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1
Agelbert Newz / Re: Agelbert's Newz Channel
« Last post by agelbert on Today at 02:03:28 PM »
https://nypost.com/2017/11/22/how-a-homeless-mans-selfless-act-changed-his-life/

How a homeless manís selfless act changed his life

What a wonderful story... A genuine miracle.



This is an example of a human that acted on principle, NOT on Maslow's hierarchy of selfish (SEE: Social Darwinsm) needs. The reason people like you and I find this sort of news heartwarming is because we understand, at a moral level, that this sort of behavior has merit that selfish, empathy deficit behavior does not.

The mockers are quick to claim we would all go broke if we behaved that way. That's hyperbole and a deliberate distortion of principled behavior to make it look like "irresponsible" behavior. The 'greed is good' crowd have been at that mendacious game since humans began to live in communities. Their mendacious claim, cleverly disguised as "prudent" advice, is, though they don't know it, Orwellian.

The fact is that achieving a society based on altruistic behavior is the only way that humanity will survive. This is the exact opposite of what the Social Darwinist Religionists believe.

Anybody with a lick of sense can see that human society is NOT getting better. Yet, most of those Social Darwinsits that point out the increasingly dangerous dysfunction of our society FLAT REFUSE to see the exact correlation between an increase in socially celebrated selfish behavior and the massive increase in social dysfunction.

I think I know why.

Quote
Proverbs 14

30 A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.

31 He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.
2
https://nypost.com/2017/11/22/how-a-homeless-mans-selfless-act-changed-his-life/

How a homeless manís selfless act changed his life

What a wonderful story... A genuine miracle.



This is an example of a human that acted on principle, NOT on Maslow's hierarchy of selfish (SEE: Social Darwinsm) needs. The reason people like you and I find this sort of news heartwarming is because we understand, at a moral level, that this sort of behavior has merit that selfish, empathy deficit behavior does not.

The mockers are quick to claim we would all go broke if we behaved that way. That's hyperbole and a deliberate distortion of principled behavior to make it look like "irresponsible" behavior. The 'greed is good' crowd have been at that mendacious game since humans began to live in communities. Their mendacious claim, cleverly disguised as "prudent" advice, is, though they don't know it, Orwellian.

The fact is that achieving a society based on altruistic behavior is the only way that humanity will survive. This is the exact opposite of what the Social Darwinist Religionists believe.

Anybody with a lick of sense can see that human society is NOT getting better. Yet, most of those Social Darwinsits that point out the increasingly dangerous dysfunction of our society FLAT REFUSE to see the exact correlation between an increase in socially celebrated selfish behavior and the massive increase in social dysfunction.

I think I know why.

Quote
Proverbs 14

30 A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.

31 He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.
3
I first encountered McLuhan as an undergraduate in communication back during the last ice age. Interesting to be reminded how he anticipated the implications of then-technological changes, when at the time it read, at least to be, as improbable nonsense.

This writer is addressing themes that occur to me, but which are too elusive for me to be competent to write about. One of the attributes of getting older being the you see your own ignorance in sharp relief.



Surly,

In the above, otherwise well written, article, there is a problem of perception that I first ran into in college when I was taking Social Sciences at Miami Dade Junior College (1965) shortly after I left West Point.

We were assigned to read a book (The Lonely Crowd) that you may have read, although I am certain the right wing 'greed is good' fanatics that frequent this site have never heard of it, no matter how much college or education they claim to have.

Quote
The Lonely Crowd is a 1950 sociological analysis by David Riesman, Nathan Glazer, and Reuel Denney. It is considered, along with White Collar: The American Middle Classes, written by Riesman's friend and colleague, C. Wright Mills, a landmark study of American character.[1]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lonely_Crowd

I read it. I did NOT just read the Cliff Notes. Beyond the snippet I just gave you from wikipedia, I did not review the book I read so many years ago to impress anybody here. I am responding to the article because that instantly retrieved "The Lonely Crowd" out of long term storage in my memory banks.

Here's the deal, Surly. A person is either driven by outside influences (peer pressure) or he is not. Yes, we all have a mixture of influences, both from without, and from within, that govern our behavior. But the ASSUMPTION that we are invariably governed by peer pressure is only valid if peer pressure ALWAYS overrides personal principles. Now, those Social Darwinst fascists at the helm of the media corporations that want to control our every whim probably believe that.

I do not. And you should not. A shit sandwich disguised as a chocolate chip cookie is still a shit sandwich, even if 40,000 bought and paid for bullshit artists are telling you otherwise.

What this boils down to is perception. The media fascists are attempting, as our gooberment and happy talk propaganda based social institutions have ALWAYS been trying to do (SEE: The Lonely Crowd), the "join the in crowd" con. They want us to feel "left out" if we do not do what "everybody else is doing".

But you and I know that everybody else is NOT "doing that". The polling of the American public makes it CRYSTAL CLEAR that they are on the right side of almost every issue of importance and value to an egalitarian socialist type government structure.

AND, most people, except for the allegedly big brained right wingers (like some who post here, who claim most people in the USA are ignorant rubes that swallow any bullshit, no matter how much it harms their best interests - how convenient for the right wing profit over people and planet Capitalist bastards.), DO REALIZE they are being handed a daily SHIT sandwich by the media and the gooberment.

Yeah, divide and conquer is what is going on. Yeah, they want to tear us apart. Yeah, they want to use the PERCEPTION (totally FALSE, but very convincing through bought and paid for repetition) that people who are guided by principle and not by the mob are outliers (i.e. anti-American/anti-Capitalist/Communists, etc. ad nauseum).

True, we all want to belong. But anyone who is willing to sacrifice their principles in order to "belong" is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

The article gives way to much weight to our need for peer group acceptance and ZERO weight to every average human's daily objective analysis of what is genuinely good for an individual and the society that he lives in (i.e. PRINCIPLED behavior).

I am not a Maslow robot. If the author believes that we humans, who certainly do possess base instincts that can, under certain conditions, be manipulated to our detriment and some bastard's profit (i.e. Capitalism), CANNOT function in any other way (i.e. Social Darwinsm is IT), then I must protest.

Social Darwinsim is NOT "IT". Maslow is NOT "IT".

We behave on principle or we perish. That is not hard to understand unless a person deliberately refuses to value principles because they deliberately refuse to give any value to morality based behavior. The book I read in college, The Lonely Crowd, TOTALLY missed the issue of principle. I said so then, even though I was an atheist at the time! LOL!

Yeah, I know Surly; I'm an outlier.
 
4
Surly Newz / Re: The Surlynewz Channel
« Last post by agelbert on Today at 12:25:28 PM »

Surly,

In the above, otherwise well written, article, there is a problem of perception that I first ran into in college when I was taking Social Sciences at Miami Dade Junior College (1965) shortly after I left West Point.

We were assigned to read a book (The Lonely Crowd) that you may have read, although I am certain the right wing 'greed is good' fanatics that frequent this site have never heard of it, no matter how much college or education they claim to have.

Quote
The Lonely Crowd is a 1950 sociological analysis by David Riesman, Nathan Glazer, and Reuel Denney. It is considered, along with White Collar: The American Middle Classes, written by Riesman's friend and colleague, C. Wright Mills, a landmark study of American character.[1]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lonely_Crowd

I read it. I did NOT just read the Cliff Notes. Beyond the snippet I just gave you from wikipedia, I did not review the book I read so many years ago to impress anybody here. I am responding to the article because that instantly retrieved "The Lonely Crowd" out of long term storage in my memory banks.

Here's the deal, Surly. A person is either driven by outside influences (peer pressure) or he is not. Yes, we all have a mixture of influences, both from without, and from within, that govern our behavior. But the ASSUMPTION that we are invariably governed by peer pressure is only valid if peer pressure ALWAYS overrides personal principles. Now, those Social Darwinst fascists at the helm of the media corporations that want to control our every whim probably believe that.

I do not. And you should not. A shit sandwich disguised as a chocolate chip cookie is still a shit sandwich, even if 40,000 bought and paid for bullshit artists are telling you otherwise.

What this boils down to is perception. The media fascists are attempting, as our gooberment and happy talk propaganda based social institutions have ALWAYS been trying to do (SEE: The Lonely Crowd), the "join the in crowd" con. They want us to feel "left out" if we do not do what "everybody else is doing".

But you and I know that everybody else is NOT "doing that". The polling of the American public makes it CRYSTAL CLEAR that they are on the right side of almost every issue of importance and value to an egalitarian socialist type government structure.

AND, most people, except for the allegedly big brained right wingers (like some who post here, who claim most people in the USA are ignorant rubes that swallow any bullshit, no matter how much it harms their best interests - how convenient for the right wing profit over people and planet Capitalist bastards.), DO REALIZE they are being handed a daily shit sandwich by the media and the gooberment.

Yeah, divide and conquer is what is going on. Yeah, they want to tear us apart. Yeah, they want to use the PERCEPTION (totally FALSE, but very convincing through bought and paid for repetition) that people who are guided by principle and not by the mob are outliers (i.e. anti-American/anti-Capitalist/Communists, etc. ad nauseum).

True, we all want to belong. But anyone who is willing to sacrifice their principles in order to "belong" is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

The article gives way to much weight to our need for peer group acceptance and ZERO weight to every average human's daily objective analysis of what is genuinely good for an individual and the society that he lives in (i.e. PRINCIPLED behavior).

I am not a Maslow robot. If the author believes that we humans, who certainly do possess base instincts that can, under certain conditions, be manipulated to our detriment and some bastard's profit (i.e. Capitalism), CANNOT function in any other way (i.e. Social Darwinsm is IT), then I must protest.

Social Darwinsim is NOT "IT". Maslow is NOT "IT".

We behave on principle or we perish. That is not hard to understand unless a person deliberately refuses to value principles because they deliberately refuse to give any value to morality based behavior. The book I read in college, The Lonely Crowd, TOTALLY missed the issue of principle. I said so then, even though I was an atheist at the time! LOL!

Yeah, I know Surly; I'm an outlier.
 
5
Surly Newz / Re: WHAT TRUMP REALLY TOLD KISLYAK AFTER COMEY WAS CANNED
« Last post by agelbert on Today at 11:20:30 AM »
EXCLUSIVE: WHAT TRUMP REALLY TOLD KISLYAK AFTER COMEY WAS CANNED

The Israeli Intelligence Community states that Trump betrayed them.

Of course.

Some very smart people knew this would happen over a year ago.



Trump win greeted with worldwide trepidation

But there is more. Are you aware of the fact that the U.S. was one of the three countries that just REFUSED to sign a U.N. Resolution condemning Nazi-ism? That was less than a week ago.

Trump is a NAZI, plain and simple. He will do ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING within his power to make Fascism GREAT again,






6
A VERY Furry Coyote Using his Fantastic Sense of Smell to Forage

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/e2vLy8e_0Lw" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/e2vLy8e_0Lw</a>

Wapusk National Park in Canada protects one of the world's largest concentrations of polar bear maternity dens (where female bears give birth). Tune in during the months of October and November, when polar bears congregate here at Cape Churchill waiting for the sea ice to form. The bears depend on the sea ice as a platform from which to hunt ringed seals, their main food source.

LIVE VIEWING HOURS: All Day
ESTABLISHED: October 2012

A Polar Bear Thanksgiving Dinner Requires a Lot More than a Turkey



https://explore.org/livecams/bears/polar-bear-cape-churchill-cam
7
Surly Newz / Re: The Surlynewz Channel
« Last post by Eddie on Today at 08:38:02 AM »
Fascinating stuff.

 I get what the author is saying, but I can't help but think there is a subset of critical thinking people who are much better informed than they would have been in the age of print, because they have the desire and the  ability to dive deep into research on just about any topic that interests them. The autodidacts of the world, turned loose in a very much bigger library than ever existed in times past.

No doubt this group, though, is quite small in relative terms, to the kind of instantly bored, stimulation seeking (yet dumbed down) masses. So I postulate that the information superhighway sorts people in a new and interesting way. One direction lies scholarship. The other, info-tainment.

Kinky Friedman used to write about his friend Ratso, who "had every book ever written about Jesus and Hitler". Some of us are like that now. I know one person, for instance, who reads practically everything about climate change and renewables. I know another who is deeply immersed in our current politics. I now know almost everything there is to know about publicly traded cannabis companies.

But for everyone like that, there are probably a thousand who get their information from sources like Fox News or Brietbart, and have no clue that all the information they're accessing is carefully filtered, and a thousand more who just want to watch Netflix or surf Tumblr.



8
I first encountered McLuhan as an undergraduate in communication back during the last ice age. Interesting to be reminded how he anticipated the implications of then-technological changes, when at the time it read, at least to be, as improbable nonsense.

This writer is addressing themes that occur to me, but which are too elusive for me to be competent to write about. One of the attributes of getting older being the you see your own ignorance in sharp relief.

INTO THE MAELSTROM: HOW THE HYPERCONNECTED AGE IS TEARING US APART

INTO THE MAELSTROM: HOW THE HYPERCONNECTED AGE IS TEARING US APART

Writing during the twilight age of literature, maverick media theorist Marshall McLuhan devoted his life to the understanding of the global mass media and its effect on human behavior. He argued that by changing our sense ratios, different communication technologies altered the focus of our mental attention and affected us both on an individual and societal level. For example, the communications satellite acted as a “proscenium arch” that made the TV generation all want to be performers, which led collectively to vast shifts in the nature of society as new industries emerged in response. In contemplating the humble photocopier in the 1960s, he saw the seeds of the audience participation and self-publishing that would come to characterize the internet:

“Xerox or xerograpy enables the reader to become a publisher, and this is an important aspect of electric circuitry. The audience is increasingly involved in the process. With print, the audience was detached, observant, but not involved. With circuitry, the reader, the audience becomes involved in itself and in the process of publishing. The future of the book is very much in the order of book as information service.”

Information would become personalized, as one would “phone up” a service and say the type of subject you were interested in knowing, and you’d be sent a “xerox” bundle personally compiled and curated for you as an individual. He also could see that the mass media was making the world smaller, coining the phrase the “global village,” prophesying electronic media (as he called it) would have a “retribalizing” effect on us by shifting us back to oral rather than literate cultural patterns. While the idea of the global village has practically entered the common tongue, one lesser known metaphor ran through all of his work but perhaps summed up his thinking more totally; the Maelstrom. The term was drawn from Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, A Descent into the Maelstrom in which three fishermen were sucked into a gargantuan whirlpool while out at sea, and describes how they tried to escape the monstrosity:

“At first only saw hideous terror in the spectacle. In a moment of revelation, he saw that the Maelstrom is a beautiful and awesome creation. Observing how objects around him were pulled into it, he deduced that ‘the larger the bodies, the more rapid their descent.””

For McLuhan saw the mass media as a titanic vortex pulling society towards new forms of behaviours — new ways of being — that threatened to completely overwhelm or even destroy it.

In the electric age, the fluid nature of information and the sheer amount of it thwarted our attempts at top-down classification methods so characteristic of literate culture. His hopes that like the sailor protagonist of the poem, that if we now study the perturbations and “configurations” of the mass media, we can make sense of it and devise a way escape its centripetal pull.

“The huge vortices of energy created by our media present us with similar possibilities of evasion or consequences of destruction. By studying the patterns of the effects of this huge vortex of energy in which we are involved, it may be possible to program a strategy of evasion and survival.”

At the same time McLuhan was captivating television audiences with his often cryptic prophesies and ideas, the political scientist Simon Herbert was discussing the evolving landscape of communication technology from a less poetic, but perhaps more practical perspective. When he coined the phrase “attention economy” in the early 70s, about 18 computers were attached to the internet. But even though the internet was still in its infancy, he could see how the growth of global mass media and cheap publishing were putting an increasing strain on our ability to collect and process information, writing that:

“A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.”

He viewed this first and foremost as an organizational challenge; that “scarcity of attention in an information-rich world will be measured by the time, in minutes or hours, say, of a human executive” and as such, the information presented to them then needed to be accurate, useful and worthy of attention to begin with. If it was deficient in any part and did not correspond to reality, any decisions based on it could be botched at best and catastrophic at worst. The larger and more hierarchical the organization the greater the challenge, as each layer acts as an information filter that selectively processed data to channel to the top of the “pyramid.” This being the height of the Cold War, the hierarchical system that most concerned Simon was the American Government, writing that “a frightening array of matter converges on that single, serial information processing system, the President of the United States.”

Today, Big Data problems are still primarily framed as commercial and organizational challenges; of how wisdom can be sourced from exponential oceans of data measured in exabytes, zettabytes or other numbers alien to human scale. Even as we make advances, by developing machine learning tools to mine the vast data sets as they grow in size and complexity, we are like Lewis Carroll’s Red Queen, running to stay in the same place.

As more of us migrate online, and the more physical environment is colonized with information harvesting devices to catalogue every waking and sleeping moment, this is only going to get worse in the coming decades and centuries. Today the sheer speed at which we are exposed to information undermines any systematic and rational analysis almost by its very nature, either as organizations or as an individual. What was a whirlpool to McLuhan in the middle of the 20th century is today more akin to the Eye of Jupiter, a monster that, as it encroaches closer to our immediate realities, threatens to tear them apart.

The multi-tabbed, multi-screen, multi-channeled, multi-media prism through which we currently experience the world is already wreaking havoc with our ability to think clearly. The constant competition between signals clawing for attention erodes our “working memory”  — the neural architecture associated with our capacity for controlled attention and complex reasoning.Increasingly we interact with information through stimulus-driven attention; the unthinking animal response that does what it says on the tin. The media theorist Kevin Kelly similarly writes of how the medium of the book neurologically changed the brain, making it “focused, immersed,” training our minds to follow a single topic in incredible depth. He calls it “literature space”:

“One can spend hours reading on the web and never encounter this literature space. One gets fragments, threads, glimpses. That is the web’s great attraction: miscellaneous pieces loosely joined. But without some kind of containment, these loosely joined pieces spin away, nudging a reader’s attention onwards, wandering from the central narrative or argument.”

In 2007, English professor N.Katherine Hayles wrote of modern media causing a shift from “deep attention” that involves concentrating one’s mental focus on a single object or information stream, to what she calls “hyper attention,” which is:

“Characterized by switching focus rapidly among different tasks, preferring multiple information streams, seeking a high level of stimulation, and having a low tolerance for boredom.”

She did not see this so much as a new evolutionary adaptation to cope with the challenges of navigating the Maelstrom, so much as a reversion to a much older way of processing sensory information, drawn from our deep past in the Paleolithic jungle. She wrote this the same year the iPhone entered the market, massively escalating the war for our attention, creating a new, user-friendly means for psychic contagion to spread at the speed of light, right into the palm of our hands.

Today the Darwinian struggle for attention between advertisers, marketers, bloggers, charlatans, narcissists, political fanatics, religious zealots and general attention seekers-results in a race-to-the-bottom tactic to trigger emotions and get a hasty share or retweet. Any mashup of dubious stats, images, half-truths and hyperbole can be arranged in a way that can make the most preposterous conclusions appear plausible. The ease of access to information through search engines has created the illusion that truth is at our fingertips, instead, it is the ability to justify any prejudice or bias in seconds, or find other communities to do it on our behalf.

From artfully crafted selfies to outrage-inducing memes, we treat information pulled from the Maelstrom like so much ochre paste and seashells; simply baubles with which to decorate ourselves, there to signal social status and tribal allegiance. And because we’re often not thinking about or even consuming this media — and max-out on cognitive biases when we do — outrageous claims don’t even need to stand up to much scrutiny. Indeed, scrutiny is increasingly hard work. And even when we can force ourselves to wield deep attention long enough to do some sleuthing, the vast amounts of information available to us means that any topic can be explored in fractal levels of detail, with certainty itself remaining frustratingly elusive.

While truth might indeed lurk out there in the murk of the deep web, journeying out there to find it and bringing it back to the ordinary world is far too onerous for many of the TL/DR generation to contemplate. Instead things are “true” when they provide social validation within a like-minded peer group  —  the only metric of consequence  —  and not any proximity to empirical reality. It will come as little surprise to the reader that these frailties are routinely exploited.

9
https://nypost.com/2017/11/22/how-a-homeless-mans-selfless-act-changed-his-life/

How a homeless manís selfless act changed his life

What a wonderful story... A genuine miracle.
10
EXCLUSIVE: WHAT TRUMP REALLY TOLD KISLYAK AFTER COMEY WAS CANNED

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

 
trump lavrov kislyak
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, President Donald Trump, and Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak meeting in the Oval Office at the White House on May 10th, 2017.
By Alexander Shcherbak/TASS/Getty Images.

On a dark night at the tail end of last winter, just a month after the inauguration of the new American president, an evening when only a sickle moon hung in the Levantine sky, two Israeli Sikorsky CH-53 helicopters flew low across Jordan and then, staying under the radar, veered north toward the twisting ribbon of shadows that was the Euphrates River. On board, waiting with a professional stillness as they headed into the hostile heart of Syria, were Sayeret Matkal commandos, the Jewish state’s elite counterterrorism force, along with members of the technological unit of the Mossad, its foreign-espionage agency. Their target: an ISIS cell that was racing to get a deadly new weapon thought to have been devised by Ibrahim al-Asiri, the Saudi national who was al-Qaeda’s master bombmaker in Yemen.

It was a covert mission whose details were reconstructed for Vanity Fair by two experts on Israeli intelligence operations. It would lead to the unnerving discovery that ISIS terrorists were working on transforming laptop computers into bombs that could pass undetected through airport security. U.S. Homeland Security officials—quickly followed by British authorities—banned passengers traveling from an accusatory list of Muslim-majority countries from carrying laptops and other portable electronic devices larger than a cell phone on arriving planes. It would not be until four tense months later, as foreign airports began to comply with new, stringent American security directives, that the ban would be lifted on an airport-by-airport basis.

In the secretive corridors of the American espionage community, the Israeli mission was praised by knowledgeable officials as a casebook example of a valued ally’s hard-won field intelligence being put to good, arguably even lifesaving, use.

Yet this triumph would be overshadowed by an astonishing conversation in the Oval Office in May, when an intemperate President Trump revealed details about the classified mission to Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, and Sergey I. Kislyak, then Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. Along with the tempest of far-reaching geopolitical consequences that raged as a result of the president’s disclosure, fresh blood was spilled in his long-running combative relationship with the nation’s clandestine services. Israel—as well as America’s other allies—would rethink its willingness to share raw intelligence, and pretty much the entire Free World was left shaking its collective head in bewilderment as it wondered, not for the first time, what was going on with Trump and Russia. (In fact, Trump’s disturbing choice to hand over highly sensitive intelligence to the Russians is now a focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s relationship with Russia, both before and after the election.) In the hand-wringing aftermath, the entire event became, as is so often the case with spy stories, a tale about trust and betrayal.

And yet, the Israelis cannot say they weren’t warned.

In the American-Israeli intelligence relationship, it is customary for the Mossad station chief and his operatives working under diplomatic cover out of the embassy in Washington to go to the C.I.A.’s Langley, Virginia, headquarters when a meeting is scheduled. This deferential protocol is based on a realistic appraisal of the situation: America is a superpower, and Israel, as one of the country’s senior intelligence officials recently conceded with self-effacing candor, is “a speck of dust in the wind.”

Nevertheless, over the years the Israeli dust has been sprinkled with flecks of pure intel gold. It was back in 1956, when the Cold War was running hot, that Israeli diplomats in Warsaw managed to get their hands on the text of Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev’s top-secret speech to the Twentieth Party Congress in Moscow. Khrushchev’s startling words were a scathing indictment of Stalin’s three dec­ades of oppressive rule, and signalled a huge shift in Soviet dogma—just the sort of invaluable intelligence the C.I.A. was eager to get its hands on. Recognizing the value of what they had, the Israelis quickly delivered the text to U.S. officials. And with this unexpected gift, a mutually beneficial relationship between the resourceful Jewish spies and the American intelligence Leviathan began to take root.

Over the ensuing decades it has expanded into a true working partnership. The two countries have gone as far as to institutionalize their joint spying. The purloined documents released to the press by Edward Snowden, for example, revealed that the N.S.A., the American electronic-intelligence agency that eavesdrops on the world, and Unit 8200, its Israeli counterpart, have an agreement to share the holiest of intelligence holies: raw electronic intercepts. And the two countries inventively worked in tandem, during the administration of George W. Bush and continuing with President Obama, on Operation Olympic Games, creating and disseminating the pernicious computer viruses that succeeded in damaging Iran’s uranium-enrichment centrifuges. American and Israeli spooks have even killed together. In 2008, after President George W. Bush signed off on the operation, the C.I.A. cooperated with agents from the Mossad’s Kidon—the Hebrew word for “bayonet,” an appropriate name for a sharp-edged unit that specializes in what Israeli officials euphemistically call “targeted prevention.” The shared target was Imad Mughniyah, the Hezbollah international operations chief, and any further terrorist acts he’d been planning were quite effectively prevented: Mughniyah was blown to pieces, body parts flying across a Damascus parking lot, as he passed an S.U.V. containing a specially-designed C.I.A. bomb. But like any marriage, the cozy—yet inherently unequal—partnership between the American and Israeli intelligence agencies has had its share of stormy weather. In fact, an irreparable divorce seemed likely in 1985 after it was discovered that Israel was running a very productive agent, Jonathan Pollard, inside U.S. Naval Intelligence. For a difficult period—measured out in years, not months—the American spymasters fumed, and the relationship was more tentative than collaborative.

But spies are by instinct and profession a pragmatic breed, and so by the 1990s the existence of shared enemies, as well as shared threats, worked to foster a reconciliation. Besides, each had something the other needed: Israel had agents buried deep in neighboring Arab countries, producing “HUMINT,” as the jargon of the trade refers to information obtained by human assets. While the U.S. possessed the best technological toys its vast wealth could buy; its “SIGINT,” or signals intelligence, could pick up the chatter in most any souk in the Arab world.

And so by the time of Trump’s election, despite the snarky, rather personal feud between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama, the two countries’ spies were back playing their old tricks. Together they were taking on a rogues’ gallery of common villains: al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Islamic State. “We are the front line,” a high-ranking Israeli military official bragged to me, “in America’s war on terror.” Over recent months, the U.S. intelligence windfall has been particularly bountiful. Israel, according to sources with access to the activities of the Mossad and Unit 8200, has delivered information about Russia’s interaction with the Syrian, Iranian, and Hezbollah forces taking the field in the Syrian civil war. And there is little that gets American military strategists more excited than learning what sort of tactics Russia is employing.

It was against this reassuring backdrop of recent successes and shared history, an Israeli source told Vanity Fair, that a small group of Mossad officers and other Israeli intelligence officials took their seats in a Langley conference room on a January morning just weeks before the inauguration of Donald Trump. The meeting proceeded uneventfully; updates on a variety of ongoing classified operations were dutifully shared. It was only as the meeting was about to break up that an American spymaster solemnly announced there was one more thing: American intelligence agencies had come to believe that Russian president Vladimir Putin had “leverages of pressure” over Trump, he declared without offering further specifics, according to a report in the Israeli press. Israel, the American officials continued, should “be careful” after January 20—the date of Trump’s inauguration. It was possible that sensitive information shared with the White House and the National Security Council could be leaked to the Russians. A moment later the officials added what many of the Israelis had already deduced: it was reasonable to presume that the Kremlin would share some of what they learned with their ally Iran, Israel’s most dangerous adversary.

Currents of alarm and anger raced through those pres­ent at the meeting, says the Israeli source, but their superiors in Israel remained unconvinced—no supporting evidence, after all, had been provided—and chose to ignore the prognostication.

The covert mission into the forbidden plains of northern Syria was a “blue and white” undertaking, as Israel, referring to the colors of its flag, calls ops that are carried out solely by agents of the Jewish state.

Yet—and this is an ironclad operational rule—getting agents in and then swiftly out of enemy territory under the protection of the nighttime darkness can be accomplished only if there is sufficient reconnaissance: the units need to know exactly where to strike, what to expect, what might be out there waiting for them in the shadows. For the mission last winter that targeted a cell of terrorist bombers, according to ABC News, citing American officials, the dangerous groundwork was done by an Israeli spy planted deep inside ISIS territory. Whether he was a double agent Israel had either turned or infiltrated into the ISIS cell, or whether he was simply a local who’d happened to stumble upon some provocative information he realized he could sell—those details remain locked in the secret history of the mission.

What is apparent after interviews with intelligence sources both in Israel and the U.S. is that on the night of the infiltration the helicopters carrying the blue-and-white units came down several miles from their target. Two jeeps bearing Syrian Army markings were unloaded, the men hopped in, and, hearts racing, they drove as if it had been the most natural of patrols into the pre-dawn stillness of an enemy city.

“A shadow unit of ghosts” is what the generals of Aman, Israel’s military-intelligence organization, envisioned when they set up Sayeret Matkal. And on this night the soldiers fanned out like ghosts in the shadows, armed and on protective alert, as the Mossad tech agents did their work.

Again, the operational details are sparse, and even contradictory. One source said the actual room where the ISIS cell would meet was spiked, a tiny marvel of a microphone placed where it would never be noticed. Another maintained that an adjacent telephone junction box had been ingeniously manipulated so that every word spoken in a specific location would be overheard.

The sources agree, however, that the teams got in and out that night, and, even before the returning choppers landed back in Israel, it was confirmed to the jubilant operatives that the audio intercept was already up and running.

Now the waiting began. From an antenna-strewn base near the summit of the Golan Heights, on Israel’s border with Syria, listeners from Unit 8200 monitored the transmissions traveling across the ether from the target in northern Syria. Surveillance is a game played long, but after several wasted days 8200’s analysts were starting to suspect that their colleagues had been misinformed, possibly deliberately, by the source in the field. They were beginning to fear that all the risk had been taken without any genuine prospect of reward.

Then what they’d been waiting for was suddenly coming in loud and clear, according to Israeli sources familiar with the operation: it was, as a sullen spy official described it, “a primer in constructing a terror weapon.” With an unemotional precision, an ISIS soldier detailed how to turn a laptop computer into a terror weapon that could pass through airport security and be carried on board a passenger plane. ISIS had obtained a new way to cause airliners to explode suddenly, free-falling from the sky in flames. When the news of this frightening ISIS lecture arrived at Mossad’s headquarters outside Tel Aviv, officials quickly decided to share the field intelligence with their American counterparts. The urgency of the highly classified information trumped any security misgivings. Still, as one senior Israeli military official suggested, the Israeli decision was also egged on by a professional vanity: they wanted their partners in Washington to marvel at the sort of impossible missions they could pull off.

They did. It was a much-admired, as well as appreciated, gift—and it scared the living hell out of the American spymasters who received it.

On the cloudy spring morning of May 10, just an uneasy day after the president’s sudden firing of F.B.I. director James B. Comey, who had been leading the probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives, a beaming President Trump huddled in the Oval Office with Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Kislyak.

And, no less improbably, Trump seemed not to notice, or feel restrained by, the unfortunate timing of his conversation with Russian officials who were quite possibly co-conspirators in a plot to undermine the U.S. electoral process. Instead, full of a chummy candor, the president turned to his Russian guests and blithely acknowledged the elephant lurking in the room. “I just fired the head of the F.B.I.,” he said, according to a record of the meeting shared with The New York Times. “He was crazy, a real nut job.” With the sort of gruff pragmatism a Mafia don would use to justify the necessity of a hit, he further explained, “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” Yet that was only the morning’s perplexing prelude. What had been an unseemly conversation between the president and two high-ranking Russian officials soon turned into something more dangerous.

“I get great intel,” the president suddenly boasted, as prideful as if he were bragging about the amenities at one of his company’s hotels. “I have people brief me on great intel every day.”

He quickly went on to share with representatives of a foreign adversary not only the broad outlines of the plot to turn laptop computers into airborne bombs but also at least one highly classified operational detail—the sort of sensitive, locked-in-the-vault intel that was not shared with even Congress or friendly governments. The president did not name the U.S. partner who had spearheaded the operation. (Journalists, immediately all over the astonishing story, would soon out Israel). But, more problematic, President Trump cavalierly identified the specific city in ISIS-held territory where the threat had been detected.

As for the two Russians, there’s no record of their response. Their silence would be understandable: why interrupt the flow of information? But in their minds, no doubt they were already drafting the cable they’d send to the Kremlin detailing their great espionage coup.

So why? Why did a president who has time after volatile time railed against leakers, who has attacked Hillary Clinton for playing fast and loose with classified information, cozy up to a couple of Russian bigwigs in the Oval Office and breezily offer government secrets?

Any answer is at best conjecture. Yet in the search for an important truth, consider these hypotheses, each of which has its own supporters among past and current members of the U.S. intelligence community.

The first is a bit of armchair psychology. In Trump’s irrepressible way of living in the world, wealth is real only if other people believe you’re rich. If you don’t flaunt it, then you might as well not have it.

So there is the new president, shaky as any bounder might be in the complicated world of international politics, sitting down to a head-to-head with a pair of experienced Russians. How can he impress them? Get them to appreciate that he’s not some lightweight, but rather a genuine player on the world stage. 

There’s also the school of thought that the episode is another unfortunate example of Trump’s impressionable worldview being routinely shaped by the last thing he’s heard, be it that morning’s broadcast of Fox & Friends or an intelligence briefing in the Oval Office. As advocates of this theory point out, the president was likely told that one of the issues still on his guests’ minds would be the terrorist explosion back in October 2015 that brought down a Russian passenger plane flying above Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board. With that seed planted in the president’s undisciplined mind, it’s a short leap for him to be off and running to the Russians about what he knew about an ISIS scheme to target passenger aircraft.

Yet there is also a more sinister way to connect all the dots. There are some petulant voices in official Washington who insist that the president’s treachery was deliberate, part of his longtime collaboration with the Russians. It is a true believer’s orthodoxy, one which predicts that the meeting will wind up being one more damning count in an indictment that Robert Mueller, the special counsel, will ultimately nail to the White House door.

But, for now, to bolster their still very circumstantial case, they point to a curiosity surrounding the meeting in the Oval Office—U.S. journalists were kept out. And, no less an oddity, the Russian press was allowed in. It was the photographer from TASS, the state-run Russian news agency, who snapped the only shots that documented the occasion for posterity. Or, for that matter, for the grand jury.

But ultimately it is the actions of men, not their motives, that propel history forward. And the president’s reckless disclosure continues to wreak havoc. On one level, the greatest casualty was trust. The president was already waging a perilous verbal war with the U.S. intelligence agencies. His sharing secrets with the Russians has very likely ground whatever remnants of a working relationship had survived into irreparable pieces. “How can the agency continue to provide the White House with intel,” challenged one former operative, “without wondering where it will wind up?” And he added ominously, “Those leaks to The New York Times and The Washington Post about the investigations into Trump and his cohorts is no accident. Trust me: you don’t want to get into a pissing match with a bunch of spooks. This is war.”

And what about America’s vital intelligence relationships with its allies? Former C.I.A. deputy director Michael Morell publicly worried, “Third countries who provide the United States with intelligence information will now have pause.”

In Israel, though, the mood is more than merely wary. “Mr. Netanyahu’s intelligence chiefs . . . are up in arms,” a prominent Israeli journalist insisted in The New York Times. In recent interviews with Israeli intelligence sources the frequently used operative verb was “whiten”—as in “certain units from now on will whiten their reports before passing them on to agencies in America.”

What further exacerbates Israel’s concerns—“keeps me up at night” was how a government spymaster put it—is that if Trump is handing over Israel’s secrets to the Russians, then he just might as well be delivering them to Iran, Russia’s current regional ally. And it is an expansionist Iran, one Israeli after another was determined to point out in the course of discussions, that is arming Hez­bol­lah with sophisticated rockets and weaponry while at the same time becoming an increasingly visible economic and military presence in Syria.

“Trump betrayed us,” said a senior Israeli military official bluntly, his voice stern with reproach. “And if we can’t trust him, then we’re going to have to do what is necessary on our own if our back is up against the wall with Iran.” Yet while appalled governments are now forced to rethink their tactics in future dealings with a wayward president, there is also the dismaying possibility that a more tangible, and more lethal, consequence has already occurred. “The Russians will undoubtedly try to figure out the source or the method of this information to make sure that it is not also collecting on their activities in Syria—and in trying to do that they could well disrupt the source,” said Michael Morell.

What, then, was the fate of Israel’s agent in Syria? Was the operative exfiltrated to safety? Has he gone to ground in enemy territory? Or was he hunted down and killed? One former Mossad officer with knowledge of the operation and its aftermath will not say. Except to add pointedly, “Whatever happened to him, it’s a hell of price to pay for a president’s mistake.”

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