Glenn Greenwald
Politics • Writing • Culture
Durham Report Obliterates FBI for Russiagate Misconduct. Major Changes at Twitter Raise Serious Questions. And Reflections on the Extraordinary Life of David Miranda
Video Transcript
May 18, 2023
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Good evening. It's Tuesday, May 16th. Welcome to a new episode of System Update, our live nightly show that airs every Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. Eastern, exclusively here on Rumble, the free speech alternative to YouTube. 

As many of you know, our show has been on a brief hiatus due to the death on May 9 of my husband, David Miranda. He had been hospitalized since August 6 of last year when he was at a campaign event for his bid to be reelected to the Brazilian Congress representing Rio de Janeiro when he began experiencing severe abdominal pain. He was admitted to the ICU with the diagnosis of severe inflammation of his gastrointestinal region that had spread to multiple organs, including his kidneys, liver and lungs due to sepsis. He remained in ICU for the next nine months, fighting an extraordinary battle that allowed us to me and our children, his family and friends to share some profound moments with him as he was very awake, alert, communicative and fully present, especially over the last several months. After a personal loss this is devastating, it's very difficult to know when to go back to work. There's really no perfect time or no right way to do it. I was largely inspired in my decision to come back today by my kids, who yesterday were adamant in their insistence that they wanted to return to school. I figured it is so rare to see young teenagers all but demand to go to school, despite my concerns that it was too early for them, and then come back home and declare how gratified they were by their decision, that there must be some wisdom in that. I can't say it's easy to be here. It has often been a real struggle over the last nine months to do many of our shows, but I think it's the right thing to do for myself and our kids, and I hope for our audience as well. 

As our last segment tonight, I will share some thoughts about David's life. There was a significant public component to his work as first an activist and a journalist who played a vital role in the Snowden story, often one that was overlooked, and then in his life as an elected official. I always believed that there are some vital lessons to learn from how David lived that part of his public life. And also share a few insights that I've developed over the last nine months, and especially the last week, about gratitude and the importance of human and spiritual connection that I hope and believe is worth hearing. I'm just not a person who can speak about anything, including our political conflicts and my journalism, without speaking the most genuinely and truthfully I can. And today, at least, that requires my talking about the most difficult and challenging moment of my life in a way that I hope will be enriching for everybody who hears it. 

But before that, as our top story, we will examine the devastating revelations – I mean, the devastating revelations – from the so-called Durham Report, the final investigative document filed by special counsel John Durham, who in April 2019 was appointed and assigned by the Justice Department as someone along widely respected in Washington as an apolitical and trustworthy prosecutor, to investigate the single most scandalous aspect of Russiagate – not the fictitious and ultimately non-existent collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 election, and most certainly not the completely unhinged, deranged and wildly melodramatic conspiracy theory that dominated our political discourse for years, namely that the Kremlin had effectively seized control of the levers of American power through a combination of sexual, financial and personal blackmail over Donald Trump. Instead, the most scandalous part of all of this was the abuse of power, the flagrant abuse of power by the FBI and other parts of the U.S. security state to concoct a completely baseless investigation with the clear and improvable intent to interfere in and manipulate the 2016 election to ensure the defeat of Donald Trump. The 306-page report sent to Congress by Attorney General Merrick Garland earlier this week is full of extremely incriminating indictments of the FBI, and its senior leadership. We’ll review the key findings and most importantly, place them in the context of the last seven years of full-scale, highly illegal and profoundly anti-democratic interference by the U.S. security state in our domestic politics and in two consecutive presidential elections. 

And then, after that: there have been several significant developments on Twitter over the last two weeks. The announcement that Tucker Carlson, now fired by Fox News, will be bringing his show to Twitter in ways that, at least to me, still appear quite unclear. The hiring of a new CEO, Linda Yaccarino, who is currently a senior advertising executive with NBCUniversal and has a recent history of some very disturbing comments about how she believes social media should function, and then the revelation that Twitter censored the accounts of specific oppositional figures right before the presidential election in Turkey, held on Sunday, upon threat of being banned entirely from the country if it failed to comply. There are many significant implications in these events and the reaction to them, given that the battle over Twitter, whether it will become a free speech platform along the lines of Rumble or if the establishment will succeed in corralling it once again into a platform that they control is really of the highest importance. And we will examine what we think is the meaning of all of these events. 

Finally, in conjunction with the return today of System Update, we launched a long-planned campaign ad that will appear on multiple media and online platforms that conveys what we have done with this program thus far and more importantly, where we want to take it. We wanted to share this ad campaign with you, so please take a look. 

 

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So, as I said, that will appear on multiple online platforms across the Internet over the next several weeks and perhaps even longer and we hope that it will attract an even larger audience than we've been able to assemble thus far, one that is really thanks in large part due to Rumble, exceeding our expectations. 

This being Tuesday night, we ordinarily would have our live interactive show on Locals but given the need for me to ease back into my return to work this week, we will not hold that show tonight. We will be back with it as soon as possible, no later than next Tuesday. To have access to that show exclusively, just join our Locals community by clicking the join button right below the video on the Rumble page. 

As a reminder, System Update appears in podcast form as well, 12 hours after we air live here, first, on Rumble. To consume the show in podcast form on all major podcasting platforms, including Apple, Spotify, and others, simply follow us on those platforms. You can share and rate the show, which spreads visibility as well. 

For now, welcome to a new episode of System Update, starting right now. 




One of the top three or four most significant political events of the last decade in the United States was the release in April 2019 of the final report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. It may be easy to forget how significant that was, and that's because there has been a very concerted effort to foster this forgetting on the part of the American public about just how dominant that scandal was. It's not an exaggeration to say that Russiagate was the leading news story from mid-2016 when it first appeared as part of a campaign ad by Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump through at least the middle of 2019 when Robert Mueller finally concluded his investigation. And the reason I say the publication of the Mueller report was such a significant event – one of the top three or four or five political events of the last decade – is because the impetus for Russiagate, the core allegation that caused so much political turmoil and that suffocated and drowned our politics, and that ultimately led to the appointment of George Bush's post-9/11 FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel, was the claim that again, emanated first from the Clinton campaign, and that was spread by media outlets all over the place, driven by leaks from the intelligence community, was that the Trump campaign had colluded – a word we heard every day for years and, then, nonsense – had colluded with the Russian government in its attempts to hack into the emails of the Democratic National Committee, as well as the personal inbox of John Podesta. And the claim was that there was a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign on the one hand, and the Russian government on the other, to use foreign power and foreign influence to interfere in our democratic election. That was the central allegation. If you go back and read contemporaneous accounts of what led to the Mueller investigation, you will find with great clarity that that was the central accusation. 

The reason I say the Mueller investigation report, the final report, was so significant is because it obliterated that accusation. It obliterated it. It concluded in extremely explicit ways that despite 18 months of an investigation that had unlimited resources, supposedly the dream team of the most aggressive and skillful prosecutors in the country in full subpoena power, they were unable to find evidence that established that core allegation, namely a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. The evidence was simply nonexistent to prove that that conspiracy existed, a conspiracy that leading media outlets not only entertained but insisted had been proven true. Any questioning of that conspiracy theory – and I say this from firsthand experience – led one to be excluded and relegated to the fringes of most major liberal institutions. That is how deceitful the narrative was. And it wasn't just the narrative on the side, it was the leading narrative in our politics. Beyond that, when the Mueller investigation concluded, it meant one overarching fact would be true and would forever be true, namely, not a single American citizen, not one, not Donald Trump or his family, not senior officials of the Trump campaign or the Trump White House, not low-level Republican operatives or Trump operatives like Carter Page or anyone else, George Papadopoulos, not a single American, was indicted and accused of criminally conspiring with the Russian government. The core allegation that gave rise to the entire political controversy, let alone was anyone convicted of that accusation. The entire thing proved to be a scam, a hoax. When the Mueller investigation concluded with no indictments of that kind, and then the report explicitly concluded that they searched everywhere and yet found no evidence for the core accusation that there was collusion. 

Beyond that, if you want to say there was something even more dominant than the narrative that there was collusion was the truly deranged, unhinged, mentally unwell conspiracy theory that almost every major media outlet in this country embraced while feigning scorn for conspiracy theories and almost every major political leader in the Democratic Party – and even many in the Republican Party – affirmed to be true, namely, that the Russians had essentially seized control of the levers of American power as a result of sexual, financial and personal blackmail leverage over Donald Trump, a claim that was first put into the bloodstream of American politics by the Steele dossier and the Steele report that CNN first reported the existence of – and then BuzzFeed published the dossier itself – all while admitting that they cannot verify any, let alone all of the claims within it. 

So preposterous was this conspiracy theory that the Russians effectively controlled the United States and could force Trump to take actions against American interests and in servitude to the Kremlin, that the Mueller investigation barely even mentioned it, let alone debunked it or even bothered to discuss the evidence for it. There was no evidence. It was a gigantic fraud, one that every major leading liberal institution of power in journalism, in politics and in corporations all collectively affirmed. That is why the far more scandalous aspect of the Russiagate narrative was not Russiagate itself, but how this fraud was perpetrated on our country. Who is it that abused the power of the American government to launch an investigation based on nothing and then continuously leaked, often very illegally, the most incriminating information possible to the Washington Post and the New York Times and NBC News, principally, to affirm and fortify and fuel what all along was a completely fictitious narrative to the point that The Washington Post and The New York Times showered themselves with Pulitzers in 2018 for their supposedly brave and intrepid work in investigating what all along was a complete hoax? 

It was a long-time very respected prosecutor, renowned for his bipartisan respect and his reputation for apolitical independence and his doggedness as a prosecutor, John Durham, who was appointed in April 2019 by the Justice Department, the same month the Mueller investigation concluded and the Mueller report became public. He was tasked with investigating the origins of this hoax. How is it that American politics were drowned for at least three years in a completely fraudulent conspiracy theory, one that put a stranglehold on the U.S. government that distracted almost all of our attention on a daily basis, away from what mattered and on to this complete fairy tale? The investigation by John Durham lasted four years. It officially closed late last week, when the 306-page report that he authored was sent by Merrick Garland to Congress as the official report of the Durham investigation. And one of the things we find is that even in very unlikely places, including the media outlets, which most aggressively and relentlessly and single-mindedly promoted this conspiracy theory, were forced to admit that this report is devastating to the FBI and to the Russiagate narrative and highly exonerating of Donald Trump. 

So, let's just take a look at one example, which is Jake Tapper, who I suppose is probably the fairest or who attempts to be the fairest-minded host on CNN – which isn't saying very much at all, but is something that I would say for him if I were forced with a gun to my head to choose – and here's what he said about the Durham investigation. You know that every single CNN viewer, the shrinking number that they still cling to, hated to hear. It infuriated them to hear it but hear it, they did. Because in Jake Tapper's view, there was nothing else he could say after having reviewed the findings of that report. 

 

Video. CNN The Lead. May 15, 2023

Jake Tapper: Regardless, the report is now here. It has dropped and it might not have produced everything of what some Republicans hoped for. It is, regardless devastating to the FBI and to a degree it does exonerate Donald Trump. 



And there you see the text on the screen, which typically is written in almost comically anti-Trump tones, which reads “Special Counsel Durham concludes FBI Never Should Have Launched the Trump-Russia Probe.” It was an abuse of power, this report concluded, for the investigation even to be launched at all, because they had no evidence that could possibly have justified an investigation of this type. In fact, they had ample evidence proving that it was a fraud, to begin with, and what John Durham uncovered was abundant proof that the senior leadership of the FBI – James Comey, who was the director, Andrew McCabe, who was his deputy, Peter Strzok, and Lisa Page, the lovers who ended up playing a crucial role in the investigation, all while talking openly about the vital need to use the FBI to sabotage the Trump campaign – that all of them had only one goal in mind when pursuing this investigation, nothing to do with legitimate law enforcement functions and everything to do with their desire to abuse the FBI and its vast powers to manipulate the 2016 election. That was where the corrupt interference came from, not from Moscow and the Kremlin, not from WikiLeaks or Jill Stein, but from the senior leadership of the FBI under President Obama, who obviously wanted his close friend and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in his party to win the 2016 election and allowed the FBI to abuse its power to do so. 

So, let's take a look at a couple of the key findings. And I want to say we have a lot to cover tonight. The report could really justify an entire 90-minute show. And my guess is we will at some point soon devote our entire program to digging deep into these findings. But I want to just show you a few of the key components of it and more importantly, place in context what these findings mean. There has been reporting over the last several days about the substance of this report I just showed you, Jake Tapper, essentially saying that it doesn't give the Republicans everything they wanted, but pretty much gave them most of what they wanted. Exonerated Trump proved the FBI should never have launched this fake investigation. But I want to put it in context that kind of take a step back and see what it means. 

So here is the letter from John Durham to Merrick Garland, where he submits his final report. And this is where he says, 

 

The office also considered as part of its investigation the government's handling of certain intelligence that it received during the summer of 2016. 

That intelligence concerned the purported, “approval by Hillary Clinton on July 26, 2016, of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security services. (DOJ. May 12, 2023).

 

This was not an investigation that emanated from the FBI. This was a narrative, a campaign tactic, that emanated from the Clinton campaign, which obviously had all sorts of vital connections to the senior leadership of the U.S. government under President Obama, who was still president during the 2016 election. Durham goes on:

 

We've referred to that intelligence hereafter as the “Clinton plan intelligence.” DNI John Ratcliffe declassified the following information about the Clinton plan intelligence in September 2020 and conveyed it to the Senate Judiciary Committee: “In late July 2016, U.S. intelligence agencies obtained insight into Russian intelligence analysis alleging that U.S. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had approved a campaign plan to stir up a scandal against U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump by tying him to Putin and the Russians’ hacking of the Democratic National Committee. The IC [Intelligence Community] does not know the accuracy of this allegation or the extent to which the Russian intelligence analysis may reflect exaggeration or fabrication.

According to his handwritten notes, CIA Director Brennan subsequently briefed President Obama and other senior national security officials on the intelligence, including “the alleged approval by Hillary Clinton on July 26, 2016, of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by Russian security services.” (DOJ. May 12, 2023).

 

This finding is incredibly devastating. It proves that this was not a legitimate law enforcement investigation, nor was it a legitimate intelligence investigation. It was cooked up as a campaign tactic by Hillary Clinton, and then that was briefed to President Obama and to CIA Director John Brennan, which means the highest levels of the government knew that Hillary Clinton intended to concoct this false claim linking Donald Trump to the Kremlin and to try and claim that the Trump campaign participated with or conspired with or colluded with the Kremlin and their hacking of the DNC and John Podesta's email, essentially accusing them of a crime and then using the FBI, weaponizing the FBI to go off and do an investigation, even though there was no basis under the law for launching that investigation that had only one purpose – a political one – to sabotage Trump's campaign. 

There were people inside the FBI in late October of 2016 who wanted it to be known that there was no evidence linking Donald Trump and the Russians because, by this point, it had become one of the predominant themes of the 2016 campaign. Every day – it's vital to remember – leading media outlets – The Times, The Post, CNN, NBC News – were headlining this fairy tale that came from the bowels of the Clinton campaign and then connected to the FBI. 

Here you see The New York Times – and they were vilified for this truthful article. Do you see the headline? “Investigating Donald Trump, FBI Sees no clear Link to Russia.” 

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

Law enforcement officials say that none of the investigations so far have found any conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government. And even the hacking into Democratic emails, FBI and intelligence officials now believe was aimed at disrupting the presidential election rather than electing Mr. Trump. (New York Times. Oct 31, 2016).

 

I can't overstate the rage and indignation that was directed at The New York Times for this article, both when it appeared and since, because the predominant view of the American elite class in politics and journalism is that there is only one valid goal in life, in politics, in journalism, and that is the destruction of Donald Trump and his political movement. And they really do believe – they have really come to believe over time – that the most significant and the most ethically obligatory mission of everybody, every relevant institution, is that single-minded goal, and that anything that deviates from that goal, that overarching paramount goal to destroy Donald Trump and his movement, anything that deviates from that mission is inherently improper, is inherently unethical, even if it means that journalists are telling the truth while they do it. That was for years the dominant ethos in American journalism that you do not tell the truth if there's any possibility it might help Donald Trump. Instead, you're required to endorse disinformation and to lie because the goal of defeating Donald Trump is so paramount that it renders everything including lying and deceit and censorship and disinformation, justified. That was what made that Sam Harris video resonate so virally, was that he was one of the few people unwittingly to be so candid in that worldview, that has corrupted almost every major liberal institution in the United States – and it continues to this very day and will continue into the 2024 campaign. 

At the time that this tactic was first unveiled, trying to link Donald Trump to the Russian government, I wrote my first article on Russiagate, which was on August 8, 2016, because I could see the emergence of this tactic. Every day I was seeing the FBI and the CIA leaking information to the Washington Post, The New York Times and NBC News designed to forward and advance this McCarthyite script that was dug up from the deepest levels of the CIA. These crusted scripts from the 1950s, trying to tie your political opponents to the Kremlin argued that you're disloyal to the United States, that you're somehow in bed with the Russians. The headline of my article was “Democrats’ Tactic of Accusing Critics of Kremlin Allegiance Has Long, Ugly History.” United States Democrats “are mimicking and echoing many of the most shameful people and tactics of the 20th century” because they really couldn't believe that something so blatantly McCarthyite, something that we were all taught to regard as one of our shameful moments in American history – the baseless accusations that a huge number of people who had no ties to the Kremlin were loyalists to the Kremlin – had been dredged up, rejuvenated by the Clinton campaign and specifically by U.S. security state agencies. 

I want to show you the very first video that the Clinton campaign launched in May 2016 that made me recoil instinctively. And I couldn't believe – I genuinely couldn't believe – that every Democrat and every liberal and especially every leftist who had been inculcated with the evils of McCarthyism were not reacting in similar ways because the script was so blatantly scummy and baseless. Let's take a look. 

Watch.

(Video. "What is Donald Trump's connection to Vladimir Putin?" 2017)

 OFF and edited TV news comments: He's been a very strong leader for Russia. / He kills journalists that don't agree with him. / At least he's a leader. / “Putin did call me a genius. He said very nice things about me.” Trump always seems to upend American foreign policy tradition in a way that benefits Vladimir Putin/ The prime objective of Putin’s foreign policy has been to destroy NATO. / NATO is obsolete and it's extremely expensive in the United States. / Manafort has represented a pro-Vladimir Putin, prime minister of Ukraine, Yanukovych. 

 

So, you get the gist here: this kind of sinister music playing, every kind of scummy tactic of guilt by association that this person said nice things about this person and the fact that Donald Trump was doing what should have been done a long time ago but he was really the first politician to have the courage to do, which is to stand up and question the ongoing viability of NATO, a military alliance that was created to protect Western Europe from a country that no longer exists, the Soviet Union. And it's something that we were pouring enormous amounts of money into way beyond what the Europeans were bearing. And even though their citizens have in many ways a better quality of life than huge numbers of Americans, questioning the viability of NATO, asking why the United States should be willing to risk a war with the world's largest nuclear-armed power over Ukraine – a country that Barack Obama repeatedly said had no vital interest for the United States – just the attempt, essentially, to equate questioning of American foreign policy with disloyalty and allegiance to Moscow, the ugliest tactics that have been used, were the ones being launched by the Clinton campaign and, then, the FBI's powers of investigation were weaponized to give credence to it. 

Let's look at a couple more passages from the Durham Report because I think it's vital to understand what it is that he concluded.

 

Based on the evidence gathered in the multiple, exhaustive and costly federal investigations of these matters, including the instant investigation, neither U.S. law enforcement nor the intelligence community appears to have possessed any actual evidence of collusion in their holdings at the commencement of the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation. (DOJ. May 12. 2023).

 

Crossfire Hurricane was the code name for the investigation by the FBI into Trump-Moscow links. There was no evidence in their possession of collusion at the time they launched an investigation. Instead, he says, 

 

Upon receipt of unevaluated intelligence from Australia, the FBI swiftly opened the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. In particular, at the direction of Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Deputy Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Peter Strzok, opened Crossfire Hurricane immediately. Strzok, at a minimum, had pronounced hostile feelings toward Trump. The matter was opened as a full investigation without ever having spoken to the persons who provided the information. 

Further, the FBI did so without (i) one any significant review of its own intelligence databases, (ii) collection and examination of any relevant intelligence from other U.S. intelligence entities, (iii) interviews of witnesses essential to understand the raw information it had received or (iv) using any of the standard analytical tools typically employed by the FBI in evaluating raw intelligence. 

Had it done so, again as set out in sections IV.A.3.b and c, the FBI would have learned that their own experienced Russia analysts had no information about Trump being involved with Russian leadership officials, nor were others in sensitive positions at the CIA, the NSA and the Department of State aware of such evidence concerning the subject. In addition, FBI records prepared by Strzok in February and March of 2017 show that at the time of the opening of Crossfire Hurricane, the FBI had no information in its holdings indicating that, at any time during the campaign, anyone in the Trump campaign had been in contact with any Russian intelligence officials. It was not until mid-September that the Crossfire Hurricane investigators received several of the Steele reports. Within days of their receipt, the unvetted and unverified Steele reports were used to support probable cause in the FBI’s FISA applications targeting [Carter] Page, a U.S. citizen, who, for a period of time, had been an advisor to Donald Trump. 

As discussed later in the report, this was done at a time when the FBI knew that the same information Steele had provided to the FBI had also been fed to the media and others in Washington. (DOJ. May 12. 2023).

 

Again, there are a huge number of highly incriminating components of this report, which we will cover in a later show, including the fact that, unlike the investigation into Trump's ties with Russia, for which there was no evidence in the FBI’s possession to justify an investigation, there was abundant evidence in the FBI's possession to justify investigating whether or not Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation had received illegal foreign donations. That was where the foreign influence was coming from and yet Comey and McCabe, according to this report, squashed every attempt to investigate that. 

There are other incredibly incriminating parts of this report. We know, for example, that a senior FBI lawyer ultimately pled guilty to submitting false information to the FISA court to justify spying on Carter Page. Remember the Trump accusation that Obama spied on his campaign was not only absolutely true, but it was done by lying to the FISA court to the point where an FBI senior lawyer was forced to plead guilty to having done that. 

What I find interesting and amazing is that the prosecutor here, John Durham, is somebody who had long been talked about as being a highly respected and apolitical actor. This is not someone they can dismiss as being Clarence Thomas or some right-wing Trump appointee. John Durham has been around forever and he's always been talked about in the most respected terms. Here, for example, is The New York Times, in 2008, in an article entitled “Prosecutor Who Unraveled Corruption in Boston Turns to CIA Tapes.” And this is what they said about him at the time: 

 

Michael Clarke, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who worked with him for years in Connecticut, said that Mr. Durham's experience in unraveling the corrupt relationships in Massachusetts, as well as in convicting public officials in Connecticut, including former Gov. John G. Rowland, demonstrate why his methods may be well-suited to his new task. 

Mr. Clarke, now first selectman in Farmington, Conn., said that the investigation of Mr. Rowland was fraught with political pitfalls and detours. “John’s style is dogged and focused, Mr. Clarke said. “Because he is so intent on following the facts, he refused to become involved in any political dimension or detour.” He said Mr. Durham was undeterred by “certain roadblocks people wanted to put in the way”. He has been and remains, by all accounts, a man of moderation and some modesty. 

Jeffrey Meyer, a law professor at Quinnipiac University who worked as a junior prosecutor under Mr. Durham, described him as both stringent and fair in his approach to cases. Professor Meyer recalled that when he went to work in the office, he excitedly told Mr. Durham of what he thought was a strong criminal case. Mr. Durham, he said, gently disagreed and proceeded in the kindest terms to remind him of the obligation of prosecutors to consider mitigating circumstances and to use their authority carefully. (The New York Times. Jan 13, 2008).

 

So here you have and this is amazing that this is not the top dominant story in the United States – and it isn't because our media institutions are irrevocably and fundamentally corrupted. To the extent they weren't when Trump emerged, they most certainly are now. So here you have one of the most respected federal prosecutors in the country who has long been given politically fraught cases to investigate because of his reputation for being apolitical, for following the facts wherever they take him and he just issued a 306-page report that concludes with ample evidence that the powers of the FBI were radically and consistently and repeatedly abused for overtly political ends – not just for any overtly political ends, but with the specific intention of coercing an outcome in the 2016 election that the ideologically and politically motivated agents of the senior leadership of the FBI wanted. We've read Peter Strzok’s emails to Lisa Page talking about how everything must be done to ensure Donald Trump never becomes president of the United States. These were the people – Jim Comey and Andrew McCabe and Peter Strzok – who were in charge of the FBI, who steered the FBI to abuse its powers in the most extreme way, in the most corrupt way, in the most illegal way to interfere in our domestic politics. Exactly what the U.S. security state was never supposed to do. The worst sin of the U.S. security state. That is what this report by a highly respected prosecutor documents in great detail. How is this not the biggest story in the United States? It is because they have purposely encouraged people to forget how dominant this scam was for years, how affirmed it was by every institution that insists that they are the guardians against disinformation, that you have to empower them to protect you from lies because they are the owners of truth. It destroys the credibility of every media outlet, with a few exceptions, in the United States, and of the FBI and of the Obama administration that permitted this and overseeing saw it knowing that this emanated from the Clinton campaign. So, this has to be erased. It has to be dismissed as yet another nothing burger. It got some coverage for one day and now it's gone. They're counting on you to just embrace your own impotence, to decide that it's just too much corruption, that there's nothing that can be done about it. 

That's the learned helplessness they try and foster in the population and I think what is so worth realizing is that this is not an isolated case. We already knew that the 2020 election was exactly the byproduct of the same abuse of power from the same agencies – the U.S. security state. The reporting that The New York Post was able to do about Joe Biden and the pursuit of profit in Ukraine and China and elsewhere through his son and brother, had the potential to sabotage Joe Biden's campaign. Joe Biden barely was declared the winner of the 2020 election, and they were desperate to discredit that reporting by concocting another lie, not the one that they used for the 2016 election, that Trump was in bed with the Kremlin instead the lie that the Hunter Biden reporting and the laptop was Russian disinformation, which was used not only to discredit the reporting, to not only stigmatize everyone who raised it, but to censor it from Facebook and Twitter. 

And the fact that this was done by 51 former intelligence operatives was always proof that this actually was done by the CIA. There’s no such thing as former intelligence operatives. When you reach the highest level of the CIA, you can go work for NBC News or CNN, you are still an intelligence operative. Everyone knows that. But we recently discovered in case anyone had doubts about that or that more proof was required that the CIA itself was directly involved in the creation and dissemination of that lie. 

Here from the Wall Street Journal, May 11, 2023, you see the headline “Biden's CIA Assist in the 2020 Presidential Election.” So, it's two elections in a row for the U.S. security state is intervening on behalf of the Democrats to defeat Donald Trump. There you see the subheading “The agency, not only retirees, turns out to have worked on the Hunter excuse letter.” 

 

It seems President-elect Biden on Nov. 4, 2020, owed thanks not only to a cabal of former intelligence officials but to the Central Intelligence Agency. That's the big takeaway of this week's interim report from House committees detailing the origins of the October 2020 disinformation letter about Hunter Biden's laptop. An earlier release revealed that Joe Biden's campaign helped engineer a statement from 51 former U.S. spies that claimed the laptop had “all the classic earmarks of a Russian intel information operation.” That letter provided Democrats, journalists and social-media companies the excuse to dismiss and censor evidence of Hunter's influence peddling, removing an obstacle from his father's path to victory. Now we find out that, according to a written statement supplied to the committee, an active CIA official joined the effort to solicit more signers to the letter The campaign to elect Joe Biden extended into Langley. (The Wall Street Journal. May 11, 2023). 

 

 

 

I don't think it's possible to overstate the danger that these events reveal that we face in the United States. The people who prattle on about the need to protect democracy from authoritarianism are authoritarians. The media outlets and the billionaire-funded organizations that claim that they need to protect you from disinformation are the most aggressive purveyors of disinformation, spreading it constantly and with no constraints of any kind. But the most dangerous development of all in the United States is that the intelligence agencies, the security state, is fully liberated out in the open, not only to place their senior operatives at our major media outlets, as they have done but to use their investigative powers and their intelligence and surveillance mechanisms to manipulate our politics, to control the outcome of our elections, to destroy any political leader that gets in their way. 

The interview I've shown you many times of Chuck Schumer, the Democratic majority leader in the Senate, telling Rachel Maddow that Trump was being stupid for confronting and criticizing the intelligence community – because, as he put it, everyone in Washington knows not to do that because they have six different ways to Sunday to get back to you – is really a perfect reflection of the despotic climate that has arisen in the United States. If our intelligence agencies, vested with billions and billions of dollars of budget and the most invasive spying technologies and most aggressive law enforcement authorities, are now in the business of controlling the flow of information in the United States, of censoring the information that flows on social media, which we know they did from the Twitter Files, and of deciding which candidate they want to win and which candidate they want to lose, and then abusing those powers to ensure that that outcome is the one that happens, we really are a democracy in name only. That is the definition of a deep state, a permanent power faction that operates in the dark and with no constraints, and that has no constraints of any kind on their power. That is absolutely the reality in the United States. Anybody who denies it is inherently a disinformation agent, and I think there is no greater danger to all of our interests, to our core political values than the abuse of the U.S. security state's powers, as revealed by multiple investigations now culminating with this 306-page report. 

We will definitely the voters show in the future the granular detail and evidence because seeing the whole story matters so much but putting it in context reveals that it is far from an isolated event. It is now the way we do business in the United States, and nothing is more menacing and disturbing and anti-democratic than that. 


 

So, let’s now turn to the second story we want to do tonight, which is some recent events at Twitter that I think are worth looking into – not so much because of what they say about Twitter, but because I think a lot of the questions about Twitter are unresolved and we won't really know the answers to where it's going and what it will do until we see how things unfold, especially with the hiring of this new CEO. But some things have happened relating to Twitter and at Twitter that I think tell us a great deal, not only because of these events, but the reaction to them. So, I want to take a look at some of the recent events over the last couple of weeks and deconstruct what it means in ways that I think haven’t quite yet been done. 

One of the precipitating events that caused a lot of controversies was the fact that – as you see in The Washington Post headline from May 13, “Twitter Says it Will Restrict Access to Some Tweets Before Turkey's Election. The move comes as the country's right-wing leader, President […] Erdogan, faces a tight contest at the polls on Sunday.” 

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UPDATE: Alan Dershowitz vs. Glenn Greenwald at The Soho Forum
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I’m impressed with how well informed and how IFORMING some of the audience here is! Someone offered a list of reports from Al Jesera that includes a report on the current use of the floating aid port and how it’s being received from the perspective of Gaza and the international community. It’s really important to know about! Thanks to who did this!

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As the Daily Wire Publicly Negotiated a Debate with Candace Owens, it Secretly Sought -- and Obtained -- a Gag Order Against Her
Due to a prior restraint order against Owens, the much-anticipated Israel debate with Ben Shapiro appears to be off.

On April 5, Candace Owens publicly invited her former Daily Wire colleague Ben Shapiro to a debate about "Israel and the current definition of antisemitism." It was Owens' criticisms of U.S. financing of Israel, and her criticisms of Israel's war in Gaza, that caused her departure from the Daily Wire two weeks earlier.

Both Shapiro and Daily Wire CEO Jeremy Boreing responded by saying they would like to arrange the debate requested by Owens. That night, Shapiro appeared to accept her offer, writing on X: "Sure, Candace. I texted you on February 29th offering this very thing." The Daily Wire co-founder added: "Let's do it on my show this Monday at 5pm at our studios in Nashville; 90 minutes, live-streamed."

After Owens objected to the format and timing, she and Boreing exchanged several tweets in which they appeared to be negotiating, and then agreeing to, the terms and format for the debate. Owens had suggested the debate be moderated by Joe Rogan or Lex Fridman. Shaprio said he wanted no moderator. They ultimately agreed to the terms, with Boreing offering a series of conditions, including a no-moderator debate, and with Owens publicly accepting

Two weeks later, many readers of both Shapiro and Owens noticed, and complained, that the debate had not yet happened. On April 24, Owens addressed those inquiries by explaining that the Daily Wire had yet to propose dates, while reiterating her strong desire to ensure the debate happened.

But the debate was never going to happen. That is because the Daily Wire -- in secret and unbeknownst to its readers -- sought a gag order to be placed on Owens after she had called for a debate. They did this under the cover of secrecy, before a private arbitrator, at exactly the same time that they were claiming in public that they wanted this debate and were even negotiating the terms with her. To this date, the Daily Wire has not informed its readers, seeking to understand why the much-anticipated debate had not yet happened, that they had sought and obtained a gag order against Owens.

When seeking a gag order to be imposed on Owens, the Daily Wire accused her of violating the non-disparagement clause of her agreement with the company. To substantiate this accusation, the company specifically cited Owens' initial tweet requesting a debate with Shapiro as proof of this disparagement, along with concerns she voiced that Shapiro appeared to be violating the confidentiality agreement between them by publicly maligning Owens's views to explain her departure from the company. While the company claimed before the arbitrator that it did not object in principle to a "healthy debate," it urged the imposition of a gag order on Owens by claiming that the way she requested the debate constituted disparagement of Shapiro and the site.

To justify the gag order it wanted, the company also cited various criticisms of the Daily Wire and Shapiro on X that Owens had "liked." This proceeding took place as part of an exchange of legal threats between the parties after the public agreement to debate about Israel was solidified. Those threats arose from the fact that various Daily Wire executives and hosts, in both public and private, were castigating Owens as an anti-Semite. On March 22, Daily Wire host Andrew Klaven published a one-hour video that hurled multiple accusations, including anti-Semitism, at Owens. The Daily Wire cited Owens' response to that video -- her defense of herself from those multiple accusations -- as further proof that she needed to be gagged.

The initial tweet from Owens not only requested a debate, but also included a video from the popular comedian Andrew Schulz, who had mocked the Daily Wire for firing Owens over disagreements regarding Israel, and specifically mocked Shapiro for his willingness to debate only undergraduate students. The tweet underneath Owens's original debate request included a summary of Schulz's mockery of Shapiro which stated: Schulz now "realizes Ben Shapiro is only good at debating college liberals & can’t win debates against serious competition." 

After the prior restraint hearing sought by the Daily Wire and Shapiro, the arbitrator sided with them and against Owens. The arbitrator agreed with the Daily Wire that Owens' call to debate Shapiro, and her follow-up negotiations of the debate, constituted "disparagement" of the company and Shapiro. The company argued that any further attempt by Owens to debate, as well her suggesting that the debate would expose the Daily Wire's real "priorities," constituted criticisms of the site and of Shapiro, criticisms that the arbitrator concluded Owens was barred from expressing under her contract with the company.

The arbitrator thus imposed a gag order of prior restraint on Owens. Among other things, the order banned Owens from saying or doing anything in the future which could tarnish or harm the reputation of the Daily Wire and/or Ben Shapiro. Given that the Daily Wire had argued, and the arbitrator agreed, that Owens' offers to debate Shapiro about Israel and anti-semitism were themselves "disparaging," the Daily Wire has ensured that the debate with Owens that they publicly claimed to want could not, in fact, take place. Any such debate would be in conflict with the gag order they obtained on Owens from expressing any criticisms of the site or of Shapiro.

When asked for comment to be included this story, Owens replied: I "wish I could comment on this but I can’t." She added: "can neither confirm nor deny."

Boreing said: "your story is inaccurate to the point of being false," though he did not specify a single inaccuracy, nor did he deny that the Daily Wire had sought and obtained a gag order on Owens at the same time they were publicly posturing as wanting a debate with her. The confirmation we obtained of all these facts is indisputable. Boreing added: "I’m sure you can appreciate how fraught a high profile break-up like this is. For that reason, we are trying to resolve our issues with Candace privately."

It certainly seems true that the Daily Wire is attempting to achieve all of this "privately." Nonetheless, Ben Shapiro has constructed his very lucrative media brand and persona based on his supposed superiority in debating, a reputation cultivated largely as a result of numerous appearances at undergraduate schools around the country where he intrepidly engages with students who are often in their teens or early twenties. Both Shapiro and the Daily Wire have also predicated their collective media brand on an eagerness to engage in free and open debate with anyone, and to vehemently oppose any efforts to silence people, especially those in media, from expressing their political views.

It was the imperatives of this media branding that presumably led the Daily Wire and Shapiro to publicly agree to a debate with Owens over Israel and anti-semitism in the first place. Indeed, when it became apparent early after the start of Israel's war in Gaza that Owens had major differences with Shapiro, Boering responded to calls from Israel supporters for Owens to be fired by proclaiming in November: 

[E]ven if we could, we would not fire Candace because of another thing we have in common - a desire not to regulate the speech of our hosts, even when we disagree with them. Candace is paid to give her opinion, not mine or Ben’s. Unless those opinions run afoul of the law or she violates the terms of her contract in some way, her job is secure and she is welcome at Daily Wire.

But a mere four months later, Owens, despite being of one of the company's most popular hosts, was out. The company had concluded that her increasingly vocal criticisms of Israel, opposition to U.S. financing of it, and her views on anti-semitism were incompatible with the Daily Wire's policies.

All of those issues would likely have been the subject of the public debate that Owens sought, and that the Daily Wire claimed to want. Instead, the Daily Wire has succeeded in obtaining a gag order that, on its face, prevents Owens, in advance, from questioning or criticizing both the Daily Wire or Shapiro in any way.

 

 

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THE WEEKLY UPDATE: MAY 13-17
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We are pleased to send you a summary of the key stories we covered last week on SYSTEM UPDATE. 

—Glenn Greenwald

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SYSTEM UPDATE RECAP: May 13-17
Weekly Recap

Welcome to the SYSTEM UPDATE recap: your weekend digest featuring everything we’ve covered throughout the previous week. 

 

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MONDAY, MAY 13 - EPISODE 269

Jen Psaki's Lies Expose the Fraud of "Disinformation"; Israelis Endanger Americans and Block Humanitarian Aid

Full transcript available for paid supporters: HERE

 

WATCH THE EPISODE

Intro (7:26)

Queen of Disinformation (14:11)

Israelis Block Gaza Aid (47:32)

Outro (1:12:12)

 

TUESDAY, MAY 14 - EPISODE 270

House Prioritizes Israel Over Funding U.S. Government; Seinfeld Commencement Debacle Fuels Antisemitism Panic; PLUS: China and Hungary's Close Ties Explained

Full transcript available for paid supporters: HERE

 

WATCH THE EPISODE

Intro (10:29)

House Prioritized Israel Over U.S. (16:19)

Media Meltdown (48:28)

Hungary and China Strengthen Ties (57:50)

Outro (1:17:07)

 

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WEDNESDAY, MAY 15 - EPISODE 271

INTERVIEW: Professor Jeffrey Sachs on Ukraine's Failures, Israel's War in Gaza, China, and More

Full transcript available for paid supporters: HERE

 

WATCH THE EPISODE

Intro (6:31)

Interview with Professor Jeffrey Sachs [13:12 - 1:10:23]

  • Ukraine (13:12 - 48:33)
  • Israel (48:34 - 58:40)
  • Columbia Student Protests (58:45 - 1:03:23)
  • China (1:03:24 - 1:10:23)

Outro (1:10:24)

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