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Episode Two: All Things Russia

March 20, 2017

In this episode of News World Order, Tony and Kevin discuss all things Russia. They start the show off with a brief history of US-Russian relations to set the tone of all the talks about Russia in the media today. Then they take a look at Russian influence on the US elections and what really happened. Then they walk through all the improper contact between members of the Trump cabinet with a certian Russian Ambassador. Come join the guys for an insightful episode on Russia. 

Show transcript to follow:

 

00:08 (Intro)Welcome to News World Order, with your hosts Kevin and Tony Alvarez. Where they take an Analytical Approach to the news and sift through the white noise of mainstream media.

00:25 (Tony) Good morning good evening or goodnight. Welcome to the second episode of the News World Order podcast. I’m Tony Alvarez and I'm here with my co-host as always Kevin Alvarez

00:34 (Kevin) Hey everybody whats going on.

00:377 (T) In our attempts to sift through the white noise of mainstream media and give our objective and unbiased analytical assessment of today's top stories dominating our 24-hour news cycle. Today, are you ready for it man?

00:50 (K) Let's do it! What do we have on the docket for today?

00:56 (T) It's all things Russia.

00:59 (K) All right, I like it.

01:00 (T) So, I'm sure the Russians are listening in or Big Brother for that matter. So hopefully we don't paint a big target on our backs with this episode. But I think we can both agree that it's a topic worthy of our attention.

01:13 (K) I think it is, it's definitely in the news cycle all over the place right now and I know it was something that I had brought up as a topic that I wanted to do because there's so much out there. And it seems like there's a lot of non-information out there in regards to what is going on with Russia. But we'll get into that. We'll get into what I'm kind of hinting at there.

01:35 (T) Sure and we'll do that real quickly by hitting our agenda for today just give her listeners an idea of where this episode is headed. So first up we're going to provide a real quick down and dirty history class on US-Russian relationships, hopefully it won't be extremely boring and too long as that is not our primary topic for today. But we'll discuss that relationship essentially from the cold war timeframe all the way into our current Vladimir Putin regime. Secondly we're going to take a deep dive into pre-election interference. Some of the improper contact that has been circulating with Russian officials and perhaps maybe even some blackmail lead in, I don't know we'll see how far we go on that. Thirdly we'll look into Russian officials and primarily one that is at the center of all these Russian allegations and that's the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and we'll see how he is involved and who he is. Lastly we'll take a look at our way ahead and what that means for the everyday listener out there. So in practical terms some of these hackings have implications and for you as a listener will see what that means and hopefully sift through these top news feeds to see what is actual truth and what dis-information or non-information as Kevin alluded to earlier. Ok so first up we are going to take a down and dirty history class of the Russian relations with the US.

03:03 (K) Yeah and I think to kind of sum it up. I don't want to get into like a full-on western Civ kind of what the relations are between Russia and the US. I think really to kind of boil it down to just one kind of thing is Russian US relations have been like a bipolar relationship since the beginning. We have to think about where we were during World War II because of kind of where Russia came into the prominence of the world order so to speak. Before World War II they were just kind of there and it wasn't until using Stalin as an ally in World War II and then the breaking up of Germany that created this world power that we've come to the known as the Soviet Union, the USSR.

03:55 (T) Right so that leads us kind of right where you left us off and that's the Soviet Empire. And so I think when we were kids most officials in Washington thought that the Iron Curtain was eternal. Soviet Empire was here to stay and American involvement in World War II and what we had fought for which was a liberated Europe was essentially in jeopardy forever. Like this was going to stay. And you mentioned that the prominence of Russia in World War II time frame, in my opinion exactly true as well. We have the Russian and US approach to a post World War II Germany that was entirely different. You have the Russian side which essentially stripped East Germany of all its resources and on our side, the US side, we built up West Germany. And we didn't do that out of charity, we kind of did it on the old adage a rising tide lifts all boats. We knew that a more prosperous Germany would best suit us as well and so you have those two diametrically opposed avenues of approach that really resulted in two supreme powers kind of at odds with each other for the better part of a half a century.

05:11 (K) Right right. So you kind of take that relationship, this kind of hostile East vs West, this kind of capitalism versus communism approach to everything. You kind of move through history and you move through like we said the splitting up of Germany then you kind of push forward into the Cuban Missile Crisis and the verge of starting World War III so forth and so on. It just keeps pushing in this really murky relationship between both governments. And then you fast forward beyond the Cuban Missile Crisis and you get into them invading Afghanistan and us funding the Mujahideen and trying to fight the world against communism basically. So we have this really weird powder keg going on between the US and Russia. Then steps in Reagan still dealing with the old regime in Russia and Reagan starts to bridge the gap between the US and Russia.

06:04 (T) Yeah so he brings a little bit of normalcy to the relationship right.

06:07 (K) Right

06:08 (T) He's kind of the relationship counselor, the marriage counselor that finds a common thread that these two countries can both pursue. And so I think what Reagan did was he understood that Communism was doomed and that democracy was a superior system, but he wasn't going to lead that on to Gorbachev to overtly. But he was able to find an ally in him and essentially craft the best foreign policy that we've ever had between the two Nations. And so I think what is important to note here is that during this timeframe, in the eighties, you have State Department reports that pick up on an undercurrent of an undermining of communism that's going on in the Soviet Union. Soviets were unhappy with the way things were looking, unhappy with the outlook of the country and so I think there's a real correlation to what's going on in present-day Moscow, albeit at a whisper right. Putin controls every facet of the government to include the media so it's hard to pick up on those undercurrents. But we're seeing that the Russian educated class is unhappy with Russian stagnation and you can see that Russia is trying to influence their dominance globally. And the way they're doing that right now, is they are kind of relegated into picking fights with their neighbors and extending their dominance as we've seen with the incursion into Crimea and into Ukraine.

07:38 (K) It kind of goes back to Gorbachev comes into power and that pretty much was the dissolution of the USSR, right. When Gorbachev comes in all of the eastern block countries start falling apart right. They start they start seceding from the USSR and becoming their own sovereign nations. Well I think what we see now is Putin is trying to reclaim the USSR right. He's trying to bring back the Big Bear and have a more global presence again. Let's be honest right, Putin is an ex-kgb operative, so he's kind of in that mindset, he's kind of in that old Russian way of life, to bring that back into Russia. I think that's kind of where we ended up right. Is him trying to get back to the old world.

08:24 (T) So now that we're kind of completely focused on the to the Putin regime aspect of this historical brief historical review, it's probably worth just diving a little bit deeper on him. He's prime minister, first ascended into power mainly in August 1999 time frame as Boris Yeltsin unexpectedly resigned. And so is first presidential terms in 2000 his second was in 2004 and he was prevented by the Constitution from a third term but he was essentially bumped down to the Prime Minister under Dmitry Medvedev.

08:53 (K) Medvedev

08:54 (T) Medvedev yeah. I always have trouble pronouncing his name. But what we saw with his kind of bump down is that he was still in the Limelight and even supported by Dimitri to go back into the hot seat as is the president. And so for the last five years since 2012 he's been the president of Russia and I think he's putting his distinctive stamp on Russian foreign policy. Because like you said he's power grabbing. So his foreign policy is extensively characterized as aggressive and his centerpiece of his foreign policy in his country is building up a defense Industry. I kind of looked across the board settled on a Strategic Studies Institute reference where between the years of 2005 and 2015 the defense industry has grown 112% over there and the economic average growth is 7%. So they're having both an economic and defensive industry boom, which quite frankly we aren't experiencing here. For a lot of the Russia Hawks on the Senate and House side it's alarming. I don't think that we're all together in a bad position simply because that same Strategic Studies Institute article, it really highlights the three facets that are challenging Russia as they move forward. They have an over dominance, as always, on natural resources such as oil and gas and those two Commodities are impacted by the global commodity pricing. So as the pricing of that commodity falls so does revenue associated with it. The second issue is that Russia is feeling the effects of the sanctions the were imposed from 2014 based on Russia's incursion into Crimea. And then finally they're facing and aging population and as we know in this country with an aging population comes greater dependence on the economy, greater dependence on government finances, on governmental programs. So all of these non-discretionary spending issues come into play which could be problematic for Russia as they go forward.

11:01 (K) Right, Okay cool. So I think without turning it into a history lesson I think that kind of gives us an idea of where Russia sits in regards to where they're at and where we're at. And I said earlier that it's a bipolar relationship because we kind of broadly stroked over a better span of what 50 years there right, 60 years probably more than that. But the reality of it is, is when one guy is in power there's a certain kind of relationship then another guy steps in the power than that goes to a quote unquote bad relationship. Its this weird ebb and flow, this real kind of sine wave so to speak of things are good with Russia things are bad with Russia. And I think at the present we're kind of coming off of a low with Russia and the idea here is that Trump is going to pull into a better working relationship with Russia, we'll see if that ever happens who knows. But I don't know that you can work with Putin, maybe I'm wrong.

12:03 (T) That ebb and flow is a good point. I recently attended a guest speaker engagement, here with my work, and Garry Kasparov with the Russian chess Grandmaster, writer, political activist you name it, you know but ultimately fierce Putin opponent. He was essentially pushing his new book, Winter Is Coming, and the theme of that book is that the US is and has been guilty of like a chronic appeasement and a weakness in letting bad guys like Vladimir Putin stay in power.

12:28 (K) Sure

12:29 (T) So it speaks to that demure role that we've kind of assumed in the previous administration and maybe highlights a couple things for consideration for Trump as he steps in the power. I thought it was enticing because, obviously a huge Game of Thrones fan, so Winter Is Coming is a great title and

12:50 (K) For sure

12:51 (T) He probably picked that very strategically. It's kind of on the right, extreme right on the meter but Kasparov really credits Reagan for the end of the Cold War kinda like what you said the fall

13:03 (K) Oh sure.

13:04 (T) of an evil empire. and so maybe there's some things that you could tease out of this book and I encourage readers to go pick up a copy it's pretty good. It just just basically hang Reagan and attributed him to the success and the downfall that evil regime and maybe some things that Trump can consider in developing his Russian strategies as we move forward.

13:19 (K) Yeah and you hope right? Because I think the other thing to, is Putin is no Gorbachev, Putin is no Medvedev, Putin is no Yeltsin. It's going to be tough but there's definitely some places to work with him I think.

13:40 (T) Right, But we've obviously hit on the influence in the power grab that Putin is trying to exercise and I think that brings us to our first agenda item. in that this mechanism in which he's trying to pursue this power grab is without using military force and it's an effort to avoid awaking a militarized response from the west and the way he is done that per se is to influence the US elections. And so that brings us to pre-election interference, which is our number one today. Kev you want to jump into a summary?

14:13 Yeah I can take a summry. So basically the long and short is this. In July of 16 Wikileaks produced a series of confidential emails between members of the DNC the Democratic National Committee and they obtained them from a quote on quote anonymous source. They were off the record correspondences with the media. There was stuff in there regarding the Bernie Sanders campaign and ways to basically sabotage the Bernie Sanders campaign, so that he couldn't win the nomination. There was also highly sensitive financial information about the Clinton campaign in the Clinton foundation. What it eventually did was it put the DNC in a terrible spot and it brought about the resignation of the DNC chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz the CEO Amy Dance and the CFO Brad Marshall. Shortly after the leaks the DNC got a private security firm and the firm was called a Crowdstrike and they got in to find the source of the leak. When they traced the source back to two attacks that were on the DNC server. These two attacks were supposably responsible for similar attacks in the past and they attributed the attacks to the Russian military intelligence. So what you end up having here is a private firm looking at a trail so to speak an electronic trail and basically pointing out and saying it was the Russians. Obviously this brings about controversy and then later on in the year, I think it was in October November time frame, Department Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence released a statement and they basically confirmed the suspicions that it was indeed the Russians that hacked the DNC. So that is kind of the broad story about what happened. So the way they interfered with the election is they got correspondence between people in the Democratic party that painted a very poor picture of the democratic party.

16:15 (T) Right. So you basically this massive propaganda campaign to influence public opinion in favor of trump against Clinton right. And so to put it in more simpler terms

16:28 (K) Well I mean that's, you can take that for what it's worth right, I mean.

16:32 (T) Yeah but to put in simpler terms, these hacked emails right or the pre-election interference it's not someone stuffing ballot boxes to influence the ultimate result of the election. What we have here is the equivalent of someone breaking into some filing cabinets, shuffling around some paperwork, stealing information, stealing files and then using that as a damaging or negative kind of leak on a particular party to influence the election. And so it's, now that these files. Now that we don't have huge hulking filing cabinet where someone breaks into an office and does, we're doing this digitally right. So the ultimate conclusion I think is that this in no way falsified election results because there were no ballot stuffing here.

17:23 (K) Right.

17:24 (T) It potentially influenced how people voted but the degree to which that can be measured and the degree to which its swayed the minds of 231 million eligible voters in the United States

17:33 (K) It's impossible

17:34 (T) Right. And so I think, watch out now my personal opinion but I think it's a better exercise and use of resources for both the Democratic and Republican parties to figure out a way to contact the 92 million eligible voters who did not participate in 2016 rather than trying to figure out what may have or may not have influenced the mind of 231 million eligible voters who did participate.

18:02 (K) Sure. And I think another thing to look at here is instead of saying why the other 92 million didn't vote. I think what we should look at and I think this goes for both, because let's be honest right these emails were leaked from the DNC. It's not to say that the DNC, you know that they are terrible people and it's not to say that the Republican party doesn't do it either. But the reality of it is here is that they released emails that showed some pretty crappy stuff right. The problem isn't that the people didn't vote, the problem isn't that the people were swayed. The problem is that they shined a light in a dark corner right that nobody ever gets to see and they saw what was going on and thus opened the door for an outsider to stroll right the fuck in. Because this is what was going on right. So everybody was like we're so done with DC, we're so done with the way political parties are going to just want somebody that has no ties whatsoever and that's what that's what you got right, that we just want somebody that has no ties whatsoever. And that's what you got right. I think that's where the whole thing has come to. That the reality of it is, is like you said, they didn't stuff boxes, they didn't stuff ballots. What they did was they released information that helped undermine the competition is really what happened.

19:25 (T) Sure, sure. Over the course of several months now, I think what has kind of bubbled up to the surface is really 3 different allegations that are probably worth pursuing here. You know that I love bins so I put everything into bins to analyze them. So I think threefold we've got one bin that centers on Russian interference in election, which we've kind of been speaking to. The other is kind of centering on the former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and former Center of Alabama and current Attorney General Jeff sessions and their improper contact with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. And the third bin the potential blackmail material that Russian intelligence agencies may have on our current president. And so approaching the first bin I think we've kind of eluded to it earlier and the Russian interference in the election again like we've stated before in our opening summary is that it really wasn't a stuffing of ballot boxes, it was more of the information campaign to sway. And I did Kev, I found the same kind of similar reports on on 7 October you have the DHS and the FBI releasing a joint statement that confirms there was some probing into the into the servers by Russian company. On the 29th of December you have to DHS and the FBI report released their joint report that links Russian hacking to the Democratic Party, primary targets are the DNC and then Podesta's, Clinton campaign manager. And then on 6 January you have the DNI release their intelligence committee report kind of laying out that Vladimir Putin ordered these this influence campaign and it was really targeted at undermining Clinton's superiority and promoting Trump. But I think what we've kind of been able to ascertain through our own independent research and what was talked about previously is that there's really no smoking.

21:22 (K) Right. It's all very speculative right. Another thing that I found was that Lindsey Graham is heading a Senate Judiciary Committee to try and investigate all this stuff and he's been pressuring the FBI to release information about it. And supposedly they're supposed to release some information to him very soon. The article that I read, I think it was out of the times the New York Times, they were saying the briefing was supposed to happen yesterday and Graham wants to press for those answers to be unclassified. So who knows it may, again like when we recorded the first episode, in two or three days we might end up seeing what they actually did find.

22:05 (T) Yeah I know, absolutely. So up until this point it was kind of behind closed doors, all the discussions in a secret manner. I think I saw as well, today's Thursday, on Monday they're going to start with the public hearings and so maybe we'll have a little bit more fidelity on what exactly lies behind some of the some of the curtain per se. But yeah I think the smoking gun at this point, we'll see what happens in the coming weeks. But I think the lynchpin across all reports and what we seem to dominate the new cycle is that there is that coding that is is the proverbial smoking gun. So they can see by the digital footprint that there's traces back to Russian operations it's kind of consistent. I think the counter narrative to that, is that you know the latest Wikileaks dump by Julian Assange is really muddying the waters on that too. Because you know like it or not some of our tactics were put out in the public right and the lights shined on them through this transparency is what we've now come to recognize as leaks from within organizations. And so with the new Wikileaks dump you have operatives on the US side that routinely spoof computer signatures and these codes could very well be digital footprint that was left by US officials not Russian hackers. And so we'll see what comes out of these public hearings that we're all you know eagerly awaiting to consume. But at this point I don't think that there's a smoking gun at some point too

23:45 (K) Sure, and I think another thing to think about to its we shouldn't be surprised that a foreign government is interested in the outcome of our election right. The US has meddled in foreign elections in the past. We've been doing it for the better part of a century. We help coups, we help put people into power that we think is help our foreign agenda. I read an article it was actually an NPR and it was a study done by a political scientist his name is Dov Levin and he's a Postdoctoral Fellow at The Institute for Politics and Strategy at Carnegie-Mellon University. And he's found it an instance where the United States has interfered 81 times with foreign government elections since 1946. So we go about it, we do it. So to think that a foreign government wouldn't try and do it to us is kind of naive, at best.

24:45 (T) Yeah it's a little bit of that US huberisim that comes back into play now

24:52 (K) For sure.

24:53 (T) It's a do what I say don't do what I do that type of thing. But that brings us to our second agenda topic, which is the improper contact with Russia. So I think you have some improper contact that may have been occurring prior to the election because of an obscure 18th century law, that prohibits anyone outside of the executive branch form making foreign policy contact on the behalf United States. So that kind of improper contact has resulted in the demise of at least one cabinet member.

25:22 (K) I think another thing to look at here is the contact with the Ambassador isn't necessarily a bad thing right. I think the biggest issue that the government has and that the populace has is why the smoke and mirrors. Why are individuals in the executive right now saying they never spoke to anybody in the Russian government when they very clearly did and I think that's the biggest issue. Because for a president-elect to meet with an ambassador is not a oh my god thing.

26:02 (T) Right. But you hit on it pretty succinctly is that you know that the Russian Deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov, I think is how you say his name. He's public admitted members of Trump's entourage we in touch with Russian officials prior to the election. So that's no secret, we know at this juncture that there was contact with both parties. But I think to scope the discussion here will really focus on two individuals and that Michael Flynn and Jeff Sessions.

26:29 (K) Jeff Sessions.

26:30 (T) So Mike Flynn, now removed, but former National Security adviser contacted the Russian Ambassador Sergi Kislyak just before the Obama Administration. Actually right after Obama Administration imposed the sanctions on Russia for punishment for the interference in the US elections. And so as an Army Lieutenant General, as a former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency before his retirement in 2014, I don't think it's troubling that he had these longstanding ties to Russia

27:00 (K) Not at all

27:01 (T) You know, or that he was calling to discuss things potentially with future partnerships in defeating Isis and what not.

27:06 (K) Sure

27:07 (T) But the timing and substance of these calls is the real issue. We know that there was, potentially, a reassurance of maybe walking back some of the sanctions that have been imposed. And to go down that kind of trail, it ultimately led to his demise I think more so like the smoke and mirrors that you were talking about. It was a misleading the vice president and what those discussions actually entailed rather than a violation of this obscure law. Anything else to add on Flynn or do you wanna jump to Sessions?

27:41 (K) Yeah we'll jump to Sessions. I think you pretty much hit it all, I won't add anything else.

27:45 (T) Ok. So Sessions, man he's one that can't stay out of the Limelight. But last year he was the advisor to then president candidate Trump, he was a senator from Alabama and a member of the Armed Services Committee. And so he spoke to the Russian ambassador twice and again like you were saying a little bit of smoke and mirrors right. He didn't admit to that in his cabinet confirmation hearing and so this quickly escalated in the news because it seemed eerily similar to what brought down Mike Flynn

28:19 (K) Absolutly

28:20 (T) The distinction here though is that as much as I hate to say it's really a matter of semantics right. So the line of questioning was essentially targeting communications between Russia and the Trump campaign. And so that's why Sessions said I didn't have any contact. His justification was as a

28:40 (K) As a surrogate for the for the Trump campaign

28:42 (T) Right, as an advisor of the Trump campaign I didn't talk about that. Had the question been worded, have you had contact with Russia in general the response to that line of questioning might have been well sure I've had over 25 conversations with foreign ambassadors that included British, Korean, Japanese, Polish and the list goes on and on and on, to include the Russian Ambassador. However the mix-up with the line of questioning ultimately it prompted his recusal in investigations conducted by the FBI in any matters concerning Donald Trump's campaign.

29:16 (K) Right

29:17 (T) So that's kind of where we are at today.

29:19 (K) Here's another situation I think where the political left is targeting the wrong sort of thing. They're targeting the connection to Russia when they should be targeting... The real issue is I think many people oppose Sessions for Attorney General for way more than him talking to the Russian Ambassador right. There's all kinds of things and we won't go into it cause that's not the topic we're discussing today. But to me it feels like the political left is grabbing at any kind of story right any kind of ammunition at the can get to bring about the demise of the of a Trump presidency. And that's not to say that the political right wasn't doing the same shit 8 years ago, when they were trying to bring down Obama. Because when Obama got elected the right was going to he's not a US-born citizen. I mean the stuff they were coming up with you just like holy shit guys, Stop! And I think that the political left is falling down that same rabbit hole that the political right fell into 8 years ago.

30:17 (T) Yeah reaching for straws. I think that brings us to our third agenda topic, which is really reaching for straws here and it's that possible blackmail or a conspiracy theory that's kind of floating around the interwebs. In my opinion informed by the research that I conducted for this podcast, I think it's purely uncorroborated at this point

30:40 (K) Absolutely

30:41 (T) There are some allegations circulating with Trump's trips to Russia where he was on these business trips engaged in some naughty behavior. I don't think it's worth spending much time on. It's kind of lewd lascivious activities that quite frankly aren't

30:55 (K) It's almost TMZ like you know and I think the guy that put it together was an ex MI6 agent or worked for MI6 or something along those lines. Apparently is a pretty well-respected individual in the intelligence community but a lot of the stuff that's in that dossier, I think that's what they're even calling it, some of the stuff is really out there. Like I said earlier it's reaching for straws and I think some media outlets are alluding to it but I think a lot of the media outlets that are alluding to it or the fringe outlets like BuzzFeed and so forth and so on so. I don't think there's really much there, who knows I mean if the guy is as respected as it's coming off that he is, maybe there is something there. But like you said at present there's very little there that can even be substantiated.

31:46 (T) Truly characterized as white noise

31:48 (K) For sure. So if anybody out there is actually reading any of that with any kind of

31:57 (T) Certainty

31:58 (K) You might as well pick up the National Enquirer and believe that aliens are amongst us as well so.

32:06 (T) Alright, so we can then move on to political connections and I think the individual has been mentioned several times here just in the 30 minutes we've been going, Sergi Kislyak. He's the Russian diplomat, he's the Russian ambassador, he is pretty influential. I mean hell in the last couple of weeks contact with him is either led you to be fired or prompted calls for Attorney General Session to resign. So I mean it's, I'd stay

32:38 (K) Stay away from that guy

32:40 (T) Yeah, if I was in the political sphere. So we've mentioned it before Sessions met with him twice over during the 2016 campaign. He was serving as a member of the Senate Arms Committee, he was also a Trump adviser. I think bending these political connections might help steer the discussion here. And so three kind of facets I think are important in discussing is, should Congress actually meet with Russian diplomats, second would be is it uncommon for Congress to meet with Russian Diplomats and then third what is the real problem with the meetings that occurred with Sessions. So Kev I mean do you think Congress should meet with diplomats.

33:18 (K) Well I mean, you know it's hard to say because I think that there should be a worldly view. If we have this foreign policy that we're going to, for lack of a better term, get involved in everybody's stuff right. I would like to know that my leaders not just my president, not just my. I'm talking my elected officials that I hope have the best interest of myself and my family right. That I would hope that they have some workings with a foreign national. I don't have a problem with people meeting with foreign nationals. I think a lot of people are losing their mind because he's Russian but being an ally or having an ally in Russia isn't a bad thing. Yeah sure they're communists but if we can utilize them in our foreign affairs, if we can utilize them as allies in the fight against ISIS and in the fight against Assad in Syria then why shouldn't.

34:39 (T) Yeah and I think that's a very personal touch to it, in a more abstract view the US has separation power we spoke to this an episode one. And Congress has the right and more over the obligation to meet with these individuals and gather their own information before making policy decisions. In my view it is better to garner your own information rather than relying on information directly fed to you directly from the executive branch who's trying to ramrod

35:18 (K) Push an agenda down the road

35:20 (T) Exactly So there's an obligation for individuals in Congress to meet with diplomats and just because he's Russian doesn't preclude them from conducting these meetings. Second bin man so is it common for Congress to meet with Russian diplomats? I think in a cursory view it is not uncommon right we spoke to it before. I think there was a slippery slope where Senator Mccaskill from Missouri, she was questioned the need for such interactions but I think she fell on her own sword because she herself had a meeting and a telephone call with the Russian Ambassador and 2013 and 2015 respectively. So people were trying to push a certain agenda and I think it's because it's primarily Russia, you know the Big Bear, to keep them at arm's length in and not to get them to close to where they're actually influencing us directly. But I don't know if that is the right tactic.

36:15 (K) My thought here is this. The only reason that this is a story and the only reason that we're having an episode about this is the simple fact that there is evidence pointing to Russia that they interfere with our election. And that is the only reason that any connection or any conversation with a Russian official, at this juncture, is looked upon as negative. Because had the leaked DNC emails not quote-unquote come from Russia, none of this would be a problem, absolutely none of it. The only reason it's a problem and I'm not saying that I'm not saying that that's incorrect but what I'm getting at, it is it is only a problem because 6 months ago we were investigating Russia's influence in our election. And then we find out that President elect has had communications with the Russians, that the National Security advisor, that the attorney general, that you know the list goes on and on and on and on. So then it starts becoming an issue. But going back to what we said at the start of the segment, there's nothing wrong with these people meeting with this individual, It's just because of the context of what is going on in our political spectrum that this has become an issue.

37:34 (T) Right, I mean you hit the third bin there. Was there a real problem with these meetings. It's kind of like you said, it boils down to two things timing and disclosure.

37:44 (K) That's it.

37:45 (T) Timing was pre-election and disclosure, if there was a little bit more forthcoming, honesty at the testimony particular for Sessions

37:52 (K) Right I mean because what you end up with now is, because of the non-disclosure now you have people going, what are they hiding, why don't they want us to know they talked to this guy you know. And not that they were hiding anything to begin with. Maybe they are maybe they aren't who knows the only people that know that is Sergi and whoever he talked to right. But it definitely leaves a shadow of doubt amongst the populace because they're not disclosing something because they're hiding something that has to be the reason right. That's what everybody's thinking.

38:27 (T) Yeah and it doesn't help that the likes of Senator McCain is going has kind of said that they're just waiting on the other shoe to fall off this centipede. That doesn't bode well and kind of leads the public to keep those kind of conspiracy ideas out to the forefront of your mind and what else is coming that we just don't know about. And like we said maybe Monday when these public hearings open up we'll get a little bit of more information to address the teasers that have been plaguing us for the last 2-3 months. Kev I think that brings us to our way ahead segment so for our everyday listener man what what kind of what kind of take away do you have? This has been a highly contentious topic, I think mixed with some muddy waters and active kind of hacking tools man where does this leave the listener?

39:20 (K) Well I think you have to look at it in its entirety. Let's take a macro look instead of just a micro look, because if you take a micro look at it you can make this thing out to be government espionage and all kinds of craziness and that the current administration is a puppet administration and you start going down this rabbit hole. And what I think we need to look at is let's take a step back and see what's going on right. Where the Russians involved in pre-election hacking? Possibly, the signs point to yes but to move forward I think we've got to still ask for information still seek that information. Because a week ago a week and a half ago when I brought this up to you Tony to be a topic, I wanted this to be a topic because I wanted to get into this and I wanted to find out what exactly was out there. Because there was so much noise out there about the Russians. But the reality of it is in my research there's not really anything that you can put your thumb down on and say that the Russians are involved in everything. It's all speculative, it's all kind of noise. So moving forward I think continue to seek that information, don't let it go but also have a worldly view about this whole situation and don't get so micro into it. Because if you do you'll get into a whole conspiracy theory and then you'll just turn into the infowars guy, I can't think of his name right now.

40:51 (K) Yeah, I think that's a great macro overview and then I'll go further and and go down to the individual application for our everyday listener. And so say that this a clear warning sign for our everyday engagement with the internet of things right. We are virtually connected in every device that we own from our computer to our TVs to refrigerators to light switches on and on and on. And these things are connected to the internet and I don't know how many people that I have talked to over the past week that had no idea of these points of vulnerability that can be exploited. I mean you have things that are connected to the internet, listening for a voice prompt to then conduct an action. And so to think that these things aren't actively listening is, in my opinion, naive. The second aspect is that a lot of these attacks were the product of spear fishing tactics right. It's sending out a false link sent from someone who appears to be a credible source, like a supervisor, only for an employee to click on it and to inflict a malware into the employee system. So this is happening every day. I mean we get training, we have to do annual training at my job for these types of cyber attacks. Those two things I think are directly relevant for all of our listeners and a cautionary note that says, look it doesn't require you to recoil and be a hermit but you have to be aware there are mechanisms to which nefarious actors can influence your daily sphere. So be cognizant of that. The other thing I would add is that, that's kind of on the individual side, on the political side we're seeing that the Senate Arms Committee is in the early stages developing these cybersecurity legislation and so chairman John McCain has got these panels coming together too kind of craft this US Cyber War Policy and Doctrine. And with that I think their efforts will essentially influence down trace regulation and legislation to where these Cyber intrusions are mitigated. And I know that these guys are working diligently to counter these attacks and seemingly every day the minute a solution is derived you have the counter mechanism to to defeat that solution. So it's very challenging but I think that with this new panel that McCain is standing up hopefully we get some long-term focus areas for new legislation.

43:34 (K) For sure

43:35 (T) Alright man good episode I don't have very much more to cover unless you do.

43:39 (K) No I think we kind of hit on everything that we wanted to hit it on. I think

43:41 (T) Yeah very good. So in summing we kind of hit four different topics areas. We provided a real quick down and dirty history class on US and Russian relationship. We dove deep into the pre-election interference and some improper contact that some officials may of had with Russian officials. And we took a look at some of the allegations swirling around Sergi Kislyak and his impact on Mike Flynn and Jeff sessions in particular. Then finally we gave some way ahead and what all this means in practical terms for our listeners. So hope you had a great time listening in, hope it entices you to come back. Kev sign off?


44:17 (K) Yep, again if you guys like the episode throw a like on to our Facebook. Help promote our show if you're enjoying listening please share this with your friends. Let them know that we're here to kind of help dive down into all the new stories that are out there. Thanks for listening and Cool!

 

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