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Hullabaloo


Saturday, May 21, 2016

 
A lesson in bad ratfu**ing

by digby





















Your must read of the day comes from Jane Mayer at the New Yorker. It's about a voice mail message from someone named "Victor Kesh" left at one of George Soros's foundations. They were supposedly calling to offer some money to help in their cause but forgot to hang up the phone:
She heard a click, a pause, and then a second male voice. The person who had introduced himself as Kesh said, “Don’t say anything . . . before I hang up the phone.”

“That piqued my interest,” Geraghty recalls. Other aspects of the message puzzled her: “Who says they’re with a foundation without saying which one? He sounded scattered. And usually people call to get funding, not to offer it.” Victor Kesh, she suspected, was “someone passing as someone else.”

She continued to listen, and the man’s voice suddenly took on a more commanding tone. The caller had failed to hang up, and Kesh, unaware that he was still being recorded, seemed to be conducting a meeting about how to perpetrate an elaborate sting on Soros. “What needs to happen,” he said, is for “someone other than me to make a hundred phone calls like that”—to Soros, to his employees, and to the Democracy Alliance, a club of wealthy liberal political donors that Soros helped to found, which is expected to play a large role in financing this year’s campaigns. Kesh described sending into the Soros offices an “undercover” agent who could “talk the talk” with Open Society executives. Kesh’s goal wasn’t fully spelled out on the recording, but the gist was that an operative posing as a potential donor could penetrate Soros’s operation and make secret videos that exposed embarrassing activities. Soros, he assured the others, has “thousands of organizations” on the left in league with him. Kesh said that the name of his project was Discover the Networks.

The money that would be offered, Kesh said, couldn’t come from “offshore British Virgin Island companies,” because “Soros’s people don’t want to take money from a group like that.” He claimed that “Bill Clinton would” take suspect cash, “and Hillary Clinton would, and Chelsea would.”

One member of the team suggested to Kesh that he knew someone who could infiltrate the Soros network: an English orthopedic surgeon with “a real heavy British accent,” who was in the U.S. and was “more than happy to do anything he can do for us.” The surgeon was sophisticated about technology and would not “have any problem with the cameras.” The team member said, “He’s a very talented guy, so, I mean, he’ll be able to pull it off.” As Kesh mapped out the covert attack, however, he had no idea that the only person he was stinging was himself.

The accidental recording reached farcical proportions when Kesh announced that he was opening Geraghty’s LinkedIn page on his computer. He planned to check her résumé and leverage the information to penetrate the Soros “octopus.” Kesh said, “She’s probably going to call me back, and if she doesn’t I can create other points of entry.” Suddenly, Kesh realized that by opening Geraghty’s LinkedIn page he had accidentally revealed his own LinkedIn identity to her. (LinkedIn can let users see who has looked at their pages.) “Whoa!” an accomplice warned. “Log out!” The men anxiously reassured one another that no one checks their LinkedIn account anyway. “It was a little chilling to hear this group of men talking about me as a ‘point of entry,’ ” Geraghty says. “But—not to sound ageist—it was clear that these people were not used to the technology.”

Geraghty forwarded the voice-mail recording to Chris Stone, the president of the Open Society Foundations. “The Watergate burglars look good compared to these guys,” Stone told me last month. “These guys can’t even figure out how to use an Internet browser, let alone conduct an undercover operation. You read the transcript and you can’t help but laugh.” He went on, “But the issues here aren’t funny. There’s some kind of dirty-tricks operation in play against us.”

In the Westchester County suburb of Mamaroneck, a street-level office has reflective glass doors and windows that make it impossible to see inside. This is the headquarters of James O’Keefe III—the conservative activist who placed the phony phone call pretending to be Victor Kesh. As he showed me around, in late April, O’Keefe, who is thirty-one, told me that he is not a dirty trickster but an investigative journalist and a leading practitioner of modern political warfare. “We’ve got this guerrilla army, and it’s coming to fruition soon,” he said. “This is our base of operations.” Waving his hand around seven thousand square feet of empty office space, he said, “This is our norad. It’s our field operation.”
The story gets even better.

The scary thing is that this moron is being funded in the millions and the story makes clear that he's not the only one employed to do this work. She brings up David Brock's operation on behalf of Democrats as well, but it's clear that he's operating within a completely different ethical framework. They are not in the same business.

This is going to be so, so ugly.


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