AMI David Pecker: The Blackmail & Extortion of Jeff Bezos

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AMI David Pecker: The Blackmail & Extortion of Jeff Bezos

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Feb 07, 2019 11:11 pm

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Mysterious pro-Saudi tabloid hits US newsstands
Despite denials, files show pro-Trump publisher quietly shared 97-page fawning magazine with Riyadh officials weeks before it went to press
.......
Why would American Media, best-known for publishing salacious stories of sex and scandal, sink money into printing 200,000 copies of a magazine with a grinning Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman splashed across the cover?
..........
Metadata embedded in the PDF file, obtained by the AP from two different individuals, show it was produced by an AMI production employee at 8:41 p.m. on Feb. 19. Shortly thereafter, it started circulating internally among Saudi officials, including the embassy’s military office, according to individuals familiar with the situation. It was also passed to Nail al-Jubeir, the former embassy spokesman and brother of Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, recently named Saudi ambassador to Ireland, the individuals said.

By the next day — Feb. 20 — Saudi officials had started forwarding it to Washington foreign policy contacts, giving them an early look, said the individuals, who weren’t authorized to discuss the situation and requested anonymity.

A month later, on March 19, Prince Mohammed arrived in the US, with the magazine serving as his literary red carpet.
https://www.timesofisrael.com/mysteriou ... ewsstands/




“Mr. Pecker and his company have also been investigated for various actions they’ve taken on behalf of the Saudi Government … After Mr. Trump became president, he rewarded Mr. Pecker’s loyalty with a White House dinner to which the media executive brought a guest with important ties to the royals in Saudi Arabia … Several days ago, an AMI leader advised us that Mr. Pecker is “apoplectic” about our investigation. For reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve.”


David Pecker will go to prison for a long time, because this extortion attempt will blow up his immunity plea deal with the SDNY.

No thank you, Mr. Pecker
Jeff Bezos
Feb 7

Something unusual happened to me yesterday. Actually, for me it wasn’t just unusual — it was a first. I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse. Or at least that’s what the top people at the National Enquirer thought. I’m glad they thought that, because it emboldened them to put it all in writing. Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I’ve decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten.
AMI, the owner of the National Enquirer, led by David Pecker, recently entered into an immunity deal with the Department of Justice related to their role in the so-called “Catch and Kill” process on behalf of President Trump and his election campaign. Mr. Pecker and his company have also been investigated for various actions they’ve taken on behalf of the Saudi Government.
And sometimes Mr. Pecker mixes it all together:
“After Mr. Trump became president, he rewarded Mr. Pecker’s loyalty with a White House dinner to which the media executive brought a guest with important ties to the royals in Saudi Arabia. At the time, Mr. Pecker was pursuing business there while also hunting for financing for acquisitions…”
David Pecker, Chief of National Enquirer's Publisher, Is Said to Get Immunity in Trump Inquiry

Federal prosecutors reached an immunity deal with the tabloid executive David J. Pecker, a key witness in their…
http://www.nytimes.com
Federal investigators and legitimate media have of course suspected and proved that Mr. Pecker has used the Enquirer and AMI for political reasons. And yet AMI keeps claiming otherwise:
“American Media emphatically rejects any assertion that its reporting was instigated, dictated or influenced in any manner by external forces, political or otherwise.”
Of course, legitimate media have been challenging that assertion for a long time:
Mystery Grows Over Pro-Saudi Tabloid: Embassy Got Sneak Peek
Mystery grows over pro-Saudi tabloid: Embassy got sneak peek

WASHINGTON (AP) - It landed with a thud on newsstands at Walmart and rural supermarkets last month: Ninety-seven…
http://www.apnews.com
I didn’t know much about most of that a few weeks ago when intimate texts messages from me were published in the National Enquirer. I engaged investigators to learn how those texts were obtained, and to determine the motives for the many unusual actions taken by the Enquirer. As it turns out, there are now several independent investigations looking into this matter.
To lead my investigation, I retained Gavin de Becker. I’ve known Mr. de Becker for twenty years, his expertise in this arena is excellent, and he’s one of the smartest and most capable leaders I know. I asked him to prioritize protecting my time since I have other things I prefer to work on and to proceed with whatever budget he needed to pursue the facts in this matter.
Here’s a piece of context: My ownership of the Washington Post is a complexifier for me. It’s unavoidable that certain powerful people who experience Washington Post news coverage will wrongly conclude I am their enemy.
President Trump is one of those people, obvious by his many tweets. Also, The Post’s essential and unrelenting coverage of the murder of its columnist Jamal Khashoggi is undoubtedly unpopular in certain circles.
(Even though The Post is a complexifier for me, I do not at all regret my investment. The Post is a critical institution with a critical mission. My stewardship of The Post and my support of its mission, which will remain unswerving, is something I will be most proud of when I’m 90 and reviewing my life, if I’m lucky enough to live that long, regardless of any complexities it creates for me.)
Back to the story: Several days ago, an AMI leader advised us that Mr. Pecker is “apoplectic” about our investigation. For reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve.
A few days after hearing about Mr. Pecker’s apoplexy, we were approached, verbally at first, with an offer. They said they had more of my text messages and photos that they would publish if we didn’t stop our investigation.
My lawyers argued that AMI has no right to publish photos since any person holds the copyright to their own photos, and since the photos in themselves don’t add anything newsworthy.
AMI’s claim of newsworthiness is that the photos are necessary to show Amazon shareholders that my business judgment is terrible. I founded Amazon in my garage 24 years ago, and drove all the packages to the post office myself. Today, Amazon employs more than 600,000 people, just finished its most profitable year ever, even while investing heavily in new initiatives, and it’s usually somewhere between the #1 and #5 most valuable company in the world. I will let those results speak for themselves.
OK, back to their threat to publish intimate photos of me. I guess we (me, my lawyers, and Gavin de Becker) didn’t react to the generalized threat with enough fear, so they sent this:
From: Howard, Dylan [dhoward@amilink.com] (Chief Content Officer, AMI)
Sent: Tuesday, February 5, 2019 3:33 PM
To: Martin Singer (litigation counsel for Mr. de Becker)
Subject:. Jeff Bezos & Ms. Lauren Sanchez Photos
CONFIDENTIAL & NOT FOR DISTRIBIUTION
Marty:
I am leaving the office for the night. I will be available on my cell — 917 XXX-XXXX.
However, in the interests of expediating this situation, and with The Washington Post poised to publish unsubstantiated rumors of The National Enquirer’s initial report, I wanted to describe to you the photos obtained during our newsgathering.
In addition to the “below the belt selfie — otherwise colloquially known as a ‘d*ck pick’” — The Enquirer obtained a further nine images. These include:
· Mr. Bezos face selfie at what appears to be a business meeting.
· Ms. Sanchez response — a photograph of her smoking a cigar in what appears to be a simulated oral sex scene.
· A shirtless Mr. Bezos holding his phone in his left hand — while wearing his wedding ring. He’s wearing either tight black cargo pants or shorts — and his semi-erect manhood is penetrating the zipper of said garment.
· A full-length body selfie of Mr. Bezos wearing just a pair of tight black boxer-briefs or trunks, with his phone in his left hand — while wearing his wedding ring.
· A selfie of Mr. Bezos fully clothed.
· A full-length scantily-clad body shot with short trunks.
· A naked selfie in a bathroom — while wearing his wedding ring. Mr. Bezos is wearing nothing but a white towel — and the top of his pubic region can be seen.
· Ms. Sanchez wearing a plunging red neckline dress revealing her cleavage and a glimpse of her nether region.
· Ms. Sanchez wearing a two-piece red bikini with gold detail dress revealing her cleavage.
It would give no editor pleasure to send this email. I hope common sense can prevail — and quickly.
Dylan.

Well, that got my attention. But not in the way they likely hoped. Any personal embarrassment AMI could cause me takes a back seat because there’s a much more important matter involved here. If in my position I can’t stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can? (On that point, numerous people have contacted our investigation team about their similar experiences with AMI, and how they needed to capitulate because, for example, their livelihoods were at stake.)
In the AMI letters I’m making public, you will see the precise details of their extortionate proposal: They will publish the personal photos unless Gavin de Becker and I make the specific false public statement to the press that we “have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.”
If we do not agree to affirmatively publicize that specific lie, they say they’ll publish the photos, and quickly. And there’s an associated threat: They’ll keep the photos on hand and publish them in the future if we ever deviate from that lie.
Be assured, no real journalists ever propose anything like what is happening here: I will not report embarrassing information about you if you do X for me. And if you don’t do X quickly, I will report the embarrassing information.
Nothing I might write here could tell the National Enquirer story as eloquently as their own words below.
These communications cement AMI’s long-earned reputation for weaponizing journalistic privileges, hiding behind important protections, and ignoring the tenets and purpose of true journalism. Of course I don’t want personal photos published, but I also won’t participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favors, political attacks, and corruption. I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out.
Sincerely,
Jeff Bezos
From: Fine, Jon [jfine@amilink.com] (Deputy General Counsel, AMI)
Sent: Wednesday, February 6, 2019 5:57 PM
To: Martin Singer (Mr de Becker’s attorney)
Subject: Re: EXTERNAL* RE: Bezos et al / American Media et al
Marty -
Here are our proposed terms:
1. A full and complete mutual release of all claims that American Media, on the one hand, and Jeff Bezos and Gavin de Becker (the “Bezos Parties”), on the other, may have against each other.
2. A public, mutually-agreed upon acknowledgment from the Bezos Parties, released through a mutually-agreeable news outlet, affirming that they have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AM’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces, and an agreement that they will cease referring to such a possibility.
3. AM agrees not to publish, distribute, share, or describe unpublished texts and photos (the “Unpublished Materials”).
4. AM affirms that it undertook no electronic eavesdropping in connection with its reporting and has no knowledge of such conduct.
5. The agreement is completely confidential.
6. In the case of a breach of the agreement by one or more of the Bezos Parties, AM is released from its obligations under the agreement, and may publish the Unpublished Materials.
7. Any other disputes arising out of this agreement shall first be submitted to JAMS mediation in California
Thank you,
Jon
Deputy General Counsel, Media
American Media, LLC

Jon P. Fine
Deputy General Counsel, Media
O: (212) 743–6513 C: (347) 920–6541
jfine@amilink.com
February 5, 2019
Via email:
mdsinger@lavelysinger.com
Martin D. Singer
Laveley & Singer
Re: Jeff Bezos / American Media, LLC, et al.
Dear Mr. Singer:
I write in response to your February 4, 2019, letter to Dylan Howard, and to address serious concerns we have regarding the continuing defamatory activities of your client and his representatives regarding American Media’s motivations in its recent reporting about your client.
As a primary matter, please be advised that our newsgathering and reporting on matters involving your client, including any use of your client’s “private photographs,” has been, and will continue to be, consistent with applicable laws. As you know, “the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies . . . for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting . . . is not an infringement of copyright.” 17 USC Sec. 107. With millions of Americans having a vested interest in the success of Amazon, of which your client remains founder, chairman, CEO, and president, an exploration of Mr. Bezos’ judgment as reflected by his texts and photos is indeed newsworthy and in the public interest.
Beyond the copyright issues you raise, we also find it necessary to address various unsubstantiated defamatory statements and scurrilous rumors attributed to your client’s representatives in the press suggesting that “strong leads point to political motives”1 in the publication of The National Enquirer story. Indeed, you yourself declared the “politically motivated underpinnings” of our reporting to be “self-evident” in your correspondence on Mr. de Becker’s behalf to Mr. Howard dated January 31, 2019.
Once again, as I advised you in my February 1 response to your January 31 correspondence, American Media emphatically rejects any assertion that its reporting was instigated, dictated or influenced in any manner by external forces, political or otherwise. Simply put, this was and is a news story.
Yet, it is our understanding that your client’s representatives, including the Washington Post, continue to pursue and to disseminate these false and spurious allegations in a manner that is injurious to American Media and its executives.
Accordingly, we hereby demand that you cease and desist such defamatory conduct immediately. Any further dissemination of these false, vicious, speculative and unsubstantiated statements is done at your client’s peril. Absent the immediate cessation of the defamatory conduct, we will have no choice but to pursue all remedies available under applicable law.
As I advised previously, we stand by the legality of our newsgathering and reporting on this matter of public interest and concern. Moreover, American Media is undeterred from continuing its reporting on a story that is unambiguously in the public interest — a position Mr. Bezos clearly appreciates as reflected in Boies Schiller January 9 letter to American Media stating that your client “does not intend to discourage reporting about him” and “supports journalistic efforts.”
That said, if your client agrees to cease and desist such defamatory behavior, we are willing to engage in constructive conversations regarding the texts and photos which we have in our possession. Dylan Howard stands ready to discuss the matter at your convenience.
All other rights, claims, counterclaims and defenses are specifically reserved and not waived.
Sincerely,
1 https://www.thedailybeast.com/bezos-inv ... Attributed to your client Gavin de Becker)
https://medium.com/@jeffreypbezos/no-th ... 6e3922310f




Bezos’ Paper Accuses Trump of Leaking his Affair to National Enquirer

by Brian McNicoll on February 7, 2019
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Mainstream media’s efforts to blame everything on President Trump took a bizarre turn this week when the Washington Post ran a story that appears to accuse the president of orchestrating a hit job on the Post’s publisher that led to the end of his marriage.

Jeff Bezos, who owns the Washington Post and is widely thought to be the world’s richest man, announced in mid-January that he and his wife of 25 years, Mackenzie Bezos, were divorcing.

The announcement came just a day before the National Enquirer released an expose’ on Bezos that revealed the affair and provided numerous photographs of him with Lauren Sanchez, a former news anchor from Los Angeles with whom he is believed to be involved.

The photos were taken over a period of months, the Enquirer said, after one of its reporters noticed Sanchez with Bezos at a ceremony for a space rocket launch. But the article also included romantic text messages from Bezos to Sanchez, and Bezos has launched an investigation to learn how the Enquirer obtained the texts.

On Wednesday, the Post ran a piece headlined, “Was tabloid exposé of Bezos affair just juicy gossip or a political hit job?” by Marc Fisher, Manuel Roig-Franzia and Sarah Ellison.

“When the National Enquirer published explicit text messages between Amazon founder Jeffrey P. Bezos and the woman he was having an affair with, the world’s richest man made clear he wanted to find out how the tabloid got hold of his private communications,” the Post wrote.

“Bezos commissioned and investigation into the Enquirer’s investigation of his love life, thereby leaping into a roiling mix of political attacks and conspiracy theories featuring the president of the United States, key figures in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, minor Hollywood celebrities and the owner of The Washington Post, Bezos himself.

“Depending on whom you believe, the Enquirer’s expose’ on Bezos affair was a political hit inspired by President Trump’s allies, an inside job by people seeking to protect Bezos’s marriage, or no conspiracy at all, simply a juicy gossip story.”

The Post’s evidence Trump was involved in its publisher getting caught by a tabloid having an affair is that the Enquirer “has acknowledged taking actions during the last presidential campaign that benefited Trump politically” and that Trump “has repeatedly lodged attacks on the Post’s coverage of him and on Bezos, who bought the news company in 2013.”

Moreover, Michael Sanchez, brother of Bezos’ mistress and “a pro-Trump Hollywood talent manager who is also an acquaintance of provocative Trump backers Roger Stone and Carter Page,” is among those accused of providing the info to National Enquirer. He denies any involvement and said Gavin de Becker, who is head of security for both Bezos and the Washington Post, is accusing him in an effort to deflect from his own failures to protect the boss.

He also claims he was “told by multiple people at American Media, the Enquirer’s parent company, that the Enquirer set out to do ‘a takedown to make Trump happy.’”

De Becker, ordered by Bezos to investigate how the tabloid obtained his texts, told the Post he concluded Bezos was not hacked.

“Rather, de Becker said in an interview, the Enquirer’s scoop about Bezos’s relationship with … Sanchez began with a ‘politically motivated’ leak meant to embarrass the owner of The Post – an effort potentially involving several important figures in Trump’s 2016 campaign.’”
https://www.aim.org/aim-column/bezos-pa ... -enquirer/



Was tabloid exposé of Bezos affair just juicy gossip or a political hit job?

Sarah Ellison

When the National Enquirer published explicit text messages between Amazon founder Jeffrey P. Bezos and the woman he was having an affair with, the world’s richest man made clear he wanted to find out how the tabloid got hold of his private communications.

Bezos commissioned an investigation into the Enquirer’s investigation of his love life, thereby leaping into a roiling mix of political attacks and conspiracy theories featuring the president of the United States, key figures in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, minor Hollywood celebrities and the owner of The Washington Post, Bezos himself.

Depending on whom you believe, the Enquirer’s exposé on Bezos’s affair was a political hit inspired by President Trump’s allies, an inside job by people seeking to protect Bezos’s marriage, or no conspiracy at all, simply a juicy gossip story.

The saga might have been easily dismissed as little more than tabloid fare, but it has taken on a more serious cast in recent days. A volley of charges and countercharges about how and why the Enquirer launched its investigation has emerged for several reasons, including the history of the Enquirer, which has acknowledged taking actions during the last presidential campaign that benefited Trump politically. Trump, meanwhile, has repeatedly lodged attacks on The Post’s coverage of him and on Bezos, who bought the news company in 2013. And Bezos, the head of a retail giant that is famously loath to comment to the media, has authorized his security chief to speak about his investigation.

Bezos’s longtime private security consultant, Gavin de Becker, has concluded that the billionaire was not hacked. Rather, de Becker said in an interview, the Enquirer’s scoop about Bezos’s relationship with former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez began with a “politically motivated” leak meant to embarrass the owner of The Post — an effort potentially involving several important figures in Trump’s 2016 campaign.

As the Daily Beast first reported last week, de Becker has publicly named only one subject of his investigation, Michael Sanchez, Lauren’s brother and a pro-Trump Hollywood talent manager who is also an acquaintance of provocative Trump backers Roger Stone and Carter Page.

“We are studying many people who might have been involved in this, and Michael Sanchez is one we’ve spoken with and been looking at,” de Becker told The Post.

But de Becker — who provided security for President Ronald Reagan’s guests and whose private security firm is popular among celebrities — is not the only one looking into who leaked the text messages to the Enquirer.

Michael Sanchez, whose Twitter feed colorfully defends Trump and slams reporting critical of the president as “fake news,” said in an interview that he has launched his own investigation into the origin of the Enquirer’s story and has sought advice from Stone and Page about the security of text and phone communications.

Stone, a longtime Republican operative and Trump adviser, has pleaded not guilty to charges of lying to Congress and witness tampering. Page is a former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser whose trips to Moscow have drawn scrutiny from congressional investigators.

Sanchez firmly denies playing any role in the revelation of his sister’s affair. He said in interviews with The Post that his priorities are to protect his sister’s relationship with Bezos and “to clear my name by telling the truth.”

Sanchez said he was told by multiple people at American Media, the Enquirer’s parent company, that the Enquirer set out to do “a takedown to make Trump happy.”

Through a spokesman, the company declined to comment on how the tabloid obtained the text messages but said that “American Media emphatically rejects any assertion that its reporting was instigated, dictated or influenced in any manner by external forces, political or otherwise. End of speculation — and story.”

Sanchez, who said he is his sister’s manager and publicist, said he learned of the affair last spring and first met Bezos on April 20 at a dinner with Lauren Sanchez, Bezos and others at a Hollywood restaurant, the Hearth and Hound. Michael Sanchez said he has socialized with Bezos and his sister multiple times during their relationship.

In the aftermath of the Enquirer story, Sanchez offered a variety of theories to explain how texts between Bezos and his sister made their way to the tabloid, including spying by foreign governments, rival tech companies or “deep state” actors within the U.S. government, according to a compilation of emails between Sanchez and de Becker that were provided to The Post.

In a Jan. 21 email to de Becker, Sanchez offered a “brief summary of the info I gathered from Carter [Page] and Roger [Stone]” and included links to news articles that outlined the National Security Agency’s ability to collect metadata on phone calls.

Both de Becker and Sanchez at various points theorized that government or foreign hacking could have been behind the leak of Bezos’s texts, according to email and text exchanges between the two. Sanchez discussed with de Becker a theory in which Trump might have enlisted the help of British intelligence or the Israeli Mossad.

Now, as de Becker has cast suspicion on Sanchez, Sanchez is hitting back.

In a written statement to The Post, Sanchez accused de Becker of “lies, half-truths, sloppy tabloid leaks, [and] crazy conspiracy theories.” Sanchez said de Becker sought to finger him as the source of leaks because de Becker wanted to deflect attention from his own failure to protect Bezos.

Sanchez said he believed de Becker, Bezos’s security chief for two decades, was involved in the leaks to the Enquirer “to sabotage Mr. Bezos and Ms. Sanchez’s love affair.” The brother argued that de Becker was trying to keep Bezos and his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie Bezos, together.

Michael Sanchez said de Becker has asserted a “strange control” over Bezos and Lauren Sanchez and has “forced” the two to stay physically apart from each other since the Enquirer’s article appeared.

De Becker declined to address Michael Sanchez’s allegations individually, saying only, “Since subjects of investigations often accuse their investigators, even the craziest litany of claims doesn’t surprise me.”

Jay Carney, Amazon’s senior vice president for global corporate affairs, declined The Post’s request for an interview with Bezos.

Lauren Sanchez also declined to comment, according to her representative.

Bezos and Trump — two wealthy business executives who became famous as billionaire disrupters upending the worlds of retailing and politics — have traded Twitter barbs in the past. And Trump often lumps Bezos’s separate ventures, Amazon and The Post, together in an effort to discredit the newspaper’s reporting.

Bezos’s ownership of The Post was highlighted on the cover of the unusual, 12-page spread on the Bezos-Sanchez affair that the Enquirer published last month.

The Enquirer reported that it spent four months on what it called the “largest investigation” in its history, following Bezos and Lauren Sanchez “across five states and 40,000 miles . . . in private jets, swanky limos, helicopter rides, romantic hikes, [and] five-star hotel hideaways.”

Last July, Dylan Howard, American Media’s chief content officer, saw a photo of Lauren Sanchez standing next to Bezos on the VIP viewing platform for a rocket launch by Bezos’s space exploration company, Blue Origin, and decided to look into a relationship between Bezos and Sanchez, according to a person who spoke to Howard at the time.

Howard declined to comment to The Post. Howard’s byline appears with that of other Enquirer reporters atop the paper’s articles about the Bezos affair.

The salacious report came as prosecutors have examined the Enquirer’s role in helping Trump. In September, federal prosecutors reached an agreement with American Media in which the company, chief executive David Pecker and Howard, his top deputy, would cooperate with authorities and acknowledge that the Enquirer worked with the Trump campaign to kill stories “about the presidential candidate’s relationships with women.”

According to three people familiar with the tabloid’s discussions, the Enquirer was ready to publish a story on Bezos and Lauren Sanchez in early autumn but held off because Pecker, a longtime associate and supporter of the president, wanted to wait until after the midterm elections and did not want to feed the public impression that he was a tool for Trump. One of those people said the Enquirer published only when it was confident in its reporting.

During the 2016 campaign, Enquirer executives sent pre-publication digital copies of articles and pictures related to Trump to the candidate’s attorney, Michael Cohen, The Post reported last year. Cohen has said part of his job was trying to head off negative reporting about Trump. The Enquirer denied ever sharing such material ahead of publication.

In 2016, American Media bought former Playboy model Karen McDougal’s account about her alleged affair with Trump for $150,000 — not to publish the story but to kill it.

De Becker said his investigation ended up focusing on political motives for the Enquirer report because “I would be blind if I didn’t register the fact that Michael Sanchez is an associate of people like Roger Stone, Carter Page and Scottie Nell Hughes,” a frequent TV surrogate for Trump during the campaign.

“Learning that was a major surprise in our investigation,” de Becker said. “Naturally, that raised questions about whether [Enquirer publisher] David Pecker, the National Enquirer and others intended to do a hit piece on The Washington Post and Jeff Bezos.”

Stone, Page and Hughes denied to The Post that they had any role in exposing Bezos’s affair.

The Post also has a business relationship with de Becker; one of the security consultant’s employees serves as the newspaper’s director of security at its Washington headquarters, according to Kristine Coratti Kelly, The Post’s vice president for communications.

The Post’s relationship with de Becker’s company “allows us to utilize their vast resources and training programs rather than trying to build them in-house,” Kelly said.

Michael Sanchez said he spoke to Stone and Page about his sister’s relationship with Bezos only after the tabloid published its exposé. Early last fall, Michael Sanchez told a political acquaintance that his sister and Bezos were traveling together, according to a person familiar with the conversation.

Over the past month, a behind-the-scenes PR battle has raged as each side has sought to push back against critical media accounts and to promote reporting that favors its version of how the Enquirer story came to be.

On Jan. 7, Bezos and Lauren Sanchez received almost identical emails from the Enquirer, Howard and his deputy, James Robertson, American Media’s news director, according to copies of the emails obtained by The Post.

“I write to request an interview with you about your love affair,” the messages read. The Enquirer asked Bezos and Sanchez to respond to dozens of questions.

Michael Sanchez told The Post that, acting as his sister’s representative, he agreed to meet with Howard at American Media’s offices in New York to review the Enquirer’s reporting.

On the morning of Jan. 9, Bezos tweeted an announcement that he and wife MacKenzie Bezos “have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends.”

The announcement surprised Michael Sanchez and enraged Howard, who felt, according to two people who spoke to him at the time, that Bezos had preempted his scoop.

After the Bezos tweet, the Enquirer, which was not due to publish its next edition until Jan. 16, rushed its report about the affair into print a week early, allowing it to appear on newsstands Jan. 10, according to a person familiar with the Enquirer’s work on the report.

The Enquirer article led quickly to dueling investigations and lawsuit threats.

Documents obtained by The Post show that attorneys for American Media sought to persuade the Daily Beast not to publish its initial report suggesting that Trump’s allies may have been involved in the effort to expose the Bezos affair. According to a draft legal complaint, Enquirer attorneys threatened to sue the Daily Beast if it used any information provided by a former Enquirer executive who had been hired by the website.

The Daily Beast published two articles about the affair last week. Its editor did not respond to a request for comment.

Stone, whose campaign trickery has been the stuff of movies, books and political folklore since Richard Nixon’s 1972 presidential campaign, had sought to preempt the Beast’s stories. On Jan. 29, the day of his arraignment in the Mueller probe, Stone appeared on Infowars, the conspiracy-minded Internet talk show run by Alex Jones.

“Breaking news here,” Stone said. He claimed, incorrectly, that the Beast would report that “I, working with President Trump and the NSA, hacked the cellphone of Lauren Sanchez, the paramour of Jeff Bezos — or that we hacked Bezos’s cellphone and that we gave the information to the National Enquirer. This is a conspiracy that allegedly involves Michael Sanchez — Lauren Sanchez’s brother, a very hot Hollywood manager, [who] happens to be a friend of mine.”

Meanwhile, de Becker’s attorneys have discouraged tabloids such as the New York Post and the Sun in London from reporting Michael Sanchez’s assertion that the leak to the Enquirer resulted from de Becker’s failure to protect Bezos’s privacy, according to documents obtained by The Post. An attorney for de Becker also threatened legal action against American Media over the same issue, the documents show.

The complex web of purported explanations for the Enquirer’s focus on Bezos’s love life was, Stone asserted, an example of “the insanity of the left.”

As Stone tells it, he got involved with the Bezos story only last month, just days before his arrest, when he got a phone call from the West Coast.

On the line was John Phillips, a talk-show host at KABC radio in Los Angeles. Phillips had interviewed Stone numerous times, and they had become friends, getting together periodically for dinners, Stone said, speaking in detail about the Bezos matter for the first time.

Phillips, who declined to comment for this report, was not calling to arrange a meal but to see whether Stone would talk with his manager and friend, Michael Sanchez. Suspecting that his sister had been under surveillance, he wanted to talk to people he thought of as experts on how that is done, such as Stone and Page, according to Stone.

Michael Sanchez helped Page land a gig speaking in October at Politicon, a nonpartisan political convention, in a discussion titled “Sex, Spies and Videotape: Russian Hysteria in Context.”

Page and Sanchez spoke about business opportunities and developed a friendly relationship, Page said Monday. But Page said he did not learn that his new friend had a sister who was involved with the world’s richest man until the Enquirer report appeared.

When reports began appearing suggesting that Sanchez might be responsible for the leaks, Page said he saw a parallel to his own experience. “I think there are a lot of similar lessons learned,” he said.

Page contended to Sanchez that he became embroiled in the Russia investigation because someone was out to get Trump. Page told Sanchez that something similar might be happening to him.

“Realize that people have agendas,” Page recalled telling Sanchez. “There are bigger fish whose reputations they are trying to fry in the media.”

Meanwhile, the Enquirer report led de Becker and Sanchez to conduct a lengthy text exchange, and de Becker appeared incredulous that Sanchez was consulting with Stone.

“Do you really know Roger Stone?” de Becker asked.

Not long afterward, Sanchez told Stone about de Becker’s theory of what happened. In this telling, de Becker posited that since there was no evidence that Bezos’s or Lauren Sanchez’s phones had been hacked, the information could only have been extracted by the government. Sanchez claimed that de Becker believed Trump had a vendetta against Bezos because of his ownership of The Post and because Bezos is a “big opponent of Donald Trump,” Stone said.

Stone said he thought the scenario Sanchez spelled out was “crazy. Just crazy.” Stone’s theory about the leak to the Enquirer was one that Michael Sanchez also offered — that de Becker hadn’t protected Bezos’s communications, so he needed someone to blame and came up with the notion of a political hit job.

De Becker stood by his theory. “This inquiry has been about crime, not journalism,” he said. “Again and again, political motives became evident.”

For his part, Stone said he was not surprised to become embroiled in the Bezos story.

“At the moment, I’m a very convenient punching bag — for obvious reasons,” Stone said Friday, hours after he was in federal court for a hearing on the charges against him, of lying to Congress and witness tampering.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics ... 2db258be19



Khashoggi

Jamal Khashoggi

Saudi crown prince wanted to go after Jamal Khashoggi 'with a bullet' – report
US media report quotes intelligence sources who intercepted a conversation between Mohammed bin Salman and an aide in 2017
Julian Borger in Washington

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/ ... ed-nations


viewtopic.php?f=8&t=41347&p=668284&hilit=khashoggi#p668284
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Re: AMI Blackmail & Extortion

Postby JackRiddler » Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:20 am

This is fun.

Maybe to make it more identifiable (humble suggestion) you could add "of Bezos & others" to the title.

Such disgusting slugs at AMI (e.g. the way these gross, nipple-chasing assholes who publish misanthropic and misogynist vulgarity every day describe the photos as if they're so bad and suggest exceptional immorality!).

Incredibly stupid. Even if they thought this better than 50-50 to go through, they could have seen the risk of damage to them if he turned it around on them in public was like 1,000 times greater than any risk to him.

The effect is to make a hero of the #1 Robber Baron of recent years, a CIA contractor, economic devastator, and the owner of the CIA's long-time mouthpiece paper. But he can already launch a heroizing campaign any time by waving his hand in the direction of his PR department. AMI brings this on themselves and are a deserving target. One can only hope they're finally finished.

Reminders:

1999

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Pecker

In 1999, Pecker left Hachette, when he raised capital from Thomas H. Lee Partners and Evercore Partners to buy American Media, publisher of the Star, the Globe, the National Enquirer, and the Weekly World News.[3]



October 2001 - First of the anthrax attacks at AMI headquarters in Boca Raton.

Image

https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news ... to/1169688

FBI Investigate Anthrax Death in Florida
395539 02: Boca Raton police seal off the offices of American Media Inc. as FBI agents investigate the an anthreax death October 8, 2001 in Boca Raton, Florida. The FBI sealed off the building housing several supermarket tabloids and took over the investigation into the anthrax death of a Florida man who had worked in the building after the germ was found in the nose of a second worker and on a computer keyboard in their office. (Photo by Kelly Owen/Getty Images)


This was followed by anthrax letters turning up at the New York Post and the New York City headquarters of the TV networks. The last two letters went to two senators, the majority leader Daschle and Leahy, head of the justice committee, just as the USA PATRIOT Act came up for deliberation. For a couple of weeks, this unfolding series got more media spotlight than 9/11 itself. St. Mueller reassigned half of the 3,000 FBI agents working the 9/11 case to go on a hunt for the anthrax mailer. After ten years, having lost a damage suit from one falsely accused suspect, the FBI hounded scientist Bruce Ivins until he killed himself (?) and then declared the case closed, saying he had been the sole perpetrator of the 2001 attacks.

.
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Re: AMI David Pecker: The Blackmail & Extortion of Jeff Bezo

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Feb 08, 2019 8:55 am

Washington Post writer Manuel Roig-Franzia says Bezos' team thinks it's possible that the text leaks were politically motivated and that a "government entity" accessed the Bezos texts

Bezos's lawyers have been contacted by other ppl that have had this done to them by the Enquirer. tidal wave is coming

The Bezos investigation’s suspicion centers on a *foreign* government’s intelligence agency, possibly Israel’s Mossad or the UK’s MI-6, according to Roig-Franzia



Image


The exposure of Saudi collusion may turn out to be as threatening to Trump as that of Russia collusion.


The National Enquirer reportedly has a safe full of information about the president of the United States
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Re: AMI David Pecker: The Blackmail & Extortion of Jeff Bezo

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Feb 08, 2019 9:13 am

In short, there is every reason to believe that Pecker is entangled with the Saudi royal court of King Salman, perhaps, as Bezos alleges, in search of investment opportunities.
..........
Did the NSA spy on Bezos at Trump’s request and then turn the material over to Pecker?
........
Speculation went immediately to Saudi Arabia, which used Israeli spyware to hack Khashoggi’s Whatsapp account




Did the National Enquirer blackmail Amazon’s Jeff Bezos to Protect the Saudi Crown Prince?

Juan Cole 02/08/2019

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – David Pecker’s attempt to blackmail Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos would not ordinarily attract my eye. Except for this paragraph:

“And sometimes Mr. Pecker mixes it all together:
“After Mr. Trump became president, he rewarded Mr. Pecker’s loyalty with a White House dinner to which the media executive brought a guest with important ties to the royals in Saudi Arabia. At the time, Mr. Pecker was pursuing business there while also hunting for financing for acquisitions…”

We knew that Pecker had brought the French investment banker and Saudi publicist Kacy Grine to the White House.

“SAN ANSELMO, CA – AUGUST 24: Copies of the National Enquirer are displayed at a grocery store on August 24, 2018 in San Anselmo, California. American Media, Inc. chairman and CEO David Pecker was granted immunity in exchange for cooperation with prosecuters working on the Michael Cohen case of hush payments made to a porn star and former Playboy playmate at the direction U.S. president Donald Trump. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images).”

And Spencer Ackerman had reported on Pecker’s strange move to put a pro-Saudi glossy magazine in grocery store check out lanes in spring of 2018. It is as though he thought American housewives would thrill to the soap opera in Riyadh, where the Dr. Jekyll-and-Mr.-Hyde crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman had in summer of 2017 sidelined his rival Mohammed Bin Nayef, dethroning him as crown prince and greedily taking his place, before he kidnapped many in the Saudi elite to shake them down for $100 bn while imprisoning them in the Ritz Carlton. Days of Our Lives had nothing on the Saudis.

In short, there is every reason to believe that Pecker is entangled with the Saudi royal court of King Salman, perhaps, as Bezos alleges, in search of investment opportunities.

One question I have long had is whether investigators looking at the Russian element in the election of Trump are not unduly downplaying a United Arab Emirates and Saudi angle. That is, did those two oil monarchies help put Trump in power in the first place, and is there a prehistory to their entanglements with his circle?

“BOCA RATON, FL – AUGUST 16: David Pecker, the CEO of American Media, speaks to the news media August 16, 2002 in front of the American Media Building in Boca Raton, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/ Getty Images).”

But what Bezos goes on to allege is that he had hired a private investigator to find out how Pecker got hold of his texts and exchanges of smartphone photographs with his lover, Lauren Sanchez.

And the investigator, Gavin de Becker, looked into whether Pecker’s National Inquirer is influence-peddling for Saudi Arabia for some sort of quid pro quo.

Bezos also hints that Pecker was upset about the Washington Post’s quest to get to the bottom of the Saudi government’s murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi on October 2, 2018. Bezos owns the Post, though he maintains he is a hands-off owner.

Bezos alleges that the investigation of the Saudi connection most alarmed Mr. Pecker, and precipitated the attempt to blackmail the Amazon CEO into falling silent and backing off, with the threat of releasing further compromising photographs and text messages of a private nature.

Ronan Farrow said on Twitter that Pecker’s hired gun, Australian Dylan Howard, had also attempted to intimidate him when he was investigating Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment of all the women in Hollywood.

This charge makes me wonder if Pecker isn’t America’s answer to Rupert Murdoch, whose British tabloids were famous for hacking Britons’ telephone messages and then blackmailing or smearing them with the stolen material. Former prime minister John Major alleged that Murdoch threatened him with bad press unless he bent himself to Murdoch’s will.

I have to say that I never took Pecker or the National Inquirer seriously, but maybe he is secretly one of the more powerful men in the world, holding files on politicians and celebrities and coercing them behind the scenes.

One piece of jeopardy for Mr. Pecker is that he was granted immunity, for cooperating with the Mueller probe, from charges of election fraud for paying off nude model Karen McDougall, Mr. Trump’s lover, to gain her silence during the 2016 election campaign silence. That immunity depends on his avoiding further acts of illegality. It is not clear that the courts would accept Bezos’ claim of extortion. But Pecker wouldn’t be so nervous about Bezos investigating his Saudi ties unless there was something to hide in that regard.

Finally, the Bezos investigator has been telling the Washington Post’s Manuel Roig-Franzia that he does not believe Bezos’ phone was hacked. He thinks that a “government entity” captured the signals from the phone somehow.

Speculation went immediately to Saudi Arabia, which used Israeli spyware to hack Khashoggi’s Whatsapp account.

Of course, Saudi Arabia and its partner in crime the United Arab Emirates are also good at hacking, and actually got into the cell phone of the Emir of Qatar and then put out deep fake video of him.

And, since the far right wing government of Binyamin Netanyahu is hoping to be rescued politically by a normalization of relations with Saudi Arabia, the Israeli Mossad has a motive to protect Saudi allies like Trump and Pecker, as well.

I’m confused, however, as to how a foreign government could capture text and photos from an ATT or Verizon server (Bezos uses an iPhone). That is to say, the allegation is that the iPhone was *not* hacked and that the signals were scooped up in some other way. Moreover, the diction is “a government entity,” not a foreign government.

It appears to me that de Becker may be alleging that the US National Security Agency captured that material, a capability that has been well documented. The NSA, of course, reports directly to Trump, David Pecker’s dear friend and co-conspirator in election fraud through the suppression of the Karen McDougall affair.

I pointed out in fall, 2016 in a piece at The Nation that the Bush and Obama administrations had made a huge error in not reining in the NSA on Fourth Amendment grounds, thus bequeathing to a maniac like Trump the ability to spy on all Americans. Are those chickens now coming home to roost? Did the NSA spy on Bezos at Trump’s request and then turn the material over to Pecker?

—-

Bonus video:

The Young Turks: “Jeff Bezos BLACKMAILED”


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FALQxf6GXlc
https://www.juancole.com/2019/02/nation ... um=twitter





Lincoln's Bible
Pecker love Epstein long time.
Epstein accused just now on national tv to have used underage girls to gain leverage over powerful men: biz & politicians. (this true)
Seems like a story...

Are you connecting my dots, now?
Are you getting it, yet?

Image

"It's Time to Talk About Harvey..."

- THREAD -

1. Where we find corrupt men, we find corruption.

Image
https://twitter.com/LincolnsBible/statu ... 3577321472



We're in the middle of a global crime story. Wake up. - Lincoln's Bible
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Re: AMI David Pecker: The Blackmail & Extortion of Jeff Bezo

Postby JackRiddler » Fri Feb 08, 2019 9:44 am

seemslikeadream » Fri Feb 08, 2019 7:55 am wrote:Washington Post writer Manuel Roig-Franzia says Bezos' team thinks it's possible that the text leaks were politically motivated and that a "government entity" accessed the Bezos texts

Bezos's lawyers have been contacted by other ppl that have had this done to them by the Enquirer. tidal wave is coming

The Bezos investigation’s suspicion centers on a *foreign* government’s intelligence agency, possibly Israel’s Mossad or the UK’s MI-6, according to Roig-Franzia



The exposure of Saudi collusion may turn out to be as threatening to Trump as that of Russia collusion.


Oh, I hope we can do better than that! If this really opens up into Saudi, Mossad and MI-6, it would be the real firestorm.

The National Enquirer reportedly has a safe full of information about the president of the United States
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I am by virtue of its might divine,
The highest Wisdom and the first Love.

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Re: AMI David Pecker: The Blackmail & Extortion of Jeff Bezo

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Feb 08, 2019 11:37 am

This is definitely going to be fun


Who hated Khashoggi, threatening to "use a bullet" on him? Saudi prince MBS

Where did Khashoggi work? The Washington Post.

Who owns The Washington Post? Jeff Bezos

Whose cell phone was “hacked” leading to blackmail attempt by Trump toadie David Pecker & AMI? Jeff Bezos

"And days after Mr. Kushner made an unannounced visit to Riyadh in the fall of 2017, the crown prince summarily detained about 200 wealthy Saudis, including several of his royal cousins, in a Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh."

June 2017: Saudis secretly meet in Vienna to obtain Pegasus

https://mobile.twitter.com/PersuasivePR ... 9205814272

4D951A47-65A0-4E24-9C08-C71EEB8F5D33.jpeg
4D951A47-65A0-4E24-9C08-C71EEB8F5D33.jpeg (33.32 KiB) Viewed 1161 times




March 2018 - David Pecker has dinner at the White House with Trump, Kushner and a known Saudi intermediate, then seeks Saudi investment in AMI.


March 23, 2018. MBS brags Kushner gave him classified intel to arrest over 200 politely rivals and perceived enemies.
https://amp.businessinsider.com/saudi-c ... DBH2CF40D1





Riyadh 'purchased Israeli spyware' to snoop on suspected critics

The New Arab

Saudi Arabia purchased a range of sophisticated Israeli spyware technology in the lead up to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's purge of regime opponents, in which dozens of highly influential individuals - including members of the royal family - were arrested and allegedly tortured under the guise of corruption crackdown.
A close associate of Riyadh's former head of intelligence, Abdullah al-Malihi, and the intelligence chief Nasser al-Qahtani, met with representatives of NSO Group Technologies, an Israeli cyber technology firm.

The first of three meetings, which discussed the firm's latest sophisticated espionage tool, the Pegasus 3, took place in Vienna and subsequently Cyprus, in 2017, Haaretz revealed.

The system would allow the Saudis to hack into the phones of regime opponents inside the kingdom as well as dissidents around the world, the Israeli daily reported.

During the initial meeting, the Israeli firm was able to demonstrate how their system can easily hack into a mobile device, listen in and record, just by obtaining the phone's number.

Once a phone is infected with Pegasus spyware, hackers have full access to a range of contents stored on the phone including messages, emails and pictures, according to the internet watchdog Citizen Lab.

An agreement was made between the Israeli businessmen and Saudi royals to purchase the Pegasus 3 system for $55 million, according to a European businessman with connections in the Gulf states.

NSO slammed the reports as baseless gossip.

"The company's products assist law enforcement agencies in protecting people around the world from terror attacks, drug cartels, child kidnappers for ransom, pedophiles, and other criminals and terrorists," NSO said in response to the Haaretz investigation.

In September, a Citizen's Lab report revealed a number of Gulf states - likely the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain - are using Pegasus spyware to snoop on activists.

It revealed that the UAE has the highest intensity of "infections" from the Israeli-made spyware, suggesting that suspected dissidents have been widely targeted.

The site has previously highlighted the case of Emirati activist Ahmed Mansoor, who was targeted with the spyware after clicking on a link sent to his phone promising to reveal "new secrets" about detainees tortured in UAE jails.

Mansoor was sentenced to ten years in jail in 2018 for critical social media posts, after he was detained by UAE authorities in 2017.

Amnesty International revealed this year that a member of staff and a Saudi activist working with the organisation has been targeted using Pegasus.

"The same operator responsible for that targeting appears to be conducting surveillance across the Middle East, as well as in Europe and North America," the report states.

The revelations come amid global outrage over the killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi who was murdered in Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul.

After persistent denials and numerous contradictory explanations, Riyadh finally admitted Khashoggi was killed in the consulate and his body was dismembered. Turkish intelligence and CIA reports concluded the murder was orchestrated among the highest circles of the Saudi royal family, implicating Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The spyware is being used by government agencies in 46 countries, the report found, including Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey, the UAE, and Yemen.
https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/amp/n ... ssion=true


Saudis Israel.......everything Grizzly asked me for.......glad to oblige :D
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Re: AMI David Pecker: The Blackmail & Extortion of Jeff Bezo

Postby Grizzly » Fri Feb 08, 2019 1:03 pm

And Brits ... slad, and brits. :wink :evilgrin thumps up
If Barthes can forgive me, “What the public wants is the image of passion Justice, not passion Justice itself.”
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Re: AMI David Pecker: The Blackmail & Extortion of Jeff Bezo

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Feb 08, 2019 2:22 pm

yes sir even got the Brits in there :)


Israeli spyware Pegasus [for whom Flynn was a paid advisor], acquired by MBS for $55M in 2018, allows customers to secretly listen to calls on victim's phone, see texts & photos, and use phone’s mic & camera as surveillance devices.


Will Flynn bring back Yellowcake to WH Menu after 1-21-17?
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=40188


bringing back yellowkerk? How about spyware?

trump's NSA


Israeli Software Helped Saudis Spy on Khashoggi, Lawsuit Says

Dec. 2, 2018
A symbolic funeral prayer for the murdered Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month.Huseyin Aldemir/Reuters


A symbolic funeral prayer for the murdered Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month.Huseyin Aldemir/Reuters
LONDON — A Saudi dissident close to the murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi has filed a lawsuit charging that an Israeli software company helped the royal court take over his smartphone and spy on his communications with Mr. Khashoggi.

The lawsuit puts new pressure on the company, the NSO Group, and on the government of Israel, which licenses the company’s sales to foreign governments of its spyware, known as Pegasus. More broadly, the suit also calls new attention to Israel’s increasingly open alliance with Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf monarchies.

Saudi Arabia and its allies like the United Arab Emirates have never recognized the Jewish state but have quietly found common cause with it in opposition to Iran. Since the Arab Spring uprisings, Israel and those monarchies also appear to have found an alignment of interest in defending the established Arab order.

The lawsuit, filed in Israel by the Montreal-based Saudi dissident Omar Abdulaziz, follows parallel suits by journalists, activists and others charging that the NSO Group improperly helped the governments of Mexico and the United Arab Emirates spy on their smartphones even though the individuals had no criminal records and posed no threat of violence.

The human rights group Amnesty International has also recently accused the NSO Group of helping Saudi Arabia spy on a member of the organization’s staff. Amnesty said last week that it was considering legal action after the Israeli defense ministry rejected a request to revoke NSO Group’s license to export its spyware.

“By continuing to approve of NSO Group, the Ministry of Defense is practically admitting to knowingly cooperating with NSO Group as their software is used to commit human rights abuses,” said Molly Malekar, the programs director of Amnesty International’s Israeli office.

In a statement on Sunday, the NSO Group said its products were “licensed for the sole use of providing governments and law enforcement agencies the ability to lawfully fight terrorism and crime.”

Contracts for use of its software “are only provided after a full vetting and licensing by the Israeli government,” the company said, adding: “We do not tolerate misuse of our products. If there is suspicion of misuse, we investigate it and take the appropriate actions, including suspending or terminating a contract.”

The spyware allows its customers to secretly listen to calls, record keystrokes, read messages, and track internet history on a targeted phone. It also enables customers to use a phone’s microphone and camera as surveillance devices.

Because of those sweepingly invasive capabilities, Israel classifies the spyware as a weapon. The company must obtain approval from the Defense Ministry for its sale to foreign governments. Saudi Arabia paid $55 million last year for its use, according to Israeli news reports.

Mr. Abdulaziz, the plaintiff of the new lawsuit, is a 27-year-old Saudi who sought asylum in Canada and lives in Montreal. In the aftermath of the Arab Spring uprisings, he had become popular among Saudis for online videos and social media commentary criticizing the rulers of the kingdom for their authoritarianism. The consulting firm McKinsey & Company identified him as an influential driver of dissent on social media.

Over the last two months, he has also gained international attention because of his friendship and collaboration with Mr. Khashoggi, a Saudi exile living in Virginia who wrote columns for The Washington Post.

Mr. Khashoggi was killed and dismembered in October in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. American intelligence agencies and many Western officials have concluded that Saudi Arabia’s day-to-day ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, authorized the assassination. He has denied authorizing the killing, and Saudi officials have said that a team of agents sent to retrieve Mr. Khashoggi decided on their own to kill him instead.

An autopsy expert. A lookalike. A black van. Our video investigation follows the movements of the 15-man Saudi hit team that killed and dismembered the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The lawsuit claims that in the months before the killing, the royal court had access to Mr. Khashoggi’s communications about opposition projects with Mr. Abdulaziz because of the spyware on Mr. Abdulaziz’s phone.

Mr. Abdulaziz has said he was also targeted by some of the operatives close to Prince Mohammed who have been linked to the Khashoggi killing as part of a campaign to bring home or silence Saudi dissidents abroad. After pestering him for months with messages urging him to return to the kingdom, two Saudi emissaries met him in Montreal last May to pressure him in person.

Mr. Abdulaziz covertly recorded the conversations. “There are two scenarios,” one of the agents told him, referring to him in the third person as Omar. In the first option, “Omar is a beneficiary or a winner, because he is going back home,” an emissary told him. “The second side, the state, is a winner and is happy as well,” the emissary added, suggesting that the kingdom might pay also Mr. Abdulaziz large sums of money.

If he declined, however, “Omar is a loser because he is going to jail,” the emissary said, and he said Mr. Abdulaziz might be apprehended at an airport. The Saudi emissaries said falsely that Mr. Khashoggi was also considering returning to the kingdom.

The emissaries said they had been sent by Saud al-Qahtani, a close adviser to the crown prince who has been the target of United States sanctions for his alleged role in the Khashoggi killing. A statement announcing the sanctions also identified him as the supervisor of the intelligence agent who led that operation. But the emissaries made clear that their orders had ultimately come from the crown prince.

They promised Mr. Abdulaziz that the day after he landed in Saudi Arabia he would meet with Prince Mohammed and could ask him for anything. They said they had already booked a hotel room for Mr. Abdulaziz in Jeddah.

Mr. Abdulaziz declined to return to the kingdom and also refused a request to visit the Saudi embassy in Ottawa for further discussions. That request began to look more ominous after Mr. Khashoggi’s death in the Istanbul consulate, Mr. Abdulaziz has said.

The next month, in June, he received a text message that looked like a link to track the shipment of a package but turned out to mask a link to the NSO Group’s spyware, according to court papers filed with the lawsuit.

In August, a research group at the University of Toronto that studies online surveillance notified Mr. Abdulaziz that his phone might have been hacked. The research group, Citizen Lab, later concluded that the Saudi government was behind it.

Around the same time as the arrival of the fake text message, Saudi security forces carried out a raid with search dogs in the middle of the night at the home of Mr. Abdulaziz’s family in Jeddah. Two of his brothers were arrested and remain in prison without charges, according to the court papers.

Mr. Abdulaziz “has also learned that the security personnel in the detention center are using torture against them and are subjecting them to inhumane and humiliating treatment, all in order to put pressure on the plaintiff to force him to stop his activism,” the court papers state.

It was also during the period after the spying began that Mr. Abdulaziz and Mr. Khashoggi stepped up their plans for various social media campaigns to counter Saudi government propaganda. Mr. Khashoggi sent Mr. Abdulaziz $5,000 to subsidize that effort.

The lawsuit was filed by an Israeli lawyer, Alaa Mahajna, in cooperation with Mazen Masri, a lecturer at the City University of London.

The lawyers say in the court papers that they intend to argue that the resulting exposure of the collaboration between Mr. Abdulaziz and Mr. Khashoggi “contributed in a significant manner to the decision to murder Mr. Khashoggi.”

Correction: Dec. 3, 2018
An earlier version of this article overstated what is known about a report by McKinsey & Company about Omar Abdulaziz. Although the report identified him as an influential driver of dissent on social media, it is not clear whether that evaluation was shown to the royal court.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/02/worl ... srael.html


National Enquirer’s AMI Scrutinized Over Bezos Story, Sources Say

Christian Berthelsen
Federal prosecutors are reviewing the National Enquirer’s handling of its story about Jeff Bezos’ extramarital affair to determine if the company violated an earlier cooperation deal with prosecutors, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Prosecutors in the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office were provided with information about key exchanges concerning Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com Inc., who went public in a jaw-dropping public blog post Thursday night. In it, Bezos detailed exchanges with American Media Inc. and accused the company of extortion.

They are now reviewing whether there was any criminal activity or whether AMI, the National Enquirer’s parent company, violated an earlier agreement not to engage in criminal conduct. AMI reached that deal to avoid prosecution over its role to silence women who had relationships with President Donald Trump, agreements negotiated with his former lawyer Michael Cohen.

Nicholas Biase, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, declined comment.

Jon Hammond, a spokesman for American Media, said: “I have no knowledge of anything like that."
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... ezos-story



Has Jeff Bezos turned over evidence to the FBI of a Saudi-Trump-AMI criminal conspiracy? My guess is yes.



The National Enquirer Picked the Wrong Man to Bully

Jeff Bezos is standing up to a potent publication and Trump ally in the service of a principle.

By Timothy L. O'Brien
February 8, 2019, 5:30 AM CST

J’accuse: Jeff Bezos has ample resources and a spine. Photographer: Alex Wong/Getty Images
Timothy L. O’Brien is the executive editor of Bloomberg Opinion. He has been an editor and writer for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, HuffPost and Talk magazine. His books include “TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald.”
Read more opinion
Follow @TimOBrien on Twitter

Jeff Bezos, the digital retail titan and media baron, took to the internet on Thursday evening to defend himself. In a remarkable post on Medium.com, he accused the National Enquirer — the flamethrower-cum-garbage-bin owned by American Media Inc. and overseen by its publisher, David Pecker — of blackmail and extortion.

The Enquirer, you see, recently told Bezos that it had come into possession of several potentially embarrassing photos. The scandal sheet had already published an expose on Bezos’s extramarital affair and that story included private text messages and photos, which spurred him to hire investigators to find out how the Enquirer got its hands on all that stuff.

The new round of 10 photos includes, according to Bezos, four yawners (i.e., “a selfie of Mr. Bezos fully clothed”), three so-whats (of his mistress), and three what-was-he-thinkings (involving the Amazon.com Inc. founder and Washington Post owner’s penis). AMI threatened to publish the new photos unless Bezos called off his investigation, according to copies of email correspondence he shared. In other words, AMI warned, we are threatening to make use of your private property, Jeff, in order to stop your inquiry into how we got our hands on your private property.

There’s another important wrinkle here: Pecker is a longtime friend, political supporter and confidant of President Donald Trump, and Bezos, Amazon and the Washington Post have been repeated targets of the president’s ire. Trump has complained that Amazon gets preferential tax and postal rates; in December the U.S. Postal Service proposed rate hikes on shipping services Amazon and other companies use after Trump ordered an audit of the agency’s rates (the USPS has said the proposed hikes were not in response to Trump’s criticisms of Amazon). The Washington Post, of course, has published seminal and award-winning coverage of Trump’s political and business dealings as well as his shortcomings, legal perils, and personal life.

Pecker guided the Enquirer’s coverage of Trump down a very different path than the Post. Back in the summer of 2015, shortly after Trump announced his presidential bid, Trump and his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, met with Pecker to talk about how best to bury negative news stories about Trump’s extramarital relationships with women. Pecker, who entered into a cooperation agreement with authorities in 2018 that granted him immunity from prosecution, has told law enforcement officials that he agreed to purchase possibly damaging stories about Trump and never publish them in the Enquirer — a practice known as “catch and kill.” Among those stories were accounts of Trump’s sexual encounters with a former Playboy model, Karen McDougal. Cohen’s payments to McDougal (and to another woman, a former porn star named Stormy Daniels) triggered a federal investigation of possible campaign finance fraud.

Pecker may be sitting on years of Enquirer stories about Trump that were never published and would presumably be of interest to authorities. It’s not clear if Bezos’s revelations on Thursday night will complicate matters for Pecker.

Under AMI’s own agreement to assist law enforcement, the company won’t be prosecuted and must cooperate for three years. Signed last September, the agreement clearly states that if the company engages in any criminal acts after that date then it could be prosecuted for “any federal criminal violation” that authorities already know about. That fact, Trump’s presence, and all of the other very obvious politics floating around this collision of money, power and gossip, may explain why AMI tried to wring a false statement out of Bezos in exchange for not publishing the new photos. Specifically, AMI demanded, per Bezos’s Medium post, that he assert publicly that he has “no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.”

Ah, but AMI has tried to bully the wrong person. Bezos is the world’s richest man, he has ample resources and a spine, and he’s willing to put his own reputation in play before the Enquirer does — in order to make a point and to discover how the publication got his texts and photos.

“Any personal embarrassment AMI could cause me takes a back seat because there’s a much more important matter involved here. If in my position I can’t stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can?” Bezos wrote of his exchanges with the company. “These communications cement AMI’s long-earned reputation for weaponizing journalistic privileges, hiding behind important protections, and ignoring the tenets and purpose of true journalism. Of course I don’t want personal photos published, but I also won’t participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favors, political attacks, and corruption. I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out.”

Bezos points out in his post that in addition to Trump considering him an enemy, Saudi Arabia — which has business ties to AMI and Pecker and the Trumps — might feel the same way due to the “Post’s essential and unrelenting coverage of the murder of its columnist Jamal Khashoggi.”

Old-fashioned envy may be at a work here, too. Bezos has a fortune estimated to be worth about $134 billion, which likely grates on Trump given that the president’s own net worth is a fraction of the wildly inflated $10 billion he sometimes claims to have. (Trump unsuccessfully sued me for libel for a biography I wrote called “TrumpNation,” citing unflattering sections of the book that examined his business record and wealth — and which he said damaged his reputation.) Bezos explains in his Medium post how he made his money, while also fileting AMI’s rationale for threatening to publish the photos:

“AMI’s claim of newsworthiness is that the photos are necessary to show Amazon shareholders that my business judgment is terrible. I founded Amazon in my garage 24 years ago, and drove all the packages to the post office myself. Today, Amazon employs more than 600,000 people, just finished its most profitable year ever, even while investing heavily in new initiatives, and it’s usually somewhere between the #1 and #5 most valuable company in the world. I will let those results speak for themselves.”

For his part, AMI’s chief content officer, Dylan Howard, notes in his correspondence with Bezos that the private photos he got his hands on were “obtained during our newsgathering.” Really? If AMI paid someone to hack Bezos’s devices to steal photos and texts, or if AMI received purloined photos and texts from a third party, then I wouldn’t call that “newsgathering” — in much the same way that I wouldn’t call Russian hackers burglarizing the Democratic National Committee’s servers “opposition research.” I’d call both things for what they are: theft.

Bezos has undoubtedly exercised bad judgment and camera skills in all of this, and he has possibly caused his wife acute pain. Working conditions at Amazon have also drawn criticism recently and the company’s size and reach need monitoring. But Bezos has also chosen to joust with the most powerful man in the world and with a potent publication that aided and abetted the president’s ascent. And he’s doing so in the service of the straightforward and indispensable idea that people are entitled to have private lives and private moments that strangers can’t pickpocket.

Three cheers for Jeff Bezos.
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Re: AMI David Pecker: The Blackmail & Extortion of Jeff Bezo

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Feb 08, 2019 11:05 pm

Foreign Ministry
@KSAmofaEN
#WashingtonDC | Minister of State for Foreign Affairs @AdelAljubeir: “Our leadership is a red line”

4:55 PM · Feb 8, 2019 · Twitter for iPhone


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CAUGHT

Private Eyes Detail Inner Workings of National Enquirer ‘Blackmail’ Machine

Threatening to reveal Jeff Bezos’ “dick p*ck” was just the latest strong-arm tactic. “The nice way of calling it was quid pro quo,” one veteran said, “but really it was blackmail.”
Lachlan Markay,
Asawin Suebsaeng,
Maxwell Tani
02.08.19 8:51 PM ET

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast
It may have shocked the world when the publisher of the National Enquirer allegedly tried to use nude pictures to coerce Jeff Bezos. But it came as no surprise to three veterans of the Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc.

“The threats, the blackmail, that’s their business model,” one former National Enquirer staffer told The Daily Beast.


That model burst out into public view on Thursday night when Bezos—the world’s richest man, the founder of Amazon, and the owner of the Washington Post—published emails from AMI chief content officer Dylan Howard that threatened the release of a “dick p*ck” if the Post didn’t relent in its investigation of AMI.

It was a familiar moment to Paul Barresi, a private investigator who spent years working on jobs for AMI and other tabloids. “The National Enquirer had some people who would go to a celebrity and say, ‘unless you give in to a one-on-one interview that would amount to a fluff piece with us, we’re going to report XYZ,” he said. “The celebrity would then acquiesce to their demand.”

“The nice way of calling it was quid pro quo, but really it was blackmail,” Barresi said. “I know that the same methodology is practiced today,” he added. “Obviously it's practiced, because they did it” to Bezos.

MONEY SHOT
Bezos: National Enquirer Threatened Me With a ‘D*ck Pick’

Lachlan Markay


And Daniel “Danno” Hanks, who said he worked as an on-contract investigator for the Enquirer “off and on” for 40 years, used the phrase “war of blackmail” to describe the AMI empire’s ethos.

“I’ve known this newspaper’s tactics for years, and I’d rather the truth be told,” Hanks stressed.

“The Enquirer had a list of which attorneys worked for which celebrities, and if someone approached [the tabloid] for a story, they would approach the attorneys and say, ‘Make us a better offer,’” Hanks said.

Hanks, who was recently released from prison for involvement in a gambling and drug organization (Hanks claims he was duped into it), added that those Hollywood or celebrity lawyers often asked Enquirer investigators to do investigative work and “trash runs” for them.


“They would have a particular name, and we would track that person down, and once we did that information would be turned over to [the celebrity’s] lawyer,” he said.

AMI did not respond to a request to comment for this story, but the company said in a statement on Friday that it “believes fervently that it acted lawfully in the reporting of the story of Mr. Bezos.” The company has not been prosecuted for any crimes related to the blackmail claims made by its former investigators.

However, the supermarket tabloid company’s bag of dirty tricks also is well-chronicled and includes catch-and-kill operation: paying for an exclusive interview only to bury it, as a favor to an ally or after using the dirt to convince a celebrity to play ball with them.

As The Daily Beast reported last year, the National Enquirer offered to pay for an interview with one of Bill Cosby’s accusers in 2005, then allegedly turned over the file to the comedian in exchange for an exclusive sit-down with him. The Los Angeles Times has reported that in 2003, the Enquirer paid a woman $20,000 for an exclusive about an alleged affair with Arnold Schwarzenegger, then never ran it and made Schwarzenegger a consultant for AMI magazines.


Most infamously, AMI has admitted it paid ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal $150,000 in hush money for her story of an affair with President Donald Trump, which never saw the light of day, and AMI reportedly also tried to buy off Italian model Ambra Battilana after she accused movie mogul Harvey Weinstein of groping her. (According to Ronan Farrow in the New Yorker, Howard collected and turned over damaging information about Rose McGowan to Weinstein to help him discredit her rape claim.”)

The Wall Street Journal reported in 2009 that two years earlier, AMI obtained photographs that showed golf star Tiger Woods having an affair. They didn’t run a story in the National Enquirer; instead, they cut a deal with Woods to appear on the cover of Men’s Fitness, an AMI title.

JUST ONE CLICK
Bezos Could Put National Enquirer Brass in Jail

Michael Daly

AMI’s strong-arm tactics aren’t limited to celebrities and public figures; it sics high-paid lawyers on journalists who try to shine a light on its practices.


Ronan Farrow tweeted Thursday night that he and another prominent journalist who was reporting on AMI’s cozy relationship with Trump last year “fielded similar ‘stop digging or we’ll ruin you’ blackmail efforts from AMI.”

And while The Beast was in the middle of reporting on a Bezos-funded investigation into how his texts wound up in the Enquirer’s hands, AMI threatened Daily Beast reporter Lachlan Cartwright—an AMI veteran—with a $5 million lawsuit, and accused The Beast of so-called “tortious interference”—messing with an AMI contract.

AMI exec Dylan Howard individually threatened the Associated Press with legal action over a story the wire service published accusing him of sexual misconduct, according to former AP editor Ted Bridis and one other source with direct knowledge.

Separately, when the Associated Press was preparing a story that would reveal AMI had effectively paid hush money to a source accusing Trump of fathering an illegitimate child, AMI hired the powerful law firm Boies Schiller Flexner to apply, in Birdis' words, “a continuous amount of pressure to get us to abandon our reporting.”


Ultimately, the Associated Press’ story ran, but only after months of delays. An AP spokesperson told The Daily Beast the wire service did not initially publish the story because editors believed it did not meet the company’s standards.

“It used to be that a famous businessman like Bezos would cringe at the thought of something ending up in the Enquirer. But as time goes on by, they realize that people are more angry at the Enquirer than they are at them, for exposing someone’s dirty laundry.”
— 'Danno' Hanks
Two sources with knowledge said lawyers, acting on behalf of AMI, also threatened legal action against the Wall Street Journal when the paper attempted to report on AMI’s role in keeping the Trump love child rumors under wraps.

Aggressive lawyers like Boies Schiller Flexner and Lanny Davis—who also happens to now represent former Trump fixer Michael Cohen—were tools of intimidation. (Davis did not respond to requests to comment for this story; neither did Boies Schiller.) But another weapon in the AMI arsenal was the private investigator.


Hanks described Barresi a one-time Enquirer “bag man” who knew how to work “the streets” and had a “very persuasive way of talking to people.” He said if someone was approached by Barresi, he could also hint about dirt the Enquirer had found on them, especially if they weren’t pliable to hush money.

Barresi, according to Hanks, has “audio tapes of various attorneys and…reporters saying, like, ‘I’ll trade you that celebrity for that one,’ or ‘If you let this one slide, I’ll give you this other one.’”

In an interview with The Daily Beast, Barresi confirmed the existence of the tapes, which he said be obtained from Jim Mitteager, a one-time AMI reporter who surreptitiously recorded extensive behind-the-scenes meetings during his time at the Enquirer and the Globe, a tabloid acquired by AMI in 1999, two years after Mitteager’s death.

Barresi provided The Daily Beast with an audio clip of one such meeting in 1994 between Mitteager and notorious Los Angeles private investigator Anthony Pellicano, in which the two plotted to blackmail actress Whoopi Goldberg in exchange for spiking a Globe story about rumors that she had been diagnosed with cancer.


Barresi described himself as Pellicano’s fixer, and said his work on behalf of the now-imprisoned PI often entailed what he described as “blackmail” on behalf of AMI publications and others in the Hollywood tabloid industry.

Barresi, a former adult film actor, even wrote a memoir about his exploits, and titled the book Hardcore: Porn Star to Hollywood Fixer.

Barresi described himself as Pellicano’s “field guy,“ and a “real-life Ray Donovan.” Barresi said Pellicano would find damaging information about his own clients and acquaintances, feed it to a tabloid, then tell the client the tabloid would kill the story for a one-on-one interview.

“He would use that as a way of lighting a fire and then going back like the fire chief and putting the fire out,” Barresi said of Pellicano, who is jailed on a wiretapping conviction.


NEWSBEAST
Enquirer CEO Builds Tabloid Death Star to Do Trump’s Bidding

Lloyd Grove

More often than not, the tactic worked. Barresi could only recall a couple of celebrities who didn’t cave when presented with the damaging material that he and Pellicano had fed to the tabloid press.

Hanks said in the old days, most big names wouldn’t dream of trying to fight the Enquirer, but times appear to be changing.

“It used to be that a celebrity or any kind of famous businessman like Bezos would cringe at the thought of something ending up in the Enquirer,” he said. “But as time goes on by, they realize that people are more angry at the Enquirer than they are at them, for exposing someone’s dirty laundry. And I think Jeff Bezos is just the kind of guy who said, ‘I’ve had it. I’m not going to let myself be a victim’…and decided to fight back.”


“This guy has got some balls,” Barresi said of Bezos, “because he’s standing up to them.”

—with additional reporting by Noah Shachtman
https://www.thedailybeast.com/private-e ... e?ref=home


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Re: AMI David Pecker: The Blackmail & Extortion of Jeff Bezo

Postby seemslikeadream » Sun Feb 10, 2019 11:30 pm



No one who spoke to The Daily Beast implied that Michael Sanchez in any way hacked his sister’s phone, and he has not been charged with any crime. In fact, three people familiar with the Bezos-funded probe told The Daily Beast in late January that it had found no evidence of a hack. However, Bezos’ investigators have strongly suspected Sanchez was the leaker since at least last week, according to two people familiar with the investigation. “There is no one inside this inquiry process who doesn’t believe he’s ground zero,” one of those sources said.




FAMILY AFFAIR

Mistress’ Brother Leaked Bezos’ Racy Texts to Enquirer, Sources Say


Multiples sources tell The Daily Beast that Michael Sanchez, a Trumpworld associate and brother to Bezos’ lover, gave the couple’s texts to The National Enquirer.
Lachlan Markay
02.10.19 6:59 PM ET
EXCLUSIVE

The brother of Jeff Bezos’ mistress, Lauren Sanchez, supplied the couple’s racy texts to the National Enquirer, multiple sources inside AMI, the tabloid’s parent company, told The Daily Beast.

Another source who has been in extensive communication with senior leaders at AMI confirmed that Michael Sanchez first supplied Bezos’ texts to the Enquirer.


AMI has previously refused to identify the source of the texts, but a lawyer for the company strongly hinted at Sanchez’s role during a Sunday morning interview on ABC.

“The story was given to the National Enquirer by a reliable source that had given information to the National Enquirer for seven years prior to this story. It was a source that was well known to both Mr. Bezos and Ms. Sanchez,” attorney Elkan Abramowitz told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

Asked directly whether Sanchez was the source, Abramowitz said, “I can’t discuss who the source was. It’s confidential within AMI.”

An AMI spokesperson declined to comment for this story. Asked directly more than a half-dozen times whether or not he supplied the texts to the Enquirer, Sanchez declined to do so.


JUST ONE CLICK
Bezos Could Put National Enquirer Brass in Jail

Michael Daly

As The Daily Beast was the first to report, Bezos launched his own investigation into who leaked the texts. The security consultant he hired, Gavin de Becker, has repeatedly declined to disclose the findings of his investigation, including whether or not it had determined Sanchez was the culprit. But he did say the probe is over and the results will be turned over to the authorities.

“Our investigation into who initially provided texts to the National Enquirer, and why it was done—that investigation is now complete. We have turned our conclusions over to our attorneys for referral to law enforcement,” de Becker told The Daily Beast on Sunday.

“Our investigation into what the National Enquirer and [publisher] AMI did after they received the initial texts—that investigation is ongoing,” he added.


The identity of the Enquirer’s source was only one of the many mysteries in a tale that is sordid and tangled, even by supermarket tabloid standards. Still unresolved: why Sanchez allegedly supplied the information to the Enquirer; why the Enquirer promoted a story about Bezos with such vigor; what, if anything this had to do with the Enquirer’s long-standing support for Trump; why its parent company was so bothered by the suggestion that it was motivated by “external forces, political or otherwise”; and why AMI tried to later coerce Bezos with a previously-unreleased “d*ck pick.”

Documents reviewed by The Daily Beast show that Michael Sanchez believed the Enquirer pursued its story about Bezos with “President Trump's knowledge and appreciation”—a chase encouraged, in Sanchez’s estimation, by Republican operatives “who THINK Jeff gets up every morning and has a WaPo meeting to plot its next diabolical attack on President Trump.”

CAUGHT
Private Eyes Expose National Enquirer ‘Blackmail’ Machine

Lachlan Markay,
Asawin Suebsaeng,
Maxwell Tani

No one who spoke to The Daily Beast implied that Michael Sanchez in any way hacked his sister’s phone, and he has not been charged with any crime. In fact, three people familiar with the Bezos-funded probe told The Daily Beast in late January that it had found no evidence of a hack. However, Bezos’ investigators have strongly suspected Sanchez was the leaker since at least last week, according to two people familiar with the investigation. “There is no one inside this inquiry process who doesn’t believe he’s ground zero,” one of those sources said.


Abramowitz, the AMI lawyer, appeared to confirm this in his Sunday interview, saying, “Any investigator that was going to investigate this knew who the source was.”

The Daily Beast previously reported that de Becker had interviewed Sanchez as part of his probe. Of particular interest were his personal and business ties to some prominent figures in President Donald Trump’s orbit, including Roger Stone, Carter Page, and Scottie Nell Hughes. (Her private emails, it should be noted, were once leaked to an AMI-owned publication.)

As The Daily Beast previously reported last week, documents show that Sanchez and Stone were in touch about the National Enquirer story in the days after it ran.

“I’ve never hacked anyone,” Stone told The Daily Beast, which had neither suggested or asked if he had. “I do know Michael Sanchez—very good guy.”


He certainly was a reliable and public supporter of the president. “For anyone too stupid or too bitter to admit Mueller’s pack of @POTUS-hating @TheDemocrats is leading an out-of-control witch hunt, read about @jerome_corsi," Sanchez wrote in a more-or-less typical tweet. “Muellerism = McCarthyism.”

According to the Washington Post, Sanchez said he had heard from AMI staffers that the tabloid operation was in the middle of “a takedown to make Trump happy.”

And it did. The cover story and the highly unusual 12-page spread that accompanied what the paper called its “largest investigation” ever prompted President Trump to tweet, “So sorry to hear the news about Jeff Bozo being taken down by a competitor.”

Trump and AMI chief David Pecker have been friends for decades, and began working together professionally in the late 1990s, when a Pecker-led publishing company began putting out a quarterly, Trump-branded style magazine. In the years since, Trump was an extensive subject of and source for coverage by AMI-owned publications. And as Pecker has now admitted, he used AMI to buy up stories damaging to Trump and sit on them—a tactic known as “catch and kill”—most notably to bury the testimony of an alleged Trump mistress in the final weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign.


“Documents show that Michael Sanchez believed the Enquirer pursued Bezos with ‘President Trump's knowledge and appreciation.’”
Pecker and his deputy, AMI chief content officer Dylan Howard, escaped prosecution for their roles in that scheme after agreeing to cooperate with federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. That office is now examining whether AMI may have violated that agreement. Presumably, the attorneys retained as part of Bezos’ probe will turn over what information they have to the Southern District.

Though de Becker declined to identify the attorneys, The Daily Beast has learned they include famed Watergate Special Prosecutor Richard Ben-Veniste, and William Isaacson, an partner at Boies Schiller Flexner. The firm has previously represented AMI.

Sanchez’s alleged involvement in the Bezos leak, and his ties to various Trumpworld figures, has informed investigators’ conclusions that the disclosure was at least in part politically motivated, a finding that drew intense efforts from AMI to insulate the Enquirer’s reporting from any allegations that they were seeking to please Trump, a close friend of AMI chief executive David Pecker.


But those efforts backfired in dramatic fashion this week, after Bezos publicly posted copies of emails sent by AMI executive Dylan Howard and lawyer John Fine. In one of those emails, Howard threatened to publish sexually suggestive photos of Bezos and Sanchez if the Washington Post didn’t back off its investigations of the Enquirer.

NEWSBEAST
Enquirer CEO Builds Tabloid Death Star to Do Trump’s Bidding

Lloyd Grove

“American Media emphatically rejects any assertion that its reporting was instigated, dictated or influenced in any manner by external forces, political or otherwise,” wrote Fine. “Any further dissemination of these false, vicious, speculative and unsubstantiated statements is done at your client’s peril.”

To Bezos, the mention of “external forces” seemed to suggest that AMI’s past promotion of the Saudi royal family might have informed its decision to pursue and publish with such unprecedented vigor its lengthy expose on Bezos’ affair. “For reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve,” Bezos wrote
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Re: AMI David Pecker: The Blackmail & Extortion of Jeff Bezo

Postby Jerky » Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:09 am

It just keeps getting crazier and crazier.

National Enquirer in bed with Trump, I kind of get it (altho you figure he'd be more valuable to them as fodder for their rag than he is as some kind of behind the scenes ally)... but for them to be in bed with Saudi? The trailer park's paper of record?!

Talk about cognitive dissonance...

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Re: AMI David Pecker: The Blackmail & Extortion of Jeff Bezo

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:19 pm


Venture Capital

Jeff Bezos mistress, Lauren Sanchez, owns Black Ops Aviation. They filmed an aerial view of Trump’s wall prototypes...

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8pA4qvfRb ... e=youtu.be


Here’s LaurenSanchez in front of her Black Op Aviation hangar before filming Trump’s wall prototypes

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Trump & Pecker conspired to plant Kompromat on friends to be used “as needed”. Trump’s friend, Tom Barrack, introduced Manafort to his mistress, Adriana - who went to Ukraine w him- then Trump had Pecker publish this

Remember when Trump asked his friend who owns the
@NatEnquirer
to discredit
@PaulManafort
in case he turned on him They published this story about his affair w a woman 1/2 his wife’s age and called it a “Sicko Affair”...
FIRST TO KNOW!
Trump Advisor Sex Scandal — Paul Manafort’s Sicko Affair
Target in FBI-Russia probe also cheated with woman half his age!
By National ENQUIRER Staff
https://www.nationalenquirer.com/photos ... -mistress/


Kompromat Wolff wrote that while recording, Trump would manipulate his friends into disclosing details of their sex lives and encourage them to cheat on their wives- sometimes while their wives were listening. He prob held back some tapes for later
There are more crazy allegations about Trump and women in Michael Wolff's explosive book on his presidency
https://www.businessinsider.com/michael ... ves-2018-1



“Sex Lies & Videotape”
@JeffBezos
Look at Michael Sanchez’s Twitter post on October 21, 2018. Given the timing... what exactly was Sanchez referring to
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https://mobile.twitter.com/kelly2277/st ... 8147996673
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Re: AMI Blackmail & Extortion

Postby Panic Weather » Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:44 pm

JackRiddler » Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:20 am wrote:Reminder: October 2001 - First of the anthrax attacks at AMI headquarters in Boca Raton.


What's missing in this post: Gloria Irish.

What's missing in this thread: Who works for whom.

Gloria Irish: October 14, 2001: ’Strange Coincidence’ Briefly Increases Suspicions Al-Qaeda Is behind Anthrax Attacks

The FBI confirms that Gloria Irish rented an apartment to two of the 9/11 hijackers. Her husband is Michael Irish, who is an editor of the Sun, an (AMI-owned) Florida tabloid newspaper, and the first victim of the anthrax attacks earlier this month. Bob Stevens, who also worked at the Sun, and several others at the tabloid offices were injured. The FBI says that Irish rented different apartments in Delray Beach, Florida, to hijackers Marwan Alshehhi and Saeed Alghamdi during the summer of 2001. But one FBI spokesperson says, “Right now it looks like a coincidence,” and another calls it a “strange coincidence.” Two of the hijackers, including Mohamed Atta, also had subscriptions to the Sun. [KNIGHT RIDDER, 10/14/2001; GUARDIAN, 10/16/2001] But Irish says “there is no way” the hijackers could have known about any Sun connection through her. [WASHINGTON POST, 10/15/2001] Michael Irish is a licensed pilot who was a member of the Civil Air Patrol based at Lantana Airport. Atta reportedly rented a plane at that airport in August (see August 16-19, 2001). Stevens, who died of anthrax on October 5, also lived in Lantana. But there is no evidence that Irish or Stevens crossed paths with Atta. [ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 10/15/2001] The story will quickly die after nothing more is found to the connection.


To be clear about the importance of Gloria Irish: She is a golden thread that connects (as Graeme MacQueen put it) "9/11 and the Anthrax Attacks as one single operation."

Gloria Irish was intended to be the link proving that the Anthrax came from the alleged hijackers, which would have been the basis of the subsequent Iraq War.

ABC News was actively pushing the story that the Anthrax came from Iraq.

Until Arizona geneticist Paul Keim discovered that the Anthrax was Ames' strain, and therefore U.S. military, here is where the Anthrax story was headed:

Anthrax Attacks > "Discovery" of Iraq links to Anthrax > Discovery via Gloria Irish of "hijacker" links to Anthrax > Therefore: "Discovery" of "hijacker anthrax from Iraq"


Ivins couldn't have known any of this. Which means that either the AMI targeting was done by someone with a bird's-eye view ... or it was all just a pure "coincidence" that the AMI wife was the alleged hijackers' real estate agent. Which is the FBI claim.

So AMI's role in justifying the Iraq War was to be integral.

Bezos is not only doing business with the CIA in a relationship that has been called "transformational."

Bezos also publishes the Washington Post, which has a long-and-storied relationship with the CIA. Previous publishers Phil Graham & Katherine Graham worked closely with (if not for) the CIA; Washington Post Chief Editor Ben Bradlee was CIA Paris Station Chief before helping Naval Intelligence Bob Woodward take down Nixon. WaPo alumni Carl Bernstein "exposed" (vaguely) the Washington Post in his "CIA and the Media" Rolling Stone article. Jamal Khashoggi, nephew of CIA-connected arms trafficker Adnan Khashoggi, was a Washington Post columnist before his murder as part of a campaign to unseat the current Saudi Prince who jailed other princes that financially supported the alleged 9/11 hijackers, as well as jailed the Adnan Khashoggi-linked Alaweed Bin Talal.

So if Bezos CIA, and AMI also CIA ... then aren't we looking at an internecine power struggle?

But how exactly do the "sides" in that struggle align? For example, who aligns with/against Bin Talal AND Bezos? Khashoggi, for one. So Bezos is "Team Bush"? And what, then, are we to make of the reports that Bin Talal wrote a letter of recommendation to get young Barack Obama into Harvard Law?

Also in the mix is the second apparent campaign to link the current Saudi Prince to an attack associated with/against Bezos, if the murder of Khashoggi can be considered associated with/against Bezos. In other words, Bezos is linked to a second major event that will have the effect of attempting to unseat the Saudi leader (via AMI).

The contemporary-but-pervasive Q-tard bullshit narrative about "The Cabal" and the unified "Deep State" who "killed JFK because he was a right-winger" and "Deep State are leftists" and "Bush & Clinton are on the same team" (et al, ad nauseum) are surely having an influence on the *rigorous analysis* of who works for whom, and who Deep State is, and who Deep State is not.

Surely we can agree that this Bezos/AMI example indicates that there is no such thing as a "unified Cabal" or "unified CIA."
Panic Weather
 
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Re: AMI David Pecker: The Blackmail & Extortion of Jeff Bezo

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Feb 13, 2019 8:06 am

thank you Panic Weather

Context of 'September 10, 2004: Troubled Riggs Bank Added to Saudi 9/11 Lawsuit
http://www.historycommons.org/context.j ... ggslawsuit

Adam Klasfeld

NEW: Judge sets the agenda for a hearing in the 9/11 liabilities suit against Saudi Arabia on Feb. 26.

Mostly discovery matters dominate, along with the kingdoms motion to seal and redact certain information.

Image
https://twitter.com/KlasfeldReports/sta ... 8647443458



Pecker Moved On Saudis Like A Bitch, But He Just Couldn't Get There

Five Dollar FeministFebruary 12, 2019 03:10 PM
How deep in the shit is the National Enquirer? Deep enough its parent company AMI explicitly asked the Justice Department whether they needed to register as lobbyists for Saudi Arabia under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. When Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and Michael Flynn got busted for not copping to all their dirty work for Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and God only knows who else, Trump's buddy David Pecker had a major OH, SHIT moment. Because he'd just published a 97-page mash note to Saudi dictator Mohammed bin-Salman, and SDNY was already crawling all over him for the campaign finance scheme he cooked up with Trump's fixer Michael Cohen. The last thing he needed was to get charged with violating FARA. So he sent the DOJ a letter that said something like ...

Suppose a media company that mostly farts out stories of questionable veracity about celebrities being pregnant/cheating/descended from UFOs decides to publish a 97-page, full-color, ad-free love letter to the Saudi Crown Prince right as he's coming to America. We're, like, totally desperate for cash, and that guy MBS could front us $100 million without even blinking. So we printed up 200,000 copies of that nonsense and parked them at checkout counters, where we pretended that people were seriously going to fork over $13 to read about some dictator from NOT AMERICASTAN. Anyway, we solicited articles from one of MBS's trusted courtiers, and we let those guys review our puff masterpiece pre-publication. Which we lied about to journalists, LOL! But it's not like they ordered us to do any of those things in advance. We're not lobbyists, we're just whores. And is that so wrong?
OKAY, FINE we made all that up. But we read the redacted opinion letter the Wall Street Journal just dug up on the DOJ's website, and we're pretty sure we weren't that far off.

According to your submission, [U.S. corporation] created and published [publication] [text deleted], to coincide with the visit of [foreign government leader]. You have relayed that [U.S. corporation] thought that its readers would have a heightened interest in [foreign country] because of [text deleted]. According to your submission, at no time was [U.S. corporation] approached by the [foreign government leader], [his or her] representatives, or any other official or representative of the [foreign government] or any other foreign government with respect to publishing the [publication]. Nor, was there any foreign funding involved in its publication. You have stated that the decision to publish [publication] was solely [U.S. corporation]'s and was a business decision based upon anticipated revenue.

You also note in your submission that [U.S. corporation] contacted [advisor to foreign government leader], and invited [the advisor] to submit an article for the [publication]. [The advisor] accepted and submitted an editorial to be published in the [publication]. [The advisor] was also provided with a working copy of the draft [publication] for review. According to your submission, [the advisor] suggested some changes, recommended replacing some photographs with other, more palatable photographs, and offered additional images of the [foreign government leader] that could be used in the publication. According to your submission, [U.S. corporation] was not obligated, but chose, to accept the changes suggested by [the advisor].
Riveting stuff! But we can't help noticing that AMI told the Justice Department that publishing the MBS Joy Book "was a business decision based upon anticipated revenue." The AP reports that The Enquirer sold an average of 265,000 issues per week in fiscal year 2018, an 18 percent decline year-on-year. (And those issues are printed on used Kleenex, the cost of which is offset by ad-sales.) But parking 200,000 ad-free Penthouse Letters to the Crown Prince in Walmarts across Middle America was just good business sense?

UH HUH.

The WSJ quotes a source inside AMI saying, "Frankly, it was done to kiss his ass when he came to visit in the hopes he'd invest in the company and it didn't work." So if you try and fail to become a foreign lobbyist by putting out a free tester first, then you don't have to register. Hooray!

AMI lawyer Elkan Abramowitz insisted to George Stephanopoulos that the Middle East Hottie story was published "for journalistic reasons" and not to curry favor with the deep-pocketed despot. Then he went on to 'splain how offering to put Bezos's dick pics in the vault if he would quit poking around in AMI's Saudi business and kill a Washington Post story was definitely not extortion. So you know when Abramowitz says that "not one penny" of Saudi money went to finance the two private equity firms who bought up an 87 percent share of AMI since 2010, you can take that one to the bank.

We're pretty sure there are more shoes to drop yet on this one. So let's just leave you with this interesting thread from Iyad el-Baghdadi, president of the pro-Democracy Kawaakibi Foundation and host of the Arab Tyrant Manual podcast.

https://www.wonkette.com/pecker-moved-o ... -get-there



while Donald Trump was desperately seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in loans from Deutsche Bank, and Jared Kushner’s father was asking the Qatari government for financing, the National Enquirer, a third Trump-related business was seeking a cash from Saudi Arabia to offset its billion dollar debt......he feds are reportedly investigating if the National Enquirer was simultaneously acting as a foreign agent of Saudi Arabia, and illegally acting as an agent of trump




Before Bezos Fight, Enquirer Publisher AMI Faced Steep Losses - Bloomberg


Photographer: Marion Curtis/AP
The publisher of the National Enquirer, currently under attack by Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos, has been facing steep financial losses that have left the once-loyal keeper of Donald Trump’s secrets with more than $1 billion in debt and a negative net worth.

The closely held American Media Inc. -- led by the president’s longtime friend, David Pecker -- recorded a $31.5 million loss in the six months that ended Sept. 30, according to documents reviewed by Bloomberg. That marked an improvement over the previous year, but nonetheless brought the company’s total losses over the last 5 1/2 fiscal years to $256 million. AMI owed about $203 million more than its assets were worth.

Adding to the troubles for Pecker and his New York-based publishing company is the wrath of Bezos. The billionaire wrote in a blog post last week that he was blackmailed by the tabloid, which allegedly threatened to publish sexually suggestive photos from an extramarital affair. The exchange followed a 12-page spread in the Enquirer last month full of racy text messages that he reportedly sent to his paramour.

Bezos, the world’s richest person, has the resources to fight. On Monday alone, his wealth increased by a bigger dollar figure than all of AMI’s revenue for the first half of this fiscal year.

Turbulent Years

AMI’s loss through September includes $70 million of noncash charges, which shows the business was profitable on an operating basis, Chief Financial Officer Chris Polimeni said in an emailed statement. In its most recent financial guidance, published in September, the company said it expected revenue and earnings to grow following a series of acquisitions.

The National Enquirer’s battle with Bezos is just the latest saga in a turbulent few years for AMI, which has been on a borrowing binge that swelled its debt load to more than $1.3 billion. Much of that is owed by its parent company, Worldwide Media Services Group Inc., Polimeni said in a statement.

Pecker struck an immunity deal with federal prosecutors as part of an investigation into Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. The company entered into a related Sept. 20 non-prosecution agreement covering crimes including perjury and obstruction of justice, a deal that officials are currently reviewing for potential violations.

Read more: Bezos’s Story Said to Spur U.S. Prosecutors’ Scrutiny of AMI

The deals stemmed from the company’s efforts to aid Trump by purchasing the rights to potentially damaging stories and declining to publish them, a practice known as “catch and kill.”

Pecker and Trump have known each other for years. In 2013, Trump wrote on Twitter that Pecker would be a “brilliant choice” as the next chief executive officer of Time magazine. A few years later, during the 2016 presidential campaign, Pecker’s National Enquirer suppressed stories by women alleging affairs with the married Trump.

New Jersey-based Chatham Asset Management, a $4 billion investment firm, is the main money behind AMI. The firm threw a financial lifeline to Pecker’s company in 2014 and ended up with about an 80 percent stake. Chatham also is one of the company’s major creditors.

In recent years, AMI has courted Saudi Arabia to help buttress its finances. It also published a nearly 100-page, ad-free glossy magazine heralding the U.S. visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The move prompted the company to ask the Justice Department whether it needed to register as a foreign agent, the Wall Street Journal reported.

New Investors

“There are several new investors that came into the fold,” Polimeni said, “and there is no direct investment in the company’s debt or equity by the Saudis.”

The media company’s losses in recent years helped fuel its growing pile of debt. So did more than $181 million spent on acquiring publications, such as Us Weekly. But while losses have narrowed -- the company reported a $45.1 million deficit in last year’s first half -- the improvement is attributable to a one-time $19 million gain from the sale of a magazine in 2015 that the company recorded in the quarter ended Sept. 30.

More Debt

At the end of last year, the company’s parent, Worldwide Media Services, issued an additional $300.6 million in zero-yielding debt, which results when debtors promise to repay their creditors substantially more than they borrowed, bringing the total to $869 million.

AMI borrowed an additional $460 million from lenders and bondholders through the start of January, about half of which is costing the company 10.5 percent in interest. Much of the borrowing refinanced existing debt.

There have been improvements. During the first half of its current fiscal year, its operating income, which excludes items such as its borrowing costs, jumped from last year’s $5,000 loss to a $611,000 gain.

AMI’s buying spree also established it as the nation’s leading purveyor of celebrity magazines. Its journalism has drawn White House praise as well: Trump said last month that the National Enquirer produced “far more accurate” news stories than the Bezos-owned Washington Post.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... eep-losses



Will Bunch


1. It came out of left field, but last night's bombshell developments seem to have exposed a tangled web involving the Saudis, MBS, their allies, Team Trump, global hacking rings, Khashoggi, the Washington Post and Bezos that could take everything down. Follow the chain here:

2. Let's start in 2017 -- when Muhammed bin Salman (MBS) consolidates power over Saudi Arabia and fumes about dissident Adnan Khashoggi writing for the Washington Post, saying he'd personally put "a bullet" in the U.S.-based journalist


3. In 2018, Khashoggi is murdered by Saudi agents inside their Turkish embassy. Mourning journalists at the Post vow to use all of the paper's assets in a relentless quest to expose the truth, including MBS's role, until "meaningful action is taken"


4. Meanwhile, the world is also learning that AMI, publisher of the National Enquirer, and its owner David Pecker, played a critical role in Donald Trump's rise to the White House, snuffing out would-be scandals and keeping dirt on POTUS 45 in a safe


5. During Trump's 1st year in the WH, the key players come together. Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner forms close ties with MBS and possibly shares intelligence, while AMI's Pecker uses his Trump ties to get a White House meeting to tap Saudi billions


6. An apparent result of that meeting was AMI's publication of a ridiculous (and ridiculously overpriced) magazine that puffed up MBS's Saudi Arabia as a "magic kingdom" and was placed on racks in Walmart, etc.


7. Jump ahead to the near present. Last month, Post owner Jeff Bezos, the world's richest person, announced he's getting a divorce, hours before his intimate "sexts" with a mistress are published by...AMI's National Enquirer


8. As often happens (remember Russia's 2016 election hacks) the news tends to obscure a somewhat more salient question: How did the National Enquirer get these texts. Bezos would not roll over. Instead, he hired a top investigator to find out


9. Last night, it all hit the fan. Bezos went public with a new blackmail effort by the Enquirer -- a threat to publish lewd or racy photos of Bezos and his paramour unless he dropped the probe of AMI's hacking


10. Critically, AMI wanted Bezos to falsely state that his investigation led to "no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.” The sensitive point, according to Bezos? The possible role of Saudi Arabia.

11. Talk about opening a Pandora's box! The Bezos-AMI affair should call attention to increased hacking wars that have consumed Saudi Arabia, its close ally the UAE and their newfound adversary Qatar, working with various mercenary types from the U.S. and Israel...

12. ...Is it a coincidence that just as the Bezos-AMI affair was exploding, Reuters exposed an operation called Karma in which "former U.S. intelligence agents" (!!!) helped the UAE hack the iPhones of its prominent adversaries.


13. Karma was apparently part of a broader effort, Project Raven. That's just the latest twist in growing web that involves Trump, the Saudis, shadowy intelligence firms, a weaponized Nat'l Enquirer, hacking and blackmail going back to the 2016 election.

14. Remember this Trump Tower meeting in 2016 that involved Don. Jr., an Israeli intelligence firm, and a promise of Saudi/UAE money to elect Trump? It might be a coincidence, but it hints at what's exploding right now


15. Why did Pecker's AMI panic at Bezos' investigation and the inference of Saudi involvement, and initiate a blackmail attempt, when it had just promised the Justice Department to refrain from criminal activity in the Michael Cohen case? It seems like an insane risk.

16. Is that because the Bezos investigation threatens to expose secrets of much greater significance than just a billionaire's sexts? Such as, the conspiracy behind Khashoggi's murder? Or behind the election of Donald Trump?

17. Stay tuned. You know what they say about Karma -- it's a bitch. -30-

This page deliberately left blank.

First and hopefully last correction: *Jamal* Khashoggi -- my 1980s brain played a trick on me

OK, guys -- I put all of this in my Philadelphia Inquirer column. It ties everything all together, has a lot of new details about Saudi hacking capabilities and why this is so scary for democracy. Check it out!
https://twitter.com/Will_Bunch/status/1 ... 9436101633


Bezos, the National Enquirer, the Saudis, Trump, and the blackmailing of U.S. democracy | Will Bunch
Updated: February 10, 2019 - 2:54 PM
by Will Bunch
Will Bunch | @will_bunch | bunchw@phillynews.com


It was the stuff of Saturday Night Live “cold open” legend — the joke that wrote itself about the world’s richest man, selfie iPhone pictures of his genitalia, and an alleged blackmail plot orchestrated by a man with the tabloid-friendly surname of “Pecker.”
After two-plus years when so much of the news was dominated by hard-to-follow allegations of Russian election interference and alleged collusion by an American presidential campaign, here — finally! — was a scandal that Joe Sixpack could really sink his teeth into. “[Male sexual organ] pics!” Endless “Pecker” jokes!


The prurient details of this scandal surrounding Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and foibles of a man worth $160 billion (before his looming divorce, anyway) sending sexts just like every horny 17-year-old, could fuel TV cable news and newspaper headlines for weeks — and it probably will.
But what if I told you that Bezos’s smartphone self-portrait gallery is arguably the least sexy thing (heh) about this entire affair? That a billionaire’s racy texts are merely the tip of a global iceberg that — as Bezos himself darkly hinted in his shocking Medium post exposing his alleged blackmail by the publishers of the National Enquirer — potentially involves the oil billions of Saudi Arabia and the president of the United States? Or that it could tie into shadowy international hacking operations, and maybe even the high-profile murder of a U.S.-based journalist?

And what if I told you something else: That the Bezos scandal is ripping away the curtain on a secret world that’s been hiding in plain sight: That a nation founded in the ideals of democracy has been increasingly fallen prey to a new dystopian regime that melds the new 21st century dark arts of illegal hacking and media manipulation with the oldest tricks in the book: blackmail and extortion.
Pull up a chair.
You probably know by now the basics about Bezos and the National Enquirer: In January the Amazon mogul announced that he and his longtime wife MacKenzie are divorcing, hours ahead of a report in the National Enquirer laden with the content of racy texts between the billionaire and his mistress. On Thursday, Bezos — who’d hired a well-known investigator to find out how the supermarket tabloid got his private communications — took to Medium with a post accusing the Enquirer’s parent company, AMI, whose CEO is David Pecker, of threatening to publish embarrassing photos of Bezos and his lover if he didn’t drop his investigation and state (falsely, Bezos asserts) that its coverage was not politically motivated.
Ironically, the Bezos-AMI affair sucked all the oxygen out of another big scoop published at almost exactly the same time. The New York Times reported American intelligence had learned that the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman (commonly referred to as “MBS”) had railed to an associate against the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi, who’d moved to the United States and was writing anti-MBS op-ed columns for the Washington Post. MBS allegedly said he’d personally put “a bullet” into Khashoggi.


That was in 2017. A year later, the Saudis lured Khashoggi to its embassy in Istanbul, where he was brutally murdered by agents of the oil-rich regime and allegedly dismembered with a bone saw. Within days, the only major outstanding question about the brutal but clumsy killing was proving that MBS had personally ordered it.
The Washington Post — where the slain Khashoggi was a beloved colleague and where the political murder of a columnist was seen as a threat against all journalism — vowed to stay on the story until the truth was revealed. In mid-December, the Post memorialized Khashoggi in a full-page ad and its publisher Fred Ryan said its reporters would push the Saudi regime “until meaningful action is taken.”
Did I mention that the owner of the Washington Post is Jeff Bezos?
Now let’s take a step back and look at the National Enquirer, which over decades has wormed its way into America’s consciousness by confronting supermarket shoppers with headlines about flabby celebrity sightings or JFK assassination plots.
Only now is the world figuring out that making up stories to sell papers may have been the least of the sins committed by the Enquirer, which was propped up in its 1950s’ infancy by Mafia money and which later forged a close relationship with Roy Cohn, the notorious New York fixer attorney who took an up-and-coming New York developer named Donald Trump under his wing while fighting off allegations including (wait for it) extortion and blackmail.
Since Trump was elected 45th president of the United States, we’ve learned that …

a) Pecker’s AMI reached a deal with federal prosecutors in Manhattan to avoid prosecution and tell all about how it aided Trump by working with Trump’s legal fixer, Michael Cohen, to pay Trump’s mistress Karen McDougal $150,000 in a scheme to keep her out of the news right before the November 2016 election.
b) AMI’s Enquirer protected Trump in myriad other ways, from paying off a doorman with a salacious Trump rumor to publishing false stories that his opponent Hillary Clinton was gravely ill just as Trump’s political fixer, Roger Stone, was suggesting that bogus line of attack.
c) That while the Enquirer was aiding and protecting Trump it was also — according to reports — holding onto a remarkable source of protection: a safe containing damaging stories about the president it had buried over the years.
The yeoman’s work that Pecker’s Enquirer had performed on behalf of Trump’s election — combined, possibly, with the treasure trove of dirt inside of that safe — meant it was time to cash in on the newfound connections of the man who went in just a decade from scamming Trump Vodka and Trump University to running a global superpower. And no connection was worth more than the vast wealth of Saudi Arabia.


What the public didn’t know in the early months of Trump’s presidency was that Donald Trump Jr. had secretly met in Trump Tower in early August 2016 with a longtime emissary for the Saudis and its closest ally, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), George Nader, and two figures from the world of intelligence: Erik Prince, founder of the notorious firm known as Blackwater, and an ex-Israeli intelligence agent named Joel Zamel.
Nader, according to the New York Times, said the Saudis and the UAE wanted to help Trump win the election. Zamel proposed a covert social media campaign. Trump Jr. swears that nothing came of the meeting — even though a sleazy social-media campaign exactly like the one Zamel proposed helped Trump narrowly win the Electoral College. When Trump became president, he could have gone anywhere for his first international trip: He went to Saudi Arabia. When the Saudis and UAE split with Qatar — a key ally where American troops are stationed — Trump baffled his own administration by trash-talking Qatar.
In July 2017, the president invited his good friend David Pecker to the White House and — after chatting with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who was developing close ties with MBS — the two men had dinner with Kacy Grine, a French businessman who’s a longtime adviser to MBS. Two months later, Pecker went to Saudi Arabia and met personally with MBS and Grine and pitched business opportunities.
About six months later, shoppers in U.S. supermarkets, Walmart and other retailers might have been shocked to see a colorful piece of pro-Saudi propaganda at the checkout. The New Kingdom was a glossy publication with many color photos lauding MBS, overwrought text describing Saudi Arabia as “a magic kingdom,” no ads and a ridiculous cover price of $13,99. The magazine — just ahead of an MBS visit to America where he met Trump, Pecker (and, ironically, Bezos) and other luminaries — was of course published by AMI.
During this same period, Team Trump and MBS grew even closer, with Kushner traveling to Riyadh in October 2017 for two days of secret meetings where, according to several unconfirmed reports, he may have shared U.S. intelligence a short time before MBS rounded up and detained some 200 high-ranking Saudis. At the same time, Trump fumed over the investigative journalism of the Bezos-owned Washington Post. Even though Bezos is by all accounts a hands-off owner with no say in the Post’s journalism, Trump at one point reportedly demanded that the U.S. Postal Service hike the rates charged Amazon.

Which brings us to Oct. 2, 2018, the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and the Post’s vow to get to the bottom of it. Three months later came the salacious Enquirer report on Bezos. Its publication was joyously celebrated by none other than President Trump, who sounded like a Mafia boss, albeit a dumb one, with a tweet about the troubles of “Jeff Bozo.”
But Bezos didn’t take the news lying down. He hired a well-known investigator, Gavin de Becker, to launch a detailed investigation of how the Enquirer obtained his private text messages. Early reports suggested a focus on the brother of Bezos’s paramour, Michael Sanchez, who is a political supporter of Trump and a friend of Trump-Russia scandal figures such as Carter Page and (wait for it … again) Roger Stone. And maybe the simplest explanation is the best explanation — except that Bezos wrote on Thursday night that what apparently made Pecker “apoplectic” was questions about Saudi Arabia.
Bezos, in his Medium post, noted some of the AMI-Trump-Saudi history chronicled in this column. He said that Trump has “wrongly concluded” that Bezos is an enemy and that the Post’s Khashoggi journalism is “highly unpopular in some circles.” He added: “For reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve” with AMI, which then allegedly threatened Bezos, verbally and then (incredibly) by email, with publication of the photos.
Is a Saudi role in the hacking plausible? Over the last two years, we’ve seen the fallout not just from the Russian hacking in the 2016 U.S. election that’s been nailed down by special counsel Robert Mueller, but escalating hacking wars among the Middle East powers. Indeed, some of what we know about the Saudi-UAE effort to cultivate Trump comes from emails apparently hacked by Qatar and leaked to the press.
In December, a Saudi dissident who lives in Canada and was close friends with the murdered Khashoggi filed a lawsuit alleging that an Israeli software company called the NSO Group — which according to reports sold its spyware program called Pegasus to Saudi Arabia for $55 million — had used its technology to hack into his smartphone and his communications with Khashoggi. Other dissidents have made similar allegations — that the Saudis have used phone hacking to spy on them. (Meanwhile, the Saudis’s close friends in UAE have allegedly used a different program called Karma to spy on the iPhones of dissidents.)
Clearly, there is some kind of Hacking Incorporated that’s on the rise in the Persian Gulf. Which brings us back to the question of why AMI was demanding not only that Bezos drop its investigation of the hacking but to state that the probe found no political motivation behind its article on the Amazon chief. Any link between the Bezos phone hack and the Saudis or their allies (UAE, Team Trump) would be devastating — but what if de Gavin is on the trail of something darker? Like the truth behind Khashoggi’s murder? Or — given the ties between Team Trump, the Saudis, UAE and ex-Israeli intelligence that go back to the summer of 2016 — the truth behind the election of an American president?
Remember, AMI signed an agreement with federal prosecutors to avoid prosecution in the Michael Cohen-Karen McDougal plot that included a promise to refrain from criminal activity for three years or else the deal was off and AMI, and presumably Pecker, could be charged in the Cohen case. Why, then, would they take the insane risk of opening that can of worms with a threat to Bezos that could meet the legal definition of blackmail? They must be hiding something very bad.
Here I’ll note that an attorney for AMI went on TV Sunday to insist that the source for the Enquirer story was not connected to the Saudis or Trump. Duly noted — although AMI’s past track record for honesty is not good. Meanwhile, Trump is ignoring a congressionally mandated deadline to find if the Saudis violated human rights in Khashoggi’s murder. And a top Saudi official just warned that linking MBS to Khashoggi’s murder would be crossing “a red line.”
Again, what is everyone here so afraid of?
Meanwhile, all this talk of blackmail and extortion is a reminder that two years into the Trump administration a president who promised America “the art of the deal” has instead tried to run the country the way he ran his business in the mobbed-up New York of the 1980s — with bullying, bluster, and personal threats. But when forced to play that hand over the border wall and the government shutdown recently, it failed miserably. Would it be a surprise if Trump continues to fall back on the only tactic that’s worked for him and his allies to get things done over the years, the dark art of the blackmailer?
One thing that’s become increasingly clear since the summer of 2016 is how unprepared we were for a world in which our beloved devices like our iPhones or our laptops have become tools to control us — whether it’s the manipulation of fake news and dark ads on Facebook that helped Trump get elected, or the growing ability of both governments and big corporations to invade our privacy and spy on our activities. We know that what we’re experiencing now is not true democracy. And with the Bezos and Khashoggi revelations, it’s totally fair to ask: Are we increasingly ruled by blackmail and extortion?
It would certainly explain a lot of things. For example, is Trump’s former bodyguard Keith Schiller getting $15,000 a month from the Republican National Committee for his do-little-or-do-nothing job, or because he knows too many secrets? What are we to make of the fact that Michael Cohen and Roger Stone knew all about a hidden sex-abuse scandal involving then-New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman — and that the New York AG’s office didn’t investigate the Trump Foundation until after Schneiderman was forced out? Why do so many GOP senators who once brutally criticized Trump now support him?
And then there’s the biggest question of all, one that Mueller is tasked with getting to the bottom of. What if America’s new amateur blackmail regime is being blackmailed by a professional: Russia’s Vladimir Putin? Much like the government’s kowtowing to the Saudis and MBS, there is too much about the administration’s bending to Russia’s will on issues such as sanctions or Syria not to ask whether Putin has leverage over Trump. The most salacious version of kompromat — that Putin’s spies have a “pee tape” of Trump — will likely remain the stuff of legend.
But it’s not unrealistic to think that Russia’s 2016 dealings with Team Trump over the election and a possible Trump Tower Moscow are leverage enough. In 1974, an American leader was toppled by the question, What did the president know and when did he know it? Shocking as it may seem, it’s not unreasonable to now ask: Who are the world’s leaders blackmailing, and who is blackmailing them? The future of democracy depends on the answer. Because kompromat should not be a word in America’s dictionary.
by Will Bunch
Posted: February 10, 2019 - 2:54 PM
https://www.philly.com/opinion/commenta ... 90210.html
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Re: AMI David Pecker: The Blackmail & Extortion of Jeff Bezo

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:22 am



Trump backer Tom Barrack defends Saudi Arabia


Real estate developer said that kingdom was misunderstood by the West

16:37 February 12, 2019
Ed Clowes, Staff Reporter
Dubai: America is in no moral position to criticise Saudi Arabia, according to financier and key Trump backer Tom Barrack.

Speaking on stage at the Milken Institute MENA Summit in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, Barrack was asked by CNN’s Becky Anderson about the reputational damage to Saudi Arabia over the Jamal Khashoggi killing.

In response, he joked: “As long as you don’t make me a guest at the Ritz.”

With regards to the murder of journalist Khashoggi, Barrack said that “whatever happened in Saudi Arabia, the atrocities in America are equal, or worse ...”

“The atrocities in any ... country are dictated by the rule of law,” he continued. “So for us to dictate what we think is the moral code there, when we have a young man and regime that is trying to push themselves into 2030, I think is a mistake.”


Barrack went on to launch a lengthy defence of Saudi Arabia, accusing Western countries of failing to understand the kingdom.

“The problem that has happened with the Khashoggi incident,” he said, “is the same problem with the West misunderstanding the east that has existed since Sykes-Picot.”

“So, the West is confused, it doesn’t understand the rule of law in the kingdom, it doesn’t understand what succession in the kingdom is, it doesn’t understand how there can be a dilemma with a population that has 60 per cent of people under the age of 20.”

He later added that the West had always been confused about the Middle East.

“The corrupt hand of the West has been the primary instigator in the kingdom, and in the resource curse across the region forever.”


Barrack then praised the strong leadership across the Arabian Gulf in the face of this perceived Western ineffectiveness, especially in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

“The leadership in the UAE is brilliant,” he said, adding: “The English manipulated the region for decades.”

The private equity investor also defended Saudi Arabia’s transformation, saying that “in a transition, bold action is required for bold places.”

Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Riyadh represented some of the “most organised leadership regimes” in the world, he added.
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