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Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.com

Trump’s obsession with undoing President Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear deal reached a frightening new level recently. He reportedly hired a private Israeli intelligence firm to look into the personal lives of Obama administration figures.

The UK Guardian’s Observer magazine reports that in May 2017, Trump’s White House paid the investigators hired to dig up dirt on Obama-era national security aides Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl.

According to the Observer, “investigators … were told to dig into the personal lives and political careers of Rhodes, a former deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, and Kahl, a national security adviser to the former vice-president Joe Biden.”

The paper notes that “they were looking at personal relationships, any involvement with Iran-friendly lobbyists, and if they had benefited personally or politically from the peace deal.”

The Observer report doesn’t name the firm. But reporter Laura Rozen confirmed that Kahl’s wife was approached by a fake firm with the same name as one used by Black Cube, the agency that Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein hired to discredit the multiple women accusing him of sexual misconduct and abuse.

Rhodes called the plot “chillingly authoritarian” in comments to The Observer. He slammed Trump on Twitter, as well.

“This is not behavior that should be acceptable in a democracy. It is thuggish, mean-spirited, and casts a chilling and threatening cloud over public service that risks extending far beyond me and [Kahl],” Rhodes wrote.

This revelation comes as Trump has been proven a liar once again, by his own attorney. Rudy Giuliani made it clear that Trump did in fact know about the hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.

It’s a sick irony that while Trump tries to play the victim, he specifically targeted the personal lives of former American public servants.

There is no indication that Trump’s dirty tricks operation met with any success at all. But it’s telling that he assumed the personal histories of people he didn’t even know would yield compromising information.

Furthermore, Trump’s tactics are reminiscent of repressive police states like the former East Germany. They resemble nothing that most Americans would associate with our democracy.

Trump’s lying is disturbing. But his despotic impulses are downright dangerous.

Photo by Mediamodifier from Pixabay

Reprinted with permission from TomDispatch

When it rains, pieces of glass, pottery, and metal rise through the mud in the hills surrounding my Maryland home. The other day, I walked outside barefoot to fetch one of my kid's shoes and a pottery shard stabbed me in the heel. Nursing a minor infection, I wondered how long that fragment dated back.

A neighbor of mine found what he said looked like a cartridge case from an old percussion-cap rifle in his pumpkin patch. He told us that the battle of Monocacy had been fought on these grounds in July 1864, with 1,300 Union and 900 Confederate troops killed or wounded here. The stuff that surfaces in my fields when it storms may or may not be battle artifacts, but it does remind me that the past lingers and that modern America was formed in a civil war.

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