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Dark web voter database report casts new doubts on Russian election hack narrative

By Gareth Porter | Grayzone | September 13, 2020

A new report showing that US state-level voter databases were publicly available calls into question the narrative that Russian intelligence “targeted” US state election-related websites in 2016.

A September 1 report in the Moscow daily Kommersant on a “dark web” site offering a database of personal information on millions of registered American voters undermines one of the central themes of the Russia hysteria pervading US politics.

Democratic politicians and corporate media pundits have long accepted it as fact that Russian intelligence “targeted” US state election-related websites in 2016. But the Kommersant report shows that those state registered voter databases were already available to anyone in the public domain, eliminating any official Russian motive for hacking state websites.

Kommersant reported that a user on a dark web Forum known as Gorka9 offered free access to databases containing the information of 7.6 million Michigan voters, along with the state voter databases of Connecticut, Arkansas, Florida and North Carolina.

There are differences between the Michigan database described by Gorka9 and the one that the State of Michigan releases to the public upon request. Tracy Wimmer, the spokesperson for the Michigan Secretary of State, said in an e-mail to Grayzone that when the Michigan voter registration database is released to the public upon request, the state withholds “date of birth (year of birth is included), driver’s license number, the last four digits of someone’s social security number, email address and phone number….”  However, Gorka9’s description of the Michigan data includes driver’s license numbers, full dates of birth, social security numbers and emails.

In fact both un-redacted and redacted state voter files are obviously widely available on the dark web as well as elsewhere on the internet. Meduza, a Russian-language news site based in Riga, Latvia, published the Kommersant story along with an “anonFiles” download portal for access to the Michigan voter database and a page from it showing that it is the officially redacted version. The DHS and the FBI both acknowledged in response to the Kommersant story that “a lot of voter registration data is publicly available or easily purchased.”

Criminal hackers have been seeking to extract such personal information from online state personal databases for many years — not only from voter registration databases but from drivers license, health care and other databases. Oregon’s chief information security officer, Lisa Vasa, told the Washington Post in September 2017 that her team blocks “upwards of 14 million attempts to access our network every day.”

Ken Menzell, the legal counsel to the Illinois state Board of Elections, told this writer in a 2017 interview that the only thing new about the hack of the state’s voter database in 2016, in which personal data on 200,000 Illinois registered voters was exfiltrated, was that the hackers succeeded. Menzell recalled that hackers had been “trying constantly” to get into every Illinois personal database ever since 2006.

The motive for the hackers was simple: as observed by Andrey Arsentiev, the head of analytics and special projects at the private security partnership, Infowatch, databases can be mined for profits on the dark web, primarily by selling them to scam artists working on a mass scale. Gorka9 was offering state voter files for free because the owner had already squeezed all the potential profit out of selling them.

For the Russian government, on the other hand, such databases would be of little or no value. When FBI counterintelligence chief Bill Priestap was asked by a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee in June 2017 how Moscow might use personal voter registration data, the only explanation he could come up with was that the Russian government and its intelligence agencies were completely ignorant of the character of U.S. state voter databases. “They took the data to understand what it consisted of,” Priestap declared.

Priestap was obviously unaware of the absurdity of the suggestion that the Russian government had no idea what was in such databases in 2016. After all, the state voter registration databases had already been released by the states themselves into the public domain, and had been bought and sold on the dark web for many years. The FBI has steered clear of the embarrassing suggestion by Priestap ever since.

Priestap’s inability to conjure up a plausible reason for Russia to hack U.S. election sites points to the illogical and baseless nature of the claims of a Russian threat to the U.S. presidential election.

DHS creates the Russian cyber campaign against state election sites

Back in 2016, the Department of Homeland Security did its best to market the narrative of Russian infiltration of American voting systems. At the time, the DHS was seeking to increase its bureaucratic power by adding election infrastructure to its portfolio of cybersecurity responsibilities, and exploiting the Russian factor was just the ticket to supercharge their campaign.

In their prepared statement to the Senate Intelligence Committee in June 2017, two senior DHS officials, Samuel Liles and Jeanette Manfra, referred to an October 2016 intelligence report published by the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis. They stated it had “established that Internet-connected election-related networks, including websites, in 21 states were potentially targeted by Russian government cyber actors.” That “potentially targeted” language gave away the fact that DHS didn’t have anything more than suspicion to back up the charge.

In fact DHS was unable to attribute any attempted election site hack to the Russian government. On October 7, 2016, in fact, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper stated explicitly that they could not do so. Liles and Manfra appeared to imply such an attribution, however, by associating DHS with a joint assessment by CIA, FBI and NSA released January 7, 2017, that contained the statement, the “Russian intelligence obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple US state or local electoral boards.”

But the meaning of that language was deliberately vague, and the only additional sentence related to it stated, “Since early 2014, Russian intelligence has researched US electoral processes and related technology and equipment.” That was far from any finding that Russia had scanned or hacked election-related websites.

In September 2017, under pressure from governors, DHS finally notified state governments about the cyber incidents that it had included in its October 2016 intelligence report as examples of “potential” Russian targeting. Now, it abandoned its ambiguous language and explicitly claimed Russian responsibility.

One state election official who asked not to be identified told this writer in a 2018 interview that “a couple of guys from DHS reading from a script” had informed him that his state was “targeted by Russian government cyber actors.”

DHS spokesman Scott McConnell issued a statement on September 28, 2017 that DHS “stood by” its assessment that 21 states “were the target of Russian government cyber actors seeking vulnerabilities and access to U.S. election infrastructure.” But McConnell also revealed that DHS had defined “targeting” so broadly that any public website that a hacker scanned in a state could be included within that definition.

The dishonest tactics the DHS employed to demonstrate plausible evidence of “targeting” was revealed by Arizona Secretary of State Michelle Reagan’s spokesperson Matt Roberts, who told this writer in an interview, “When we pressed DHS on what exactly was targeted, they said it was the Phoenix public library’s computer system.” Another 2016 hacking episode in Arizona, which the FBI originally believed was a Russian government job, was later found to be a common criminal hack. In that episode, a hacker had targeted a local official with a phishing scheme and managed to steal their username and password.

Ironically, DHS had speculated in its initial intelligence report “that cyber operations targeting election infrastructure could be intended or used to undermine public confidence in electoral processes and potentially the outcome.”

That speculation, reiterated by corporate media, became a central feature of the Russiagate hysteria that electrified the Democratic Party’s base. None of the journalists and politicians who repeated the narrative stopped to consider how unsubstantiated claims by the DHS about Russian penetration of the US election infrastructure was doing just that – lowering public confidence in the democratic process.

The hysteria surrounding the supposed Russian threat to elections is far from over. The Senate Intelligence Committee report released in July 2019 sought to legitimize the contention by former Obama cyber security adviser Michael Daniel that Russia “may have” targeted all fifty states for cyber attacks on election-related sites.  In explaining his reasoning to the Senate committee’s staff, Daniel said: “My professional judgment was we have to work on the assumption [Russians] tried to go everywhere, because they’re thorough, they’re competent, they’re good.”

The New York Times eagerly played up that subjective and highly ideological judgment in the lede of a story headlined, ‘Russia Targeted Election Systems in All 50 States, Report Finds.’

As for DHS, it appeared to acknowledge by implication in an October 11, 2018 assessment excerpted in the Senate Committee report that it could not distinguish between a state-sponsored hack and a criminal hack. This August, the senior cybersecurity adviser for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Matthew Masterson, said, “We are not and have not seen specific targeting of those election systems that has been attributable to nation-state actors at this time….  We do see regular scanning, regular probing of election infrastructure as a whole, what you’d expect to see as you run IT systems.”

Despite these stunning admissions, DHS has faced no official accountability for deliberately slanting its intelligence assessment to implicate Russia for common criminal hacking activity. No matter how shoddy its origins and development have proven to be, the narrative remains too politically useful to be allowed to die.

September 16, 2020 Posted by | Russophobia | , , , | 1 Comment

Biden orders removal of Israel occupation reference from election campaign

MEMO | August 8, 2020

US Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has ordered the removal of any reference to the Israeli occupation in his campaign programme just days before it was released on 15 July, Foreign Policy revealed on Thursday.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who withdrew his presidential campaign in favour of Biden, had agreed with Biden that he would include in the Democratic Party platform an assertion that Palestinians had a right to live free of foreign “occupation”, referring to Israel.

However, under pressure from pro-Israeli advocacy groups, Biden made a last-minute decision to remove any reference to the Israeli occupation, Foreign Policy reported three sources confirming.

Therefore, Biden aides asked the progressive leaders in the Democratic Party and urged them to drop their demand to declare Israel an occupying power, the magazine reported.

According to the magazine, Biden aides argued that the inclusion of the word “occupation” threatened to undermine unity within the Democratic Party.

“The question of whether to allow the text to refer to ‘occupation’ or use the phrase ‘end the occupation’ was taken to the vice president and he said ‘no’,” Jason Isaacson, chief policy and political affairs officer at the American Jewish Committee, told Foreign Policy.

“This is not an issue on which the party can bend because it would be contrary to the position of Joe Biden,” Isaacson added.

Foreign Policy noted that the retraction reflected Biden’s reluctance to reverse decades of staunch support for Israel.

It also stated that this retreat marked something of a victory for the party’s establishment, which has sought to preserve close relations with Israel, even as its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has moved increasingly close to the Republican Party and its standard-bearer, President Donald Trump.

“The party platform section on Israel and Palestine is a clear victory for those supporting a return to mainstream Democratic policies of the past and a loss for the progressives seeking more restrictive or conditional support for Israel,” Peter Mulrean, who served for three decades in the State Department and subsequently oversaw United Nations aid programmes for Palestinians, informed the magazine.

August 9, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | 6 Comments

Russia-Baiting Is the Only Game in Town

Washington again becomes hysterical

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • July 7, 2020

There is particular danger at the moment that powerful political alignments in the United States are pushing strongly to exacerbate the developing crisis with Russia. The New York Times, which broke the story that the Kremlin had been paying the Afghan Taliban bounties to kill American soldiers, has been particularly assiduous in promoting the tale of perfidious Moscow. Initial Times coverage, which claimed that the activity had been confirmed by both intelligence sources and money tracking, was supplemented by delusional nonsense from former Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice, who asks “Why does Trump put Russia first?” before calling for a “swift and significant U.S. response.” Rice, who is being mentioned as a possible Biden choice for Vice President, certainly knows about swift and significant as she was one of the architects of the destruction of Libya and the escalation of U.S. military and intelligence operations directed against a non-threatening Syria.

The Times is also titillating with the tale of a low level drug smuggling Pashto businessman who seemed to have a lot of cash in dollars lying around, ignoring the fact that Afghanistan is awash with dollars and has been for years. Many of the dollars come from drug deals, as Afghanistan is now the world’s number one producer of opium and its byproducts.

The cash must be Russian sourced, per the NYT, because a couple of low level Taliban types, who were likely tortured by the Afghan police, have said that it is so. The Times also cites anonymous sources which allege that there were money transfers from an account managed by the Kremlin’s GRU military intelligence to an account opened by the Taliban. Note the “alleged” and consider for a minute that it would be stupid for any intelligence agency to make bank-to-bank transfers, which could be identified and tracked by the clever lads at the U.S. Treasury and NSA. Also try to recall how not so long ago we heard fabricated tales about threatening WMDs to justify war. Perhaps the story would be more convincing if a chain of custody could be established that included checks drawn on the Moscow-Narodny Bank and there just might be a crafty neocon hidden somewhere in the U.S. intelligence community who is right now faking up that sort of evidence.

Other reliably Democratic Party leaning news outlets, to include CNN, MSNBC and The Washington Post all jumped on the bounty story, adding details from their presumably inexhaustible supply of anonymous sources. As Scott Horton observed the media was reporting a “fact” that there was a rumor.

Inevitably the Democratic Party leadership abandoned its Ghanaian kente cloth scarves, got up off their knees, and hopped immediately on to their favorite horse, which is to claim loudly and in unison that when in doubt Russia did it. Joe Biden in particular is “disgusted” by a “betrayal” of American troops due to Trump’s insistence on maintaining “an embarrassing campaign of deferring and debasing himself before Putin.”

The Dems were joined in their outrage by some Republican lawmakers who were equally incensed but are advocating delaying punishing Russia until all the facts are known. Meanwhile, the “circumstantial details” are being invented to make the original tale more credible, including crediting the Afghan operation to a secret Russian GRU Army intelligence unit that allegedly was also behind the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury England in 2018.

Reportedly the Pentagon is looking into the circumstances around the deaths of three American soldiers by roadside bomb on April 8, 2019 to determine a possible connection to the NYT report. There are also concerns relating to several deaths in training where Afghan Army recruits turned on their instructors. As the Taliban would hardly need an incentive to kill Americans and as only seventeen U.S. soldiers died in Afghanistan in 2019 as a result of hostile action, the year that the intelligence allegedly relates to, one might well describe any joint Taliban-Russian initiative as a bit of a failure since nearly all of those deaths have been attributed to kinetic activity initiated by U.S. forces.

The actual game that is in play is, of course, all about Donald Trump and the November election. It is being claimed that the president was briefed on the intelligence but did nothing. Trump denied being verbally briefed due to the fact that the information had not been verified. For once America’s Chief Executive spoke the truth, confirmed by the “intelligence community,” but that did not stop the media from implying that the disconnect had been caused by Trump himself. He reportedly does not read the Presidential Daily Brief (PDB), where such a speculative piece might indeed appear on a back page, and is uninterested in intelligence assessments that contradict what he chooses to believe. The Democrats are suggesting that Trump is too stupid and even too disinterested to be president of the United States so they are seeking to replace him with a corrupt 78-year-old man who may be suffering from dementia.

The Democratic Party cannot let Russia go because they see it as their key to future success and also as an explanation for their dramatic failure in 2016 which in no way holds them responsible for their ineptness. One does not expect the House Intelligence Committee, currently headed by the wily Adam Schiff, to actually know anything about intelligence and how it is collected and analyzed, but the politicization of the product is certainly something that Schiff and his colleagues know full well how to manipulate. One only has to recall the Russiagate Mueller Commission investigation and Schiff’s later role in cooking the witnesses that were produced in the subsequent Trump impeachment hearings.

Schiff predictably opened up on Trump in the wake of the NYT report, saying “I find it inexplicable in light of these very public allegations that the president hasn’t come before the country and assured the American people that he will get to the bottom of whether Russia is putting bounties on American troops and that he will do everything in his power to make sure that we protect American troops.”

Schiff and company should know, but clearly do not, that at the ground floor level there is a lot of lying, cheating and stealing around intelligence collection. Most foreign agents do it for the money and quickly learn that embroidering the information that is being provided to their case officer might ultimately produce more cash. Every day the U.S. intelligence community produces thousands of intelligence reports from those presumed “sources with access,” which then have to be assessed by analysts. Much of the information reported is either completely false or cleverly fabricated to mix actual verified intelligence with speculation and out and out lies to make the package more attractive. The tale of the Russian payment of bribes to the Taliban for killing Americans is precisely the kind of information that stinks to high heaven because it doesn’t even make any political or tactical sense, except to Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Adam Schiff and the New York Times. For what it’s worth, a number of former genuine intelligence officers including Paul Pillar, John Kiriakou, Scott Ritter, and Ray McGovern have looked at the evidence so far presented and have walked away unimpressed. The National Security Agency (NSA) has also declined to confirm the story, meaning that there is no electronic trail to validate it.

Finally, there is more than a bit of the old hypocrisy at work in the damnation of the Russians even if they have actually been involved in an improbable operation with the Taliban. One recalls that in the 1970s and 1980s the United States supported the mujahideen rebels fighting against the Soviet presence in Afghanistan. The assistance consisted of weapons, training, political support and intelligence used to locate, target and kill Soviet soldiers. Stinger missiles were provided to bring down helicopters carrying the Russian troops. The support was pretty much provided openly and was even boasted about, unlike what is currently being alleged about the Russian assistance. The Soviets were fighting to maintain a secular regime that was closely allied to Moscow while the mujahideen later morphed into al-Qaeda and the Islamist militant Taliban subsequently took over the country, meaning that the U.S. effort was delusional from the start.

So, what is a leaked almost certainly faux story about the Russian bounties on American soldiers intended to accomplish? It is probably intended to keep a “defensive” U.S. presence in Afghanistan, much desired by the neocons, a majority in Congress and the Military Industrial Complex (MIC), and it will further be played and replayed to emphasize the demonstrated incompetence of Donald Trump. The end result could be to secure the election of a pliable Establishment flunky Joe Biden as president of the United States. How that will turn out is unpredictable, but America’s experience of its presidents since 9/11 has not been very encouraging.

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 7, 2020 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , | 1 Comment

Despite Iowa Caucus Fiasco, Nevada Democrats Plan to Use New Software “Tool”

By Whitney Webb | MintPress News | February 10, 2020

Even while the chaos of the recent Iowa Caucus remains fresh in voters’ minds, the Nevada State Democratic Party is setting itself up for more of the same by using a new software application for reporting results that is set to be coded and tested in less than a month. The application, still currently under development, will come preloaded onto iPads that will be distributed to precinct chairs during Nevada’s upcoming caucus, scheduled for February 22.

The scramble to create this new application followed revelations that the same company that had developed the software largely blamed for the Iowa debacle – known as Shadow Inc. – had also developed the two applications that Nevada Democrats had planned to use both for early voting and for Caucus Day.

Volunteers for Nevada’s upcoming caucus were told at a recent training session about the software’s existence and the rough details of how it will operate, but very little other information according to a report in the Nevada Independent. Notably, volunteers were urged not to refer to the application as an “app” but instead as a “tool,” likely due to the fact that Nevada Democrats said they would not use any apps for their upcoming caucus in light of what happened in Iowa. CBS News previously reported on the existence of this “tool” last Friday but was also short on specifics.

During the volunteer training session, a party staffer told participants the following:

What we’ve done after Iowa is consult with a group of tech and security folks who are helping us through this process and making sure that we’re doing this in a way that is simple and efficient and secure for all of you so that we’re giving you the best tools we can possible on Caucus Day. (emphasis added)”

Then the staffer, whose comments were recorded and were first reported by the Nevada Independent, described the function of this “tool” as “flow[ing] your precinct early vote data, so that you can have the information for your precinct caucus, so that when you do your viability calculations, you’re able to get the number of people who voted early and then when you see the results of your first alignment, you’re able to key in that early vote information so that you have every piece of information you need to run your precinct caucus.”

When a volunteer asked the staffer how the software “tool” would transmit results from one place to another, the staffer did not provide details but instead stated that “… We’re still working out some of the details around those so I’ll make sure that everyone has more information as we’re able to share it.”

Shadowy connections

Nevada’s decision to use a software program to be developed in less than a month is jarring considering that the failure of Iowa’s caucus was blamed on the rushed development of the Shadow Inc.-created app that resulted in only partial results of the caucus being reported. Yet, the Shadow Inc. app was reported to have been developed over a period of roughly two months, though the company’s CEO, Gerard Niemira, has since claimed that the app’s creation began last August. In contrast, Nevada Democrats are now slated to use a software application developed in less than half that time, thereby raising the likelihood of undiscovered coding errors and other functionality issues of this app significantly.

Another issue is the fact that Nevada Democrats decided to go this route after consulting “a group of tech and security folks” whose names and affiliations were not provided. As previously mentioned, after the Iowa debacle, several media reports quoted technology and cybersecurity experts as well as software developers who had cited the rushed development of the Shadow Inc. app as having largely led to the app’s failure and the resulting chaos in Iowa. It thus seems odd that a group of “tech and security folks” are urging Nevada Democrats to pay for the development of a new program in an even shorter time frame as a way to prevent Nevada’s caucus from repeating Iowa’s failures.

Though the identity of this group remains unknown, concerns have been raised that some may have links to the 2020 presidential campaign of Pete Buttigieg, given that the Shadow Inc.-developed app used in Iowa was found to have ties to the Buttigieg campaign and the Iowa caucus chaos clearly benefited the Buttigieg campaign.

Concerns about possible connections between these tech and security consultants and the Buttigieg campaign have only grown since it was revealed that Nevada Democrats recently hired an organizer for Pete Buttigieg’s 2020 presidential campaign, Emily Goldman, as the Caucus’ Voter Protection Director, just weeks before the caucus is set to take place. Goldman also previously interned at the Brookings Institute, whose chair recently authored a piece in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Stop Bernie Sanders Now.” After Goldman’s connections to the Buttigieg were revealed, she deleted her work history on LinkedIn and locked her Twitter account.

Goldman’s new position at the Nevada State Democratic Party tasks her with “ensur[ing] that all eligible Nevadans are able to cast their ballot.”

Given the rushed development of a new app, the lack of transparency regarding the Nevada Democrats’ technology consultants and Emily Goldman’s recent hire, concerns that Nevada’s upcoming caucus will repeat the chaos seen in Iowa have hardly been assuaged.

Worse still, the very volunteers who attended the recent caucus training workshop described the sentiment in the room as “frustration and confusion”, with one caucus site leader telling the Nevada Independent that “there was ‘not a bit of proof’ at the training that Nevada wouldn’t be another Iowa.” Another volunteer told the Nevada Independent that “the people participating in the training didn’t even seem to understand the basic details of how to carry out the caucus process and didn’t know that precinct chairs can’t also be precinct captains on behalf of a campaign,” while other volunteers said they were not told how to properly realign early voters’ preferences on Caucus Day should the new tool fail.

Though the fallout from the Iowa Caucus is still fresh, it appears that the technology-driven chaos and corruption seen in Iowa has not served as a warning to some in the Democratic Party, but instead a roadmap.

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

February 10, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , | Leave a comment

Democrats are the McCarthyites

By Margaret Kimberley | Black Agenda Report | February 6, 2019

The unceasing torrent of Russiagate lies turns Democrats into war hawks and causes liberals to spout nonsense that was once consigned to the fringe right wing. It’s worse than the old McCarthyism.

A recent poll indicated that Democrats are more likely than Republicans to hold pro-war views. That revelation is hardly surprising considering the degree to which their party has promoted the trope of Donald Trump as a Russian government asset. This strategy is a focal point for them and a weapon to be used against the Republicans instead of the political opposition their voters need.

The ongoing investigation popularly known as Russiagate is a cynical hoax perpetrated by the Democratic Party leadership and their friends in corporate media. Russiagate distracts the public from taking a hard look at the Democratic Party corruption and resulting missteps that put Donald Trump in the White House. It also serves the interests of the bi-partisan surveillance state, which feared that Trump pronouncements indicated fundamental changes in foreign policy which they could not abide.

These allegations have Trump on the ropes, but mostly because of the relentless repetition of lies about the investigation. The litany of indictments paraded by the media involve crimes like tax fraud and payments to porn stars. None of the indictments point to collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. Because no such connections have been made the media continue whipping up hysteria in an effort to keep the tale alive. The campaign is more shrill than ever because the hollowness of the case is clear to anyone who is really paying attention.

Comparisons have been made with McCarthyite “Red Scare” of the 1950s. But it can be argued that Russiagate is even worse. Bizarre assertions that were once consigned to the fringe right wing are now repeated on a daily basis by influential corporate media personalities and nearly all Democratic Party politicians.

The most prolific Russiagate practitioner is Rachel Maddow of MSNBC. She has ridden that horse so successfully that she now has the highest rated program on cable news. But she may have reached a moment which prompted the famous question asked at the army/McCarthy hearings. “At long last have you no sense of decency?”

Her assertion that Russia might be able to hack into the power grid and freeze Americans to death is quite dangerous . “What would you do if you lost heat indefinitely as the act of a foreign power on the same day that the temperature in your front yard matched the temperature in Antarctica? I mean, what would you and your family do?” It doesn’t matter that experts declared that the claim was highly improbable if not impossible. There is now no depth that cannot be reached in the effort to bamboozle Democrats and keep them stupid and needlessly fearful.

Prestigious newspapers like the New York Times are equally guilty of passing off lies as the truth. The Times reported that Trump and his associates had more than 100 interactions with Russians before inauguration day in 2017. But the story falls apart on even cursory inspection. The Times includes unproven claims of contacts with Wikileaks when it isn’t even a Russian organization. Roger Stone is the latest to be indicted because of his own stupidity, having claimed contacts with Wikileaks that never even took place.

But even as the case for collusion falls apart, the McCarthyite media find new ways to keep the narrative running. Russian press coverage of Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s presidential campaign is called a “campaign of support” for her candidacy. NBC called Russian reporting the “propaganda machine.” The real issue is that Gabbard dares to question U.S. foreign policy dictates. She met with Syrian president Assad and opposes the coup attempt against Venezuela. But stopping such heretical acts from taking place is a central feature of the Russiagate scare.

So insane is the conspiracy mongering that clear damage to Russian government aspirations are called “wins for Putin.” The Trump administration’s unilateral withdrawal from the 30-year old INF missile treaty is not something that Vladimir Putin would ever want. The decades long effort to limit nuclear proliferation gives both countries security knowing that the other is restricted in the number and placements of nuclear weapons. Yet this very obvious reality is now turned on its head, and truth is twisted and disappeared.

The worst possible outcome of Russiagate is that it increases the likelihood of armed conflict between the United States and Russia. The same people who see MSNBC, CNN and national newspapers as divine oracles can be led to support any government act, no matter how dangerous it may be. Liberals who might once have opposed a hot war would now be the first to support it.

The Russiagate pimps are stoking fear and hatred. They spread outright lies and ignorance and they are doing so because of base motives. The Democratic Party rank and file ought to be demanding answers about the 2016 defeat and the previous loss of 900 legislative seats around the country. But they have been so badly misled that they don’t know that they should be asking anything at all. Even people who call themselves progressives are worshipping prosecutorial excess from the Robert Mueller investigation team and applauding surveillance state killers bloviating on cable news programs.

McCarthyism is back and it is being led by liberals. The entire world is endangered because of their leaders’ lies and cover ups and their determination to follow blindly. The outcome will be continued political defeat at home and an increased likelihood of what was once unimaginable, war between two nuclear powers.

Margaret Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.

February 6, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia | , , , , | 1 Comment

Pierre Omidyar: A Dangerous Billionaire-Backer of the “Resistance”

By Daniel Haiphong | American Herald Tribune | November 27, 2018

One of the most disturbing trends in the era of Trump has been the flock of billionaires that have come rushing into the Democratic Party to pose as leaders of an opposition movement to the “fascist” predations of the real estate mogul. These billionaires, which include capitalists such as George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, and Tom Steyer are the architects of a “Big Tent” strategy first outlined by Black Agenda Report Editor Glen Ford. This strategy was devised by the Hillary Clinton Presidential campaign of 2016. The strategy has two components. The first component is the promotion of “diversity” to distract from the fact that the Democratic Party can no longer appeal to the interests of the poor or working-class, especially Black people who have been held in electoral captivity for a generation. Second, “Big Tent” Democrats actively seek an alliance of Wall Street, the military and intelligence apparatus, and Republicans to provide the financial and political strength behind the strategy.

The “Big Tent” strategy is called the “Resistance.” One of the chief billionaire-backers of the “Resistance” is Pierre Omidyar. Omidyar is the founder of the eBay corporation. His surplus profits have been used over the years to exert “soft power” influence over the U.S. state. Omidyar has given hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of cash to Democratic Party candidates since 1999.

Omidyar was one of the principle donors to the NeverTrump Political Action Committee (PAC) that formed during the 2016 election. The NeverTrump PAC brought together neoliberal and neoconservative Democrats into an alliance against Trump. William Kristol, editor in chief at the Weekly Standard and longtime Republican, has been one of the most vocal supporters of the NeverTrump movement. Kristol is an expert in the think-tank business and understands the importance of “soft power.” He helped found the Project for the New American Century that peddled neocon wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as an escalation of the U.S.’ military presence around the world, including on Russia’s doorstep. Kristol has become a favorite of the corporate media since Trump was elected in 2016. He is a regular on MSNBC and is viewed by corporate Democrats as the “sane” wing of the Republican Party.

That Omidyar would align with Kristol is a stark indication of the “Big Tent” strategy at work. In a post on Twitter after the midterm elections came to pass, Kristol celebrated the support that he has received from “the left” and its benefactors such as Pierre Omidyar. Kristol’s excitement about billionaire support from all sides of the political aisle represents a development in the Trump era that is far more dangerous than Trump himself. The “Big Tent” strategy is a marked political shift to the right. Not only this, but the shift is part and parcel of a covert war against the real “left” that is principally being waged by the fake “left” coalition of thieves and warmongers in the Democratic Party.

The critical question that must be asked is whether there are any benefits for ordinary poor and working-class people in supporting the NeverTrump coalition or billionaire backers such as Omidyar. And the answer is more complex than a simple “no.” It is far worse than that. Omidyar is not a “lesser-evil” billionaire. In the system of U.S. imperialism, those don’t exist.

By supporting Omidyar and his version of the “Resistance,” most of humanity stands to lose. Omidyar’s “soft power” network has only one mission and that is to stabilize an empire in crisis. One of the ways that Omidyar has attempted to stabilize the imperialist system is through investments in journalism. Omidyar is the principle owner of First Look Media, the parent corporation of The Intercept. While The Intercept has covered important issues in the past, it has been charged with privatizing Edward Snowden’s leaks and promoting regime change efforts in Syria through direct attacks on the democratically-elected government of Bashar Al-Assad. Furthermore, The Intercept possesses a troubling record of outing the identities of those leaking secret government information. In a word, Omidyar has used his influence over The Intercept to stifle dissent while promoting the outlet as a pioneer of “independent” media.

Omidyar is most concerned, however, with ensuring that the US empire maintains corporate and military control over the world’s nations and peoples. He has donated millions to the Clinton Global Initiative responsible for imposing ruthless austerity measures on nations such as Haiti. There is also documented evidence that Omidyar used his philanthropic network to support the “Maidan Revolution” in Ukraine in 2014 which propelled neo-Nazis into state power, much to the pleasure of the IMF. The billionaire eBay mogul has also been a critical supporter of the United States Agency for International Development or USAID. USAID is well-known for its support of “soft power” tactics to promote regime change in nations that do not bow down to U.S. military and corporate power such as Cuba.

Omidyar is not just dangerous at the individual level. Rather, the billionaire’s influence over the U.S. power structure is representative of conflict within the ruling class of the imperialist system headed by the United States. On the other side of Omidyar stands Trump, a ruthless billionaire who holds no allegiance to any sector of the imperialist system. Trump is not loyal to the banks or the military and intelligence apparatus. Trump is loyal to himself. His moves as President thus far such as the tax breaks for the rich, his willingness to broker peace in Korea, or his racist dog whistles and policies toward immigration from Central America, are all representative of the sharpening decline of imperialism.

Omidyar wants to save the imperialist system from decline. The section of the billionaire class from which Omidyar belongs is interested only in engendering endless war and austerity under conditions of social peace. The likes of Omidyar pose as the “Resistance” to Trump but really represent a threat of potentially greater proportions. Omidyar actively creates infrastructure for leftists and progressives to be bamboozled into supporting the machinations of imperialism. It is no secret that the section of the Republican Party that supports Trump also wields “soft power” through its own think-tanks such as the Federalist Society. However, in this period of crisis in the political apparatus of imperialism, party lines are becoming blurred. The “Big Tent” strategy reigns and billionaires such as Omidyar will do anything to ensure that the deadly alliance re-assumes full control of the system from Trump.

In conclusion, a dialectical relationship exists between Omidyar and Trump. It was Omidyar’s section of the ruling class that created the economic and political conditions for Trump. For over thirty years, billionaires such as Omidyar, Steyer, and Buffet have bled workers and poor people dry. Wages and wealth have plummeted for the majority while profits and land holdings have soared for the minority. The only thing that workers and poor people can count on is that the military, police, and surveillance apparatus will grow as people become more desperate and impoverished. Omidyar and the Democratic Party-aligned billionaires have coalesced with as many repressive forces in the ruling class as possible to wage a struggle against Trump. In doing so, they avoid the very real crisis of legitimacy that elected Donald Trump in the first place.

We should steer clear of supporting Omidyar and expose his putrid political record as proof that there is no such thing as a “progressive” billionaire. Real progressives and radicals stand for universal healthcare, peace, jobs, and against war, mass incarceration, and mass surveillance. These are the political issues of our time that the entire ruling class stands against. Trump knew this and politically appealed to anti-regime change and anti-free trade sentiment within the Republican and Democratic Party. Through their “resistance” toward Trump, Omidyar and his ilk have as their real goal the suppression of this sentiment so that it never becomes a truly progressive movement for social transformation in this country.

November 27, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Censorship? By The U.S. Women’s National Democratic Club? You Bet!

By J. Michael Springmann | American Herald Tribune | October 29, 2018

Say It Ain’t So, Joe! The author’s book, Goodbye, Europe? Hello, Chaos? Merkel’s Migrant Bomb is more toxic than the controlled wave of migrants flooding the Continent over the past few years. It is more toxic than the carefully-organized migrant “caravans” now marching to the United States. On October 24, 2018, through the efforts of a contact, the Women’s National Democratic Club (WNDC) in Washington, D.C. invited this writer to speak about his book at a luncheon on November 29. However, mirabile dictu, on October 26, the Club reneged on its invitation.

Why? The book asks awkward questions, names names, and provides deep background on unrestricted, uncontrolled migration. It is a carefully-researched analysis of how and why millions of people, mostly from South and Southwest Asia and North Africa, poured into the European Union. The work delves into America’s Forever War against the Arab and Muslim worlds, detailing how the United States destroyed country after country. Blaming shadowy Islamists for the problem, Washington concealed the activities of its own intelligence services and those of other countries in carefully herding the unfortunates out of their homelands and onto a foreign continent. Its 354 footnotes, draw from contemporary press articles and Kelly Greenhill’s scholarly investigation of the subject, Weapons of Mass Migration: Forced Displacement, Coercion, and Foreign Policy (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press: 2010), buttress the author’s investigations, arguments, and conclusions.

These ideas are anathema to the American Establishment. Of which, the WNDC evidently thinks it is a member.

Nevertheless, in an effort at damage control, the author’s friend had suggested to the WNDC that talking about Goodbye, Europe? would be useful to their membership in understanding the situation in Europe as well as the columns of aliens, not quite in army division strength, now marching on America. She had emphasized this author’s background as immigration attorney, service as a diplomat, and activity as political commentator on international affairs. She further noted that this writer’s experience provided a certain amount of gravitas, commenting:

Mr. Springmann’s position…would offer WNDC attendees a rare (unfortunately rare, as mainstream media and elected officials are not addressing the nuances and complexities of this mass migration), opportunity to go beyond soundbites, fear and the narrow ‘discussion’ that has been framed not only in Europe but in the US as well…

And the WNDC’s Reply? Here’s Marisha Kirtane, the Club’s Strategic Communications Director, in her own words:

My concern is more the tone in which migrants were talked about in the abstract for the book, and how they seemed to be characterized…. Why do migrants represent an ethnopolitical nightmare?  Where is the data that suggests that most migrants are men?…But there’s a good chance that it is a very individual point of view by someone who is a bit of a conspiracy theorist.

Miss Kirtane obviously didn’t read the book (even though this writer had supplied the WNDC with a copy). If she had seen the volume, she would have noted that the book was, in part, dedicated to the migrants: … To the unfortunate millions driven from their homes by American foreign policy. These were individuals and families weaponized as migrants, pushed into foreign lands and cultures they did not understand… Just as obviously, she didn’t read any of the comments about the work posted on Amazon. If she had, she would have learned from the former director of the Voice of America’s Arabic Service that:

… I consider [this]one of the very rare books that are so deeply and extensively researched and so widely and authentically sourced. It discusses frankly and uninhibitedly the worldwide wave of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers which flooded many European countries and threatened to break on our shores. The author unearthed the roots of the problems which caused that human deluge of millions. Mr. Springmann lays the blame on many factors including turmoil, political instability, unemployment, poverty, aspiring to better life and mainly violence and wars in Asian, North African and, in particular, Middle Eastern countries. He stresses that the major cause of the outflow of that flood is the United States’ foreign policy which he claims is bent on using the migrant waves as a “mass destruction weapon… It is timely and comes in a propitious moment when the American debate on immigration, refugees and border protection is heating up. The book is a warning shot which directs attention to the migrant problems and as a reminder that solutions are urgently needed. The author offers some reasonable ones.”

So Why Is There Censorship? Simple. The book and planned address criticize American foreign policy. You know, of invading and destroying countries with which the United States is at peace. Besides its century-long history of overthrowing democratic governments in Latin America and the Caribbean, the United States has crushed Arab and Muslim regimes in Southwest Asia which apartheid Israel sees as abominations. The Democratic Party as well as the members of the WNDC have supported these actions. If they haven’t, this writer has heard nary a word of criticism directed against former presidents James Earl Carter (D-Ga.), William Jefferson Clinton (D-Ark.), or Barack Hussein Obama (D-HI.). The Democrats intensely dislike anyone linking their wars and their support for wars to their politicians, who, in their eyes, stand for hope and change.

There is also censorship because the WNDC can’t or doesn’t want to grasp the causes of the migrant waves in Europe and the Americas: the nearly complete destruction of entire countries and their political systems, with attendant imposition of highly undemocratic regimes in their place. Naturally, decent, hard-working common folk want to leave.

But that’s not the only reason for censorship. It gets worse. The WNDC (and the far too many people who think like they do) love the sub rosa import of cheap, easily exploited labor. (It’s really slave labor but the War Between the States abolished slavery, don’t you know.) Moreover, they’re votes to be had. These can be illegal ones (since the U.S. doesn’t have a national identity card and efforts to require proof of citizenship at the polls are always deemed unconstitutional). Or they can be legal ones, as the result of amnesty or marriage to an American citizen. The key word is gratitude to the political party that let the migrants in.

But, some people fight back. Mostly on the Continent. In Goodbye, Europe?, the author reviews right-wing, populist parties, country by country. He notes that anti-EU, anti-migrant Marine Le Pen and her then-Front National garnered 30% of the French presidential vote in 2017. Anti-immigrant Geert Wilders’ Union Party for Freedom (PVV) became the second-strongest party in the Dutch parliament in 2017. Angela Merkel, the woman who opened Europe to migrants. and her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) took an unprecedented drubbing in Germany’s September 2017 general election. But the Alternative for Germany Party (AfD), anti-EU and anti-migrant went from nothing to nearly 13% of the vote. According to an E-mail from a German friend October 28, 2018, Merkel’s CDU and the SPD, the Socialists, again got pounded in that day’s Hesse State elections, losing 10 percentage points each, with the AfD taking a projected 14% of the ballots cast.

Don’t you dare question. However, in Europe, just as in the United States, anyone who probes the migrant wave, its causes, or its supporters is denounced as a racist, a hatemonger, a Neo-Nazi, or worse. Peter van Buren, author and former American diplomat, recently queried the rapid mobilization of the migrant caravans moving towards the U.S. just before mid-term elections. Posting on Facebook, he asked how 7,000 people came together overnight. He wanted to know who or what is supplying them with food and water. Consequently, he was hit with astonishingly fact-free emotional outbursts. (When this writer was assigned to Saudi Arabia, he drank three liters of water a day. Imagine the task of daily providing 21,000 liters of potable water to these people.)

Some of this help seems to be coming from the Mexican government. NBC news reported October 28 that “For the first time an arm of the [Mexican] federal government seemed to be directly helping the migrants advance rather than trying to diminish the caravan. In this case Grupo Beta, Mexico’s migrant protection agency, gave rides to stragglers and passed out water.”

Conclusion. Americans live in the past. They believe in exceptionalism. They believe in their inalienable right to tell others what to think and what to do. And they’re wrong.

My contact who reached out to the WNDC believes that the U.S. (and Europe) should admit anyone, regardless of their education level or qualifications. After all, she noted, the Irish and others came to the United States in the 19th century. They came for the most part as single people who would later send for their families. They came, she commented, because they had no future at home. Well, in the 19th century, America was a continent-wide wilderness filled with lots of trees and Red Indians, soon to be extirpated for their inconvenient existence. Today, with more than 300 million people of various ethnicities and strong, diametrically-opposed political beliefs, the U.S. is becoming unmanageable.

On the other hand, Canada and Australia are selective about their immigrants. Unlike the U.S., they put a premium on what the new immigrant can bring to the county: funds and education. After all, we live in a high-technology society dependent on high level skills and knowledge.

American exceptionalism goes back to the 17th century when John Winthrop, governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, said “We shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us.” In a speech given in 1974 at the Political Action Conference, President Ronald Reagan expatiated on what Winthrop meant: “We are, indeed, and we are today, the last best hope of man on earth.” According to Stephen M. Walt in Foreign Policy (October 11, 2011), “Most statements of ‘American exceptionalism’ presume that America’s values, political system, and history are unique and worthy of universal admiration. They also imply that the United States is both destined and entitled to play a distinct and positive role on the world stage.”

That’s a myth. Any Afghan, Iranian, Iraqi, Libyan, or Syrian can confirm that. Most of Latin America can, as well.

Flowing from exceptionalism is the American desire to control the world’s political systems–for their own good. Look at the United Nations and U.S. vetoes of resolutions critical of Israel. See the steady advance of outmoded NATO to Russia’s borders. Consider the chain of alliances which U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles forged in the 1950s. Contemplate America’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Reflect on sanctions imposed on Russia and Iran but not Israel or Saudi Arabia. America knows best doesn’t it?

No. And that’s why the WNDC censored this writer’s talk. People with limited knowledge and a specific agenda wanted to control someone else’s message. They wanted this control to ensure that their speech and only their speech would be heard. In 21st century America, freedom of speech applies to only certain words from certain groups. George Orwell’s 1984 came 30 years early.


J. Michael Springmann is an attorney and former diplomat with the US Department of State. As a diplomat, he spent five years in Germany, two years in India, and nearly two in Saudi Arabia. Now a writer and political commentator, Springmann is also the author of Visas for Al Qaeda: CIA Handouts That Rocked the World.

October 29, 2018 Posted by | Book Review, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 1 Comment

‘Free Speech’: Trump Campaign Defends WikiLeaks’ Release of Hacked DNC Emails

Sputnik – 11.10.2018

A lawsuit filed in September by two donors and an ex-employee from the Democratic Party alleged that President Donald Trump’s team had purportedly conspired with Russia to release emails ostensibly stolen from the servers of the Democratic National Committee.

In a motion to dismiss a new lawsuit, the Trump campaign, represented by lawyers from the firm Jones Day, turned to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to state that WikiLeaks couldn’t be held “liable” for publishing Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails because the whistleblowing website served as an “intermediary” for other parties’ information.

“A website that provides a forum where ‘third parties can post information’ is not liable for the third party’s posted information. Since WikiLeaks provided a forum for a third party (the unnamed “Russian actors”) to publish content developed by that third party (the hacked emails), it cannot be held liable for the publication,” the motion read.

Presenting the 32-page legal filing, the lawyers also maintained that any alleged agreement between the website and the Trump campaign to leak those emails couldn’t be considered a “conspiracy” due to the fact that WikiLeaks’ posting of the messages was not a crime, while a “conspiracy is an agreement to commit an unlawful act,” the lawyers claimed.

They further added that the campaign couldn’t be held legally responsible for the publication of the DNC emails on WikiLeaks.

The lawyers appealed to the First Amendment, which protects the right to “disclose information – even stolen information – so long as (1) the speaker did not participate in the theft and (2) the information deals with matters of public concern.”

“At a minimum, privacy cannot justify suppressing true speech during a political campaign. The First Amendment ‘has its fullest and most urgent application to speech uttered during a campaign for political office’. It leaves voters ‘free to obtain information from diverse sources in order to determine how to cast their votes,’” the filing read.

The motion was submitted in response to a civil lawsuit brought against the Trump campaign by one ex-employee from the Democratic Party and two donors, who alleged that the leaked emails had revealed “identifying information.”

While the Trump campaign’s lawyers leapt to the defense of the website in their brief, the current administration has previously blasted WikiLeaks for releasing classified documents, with then-CIA director Mike Pompeo – now the secretary of state – dismissing the platform as a “hostile non-state intelligence service” in 2017.

In July 2018, Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the investigation into the alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election, announced indictments against 12 Russian nationals, claiming that they were posing as Guccifer 2.0, the entity that took credit for the hack of the DNC.

According to the indictment, they used a website run by an organization, “that had previously posted documents stolen from US persons, entities, and the US government,” in an apparent allusion to WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks, which was accused by Trump’s Democratic rival in the election, Hillary Clinton, of acting as a “fully owned subsidiary of Russian intelligence” after publishing emails leaked from the DNC servers during the campaign, has denied any efforts to meddle in the 2016 election in the United States, as well as conspiring with Russia.

Both Washington and Moscow have repeatedly dismissed claims of collusion to influence the outcome of the vote.

October 11, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

When Social Networks Care About National Security

By Harry Bentham | OffGuardian | September 16, 2018

Controversies surrounding online fake news, having alarmed political activists in Britain and the US, are prompting social media companies to be more active in combating the alleged threat. For many people in opposition to the policies of US President Donald Trump and Britain’s exit from the EU, the internet is to blame for the situation because it illicitly influenced voters. As a result, increased policing of social networks to root out foreign spies and domestic dissidents seems necessary to them. One of the latest examples is Twitter’s permanent suspension of American conspiracy theorist entertainer Alex Jones.

The responsibility to police the social networks seems to have largely been placed, by pushy and concerned politicians, on the management of tech companies themselves. British MPs and US senators did this by summoning them to hearings and campaigning openly against the internet’s permissiveness on political content, making demands they should shut down dissident and foreign outlets because they have gone too far.

Although the most vocal of them are not actually in the incumbent government and therefore not responsible for national security responses, they are still lawmakers representing constituents and can threaten legislation to compel social media companies to change. Preferring instead to make the policing of social media posts look voluntary, they seem to have capably persuaded the management of the tech companies to enforce their views on national security.

Therefore, now, we are at an awkward point where transnational social networks must care about so-called national security – specifically the US’s national security, based on that country’s strange and self-obsessed drivel about being exceptional and better than others. What next?

Recently, we have seen police-like enforcement action against dissident users and outlets present on a variety of social media platforms and applications used by a probable majority of people in the UK and the US. This removal of controversial figures from online platforms is presented as not being censorship, but rather the enforcement of decent community guidelines by companies that have every right to withhold services. However, this argument is not very convincing. The political pressure has been immense. The results have not been targeted at bad social media behavior like spam and harassment, but against alternate political views on both the left and the right. If we look at the actions of the tech companies, they are not only encouraged by elements of the state but have made themselves into state-like actors by describing themselves as stopping foreign threats and extremism.

Brexit was the mistake of a misled public, perhaps. We are told so by influential media personalities – almost all of them – and the same narrative is presented when it comes to the election of Trump. We are encouraged to lean towards the same common solution to both of these mishaps, and it consists of mostly a crackdown online – especially on Twitter. We will be shutting down online accounts and channels belonging to the supporters of such causes as Trump and Brexit, after quickly and conveniently finding them guilty of being bots or possibly foreign. No attention is given to bad behavior as a whole.

For example, no enforcement action is used against pro-EU accounts or anti-Trump accounts, many of which self-identify as foreign or completely automated. Some even blatantly violate Twitter’s rules on inflated hashtag campaigns, doing things like using the hashtag #FBPE to get followers and retweets from pro-EU bots. Their own determination to trick users and violate the community guidelines is openly celebrated by them, so oblivious are these kinds of activists to their own hypocrisy.

So, in fact, what seems at first a principled argument against bad behavior is really a cliché so we can pretend there was some civilized reason for thuggishly silencing other points of view.

Much of the commentary by the Democratic Party, as with opponents of Brexit in the UK, focuses on national security and the need to silence or eliminate bad people and Russians. It is presented as war, using the language of military propaganda. Being in opposition, these democracy-loving people in the Democratic Party and other groups now presume it is the job of civil society – news networks like CNN and tech companies like Apple mainly – to not only take charge of national security themselves but also engage directly in censorship.

But censorship, the shutting down of opposing views and channels on grounds that they are treasonous, is not an exertion of soft power but hard power. It is a state-like activity, and the sole responsibility of states in all previous cases. By taking part in censorship without being part of the elected leadership of the state and the command structure it possesses to deal with national security threats, unelected elements in civil society are allowed to commit what would be a crime if they had been elected to do it. They engage in a coup-like activity, since, not being part of an elected government, they are nonetheless engaged in state-like activity and are trying to invasively police matters that only a heavily expanded state or dictatorship is ever expected to police.

What is presented above makes it justifiable to consider whether traditional models of state censorship would be more consistent with the rule of law and the importance of a democratic mandate than the current capricious enforcement by private companies. A party whose candidate failed to win power over the whole state, such as the Democrats, is not able to implement a program of state censorship at the moment they most want to. The reason this is the case is because of their very loss in the 2016 US election, which makes them not responsible for matters of national security and not tasked with securing the information space against threats, and yet they try. For them to seek routes around this failure, going to non-elected entities such as the tech companies in an attempt to dictate terms of censorship and actual national security policies via them, can be compared with a coup or a form of separatism. This is the creation of a second state, the seizure of infrastructure to interdict citizens. It is completely outside the bounds of normal political processes, which focus solely on democratic and valid elections as the only means of changing power.

Each point made in relation to the US Democrats here is equally true of influencers and leaders who seek to invalidate the results of the UK’s Brexit referendum, in large part because these are the same kind of civil society actors. In their attempts to portray the activity of the national government itself as treasonous and wrest control of the management of national security from the British government, entities with no democratic mandate are hopelessly creating a second state – one without elections – to take control over national security.

It is not political opposition but a second state because, for the first time ever, it wants not just persuasive soft power but hard power in the capability to suppress targets or eliminate their influence on command. Not only would this realization make these parties and their tech industry collaborators a state-like entity, but it could make such actors as the Democratic Party traitors at war with the electorate.

While this article doesn’t make such a claim, it is one Trump and his supporters have come close to making when the President accused unrelenting elements of the press of being “enemies of the people”, and could eventually create a national security crisis. The reason it would be a crisis is because both Trump and his critics will have a point. It is the role of activists and media to be adversarial, but if they are too aggressive and specifically driven to remove an elected head of state from power, their actions may be seen as the de facto overthrow of the republic to install themselves as political arbiters and impose a moral aristocracy.

Many leaders and followers in the political opposition in the US and UK are supportive of censorship, slithering around constitutional safeguards against state censorship. Whether in public hearings or behind closed doors, they have been going directly to tech companies and other parts of civil society to physically disrupt or silence speech they dislike. If they are such supporters of national security and censorship, and are really so concerned about traitors, they should not conspire. Rather, these people should approach the elected government with their concerns, to avoid being deemed traitors themselves.

They can achieve censorship by working to convince the elected government to change the law in relation to such practices and introduce programs of lawful censorship, as well as bodies to reliably and authoritatively identify traitors. This means national security can be pursued in a way at least consistent with electoral democracy, even if it erodes human rights further. Otherwise, we will continue to see electorally defeated parties and elements of civil society acting like terrorist hijackers determined to take power. They will be gaining state-like powers, harassing citizens who did not vote for them, carrying out targeted censorship, and enforcing their values over the corpse of the democratic state.

It should be concluded that none of the above is a desirable conversation to take part in and it is regrettable that it would need to be published. Ideally, neither state censorship nor corporate censorship should be tolerated. The internet should continue to be home to an anarchic culture at all costs, not a state-like one. However, as rhetoric becomes more warlike and paranoid and positions become irreconcilable, all spaces could become politically aligned and everyone’s freedom to communicate could catastrophically reduce. With constant political censorship, critical thinking will rewind a hundred years and the internet will talk like propaganda from 1914 when you try to search for the truth.


Harry Bentham is an independent author. His writing has been featured at Beliefnet, Press TV, the Center for a Stateless Society, h+ Magazine and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. Having authored several titles available on Amazon, Harry wrote and independently published the technology and politics book Catalyst: A Techno-Liberation Thesis in 2013 and is a listed member of think tanks including the futurist Lifeboat Foundation. Keep track of Harry’s ideas via Twitter @hjbentham and @catalystthesis

September 16, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Russian hackers not found… again: DNC retracts claim voter database targeted by cyber-attack

RT | August 23, 2018

The latest alarming news on a sophisticated cyber-attack on the Democratic National Committee’s voter database may have cemented one’s worst fears over Russia hacking into the US elections… except it was really a “phishing test.”

Bob Lord, the committee’s chief security officer, raised the alarm on Wednesday after detecting a fake login page that mimicked the access page for Votebuilder, a program used by Democratic Party officials across that country that hosts the party’s voter database.

“This attempt is further proof that there are constant threats as we head into midterm elections and we must remain vigilant in order to prevent future attacks,” Lord said in a statement. However, within a few hours it became clear that blaming Moscow, no matter how tempting, would not be an option.

In a follow-up statement, Lord clarified that the fake login page was “built by a third party as part of a simulated phishing test.” He claimed that the security test was not authorized by the DNC.

“While we are extremely relieved that this wasn’t an attempted intrusion by a foreign adversary, this incident is further proof that we need to continue to be vigilant in light of potential attacks,” Lord’s anticlimactic clarification said.

It’s not uncommon for corporations or organizations to hire consultants to test for security weaknesses in their computer systems – although it’s unusual for it to be done without any knowledge of the organization, as Lord has insisted.

Still, even when reporting that the scary DNC hack was a false alarm, CNN made sure to remind its readers that Microsoft recently announced (citing no concrete evidence) that it had thwarted an attempt by hackers working for Russian military intelligence to target the US Senate and conservative think tanks that advocated for tougher policies against Moscow.

August 23, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | 4 Comments

Elizabeth Warren’s Anti Corruption Specificity Evaporates When Foreign Policy is Raised

By Sam Husseini | August 22, 2018

On Tuesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren addressed the National Press Club, outlining with great specificity a host of proposals on issues including eliminating financial conflicts, close the revolving door between business and government and, perhaps most notably, reforming corporate structures.

Warren gave a blistering attack on corporate power run amok, giving example after example, like Congressman Billy Tauzin doing the pharmaceutical lobby’s bidding by preventing a bill for expanded Medicare coverage from allowing the program to negotiate lower drug prices. Noted Warren: “In December of 2003, the very same month the bill was signed into law, PhRMA — the drug companies’ biggest lobbying group — dangled the possibility that Billy could be their next CEO.”In February of 2004, Congressman Tauzin announced that he wouldn’t seek re-election. Ten months later, he became CEO of PhRMA — at an annual salary of $2 million. Big Pharma certainly knows how to say ‘thank you for your service.'”

But I found that Warren’s tenacity when ripping things like corporate lobbyists’ “pre-bribes”  suddenly evaporated when dealing with issues like the enormous military budget and Israeli assaults on Palestinian children.

The Press Club moderator, Angela Greiling Keane, early in the news conference asked about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s keeping press out of town hall meetings, pairing that with Trump’s outright attacks on media.

Husseini: Sam Husseini with The Nation and the Institute for Public Accuracy. Cortez, who was mentioned earlier, and other likely incoming congressional members next year propose slashing the military budget to help pay for human and environmental needs. Do you agree? And if I could, a second question: would you consider introducing and sponsoring [a version of] Betty McCollum’s bill on Palestinians children’s rights in the Senate?

Warren: I now sit on Armed Services and I have been in the middle of the sausage making factory on that one. And that has pushed me even more strongly in the direction of systemic reforms. I want to be able to have those debates. I want to be able to get them out in the open and talk about these poor issues that affect our government, affect our people. I want to be able to debate them on the floor of the senate. I want to be able to do amendments on them. Right now the whole of big money over our government stops much of that. It chokes off much of the debate we should have. So I am going to give you a system-wide answer because I think that’s what matters here. This is not about one particular proposal, this is all the way across. How is it that we get the voices of the people heard in government instead of over and over the voices of the wealthy and the well connected. The voices of those with higher armies of lobbyists. So for me that’s what this is about.

But part of the power that the wealthy and well connected have is getting direct responses to their specific concerns. Political funders are unlikely impressed with broad “system-wide answers”.

In a sense, her non-response to very direct questions rather highlighted the problem she is presumably addressing.

And we’ve been here before.

Bernie Sanders, in his 2016 presidential run, was remarkably vague or even outright repressive regarding foreign policy, especially early on. This reached almost comical proportions when during a debate on CBS just after the November 2015 bombing in Paris, he tried to avoid substantially addressing the issue, wanting instead to fall back on income inequality. Certainly, Sanders was arguably treated very unfairly by the Democratic Party and media establishment, but he was greatly diminished by not having serious foreign policy answers.

Warren and other “progressive” candidates may be set to repeat that. Sanders did address foreign policy more at the end of the campaign and since, but his answers are still problematic at times and at best it was all too little too late.

One question is, realistically, what are Warren’s goals here? It could well be a good faith effort by someone committed to changing the world for the better. But then, why the selectivity?

If it was enactment of these policies, then the strongest way to do that might have been to find a rogue Republican to pair up with on at least some aspects of her proposals so as to avoid charges being purely politically motivated. When questioned by a New York Post reporter at the news conference, Warren couldn’t name a Republican whom she might work with. This would especially be the case since Trump — like Obama before him — ran against the establishment.

Is it to make her a leading contender for the Democratic nomination? If so, the hope would be that she’s not simply playing the role of what Bruce Dixon of Black Agenda Report calls “sheepdogging” — that is, the presidential run or promise of a run by a Sanders or Warren as simply a tool the Democratic Party establishment uses to keep enough of the public “on the reservation”.

Said Warren of her own financial reform proposals: “Inside Washington, some of these proposals will be very unpopular, even with some of my friends. Outside Washington, I expect that most people will see these ideas as no-brainers and be shocked they’re not already the law.”

Why doesn’t the same principle apply to funding perpetual wars and massive human rights abuses against children?

August 22, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ocasio-Cortez “Evolves” Her Position on Palestine to Please Zionist Democratic Mega-Donors

By Whitney Webb | Mint Press News | July 16, 2018

NEW YORK – During a recent interview with PBS and just two weeks after her historic upset victory against 10-term Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez seemed already to be walking back from at least some of her more “radical” positions voiced prior to her Democratic primary win.

While her primary victory has certainly made the young New Yorker a new “rising star” in the Democratic Party, all the new attention seems to have come at a price, particularly as she now aims to court major Democratic Party donors as the general election approaches. Many of those donors, such as the Zionist entertainment billionaire Haim Saban, are unlikely to be supportive of her past positions on key issues, particularly her prior statements on Israel and Palestine.

Appearing on PBS’ Firing Line on Friday, Ocasio-Cortez surprised many of her supporters as she toned down statements she had made earlier this year regarding Israel, particularly Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and its brutal crackdown on demonstrators in the Gaza Strip. That crackdown saw over 6,000 unarmed protesters shot by Israeli Defense Forces and hundreds killed, resulting in international condemnation.

Though she had tweeted on May 14 that the Israeli crackdown in Gaza was a “massacre,” and expressed hope that her “peers have the moral courage to call it such,” Ocasio-Cortez distanced herself from that statement during her recent PBS interview, asserting that she had made that statement as an “activist” and not as a congressional candidate for the Democratic Party.

That statement alone suggests that other positions voiced by Ocasio-Cortez prior to her primary win could also be subject to revision over the next few months in the lead-up to the midterm elections in November.

Ocasio-Cortez went on to distance herself from other past statements she had made regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict, including having used the term “occupation” when referring to Israel’s military rule over Palestine’s West Bank. For instance, when asked to expand on what she had meant by “the occupation of Palestine,” Ocasio-Cortez only referred to the fact that “[Israeli] settlements … are increasing in some of these areas.” When prodded further, she stated that she was “not the expert on geo-politics on this issue” and that she may not always “use the right words” when discussing the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The 28-year-old candidate, whom PBS had introduced as “the vanguard of the American progressive movement,” also expressed during the interview that she believes “absolutely in Israel’s right to exist” and called herself a “proponent of the two-state solution.” However, given Israel’s aggressive policies aimed towards annexation of the West Bank and the U.S. government’s current support for such measures, Ocasio-Cortez’s support for the two-state solution reflects either a lack of knowledge on the subject or an unwillingness to face the fact that a two-state solution is largely impossible. Given her past statements on Palestine while still an “activist,” the latter seems to be more likely.

Indeed, prior to the PBS interview, Ocasio-Cortez had been promoted as a “pro-Palestine socialist” and had been praised by leftist pundits like Glenn Greenwald for her “moral courage” in standing up for the “human dignity” of Palestinians. Given the amount of attention her past pro-Palestine comments had received, her decision to walk back those positions just a few weeks after her primary win is particularly jarring.

Also eye-opening was the fact that Ocasio-Cortez concluded her statements on the topic by saying that she was willing to “learn and evolve on this issue.” In other words, she essentially rejected her past “activist” positions on Palestine in favor of allowing her position on the issue to “evolve” into one more acceptable to the Democratic centrists and the powerful pro-Israel elements that hold considerable sway within the Democratic party. Indeed, the pro-Israel lobby has already given over $5 million to the Democratic Party over the past year.

It remains to be seen whether Ocasio-Cortez is equally willing to renege, or rather “evolve,” on other progressive issues as the general election approaches. Yet, given that she is already walking back on her past rhetoric just a few weeks after her victory, it seems likely that Ocasio-Cortez of November could be very different in terms of policy from the Ocasio-Cortez of today.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

July 18, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 2 Comments