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Comments 47

Whither Russiagate?

Philip Giraldi

Two years have passed since the 2016 presidential election. Allegations that foreign interference had influenced the result, perhaps decisively, began to surface even as the last ballots were being counted. Against all odds underdog Donald J. Trump had been elected president and the Establishment, which denigrated him throughout the campaign, had to find a scapegoat to explain their failure to elect the preferred candidate. The scapegoat turned out to be Russia.

The Robert Mueller led inquiry into the election has been running since May 2017. It has been tasked with determining whether the Trump campaign colluded corruptly with the Russian government to influence the outcome of the election. It has worked hard to delegitimize the president without that being its stated objective and has had a certain measure of success in doing just that.

But apart from a couple of low-level convictions for perjury, Mueller has come up with nothing that convincingly demonstrates that Moscow had some kind of plan to disrupt the elections and thereby damage American democracy. There was, to be sure, some Russian government sponsored probing and what might be described as attempted influencing, but that is what intelligence agencies do to justify their existence. The worst culprit when it comes to election interference worldwide is undoubtedly America’s own Central Intelligence Agency, which has been doing just that since 1947. But apart from some low-level activity, there has been nothing to suggest some kind of grand design orchestrated by Russian President Vladimir Putin to overthrow or cast into confusion the American government.

No one should ever let a good story line go to waste, so the U.S. mainstream media has bought into the proposition that Russia did both interfere in and influence the result of the election based on the assumption that where there is smoke there must be fire with little in the way of evidence being provided. Some media outlets have maintained that the margin of victory for Trump was actually “made in Russia,” meaning that he is ipso facto Moscow’s puppet. It should be noted that this is the same media that embraced Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction and transatlantic gliders back in 2002 and the Syrian use of chemical weapons more recently, suggesting that the relationship between demonstrated facts and what comes out in the reporting is very tenuous.

To keep the story fresh, both government and the media have now been suggesting that there has already been an attempt by Russia to interfere in the 2018 midterm election which will take place on Tuesday. The New York Times describes an “elaborate campaign of ‘information warfare’ to interfere.” On October 19th, federal prosecutors charged Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova of St. Petersburg Russia, a woman whom they labeled the project’s “chief accountant.” She allegedly managed a budget to “sow division and discord” in the lead-up to the voting. The Times goes on to describe how “She bought internet domain names and Facebook and Instagram ads and spent money on building out Twitter accounts and paying to promote divisive posts on social media.”

And the list of culprits has also been expanded to include China and Iran, if one goes by PBS’s coverage of the story. One would not be surprised to see North Korea added to the list, as it is convenient to keep all of one’s enemies in one place, all on the march to destroy American democracy and its political institutions before the GOP and Democrats finally get around to doing it.

One might easily regard the never ending Russiagate saga as a bit of an amusement, but there are actually real-life consequences to corrupting the popular sentiment in a large and powerful nuclear armed nation like the United States by constantly discovering new enemies to stimulate the selling of newspapers and television ad time. At a minimum, phony threat accusations create paranoia and also mistrust in the institutions that are supposed to be protecting the country.

And there are also other less tangible consequences, namely that the constant crying wolf over the Russians and Chinese corrupting America’s political system actually does tell the voters that their vote does not matter as outside forces beyond their control will determine the result anyway.

Stephen Cohen, professor of Russian studies at Princeton University, has been arguing for some time that the pursuit of Russiagate and the various delusions that have become attached to it is doing grave damage not only to the bilateral relationship between Moscow and Washington but also to perceptions of the state of the U.S. political system. His latest article in The Nation entitled Who is really undermining American democracy? has as a sub-heading “Allegations that Russia is still ‘attacking’ US elections, now again in November, could delegitimize our democratic institutions.”

Cohen argues plausibly how the “undermine American democracy” meme may itself erode confidence in U.S. political institutions because if the trick of claiming outside interference can to be used successfully once it will be used again even after Trump is gone. If there are claims by losing candidates that Russia or some other foreign power interfered in the midterm this week it will inevitably jumpstart a witch hunt to find those congressmen who were “helped.” The legitimacy of congress itself will be in question.

Cohen also argues that “Russiagate has revealed the low esteem that many U.S. political-media elites have for American voters—for their ability to make discerning, rational electoral decisions, which is the bedrock assumption of representative democracy… Presumably this is a factor behind the current proliferation of programs—official, corporate, and private—to introduce elements of censorship in the nation’s ‘media space’ in order to filter out ‘Kremlin propaganda.’ Here, it also seems, elites will decide what constitutes such ‘propaganda.’”

It is the ultimate irony that the most powerful and least threatened country in the world – the United States of America-runs on fear. The obsession with possible foreign interference in U.S. elections reflects the fundamental insecurity of the elites that actually manipulate the system to benefit themselves and their constituencies. If the midterm results do not satisfy the Establishment and the “foreign menace” again is surfaced as causative it will, in truth, be the beginning of the end for American democracy as mistrust of the integrity of the government institutions will continued to be eroded. The alternative? Tell Robert Mueller to put his cards on the table and prove what is being generally accepted as true regarding Russia or fold up his tent and go home because he is no longer need.

Posted at the Americna Herald Tribune, one of many alternate media sites suffering from social media censorship. Visit their site and follow their work.
Philip M. Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer who served nineteen years overseas in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Spain. He was the CIA Chief of Base for the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and was one of the first Americans to enter Afghanistan in December 2001. Phil is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a Washington-based advocacy group that seeks to encourage and promote a U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East that is consistent with American values and interests.

47 Comments

  1. Paul Harvey says

    If the Russians really want to manipulate the American Presidential elections, they should take a leaf out of the book of those nefarious manipulators who for decades have successfully convinced over 40% of the electorate to vote for no-one – and what’s even more astonishing, these wreckers of liberty have manged to repeatedly target over ninety million Americans without anyone noticing….

    Now that’s what I call subversion!

  2. John2o2o says

    “It has been tasked with determining whether the Trump campaign colluded corruptly with the Russian government to influence the outcome of the election.”

    – I’d like to offer a correction to this assertion:

    It has been tasked with determining that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

    This is not a legitimate investigation, it is a cowardly witchhunt designed to remove Trump from office. And I am no fan of Trump!

    Trump won according to the flawed rules of the American system. Frankly, Americans should be ashamed both at their gullibility in swallowing this Russiagate garbage and at their inability to face reality:

    Hillary Clinton “won” by 3 million votes. Why is she not President? Did Vladimir Putin devise the Electoral College? (For the Americans reading this – sorry guys and I mean no disrespect but you are beneath contempt in my book – no, he did not. You did!)

    The United States in the 21st century is an embarrassment. Your founding fathers must be turning in their graves!

    • John2020 – “Your founding fathers must be turning in their graves!” —– I wish that were true, but actually our U.S. “founding fathers” were a bunch of slave holders who thought nothing of signing and then violating treaties with the Native population and then slaughtering them whenever they felt like it served their purposes, that is when they weren’t pontificating about lofty topics like – “freedom” & “equality.”

      In this regard the U.S. has always been an uber-violent colonial settler project and continues on this path until today with our nearly 1,000 military bases around the globe. Sad to say the madness of centuries of our associated mayhem and its endless “justifications” has left a society with no sense of social cohesion, addicted to violence as a “problem solving strategy,” and believing itself to be “exceptional” and thus above international law. One cannot help but see the parallel’s in such thinking to concepts such as a – “master race” and a “thousand year reich.” Think of the Nazi leadership with a massive nuclear arsenal and “limited reality-testing abilities,” and you’ve got a pretty good idea of the danger posed to the rest of the world by U.S. leadership – from the military, to the CIA, to the Wall Street vultures and all the associated institutions of State now rotting from the inside out.

      • Well said. The United States and its barley hidden goal of ruling the world via “full spectrum dominance” makes it a very Third Reichean kind of entity. Hitler, incidentally, was a great admirer of America’s genocide against indigenous peoples and its subsequent “containment” practices. The language and iconography of American power from the Presidential Seal to the massive statues and memorials in Washington DC to the Department of Homeland Security, the “founding fathers”…all very Hitlerian.

        • Eric Blair – I’m glad you mentioned “full-spectrum dominance,” I’d intended to include that in my remarks. Indeed there is much more to the U.S. capitalists & Hitler love affair then most Americans have any idea about. Not to mention Allen Dulles and the CIA’s Nazi recruitment. No, there are a bit too many connections to dismiss the shared grandiosity of the Reich and U.S. imperialism lightly.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says

          And the Nazi eugenics program, where those ‘not fit for life’ were exterminated, took great inspiration from US, UK and other Western progenitors.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      Yes, and Putin organised the electoral role cleansing of minorities, the closure of voting places in minority, Democrat voting, areas, the rigged Democratic primaries that forced a detested candidate on the Party (the only one who could lose to Trump), and the social discord in the USA, whose citizens would live in blissful social harmony if not for his Evil machinations.

    • Michael Leigh says

      Perhaps the “Founding fathers ” are not turning in their graves, but will come to permanently haunt
      the current basket case of inequality and potential dismemberment until its inevitable ceasson.

  3. ttshasta says

    IMHO, the Russia hacking meme was an absolutely necessary, and sucessful diversion from the contents of the Podesta emails, Abedin/Weiner laptop contents and all.
    Wikileaks, which I spent months reading, disclosed staff emailing Hillary about Parkinsons drugs, Abedin needing to remind Hillary because: ” she is often confused”, staffers saying: going to meet Soros to program the machines, Podesta saying to make an example of someone (Seth Rich?), sending provocateurs to Trump rallies, and so much more.
    Do just search top 20 Wikileaks.
    The distraction was sucessful.

    • ttshasta says

      Whoops, successful I meant, as a carpenter in my garage on a phone, Mulga corrected my spelling last week; no edit function on this great site. ..

  4. frank says

    “There was, to be sure, some Russian government sponsored probing”

    Like what? Links?

    His latest article in The Nation entitled Who is really undermining American democracy? has as a sub-heading “Allegations that Russia is still ‘attacking’ US elections, now again in November, could delegitimize our democratic institutions.”

    ‘The Nation’ is controlled oppositions. The political system in the US is completely fubar with or without this stupid meme.

    “The obsession with possible foreign interference in U.S. elections reflects the fundamental insecurity of the elites”

    No it does not. As you said before: it’s a meme. It’s propaganda used to herd the sheeple in the right direction. It’s a sign of arrogance if anything.

    If the midterm results do not satisfy the Establishment

    The midterm results do not matter. The Establishment will do just fine no matter what the results are.

    as mistrust of the integrity of the government institutions will continued to be eroded.

    As they should. (Not that a failed government is a good thing, but understanding the problem is the first step to fixing it.)

    IF the point of this article is to claim that this russiagate meme is destroying democracy the author needs to wake up and smell the coffee.
    The russiagate meme is a symptom of a democracy that has already been destroyed.

  5. retrospin says

    MichaelK:
    “When, how and why, did western liberals, the soft left, become so rightwing? One could make an entire career out of trying to answer that question.”

    It began with Bill Clinton and David Frum who, in the 1990s, began steering the Democratic party onto the path toward fascism, beginning with the horrific destruction of Yugoslavia, so as not to have a successful socialist country showing itself off in the heart of Europe.

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    • John G says

      No. It began in the mid 70s when neoliberalism was adopted by the formerly leftist parties of the West.

      At the latest.

      Although one could argue that it began with the funding of the ‘Libertarian” movement a couple of decades before that.

    • bevin says

      Canadian David Frum? Was he ever a Democrat? I doubt it. I think that you’ve mixed him up with…

  6. Baron says

    The one unintended consequence of the interference cum influence agitprop that hasn’t yet come up.

    The Republic has 17 spook agencies costing billions, employing millions, watching over billions of us worldwide. How come not one of the watchdogs has spotted the allegedly illegal activity of a foreign power? Does it not imply the agencies are not fit for purpose? Shouldn’t they be disbanded, their leadership called to account, a new start made?

    • Jim Scott says

      But Baron the agencies invented the Russia threat and that required a lot of work. Although they should be able to carry out such scare campaigns as they have been doing this sort of propaganda for at least 50 years.

  7. rtj1211 says

    The aim is creating a climate where sanctions against Russia will get through. RT today reported new sanctions in Crimea – holiday resorts. Very good ones.

    As if Trump does not want to put holiday resorts where us bullying takes place.

    Not as if those things were there under Ukrainian rule. New investment, just like the bridge.

    America cannot win so puts up sanctions against the winners.

  8. archie1954 says

    What a foolish proposition of Russian malign influence on American elections, is! Sure, I think we can all agree that there were malign influences in the 2016 elections, but they had nothing to do with Russia. There is constant election fraud, not voter fraud, but election irregularities. The US democratic system is poorly organized and poorly administered, with respect to elections. As long as you have partisan administrators in each state doing their best to cook the elections, by limiting the vote or fraudulently switching votes, you will have tainted elections. All elections should be handled by a non partisan, independent elections committee. What is especially galling here, is the shocking idea, to most Americans, of course, that Russia dared to interfere in their elections. Yet the US has interfered in literally scores of foreign elections through stealth and in many cases violent regime change. Why do Americans express shock and dismay that there would be payback. Do they think they’re exceptional or something?

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    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      The bit that gets me, the real gem of chutzpah, is the claim that the Evil Russians are sowing social discord in the USA. As if the Americans need any outside help in hating one another across economic, racial, social and ideological lines.

  9. John2o2o says

    “There was, to be sure, some Russian government sponsored probing and what might be described as attempted influencing, but that is what intelligence agencies do to justify their existence. ”

    – Actually, I’m not sure even of that. In fact, the whole thing is a lie in my opinion. It is hard to challenge these lies sometimes and with respect I think you have fallen into the trap here of thinking that there must be a grain of truth to the narrative lurking somewhere.

    No – I believe as I have from the start that the whole thing is a sick lie. All of it.

    The US election was won by Trump because of the Electoral College system: “period”. Russia had nothing whatever to do with it.

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    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      Trump won because the DNC imposed the only candidate that he could beat, the loathsome, blood-soaked, ghoul, Clinton, on the Democratic Party, after cheating Sanders out of the nomination.

  10. Sean says

    Funny, claims of “Russian interference” have dried up now that the Dems have won Congress. Wonder why?

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    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      They’ll be back, like the lies about Corbyn and UK Labour being ‘antisemitic’. The lies never cease-not for long.

  11. Einstein says

    Where is Julia?
    Where is Sergei Skripal, DS Nick Bailey and his family, and the doc who gave Julia CPR?

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    • Einstein – Exactly the questions MSM should be asking – no?! What an amazing trick – to simply disappear people who a moment earlier they were plastering all over the front pages of every media outlet. Obviously the Saudi’s weren’t paying very close attention to the whole Skripnal carnival. If they had learned anything from this little farce they would have simply given Khashoggi some bad sushi, claimed the Russians had poisoned him with a “deadly military grade nerve agent – oh my!” and then took Khashoggi back to the Kingdom and promptly disappeared him, à la the Skripnals! You can’t make this stuff up.

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  12. Paul says

    It still seems that the biggest interferers in the 2016 US election was the British Secret Service authorising top MI6 ex-Agent Christopher Steele to write the Urination Dossier explaining how and why Trump was beholden to Russia through blackmail. The British are of course allied to the US – to their Intelligence Agencies that is, not ‘rogue’ politicians like Trump. It should really be Britgate.

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    • worldblee says

      You could add Israel to this, as the infamous call with the Russian ambassador was not at the behest of Russia, but at the behest with Israel to ask Russia not to vote against illegal Israeli settlements…

  13. The story about Mueller should be to force him to explain why he, as head of the FBI in 2001, oversaw the removal of all the steel from the collapsed WTCs and its shipping to China. Thus Mueller effectively destroyed the evidence at the scene of the greatest crime in US history!
    And why go to all the trouble of sending the steel to China when its recycling could have been carried out much more cheaply by sending it to Pittsburgh (say)?
    HERE’S WHY.
    Because Pittsburgh is full of AMERICANS and we don’t want them to see the evidence, do we? All kinds of unfortunate conclusions might be (and would have been) drown from forensic examination of that steel.
    Far, far, far too dangerous to establishment criminals involved in the crime.
    Like, quite obviously, one Robert Mueller.

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  14. Or Irangate..Yemengate.. Syriagate.. for that matter..

    Highlighting another excellent piece of incisive reportage from the very excellent Medialens – deserves wider readership and support: Excerpt:

    “..Guardian’s diplomatic editor, who performs contortions to provide a fictitious ‘balance’ in a recent piece on Yemen. Wintour refers to mere ‘claims’ that the UK ‘is siding too much with the Saudis’. The Orwellian language continues with the description of Saudi Arabia as a ‘defence partner’ of Britain.

    The sub-heading under the main title of Wintour’s article gives prominence to the perspective of the UK Defence Secretary:

    ‘Jeremy Hunt says cessation of hostilities could “alleviate suffering” of Yemeni people.’

    As the historian and foreign policy analyst Mark Curtis observed via Twitter:

    ‘This sub-heading is a microcosm of what a joke the Guardian is. After over 3 yrs of UK govt’s total backing of mass murder in Yemen, the paper has the temerity to equate UK policy with easing humanitarian suffering. The state could not ask for more.’

    Aspiring journalists should take note of the state-corporate requirement to bury the bloody reality of ‘defence’ and the huge profits that must be protected.

    Curtis also recently highlighted an admission by the Ministry of Defence that has seemingly gone under the radar of the corporate media:

    ‘Oh, so Saudi pilots *are* being trained at RAF Valley in Wales (Anglesey). https://bit.ly/2qiNkrN

    It would also not do for those hoping for a career in journalism to examine the daily contortions and sleight-of-hand pronouncements emanating daily from government departments. Thank goodness, then, for Curtis who regularly highlights the distasteful deceits that are churned out by the UK state.

    We tweeted BBC News about the buried truth that the UK is training Saudi pilots, even as Saudi Arabia commits war crimes in Yemen:

    ‘Hello @BBCNews. Perhaps you could devote a decent amount of coverage to this? Or would you rather keep the public in the dark about the extent of UK government complicity in #Yemen’s nightmare?’

    As ever, the BBC did not respond.”

    Read the rest here: http://medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2018/885-how-to-be-a-reliable-mainstream-journalist.html

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  15. harry stotle says

    “In the past, politicians promised to create a better world. They had different ways of achieving this. But their power and authority came from the optimistic visions they offered to their people. Those dreams failed. And today, people have lost faith in ideologies. Increasingly, politicians are seen simply as managers of public life. But now, they have discovered a new role that restores their power and authority. Instead of delivering dreams, politicians now promise to protect us from nightmares. They say that they will rescue us from dreadful dangers that we cannot see and do not understand. And the greatest danger of all is international terrorism. A powerful and sinister network, with sleeper cells in countries across the world. A threat that needs to be fought by a war on terror. But much of this threat is a fantasy, which has been exaggerated and distorted by politicians. It’s a dark illusion that has spread unquestioned through governments around the world, the security services, and the international media.
    “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaLPFayD8FA

      • harry stotle says

        Curtis is never dull – his take on ‘shape shifting’ fits the political culture that has emerged, especially when it comes to explaining Trump’s success (based to a certain extent on the way Putin handled rivals or the Russian media).

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    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      The political vermin only promised a better future for the untermenschen as long as the spectre of communism made them frightened. Once the USSR disappeared, the gloves came off, and the descent into the Hell of elite hatred and misrule began. It ends one of two ways-either they go, or humanity will become extinct.

  16. MichaelK says

    The terrible thing is that Trump is correct when he calls the whole Russiagate thing, a hoax, and for lots of people that proves that it isn’t! Yet, it’s arguably the greatest and most widespread fake news story of recent times, yet, if one looks at the Guardian one won’t find anyone saying this. Is it just ‘unsayable’ or merely ‘unthinkable’? It’s extraordinary. It’s a massive and ridiculous conspiracy theory based on virtually no concrete evidence, comparable to smearing the old woman who lives down the lane as a broomstick riding witch in the service of Lord Satan, yet this absurd story is given solid credibility and a life of its own by our best and brightest journalists as if it were a fact and proven.

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    • It definitely is big, red and Russia’s favourite fish – herring.

      It seems that in our post truth Guardianesque world facts matter not, it’s the narrative stupid! That’s what matters. And the narrative which fearless journos are paid to hack out…!

      But let’s face it, if the Skripal affair which failed miserably to gain traction with the public, went unchallenged by the MSM then the chance of insight into any topical subject is pretty remote.

      And as you say MK if Trump speaking the truth, is hated so much, it must be treated as a lie we have serious epidemic of cognitive dissidence which has zombified the liberal elite and much of the soft left. Although some would argue that it is exactly this state of anarchy which liberals have always tried to achieve.

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    • John2o2o says

      Indeed, I went to bed feeling very uncomfortable yesterday – I had been enthusiastically complimenting Trump on his comments to Acosta, especially the (correct) observation that Russiagate is a hoax.

      I watched two episodes of Jimmy Dore as an antidote to the poison.

      I am hopeful of a full recovery.

  17. MichaelK says

    Stephen Cohen is one of the few sane voices, not some demagogue soaked in anti-Russian dogma and paranoia, who dares speak out in the United States about how dangerous the current witch-hunt aimed at Russia is. Potentially it moves us closer down the slippery slope towards open military conflict and nuclear war, because all compromise and trust has been totally eroded and real negotiation, diplomacy and communication destroyed, smashed for decades. This is really disturbing considering how many areas of conflict there now are where the Americans and Russia are facing each other, for example, Ukraine, which is like a powder keg with a slow burning fuse.

    Cohen is a true American liberal, yet today, as the entire political spectrum has lurched way over to the right, he appears like some radical leftist and supporter of Putin, close to a Russian apologist and a rabid critic of his own country, none of which is true by the way.

    When, how and why, did western liberals, the soft left, become so rightwing? One could make an entire career out of trying to answer that question.

    Do young people today no anything about nuclear weapons and their colossal destructive power? That our biggest weapons are thousands of times more powerful than the weapons used against Japan is a fact most people are blissfully unaware of. What possible reason or justification can there be for having weapons designed to turn great cities and their millions of inhabitants in piles of ash in minutes? What kind of a civilization would do such a thing, kill vastly greater numbers of innocent civilians than Adolf Hitler and the NAZI hordes could ever dream of?

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    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      Western ‘liberals’ became so Rightwing when they sold their souls to the Israel First Zionazis.

  18. Oh my, Tubularsock hates to inform you but Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran are no longer the great evil for America!

    Philip you are so behind the eight ball!

    The TRUE FEAR is the caravan of Honduran Moslems careening toward our southern boarder!

    IT’S AN INVASION!

    Send the army, build the wall ………………………..

    Can’t you see, forget the “gates”!

    It’s the WALL that counts!

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  19. Fair dinkum. says

    ‘Who is undermining American democracy’
    Are they really that ignorant?
    It’s not who. It’s what.
    The bloodthirsty plague of AVARICE.

  20. Antonym says

    Will Hillarygate ever be allowed to get started? Or Bushgate?

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  21. midafo says

    ‘– the most powerful and least threatened country in the world”
    No be sensible!
    Not the most “–powerful and least threatened” , but the most well armed and unbalanced country in the world.
    This is not irony. This reveals insanity.

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