Russian agent Maria Butina to be sentenced in U.S. on April 26

#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/03/28/russian-agent-maria-butina-to.html

The admitted agent for Russia was connected with the NRA and pro-Trump U.S. political groups.

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#2

Someday far in the post-Republican future, Americans will realise that one of the NRA’s main missions was the destruction of liberal-democratic values at home and abroad.

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#3

Enjoy that Murican hospitality, 3 hots and a cot style.

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#4

When I look at that mugshot I think of what might have been if Ed was the criminal and H.I. was the cop

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#5

She’s a very interesting person, and only half of her story is out. I wonder if the NRA will face consequences?

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#6

I think you mean Paul Erickson here (photo caption is correct, but the article calls him Eric twice - who is a different person).

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#7

Have they ever really faced consequences? I guess there could be a first time.

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#8

Also remember: “U.S. prosecutors have acknowledged they misunderstood text messages they used to claim in court that a Russian woman traded sex for access”

That whole part of the story is not true.

#9

“Turn to the right!”

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#10

What’s the point of remembering that?

#11

We aren’t getting the full story. Someone above made sexual joke about it.

The real story is how over blown all of this is.

"With Russiagate the national press abandoned any pretense that there’s a difference between indictment and conviction. The most disturbing story involved Maria Butina. Here authorities and the press shared responsibility. Thanks to an indictment that initially said the Russian traded sex for favors, the Times and other outlets flooded the news cycle with breathless stories about a redheaded slut-temptress come to undermine democracy, a “real-life Red Sparrow,” as ABC put it.

But a judge threw out the sex charge after “five minutes” when it turned out to be based on a single joke text to a friend who had taken Butina’s car for inspection.

It’s pretty hard to undo public perception you’re a prostitute once it’s been in a headline, and, worse, the headlines are still out there. You can still find stories like “Maria Butina, Suspected Secret Agent, Used Sex in Covert Plan” online in the New York Times."

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2019/03/matt-taibbi-its-official-russiagate-is-this-generations-wmd.html

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#12

A new use for McCarthyism:

“Lacking evidence of espionage, money laundering, passing cash to the Trump campaign, violating Russian sanctions, or any other crime, prosecutors finally turned to Section 951, acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign power. Based on the Espionage Act of 1917, the law was enacted in 1948 during the “Red Scare,” a time when Senator Joseph McCarthy exploited the exaggerated fears of Communist infiltration of government, the film industry, and other parts of society.”–

https://newrepublic.com/article/153036/maria-butina-profile-wasnt-russian-spy

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#13

“Butina has admitted to conspiring with a Russian official and two Americans from 2015 until her arrest to infiltrate the National Rifle Association and create unofficial lines of communication to try to make Washington’s policy toward Moscow more friendly. The NRA is closely aligned with U.S. conservatives and Republican politicians including President Donald Trump.”

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#14

I mean what incredibly powerful US lobbying group HASN’T been infiltrated and directly funded by Putin’s spooks, right??

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#15

A Russian national with ties to high level folks who are friends with Putin gained access to a group with the purpose of covertly influencing US policy. Espionage only means she didn’t try to get people to steal military/classified information.

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#16

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#17

So “Russian national” just means she was born in Russia. The ties to high level folk, according to the article I posted are negligible.

Nationals are constantly trying to influence US policy, there’s this place called Israel and Saudi Arabia, ever hear of them?

According to the New Republic article, she was specifically NOT a Russian spy.

Often times making a plea deal for a lesser sentence is the way to go.

While it is certainly possible that all these things could be true about her, there is a huge degree of faith taken on the part of people just accepting this narrative. As Matt Taibi pointed out it’s worse than WMDs in terms of how much speculation is being taken as fact.

The problem seems to lie in that fact that Trump is such a vile, horrible person that people will take “Any means necessary” to try to take him down, including fuddling the facts. Not only is it unethical but when it fails, as every indication of the Mueller report suggests it has, then it undermines our media and “fake news” becomes a real thing, and far worse: it has given Trump his campaign focus for 2020: “See, fake news!!”

I’m a bit disappointed in Boing Boing for carrying on this narrative though. She’s an accused Russian agent, it hasn’t been proven that she is a Russian agent. OK, sure “agent” can mean different things, but it’s a loaded word in this context. Just look at the comments here? An indictment is a charge, not proof. From the article:

"Prosecutors were hoping to get her to plead guilty rather than go to trial, and had even agreed to drop the major charge against her: acting as an unregistered foreign agent of Russia. Born and raised in Siberia, she is terrified of solitary confinement. Fifteen days later, still in solitary, she signed the agreement, pleading guilty to the lesser charge, one count of conspiracy. "

I would compare her case to Reality Winner, who also entered a plea deal.

Hatred for Trump has led to abandonment of reason and objectivity. And I bet not one person with the snarky collusion comments had even bothered to find her side of the story.

#18

Yes, I read that. Now you should go read the New Republic article which details why she entered a plea deal which included that admission. She wasn’t “trying to infiltrate” anything. She was openly advocating for relaxing gun control laws in Russia, so the NRA was an obvious model. She didn’t do anything covert.

She believed that in this country she was free to work with people to achieve her goals. That’s not conspiracy, it’s networking.

Sure, her goals were deplorable. I mean, who can look at this country from the outside and think that the NRA has it right on gun control? But she wan’t trying to undermine anything. She was a naive, misguided activist, not a spy.

Why is it that we’re all–including the press–suddenly so willing to trust agencies like the FBI and CIA?

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#19

I’m sorry to sound so blaise, but Maria Butina seems like small potatoes these days.

#20

According to their donation begging emails, they are almost ready to fold under debt.

But… If they do (they probably won’t), gun nuts have been talking for a while about even more batshit-crazy gun rights groups.

Be careful what you wish for.