Toyota

Since the Dilly, Dally, Delay & Stall Law Firms are adding their billable hours, the Toyota U.S.A. and Route 44 Toyota posts have been separated here:

Route 44 Toyota Sold Me A Lemon



Friday, November 24, 2017

Evangelical Pervert Flip Benham defends Roy Moore PEDOPHILE



 Addicting Info shared a link.




Yeah, we don't think this defense is going help Moore.



ADDICTINGINFO


Conover Kennard

November 21, 2017

A pastor who appeared alongside Senate candidate Roy Moore at a campaign rally just days ago just gave a defense of the Alabama Senate candidate that makes Christian purity balls seem even creepier. Flip Benham has quite a history as an anti-gay pastor who was also convicted of stalking a doctor who performed abortion procedures in North Carolina. In reaction to that in 2011, Benham said outside the courtroom while holding a Bible,”I can’t speak. I can’t get within 500 feet. They’ve stolen from innocent babies a voice that has spoken for them.”



http://addictinginfo.com/2017/11/21/pastor-goes-full-yall-qaeda-defending-roy-moore-he-only-wanted-teen-girls-for-their-purity/

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Emily Johnston | I Shut Down an Oil Pipeline - Because Climate Change Is a Ticking Bomb




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24 November 17
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FOCUS: Emily Johnston | I Shut Down an Oil Pipeline - Because Climate Change Is a Ticking Bomb 
The Valve Turners are a group of climate activists who shut down five oil pipelines in October 2016. From left, Emily Johnston, Annette Klapstein, Higgins, Ken Ward and Michael Foster. (photo: Climate Direct Action)
Emily Johnston, Guardian UK
Johnston writes: "Normal methods of political action and protest are simply not working. If we don't reduce emissions boldly and fast, that's genocide."
READ MORE

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****Chicken Hawk TRUMP'S AMERICAN EMPIRE******


The National Budget defines the moral priorities of a nation.

There may be many claiming to be 'conservative' which has become a meaningless term that deserves personal reconsideration, there are pie charts galore that define Trump's budget.

Please give serious consideration to the legacy you leave the next generation.
Do we want to be a nation of War Mongers?
Didn't we learn from Vietnam? Didn't we learn from Afghanistan and Iraq?
The US is protecting the CIA Poppy Fields in Afghanistan.
The US is bombing nations to rubble, killing civilians or in the case of Yemen, allowing them to starve with cooperation from Saudi Arabia. 

SYRIA:


The rest of the World sits back and watches as the US bankrupts itself for the Folly of American Empire!
















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24 November 17 AM
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U.S. troops. (photo: Getty)
U.S. troops. (photo: Getty)

Trump Pushing for More War? US Military Presence in Mid-East Has Grown by 1/3 Just in Last Four Months

By John Haltiwanger, Newsweek
24 November 17

resident Donald Trump has increased the number of U.S. troops and civilians working for the Department of Defense in the Middle East to 54,180 from 40,517 in the past four months, representing a 33-percent rise.
This number doesn't even account for the big rise in troops stationed in Afghanistan since Trump announced his new strategy for the fight against the Taliban in late August. 
These figures, first pointed out on Twitter by Dr. Micah Zenko, a foreign policy expert, come from the Pentagon's quarterly reports on personnel. In other words, these numbers are no secret, which raises concerns about the apparent lack of discourse over the expansion of the U.S. military in a region in which it already has a long, complicated history. 
Based on the latest report, published November 17, here are the number of U.S. troops and Department of Defense civilians in each Middle Eastern country: Egypt, 455; Israel, 41; Lebanon, 110; Syria, 1,723; Turkey, 2,265; Jordan, 2,730; Iraq, 9,122; Kuwait, 16,592; Saudi Arabia, 850; Yemen, 14; Oman, 32; United Arab Emirates, 4,240; Qatar, 6,671; Bahrain, 9,335.
As a comparison, here are the numbers from June: Egypt, 392; Israel, 28; Lebanon, 99; Syria, 1,251; Turkey, 1,405; Jordan, 2,469; Iraq, 8,173; Kuwait, 14,790; Saudi Arabia, 730; Yemen, 13; Oman, 30; United Arab Emirates, 1,531; Qatar, 3,164; Bahrain, 6,541.
As the numbers show, there was not a single country where the presence of U.S. military personnel did not increase during this period.
The Trump administration has been quite vocal about the recent increase in troops in Afghanistan, where the Taliban has made major gains over the past year or so. Currently, there are roughly 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan
But the rise in the presence of the U.S. military elsewhere in the Middle East has been relatively under the radar. 
"The expansion in overseas troop deployments and vast increase in airstrikes (and tolerance for civilian harm) everywhere [former President Barack Obama] was bombing, was totally consistent with what Trump promised as a candidate," Zenko, a Chatham House Whitehead senior fellow, told Newsweek. "Yet, I think it now has more to do with long-standing preferences of [Defense Secretary James Mattis] and senior military officials. That's why Mattis uses 'annihilationist' phrases to describe ISIS, and contends all America's enemies can be militarily defeated, by doing more of everything."
In short, Zenko seems to believe the recent increase is largely linked to some of Trump's closest advisers being retired generals and individuals who tend to look for military solutions to global issues.
"We have already shifted from attrition tactics, where we shove [ISIS] from one position to another in Iraq and Syria, to annihilation tactics where we surround them," Mattis said in May. "Our intention is that the foreign fighters do not survive the fight to return home to North Africa, to Europe, to America, to Asia, to Africa. We’re not going to allow them to do so. We’re going to stop them there and take apart the caliphate." 
The Islamic State is on its last legs in Iraq and Syria and has been for some time, recently suffering a major defeat by losing its de facto capital of Raqqa. Meanwhile, the number of troops and civilians the Pentagon has sent to the two countries has increased by nearly 1,500 in the past several months. This raises questions about why such a jump was deemed necessary.
Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment on this but did not hear back by the time of publication. 
Some in the U.S. military even seem to be unaware of the recent increase in personnel in the region. On November 16—the day before the newest numbers were made public—Joint Staff Director Lieutenant General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. was asked about troop numbers in Syria and Iraq at a press briefing, and he said, "In Syria, we have five—about 503 operating in Syria. And in Iraq, we have approximately 5,262, I believe is the number. So those are the numbers." Based on the new report, however, the U.S. has 1,720 troops in Syria and 8,892 in Iraq. 
With Trump in the White House, there has been an increase in U.S. troops killed in action overseas as well as a large spike in civilian deaths from airstrikes. This year marked the first time in six years that more U.S. troops were killed in action abroad than the year prior (31 killed in 2017; 26 killed in 2016; 28 killed in 2015). Moreover, as of August, Trump had already killed more civilians while fighting ISIS than Obama did. 
Trump has also increased airstrikes in Afghanistan dramatically in addition to U.S. troop presence there. As of October 31, the U.S. has dropped 3,554 bombs in Afghanistan in 2017 so far, which is almost three times the 1,337 it dropped in 2016 and almost four times the 947 bombs dropped there in 2015. A United Nations report in October claimed civilian deaths had increased by 50 percent in Afghanistancompared to the same point last year, suggesting Trump's new strategy in the country has been taking a huge toll on noncombatants. 
Beyond the Middle East, Trump also doubled America's troop presence in Somalia this year, bringing the total number in the African country to roughly 500. In May, a U.S. Navy SEAL was killed in Somalia during a raid on an Al-Shabab compound, marking the first time a U.S. service member was killed there since the notorious "Black Hawk Down" incident in 1993, when 18 Americans were killed. The U.S. has also increased airstrikes in Somalia under Trump—conducting one as recently as Tuesday, which the U.S. military claimed killed over 100 militants. Moreover, the first-ever airstrike against ISIS in Somalia was conducted under Trump in early November.
As Trump expands U.S. military operations in multiple theaters, there's been hardly any public discussion, and questions remain about whether Americans truly know what is being done in their name overseas. 
Some in Congress are now demanding their colleagues grant these developments far more attention and hold the Trump administration accountable.
"This quiet increase in deployment of American troops and contractors fighting unauthorized wars poses a significant security risk for the United States and the future of the Middle East. Americans have a right to know what the [Trump] administration's plans are. What is our mission and what is our exit strategy? Congress needs to recall past 'mission creeps' and start asking more questions," Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who sits on the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, told Newsweek


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Texas GOP Killing Mothers with Third World Health Care



Texas has highest maternal mortality rate in developed world, study finds



As the Republican-led state legislature has slashed funding to reproductive healthcare clinics, the maternal mortality rate doubled over just a two-year period

The rate of Texas women who died from complications related to pregnancy doubled from 2010 to 2014, a new study has found, for an estimated maternal mortality rate that is unmatched in any other state and the rest of the developed world.

The finding comes from a report, appearing in the September issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, that the maternal mortality rate in the United States increased between 2000 and 2014, even while the rest of the world succeeded in reducing its rate. Excluding California, where maternal mortality declined, and Texas, where it surged, the estimated number of maternal deaths per 100,000 births rose to 23.8 in 2014 from 18.8 in 2000 – or about 27%.
But the report singled out Texas for special concern, saying the doubling of mortality rates in a two-year period was hard to explain “in the absence of war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval”.
From 2000 to the end of 2010, Texas’s estimated maternal mortality rate hovered between 17.7 and 18.6 per 100,000 births. But after 2010, that rate had leaped to 33 deaths per 100,000, and in 2014 it was 35.8. Between 2010 and 2014, more than 600 women died for reasons related to their pregnancies.

No other state saw a comparable increase.
In the wake of the report, reproductive health advocates are blaming the increase on Republican-led budget cuts that decimated the ranks of Texas’s reproductive healthcare clinics. In 2011, just as the spike began, the Texas state legislature cut $73.6m from the state’s family planning budget of $111.5m. The two-thirds cut forced more than 80 family planning clinics to shut down across the state. The remaining clinics managed to provide services – such as low-cost or free birth control, cancer screenings and well-woman exams – to only half as many women as before.
At the same time, Texas eliminated all Planned Parenthood clinics – whether or not they provided abortion services – from the state program that provides poor women with preventive healthcare. Previously, Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas offered cancer screenings and contraception to more than 130,000 women.
In 2013, Texas restored funding for the family planning budget to original levels. But the healthcare providers who survived the initial cuts reported struggles to restore services to their original levels.
Indeed, the report said it was “puzzling” that Texas’s maternal mortality rate rose only modestly from 2000 to 2010 before doubling between 2011 and 2012. The researchers, hailing from the University of Maryland, Boston University’s school of public health and Stanford University’s medical school, called for further study. But they noted that starting in 2011, Texas drastically reduced the number of women’s health clinics within its borders.
The report comes just as public health advocates are raising questions about Texas’s ability to prepare for the Zika virus, which is transmitted by a common species of mosquito and has been linked to severe birth defects. The World Health Organization has advised women in areas of local transmission to delay pregnancy.
Texas is one of several southern states where health officials say there is a risk of a local outbreak. But about half the state lacks ready access to OB-GYN care, making it difficult for women to obtain contraception or for pregnant women to confirm the health of their babies. Just this month, Texas’s health department drew fire for allocating $1.6m of the $18m the state budgets for low-income women’s family planning to an anti-abortion group that does not provide basic health services.
“There is a need to redouble efforts to prevent maternal deaths and improve maternity care for the 4 million US women giving birth each year,” the authors said. 



Politics is killing mothers in Texas


Jessica Valenti

Anti-abortion activists rally on the steps of the Texas Capitol.

When it comes to women’s progress, the United States doesn’t exactly bring home the gold. We rank 72nd in women’s political participation, with women holding less than 20% of congressional seats. Paid maternity leave? The United States comes in last. But at long last, we’re number one at something: Texas has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world.
This dubious honor is a recent one, with a study showing that the rate of women dying from pregnancy complications doubled from 2010-2014. It’s not a coincidence, of course, that there was another major happening around women’s health in Texas during those years: the deliberate closure of clinics that provide abortion and a drastic funding cut to the state’s family planning budget.
As my colleague Molly Redden points out, Texas gutted the state’s family planning budget by more than $73m in 2011, forcing clinics to shut down and dramatically reducing the number of women they could provide services to. By 2014, 600 women had died from pregnancy-related complications.
It’s almost as if what feminists have been saying for years is true: limiting reproductive rights hurts women across the board. Access to reproductive care is necessary not just to prevent or end pregnancies, but to ensure healthy outcomes for those who choose to carry their pregnancies to term.
Sarah Wheat of the Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas told the Dallas Morning News that these clinics were “an entry point into the health care system” for many women, especially those with fewer resources.
“Chances are they’re going to have a harder time finding somewhere to go to get that first appointment.”
It’s an ironic but telling turn of events for the activists and legislators in Texas who insisted that laws shuttering abortion clinics were about protecting women’s health – a claim that the supreme court thoroughly debunked.
In the decision to overturn Texas’ extreme anti-choice law, the opinion read: “When directly asked at oral argument whether Texas knew of a single instance in which the new requirement would have helped even one woman obtain better treatment, Texas admitted that there was no evidence in the record of such a case.”
Instead of helping women, the law hurt women. But for the politicians and activists who want to stop them from accessing their right to abortion at all costs, women’s health was never really the point.
If Texas wants to turn this horror show around, officials need to start supporting women’s choices, give up their transparent and cruel war on reproductive rights, and stop rejecting the expansion of Medicaid, which could provide much-needed help and care to the state’s vulnerable communities. And with Zika becoming more of a risk for Americans, these steps cannot come soon enough.
Women’s health is not a political chip to be played; it’s not an afterthought. Our health and lives – whether we choose to have children or not - are central to the health of our country and communities. Women in Texas, women in America, deserve better than this.

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"Trump betrayed us"





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24 November 17
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Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, President Donald Trump, and Russian ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak meeting in the Oval Office at the White House on May 10th, 2017. (photo: Alexander Shcherbak/Getty)
Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, President Donald Trump, and Russian ambassador to the United 
States Sergei Kislyak meeting in the Oval Office at the White House on May 10th, 2017.
 (photo: Alexander Shcherbak/Getty)


What Trump Really Told Kislyak After Comey Was Canned

By Howard Blum, Vanity Fair
24 November 17

During a May 10 meeting in the Oval Office, the president betrayed his intelligence community by leaking the content of a classified, and highly sensitive, Israeli intelligence operation to two high-ranking Russian envoys, Sergey Kislyak and Sergey Lavrov. This is what he told them—and the ramifications.

n a dark night at the tail end of last winter, just a month after the inauguration of the new American president, an evening when only a sickle moon hung in the Levantine sky, two Israeli Sikorsky CH-53 helicopters flew low across Jordan and then, staying under the radar, veered north toward the twisting ribbon of shadows that was the Euphrates River. On board, waiting with a professional stillness as they headed into the hostile heart of Syria, were Sayeret Matkal commandos, the Jewish state’s elite counterterrorism force, along with members of the technological unit of the Mossad, its foreign-espionage agency. Their target: an ISIS cell that was racing to get a deadly new weapon thought to have been devised by Ibrahim al-Asiri, the Saudi national who was al-Qaeda’s master bombmaker in Yemen.
It was a covert mission whose details were reconstructed for Vanity Fair by two experts on Israeli intelligence operations. It would lead to the unnerving discovery that ISIS terrorists were working on transforming laptop computers into bombs that could pass undetected through airport security. U.S. Homeland Security officials—quickly followed by British authorities—banned passengers traveling from an accusatory list of Muslim-majority countries from carrying laptops and other portable electronic devices larger than a cell phone on arriving planes. It would not be until four tense months later, as foreign airports began to comply with new, stringent American security directives, that the ban would be lifted on an airport-by-airport basis.
In the secretive corridors of the American espionage community, the Israeli mission was praised by knowledgeable officials as a casebook example of a valued ally’s hard-won field intelligence being put to good, arguably even lifesaving, use.
Yet this triumph would be overshadowed by an astonishing conversation in the Oval Office in May, when an intemperate President Trump revealed details about the classified mission to Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, and Sergey I. Kislyak, then Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. Along with the tempest of far-reaching geopolitical consequences that raged as a result of the president’s disclosure, fresh blood was spilled in his long-running combative relationship with the nation’s clandestine services. Israel—as well as America’s other allies—would rethink its willingness to share raw intelligence, and pretty much the entire Free World was left shaking its collective head in bewilderment as it wondered, not for the first time, what was going on with Trump and Russia. (In fact, Trump’s disturbing choice to hand over highly sensitive intelligence to the Russians is now a focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s relationship with Russia, both before and after the election.) In the hand-wringing aftermath, the entire event became, as is so often the case with spy stories, a tale about trust and betrayal.
And yet, the Israelis cannot say they weren’t warned.
In the American-Israeli intelligence relationship, it is customary for the Mossad station chief and his operatives working under diplomatic cover out of the embassy in Washington to go to the C.I.A.’s Langley, Virginia, headquarters when a meeting is scheduled. This deferential protocol is based on a realistic appraisal of the situation: America is a superpower, and Israel, as one of the country’s senior intelligence officials recently conceded with self-effacing candor, is “a speck of dust in the wind.”
Nevertheless, over the years the Israeli dust has been sprinkled with flecks of pure intel gold. It was back in 1956, when the Cold War was running hot, that Israeli diplomats in Warsaw managed to get their hands on the text of Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev’s top-secret speech to the Twentieth Party Congress in Moscow. Khrushchev’s startling words were a scathing indictment of Stalin’s three decades of oppressive rule, and signalled a huge shift in Soviet dogma—just the sort of invaluable intelligence the C.I.A. was eager to get its hands on. Recognizing the value of what they had, the Israelis quickly delivered the text to U.S. officials. And with this unexpected gift, a mutually beneficial relationship between the resourceful Jewish spies and the American intelligence Leviathan began to take root.
Over the ensuing decades it has expanded into a true working partnership. The two countries have gone as far as to institutionalize their joint spying. The purloined documents released to the press by Edward Snowden, for example, revealed that the N.S.A., the American electronic-intelligence agency that eavesdrops on the world, and Unit 8200, its Israeli counterpart, have an agreement to share the holiest of intelligence holies: raw electronic intercepts. And the two countries inventively worked in tandem, during the administration of George W. Bush and continuing with President Obama, on Operation Olympic Games, creating and disseminating the pernicious computer viruses that succeeded in damaging Iran’s uranium-enrichment centrifuges. American and Israeli spooks have even killed together. In 2008, after President George W. Bush signed off on the operation, the C.I.A. cooperated with agents from the Mossad’s Kidon—the Hebrew word for “bayonet,” an appropriate name for a sharp-edged unit that specializes in what Israeli officials euphemistically call “targeted prevention.” The shared target was Imad Mughniyah, the Hezbollah international operations chief, and any further terrorist acts he’d been planning were quite effectively prevented: Mughniyah was blown to pieces, body parts flying across a Damascus parking lot, as he passed an S.U.V. containing a specially-designed C.I.A. bomb. But like any marriage, the cozy—yet inherently unequal—partnership between the American and Israeli intelligence agencies has had its share of stormy weather. In fact, an irreparable divorce seemed likely in 1985 after it was discovered that Israel was running a very productive agent, Jonathan Pollard, inside U.S. Naval Intelligence. For a difficult period—measured out in years, not months—the American spymasters fumed, and the relationship was more tentative than collaborative.
But spies are by instinct and profession a pragmatic breed, and so by the 1990s the existence of shared enemies, as well as shared threats, worked to foster a reconciliation. Besides, each had something the other needed: Israel had agents buried deep in neighboring Arab countries, producing “HUMINT,” as the jargon of the trade refers to information obtained by human assets. While the U.S. possessed the best technological toys its vast wealth could buy; its “SIGINT,” or signals intelligence, could pick up the chatter in most any souk in the Arab world.
And so by the time of Trump’s election, despite the snarky, rather personal feud between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama, the two countries’ spies were back playing their old tricks. Together they were taking on a rogues’ gallery of common villains: al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Islamic State. “We are the front line,” a high-ranking Israeli military official bragged to me, “in America’s war on terror.” Over recent months, the U.S. intelligence windfall has been particularly bountiful. Israel, according to sources with access to the activities of the Mossad and Unit 8200, has delivered information about Russia’s interaction with the Syrian, Iranian, and Hezbollah forces taking the field in the Syrian civil war. And there is little that gets American military strategists more excited than learning what sort of tactics Russia is employing.
It was against this reassuring backdrop of recent successes and shared history, an Israeli source told Vanity Fair, that a small group of Mossad officers and other Israeli intelligence officials took their seats in a Langley conference room on a January morning just weeks before the inauguration of Donald Trump. The meeting proceeded uneventfully; updates on a variety of ongoing classified operations were dutifully shared. It was only as the meeting was about to break up that an American spymaster solemnly announced there was one more thing: American intelligence agencies had come to believe that Russian president Vladimir Putin had “leverages of pressure” over Trump, he declared without offering further specifics, according to a report in the Israeli press.
Israel, the American officials continued, should “be careful” after January 20—the date of Trump’s inauguration. It was possible that sensitive information shared with the White House and the National Security Council could be leaked to the Russians. A moment later the officials added what many of the Israelis had already deduced: it was reasonable to presume that the Kremlin would share some of what they learned with their ally Iran, Israel’s most dangerous adversary.
Currents of alarm and anger raced through those present at the meeting, says the Israeli source, but their superiors in Israel remained unconvinced—no supporting evidence, after all, had been provided—and chose to ignore the prognostication.
The covert mission into the forbidden plains of northern Syria was a “blue and white” undertaking, as Israel, referring to the colors of its flag, calls ops that are carried out solely by agents of the Jewish state.
Yet—and this is an ironclad operational rule—getting agents in and then swiftly out of enemy territory under the protection of the nighttime darkness can be accomplished only if there is sufficient reconnaissance: the units need to know exactly where to strike, what to expect, what might be out there waiting for them in the shadows. For the mission last winter that targeted a cell of terrorist bombers, according to ABC News, citing American officials, the dangerous groundwork was done by an Israeli spy planted deep inside ISIS territory. Whether he was a double agent Israel had either turned or infiltrated into the ISIS cell, or whether he was simply a local who’d happened to stumble upon some provocative information he realized he could sell—those details remain locked in the secret history of the mission.
What is apparent after interviews with intelligence sources both in Israel and the U.S. is that on the night of the infiltration the helicopters carrying the blue-and-white units came down several miles from their target. Two jeeps bearing Syrian Army markings were unloaded, the men hopped in, and, hearts racing, they drove as if it had been the most natural of patrols into the pre-dawn stillness of an enemy city.
“A shadow unit of ghosts” is what the generals of Aman, Israel’s military-intelligence organization, envisioned when they set up Sayeret Matkal. And on this night the soldiers fanned out like ghosts in the shadows, armed and on protective alert, as the Mossad tech agents did their work.
Again, the operational details are sparse, and even contradictory. One source said the actual room where the ISIS cell would meet was spiked, a tiny marvel of a microphone placed where it would never be noticed. Another maintained that an adjacent telephone junction box had been ingeniously manipulated so that every word spoken in a specific location would be overheard.
The sources agree, however, that the teams got in and out that night, and, even before the returning choppers landed back in Israel, it was confirmed to the jubilant operatives that the audio intercept was already up and running.
Now the waiting began. From an antenna-strewn base near the summit of the Golan Heights, on Israel’s border with Syria, listeners from Unit 8200 monitored the transmissions traveling across the ether from the target in northern Syria. Surveillance is a game played long, but after several wasted days 8200’s analysts were starting to suspect that their colleagues had been misinformed, possibly deliberately, by the source in the field. They were beginning to fear that all the risk had been taken without any genuine prospect of reward.
Then what they’d been waiting for was suddenly coming in loud and clear, according to Israeli sources familiar with the operation: it was, as a sullen spy official described it, “a primer in constructing a terror weapon.” With an unemotional precision, an ISIS soldier detailed how to turn a laptop computer into a terror weapon that could pass through airport security and be carried on board a passenger plane. ISIS had obtained a new way to cause airliners to explode suddenly, free-falling from the sky in flames.
When the news of this frightening ISIS lecture arrived at Mossad’s headquarters outside Tel Aviv, officials quickly decided to share the field intelligence with their American counterparts. The urgency of the highly classified information trumped any security misgivings. Still, as one senior Israeli military official suggested, the Israeli decision was also egged on by a professional vanity: they wanted their partners in Washington to marvel at the sort of impossible missions they could pull off.
They did. It was a much-admired, as well as appreciated, gift—and it scared the living hell out of the American spymasters who received it.
On the cloudy spring morning of May 10, just an uneasy day after the president’s sudden firing of F.B.I. director James B. Comey, who had been leading the probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives, a beaming President Trump huddled in the Oval Office with Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Kislyak.
And, no less improbably, Trump seemed not to notice, or feel restrained by, the unfortunate timing of his conversation with Russian officials who were quite possibly co-conspirators in a plot to undermine the U.S. electoral process. Instead, full of a chummy candor, the president turned to his Russian guests and blithely acknowledged the elephant lurking in the room. “I just fired the head of the F.B.I.,” he said, according to a record of the meeting shared with The New York Times. “He was crazy, a real nut job.” With the sort of gruff pragmatism a Mafia don would use to justify the necessity of a hit, he further explained, “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” Yet that was only the morning’s perplexing prelude. What had been an unseemly conversation between the president and two high-ranking Russian officials soon turned into something more dangerous.
“I get great intel,” the president suddenly boasted, as prideful as if he were bragging about the amenities at one of his company’s hotels. “I have people brief me on great intel every day.”
He quickly went on to share with representatives of a foreign adversary not only the broad outlines of the plot to turn laptop computers into airborne bombs but also at least one highly classified operational detail—the sort of sensitive, locked-in-the-vault intel that was not shared with even Congress or friendly governments. The president did not name the U.S. partner who had spearheaded the operation. (Journalists, immediately all over the astonishing story, would soon out Israel). But, more problematic, President Trump cavalierly identified the specific city in ISIS-held territory where the threat had been detected.
As for the two Russians, there’s no record of their response. Their silence would be understandable: why interrupt the flow of information? But in their minds, no doubt they were already drafting the cable they’d send to the Kremlin detailing their great espionage coup.
So why? Why did a president who has time after volatile time railed against leakers, who has attacked Hillary Clinton for playing fast and loose with classified information, cozy up to a couple of Russian bigwigs in the Oval Office and breezily offer government secrets?
Any answer is at best conjecture. Yet in the search for an important truth, consider these hypotheses, each of which has its own supporters among past and current members of the U.S. intelligence community.
The first is a bit of armchair psychology. In Trump’s irrepressible way of living in the world, wealth is real only if other people believe you’re rich. If you don’t flaunt it, then you might as well not have it.
So there is the new president, shaky as any bounder might be in the complicated world of international politics, sitting down to a head-to-head with a pair of experienced Russians. How can he impress them? Get them to appreciate that he’s not some lightweight, but rather a genuine player on the world stage?
There’s also the school of thought that the episode is another unfortunate example of Trump’s impressionable worldview being routinely shaped by the last thing he’s heard, be it that morning’s broadcast of Fox & Friends or an intelligence briefing in the Oval Office. As advocates of this theory point out, the president was likely told that one of the issues still on his guests’ minds would be the terrorist explosion back in October 2015 that brought down a Russian passenger plane flying above Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board. With that seed planted in the president’s undisciplined mind, it’s a short leap for him to be off and running to the Russians about what he knew about an ISIS scheme to target passenger aircraft.
Yet there is also a more sinister way to connect all the dots. There are some petulant voices in official Washington who insist that the president’s treachery was deliberate, part of his longtime collaboration with the Russians. It is a true believer’s orthodoxy, one which predicts that the meeting will wind up being one more damning count in an indictment that Robert Mueller, the special counsel, will ultimately nail to the White House door.
But, for now, to bolster their still very circumstantial case, they point to a curiosity surrounding the meeting in the Oval Office—U.S. journalists were kept out. And, no less an oddity, the Russian press was allowed in. It was the photographer from TASS, the state-run Russian news agency, who snapped the only shots that documented the occasion for posterity. Or, for that matter, for the grand jury.
But ultimately it is the actions of men, not their motives, that propel history forward. And the president’s reckless disclosure continues to wreak havoc. On one level, the greatest casualty was trust. The president was already waging a perilous verbal war with the U.S. intelligence agencies. His sharing secrets with the Russians has very likely ground whatever remnants of a working relationship had survived into irreparable pieces. “How can the agency continue to provide the White House with intel,” challenged one former operative, “without wondering where it will wind up?” And he added ominously, “Those leaks to The New York Times and The Washington Post about the investigations into Trump and his cohorts is no accident. Trust me: you don’t want to get into a pissing match with a bunch of spooks. This is war.”
And what about America’s vital intelligence relationships with its allies? Former C.I.A. deputy director Michael Morell publicly worried, “Third countries who provide the United States with intelligence information will now have pause.”
In Israel, though, the mood is more than merely wary. “Mr. Netanyahu’s intelligence chiefs . . . are up in arms,” a prominent Israeli journalist insisted in The New York Times. In recent interviews with Israeli intelligence sources the frequently used operative verb was “whiten”—as in “certain units from now on will whiten their reports before passing them on to agencies in America.”
What further exacerbates Israel’s concerns—“keeps me up at night” was how a government spymaster put it—is that if Trump is handing over Israel’s secrets to the Russians, then he just might as well be delivering them to Iran, Russia’s current regional ally. And it is an expansionist Iran, one Israeli after another was determined to point out in the course of discussions, that is arming Hezbollah with sophisticated rockets and weaponry while at the same time becoming an increasingly visible economic and military presence in Syria.
“Trump betrayed us,” said a senior Israeli military official bluntly, his voice stern with reproach. “And if we can’t trust him, then we’re going to have to do what is necessary on our own if our back is up against the wall with Iran.”
Yet while appalled governments are now forced to rethink their tactics in future dealings with a wayward president, there is also the dismaying possibility that a more tangible, and more lethal, consequence has already occurred. “The Russians will undoubtedly try to figure out the source or the method of this information to make sure that it is not also collecting on their activities in Syria—and in trying to do that they could well disrupt the source,” said Michael Morell.
What, then, was the fate of Israel’s agent in Syria? Was the operative exfiltrated to safety? Has he gone to ground in enemy territory? Or was he hunted down and killed?
One former Mossad officer with knowledge of the operation and its aftermath will not say. Except to add pointedly, “Whatever happened to him, it’s a hell of price to pay for a president’s mistake.”

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/47023-focus-what-trump-really-told-kislyak-after-comey-was-canned

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