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Former FBI official says the FBI is facing a ‘crisis of credibility’ over questions of how much its senior officials knew leading up to the Capitol riot Wednesday October 19th, 2022 at 12:57 PM


Former FBI official says the FBI is facing a ‘crisis of credibility’ over questions of how much its senior officials knew leading up to the Capitol riot

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  • Former FBI assistant director Frank Figliuzzi says the FBI is facing a “crisis of credibility.”
  • Figliuzzi said the agency was not being transparent about what it knew about the Capitol riot.

Frank Figliuzzi, a former FBI assistant director, says the agency is facing a “crisis of credibility” over conflicting information about what its senior agents knew leading up to the Capitol riot.

During an appearance on MSNBC’s “Deadline” on Monday, Figliuzzi said the FBI’s most senior leaders are not grasping the “gravity” of the situation. Information is now trickling out about what the FBI’s officials knew leading up to the riot, he added.

“And it was a lot more than we thought they knew at the time preceding January 6,” Figliuzzi said.

“It’s time for complete transparency. It’s time to come out and say, ‘We dropped this ball, and here’s why,’” Figliuzzi added.

Figliuzzi brought up how Steven D’Antuono, the head of the FBI’s Washington field office, told reporters days after the Capitol riot that the FBI had not received any intelligence that pointed to the Trump Ellipse rally turning violent.

On Thursday, Rep. Adam Schiff, a member of the committee investigating the events of January 6, contradicted Wray’s testimony. Schiff said during the panel’s hearing that there was evidence that the FBI, the Capitol police, and other agencies had “gathered and disseminated” intelligence that suggested there would be violence at the Capitol.

“So which is it? You lacked specificity, or you had the intelligence to do something, and somehow it didn’t happen?” Figliuzzi said.

“And I think it’s going way up the chain here, even to involve political suppression of anybody who might have wanted to take further actions to secure the Capitol,” Figliuzzi said. “Those are the questions that need to be answered and they need to be answered now. Not waiting for the committee to release a 1,000-page report, months from now.”

In an op-ed published on MSNBC on Friday, Figliuzzi also called for the Biden administration to demand answers as to whether US law enforcement leaders fumbled their response to January 6, or if they were intentionally blocked from preventing the riot.

“Without substantive answers from agency leaders, many of us will be left to conclude that there was a willful blindness to the signs that were staring them in the face,” Figliuzzi wrote.

Figliuzzi served in the FBI for 25 years and worked in the agency’s Atlanta and Washington, DC headquarters. He was appointed as assistant director of the FBI’s counterintelligence division in 2011. He is now a news analyst and commentator on MSNBC.

Representatives at the FBI did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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1:28 AM 10/19/2022 – Post Link

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Defence Secretary Ben Wallace is on a hastily-arranged visit to Washington to talk with his counterpart and White House officials about “shared security concerns” including Ukraine and Russia, a source and an official said.

The secretive, last-minute nature of the trip and a comment by a second defence minister, James Heappey – who said the conversations that Mr Wallace would be having on Tuesday were “beyond belief” – suggested particularly sensitive and serious issues would be discussed.

It comes as the UK, the US and other NATO allies watch Russia‘s war in Ukraine closely, amid concerns that President Vladimir Putin may escalate his attacks even further, possibly even resorting to a nuclear strike as his forces lose ground to western-armed Ukrainian troops.

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to Samara Region Governor Dmitry Azarov during their meeting in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Image: Pic: AP

News blackout in southern Ukraine means ‘something big is going on’ – war latest

The UK defence source declined to offer any specific detail on the content of Mr Wallace’s trip other than to say: “The defence secretary is in Washington DC to discuss shared security concerns, including Ukraine.

“He will be visiting his counterpart at the Pentagon and senior figures at the White House.”

Brigadier General Patrick Ryder, the US Pentagon press secretary, offered a similar description: “He’s here today to discuss the Ukraine situation and the US and UK joint efforts to support Ukraine, as well as to, again, reaffirm the transatlantic ties and co-operation that our two countries share when it comes to issues like Russia.”

But Mr Heappey gave a sense that the discussions were particularly grave as he responded to questions on the UK political crisis during an interview on Kay Burley At Breakfast on Sky News.

“We here in the Ministry of Defence are doing a good job of keeping our nation safe at a time of incredible global insecurity,” he said.

“My boss, Ben Wallace, is in Washington this morning having the sort of conversations that… beyond belief really the fact we are a time when these sort of conversations are necessary.”

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Three children were among the 13 people killed in their own homes late Monday when Russia’s ’roided up war machine resulted in a military plane incinerating a residential building in the Krasnodar region.

Russian officials say those affected by the catastrophe should focus on positive thinking, and head back to work Tuesday in “a good mood.”

The questionable advice comes as ordinary Russians, perhaps for the first time since Moscow launched its full-scale war against Ukraine on Feb. 23, are finally able to see the gaping cracks starting to show in the Kremlin’s tired narrative that Russian citizens are under threat from Ukrainians. Instead, it would appear the bigger threat is their own military—and the death cult in the Kremlin.

Veniamin Kondratyev, the Krasnodar governor, arrived at the scene in Yeysk while rescuers were still digging people out of the rubble late Monday following a jet crash that left 19 injured in addition to more than a dozen dead.

He offered some spectacularly tone-deaf advice to those who lost loved ones or otherwise suffered as a result of the military disaster—just the latest in a long list of fiascos to blow back against ordinary Russian citizens during Moscow’s so-called “special military operation” against Ukraine.

The residents now need “everything necessary so that they will continue to feel… not like people, but they will nonetheless continue to work. I am certain that many of them will go to work tomorrow,” Kondratyev said in televised comments to local media.

He went on to say local authorities must do everything possible so that residents can “get ready for work and go in a good mood.”

The comments sparked an uproar even among pro-Kremlin pundits like Komsomolskaya Pravda radio host Sergei Mardan, who tore into Kondratyev for his “pearl of wisdom” on Telegram.

“It is not clear what he meant, cheerful music under the windows of a burned-out house or handing out boxes of chocolates. How can you create a ‘good mood’ among the victims of the fire, among whom 13 people died?” Mardan wrote.

Panic as Russia Drags Another Neighbor to the Brink of War

Even Kremlin-friendly political analyst Sergei Markov saw signs of public disillusionment after the plane crash.

“People feel very keenly in this episode that the Russian army is much weaker than the Soviet one,” he wrote on social media, blaming the disaster on “wild capitalism” and a “weak state.”

But Kondratyev was not the only Russian official to urge citizens not to get too worked up about the tragedy.

Russian lawmaker Andrei Gurulyov also chimed in on Telegram to say that while he is “extremely sorry” for those who lost their lives or loved ones, it is important for “everyone to show restraint.”

The Kremlin offered a boilerplate response, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying Tuesday that President Vladimir Putin offers his “deepest condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones in this disaster.”

Russian investigators, meanwhile, say they suspect a “technical malfunction” is to blame for the Sukhoi Su-34 fighter-bomber crashing into the residential building on its way back from a “training flight.”

While Russian defense officials have stressed that the military jet was engaged in training at the time of the disaster, experts have noted that the airbase to which it belonged is conveniently close to Ukraine–just about 37 miles from Mariupol, the once bustling port city that is now under the control of the same Russian forces that virtually wiped it off the face of the earth.

The Su-34 fighter jets have also routinely been used in Russia’s bombing campaign against Ukraine, a fact which has fueled some suspicions about the true nature of the explosion that appeared to rock the residential building after the plane crash. The Russian Telegram channel “112,” citing unnamed sources, reported that the jet was loaded with ammunition at the time of the crash, a claim that was also made by local dispatchers who scrambled to respond to the disaster.

Kondratyev, the regional governor, insisted the jet was not carrying munitions, however, and Russia’s Emergency Situations Minister denied there had been any explosion in the apartment block.

The crash is just the latest military incident to strike Russian civilians as Russia’s war against Ukraine has increasingly begun to backfire on its own soil, with reports of dozens of newly drafted troops dying before they could even be sent to the frontline, and at least 11 volunteer fighters gunned down over the weekend as they took part in training for the war.

Pregnant Woman Killed in Putin’s Brutal Kamikaze Drone Blitz

In the wake of the crash, many Ukrainians expressed sympathy for the civilians killed—but pointed out that the same Russian fighter jets had been brutally bombing Ukrainian citizens for months.

“Jets from Yeysk bombed Mariupol,” Mykola Osychenko, the president of Mariupol TV who has served as a volunteer throughout the war, said. “In light of today’s news about the Su-34 crashing into a residential building, every Mariupol resident is most upset today about the fact that the pilots ejected and survived. And sorry for the civilians. Even those who calmly watched as the jets took off in the spring to bomb Mariupol.”

Anton Herashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, said the disaster should serve as a wake-up call to residents of Eysk, “since Ukrainians, under your joyful cries, have been living with this for nearly eight months now.”

The Kremlin and the Russian Defense Ministry, meanwhile, have continued to push their oft-used mantra that “everything is going according to plan.” After weeks of mounting outrage over Putin’s “partial mobilization” decree that officially called for 300,000 draftees to serve as fresh cannon fodder in the war—a move that reportedly saw men rounded up from hostels and homeless shelters, among other places—Peskov on Tuesday insisted that defense officials would not go over the 300,000-limit.

But he also noted that Putin had not yet signed a decree recognizing that the mobilization was over.

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Former FBI agent Peter Strzok claimed on a Monday MSNBC interview that the deadliest terrorist attack in American history was “nothing” in comparison to the Capitol riot.

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An internal coup inside the Kremlin is reportedly in full swing as the chief of the controversial Wagner mercenary group is putting Russian president Putin increasingly under pressure to sack his Defence minister, Sergie Shoigu.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, who heads the Wagner Group, also dubbed Putin’s private army which primarily consists of mercenaries, is reportedly increasingly involved in day-to-day decision-making with regards to the war in Ukraine.

Prigozhin only answers to Putin and he claimed that Wagner forces captured Bakhmut in the east of Ukraine, not Russian forces.

Prigozhin, who only answers to the Russian president, is said to be so frustrated with the lack of progress in Ukraine that he is pressuring Putin to sack the country’s defence minister, Shoigu, according to various reports in Russia and Europe, including CNN.

Fred Pleitgen, international correspondent at the news network, reported that the Wagner mercenary group is “now the spearhead of Putin’s invading force.”

“Prigozhin is trying to oust Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu since Russia’s campaign is going badly.”

“There are a lot of people saying that Prigozhin is right now trying to orchestrate a power grab in Moscow.”

CNN correspondent Fred Pleitgen

The reports come after Prigozhin claimed that it was Wagner forces who captured the city of Bakhmut in the east of Ukraine, not Russian forces.

“I want to emphasize that there was not a single person from any other group except for the employees of the Wagner Group involved in this campaign,” the group’s chief reportedly wrote.

Responding to the reports, former CIA director John Brennan told various media that “there is some jockeying among the senior leaders of Russia to try and take command and control because they have done so poorly.”

“Putin’s options are narrowing, and Russia’s forces are doing so poorly.”

Former CIA director John Brennan

“Putin is seeing this conflict as existential to his political survival. He will not survive this if he cannot claim victory in Ukraine,” Brennan analysed.

‘Gas wonderkid’ suddenly dies

The reports come only days after it emerged that another one of Vladimir Putin’s close allies has suddenly dies.

Nikolay Petrunin, a 46-year-old Russian multimillionaire and a close confidant of the Russian president, is reportedly no more.

The official reason by authorities was that the Gazprom executive has died as a result of complications caused by Covid. He had reportedly been in a coma for several weeks.

Petrunin was one of the most important executives at energy giant Gazprom. He was also vice-Chairman of the prestigious Energy Commission of the Russian Parliament. He was considered an extremely close ally of Putin.

Petrunin was dubbed the “gas wonderkid” of Russia. He entered politics after a career of making gas pipelines in Siberia.

His sudden death raises questions, however, with many Russians discussing his death on Telegram and social media. the war in Ukraine.

Critic falls out of window

Petrunin’s death comes only five weeks after the head of Russia’s biggest privately held oil producer, who criticised the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine, died after reportedly falling out of a hospital window.

Ravil Maganov, chair of the board of LUKOIL, died in mysterious circumstances, according to Russian-language site Interfax.

The company is the biggest privately held oil producer in the country, and in March openly criticised Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. 

In a statement posted on its west to shareholders, LUKOIL’s board expressed “its deepest concerns about the tragic events in Ukraine” in March.

Shortly before his death, the US department of justice obtained a warrant for seizure of a $45m plane owned by PJSC LUKOIL.

In November 2019, Maganov was pictured with Putin at the Kremlin receiving the Order of Alexander Nevsky, a state honour.

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They are precise, small in size, able to engage a target in relatively large numbers like a swarm of wasps and above all, they’re cheap.

In Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, drones have cemented their reputation as a potent, hard-to-stop and cost-effective weapon to seek out and destroy targets while simultaneously spreading the kind of terror that can fray the resolve of soldiers and civilians alike.

They’re also quickly surpassing missiles as the remote weapon of choice because they can be put into any combat theater in greater numbers much more cheaply.

Russia’s unleashing of successive waves of the Iranian-made Shahed drones over Ukraine has multiple goals — taking out key targets, crushing morale, and ultimately draining the enemy’s war chest and weapons as they try to defend against them.

HOW DO WARTIME DRONES WORK?

The Shahed drones that Russia has rebranded as Geran-2 are packed with explosives and are preprogrammed to loiter overhead until they nosedive into a target. That’s reminiscent of Japan’s World War II-era kamikaze pilots who would fly their explosive-laden aircraft into U.S. warships and aircraft carriers during the war in the Pacific.

According to the Ukrainian online publication Defense Express, which cites Iranian data, the delta-wing Shahed is 3.5 meters (11½ feet) long, 2.5 meters (8 feet, 3 inches) wide and weighs approximately 200 kilograms (440 pounds). It’s powered by a 50-horsepower engine with a top speed of 185 kph (114 mph).

Behnam Ben Taleblu, senior fellow at the Washington-based think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said the drone has already been deployed in Yemen and in a deadly oil tanker attack last year. He said its range is about 1,000 kilometers (621 miles).

The new drone technology does not need trained personnel to be sacrificed nor a huge amount of money spent on building sophisticated aircraft to reach a target.

In Monday’s attack on the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, the city’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said 28 drones made up waves of successive attacks. Fired from a truck launcher in rapid succession, the drones can fly low and slow, better able to avoid radar detection. They can also swarm a target, overwhelming defenses particularly in civilian areas.

But according to Mykola Bielieskov, a research fellow at Ukraine’s National Institute for Strategic Studies, the Shahed only carries a 40-kilogram (88-pound) explosive charge, which pales in comparison to the explosive force that a conventional missile’s 480-kilogram (1,050-pound) warhead can deliver at a much longer range.

“It is difficult to hit serious targets with such drones,” Bielieskov said.

SMALL PUNCH BUT LOW COST

At a mere $20,000 apiece, the Shahed is only a tiny fraction of the cost of a more conventional, full-size missile. For example, Russia’s Kalibr cruise missiles, which have seen widespread use in eight months of war, cost the Russian military about $1 million each.

At such a low cost, the Shahed can be deployed in massive numbers to saturate a target, whether it’s a fuel depot or infrastructure and utilities like power or water stations.

Despite its small size, the Shahed’s explosive charge appears powerful enough to do damage. In Monday’s attacks, one drone struck an operations center while another slammed into a five-story residential building, ripping a large hole in it and collapsing at least three apartments, resulting in the deaths of three people.

Bielieskov from Ukraine’s National Institute for Strategic Studies said the Russian military is opting to use Shaheds on civilian targets instead of the battlefield because Ukrainian forces have “learned how to fight them effectively,” managing to intercept a little more than half of them.

With no immediate end in sight, the financial burden of the conflict will weigh heavier on Moscow, which isn’t receiving billions in weapons transfers from Western nations like Ukraine is. As the conflict essentially becomes one of attrition — who can withstand that human, material and financial burden the longest — finding cheaper but still potent weapons will be key.

For Moscow, the Shahed appears to be such an alternative.

“Shahed-136 is a cheap version of a cruise missile, which Russia can’t produce fast,” said Bielieskov.

Taleblu said Russia will likely continue to boost its long-range strike capabilities with Iranian drones and reportedly even missiles.

“This should raise alarm bells for Europe and the world,” he said.

Russian officials haven’t issued any data about the number of missiles fired during the conflict, but Ukraine’s defense minister recently alleged that Russia has used most of its high-precision missile arsenal — from 1,844 on the eve of Russia’s invasion to 609 by mid-October.

A WAR OF NERVES

The incessant buzzing of the propeller-driven Shahed drones — dubbed “mopeds” by Ukrainians — is equally potent for the terror it can induce in anyone under its flight path. That sound exacerbates anxiety and chips away at morale, for no one on the ground knows exactly when or where the weapon will strike.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy seized on the drones’ terror element, posting on social media: “The whole night, and the whole morning, the enemy terrorizes the civilian population.”

“Kamikaze drones and missiles are attacking all of Ukraine,” he added.

Bielieskov conceded that Shahed drone strikes stir up fears that Ukraine’s air defenses are inadequate to meet the threat. But he said their use — even in large numbers — isn’t enough to reverse Ukraine’s battlefield gains.

Sky-borne terror weapons are nothing new — Nazi Germany employed them during World War II in the form of the V-1 flying bomb or “buzzbomb,” the earliest type of cruise missile in the shape of a small aircraft that targeted British cities.

Eight decades later, the much smaller Shahed can be guided to its target at a much cheaper cost, potentially enabling Russian forces to launch many more drones than the 9,500 “buzzbombs” that Nazi Germany unleashed on Britain.

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After the Crimean bridge attack, there are plenty of theories but few real answers

By Julian Hayda | NPR
Thursday, October 13, 2022

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Black smoke billows from a fire on the Kerch bridge that links Crimea to Russia after an explosion on Saturday.

/ AFP via Getty Images

KYIV, Ukraine — Nearly a week after an explosion damaged a vital bridge in Crimea, Russian and Ukrainian authorities are still trading accusations and offering competing theories as to what and who caused the blast. But definitive answers remain elusive.

On Wednesday, Russia’s Federal Security Service arrested eight men alleged to have taken part in an elaborate scheme to destroy the Crimean bridge. Investigators said Ukrainians, Russians and an Armenian camouflaged tons of explosives and shipped them to several countries before Saturday’s attack. Russia says a driver with no previous connections to terrorism drove a truck bomb onto the bridge at a time to maximize damage.

But Mykhailo Podolyak, a top adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, says Ukrainian intelligence believes that Russian forces planned the attack as a pretense to escalate the war in Ukraine.

“The Crimea bridge incident gives the Russian military a convenient alibi for all of its defeats in southern Ukraine,” Podolyak told Ukraine’s national broadcaster.

Many theories, but little certainty

Credible theories abound in Ukraine and abroad about who is responsible for the Oct. 8 attack and how they did it. But, says Andrew Barr, an impact dynamics researcher at the University of Sheffield, “Despite all of the publicly available photos and videos, it’s quite difficult to be certain about this.”

Surveillance video posted by Russian media shows a single truck driving from mainland Russia toward Crimea before a flash of light swallows he bridge. Photos posted by independent media outlets show at least three collapsed road spans resting crookedly on piers in the shallow water.

New photos posted on social media Wednesday show bent support beams on the Russia-bound lanes as well. That side of the bridge reopened to traffic only hours after the blast.

Nick Waters, an analyst with the digital forensics firm Bellingcat, points out that the bridge’s underside shows barely any blast damage, dismissing a popular Ukrainian theory that a special naval operation destroyed the bridge from below.

Unlike the bridge’s unscathed bottom, satellite images released by Maxar Technologies show a blackened road top.

Soon after the explosion, Ukrainian experts quickly dismissed the notion that a Ukrainian missile had targeted the bridge, citing the 180-mile distance from Ukrainian-held territory as a technical limitation. The United States and other countries that supply weapons to Ukraine have refused to provide missiles that travel that far.

After Russian state media posted the government’s evidence for a truck bomb — the alleged truck involved and a X-ray scan of its cargo — Ukrainian journalists pointed out that the two images showed different trucks.

Still, some military experts believe that a truck bomb is the likely culprit, even if those responsible for it are harder to determine.

“The damage is definitely consistent with an explosion in the center of a bridge span, as anything else would have caused damage to the pier,” says Barr, who specializes in analyzing blast damage in war zones.

He says the Crimean bridge is designed to have a single section of road floating above several piers and detached from other sections. When one span falls into the water, it pulls several other spans with it.

Based on the ways the flames repeatedly shot out from the blast site, Barr also suggests that the truck was loaded with specialized compounds that burned hot enough to ignite a passing fuel train traveling on a parallel rail bridge, severely weakening it.

Mika Tyry, a retired military demolition specialist, told YLE, Finland’s national broadcaster, that the flames and sparks are consistent with a thermite bomb. Russia’s military has been known to use thermite, though Ukraine could have recovered the substance from unexploded Russian munitions.

“It’s a successful attack on a guarded structure, with advanced explosives, and timed with the train,” Barr says. “That’s highly suggestive of a carefully planned military operation rather than a lone actor or other group.”

Russian launched more strikes across Ukraine after the bridge attack

On Wednesday, Russian state media suggested that the Crimea bridge attack was coordinated from the United States to escalate what many Russians believe to be a proxy war against the West over Ukraine.

Ukraine has not taken credit for the blasts, though many in the country celebrated it as a Ukrainian victory due to the bridge’s strategic and symbolic value to Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a series of air strikes across Ukraine this week, saying it was a response to what he called “Ukrainian terrorism” on the Crimean bridge. Zelenskyy said more than 150 rockets and drones killed 20 people on Monday and Tuesday, knocking out essential services in more than half of Ukraine.

“That’s not the kind of thing that the Russians can throw together in a couple days,” National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told CNN on Monday. “This was something not in retaliation, but was really much of a continuation of Putin’s designs over the last several weeks to specifically target Ukrainian civilian infrastructure.”

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The post Former FBI official says the FBI is facing a ‘crisis of credibility’ over questions of how much its senior officials knew leading up to the Capitol riot Wednesday October 19th, 2022 at 12:57 PM first appeared on The Shared Links – The News And Times.