In a military campaign, like the invasions of Saddam’s Iraq in 1991 and 2003, there is designated a main effort, and a set of supporting efforts. The main effort is the constructive centerline of the strategy, the one on which the momentum may accelerate or slow, but is always propelling the campaign most directly toward the its objective (e.g., to reach Baghdad with massed force and reduce Iraq’s national authorities to disorganized impotence, so that there is no longer any focused national will).
The supporting efforts contribute to the main effort, affording it what it needs in terms of strength, protection, breathing space, acceleration, and preparation for follow-through, including the need to move on to a next phase. In some cases supporting efforts are maneuver vectors in their own right, such as flanking moves to complicate the enemy’s battle problem geographically. In other cases they may be well-designed logistic activities, political gambits, or campaigns in warfare dimensions like information or strategic interdiction; e.g., eliminating the infrastructure for producing war materiel.
Over the past month, in the aftermath of a 2020 election grossly contaminated by discrepancies bearing all the hallmarks of fraud, we have been watching unfold what I believe are the main effort and one of its major supporting efforts, in President Trump’s campaign to rectify the great wrong done by massive fraud, and avert a fatal coup against constitutional government in America. What we haven’t seen yet is the supporting effort on which, because the schedule of the U.S. Constitution is inexorable, the operational success of the campaign may hinge.
The main effort is probably the least sexy – although in some ways the most dramatic – because its horizon must necessarily be a long one. The visible supporting effort is a necessary adjunct to the main effort. It cannot achieve the end-state, which is for the main effort to do. But in some dimensions it can move faster. It can set up way-points on key terrain, and perhaps win vector-shaping skirmishes.
The main effort
Do not be mistaken about what the main effort is. It’s probably not the one most people are thinking of. The main effort is the dog-and-pony shows with the state legislatures.
The series of marathon hearings opened with a bang at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (when I misidentified it, at the time, as a supporting effort). Because of new media and the indefatigable energy of the mostly young people who run them, sessions running to nearly four hours, or six, or nine are being faithfully broadcast on the Web and chronicled by bloggers at dozens of top conservative sites. New media like Newsmax, OAN, and RSBN are featuring digestible segments in scheduled broadcasts, and Fox News’s remnant of the evening three – Carlson, Hannity, Ingraham – are airing clips and interviewing the witnesses shepherded by Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis of Trump’s legal team.
The legacy media are declining to have anything to do with these sessions, instead proclaiming them, entirely without evidence, to be “false” and “discredited.”
But the point of this main effort isn’t to break into the legacy media. The legacy media don’t matter. They have sidelined themselves.
The point is to engage the American people. The point is to get the state legislatures to hear evidence in a format that brings them before their constituents, and confront the evidence publicly. The point is to face the nation, in the forums that matter, with the reality of what just happened.
In the face of such astonishing facts – which must assuredly be sifted to be gauged accurately; but that they are being attested to by oath-sworn witnesses with signed affidavits is a fact – America cannot remain the same. We can’t continue to stumble along in complacent somnolence, reassuring ourselves with bromides about election fraud being rare and unimportant.
The potential has been revealed in each state visited so far – Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada – that the unaudited, un-validated vote is far bigger than is needed to correct the outcome in Trump’s favor. Very possibly, it is big enough to correct the outcome in other races as well.
And the evidence of tampering, the basis for suspicion and the need for forensic audits, are convincing. This isn’t about a few votes cast by the deceased. It’s about unconstitutional rules-changing in swing states days before the general election, which facilitated the lawless admission of thousands of “mail-in” ballots after statutory deadlines – ballots that in multiple cases were delivered by non-official vehicles in the dead of night, and for the processing of which civic monitors were excluded, often under contumely and threats.
As bad as that is, it’s about more as well. The scope of the “irregularities” and evidence of misconduct are breathtaking, to everyone who bothers to investigate them. Whether the testimony is about appalling conduct by election workers or numerous statistical discrepancies that have no possible innocent explanation, jaws have been dropping each day across the nation.
This is the main effort because it addresses the foundational threat: a direct attack, via election fraud, on the “social contract” and the compact of government between man and the state. As George H.W. Bush said when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, “This cannot stand.” Americans will not be governed this way. They have the sovereign right to refuse it.
And they deserve better; it is not merely a mild exercise of discretion to reject governance by fraud, but a claim of surpassing moral compulsion. There is none higher, in the realm of human politics. People are not to be governed by lies, bad faith, and criminal law-breaking.
The main effort may achieve successes that help prevent a fraudulent near-term outcome, by forcing a delay in the Electoral College vote (scheduled for 14 December) and/or eliminating some states’ electors from it.
But it is the main effort because it’s about the future. It’s about the engagement of the people: about awakening Americans and our lawmakers at every level to what has been going on around us, and provoking us to recommit, by whatever means necessary, to government of the people, by the people, and for the people, that it may not perish from the earth.
The visible supporting effort
This section is a shorter one. The supporting effort we have seen so far, as alert readers may guess, is the approach through the courts. Lawsuits have been filed in several states challenging a number of the “irregularities” attending the 3 November general election. Some of the irregularities are manifestly deliberate, such as changing rules unlawfully at the last minute. Others require evidence and argument to establish actionable culpability and the need for legal remedies.
It is tempting to lay out elements of the complaint filed by Sidney Powell’s legal team in Georgia, which to date is the single most interesting (and astonishing) of the legal documents. In the interest of brevity and time, I merely include the link to it. There are a number of suits to date, in several states, and in each case the allegations are substantial.
The Powell filing in Georgia previews the second of the supporting efforts – the one I believe is the operational ignition key – with its references to foreign interests and their involvement in vote-processing systems used in the 2020 election, including those of Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic. But Ms. Powell’s, like the other filings both in Georgia and elsewhere, include numerous other attested forms of irregularity, vulnerability to threat, and potential fraud.
This supporting effort, the approach through the courts, like the main effort might achieve the useful effect of helping to prevent improper certification of an Electoral College vote. If I were handicapping the race, I would foresee both efforts being necessary for that end.
But there’s distinctive utility in processing questions through the courts, independent of the immediate operational impact of doing so. The issue of election tampering is emerging as one of appalling scope, and going forward, with engaged state legislatures and a vigilant people, we can only benefit from hearing from our third branch of government.
This is the greatest crisis for America since the impossibility was borne in on us of eliminating slavery with a stately-paced timeline of increment and compromise. It has been more than 150 years since Americans were as engaged in anything; now is the time for us to see an existential issue clearly, and, seeing the hand of fate in such stark outline, see what our judiciary is too, as clearly as we see our legislatures and executives.
Talk about A.D. 2020 being “20/20.”
A national crisis on this level must involve the whole of government, as it must involve the whole people. Although we did not have it in view in 1861, America broke the back of slavery as a government-sanctioned institution for the entire world’s vision of civilized life, by throwing the institution off in blood and thunder, with prejudice. What we do now about the honesty of elections, of government, and of government’s accountability to protect our rights and not trample them, will have a similar echo throughout the earth. The simple, homely concept of executable, accountable law, the lodestone of our judges, endowed to us by our British forebears, must act as a governor on our deliberations.
The key supporting effort
This third effort, for which we may discern the potential without having yet seen specific evidence, is the one Hollywood would make a movie out of. It’s about concrete particulars, clashing interests, and action (who knows, there might be a good car-chase in it somewhere). I have no idea if it involves a server raid in Germany, or some of the other exotic allegations making the rounds out there. Fortunately, this analysis doesn’t depend on such specifics.
The premise of the key supporting effort is that the U.S. government has been making use of tools we know it has, to gather intelligence on conditions that pose an obvious threat to U.S. national security.
There are several such conditions, and some of them – unfolding domestically – might have been picked up by law enforcement months ago, if not earlier. Planning to move ballots from one state to another, potentially an interstate conspiracy to commit vote fraud, would be one such condition. There are others, mostly involving planning and funding that would cross state lines.
But being cued to these conditions and their possibilities probably depended, at some point, on alertment from the links of major voting system vendors to foreign interests. Some of these links have been known, to the public as well as to experts and members of Congress, for more than a decade.
One such link is that between the Smartmatic voting software company and Venezuela. Prior to 2016, Democrats were as apt to be concerned about it as Republicans; indeed, as recently as 2018, Democrats like Elizabeth Warren pointed out undeniable vulnerabilities in the Smartmatic software which facilitate vote tampering. The Smartmatic company was founded in Boca Raton by a small handful of dual-citizen entrepreneurs whose expertise was in deploying voting software that cooked votes for Hugo Chavez in Venezuela – something reported and well-known in the U.S. long before Sidney Powell obtained an affidavit for her Georgia lawsuit from an individual with direct knowledge of Smartmatic’s history.
Smartmatic software is used in both the Dominion Voting Systems machines and those of Election Systems & Software (ES&S). The user manual published for Dominion machines used in Colorado for recent elections in fact described the very vulnerabilities of the systems to on-site tampering as if they were a feature and not a bug. It has been astoundingly well known that these weaknesses are present in hundreds of voting machines used across America, and that they were originally designed to help Hugo Chavez manipulate votes electronically.
But the point for this third line of campaign effort is that the vulnerability, combined with its foreign connection, could justifiably be seen as a national security issue. Persisting for years, it could well have been exploited for some time, with the intention – on someone’s part, foreign or domestic – to keep exploiting it.
So also could be seen the history of Dominion Voting Systems; i.e., as a national security issue. Dominion, which was formed in Canada by a Canadian entrepreneur, began selling in the United States as a U.S. subsidiary of the Canadian company. Nothing particular would necessarily be alarming about that. But after U.S. voting systems were added to the list of “critical national infrastructure” in early January 2017, at the very end of the Obama administration, Dominion went on a tear, getting hundreds of its machines installed across the country between January 2017 and the mid-term election of November 2018.
In this period, the U.S. subsidiary of Dominion was bought out by Staple Street Capital, a private equity firm started by veterans of the Washington-insider (very insider) Carlyle Group and Cerberus Capital.
But the following year, in September 2019, a debt-instrument filing in Canada showed that a number of patents involving the software that facilitates vote manipulation in Dominion machines had remained with the Canadian parent company, and had been used as collateral to borrow from HSBC Canada. The patents are granted by the United States, so this assignment prompted a patent action record in the U.S.
HSBC, of course, has long been a usual suspect in international money-laundering and involvement in financing drug cartels, terrorism, and arms proliferation (here and here, for starters). That alone is enough to perk up an honest FBI or Homeland Security analyst.
But about a year later, the Staple Street Capital firm launched a new private equity line, Staple Street Capital III, which engaged as its placement agent UBS Securities Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of the Swiss bank UBS that is 75% owned by the government of China. UBS Securities’ role in the transaction was to raise funds for the new private equity line. It obligingly did so, to the tune of $400 million according to a filing with the U.S. SEC on 8 October 2020.
This move does not equate to “China buying Dominion Voting Systems,” as it’s being depicted in some treatments. But it does equate to China getting awfully close to Dominion, and bearing a big bag of cash. There is no such thing in law enforcement intelligence as the assumption that separate equity lines run by the same people are magically sequestered from each other in terms of monetary influence.
Just the information in the last nine paragraphs – even with nothing else included – is enough to justify the kind of electronic information retrieval and surveillance the American public knows the U.S. government is well able to undertake.
And, as well-informed readers have no doubt been anxious for as many paragraphs now to point out, President Trump issued an executive order in September 2018, E.O. 13848, designating foreign threats to voting systems as a significant national security concern.
In hindsight, that E.O. fell just at the end of Dominion’s big run-up to the 2018 election, with its onslaught of system installations throughout much of the 50 states. It also fell a few weeks after the acquisition of Dominion by Staple Street Capital.
And the effect of the E.O. was to articulate the national security justification for the means of surveillance to monitor and track what was being done with the implicated voting infrastructure. In other words, whether the analysts were at Homeland Security (chartered with monitoring critical infrastructure), the FBI, Treasury, or even – for the foreign-power aspect of the problem – at CIA, they had presidential authority to pull trons and go to town.
A march through Georgia
If we know anything about Trump, we may reasonably guess that he’s had someone he trusts at the NSC level watching over the effort. The result could well be a devastating exposure of far more individuals in the U.S., as well as foreign operators, than anyone would imagine. It is by no means beyond the realm of possibility that many Democrats and even some Republicans, including elected officials, are on the list.
We need not add to the mix any inventive story lines about secret software being deployed to catch everyone in the act, to recognize that a supporting effort along these lines, using only the normal tools of government surveillance, would be something akin to Sherman’s March through Georgia as an accelerant to the main effort. (If Sidney Powell and fellow attorney Lin Wood are to be believed, the devastation will indeed march through Georgia.)
This third effort, the key supporting effort, is one we have all the conditions for. I don’t suggest that we have dispositive evidence of it at this point. But if we haven’t been doing it, our feckless sloth ought to be the subject of epic lament for centuries to come – because we should have been. The reasons for investigation and monitoring have been there, in spades, and no nation has ever been as well equipped with the means.
It’s an interesting question how such resulting information would be conveyed. It might be unveiled directly to the public. But if it implicates a lot of public officials or other high-profile individuals, they are almost certain to include associates of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, starting with a laundry list from the DNC.
That’s a point that clicked into place for me when the Trump General Services Administration authorized funds for a “transition” process for Biden and Harris the Monday before Thanksgiving – and immediately afterward, Trump pardoned Michael Flynn.
The timing of the latter move was interesting. Maybe it was solely to give General Flynn his Thanksgiving in peace, surrounded by his family. But as discussed previously, Trump had also begun making significant personnel replacements at the Pentagon the week after the election (see here as well). Prior to that, he hadn’t made the effort at DOD that he had made earlier to weed out internal “resistance” at State, ODNI, and the NSC staff.
I also can’t help noticing that no matter how disappointing Barr and Durham at Justice look to Trump’s well-wishers in the public, Trump keeps them on. Two weeks before the election, Barr appointed Durham a special counsel – which, while Trump remains in office, mainly empowers Durham to file his own indictments in federal court, without referring them to a U.S. attorney staff.
Then, this week, Barr disclosed that he had made the Durham appointment. A friend asked if I thought that was a signal to potential cooperators to get their bids in. It may well be. If it is, that means time is short.
On Wednesday, 2 December, Trump made “the most important speech I’ve ever given,” outlining instance after instance of probable fraud, and undoubted vote discrepancies that ought to put the election in question. The speech was the statesman’s case for his main effort, the one focused on honest government, rescuing the Republic, and securing America’s future.
But when I listened with my ears, I noticed that Trump barely mentioned the probable source of the most deeply embedded and pervasive vote manipulation in at least four of the battleground states. He made almost no reference to Dominion and Smartmatic.
I don’t think that’s because their effect is minimal or too hard to establish. It’s certainly not because there is no reason to be concerned about their potential connection to foreign influence.
But it may be because Trump’s pattern is to respond to attacks and threats with sauce-serving symmetry. If Trump has been doing what he’s had every means to do for the last two years, and apparently the will to do – based on his E.O. of 2018 – it’s very possible it won’t be the American public he informs of his findings first.
Oddly enough, someone at Twitter posted a thread on Thursday with a meditation on the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and the verses of Julia Ward Howe’s lyrics for it.
I’ve had it running in my head ever since, and it’s a fitting theme for Trump’s lightly-sauced option as it occurs to me. There’s no saying how or if it could be done between now and January; this is one possibility.
There is a transition process underway, in which Joe Biden has started to receive daily intelligence briefings. As all departing administrations do – as Obama’s did with Trump – Trump’s is likely to send special briefers for intelligence and national security topics.
Not all departing administrations visit presidents-elect to brief them on “dossiers” purporting to detail their associates’ compromising interactions with the agents of foreign powers. But Obama’s visited Trump for that purpose. If tracking the massive attack on the 2020 vote nailed Joe Biden’s associates, we may imagine the Trump administration will be rolling those associates up before visiting Biden, with stacks of evidence waiting in courthouses.
And when the Trump detail sets out for that visit to Biden, my bet, if I were a betting sailor, would be on one man leading it: Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, U.S. Army (Ret).