Who Was Black Cube’s “Commercial Client”?

Ben Rhodes is an unlikely target of a sophisticated smear campaign. He's the guy on the far left that you don't recognize, behind all the famous people.Anthony Behar / Pool Via Cnp/DPA/ZUMA

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The New York Times has obtained a copy of the report that Black Cube compiled on Ben Rhodes, one of the Obama administration’s biggest proponents of the Iran Deal:

A detailed report about Mr. Rhodes, compiled by Black Cube, a private investigations firm established by former intelligence analysts from the Israeli Defense Forces, contains pictures of his apartment in Washington, telephone numbers and email addresses of members of his family, as well as unsubstantiated allegations of personal and ethical transgressions.

It is unclear who hired Black Cube to prepare the report on Mr. Rhodes and a similar report on Colin Kahl, the national security adviser to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., which were obtained by The New York Times from a source with knowledge of their provenance….There is no evidence in the documents that indicate any connection to anyone in Mr. Trump’s administration….One person with knowledge of the reports suggested that the company had been hired by a commercial client with an interest in opposing the nuclear deal.

Not the Trumpies, then—at least, not directly. Politically, then, this is of only minor interest. But I’d still like know what organization had a commercial interest in killing the Iran deal. It’s just not common for a corporate enterprise to think about smearing a political figure—especially an obscure one—as a tactic for getting what it wants. So does commercial really mean commercial, or does it merely mean “not an elected official”? Maybe a super PAC of some kind? Or a Sheldon Adelson donor type?

I’m pretty tired of everything being about Trump. If he’s truly not involved in this, that makes it even more interesting. Just who was the commercial client?

UDPATE: On the other hand, Julian Borger, who broke this story in the first place, says the “ultimate customer” was the Trump camp:

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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