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The lies the U.S. is using to blame Covid-19 on China

By Rainer Shea | Medium | April 1, 2020

The Washington imperialists and the corporate media are manipulating the narrative around Covid-19 in the same ways that they’ve controlled discourse around the comparably dramatic crisis of 9/11. Just like how the Bush White House immediately concluded (based upon still dubious evidence) that Osama Bin Laden was the one who had directed the attacks in order to justify starting the war in Afghanistan, and like how the Bush team campaigned to associate Saddam Hussein with 9/11 to justify invading Iraq, Covid-19 is being weaponized as a war propaganda tool. And now the designated enemies are China, Iran, Russia, and the other countries which threaten U.S. hegemony.

As was also the case after 9/11, the imperialist narrative managers are using McCarthyism, censorship, and intensive demonization of the designated enemies to hide the growing amount of evidence that the U.S. is connected to the crisis.

The evidence is in favor of the virus having originated in the U.S., not China

Like how the CIA conspired with Saudi Arabia to cover up details about 9/11 which contradicted the official Washington narrative, or how the media has ignored the evidence of Mossad foreknowledge of 9/11, the U.S. State Department and major media outlets are working to conceal and deflect from the questions about America’s potential responsibility for the virus.

There have been many events in the last year that suggest the U.S. brought the virus to China, whether intentionally or unintentionally. The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute in Fort Detrick was closed down in July 2019. Then in October, a team of U.S. troopers who had trained near Fort Detrick traveled to Wuhan, staying a mere 300 meters from the seafood market where the virus spread from. If these troops were deliberately sent there to proliferate the virus, it wouldn’t be unprecedented in U.S. warfare; Washington has a history of transferring viruses to use as diplomatic cargo for secret military programs.

These coincidences, while not necessarily compelling evidence for the bioweapon hypothesis on their own, are accompanied by solid evidence that Covid-19 started in the United States. As Larry Romanoff has written, “the genome varieties of the virus in Iran and Italy have been sequenced and declared to have no part of the variety that infected China and must, by definition, have originated elsewhere. It would seem the only possibility for origination would be the US because only that country has the ‘tree trunk’ of all the varieties.” Daniel Lucey, an infectious disease specialist at Georgetown University, has helped support the hypothesized link between the U.S. troops and the original Wuhan outbreak by concluding that “The virus came into that marketplace before it came out of that marketplace.”

But enough with my hesitant language about how it’s supposedly still unclear whether the virus came from America. Chinese spokesman Zhao Lijian has formally accused Washington of bringing the virus to China, saying “When did patient zero begin in U.S? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be U.S. army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! U.S. owe us an explanation!” Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali has made a similar statement about Covid-19’s origins: “Instead of leveling false accusations against China and Iran, U.S. officials should respond to international demands regarding its role in creating and spreading the coronavirus and the continuation of its crimes against the Iranian people by keeping in place the economic sanctions.”

Was Covid-19 engineered in an American laboratory? While a recent study has provided evidence against this, the scientific debate over whether it was artificially created will continue to go on. Plus, bioweapons don’t even have to be artificially created-just look at all of the already existing diseases that U.S. biowarfare operations have brought to Cuba. And even if the virus came from the U.S. to China by accident, it’s certain that China is not the country where the virus came from.

Painting China’s response to the virus as “incompetent” and “authoritarian”

Anti-Chinese propaganda often takes the form of the Western media observing benign events in China or minor slip-ups in Chinese policy, and twisting them into outrage stories. So was the case for the imperialist propaganda machine’s representation of the story of Li Wenliang, the Chinese doctor who mistakenly spread a false message on WeChat and was subsequently warned about it by Chinese authorities. The government then paid tribute to Li for helping combat the virus and retracted their warning against him after his death, but disingenuous pundits used the incident to score rhetorical points in the information war against China.

The government’s response to Wenliang didn’t have to do with his public revelation of the virus, which was done only a day before the government decided to officially announce that the virus was a problem. Yet it’s been suggested that his decision to speak up about the virus conflicted with the agenda of the government, and that the government had targeted him for his whistleblowing.

This ridiculous distortion of events was used to justify the Western media’s deeply unfair overall portrayal of the Chinese response to the virus, as represented by this paragraph from a recent Vice article:

China initially ignored the outbreak that first surfaced in Wuhan in early December, silencing doctors who tried to raise the alarm before eventually enacting a draconian and restrictive lockdown that impacted 50 million people.

Vice, which is one of the outlets that’s been known to promote content under the direct guidance of the U.S. government in recent years, is here engaging in a subtle ploy to associate China’s response to the virus with “authoritarianism.” China’s “draconian restrictive lockdown,” which is another way to say “quarantine,” was entirely necessary and in line with how most other governments have handled the virus. But Vice’s phrasing is meant to reinforce the narratives that China had failed to respond to the virus quickly enough, and that the actions it took against the virus were oppressive and sinister.

The underlying message, which is that those quarantined by China’s government were put in an unusually miserable and repressive state compared to the other quarantined populations around the world, is absurd. Thanks to Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, China’s people have had access to universal healthcare during this crisis. They’ve been in a country that’s virtually eradicated poverty. They’ve been able to contact police officers who go shopping for families in need of assistance during the quarantine. This contrasts with capitalist countries like the United States, where the gutted and highly privatized healthcare system is being overwhelmed, the people who’ve lost their jobs during the quarantine are already largely in financial hardship due to neoliberalism, and the police have continued to act as a terrorizing force which frequently shoots innocent people.

Another claim the Vice article makes is that “even the slightest reference to coronavirus or the government’s response was erased” as a result of China’s censorship. This is also misleading. Most of what the censors deleted was people referring to the military games in regards to the virus, likely as a measure for keeping the public from jumping to conclusions too early about America’s potential role in the crisis. They did not go after posts that referenced the severity of the crisis, but rather material that could be harmful to international relations.

This week, the U.S. propaganda machine expanded upon these claims by alleging that China lied about the extent of the virus. Unsurprisingly, the intelligence agents who are cited as sources for this revelation are anonymous. And the Bloomberg reporters who helped break this story didn’t even see the report behind it, instead having the details outlined to them by these mysterious officials. There was no evidence to back up their claims; all they did was craft another headline that reflects the other baseless insinuations from imperialist propagandists.

These charges and mischaracterizations distract from the enormously effective efforts of the CPC in combating the virus. Because of the party’s rapid construction of medical centers and sustained widespread quarantine, the disease has recently been close to obliterated within the country. China has also provided medical resources to numerous countries, a humanitarian act which the mentioned Vice article somehow tries to spin as a bad thing.

The CPC responded as best as was possible for it to, and keeping a spreading pandemic within a country’s border is essentially beyond the powers of any state. So China can’t be accused of letting the virus spread throughout an unnecessary amount of its people (as the U.S. government can certainly be accused of). Nor can China reasonably be accused of “letting” the virus spread globally.

Using McCarthyism and censorship to shut down those who challenge the warmongering claims

Pandemics create a scary kind of political psychology. Similar to the mass fears of terrorism throughout the last two decades, when people feel threatened by a disease they become hostile towards those who step out of the defined parameters for keeping society safe. While those urging people to disregard all of the Covid-19 safety advice are engaging in dangerous misinformation, this fringe and extreme position is being conflated with voicing dissenting views about where the virus came from and which country is responsible.

Headlines about pro-China Covid-19 content being “foreign disinformation” are promoting the perception that it’s wrong to ask the questions I’ve posed throughout this article, or to point out the falsehoods of Western reporting on China’s handling of the virus. It’s making dialogue about the issue harder to have, and it’s giving leverage to the oligarchic censorship engines within the U.S./NATO empire.

Facebook has been deleting posts about the virus to a far more thorough extent than has been the case for China’s censors. At the same time, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, the BBC, and other entities have joined in on a project called the Trusted News Initiative. TNI partner Noel Curran has said about the project’s goal that “There is a tide of misinformation and bad information, driven mainly through online social platforms, which is threatening to undermine public trust and cause further anxiety for people. This initiative underlines the role of public service media in tackling misinformation head-on and delivering accurate content that audiences can safely rely on.”

It’s an extension of the McCarthyism, censorship, and stigmatization of supposed “fake news” that’s dominated Western politics in recent years. Media hysteria about “Russian interference” after the 2016 election facilitated an unprecedented series of censorship measures from corporations and governments, rationalized by a desire to protect trust in institutions. Amid the last decade’s growing backlash to neoliberalism, the ruling class has been waging a war on dissenting journalism and socialist politics. Now is another opportunity to silence and shame those who challenge imperialist and capitalist narratives.

An example of the emerging hostile atmosphere towards dissent can be found in a recent graphic from Counter Hate UK, which advises people to respond to “Coronavirus misinformation” with the following measures: “Report misinformation to platforms,” “[don’t] reply, share, or quote misinformation,” and “spread official advice” to “drown out fake news.”

This is the psychological weapon that the U.S./NATO empire is using to keep itself on the path of war escalations and internal repression: instilling people with the fear that if they challenge anything the centers of power tell them about the virus, they’ll endanger society. But we need critical thinking and open dissent more than ever during this time. The capitalist ruling class is neglecting the needs of the masses while using the crisis to exacerbate inequality, and we poor and working people need to fight back. We must challenge the narratives which enable the imperialist war campaigns against China and other countries, and we must work to intensify the class struggle.

April 2, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Regime Change through the Drug War

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | April 1, 2020

The Justice Department’s securing of a criminal indictment of Venezuela’s president Nicolás Maduro reminds us that when it comes to the U.S. government’s regime-change operations, coups, invasions, sanctions, embargoes, and state-sponsored assassinations are not the only ways to achieve regime change. Another way is through a criminal indictment issued by a federal grand jury that deferentially accedes to the wishes of federal prosecutors.

The best example of this regime change method involved the president of Panama, Manuel Noriega.

Like many corrupt and brutal dictators around the world, Noriega was a partner and ally of the U.S. government. In fact, he was actually trained at the Pentagon’s School of the Americas, which is referred to in Latin America as the School of Assassins. He later served as a paid asset of the CIA. He also served as a conduit for the U.S. government’s illegal war in Nicaragua, where U.S. officials were using the Contra rebels to effect a regime change in that country.

But like other loyal pro-U.S. dictators, Noriega fell out of favor with U.S. officials, who decided they wanted him out of office and replaced with someone more to their liking.

The big problem, of course, is the one that always afflicts U.S. regime-change aspirations: Noriega refused to go voluntarily.

U.S. officials knew that it would look bad to simply invade the country and effect a regime-change operation through force of arms. Undoubtedly, they considered a state-sponsored assassination through the CIA, which specialized in that form of regime change, but for whatever reason that regime-method wasn’t employed.

So, the regime-changers turned to the U.S. Justice Department, which secured a criminal indictment against Noriega for supposedly violating America’s drug laws. The U.S. rationale was that the U.S. government, as the world’s international policeman, has jurisdiction to enforce its drug laws against everyone in the world.

On December 20,  1989, the U.S. military invaded Panama to bring Noriega back to the United States to stand trial on the drug charges. One might consider the invasion to be one gigantic no-knock raid on an entire country as part of U.S. drug-war enforcement.

An estimated 23-60 U.S. soldiers were killed in the operation while some 300 were wounded. An estimated 300-800 Panamanian soldiers were killed. Estimates of civilian deaths ranged from 200 to 3,000. Property damage ranged in the billions of dollars.

But it was all considered worth it. By capturing Noriega and bringing him back for trial, U.S. officials felt that they had made big progress in finally winning the war on drugs. Equally important, they had secured the regime change that had been their original goal. At the same time, they sent a message to other rulers around the world: Leave office when we say or we’ll do this to you.

Noriega was convicted and received a 40-year jail sentence. When his lawyers tried to introduce evidence at trial of his close working relationship with the CIA and other elements of the U.S. national security state, not surprisingly federal prosecutors objected and the judge sustained their objections. Better to keep those types of things as secret as possible.

Alas, Noriega’s conviction and incarceration did not bring an end to the war on drugs, as this crooked, corrupt, failed, and racially bigoted government program continues to this day. Moreover, as Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro might soon find out., the drug war continues to provide an effective way for U.S. officials to effect regime change.

April 1, 2020 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

All Roads Lead to Dark Winter

By Whitney Webb | The Last American Vagabond | April 1, 2020

The leaders of two controversial pandemic simulations that took place just months before the Coronavirus crisis – Event 201 and Crimson Contagion – share a common history, the 2001 biowarfare simulation Dark Winter. Dark Winter not only predicted the 2001 anthrax attacks, but some of its participants had clear foreknowledge of those attacks.

During the presidency of George H.W. Bush in the early 1990s, something disturbing unfolded at the U.S.’ top biological warfare research facility at Fort Detrick, Maryland. Specimens of highly contagious and deadly pathogens – anthrax and ebola among them – had disappeared from the lab, at a time when lab workers and rival scientists had been accused of targeted sexual and ethnic harassment and several disgruntled researchers had left as a result.

In addition to missing samples of anthrax, ebola, hanta virus and a variant of AIDS, two of the missing specimens had been labeled “unknown” – “an Army euphemism for classified research whose subject was secret,” according to reports. The vast majority of the specimens lost were never found and an Army spokesperson would later claim that it was “likely some were simply thrown out with the trash.”

An internal Army inquiry in 1992 would reveal that one employee, Lt. Col. Philip Zack, had been caught on camera secretly entering the lab to conduct “unauthorized research, apparently involving anthrax,” the Hartford Courant would later report. Despite this, Zack would continue to do infectious disease research for pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and would collaborate with the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) throughout the 1990s.

The Courant had also noted that: “A numerical counter on a piece of lab equipment had been rolled back to hide work done by the mystery researcher [later revealed to be Zack], who left the misspelled label ‘antrax’ in the machine’s electronic memory.” The Courant’s report further detailed the extremely lax security controls and chaotic disorganization that then characterized the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) lab in Fort Detrick.

This same lab would, a decade later, be officially labeled as the source of the anthrax spores responsible for the 2001 anthrax attacks, attacks which are also officially said to have been the work of a “deranged” USAMRIID researcher, despite initially having been blamed on Saddam Hussein and Iraq by top government officials and mainstream media. Those attacks killed 5 Americans and sickened 17.

Yet, as the investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks unfolded, accusations from major U.S. newspapers soon emerged that the FBI was deliberately sabotaging the probe to protect the Anthrax attacker and that the CIA and U.S. military intelligence had refused to cooperate with the investigation. The FBI did not officially close their investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks, nicknamed “Amerithrax,” until 2010 and aspects of that investigation still remain classified.

More recently, this past July, the same Fort Detrick lab would be shut down by the CDC, after it was found that researchers “did not maintain an accurate or current inventory” for toxins and “failed to safeguard against unauthorized access to select agents.” The closure of the lab for its numerous breaches of biosafety protocols would be hidden from Congress and the facility would controversially be partially reopened last November before all of the identified biosafety issues were resolved.

The same day that the lab was controversially allowed to partially reopen, which was the result of heavy lobbying from the Pentagon, local news outlets reported that the lab had suffered “two breaches of containment” last year, though the nature of those breaches and the pathogens involved were redacted in the inspection findings report obtained by the Frederick News Post. Notably, USAMRIID has, since the 1980s, worked closely with virologists and virology labs in Wuhan, China, where the first epicenter of the current novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) cases emerged. The Chinese government has since alleged that the virus had been brought to China by members of the U.S. military, members of which attended the World Military Games in the country last October.

Such similarities among these Fort Detrick lab breaches, from the early 1990s to 2001 to the present, may be nothing more than unfortunate coincidences that are the result of a stubborn federal government and military that have repeatedly refused to enforce the necessary stringent safety precautions on the nation’s top biological warfare laboratory.

Yet, upon examining not only these biosafety incidents at Fort Detrick, but the 2001 Anthrax attacks and the current Covid-19 outbreak, another odd commonality stands out — high-level war games exercises took place in June 2001 that eerily predicted not only the Anthrax attacks, but also the initial government narrative of those attacks and much, much more.

That June 2001 exercise, known as “Dark Winter,” also predicted many aspects of government pandemic response that would later re-emerge in last October’s simulation “Event 201,” which predicted a global pandemic caused by a novel Coronavirus just months before the Covid-19 outbreak. In addition, the U.S. government would lead its own multi-part series of pandemic simulations, called “Crimson Contagion,” that would also predict aspects of the Covid-19 outbreak and government response.

Upon further investigation, key leaders of both Event 201 and Crimson Contagion, not only have deep and longstanding ties to U.S. Intelligence and the U.S. Department of Defense, they were all previously involved in that same June 2001 exercise, Dark Winter. Some of these same individuals would also play a role in the FBI’s “sabotaged” investigation into the subsequent Anthrax attacks and are now handling major aspects of the U.S. government’s response to the Covid-19 crisis. One of those individuals, Robert Kadlec, was recently put in charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) entire Covid-19 response efforts, despite the fact that he was recently and directly responsible for actions that needlessly infected Americans with Covid-19.

Other major players in Dark Winter are now key drivers behind the “biodefense” mass surveillance programs currently being promoted as a technological solution to Covid-19’s spread, despite evidence that such programs actually worsen pandemic outbreaks. Others still have close connections to the insider trading that recently occurred among a select group of U.S. Senators regarding the economic impact of Covid-19 and are set to personally profit from lucrative contracts to develop not just one, but the majority, of experimental Covid-19 treatments and vaccines currently under development by U.S. companies.

This investigative series, entitled “Engineering Contagion: Amerithrax, Coronavirus and the Rise of the Biotech-Industrial Complex,” will examine these disturbing parallels between the 2001 anthrax attacks and the current scandals and “solutions” of the Covid-19 crisis as well as the simulations that eerily preceded both events. By tracing key actors in Dark Winter from 2001 to the present, it is also possible to trace the corruption that has lurked behind U.S. “biodefense” and pandemic preparedness efforts for decades and which now is rearing its ugly head as pandemic panic distracts the American and global public from the fundamentally untrustworthy, and frankly dangerous, individuals who are in control of the U.S. government’s and corporate America’s response.

Given their involvement in Dark Winter and, more recently, Event 201 and Crimson Contagion, this series seeks to explore the possibility that, just like the 2001 anthrax attacks, government insiders had foreknowledge of the Covid-19 crisis on a scale that, thus far, has gone unreported and that those same insiders are now manipulating the government’s response and public panic in order to reap record profits and gain unprecedented power for themselves and control over people’s lives.

A Dark Winter Descends

In late June 2001, the U.S. military was preparing for a “Dark Winter.” At Andrews Air Force Base in Camp Springs, Maryland, several Congressmen, a former CIA director, a former FBI director, government insiders and privileged members of the press met to conduct a biowarfare simulation that would precede both the September 11 attacks and the 2001 Anthrax attacks by a matter of months. It specifically simulated the deliberate introduction of smallpox to the American public by a hostile actor.

The simulation was a collaborative effort led by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies (part of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security) in collaboration with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the Analytic Services (ANSER) Institute for Homeland Security and the Oklahoma National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism. The concept, design and script of the simulation were created by Tara O’Toole and Thomas Inglesby of the Johns Hopkins Center along with Randy Larsen and Mark DeMier of ANSER. The full script of the exercise can be read here.

The name for the exercise derives from a statement made by Robert Kadlec, who participated in the script created for the exercise, when he states that the lack of smallpox vaccines for the U.S. populace means that “it could be a very dark winter for America.” Kadlec, a veteran of the George W. Bush administration and a former lobbyist for military intelligence/intelligence contractors, is now leading HHS’ Covid-19 response and led the Trump administration’s 2019 “Crimson Contagion” exercises, which simulated a crippling pandemic influenza outbreak in the U.S. that had first originated in China. Kadlec’s professional history, his decades-old obsession with apocalyptic bioweapon attack scenarios and the Crimson Contagion exercises themselves are the subject of Part III of this series.

The Dark Winter exercise began with a briefing on the geopolitical context of the exercise, which included intelligence suggesting that China had intentionally introduced Foot and Mouth disease in Taiwan for economic and political advantage; that Al-Qaeda was seeking to purchase biological pathogens once weaponized by the Soviet Union; and that Saddam Hussein of Iraq had recruited former biowarfare specialists from the Soviet Union and was importing materials to create biological weapons. It further notes that a majority of Americans had opposed a planned deployment of U.S. soldiers to the Middle East, which was also opposed by Iraq, China and Russia. The script also asserts that the soldiers were being deployed to counter and potentially engage the Iraqi military. Later, as the exercise unfolds, many of those Americans once skeptical about this troop deployment soon begin calling for “revenge.”

Amid this backdrop, news suddenly breaks that smallpox, a disease long eradicated in the U.S. and globally, appears to have broken out in the state of Oklahoma. The participants in Dark Winter, representing the National Security Council, quickly deduce that smallpox has been deliberately introduced and that this is the result of a “bioterrorist attack on the United States.” The assumption is made that the attack is “related to decisions we may make to deploy troops to the Mid-East.”

Not unlike what is unfolding currently with the Covid-19 crisis, in Dark Winter, there is no means of rapid diagnosis for smallpox, no treatments available and no surge capacity in the healthcare system. The outbreak quickly spreads to numerous other U.S. states and throughout the world. Hospitals in the U.S. soon face “desperate situations” as “tens of thousands of ill or anxious persons seek care.” This is compounded by “grossly inadequate supplies” and “insufficient isolation rooms,” among other complications.

Since this exercise occurred in June 2001, the heavy hinting that Saddam Hussein-led Iraq and Al Qaeda are the main suspects is notable. Indeed, at one point in one of the fictional news reports used in the exercise, the reporter states that “Iraq might have provided the technology behind the attacks to terrorist groups based in Afghanistan.” Such claims that Iraq’s government was linked to Al Qaeda in Afghanistan would re-emerge months later in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, and would be heavily promoted by several Dark Winter participants such as former CIA Director James Woolsey, who would later swear under oath that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11. It would, of course, later emerge that Iraq’s connections to Al Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks were nonexistent as well as the fact that Iraq did not possess biological weapons or other “weapons of mass destruction.”

Notably, this insertion into one of the Dark Winter news clips was not the only part of the exercise that sought to link Saddam Hussein and Iraq to biological weapons. For instance, during the exercise, satellite imaging showed that a “suspected bioresearch facility” in Iraq appeared to be expanding an “exclusionary zone” in order to limit civilian activity near the facility as well as a “possible quarantine” area in the same area as this facility. Previously in the exercise, Iraq was one of three countries, along with Iran and North Korea, who were “repeatedly rumored” to have illicitly obtained Soviet smallpox cultures from defecting scientists and Iraq was alleged to have offered employment to a leading smallpox scientist who had worked on the Soviet bioweapons program.

Then, at the end of the exercise, a “prominent Iraqi defector” emerges who claims Iraq had arranged the bioweapons attack “through intermediaries,” which is deemed “highly credible” even though “there is no forensic evidence to support this claim.” Iraq officially denies the accusation, but vows to target the U.S. in “highly damaging ways” if the U.S. “takes action against Iraq.” It is thus unsurprising that, as will be shown later in this report, key participants in Dark Winter would heavily promote the narrative that Iraq was to blame for the 2001 Anthrax attacks. Other participants, including Robert Kadlec, would then become involved in the FBI’s “sabotaged” investigation once the Bureau began to focus on a domestic, as opposed to an international source.

In addition, as part of Dark Winter, mainstream media outlets, including the New York Times and others, were sent anonymous letters that threatened renewed attacks on the U.S., including anthrax attacks, if the U.S. did not withdraw its troops from the Middle East. In this simulation, those letters contained “a genetic fingerprint of the smallpox strain matching the fingerprint of the strain causing the current epidemic.” During the Anthrax attacks that would occur just a few months after Dark Winter, Judith Miller – who participated in Dark Winter – and other U.S. reporters would receive threatening letters with a white powder presumed to be Anthrax. In Miller’s case, the powder turned out to be harmless.

Other aspects of Dark Winter appear more notable now than ever, particularly in light of recent pandemic simulations that were conducted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security (Event 201) and the Trump administration (Crimson Contagion) in 2019, as well as the federal government’s current options for responding to Covid-19.

For instance, Dark Winter warns of “dangerous misinformation” spreading online selling “unverified” cures and making similarly “unverified” claims, all of which are deemed as posing a threat to public safety. Such concerns over online misinformation/disinformation and narrative control have recently surfaced in connection with the current Covid-19 crisis. Notable, however, is the fact that the “Event 201” simulation held last October, which simulated a global pandemic caused by a novel coronavirus, also greatly emphasized concerns about such misinformation/disinformation and suggested increased social media censorship and “limited internet shutdowns” to combat the issue. That simulation was co-hosted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, which is currently led by Dark Winter co-author Thomas Inglesby.

Dark Winter further discusses the suppression and removal of civil liberties, such as the possibility of the President to invoke “The Insurrection Act”, which would allow the military to act as law enforcement upon request by a State governor, as well as the possibility of “martial rule.” The Dark Winter script also discusses how options for martial rule “include, but are not limited to, prohibition of free assembly, national travel ban, quarantine of certain areas, suspension of the writ of habeas corpus [i.e. arrest without due process], and/or military trials in the event that the court system becomes dysfunctional.”

The exercise later includes “credible allegations” that those deemed “suspicious for smallpox” by authorities were illegally arrested or detained and that these arrests largely targeted low income individuals or ethnic minorities. In terms of current events, it is worth pointing out that U.S. Attorney General William Barr and the Department of Justice he leads have recently requested new “emergency powers” that are allegedly related to the current Covid-19 outbreak. That request specifically references the ability to indefinitely detain Americans without right to a free trial.

Weaving a narrative

After examining Dark Winter, it then becomes important to examine the events the exercise seemingly predicted, namely the 2001 anthrax attacks. This is particularly crucial for two reasons: first, that the source of the anthrax was later traced to a domestic source, allegedly the USAMRIID lab in Fort Detrick; and second, the mode of attack and the initial narrative of those attacks were straight out of the Dark Winter playbook. Furthermore, key players in the government response to the anthrax attacks, including those with apparent foreknowledge of the attacks, as well as those who sought (falsely) to link those attacks to Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda were also participants in Dark Winter.

Weeks before the first Anthrax case would be discovered, on the evening of September 11, 2001, then-Vice President Dick Cheney’s staff was told to start taking injections of the antibiotic Cipro in order to prevent Anthrax infection. In addition, at least one member of the press, journalist Richard Cohen – then at the Washington Post – had also been told to take Cipro soon after September 11 after receiving a tip “in a roundabout way from a high government official.” Who exactly in the Bush administration and in the Beltway began taking Cipro weeks prior to the anthrax attacks and for how long? Unfortunately, the answer to that question remains unanswered. Yet, it has since been revealed that the person who had told these officials to take Cipro was none other than Dark Winter participant Jerome Hauer, who had previously served for nearly 8 years at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command (USAMRDC), which oversees the USAMRIID lab at Fort Detrick.

Hauer, on September 11, 2001, was the managing director of Kroll Inc., a private intelligence and security company informally known as the “CIA of Wall Street,” a company that French intelligence had accused of acting as a front for the actual CIA. Kroll Inc., at the time of the attacks was responsible for security at the World Trade Center complex, yet Hauer was conveniently not present at his World Trade Center office on the day of the attacks, instead appearing on cable news. More on the series of “conveniences” that have followed Hauer throughout his career, especially over the course of 2001, and the massive amounts of money he stands to make off of the current Covid-19 epidemic will be discussed in detail in Part II of this series.

Then, on September 12, Donald Kagan of the neoconservative think tank the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), whose members populated key posts in the Bush administration, made an odd comment (for the time, anyway) about the September 11 attacks and anthrax. Speaking on Washington DC radio, Kagan – after suggesting that the U.S. should invade Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine in retaliation for September 11 – asks “What would have happened if they had anthrax on that plane?” That same day, James Woolsey, himself a PNAC member and also a Dark Winter participant, claimed that Iraq was to blame for September 11 during a cable news interview.

A week later, another PNAC member and advisor to the Bush White House– Richard Perle – told CNN that the next terror attack is likely to involve “chemical or biological weapons.” Soon after, Jerome Hauer re-emerges, claiming that the government now has a “new sense of urgency” regarding bioterrorist threats and asserts that “Osama Bin Laden wants to acquire these [biological] agents and we know he has links to Saddam and Saddam Hussein has them.” Of course, Saddam Hussein did not actually possess these biological weapons, although he did during the fictional Dark Winter exercise in which Hauer had actively participated. Just days after Hauer made these bold claims, ABC News reported that the alleged 9/11 hijackers may have intended to modify crop dusters to disperse Anthrax.

All of this took place several days before the first anthrax victim, photojournalist Bob Stevens, would even begin to show symptoms and over a week before doctors would even begin to suspect that his condition had been caused by anthrax poisoning.

On October 2, as Stevens’ health began to rapidly deteriorate, a new book co-written by journalist Judith Miller of the New York Times was released. Entitled “Germs: Biological Weapons and America’s Secret War,” the book asserted that the U.S. faced an unprecedented bioterrorism threat from terrorist groups like Al Qaeda. It further alleged that such groups may have teamed up with countries such as Iraq and Russia. Miller, who had participated in Dark Winter months prior, had conducted numerous interviews with senior White House officials for the book, particularly Dick Cheney’s chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

Libby, although he had not personally attended Dark Winter, was greatly impacted by the exercise when he learned of it, so much so that he had personally arranged for Cheney to watch the video of the entire Dark Winter exercise on September 20, 2001. Cheney took the contents of Dark Winter to the National Security Council the very next day. It would later be reported in New York magazine that, “a few days after 9/11,” the principal authors of Dark Winter – Randall Larsen, Tara O’Toole and Thomas Inglesby – would personally meet with Cheney and members of the administration’s national security staff about the exercise.

Larsen, who worked closely with Robert Kadlec throughout the 1990s, allegedly smuggled a test tube of weaponized Bacillus globigii, “almost genetically identical to anthrax,” into the meeting, according to that report. It is unclear when this meeting took place in relation to when Cheney had watched the video of the Dark Winter exercise.

The same day that Miller’s “Germs” was released, October 2, another odd occurrence took place. A former scientist at the USAMRIID lab at Fort Detrick, Dr. Ayaad Assaad, received a call from the FBI after someone who intimately knew Assaad’s work history and career in great detail (and who also claimed to have previously worked with Assaad) had anonymously accused him of being a “potential biological terrorist” with a deep-seated hatred of the U.S. government. At the time the letter was received by the FBI, neither the public nor the FBI were aware of any anthrax cases. Assaad, who was then working for the Environmental Protection Agency, told the FBI that he believed he was being framed by former co-workers. The FBI deemed this to be credible and never contacted Assaad in connection with the case again.

It later emerged in the Hartford Courant that Assaad had been the target of extensive harassment by a clique of co-workers at the USAMRIID lab in the early 1990s. One of those co-workers who had harassed Assaad would leave the lab disgruntled as a result of the controversy over Assaad’s harassment allegations. He would later return to the lab to conduct unauthorized, late night research on anthrax and be tied to several missing specimens of anthrax and other pathogens – Lt. Col. Philip Zack.

Zack, in 2001, was working for the U.S. biotechnology company Gilead Sciences. Though he first began working for Gilead in 1999, he was “handpicked” in 2001 to lead the establishment of “a new Project Management Department in conjunction with a complete restructure of R&D [Research and Development].” Donald Rumsfeld, another member of PNAC, became the chairman of Gilead Sciences in 1997 and he served as chairman of that company up until he became George W. Bush’s Secretary of Defense in early 2001.

Rumsfeld would later announce on September 10, 2001 that $2.3 trillion had gone “missing” from the Pentagon’s budget. The Pentagon’s accounting office, whose staff was attempting to locate these missing trillions, would be destroyed on September 11, 2001. Though planes being flown into the Pentagon would later be described by government officials as “unimaginable” and “unthinkable” after the attacks, a simulation of planes being flown into the Pentagon had been conducted less than a year prior to September 11.

Terror Redux

On October 4, 2001, Bob Stevens’ anthrax poisoning diagnosis was made known to the FBI and CDC and the public was then informed via a press conference. The second anthrax case was declared soon after and was a co-worker of Stevens’, who had worked for the Florida-based newspaper, the Sun.

A day later, White House officials began to immediately pressure then-FBI Director Robert Mueller to prove that the anthrax attacks were linked to Al Qaeda, despite there being no evidence to make such a link. “They really wanted to blame somebody in the Middle East,” a then-senior FBI official would later tell the New York Daily News of the meetings.

Over the next few weeks, suspicious letters containing fine, white powder were sent to well-known American journalists, including NBC’s Tom Brokaw and The New York Times’ Judith Miller, though the powder in the letter addressed to Miller was found to be harmless. Notably, Miller and other New York Times journalists wrote a total of 27 articles specifically about anthrax and its potential use as a bioweapon between September 12, 2001 and the day before Stevens was diagnosed with anthrax poisoning.

Letters containing anthrax were also received by Senators Tom Daschle, Russ Feingold and Patrick Leahy, all of whom were – at the time – preventing the US Patriot Act from quickly passing through the Senate and who were resisting administration attempts to ram the legislation through with little to no debate. Several of the letters included the date “9-11-01” and the phrases “Death to America, Death to Israel, Allah is great” in neatly-printed block letters.

Soon after, a suspicious letter was found in the office of then-Congressman and current Vice President Mike Pence. Media Roots noted the following about Pence’s subsequent press conference in a 2018 podcast that examined the timeline of the 2001 anthrax attacks:

“… Mike Pence, who once hosted an AM talk show describing himself as ‘Rush Limbaugh on decaf,’ conducts a press conference outside the Capitol proclaiming revenge and biblical style justice to whoever conducted the anthrax attacks. His family–with news cameras in tow–gets tested for anthrax at the hospital after it is allegedly found in his office.

No news outlets questioned his grandstanding or odd performance of going to the hospital with his family, and unlike Senators Daschle and Leahy in their press appearances, Mike Pence alluded to the anthrax letters being connected to the larger ‘war on terror.’”

As public panic swelled, more letters continued to be found, not just in the United States but around the world, with anthrax and/or hoax letters being found in Japan, Kenya, Israel, China and Australia, among others. Simultaneously, efforts to link the anthrax attacks to Saddam Hussein and Iraq began to emerge and quickly grew in intensity and number.

The media push to link the attacks to Iraq began first with The Guardian and then was followed by U.S. media outlets like The Wall Street Journal. Those early reports cited unnamed “American investigators” and defense officials and largely centered on the false claim that alleged 9/11 mastermind Mohammad Atta had met with an Iraqi diplomat in Prague in late 2000 as well as similarly false allegations that members of Al Qaeda had recently obtained vials of anthrax in the Czech Republic.

A key person in disseminating that false Prague story was Dark Winter participant and PNAC member James Woolsey. It was also revealed in late October 2001 that Woolsey was serving as the personal emissary of Paul Wolfowitz, Iraq War “architect” and then-Deputy Secretary of Defense, in “investigating Iraqi involvement in the September 11 attacks and anthrax outbreaks.”

Beyond the Pentagon, foreign “experts” soon began to assert that there was a link between the anthrax attacks and Iraq, including former Israeli military intelligence officer Dany Shoham. Shoham recently resurfaced this past January after claiming that Covid-19 was developed by the Chinese government as a bioweapon.

These assertions were soon followed by a report from ABC News’ Brian Ross, who (again falsely) claimed that some of the anthrax used in the attacks had contained bentonite. Ross claimed that bentonite “is a trademark of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s biological weapons program” and that “only one country, Iraq, has used bentonite to produce biological weapons.” Ross asserted this information had come from three “well-placed but separate sources,” which later grew to four. Yet, no tests conducted during the Anthrax investigation ever found any bentonite at all, meaning the story was an invention from the very start. ABC and Brian Ross never retracted the story.

Glenn Greenwald, then writing at Salon, would state the following about Ross’ sources in 2008:

“Ross’ allegedly four separate sources had to have some specific knowledge of the tests conducted and, if they were really “well-placed,” one would presume that meant they had some connection to the laboratory where the tests were conducted — Ft. Detrick. That means that the same Government lab where the anthrax attacks themselves came from was the same place where the false reports originated that blamed those attacks on Iraq.

It’s extremely possible — one could say highly likely — that the same people responsible for perpetrating the attacks were the ones who fed the false reports to the public, through ABC News, that Saddam was behind them. What we know for certain — as a result of the letters accompanying the anthrax — is that whoever perpetrated the attacks wanted the public to believe they were sent by foreign Muslims. Feeding claims to ABC News designed to link Saddam to those attacks would, for obvious reasons, promote the goal of the anthrax attacker(s).”

Soon, media reports began noting the contradictory messaging of the U.S. government with regards to the anthrax attacks, messaging which has striking parallels to the Trump administration’s messaging on Covid-19. In one such report, written by Matthew Engel for The Guardian, states:

“Those in charge have compounded the problems by sending out confused messages. Was the anthrax weapons-grade or not? Should Americans be alarmed or relaxed? Has President Bush himself been tested? The signals keep changing. Mr. Thompson suggested early on that Bob Stevens, the first anthrax victim, might have drunk from an infected stream.”

During the 2001 anthrax attacks, there was no shortage of contradictory actions either, such as the government’s failure to mandate that postal workers take Cipro or even take the simplest precautions even though members of the Bush administration had been taking Cipro weeks before the anthrax attacks were known to the FBI and the public. Even worse, the Bush administration waited an extremely long time to close post offices for anthrax testing, waiting until numerous postal workers had already become infected and some had already died. In addition, Ernesto Blanco – a Florida mail room worker who later recovered from Anthrax poisoning – and his family were left confused about the refusal of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to diagnose him with anthrax poisoning while he was in dire condition. Blanco’s family later claimed that his diagnosis had been kept a secret for political reasons.

BASIS for surveillance and control

The contradictory response of the Bush administration to the anthrax attacks and the panic that ensued was also paralleled by an equally contradictory sensor system, one which had been installed just a few months before the anthrax attacks in thirty cities throughout the U.S. despite a dubious record of accuracy.

Just as the fictional scenarios proposed in Dark Winter were being written, American scientists were developing a sensor system for the detection of anthrax and botulinum toxin called BASIS (Biological Aerosol Sentry and Information Systems). Months before anthrax would cause extreme panic and target American Senators, scientists from Los Alamos and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory were testing the biological sensing device at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, inside the Special Programs Division of what was once the site of the U.S. biological weapons program and where anthrax samples used at Fort Detrick are often produced.

It is worth noting that Dugway, not unlike Fort Detrick, has longstanding issues with biosafety lapses that have resulted in numerous mishaps, such as their accidental shipment of live anthrax over 70 times to 86 different labs throughout the world from 2005-2015. Independent analyses conducted after the FBI closed its investigation into the attacks have suggested that Dugway may have been the source of the anthrax used in the attacks, as opposed to Fort Detrick.

Returning to BASIS, the results of the tests conducted on this new sensor system in 2001 showed that it was highly prone to generating false positives and was, therefore, worthless beyond the ability to “induce the very panic and social disruption it is intended to thwart“, according to the Livermore Laboratory, which nevertheless marketed BASIS as a tool to “guard the air we breathe.” Vice President Cheney, following his September 2001 briefing on Dark Winter, decided to install the system in the White House.

Days after Senator Tom Daschle’s press conference that revealed he had been targeted by the anthrax attacker, President Bush was in Shanghai attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit when he received a call from Dick Cheney on Airforce Two. Cheney delivered a chilling message — the President and Secretaries Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, who were with Bush in China, might have been exposed to the ultra-lethal botulinum toxin at the White House.

BASIS had returned two positive results for the deadly neurotoxin and – if the tests held true – three of the U.S.’ highest ranking officials were “toast.” Yet, once again, BASIS had lived up to its reputation as a great panic-inducing mechanism when the supposed botulinum toxin hits were determined to have been false positives. Apparently, this “unintended” feature was a real selling point, as proven by George W. Bush’s subsequent deployment of the system in thirty cities throughout the country under the auspices of the newly-minted Department of Homeland Security as part of a program called Bio-Watch.

Given the events described, it is noteworthy that BASIS relies on the CDC’s Laboratory Response Network (LRN) to identify the biological agents trapped by its sensors. The 150 state and local laboratories that make up the LRN use a polymerase chain reaction (PCR-based) analysis, which is ill-equipped to detect the aforementioned botulinum toxin. In addition, the Bio-Watch program is plagued by bureaucratic and logistical problems, which further undermine any potential public health benefits.

DHS was fully aware of the program’s limitations from the start and issued requests for proposals (RFPs) for the development of autonomous sensor technology that would eliminate the need for manual sample collection. The Bioagent Autonomous Networked Detector (BAND) program was then initiated by HSARPA (Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency) in September of 2003 and, in 2008, awarded a multi-year contract for its development to MicroFluidic Systems, Inc., a company founded by Allen Northrup. Northup is also co-founder of Cepheid, a diagnostic testing company that received FDA approval for a 45-minute Covid-19 test less than two weeks ago.

In tandem with the development of BASIS shortly before 9/11 and the 2001 anthrax attacks, DARPA was sponsoring a surveillance program to collect data on U.S. citizens without their knowledge or consent by using their medical records. The ostensible purpose of that program was to develop algorithms that could detect a bioweapons attack based on real-time data input. The Bio-Event Advanced Leading Indicator Recognition Technology, or Bio-ALIRT, is at the heart of what Dark Winter co-author, Dr. Tara O’Toole, calls the “information supply chain.”

“We need to have a disciplined flow of information during epidemics that goes to the people who need to know what they need to know,” O’Toole recently told Ira Pastor in an interview. “That’s different from this cosmic surveillance system, that captures all the possible information all the time and tells us, in advance when an epidemic is coming. We need a supply chain of information to manage the epidemic.” O’Toole, who now works for the CIA’s venture capital arm In-Q-Tel, and her longstanding promotion of mass surveillance in the name of “public health” will be discussed in a subsequent installment of this series.

DARPA’s partners in this Orwellian endeavor were, perhaps unsurprisingly, recurring actors in the arena of biological attack simulations, from Johns Hopkins to the University of Pittsburgh – the Biosecurity centers of which were both previously run by O’Toole – and defense industry giants, General Dynamics and IBM.

Hovering over these draconian innovations floats the overarching narrative, which the 2001 anthrax attacks were supposed to activate in popular consciousness. Though the attacks would be pinned on USAMRIID scientist Bruce Ivins, the highly questionable investigative and prosecutorial methods employed in Ivins’ case, not to mention his timely pre-trial suicide, may instead offer clues regarding a botched false flag operation that had originally been designed to bolster the creation of a new geopolitical chessboard pitting the U.S. against its same perpetual enemies.

Covering up the real conspiracy

Dark Winter

From its earliest moments, the FBI’s “Amerithrax” investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks was clearly botched, sabotaged and even farcical. For instance, the letter sent to Dr. Ayaad Assaad would obviously have been a clear starting point for any honest investigation, as whoever wrote it had obvious foreknowledge of the attacks, connections to USAMRIID and was attempting to frame someone else for a crime that – at the time it was sent – had yet to be committed. Yet, The Hartford Courant noted in late 2001 that “the FBI is not tracking the source of the anonymous letter, despite its curious timing, coming a matter of days before the existence of anthrax-laced mail became known.” Why would the FBI not be interested in who wrote that letter, when it presents a clear lead on someone who, at the very least, knew a bioterrorism attack would soon take place and that the attacker’s profile would fit that of Assaad (i.e. Muslim and a former USAMRIID scientist).

In addition, in the early days of the investigation on October 12, 2001 – just one week after the attacks had claimed their first victim, the FBI called the University of Iowa and demanded that they destroy their entire database on the Ames strain of anthrax, the strain that would later be revealed to have been the very strain used in the attacks.

Both the FBI and the university officially claimed that the database’s destruction was ordered in order to prevent its potential use by terrorists in the future and was thus a “precaution,” despite greatly hampering the capacity of the investigation to determine the origins of the anthrax used in the attacks. Dr. Francis Boyle, an American law professor who drafted the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, later asserted that the FBI’s decision to order the destruction of the Ames strain database was an “obstruction of justice, a federal crime,” adding that “… That collection should have been preserved and protected as evidence. That’s the DNA, the fingerprints right there.”

Can the destruction of the Ames strain database and the decision to not pursue any leads related to the anonymous letter framing Dr. Assaad be written off as merely “missteps” made in the earliest and arguably most crucial days of the investigation? The fact that the Bush administration, as previously mentioned, was strongly pressuring then-FBI Director Robert Mueller to find a connection to “someone in the Middle East” at the same time these decision were made instead suggests that the investigation was highly politicized and manipulated by top government officials from the very beginning.

The FBI investigation continued to be marred by similarly obstructive actions. For instance, the anthrax sample that was in the envelope addressed to Senator Patrick Leahy had been found to contain traces of human DNA, a crucial finding that the FBI laboratory deliberately concealed from the agency’s own investigators. The FBI lab then declined to search for a match to this human DNA sample, despite the fact that doing so would – in all probability – lead to the actual attacker.

Due to all the obstruction and deliberate sabotage that took place, the investigation progressed slowly as crucial clues were ignored or outright discarded, apparently in order to keep FBI investigators off of the real trail. After coming under political and media pressure to at least name a suspect, the FBI began to focus on former USAMRIID researcher Stephen Hatfill.

Despite lacking any good reason to pursue Hatfill, the FBI – accompanied by TV crews – raided Hatfill’s apartment in biohazard suits and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft later publicly named him a “person of interest” in the case. The FBI pressured Hatfill’s then-employer to fire him and refused to clear his name years after the Bureau knew full well that he had no connection to the crime. Hatfill first sued the government in 2003 and the Department of Justice settled with Hatfill five years later, paying him $4.6 million in damages.

Though it was eventually settled, Hatfill’s lawsuit initially resulted in some odd claims from FBI investigators, with Richard Lambert – the FBI official in charge of the Amerithrax investigation, claiming that the lawsuit “could jeopardize the probe and expose national secrets related to U.S. bioweapons defense measures.” He also claimed it would “make public the vulnerabilities and capabilities of U.S. government installations to bioweapons attacks and expose sensitive intelligence collection sources and methods.” Lambert would later file a federal whistleblower lawsuit where he accused the Bureau’s Washington field office and FBI headquarters of having “greatly obstructed and impeded the investigation.”

The Department of Justice, which oversees the FBI, would make a similar argument when Maureen Stevens, the wife of the first anthrax victim Bob Stevens, sued the federal government over the lax security measures in place at the USAMRIID lab where the anthrax used in the attacks was alleged to have originated. Stevens’ lawyer said the lawsuit was also filed due to “the government’s stonewalling tactics,” which included “taking months to turn over an autopsy report, denying them access to DNA tests and even denying them money from the Sept. 11 Victims Compensation Fund.” Citing “national security concerns,” federal attorneys sought to delay Stevens’ lawsuit, arguing that the litigation “would pose a significant risk of disclosing classified or sensitive information relating to the acquisition, development and use of weapons of mass destruction such as anthrax.”

In 2008, soon after Hatfill was cleared and the lawsuit with him settled, the FBI began to focus on another USAMRIID researcher, Dr. Bruce E. Ivins. Ivins, who had previously helped the FBI analyze the anthrax used in the letters sent to politicians, journalists and others, was aggressively targeted by the FBI through aggressive surveillance and what can only be described as extreme harassment.

As Glenn Greenwald noted in Salon in 2008, “the FBI investigation was so heavy-handed that it actually entailed showing gruesome photographs of the anthrax victims to Ivins’ adult children, telling them that their father is the one who did that, while trying to entice them to turn on him with promises of a reward.” It was also revealed that addiction counselor Jean Duley, whose restraining order against Ivins was used by the media as “proof” that he was deranged and a likely “lone wolf” terrorist, had actually been egged on by none other than the FBI to seek that very restraining order.

The FBI, as it ramped up its targeting of Ivins, leaked much of its evidence to media outlets, which – for the most part – uncritically reported it. However, it eventually became clear that the case was shoddy and would never hold up in court as it was built on circumstantial evidence and questionable scientific analyses.

It was then announced on July 29, 2008 that Ivins, whose life and career had been left in ruins by the FBI’s aggressive tactics, had committed suicide just as the federal government was set to charge him as the sole culprit behind the Anthrax attacks. Few chose to question the suicide narrative despite there being legitimate reasons to do so, such as the lack of a suicide note at the scene and the fact that no autopsy was ever performed on Ivins’ corpse.

Former FBI agent Richard Lambert’s whistleblower lawsuit would later reveal that the FBI had intentionally withheld a “wealth” of evidence that proved Ivins’ innocence and further charged that the DOJ and FBI had “crafted an elaborate perception management campaign to bolster their assertion of Ivins’ guilt” that included “press conferences and highly selective evidentiary presentations which were replete with material omissions.”

After Ivins’ suicide, questions continued to arise regarding the FBI’s case against the deceased scientist, with several journalists and even Senator Patrick Leahy – who had been sent an Anthrax letter – insisting that the FBI’s case against Ivins, particularly the charge that he had acted alone, was implausible. A former co-worker of Ivins and one of the country’s top biowarfare experts, Richard Spertzel, asserted in The Wall Street Journal that Ivins couldn’t have been the culprit because Ivins did not know how to make anthrax of the quality used in the attacks as only 4-5 people in the entire country, Spertzel being one of them, knew how to do so. Spertzel asserted that one of those 4-5 people would have needed at least a year as well as a full lab and a staff dedicate to the task in order to produce the Anthrax used.

In an attempt to mollify mounting criticism, Mueller announced in September 2008 that a panel from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) would independently review the FBI’s “smoking gun” scientific analyses that had led them to accuse Ivins. However, the FBI abruptly closed the case in 2010, well before the panel could conclude its review, and stood by its controversial assertion that Ivins had acted as a “lone wolf” and that anthrax from a flask in Ivins’ lab was “conclusively identified as the parent material to the anthrax powder used in the mailings.”

When the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) did release its review of the FBI’s scientific findings a year later in 2011, it found that the Bureau’s “smoking gun” scientific evidence against Ivins was actually very inconclusive and they also identified several still, unresolved issues with the FBI’s analyses for which the Bureau could not provide an explanation.

However, because Ivins had died before the FBI’s scientific case could go to trial, the FBI’s claims would never be challenged in court. David Relman, vice chairman of the National Academy study committee, later told ProPublica that Ivins’ trial would have been the only way the FBI’s claims “could have been weighed and challenged by experts.”

The NAS study was not the only independent report that challenged the FBI’s case against Ivins after his apparent suicide. In 2014, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its own analysis of the FBI investigation and concluded that the FBI’s approach lacked consistency, adequate standards and precision. The GAO report ultimately supported the NAS’ conclusion that the scientific evidence did not definitely prove Ivins to be the culprit.

The conclusions of both the NAS and GAO reports show that the FBI’s “smoking gun” against Ivins – its scientific analyses – were hardly a smoking gun as they were just as circumstantial as the rest of the Bureau’s evidence against the scientist. This, of course, makes the timing of the FBI’s decision to close the case, a year before any independent analysis of its evidence against Ivins could be completed, significant.

A familiar cast of characters

Key players in Dark Winter would also end up playing a role in the FBI Amerithrax investigation and Bush administration efforts to link them to a foreign, rather than a domestic, source. For instance, as increasingly desperate efforts were made to link the anthrax attacks to Al Qaeda in early 2002, an “independent” team from the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies argued that the anthrax attackers were linked to Al Qaeda, citing a diagnosis made by a Florida doctor in June 2001 that alleged 9/11 hijacker Ahmed al-Haznawi had a skin lesion that was “consistent with cutaneous anthrax.”

Yet, this team from Johns Hopkins was – in reality — far from independent, as it was led by Dark Winter co-authors Tara O’Toole and Thomas Inglesby. However, their association with Dark Winter and their September 2001 meeting with Dick Cheney went unmentioned as media outlets ran with O’Toole and Inglesby’s assertion that al-Haznawi’s allegedly anthrax-related lesion “raises the possibility that the hijackers were handling anthrax and were the perpetrators of the anthrax letter attacks.” Other scientists and analysts as well as the FBI challenged and rejected their claims.

Another Dark Winter figure involved in the Amerithrax case was current Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Robert Kadlec, who became an adviser on biological warfare to the Rumsfeld-led Pentagon in the days after 9/11. Kadlec’s official biography states that he “contributed to the FBI investigation of the anthrax letter attacks,” though it’s unclear exactly what those contributions were, beyond having met at least once with scientists at Fort Detrick in November 2001. Whatever his contributions were, Kadlec has long been an emphatic supporter of the official narrative regarding Bruce Ivins, who he has referred to as a “deranged scientist” and the sole culprit behind the attacks. Kadlec has also used the official narrative about Ivins to assert that bioweapons have been “democratized,” which he argues means that weaponized pathogens can be wielded by essentially anyone with “a few thousand dollars” and enough time on their hands.

Notably, Kadlec isn’t the only key figure in the current U.S. government response to Covid-19 to have ties to the botched FBI investigation as current HHS Secretary Alex Azar was also involved in the FBI investigation. In addition, Azar stated at a White House press briefing in 2018 that he had been “personally involved in much of managing the response [to the anthrax attacks]” as then-General counsel to HHS.

Yet, given that the FBI investigation into the anthrax attacks and the government response to them were so disastrous and heavily criticized by independent and mainstream media alike, it is surprising that Azar and Kadlec would so proudly tout their involvement in that fiasco, especially considering that the scientific analyses used in that investigation were fatally flawed and, by all indications, led to the death of an innocent man.

While such credentials in a “normal” world would be grounds for exclusion from public service, they apparently have the opposite effect when it comes to post-2001 HHS policy and U.S. biodefense policy, which – especially following 2001 – has championed the interests and profits of corporate pharmaceutical companies and the apocalyptic vision of bioweapons held by war hawks and perpetual Cold Warriors. This latter category, of course, includes members of the now-defunct PNAC, who infamously referred to racially-targeted bioweapons as a “politically useful tool” in a now infamous 2001 document, and their ideological descendants.

As the next installment of this series will show, Dark Winter participant and 2001 anthrax attack insider Jerome Hauer epitomizes this merging of perpetual hawkishness and corporate pharmaceutical interests, as he has long held (and continues to occupy) key board positions of the very pharmaceutical company that not only sold tens of millions of anthrax vaccine doses to HHS following the 2001 anthrax attacks, but is now a partner in the development of the majority of vaccines, drugs and experimental treatments currently under development in the United States for the treatment of Covid-19.

April 1, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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