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The Deep State’s Demolition of Democracy

By James Bovard | FFF | March 26, 2020

“Thank God for the Deep State,” declared former acting CIA chief John McLaughlin while appearing on a panel at the National Press Club last October. In 2018, the New York Times asserted that Trump’s use of the term “Deep State” and similar rhetoric “fanned fears that he is eroding public trust in institutions, undermining the idea of objective truth and sowing widespread suspicions about the government and news media.”

But barely a year later, the Deep State had gone from a figment of paranoid right-wingers’ imagination to the great hope for the salvation of American democracy. Much of the media is now conferring the same exulted status on the Deep State that was previously bestowed on Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Almost immediately after its existence was no longer denied, the Deep State became the incarnation of virtue in Washington.

The Deep State commonly refers to officials who secretly wield power permanently in Washington, often in federal agencies with vast sway and little accountability. A New York Times article in October gushed that “over the last three weeks, the deep state has emerged from the shadows in the form of real live government officials, past and present … and provided evidence that largely backs up the still-anonymous whistle-blower” on Donald Trump’s phone call to the president of Ukraine. New York Times columnist James Stewart declared, “There is a Deep State, there is a bureaucracy in our country who has pledged to respect the Constitution, respect the rule of law…. They work for the American people.” New York Times editorial writer Michelle Cottle proclaimed, “The deep state is alive and well” and hailed it as “a collection of patriotic public servants.” They were echoing earlier declarations by Washington Post columnist Eugene Roberts and former top Justice Department official Preet Bharar: “God bless the ‘Deep State.’”

Former CIA Director John Brennan, appearing on the same panel as McLaughlin in October, declared, “The reason why Mr. Trump has this very contentious relationship with CIA and FBI and the deep state people is because they tell the truth.” Much of the media coverage of the Trump impeachment is following that dubious storyline.

“We lied, we cheated, we stole.”

Five years ago, John Brennan’s CIA ignited what should have been a constitutional crisis when it was caught illegally spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which was compiling a massive report on the CIA torture program. After 9/11, the CIA constructed an interrogation regime by “consulting Egyptian and Saudi intelligence officials and copying Soviet interrogation methods,” the New York Times reported in 2007. Secret Bush administration torture memos “set the C.I.A. loose to slam suspects’ heads into walls up to 30 times in a row, to deprive suspects of sleep for more than a week straight, to confine them to small dark boxes for hours at a time … and to suffocate them with water to induce the perception that they are drowning,” Georgetown University law professor David Cole noted. But the only official who went to prison was John Kirakou, a former CIA analyst who publicly admitted that the CIA was waterboarding.

Is the Deep State more trustworthy when it is killing than when it is torturing? Brennan declared in 2016 that “the president requires near-certainty of no collateral damage” before approving a drone strike. Confidential CIA documents revealed that the CIA had little or no idea whom it was killing most of the time with its drone attacks in Pakistan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Yemen, and other nations. Salon.com summarized an NBC News report: “Even while admitting that the identities of many killed by drones were not known, the CIA documents asserted that all those dead were enemy combatants. The logic is twisted: If we kill you, then you were an enemy combatant.” Lying about drone killings quickly became institutionalized throughout the Deep State. The New York Times reported in 2015, “Every independent investigation of the [drone] strikes has found far more civilian casualties than administration officials admit.”

The Deep State is practically designed to destroy privacy while enabling government officials to deny sweeping abuses. Former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden declared in 2014, “There’s definitely a deep state. Trust me, I’ve been there.” The NSA’s credibility was obliterated in 2013 when Snowden revealed the NSA can tap almost any cell phone in the world, access anyone’s email and web-browsing history, and crack the vast majority of computer encryption. But the NSA’s definition of “terrorist suspect” was ludicrously broad, including “someone searching the web for suspicious stuff.” Snowden also revealed that each day phone companies turned over tens of millions of phone records of average Americans to the feds. A few months before Snowden’s revelations, National Intelligence director James Clapper lied to Congress when he denied that the NSA collects “any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions of Americans.” The fact that Clapper was not charged with perjury did nothing to burnish the credibility of the Justice Department.

Impeachment proceedings have been spurred in large part by disputes over Donald Trump’s phone call to the president of Ukraine. The House Intelligence Committee heard testimony from Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the Ukrainian-born officer who listened in to the call while serving on the National Security Council. Vindman was “deeply troubled by what he interpreted as an attempt by the president to subvert U.S. foreign policy,” the Washington Post reported. Which provision of the Constitution gives junior military officers sway over foreign policy? Because Vindman objected to Trump’s efforts to decrease tension with Russia, the Washington establishment quickly hailed him and thus encouraged other military officers and government officials to pull strings to subvert policies of which the media disapprove.

It is naive to expect the Deep State to provide an antidote to the sordidness of American politics. The Friends of the Deep State talk of certain federal agencies as if they exist far above the sordid details of political life — or even of human nature. Former CIA boss McLaughlin declared, “This is the institution within the U.S. government that … is institutionally committed to objectivity and to telling the truth. It’s whole job is to speak the truth — it is engraved in marble in the lobby.” But historically, atrium engravings have proven a weak surety for bureaucratic candor. In reality, the CIA and other Deep State agencies are notorious for suppressing convicting truths about themselves. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently described the CIA’s modus operandi when he was director: “We lied, we cheated, we stole. It’s like we had entire training courses.”

Power and truth

Promises that the chiefs of the CIA and other intelligence agencies will “speak truth to power” have become a Washington ritual in the years since the 9/11 attacks. No matter how brazenly political appointees lie, members of Congress assure the media and constituents that the next nominee will be as honest as George Washington. The “speak truth to power” bromide was recited after Trump nominated Gina Haspel as CIA chief. At her confirmation hearings, the public heard plenty about Haspel’s meeting with Mother Teresa but almost nothing about her key role in the CIA torture scandal — including the illegal destruction of recordings of torture sessions.

Another reason to distrust the Deep State is that its arch practitioners are honored regardless of their iniquities. Former CIA bosses McLaughlin and Brennan were speaking on a panel sponsored by the Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Security, named after the former chief of the National Security Agency and the CIA. As Trevor Timm noted in the Columbia Journalism Review in 2017, “Hayden has a long history of making misleading and outright false statements, and by the estimation of many lawyers, likely committed countless felonies during the Bush administration.” Hayden set up the illegal, unconstitutional wiretapping program after 9/11 that the New York Times exposed in late 2005. When the Senate Intelligence Committee released its report on CIA torture in 2014, it included a 36-page appendix filled with Hayden’s “testimony to Congress, next to the actual facts showing statement after statement he made was inaccurate, misleading, false, or outright lies,” Timm noted. Naming that Center after Hayden simply reflects the prevailing Deep State aggrandizement in the Greater Washington Metropolitan area.

The Deep State has an appalling record of abusing the whistleblowers who are now being acclaimed. A draft Intelligence Community Inspector General report last year found that intelligence agencies refused to recognize retaliation against whistleblowers in 99 percent of cases. A 2017 report by Foreign Policy magazine concluded that “the intelligence community’s central watchdog is in danger of crumbling thanks to mismanagement, bureaucratic battles, clashes among big personalities, and sidelining of whistleblower outreach and training efforts.” After CIA Inspector General John Helgerson compiled a condemnatory report on the CIA’s post–9/11 interrogation program, CIA chief Michael Hayden launched a major investigation of Helgerson in 2007, provoking outrage on Capitol Hill. (The CIA managed to delay the release of Helgerson’s report for five years, thereby keeping both Congress and the American people in the dark regarding shocking abuses.)

The Trump–Deep State clash is a showdown between a presidency that is far too powerful versus federal agencies that have become fiefdoms that enjoy immunity for almost any and all abuses. Most of the partisans of the Deep State are not championing “government under the law.” Instead, this is a dispute over who will be permitted to break the law and dictate the policies to America and the world. Former CIA and NSA boss Hayden proudly proclaimed, “Espionage is not just compatible with American democracy, espionage is essential to American democracy.” And how can we know if the Deep State’s espionage is actually pro-democracy or subversive of democracy? If they told you, they would have to kill you. The Founding Fathers never intended for covert agencies to trumpet a right to correct voters’ verdicts.

Neither the White House nor the CIA, NSA, nor other Deep State agencies should enjoy immunity from the law or deserve blind trust from average Americans or the establishment media. A wayward president (especially a first-term president) can eventually be checked at the ballot box. But who or what can check the Deep State?

This article was originally published in the February 2020 edition of Future of Freedom.

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , | 8 Comments

Who’s behind the COVID-19 global pandemic

By Kevin Barrett | Press TV | March 27, 2020

The question of whether the chickens are coming home to roost was famously posed by Malcolm X. And that was shortly after the JFK assassination. Malcolm X was suggesting that the same forces that the US had deployed to attempt to assassinate Fidel Castro, among others, may have bounced back in a case of blowback and killed President Kennedy.

And of course, we know that there’s a certain amount of truth to that. Today we know that the same CIA assassination squads that were unsuccessfully attempting to kill Castro were in fact involved in killing President Kennedy. So Malcolm X’s words were quite precient. Now does that apply to today’s coronavirus situation in which the United States is now about to become the global epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic according to the World Health Organization?

I think it does, because there is considerable circumstantial evidence that this COVID-19 pandemic was a biological weapon that was deployed against China and Iran and has bounced back against its creators. The experts in biological warfare all say that traditionally, strategists have been skeptical about biological warfare precisely because it has that tendency to bounce back and to create blowback.

Viruses mutate, even if you create an ethnic specific kind of virus, which may have been the case here. The United States has been caught red-handed nefariously collecting genetic material from the Chinese, from Russians and from Iranians. But the problem is that genetic specific weapons mutate. The virus is constantly seeking to find a better way to infect a broader group of people.

So it will typically go after people that may not have been the original targets, and that may be what happened here. The Chinese government is saying this. The Chinese government has all but officially accused the United States of deploying a biological weapon.

The Russian media accepts this as its standard mainstream narrative. This is what happened, according to Russian mainstream media. And in Iran, top leaders including the civil defense chief, and indeed the Supreme Leader himself, have broadly hinted at the same thing. We don’t know the details for sure, we’re not even sure that this hypothesis is correct, but we need to find out.

And at this point, we just don’t have enough information about the coronavirus and about the biological weapons programs. We know that the US has a terrible track record of using biological weapons against populations.

The US dropped more than 100,000 germ bombs on Pyongyang in North Korea during the Korean War, as explained in Dave Chaddock’s book — This Must Be the Place[: How the U.S. Waged Germ Warfare in the Korean War and Denied It Ever Since]. It used the Japanese germ warfare program that had done horrible things to China and Korea during World War Two, and it hired the very experts who had done that, and they became the basis for the US germ warfare program.

The US has also repeatedly attacked Cuba with biological weapons. It actually had a plan to incapacitate the entire Cuban population and kill at least 20% of the Cuban population as a prelude to a US invasion with the US soldiers, of course, protected by vaccines and masks as they went into Cuba. And that might very well have been actually approved; it would have been done if the President Kennedy hadn’t stopped it.

So we have bad historical precedents. We have all kinds of circumstantial evidence about the possibility of this being biological warfare, that blew back and got out of hand and is now affecting the very country that most likely was behind it. But we need to find out if that’s true.

We need a full scale international investigation. If we had had that kind of investigation after September 11, 2001 we will be living in a much better world today. Unfortunately, the same neoconservatives who were behind 9/11 very likely are also behind the coronavirus outbreak. It’s time to investigate, find out the truth, and prosecute the guilty.

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

Iran to US: Do not politicize ex-FBI agent’s case, avoid exploiting his family’s emotions

Press TV – March 26, 2020

Iran has warned the United States against politicization of the possible death of a former FBI agent, whom the US administration alleges has been imprisoned in the Islamic Republic, after Washington claimed on Wednesday that he has died in detention in Iran.

Speaking on Thursday, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said if Washington has made sure about the retired agent Robert Levinson’s death, “then it can [simply] announce this matter without politicization and attempting to take advantage of the Levinson family’s emotions.”

The US has, for long, been alleging that Levinson disappeared on the southern Iranian Kish Island in 2007. Tehran has categorically denied any involvement in his disappearance.

On Wednesday, Levinson’s family cited the US government as claiming he had died in Iranian custody.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said the Islamic Republic has, over the recent years, done its utmost to find any evidence pointing to Levinson’s exact fate.

“Based on credible evidence, the aforementioned person left the Iranian soil for an unspecified destination years ago,” Mousavi said. He also reminded that the US itself had confirmed his departure back then.

On January 19, 2016, after years of pointing the finger to Iran for his fate, the White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest announced for the first time that “we have reason to believe that he no longer is in Iran.” Back then, Earnest said he rested assured that Iran would search for Levinson.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Mousavi emphasized that Tehran’s investigation has not yielded any leads pointing to Levinson’s still being alive, and condoled with his family over his likely demise.

‘US officials knew Levinson died on rogue CIA mission’

Until last December, the administration of US President Donald Trump would claim that Levinson was in Iranian custody and ask Tehran to hand him over.

Despite recent claims by his administration that Levinson has died in such a condition, there is ample evidence pointing to the fact that US officials already knew that he had died while on an unauthorized mission for the CIA some place outside Iran.

The fact that he was on a rogue mission had been already admitted in an article by The Washington Post, which wrote on December 12, 2013 that “an American man, who disappeared in Iran more than six years ago had been working for the CIA in what US intelligence officials described as a rogue operation that led to a major shake-up in the spy agency.”

The Post, back then, described the nature of the mission by citing emails and other documents that had shown “he had gone to Iran at the direction of certain CIA analysts who had no authority to run operations overseas.”

The New York Times also carried a piece on Wednesday, in which it said that the preceding administration of Barack Obama had at one point been tipped off about intelligence showing that “the remains of an American had been buried in [Pakistan’s] Balochistan.”

“American officials assumed that the remains were Mr. Levinson’s,” the paper wrote.

‘Repercussions for CIA’

The revelations showing the nature of the CIA mission enlisting Levinson, The Post noted, prompted “a major internal investigation” within the US spy agency.

The probe eventually had its leadership “discipline 10 employees, including three veteran analysts, who were forced out of their jobs.”

‘CIA paid off family’

The Post also said that the CIA reached an extrajudicial settlement with Levinson’s family after the emergence of his dealings with the agency. The agreement saw the agency paying the family “a $2.5 million annuity and an additional $120,000, the cost of renewing Mr. Levinson’s contract.”

“Both sides wanted to avoid a lawsuit that would publicly reveal details of the arrangement,” The Post noted.

See also:

White House believes Levinson is no longer in Iran

Iran says it has no commitment to the US to find and bring former FBI agent Robert Levinson back home

March 26, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Russiagate: The Sequel

Impervious to facts, the false historical narrative is back for more

By Jason Hirthler | American Herald Tribune | March 23 ,2020

Famous muckraker journalist and author of The Jungle, Upton Sinclair, once declared that, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” He was talking about mainstream journalism. Few mainstream outlets better exemplify his maxim than The New York Times. It should then come as no surprise that the Times, the bible of the bourgeoisie, is at it again. The editorial board recently published a new article bringing the coronavirus and this year’s election under the sweeping banner of Russiagate, a tattered and discredited narrative that is being anxiously rehabilitated by the Washington establishment. But of course. The estimable “editorial board” tells us “conditions are ripe,” sending a shiver down the spine of every Biden liberal on either coast. But ripe for what? I think we all know the answer to that question by heart: “to sow discord”. Indeed that infamous epithet is sewn into the headline of the story, as though it had never left.

The first paragraph begins with the assumption that Russian disinformation in our election has been conclusively demonstrated, such that the question need not even be broached. To be clear: Russian disinformation at the express direction of the Kremlin. This whopping assumption taken as a foregone conclusion, we jump ahead to the next question: How will the Russians interfere this time around? Having established an unproven history as fact, the board then moves on to reupholster the sagging narrative from 2016. This time it won’t be the “bumbling” G.R.U., but rather the “more competent, stealthier” S.V.R. Now, with the SVR presumably involved (thought unconfirmed), we may expect “pernicious operational innovation and escalation” with the Russians descending to new lows to weaponize the coronavirus.

Look what’s already been accomplished. A false historical narrative has been posited as the context in which the latest news is shared. Then they introduced a tantalizing new security agency to the plot. Finally, they elevate the idea that “active measures” campaigns, resurrecting an old Soviet term, were not intended to elect Donald Trump, this having been effectively challenged, but rather to, one shudders to think, “weaken the United States.” This sweeping new storyline has been adumbrated in paragraph without providing a single piece of verifiable evidence.

And so, what to expect during this year’s “quadrennial extravaganza”, as Noam Chomsky drily described our electoral farce? Not having any solid evidence of any SVR plans, better to consult Soviet history for clues. The article then accuses the Soviets of a “racial engineering” campaign of anti-semitism in West Germany in 1959, in New York and the U.S. in 1960, and Africa shortly thereafter. Again, no evidence is provided. This is particularly strange that the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in East Germany would have launched an anti-semitic campaign in the West, given that it alone conducted a thoroughgoing purge of Nazis from its society, while the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) in the West happily integrated the surviving Nazi braintrust into its power structures, and sent not a few off to the States to lend their dastardly talents to our ‘democracy promotion’ agendas.  

It is then said, with resigned recognition, that one of the central problems with combatting devious active measures of this kind was that “the K.G.B. largely stuck to the facts.” Which continues to be an insidious feature of modern Russian ‘active measures’, like the channel RT, for example, which regularly hosts angry populist Americans who rattle off chains of facts one can’t find in the mainstream press. It often seems the establishment media is more irritated at the inconvenience of alternative narratives than their veracity. Another ‘throwback’ story is tossed into the pot, perhaps to conjure dormant nostalgia for the Cold War: cigar boxes packed with explosives are sent to a ritzy dinner party to kill a diplomat. Surely the cigars in question were Cohibas, perhaps autographed by Fidel himself?

Just as one is beginning to get excited about all these ‘active measures’, the authors draw us hastily back to sobering reality. We are now given an elementary lesson in amateur psychology: active measures are intended, it seems, to elicit “emotional” reactions and “corrode” the target. Evidently, the best way to do this is to drive a wedge between deeply democratic, multicultural societies in any of the major western utopias. Hence the racial engineering. It is also important to blame the U.S. for afflicting brown people abroad: such as spreading dengue fever in Cuba and malaria in Pakistan. The authors fail to unravel these charges since each is absurd on its face. Or such is the editorial board’s consensus, if not the reader’s. One imagines the board members chucking at the charges: As if the United States of America would ever attempt such a thing! But then again, since World War Two, the U.S. has tried to overthrow some 50 foreign governments, assassinate some 50 foreign leaders, either invade directly or by proxy or simply bomb 30+ countries, not to mention interfering in some 30 foreign elections, all this with the aim of destabilizing and disbanding populist movements around the world. Nobody embodies counterrevolutionary imperialism better than Washington and its vassals. But these facts are, as Sinclair would remind us, what the board and its authors are paid to forget. 

But back to the true evildoers, Russia. According to anonymous sources with no evidence to share, the Russians will harness the coronavirus to divide Americans from each other. The authors reference a discord-sowing campaign being run out of Ghana by a group called ELBA, uncovered by Facebook and CNN. A modest single-story yellow house with stone-fronting is shown in the linked CNN article, the worldwide headquarters of the ghastly ELBA “Russian trolls” who, stunningly, were not even aware they were Russian trolls. Most were Ghanaians. But such is the surreptitious and artful Kremlin craft. Ghanaian security forces raided the small house and then darkly implied our worst fears when they attributed ELBA’s funding to a “European country.” CNN traced the Ghanaian man who ran the company back to Russia, where he worked as a translator. That manager, Seth Wiredu, was confused that Ghanaian security had raided his business. “I fight for black people,” he said. Indeed, the posts on Facebook were focused on repression of African-Americans, quite sensibly. Facebook quickly took down 71 associated accounts. Of course, our white authors at the Times, say the Russians have influenced African-Americans since 2016. CNN attempted to tie Wiredu to the Internet Research Agency (IRA) of 2016 fame, though he flatly denied the association. 

And so, regarding the Russians supposed gameplan for 2020, we are left with little substantiated intelligence and much speculative fodder. The story itself is based merely on what “officials said.” Unnamed officials. Anonymous officials. Government agents. “They gave few details,” of course, but this, as you know, is all done in the name of national security. One can just imagine the Times deep throat hemming and hawing and biting his lip in some oil-stained underground parking deck, finally whispering, “I really can’t show you the evidence. It would compromise national security.” And then a conspiratorial and patriotic nod from the Times stenographer. “I understand completely,” he replies. “The safety of the American people is paramount.” 

Manufacturing Consent, Consensus, and Fear  

One of the filters that Noam Chomsky and Edward Hermann laid out in their classic Manufacturing Consent is to do with sources. Namely, “the reliance of the media on information provided by government, business, and ‘experts’ funded and approved by these primary sources and agents of power.” Voices of the establishment, in other words. This is precisely how the MSM has managed the deliberate expansion of Russiagate. Times journalists reflexively accept the pronouncements of their government sources. It has gotten to the point where sources must no longer provide evidence for their claims. They must merely claim that providing evidence would compromise national security. Any serious journalist would insist on evidence. But journalists do not do this because they recognize that if they did, the source would likely quit being their source and begin to break stories with competitor news outlets. The muckraker again: their salary depends on blind faith. There is no reasonable excuse for this journalistic stenography. Parroting government sources is exactly that. 

Anonymous Sources Lack Credibility 

Aside from the self-evident willingness of the press to print unsubstantiated and inflammatory claims, there are three other reasons to view such stories with skepticism. First, how many times must we be told that the military-intelligence community is not trustworthy? An infinite number, it seems. From the Church Commission to the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the invention of ‘perception management’ to a former CIA director’s naked admission that the organization lied, cheated, and stole as a business model. The government has lied to us about Iraq, the greatest war crime of this century. Before then it lied to us about Cuba, Nicaragua, Vietnam, among many other nations. Since then it has spread disinformation about Libya, Syria, Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, and Russia. Evidence was manufactured to support a foregone conclusion. The CIA has bought and paid for journalists at least since the Church Commission. 

Second, aside from the perfidious track record of government sources, the mainstream media itself has been shown to be untrustworthy. The notion of journalistic impartiality is more mythic than substantiated. Not least because of its history of conspiracy and connivance with the government. The press hasn’t helped its cause by installing a surfeit of military and intelligence retirees as lead analysts. 

Third, and critically for this particular topic, we now know that much of the supposed evidence for Russiagate has been debunked: 

  • The idea the GRU was definitively behind the supposed hacking of the DNC is errant on two counts: the evidence suggests it was a leak, not a hack; and the CIA is known to have technology that allows it to fake any source it chooses. 
  • The Mueller Report was an unmitigated disaster for conspiracy-pushing Democrats. 
  • We know that the infamous dossier author Christopher Steele was a DNC contractor, like CrowdStrike, which refused to turn over its servers to the FBI for investigation after claiming it was hacked, and that the Clinton campaign paid for part of Steele’s investigative work. The Russians were central to Clinton’s explanation of why she lost. 
  • We know that there has been no definitive proof that the Kremlin was behind any of the social media posts that were said to corrupt the election. 
  • Supposed spy Maria Butina was essentially entrapped, jailed, had her reputation destroyed, and was then banished back to Russia. 
  • That Donald Trump’s entire presidency has been largely hostile to Russia, an odd stance for a supposed puppet of the Kremlin.
  • The Times itself launched and promoted the dissimulating sham known as the Intelligence Community Assessment of Russian interference. The newspaper repeatedly claimed the ICA was signed off on by all 17 intelligence agencies, a claim it later quietly retracted when it was shown that only four handpicked agencies had actually supported the assessment. Likely handpicked by John Brennan to legitimate suspicions invented by… John Brennan. 
  • The supposed Russian backing of Roy Moore’s Alabama Congressional campaign was a false flag run by a company that wrote the Senate report on Russian interference.
  • We do know the Internet Research Agency was a for-profit clickbait agency that spent a comparative pittance ($100,000) compared to the hundreds of millions spent by the 2016 candidates. Neither have the IRA’s posts aligned with either candidate nor the election itself, with most posts occurring after the election. 
  • We know the MSM’s hysterical claims in reporting the supposed reach of 126 million people via social media posts have collapsed on examination. They actually represented four ten thousandths of the total number of posts on Facebook during the time period, a “miniscule” amount according to Facebook. They mostly occurred after the election, were not predominantly political in nature, and were based on the theoretical possibility that 29 million people may have gotten at least one post in their feed and shared the posts at the average sharing rate. All this setting aside that only 10 percent of Facebook posts in a feed are ever seen at all. 
  • A host of other ill-conceived stories, from Paul Manafort’s supposed clandestine meetings with Julian Assange, to Putin’s hacking of electricity grids, to sonic microwave attacks of U.S. diplomats, have all been exposed and treated with the contempt they deserved.
  • The indictments against the 13 members of IRA are in the process of being dropped. The reason? You guessed it: national security. 

Why Anti-Russian Disinformation? 

Given the breadth of Russiagate’s failure, we now know that the MSM is happy to disseminate largely counterfactual content. Why? Cui bono? After it was launched in 2016, Russiagate quickly became a perfect storm in which the interests of three powerful Washington entities converged. The Clinton campaign used the story to rationalize its embarrassing defeat to a casino mogul. The Democratic Party used the tale to attempt to excuse its discredited centrist politics to re-energize its disillusioned base in the faux resistance of a supposed traitor in the White House. And, most importantly, the intelligence community leveraged the claims to constrain Trump’s foreign policy, steering him away from befriending Russia or thoroughly dismantling costly wars abroad. All three were happy to then harness the alternative media that was undermining their chosen narratives. The Democrats and the military intelligence community likely see benefits in extending this threadbare fiction through the 2020 electoral season, not to mention the pandemic. After all, Bernie Sanders populist campaign has given the establishment a real fright, as Trump’s campaign did four years ago. Much of this has to do with deteriorating conditions among the working class. But also it has to do with access to alternative sources of information. It is the internet that has destabilized the establishment’s control of the national discourse over the last 20 years. It reached a crescendo in 2016. 

Since then, Russiagate has been leveraged to suppress alternative voices on the internet and insurgent contrarians in the mainstream. The censorship of left voices across the social media spectrum has been well noted, from Google algorithm changes to Facebook account deletion to demonetization on YouTube. Likewise, progressive voices in the mainstream, like Tulsi Gabbard, were smeared by MSM for their anti-war positions and marginalized in the national discourse. Gabbard correctly clarified in a Washington Post article that it was the intelligence community that was interfering in our elections by continually leaking Russiaphobic claims without evidence. This is precisely what the Times editorial board have long peddled. They are showing little sign of quitting their perfidy. 

This is standard issue rollback by federal forces. The history of anti-communism, expertly unpacked by Alex Carey among many others, demonstrates that anti-communism has been used to suppress socialist thought in America. Chomsky and Herman said anti-communism was the fifth filter by which elites managed the flow of information to the public. They called it a “national religion.” Historically, nothing has encouraged self-censorship better than the fear of being called a communist. In the post-Soviet era, that nimble and dexterous label has now been simply repurposed into the charge that one is a ‘Putin stooge,’ or a ‘Russian bot’ if you challenge Washington claims about Moscow. Easily done since Russia was the home of the Bolshevik Revolution. But it isn’t actually communism or Russia that is the underlying target of establishment repression: it is independence. Independent media, independent nations, independent politicians. 

Max Blumenthal, a stalwart of the anti-imperialist left, perhaps said it best when he summarized Russiagate as follows, “those responsible for this fake neocon intrigue got a new Cold War, record defense budgets, and a McCarthyite political atmosphere to denigrate opponents of permanent war. A waste of energy and a setback for peace.” Well put. We should thus remember, in a time of remarkable insecurity about our healthcare system and its ability to combat the pandemic, there has long been a media virus that has infected the nation’s understanding of foreign policy, ironically by sanitizing news of critical context, fact, and motive. Buyer beware.

March 23, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

US Intel Agencies Played Unsettling Role in Classified and “9/11-like” Coronavirus Response Plan

By Whitney Webb | MintPress News | March 13, 2020

As the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis comes to dominate headlines, little media attention has been given to the federal government’s decision to classify top-level meetings on domestic coronavirus response and lean heavily “behind the scenes” on U.S. intelligence and the Pentagon in planning for an allegedly imminent explosion of cases.

The classification of coronavirus planning meetings was first covered by Reuters, which noted that the decision to classify was “an unusual step that has restricted information and hampered the U.S. government’s response to the contagion.” Reuters further noted that the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Alex Azar, and his chief of staff had “resisted” the classification order, which was made in mid-January by the National Security Council (NSC), led by Robert O’Brien — a longtime friend and colleague of his predecessor John Bolton.

Following this order, HHS officials with the appropriate security clearances held meetings on coronavirus response at the department’s Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility (SCIF), which are facilities “usually reserved for intelligence and military operations” and — in HHS’ case — for responses to “biowarfare or chemical attacks.” Several officials who spoke to Reuters noted that the classification decision prevented key experts from participating in meetings and slowed down the ability of HHS and the agencies it oversees, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to respond to the crisis by limiting participation and information sharing.

It has since been speculated that the decision was made to prevent potential leaks of information by stifling participation and that aspects of the planned response would cause controversy if made public, especially given that the decision to classify government meetings on coronavirus response negatively impacted HHS’ ability to respond to the crisis.

After the classification decision was made public, a subsequent report in Politico revealed that not only is the National Security Council managing the federal government’s overall response but that they are doing so in close coordination with the U.S. intelligence community and the U.S. military. It states specifically that “NSC officials have been coordinating behind the scenes with the intelligence and defense communities to gauge the threat and prepare for the possibility that the U.S. government will have to respond to much bigger numbers—and soon.”

Little attention was given to the fact that the response to this apparently imminent jump in cases was being coordinated largely between elements of the national security state (i.e. the NSC, Pentagon, and intelligence), as opposed to civilian agencies or those focused on public health issues, and in a classified manner.

The Politico article also noted that the intelligence community is set to play a “key role” in a pandemic situation, but did not specify what the role would specifically entail. However, it did note that intelligence agencies would “almost certainly see an opportunity to exploit the crisis” given that international “epicenters of coronavirus [are] in high-priority counterintelligence targets like China and Iran.” It further added, citing former intelligence officials, that efforts would be made to recruit new human sources in those countries.

Politico cited the official explanation for intelligence’s interest in “exploiting the crisis” as merely being aimed at determining accurate statistics of coronavirus cases in “closed societies,” i.e. nations that do not readily cooperate or share intelligence with the U.S. government. Yet, Politico fails to note that Iran has long been targeted for CIA-driven U.S. regime change, specifically under the Trump administration, and that China had been fingered as the top threat to U.S. global hegemony by military officials well before the coronavirus outbreak.

A potential  “9/11-like” response

The decision to classify government coronavirus preparations in mid-January, followed by the decision to coordinate the domestic response with the military and with intelligence deserves considerable scrutiny, particularly given that at least one federal agency, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), will be given broad, sweeping powers and will work closely with unspecified intelligence “partners” as part of its response to a pandemics like COVID-19.

The CBP’s pandemic response document, obtained by The Nation, reveals that the CBP’s pandemic directive “allows the agency to actively surveil and detain individuals suspected of carrying the illness indefinitely.” The Nation further notes that the plan was drafted during the George W. Bush administration, but is the agency’s most recent pandemic response plan and remains in effect.

Though only CBP’s pandemic response plan has now been made public, those of other agencies are likely to be similar, particularly on their emphasis on surveillance, given past precedent following the September 11 attacks and other times of national panic. Notably, several recent media reports have likened coronavirus to 9/11 and broached the possibility of a “9/11-like” response to coronavirus, suggestions that should concern critics of the post-9/11 “Patriot Act” and other controversial laws, executive orders and policies that followed.

While the plans of the federal government remain classified, recent reports have revealed that the military and intelligence communities — now working with the NSC to develop the government’s coronavirus response — have anticipated a massive explosion in cases for weeks. U.S. military intelligence came to the conclusion over a month ago that coronavirus cases would reach “pandemic proportions” domestically by the end of March. That military intelligence agency, known as the National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI), coordinates closely with the National Security Agency (NSA) to conduct “medical SIGINT [signals intelligence].”

The coming government response, the agencies largely responsible for crafting it and its classified nature deserve public scrutiny now, particularly given the federal government’s tendency to not let “a serious crisis to go to waste,” as former President Obama’s then-chief of staff Rahm Emanuel infamously said during the 2008 financial crisis. Indeed, during a time of panic — over a pandemic and over a simultaneous major economic downturn — concern over government overreach is warranted, particularly now given the involvement of intelligence agencies and the classification of planning for an explosion of domestic cases that the government believes is only weeks away.

March 13, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , | 1 Comment

Hung jury results in mistrial for former CIA tech accused of handing ‘Vault 7’ docs to WikiLeaks

Assange trial rehearsal?

RT | March 10, 2020

Federal prosecutors were unable to convince a jury on any of the spying-related charges against an ex-CIA engineer accused of stealing reams of classified material – in what may be a dry run for the case against Julian Assange.

In a significant blow to prosecutors on Monday, jurors failed to come to a verdict on eight central counts against former CIA software engineer Joshua Schulte, who was charged for stealing thousands of pages of classified information on the agency’s secret hacking tools and passing them to WikiLeaks – what later became its ‘Vault7’ release, the largest breach of classified material in CIA history.

While Schulte was found guilty of contempt of court and making false statements to investigators, a hung jury on the remaining eight charges – including illegal gathering and transmission of national defense information – prompted District Judge Paul Crotty to order a mistrial and dismiss the jurors on the case, who had deemed themselves “extremely deadlocked” in a note to the judge.

The split verdict came after nearly a full week of messy deliberations, which saw one juror removed for researching the facts of the case against Crotty’s orders. She was never replaced, however, leaving a short-handed panel to deliver a final decision.

The former technician left his job in the CIA’s Langley headquarters in 2016 and was charged some two years later for his alleged role in the Vault 7 leak. But prosecutors had difficulty tying Schulte to the disclosure throughout his four-week trial, with jurors often mystified by a complicated maze of technical evidence.

The case may offer parallels to that of WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, who faces 17 charges under the World War I-era Espionage Act and up to 175 years in prison over his role in the publication of the Iraq and Afghan war logs in 2010. Assange is accused of helping leaker Chelsea Manning (then known as Bradley) “hack” into military computers to obtain classified material, but if extradited from the UK to stand trial in an American courtroom, prosecutors would likely produce similar technical forensics to prove his involvement, precisely what the government was unable to do in Schulte’s case.

Arguing that the CIA’s computer network had widely known vulnerabilities, including poor password protections, Schulte’s defense insisted prosecutors had failed to prove his role in the breach. They noted it was possible another actor gained access to his work station, pointing to another CIA employee identified only as “Michael” as a potential culprit.

The CIA later placed the employee on administrative leave for refusing to cooperate with the investigation, which suggested the government had “doubt about the case against Mr. Schulte,” defense attorney Sabrina Shroff said in her closing argument on Monday.

Prosecutors are likely to demand a retrial for Schulte, and he still stands accused of possessing child pornography, allegedly stored on devices found during a search of his home. He will be tried separately on those charges, facing a total of 15 counts.

March 9, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment

Syria Debacles Epitomize Perpetual Perfidy of U.S. Foreign Policy

By James Bovard | Future of Freedom Foundation | March 6, 2020

Turkey is ratcheting up its invasion of Syria and trying to drag NATO into Erdogan’s personal rehabilitation scheme. Threats and counter-threats are flying as thickly as the bombs and bullets. It remains to be seen whether U.S. policymakers will blunder deeper into this quagmire.

Last October, the Washington establishment was aghast when President Trump appeared to approve a Turkish invasion of northern Syria. The U.S. was seen as abandoning the Kurds, some of whom had allied with the U.S. in the fight against ISIS and other terrorist groups. But the indignation over the latest U.S. policy shift in the Middle East is farcical considering the long record of U.S. double-crosses. Rather than the triumph of American idealism, recent U.S. policy has been perpetual perfidy leavened with frequent doses of idiocy.

Almost none of the media coverage of the Turkish invasion and flight of Kurdish refugees mentioned that President George H. W. Bush had urged the Kurds and other Iraqis to “take matters into their own hands and force Saddam Hussein, the dictator, to step aside” during the U.S. bombing campaign in 1991 in the first Gulf War. After it became clear that the U.S. military could not protect the Kurds from Saddam’s backlash, U.S. policymakers basically shrugged and moseyed along. As a CNN analysis noted in 2003, “Bush refrained from aiding Kurdish rebels in the north, although he finally sent troops and relief supplies to protect hundreds of thousands of fleeing Kurds who were in danger of freezing or starving to death. Bush has never regretted his decision not to intervene.” George H.W. Bush’s abandonment and betrayal of the Kurds did nothing to deter the media and political establishment from posthumously sainting him after he died in late 2018.

U.S. meddling in the Middle East multiplied after the 9/11 attacks. Even though most of the hijackers were Saudis who received plenty of assistance from the Saudi government, the George W. Bush administration seized the chance to demonize and assault Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime. President Bush portrayed his invasion of Iraq as American idealism at his best. In his May 1, 2003 “Mission Accomplished” speech abroad the USS Abraham Lincoln, Bush hailed “the character of our military through history” for showing “the decency and idealism that turned enemies into allies.” Speaking three weeks later at a Republican fundraiser, Bush bragged, “The world has seen the strength and the idealism of the United States military.” Washington Post columnist David Ignatius declared in late 2003 that “this may be the most idealistic war fought in modern times.” The torture scandal at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere in Iraq has not been permitted to deter the recent semi-canonization of George W. Bush by the establishment media.

The Bush administration and their media allies produced one smokescreen after another to sanctify the war. Almost all the pre-invasion broadcast news stories on Iraq originated with the federal government. PBS’s Bill Moyers noted that “of the 414 Iraq stories broadcast on NBC, ABC and CBS nightly news, from September 2002 until February 2003, almost all the stories could be traced back to sources from the White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department.” A 2008 report by the Center for Public Integrity found that “in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them or had links to al-Qaida or both.” The report concluded that the “false statements – amplified by thousands of news stories and broadcasts” created “an almost impenetrable din for several critical months in the run-up to war.” Bush’s falsehoods on Iraq proved far more toxic than anything in Saddam’s arsenal. But the exposure of the official lies did not deter Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld from equating criticizing the Iraq war with appeasing Adolph Hitler in 2006.

The chaos from the 2003 invasion of Iraq was still spiraling out of control when the Bush administration began seeking pretexts to attack Iran, which Bush had designated part of the “Axis of Evil” in his 2002 State of the Union address. Bush officials and subsequent administration chose to champion the Iranian terrorist group, Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK). That organization sprang up in the 1960s and proceeded to kill Americans in the 1970s and to kill large numbers of Iranians in the subsequent decades. A 2004 FBI report noted that MEK continued to be “actively involved in planning and executing acts of terrorism.” NBC News reported in early 2012 that MEK carried out killings of Iranian nuclear scientists and that it “financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service.”

That was the same year that a stampede of Washington hustlers took huge payoffs to publicly champion de-listing the MEK as a terrorist organization. As Trita Parsi noted in the New York Review of Books, MEK “rented office space in Washington, held fundraisers with lawmakers, or offered US officials speaking fees to appear at their gatherings. But the MEK did this openly for years, despite being on the US government’s terrorist list.” Federal law prohibited taking money from or advocating on behalf of any designated terrorist group. But, as a 2011 Huffpost headline reported, “Former U.S. Officials Make Millions Advocating For Terrorist Organization.” Former FBI boss Louis Freeh, former CIA boss Porter Goss, co-chair of the 9/11 Commission Lee Hamilton, former attorney general Michael B. Mukasey, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge pocketing $30,000 or more for brief speeches to pro-MEK events. Glenn Greenwald rightly scoffed that the advocacy for MEK “reveals the impunity with which political elites commit the most egregious crimes, as well as the special privileges to which they explicitly believe they — and they alone — are entitled.” Greenwald pointed that average people were scourged by the same law the pooh-bahs brazenly trampled: “A Staten Island satellite TV salesman in 2009 was sentenced to five years in federal prison merely for including a Hezbollah TV channel as part of the satellite package he sold to customers.”

Thanks in part to the torrent of insider endorsements, the Obama administration canceled the MEK’s terrorist designation in 2012. While Washington poohbahs continue portraying the group as idealistic freedom fighters devoted to democracy, a simple online search shows that the Farsi translation of the group’s name is “holy warriors of the people,” as Ted Carpenter noted in his new book, Gullible Superpower. Trump administration officials have gurgled about MEK’s possible role in ruling Iran after the current government is toppled. But MEK remains odious to the Iranian people regardless of the group’s PR successes inside the Beltway.

The prior pratfalls of U.S. Middle East policy did nothing to stymie the outrage over Trump asserted that he was withdrawing U.S. troops from eastern Syria. Congress showed more indignation about a troop pullback than it had shown the loss of all the American soldiers’ lives in pointless conflicts over the past 18 years. The House of Representatives condemned Trump by a 354 to 60 vote, and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, proclaimed, “At President Trump’s hands, American leadership has been laid low, and American foreign policy has become nothing more than a tool to advance his own interests.” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said he felt “horror and shame” over Trump’s action. Boston Globe columnist Stephen Kinzer aptly described Congress’s protest as “a classic example of ‘buffet outrage,’ in which one picks and chooses which horrors to condemn.”

President Barack Obama had promised 16 times that there would be no “U.S. boots on the ground” in Syria; when Obama betrayed that promise, Congress did nothing. Trump’s plans to have fewer U.S. boots on the ground in Syria — or at least in part of it — somehow became the moral equivalent of giving Alaska back to Russia. Pundits attacked politicians who supported the troop pullback as “Russian assets” – i.e., traitors.

Syria offers another reminder that “material support of terrorism” is a federal crime unless you work for the CIA, State Department, Pentagon, or White House. After President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former Secretary of State John Kerry all publicly declared that Syrian president Assad must exit power, the U.S. armed terrorist groups to topple Assad. The Obama administration’s beloved, non-existent “moderate Syrian rebels” achieved nothing. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the PKK, a prime beneficiary of the U.S. occupation, has been considered a terrorist group by the U.S. government since 1997. Evan McMullin, a 2016 presidential candidate, admitted on Twitter: “My role in the CIA was to go out & convince Al Qaeda operatives to instead work with us.” Such absurdities spurred Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, to introduce The Stop Arming Terrorists Act in 2017 to prohibit any U.S. funding of terrorist groups. Gabbard’s bill was mostly ignored and never enacted though her outspoken criticism of U.S. policy did spur Hillary Clinton and others to vilify her.

Prominent politicians and much of the media blamed Trump for the attacks on civilians that followed the Turkish invasion, carried out mainly by groups allied with the Turkish government. U.S.-armed terrorist groups involved in the Turkish invasion have freed Islamic State prisoners. A Turkish think tank analyzed the violent groups committing atrocities in Syria after the start of the Turkish invasion; “Out of the 28 factions, 21 were previously supported by the United States, three of them via the Pentagon’s program to combat DAESH. Eighteen of these factions were supplied by the CIA.” A prominent Turkish journalist observed after his government invaded Syria: “The groups that were educated and equipped by the United States west of the Euphrates are now fighting against the groups east of the Euphrates that have been also educated and equipped by the United States.” This is nothing new: in 2016, Pentagon-backed Syrian rebels have openly battled CIA-backed rebels in Syria. A prominent Assad opponent who organized a conference of anti-Assad groups financed by the CIA was denied political asylum in 2017 because he provided “material support” to the Free Syrian Army, which meant he had “engaged in terrorist activity,” according to the Department of Homeland Security. A press backlash spurred a reversal on that decision but the media mostly ignored the other contradictions in U.S. policy in Syria.

Members of Congress were indignant that Syrian civilians suffered as the result of Trump’s troop pullback. But both Congress and most of the American media ignored the Syrian women, children, and men who died as a result of U.S. policies that intensified and prolonged that nation’s civil war. This is typical inside the Beltway scoring: the only fatalities worthy of recognizing are those that are politically useful.

Despite Trump’s sporadic declarations on Syria, the U.S. continues to have more than 50,000 troops deployed in the Middle East. The sooner those troops come home, the less likely that our nation will be dragged into another quagmire. The perennial follies and frauds of Middle East policy provide one of the strongest arguments for the United States to mind its own business.

March 8, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

CIA conducts cyber-espionage on China for 11 years

By Lucas Leiroz | March 6, 2020

The Chinese cybersecurity company Qihoo 360 published a note stating that the CIA has been conducting cyber espionage in strategic sectors of China for 11 years. The allegations come from a survey conducted by the company based on the “Vault7” series of documents, published by WikiLeaks, detailing a wide range of activities conducted by the CIA in electronic surveillance and cyber warfare.

On its website, the Chinese company claims that Chinese industrial sectors are being spied on by a criminal group of hackers called APT-C-39, which is known to belong to the CIA. Among the areas victimized by illegal CIA surveillance are aviation, scientific research, oil industry, internet companies and government agencies. The attacks were traced back to 2008. The regions most affected by espionage are Beijing, Guangdong, Zhejiang.

In the survey, cyber weapons found to be used exclusively by the CIA, such as Fluxwire and Grasshopper, were detected, leading to the possibility of a hacking organization at state level. The survey was also able to locate the working hours of the spies, which, interestingly, coincides with the American workday.

In the company’s website we can read: “Qihoo 360 data have shown that the cyber-weapons used by the organization and the cyber weapons described in the CIA Vault 7 project are almost identical. The CIA Vault 7 weapons show from the side that the United States has built the world’s largest cyber weapons arsenal. It has not only brought serious threat to the global network security, but also demonstrate the APT organization’s high technical capabilities and professional standards (…) In addition, considering the uniqueness and time span of the use of the APT-C-39 cyber weapon, Qihoo 360 gave the conclusion that the group’s attack was initiated by the state-level hacking organization”.

However, the results achieved by the research are even more accurate. The Chinese company managed to track down the person individually responsible for using these cyber weapons, an American hacker named Joshua Adam Schulte. The data suggest that Joshua created, developed and applied these cybernetic weapons. At the time of the attacks, Joshua was a member of the National Clandestine Service (NCS) – a unit that belongs to the CIA – working on the Science and Technology Directorate. (DS&T); today, he is serving time for espionage in the USA. The hacker’s active participation in American cyber war projects poses him as a significant threat with international dimensions, in addition to raising questions about the true nature of his arrest.

The reflections we can draw from reading this news are very interesting. Cyber space was recognized a few years ago as a battleground for modern warfare – as important or more than land, sea and air; in this intangible zone, entire nations face each other through attacks, espionage and constant surveillance, using true hidden armies, unknown to the general public, and very powerful weapons, which are capable of causing real problems in the material world. The most curious thing is that all of this takes place in a lawless area, where absolutely everything is allowed, without any legal or moral boundaries.

Countries such as China, Russia and North Korea have long been criticized in the West for undertaking projects to create and develop “intranets”, that is, national computer networks, unplugged from the world network. In the West, false experts claim that such projects have a “dictatorial” content, being a form of censorship. However, cases like this remind us of the importance of such projects and the need for legal status for the cyber world.

If the cyber world is a war zone, international law must provide basic rules so that the coexistence between nations in this new battlefield takes place in a peaceful, simple and ethical way, with mutual respect between the belligerents. The absence of such legal delimitations legitimizes that absolutely any act of war or espionage involving the cyber world is carried out – mainly by the prevailing hegemonic power. However, such absence of mechanisms in the international sphere also justifies the establishment of intranets and unplugged networks, since, in the absence of a relevant international treaty, the merit remains for the decision of local governments, according to their interests.

The United States is seeking to assert itself as a global cyber police; it wants to assert in the virtual world the same hegemony that they have at sea. To this end, they undertake spy, attack and information theft projects, institutionalizing criminal hacking networks as secret units of this hidden war. China is certainly not the only target. The discovery of hacker invasion in the networks of the main industrial sectors in this country is just a sign of something much bigger and deeper. Not only great military and economic potencies have their internal information stolen, but also less developed countries are victimized by the American global cyber police, who quietly and perversely acts to gain control over the entire world.

Lucas Leiroz is a research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

March 6, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics | , , , | Leave a comment

CIA has been hacking China for 11 YEARS, says Chinese cybersecurity firm citing Vault 7 leak

RT | March 3, 2020

US spies have been hacking into Chinese aviation, energy, internet and even government sectors for more than a decade, Beijing-based cybersecurity firm Qihoo 360 said after a probe based on ‘Vault7’ tools published by WikiLeaks.

Coming from a major and reputable Chinese cybersecurity vendor, the accusations – made public on Monday on the company’s blog, in both English and Chinese – carry extra weight. According to Qihoo, a group of hackers designated APT-C-39 has been confirmed as coming from the US Central Intelligence Agency.

“Qihoo 360 data have shown that the cyber-weapons used by the organization and the cyber weapons described in the CIA Vault 7 project are almost identical.”

The attacks were traced as far back as September 2008, with the greatest concentration of targets in Beijing, Guangdong and Zhejiang provinces, the company said. Among the targeted sectors were civil aviation, scientific research institutions, oil and petroleum industries, internet companies and Chinese government.

The cybersecurity firm came to a conclusion that the attack was initiated by a “state-level hacking organization” because  the hackers had used “CIA-exclusive cyber weapons” such as Fluxwire and Grasshopper – long before they were publicly revealed to have been developed by US spies, when WikiLeaks published the so-called “Vault7” cache of documents, in March 2017.

Control commands and encryption schemes of APT-C-39 also lined up with Vault7 disclosures, while compilation times matched “North American business hours,” Qihoo said.

The CIA coder accused of leaking the documents, Joshua A. Schulte, is currently on trial for espionage in the US.

Another Chinese antivirus company, Qi-Anxin, published a report in September 2019 also accusing the CIA of hacking Chinese companies, notably the aviation sector. Qi-Anxin’s research was also based on analyzing CIA software made public by WikiLeaks.

March 3, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | | Leave a comment

Tulsi Gabbard: Presidential candidates must also condemn election interference by US intelligence agencies

By Tulsi Gabbard – The Hill – 02/27/20

Reckless claims by anonymous intelligence officials that Russia is “helping” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) are deeply irresponsible. So was former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s calculated decision Tuesday to repeat this unsubstantiated accusation on the debate stage in South Carolina. Enough is enough. I am calling on all presidential candidates to stop playing these dangerous political games and immediately condemn any interference in our elections by out-of-control intelligence agencies.

A “news article” published last week in the Washington Post, which set off yet another manufactured media firestorm, alleges that the goal of Russia is to trick people into criticizing establishment Democrats. This is a laughably obvious ploy to stifle legitimate criticism and cast aspersions on Americans who are rightly skeptical of the powerful forces exerting control over the primary election process. We are told the aim of Russia is to “sow division,” but the aim of corporate media and self-serving politicians pushing this narrative is clearly to sow division of their own — by generating baseless suspicion against the Sanders campaign.

It’s extremely disingenuous for “journalists” and rival candidates to publicize a news article that merely asserts, without presenting any evidence, that Russia is “helping” Bernie Sanders — but provides no information as to what that “help” allegedly consists of.

The American people have the right to know this information, in order to put Russia’s alleged “interference” into proper perspective. It is a mystery why the Intelligence Community would want to hide these details from us. Instead they are relying on highly dubious and vague insinuations filtered through their preferred media outlets, which seem designed to create a panic rather than actually inform the public about a genuine threat.

All this does is undermine voters’ trust in our elections, which is what we are constantly told is the goal of Russia.

If the CIA, FBI or any other intelligence agency is going to tell voters that “Russians” are interfering in this election to help certain candidates — or simply “sow discord” — then they need to immediately provide us with the details of what exactly they’re alleging. Otherwise, all they are doing is fomenting a sense of powerlessness and paranoia in the voting public, which could suppress engagement in the electoral process. And, at least according to the anonymous officials speaking menacingly to the media, that is precisely what Russia wants.

If our political leaders and those in the media were really concerned with protecting the integrity of our elections from outside manipulation — instead of just making money from manufactured hysteria — they would presumably devote more coverage to proposals to institute backup paper ballots, which would ensure that no malicious actors can ever alter our votes or hack into our election infrastructure. The bill I reintroduced last year, the Securing America’s Elections Act, does exactly that — but the media has never shown much interest because it would not generate the so-called “bombshell” headlines they so desperately crave.

The FBI, CIA or any other intelligence agency should immediately stop smearing presidential candidates with innuendo and vague, evidence-free assertions. That is antithetical to their role in a free democracy. The American people cannot have faith in our intelligence agencies if they are pushing an agenda to harm candidates they dislike.

Any attempts to keep the American people quiet — with the threat that if they dare criticize the Democratic Party establishment, they will be labeled hostile foreign agents — are unacceptable and disgraceful.

This new McCarthyism must be renounced by every presidential candidate, otherwise we must conclude they lack the foresight and integrity required to lead our country. If candidates are too afraid to stand up against those who would suppress the voices of the American people with McCarthyist smears, they are not real leaders. They are just power-hungry, self-serving politicians whose goal is to play-act as president — rather than actually defend the freedoms enshrined in our Constitution.

It is now clear that the mainstream corporate media and the warmongering political establishment are seeking to do two things:

1) Create enough suspicion around Sanders, by falsely tarnishing him as a puppet of Russia, that he loses the election.

2) Or, at the very least, if Bernie wins the Democratic nomination, force him to engage in inflammatory anti-Russia rhetoric and perpetuate the New Cold War and nuclear arms race, which are existential threats to our country and the world.

That strategy worked very well with Trump. Trump has spent his entire presidency trying to “prove” to the media that he is not Putin’s puppet by carrying out extremely aggressive policies that have brought us closer to nuclear war with Russia than we have been in decades.

If Sanders is the Democratic nominee, the corporate media will do everything they can to turn the general election into a contest of who is going to be “tougher” on Russia. This tactic is necessary to propagandize the American people into shelling over their hard-earned tax dollars to the Pentagon to fund the highly lucrative nuclear arms race that the military-industrial complex craves. In the most recent appropriations bill last year, the Pentagon was handed $738 billion — which includes a blank check for dangerous new nuclear warheads and destabilizing missile systems that increase the likelihood of catastrophic war with Russia.

The question facing any potential Democratic nominee is this: Am I going to allow myself to be manipulated and forced into a corner by overreaching intelligence agencies and the corporate media where, in order for me to win the presidency, I’m going to have to do what I know is not in the interests of the American people and world peace?

Or will I stand up to the corrupt neocon and neoliberal establishment, condemn their lies and smears, and act with the integrity and foresight necessary to forge a rational policy that will serve all our interests?

The problem with President Trump is that he talks tough against the media and the intelligence agencies, but he was not strong enough to stand up to their pressure. He was cowed into trying to prove that he’s not a puppet of Russia, and as a consequence has brought us closer and closer to nuclear war. The Democratic nominee cannot make the same mistake; our country and the world are depending on it.

February 28, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia | , | 3 Comments

Don’t Hold Your Breath for ‘World War III’: World War IV Has Already Begun

By A. B. Abrams | The Saker Blog | February 27, 2020

“A. B. Abrams is the author of the book ‘Power and Primacy: A History of Western Intervention in the Asia-Pacific.’ His second book covering the history of the United States’ conflict with North Korea is scheduled for publication in 2020.

He is proficient in Chinese, Korean and other East Asian languages, has published widely on defence and politics related subjects under various pseudonyms, and holds two related Masters degrees from the University of London.”


The world today finds itself in a period of renewed great power conflict, pitting the Western Bloc led by the United States against four ‘Great Power adversaries’ – as they are referred to by Western defence planners – namely China, Russia, North Korea and Iran. This conflict has over the past 15 years escalated to encompass the military, economic and information spheres with global consequences – and appears to be coming to a head as signs of peaking tensions appear in multiple fields from military deployments and arms races to harsh economic wars and a harsher still information war.

While the term ‘World War III’ has been common since the 1940s, referring to the possibility of a global great power war on a greater scale than the first and second world wars, the Cold War between the Western and Soviet Blocs was at its height as total, as global and as heated as the prior conflicts. As weapons technology has evolved, the viability of a direct shooting war has diminished considerably – forcing major powers to seek alternative means to engineer their adversaries’ capitulation and assert their own dominance. This has been reflected in how the Cold War, and the current phase of global conflict some refer to as ‘Cold War 2’ have been distinct from the first two world wars despite the final objectives of the parties involved sharing many similarities. I would thus suggest redefining what a ‘world war’ is and acknowledging that this current phase of global conflict is every part as intense as the great power ‘hot wars’ waged in the first half of the 20th century.

Had the intercontinental range ballistic missile and the miniaturised nuclear warhead been invented twenty years earlier, the Allied Powers may have needed to rely more heavily on economic and information warfare to contain and eventually neutralise Nazi Germany. The Second World War would have been very different in nature to reflect the technologies of the time. When viewed from this paradigm, the Cold War can be seen as a ‘Third World War’ – a total conflict more vast, comprehensive and international than its predecessors stretched out over more than 40 years. The current conflict, or ‘World War IV,’ is ongoing. An assessment of prior ‘great power wars,’ and the unique nature of the current conflict, can provide some valuable insight into how warfare is evolving and the likely determinants of its victors.

As of 2020 it is clear that great power conflict has become almost as heated as it can short of an all-out hot war – with the Western Bloc applying maximum pressure on the information, military and economic fronts to undermine not only smaller adversaries such as Venezuela and Syria and medium sized ones such as North Korea and Iran, but also China and Russia. When exactly this phase of conflict began – sometime after the Cold War’s end – remains uncertain.

The interval between the third and fourth ‘world wars’ was considerably longer than that between the second and the third. This was due to a number of factors – primarily that there was no immediate and obvious adversary for the victorious Western Bloc to target once the Soviet Union had been vanquished. Post-Soviet Russia was a shade of a shadow of its former self. Under the administration of Boris Yeltsin the country’s economy contracted an astonishing 45% in just five years from 1992 (1) leading to millions of deaths and a plummet in living standards. Over 500,000 women and young girls of the former USSR were trafficked to the West and the Middle East – often as sex slaves (2), drug addiction increased by 900 percent, the suicide rate doubled, HIV became a nationwide epidemic (3) corruption was rampant, and the country’s defence sector saw its major weapons programs critical to maintaining parity with the West delayed or terminated due to deep budget cuts (4). The possibility of a further partition of the state, as attested to multiple times by high level officials, was very real along the lines of the Yugoslav model (5).

Beyond Russia, China’s Communist Party in the Cold War’s aftermath went to considerable lengths to avoid tensions with the Western world – including a very cautious exercise of their veto power at the United Nations which facilitated Western led military action against Iraq (6). The country was integrating itself into the Western centred global economy and continuing to emphasis the peaceful nature of its economic rise and understate its growing strength. Western scholarship at the time continued to report with near certainty that internal change, a shift towards a Western style political system and the collapse of party rule was inevitable. The subsequent infiltration and westernisation was expected to neuter China as a challenger to Western primacy – as it has other Western client states across the world. China’s ability to wage a conventional war against even Taiwan was in serious doubt at the time, and though its military made considerable strides with the support of a growing defence budget and massive transfers of Soviet technologies from cash strapped successor states, it was very far from a near peer power.

North Korea did come under considerable military pressure for failing to follow what was widely referred to as the ‘tide of history’ in the West at the time – collapse and westernisation of the former Communist world. Widely portrayed in the early 1990s as ‘another Iraq’ (7), Western media initially appeared to be going to considerable lengths to prepare the public for a military campaign to end the Korean War and impose a new government north of the 38th parallel (8). Significant military assets were shifted to Northeast Asia specifically to target the country during the 1990s, and the Bill Clinton administration came close to launching military action on multiple occasions – most notably in June 1994. Ultimately a combination of resolve, a formidable missile deterrent, a limited but ambiguous nuclear capability, and perhaps most importantly Western certainty that the state would inevitably collapse on its own under sustained economic and military pressure, deferred military options at least temporarily.

The fourth of the states that the United States today considers a ‘greater power adversary,’ Iran too was going to considerable lengths to avoid antagonism with the Western Bloc in the 1990s – and appeared more preoccupied with security threats on its northern border from Taliban controlled Afghanistan. With a fraction of the military power neighbouring Iraq had previously held, the presence of an ‘Iranian threat’ provided a key pretext for a Western military presence in the Persian Gulf after the Soviets, the United Arab Republic and now Iraq had all been quashed. With the new government in Russia put under pressure to terminate plans to transfer advanced armaments to Iran (9), the country’s airspace was until the mid 2000s frequently penetrated by American aircraft, often for hours at a time, likely without the knowledge of the Iranians themselves. This combined with a meagre economic outlook made Iran seem a negligible threat.

While the Cold War ended some time between 1985 and 1991 – bringing the ‘third world war’ to a close – the range of dates at which one could state that the ‘fourth world war’ began and the West again devoted itself to great power conflict is much wider. Some would put the date in the Summer of 2006 – when Israel suffered the first military defeat in its history at the hands of the Lebanese militia Hezbollah. Using North Korean tunnel and bunker networks, command structures, weapons and training (10), and bolstered by Iranian funding and equipment, the shock of the militia’s victory, though underplayed in Western media, reverberated among informed circles across the world.

Others would place the date two years later in 2008 during the Beijing Summer Olympics, when Georgia with the full support of the West waged a brief war against Russia – and Moscow despite harsh warnings from Washington and European capitals refused to back down on its position. Post-Yeltsin Russia’s relations with the Western Bloc had appeared relatively friendly on the surface, with President George W. Bush observing in 2001 regarding President Vladimir Putin that he “was able to get a sense of his soul,” and predicting “the beginning of a very constructive relationship.” Nevertheless, signs of tension had begun to grow from Moscow’s opposition to the Iraq War at the UN Security Council to President Putin’s famous ‘Munich Speech’ in February 2007 – in which he sharply criticised American violations of international law and its “almost uncontained hyper use of force in international relations.”

It could also be questioned whether, in light of what we know about Western support for separatist insurgents in Russia itself during the 1990s, the war against the country ever ended – or whether hostilities would only cease with a more total capitulation and partition and with the presence of Western soldiers on Russian soil as per the Yugoslav precedent. As President Putin stated in 2014 regarding continuing Western hostilities against Russia in the 1990s: “The support of separatism in Russia from abroad, including the informational, political and financial, through intelligence services, was absolutely obvious. There is no doubt that they would have loved to see the Yugoslavia scenario of collapse and dismemberment for us with all the tragic consequences it would have for the peoples of Russia” (11). Regarding Western efforts to destabilise Russia during the 1990s, CIA National Council on Intelligence Deputy Director Graham E. Fuller, a key architect in the creation of the Mujahedeen to fight Afghanistan and later the USSR, stated regarding the CIA’s strategy in the Caucasus in the immediate post-Cold War years: “The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvellously well in Afghanistan against the Red Army. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power” (12). The U.S. Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare’s director, Yossef Bodansky, himself also detailed the extent of the CIA’s strategy to destabilize Central Asia by using “Islamist Jihad in the Caucasus as a way to deprive Russia of a viable pipeline route through spiralling violence and terrorism” – primarily by encouraging Western aligned Muslim states to continue to provide support for militant groups (13).

Much like the Cold War before it, and to a lesser extent the Second World War, great powers slid into a new phase of conflict rather that it being declared in a single spontaneous moment. Did the Cold War begin with the Berlin Blockade, the Western firebombing of Korea or when the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki – which accelerated the move into a nuclear arms race. Equally, multiple dates were given for the opening of the Second World War – the German invasion of Poland in 1939, the beginning of the Sino-Japanese war two years prior, the Japanese Empire’s attack on Pearl Harbour and conquest of Southeast Asia which marked the first major expansion beyond Europe and North Africa in 1941, or some other date entirely. The slide into a new world war was if anything even slower than its predecessors.

The shift towards an increasingly intense great power conflict has been marked by a number of major incidents. In the European theatre one of the earliest was the Bush administration’s withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty in 2002 and subsequent deployment of missile defences and expansion of NATO’s military presence in the former Soviet sphere of influence, which was widely perceived in Russia as an attempt to neutralise its nuclear deterrent and place the Western Bloc in a position to coerce Moscow militarily (14). This threatened to seriously upset the status quo of mutual vulnerability, and played a key role in sparking a major arms race under which Russia would develop multiple classes of hypersonic weapon. Their unveiling in 2018 would in turn lead the United States to prioritise funding to develop more capable interceptor missiles, a new generation of missile defences based on lasers, and hypersonic ballistic and cruise missiles of its own (15).

Another leading catalyst of the move towards great power confrontation was the Barak Obama administration’s ‘Pivot to Asia’ initiative, under which the bulk of America’s military might and considerable assets from the rest of the Western world would be devoted to maintaining Western military primacy in the Western Pacific. This was paired with both economic and information warfare efforts, the latter which increasingly demonised China and North Korea across the region and beyond and actively sought to spread pro-Western and anti-government narratives among their populations through a wide range of sophisticated means (16). These programs were successors to those sponsored by Western intelligence agencies to ideologically disenchant the populations of the Warsaw Pact and Soviet Union with their own political systems and paint Western powers as benevolent and democratising saviours (17). Economic warfare also played a major role, with efforts centred around the ‘Trans-Pacific Partnership’ trade deal – or ‘Economic NATO’ as several analysts referred to it – to isolate China from regional economies and ensure the region remained firmly in the Western sphere of influence (18). The military aspect of the Pivot to Asia would reawaken long dormant territorial disputes, and ultimately lead to high military tensions between the United States and China which in turn fuelled the beginning of an arms race. This arms race has more recently led to the American withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty, which paves the way for deployment of American long-range missiles across the Western Pacific – all with China and North Korea firmly in their crosshairs (19).

It is arguably in the Middle East, however, where the new phase of global conflict has seen its most direct clashes so far. The nine-year conflict in Syria, although far less destructive or brutal, provides ‘World War IV’ with something of an analogue to the Korean War in the Cold War. The conflict has united the Western Bloc and a wide range of allies, from Turkey and Israel to the Gulf States and even Japan (which funds the jihadist-linked White Helmets) (20), in an effort to overthrow an independent government with close and longstanding defence ties to Russia, North Korea, Iran and China. The conflict has seen North Korean, Russian, Hezbollah and Iranian special forces (21) among other assets deployed on the ground in support of Syrian counterinsurgency efforts, with all of these parties providing considerable material support (the Koreans have built and fully staffed at least three hospitals as part of large medical aid packages and continue to be a major supplier of arms and training) (22). China too, particularly concerned by the presence of jihadist militants of Chinese origin in Syria, has played some role in the conflict – the exact details of which remain uncertain with much reported but unconfirmed (23).

Syria’s insurgency involving a range of jihadist groups, at times united only by their intent to end the secular Syrian government, have received widespread support from the Western Bloc and their aforementioned allies. This has involved both material support, which according to State Secretary Hillary Clinton included turning a blind eye to Gulf countries’ considerable assistance to the Islamic State terror group (24), and active deployments of special forces from a wide range of countries, from Belgium and Saudi Arabia to Israel and the U.S. The U.S., European powers, Turkey and Israel have at times directly attacked Syrian units in the field – while Russian reports indicate that close Western coordination with jihadist groups has been used to facilitate a number of successful attacks on Russian positions (25). The conflict in Syria arguably represents a microcosm of the macrocosm which is a new world war – one which pits the Western Bloc and those which support the Western-led order, both directly and through local proxies, against three of its four ‘great power adversaries’ in the field.

‘World War IV’ is unlikely to come to an end for the foreseeable future, and its final outcome remains difficult to predict. Much like in the Cold War, the Western Bloc retains considerable advantages – today most notably in the field of information war which allows it to extensively shape perceptions of the vast majority of the world’s population. This has included the demonization of Western adversaries, the whitewashing of Western crimes both domestically and internationally, and portraying westernisation and increased Western influence as a solution to people’s frustrations from corruption to economic stagnation. This has been a key facilitator of the pro-Western protests engulfing states from Sudan and Algeria to Ukraine and Thailand. Economically too, only China among the Western Bloc’s major adversaries has posed a serious threat to Western primacy. Indeed, it remains highly questionable whether the other three could survive economically under Western pressure without Chinese trade and economic support.

Russia has made a considerable economic recovery since the 1990s, but remains a shadow of its former self in the Soviet era. The country’s leadership has succeeded in reforming the military, foreign ministry and intelligence services, but the economy, legal system and other parts of the state remain in serious need of improvement which, over 20 years after Yeltsin’s departure, cannot come soon enough. Even in the field of defence, the struggling economy has imposed serious limitations – and in fields such as aviation and armoured warfare the country is only beginning to slowly go beyond modernising Soviet era weapons designs and begin developing new 21st century systems (26). On the positive side, the country does remain a leader in many high end technologies mostly pertaining to the military and to space exploration, while Western economic sanctions have undermined the positions of Europhiles both among the elite and within the government and boosted many sectors of domestic production to substitute Western products (27).

In the majority of fields, the ‘Eastern Bloc’ have been pressed onto the defensive and forced to prevent losses rather than make actual gains. While preserving Venezuelan sovereignty, denying Crimea to NATO and preventing Syria’s fall have been major victories – they are successes in denying the West further expansion of its own sphere of influence rather than reversing prior Western gains or threatening key sources of Western power. Pursuing regime change in Venezuela and Ukraine and starting wars in the Donbasss and in Syria have cost the Western Bloc relatively little – the Ukrainians and client states in the Gulf and Turkey have paid the brunt of costs for the war efforts. Material equipment used by Western backed forces in both wars, ironically, has largely consisted of Warsaw Pact weaponry built to resist Western expansionism – which after the Cold War fell into NATO hands and is now being channelled to Western proxies. Libyan weaponry, too, was transferred to Western backed militants in Syria in considerable quantities after the country’s fall in 2011 – again minimising the costs to the Western Bloc of sponsoring the jihadist insurgency (28). The damage done and costs incurred by the Syrians, Hezbollah, Russia and others are thus far greater than those incurred by the Western powers to cause destruction and begin conflicts.

Syria has been devastated, suffering from issues from a return of polio to depleted uranium contamination from Western airstrikes and a new generation who have grown up in territories under jihadist control with little formal education. The war is a victory only in that the West failed to remove the government in Damascus from power – but Western gains from starting and fuelling the conflict have still far outweighed their losses. In the meantime, through a successful campaign centred around information warfare, the Western sphere of influence has only grown – with further expansion of NATO and the overthrow of governments in resource rich states friendly to Russia and China such as Libya, Sudan and Bolivia. Commandeering the government of poor but strategically located Ukraine was also a major gain, with states such as Algeria and Kazakhstan looking to be next in the Western Bloc’s crosshairs. Thus while Syria was saved, though only in part, much more was simultaneously lost. The damage done to Hong Kong by pro-Western militants, ‘thugs for democracy’ as the locals have taken to calling them, who have recently turned to bombing hospitals and burning down medical facilities (29), is similarly far greater than the costs to the Western powers of nurturing such an insurgency. Similar offensives to topple those which remain outside the Western sphere of influence from within continue to place pressure on Russian and Chinese aligned governments and on neutral states seen not to be sufficiently pro-Western.

While the Western Bloc appears to be in a position of considerable strength, largely by virtue of its dominance of information space, which has allowed it to remain on the offensive, a sudden turning point in which its power suddenly diminishes could be in sight. From teen drug abuse (30) to staggering debt levels (31) and the deterioration of party politics and popular media, to name but a few of many examples, the West appears at far greater risk today of collapse from within than it did during the Cold War. A notable sign of this is the resurgence of both far right and far left anti-establishment movements across much of the Western world. Despite massive benefits from privileged access to third world resource bases, from France’s extractions from Francophone West Africa (32) to the petrodollar system propping up American currency (33), Western economies with few exceptions are very far from healthy. A glimpse of this was given in 2007-2008, and little has been done to amend the key economic issues which facilitated the previous crisis in the twelve years since (34). The West’s ability to compete in the field of high end consumer technologies, particularly with rising and more efficient East Asian economies, increasingly appears limited. From semiconductors to electric cars to smartphones to 5G, the leaders are almost all East Asian economies which have continued to undermine Western economic primacy and expose the gross inefficiencies of Western economies. The result has been less favourable balances of payments in the Western world, a growing reliance on political clout to facilitate exports (35), and increasing political unrest as living standards are placed under growing pressure. The Yellow Vests and the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are all symptoms of this. With very real prospects of another economic crash in the coming decade, in the style of 2008 but likely much worse, Western economies are expected to bear the brunt of the damage. Their ability to survive remains in serious question. Effects of a crash on North Korea, Iran, Russia and even China will be far less severe. While the previous crash hit Russia particularly hard (36), an economic turnaround from 2014 and the insulation provided by Western sanctions leave it far less vulnerable to the fallout from a Western economic crisis.

Ultimately China appears to be setting itself up for an ‘Eastern Bloc’ victory – a coup de grace which could see Western gains over the past several decades reversed and the power of the West itself diminished to an extent unprecedented in centuries. While the United States reluctantly outsourced much of its high end consumer technologies to East Asian allies during the Cold War – namely Japan, South Korea and Taiwan – China is going for the jugular of the Western world’s economy with its ‘Made in China 2025’ initiative, which will see some critical remaining fields of Western technological primacy shift to East Asian hands. The Coronavirus, bombings in Hong Kong, the trade war, and the wide range of tools in the Western arsenal for destabilisation can at best slightly delay this – but cannot prevent it. In a globalised capitalist economy the most efficient producers win – and East Asia and China in particular, with its Confucian values, stable and efficient political systems and world leading education (37), are thus almost certain to take over the high end of the world economy.

Much as the key to Western victory in the Cold War was successful information warfare efforts and isolation of the Soviet economy from the majority of the world economy, the key to determining the victor of ‘World War IV’ is likely lie in whether or not Beijing succeeds in its attempt to gain dominance of high end technologies critical to sustaining Western economies today. This is far from the only determinant of victory. Efforts to undermine the effective subsidies to Western economies from Central and West Africa, the Arab Gulf states and elsewhere in the third world, and to ensure continued military parity – to deter NATO from knocking over the table if they lose the game of economic warfare – are among the other fields of critical importance. Based on China’s prior successes, and those of other East Asian economies, the likelihood that it will meet its development goals is high – to the detriment of Western interests. The result will be an end to world order centred on Western might – the status quo for the past several hundred years – and emergence in its place of a multipolar order under which Russia, Asia (Central, East, South and Southeast) and Africa will see far greater prominence and prosperity.

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Source,’ Sputnik, September 26, 2017.

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February 27, 2020 Posted by | Book Review, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rohrabacher, Mueller, and Assange

By Daniel Lazare | Strategic Culture Foundation | February 26, 2020

Reports that Donald Trump offered to pardon WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange if he could prove that Russia didn’t hack Democratic National Committee caused a good-sized media storm when they came out in a British court last week. But then Dana Rohrabacher, the ex-US congressman supposedly serving as a go-between, issued an all-points denial, and the tempest blew over as fast as it arose.

But that doesn’t mean that the Russia-WikiLeaks story is kaput. To the contrary, it’s still brimming with unanswered questions no matter how much the corporate media wishes they would go away.

The most important question is the simplest: why didn’t Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller sit down with Julian Assange and ask him about the 20,000 DNC emails himself?

It’s not as if Assange would have said no.  According to Craig Murray, the former British diplomat who serves as an unofficial WikiLeaks spokesman, he “was very willing to give evidence to Mueller, which could have been done by video-link, by interview in the [Ecuadorean] Embassy, or by written communication.” While Assange refuses as a matter of policy to disclose his sources, he had already made a partial exception in the case of the DNC by declaring, “Our source is not a state party.” Conceivably, he had more to say along such lines, information that Mueller might have then used to determine what role, if any, Russia played in the email release.

But he didn’t bother. Without making the slightest effort to get Assange’s side of the story, he assembled page after page of evidence purporting to show that WikiLeaks had collaborated with Russian intelligence in order to disseminate stolen material. Rather than an organization dedicated to exposing official secrets so that voters could learn what their government was really up to, WikiLeaks, in the eyes of the special prosecutor, was the opposite: an organization seeking to help Russia pull the wool over people’s eyes so they would vote for Donald Trump.

This is the super-sensational charge that has roiled US politics since 2016.  Yet there is little to back it up.

Even though Mueller is confident that the Russian military intelligence agency known as the GRU routed the emails to WikiLeaks, for instance, he still hasn’t figured out how. “Both the GRU and WikiLeaks sought to hide their communications, which has limited the [Special Prosecutor’s] Office’s ability to collect all of the communications between them,” his report confesses on page 45. “The Office cannot rule out that stolen documents were transferred to WikiLeaks through intermediaries who visited during the summer of 2016,” it adds on page 47. “For example, public reporting identified Andrew Müller-Maguhn as a WikiLeaks associate who may have assisted with the transfer of these stolen documents to WikiLeaks.”

But Müller-Maguhn, a German cyber-expert who has worked with WikiLeaks for years, dismisses any such suggestion as “insane,” a claim the Mueller report makes no effort to rebut. The public is thus left with a blank where a dotted trail the GRU and WikiLeaks ought to be. Then there’s the issue of chronology. The Mueller report says that a GRU website known as DCLeaks.com reached out to WikiLeaks on June 14, 2016, with an offer of “sensitive information” related to Hillary Clinton. Considering that WikiLeaks would release a treasure trove of DNC emails on July 22, less than seven weeks later, the implication that the GRU was the source does not, at first glance, seem implausible.

But hold on. Although the report doesn’t mention it, Assange told a British TV station on June 12: “We have upcoming leaks in relation to Hillary Clinton, which is great.” Either he was amazingly clairvoyant in foreseeing an offer that the GRU would make two days hence or he got the material from someone else.

To be sure, the Mueller report adds that an alleged Russian intelligence “cutout” known as Guccifer 2.0 sent WikiLeaks an encrypted data file on July 14, which is to say eight days prior to publication. But since WikiLeaks didn’t confirm opening the file until July 18, this means that it would have had just four days to vet thousands of emails and other documents to insure they were genuine and unaltered. If just one had turned out to be doctored, its hard-earned reputation for accuracy would have been in shreds. So the review process had to be painstaking and thorough, and four days would not be remotely enough time.

Nothing about the Mueller account – timing, plausibility, the crucial question of how the stolen DNC emails made their way to WikiLeaks – adds up.  Yet Mueller went public with it regardless. Which leads to another question: why?

One reason is because he knew he could get away with it, at least temporarily, since it was clear that corporate media howling for Trump’s scalp would accept whatever he put out as gospel. But another is that he’s a dutiful servant of the ruling class. After all, Mueller is the person who, as FBI director from 2001 to 2013, spent much of his time covering up Saudi Arabia’s not-inconsiderable role in 9/11, as investigative reporter James Ridgeway has pointed out on a number of occasions. Mueller is also the man who assured the Senate Intelligence Committee in February 2003 that “Iraq’s WMD program poses a clear threat to our national security,” a claim that the upcoming Iraqi invasion would reveal as fraudulent to the core.

Toeing the official line is therefore more important in his book than telling the truth. This is why he didn’t sit down with Assange – because he was afraid of what he might tell him.  In January 2017, the CIA, NSA, and FBI officially reported that “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016” and “that Russian military intelligence … used the Guccifer 2.0 persona and DCLeaks.com” to relay stolen computer data to WikiLeaks. Four months later, then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo went even farther by describing WikiLeaks as “a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.”

This was the official narrative that Mueller felt dutybound to defend when he was appointed special prosecutor a month after Pompeo made his remarks. Even though the CIA account would not hold up to close inspection, his self-perceived mission was to disregard certain facts and cherry-pick others in order to convince the public that it was true.

This leads us to a third question: how do Americans get themselves out of the hole that Mueller has dug for them? Not only does Assange face 170 years in prison for espionage, but the impact in terms of freedom of the press will be devastating. The prosecution’s case rests on an explosive theory that receiving inside information is effectively the same  thing as supplying it. Just as a fence encourages people to steal, the idea is that a journalist encourages insiders to hack computers and rifle through file cabinets by offering to publish what they come up with. If upheld, it means that journalists would have to think twice before even talking to an inside for fear of incurring a similar penalty. Armed with such a legal instrument, Richard Nixon would have had no trouble dealing with Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. He would merely have charged them with espionage and locked them away until the break-in was forgotten.

If Assange goes down, in other words, democracy will take a major hit. Yet by labeling him a Russian agent, Mueller has seen to it that liberals are as unsympathetic to his plight as the most militant conservative, if not more so.  He transformed Assange into the perfect scapegoat for Democrats and Russians to bash with bipartisan glee.

This is why a defense based purely on the First Amendment will not do. Rather, it’s important to deal with the charge of Russian collaboration that – completely unjustly – has turned him into an object of public opprobrium. It’s time to give the Mueller report the scrutiny it deserves before its collective falsehoods undermine democracy even more than they already have.

February 26, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia | , , , , | Leave a comment