The CIA Just Declassified the Document That Supposedly Justified the Iraq Invasion

The CIA Just Declassified the Document That Supposedly Justified the Iraq Invasion

By Jason Leopold

Thirteen years ago, the intelligence community concluded in a 93-page classified document used to justify the invasion of Iraq that it lacked “specific information” on “many key aspects” of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs.

But that’s not what top Bush administration officials said during their campaign to sell the war to the American public. Those officials, citing the same classified document, asserted with no uncertainty that Iraq was actively pursuing nuclear weapons, concealing a vast chemical and biological weapons arsenal, and posing an immediate and grave threat to US national security.

Congress eventually concluded that the Bush administration had “overstated” its dire warnings about the Iraqi threat, and that the administration’s claims about Iraq’s WMD program were “not supported by the underlying intelligence reporting.” But that underlying intelligence reporting — contained in the so-called National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that was used to justify the invasion — has remained shrouded in mystery until now.

The CIA released a copy of the NIE in 2004 in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, but redacted virtually all of it, citing a threat to national security. Then last year, John Greenewald, who operates The Black Vault, a clearinghouse for declassified government documents, asked the CIA to take another look at the October 2002 NIE to determine whether any additional portions of it could be declassified.

The agency responded to Greenewald this past January and provided him with a new version of the NIE, which he shared exclusively with VICE News, that restores the majority of the prewar Iraq intelligence that has eluded historians, journalists, and war critics for more than a decade. (Some previously redacted portions of the NIE had previously been disclosed in congressional reports.)

‘The fact that the NIE concluded that there was no operational tie between Saddam and al Qaeda did not offset this alarming assessment.’

For the first time, the public can now read the hastily drafted CIA document [pdf below] that led Congress to pass a joint resolution authorizing the use of military force in Iraq, a costly war launched March 20, 2003 that was predicated on “disarming” Iraq of its (non-existent) WMD, overthrowing Saddam Hussein, and “freeing” the Iraqi people.

report issued by the government funded think-tank RAND Corporation last December titled “Blinders, Blunders and Wars” said the NIE “contained several qualifiers that were dropped…. As the draft NIE went up the intelligence chain of command, the conclusions were treated increasingly definitively.”

An example of that: According to the newly declassified NIE, the intelligence community concluded that Iraq “probably has renovated a [vaccine] production plant” to manufacture biological weapons “but we are unable to determine whether [biological weapons] agent research has resumed.” The NIE also said Hussein did not have “sufficient material” to manufacture any nuclear weapons and “the information we have on Iraqi nuclear personnel does not appear consistent with a coherent effort to reconstitute a nuclear weapons program.”

But in an October 7, 2002 speech in Cincinnati, Ohio, then-President George W. Bush simply said Iraq, “possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons” and “the evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program.”

One of the most significant parts of the NIE revealed for the first time is the section pertaining to Iraq’s alleged links to al Qaeda. In September 2002, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld claimed the US had “bulletproof” evidence linking Hussein’s regime to the terrorist group.

“We do have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of al Qaeda members, including some that have been in Baghdad,” Rumsfeld said. “We have what we consider to be very reliable reporting of senior-level contacts going back a decade, and of possible chemical- and biological-agent training.”

But the NIE said its information about a working relationship between al Qaeda and Iraq was based on “sources of varying reliability” — like Iraqi defectors — and it was not at all clear that Hussein had even been aware of a relationship, if in fact there were one.

“As with much of the information on the overall relationship, details on training and support are second-hand,” the NIE said. “The presence of al-Qa’ida militants in Iraq poses many questions. We do not know to what extent Baghdad may be actively complicit in this use of its territory for safehaven and transit.”

The declassified NIE provides details about the sources of some of the suspect intelligence concerning allegations Iraq trained al Qaeda operatives on chemical and biological weapons deployment — sources like War on Terror detainees who were rendered to secret CIA black site prisons, and others who were turned over to foreign intelligence services and tortured. Congress’s later investigation into prewar Iraq intelligence concluded that the intelligence community based its claims about Iraq’s chemical and biological training provided to al Qaeda on a single source.

“Detainee Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi — who had significant responsibility for training — has told us that Iraq provided unspecified chemical or biological weapons training for two al-Qai’ida members beginning in December 2000,” the NIE says. “He has claimed, however, that Iraq never sent any chemical, biological, or nuclear substances — or any trainers — to al-Qa’ida in Afghanistan.”

Al-Libi was the emir of the Khaldan training camp in Afghanistan, which the Taliban closed prior to 9/11 because al-Libi refused to turn over control to Osama bin Laden.

Last December, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a declassified summary of its so-called Torture Report on the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program. A footnote stated that al-Libi, a Libyan national, “reported while in [redacted] custody that Iraq was supporting al-Qa’ida and providing assistance with chemical and biological weapons.”

“Some of this information was cited by Secretary [of State Colin] Powell in his speech to the United Nations, and was used as a justification for the 2003 invasion of Iraq,” the Senate torture report said. “Ibn Shaykh al-Libi recanted the claim after he was rendered to CIA custody on February [redacted] 2003, claiming that he had been tortured by the [redacted], and only told them what he assessed they wanted to hear.”

Al-Libi reportedly committed suicide in a Libyan prison in 2009, about a month after human rights investigators met with him.

The NIE goes on to say that “none of the [redacted] al-Qa’ida members captured during [the Afghanistan war] report having been trained in Iraq or by Iraqi trainers elsewhere, but given al-Qa’ida’s interest over the years in training and expertise from outside sources, we cannot discount reports of such training entirely.”

All told, this is the most damning language in the NIE about Hussein’s links to al Qaeda: While the Iraqi president “has not endorsed al-Qa’ida’s overall agenda and has been suspicious of Islamist movements in general, apparently he has not been averse to some contacts with the organization.”

The NIE suggests that the CIA had sources within the media to substantiate details about meetings between al Qaeda and top Iraqi government officials held during the 1990s and 2002 — but some were not very reliable. “Several dozen additional direct or indirect meetings are attested to by less reliable clandestine and press sources over the same period,” the NIE says.

The RAND report noted, “The fact that the NIE concluded that there was no operational tie between Saddam and al Qaeda did not offset this alarming assessment.”

The NIE also restores another previously unknown piece of “intelligence”: a suggestion that Iraq was possibly behind the letters laced with anthrax sent to news organizations and senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy a week after the 9/11 attacks. The attacks killed five people and sickened 17 others.

“We have no intelligence information linking Iraq to the fall 2001 attacks in the United States, but Iraq has the capability to produce spores of Bacillus anthracis — the causative agent of anthrax — similar to the dry spores used in the letters,” the NIE said. “The spores found in the Daschle and Leahy letters are highly purified, probably requiring a high level of skill and expertise in working with bacterial spores. Iraqi scientists could have such expertise,” although samples of a biological agent Iraq was known to have used as an anthrax simulant “were not as pure as the anthrax spores in the letters.”

Paul Pillar, a former veteran CIA analyst for the Middle East who was in charge of coordinating the intelligence community’s assessments on Iraq, told VICE news that “the NIE’s bio weapons claims” was based on unreliable sources such as Ahmad Chalabi, the former head of the Iraqi National Congress, an opposition group supported by the US.

“There was an insufficient critical skepticism about some of the source material,” he now says about the unredacted NIE. “I think there should have been agnosticism expressed in the main judgments. It would have been a better paper if it were more carefully drafted in that sort of direction.”

But Pillar, now a visiting professor at Georgetown University, added that the Bush administration had already made the decision to go to war in Iraq, so the NIE “didn’t influence [their] decision.” Pillar added that he was told by congressional aides that only a half-dozen senators and a few House members read past the NIE’s five-page summary.

David Kay, a former Iraq weapons inspector who also headed the Iraq Survey Group, told Frontline that the intelligence community did a “poor job” on the NIE, “probably the worst of the modern NIE’s, partly explained by the pressure, but more importantly explained by the lack of information they had. And it was trying to drive towards a policy conclusion where the information just simply didn’t support it.”

The most controversial part of the NIE, which has been picked apart hundreds of times over the past decade and has been thoroughly debunked, pertained to a section about Iraq’s attempts to acquire aluminum tubes. The Bush administration claimed that this was evidence that Iraq was pursuing a nuclear weapon.

National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice stated at the time on CNN that the tubes “are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs,” and that “we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

The version of the NIE released in 2004 redacted the aluminum tubes section in its entirety. But the newly declassified assessment unredacts a majority of it and shows that the intelligence community was unsure why “Saddam is personally interested in the procurement of aluminum tubes.” The US Department of Energy concluded that the dimensions of the aluminum tubes were “consistent with applications to rocket motors” and “this is the more likely end use.” The State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research also disagreed with the intelligence community’s assertions that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons program.

The CIA’s 25-page unclassified summary of the NIE released in 2002 did not contain the State or Energy Departments’ dissent.

“Apart from being influenced by policymakers’ desires, there were several other reasons that the NIE was flawed,” the RAND study concluded. “Evidence on mobile biological labs, uranium ore purchases from Niger, and unmanned-aerial-vehicle delivery systems for WMDs all proved to be false. It was produced in a hurry. Human intelligence was scarce and unreliable. While many pieces of evidence were questionable, the magnitude of the questionable evidence had the effect of making the NIE more convincing and ominous. The basic case that Saddam had WMDs seemed more plausible to analysts than the alternative case that he had destroyed them. And analysts knew that Saddam had a history of deception, so evidence against Saddam’s possession of WMDs was often seen as deception.”

According to the latest figures compiled by Iraq Body Count, to date more than 200,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed, although other sources say the casualties are twice as high. More than 4,000 US soldiers have been killed in Iraq, and tens of thousands more have been injured and maimed. The war has cost US taxpayers more than $800 billion.

In an interview with VICE founder Shane Smith, Obama said the rise of the Islamic State was a direct result of the disastrous invasion.

“ISIL is a direct outgrowth of al Qaeda in Iraq that grew out of our invasion,” Obama said. “Which is an example of unintended consequences. Which is why we should generally aim before we shoot.”

Follow Jason Leopold on Twitter: @JasonLeopold

TOPICS: national intelligence estimate, americas, war on terror, iraq war, war & conflict, united states, wmd, weapons of mass destruction, iraq, afghanistan, george w. bush, condoleezza rice, colin powell, cia, defense & security

Trump’s Manager’s Contract with Pro-Russian Politican

Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s Campaign Manager had a contract for 7+ years to act as a foreign agent on behalf of now-deposed pro-Russian Ukrainian politician Viktor Yanukovych.

Donald Trump and Paul Manafort, UPI photo

Paul Manafort’s firm’s contract with the Yanukovich political entity called on them to earn in excess of $35,000 per month to act as Yanukovych’s agent in the United States and provide political advice and direction. A copy of the contract including a letter addressed to Manafort outlining the duties can be found on the US Dept of Justice’s Foreign Agents Registration Act website. The link to the document is  https://www.fara.gov/docs/3657-Exhibit-AB-20080725-6.pdf

Viktor Yanukovich and Vladimir Putin

The Trump Campaign Manager has said recently that the contract for political consulting services ended with the 2014 election in Ukraine, but we have been unable to find a posting terminating the Foreign Agent’s Registration Act filing by Manafort’s firm.

In spite of the lengthy seven-plus year relationship with Ukarinian politicians, there are very few photos available with Manafort and his clients. Advertising the relationship was not in the best interests of his clients or Manafort.

In addition to the action as a Foreign Agent for the pro-Russian politician, other documents outlining the status of Manafort-related businesses included acting on behalf of Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Kenya, Lebanon, Nigeria and several other countries. Filing statements about this ongoing relationship with foreign governments by Manafort can also be found on the US Dept of Justice website.

It is interesting to note that the documents filed with US DOJ report that Manafort’s duties included meeting with the US Dept of State on behalf of various foreign governments during the time when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State.

Other Articles

Top Trump Aide Led the “Torturer’s” Lobby

From The Daily Beast

State Attorneys General Under Indictment

Reprinted from the Huffington Post.

Crimes and Punishments?

04/23/2016 01:35 pm ET | Updated Apr 23, 2016

Obedience to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favor.
Theodore Roosevelt,
Third Annual Message (1903)

A number of readers have written inquiring whether it is acceptable to have state attorneys general continue to serve in that capacity when they have been charged with criminal conduct and/or have lost their licenses to practice law. The reason for the inquiry is that readers know that the attorney general of a state is the chief law enforcement officer of the state, serves as the state’s principal legal advisor, and represents the state in litigation. Those tasks have to be done by someone who is licensed as a lawyer. Those are good questions and, happily, there are two real life examples that enable me to provide the answers to both those questions.

The first comes to us from Texas, where the attorney general is Ken Paxton. Ken was elected attorney general of Texas in November 2014. His official webpage says he is “known for his principled and uncompromising devotion to America’s founding values.” He served as attorney general with uncompromising devotion to America’s founding values for 8 months before being indicted for three different crimes that took place before he was the attorney general.

One crime involved directing his legal clients to a friend’s investment company without being properly registered as an “investment adviser representative,” a third-degree felony. The other two charges were first-degree felony fraud charges. In addition to having been criminally indicted, on April 11, 2016, the SEC filed civil charges against Mr. Paxton accusing him of breaking federal securities laws. He allegedly pressured five people to invest in a tech firm without disclosing that he was being paid a commission for the sales. He himself had not invested in the company because, he said, the president of the company said: “I can’t take your money. God doesn’t want me to take your money.” Apparently God didn’t have the same reservations about the president accepting money from Mr. Paxton’s investors. As of this date, Mr. Paxton faces three criminal indictments and the civil SEC suit filed in early April. He continues to serve as attorney general of Texas.

Mr. Paxton sees nothing wrong with continuing his work as attorney general while the assorted charges are pending. Indeed, commenting on the immigration case that Texas and 25 other states brought against the Obama administration that was argued in the United States Supreme Court on April 18, 2016 he said: “Our goal was pretty basic, defend the Constitution and stop President Obama’s lawlessness.” The word “lawlessness” may soon be used to describe Mr. Paxton’s conduct. The Texas Board of Disciplinary Appeals has ordered the Texas State Bar to pursue disciplinary hearings against Mr. Paxton because of his alleged criminal conduct. If that body finds he violated the disciplinary rules governing the conduct of lawyers he may lose his law license as well as the ability to continue to serve as attorney general.

Mr. Paxton’s predecessor as attorney general is Texas Governor Gregg Abbott. Commenting on the accusations against Mr. Paxton when the criminal charges were first filed, the Governor said that the legal process simply had to “run its course.” Republican legislators have remained silent. There have been no calls for the attorney general to resign nor has there been talk of impeachment. In that respect, Texas is a bit behind Pennsylvania, the state that answers the question of whether an attorney general can continue to serve when his or her law license has been suspended. Pennsylvania’s contribution to the oeuvre is Kathleen Kane.

Kathleen was sworn in as Pennsylvania’s attorney general on January 15, 2013. She was considered a rising star until August 8, 2014, when assorted criminal charges, including perjury, were filed against her. Although she had not been tried for the alleged offenses, on September 21, 2015, the Pennsylvania Supreme Courtresponded to a request by the court’s disciplinary board for lawyers, that it issue an “emergency temporary suspension, “ by ordering that: “Respondent Kathleen Granahan Kane is placed on temporary suspension.” Under Pennsylvania law, a person serving as attorney general must be licensed to practice law.

February 5, 2016, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court unanimously rejected the attorney general’s request to reinstate her license to practice law. As of this writing, the attorney general faces 12 criminal charges including felony perjury. Nonetheless, she has refused to resign and continues to act as attorney general even though she is no longer licensed.

February 10, 2016, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted to begin the impeachment process against the attorney general by a 170-12 vote, Democrats and Republicans alike voting in favor of the process. The attorney general’s criminal trial is to take place in August 2016. It is, of course, not possible to know how that trial will come out. What is known is that as of this writing she is still in office and, like Attorney General Paxton, sees no reason to resign.

The difference between Texas and Pennsylvania is that the legislators in Pennsylvania are willing to take steps to remove someone from office who fails to see why she shouldn’t continue to serve. Legislators in Texas see nothing wrong in having an attorney general under indictment continuing to serve. That tells us as much about Texas as the criminal charges filed against Attorney General Paxton tell us about him-none of it good. Christopher Brauchli can be emailed at brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu. For political commentary see his web page at http://humanraceandothersports.com

From Washington Post – The Trump campaign denies its own Ukraine policy

The Trump campaign denies its own Ukraine policy

By Josh Rogin August 1

Why is Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort denying that his staff worked to keep the Republican platform from supporting U.S. weapons deliveries to Ukraine? His claims about the episode contradict not only the facts, but also the candidate’s long-standing position on the issue. He would be better off just owning it.

On Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” Manafort said that the effort to keep the platform from supporting arms for Ukraine, which I first reported last month, “absolutely did not come from the Trump campaign.”

“So nobody from the Trump campaign wanted that change in the platform?” Chuck Todd pressed. “No one, zero,” Manafort said.

In fact, there were two Trump campaign staffers in the room when a committee of GOP delegates debated the national security platform the week before the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. The original platform draft was silent on the issue of arming Ukraine until Diana Denman, a pro-Ted Cruz delegate from Texas, introduced an amendment proposing extensive support for Ukraine, including “lethal defensive weapons.”

The Trump staffers in the room, who were not delegates but were there to oversee the process, intervened and were able to get the issue tabled. On the sideline of the meeting, they negotiated with Denman to find a compromise but were unsuccessful. Eventually, through the pro-Trump delegates, they introduced a new amendment that changed the language from “lethal defensive weapons” to “appropriate assistance.”

That amendment passed, codifying the Trump staff’s language as official GOP policy. In an interview with ABC on Sunday, Trump confirmed that his people were behind the change.

“They softened it, I heard, but I was not involved,” Trump said. He then went on to say that Russian President Vladimir Putin will not “go into Ukraine,” seeming not to realize that Russian troops intervened both in Crimea and eastern Ukraine in 2014 and remain there to this day.

Manafort’s strange denial came almost two weeks after I first reported the Trump campaign’s intervention in the GOP platform on Ukraine. In the interim, the campaign passed up several chances to deny it. On July 19, a Ukrainian journalist asked Manafort in a press conferencewhy the Trump campaign had worked to weaken the platform language on Ukraine.

“I really don’t understand the question,” Manafort said.

Then on July 21, Trump’s chief policy adviser Sam Clovis defended the policy when asked about it at an event in Cleveland hosted by the International Republican Institute.

“It’s okay to go out here and load your mouth up and say stuff and say, ‘Yeah we are going to come to your aid, we’re going to provide you arms, we’re going to come out and do all these things.’ But nobody has taken the time to think this through to its logical conclusion,” Clovis said. “What are the costs going to be to the United States, not just in Ukraine but also in NATO and also around the world?”

The Trump campaign’s work to weaken the GOP platform language on Ukraine fits into a policy that Trump has espoused repeatedly on the campaign trail; he doesn’t believe that it’s the United States’ responsibility to defend Ukraine militarily from Russian aggression.

Last September, he traveled to Kiev and told the Ukrainians that their war is “really a problem that affects Europe a lot more than it affects us.” A month before that, he called on Germany to take the lead on the issue.

“Ukraine is a problem, and we should help them, but let Germany and other countries over there that are directly affected — let them work it,” Trump said. “We’ve got enough problems in this country.”

So why did Manafort bother to deny on Sunday that the campaign was involved in the platform change? Campaign sources told me that mostly, Manafort was acting out of habit. Just like when Melania Trump was accused of plagiarizing portions of Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech, Manafort’s initial instinct is to just deny everything and blame the Clinton campaign and the press.

The day after Melania Trump spoke in Cleveland, Manafort told CNN that she was using “common words and values” and that any suggestion she had lifted passages from Obama’s speech was “absurd” and “crazy.” The campaign later admitted that multiple sentences had, in fact, been appropriated from Obama’s remarks by a staffer.

Similarly, Manafort is attempting to sow doubt about what happened with the GOP platform’s Ukraine language, even though he must know that he is intentionally misleading the press and the public.

Another possible explanation is that the Trump campaign is now trying to pull back from its long-held pro-Russian positions. Manafort has faced increased criticism for his years of work as a lobbyist for former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. And Trump’s sympathetic attitude toward Putin looks less politically viable as more evidence emerges about the Russian government’s involvement in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and other U.S. political institutions.

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Though Trump publicly called on Russia to hack more of Hillary Clinton’s emails last week (he later said he was being sarcastic), today Trump is taking a more traditionally hawkish position on Russia.

 Follow

Donald J. Trump 

✔@realDonaldTrump

When I said in an interview that Putin is “not going into Ukraine, you can mark it down,” I am saying if I am President. Already in Crimea!

5:50 AM – 1 Aug 2016

Set aside that Trump is still wrong on the facts; Russia troops are already in Ukraine proper. Trump’s change of tone could be a recognition that his coziness to Putin is costing him credibility on the foreign policy front.

Trump campaign aides assure me that Trump and Manafort’s basic views on Russia and Ukraine remain the same. They do not believe that the United States should risk a great-power conflict with Russia over Ukraine. They believe the greatest threats to Europe are Islamist terrorism and open borders, not Putin. They genuinely want to broaden and deepen U.S.-Russian relations.

It’s too late to change the Trump campaign’s Russia policy, and there’s no point trying to deny it. Trump and Manafort should just admit what their staffers did and defend the action on its merits, if they can.

Josh Rogin is a columnist for the Global Opinions section of The Washington Post. He writes about foreign policy and national security.

 Follow @joshrogin

 

Trump Campaign Manager -Russian Connection

BREAKING: NY Times Exposes Trump Campaign Manager For Being On Russian Payroll (DETAILS)

By Caleb R. Newton –

August 1, 2016

Vladimir Putin might have just inserted himself into American politics without anybody knowing.

On Monday, the New York Times exposed the history of Paul Manafort, top Trump adviser and campaign manager. Manafort was installed late in the primary season and made one of his first marks the assertion that Trump’s wildly divisive campaign rhetoric was only a show, one which the candidate would soon conclude.

Trump, of course, continues to ride racism and bigotry to the polls in November, having never stopped his rhetoric, only adding to the increasingly worrisome nonsense he spews and standing by what he has said in the past. He isn’t looking at a good chance of a win, with his hatred for everyone who isn’t a rich white Republican having driven the GOP and its poll numbers into the ground.

According to the Times, Manafort was an instrumental figure in the inner circle of recently ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

While Manafort worked as a political consultant for Yanukovych, the Ukranian people rose up in protest against Yanukovych’s government, and he fled the country in fear. He found refuge in Russia, a nation which he — and Manafort –– had long been allied with.

The day after he fled the Ukraine marks the beginning of the war carried out by Russian forces against the nation, a war resulting in the Russians claiming to have annexed the Crimean peninsula, adding it to the Russian territory.

During all of these events, leading to untold numbers of violent deaths among noncombatant Ukrainian civilians, Manafort continued to work on behalf of the pro-Russia and pro-Putin forces inside the Ukraine. He helped lead the efforts to oppose the government that arose in place of Yanukovych, a government aligned with the United States and against Russia.

All of this comes as Trump continues his curiously favorable attitude towards Russia. He has spoken in support of Russian policies on several occasions, even going as far as to claim some kind of legitimate basis for the Russian takeover of the Ukrainian-possessed Crimean Peninsula.

Back when Trump still faced primary season opposition, Vladimir Putin even spoke out in support of Donald Trump, saying he “admired” aspects of the Trump campaign that pointed to what a Trump presidency would be like.

What nobody who spoke out against Trump knew then was that, although Manafort wasn’t yet hired by the Trump campaign, somebody somewhere was eyeing the insertion of a virtual Russian mole into American politics via Paul Manafort.

And just days ago, Trump made the flatly false claim that Russia had never gone into Ukraine. Although it is almost childishly off base, with Russian forces currently operative in Ukraine, the remarks do bear the curious quality of being pro-Russia, especially considering Manafort’s history.

Putin isn’t the only authoritarian ruler with whom Manafort is aligned. Two others include Mobutu Sese Seko, who was called at one point the “archetypal African dictator,” and Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines — who presided over a martial law-run state for years.

No representative for either the Trump campaign or Manafort would comment on whether or not he is still involved in pro-Putin work in Europe.

And Manafort is running the campaign to try and establish the next president of the United States.