“Seth Rich Confidante” Escaped to Russia

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Edward Snowden and John Mark Dougan are both relatively young American whistleblowers who have been granted political asylum by the Russian government. Dougan could be the more important of the two “fugitives,” but almost no one in the United States has heard of him, while almost every halfway-informed person has heard of Snowden. This fact speaks well of Dougan, suggesting that he might well be the more genuine of the two.

Snowden is a former CIA operative who spilled a lot of beans about surveillance of the public by the National Security Agency (NSA), perhaps beans that they really didn’t mind seeing spilled. Dougan is a former Marine and former police officer who used his considerable computer skills to embarrass the leadership of his former employer, the Palm Beach County (FL) Sheriff’s Department. In June of 2013, Snowden traveled to Russia where he was eventually granted political asylum after being charged with violation of the Espionage Act. Dougan has been living in Russia since April of 2016 after numerous agents of the FBI raided his home. Discovering that his name had been placed on a no-fly list, he sneaked across the Canadian border and flew from Toronto to Moscow, by way of Turkey. He left a wife and two young children behind in Florida. He had not yet been charged with any crime, but it appears that he had valid reasons for fearing American law enforcement authorities, from the sheriff’s office that he tormented for several years, all the way up to the top.

Dougan certainly has done more than his share of things to antagonize them. The following passage is from the beginning of Chapter 37 of his new book, Badvolf, which carries the subtitle, “The true story of an American cop’s retaliation against a corrupt system of justice and politics, forcing him to seek political asylum in Russia.” The chapter sets the stage for his departure for Russia:

The various forms of dissidence I displayed: email pranks on politicians, sowing fake news, creating a website to show how to prevent the FBI from accessing a computer; it was only a small portion of the activities in which I was engaged. My site exposing corruption and coming forward as a witness about the affair of a Deputy Sheriff in Seth Adams’ civil murder trial pissed a lot of people off. The listing of the confidential records for law enforcement officers also didn’t help. But like I said, if I wasn’t entitled to my privacy, then why should a law enforcement officer be entitled to theirs? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, and law enforcement shouldn’t be allowed to abuse their power, just because they can.

The following passage is from an article critical of Dougan in the online establishment-Left Daily Beast:

Dougan mastered the dark art of fake news, crafting official-looking websites with names like DCWeekly.com and DCPost.org for his made-up stories. One of his bigger hits quoted [Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric] Bradshaw encouraging motorists to run over Black Lives Matters protesters. It was so convincing that Bradshaw’s office had to issue a denial, leading to a cycle of real news headlines like “Sheriff Bradshaw Wrongly Accused of Telling Boynton Residents to Run Over Protesters?”

Dougan can never be accused of lacking a sense of humor, although one can readily question his judgment and sense of propriety. It is this latter characteristic that leads him into trouble. He freely admits to perpetrating hoaxes and writing falsehoods, justifying them because of the larger, higher purpose that they serve. He must realize, though, that they tend to undermine his credibility on virtually everything. Thus he made it easy for the headline writers at the Daily Beast in that critical article: “Fugitive Cop Says He’s Behind the DNC Leaks. It’s His Latest Hoax.”

Actually he doesn’t go that far, either in his book or in the various interviews he has given from Moscow that one can readily find by searching “John Mark Dougan Seth Rich” on the Internet. He never paints himself as anything more than peripheral to the leaks of the emails from the Democratic National Committee. He implies that the critical John Podesta emails that gave rise to the Pizzagate pedophile suspicions were actually accessed by someone with connections to the NSA. Curiously, he doesn’t even mention his possible connection to Seth Rich until Chapter 36, which bears the title, “The Man with DNC Docs from D.C.” The chapter begins on page 193 of his 265-page book.

He has clearly strategically placed the story, though, leaving the reader with the impression that it was his meeting with the guy in Washington — who had contacted him because of his whistleblower website — that brought the FBI down on his back. He describes the raid in the very next chapter. He also never says that the person who gave him the incriminating documents was Seth Rich. For the sake of confidentiality, he says, he never asked the man what his name was, only saying that after he saw the photos of the slain Rich, that the guy looked a lot like him. He also tells us that the FBI in their raid confiscated what he had gotten from the Rich lookalike, forcing him to rent a car and make a quick long drive up to Washington, DC, and back to south Florida to get a thumb drive with the documents on it.

He said that he concealed the thumb drive by sewing it into his backpack, and, presumably he still has it with him now in Moscow. If he was ever going to make the drive’s precious contents public, his book, it seems, would have been the place to do it, but he never even talks about what’s in those precious DNC documents that seem to have gotten him into so much trouble. RT has also produced a polished 51-minute documentary film about Dougan that is well worth watching, but there’s not a peep in it about any connection between Dougan and Rich. It’s as though the folks at RT were saying, “Let Dougan pull his irresponsible and juvenile tricks to get attention for his case, but we have a journalistic reputation to uphold.”

The Daily Beast might have done a reasonably good job of taking advantage of the openings that Dougan has given them, but the following two paragraphs of their article demonstrate why they are among the last people who should be trusted when it comes to the question of the Seth Rich murder and a possible connection to the DNC documents:

Seth Rich conspiracy stories are most virulent of the narratives purporting to exonerate Russia of interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential race, and by extension clear the Trump campaign of collusion. Rich was 27 years old when he was shot and killed on July 10, 2016 on a Washington, D.C., sidewalk. The police believe it was a botched robbery, but the unsolved murder has fueled waves of speculation that it was Rich who leaked the 44,000 DNC emails ultimately published by Wikileaks, and that he was murdered as a consequence.

To be clear, there exists no evidence that Rich was secretly a Donald Trump supporter, a leaker of any kind, or a hacker with the skill to steal the private emails of seven senior DNC staffers. The only reason conspiracy mongers fixed on Rich, rather than any of hundreds of his fellow DNC workers, is because he was killed. To a sizable number of fringe conservatives, it goes without saying that the Clintons order hits on the people who get in their way. It’s been part of the far-right canon since Vince Foster’s suicide in 1993.

I claim no expertise whatsoever when it comes to computer hacks, but I know journalistic hacks when I see them, and with this passage, the Daily Beast’s Kevin Poulsen has shown that he fits the description to perfection. Absolutely no one is claiming that Seth Rich was a secret Trump supporter. That he might have been sickened by the Clinton thicket of corruption that he found himself in, and that, like so many other young Democrats, he was a likely Bernie Sanders supporter, would have been sufficient motivation for him to want to rat out the rats, so to speak. One hardly has to be a “conspiracy monger” (note the loaded language) to see a possible connection between Rich’s murder and the DNC leaks. It’s the logical conclusion for any objective person to reach, particularly when the “botched robbery” explanation looks so ridiculous on its face. Just because the DC police are saying that that is what they believe doesn’t mean that they really do…or that Poulsen really does, for that matter. After the victim has been immobilized from having been shot, finishing the job by taking his valuables like his wallet, his watch, and his cell phone is the easy part, but none were taken. That the DC police should be corrupt enablers for higher-level corruption is a lesson we should have learned from several suspicious cases, like those of Chandra LevyMary Caitrin Mahoney, and Gus Weiss, for starters.

And if one ever needed a reason to be suspicious of the Rich murder, and of the Daily Beast, Poulsen’s comparison of it to the Vince Foster death is all one should need. It was The Washington Post’s comparison of the two cases, after all, that prompted me to write “Seth Rich Equals Vince Foster?”

A Leak, Not a Hack

The fact of the matter is that the best evidence to date indicates that the DNC emails came out as the result of a leak rather than from a hack. The best source for that conclusion is a group that calls itself the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). Patrick Lawrence wrote the latest word on their work for Consortium News online on August 13, 2018. This passage still represents the core of their findings, as reported by Lawrence:

At the time I reported on the findings of VIPS and associated forensic scientists, that the most fundamental evidence that the events of summer 2016 constituted a leak, not a hack, was the transfer rate — the speed at which data was copied. The speed proven then was an average of 22.7 megabytes per second. That speed matches what is standard when someone with physical access uses an external storage device to copy data from a computer or server and is much faster than a remote hack, reliant on communications topology available at the time, could achieve.

Lawrence had a good summing up of the situation in an August 9, 2017, article in The Nation, hardly a “fringe conservative” publication, to say the least:

By any balanced reckoning, the official case purporting to assign a systematic hacking effort to Russia, the events of mid-June and July 5 last year being the foundation of this case, is shabby to the point taxpayers should ask for their money back. The Intelligence Community Assessment, the supposedly definitive report featuring the “high confidence” dodge, was greeted as farcically flimsy when issued January 6. Ray McGovern calls it a disgrace to the intelligence profession. It is spotlessly free of evidence, front to back, pertaining to any events in which Russia is implicated. James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, admitted in May that “hand-picked” analysts from three agencies (not the 17 previously reported) drafted the ICA. There is a way to understand “hand-picked” that is less obvious than meets the eye: The report was sequestered from rigorous agency-wide reviews. This is the way these people have spoken to us for the past year.

Behind the ICA lie other indefensible realities. The FBI has never examined the DNC’s computer servers—an omission that is beyond preposterous. It has instead relied on the reports produced by Crowdstrike, a firm that drips with conflicting interests well beyond the fact that it is in the DNC’s employ. Dmitri Alperovitch, its co-founder and chief technology officer, is on the record as vigorously anti-Russian. He is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, which suffers the same prejudice. Problems such as this are many.

So, as much as the folks at the Daily Beast would want to use their undercutting of Dougan to undercut the case against Russian hacking, they are really as much beside the point as Dougan appears to be, himself. If it is a virtual certainty that the DNC emails became public as the result of a leak instead of a hack, Rich certainly looks to be the most likely one to have done the leaking on account of his very suspicious murder.

Only Tip of Corruption Iceberg

If, as it now appears to me, Dougan’s purpose in dragging Seth Rich into his story was to garner attention, one must concede that he has been successful. That’s certainly how he got me interested. From the few comments one sees so far on the Amazon site for his book, it looks like he is reaching his main target audience, those concerned about the corruption of our political institutions, particularly the criminal justice system and our police forces.

It is easy to see why this writer would be a readily receptive audience for his police-corruption message. We have already alluded to instances of corruption in the DC police, but it is a national problem, and it is heavily abetted by the corruption of the news media. It’s probably worse than even Dougan realizes. I received my baptism in that reality by looking into the Vince Foster case. The corrupt Fairfax County medical examiner, the late Dr. James Beyer, who performed the fraudulent autopsy on Foster also did a demonstrably fraudulent autopsy on Tommy Burkett, the son of a couple of English teachers who lived only a couple of miles from me in western Fairfax County. I got to know them very well over the years, having first visited their house in the company of reporter (now Newsmax CEO and Donald Trump confidante) Christopher Ruddy. One can read a good summary of their son’s case at the Unsolved Mysteries site. The breadth and depth of the corruption revealed by the Burkett case is hinted at in my article, “News Suppression in Action.”

The Burketts had founded a national organization called Parents Against Corruption and Cover-up. Among the family members belonging to that organization were those of Kenneth Trentadue, whose obvious beating death — ridiculously ruled a suicide by hanging — is apparently connected to the cover-up of the Oklahoma City bombing. The Burketts staged an annual event on the National Mall in which they displayed a giant “cover-up quilt,” with individual squares provided by family members of the various victims. The Trentadues were regular attendees. The national news media, as heavily concentrated as it is in Washington, paid virtually no attention to the annual event. Even the local news media tended to ignore it.

The Burketts also had a powerful web site, here recovered from the Internet archive. It came down shortly after the mother, Beth George, died of rather fast-acting ovarian cancer. I have often wondered if it might have been somehow induced, similar to the suspicions that people have had about Lee Harvey Oswald-slayer Jack Ruby’s cancer. Tommy’s father, Thomas Burkett, Sr., died three years later, also of cancer. Both parents were only in their mid-50s. John Mark Dougan might, indeed, be safer if he remains in Russia.

Although police corruption might be bad in the Washington, DC, area, it could be even worse in Dougan’s South Florida stomping grounds. One may get some idea of how bad it is there by reading my two articles, “Burdick, Mitchell on Hart, Rice” and “Edna Buchanan’s Embarrassment.” They are built around the book, Blue Thunder: How the Mafia Owned and Finally Murdered Cigarette Boat King Donald Aronow by Thomas Burdick and Charlene Mitchell. The book is extraordinarily revealing, particularly coming from mainstream journalists. Perhaps as ominous as the premature deaths of the Burkett parents is that the journalistic footprint of Burdick and Mitchell seems to have disappeared after their book was published. They were young when they wrote the book, published in 1990, but I have been unable to find a trace of either of them on the Internet.

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One Thought to ““Seth Rich Confidante” Escaped to Russia”

  1. Dave knocks another one out of the park!

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