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ACIP discussed Moneypox drugs and vaccines at yesterday’s meeting and were lied to about both by CDC

By Meryl Nass, MD | June 24, 2022

3 Drugs that might be used for money pox

1. BrincidofovirBrincidofovir is licensed (since 1996) for treatment of smallpox but is not available in the US stockpile (termed the National Strategic Stockpile) and CDC is considering obtaining an expanded access IND (a legal permission from FDA to test/use it in people) so that it could legally be used if needed. But it could be used off-label, since it is licensed. Why is CDC jumping through unnecessary hoops? Probably in order to control the supply, in a similar though not identical manner to what FDA did with donated hydroxychloroquine.

2. TPOXX, the controversial drug made by SIGA Technologies. When the Obama administration first tried to buy this drug, Congress had a fit and the media helped blow up the deal. From David Willman, writing for the LA Times in 2011:

Over the last year, the Obama administration has aggressively pushed a $433-million plan to buy an experimental smallpox drug, despite uncertainty over whether it is needed or will work.

Senior officials have taken unusual steps to secure the contract for New York-based Siga Technologies Inc., whose controlling shareholder is billionaire Ronald O. Perelman, one of the world’s richest men and a longtime Democratic Party donor.

When Siga complained that contracting specialists at the Department of Health and Human Services were resisting the company’s financial demands, senior officials replaced the government’s lead negotiator for the deal, interviews and documents show.

When Siga was in danger of losing its grip on the contract a year ago, the officials blocked other firms from competing…

Negotiations over the price of the drug and Siga’s profit margin were contentious. In an internal memo in March, Dr. Richard J. Hatchett, chief medical officer for HHS’ biodefense preparedness unit, said Siga’s projected profit at that point was 180%, which he called “outrageous.”

So the Obama administration simply waited out the media storm, and bought the drug for $30 million more in 2013. Here is what the NYT said about it in 2013, when the purchase was finalized:

The United States government is buying enough of a new smallpox medicine to treat two million people in the event of a bioterrorism attack, and took delivery of the first shipment of it last week. But the purchase has set off a debate about the lucrative contract, with some experts saying the government is buying too much of the drug at too high a price.

A small company, Siga Technologies, developed the drug in recent years. Whether the $463 million order is a boondoggle or bargain depends on which expert is talking…

Dr. Henderson and Dr. Philip Russell, who formerly headed the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and served on the advisory panel with him, said they expected the government to pay much less for an antiviral drug since they cost little to make and the alternative, vaccines, cost the government $3 a dose. “If they’re talking $250 a course, they’re a bunch of thieves,” Dr. Russell said.

Asked how much TPOXX (Tecovirimat) and 3. Vaccinia Immune Globulin there is in the stockpile, the CDC’s Dr. Petersen would not answer, only saying there was enough. He didn’t know that I recalled the NY Times had spilled the beans on the initial purchase of 2 million courses. How much have they bought since? Presumably someone decided it would not be in the governments’ best interest for the public to know how much of these unproven products were purchased from a top Dem donor.

In 2018, FDA gave the drug a license. The NYT explained how this happened:

The antiviral pill, tecovirimat, also known as Tpoxx, has never been tested in humans with smallpox because the disease was declared eradicated in 1980, three years after the last known case.

But it was very effective at protecting animals deliberately infected with monkeypox and rabbitpox, two related diseases that can be lethal. It also caused no severe side effects when safety-tested in 359 healthy human volunteers, the F.D.A. said…

The F.D.A. approval of the drug went to Siga Technologies of Corvallis, Ore., a private company that developed the medicine under a federal biomedical defense contract… Research on tecovirimat — originally designated ST-246 — began at the institute (NIAID) after the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, Dr. Fauci said.

So the taxpayer paid to develop it, and paid through the nose to buy it, Fauci-style, no doubt paying royalties back to the NIAID.

Is there a public health emergency?

Dr. Maldonado asked about the possible designation of a public health emergency of International Concern by WHO, and how this would impact CDC.

Yes, WHO had a meeting to discuss this today, said Dr. Petersen, and CDC participated but he does not know what the result was. EUAs could eventuate if there are emergency declarations.

Dr. Maldonado further noted that the presentation (the severity and overall clinical picture) of moneypox is unexpected for orthopox viruses… and then asks what to do about children. There have been NO child cases internationally (excluding Africa?—Nass) said Dr. Rao. She says cases in Nigeria have been strange too, but I was confused about whether they were equivalent to those in the west or more like historical cases. Dr. Petersen agreed. Melinda Wharton (the new exec secretary of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) as well as having been a member of the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee) says that recommended PPE for moneypox includes gloves and respirator, and was not sure if medical providers would be considered at risk after seeing a patient, particularly if they used no respirator.

Dr. Rao says she will need to get back to the committee on this; the risk exposure assessment is being revised, it seems, by CDC.

Dr. Fryhofer asked about expected adverse events of the proposed drugs. Cidofovir has renal toxicity and is used with cimetidine in an effort to prevent that. Brincidofovir has liver and GI toxicity.

TPOXX is “quite safe and well tolerated” says Dr. Petersen.

However, it was only tested in 359 people in a phase 3 trial, according to the label. At least one experienced EKG (cardiac) changes, and at least one had a drop in their blood count. Another had palpable purpura, which can be quite serious, usually the result of autoimmune vasculitis. Facial swelling suggests anaphylaxis. That is a rate of more than 1% experiencing serious adverse events after only taking the drug for 14 days or less. This was the first lie I caught him on.

Regarding how moneypox spreads, Dr. Rao says “the cases we are aware of are due to skin contact or towels, bedding”. 99% of cases recently were attributed to gay males, I read elsewhere. Dr. Long persists with her original question, asking whether the general US population should be worried about normal casual contacts, like going to the grocery store? Dr. Rao hedges, saying that Americans don’t need to worry about this, and at first said it seems to require “pretty intimate contact.” But then she qualified it, noting, “The risk to the general public at this time is still very low.”

Dr. Rao is asked to comment on a CDC statement that the virus is transmitted through respiratory secretions. She says it is due to saliva, respiratory droplets, implying no airborne spread.

Dr. Sanchez asks how severe the disease actually is. The breifer said hospitalizations have been for pain control, like proctitis. 197 courses of TPOXX have been distributed and 8 cases have received the drug… but none have gotten it iv, so I am again confused by the answer. I think what was meant is that no one has received immune globulin (an iv drug) yet. Dr. Petersen admits cases have been mild.

Dr. Grace Lee says she was exhausted, they have been meeting so much to provide info to the public, and it is time to adjourn.

__________________

My computer saves the day

I am so glad my computer started broadcasting the end of the ACIP meeting when I finally got to my destination—as soon as it connected to wifi and before I had even plugged it in, it began talking to me. I heard the second part of Dr. Brent Petersen’s presentation, and the questions, described above.

Why am I glad? Because I caught Dr. Petersen lying to the ACIP. Twice. He claimed that there were 5.7. cases of myocarditis per 1,000 recipients due to ACAM2000 smallpox vaccine [true], but none from Jynneos.

This reminded me that before I began live-blogging some of the meetings, years ago, I had discovered from reading the abbreviated ACIP meeting minutes [who knows how accurate they are?] that the CDC briefers were lying to the ACIP about anthrax vaccine. It seems they leave nothing to chance in order to get their desired vaccine approvals.

If you read my post on Monkeypox published June 22, you would know that I looked over the 200 page FDA licensure review of the Jynneos smallpox-monkeypox vaccine. That is where I discovered that 2 studies of Jynneos found that 11% in one and and 18% of recipients in the other had developed elevated levels of cardiac enzymes (troponin). This implies heart muscle damage of some kind. It was not studied further, and the reviewers admitted they did not know whether myocarditis was caused by the Jynneos vaccine, or not. And that they would need to perform future surveillance to find out.

I wonder why Dr. Petersen, one of CDC’s monkeypox leads, brazenly lied to the committee about this? Was he so instructed? Or was he incompetent and ignorant? We can probably assume that CDC’s employees know on which side their bread is buttered. Since CDC has made the decision that Jynneos is to be used against monkeypox, despite its apparently awful risk-benefit ratio (see my monkeypox article) I imagine all its employees will be sticking to this story.

__________________

Here is what the Jynneos label (aka package insert, the legal document explaining the studies that led to licensure) has to say. 1.3% of recipients had a cardiac adverse event of special interest, and 2.1% if they had previously been vaccinated for smallpox. That seems pretty serious, and it seems like a very high rate: 1 in 75. From the label:

Cardiac AESIs were reported to occur in 1.3% (95/7,093) of JYNNEOS recipients and 0.2% (3/1,206)
of placebo recipients who were smallpox vaccine-naïve. Cardiac AESIs were reported to occur in
2.1% (16/766) of JYNNEOS recipients who were smallpox vaccine-experienced. The higher
proportion of JYNNEOS recipients who experienced cardiac AESIs was driven by 28 cases of
asymptomatic post-vaccination elevation of troponin-I in two studies: Study 5, which enrolled
482 HIV-infected subjects and 97 healthy subjects, and Study 6, which enrolled 350 subjects with
atopic dermatitis and 282 healthy subjects. An additional 127 cases of asymptomatic post-vaccination
elevation of troponin-I above the upper limit of normal but not above 2 times the upper limit of normal
were documented in JYNNEOS recipients throughout the clinical development program, 124 of which
occurred in Study 5 and Study 6. Proportions of subjects with troponin-I elevations were similar
between healthy and HIV-infected subjects in Study 5 and between healthy and atopic dermatitis
subjects in Study 6. A different troponin assay was used in these two studies compared to the other
studies, and these two studies had no placebo controls. The clinical significance of these
asymptomatic post-vaccination elevations of troponin-I is unknown.

Among the cardiac AESIs reported, 6 cases (0.08%) were considered to be causally related to
JYNNEOS vaccination and included tachycardia, electrocardiogram T wave inversion,
electrocardiogram abnormal, electrocardiogram ST segment elevation, electrocardiogram T wave
abnormal, and palpitations.

None of the cardiac AESIs considered causally related to study vaccination were considered serious.

June 24, 2022 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

They’re Coming to Take You Away

Biden Administration steps up its war on the American People

BY PHILIP GIRALDI • UNZ REVIEW • FEBRUARY 1, 2022

What would a completely unscrupulous chief executive whose sole purpose in life is to seize power and never relinquish it do to conceal his evil intentions? He or she would use deception to change the narrative. Many are beginning to recognize that that is precisely what the Democrats are doing and their game plan includes demonizing both Russia and China to create plausible external enemies while also generating fear and uncertainty around alleged domestic threats as well as the COVID menace, to include initiating mandates designed to make the people submissive and fearful of legal and personal consequences for defying the government. Well, be that as it may, the penny has finally dropped and it is now clear that Biden-Pelosi-Schumer are intent on changing the rules and using lawfare and other tools to create a permanent governing majority.

The key to power in this case has been exploiting the legal system to criminalize many forms of dissent. For the past year President Joe Biden and his Department of Justice sidekick Attorney General Merrick Garland have been making noises about all the terrorists running around loose in the country. And they have not been shy about suggesting that the alleged terrorists are nothing less that “white supremacists” who are allegedly promoting violence to address their grievances against the new administration in Washington. Well, it has now become official. The Biden government has mobilized and has finally declared “war on the American people,” most particularly the third or so of the population that has concerns about the conduct and results of the 2020 election as well as over the “woke” racial preference policies that the government has been aggressively promoting.

On January 11th, Matthew Olsen, head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, revealed to the Senate Judiciary Committee that the FBI has now created a special unit that will deal exclusively with “domestic terrorism,” which it further describes as constituting an “elevated threat” to American democracy. Olsen claimed that there has been a large increase in “domestic extremism” reports having doubled in 2021 compared with the previous year. The new unit will “augment the existing approach” by way of additional resources that have been made available to identify the dissidents, track them down, arrest them and try them under the authority of various laws that were originally conceived as a legal tool to combat the perceived international terrorist threat after 9/11.

Olsen, citing what he referred to as the January 6th 2021 “riot” at the Capitol in Washington, elaborated how the Department of Justice believes that the nation now faces a serious threat from “domestic violent extremists — that is, individuals in the United States who seek to commit violent criminal acts in furtherance of domestic social or political goals.” He also suggested a racist motive behind some of the violence, adding that “We’ve seen a growing threat from those who are motivated by racial animus…,” and observed that the “terrorists” often are “anti-Authority,” whatever that is supposed to mean.

Olsen did not mention that the war on dissent has even included monitoring the social media of America’s military personnel lest they harbor dangerous thoughts. To be sure, the driving force behind the government’s campaign to criminalize the actions of the many citizens who object to the Biden Administration policies appears to be Olsen’s boss Attorney General Merrick Garland, who is very well placed to engage in mischief that will potentially affect all Americans. In fact, he has proven to be a more than willing accomplice in the social engineering that the Biden Administration is engaged in, to include his declaration last year that white supremacists are the single greatest terrorist threat the United States faces today.

Garland and others in the Biden Administration unashamedly propose that America’s governmental bodies and infrastructures are racist and supportive of “white supremacy” and must be deconstructed. “Building Back Better” requires everything to be examined through a value system determined by identity politics and race and it views both whites and their institutions as hopelessly corrupted, if not evil.

If there were any doubts about Biden’s intentions, they were dispelled in a speech made in Georgia on the same day that Olsen was addressing the Senate. Biden issued a call to arms that was full of race-baiting, claiming that those who are resisting the voting “reforms” that he is promoting are little better than notorious civil-rights era racists like George Wallace and Bull Connors. In reality, however, the voting changes that the Administration is promoting by fiat are, in fact, licenses to steal votes and commit large scale electoral fraud as they will strip states of the right to demand that voters prove both that they are citizens and legal residents.

On January 26th the Department of Homeland Security got into the game, releasing a memo suggesting that the “domestic extremists” are seeking to make the lives of all Americans more difficult. The dissidents “have been developing plans to attack the US electric sector… since at least 2020.’” The report stated that extremists “adhering to a range of ideologies will likely continue to plot and encourage physical attacks against electrical infrastructure” but it did not provide even a single piece of evidence that the “threat” had ever proceeded beyond the talking stage, suggesting that the report was generated to create fear on the part of the public regarding the “domestic terrorism” issue.

In yet another instance demonstrating how the White House is interpreting its national security mandate in a highly partisan fashion, FBI Director Christopher Wray stated last week that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) works closely with the Bureau to identify and investigate instances of anti-Semitism in the United States. That should raise questions about a private group with an agenda working as a source for the police and intelligence services and it suggests in particular that critics of Israel and its policies will find themselves increasingly targeted by law enforcement under “hate crime” legislation. Such statements citing rising anti-Semitism and “holocaust denialism” also generate more fear among the public to justify “protection” by a dominating and intrusive national security apparatus.

Witness how this has already played out in Europe where “holocaust denial” has been widely criminalized by way of so-called “memory laws [which] prohibit the denial, justification, or trivialization of the crimes committed by the Nazis during World War II… France has had a ban on Holocaust denial in place since 1990. Austria’s ban was adopted in 1992, and Belgium’s is from 1995. Germany itself did not adopt an explicit ban until 1994, though it countered Holocaust denial before then through laws against defamation, incitement, and disparaging the memory of the dead… Holocaust denial laws were also approved in the 1990s by the European Court of Human Rights (under the Council of Europe), which stated that the negation or revision of ‘clearly established historical facts — such as the Holocaust — … would be removed from the protection’ of free speech under the European Convention on Human Rights.”

Eliminating free speech, the most fundamental right, would allow government and a compromised media to gain control of the narrative of government that prevails in the United States and would be a significant step towards totalitarian control. Going beyond that, the Administration is even reported to be considering devastating proposals to make all illegal immigrants citizens to allow them to vote. New York City has already declared that all residents will be able to vote on local issues, whether they are in the country legally or not. More to the point, the discussion comes at a time when the nation’s southern border has become an out-of-control entry point for anyone who can reach Mexico.

Even though the Biden Administration’s enemies list admittedly features white supremacists regarded ipso facto as extremists, it is now notoriously also including those parents who do not support the various formulae being employed to install programs seeking to establish what is referred to as “equity” in the nation’s public schools. That the agenda is both reverse racism and detrimental to good educational practice is why parents are protesting. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has observed how “The Department of Justice’s fight against angry parents is a real testament to the authoritarian nature of the Biden administration and indeed, the entirety of the left. It takes a lot of hubris to declare that you know how to raise someone’s child better than them and send authorities to shut you down when you protest that.”

Senator Paul’s father former Congressman Ron Paul has also responded to the threat coming from a government that he perceives as trending towards totalitarianism by way of a single state model for education, commenting how “If government can override the wishes of parents in the name of ‘education’ or ‘protecting children’s health’ then what area of our lives is safe from government intrusion?”

If it is indeed true that Joe Biden is not completely in control of what his administration appears to be doing, one then has to wonder who is directing his appointed officials to pursue policies that are destructive of all the freedoms and other positive things that this nation once represented. One thing for sure, the mask is now off and the Democratic Party plan to create something like a totalitarian state with one party rule in perpetuum is right there for everyone to see.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

February 1, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The sinister legacy of January 6

By Frank Furedi | RT | January 5, 2022

Almost one year on from the riot at the US Capitol Building, it continues to be used by those in positions of power to develop a culture of fear – yet another example of a threat being amplified and raising public insecurity.

There is no need for a pandemic for the hysterical ruling class to constantly turn on the engine of fear. Without blinking an eye, the American political establishment has casually catastrophised the Capitol protest in Washington on 6 January last year.

Almost immediately a political riot by angry protestors was reframed as an “insurrection” and an act of domestic terror. Leading Democratic Party figures even sought to link the so-called coup attempt to Russia, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared that the rioters were “Putin’s puppets”.

Despite the relentless quest to uncover a malevolent conspiracy to overthrow the elected government of the United States, there is nothing to suggest that what occurred on January 6 was anything more than an instance of angry, violent rioters invading the Capitol Building. Despite their best efforts, the FBI and other agencies could find no proof of any conspiracy. Last August, Reuters reported that “the FBI has found scant evidence that the January 6 attack on the US Capitol was the result of an organized plot to overturn the presidential election result”.

This absence of evidence notwithstanding, America’s cultural elite, along with the leadership of the Democratic Party, continues to remain in hysteria mode. Indeed, its obsession with the threat of an insurrection or a coup has hardened during the past year to the point that it genuinely finds it difficult to distinguish between fantasy and reality.

The New York Times, once a serious news outlet, has become a slave of its paranoia about an impending civil war. Anyone reading its commentary would draw the conclusion that what happened on January 6 was akin to the violent rioting that accompanies a bloody coup d’etat.

On the first day of 2022, its Editorial Board published a piece titled “Every Day Is Jan. 6 Now”. In case anyone failed to get the point of the title, it added, “Jan. 6 is not in the past; it is every day”. The statement evokes a world where the American “Republic faces an existential threat” and insists that “we should stop underestimating the threat facing the country”. The threat it refers to constitutes the millions of voters who continue to support Donald Trump and deny the New York Times’ version of reality. In its typical alarmist tone, it states, “no self-governing society can survive such a threat by denying it exists”.

This feverish irrationality isn’t restricted to America. Across the Atlantic, The Guardian adopts a similar tone in its treatment of the legacy of January 6. “US could be under rightwing dictator by 2030, Canadian warns” runs one of its headlines. In this article, the scaremongering prediction of an academic in The Globe and Mail is presented as a sensible assessment of future possibilities. Political science professor Thomas Homer-Dixon from Royal Roads University in British Columbia urges Canada to protect itself against the “collapse of American democracy”. And he warns, “We mustn’t dismiss these possibilities just because they seem ludicrous or too horrible to imagine.”

Projecting a scene akin to one in a dystopian horror film, Homer-Dixon asserts, “By 2025, American democracy could collapse, causing extreme domestic political instability, including widespread civil violence. By 2030, if not sooner, the country could be governed by a right-wing dictatorship.”

The editorial team at The Guardian appears to have become addicted to the political pornography peddled by the likes of Homer-Dixon. It also features a piece by Jason Stanley, who imaginatively recasts the contemporary era as akin to the one that led to the rise of fascism in Weimar Germany. In a commentary titled “America is now in fascism’s legal phase”, Stanley paints a picture that looks depressingly similar to the months leading up to the rise of Adolf Hitler. For Stanley, there is a clear parallel between the behaviour of Trump and Hitler. He contends that “as in all fascist movements, these forces have found a popular leader unconstrained by the rules of democracy, this time in the figure of Donald Trump”.

At first sight, it is tempting to draw the conclusion that the catastrophising of January 6 or the constant evocation of the spirit of Nazi Germany haunting America is pure scaremongering propaganda. No doubt there is an element of media manipulation and conscious twisting of reality at play. But on closer inspection, it seems as if the ruling classes in Western societies have genuinely internalised the culture of fear. January 6 is simply one catastrophe amongst the many that preoccupy them.

A striking illustration of how the self-catastrophising masochistic ruling elite thinks was offered by Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo in a speech he gave to the United Nations General Assembly last September. Pointing to climate, vaccines, and terrorism’, he stated that “nobody is safe until everybody is safe”. By linking together three different and disparate elements, De Croo painted a picture of a world where threats to human existence are endemic. Add this scenario to the threat of American fascism and we end up with a 21st-century version of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

This distorted representation of reality promoted by insecure elites is having a cumulative impact on public life. Put simply, it is raising public insecurity – and at the same time diminishing the capacity of people to confront some of the very real problems they face.


Frank Furedi is an author and social commentator. He is an emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent in Canterbury. Author of How Fear Works: The Culture of Fear in the 21st Century.

January 5, 2022 Posted by | Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | 2 Comments

Kyle Rittenhouse, Project Veritas, and the Inability to Think in Terms of Principles

By Glenn Greenwald | November 16, 2021

The FBI has executed a string of search warrants targeting the homes and cell phones of Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe and several others associated with that organization. It should require no effort to understand why it is a cause for concern that a Democratic administration is using the FBI to aggressively target an organization devoted to obtaining and reporting incriminating information about Democratic Party leaders and their liberal allies.

That does not mean the FBI investigation is inherently improper. Journalists are no more entitled than any other citizen to commit crimes. If there is reasonable cause to believe O’Keefe and his associates committed federal crimes, then an FBI investigation is warranted as it is for any other case. But there has been no evidence presented that O’Keefe or Project Veritas employees have done anything of the sort, nor any explanation provided to justify these invasive searches. That we should want and need that is self-evident: if the Trump-era FBI had executed search warrants inside the newsrooms of The New York Times and NBC News, we would be demanding evidence to prove it was legally justified. Yet virtually nothing has been provided to justify the FBI’s targeting of O’Keefe and his colleagues, and the little that has been disclosed by way of justifying this makes no sense.

The FBI investigation concerns the theft last year of the diary of Joe Biden’s daughter, Ashley, yet Project Veritas, while admitting they received a copy from an anonymous source, chose not to publish that diary because they were unable to verify it. Nobody and nothing thus far suggests that Project Veritas played any role in its acquisition, legal or otherwise. There is a cryptic reference in the search warrant to transmitting stolen material across state lines, but it is not illegal for journalists to receive and use material illegally acquired by a source: the most mainstream organizations spent the last month touting documents pilfered from Facebook by their heroic “whistleblower” Frances Haugen.

On Monday night, we produced an in-depth video report examining the FBI’s targeting of O’Keefe and Project Veritas and the dangers it presents (as we do for all of our Rumble videos, the transcript will soon be made available to subscribers here; for now, you can watch the video at the Rumble link). One of the primary topics of our report was the authoritarian tactic that is typically used to justify governmental attacks on those who report news and disseminate information: namely, to decree that the target is not a real journalist and therefore has no entitlement to claim the First Amendment guarantee of a free press.

This not-a-real-journalist tactic was and remains the primary theory used by those who justify the ongoing attempt to imprison Julian Assange. In demanding Assange’s prosecution under the Espionage Act, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) wrote in The Wall Street Journal that “Mr. Assange claims to be a journalist and would no doubt rely on the First Amendment to defend his actions.” Yet the five-term Senator insisted: “but he is no journalist: He is an agitator intent on damaging our government, whose policies he happens to disagree with, regardless of who gets hurt.”

This not-a-real-journalist slogan was also the one used by both the CIA and the corporate media against myself and my colleagues in both the Snowden reporting we did in 2013, as well as the failed attempt to criminally prosecute me in 2020 for the year-long Brazil exposés we did: punishing them is not an attack on press freedom because they are not journalists and what they did is not journalism.

What is most striking about this weapon is that — like the campaign to agitate for more censorship — it is led by journalists. It is the corporate media that most aggressively insists that those who are independent, those who are outsiders, those who do not submit to their institutional structures are not real journalists the way they are, and thus are not entitled to the protections of the First Amendment. In order to create a framework to deny Project Veritas’s status as journalists, The New York Times claimed last week that anyone who uses undercover investigations (as Veritas does) is automatically a non-journalist because that entails lying — even though, just two years earlier, the same paper heralded numerous news outlets such as Al Jazeera and Mother Jones for using undercover investigations to accomplish what they called “compelling” reporting.

I am very well-acquainted with this repressive tactic of trying to decree who is and is not a real journalist for purposes of constitutional protection. Many have forgotten — given the awards it ultimately ended up winning — that the NSA/Snowden reporting we did in 2013 was originally maligned as quasi-criminal not just by Obama national security officials such as James Clapper but also by The New York Times. The first profile the Paper of Record published about me the day after the reporting began referred to me in the headline as an “Anti-Surveillance Activist” and then, once backlash ensued, it was changed to “Blogger” (the original snide, disqualifying headline is still visible in the URL).

The Guardian, Jan. 29, 2014

As the New York Times‘ own Public Editor at the time objected, by purposely denying me the label “journalist,” the paper was knowingly increasing the risks that I could be prosecuted for my reporting. Indeed, recent reporting from Yahoo! News about CIA plots to kidnap or murder Julian Assange reported that denying Assange the label “journalist,” and then re-defining what I and my colleague Laura Poitras were doing from “journalist” to “information broker,” would enable the U.S. Government to spy on or even prosecute us without having to worry about that inconvenient “free press” guarantee of the First Amendment.

New York Times, June 6, 2013

All of this demonstrates how dangerous it is to invoke this very same not-a-real-journalist tactic against O’Keefe and Project Veritas. Yet, if one warns of the dangers of the FBI’s actions, that is precisely what one hears from liberals, from Democrats and from their allies in the media: the FBI’s targeting of Project Veritas has nothing to do with press freedoms since they’re not real journalists. They are invoking the authoritarian theory that maintains that the state (or, in this case, the FBI) is vested with the power to decree who is a “real journalist” — whatever that means — and who is not.

There are so many ironies to the use of this framework. So often, employees of media corporations who have never broken a major story in their lives (and never will) revel in accusing independent journalists who have broken numerous major stories (such as Assange) of not being real journalists. At the height of the Snowden reporting, I went on Meet the Press in July, 2013, only for the host, David Gregory, to suggest that I ought to be in prison alongside my source Edward Snowden because I was not really a journalist the way David Gregory was. At the time, Frank Rich, writing in New York Magazine, noted how bizarre it was that the TV personality David Gregory assumed he was a real journalist, whereas I was a non-journalist who belonged in prison for my reporting, given that Gregory — like most employees of large media corporations — had never broken any story in his life. Rich used a Q&A format to make the point this way:

On Sunday, Meet the Press host David Gregory all but accused the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald of aiding and abetting Edward Snowden’s fugitive travels, asking, “Why shouldn’t you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?” And, speaking to his larger point, do you see Greenwald as a journalist or an activist in this episode? And does it matter?

Is David Gregory a journalist? As a thought experiment, name one piece of news he has broken, one beat he’s covered with distinction, and any memorable interviews he’s conducted that were not with John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Dick Durbin, or Chuck Schumer. Meet the Press has fallen behind CBS’s Face the Nation, much as Today has fallen to ABC’s Good Morning America, and my guess is that Gregory didn’t mean to sound like Joe McCarthy (with a splash of the oiliness of Roy Cohn) but was only playing the part to make some noise. In any case, his charge is preposterous. As a columnist who published Edward Snowden’s leaks, Greenwald was doing the job of a journalist — and the fact that he’s an “activist” journalist (i.e., an opinion journalist, like me and a zillion others) is irrelevant to that journalistic function. . . . [I]t’s easier for Gregory to go after Greenwald, a self-professed outsider who is not likely to attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner and works for a news organization based in London. Presumably if Gregory had been around 40 years ago, he also would have accused the Times of aiding and abetting the enemy when it published Daniel Ellsberg’s massive leak of the Pentagon Papers. In any case, Greenwald demolished Gregory on air and on Twitter (“Who needs the government to try to criminalize journalism when you have David Gregory to do it?”).

At the time — both in terms of that exchange with Gregory and my overall reporting on the NSA — I had significant support from the liberal-left (though it was far from universal, given that we were exposing mass, indiscriminate, illegal spying by the Obama administration). But few believed that I ought to be prosecuted on the grounds that, somehow, I was not a real journalist.

So why are so many of them now willing to endorse this same exact theory when it comes to O’Keefe and Project Veritas, or even to justify the prosecution of Julian Assange? The answer is obvious. They are unwilling and/or incapable of thinking in terms of principles, ones that apply universally to everyone regardless of their ideology. Their thought process never even arrives at that destination. When the subject of the FBI’s attacks on O’Keefe is raised, or the DOJ’s prosecution of Assange is discussed, they ask themselves one question and only one question, and that ends the inquiry. It is the exclusive and determinative factor: do I like James O’Keefe and his politics? Do I like Julian Assange and his politics?

This primitive, principle-free, personality-driven prism is the only way they are capable of understanding the world. Because they dislike O’Keefe and/or Assange, they instantly side with whoever is targeting them — the FBI, the DOJ, the security state services — and believe that anyone who defends them is defending a right-wing extremist rather than defending the non-ideological, universally applicable principle of press freedoms. They think only in terms of personalities, not principles.

The FBI’s actions against Project Veritas and O’Keefe are so blatantly alarming that press freedom groups such as the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Freedom of the Press Foundation (on whose Board I sit) have expressed grave concerns about it, including on their social media accounts for all to see. Even the ACLU — which these days is loathe to speak out in favor of any person or group disliked by their highly partisan liberal donor base — issued a very carefully hedged statement that made clear how much they despise Project Veritas but said: “Nevertheless, the precedent set in this case could have serious consequences for press freedom” (at least thus far, the ACLU has just quietly stuck this statement on its website and not uttered a word about it on its social media accounts, where most of its liberal donors track what they do, but the fact that they felt compelled to say anything in defense of this right-wing boogieman demonstrates how extreme the FBI’s actions are). The federal judge overseeing the warrants has temporarily enjoined the FBI from extracting any more information from the cell phones seized from O’Keefe and other Project Veritas employees pending a determination of their legal justification.

Committee to Protect Journalists, Nov. 15, 2021

The reason this is such a grave press freedom attack is two-fold. First, as indicated, any attempt to anoint oneself the arbiter of who is and is not a “real journalist” for purposes of First Amendment protection is inherently tyrannical. Which institutions are sufficiently trustworthy and competent to decree who is a real journalist meriting First Amendment protection and who falls outside as something else?

But there is a much more significant problem with this framework: namely, the question of who is and is not a real journalist is completely irrelevant to the First Amendment. None of the rights in the Constitution, including press freedom, was intended to apply only to a small, cloistered, credentialed, privileged group of citizens. The exact opposite was true: the only reason they are valuable as rights is because they enjoy universal application, protecting all citizens.

Indeed, one of the most passionate grievances of the American colonists was that nobody was permitted to use the press unless first licensed by the British Crown. Conversely, the most celebrated journalism of the time was undertaken by people like Thomas Paine — who never worked for an established journalistic outlet in his life — as he circulated the pamphlet Common Sense that railed against the abuses of the King. What was protected by the First Amendment was not a small, privileged caste bearing the special label “journalists,” but rather the activity of a free press. The proof of this is clear and ample, and is set forth in the video we produced on Monday night.

But none of this matters. If you express concern for the FBI’s targeting of O’Keefe, it will be instantly understood not as a concern about any of these underlying principles but instead as an endorsement of O’Keefe’s politics, journalism, and O’Keefe himself. The same is true for the discourse surrounding Kyle Rittenhouse. If you say that — after having actually watched the trial — you believe the state failed to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in light of his defense of self-defense, many will disbelieve your sincerity, will insist that your view is based not in some apolitical assessment of the evidence or legal principles about what the state must do in order to imprison a citizen, but rather that you must be a “supporter” of Rittenhouse himself, his ideology (whatever it is assumed to be), and the political movement with which he, in their minds, is associated.

On some level, this is pure projection: those who are incapable of assessing political or legal conflicts through a prism of principles rather than personalities assume that everyone is plagued by the same deficiency. Since they decide whether to support or oppose the FBI’s actions toward O’Keefe based on their personal view of O’Keefe rather than through reference to any principles, they assume that this is how everyone is determining their views of that situation. Similarly, since they base their views on whether Rittenhouse should be convicted or acquitted based on how they personally feel about Rittenhouse and his perceived politics rather than the evidence presented at the trial (which most of them have not watched), they assume that anyone advocating for an acquittal can be doing so only because they like Rittenhouse’s politics and believe that his actions were heroic.

In sum, those who view the world through a prism bereft of principles — either due to lack of intellectual capacity or ethics or both — assume everyone’s world view is similarly craven. It is this same stunted mindset that saddles our discourse with so much illogic and so many twisted presumptions, such as the inability to distinguish between defending someone’s right to express a particular opinion and agreement with that opinion. In a world in which ideology, partisan loyalty, tribal affiliations, in-group identity and personality-driven assessments predominate, there is no room for principles, universally applicable rights, or basic reason.

November 16, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 1 Comment

Democrats and Media Do Not Want to Weaken Facebook, Just Commandeer its Power to Censor

By Glenn Greenwald | October 5, 2021

Much is revealed by who is bestowed hero status by the corporate media. This week’s anointed avatar of stunning courage is Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager being widely hailed as a “whistleblower” for providing internal corporate documents to the Wall Street Journal relating to the various harms which Facebook and its other platforms (Instagram and WhatsApp) are allegedly causing.

The social media giant hurts America and the world, this narrative maintains, by permitting misinformation to spread (presumably more so than cable outlets and mainstream newspapers do virtually every week); fostering body image neurosis in young girls through Instagram (presumably more so than fashion magazines, Hollywood and the music industry do with their glorification of young and perfectly-sculpted bodies); promoting polarizing political content in order to keep the citizenry enraged, balkanized and resentful and therefore more eager to stay engaged (presumably in contrast to corporate media outlets, which would never do such a thing); and, worst of all, by failing to sufficiently censor political content that contradicts liberal orthodoxies and diverges from decreed liberal Truth. On Tuesday, Haugen’s star turn took her to Washington, where she spent the day testifying before the Senate about Facebook’s dangerous refusal to censor even more content and ban even more users than they already do.

There is no doubt, at least to me, that Facebook and Google are both grave menaces. Through consolidation, mergers and purchases of any potential competitors, their power far exceeds what is compatible with a healthy democracy. A bipartisan consensus has emerged on the House Antitrust Committee that these two corporate giants — along with Amazon and Apple — are all classic monopolies in violation of long-standing but rarely enforced antitrust laws. Their control over multiple huge platforms that they purchased enables them to punish and even destroy competitors, as we saw when Apple, Google and Amazon united to remove Parler from the internet forty-eight hours after leading Democrats demanded that action, right as Parler became the most-downloaded app in the country, or as Google suppresses Rumble videos in its dominant search feature as punishment for competing with Google’s YouTube platform. Facebook and Twitter both suppressed reporting on the authentic documents about Joe Biden’s business activities reported by The New York Post just weeks before the 2020 election. These social media giants also united to effectively remove the sitting elected President of the United States from the internet, prompting grave warnings from leaders across the democratic world about how anti-democratic their consolidated censorship power has become.

But none of the swooning over this new Facebook heroine nor any of the other media assaults on Facebook have anything remotely to do with a concern over those genuine dangers. Congress has taken no steps to curb the influence of these Silicon Valley giants because Facebook and Google drown the establishment wings of both parties with enormous amounts of cash and pay well-connected lobbyists who are friends and former colleagues of key lawmakers to use their D.C. influence to block reform. With the exception of a few stalwarts, neither party’s ruling wing really has any objection to this monopolistic power as long as it is exercised to advance their own interests.

And that is Facebook’s only real political problem: not that they are too powerful but that they are not using that power to censor enough content from the internet that offends the sensibilities and beliefs of Democratic Party leaders and their liberal followers, who now control the White House, the entire executive branch and both houses of Congress. Haugen herself, now guided by long-time Obama operative Bill Burton, has made explicitly clear that her grievance with her former employer is its refusal to censor more of what she regards as “hate, violence and misinformation.” In a 60 Minutes interview on Sunday night, Haugen summarized her complaint about CEO Mark Zuckerberg this way: he “has allowed choices to be made where the side effects of those choices are that hateful and polarizing content gets more distribution and more reach.” Haugen, gushed The New York Times’ censorship-desperate tech unit as she testified on Tuesday, is “calling for regulation of the technology and business model that amplifies hate and she’s not shy about comparing Facebook to tobacco.”

Agitating for more online censorship has been a leading priority for the Democratic Party ever since they blamed social media platforms (along with WikiLeaks, Russia, Jill Stein, James Comey, The New York Times, and Bernie Bros) for the 2016 defeat of the rightful heir to the White House throne, Hillary Clinton. And this craving for censorship has been elevated into an even more urgent priority for their corporate media allies, due to the same belief that Facebook helped elect Trump but also because free speech on social media prevents them from maintaining a stranglehold on the flow of information by allowing ordinary, uncredentialed serfs to challenge, question and dispute their decrees or build a large audience that they cannot control. Destroying alternatives to their failing platforms is thus a means of self-preservation: realizing that they cannot convince audiences to trust their work or pay attention to it, they seek instead to create captive audiences by destroying or at least controlling any competitors to their pieties.

As I have been reporting for more than a year, Democrats do not make any secret of their intent to co-opt Silicon Valley power to police political discourse and silence their enemies. Congressional Democrats have summoned the CEO’s of Google, Facebook and Twitter four times in the last year to demand they censor more political speech. At the last Congressional inquisition in March, one Democrat after the next explicitly threatened the companies with legal and regulatory reprisals if they did not immediately start censoring more.

Pew survey from August shows that Democrats now overwhelmingly support internet censorship not only by tech giants but also by the government which their party now controls. In the name of “restricting misinformation,” more than 3/4 of Democrats want tech companies “to restrict false info online, even if it limits freedom of information,” and just under 2/3 of Democrats want the U.S. Government to control that flow of information over the internet:

The prevailing pro-censorship mindset of the Democratic Party is reflected not only by that definitive polling data but also by the increasingly brash and explicit statements of their leaders. At the end of 2020, Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), newly elected after young leftist activists worked tirelessly on his behalf to fend off a primary challenge from the more centrist Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA), told Facebook’s Zuckerberg exactly what the Democratic Party wanted. In sum, they demand more censorship:

This, and this alone, is the sole reason why there is so much adoration being constructed around the cult of this new disgruntled Facebook employee. What she provides, above all else, is a telegenic and seemingly informed “insider” face to tell Americans that Facebook is destroying their country and their world by allowing too much content to go uncensored, by permitting too many conversations among ordinary people that are, in the immortal worlds of the NYT‘s tech reporter Taylor Lorenz, “unfettered.”

When Facebook, Google, Twitter and other Silicon Valley social media companies were created, they did not set out to become the nation’s discourse police. Indeed, they affirmatively wanted not to do that. Their desire to avoid that role was due in part to the prevailing libertarian ideology of a free internet in that sub-culture. But it was also due to self-interest: the last thing social media companies wanted to be doing is looking for ways to remove and block people from using their product and, worse, inserting themselves into the middle of inflammatory political controversies. Corporations seek to avoid angering potential customers and users over political stances, not courting that anger.

This censorship role was not one they so much sought as one that was foisted on them. It was not really until the 2016 election, when Democrats were obsessed with blaming social media giants (and pretty much everyone else except themselves) for their humiliating defeat, that pressure began escalating on these executives to start deleting content liberals deemed dangerous or false and banning their adversaries from using the platforms at all. As it always does, the censorship began by targeting widely disliked figures — Milo Yiannopoulos, Alex Jones and others deemed “dangerous” — so that few complained (and those who did could be vilified as sympathizers of the early offenders). Once entrenched, the censorship net then predictably and rapidly spread inward (as it invariably does) to encompass all sorts of anti-establishment dissidents on the right, the left, and everything in between. And no matter how much it widens, the complaints that it is not enough intensify. For those with the mentality of a censor, there can never be enough repression of dissent. And this plot to escalate censorship pressures found the perfect vessel in this stunningly brave and noble Facebook heretic who emerged this week from the shadows into the glaring spotlight. She became a cudgel that Washington politicians and their media allies could use to beat Facebook into submission to their censorship demands.

In this dynamic we find what the tech and culture writer Curtis Yarvin calls “power leak.” This is a crucial concept for understanding how power is exercised in American oligarchy, and Yarvin’s brilliant essay illuminates this reality as well as it can be described. Hyperbolically arguing that “Mark Zuckerberg has no power at all,” Yarvin points out that it may appear that the billionaire Facebook CEO is powerful because he can decide what will and will not be heard on the largest information distribution platform in the world. But in reality, Zuckerberg is no more powerful than the low-paid content moderators whom Facebook employs to hit the “delete” or “ban” button, since it is neither the Facebook moderators nor Zuckerberg himself who is truly making these decisions. They are just censoring as they are told, in obedience to rules handed down from on high. It is the corporate press and powerful Washington elites who are coercing Facebook and Google to censor in accordance with their wishes and ideology upon pain of punishment in the form of shame, stigma and even official legal and regulatory retaliation. Yarvin puts it this way:

However, if Zuck is subject to some kind of oligarchic power, he is in exactly the same position as his own moderators. He exercises power, but it is not his power, because it is not his will. The power does not flow from him; it flows through him. This is why we can say honestly and seriously that he has no power. It is not his, but someone else’s. . . .

Zuck doesn’t want to do any of this. Nor do his users particularly want it. Rather, he is doing it because he is under pressure from the press. Duh. He cannot even admit that he is under duress—or his Vietcong guards might just snap, and shoot him like the Western running-dog capitalist he is….

And what grants the press this terrifying power? The pure and beautiful power of the logos? What distinguishes a well-written post, like this one, from an equally well-written Times op-ed? Nothing at all but prestige. In normal times, every sane CEO will comply unhesitatingly with the slightest whim of the legitimate press, just as they will comply unhesitatingly with a court order. That’s just how it is. To not call this power government is—just playing with words.

As I have written before, this problem — whereby the government coerces private actors to censor for them — is not one that Yarvin was the first to recognize. The U.S. Supreme Court has held, since at least 1963, that the First Amendment’s “free speech” clause is violated when state officials issue enough threats and other forms of pressure that essentially leave the private actor with no real choice but to censor in accordance with the demands of state officials. Whether we are legally at the point where that constitutional line has been crossed by the increasingly blunt bullying tactics of Democratic lawmakers and executive branch officials is a question likely to be resolved in the courts. But whatever else is true, this pressure is very real and stark and reveals that the real goal of Democrats is not to weaken Facebook but to capture its vast power for their own nefarious ends.

There is another issue raised by this week’s events that requires ample caution as well. The canonized Facebook whistleblower and her journalist supporters are claiming that what Facebook fears most is repeal or reform of Section 230, the legislative provision that provides immunity to social media companies for defamatory or other harmful material published by their users. That section means that if a Facebook user or YouTube host publishes legally actionable content, the social media companies themselves cannot be held liable. There may be ways to reform Section 230 that can reduce the incentive to impose censorship, such as denying that valuable protection to any platform that censors, instead making it available only to those who truly allow an unmoderated platform to thrive. But such a proposal has little support in Washington. What is far more likely is that Section 230 will be “modified” to impose greater content moderation obligations on all social media companies.

Far from threatening Facebook and Google, such a legal change could be the greatest gift one can give them, which is why their executives are often seen calling on Congress to regulate the social media industry. Any legal scheme that requires every post and comment to be moderated would demand enormous resources — gigantic teams of paid experts and consultants to assess “misinformation” and “hate speech” and veritable armies of employees to carry out their decrees. Only the established giants such as Facebook and Google would be able to comply with such a regimen, while other competitors — including large but still-smaller ones such as Twitter — would drown in those requirements. And still-smaller challengers to the hegemony of Facebook and Google, such as Substack and Rumble, could never survive. In other words, any attempt by Congress to impose greater content moderation obligations — which is exactly what they are threatening — would destroy whatever possibility remains for competitors to arise and would, in particular, destroy any platforms seeking to protect free discourse. That would be the consequence by design, which is why one should be very wary of any attempt to pretend that Facebook and Google fear such legislative adjustments.

There are real dangers posed by allowing companies such as Facebook and Google to amass the power they have now consolidated. But very little of the activism and anger from the media and Washington toward these companies is designed to fracture or limit that power. It is designed, instead, to transfer that power to other authorities who can then wield it for their own interests. The only thing more alarming than Facebook and Google controlling and policing our political discourse is allowing elites from one of the political parties in Washington and their corporate media outlets to assume the role of overseer, as they are absolutely committed to doing. Far from being some noble whistleblower, Frances Haugen is just their latest tool to exploit for their scheme to use the power of social media giants to control political discourse in accordance with their own views and interests.

October 6, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Biden’s allegation of ‘Russian interference!’ while silent on Big Tech’s meddling is astounding cognitive dissonance

By Laura Loomer | RT | July 31, 2021

As the 2022 midterm election season approaches, Joe Biden and the Democrat Party are already repeating their 2016 claims of “Russian interference,” which they falsely spewed throughout the entire first term of Donald Trump.

This week, Joe Biden accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of trying to disrupt the 2022 US congressional elections by “spreading misinformation,” going as far as saying Russia was undermining and violating US sovereignty.

Election interference is real. However, Biden, who appears to be in a state of constant mental decline and confusion, demonstrates the election-interference cognitive dissonance that has become commonplace within the Democrat Party and among Democrat voters. As a Republican voter and Congressional candidate myself, I am very concerned about election interference in the 2022 congressional elections, just not from Russia. I agree with Biden’s concerns about the 2022 congressional elections being disrupted by election interference. In fact, the biggest issue currently facing the United States of America and the future of our elections process is election interference – just not by Russia.

The election interference that Americans must be weary of, heading into 2022, is Big Tech interference.

For Biden and the Democratic Party, Russia has become an easy scapegoat and political boogeyman for very real political issues that are affecting the integrity of our elections. As we saw during the four years that Donald J Trump was President, the Democrats have zero qualms about accusing their political opponents of being Russian bots, Russian agents, or about dividing the entire nation over a feverish conspiracy of Russian election interference.

What they are not willing to do, however, is admit that the biggest threat to the integrity of US elections is Big Tech tyranny. When it comes to interfering in elections, the evidence makes it very clear that Russia is of no concern, while Big Tech companies like Facebook and Twitter are deplatforming US Congressional candidates like myself and banning a sitting US President during the certification process of the 2020 elections. Political censorship and Big Tech election interference has created widespread distrust of America’s elections process, but Joe Biden refuses to address it because Big Tech companies and their executives are Democratic Party mega-donors and their election interference efforts are aimed at aiding and electing Democrat politicians.

Speaking at the Geneva Summit last month following his meeting with Vladimir Putin, Biden said he told Putin there would be consequences to any election interference in the United States, adding that those who engage in election interference will have shrinking credibility.

“Let’s get this straight. How would it be if the United States was viewed by the rest of the world as interfering with the elections directly of other countries, and everyone knew it? It diminishes the standing of a country that is desperately trying to maintain its standing as a major world power.”

Ironically, Biden is right, but his severe case of cognitive dissonance has prevented him from recognizing and properly addressing the fact that the most egregious election interference that is happening in the world is actually originating from the United States. It is happening in Silicon Valley, California, where a handful of billionaires have taken it upon themselves to decide which political candidates in America, and around the world, will be able to have a voice during elections.

The United States desperately wants to remain the arbiter of truth, morality, and to set the standard for what it means to have free and fair elections, but the Democratic Party’s acceptance of Big Tech’s blatant interference with the 2020 elections and recent admissions by Biden’s administration that he is actively working with Facebook to censor content he views as “misinformation,” has created a severe credibility issue.

Not only does Biden have a credibility issue regarding his accusations against foreign nations of election interference but, since the 2020 elections, the United States has a credibility issue in the eyes of other world leaders who have been told for generations that the United States is the leading world power.

Twitter, Facebook, Google, and Apple are American companies. While these companies certainly have an international and global consumer base, they were created and founded in the United States of America.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, “Employees of Google’s parent, Alphabet Inc., and Microsoft Corp. , Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc. and Facebook Inc. were the five largest sources of money for Mr. Biden’s campaign and joint fundraising committees among those identifying corporate employers, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of campaign finance reports. Mr. Biden’s presidential campaign received at least $15.1 million from employees of those five tech firms, records show.”

There is no denying that Biden received significant financial support from both the employees of and the executives of these powerful Big Tech companies that are now curating political discourse and communication all around the world.

For this reason, Biden has refused to hold Big Tech to the same standard regarding election interference that he wishes to hold Putin.

Even more disturbing is the fact that Putin himself has been more vocal about Big Tech’s election interference than the US leader, which has further diminished the United States standing as an authority on fair elections

Following Trump’s ban from nearly every Big Tech social media platform in January 2021, Putin himself, who the Democrats have spent years vilifying and falsely accusing of election interference, used his platform to call out Big Tech’s out-of-control power. During his speech at the Davos World Economic Forum this year, Putin argued that Big Tech is undermining free and fair elections through their monopolistic business practices.

“Digital giants have been playing an increasingly significant role in wider society,” Putin said via videolink. “In certain areas they are competing with states… Here is the question, how well does this monopolism correlate with the public interest? Where is the distinction between successful global businesses, sought-after services and big data consolidation on the one hand, and the efforts to rule society […] by substituting legitimate democratic institutions, by restricting the natural right for people to decide how to live and what view to express freely on the other hand?” he asked.

As I previously wrote in a previous Op Ed: “Big Tech and the Democrats love virtue-signaling about fake news and foreign-election interference, but it’s a classic case of projection, because spreading fake news and interfering in democratic elections is exactly what they are guilty of doing.”

While there may be no cure for Biden and the Democratic Party’s debilitating case of cognitive dissonance, which will surely worsen as time goes on, it will be up to the American people during the 2022 midterm elections to adopt the task of curtailing Big Tech’s election interference so that America can continue to remain a respected world leader and set the global standard for free and fair elections.

Laura Loomer is an award-winning conservative investigative journalist, free-speech activist, and former Republican US congressional nominee in Florida’s 21st District. She is the author of “LOOMERED: How I Became the Most Banned Woman in the World.” Follow her on Gab and Parler @LauraLoomer, and on Telegram @loomeredofficial

July 31, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia | , , | 2 Comments

Biden Doubles Down on Voters

Fraud in 2020 election is only a preview of what is coming

BY PHILIP GIRALDI • UNZ REVIEW • JULY 20, 2021

President Joe Biden has now declared that the United States is facing an existential crisis comparable to what it experienced during the Civil War, a struggle that will produce a truly democratic form of government with universal franchise or which will result in the denial of basic rights to many citizens. And he is quite willing to address the issue employing a maximum of emotion and fear mongering unmitigated by a minimum of reasonable suasion, saying “We’re facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War. That’s not hyperbole. Since the Civil War — the Confederates back then never breached the Capitol as insurrectionists did on January the 6th. I’m not saying this to alarm you. I’m saying this because you should be alarmed.”

Of course, what may have occurred on January 6th has nothing to do with the issue currently in play, which is voting rights, though it is only one aspect of what is essentially a revolution sponsored by the Democratic Party to reorder the American political system in such a fashion as to guarantee its dominance for decades to come. Other steps will include greatly increased immigration, a war on so-called domestic terrorists and decriminalizing or choosing not to prosecute many felonies committed by party constituencies.

The voting rights legislation currently before Congress includes the interestingly named For the People Act and its successor the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, both of which would seek to restore certain unconstitutional aspects of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Most important, they would eliminate the ability of the states to pass legislation that creates conditions on registering and voting. The text of the John Lewis Act now before Congress refers to these steps as “discriminatory laws, needless barriers, and partisan dirty tricks.”

At the heart of the push by the Democrats is the creation of a uniform national electoral system which will essentially make it much easier for people to vote, permitting block voting, ballot harvesting and both registration and voting itself by mail. If passed, the new legislation will compel each state to adopt “automatic and same-day voter registration, voting rights for felons, no-excuse absentee balloting, mandatory early voting, and taxpayer funding for political campaigns.”

The key objections to the new voting procedure being promoted by Biden are several, largely related to its lack of any requirement for potential voters to provide information or show documentation confirming citizenship and residency or even one’s identity. The Democrats are denouncing their Republican opponents who are raising these issues as guilty of “voter suppression.” If the Democrats win the debate, it will be possible for anyone to vote in elections without having any human contact whatsoever using the mail-in ballots which are potentially susceptible to large scale fraud.

Another problem with the Biden program to nationalize voting procedures is that the there are four amendments to the United States Constitution that make it clear that it is left to the states to determine the modalities of voting. That means that even if the new voting act passes through Congress and is signed by the president there still would certainly be challenges based on its unconstitutionality. While Blue states will presumably go along with the guidance from Washington, those states still leaning Red will undoubtedly resist any nationalization of voting procedures.

It is not as if the current voting system is fraud-resistant. All too often it is not, which is why state legislatures in Georgia, Texas and several other Republican controlled states have passed new voting laws that actually require in many cases one’s physical presence to vote as well as production of documentation or information confirming citizenship and residency. They also include the purging of electoral rolls of voters who have died or moved. The new laws come as close as is reasonably possible to creating a system where voting security and integrity will be greatly enhanced, but the fact is that the Democrats are not at all interested in reducing criminal voting. They are interested in creating a permissive environment where all their presumed supporters will be able to vote without having to make any effort to do so or even be compelled to demonstrate who they really are and that they are citizens.

Prior to the recent national election, I examined the procedures to register and vote in my home state of Virginia and determined that one could both register and vote without any human contact at all. The registration process can be accomplished by filling out an online form, which is linked here. Note particularly the following: the form requires one to check the box indicating US citizenship. It then asks for name and address as well as social security number, date of birth and whether one has a criminal record or is otherwise disqualified to vote. You then have to sign and date the document and mail it off. Within ten days, you should receive a voter’s registration card for Virginia which you can present if you vote in person, though even that is not required.

It is important to realize that no documents have to actually be presented to support the application, which means that all the information can be false. You can even opt out of providing a social security number by checking the box indicating that you have never been issued one, even though the form indicates that you must have one to be registered, and you can also submit a temporary address by claiming you are “homeless.” Even date of birth information is useless as the form does not ask where you were born, which is how birth records are filed by state and local governments. Ultimately, it is only the social security number that validates the document and that is what also appears on the Voter’s ID Card, but even that can be false or completely fabricated, as many illegal immigrant workers in the US have discovered.

Prior to the November election my wife and I received unsolicited four mail-in ballots, all of which were sent to us anonymously. I examined the ballots carefully and noted that they bore no serial numbers or other forms of validation that could conceivably be used to limit the potential for fraud. In a state like Virginia, the actual mail-in ballot only requires your signature and that of a witness, who can be anyone. That is also true in six other states. Thirty-one states require only your own signature on the ballot while just three states require that the document be notarized, a good safeguard since it requires the voter to actually produce some documentation and identification. Seven states require your additional signature on the ballot envelope and two states require that a photocopy of the voter ID accompany the ballot. Some of these procedures may have been changed since the November allegation but it appears that only the handful of Republican states that are in the process of passing new voting laws are taking the problem seriously. In other words, the safeguards in the system continue at this time to vary from state to state but in most cases, fraud would be relatively easy if one is using mail-in voting. In fact, former President Jimmy Carter’s headed a bipartisan commission in 2005 that concluded that mail-in ballots constitute the “largest source of potential voter fraud” of any voting system.

Joe Biden is of course right about a crisis developing comparable to the Civil War, but what he is choosing to ignore is that his White House is carelessly feeding into what has become a growing chorus of dissent. He and his colleagues in Congress are deliberately and with malice pushing an agenda that, if successful, will lead to something like one party rule in the United States. Combine that with impending legislation and executive action to pursue “domestic extremists,” whom the Administration has also defined as “white supremacists,” it is not hard to imagine what kind of trouble is brewing.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is https://councilforthenationalinterest.org address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org

July 20, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , | 1 Comment

CNN’s New “Reporter,” Natasha Bertrand, is a Deranged Conspiracy Theorist and Scandal-Plagued CIA Propagandist

CNN’s new national security reporter Natasha Bertrand, then of Politico and NBC News, with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Sept. 19, 2019
By Glenn Greenwald | April 27, 2021

The most important axiom for understanding how the U.S. corporate media functions is that there is never accountability for those who serve as propagandists for the U.S. security state. The opposite is true: the more aggressively and recklessly you spread CIA narratives or pro-war manipulation, the more rewarded you will be in that world.

The classic case is Jeffrey Goldberg, who wrote one of the most deceitful and destructive articles of his generation: a lengthy New Yorker article in May, 2002 — right as the propagandistic groundwork for the invasion of Iraq was being laid — that claimed Saddam Hussein had formed an alliance with Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. In February, 2003, on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, NPR host Robert Siegel devoted a long segment to this claim. When he asked Goldberg about “a man named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi,” Goldberg replied: “He is one of several men who might personify a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda.”

Needless to say, nothing could generate hatred for someone among the American population — just nine months away from the 9/11 attack — more than associating them with bin Laden. Five months after Goldberg’s New Yorker article, the U.S. Congress authorized the use of military force to impose regime change on Iraq; ten months later, the U.S. invaded Iraq; and by September, 2003, close to 70% of Americans believed the lie that Saddam had personally participated in the 9/11 attack.

Goldberg’s fabrication-driven article generated ample celebratory media attention and even prestigious journalism awards. It also led to great financial reward and career advancement. In 2007, The Atlantic‘s publisher David Bradley lured Goldberg away from The New Yorker by lavishing him with a huge signing bonus and even sent exotic horses to entertain Goldberg’s children. Goldberg is now the editor-in-chief of that magazine and thus one of the most influential figures in media. In other words, the person who wrote what is arguably the most disastrous article of that decade was one most rewarded by the industry — all because he served the aims of the U.S. security state and its war aims. That is how U.S. corporate journalism functions.

Another illustrative mascot for this lucrative career path is NBC’s national security correspondent Ken Dilanian. In 2014, his own former paper, The Los Angeles Times, acknowledged his “collaborative” relationship with the CIA. During his stint there, he mimicked false claims from John Brennan’s CIA that no innocent people were killed from a 2012 Obama drone strike, only for human rights groups and leaked documents to prove many were.

A FOIA request produced documents published by The Intercept in 2015 that showed Dilanian submitting his “reporting” to the CIA for approval in violation of The LA Times’ own ethical guidelines and then repeating what he was told to say. But again, serving the CIA even with false “reporting” and unethical behavior is a career benefit in corporate media, not an impediment, and Dilanian rapidly fell upward after these embarrassing revelations. He first went to Associated Press and then to NBC News, where he broadcast numerous false Russiagate scams including purporting to “independently confirm” CNN’s ultimately retracted bombshell that Donald Trump, Jr. obtained advance access to the 2016 WikiLeaks archive.

On Monday, CNN made clear that this dynamic still drives the corporate media world. The network proudly announced that it had hired Natasha Bertrand away from Politico. In doing so, they added to their stable of former CIA operatives, NSA spies, Pentagon Generals and FBI agents a reporter who has done as much as anyone, if not more so, to advance the scripts of those agencies.

Bertrand’s career began taking off when, while at Business Insider, she abandoned her obsession with Russia’s role in Syria in 2016 in order to monomaniacally fixate on every last conspiracy theory and gossip item that drove the Russiagate fraud during the 2016 campaign and then into the Trump presidency. Each month, Bertrand produced dozens of Russiagate articles for the site that were so unhinged that they made Rachel Maddow look sober, cautious and reliable.

In 2018, it was Jeffrey Goldberg himself — knowing a star CIA propagandist when he sees one — who gave Bertrand her first big break by hiring her away from Business Insider to cover Russiagate for The Atlantic. Shortly after, she joined the Queen of Russiagate conspiracies herself by becoming a national security analyst for MSNBC and NBC News. From there, it was onto Politico and now CNN : the ideal, rapid career climb that is the dream of every liberal security state servant calling themselves a journalist. Her final conspiratorial article for The Atlantic before moving to Politico is the perfect illustration of who and what she is:

CNN’s new national security star was no ordinary Russiagate fanatic. There was no conspiracy theory too unhinged or evidence-free for her to promote. As The Washington Post‘s media reporter Erik Wemple documented once the Steele Dossier was debunked, there was arguably nobody in media other than Rachel Maddow who promoted and ratified that hoax as aggressively, uncritically and persistently as Bertrand. She defended it even after the Mueller Report corroborated virtually none of its key claims.

In a February, 2020 article headlined “How Politico’s Natasha Bertrand bootstrapped dossier credulity into MSNBC gig,” Wemple described how she was rewarded over and over for “journalism” that would be regarded in any healthy profession with nothing but scorn:

Where there’s a report on Russian meddling, there’s an MSNBC segment waiting to be taped. Last Thursday night, MSNBC host Joy Reid — subbing for “All In” host Chris Hayes — turned to Politico national security reporter Natasha Bertrand with a question about whether Trump “wants” Russian meddling or whether he can’t accept that “foreign help is there.“ Bertrand responded: “We don’t have the reporting that suggests that the president has told aides, for example, that he really wants Russia to interfere because he thinks that it’s going to help him, right?”

No, we don’t have that reporting — though there’s no prohibition against fantasizing about it on national television. Such is the theme of Bertrand’s commentary during previous coverage of Russian interference, specifically the dossier of memos drawn up by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. With winks and nods from MSNBC hosts, Bertrand heaped credibility on the dossier — which was published in full by BuzzFeed News in January 2017 — in repeated television appearances.

Wemple systematically reviewed the mountain of speculation, unproven conspiracies and outright falsehoods Bertrand shoveled to the public as she was repeatedly promoted. But it was the document that gave us deranged delusions about pee-pee tape blackmail and Michael Cohen’s trip to Prague that was her crown jewel: “The Bertrand highlight reel features a great deal of thumb-on-scale speculation regarding the dossier,” Wemple wrote.

And when information started being declassified that proved much of Bertrand’s claims about collusion to be a fraud, she complained that there was too much transparency, implying that the Trump administration was harming national security by allowing the public to know too much — namely, allowing the public to see that her reporting was a fraud. A journalist who complains about too much transparency is like a cardiologist who complains that a patient has stopped smoking cigarettes, or like a journalist who voluntarily rats out her own source to the FBI or who agitates for censorship of political speech: a walking negation of the professional values they are supposed to uphold. But that is Natasha Bertrand, and, to the extent that there are some people who still believe that working at CNN is desirable, she was just rewarded for it again yesterday — just as journalists who rat out their own sources to the FBI and advocate for internet censorship are now celebrated in today’s rotted media climate.

Bertrand’s trail of journalistic scandals and recklessness extend well beyond her Russiagate conspiracies. Last October, she published an article in Politico strongly implying that Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe was speaking without authorization or any evidence when he said Iran was attempting to undermine President Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign. But last month, the Biden administration declassified an intelligence report which said they had “high confidence” that Iran had done exactly what Ratcliffe alleged: namely, run an influence campaign to hurt Trump’s candidacy. A former national security official, Cliff Sims, said upon hearing of CNN’s hiring that he explicitly warned Bertrand’s editors that the story was false but they chose to publish it anyway.

It was also Bertrand who most effectively laundered the extremely significant CIA lie in October, 2020 that the documents obtained by The New York Post about the Biden family’s business dealings in China and Ukraine were “Russian disinformation.” Even though the John-Brennan-led former intelligence officials admitted from the start that they had no evidence for this claim, Bertrand not only amplified it but vouched for its credibility by writing that the Post‘s reporting “has drawn comparisons to 2016, when Russian hackers dumped troves of emails from Democrats onto the internet — producing few damaging revelations but fueling accusations of corruption by Trump” (that those 2016 DNC and Podesta documents produced “few damaging revelations” would come as a big surprise to the five DNC operatives, led by Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who were forced to resign when their pro-Hillary cheating was revealed).

It was this Politico article by Bertrand that was then used by Facebook and Twitter to justify their joint censorship of the Post‘s reporting in the weeks before the 2020 election, and numerous media outlets — including The Intercept — gullibly told their readers to ignore the revelations on the ground that these authentic documents were “Russian disinformation.” Yet once it did its job of helping defeat Trump, that claim was debunked when even the intelligence community acknowledged it had no evidence of Russian involvement in the appearance of these materials, and Hunter Biden himself admitted he was the subject of a federal investigation for the transactions revealed by those documents.

Politico, Oct. 19, 2020

But even when her fantasies and conspiracies are debunked, Bertrand — like a good intelligence soldier — never cedes any ground in her propaganda campaigns. She was, needless to say, one of the journalists who most vocally promoted the CIA’s story — published as Trump was announcing his plans to withdraw from Afghanistan — that Russia had paid bounties to the Taliban for the death of U.S. soldiers. Yet even when the U.S. intelligence community under Joe Biden admitted last week that it has only “low to moderate” confidence that this even happened — with the NSA and other surveillance agencies saying it could find no evidence to corroborate the CIA’s story — she continued to insist that nothing had changed with the story, denying last week on a Mediaite podcast that anything had happened to cast doubt on the original story: “I think it’s much more nuanced than it being a walk-back. I don’t think that’s right actually.”

Even a cursory review of Bertrand’s prolific output reveals an endless array of gossip, conspiracy and speculative assertions masquerading as journalism. The commentator Luke Thomas detailed many of these transgressions on Monday and correctly observed that “arguably no single reporter has contributed more to the deranged and paranoid national security fantasies of the center-left than Natasha Bertrand. She’s an embarrassment to her profession and will, therefore, fit right in at CNN.”

As Thomas noted, beyond all of Bertrand’s well-documented and consequential propaganda, “she sees conspiracies and perfidiousness around every corner,” pointing to this demented yet highly viral tweet that deciphered comments from former Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) as inadvertently revealing some secret scheme to expand Trump’s pardon powers. That scheme, like most of her speculative predictions, never materialized.

Then there is her garden-variety ethical scandal. In January, freelancer Dean Sterling Jones accused Bertrand of stealing his work without credit or payment. In a post he published, Jones documented how he emailed Bertrand a draft with reporting he had been working on, and in response she agreed to report it jointly with him on a co-byline. Yet two weeks later, the article appeared in The Atlantic with Bertrand as the only named reporter. Only after Jones complained did they insert a sentence into the story begrudgingly citing him as a source. “By my count,” Jones wrote, “Bertrand’s article contains at least six unequivocal examples of direct copying and revisions of my work.” When he published his post detailing his accusations, Bertrand arrogantly refused even to provide comment to the freelancer whose work she pilfered.

Natasha Bertrand has spent the last five years working as a spokesperson for the alliance composed of the CIA and the Democratic Party, spreading every unvetted and unproven conspiracy theory about Russiagate that they fed her. The more loyally she performed that propagandistic function, the more rapidly she was promoted and rewarded. Now she arrives at her latest destination: CNN, not only Russiagate Central along with MSNBC but also the home to countless ex-operatives of the security state agencies on whose behalf Bertrand speaks.

Once again we see the two key truths of modern corporate journalism in the U.S. First, we have the Jeffrey Goldberg Principle: you can never go wrong, but only right, by disseminating lies and propaganda from the CIA. Second, the organs that spread the most disinformation and crave disinformation agents as their employees are the very same ones who demand censorship of the internet in the name of stopping disinformation.

I’ve long said that if you want to understand how to thrive in this part of the media world, you should study the career advancement of Jeffrey Goldberg, propelled by one reckless act after the next. But now the sequel to the Goldberg Rise is the thriving career of this new CNN reporter whose value as a CIA propagandist Goldberg, notably, was the first to spot and reward.

April 27, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Joe Biden and the Post-Corona “Great Reset”. The Protest Movement

Prof Michel Chossudovsky | Global Research | January 9, 2021

In the wake of the Wednesday January 6, 2021 Capitol Hill Event, we must reflect on what a  Joe Biden Administration will look like.

Joe Biden was not duly elected, he was selected. He is a groomed and “reliable” politician. He is a political instrument of the global capitalist establishment.

Biden is a firm supporter of the Corona lockdown. His statements concerning a “Dark Winter” in 2021 confirm that he not only endorses the adoption of staunch Covid-19 lockdown policies, his administration will pursue and adopt the World Economic Forum’s “Great Reset” as an integral part of US foreign policy, to be implemented or more correctly “imposed” Worldwide.

In turn, the Biden-Harris administration will attempt to override all forms of popular resistance to the corona virus lockdown.

We are at the crossroads of one of the most serious crises in World history. We are living history, yet our understanding of the sequence of events since January 2020 has been blurred.

What is unfolding is a new and destructive phase of US imperialism. It’s a totalitarian project of economic and social engineering, which ultimately destroys people’s lives Worldwide.

This “novel” neoliberal agenda using the corona lockdown as an instrument of social oppression has been endorsed by the leadership of the Democratic Party.

The Biden White House will be used to instate what David Rockefeller called “Global Governance”, which is tantamount to a Worldwide “democratic dictatorship”.

It should be noted that the protest movement in the US, against the lockdown is weak. In fact there is no coherent grassroots national protest movement. Why? Because “progressive forces” including leftist intellectuals, NGO leaders, trade union and labor leaders, most of which are aligned with the Democratic Party have from the outset been supportive of the lockdown. And they are also supportive of Joe Biden.

In a bitter irony, antiwar activists as well as the critics of neoliberalism have endorsed Joe Biden, who is now being accused by Trump supporters of being a “socialist”.

The preceding text is an excerpt from the concluding chapter of my E-Book: entitled.

The 2020 Worldwide Corona Crisis: Destroying Civil Society, Engineered Economic Depression, Global Coup d’État and the “Great Reset”  first published in mid-December 2020.

To access the full text of nine chapters click here 

January 12, 2021 Posted by | Book Review, Civil Liberties | , , | Leave a comment

The Threat of Authoritarianism in the U.S. is Very Real, and Has Nothing To Do With Trump

The COVID-driven centralization of economic power and information control in the hands of a few corporate monopolies poses enduring threats to political freedom

By Glenn Greenwald | December 28, 2020

Asserting that Donald Trump is a fascist-like dictator threatening the previously sturdy foundations of U.S. democracy has been a virtual requirement over the last four years to obtain entrance to cable news Green Rooms, sinecures as mainstream newspaper columnists, and popularity in faculty lounges. Yet it has proven to be a preposterous farce.

In 2020 alone, Trump had two perfectly crafted opportunities to seize authoritarian power — a global health pandemic and sprawling protests and sustained riots throughout American cities — and yet did virtually nothing to exploit those opportunities. Actual would-be despots such as Hungary’s Viktor Orbán quickly seized on the virus to declare martial law, while even prior U.S. presidents, to say nothing of foreign tyrants, have used the pretext of much less civil unrest than what we saw this summer to deploy the military in the streets to pacify their own citizenry.

But early in the pandemic, Trump was criticized, especially by Democrats, for failing to assert the draconian powers he had, such as commandeering the means of industrial production under the Defense Production Act of 1950, invoked by Truman to force industry to produce materials needed for the Korean War. In March, The Washington Post reported that “Governors, Democrats in Congress and some Senate Republicans have been urging Trump for at least a week to invoke the act, and his potential 2020 opponent, Joe Biden, came out in favor of it, too,” yet “Trump [gave] a variety of reasons for not doing so.” Rejecting demands to exploit a public health pandemic to assert extraordinary powers is not exactly what one expects from a striving dictator.

A similar dynamic prevailed during the sustained protests and riots that erupted after the killing of George Floyd. While conservatives such as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK), in his controversial New York Times op-ed, urged the mass deployment of the military to quell the protesters, and while Trump threatened to deploy them if governors failed to pacify the riots, Trump failed to order anything more than a few isolated, symbolic gestures such as having troops use tear gas to clear out protesters from Lafayette Park for his now-notorious walk to a church, provoking harsh criticism from the right, including Fox News, for failing to use more aggressive force to restore order.

Virtually every prediction expressed by those who pushed this doomsday narrative of Trump as a rising dictator — usually with great profit for themselves — never materialized. While Trump radically escalated bombing campaigns he inherited from Bush and Obama, he started no new wars. When his policies were declared by courts to be unconstitutional, he either revised them to comport with judicial requirements (as in the case of his “Muslim ban”) or withdrew them (as in the case of diverting Pentagon funds to build his wall). No journalists were jailed for criticizing or reporting negatively on Trump, let alone killed, as was endlessly predicted and sometimes even implied. Bashing Trump was far more likely to yield best-selling books, social media stardom and new contracts as cable news “analysts” than interment in gulags or state reprisals. There were no Proud Boy insurrections or right-wing militias waging civil war in U.S. cities. Boastful and bizarre tweets aside, Trump’s administration was for more a continuation of the U.S. political tradition than a radical departure from it.

The hysterical Trump-as-despot script was all melodrama, a ploy for profits and ratings, and, most of all, a potent instrument to distract from the neoliberal ideology that gave rise to Trump in the first place by causing so much wreckage. Positing Trump as a grand aberration from U.S. politics and as the prime author of America’s woes — rather than what he was: a perfectly predictable extension of U.S politics and a symptom of preexisting pathologies — enabled those who have so much blood and economic destruction on their hands not only to evade responsibility for what they did, but to rehabilitate themselves as the guardians of freedom and prosperity and, ultimately, catapult themselves back into power. As of January 20, that is exactly where they will reside.

The Trump administration was by no means free of authoritarianism: his Justice Department prosecuted journalists’ sources; his White House often refused basic transparency; War on Terror and immigration detentions continued without due process. But that is largely because, as I wrote in a Washington Post op-ed in late 2016, the U.S. Government itself is authoritarian after decades of bipartisan expansion of executive powers justified by a posture of endless war. With rare exception, the lawless and power-abusing acts over the last four years were ones that inhere in the U.S. Government and long preceded Trump, not ones invented by him. To the extent Trump was an authoritarian, he was one in the way that all U.S. presidents have been since the War on Terror began and, more accurately, since the start of the Cold War and advent of the permanent national security state.

The single most revealing episode exposing this narrative fraud was when journalists and political careerists, including former Obama aides, erupted in outrage on social media upon seeing a photo of immigrant children in cages at the border — only to discover that the photo was not from a Trump concentration camp but an Obama-era detention facility (they were unaccompanied children, not ones separated from their families, but “kids in cages” are “kids in cages” from a moral perspective). And tellingly, the single most actually authoritarian Trump-era event is one that has been largely ignored by the U.S. media: namely, the decision to prosecute Julian Assange under espionage laws (but that, too, is an extension of the unprecedented war on journalism unleashed by the Obama DOJ).

The last gasp for those clinging to the Trump-as-dictator fantasy (which was really hope masquerading as concern, since putting yourself on the front lines, bravely fighting domestic fascism, is more exciting and self-glorifying, not to mention more profitable, than the dreary, mediocre work of railing against an ordinary and largely weak one-term president) was the hysterical warning that Trump was mounting a coup in order to stay in office. Trump’s terrifying “coup” consisted of a series of failed court challenges based on claims of widespread voter fraud — virtually inevitable with new COVID-based voting rules never previously used — and lame attempts to persuade state officials to overturn certified vote totals. There was never a moment when it appeared even remotely plausible that it would succeed, let alone that he could secure the backing of the institutions he would need to do so, particularly senior military leaders.

Whether Trump secretly harbored despotic ambitions is both unknowable and irrelevant. If he did, he never exhibited the slightest ability to carry them out or orchestrate a sustained commitment to executing a democracy-subverting plot. And the most powerful U.S. institutions — the intelligence community and military brass, Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and the corporate media — opposed and subverted him from the start. In sum, U.S. democracy, in whatever form it existed when Trump ascended to the presidency, will endure more or less unchanged once he leaves office on January 20, 2021.

Whether the U.S. was a democracy in any meaningful sense prior to Trump had been the subject of substantial scholarly debate. A much-discussed 2014 study concluded that economic power has become so concentrated in the hands of such a small number of U.S. corporate giants and mega-billionaires, and that this concentration in economic power has ushered in virtually unchallengeable political power in their hands and virtually none in anyone else’s, that the U.S. more resembles oligarchy than anything else:

The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence. Our results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.

The U.S. Founders most certainly did not envision or desire absolute economic egalitarianism, but many, probably most, feared — long before lobbyists and candidate dependence on corporate SuperPACs — that economic inequality could become so severe, wealth concentrated in the hands of so few, that it would contaminate the political realm, where those vast wealth disparities would be replicated, rendering political and legal equality illusory.

But the premises of pre-Trump debates over how grave a problem this is have been rendered utterly obsolete by the new realities of the COVID era. A combination of sustained lockdowns, massive state-mandated transfers of wealth to corporate elites in the name of legislative “COVID relief,” and a radically increased dependence on online activities has rendered corporate behemoths close to unchallengeable in terms of both economic and political power.

The lockdowns from the pandemic have ushered in a collapse of small businesses across the U.S. that has only further fortified the power of corporate giants. “Billionaires increased their wealth by more than a quarter (27.5%) at the height of the crisis from April to July, just as millions of people around the world lost their jobs or were struggling to get by on government schemes,” reported The Guardian in September. A study from July told part of the story:

The combined wealth of the world’s super-rich reached a new peak during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a study published by the consulting firm PwC and the Swiss bank UBC on Wednesday. The more than 2,000 billionaires around the world managed to amass fortunes totalling around $10.2 trillion (€8.69 trillion) by July, surpassing the previous record of $8.9 trillion reached in 2017.

Meanwhile, though exact numbers are unknown, “roughly one in five small businesses have closed,” AP notes, adding: “restaurants, bars, beauty shops and other retailers that involve face-to-face contact have been hardest hit at a time when Americans are trying to keep distance from one another.”

Employees are now almost completely at the mercy of a handful of corporate giants, far more trans-national than with any allegiance to the U.S., which are thriving. A Brookings Institution study this week — entitled “Amazon and Walmart have raked in billions in additional profits during the pandemic, and shared almost none of it with their workers” — found that “the COVID-19 pandemic has generated record profits for America’s biggest companies, as well as immense wealth for their founders and largest shareholders—but next to nothing for workers.”

These COVID “winners” are not the Randian victors in free market capitalism. Quite the contrary, they are the recipients of enormous amounts of largesse from the U.S. Government, which they control through armies of lobbyists and donations and which therefore constantly intervenes in the market for their benefit. This is not free market capitalism rewarding innovative titans, but rather crony capitalism that is abusing the power of the state to crush small competitors, lavish corporate giants with ever more wealth and power, and turn millions of Americans into vassals whose best case scenario is working multiple jobs at low hourly wages with no benefits, few rights, and even fewer options.

Those must disgusted by this outcome should not be socialists but capitalists: this is a classic merger of state and corporate power —- also known as a hallmark of fascism in its most formal expression — that abuses state interference in markets to consolidate and centralize authority in a small handful of actors in order to disempower everyone else. Those trends were already quite visible prior to Trump and the onset of the pandemic, but have accelerated beyond anyone’s dreams in the wake of mass lockdowns, shutdowns, prolonged isolation and corporate welfare thinly disguised as legislative “relief.”

What makes this most menacing of all is that the primary beneficiaries of these rapid changes are Silicon Valley giants, at least three of which — Facebook, Google, and Amazon — are now classic monopolies. That the wealth of their primary owners and executives — Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Sundar Pichai — has skyrocketed during the pandemic is well-covered, but far more significant is the unprecedented power these companies exert over the dissemination of information and conduct of political debates, to say nothing of the immense data they possess about our lives by virtue of online surveillance.

Stay-at-home orders, lockdowns and social isolation have meant that we rely on Silicon Valley companies to conduct basic life functions more than ever before. We order online from Amazon rather than shop; we conduct meetings online rather than meet in offices; we use Google constantly to navigate and communicate; we rely on social media more than ever to receive information about the world. And exactly as a weakened population’s dependence on them has increased to unprecedented levels, their wealth and power has reached all new heights, as has their willingness to control and censor information and debate.

That Facebook, Google and Twitter are exerting more and more control over our political expression is hardly contestable. What is most remarkable, and alarming, is that they are not so much grabbing these powers as having them foisted on them, by a public — composed primarily of corporate media outlets and U.S. establishment liberals — who believe that the primary problem of social media is not excessive censorship but insufficient censorship. As Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) told Mark Zuckerberg when four Silicon Valley CEOs appeared before the Senate: “The issue is not that the companies before us today is that they’re taking too many posts down. The issue is that they’re leaving too many dangerous posts up.”

As I told the online program Rising this week when asked what the worst media failings of 2020 are, I continue to view the brute censorship by Facebook of incriminating reporting about Joe Biden in the weeks before the election as one of the most significant, and menacing, political events of the last several years. That this censorship was announced by a Facebook corporate spokesman who had spent his career previously as a Democratic Party apparatchik provided the perfect symbolic expression of this evolving danger.

These tech companies are more powerful than ever, not only because of their newly amassed wealth at a time when the population is suffering, but also because they overwhelmingly supported the Democratic Party candidate about to assume the presidency. Predictably, they are being rewarded with numerous key positions in his transition team and the same will ultimately be true of the new administration.

The Biden/Harris administration clearly intends to do a great deal for Silicon Valley, and Silicon Valley is well-positioned to do a great deal for them in return, starting with their immense power over the flow of information and debate.

The dominant strain of U.S. neoliberalism — the ruling coalition that has now consolidated power again — is authoritarianism. They view those who oppose them and reject their pieties not as adversaries to be engaged but as enemies, domestic terrorists, bigots, extremists and violence-inciters to be fired, censored, and silenced. And they have on their side — beyond the bulk of the corporate media, and the intelligence community, and Wall Street — an unprecedentedly powerful consortium of tech monopolies willing and able to exert greater control over a population that has rarely, if ever, been so divided, drained, deprived and anemic.

All of these authoritarian powers will, ironically, be invoked and justified in the name of stopping authoritarianism — not from those who wield power but from the movement that was just removed from power. Those who spent four years shrieking to great profit about the dangers of lurking “fascism” will — without realizing the irony — now use this merger of state and corporate power to consolidate their own authority, control the contours of permissible debate, and silence those who challenge them even further. Those most vocally screaming about growing authoritarianism in the U.S. over the last four years were very right in their core warning, but very wrong about the real source of that danger.

December 28, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Economics, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

With Biden’s New Threats, the Russia Discourse is More Reckless and Dangerous Than Ever

The U.S. media demands inflammatory claims be accepted with no evidence, while hacking behavior routinely engaged in by the U.S. is depicted as aberrational.

By Glenn Greenwald | December 23, 2020

To justify Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss to Donald Trump, leading Democrats and their key media allies for years competed with one another to depict what they called “Russia’s interference in our elections” in the most apocalyptic terms possible. They fanatically rejected the view of the Russian Federation repeatedly expressed by President Obama — that it is a weak regional power with an economy smaller than Italy’s capable of only threatening its neighbors but not the U.S. — and instead cast Moscow as a grave, even existential, threat to U.S. democracy, with its actions tantamount to the worst security breaches in U.S. history.

This post-2016 mania culminated with prominent liberal politicians and journalists (as well as John McCain) declaring Russia’s activities surrounding the 2016 [election] to be an “act of war” which, many of them insisted, was comparable to Pearl Harbor and the 9/11 attack — the two most traumatic attacks in modern U.S. history which both spawned years of savage and destructive war, among other things.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) repeatedly demanded that Russia’s 2016 “interference” be treated as “an act of war.” Hillary Clinton described Russian hacking as “a cyber 9/11.” And Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) on MSNBC in early February, 2018, pronounced Russia “a hostile foreign power” whose 2016 meddling was the “equivalent” of Pearl Harbor, “very much on par” with the “seriousness” of the 1941 attack in Hawaii that helped prompt four years of U.S. involvement in a world war.

With the Democrats, under Joe Biden, [presumably] just weeks away from assuming control of the White House and the U.S. military and foreign policy that goes along with it, the discourse from them and their media allies about Russia is becoming even more unhinged and dangerous. Moscow’s alleged responsibility for the recently revealed, multi-pronged hack of U.S. Government agencies and various corporate servers is asserted — despite not a shred of evidence, literally, having yet been presented — as not merely proven fact, but as so obviously true that it is off-limits from doubt or questioning.

Any questioning of this claim will be instantly vilified by the Democrats’ extremely militaristic media spokespeople as virtual treason. “Now the president is not just silent on Russia and the hack. He is deliberately running defense for the Kremlin by contradicting his own Secretary of State on Russian responsibility,” pronounced CNN’s national security reporter Jim Sciutto, who last week depicted Trump’s attempted troop withdrawal from Syria and Germany as “ceding territory” and furnishing “gifts” to Putin. More alarmingly, both the rhetoric to describe the hack and the retaliation being threatened are rapidly spiraling out of control.

Democrats (along with some Republicans long obsessed with The Russian Threat, such as Mitt Romney) are casting the latest alleged hack by Moscow in the most melodramatic terms possible, ensuring that Biden will enter the White House with tensions sky-high with Russia and facing heavy pressure to retaliate aggressively. Biden’s top national security advisers and now Biden himself have, with no evidence shown to the public, repeatedly threatened aggressive retaliation against the country with the world’s second-largest nuclear stockpile.

Congressman Jason Crow (D-CO) — one of the pro-war Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee who earlier this year joined with Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) to block Trump’s plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan — announced: “this could be our modern day, cyber equivalent of Pearl Harbor,” adding: “Our nation is under assault.” The second-ranking Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin (D-IL), pronounced: “This is virtually a declaration of war by Russia.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), who has for years been casting Russia as a grave threat to the U.S. while Democrats mocked him as a relic of the Cold War (before they copied and then surpassed him), described the latest hack as “the equivalent of Russian bombers flying undetected over the entire country.” The GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee also blasted Trump for his failure to be “aggressively speaking out and protesting and taking punitive action,” though — like virtually every prominent figure demanding tough “retaliation” — Romney failed to specify what he had in mind that would be sufficient retaliation for “the equivalent of Russian bombers flying undetected over the entire country.”

For those keeping track at home: that’s two separate “Pearl Harbors” in less than four years from Moscow (or, if you prefer, one Pearl Harbor and one 9/11). If Democrats actually believe that, it stands to reason that they will be eager to embrace a policy of belligerence and aggression toward Russia. Many of them are demanding this outright, mocking Trump for failing to attack Russia — despite no evidence that they were responsible — while their well-trained liberal flock is suggesting that the non-response constitutes some form of “high treason.”

Indeed, the Biden team has been signalling that they intend to quickly fulfill demands for aggressive retaliation. The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Biden “accused President Trump [] of ‘irrational downplaying’” of the hack while “warning Russia that he would not allow the intrusion to ‘go unanswered’ after he takes office.” Biden emphasized that once the intelligence assessment is complete, “we will respond, and probably respond in kind.”

Threats and retaliation between the U.S. and Russia are always dangerous, but particularly so now. One of the key nuclear arms agreements between the two nuclear-armed nations, the New START treaty, will expire in February unless Putin and Biden can successfully negotiate a renewal: sixteen days after Biden is [tentatively] scheduled to take office. “That will force Mr. Biden to strike a deal to prevent one threat — a nuclear arms race — while simultaneously threatening retaliation on another,” observed the Times.


This escalating rhetoric from Washington about Russia, and the resulting climate of heightened tensions, are dangerous in the extreme. They are also based in numerous myths, deceits and falsehoods:

First, absolutely no evidence of any kind has been presented to suggest, let alone prove, that Russia is responsible for these hacks. It goes without saying that it is perfectly plausible that Russia could have done this: it’s the sort of thing that every large power from China and Iran to the U.S. and Russia have the capability to do and wield against virtually every other country including one another.

But if we learned nothing else over the last several decades, we should know that accepting claims that emanate from the U.S. intelligence community about adversaries without a shred of evidence is madness of the highest order. We just had a glaring reminder of the importance of this rule: just weeks before the election, countless mainstream media outlets laundered and endorsed the utterly false claim that the documents from Hunter Biden’s laptop were “Russian disinformation,” only for officials to acknowledge once the harm was done that there was no evidence — zero — of Russian involvement.

Yet that is exactly what the overwhelming bulk of media outlets are doing again: asserting that Russia is behind these hacks despite having no evidence of its truth. The New York Times’ Michael Barbaro, host of the paper’s popular The Daily podcast, asked his colleague, national security reporter David Sanger, what evidence exists to assert that Russia did this. As Barbaro put it, even Sanger is “allowing that early conclusions could all be wrong, but that it’s doubtful.” Indeed, Sanger acknowledged to Barbaro that they have no proof, asserting instead that the basis on which he is relying is that Russia possesses the sophistication to carry out such a hack (as do several other nation-states), along with claiming that the hack has what he calls the “markings” of Russian hackers.

But this tactic was exactly the same one used by former intelligence officials, echoed by these same media outlets, to circulate the false pre-election claim that the documents from Hunter Biden’s laptop were “Russian disinformation”: namely, they pronounced in lockstep, the material from Hunter’s laptop “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information.” This was also exactly the same tactic used by the U.S. intelligence community in 2001 to falsely blame Iraq for the anthrax attacks, claiming that their chemical analysis revealed a substance that was “a trademark of the Iraqi biological weapons program.”

These media outlets will, if pressed, acknowledge their lack of proof that Russia did this. Despite this admitted lack of proof, media outlets are repeatedly stating Russian responsibility as proven fact.

“Scope of Russian Hacking Becomes Clear: Multiple U.S. Agencies Were Hit,” one New York Times headline proclaimed, and the first line of that article, co-written by Sanger, stated definitively: “The scope of a hacking engineered by one of Russia’s premier intelligence agencies became clearer on Monday.” The Washington Post deluged the public with identically certain headlines.

Nobody in the government has been as definitive in asserting Russian responsibility as corporate media outlets. Even Trump’s hawkish Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, crafted his accusation against Moscow with caveats and uncertainty: “I think it’s the case that now we can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians that engaged in this activity.”

If actual evidence ultimately emerges demonstrating Russian responsibility, it would not alter how dangerous it is that — less than twenty years after the Iraq WMD debacle and less than a couple of years after media endorsement of endless Russiagate falsehoods — the most influential media outlets continue to mindlessly peddle as Truth whatever the intelligence community feeds them, without the need to see any evidence that what they’re claiming is actually true. Even more alarmingly, large sectors of the public that venerate these outlets continue to believe that what they hear from them must be true, no matter how many times they betray that trust. The ease with which the CIA can disseminate whatever messaging it wants through friendly media outlets is stunning.

Second, the very idea that this hack could be compared to rogue and wildly aberrational events such as Pearl Harbor or the 9/11 attack is utterly laughable on its face. One has to be drowning in endless amounts of jingoistic self-delusion to believe that this hack — or, for that matter, the 2016 “election interference” — is a radical departure from international norms as opposed to a perfect reflection of them.

Just as was true of 2016 fake Facebook pages and Twitter bots, it is not an exaggeration to say that the U.S. Government engages in hacking attacks of this sort, and ones far more invasive, against virtually every country on the planet, including Russia, on a weekly basis. That does not mean that this kind of hacking is either justified or unjustified. It does mean, however, that depicting it as some particularly dastardly and incomparably immoral act that requires massive retaliation requires a degree of irrationality and gullibility that is bewildering to behold.

The NSA reporting enabled by Edward Snowden by itself proved that the NSA spies on virtually anyone it can. Indeed, after reviewing the archive back in 2013, I made the decision that I would not report on U.S. hacks of large adversary countries such as China and Russia because it was so commonplace for all of these countries to hack one another as aggressively and intrusively as they could that it was hardly newsworthy to report on this (the only exception was when there was a substantial reason to view such spying as independently newsworthy, such as Sweden’s partnering with NSA to spy on Russia in direct violation of the denials Swedish officials voiced to their public).

Other news outlets who had access to Snowden documents, particularly The New York Times, were not nearly as circumspect in exposing U.S. spying on large nation-state adversaries. As a result, there is ample proof published by those outlets (sometimes provoking Snowden’s strong objections) that the U.S. does exactly what Russia is alleged to have done here — and far worse.

“Even as the United States made a public case about the dangers of buying from [China’s] Huawei, classified documents show that the National Security Agency was creating its own back doors — directly into Huawei’s networks,” reported The New York Times’ David Sanger and Nicole Perlroth in 2013, adding that “the agency pried its way into the servers in Huawei’s sealed headquarters in Shenzhen, China’s industrial heart.”

In 2013, the Guardian revealed “an NSA attempt to eavesdrop on the Russian leader, Dmitry Medvedev, as his phone calls passed through satellite links to Moscow,” and added: “foreign politicians and officials who took part in two G20 summit meetings in London in 2009 had their computers monitored and their phone calls intercepted on the instructions of their British government hosts.” Meanwhile, “Sweden has been a key partner for the United States in spying on Russia and its leadership, Swedish television said on Thursday,” noted Reuters, citing what one NSA document described as “a unique collection on high-priority Russian targets, such as leadership, internal politics.”

Other reports revealed that the U.S. had hacked into the Brazilian telecommunications system to collect data on the whole population, and was spying on Brazil’s key leaders (including then-President Dilma Rousseff) as well as its most important companies such as its oil giant Petrobras and its Ministry of Mines and Energy. The Washington Post reported: “The National Security Agency is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world, according to top-secret documents and interviews with U.S. intelligence officials, enabling the agency to track the movements of individuals — and map their relationships — in ways that would have been previously unimaginable.” And on and on.

[One amazing though under-appreciated episode related to all this: the same New York Times reporter who revealed the details about massive NSA hacking of Chinese government and industry, Nicole Perlroth, subsequently urged (in tweets she has now deleted) that Snowden not be pardoned on the ground that, according to her, he revealed legitimate NSA spying on U.S. adversaries. In reality, it was actually she, Perlorth, not Snowden, who chose to expose NSA spying on China, provoking Snowden’s angry objections when she did so based on his view this was a violation of the framework he created for what should and should not be revealed; in other words, not only did Perlroth urge the criminal prosecution of a source on which she herself relied, an absolutely astonishing thing for any reporter to do, but so much worse, she did so by falsely accusing that source of doing something that she, Perlroth, had done herself: namely, reveal extensive U.S. hacking of China].

What all of this makes demonstrably clear is that only the most deluded and uninformed person could believe that Russian hacking of U.S. agencies and corporations — if it happened — is anything other than totally normal and common behavior between these countries. Harvard Law Professor and former Bush DOJ official Jack Goldsmith, reviewing growing demands for retaliation, wrote in an excellent article last week entitled “Self-Delusion on the Russia Hack: The U.S. regularly hacks foreign governmental computer systems on a massive scale”:

The lack of self-awareness in these and similar reactions to the Russia breach is astounding. The U.S. government has no principled basis to complain about the Russia hack, much less retaliate for it with military means, since the U.S. government hacks foreign government networks on a huge scale every day. Indeed, a military response to the Russian hack would violate international law . . . .

As the revelations from leaks of information from Edward Snowden made plain, the United States regularly penetrates foreign governmental computer systems on a massive scale, often (as in the Russia hack) with the unwitting assistance of the private sector, for purposes of spying. It is almost certainly the world’s leader in this practice, probably by a lot. The Snowden documents suggested as much, as does the NSA’s probable budget. In 2016, after noting “problems with cyber intrusions from Russia,” Obama boasted that the United States has “more capacity than anybody … offensively” . . . .

Because of its own practices, the U.S. government has traditionally accepted the legitimacy of foreign governmental electronic spying in U.S. government networks. After the notorious Chinese hack of the Office of Personnel Management database, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said: “You have to kind of salute the Chinese for what they did. If we had the opportunity to do that, I don’t think we’d hesitate for a minute.” The same Russian agency that appears to have carried out the hack revealed this week also hacked into unclassified emails in the White House and Defense and State Departments in 2014-2015. The Obama administration deemed it traditional espionage and did not retaliate. “It was information collection, which is what nation states—including the United States—do,” said Obama administration cybersecurity coordinator Michael Daniel this week.

But over the last four years, Americans, particularly those who feed on liberal media outlets, have been drowned in so much mythology about the U.S. and Russia that they have no capacity to critically assess the claims being made, and — just as they were led to believe about “Russia’s 2016 interference in Our Sacred Elections” — are easily convinced that what Russia did is some shocking and extreme crime the likes of which are rarely seen in international relations. In reality, their own government is the undisputed world champion in perpetrating these acts, and has been for years if not decades.

Third, these demands for “retaliation” are so reckless because they are almost always unaccompanied by any specifics. Even if Moscow’s responsibility is demonstrated, what is the U.S. supposed to do in response? If your answer is that they should hack Russia back, rest assured the NSA and CIA are always trying to hack Russia as much as it possibly can, long before this event.

If the answer is more sanctions, that would be just performative and pointless, aside from wildly hypocritical. Any reprisals more severe than that would be beyond reckless, particularly with the need to renew nuclear arms control agreements looming. And if you are someone demanding retaliation, do you believe that Russia, China, Brazil and all the other countries invaded by NSA hackers have the same right of retaliation against the U.S., or does the U.S. occupy a special place with special entitlements that all other countries lack?

What we have here, yet again, is the classic operation of the intelligence community feeding serious accusations about a nuclear-armed power to an eagerly gullible corporate media, with the media mindlessly disseminating it without evidence, all toward ratcheting up tensions between these two nuclear-armed powers and fortifying a mythology of the U.S. as grand victim but never perpetrator.

If you ever find yourself wondering how massive military budgets and a posture of Endless War are seemingly invulnerable to challenge, this pathological behavior — from a now-enduring union of the intelligence community, corporate media outlets, and the Democratic Party — provides one key piece of the puzzle.

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

Democratic National Committee’s ‘intervention’ to blame for chaos at 2020 Iowa caucuses: Audit reveals

RT | December 13, 2020

An audit commissioned by the Iowa Democratic Party has found that the national Democratic Party’s “intervention” in the process led to the delayed and questioned results at the very beginning of the 2020 presidential election.

The Iowa caucuses should have kicked off a frontrunner in the race for the party’s presidential nomination. Two of the candidates – South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders – were claiming they were winning the contest in a key state that often defines the eventual winner. However, inconsistencies in reporting results led many to question them, for example the Associated Press announced it did not have enough faith in the process to declare a winner at the time.

Back then, the eventual nominee, Joe Biden, did not get enough support in Iowa to even be among the top three candidates in the state, trailing behind Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. However, Buttigieg later handed all the delegates he won in Iowa to the former vice president, giving him a much-needed advantage over Bernie Sanders in the national fight for the nomination.

The report, released on Saturday, found that the DNC was responsible for delaying a new app meant to report results quicker, and their demand for last-minute technology to be implemented into the process ultimately led to a chaotic event.

“Without the DNC’s intervention in that process, the IDP may have reported results in real-time as it intended,” said the report, which also cast blame on the state party for not creating a back-up plan for reporting results.

“As of the Friday before the caucuses, the IDP knew there were only approximately 400 temporary precinct chairs (out of more than 1,700) who had successfully downloaded and accessed the app,” the report said. “The IDP should have taken aggressive steps to scale up its telephone back-up reporting system at that time.”

The leadup to the caucuses was peppered with confusion between state party officials and the DNC. The new report claims development of an app by Shadow Inc. was supposed to begin in July and end in November, leaving two months for training and implementation. The DNC, however, expressed security concerns with the state party, halting negotiations for months, leading to a rushed development process. The app was eventually rolled out only weeks before the caucuses were set to begin.

Shadow Inc. earlier received thousands of dollars from the Buttigieg campaign for developing a separate app. It was also contracted by Joe Biden’s campaign in the past as well.

On election night, the state party found itself unprepared to take results by phone as many volunteers chose not to work with the buggy app. The DNC also made a last minute requirement that Shadow provide them with real-time results so they could double-check state numbers, something the report claims the company was not prepared for and led to a halt in releasing results to the public as discrepancies in numbers were found and the last-minute demand created confusion.

“Attempting to graft an entirely new software element onto the back-end reporting system at the proverbial eleventh hour is likely always going to be problematic, and it was ultimately the cause of a major problem on caucus night,” the report said.

The report found that eventually votes could be confirmed through a manual paper system and claimed results submitted through the app were ultimately “accurately reported.”

DNC officials put the blame of the chaos on state party representatives in the weeks following the caucus.

Critics have responded to the report’s lengthy findings by chalking it up to the DNC trying to control or even “cheat” the results.

“In 2016, the DNC’s top 5 officials were forced to resign when WikiLeaks published proof they systematically cheated to prevent Bernie from beating Hillary,” reporter Glenn Greenwald tweeted on Sunday, referring to emails from 2016 showing national party officials favoring a Clinton victory over Sanders, ultimately leading to multiple resignations.

“In the first caucus of 2020 (Iowa), they cheated again, with the same goal. They blamed the state Party but it was the DNC,” Greenwald added.

December 13, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , | Leave a comment