Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

The CIA’s Global Propaganda Network – #PropagandaWatch

Corbett • 01/21/2020

Watch this video on BitChute / Minds.com / YouTube

This week on the de-program James digs up an old New York Times report on the CIA’s “mighty wurlitzer,” their global propaganda network that included hundreds of journalists, editors, academics, publishing houses, newspapers, magazines and front companies. Although the Times piece is, as expected, a limited hangout, it does provide some interesting pieces of the global intelligence propaganda puzzle.

SHOW NOTES:

Worldwide Propaganda Network Built by the C.I.A.

PDF copy

Crashes of Convenience: KAL 007 (Tom Braden clip)

JFK murder confession by CIA agent – full interview

Episode 302 – How To Free Your Tax Cattle (Hadley Cantril and War of the Worlds)

How the CIA Plants News Stories in the Media

January 21, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | Leave a comment

Secret Wars, Forgotten Betrayals, Global Tyranny. Who Is Really in Charge of the U.S. Military?

By Cynthia Chung | Strategic Culture Foundation | January 19, 2020

“There is a kind of character in thy life, That to the observer doth thy history, fully unfold.”

– William Shakespeare

Once again we find ourselves in a situation of crisis, where the entire world holds its breath all at once and can only wait to see whether this volatile black cloud floating amongst us will breakout into a thunderstorm of nuclear war or harmlessly pass us by. The majority in the world seem to have the impression that this destructive fate totters back and forth at the whim of one man. It is only normal then, that during such times of crisis, we find ourselves trying to analyze and predict the thoughts and motives of just this one person. The assassination of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, a true hero for his fellow countrymen and undeniably an essential key figure in combating terrorism in Southwest Asia, was a terrible crime, an abhorrently repugnant provocation. It was meant to cause an apoplectic fervour, it was meant to make us who desire peace, lose our minds in indignation. And therefore, that is exactly what we should not do.

In order to assess such situations, we cannot lose sight of the whole picture, and righteous indignation unfortunately causes the opposite to occur. Our focus becomes narrower and narrower to the point where we can only see or react moment to moment with what is right in front of our face. We are reduced to an obsession of twitter feeds, news blips and the doublespeak of ‘official government statements’.

Thus, before we may find firm ground to stand on regarding the situation of today, we must first have an understanding as to what caused the United States to enter into an endless campaign of regime-change warfare after WWII, or as former Chief of Special Operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff Col. Prouty stated, three decades of the Indochina war.

An Internal Shifting of Chess Pieces in the Shadows

It is interesting timing that on Sept 2, 1945, the very day that WWII ended, Ho Chi Minh would announce the independence of Indochina. That on the very day that one of the most destructive wars to ever occur in history ended, another long war was declared at its doorstep. Churchill would announce his “Iron Curtain” against communism on March 5th, 1946, and there was no turning back at that point. The world had a mere 6 months to recover before it would be embroiled in another terrible war, except for the French, who would go to war against the Viet Minh opponents in French Indochina only days after WWII was over.

In a previous paper I wrote titled “On Churchill’s Sinews of Peace”, I went over a major re-organisation of the American government and its foreign intelligence bureau on the onset of Truman’s de facto presidency. Recall that there was an attempted military coup d’état, which was exposed by General Butler in a public address in 1933, against the Presidency of FDR who was only inaugurated that year. One could say that there was a very marked disapproval from shadowy corners for how Roosevelt would organise the government.

One key element to this reorganisation under Truman was the dismantling of the previously existing foreign intelligence bureau that was formed by FDR, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) on Sept 20, 1945 only two weeks after WWII was officially declared over. The OSS would be replaced by the CIA officially on Sept 18, 1947, with two years of an American intelligence purge and the internal shifting of chess pieces in the shadows. In addition, de-facto President Truman would also found the United States National Security Council on Sept 18, 1947, the same day he founded the CIA. The NSC was a council whose intended function was to serve as the President’s principal arm for coordinating national security, foreign policies and policies among various government agencies.

In Col. Prouty’s book he states, “In 1955, I was designated to establish an office of special operations in compliance with National Security Council (NSC) Directive #5412 of March 15, 1954. This NSC Directive for the first time in the history of the United States defined covert operations and assigned that role to the Central Intelligence Agency to perform such missions, provided they had been directed to do so by the NSC, and further ordered active-duty Armed Forces personnel to avoid such operations. At the same time, the Armed Forces were directed to “provide the military support of the clandestine operations of the CIA” as an official function.

What this meant, was that there was to be an intermarriage of the foreign intelligence bureau with the military, and that the foreign intelligence bureau would act as top dog in the relationship, only taking orders from the NSC. Though the NSC includes the President, as we will see, the President is very far from being in the position of determining the NSC’s policies.

An Inheritance of Secret Wars

There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare.” – Sun Tzu

On January 20th, 1961, John F. Kennedy was inaugurated as President of the United States. Along with inheriting the responsibility of the welfare of the country and its people, he was to also inherit a secret war with communist Cuba run by the CIA.

JFK was disliked from the onset by the CIA and certain corridors of the Pentagon, they knew where he stood on foreign matters and that it would be in direct conflict for what they had been working towards for nearly 15 years. Kennedy would inherit the CIA secret operation against Cuba, which Prouty confirms in his book, was quietly upgraded by the CIA from the Eisenhower administration’s March 1960 approval of a modest Cuban-exile support program (which included small air drop and over-the-beach operations) to a 3,000 man invasion brigade just before Kennedy entered office.

This was a massive change in plans that was determined by neither President Eisenhower, who warned at the end of his term of the military industrial complex as a loose cannon, nor President Kennedy, but rather the foreign intelligence bureau who has never been subject to election or judgement by the people. It shows the level of hostility that Kennedy encountered as soon as he entered office, and the limitations of a President’s power when he does not hold support from these intelligence and military quarters.

Within three months into JFK’s term, Operation Bay of Pigs (April 17th to 20th 1961) was scheduled. As the popular revisionist history goes; JFK refused to provide air cover for the exiled Cuban brigade and the land invasion was a calamitous failure and a decisive victory for Castro’s Cuba. It was indeed an embarrassment for President Kennedy who had to take public responsibility for the failure, however, it was not an embarrassment because of his questionable competence as a leader. It was an embarrassment because, had he not taken public responsibility, he would have had to explain the real reason why it failed. That the CIA and military were against him and that he did not have control over them. If Kennedy were to admit such a thing, he would have lost all credibility as a President in his own country and internationally, and would have put the people of the United States in immediate danger amidst a Cold War.

What really occurred was that there was a cancellation of the essential pre-dawn airstrike, by the Cuban Exile Brigade bombers from Nicaragua, to destroy Castro’s last three combat jets. This airstrike was ordered by Kennedy himself. Kennedy was always against an American invasion of Cuba, and striking Castro’s last jets by the Cuban Exile Brigade would have limited Castro’s threat, without the U.S. directly supporting a regime change operation within Cuba. This went fully against the CIA’s plan for Cuba.

Kennedy’s order for the airstrike on Castro’s jets would be cancelled by Special Assistant for National Security Affairs McGeorge Bundy, four hours before the Exile Brigade’s B-26s were to take off from Nicaragua, Kennedy was not brought into this decision. In addition, the Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles, the man in charge of the Bay of Pigs operation was unbelievably out of the country on the day of the landings.

Col. Prouty, who was Chief of Special Operations during this time, elaborates on this situation “Everyone connected with the planning of the Bay of Pigs invasion knew that the policy dictated by NSC 5412, positively prohibited the utilization of active-duty military personnel in covert operations. At no time was an “air cover” position written into the official invasion plan… The “air cover” story that has been created is incorrect.

As a result, JFK who well understood the source of this fiasco, set up a Cuban Study Group the day after and charged it with the responsibility of determining the cause for the failure of the operation. The study group, consisting of Allen Dulles, Gen. Maxwell Taylor, Adm. Arleigh Burke and Attorney General Robert Kennedy (the only member JFK could trust), concluded that the failure was due to Bundy’s telephone call to General Cabell (who was also CIA Deputy Director) that cancelled the President’s air strike order.

Kennedy had them.

Humiliatingly, CIA Director Allen Dulles was part of formulating the conclusion that the Bay of Pigs op was a failure because of the CIA’s intervention into the President’s orders. This allowed for Kennedy to issue the National Security Action Memorandum #55 on June 28th, 1961, which began the process of changing the responsibility from the CIA to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As Prouty states, “When fully implemented, as Kennedy had planned, after his reelection in 1964, it would have taken the CIA out of the covert operation business. This proved to be one of the first nails in John F. Kennedy’s coffin.

If this was not enough of a slap in the face to the CIA, Kennedy forced the resignation of CIA Director Allen Dulles, CIA Deputy Director for Plans Richard M. Bissell Jr. and CIA Deputy Director Charles Cabell.

In Oct 1962, Kennedy was informed that Cuba had offensive Soviet missiles 90 miles from American shores. Soviet ships with more missiles were on their way towards Cuba but ended up turning around last minute. Rumours started to abound that JFK had cut a secret deal with Russian Premier Khrushchev, which was that the U.S. would not invade Cuba if the Soviets withdrew their missiles. Criticisms of JFK being soft on communism began to stir.

NSAM #263, closely overseen by Kennedy, was released on Oct 11th, 1963, and outlined a policy decision “to withdraw 1,000 military personnel [from Vietnam] by the end of 1963” and further stated that “It should be possible to withdraw the bulk of U.S. personnel [including the CIA and military] by 1965.” The Armed Forces newspaper Stars and Stripes had the headline U.S. TROOPS SEEN OUT OF VIET BY ’65. Kennedy was winning the game and the American people.

This was to be the final nail in Kennedy’s coffin.

Kennedy was brutally shot down only one month later, on Nov, 22nd 1963. His death should not just be seen as a tragic loss but, more importantly, it should be recognised for the successful military coup d’état that it was and is. The CIA showed what lengths it was ready to go to if a President stood in its way. (For more information on this coup refer to District Attorney of New Orleans at the time, Jim Garrison’s book. And the excellently researched Oliver Stone movie “JFK”)

Through the Looking Glass

On Nov. 26th 1963, a full four days after Kennedy’s murder, de facto President Johnson signed NSAM #273 to begin the change of Kennedy’s policy under #263. And on March 4th, 1964, Johnson signed NSAM #288 that marked the full escalation of the Vietnam War and involved 2,709,918 Americans directly serving in Vietnam, with 9,087,000 serving with the U.S. Armed Forces during this period.

The Vietnam War, or more accurately the Indochina War, would continue for another 12 years after Kennedy’s death, lasting a total of 20 years for Americans.

Scattered black ops wars continued, but the next large scale-never ending war that would involve the world would begin full force on Sept 11, 2001 under the laughable title War on Terror, which is basically another Iron Curtain, a continuation of a 74 year Cold War. A war that is not meant to end until the ultimate regime changes are accomplished and the world sees the toppling of Russia and China. Iraq was destined for invasion long before the vague Gulf War of 1990 and even before Saddam Hussein was being backed by the Americans in the Iraq-Iran war in the 1980s. Iran already suffered a CIA backed regime change in 1979.

It had been understood far in advance by the CIA and US military that the toppling of sovereignty in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Iran needed to occur before Russia and China could be taken over. Such war tactics were formulaic after 3 decades of counterinsurgency against the CIA fueled “communist-insurgency” of Indochina. This is how today’s terrorist-inspired insurgency functions, as a perfect CIA formula for an endless bloodbath.

Former CIA Deputy Director (2010-2013) Michael Morell, who was supporting Hillary Clinton during the presidential election campaign and vehemently against the election of Trump, whom he claimed was being manipulated by Putin, said in a 2016 interview with Charlie Rose that Russians and Iranians in Syria should be killed covertly to ‘pay the price’.

Therefore, when a drone stroke occurs assassinating an Iranian Maj. Gen., even if the U.S. President takes onus on it, I would not be so quick as to believe that that is necessarily the case, or the full story. Just as I would not take the statements of President Rouhani accepting responsibility for the Iranian military shooting down ‘by accident’ the Boeing 737-800 plane which contained 176 civilians, who were mostly Iranian, as something that can be relegated to criminal negligence, but rather that there is very likely something else going on here.

I would also not be quick to dismiss the timely release, or better described as leaked, draft letter from the US Command in Baghdad to the Iraqi government that suggests a removal of American forces from the country. Its timing certainly puts the President in a compromised situation. Though the decision to keep the American forces within Iraq or not is hardly a simple matter that the President alone can determine. In fact there is no reason why, after reviewing the case of JFK, we should think such a thing.

One could speculate that the President was set up, with the official designation of the IRGC as “terrorist” occurring in April 2019 by the US State Department, a decision that was strongly supported by both Bolton and Pompeo, who were both members of the NSC at the time. This made it legal for a US military drone strike to occur against Soleimani under the 2001 AUMF, where the US military can attack any armed group deemed to be a terrorist threat. Both Bolton and Pompeo made no secret that they were overjoyed by Soleimani’s assassination and Bolton went so far as to tweet “Hope this is the first step to regime change in Tehran.” Bolton has also made it no secret that he is eager to testify against Trump in his possible impeachment trial.

Former CIA Director Mike Pompeo was recorded at an unknown conference recently, but judging from the gross laughter of the audience it consists of wannabe CIA agents, where he admits that though West Points’ cadet motto is “You will not lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate those who do.”, his training under the CIA was the very opposite, stating “I was the CIA Director. We lied, we cheated, we stole. It was like we had entire training courses. (long pause) It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment.

Thus, it should be no surprise to anyone in the world at this point in history, that the CIA holds no allegiance to any country. And it can be hardly expected that a President, who is actively under attack from all sides within his own country, is in a position to hold the CIA accountable for its past and future crimes.

January 19, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 3 Comments

How an Israeli Spy-Linked Tech Firm Gained Access to the US Gov’t’s Most Classified Networks

Graphic by Claudio Cabrera
By Whitney Webb | MintPress News | January 14, 2020

If the networks of the U.S. military, the U.S. intelligence community and a slew of other U.S. federal agencies were running the software of a company with deep ties, not only to foreign companies with a history of espionage against the U.S. but also foreign military intelligence, it would — at the very least — garner substantial media attention. Yet, no media reports to date have noted that such a scenario exists on a massive scale and that the company making such software recently simulated the cancellation of the 2020 election and the declaration of martial law in the United States.

Earlier this month, MintPress News reported on the simulations for the U.S. 2020 election organized by the company Cybereason, a firm led by former members of Israel’s military intelligence Unit 8200 and advised by former top and current officials in both Israeli military intelligence and the CIA. Those simulations, attended by federal officials from the FBI, DHS and the U.S. Secret Service, ended in disaster, with the elections ultimately canceled and martial law declared due to the chaos created by a group of hackers led by Cybereason employees.

The first installment of this three part series delved deeply into Cybereason’s ties to the intelligence community of Israel and also other agencies, including the CIA, as well as the fact that Cybereason stood to gain little financially from the simulations given that their software could not have prevented the attacks waged against the U.S.’ electoral infrastructure in the exercise.

Also noted was the fact that Cybereason software could be potentially used as a backdoor by unauthorized actors, a possibility strengthened by the fact that the company’s co-founders all previously worked for firms that have a history of placing backdoors into U.S. telecommunications and electronic infrastructure as well as aggressive espionage targeting U.S. federal agencies.

The latter issue is crucial in the context of this installment of this exclusive MintPress series, as Cybereason’s main investors turned partners have integrated Cybereason’s software into their product offerings. This means that the clients of these Cybereason partner companies, the U.S. intelligence community and military among them, are now part of Cybereason’s network of more than 6 million endpoints that this private company constantly monitors using a combination of staff comprised largely of former intelligence operatives and an AI algorithm first developed by Israeli military intelligence.

Cybereason, thus far, has disclosed the following groups as lead investors in the company: Charles River Ventures (CRV), Spark Capital, Lockheed Martin and SoftBank. Charles River Ventures (CRV) was among the first to invest in Cybereason and has been frequently investing in other Israeli tech start-ups that were founded by former members of the elite Israeli military intelligence Unit 8200 over the last few years. Spark Capital, based in California, appears to have followed CRV’s interest in Cybereason since the venture capitalist who co-founded Spark and led its investment in Cybereason is a former CRV partner who still has close ties to the firm.

While CRV and Spark Capital seem like just the type of investors a company like Cybereason would attract given their clear interest in similar tech start-ups coming out of Israel’s cyber sector, Cybereason’s other lead investors — Lockheed Martin and SoftBank — deserve much more attention and scrutiny.

Cybereason widely used by US Government, thanks to Lockheed

“A match made in heaven,” trumpeted Forbes at the news of the Lockheed Martin-Cybereason partnership, first forged in 2015. The partnership involved not only Lockheed Martin becoming a major investor in the cybersecurity company but also in Lockheed Martin becoming the largest conduit providing Cybereason’s software to U.S. federal and military agencies.

Indeed, as Forbes noted at the time, not only did Lockheed invest in the company, it decided to integrate Cybereason’s software completely into its product portfolio, resulting in a “model of both using Cybereason internally, and selling it to both public and private customers.”

Cybereason CEO and former offensive hacker for Israeli military intelligence — Lior Div — said the following of the partnership:

Lockheed Martin invested in Cybereason’s protection system after they compared our solution against a dozen others from the top industry players. The US firm was so impressed with the results they got from Cybereason that they began offering it to their own customers – among them most of the top Fortune 100 companies, and the US federal government. Cybereason is now the security system recommended by LM to its customers for protection from a wide (sic) malware and hack attacks.”

Rich Mahler, then-director of Commercial Cyber Services at Lockheed Martin, told Defense Daily that the company’s decision to invest in Cybereason, internally use its software, and include the technology as part of Lockheed Martin’s cyber solutions portfolio were all “independent business decisions but were all coordinated and timed with the transaction.”

How independent each of those decisions actually was is unclear, especially given the timing of Lockheed Martin’s investment in Cybereason, whose close and troubling ties to Israeli intelligence as well as the CIA were noted in the previous installment of this investigative series. Indeed, about a year prior to their investment in the Israeli military intelligence-linked Cybereason, Lockheed Martin opened an office in Beersheba, Israel, where the IDF has its “cyberhub”. The office is focused not on the sales of armaments, but instead on technology.

Marilyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin’s CEO, said the following during her speech that inaugurated the company’s Beersheba office:

The consolidation of IDF Technical Units to new bases in the Negev Desert region is an important transformation of Israel’s information technology capability… We understand the challenges of this move. Which is why we are investing in the facilities and people that will ensure we are prepared to support for these critical projects. By locating our new office in the capital of the Negev we are well positioned to work closely with our Israeli partners and stand ready to: accelerate project execution, reduce program risk and share our technical expertise by training and developing in-country talent.”

Beersheba not only houses the IDF’s technology campus, but also the Israel National Cyber Directorate, which reports directly to Israel’s Prime Minister, as well as a high-tech corporate park that mostly houses tech companies with ties to Israel’s military intelligence apparatus. The area has been cited in several media reports as a visible indicator of the public-private merger between Israeli technology companies, many of them started by Unit 8200 alumni, and the Israeli government and its intelligence services. Lockheed Martin quickly became a key fixture in the Beersheba-based cyberhub.

Not long before Lockheed began exploring the possibility of opening an office in Beersheba, the company was hacked by individuals who used tokens tied to the company, RSA Security, whose founders have ties to Israel’s defense establishment and which is now owned by Dell, a company also deeply tied to the Israeli government and tech sector. The hack, perpetrated by still unknown actors, may have sparked Lockheed’s subsequent interest in Israel’s cybersecurity sector.

Soon after opening its Beersheba office, Lockheed Martin created its Israel subsidiary, Lockheed Martin Israel. Unlike many of the company’s other subsidiaries, this one is focused exclusively on “cybersecurity, enterprise information technology, data centers, mobile, analytics and cloud” as opposed to the manufacture and design of armaments.

Marillyn Hewson, center, poses with Israeli gov. officials at the opening of Lockheed Martin’s facility in Beersheba. Photo | Diego Mittleberg

Haden Land, then-vice president of research and technology for Lockheed Martin, told the Wall Street Journal that the creation of the subsidiary was largely aimed at securing contracts with the IDF and that the company’s Israel subsidiary would soon be seeking partnership and investments in pursuit of that end. Land oversaw the local roll-out of the company’s Israel subsidiary while concurrently meeting with Israeli government officials. According to the Journal, Land “oversees all of Lockheed Martin’s information-systems businesses, including defense and civilian commercial units” for the United States and elsewhere.

Just a few months later, Lockheed Martin partnered and invested in Cybereason, suggesting that Lockheed’s decision to do so was aimed at securing closer ties with the IDF. This further suggests that Cybereason still maintains close ties to Israeli military intelligence, a point expounded upon in great detail in the previous installment of this series.

Thus, it appears that not only does Lockheed Martin use Cybereason’s software on its own devices and on those it manages for its private and public sector clients, but it also decided to use the company’s software in this way out of a desire to more closely collaborate with the Israeli military in matters related to technology and cybersecurity.

The cozy ties between Lockheed Martin, one of the U.S. government’s largest private contractors, and the IDF set off alarm bells, then and now, for those concerned with U.S. national security. Such concern makes it important to look at the extent of Cybereason’s use by federal and military agencies in the United States through their contracting of Lockheed Martin’s Information Technology (IT) division. This is especially important considering Israeli military intelligence’s history of using espionage, blackmail and private tech companies against the U.S. government, as detailed here.

While the exact number of U.S. federal and military agencies using Cybereason’s software is unknown, it is widespread, with Lockheed Martin’s IT division as the conduit. Indeed, Lockheed Martin was the number one IT solutions provider to the U.S. federal government up until its IT division was spun off and merged with Leidos Holdings. As a consequence, Leidos is now the largest IT provider to the U.S. government and is also directly partnered with Cybereason in the same way Lockheed Martin was. Even after its IT division was spun off, Lockheed Martin continues to use Cybereason’s software in its cybersecurity work for the Pentagon and still maintains a stake in the company.

The Leidos-Lockheed Martin IT hybrid provides a litany of services to the U.S. military and U.S. intelligence. As investigative journalist Tim Shorrock noted for The Nation, the company does “everything from analyzing signals for the NSA to tracking down suspected enemy fighters for US Special Forces in the Middle East and Africa” and, following its merger with Lockheed and consequential partnership with Cybereason, became “the largest of five corporations that together employ nearly 80 percent of the private-sector employees contracted to work for US spy and surveillance agencies.” Shorrock also notes that these private-sector contractors now dominate the mammoth U.S. surveillance apparatus, many of them working for Leidos and — by extension — using Cybereason’s software.

Leidos’ exclusive use of Cybereason software for cybersecurity is also relevant for the U.S. military since Leidos runs a number of sensitive systems for the Pentagon, including its recently inked contract to manage the entire military telecommunications infrastructure for Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). In addition to maintaining the military telecom network, Cybereason is also directly partnered with World Wide Technologies (WWT) as of this past October. WWT manages cybersecurity for the U.S. Army, maintains DISA’s firewalls and data storage as well as the U.S. Air Force’s biometric identification system. WWT also manages contracts for NASA, itself a frequent target of Israeli government espionage, and the U.S. Navy. WWT’s partnership is similar to the Lockheed/Leidos partnership in that Cybereason’s software is now completely integrated into its portfolio, giving the company full access to the devices on all of these highly classified networks.

Many of these new partnerships with Cybereason, including its partnership with WWT, followed claims made by members of Israel’s Unit 8200 in 2017 that the popular antivirus software of Kaspersky Labs contained a backdoor for Russian intelligence, thereby compromising U.S. systems. The Wall Street Journal was the first to report on the alleged backdoor but did not mention the involvement of Unit 8200 in identifying it, a fact revealed by the New York Times a week later.

Notably, none of the evidence Unit 8200 used to blame Kaspersky has been made public and Kaspersky noted that it was actually Israeli hackers that had been discovered planting backdoors into its platform prior to the accusation levied against Kaspersky by Unit 8200. As the New York Times noted:

Investigators later discovered that the Israeli hackers had implanted multiple back doors into Kaspersky’s systems, employing sophisticated tools to steal passwords, take screenshots, and vacuum up emails and documents.”

Unit 8200’s claims ultimately led the U.S. government to abandon Kaspersky’s products entirely in 2018, allowing companies like Cybereason (with its own close ties to Unit 8200) to fill the void. Indeed, the very agencies that banned Kaspersky now use cybersecurity software that employs Cybereason’s EDR system. No flags have been raised about Cybereason’s own collaboration with the very foreign intelligence service that first pointed the finger at Kaspersky and that previously sold software with backdoors to sensitive U.S. facilities.

SoftBank, Cybereason and the Vision Fund

While its entry into the U.S. market and U.S. government networks is substantial, Cybereason’s software is also run throughout the world on a massive scale through partnerships that have seen it enter into Latin American and European markets in major ways in just the last few months. It has also seen its software become prominent in Asia following a partnership with the company Trustwave. Much of this rapid expansion followed a major injection of cash courtesy of one of the company’s biggest clients and now its largest investor, Japan’s SoftBank.

SoftBank first invested in Cybereason in 2015, the same year Lockheed Martin initially invested and partnered with the firm. It was also the year that SoftBank announced its intention to invest in Israeli tech start-ups. SoftBank first injected $50 million into Cybereason, followed by an additional $100 million in 2017 and $200 million last August. SoftBank’s investments account for most of the money raised by the company since it was founded in 2012 ($350 million out of $400 million total).

Cybereason CEO Lior Div speaks at a SoftBank event in Japan, July 21, 2017. Photo | Cybereason

Prior to investing, Softbank was a client of Cybereason, which Ken Miyauchi, president of SoftBank, noted when making the following statement after Softbank’s initial investment in Cybereason:

SoftBank works to obtain cutting edge technology and outstanding business models to lead the Information Revolution. Our deployment of the Cybereason platform internally gave us firsthand knowledge of the value it provides, and led to our decision to invest. I’m confident Cybereason and SoftBank’s new product offering will bring a new level of security to Japanese organizations.”

SoftBank — one of Japan’s largest telecommunications companies — not only began to deploy Cybereason internally but directly partnered with it after investing, much like Lockheed Martin had done around the same time. This partnership resulted in SoftBank and Cybereason creating a joint venture in Japan and Cybereason creating partnerships with other tech companies acquired by SoftBank, including the U.K.’s Arm, which specializes in making chips and management platforms for Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

SoftBank’s interest in Cybereason is significant, particularly in light of Cybereason’s interest in the 2020 U.S. election, given that SoftBank has significant ties to key allies of President Trump and even the president himself.

Indeed, SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son was among the first wave of international business leaders who sought to woo then-president-elect Trump soon after the 2016 election. Son first visited Trump Tower in December 2016 and announced, with Trump by his side in the building’s lobby, that SoftBank would invest $50 billion in the U.S. and create 50,000 jobs. Trump subsequently claimed on Twitter that Son had only decided to make this investment because Trump had won the election.

Son told reporters at the time that the investment would come from a $100 billion fund that would be created in partnership with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund as well as other investors. “I just came to celebrate his new job. I said, ‘This is great. The US will become great again,’” Son said, according to reports.

Then, in March of 2017, Son sent top SoftBank executives to meet with senior members of Trump’s economic team and, according to the New York Times, “the SoftBank executives said that because of a lack of advanced digital investments, the competitiveness of the United States economy was at risk. And the executives made the case, quite strongly, that Mr. Son was committed to playing a major role in addressing this issue through a spate of job-creating investments.” Many of SoftBank’s investments and acquisitions in the U.S. since then have focused mainly on artificial intelligence and technology with military applications, such as “killer robot” firm Boston Dynamics, suggesting Son’s interest lies more in dominating futuristic military-industrial technologies than creating jobs for the average American.

After their initial meeting, Trump and Son met again a year later in June 2018, with Trump stating that “His [Son’s] $50 billion turned out to be $72 billion so far, he’s not finished yet.” Several media reports have claimed that Son’s moves since Trump’s election have sought to “curry favor” with the President.

Through the creation of this fund alongside the Saudis, SoftBank has since become increasingly intertwined with Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MBS), a key ally of President Trump in the Middle East known for his authoritarian crackdowns on Saudi elites and dissidents alike. The ties between Saudi Arabia and SoftBank became ever tighter when MBS took the reins in the oil kingdom and after SoftBank announced the launch of the Vision Fund in 2016. SoftBank’s Vision Fund is a vehicle for investing in hi-tech companies and start-ups and its largest shareholder is the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia. Notably, Son decided to launch the Vision Fund in Riyadh during President Trump’s first official visit to the Gulf Kingdom.

Masayoshi Son, left, signs a deal related to the Vision Fund with Bin Salman in March 2018. Photo | SPA

In addition, the Mubadala Investment Company, a government fund of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), gave $15 billion to the Vision Fund. UAE leadership also share close ties to the Trump administration and MBS in Saudi Arabia.

As a consequence, SoftBank’s Vision Fund is majority funded by two Middle Eastern authoritarian governments with close ties to the U.S. government, specifically the Trump administration. In addition, both countries have enjoyed the rapid growth and normalization of ties with the state of Israel in recent years, particularly following the rise of current Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman and Jared Kushner’s rise to prominence in his father-in-law’s administration. Other investments in the Vision Fund have come from Apple, Qualcomm and Oracle’s Larry Ellison, all tech companies with strong ties to Israel’s government.

The Saudi and Emirati governments’ links to the Vision Fund are so obvious that even mainstream outlets like the New York Times have described them as a “front for Saudi Arabia and perhaps other countries in the Middle East.”

SoftBank also enjoys close ties to Jared Kushner, with Fortress Investment Group lending $57 million to Kushner Companies in October 2017 while it was under contract to be acquired by SoftBank. As Barron’s noted at the time:

When SoftBank Group bought Fortress Investment Group last year, the Japanese company was buying access to a corps of seasoned investors. What SoftBank also got is a financial tie to the family of President Donald Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.”

According to The Real Deal, Kushner Companies obtained the financing from Fortress only after its attempts to obtain funding through the EB-5 visa program for a specific real estate venture were abandoned after the U.S. Attorney and the Securities and Exchange Commission began to investigate how Kushner Companies used the EB-5 investor visa program. A key factor in the opening of that investigation was Kushner Companies’ representatives touting Jared Kushner’s position at the White House when talking to prospective investors and lenders.

SoftBank also recently came to the aid of a friend of Jared Kushner, former CEO of WeWork Adam Neumann. Neumann made shocking claims about his ties to both Kushner and Saudi Arabia’s MBS, even asserting that he had worked with both in creating Kushner’s long-awaited and controversial Middle East “peace plan” and claimed that he, Kushner and MBS would together “save the world.” Neumann previously called Kushner his “mentor.” MBS has also discussed on several occasions his close ties with Kushner and U.S. media reports have noted the frequent correspondence between the two “princelings.”

Notably, SoftBank invested in Neumann’s WeWork using money from the Saudi-dominated Vision Fund and later went on to essentially bail the company out after its IPO collapse and Neumann was pushed out. SoftBank’s founder, Masayoshi Son, had an odd yet very close relationship with Neumann, perhaps explaining why Neumann was allowed to walk with $1.7 billion after bringing WeWork to the brink of collapse. Notably, nearly half of SoftBank’s approximately $47 billion investments in the U.S. economy since Trump’s election, went to acquiring and then bailing out WeWork. It is unlikely that such a disastrous investment resulted in the level of job creation that Son had promised Trump in 2016.

Given that it is Cybereason’s top investor and shareholder by a large margin, SoftBank’s ties to the Trump administration and key allies of that administration are significant in light of Cybereason’s odd interest in 2020 U.S. election scenarios that end with the cancellation of this year’s upcoming presidential election. It goes without saying that the cancellation of the election would mean a continuation of the Trump administration until new elections would take place.

Furthermore, with Cybereason’s close and enduring ties to Israeli military intelligence now well-documented, it is worth asking if Israeli military intelligence would consider intervening in 2020 if the still-to-be-decided Democratic contender was strongly opposed to Israeli government policy, particularly Israel’s military occupation of Palestine. This is especially worth considering given revelations that sexual blackmailer and pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who targeted prominent U.S. politicians, mostly Democrats, was in the employ of Israeli military intelligence.

Notably, Cybereason’s doomsday election scenarios involved the weaponization of deep fakes, self-driving cars and the hacking Internet of Things devices, with all of those technologies being pioneered and perfected — not by Russia, China or Iran — but by companies directly tied to Israeli intelligence, much like Cybereason itself. These companies, their technology and Cybereason’s own work creating the narrative that U.S. rival states seek to undermine the U.S. election in this way, will all be discussed in the conclusion of MintPress’ series on Cybereason and its outsized interest in the U.S. democratic process.

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

January 14, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Assassination Nation

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | January 13, 2020

We are all familiar with the Pentagon’s and CIA’s torture center and prison camp at Guantanamo Bay Cuba, where the U.S. national-security establishment has knowingly, intentionally, and deliberately destroyed protections guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. Those include the right to a speedy trial, right to effective assistance of counsel, right to be remain silent, right to trial by jury, and right to confront adverse witnesses.

It’s worth noting that that the national-security state’s power to assassinate people also violates the Bill of Rights, specifically the Fifth Amendment, which reads in part as follows:

“No person shall be … deprived of life … without due process of law.”

There are two important points to note about that restriction on the power of the federal government:

One, the restriction is not limited to American citizens. By the use of the word “person,” rather than “citizen,” the protection extends to everyone in the world. The federal government is prohibited from killing anyone, citizen or foreigner, without due process of law.

Two, notice that our ancestors included no exceptions to this restriction. That is, the restriction does not say: “No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law, unless the federal government deems it necessary to protect national security.” There are no exceptions whatsoever.

What is due process of law? The term stretches all the way back to Magna Carta, when the barons of England forced their king to acknowledge that his powers over the people were limited, as compared to omnipotent.

Over the centuries, due process of law has come to mean notice and hearing. When it comes to the government’s power to kill people, that means (1) a formal indictment notifying the person what he is being accused of; and (2) a trial, usually a jury of regular citizens in the community, in which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and in which the accused is free to defend himself.

So, there it is, in clear and succinct language: Our ancestors expressly prohibited U.S. officials from killing people without first providing them formal notice of charges and a trial.

That was America’s established system for more than 150 years. No program of state-sponsored assassinations. No federal program for killing people without due process of law.

That all changed after World War II, when the federal government was converted from a limited-government republic type of governmental system to a national-security state form of governmental system.

A national-security state is a totalitarian type of governmental system. North Korea is a national-security state. So is Egypt. And China, Russia, Cuba. And post-World War II United States.

A national security state is composed of a vast and powerful military establishment, an intelligence agency with omnipotent powers, including the power to assassinate people, and a surveillance agency that has the power to maintain a vast system of secret surveillance over the citizenry and others.

In the early days of the national-security state, the CIA just assumed the power of assassination. There was no congressional law delegating that power to the CIA. The CIA began wielding and exercising the power of assassination on its own, as part of the new national-security state form of governmental structure that had been adopted after World War II.

Almost from its beginning, the CIA established an assassination program, which included the preparation of an assassination manual. The manual trained CIA personnel in the art of assassination and, equally important, in ways to prevent people from recognizing the assassination as being state-sponsored. Making killings look like accidents was one of the methods in which CIA assassins would be trained.

Central to this assassination program was secrecy. The national-security state essentially made an implicit deal with the American people: we will exercise dark-side, totalitarian-like powers, including the power to kill people without due process of law, in order to keep you safe, but we will also keep it secret so that you don’t have to be bothered about what we are having to do to protect national security.

As early as 1953, the CIA assassinated federal military scientist Frank Olson because, they felt, he posed a threat to national security. One year later, it had a list of people targeted for assassination as part of its coup in Guatemala, which ousted the democratically elected president of the country, Jacobo Arbenz, and replaced him with an unelected military dictator. That kill list is still classified by the CIA as top secret. In 1961, there was the CIA conspiracy to assassinate Congo leader Patrice Lumumba. In the early 1960s, there were the repeated CIA attempts to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro. In 1963, there was the CIA assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In 1973, there was the CIA orchestration of a military coup in Chile, during which the Chilean national-security establishment tried to assassinate the democratically elected president of the country, Salvador Allende, with missiles fired from the military’s jet planes.

It was all kept top secret, until the 9/11 attacks. From that day forward, the national-security establishment’s program of state-sponsored assassinations came out into the open and became recognized as an official program of the U.S. government, one fully confirmed by the federal judiciary. That’s how the Pentagon and the CIA have turned America into an assassination nation, one in which the U.S. government wields and exercises the power to deprive anyone it wants, including both American citizens and foreign citizens, of life without due process of law, in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

January 13, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular | , , | 7 Comments

2019: The Year the Neocons Failed

By Tom Luongo | Strategic Culture Foundation | January 5, 2020

When things are as crazy as they are right now, it’s hard to see just how much progress has been made. 2019 had in it a number of watershed moments in geopolitics which signal just how close to radical change in the game board we are.

The neoconservatives within the Trump administration went for broke in 2019 and came a cropper every time. There’s no war with Iran. Nordstream 2 will be completed. Russia and Ukraine are on the path to solving their conflict. Iran is still selling oil. Turkey is still run by a madman. Israeli politics is more fractious than Spain’s. And Bashar al-Assad is still in charge in a slowly-rebuilding Syria.

The problem with these folks is they are relentless and still placed everywhere within the permanent bureaucracy of the U.S. government and Congress itself.

And President Trump has only been partially successful in fending them off from pulling off policy mistakes from which there is no turning back.

We are downstream from the neocon/Israeli push to withdraw the U.S. from the JCPOA, or Iran Nuclear Deal. That one event has dominated the geopolitical landscape for going on two years now. Trump thought he was gaining leverage over both Europe and Iran by withdrawing from the deal, when he actually unleashed a political and diplomatic quagmire.

The pull of the AIPAC crowd surrounding him, specifically Sheldon Adelson, Jared Kushner and Rudy Guiliani, put Trump on a path to confrontation with Iran which could only end in war, their desired outcome.

Trump, to his credit, has resisted this but only just barely. His refusal to go to war after Iran shot down a Global Hawk drone in June led to the firing of arch-neocon John Bolton as National Security Adviser and the subsequent impeachment fiasco we’re seeing today.

Trump, for his part, is reforming the NSC – National Security Council—by stripping it of more than two-thirds of its staff, to limit is ability to set policy outside of his purview. This will be reported by the MSM as him arrogating dictatorial powers and becoming insulated from reality.

It seems Trump is finally realizing that in Washington personnel is policy. Robert C. O’Brien is not John Bolton. It’s a good start. And if Trump wins a second term in November there may be hope that we’ll see foreign policy that is less schizophrenic and, frankly, dangerous.

Make no mistake, Trump not going to war overtly with Iran in June was a win. A small win, but a win, nonetheless.

But since that day it has been one non-stop neocon assault on his presidency and any kind of peace in the Middle East. I’m still of the opinion, tenuously so, that Trump wants to do the right thing in, at least, minimizing U.S. meddling in the region.

But the neocons are still dominant. They infest the NSC, the CIA, the State Dept. as well as major European governments and intelligence agencies. And it’s clear that Trump is fighting a rear-guard battle against them. They dominate the information flow to him.

I’m not absolving Trump of his mistakes by saying this. It’s clear he needs to be better at seeing through the misleading, if not outright false, data put in front of him about what’s happening on the ground in places like Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

But what’s also clear is that the neocons will not stop until they get a war with Iran. Theirs is an ideology of subjugation and permanent revolution. These people are the descendants of Trotsky and all that implies.

Israel has stepped up its aggression against Syria and Iraq while simultaneously backing down to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Airstrikes to the west get bolder and more aggressive, sometimes with the U.S.’s help while the mere threat of retaliation by Hezbollah sees IDF forces disappear from the earth for a week.

Israeli Prime Minister (for now) Benjamin Netanyahu will do anything to keep the U.S. engaged in Syria and Iraq. He and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are on the same page and it seems every time Pompeo shows up to talk with Bibi some escalation happens a week later.

The latest is this attack on the K1 base near Kirkuk which killed ‘an American contractor.’ That’s code for non-strategic personnel, most likely someone working the Iraqi oil fields there. The base was under the control of Iraqi PMU forces and likely attacked by either the local Kurds or ISIS.

The U.S. response was to bomb five PMU bases in Syria and Iraq nowhere near Kirkuk, all supporting the Iraqi government’s order to open up the Al Qaim/Al-Bukamai border crossing with Syria, which both the U.S. and Israel are vehemently opposed to.

It looks to me that Pompeo and Netanyahu cooked up yet another ‘incident’ to force President Trump into a confrontation with Iran by escalating tensions now in Iraq.

The result of the U.S. response was assaults on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad which brought in 100 marines and Apache helicopters to disperse the crowd.

And then Trump talks literally out of both sides of his mouth on Twitter.

Everything that happens in the Middle East that the U.S. and Israel doesn’t like is Iran’s fault. There can be no nuance for Iraqi people rising up organically against U.S. airstrikes taking out dozens of Iraqi patriots who liberated most of Iraq from ISIS and Al-Qaeda on the thinnest of pretexts.

Iraq is not going to rise up against Iran over this. If Trump has been advised that this is possible that is coming straight from a national security infrastructure intent on convincing him of staying it the Middle East forever. But Trump has shown no inclination to take this farther.

He’ll threaten fire and brimstone but that’s about it. And for this reason, the neocons are losing ground in the long run. What’s clear to me is that Trump lacks the political will to hold the line completely. He goes along with economic sanctions and tariffs in lieu of putting troops on the ground.

But at some point, he’s going to have to take a decisive stand and stop playing a game of attrition. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is slow-walking the impeachment articles to gain more leverage over him and force him from office with Republican support. For now, there is no appetite for this. But into this vacuum of power where Trump’s future rests on the votes of 17 Republican Senators, all rampant neocons, the worst legislation imaginable will come forth. This is how the NDAA got passed with additional sanctions on European allies working on Russian energy projects.

This is how Lindsey Graham (R-SC) will push the even worse DASKA through Congress now that he’s secured the vote of the Foreign Relations Committee. If Trump doesn’t toe the neocon line while the impeachment threat hangs over his neck, then, all of a sudden, conviction in the Senate will be the talk of the town.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that Trump keeps bringing in record money to fund his re-election. As long as Iran can keep a hold over its more militant factions and not escalate the situation in Iraq then all of these neocon provocations will peter out along with impeachment.

These moves by the neocons are desperation plays to retain control over U.S. foreign policy which the electorate is growing more tired of by the day. 2019 was the year they failed to secure victory. Most of 2020 will be dominated with them putting up one, last desperate offensive.

January 6, 2020 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why a Shadowy Tech Firm With Ties to Israeli Intelligence Is Running Doomsday Election Simulations

Graphic by Claudio Cabrera for MintPress News
By Whitney Webb | MintPress News | January 4, 2020

Election Day 2020: 32 Americans dead, over 200 injured, martial law declared and the election itself is canceled. While this horrific scenario seems more like the plot of a Hollywood film, such was the end result of a recent simulation examining the preparedness of U.S. officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Secret Service against “bad actors” seeking to undermine the upcoming presidential election.

Yet, this simulation was not a government-organized exercise but was instead orchestrated by a private company with deep ties to foreign and domestic intelligence services, a company that is also funded by investors with clear connections to individuals who would stand to benefit if such a catastrophic election outcome were to become reality.

Much of the rhetoric since the last presidential election in 2016 has focused on the issue of foreign meddling by U.S. rival states like Russia, while China has emerged as the new “meddler” of choice in American corporate media as the 2020 election approaches. Though time has revealed that many of the post-2016 election meddling claims were not as significant as initially claimed, the constant media discussion of foreign threats to U.S. democracy and electoral processes – whether real or imagined – has undeniably created a climate of fear. 

Those fears have since been preyed upon by neoconservative groups and the U.S. military-industrial complex, both of which are hardly known for their love of democratic processes, to offer a series of ready-made solutions to these threats that actually undermine key pillars of American democracy, including independent reporting and voting machine software.

However, many of the very same media outlets and groups that frequently fretted about Russia, China or another rival state meddling in U.S. democracy have largely ignored the role of other nation states, such as Israel, in efforts to sway the last U.S. election in 2016 and meddle in numerous elections in Africa, Latin America and Asia in the years since.

As a consequence of this climate of fear, it should be hardly surprising that the corporate media lauded the recent 2020 election simulation that ended in an abysmal failure for U.S. officials, the cancellation of the U.S. election and the imposition of martial law. Yet, none of those reports on the exercise noted that the company that hosted the simulation, called Cybereason, is led by ex-members of Israel’s military intelligence unit 8200, advised by former top and current officials in both Israeli military intelligence and the CIA. In addition, it is funded by and partnered with top U.S. weapons manufacturer and government contractor Lockheed Martin and financial institutions with clear and direct ties to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and White House adviser and the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. Also left unmentioned in media reports on Cybereason’s election simulations is the fact that Cybereason’s CEO, Lior Div, has openly admitted that he views his work at Cybereason as a “continuation” of his service to Israel’s intelligence apparatus.

With Cybereason planning to host more simulations in cooperation with federal agencies as the U.S. election inches closer, a deeper exploration of this company, its ties to intelligence and military contractors in the U.S. and Israel and its financial ties to key Trump allies both domestically and abroad warrants further investigation.

In this two part series, MintPress will not only explore these aspects but also how many of the technologies wielded by the “bad actors” in the Cybereason election simulation have been pioneered and perfected, not by U.S. rival states, but by Israeli companies and start-ups with clear ties to that country’s intelligence apparatus.

Also notable is the fact that Cybereason itself has covertly become a major software provider to the U.S. government and military through its direct partnership with Lockheed Martin, which followed the defense company’s decision to open an office at the Israeli military’s new cyber operations hub in the Negev desert. In examining all of these interlocking pieces, a picture emerges of a potentially sinister motive for Cybereason’s simulations aimed at gauging how U.S. federal officials respond to crisis situations on Election Day.

Understanding “Operation Blackout”

In early November, a team of “hackers” working for the private U.S.-based, Israeli-founded company Cybereason conducted a 2020 election simulation with members of various U.S. agencies, namely the DHS, FBI and the U.S. Secret Service. The simulation was organized by Cybereason and the law firm Venable and the U.S. agencies in attendance were invited and appear to not have been charged to participate.

The simulation, titled “Operation Blackout,” was set in a fictional swing state called “Adversaria” and pitted “ethical hackers” from Cybereason against a team of federal and local law enforcement officials. The opposing teams were supervised by a “white team” composed of members of Cybereason’s staff and Ari Schwartz — a former member of the White House’s National Security Council and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) — who set the rules of the simulation and would ultimately decide its outcome. Schwartz also used to work for the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), a major backer of Microsoft’s ElectionGuard software.

Operation Blackout did not involve hackers targeting election software or voting machines, instead, it focused on civilian infrastructure and psychological operations against the American citizens in the fictitious “Adversaria” on election day. The hacker team was led by Cybereason co-founder Yonathan Striem-Amit, a former contractor for Israeli government agencies and a former operative for the elite Israeli military intelligence Unit 8200, best known for its cyber offensives against other governments.

“In a country as fragmented as the US, the number of people needed to influence an election is surprisingly small,” Striem-Amit told Quartz of the exercise. “We attempted to create havoc and show law enforcement that protecting the electoral process is much more than the machine.”

Streim-Amit’s team completely devastated the U.S. law enforcement team in Operation Blackout by not only causing chaos but murdering numerous civilians. Hackers took control of city buses, ramming them into civilians waiting in line at polling stations, killing 32 and injuring over 200. They also took control of city traffic lights in order to cause traffic accidents, used so-called “deepfakes” to conduct psychological operations on the populace and created fake bomb threats posing as the terror group ISIS, which incidentally has its own ties to Israeli intelligence. Telecom networks and news outlets within the fictitious states were also hacked and flooded with deepfakes aimed at spreading disinformation and panic among U.S. citizens.

A map of targets in Adverseria is shown during Operation Blackout in Boston’s John Hancock Tower. Mark Albert | Twitter

The supervising team, composed of Cybereason employees and former NSC member Ari Schwartz, decided that the outcome of the face-off between the hacker and law enforcement teams was the outright cancellation of the 2020 election, the declaration of martial law by authorities, the growth of public fear regarding terrorism and allegations of U.S. government collusion with a foreign actor. Cybereason has stated that they will soon conduct another 2020 election simulation with federal authorities as the election draws closer.

Given how the simulation played out, it is quite clear that it is a far cry from the actual scope of alleged foreign meddling during the 2016 election, meddling which was allegedly the motivation behind Operation Blackout. Indeed, the extent of Russian interference in the 2016 election amounted to $100,000 worth of Facebook ads over three years, 25 percent of which were never seen by the public, and claims that Russian state actors were responsible for leaking emails from the then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee (DNC). In contrast, Operation Blackout went well beyond any observed or even imagined “foreign meddling” related to the 2016 election and appears more like a terror attack targeting elections than a covert means of manipulating their outcomes.

Several mainstream publications have covered Operation Blackout but have failed to note that the company behind them has deep ties to foreign intelligence outfits and governments with a documented history of manipulating elections around the world, including the 2016 U.S. election.

Quartz framed the exercise as important for “preparing for any and all possibilities in 2020,” which “has become an urgent task for US regulators and law enforcement.” Similarly, CyberScoop treated the simulation as a “sophisticated exercise to help secure the vote.” Other articles took the same stance.

A series of simulations

In the weeks after the Washington area election simulation, Cybereason repeated the same exercise in London, this time with members of the U.K. Intelligence agency GCHQ, the U.K. Foreign Office and the Metropolitan Police. The law enforcement team in the exercise, which included the U.K. officials, was headed by a Cybereason employee — Alessandro Telami, who formerly worked for the NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCI). Like the prior simulation conducted in the U.S., Cybereason did not appear to charge U.K. government agencies for their participation in the exercise.

Cybereason has — with little fanfare — been promoting extreme election day scenarios since before the 2016 election. Cybereason’s first mention of these tactics appears in a September 2016 blog post written by the company’s CEO and former Israeli government contractor Lior Div — a former leader of offensive cyberattacks for the IDF’s elite Unit 8200 and a former development group leader at the controversial Israeli-American corporation Amdocs.

Div wrote that hackers may target U.S. elections by “breaking into the computers that operate traffic lighting systems and interfering with the ones around polling stations to create massive traffic jams, “hacking polling companies,” and “targeting live election coverage on cable or network television stations.” A follow-up post by Div from October 2016 added further meddling tactics such as “cut power to polling stations” and “mess with a voter’s mind.”

Two years later, Cybereason held its first election meddling simulation, touting many of these same tactics, in Boston. The simulation focused on local and state responses to such attacks and saw Boston-based Cybereason invite Massachusetts state and local officials as well as Boston police officers and a former police commissioner to participate. “Twitter accounts spreading fake news,” “turning off a city’s closed-circuit cameras,” “hacking self-driving cars and navigation apps,” and “targeting a city’s 911 call center with a DDoS attack” were all used in the simulation, which saw Cybereason’s “ethical hackers” attempt to disrupt election day. Media coverage of the simulation at the time framed it as a necessary preparation for countering “Russian” threats to U.S. democracy. Like the more recent simulations, the mock election was canceled and voter confidence in the electoral process was devastated.

This past July, Cybereason conducted a similar simulation with officials from the FBI, DHS and the Secret Service for the first time. That simulation, which also took place in Boston, was remarkably similar to that which occurred in November. One intelligence officer from DHS who participated in the July exercise called the simulation “very realistic.” Another claimed that the simulation was a way of applying “lessons learned from 9/11” by preventing the government’s “failure of imagination” that officials have long alleged was the reason for the government’s inability to thwart the September 11 attacks. Notably, The U.S. military simulated a scenario in which terrorists flew airplanes into the Pentagon less than a year before the September 11 attacks.

In this undated photo from Cybereason’s website, a faux ballot box is shown in the company’s Boston office.

Participating government officials, Cybereason staff and the media have consistently touted the importance of these simulations in securing elections against extreme threats, threats which — to date — have never materialized due to the efforts of foreign or domestic actors on election day. After all, these exercises are only simulations of possibilities and, even if those possibilities seem implausible or unlikely, it is important to be prepared for any eventuality.

But what if the very figures behind these simulations and the investors that fund them had a history of election meddling themselves? Cybereason’s deep ties to Israeli intelligence, which has a documented history of aggressive espionage and election meddling in the United States and in several nations worldwide, warrant a deeper look into the firms’ possible motives and the myriad conflicts of interest that arise in giving it such unprecedented access to the heart of America’s democracy.

What Does Cybereason Do?

Cybereason’s interest in terror events during elections seems out of place given that the company itself is focused on selling technological cybersecurity solutions like antivirus and ransomware protection software, software products that would be minimally effective against the type of threat encountered in the company’s election day simulations.

Cybereason is often described as offering a comprehensive technological defense platform to companies and governments that combines a next-generation antivirus with endpoint detection and response (EDR), which enables the company to respond to typical viruses and malware as well as sophisticated, complex attacks. The platform makes heavy use of artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing and specifically uses Amazon Web Services (AWS), which is used by a litany of private companies as well as U.S. intelligence agencies.

While many cybersecurity platforms combine antivirus and antimalware with EDR and AI, Cybereason claims that their military background is what sets them apart. They have marketed themselves as offering “a combination of military-acquired skills and cloud-powered machine learning to endpoint detection and response” and actively cite the fact that most of their employees are former members of Unit 8200 as proof that they are “applying the military’s perspective on cybersecurity to enterprise security.”

In 2018, Cybereason’s former senior director for intelligence, Ross Rustici, described the platform to CBR as follows:

Our founders are ex-Israeli intelligence who worked on the offensive side. They basically wanted to build a tool that would catch themselves. We follow the kill chain model started by Lockheed Martin [now a major investor in Cybereason] and try to interrupt every stage once an intruder’s inside a target network.”

Lior Div, Cybereason’s CEO described the difference between his company’s platform and that of past market leaders in this way to Forbes :

The old guard of antivirus companies like Symantec and McAfee would install something to block endpoints and you needed to do a lot [of monitoring] to make sure you weren’t under attack. We came with a different approach to see the whole enterprise and leverage AI to be able to fully autonomously identify where attackers are and what they’re doing.”

Thus, in looking at Cybereason’s product and its marketing objectively, it seems that the only innovative component of the company’s system is the large number of ex-military intelligence officers it employs and its tweaking of a previously developed and automated model for threat engagement, elimination and prevention.

Instead, Cybereason’s success seems to owe to its prominent connections to the private and public sectors, especially in Israel, and its investors who have funneled millions into the company’s operations, allowing them to expand rapidly and quickly claim a dominant position in emerging technology markets, such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and advanced healthcare systems.

A screenshot from a live stream of a 2019 Cybereason cyber-attack simulation

Their considerable funding from the likes of Lockheed Martin and Softbank, among others, has also helped them to expand their international presence from the U.S., Europe and Israel into Asia and Latin America, among other places. Notably, while Cybereason is open about their investors and how much funding they receive from each, they are extremely secretive about their financial performance as a company and decline to disclose their annual revenue, among other indicators. The significance of Cybereason’s main investors in the context of the company’s election simulations and its ties to Israeli and U.S. intelligence (the focus of this article) will be discussed in Part 2.

Cybereason also includes a security research arm called Nocturnus, currently headed by a former Unit 8200 officer. Nocturnus will be explored further in Part 2 of this series, as it essentially functions as a private intelligence company in the tech sector and has been behind several recent claims that have attributed alleged hacks to state actors, namely China and North Korea. For now, it is important to keep in mind that Nocturnus utilizes Cybereason’s “global network of millions of endpoints” for its intelligence gathering and research, meaning the endpoints of every device to which Cybereason’s software has access.

Given what Cybereason provides as a company, their interest in offering election simulations to government officials free of charge seems odd. Indeed, in the simulations hosted by Cybereason for U.S. officials, there is little opportunity for the company to market their software products given that the simulation did not involve electronic voting infrastructure at all and, instead, the malevolent actors used deep fakes, disinformation and terror attacks to accomplish their goals. Why then would this company be so interested in gauging the response of U.S. law enforcement to such crises on election day if there is no sales pitch to be made? While some may argue that these simulations are an altruistic effort by the company, an investigation into the company’s founders and the company’s ties to intelligence agencies suggests that this is unlikely to be the case.

The People Behind Cybereason

Cybereason was created in 2012 by three Israelis, all of whom served together as officers in the Israel Defense Force’s elite technological and signals intelligence unit, which is most often referred to as Unit 8200. Unit 8200 has been the subject of several MintPress investigative reports over the past year focusing on its ties to the tech industry.

Unit 8200 is an elite unit of the Israeli Intelligence corps that is part of the IDF’s Directorate of Military Intelligence and is involved mainly in signal intelligence, surveillance, cyberwarfare and code decryption. It is also well-known for its surveillance of Palestinian civilians and for using intercepted communications as blackmail in order to procure informants among Palestinians living under occupation in the West Bank.

The unit is frequently described as the Israeli equivalent of the NSA and Peter Roberts, a senior research fellow at Britain’s Royal United Services Institute, characterized the unit in an interview with the Financial Times as “probably the foremost technical intelligence agency in the world and stand[ing] on a par with the NSA in everything except scale.” Notably, the NSA and Unit 8200 have collaborated on numerous projects, most infamously on the Stuxnet virus as well as the Duqu malware.

Given the secrecy of the work conducted by Unit 8200, it is hard to know exactly what Cybereason’s co-founders did while serving in the controversial unit, however, a brief biography of the company’s current CEO and co-founder Lior Div states that “Div served as a commander [in Unit 8200] and carried out some of the world’s largest cyber offensive campaigns against nations and cybercrime groups. For his achievements, he received the Medal of Honor, the highest honor bestowed upon Unit 8200 members (emphasis added).”

Lior Div speaks during the Cyber Week conference in Tel Aviv, Israel, June 25, 2019. Corinna Kern | Reuters

After having served in leadership positions within Unit 8200, all three Cybereason co-founders went on to work for private Israel-based tech or telecom companies with a history of aggressive espionage against the U.S. government.

Cybereason co-founders Yonathan Striem Amit (Cybereason’s Chief Technology Officer) and Yossi Naar (Cybereason Chief Visionary Officer) both worked for Gita Technologies shortly before founding Cybereason with fellow Unit 8200 alumnus Lior Div. Gita, according to public records, is a subsidiary of Verint Systems, formerly known as Comverse Infosys.

Verint/Comverse was initially funded by the Israeli government and was founded by Jacob “Kobi” Alexander, a former Israeli intelligence officer who was wanted by the FBI on nearly three dozen charges of fraud, theft, lying, bribery, money laundering and other crimes for over a decade until he was finally extradited to the United States and pled guilty to some of those charges in 2016.

Despite its history of corruption and foreign intelligence connections, Verint/Comverse was hired by the National Security Agency (NSA) to create backdoors into all the major U.S. telecommunications systems and major tech companies, including Facebook, Microsoft and Google. An article on Verint’s access to U.S. tech infrastructure in Wired noted the following about Verint:

In a rare and candid admission to Forbes, Retired Brig. Gen. Hanan Gefen, a former commander of the highly secret Unit 8200, Israel’s NSA, noted his former organization’s influence on Comverse, which owns Verint, as well as other Israeli companies that dominate the U.S. eavesdropping and surveillance market. ‘Take NICE, Comverse and Check Point for example, three of the largest high-tech companies, which were all directly influenced by 8200 technology,’ said Gefen.”

Federal agents have reported systemic breaches at the Department of Justice, FBI, DEA, the State Department, and the White House going all the way back to the 1990s, breaches they claimed could all be traced back to two companies: Comverse/Verint and Amdocs. Cybereason’s other co-founder and current CEO, Lior Div, used to work for Amdocs as the company’s development group leader.

After leaving Amdocs, Div founded a company called Alfatech. Alfatech publicly claims to specialize in “professional Head Hunting and Quality Recruiting services,” yet it has no functional website. Despite its publicly stated mission statement, Israeli media reports that mention Alfatech describe it as “a cybersecurity services company for Israeli government agencies.” No reason for the obvious disconnect between the company’s own claims and those made by the media has been given.

Div left Alfatech in 2012 to found Cybereason alongside Striem-Amit and Naar. According to an interview that Div gave to TechCrunch earlier this year, he stated that his work at Cybereason is “the continuation of the six years of training and service he spent working with the Israeli army’s 8200 Unit (emphasis added).” Div was a high-level commander in Unit 8200 and “carried out some of the world’s largest cyber offensive campaigns against nations and cybercrime groups” during his time there. TechCrunch noted that “After his time in the military, Div worked for the Israeli government as a private contractor reverse-engineering hacking operations,” an apparent reference to his work at Alfatech.

Even deeper ties to intelligence

Not only do Cybereason’s own co-founders have considerable links to the Israeli government, Israeli intelligence and intelligence-connected private companies, but it also appears that the work of Cybereason itself is directly involved with Israeli intelligence.

The company periodically publishes reports by a secretive faction of the company called the Cybereason Intelligence Group or CIG. The only description of CIG’s composition available on Cybereason’s website is as follows:

The Cybereason Intelligence Group was formed with the unique mission of providing context to the most sophisticated threat actors. The group’s members include experts in cyber security and international security from various government agencies, including the Israel Defense Forces’ Unit 8200, which is dedicated to conducting offensive cyber operations. Their primary purpose is to examine and explain the Who and the Why behind cyber attacks, so that companies and individuals can better protect themselves (emphasis added).”

It is unclear how many members comprise CIG and if its members are employees of only Israeli government agencies, or if it includes officials from the U.S. government/Intelligence or other governments. However, what is clear is that it is composed entirely of government officials, which include active members of Unit 8200, and that the purpose of the group is to issue reports that place blame for cyberattacks on state and non-state actors. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the vast majority of CIG’s reports published by Cybereason focus exclusively on Russia and China. When discussing nation-state cyber threats in general, Cybereason’s website only mentions China, North Korea, Iran and Russia by name, all of which are incidentally rival states of the U.S. government. Notably, Israel’s government — listed as a “leading espionage threat” to U.S. financial institutions and federal agencies by the U.S.’ NSA — is absent from Cybereason’s discussions of state actors.

In addition to CIG, Cybereason’s cybersecurity research arm, Nocturnus, includes several Unit 8200 alumni and former Israeli military intelligence and government contractors and has assigned blame to state actors for several recent hacks. It also has claimed to have discovered more such hacks but has declined to publicly disclose them due to the “sensitive” nature of the hacks and companies affected.

Other hints at Cybereason’s connections to state intelligence can be seen in its advisory board. Robert Bigman, the former Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) who oversaw the spy agency’s “commercial partner engagement” program (i.e. alliances with the private tech sector), is a key figure on the company’s advisory board. According to his biography, Bigman “ contributed to almost every Intelligence Community information security policy/technical standard and has provided numerous briefings to the National Security Council, Congress and presidential commissions. In recognition of his expertise and contributions, Bigman has received numerous CIA and Director of National Intelligence Awards.”

Cybereason’s leadership team features a who’s who of Israeli and US intel officials

Unmentioned in his biography published on his own website, or on Cybereason’s website, is that Bigman is also an advisor to another Israeli tech company, Sepio Systems. The chairman of Sepio, Tamir Pardo, is a self-described “leader” in the cybersecurity industry and former director of Israel’s Mossad. Sepio is funded by a venture capital firm founded by the creators of the controversial Israeli spy tech company NSO Group, which has received a slew of negative press coverage after its software was sold to several governments who used it to spy on dissidents and human rights activists.

In addition to Bigman, Cybereason’s advisory board includes Pinchas Buchris, the former head of Unit 8200 and former managing director of the IDF. Not unlike Bigman, Buchris’ bio fails to mention that he sits on the board of directors of Carbyne911, alongside former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Nicole Junkerman, both well-known associates of intelligence-linked sex trafficker Jeffery Epstein. Epstein himself poured at least $1 million into Carbyne, an Israeli company that seeks to run all 911 call centers in the U.S. at the national level and has close ties to the Trump administration. More information on Carbyne and its ties to Israeli and U.S. intelligence as well as its connection to coming pre-crime policies to be enacted in 2020 by the U.S. Department of Justice can be found in this MintPress report from earlier this year. Given that Cybereason’s election day simulations involve the simulated collapse of 911 call center functionality, Buchris’ ties to both Cybereason and Carbyne911 are notable.

Another notable Cybereason advisor is the former commissioner of the Boston Police Department, Edward Davis. Davis heavily promoted Cybereason’s disturbing election day simulations and even participated directly in one of them. He was also police commissioner of the Boston PD at the time of the Boston Marathon bombing and oversaw the near-martial law conditions imposed on the city during the manhunt for the alleged perpetrators of that bombing (who themselves had a rather odd relationship with the FBI). This is notable given that Cybereason’s election day simulations ended with martial law being imposed on the fictional city used in the exercise

Cybereason also has several advisors who hold top positions at powerful U.S. companies that are also — incidentally — U.S. government contractors. These include the Vice President Security and Privacy Engineering at Google, Deputy Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) of Lockheed Martin and CISO at Motorola. Both Motorola and Lockheed Martin use Cybereason’s software and the latter is also a major investor in the company. Furthermore, as will be explained in Part 2 of this article, Lockheed Martin has used its privileged position as the top private contractor to the U.S. government to promote the widespread use of Cybereason’s software among U.S. government agencies, including the Pentagon.

Much more than a cybersecurity company

Given Cybereason’s deep and enduring ties to Israeli intelligence and its growing connections to the U.S. military and U.S. intelligence through its hiring of top CIA officials and partnership with Lockheed Martin, it’s worth asking if these disturbing election simulations could serve an ulterior purpose and, if so, who would benefit. While some aspects regarding clear conflicts of interest in relation to the 2020 election and Cybereason will be discussed in Part 2, this article will conclude by examining the possibility that Cybereason is acting as a front company for Israeli intelligence based on that country’s history of targeting the U.S. through private tech companies and on Cybereason’s own questionable characteristics.

First, Cybereason as a company presents several oddities. Its co-founder and CEO openly states that he views Cybereason’s work as a continuation of his service for Israeli military intelligence. In addition, he and the company’s other founders — after they left Unit 8200 — went to work for Israeli tech companies that have been known to spy on U.S. federal agencies for the Israeli government.

In addition, as previously mentioned, Cybereason has sought out former intelligence officers from the CIA and Unit 8200 for its management team and board of advisors. The company itself also functions as a private intelligence firm through CIG and Nocturnus, both of which employ former and current intelligence officials, and have made significant claims regarding the attribution of specific cybercrimes to state actors. It appears highly likely that these claims are influenced by those same intelligence agencies that boast close ties to Cybereason. Furthermore, Nocturnus’ access to Cybereason’s “global” network of endpoints makes it a private intelligence gathering company as it gathers and analyzes data from all devices that run Cybereason’s software.

Yet, even more telling is the fact that Israel’s government has an open policy of outsourcing intelligence-related activity to the private sector, specifically the country’s tech sector. As MintPress previously reported, this trend was first publicly acknowledged by Israel in 2012, the same year that Cybereason was founded by former Israeli military intelligence officers then-working for private contractors for Israel’s government (Alfatech) or private companies known to have ties to Israeli intelligence, including Verint/Comverse.

As noted in an article on the phenomenon from the Israeli media outlet The Calcalist:

Israel is siphoning cyber-related activities from its national defense apparatus to privately held companies. Since 2012, cyber-related and intelligence projects that were previously carried out in-house in the Israeli military and Israel’s main intelligence arms are transferred to companies that in some cases were built for this exact purpose.”

Mention of Israel’s policy of blurring the lines between the public and private sector when it comes to cybersecurity and intelligence gathering has even garnered the occasional mention in mainstream media, such as in a 2018 Foreign Policy article:

Israel, for one, has chosen to combat the problem on a statewide level by linking the public and private spheres, sometimes literally. The country’s cyberhub in the southern city of Beersheba is home not just to the Israeli military’s new technology campus but also to a high-tech corporate park, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s cyber-research center, and the Israel National Cyber Directorate, which reports directly to the prime minister’s office. “There’s a bridge between them—physically,” [Gabriel] Avner, the security consultant, said by way of emphasis.”

Notably, a year before Lockheed Martin invested in and partnered with Cybereason, the U.S.-based weapons company opened an office at the IDF’s public-private cyber hub in Beersheba. At the inauguration ceremony for Lockheed’s Beersheba office, company CEO Marilyn Hewson stated:

The consolidation of IDF Technical Units to new bases in the Negev Desert region is an important transformation of Israel’s information technology capability… By locating our new office in the capital of the Negev we are well positioned to work closely with our Israeli partners and stand ready to: accelerate project execution, reduce program risk and share our technical expertise by training and developing in-country talent.”

Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson, inaugurates the Lockheed Martin Israel Demonstration Center in Tel Aviv.

Further evidence of this public-private merger can be seen in how two of Israel’s intelligence agencies, Shin Bet and Mossad, have both recently launched a private start-up accelerator and a hi-tech venture capital fund, respectively. The Shin Bet’s accelerator, called Xcelerator, usually makes its investments in private companies public, while Mossad’s Libertad Ventures refuses to disclose the tech companies and start-ups in which it invests. Former directors of both Mossad and Shin Bet have described these intelligence agencies themselves of being like start-ups, clearly showing how much the line between intelligence apparatus and private company has been blurred within the context of Israel’s tech industry and specifically its cybersecurity industry.

The advantages of outsourcing cyber intelligence operations to private companies have been noted by several analysts, including Sasha Romanosky, a former Cyber Policy Advisor at the Department of Defense and current analyst at RAND Corporation. Romanosky noted in 2017 that private intelligence and cybersecurity firms “do not necessarily face the same constraints or potential repercussions” as their public counterparts when it comes to designating blame for a cyberattack, for example. In addition, outsourcing intelligence objectives or missions to private companies provides a government with plausible deniability if that private company’s espionage-related activities or ties are made public.

Furthermore, Israeli intelligence has a long history of using private tech companies for the purposes of espionage, including against the United States. While Amdocs and Verint/Comverse were already mentioned as having been used by the state of Israel in this way, other private companies have also been used to market software backdoored by Israeli intelligence to countries around the world, both within the U.S. and elsewhere. The most well-known example of this is arguably the mass sale and distribution of the bugged PROMIS software, which was discussed at length in several recent MintPress News reports.

Given Cybereason’s ties to intelligence and Israeli intelligence’s history of placing backdoors in its software, it is worth pointing out that Cybereason’s main product, its antivirus and network defense platform, offers a major espionage opportunity. Blake Darché, a former N.S.A. operator, told the New York Times in 2017 that antivirus programs, which Cybereason’s defense platform includes, is “the ultimate backdoor,” adding that it “provides consistent, reliable and remote access that can be used for any purpose, from launching a destructive attack to conducting espionage on thousands or even millions of users.” Whether a company like Cybereason would use its software for such ends is unknown, though the company does acknowledge that its cybersecurity arm does gather intelligence from all systems that use the company’s software and currently employs and works with active duty Unit 8200 officials through CIG. This is notable because Unit 8200’s main task for Israeli military intelligence is signals intelligence, i.e. surveillance.

More of a mystery, however, is why a company like Cybereason is so interested in U.S. election security, particularly when Israeli intelligence and Israeli intelligence-connected private companies have been caught in recent years meddling in elections around the world, including the United States.

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

January 4, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

What Upstanding Citizens Believe Vs. What Crazy Conspiracy Theorists Believe

By Caitlin Johnstone | Medium.com | January 1, 2020

Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe a mature worldview requires skepticism toward power.

Smart upstanding citizens believe the government is your friend, and the media are its helpers.

Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe that powerful people sometimes make immoral plans in secret.

Smart upstanding citizens believe the TV always tells the truth and the CIA exists for no reason.

Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe that extreme government secrecy makes it necessary to discuss possible theories about what might be going on behind that veil of opacity.

Smart upstanding citizens believe that just because a world-dominating government with the most powerful military in the history of civilization has no transparency and zero accountability to the public, that doesn’t mean you’ve got to get all paranoid about it.

Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe it’s okay to ask questions about important events that happen in the world, even if their government tells them they shouldn’t.

Smart upstanding citizens believe everything they need to know about reality comes out of Mike Pompeo’s angelic mouth.

Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe the very rich sometimes engage in nefarious behavior to expand their wealth and power.

Smart upstanding citizens believe billionaires always conduct themselves with the same values that got them their billions in the first place: honesty, morality, and generosity.

Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe it’s important to remember the lies that led up to the invasion of Iraq, and the disastrous consequences of blind faith in government claims.

Smart upstanding citizens believe “Iraq” is a fictional land similar to Narnia or Middle Earth, from the writings of a fantasy author named George Galloway.

Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe Syria is fighting to avoid becoming another Libya in a war of defense against extremist proxy armies of the US-centralized empire, who were given billions of dollars in military support with the goal of toppling Damascus.

Smart upstanding citizens believe Bashar al-Assad is a real-life version of a cartoon supervillain who just started murdering civilians willy nilly in 2011 because he loves murdering civilians, then in 2015 his friend Vladimir Putin joined in because he loves murdering civilians also.

Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe the extensive history of US government lies means you should always demand mountains of independently verifiable evidence when they make claims about unabsorbed nations.

Smart upstanding citizens believe Russia literally committed an act of war on the United States in 2016, China is orchestrating a second Holocaust, Maduro is deliberately starving the Venezuelan people because he hates them, Assad is using chemical weapons but only when it makes no strategic sense, Cuban spy crickets are trying to assassinate US diplomats, there’s novichok everywhere, and every noncompliant party in the Middle East is secretly working for Iran.

Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe that it can be difficult to figure out what’s going on in a mass media landscape that is saturated with the propaganda of the US-centralized empire.

Smart upstanding citizens believe that all you need to do to ensure you’re getting all the facts is watch television and run screaming from the room if you accidentally flip past RT.

Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe the Gulf of Tonkin incident was faked, the “taking babies out of incubators” narrative was a lie, Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction, Gaddafi’s rape armies never existed and the Libya intervention was never really about humanitarian concerns.

Smart, upstanding citizens believe it’s better not to think about such things.

Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe the latest WikiLeaks publications of internal OPCW documents provide ample evidence that we were lied to about the 2018 Douma incident.

Smart upstanding citizens believe those documents aren’t real because The New York Times never reported on them.

Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe that increasing levels of government secrecy are making it easier for government agencies to do unethical things in secret.

Smart upstanding citizens believe that questioning your government makes you a Russian anti-semite.

Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe that the billionaire class which owns the mass media has a natural incentive to prop up the status quo upon which it is built, and so construct an environment where reporters are incentivized to always support the establishment line.

Smart upstanding citizens believe that if that kind of conspiracy were really happening, it would have been in the news.

*  *  *

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out my podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following me on Steemit, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypalpurchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

January 3, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , | 2 Comments

Post-Iraq war US intel report predicting 2020 looks ‘eerily prescient’ only compared to agencies’ political blunders

By Helen Buyniski | RT | January 1, 2020

A 15-year-old intel report predicting the world of 2020 has been hailed for its accuracy, but much of the future it describes was already underway in 2004. Could today’s hyper-politicized intelligence community see even that much?

Rolling out a list of “eerily prescient” predictions in order to brag about their accuracy – no flying cars here! – the National Intelligence Council (NIC) report is just what one might expect from an intel community desperate to shore up its reputation ahead of what’s sure to be a hotly contested presidential election.

Intel vets have lamented that the intelligence community has become politicized, to the point where it has affected their ability to accurately and objectively describe the reality in front of them – never mind the world 15 years in the future. The NIC paper may thus represent a lost art of apolitical prognostication, a skill willingly sacrificed in the rush for modern spooks to prove themselves “team players.” After the near-fatal blow to its credibility dealt by the three-year Russiagate debacle, US intelligence has a long way to go to build its reputation back.

But US intelligence has played enough of a role in crafting the world of 2020 that at least some of the report’s predictions have to be viewed as plans and suggestions rather than prognostication. Revelations about the CIA’s role in funding and training Al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria, supplying weapons which often ended up in the hands of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists through Operation “Timber Sycamore,” cast the report’s “fictional scenario” about “a new caliphate” whose adherents include Osama bin Laden’s grandson in a more sinister light. Like IS, the fictional caliphate described by the NIC inspires “non-practicing Muslims” from Europe and America to return to their ancestral homelands and take up arms against the “infidels”; also like IS, they seize large swaths of territory in an Iraq weakened by years of war. With plans to regime-change “seven countries in five years” in the Middle East already underway in 2004, according to retired General Wesley Clark, both imagined and real caliphate dovetailed nicely with US foreign policy aims of remaking the region in its image.

Meanwhile, a scenario titled “Cycle of Fear” in which an “Orwellian world” arises from crippling fear of terrorism is almost a wink to the reader, coming just a few short years after the September 11 attacks spawned the Patriot Act and a draconian reduction in Americans’ civil liberties. The NIC report was published years before NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s leaks began to reveal the disturbing extent of the US surveillance state, and Americans in 2004 were for the most part blissfully ignorant about how much they were being spied on – but the NSA, which consulted on the NIC paper, certainly wasn’t.

Other predictions are so obvious that holding them up as a sign of predictive genius is almost laughable. Anticipating a US confrontation with North Korea didn’t take any special skills – then-president George W. Bush had labeled the country part of the “Axis of Evil” alongside Iraq and Iran in 2002, presumably tagging it for eventual regime change. Nor did predicting China’s growth and dominance in the world economy require any great insight – it was already the second-largest global economy in 2004, with its GDP growing at over twice the rate of the US. And a warning against nation-building – a failure the US had already experienced in Afghanistan by 2004 – is hardly prescient; it simply hasn’t been heeded in the intervening 15 years.

Sure, the report nailed a shift in global alliances, with rising economies like the BRICS countries increasingly making their presence felt on the geopolitical stage. But betting global alliances will shift within a 15-year timeframe isn’t exactly clairvoyance.

Unfortunately, the NIC chose to end on an optimistic note, coincidentally the least-likely scenario – a so-called “Pax Americana” in which Europe, devastated by a series of terrorist attacks and “more unified than some of our American friends imagined,” runs into the arms of the US “imploring America to get tough on terrorism.” Even looking beyond the name – “Pax” means “peace,” something a nation with military bases in at least 80 countries knows little about – this hypothetical future has aged particularly badly in the era of Brexit encouraging other European countries to mull seeking independence from the union.

“Even as the existing order is threatened, the United States will have many opportunities to fashion a new one,” the report concludes. The stubborn optimism of the intelligence community of 2004 – just three years into what has become nearly two decades of non-stop war, triggered in part by that community’s own intel failures – is much more “eerie” than any resemblance of its fortune-telling to the real world of 2020. It’s not hard to see how the slight disconnect with reality on display here mushroomed into the chasm separating today’s intelligence community from the real world.

January 1, 2020 Posted by | Deception | , , | 2 Comments

Did John Brennan’s CIA Create Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks?

By Larry C Johnson | Sic Semper Tyrannis | December 20, 2019

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report insists that Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks were created by Russia’s military intelligence organization, the GRU, as part of a Russian plot to meddle in the U.S. 2016 Presidential Election. But this is a lie. Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks were created by Brennan’s CIA and this action by the CIA should be a target of U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation. Let me explain why.

Let us start with the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment aka ICA. Only three agencies of the 17 in the U.S. intelligence community contributed to and coordinated on the ICA–the FBI, the CIA and NSA. In the preamble to the ICA, you can read the following explanation about methodology:

When Intelligence Community analysts use words such as “we assess” or “we judge,” they are conveying an analytic assessment or judgment

To be clear, the phrase,“We assess”, is intel community jargon for “opinion”. If there was actual evidence or source material for a judgment the writer of the assessment would state, “According to a reliable source” or “knowledgeable source” or “documentary evidence.”

Pay close attention to what the analysts writing the ICA stated about the GRU and Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks:

We assess with high confidence that the GRU used the Guccifer 2.0 persona, DCLeaks.com, and WikiLeaks to release US victim data obtained in cyber operations publicly and in exclusives to media outlets.

    • Guccifer 2.0, who claimed to be an independent Romanian hacker, made multiple contradictory statements and false claims about his likely Russian identity throughout the election. Press reporting suggests more than one person claiming to be Guccifer 2.0 interacted with journalists.
    • Content that we assess was taken from e-mail accounts targeted by the GRU in March 2016 appeared on DCLeaks.com starting in June.

We assess with high confidence that the GRU relayed material it acquired from the DNC and senior Democratic officials to WikiLeaks. Moscow most likely chose WikiLeaks because of its self-proclaimed reputation for authenticity. Disclosures through WikiLeaks did not contain any evident forgeries.

Not one piece of corroborating intelligence. It is all based on opinion and strong belief. There was no human source report or electronic intercept pointing to a relationship between the GRU and the two alleged creations of the GRU–Guccifer 2.0 persona and DCLeaks.com.

Now consider the spin that Robert Mueller put on this opinion in his report on possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. Mueller bluffs the unsuspecting reader into believing that it is a proven fact that Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks were Russian assets. But he is relying on a mere opinion from a handpicked group of intel analysts working under the direction of then CIA Director John Brennan.Here’s Mueller’s take (I apologize for the lengthy quote but it is important that you read how the Mueller team presents this):

DCLeaks

“The GRU began planning the releases at least as early as April 19, 2016, when Unit 26165 registered the domain dcleaks.com through a service that anonymized the registrant.137 Unit 26165 paid for the registration using a pool of bitcoin that it had mined.138 The dcleaks.com landing page pointed to different tranches of stolen documents, arranged by victim or subject matter. Other dcleaks.com pages contained indexes of the stolen emails that were being released (bearing the sender, recipient, and date of the email). To control access and the timing of releases, pages were sometimes password-protected for a period of time and later made unrestricted to the public.

Starting in June 2016, the GRU posted stolen documents onto the website dcleaks.com, including documents stolen from a number of individuals associated with the Clinton Campaign. These documents appeared to have originated from personal email accounts (in particular, Google and Microsoft accounts), rather than the DNC and DCCC computer networks. DCLeaks victims included an advisor to the Clinton Campaign, a former DNC employee and Clinton Campaign employee, and four other campaign volunteers.139 The GRU released through dcleaks.com thousands of documents, including personal identifying and financial information, internal correspondence related to the“Clinton Campaign and prior political jobs, and fundraising files and information.140

GRU officers operated a Facebook page under the DCLeaks moniker, which they primarily used to promote releases of materials.141 The Facebook page was administered through a small number of preexisting GRU-controlled Facebook accounts.142

GRU officers also used the DCLeaks Facebook account, the Twitter account @dcleaks__, and the email account dcleaksproject@gmail.com to communicate privately with reporters and other U.S. persons. GRU officers using the DCLeaks persona gave certain reporters early access to archives of leaked files by sending them links and passwords to pages on the dcleaks.com website that had not yet become public. For example, on July 14, 2016, GRU officers operating under the DCLeaks persona sent a link and password for a non-public DCLeaks webpage to a U.S. reporter via the Facebook account.143 Similarly, on September 14, 2016, GRU officers sent reporters Twitter direct messages from @dcleaks_, with a password to another non-public part of the dcleaks.com website.144

The dcleaks.com website remained operational and public until March 2017.”

Guccifer 2.0

On June 14, 2016, the DNC and its cyber-response team announced the breach of the DNC network and suspected theft of DNC documents. In the statements, the cyber-response team alleged that Russian state-sponsored actors (which they referred to as “Fancy Bear”) were responsible for the breach.145 Apparently in response to that announcement, on June 15, 2016, GRU officers using the persona Guccifer 2.0 created a WordPress blog. In the hours leading up to the launch of that WordPress blog, GRU officers logged into a Moscow-based server used and managed by Unit 74455 and searched for a number of specific words and phrases in English, including “some hundred sheets,” “illuminati,” and “worldwide known.” Approximately two hours after the last of those searches, Guccifer 2.0 published its first post, attributing the DNC server hack to a lone Romanian hacker and using several of the unique English words and phrases that the GRU officers had searched for that day.146

That same day, June 15, 2016, the GRU also used the Guccifer 2.0 WordPress blog to begin releasing to the public documents stolen from the DNC and DCCC computer networks.

The Guccifer 2.0 persona ultimately released thousands of documents stolen from the DNC and DCCC in a series of blog posts between June 15, 2016 and October 18, 2016.147 Released documents included opposition research performed by the DNC (including a memorandum analyzing potential criticisms of candidate Trump), internal policy documents (such as recommendations on how to address politically sensitive issues), analyses of specific congressional races, and fundraising documents. Releases were organized around thematic issues, such as specific states (e.g., Florida and Pennsylvania) that were perceived as competitive in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Beginning in late June 2016, the GRU also used the Guccifer 2.0 persona to release documents directly to reporters and other interested individuals. Specifically, on June 27, 2016, Guccifer 2.0 sent an email to the news outlet The Smoking Gun offering to provide “exclusive access to some leaked emails linked [to] Hillary Clinton’s staff.”148 The GRU later sent the reporter a password and link to a locked portion of the dcleaks.com website that contained an archive of emails stolen by Unit 26165 from a Clinton Campaign volunteer in March 2016.149 “That the Guccifer 2.0 persona provided reporters access to a restricted portion of the DCLeaks website tends to indicate that both personas were operated by the same or a closely-related group of people.150

The GRU continued its release efforts through Guccifer 2.0 into August 2016. For example, on August 15, 2016, the Guccifer 2.0 persona sent a candidate for the U.S. Congress documents related to the candidate’s opponent.151 On August 22, 2016, the Guccifer 2.0 persona transferred approximately 2.5 gigabytes of Florida-related data stolen from the DCCC to a U.S. blogger covering Florida politics.152 On August 22, 2016, the Guccifer 2.0 persona sent a U.S. reporter documents stolen from the DCCC pertaining to the Black Lives Matter movement.153”

Wow. Sounds pretty convincing. The documents referencing communications by DCLeaks or Guccifer 2.0 with Wikileaks are real. What is not true is that these entities were GRU assets.

In October 2015 John Brennan reorganized the CIA. As part of that reorganization he created a new directorate–DIRECTORATE OF DIGITAL INNOVATION. Its mission was to “manipulate digital footprints.” In other words, this was the Directorate that did the work of creating Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks. One of their specialties, creating Digital Dust.

We also know, thanks to Wikileaks, that the CIA was using software specifically designed to mask CIA activity and make it appear like it was done by a foreign entity. Wikipedia describes the Vault 7 documents:

Vault 7 is a series of documents that WikiLeaks began to publish on 7 March 2017, that detail activities and capabilities of the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency to perform electronic surveillance and cyber warfare. The files, dated from 2013–2016, include details on the agency’s software capabilities, such as the ability to compromise cars, smart TVs,[1] web browsers (including Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera Software ASA),[2][3][4] and the operating systems of most smartphones (including Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android), as well as other operating systems such as Microsoft Windows, macOS, and Linux[5][6

One of the tools in Vault 7 carries the innocuous name, MARBLE. Hackernews explains the purpose and function of MARBLE:

Dubbed “Marble,” the part 3 of CIA files contains 676 source code files of a secret anti-forensic Marble Framework, which is basically an obfuscator or a packer used to hide the true source of CIA malware.
The CIA’s Marble Framework tool includes a variety of different algorithm with foreign language text intentionally inserted into the malware source code to fool security analysts and falsely attribute attacks to the wrong nation.

Marble is used to hamper[ing] forensic investigators and anti-virus companies from attributing viruses, trojans and hacking attacks to the CIA,” says the whistleblowing site.

“… for example by pretending that the spoken language of the malware creator was not American English, but Chinese, but then showing attempts to conceal the use of Chinese, drawing forensic investigators even more strongly to the wrong conclusion,” WikiLeaks explains.

So guess what gullible techies “discovered” in mid-June 2016? The meta data in the Guccifer 2.0 communications had “Russian fingerprints.”

We still don’t know who he is or whether he works for the Russian government, but one thing is for sure: Guccifer 2.0—the nom de guerre of the person claiming he hacked the Democratic National Committee and published hundreds of pages that appeared to prove it—left behind fingerprints implicating a Russian-speaking person with a nostalgia for the country’s lost Soviet era.

Exhibit A in the case is this document created and later edited in the ubiquitous Microsoft Word format. Metadata left inside the file shows it was last edited by someone using the computer name “Феликс Эдмундович.” That means the computer was configured to use the Russian language and that it was connected to a Russian-language keyboard. More intriguing still, “Феликс Эдмундович” is the colloquial name that translates to Felix Dzerzhinsky, the 20th Century Russian statesman who is best known for founding the Soviet secret police. (The metadata also shows that the purported DNC strategy memo was originally created by someone named Warren Flood, which happens to be the name of a LinkedIn user claiming to provide strategy and data analytics services to Democratic candidates.)

Just use your common sense. If the Russians were really trying to carry out a covert cyberattack, do you really think they are so sloppy and incompetent to insert the name of the creator of the Soviet secret police in the metadata? No. The Russians are not clowns. This was a clumsy attempt to frame the Russians.

Why would the CIA do this? The CIA knew that Podesta’s emails had been hacked and were circulating on the internet. But they had no evidence about the identity of the culprit. If they had such evidence, they would have cited it in the 2017 ICA.

The U.S. intelligence community became aware around May 26, 2016 that someone with access to the DNC network was offering those emails to Julian Assange and Wikileaks. Julian Assange and people who spoke to him indicate that the person was Seth Rich. Whether or not it was Seth, the Trump Task Force at CIA was aware that the emails, which would be embarrassing to the Clinton campaign, would be released at some time in the future. Hence the motive to create Guccifer 2.0 and pin the blame on Russia.

It is essential to recall the timeline of the alleged Russian intrusion into the DNC network. The only source for the claim that Russia hacked the DNC is a private cyber security firm, CrowdStrike. Here is the timeline for the DNC “hack.”

Here are the facts on the public record. They are at odds with the claims of the Intelligence Community:

  1. It was 29 April 2016, when the DNC claims it became aware its servers had been penetrated. No claim yet about who was responsible. And no claim that there had been a prior warning by the FBI of a penetration of the DNC by Russian military intelligence.
  2. According to CrowdStrike founder, Dimitri Alperovitch, his company first supposedly detected the Russians mucking around inside the DNC server on 6 May 2016. A CrowdStrike intelligence analyst reportedly told Alperovitch that:
    • Falcon had identified not one but two Russian intruders: Cozy Bear, a group CrowdStrike’s experts believed was affiliated with the FSB, Russia’s answer to the CIA; and Fancy Bear, which they had linked to the GRU, Russian military intelligence.
  3. The Wikileaks data shows that the last message copied from the DNC network is dated Wed, 25 May 2016 08:48:35.
  4. 10 June 2016–CrowdStrike waited until 10 June 2016 to take concrete steps to clean up the DNC network. Alperovitch told Esquire’s Vicky Ward that: ‘Ultimately, the teams decided it was necessary to replace the software on every computer at the DNC. Until the network was clean, secrecy was vital. On the afternoon of Friday, June 10, all DNC employees were instructed to leave their laptops in the office.”
  5. On June 14, 2016, Ellen Nakamura, a Washington Post reporter who had been briefed by computer security company hired by the DNC—Crowdstrike–, wrote:
    • Russian government hackers penetrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee and gained access to the entire database of opposition research on GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, according to committee officials and security experts who responded to the breach.
    • The intruders so thoroughly compromised the DNC’s system that they also were able to read all email and chat traffic, said DNC officials and the security experts.
    • The intrusion into the DNC was one of several targeting American political organizations. The networks of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were also targeted by Russian spies, as were the computers of some Republican political action committees, U.S. officials said. But details on those cases were not available.
  6. 15 June, 2016, an internet “personality” self-described as Guccifer 2.0 surfaces and claims to be responsible for the hacks but denies being Russian. The people/entity behind Guccifer 2.0:
  • Used a Russian VPN service provider to conceal their identity.
  • Created an email account with AOL.fr (a service that exposes the sender’s IP address) and contacted the press (exposing his VPN IP address in the process).
  • Contacted various media outlets through this set up and claimed credit for hacking the DNC, sharing copies of files purportedly from the hack (one of which had Russian error messages embedded in them) with reporters from Gawker, The Smoking Gun and other outlets.
  • Carried out searches for terms that were mostly in English, several of which would appear in Guccifer 2.0’s first blog post. They chose to do this via a server based in Moscow. (this is from the indictment,
    “On or about June 15, 2016, the Conspirators logged into a Moscow-based server used and managed by Unit 74455”)
  • Created a blog and made an initial blog post claiming to have hacked the DNC, providing links to various documents as proof.
  • Carelessly dropped a “Russian Smiley” into his first blog post.
  • Managed to add the name “Феликс Эдмундович” (which translates to Felix Dzerzhinsky, also known as “Iron Felix”) to the metadata of several documents. (Several sources went beyond what the evidence shows and made claims about Guccifer 2.0 using a Russian keyboard, however, these claims are just assumptions made in response to the presence of cyrillic characters.)

The only thing that the Guccifer 2.0 character did not do to declare its Russian heritage was to take out full page ads in the New York Times and Washington Post. But the “forensic” fingerprints that Guccifer 2.0 was leaving behind is not the only inexplicable event.

Time for the common sense standard again. Crowdstrike detected the Russians on the 6th of May, according to CEO Dimitri Alperovitch, but took no steps to shutdown the network, eliminate the malware and clean the computers until 34 days later, i.e., the 10th of June. That is 34 days of inexcusable inaction.

It is only AFTER Julian Assange announces on 12 June 2016 that WikiLeaks has emails relating to Hillary Clinton that DCLeaks or Guccifer 2.0 try to contact Assange.

The actions attributed to DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 should be priority investigative targets for U.S. Attorney John Durham’s team of investigators. This potential use of a known CIA tool, developed under Brennan with the sole purpose to obfuscate the source of intrusions, pointing to another nation, as a false flag operation, is one of the actions and issues that U.S. Attorney John Durham should be looking into  as a potential act of “Seditious conspiracy. It needs to be done. To quote the CIA, I strongly assess that the only intelligence agency that evidence indicates was meddling via cyber attacks in the 2016 Presidential election was the CIA, not the GRU.

December 21, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , , , , | Leave a comment

Democrats Target Own Population by Trump Impeachment – Paul Craig Roberts

Sputnik -December 20, 2019

WASHINGTON  – The Democrats are targeting their own population by impeaching President Donald Trump, former US Assistant Treasury Secretary Paul Craig Roberts said.

On Wednesday, Trump became the third president in US history to be impeached when the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives voted to find him guilty of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress after investigations concluding he invited foreign meddling in the American electoral process.

“The impeachment circus is a political act by the House Democrats. It is a political orchestration without any evidence or credible testimony,” Roberts said. “What is disturbing about the impeachment… is that these orchestrated actions are an attempt to overturn a democratic election. The US now engages in actions against its own population like the actions Washington recently engaged in against Venezuela, Bolivia, Honduras, and Ukraine.”

The Democratic Party, Roberts added, decided to fabricate a scandal with Ukraine after Russiagate fell apart.

“The Democrats are after power. They were frustrated by the Russiagate failure, and orchestrated a hoax that, even if it were true, would not be an impeachable event,” he said.

Roberts continued to say that the House Democrats are able to “get away with this hoax” because the American media is against Trump.

“It is disturbing also because it demonstrates that there is no integrity in the media or the security agencies,” he explained. “Without the support of the media and security agencies, the Democrats would not be able to orchestrate such obvious hoaxes.”

Roberts believes that the impeachment proceedings are not hurting Trump’s election chances, and even help him.

“As the impeachment proceedings unfolded, the public turned against the proceedings, recognizing them as a purely political action,” Roberts said. “The Democrats hoped that some of the mud would stick to Trump and reduce his reelection chances, but it seems the impeachment is helping Trump.”

The president will have to face trial in the US Senate but is unlikely to be removed from power as the higher legislative decision-making body is controlled by members of his Republican party, who have made it clear that they viewed his impeachment as a sham.

“The Senate will not convict Trump of the charges, unless enough Republican senators can be blackmailed by the FBI, CIA, and NSA, police state institutions that have spy folders on everyone, or unless the military/security complex can bribe the Republicans with large sums of money to vote against Trump,” Roberts said. “I think this is unlikely as it would be too obvious even for insouciant Americans not to notice.”

Roberts also said that Russiagate and the impeachment “have radicalized” and divided the United States.

“The population is now split in a new way. On the one hand we have the people who elected Trump, ordinary traditional Americans now demonized as “racists” and “white supremacists,” Roberts said. “On the other hand we have the Democrats, no longer the party of the working people.”

House Democrats launched their impeachment inquiry in September to probe whether Trump tried to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rival Joe Biden, the current Democratic front-runner in the presidential primaries. Lawmakers initiated the inquiry after a whistleblower sent a complaint to the Congress claiming that Trump threatened to withdraw military aid for Ukraine if Kiev failed to investigate Biden and his son Hunter over the latter’s business dealings in the country.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing, repeatedly dismissing the impeachment inquiry as a witch hunt aimed at reversing the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

Commenting on Wednesday’s vote, the president said that “this lawless, partisan impeachment” was “political suicide” for the Democratic Party. He also expressed confidence that he would be fully exonerated by the Senate, pledging to “continue to work tirelessly to address the needs and priorities of the American people.”

December 20, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , , | Leave a comment

Barr Blasts Inspector General For Whitewashing FBI

By Ray McGovern – Consortium News – December 10, 2019

Attorney General William Barr on Monday disparaged the long-awaited findings of the Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz into FBI conduct in the investigation of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. Barr, in effect, accused Horowitz of whitewashing a litany of proven misfeasance and malfeasance that created the “predicate,” or legal justification, for investigating candidate-and-then-president Donald Trump on suspicion of being in cahoots with the Russians.

In grammatical terms, there can be no sentence, so to speak, without a predicate. Trump was clearly the object of the sentence, and the sleuths led by then-FBI Director James Comey were the subjects in desperate search of a predicate. Horowitz candidly depicted the predicate the FBI requires for a counter-intelligence investigation as having to meet a very low bar. The public criticism from his boss was unusual. For the tenacious attorney general, doing a serious investigation of how the FBI handled the Trump-Russia inquiry has become a case of no-holds-Barr-ed, one might say.

Lindsey Smacking His Lips

Particularly damning in Horowitz’s report was the revelation that the FBI kept the “Russia investigation” going well after countervailing and exculpatory evidence clearly showed that, in the unforgettable words of one senior FBI official, Peter Strzok, there was “no there there.”

As Sen. Lindsey Graham put it yesterday, FBI investigators kept running through STOP signs in hot pursuit of a needed, but ever elusive, credible predicate. At a press conference, Graham pointed to page 186 of the Horowitz report to call attention to one of the most obvious STOP signs FBI sleuths should have heeded; namely, the fact that the FBI learned in January 2017 that the primary sub-source for Christopher Steele’s “dossier” disavowed it as misstated and exaggerated — basically rumor and speculation. No problem: the FBI investigation continued.

Mincing no words, Graham called the FBI investigation into alleged Trump campaign ties with Russia a “criminal enterprise” that got off the rails. (Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of such a conspiracy.) Sparks will fly on Wednesday as Graham, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, pursues the matter in more depth when Horowitz testifies before the committee. Graham emphasized yesterday that the general goal is to ensure that such a “criminal enterprise” does not happen again.

He added that one of the ways to prevent a recurrence is to make sure “those who took the law into their own hands need to pay a price.” Uh-oh. I cannot remember the last time leaders of the “national-security state” had to pay a price.

Barr: ‘Thinnest of Suspicions’

Barr took unusually strong public issue with Horowitz’s conclusion that there was adequate reason to mount an FBI investigation of the Trump campaign and suspected ties to Russia. Barr issued a formal statement asserting that the Horowitz report “now makes it clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken.”

U.S. Attorney John Durham, whom Barr picked to lead what has now become a criminal investigation regarding how that FBI’s “intrusive investigation” was launched, issued his own formal statement of criticism, expressing disagreement with the IG’s findings as to the predication of the investigation and “how the FBI case opened.” Durham added that he had told the IG last month of this disagreement. In his statement yesterday, Durham spoke not of suspicions, but of evidence his ongoing investigation has already gathered “from other persons and entities both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S.”

Evidence, Not Just Suspicions

Both Barr and Durham chose their words carefully, and so did former CIA Director John Brennan in his May 2017 congressional testimony about his suspicions that Trump’s campaign might have been colluding with the Russians. Soon the spotlight is likely to turn onto Brennan and his carefully parsed testimony, which fell considerably short of qualifying as a predicate for investigation (but played a key role anyway).

On May 23, 2017, Brennan told Congress:

“I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and US persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals. It raised questions in my mind about whether Russia was able to gain the cooperation of those individuals.”

CNN’s coverage of Brennan’s testimony is even more revealing (of CNN’s bias) in retrospect.

Moreover, Brennan famously told Congress, he doesn’t deal with evidence. That was what Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy was wondering about, when he grilled the former CIA director, also on May 23, 2017, on what evidence he had provided to the FBI to catalyze its investigation of the alleged Trump-Russia collusion.

Brennan replied: “I don’t do evidence.”

The best Brennan could do was start out by repeating his well-rehearsed statement, later contradicted by Mueller’s report: “I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign,” adding that “that required further investigation by the Bureau to determine whether or not U.S. persons were actively conspiring, colluding with Russian officials.”

Media Treatment

Referring to the Horowitz report yesterday, Law Professor John Turley noted:

“Despite this shockingly damning report, much of the media is reporting only that Horowitz did not find it unreasonable to start the investigation, and ignoring a litany of false representations and falsifications of evidence to keep the secret investigation going. Nothing was found to support any of those allegations, and special counsel Robert Mueller also confirmed there was no support for collusion and conspiracy allegations repeated continuously for two years by many experts and members of Congress.”

And yet “debunking” is the name of the game. A New York Times headline this morning read, “Report on F.B.I. Russia Inquiry Finds Serious Errors but Debunks Anti-Trump Plot.” And an “analysis” article by Mark Mazzetti was titled: “Another Inquiry Doesn’t Back Up Trump’s Charges. So, on to the Next.”

Mazzetti writes:

“Engage in a choreographed campaign of presidential tweets, Fox News appearances and fiery congressional testimony to create expectations about finding proof of a “deep state” campaign against Mr. Trump. And then, when the proof does not emerge, skew the results and prepare for the next opportunity to execute the playbook.

“That opportunity has arrived in the form of an investigation by a Connecticut prosecutor [Durham] ordered this year by Attorney General William P. Barr — and the president and his allies are now predicting it will be the one to deliver damning evidence that the F.B.I., C.I.A. and even close American allies conspired against Mr. Trump in the 2016 election.”

Horowitz Report an ‘Appetizer?’

Mazzetti goes on to express doubt “that Mr. Durham will exhume any information that will fundamentally change the understanding of what happened in 2016.” Maybe, maybe not. It is a safe bet, though, that President Trump has better insight into this. According to Mazzetti, Trump recently had been playing down expectations about the Horowitz inquiry — indicating it was only an appetizer for what’s to come. “I do think the big report to wait for is going to be the Durham report,” he said. “That’s the one that people are really waiting for.”

The president may be expecting Mueller-inquiry-type vindication once Durham’s investigation is complete. If that proves to be the case and Trump receives post-impeachment acquittal from the Senate, as expected, he may be able to parlay that into four more years, a sobering thought.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army Infantry/Intelligence officer, then a CIA analyst for 27 years. He prepared and briefed the President’s Daily Brief for Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Reagan, and in retirement co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

December 11, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , | 1 Comment

The Art of Doublespeak: Bellingcat and Mind Control

By Edward Curtin | Behind the Curtain | December 10, 2019

In the 1920s, the influential American intellectual Walter Lippman argued that the average person was incapable of seeing or understanding the world clearly and needed to be guided by experts behind the social curtain. In a number of books he laid out the theoretical foundations for the practical work of Edward Bernays, who developed “public relations” (aka propaganda) to carry out this task for the ruling elites.  Bernays had honed his skills while working as a propagandist for the United States during World War I, and after the war he set himself up as a public relations counselor in New York City.

There is a fascinating exchange at the beginning of Adam Curtis’s documentary, The Century of Self, where Bernays, then nearly 100 years old but still very sharp, reveals his manipulative mindset and that of so many of those who have followed in his wake. He says the reason he couldn’t call his new business “propaganda” was because the Germans had given propaganda a “bad name,” and so he came up with the euphemism “public relations.” He then adds that “if you could use it [i.e. propaganda] for war, you certainly could use it for peace.” Of course, he never used PR for peace but just to manipulate public opinion (he helped engineer the CIA coup against the democratically elected Arbenz government in Guatemala in 1954 with fake news broadcasts). He says “the Germans gave propaganda a bad name,” not Bernays and the United States with their vast campaign of lies, mainly aimed at the American people to get their support for going to a war they opposed (think weapons of mass destruction). He sounds proud of his war propaganda work that resounded to his credit since it led to support for the “war to end all wars” and subsequently to a hit movie about WWI, Yankee Doodle Dandy, made in 1942 to promote another war, since the first one somehow didn’t achieve its lofty goal.

As Bernays has said,

The American motion picture is the greatest unconscious carrier of propaganda in the world today.

He was a propagandist to the end. I suspect most viewers of the film are taken in by these softly spoken words of an old man sipping a glass of wine at a dinner table with a woman who is asking him questions. I have shown this film to hundreds of students and none has noticed his legerdemain. It is an example of the sort of hocus-pocus I will be getting to shortly, the sly insertion into seemingly liberal or matter-of-fact commentary of statements that imply a different story. The placement of convincing or confusing disingenuous ingredients into a truth sandwich – for Bernays knew that the bread of truth is essential to conceal untruth.

In the following years, Bernays, Lippman, and their ilk were joined by social “scientists,” psychologists, and sundry others intent on making a sham out of the idea of democracy by developing strategies and techniques for the engineering of social consensus consonant with the wishes of the ruling classes. Their techniques of propaganda developed exponentially with the development of technology, the creation of the CIA, its infiltration of all the major media, and that agency’s courting of what the CIA official Cord Meyer called in the 1950s “the compatible left,” having already had the right in its pocket. Today most people are, as is said, “wired,” and they get their information from the electronic media that is mostly controlled by giant corporations in cahoots with government propagandists. Ask yourself: Has the power of the oligarchic, permanent warfare state with its propaganda and spy networks increased or decreased over your lifetime. The answer is obvious the average people that Lippman and Bernays trashed are losing and the ruling elites are winning.

This is not just because powerful propagandists are good at controlling so-called “average” people’s thinking, but, perhaps more importantly, because they are also adept – probably more so – at confusing or directing the thinking of those who consider themselves above average, those who still might read a book or two or have the concentration to read multiple articles that offer different perspectives on a topic.  This is what some call the professional and intellectual classes, perhaps 15-20 % of the population, most of whom are not the ruling elites but their employees and sometimes their mouthpieces.  It is this segment of the population that considers itself “informed,” but the information they imbibe is often sprinkled with bits of misdirection, both intentional and not, that beclouds their understanding of important public matters but leaves them with the false impression that they are in the know.

Recently I have noticed a group of interconnected examples of how this group of the population that exerts influence incommensurate with their numbers has contributed to the blurring of lines between fact and fiction. Within this group there are opinion makers who are often journalists, writers, and cultural producers of some sort or other, and then the larger number of the intellectual or schooled class who follow their opinions.  This second group then passes on their received opinions to those who look up to them.

There is a notorious propaganda outfit called Bellingcat, started by an unemployed Englishman named Eliot Higgins, that has been funded by The Atlantic Council, a think-tank with deep ties to the U.S. government, NATO, war manufacturers, and their allies, and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), another infamous U.S. front organization heavily involved in so-called color revolution regime change operations all around the world, that has just won the International Emmy Award for best documentary. The film with the Orwellian title, Bellingcat: Truth in a Post-Truth World, received its Emmy at a recent ceremony in New York City. Bellingcat is an alleged group of amateur on-line researchers who have spent years shilling for the U.S. instigated war against the Syrian government, blaming the Douma chemical attack and others on the Assad government, and for the anti-Russian propaganda connected to among, other things, the Skripal poisoning case in England, and the downing of flight MH17 plane in Ukraine. It has been lauded by the corporate mainstream media in the west.  Its support for the equally fraudulent White Helmets (also funded by the US and the UK) in Syria has also been praised by the western corporate media while being dissected as propaganda by many excellent independent journalists such as Eva Bartlett, Vanessa Beeley, Catte Black, among others. It’s had its work skewered by the likes of Seymour Hersh and MIT professor Theodore Postol, and its US government connections pointed out by many others, including Ben Norton and Max Blumenthal at The Gray Zone. And now we have the mainstream media’s wall of silence on the leaks from the Organization for the Prohibition on Chemical Weapons (OPCW) concerning the Douma chemical attack and the doctoring of their report that led to the illegal U.S. bombing of Syria in the spring of 2018. Bellingcat was at the forefront of providing justification for such bombing, and now the journalists Peter Hitchens, Tareq Harrad (who recently resigned from Newsweek after accusing the publication of suppressing his revelations about the OPCW scandal) and others are fighting an uphill battle to get the truth out.

Yet Bellingcat: Truth in a Post-Truth World won the Emmy, fulfilling Bernays’ point about films being the greatest unconscious carriers of propaganda in the world today.

Who presented the Emmy Award to the film makers, but none other than the rebel journalist Chris Hedges. Why he did so, I don’t know. But that he did so clearly sends a message to those who follow his work and trust him that it’s okay to give a major cultural award to a propaganda outfit. But then, perhaps he doesn’t consider Bellingcat to be that.

Nor, one presumes, does The Intercept, the billionaire Pierre Omidyar owned publication associated with Glen Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill, and also read by many progressive-minded people. The Intercept that earlier this year disbanded the small team that was tasked with reviewing and releasing more of the massive trove of documents they received from Edward Snowden six years ago, a minute number of which have ever been released or probably ever will be. As Whitney Webb pointed out, last year The Intercept  hosted a workshop for Bellingcat. She wrote:

The Intercept, along with its parent company First Look Media, recently hosted a workshop for pro-war, Google-funded organization Bellingcat in New York. The workshop, which cost $2,500 per person to attend and lasted five days, aimed to instruct participants in how to perform investigations using “open source” tools — with Bellingcat’s past, controversial investigations for use as case studies… Thus, while The Intercept has long publicly promoted itself as an anti-interventionist and progressive media outlet, it is becoming clearer that – largely thanks to its ties to Omidyar – it is increasingly an organization that has more in common with Bellingcat, a group that launders NATO and U.S. propaganda and disguises it as “independent” and “investigative journalism.”

Then we have Jefferson Morley, the editor of The Deep State, former Washington Post journalist, and JFK assassination researcher, who has written a praiseworthy review of the Bellingcat film and who supports Bellingcat. “In my experience, Bellingcat is credible,” he writes in an Alternet article, “Bellingcat documentary has the pace and plot of a thriller.”

Morley has also just written an article for Counterpunch – “Why the Douma Chemical Attack Wasn’t a ‘Managed Massacre’” – in which he disputes the claim that the April 7, 2018 attack in the Damascus suburb was a false flag operation carried out by Assad’s opponents. “I do not see any evidence proving that Douma was a false flag incident,” he writes in this article that is written in a style that leaves one guessing as to what exactly he is saying. It sounds convincing unless one concentrates, and then his double messages emerge. Yet it is the kind of article that certain “sophisticated” left-wing readers might read and feel is insightful.  But then Morley, who has written considerably about the CIA, edits a website that advertises itself as “the thinking person’s portal to the world of secret government,” and recently had an exchange with former CIA Director John Brennan where “Brennan put a friendly finger on my chest,” said in February 2017, less than a month after Trump was sworn in as president, that:

With a docile Republican majority in Congress and a demoralized Democratic Party in opposition, the leaders of the Deep State are the most—perhaps the only—credible check in Washington on what Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) calls Trump’s “wrecking ball presidency.”  

Is it any wonder that some people might be a bit confused?

“I know what you’re thinking about,” said Tweedledum; “but it isn’t so, nohow.”

“Contrariwise,” continued Tweedledee, “if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.”

As a final case in point, there is a recent book by Stephen Kinzer, Poisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb And The CIA Search For Mind Control, the story of the chemist known as Dr. Death who ran the CIA’s MK-ULTRA mind control project, using LSD, torture, electric shock therapy, hypnosis, etc.; developed sadistic methods of torture still used in black sites around the world; and invented various ingenious techniques for assassination, many of which were aimed at Fidel Castro. Gottlieb was responsible for brutal prison and hospital experiments and untold death and suffering inflicted on all sorts of innocent people. His work was depraved in the deepest sense; he worked with Nazis who experimented on Jews despite being Jewish himself.

Kinzer writes in depth about this man who considered himself a patriot and a spiritual person – a humane torturer and killer. It is an eye-opening book for anyone who does not know about Gottlieb, who gave the CIA the essential tools they use in their “organized crime” activities around the world – in the words of Douglass Valentine, the author of The CIA as Organized Crime and The Phoenix Program. Kinzer’s book is good history on Gottlieb; however, he doesn’t venture into the present activities of the CIA and Gottlieb’s patriotic followers, who no doubt exist and go about their business in secret.

After recounting in detail the sordid history of Gottlieb’s secret work that is nauseating to read about, Kinzer leaves the reader with these strange words:

Gottlieb was not a sadist, but he might well have been…. Above all he was an instrument of history. Understanding him is a deeply disturbing way of understanding ourselves.

What possibly could this mean? Not a sadist? An instrument of history? Understanding ourselves? These few sentences, dropped out of nowhere, pull the rug out from under what is generally an illuminating history and what seems like a moral indictment. This language is pure mystification.

Kinzer also concludes that because Gottlieb said so, the CIA failed in their efforts to develop methods of mind control and ended MK-ULTRA’s experiments long ago. Why would he believe the word of a man who personified the agency he worked for: a secret liar? He writes,

When Sydney Gottlieb brough MK-ULTRA to its end in the early 1960s, he told his CIA superiors that he had found no reliable way to wipe away memory, make people abandon their consciences, or commit crimes and then forget them.

As for those who might think otherwise, Kinzer suggests they have vivid imaginations and are caught up in conspiracy thinking: “This [convincing others that the CIA had developed methods of mind control when they hadn’t] is Sydney Gottlieb’s most unexpected legacy,” he asserts. He says this although Richard Helms, the CIA Director, destroyed all MK-Ultra records. He says that Allen Dulles, Gottlieb, and Helms themselves were caught up in a complete fantasy about mind control because they had seen too many movies and read too many books; mind control was impossible, a failure, a myth, he maintains. It is the stuff of popular culture, entertainment. In an interview with Chris Hedges, interestingly posted by Jefferson Morley at his website, The Deep State, Hedges agrees with Kinzer. Gottlieb, Dulles, et al. were all deluded.  Mind control was impossible. You couldn’t create a Manchurian Candidate; by implication, someone like Sirhan could not have been programmed to be a fake Manchurian Candidate and to have no memory of what he did, as he claims. He could not have been mind-controlled by the CIA to perform his part as the seeming assassin of Senator Robert Kennedy while the real killer shot RFK from behind. People who think like this should get real.

Furthermore, as is so common in books such as Kinzer’s, he repeats the canard that JFK and RFK knew about and pressured the CIA to assassinate Fidel Castro. This is demonstrably false, as shown by the Church Committee and the Assassinations Record Review Board, among many others. That Kinzer takes the word of notorious liars like Richard Helms and the top-level CIA operative Samuel Halpern is simply incredible, something that is hard to consider a mistake. Slipped into a truth sandwich, it is devoured and passed on. But it is false. Bullshit meant to deceive.

But this is how these games are played. If you look carefully, you will see them widely. Inform, enlighten, while throwing in doubletalk and untruths. The small number of people who read such books and articles will come away knowing some history that has no current relevance and being misinformed on other history that does. They will then be in the know, ready to pass their “wisdom” on to those who care to listen. They will not think they are average.

But they will be mind controlled, and the killer cat will roam freely without a bell, ready to devour the unsuspecting mice.

December 10, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Film Review, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment