m going to reach out to the White House.”

As he has personally lobbied the president, Reid has framed the issue as a test of federal will. “Let’s tell others how important this is,” he said during a news conference in August, “and tell people to keep their damn hands off public lands.”

Republicans have opposed Obama’s use of “unilateral” executive power to create national monuments. “The establishment of any new national monument in the State of Nevada, regardless of location, ought to be considered in the public Congressional process,” Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) wrote in an April letter to the president.

On the Bundy ranch, Angie Bundy said that “Harry Reid has no right to be saying those things.” She said she suspects that the federal government is trying to claim more land to keep control of uranium and other minerals. She said federal officials should respect local ranchers more and recognize that they are far more effective stewards of the land than “bureaucrats from back East.”

“They should let people who have been protecting this land for generations take care of it,” she said. “And they shouldn’t be sending in heavily armed military forces to point weapons at a rancher who hasn’t paid his taxes.”

On Monday, Reid said in a statement that the Gold Butte monument would not be derailed by threats of resistance from “radicals . . . intent on using public lands like Gold Butte for their own selfish purposes.”

That kind of talk infuriates Duane Magoon, a rancher and Bunkerville town official who was raised by the Bundy family. He said he doubted that local people would rise up against the government over Gold Butte, as they did in Oregon or at the Bundy ranch in 2014. But, he said, “you never know.”

“Why would the feds even want to find out? Is the government stupid?” he said. “They are aware that we are upset. Why would they rock that boat? If something happens, it’s because of them.”

Deep in the heart of Gold Butte one hot afternoon this week, Jim Boone hiked among the otherworldly swirling and jagged sandstone formations known as Little Finland. He admired petroglyphs carved into black stone and salt formations that turned the rock a vibrant shade of blue.

Boone, an ecologist and writer who chronicles Gold Butte’s wildlife and history, said lush vegetation covered this area thousands of years ago. But over the centuries, the land has dried out, and today the vegetation is mainly prickly brush and creosote bushes.

Not far from the Bundy ranch, Boone pulled off the gravel road to look at about 20 of the family’s cattle grazing on the parched land.

“In a way, you can understand the Bundys,” he said. “The world is changing all around them, the environment and the politics, and all they want to do is have the world stay the same and let their grandchildren do exactly what they did.”

Eilperin reported from Washington

 

 

 

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