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There are too many theories about National Security Adviser Lieutenant General (ret’d) Michael Flynn’s resignation on Monday, February 13, 2017 and too much information unknown to the public.

Sure, Flynn’s name has been all over the media for weeks, but more than one element is likely to be involved in his departure. You decide.

Deep State and the Democrats

Just after the New Year, Democrat Charles E Schumer, Senate Minority Leader, told MNSBC’s Rachel Maddow in a discussion about President Trump’s rebuttal of notional Russian hacking:

Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you. So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.

There’s also another angle.

The Free Beacon analyses how Obama’s people feared Flynn would reveal more about the former president’s nuclear deal with Iran, so they set out to destroy him (emphases mine):

The abrupt resignation Monday evening of White House national security adviser Michael Flynn is the culmination of a secret, months-long campaign by former Obama administration confidantes to handicap President Donald Trump’s national security apparatus and preserve the nuclear deal with Iran, according to multiple sources in and out of the White House who described to the Washington Free Beacon a behind-the-scenes effort by these officials to plant a series of damaging stories about Flynn in the national media.

The effort, said to include former Obama administration adviser Ben Rhodes—the architect of a separate White House effort to create what he described as a pro-Iran echo chamber—included a small task force of Obama loyalists who deluged media outlets with stories aimed at eroding Flynn’s credibility, multiple sources revealed.

The operation primarily focused on discrediting Flynn, an opponent of the Iran nuclear deal, in order to handicap the Trump administration’s efforts to disclose secret details of the nuclear deal with Iran that had been long hidden by the Obama administration.

Leaks from within the White House

Close observers knew it was questionable whether Trump could use the Oval Office after the inauguration.

It was always likely — perhaps probable — that the Oval Office is or was bugged. No doubt, Trump had it swept prior to the inauguration. However, the success of the sweep depends on who did it and how thoroughly:

Then there are Obama appointees still in place because senators were slow in approving Trump’s key cabinet appointments. Rex Tillerson is now in place as Secretary of State. Jeff Sessions is now Attorney General. However, it will take some time for both to make their own staff appointments.

There could also be people close to Trump — his personally appointed staff — who are leaking to the media.

With regard to Flynn specifically, the Washington Post (WaPo) says that the retired general had discussions with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak as early as December when he was part of the transition team. He would have been in New York at that point. New York magazine gives a summary:

Several current and former U.S. officials say National Security Adviser Michael Flynn discussed new sanctions imposed on Russia by the Obama administration during conversations with that country’s ambassador in December. That may be illegal, and to make matters worse, it contradicts denials made by senior members of the Trump administration, including Vice-President Mike Pence.

The Washington Post reported on Thursday that nine current and former U.S. officials who had access to intercepted communications between Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak say that Flynn made explicit references to election-related sanctions. Two said Flynn even urged Russia not to overreact. “Kislyak was left with the impression that the sanctions would be revisited at a later time,” said one former official.

When the Post asked Flynn on Wednesday if he ever discussed sanctions with Kislyak, he said no. Then, on Thursday, his spokesman walked that back, saying Flynn “indicated that while he had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.”

Flynn exchanged phone calls and texts with Kislyak a day before the Obama administration imposed new sanctions and expelled 35 Russian diplomats over the Kremlin’s alleged attempt to meddle in the U.S. election.

Those sanctions came during the Christmas holiday.

As Flynn’s conversations from December have been revealed, it is possible that Trump has a GOPe mole in his midst.

Trump is rightly concerned about who is leaking:

On February 14, WaPo featured quotes from conservatives who voiced their concerns about Trump transition and administration leaks:

“I think this really was the death by a thousand leaks,” Laura Ingraham, a conservative news commentator, said on Fox News. “The leaks that were coming out of this administration and the transition — before the administration — were at a level that I don’t remember seeing for quite some time.”

Not long before Trump tweeted, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said on Fox that “somebody in the nebulous intelligence community” would have had access to the information about Flynn’s calls.

Who tapped the phones? Who is listening to it? Who leaked it? I think those are legitimate questions to ask,” Johnson said Tuesday morning.

The senator said he did not know whether those who leaked the information about Flynn broke the law, but he added: “Leaks of this nature are incredibly damaging to America, to our national security, and we need to look into it.”

On the opposite side of the political spectrum, The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald agrees:

That Flynn lied about what he said to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak was first revealed by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, who has built his career on repeating what his CIA sources tell him. In his January 12 column, Ignatius wrote: “According to a senior U.S. government official, Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials as well as other measures in retaliation for the hacking.”

That “senior U.S. government official” committed a serious felony by leaking to Ignatius the communication activities of Flynn. Similar and even more extreme crimes were committed by what the Washington Post called “nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls,” who told the paper for its February 9 article that “Flynn privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States during the month before President Trump took office, contrary to public assertions by Trump officials.” The New York Times, also citing anonymous U.S. officials, provided even more details about the contents of Flynn’s telephone calls.

That all of these officials committed major crimes can hardly be disputed. In January, CNN reported that Flynn’s calls with the Russians “were captured by routine U.S. eavesdropping targeting the Russian diplomats.” That means that the contents of those calls were “obtained by the processes of communication intelligence from the communications of [a] foreign government,” which in turn means that anyone who discloses them — or reports them to the public — is guilty of a felony under the statute.

Yet very few people are calling for a criminal investigation or the prosecution of these leakers, nor demanding the leakers step forward and “face the music” — for very good reason: The officials leaking this information acted justifiably, despite the fact that they violated the law. That’s because the leaks revealed that a high government official, Gen. Flynn, blatantly lied to the public about a material matter — his conversations with Russian diplomats — and the public has the absolute right to know this.

The trust issue

In January, the then-acting Secretary of State Sally Yates warned the White House that Flynn had not been entirely honest with Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with the Russian ambassador.

In his press briefing of February 14, Sean Spicer announced:

We’ve been reviewing and evaluating this issue with respect to General Flynn on a daily basis for a few weeks, trying to ascertain the truth.  We got to a point not based on a legal issue, but based on a trust issue, where a level of trust between the President and General Flynn had eroded to the point where he felt he had to make a change.

The President was very concerned that General Flynn had misled the Vice President and others.  He was also very concerned in light of sensitive subjects dealt with by that position of national security advisors — like China, North Korea and the Middle East — that the President must have complete and unwavering trust for the person in that position.

The evolving and eroding level of trust as a result of this situation and a series of other questionable instances is what led the President to ask for General Flynn’s resignation.  Immediately after the Department of Justice notified the White House Counsel of the situation, the White House Counsel briefed the President and a small group of senior advisors.  The White House Counsel reviewed and determined that there is not a legal issue, but rather a trust issue.

During this process it’s important to note that the President did not have his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, who he trusts immensely, approved by the Senate.  When the President heard the information as presented by White House Counsel, he instinctively thought that General Flynn did not do anything wrong, and the White House Counsel’s review corroborated that.

… The issue here was that the President got to the point where General Flynn’s relationship — misleading the Vice President and others, or the possibility that he had forgotten critical details of this important conversation had created a critical mass and an unsustainable situation.

That’s why the President decided to ask for his resignation, and he got it

Larry Johnson of No Quarter, who worked for the CIA then the State Department, wrote:

Sad day for Mike Flynn. The only thing he did wrong was not tell Vice President Pence the full truth. That’s it. He was well within his rights as the incoming National Security Advisor to talk to the Russians and to talk about any issue. The only thing he could not do was pass on classified information. That’s it. The people who insist he did something untoward with Russia are either woefully ignorant about the duties of the incoming Director of the NSC or are being deliberately disingenuous.

Another security expert, Richard A Moss, wrote about Flynn’s indiscretion in the way he communicated with the Russian ambassador. From WaPo:

Flynn resigned not because of his communications with the Russians, but rather because of his lack of discretion, misleading Vice President Pence about the nature of the exchanges, and, allegedly, opening himself up to blackmail by the Russians.

Moss goes on to explain how Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon co-ordinated Kissinger’s communications with the Russians during Nixon’s transition period between 1968 and 1969:

Nixon and Kissinger synchronized the two back channels to the Soviets during the 1968 election and the transition period

We know these details not because of the content of reportedly leaked FBI wiretaps, as in the case of Flynn, but because of good record keeping. Kissinger wrote detailed memorandums of his various back-channel exchanges and shared them with the president (and, occasionally, others who had a need to know). In Washington, political warfare is frequently fought on the battlefield of competing memorandums. Kissinger also had his staff make transcripts of his phone conversations, eventually off recordings of the calls, but initially by having a secretary write in shorthand by listening on a telephone with a muted microphone.

Flynn operated differently:

By contrast, Flynn’s inconsistency over the content of his conversations with Kislyak hurt his credibility and brought on scrutiny both inside and outside the White House.

Somewhat strangely for a career intelligence officer, Flynn also used insecure means of communication by talking on open telephone lines to Kislyak. In military-speak, he used poor communications security (COMSEC), which was apparently subject to FBI monitoring — and, hypothetically, foreign intelligence collection

Flynn’s preference for the phone is ironic since Trump said a few weeks ago, “You know, if you have something really important, write it out and have it delivered by courier, the old-fashioned way.”

Ultimately, nearly 50 years ago:

Kissinger kept good records and he kept his boss, Nixon, informed. Fundamentally, back channels require the confidence of the person at the top. Kissinger understood this and became the indispensable man for Nixon’s foreign policy.

This year:

Flynn clearly lost the confidence of those at the top and had to go.

It should be noted that, on February 14, WaPo walked back earlier reports on the FBI and Flynn. This is at the end of a different article, not the one Richard A Moss wrote:

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Michael Flynn was the reported object of FBI investigations. This version has been updated.

Accuracy In Media states that the FBI cleared Flynn.

Is this important?

The double standard

We are seeing an egregious double standard in play.

The aforementioned article from The Intercept points out:

What matters is not the motive of the leaker but the effects of the leak. Any leak that results in the exposure of high-level wrongdoing — as this one did — should be praised, not scorned and punished.

However, keep in mind that those cheering Flynn’s resignation were blind to the transgressions on their own side for eight years:

It’s hard to put into words how strange it is to watch the very same people — from both parties, across the ideological spectrum — who called for the heads of Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Tom Drake, and so many other Obama-era leakers today heap praise on those who leaked the highly sensitive, classified SIGINT information that brought down Gen. Flynn.

It’s even more surreal to watch Democrats act as though lying to the public is some grave firing offense when President Obama’s top national security official, James Clapper, got caught red-handed not only lying to the public but also to Congress — about a domestic surveillance program that courts ruled was illegal. And despite the fact that lying to Congress is a felony, he kept his job until the very last day of the Obama presidency.

Unintended positive consequences

The Intercept goes on to say that this leak and Flynn’s resignation may work for Trump and the American public rather than against them:

numerous leaks have already achieved great good in the three short weeks that Trump has been president.

Trump knows, his staff know and the American public know.

As negative as these events appear right now, they could help Trump to ‘drain the swamp’.

As former CIA analyst and retired U.S. Army Reserve Lieutenant Colonel Tony Shaffer told FOX Business Network:

I would put this right at the feet of John Brennan and Jim Clapper and I would go so far as to say the Obama White House was directly involved before they left. Ben Rhodes and those folks… The Democrats are behind this and some of the Republicans are involved with the leaks. So I say ‘Bring it on!’

Flynn’s replacement could be even better

One of the men being discussed as a replacement for Flynn is retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward.

Gateway Pundit reports that Harward served under then-General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis at US Central Command and that he speaks Farsi:

Harward could prove to be a much better candidate than Michael Flynn which would be disastrous for the left who just spent weeks trying to get Flynn removed.

————————————————————————–

Those of us who watched Trump put together his transition team late last year remember that Flynn did consulting work for Turkey and is pro-Erdogan. Geopolitical expert Joel Richardson wrote about that at the time:

… in a Facebook post on Dec. 7, Richardson called for the Trump administration to cut ties with Flynn, because “he’ll be gone within the first year.”

Richardson blasted Flynn for reportedly owning a company that lobbied for an obscure Dutch company with ties to Turkey’s government and President Erdoğan himself. Richardson characterized the hiring of Flynn as a betrayal of Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” by removing lobbyists from government positions.

“On Election Day, Flynn published a fairly lengthy opinion piece, and a very strong opinion piece, in the online news website called The Hill, a real prominent website,” said Richardson. “Specifically, he was urging the U.S. to support Turkey and Turkey’s controversial president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. … Those who follow my program know I am no fan of President Erdoğan. He is a dictator and I am likening him to an emerging Adolf Hitler. … This guy is dangerous.”

Flynn’s temporary replacement is Lt. General Joseph Keith Kellogg, Jr.

To everyone who doubts Trump’s ability to rectify the situation, remember, he is there to win the war. Battles will be lost from time to time. Flynn’s departure is one of them. However, in the words of Machiavelli (H/T: The Conservative Treehouse):

It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institution and merely lukewarm defenders in those who gain by the new ones.

Onwards and upwards. MAGA!

The Deep State is about to be dismantled.

Donald Trump and the good guys will begin taking it down piece by piece.

Few people question the non-stop anti-Trump media narrative that began running in the summer of 2015. In their ignorance — and nearly everyone I know fits into this category — they continue to work on the mistaken assumption that everything they hear and read from Big Media must be true!

Big Media are there to protect the Deep State. They are part of it.

Does anyone think Donald Trump could have become a billionaire if he were a racist? Could he have starred in 14 successful seasons of The Apprentice if he were a bigot or a sexual predator? As he said at the Al Smith (Catholic Charities) dinner in October 2016: all the guests there were his friends until he decided to run for president.

Why did they suddenly turn against him? Because he is the man who wants to take down the Deep State.

Thanks to The Conservative Treehouse, I read an absorbing essay by Mike Lofgren, a former congressional staffer who wrote a book about his experience, The Party is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted, which appeared in paperback in 2013.

Lofgren’s latest book is The Deep State, which went on sale in September 2016. One of the Amazon reviewers who gave it five stars says that Lofgren worked for John Kasich, a congressman at the time, now Governor of Ohio and the last Republican presidential candidate to drop out. Incidentally, Kasich is a never-Trump man. Lofgren went on to work for other Republicans in Congress but became disillusioned during the Bush II years — I can’t blame him — and retired.

What follows are excerpts and a summary from his February 2014 essay, ‘Anatomy of the Deep State’, which I highly recommend. Emphases mine below.

What is the Deep State?

Lofgren’s first footnote states:

[1] The term “Deep State” was coined in Turkey and is said to be a system composed of high-level elements within the intelligence services, military, security, judiciary and organized crime. In British author John le Carré’s latest novel, A Delicate Truth, a character describes the Deep State as “… the ever-expanding circle of non-governmental insiders from banking, industry and commerce who were cleared for highly classified information denied to large swathes of Whitehall and Westminster.”  I use the term to mean a hybrid association of elements of government and parts of top-level finance and industry that is effectively able to govern the United States without reference to the consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process.

John Le Carre’s website has a synopsis of A Delicate Truth.

Qualifications for writing about it

Lofgren tells us he worked for 28 years as a congressional staff member and was on the fringes of the Deep State. However:

like virtually every employed person, I became, to some extent, assimilated into the culture of the institution I worked for, and only by slow degrees, starting before the invasion of Iraq, did I begin fundamentally to question the reasons of state that motivate the people who are, to quote George W. Bush, “the deciders.”

The reality of the Deep State

Lofgren gives this breakdown of how the Deep State works against the interests of the United States and the American people:

President Obama can liquidate American citizens without due processes, detain prisoners indefinitely without charge, conduct dragnet surveillance on the American people without judicial warrant and engage in unprecedented — at least since the McCarthy era — witch hunts against federal employees (the so-called “Insider Threat Program”). Within the United States, this power is characterized by massive displays of intimidating force by militarized federal, state and local law enforcement. Abroad, President Obama can start wars at will and engage in virtually any other activity whatsoever without so much as a by-your-leave from Congress, such as arranging the forced landing of a plane carrying a sovereign head of state over foreign territory. Despite the habitual cant of congressional Republicans about executive overreach by Obama, the would-be dictator, we have until recently heard very little from them about these actions — with the minor exception of comments from gadfly Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. Democrats, save a few mavericks such as Ron Wyden of Oregon, are not unduly troubled, eithereven to the extent of permitting seemingly perjured congressional testimony under oath by executive branch officials on the subject of illegal surveillance.

Shadow government

The Deep State is a shadow government. Using the word ‘establishment’ doesn’t begin to describe it:

Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose. My analysis of this phenomenon is not an exposé of a secret, conspiratorial cabal; the state within a state is hiding mostly in plain sight, and its operators mainly act in the light of day. Nor can this other government be accurately termed an “establishment.” All complex societies have an establishment, a social network committed to its own enrichment and perpetuation. In terms of its scope, financial resources and sheer global reach, the American hybrid state, the Deep State, is in a class by itself. That said, it is neither omniscient nor invincible. The institution is not so much sinister (although it has highly sinister aspects) as it is relentlessly well entrenched. Far from being invincible, its failures, such as those in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, are routine enough that it is only the Deep State’s protectiveness towards its higher-ranking personnel that allows them to escape the consequences of their frequent ineptitude. [2]

Agencies and institutions involved

The Deep State does not consist of the entire government. It is a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department. I also include the Department of the Treasury because of its jurisdiction over financial flows, its enforcement of international sanctions and its organic symbiosis with Wall Street. All these agencies are coordinated by the Executive Office of the President via the National Security Council. Certain key areas of the judiciary belong to the Deep State, such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, whose actions are mysterious even to most members of Congress. Also included are a handful of vital federal trial courts, such as the Eastern District of Virginia and the Southern District of Manhattan, where sensitive proceedings in national security cases are conducted. The final government component (and possibly last in precedence among the formal branches of government established by the Constitution) is a kind of rump Congress consisting of the congressional leadership and some (but not all) of the members of the defense and intelligence committees. The rest of Congress, normally so fractious and partisan, is mostly only intermittently aware of the Deep State and when required usually submits to a few well-chosen words from the State’s emissaries.

Private enterprise is also part of the Deep State and increased its role after 9/11. This is, incidentally, why I do not like George W Bush. Not only did he say he wanted to be a dictator but he imposed the Patriot Act on the American people. The Act was never designed to protect them:

In a special series in The Washington Post called “Top Secret America,” Dana Priest and William K. Arkin described the scope of the privatized Deep State and the degree to which it has metastasized after the September 11 attacks. There are now 854,000 contract personnel with top-secret clearances — a number greater than that of top-secret-cleared civilian employees of the government. While they work throughout the country and the world, their heavy concentration in and around the Washington suburbs is unmistakable: Since 9/11, 33 facilities for top-secret intelligence have been built or are under construction. Combined, they occupy the floor space of almost three Pentagons — about 17 million square feet. Seventy percent of the intelligence community’s budget goes to paying contracts. And the membrane between government and industry is highly permeable: The Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper, is a former executive of Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the government’s largest intelligence contractors. His predecessor as director, Admiral Mike McConnell, is the current vice chairman of the same company; Booz Allen is 99 percent dependent on government business. These contractors now set the political and social tone of Washington, just as they are increasingly setting the direction of the country, but they are doing it quietly, their doings unrecorded in the Congressional Record or the Federal Register, and are rarely subject to congressional hearings.

Lofgren adds that Wall Street is an indispensable link, providing cash and lawyers. Prosecution of big banks is risky, he says, not only because they are powerful but also because the American or the world economy can be adversely affected. Furthermore:

It is not too much to say that Wall Street may be the ultimate owner of the Deep State and its strategies, if for no other reason than that it has the money to reward government operatives with a second career that is lucrative beyond the dreams of avarice — certainly beyond the dreams of a salaried government employee. [3]

The Deep State also has an outpost on the West Coast, Silicon Valley:

While the government could simply dragoon the high technology companies to do the NSA’s bidding, it would prefer cooperation with so important an engine of the nation’s economy, perhaps with an implied quid pro quo. Perhaps this explains the extraordinary indulgence the government shows the Valley in intellectual property matters.

Cross-party involvement

Those involved in the Deep State, as we have seen over the past year in the presidential campaign, are from both political parties:

They are deeply dyed in the hue of the official ideology of the governing class, an ideology that is neither specifically Democrat nor Republican. Domestically, whatever they might privately believe about essentially diversionary social issues such as abortion or gay marriage, they almost invariably believe in the “Washington Consensus”: financialization, outsourcing, privatization, deregulation and the commodifying of labor.

Why few people speak up

As in the military, everybody has to get on board with the mission, and questioning it is not a career-enhancing move. The universe of people who will critically examine the goings-on at the institutions they work for is always going to be a small one

No wonder so few people are whistle-blowers, quite apart from the vicious retaliation whistle-blowing often provokes: Unless one is blessed with imagination and a fine sense of irony, growing immune to the curiousness of one’s surroundings is easy. To paraphrase the inimitable Donald Rumsfeld, I didn’t know all that I knew, at least until I had had a couple of years away from the government to reflect upon it.

Why this matters

The Deep State is the big story of our time. It is the red thread that runs through the war on terrorism, the financialization and deindustrialization of the American economy, the rise of a plutocratic social structure and political dysfunction …

We are faced with two disagreeable implications. First, that the Deep State is so heavily entrenched, so well protected by surveillance, firepower, money and its ability to co-opt resistance that it is almost impervious to change. Second, that just as in so many previous empires, the Deep State is populated with those whose instinctive reaction to the failure of their policies is to double down on those very policies in the future

If there is anything the Deep State requires it is silent, uninterrupted cash flow and the confidence that things will go on as they have in the past.

The past is now drawing to a close.

Where I disagree

At the beginning of his essay, Lofgren states:

As I wrote in The Party is Over, the present objective of congressional Republicans is to render the executive branch powerless, at least until a Republican president is elected (a goal that voter suppression laws in GOP-controlled states are clearly intended to accomplish).

He did not bargain on Donald Trump entering the race the following year. The GOPe have opposed him from the start and continue to do so. The latest is House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who says that he won’t be investigating voter fraud because it is non-existent. How can he say this after all the news stories past and present?! Chaffetz is protecting the Deep State. Trump will be investigating voter fraud through his own team.

Another part of the Deep State is the media, but, for whatever reason, Lofgren did not mention those institutions.

Ask yourself why they run such negative news on Donald Trump. They find him a threat. Stop believing what Big Media tell you.

Conclusion

Lofgren concludes:

What America lacks is a figure with the serene self-confidence to tell us that the twin idols of national security and corporate power are outworn dogmas that have nothing more to offer us. Thus disenthralled, the people themselves will unravel the Deep State with surprising speed.

Thank goodness for Donald Trump, the only American who can ‘drain the swamp’ and restore power to the American people.

This is going to be dangerous work. No one involved in the Deep State is going to go quietly. There are also nefarious activities going on within it that Trump and his team intend to uncover. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, please keep Donald Trump, his family as well as those working for him and the United States in your prayers.

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