Men clad in black climb onto Iran’s embassy in London, take down flag

The Iranian national flag flies outside the Iranian embassy in central London. © Paul Hackett / Reuters

A group of men in black attire have scaled the façade of the Iranian embassy in London and have taken down the flag. Iran’s Press TV said the embassy has come under “attack.” Reports suggest a religious group was behind the stunt.

Footage posted online shows the men on the balcony of the embassy building. One is waving a blue and white flag with inscriptions in Arabic, just after the men apparently took down the Iranian flag.

The Metropolitan Police have reportedly confirmed the incident, journalist Nahayat Tizhoosh tweeted, citing fellow journalist Laura McQuillan. The men reportedly got to the roof and police were negotiating for them to come down.

Four men have been arrested in connection with the incident, according to Iran’s Ambassador to the UK, Hamid Baeidinejad. He tweeted that more perpetrators could still be on the grounds of the embassy.

Initial reports on social media suggest the men are from a religious organization loyal to the ideas of the late Shia Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Al-Shirazi. Twitter user Haidar Nasralla suggested the group is from the Khoddam Al Mahdi organization, based in Buckinghamshire, UK.

BBC Persian contributor Hossein Aghaie tweeted that the protesters are indeed supporters of Shirazi, adding that Shirazi’s son Hossein was recently arrested for criticizing Iran’s government and leader.


Iran bans use of US dollar in trade

Currency exchange in Tehran © Morteza Nikoubazl / Global Look Press

Tehran has announced that purchase orders by merchants that are based on US currency would no longer be allowed to go through import procedures.

According to local media, the policy is in line with an official request by the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) and is specifically meant to address fluctuations in market rates of the US dollar.

The CBI’s director of Foreign Exchange Rules and Policies Affairs, Mehdi Kasraeipour, was quoted by IRNA news agency as saying the move had become effective from Wednesday by virtue of a letter sent to the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Trade.

He explained it wouldn’t create major trouble for traders because the share of the greenback in Iran’s trade activities was not high. “It’s been for a long time that Iran’s banking sector cannot use the dollar as a result of the sanctions,” said Kasraeipour.

As part of a trade embargo, US banks are banned from dealing with Iran.

“Considering that the use of the dollar is banned for Iran and traders are literally using alternative currencies in their transactions, there is no longer any reason to proceed with invoices that use the dollar as the base rate,” Kasraeipour added.

According to the official, Iranian merchants would need to inform their suppliers to change the base currency from the dollar to other currencies so that the related import documents could be processed at Iran’s entry points.

Merchants will also need to specify whether they would proceed with their payments through banks or currency exchange shops.

Tehran has long sought to switch to non-dollar based trade. It has already signed agreements with several countries and is in talks with Russia on using national currencies in settlements.

While meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in November, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said that the best way to beat US sanctions against the two countries was joint efforts to dump the American currency in bilateral trade. He told President Putin that by using methods such as eliminating the US dollar and replacing it with national currencies in transactions between two or more parties, the sides could “isolate the Americans.”

‘Last chance’: Trump waives Iran sanctions, demands changes to ‘disastrous’ nuclear deal

US President Donald Trump holds a cabinet meeting at the White House on January 10, 2018. © Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

US President Donald Trump says he has waived sanctions against Iran for the last time, and insists a new nuclear deal must be negotiated before the current 120-day extension runs out.

“Despite my strong inclination, I have not yet withdrawn the United States from the Iran nuclear deal. Instead, I have outlined two possible paths forward: either fix the deal’s disastrous flaws, or the United States will withdraw,” Trump said in a statement.

“This is a last chance. In the absence of such an agreement, the United States will not again waive sanctions in order to stay in the Iran nuclear deal. And if at any time I judge that such an agreement is not within reach, I will withdraw from the deal immediately. No one should doubt my word.”

Trump, who made his opposition to the 2015 agreement a cornerstone of his presidential election campaign, said he would use the next four months “to secure our European allies’ agreement to fix [its] terrible flaws.”

Other signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) include the UK, France, Germany, Russia, China and the EU. As part of the deal some of the crippling economic sanctions against Iran were lifted in exchange for restrictions on uranium enrichment, reactor construction and other aspects of its nuclear program over a period of 15 to 25 years.

Aware of others’ reluctance to alter the terms of an agreement that took years to hammer out, and which the International Atomic Energy Agency says Tehran is complying with, Trump sounded a warning.

“Those who, for whatever reason, choose not to work with us will be siding with the Iranian regime’s nuclear ambitions, and against the people of Iran and the peaceful nations of the world,” said Trump, who met national security advisers at the White House on Thursday before announcing the third such waiver since coming to power.

Ahead of Trump’s Friday announcement, Iran’s atomic energy had warned that it would take “necessary actions” if Trump were to re-impose sanctions, noting that it could speed up uranium enrichment.

“The American government should think wisely… even though they have shown until now unfortunately that they are not thinking or acting wisely,” Atomic Energy Organization of Iran spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi told state TV earlier this week, as quoted by Reuters.

On Thursday, the EU and member states urged Trump not to withdraw form the agreement, with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini saying the deal is “working” and “making the world safer.”

“It is delivering on its main goal, which means keeping the Iranian nuclear programme in check and under close surveillance,” she said during a joint press conference which included representatives from the European Union, the UK, France, and Germany.

Trump, who previously stressed that he could cancel US participation in the nuclear deal “at any time,”refused to re-certify Iran’s compliance with the deal in October. He claimed at the time that Iran had “committed multiple violations” of the nuclear deal, despite the International Atomic Energy Agency’s confirmation that the Islamic Republic was in compliance.

Responding to Trump’s decision at the time, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran would not cave in to US pressure. One day later, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Trump’s move undermined US credibility on the world stage.

Had Trump decided to re-impose sanctions on Iran, it would have been a violation of the nuclear deal. Some, includingIranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, had speculated that the agreement would have collapsed without US involvement.

How Obama manipulated sensitive secret intelligence for political gain

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President Obama’s White House had a troublesome tendency to mishandle some of the nation’s most delicate intelligence — especially regarding the Middle East — by leaking classified information in an attempt to sway public opinion on sensitive matters. (Associated Press/File)

By Guy Taylor and Dan Boylan

They wanted him dead.

For years, a clandestine U.S. intelligence team had tracked a man they knew was high in the leadership of al Qaeda— an operative some believed had a hand in plotting the gruesome 2009 suicide attack in Afghanistan that killed seven CIA officers.

Their pursuit was personal, and by early 2014, according to a source directly involved in the operation, the agency had the target under tight drone surveillance. “We literally had a bead on this guy’s head and just needed authorization from Washington to pull the trigger,” said the source.

Then something unexpected happened. While agents waited for the green light, the al Qaeda operative’s name, as well as information about the CIA’s classified surveillance and plan to kill him in Pakistan, suddenly appeared in the U.S. press.

Abdullah al-Shami, it turned out, was an American citizen, and President Obama and his national security advisers were torn over whether the benefits of killing him would outweigh the political and civil liberties backlash that was sure to follow.

In interviews with several current and former officials, the al-Shami case was cited as an example of what critics say was the Obama White House’s troublesome tendency to mishandle some of the nation’s most delicate intelligence — especially regarding the Middle East — by leaking classified information in an attempt to sway public opinion on sensitive matters.

By the end of Mr. Obama’s second term, according to sources who spoke anonymously with The Washington Times, the practices of leaking, ignoring and twisting intelligence for political gain were ingrained in how the administration conducted national security policy.

Those criticisms have resurfaced in the debate over whether overall intelligence fumbling by the Obama White House in its final months may have amplified the damage wrought by suspected Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election last year.

On repeated occasions during the Obama era, high-level sources and some lawmakers told The Washington Times, the president’s inner circle ignored classified briefings and twisted intelligence to fit political goals. Long before Donald Trump appeared on the White House campaign scene, many pointed to an incident during the 2012 election cycle as the most dramatic evidence of how that approach affected the handling of national security threats.

‘Understating the threat’

On the campaign trail in 2012, Mr. Obama declared that al Qaeda was “on the run,” despite a flow of intelligence showing that the terrorist group was metastasizing — a circumstance that led to the rise of the Islamic State.

Many Americans believed the president was justifiably touting a major success of his first term with the U.S. Special Forces killing of al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden in 2011. But the gulf between Mr. Obama’s campaign pronouncements and classified briefings provided to Congress touched off a heated debate in intelligence circles over whether the president was twisting the facts for political gain.

“Candidate Obama was understating the threat,” said Mike Rogers, who at the time was chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. After the 2012 election, he said, “To say the core [was] decimated and therefore we [had] al Qaeda on the run was not consistent with the overall intelligence assessment at the time.”

Reflecting back this month, Mr. Rogers suggested that Mr. Obama — like many presidents before him — had a propensity for pushing certain politically advantageous narratives even if they contradicted classified intelligence.

Indeed, controversy has long swirled around politicized intelligence and leaks. The George W. Bush administration was accused of “stovepiping” intelligence it needed for its case to invade Iraq in 2003 while ignoring bits that may have undercut the rationale for war.

That case blossomed into a major scandal known as the “Plame affair.” White House staffer Scooter Libby was convicted of lying to investigators about the leak of the name of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, whose husband had challenged the administration’s claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. President Bush later commuted Mr. Libby’s sentence.

With regard to the Obama White House, Mr. Rogers told The Times, the circumstances were different but no less disturbing. “Over the course of their time in office, the Obama administration’s world got smaller and smaller,” said the Michigan Republican, who retired from Congress in 2015. “They listened to fewer and fewer different opinions. When you do that, that is how you miss things.”

‘Heart was never in it’

Chaos and instability in the Middle East factored into one Obama-era intelligence leak that officials now say badly undermined national security.

The CIA’s covert “Train and Equip” program was crafted to aid forces seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad after the 2011 Arab Spring protests exploded into a civil war in Syria.

Train and Equip began with a flow of “nonlethal aid” to certain Syrian rebel groups, but as its budget ballooned to some $1 billion, the program morphed into an unwieldy and ineffective effort to assist an unconventional military campaign.

One former senior intelligence official said the program was badly undermined because the White House was constantly leaking details of efforts to build a Free Syrian Army with cash, weapons and intelligence.

“Obama had drawn a red line on Syria over chemical weapons, but then he didn’t do [expletive],” the former official told The Times. “The White House was facing a lot of political pressure to show they had policy for Syria, so they leaked the CIA’s covert action plan. They leaked it for purely political reasons, so they could say, ‘Look, look, we have a Syria strategy.’”

Kenneth Pollack, a former CIA analyst now with the conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank in Washington, said other factors also undermined any chance for the program to succeed. Mr. Obama and his top aides were openly wary of being dragged deeper into the Syrian fight while the administration was trying to execute a strategic “pivot to Asia” — away from the heavy U.S. foreign policy focus on the Middle East.

“Obama’s heart was never in it, and the administration wanted nothing to do with it,” Mr. Pollack told The Times. “He mostly did it to avoid domestic political blowback. We could have done so much more, but the way it was run, it killed itself.”

Mr. Pollack, who once worked in the Clinton White House, said the program’s recruitment vetting was ridiculous. “The [Obama] administration more or less insisted, ‘We will only accept applicants … who had never met a jihadist.’ The vetting standards were absurd and excluded almost everyone who had any contact with the opposition in Syria,” Mr. Pollack said.

“It was like they thought we were going to wage a civil war against the Assad government with members of the social pages of The New York Times,” he said. “The Harvard crew team was not going to show up.”

In the long run, the policy’s failure provided a clear window for Iran and Russia to expand their military presence and political influence into the power vacuum created by Syria’s war.


And then there was unmasking.

Controversy has swirled for the past year around the Obama administration’s use of a process that allowed high-level White House officials to learn the redacted identities of Americans swept up in classified surveillance against suspected foreign operatives during the months surrounding the presidential election.

For decades, national security officials at the highest level have used their security clearances to engage in the process known as “unmasking” while reading raw intercepts from around the world for better understanding of relationships that might impact America’s safety.

President Carter’s hawkish national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was known by America’s spies as one who “loved raw intelligence,” according to Bob Woodward’s book “Veil, The Secret Wars of the CIA, 1981-1987.”

“Unmasking itself is not nefarious or conspiratorial; it’s done all the time around the world by ambassadors and CIAstation chiefs,” said one former CIA clandestine service officer who spoke with The Times. “It’s a standard procedure and involves a rigorous and bureaucratic process … to ensure whoever’s seeking the unmasking of names has a legitimate reason.”

But Republicans believe the process — and the safeguards against abuse — went terribly awry in the final months of the bitter campaign between Mr. Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton and through the transition period between Mr. Trump’s unexpected victory and inauguration.

Remarks by former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, as well as Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and former top White House strategist Steve Bannon, were all captured in surveillance of a Trump Tower meeting in December 2016. Susan E. Rice, Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, has since acknowledged she asked that the identities of the Americans in the surveillance be revealed, citing what she said were legitimate concerns about the purpose of the group’s meeting with foreigners.

Although the unmasking itself may have been justified, the former CIA clandestine service officer said, what came next was dangerous.

“The issue is when any names that have been unmasked end up getting leaked to the press,” the former officer said. “And that is certainly what looks like happened vis-a-vis the Obama administration’s unmasking of Trump officials who were in meetings with Russians or Turks that were under American intelligence surveillance.”

Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican and chairman of the House intelligence committee, has gone further, suggesting that Obama administration officials strategically leaked the names to smear Mr. Trump and fuel a narrative that the Trump campaign was secretly working with foreign forces.

‘Come on, Mr. President’

Suspicion that the Obama White House intentionally leaked the unmasked names has been fueled by what intelligence sources say was the administration track record of other sensitive leaks — which stretched back to the Abdullah al-Shami case in Afghanistan.

CIA agents were shocked when their classified drone surveillance against al-Shami suddenly appeared in 2014 reports by The Associated Press and The New York Times, one source told The Times. “There’s no question this guy got wind of the reports,” said the source. “The leak gave him a heads-up, and he suddenly disappeared. We lost our bead on him.”

Some at the CIA were outraged. Agents had been tracking the al Qaeda operative since early 2009, believing he had been directly involved in a bomb attack that injured several officials at U.S. Forward Operating Base Chapman in AfghanistanAl-Shami’s fingerprints turned up on packing tape around a second bomb that didn’t explode.

Roughly a year later, there was another attack on Chapman, a key clandestine operations center in Afghanistan, in which seven CIA officers were killed. Some suspected al-Shami played a role in that attack as well.

But as badly as the CIA wanted al-Shami dead, the case carried controversial legal questions.

Abdullah al-Shami — Arabic for “Abdullah the Syrian” — was the nom de guerre of a young man named Muhanad Mahmoud al-Farekh. Although raised in Dubai, al-Farekh was an American citizen because he was born in Texas.

By the time the CIA had him in its crosshairs in 2014, Mr. Obama was reeling from the furor sparked by his authorization of a drone strike in 2011 that killed another American citizen: al Qaeda propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen.

The American Civil Liberties Union condemned the al-Awlaki strike as a violation of U.S. law because al-Awlaki had “never been charged with any crime” in an American court.

Fearful of a similar reaction, the Obama administration decided the best course of action would be to leak information about the al-Shami case to stir up public awareness of the conundrum facing the president, the former intelligence officials said.

“Look,” said the source, “I actually appreciate that Obama didn’t like the idea of killing another American without due process. But was leaking this stuff really the right way to handle this?

“I mean, come on Mr. President, it’s your finger on the trigger. You’re the one who decides. All we do is aim the gun,” said the source, who said it was fortunate that al-Shami was later captured alive and secretly flown to the United States for trial.

The al Qaeda operative was convicted in September in U.S. federal court in New York on terrorism charges under his birth name, Muhanad Mahmoud al-Farekh.

The 31-year-old is slated to be sentenced next month.

Trump first president to protect electric grid from EMP, cyberattacks

By Paul Bedard | Dec 20, 2017

President Trump became the first national leader to call for protecting the U.S electric and communications grid against an electromagnetic attack like one practiced in North Korea.

Deep in his new national security strategy released this week, he made good on a campaign promise to move quickly to make the fixes that proponents have long called for.

Two of the chief advocates, William R. Graham and Peter Vincent Pry, executives of the nation’s first Congressional EMP Commission, said in a statement, “President Trump understands, even if everyone in his administration does not, that ‘strategic stability’ and ‘longstanding strategic relationships with Russia or China’ are best maintained — not by a policy of mutual vulnerability — but by a policy of ‘Peace Through Strength.’ Protecting the nation from all missile threats and EMP should be the cornerstone of a ‘Peace Through Strength’ policy.”

The duo claim that protecting the grid would not be expensive and could done fast and with commercial products, a solution Trump endorsed in his strategy.

An attack, according to a past EMP Commission report, could lead to the deaths of 90 percent of the population in a year.

Laying out the issue, Trump’s paper said, “Critical infrastructure keeps our food fresh, our houses warm, our trade flowing, and our citizens productive and safe. The vulnerability of U.S. critical infrastructure to cyber, physical, and electromagnetic attacks means that adversaries could disrupt military command and control, banking and financial operations, the electrical grid, and means of communication.”

His solution: “We will use the latest commercial capabilities, shared services, and best practices to modernize our Federal information technology. We will improve our ability to provide uninterrupted and secure communications and services under all conditions.”

The threat of an EMP attack, either naturally from a solar flare or delivered in the type of atmospheric nuclear explosion promised by North Korea and Iran, became a much greater concern due to North Korea’s successful recent missile launches.

“The inclusion of EMP in the new National Security Strategy comes just in time. Mr. President, thank you for your leadership!” said Graham and Pry.

Comey & Mueller Ignored McCabe’s Ties to Russian Crime Figures & His Reported Tampering in Russian FBI Cases, Files

For years James Comey and Robert Mueller, as FBI directors, knew Andrew McCabe maintained problematic contacts with Russian officials including organized crime figures yet did little to investigate the now-FBI deputy director’s relationships even after other agents caught McCabe tampering in Russian-linked cases, FBI sources said.

And while both Comey and Mueller have used the unlimited resources of the United States government to try and tie President Donald Trump to Russia, the former FBI chiefs largely ignored McCabe’s associations with Russian mobsters and a Putin-linked billionaire under federal investigation by their own Bureau.

The same Russian billionaire at the center of Mueller’s recent indictment of Paul Manafort.

Incredibly, Comey put McCabe in charge of running the FBI’s Russian investigation of President Trump to find supposed election collusion by Trump and his inner circle – including family members and Gen. Mike Flynn. McCabe’s probe of Trump and its evidence, which was spearheaded by now disgraced FBI agent Peter Strzok, was turned over to Mueller when he was appointed Special Counsel after Comey’s firing by Trump.

Likewise, FBI sources confirmed Mueller was aware of McCabe’s problematic Russian contacts yet still took the now-disgraced Strzok on as a lead investigator to his Special Counsel team as well as the physical and witness evidence that McCabe had amassed on the Trump probe during his investigation under Comey.

Even officials at CIA were concerned about McCabe’s Russian contacts, sources confirm.

So how could a FBI agent – let alone the deputy director of the Bureau – be permitted to lead or conduct an investigation of the president of the United States for Russian collusion when the FBI agent in question has problematic associations with shady Russians himself?

McCabe climbed quickly through the FBI’s ranks forging a reputation as a supervisor who always got the job done while his bosses often looked the other way. That seems to be a recurring theme when investigating the day-today operations of the FBI in recent years.

But both Mueller and Comey seemed to either miss or ignore — or condone — major signs of problematic Russian associations and case red flags linked to McCabe, including:

  • FBI Agents accused McCabe of interfering with Russian-linked investigations, including the Boston Marathon terror bombing and the Robert Levinson kidnapping cases, even making a formal complaint with FBI Security Division about the incidents.
  • McCabe for years worked Russian organized crime in New York for the FBI, previous to his Washington D.C. rise. He led the FBI’s Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force, a joint operation with the NYPD.
  • While in New York, McCabe worked in tandem with Bruce Ohr, the recently demoted DOJ official linked to the Trump fake dossier who often coordinated with McCabe’s Russian organized crime task force. Ohr worked Organized Crime too for DOJ. Ohr’s wife Nellie worked for Fusion GPS and previously worked for the CIA.
  • McCabe maintained an alliance with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska a tycoon and close associate of Vladimir Putin. And McCabe apparently met with him in Europe without proper clearance from FBI, while Deripaska was a possible target on a FBI organized crime probe. McCabe also privately acknowledged to FBI agents that Deripaska was a friend.
  • Yes, this is the same Deripaska who was trumpeted as part of Mueller’s recent Paul Manafort indictment. If Manafort’s connections to Deripaska’s billions helped indict him, why didn’t McCabe’s associations with the oligarch warrant similar investigation by the very man, Mueller, who slammed Manafort?
  • During McCabe’s liaisons with Deripaska, Strzok was running the FBI’s Post-Adjudication Risk Management plan, or PARM, a program initiated to catch problematic and criminal associations of FBI agents. Strzok and PARM should have snagged McCabe’s Russian associations, especially Deripaska. Many agents were fired for far less, under the stringent internal program. Where was Strzok’s oversight of McCabe or did Strzok simply look the other way?
  • CIA officials looked at McCabe’s Russian contacts, especially Deripaska, fearing a possible data breach like convicted FBI spy Robert Hanssen.

Just months before the Trump launched his presidential bid, FBI agents had complained and lodged at least one formal grievance  with supervisors and the FBI Security Division detailing how McCabe had been meddling with a number of cases with Russian links, suspects and witnesses. Similar complaints reached Sen. Chuck Grassley as early as June 2015, FBI sources confirm.

When Special Agents worked the Boston Marathon bombing, they kept tripping over McCabe who was the Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) of the task force investigating the terror incident.

When agents accessed computer databases searching for suspects, McCabe had already been there. When they looked at banking records and financials of suspects, McCabe had already been there.

When Special Agents worked the Robert Levinson kidnapping case in Iran — another McCabe-supervised case – they found McCabe had been accessing databases and performing the work of a case agent without debriefing Comey or members of the task force he was supervising

“Really strange things kept showing up with his (McCabe’s) tag on it,” one FBI source said.

Why was McCabe seemingly conducting his own private Intel sweeps on Russian-related cases, even interviewing fact witnesses instead of the agents he was charged with supervising? ASAC’s and SAC’s very rarely roll up their sleeves and jump into the grind of an investigation.

Yet McCabe did.


And by 2015 even officials at the Central Intelligence Agency became concerned about McCabe’s contact with Russian officials, according the federal law enforcement sources. The CIA’s Counter Espionage Division may have opened a formal a case on McCabe, after intelligence about his contacts with Russians sparked a review of his foreign associates, sources said.

“There may have been an official case,” one CIA source confirmed. “I know for a fact he was looked at informally, where we would see what he was doing with foreign contacts. A formal case would be classified and I couldn’t get into the details if it hinged on Russian organized crime.”

The agency source said McCabe was on the CIA’s radar after 2009 and 2010 when agency officials got word McCabe may have he met with Deripaska in Europe.

FBI organized crime investigators had apparently been looking at Deripaska at the time of the meeting, FBI sources said and McCabe, as FBI brass, did not seek the proper approval from Mueller — FBI director at the time — or DOJ brass to sit down with the Deripaska.

“He really had no business meeting with Deripaska and sort of forced his way into the trip at the last minute,” one FBI source said. “He kept in touch with Deripaska and was very touchy about anyone else (from the FBI) speaking to him. Andy took an active role (with Deripaska).”

Two FBI Agents were sanctioned by Mueller’s office to interview Deripaska in Europe. McCabe was FBI upper echelon and was not approved to speak to Deripaska, sources said. In fact, it appears FBI policy would have required McCabe to get a waiver signed by DOJ officials to be permitted to meet with Deripaska, especially since Deripaska was a potential player in an open FBI investigation.

McCabe had pulled a similar move later, meeting with Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe to hatch out McCabe’s wife’s run for the Virginia State Senate. But McAuliffe was a target of a FBI corruption probe at the time, yet McCabe – as deputy director – sat with the governor and later accepted over $700,000 in campaign funds for his spouse’s failed political bid.

Like McAuliffe, McCabe did not have the proper waiver from DOJ to meet with Deripaska.

“You fucking need really high level approvals for that,” one FBI agent familiar with both cases said. “These people are potential targets in a FBI investigation.”

Many FBI sources too questioned why Mueller would sign off on McCabe’s trip to Europe to meet with Deripaska.

But McCabe and Deripaska apparently were old friends. Before McCabe’s meteoric rise in the FBI’s Washington D.C. offices, he led the Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force, a joint operation with the New York City Police Department run out of the FBI’s New York Field Office in Manhattan. McCabe supervised the task force who were aggressively chasing and flipping and in many cases – paying Russian organized crime figures at snitches to make high profile cases

The CIA was quite sensitive about growing reports from FBI about McCabe’s Russian contacts, having learned hard lessons years earlier when Robert Hanssen was arrested for spying for the Russian government and the Soviet Union for more than two decades from his FBI perch. CIA assets died because of Hanssen.

After Hanssen, the Agency and the FBI vowed to instill tight controls on databases access, SIGINT, HUMINT after the Hanssen Damage Assessment Team (HDAT) shone light on how the Russian spy was able to infiltrate the federal law enforcement’s electronic backbone to sell secrets out the back door to the Russians for cash and diamonds.

Hanssen’s spying was investigated by the joint Justice Department and CIA HDAT task force. A report was issued by the Department of Justice’s Commission for the Review of FBI Security Programs and called the Hanssen data breaches “possibly the worst intelligence disaster in U.S. history.”

Mueller was FBI chief when the report was released and was tasked with implementing controls to prevent another Hanssen.

He failed.

Putin and Russian oligarch Deripaska


On April 15, 2013, two homemade bombs detonated near the finish line of the annual Boston Marathon. Three people were killed while several hundred others were injured, including 16 who lost limbs.

A task force of FBI agents led the investigation, assisted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Counterterrorism Center, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

For the initial 48 hours after the blasts, FBI agents combed through news leads, old jackets of perps, and financial databases to pinpoint and whittle down the list of suspects.

By the third day, FBI had isolated two Kyrgyz-American brothers who they linked to the blast: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. That was no simple task given that much of the massacre was captured on hundreds of public and private video feeds already recording the marathon. The images and video of the carnage went viral overnight.

One agent who helped comb through the clues and suspects said FBI agents combed numerous internal databases looking for suspects and noticed something strange. When referencing files and suspect database entries in Kyrgyzstan and the Chechen Republic, it appeared the FBI task force ASAC McCabe had already conducted many of the investigative sweeps in two countries linked heavily with Russia.

When FBI agents looked at the U.S finances of the Tsarnaevs, including their parents, McCabe too had apparently already accessed the files or looked at the brothers as suspects.

“McCabe always seemed one step ahead of the search,” the FBI agent said. “But he never shared any leads with us and we were working days without sleep. I still don’t understand why he was accessing one database at all, why a supervisor would be in there. That’s perfectly fine for a SSA (Supervisory Special Agent) but not a boss.”

The FBI agent would not disclose the name of the database in question but said after more than a decade working high-profile FBI cases they had never seen a highly-placed FBI brass access that particular database which was reserved for case agents.

“Whole thing was bizarre,” the FBI agent said.

Bizarre perhaps. But not unprecedented in FBI annals. This was right out of the Robert Hanssen trade-craft.

Robert Philip Hanssen, the former FBI brass who spied for Soviet and Russian intelligence services.

For over 22 years, Hanssen rose through the FBI ranks, selling U.S. intelligence secrets from 1979 to 2001. He is currently serving 15 consecutive life sentences at a federal supermax prison in Colorado.

Hanssen too was often caught by agents overstepping his bounds and access, looking at all things Russia the FBI was involved in whether he was permitted to do so or not.

Asking whether McCabe is another Hanssen is really a question best reserved for Comey and Mueller, who were supposed to clamp down on the ability of anyone in the FBI going rogue and accessing Intel in such a sweeping manner, absent setting off internal red flags, alarm bells, and compliance audits.

Both Mueller and Comey clearly failed. It appears, sources said, like Hanssen, McCabe always seemed to have his fingers in all things Russia the Bureau did. Hanssen worked the same angle for over $1 million in cash and diamonds, working as an inside counterintelligence agent reporting back to Russia the bureau’s moves like any good double-agent should.

Many agents pondered, what was McCabe’s angle?


Eight months after the Boston marathon bombing, FBI agents again experienced problematic case meddling by McCabe, sources said.

Robert Alan “Bob” Levinson is a former Drug Enforcement Administration and Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who disappeared in Iran in 2007, where it is believed he remains captive today.

U.S. officials believed Levinson was grabbed by Iranian intelligence to be dangled as a bargaining chip in sanction negotiations with Washington. After, of course, he was interrogated and likely tortured. Levinson was likely working an OP for the CIA at the time of his arrest, according to numerous public sources.

Originally, Iran disavowed any involvement in his disappearance and many in the U.S. government believed Levinson was dead. In December 2013 – almost six years after he vanished on Iran’s Kish Island – it was confirmed that Levinson indeed was alive and in Iranian captivity.

A FBI task force who had previously worked his original disappearance was quickly reassembled and dispatched with the perceived goal of getting Levinson back on U.S. soil. U.S. Diplomatic relations with Iran are almost always a mine field but U.S. Intel HUMINT connections are even worse. FBI sources said agents on the task force began reaching out to sources with better diplomatic and business ties to Iran to work back channels to start a dialogue for Levinson’s release. Special agents do what special agents do the find a trail: shake the investigative tree of former snitches to see what they know, who they know that can help. And so FBI agents began canvassing Russian mobsters, contacts, and rats who were previously on the FBI payroll. Russia and Vladimir Putin enjoyed decades of strong diplomatic alliances with Iran and for seasoned FBI agents, this was a logical place to start.

Robert Levinson, before and during Iranian captivity.

But agents working the case soon learned that McCabe had already talked to Russian sources and dialed up snitches and contacts without debriefing the team he was supervising. This was beyond bizarre. FBI ASAC’s don’t conduct ground level investigations.

And when task force members made their way up the Russian investigative food chain to Deripaska, the “shit really hit the fan,” as one agent put it.

“What happened was we got the referral from some of our other sources to talk to Deripaska who tried to help us free Levinson,” one FBI agent who worked the case said. “Then Andy (McCabe) became angry that he wasn’t told about Deripaska so he wanted to be involved. He inserted himself into the investigation and Deripaska.”

“People on the squad were like ‘What the fuck is the ASAC getting involved with this for? This is insane. What the fuck is going on here?’ “

But what the hell was McCabe doing conducting his own probe with Bureau resources and not updating his team verbally and via computer logs meant to enhance the direction of the investigation? It was his Op after all.

This was again right out of the Hanssen playbook, always having his fingers in all things Russia the Bureau did, working as an inside counterintelligence agent reporting back to Russia all the bureau’s moves like any good double-agent should.

“Looking back on it at the time you don’t recognize what is really happening because you are focused on getting Levinson back to his wife,” a FBI agent said. “But there were negotiations over the nuclear deal and sanctions and money that were heating up between Iran and Obama. We (United States) ended up paying them billions (of U.S. dollars) and McCabe may have been reporting our progress to the White House or State (Department) behind our backs. I mean, what the hell else was he doing? It makes no sense.”

Another FBI agent reflects on the Levinson case with frustration and an even more haunting revelation: “I always felt like no matter what we did it was being delayed or obstructed,” the agent said. “Like they wanted to keep him there for some reason. Or getting him back was in the way of something else that was happening. We could have done more.”

When FBI team members pitched other ways they thought they could help free Levinson from Iran, the ideas were shot down, squelched or stalled by McCabe and others.

“Every time we wanted to try something new, we were blocked,” one agent said.

Levinson worked for DEA, FBI and CIA but at the end of the day, he was a pawn. A forgotten pawn, seemingly deserted by politicians and perhaps the hierarchy of the FBI.

But where was Comey while McCabe was seemingly conducting his own investigations into the Boston Marathon Bombing, the Levinson kidnapping, and other cases? Where was the oversight, the same controls the FBI was supposed to have in place after Hanssen torched the Bureau with 22 years plus of selling America’s secrets out the back door?

And why – knowing all this – would Comey still allow McCabe and Strzok to be running point on the Hillary Clinton email investigation after Comey realized the duo withheld crucial evidence from him about Hillary’s emails.

Yes, Comey understood there was an apparent attempt to cover up Hillary evidence until after the November 2016 presidential election, when presumably Hillary would be president and none of it would have mattered anyway.

China about to knock out petrodollar by trading oil in yuan

John Ryder knocks out Patrick Nielsen © Andrew Couldridge / Reuters

As one of the world’s top energy importers, China has successfully completed its fifth dry run in yuan-backed oil futures contract trading. The step has been already called Beijing’s challenge to the US dollar.

According to Bloomberg, which cited a statement from the exchange, 149 members of Shanghai International Energy Exchange traded 647,930 lots in the rehearsal with a total value of 268.2 billion yuan. The system met the listing requirements of crude futures after the exercise, it added.

“This contract has the potential to greatly help China’s push for yuan internationalization,” said Yao Wei, chief China economist at Societe Generale in Paris.

She added, however, “its success will hinge critically on the degree of freedom allowed for the capital flows related to the contract.”

A former China division chief at the International Monetary Fund, Eswar Prasad said: “It is not unreasonable to envision a world in which the overwhelming share of commodity contracts, especially for oil, are no longer denominated just in dollars.”

But “the yuan’s role in global finance will ultimately be determined by the degree of commitment of Xi Jinping’s government to economic and financial market reforms.”

Since the 1970s, the global oil trade has almost entirely been conducted in US dollars. The largest energy consumer, China, is interested in having oil contracts in yuan. Beijing plans to introduce its own oil benchmark which will rival Brent or West Texas Intermediate. Analysts say Chinese authorities will need to first convince large oil producers and consumers to use the yuan and invest in the Shanghai benchmark.


The Chinese government announced plans to start a crude oil futures contract priced in yuan and convertible into gold earlier this year. The contract will enable the country’s trading partners to pay with gold or to convert yuan into gold without the necessity to keep money in Chinese assets or turn it into US dollars.

The new benchmark will reportedly allow exporters, such as Russia, Iran or Venezuela to avoid US sanctions by trading oil in yuan.

In September, Venezuela ditched the greenback for oil payments. Caracas has ordered oil traders to convert crude oil contracts into euro and not to pay or be paid in US dollars anymore. The measure followed the rolling out of sanctions by the United States against the country.