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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

Newspapers: Fusion Centers Have Secretly Created A National Citizen Spying Program

MassPrivateI | August 6, 2020

What has the public learned about Fusion Centers since the recent BlueLeaks hack was released over a month ago? Not a lot.

The Feds have done a great job of keeping the public from finding out what DHS Fusion/Intelligence Centers are really doing. In a country founded on freedom, we find federal and local law enforcement scrambling to keep the true function of Fusion Centers hidden from the public.

By piecing together news articles from Maine and Texas papers, a disturbing picture begins to unfold of warrantless surveillance of Americans.

The first proof that Fusion Centers were being used to spy on everyday citizens and activists can be found in a Maine Press Herald article from mid-July.

“A cache of internal police documents stolen from a secretive Maine State Police intelligence unit has provided the first substantial glimpse into how it collects and shares information about crime suspects and political activists and, in rare cases, keep tabs on domestic extremists, gang members and anti-government groups.”

The article goes into greater detail describing how local police use Fusion Centers to track down low-level offenders and ID people from social media or video footage.

“Police agencies commonly contact the Maine center with requests for help identifying a person depicted in a photo, sometimes captured from a surveillance camera. Other pictures are taken directly by law enforcement, or appear to be pulled from Facebook or other social media sites.”

Maine police even went so far as to ask the Fusion Center to identify a passenger in a car who refused to identify himself, and did not consent to having his photograph taken or his fingerprints scanned.

Another article in the Maine Press Herald which predated BlueLeaks, revealed that Fusion Centers refuse to acknowledge that they are secretly scanning everyone’s faces and spying on their cellphones.

“Despite evidence that the Maine State Police has worked for years with federal agencies to develop its use of digital surveillance technology, the agency now uses that law to refuse to answer any questions about such efforts, or even acknowledge that they exist.”

A third Maine Press Herald article revealed that Fusion Centers are secretly collecting a massive database of license plate numbers, the names and addresses of legal gun owners, and monitoring political activist groups and collecting members names and addresses.

Fusion Centers created a national citizen spy program

The Austin Chronicle revealed that Fusion Centers have used secret informants to create a national “Suspicious Activity” network.

“In early June, an intelligence center operated by the Austin Police Department was hacked, along with many others like it across the country. Known as BlueLeaks, the collection of leaked documents from the hack contains over 10 gigs of material taken from the Austin center. They reveal a secret citizen spying program that’s active in the Austin area and across the country.”

The article reveals how Fusion Centers have created a vast network of secret “Threat Liaison Officers” (TLOs).

“Documents examined by the Chronicle show that each TLO must sign a nondisclosure agreement with ARIC, including those not working in law enforcement, essentially creating secret citizen officers.”

Secret citizen spies or TLOs could be someone you least expect. TLOs could be anyone: “private security officers with local hotels, malls, large venues, and local semiconductor companies. Government employees in “education,” “code enforcement,” and “public works” also contribute to ARIC as FOUO TLOs.

According to the article, TLOs could be teachers, trash collectors, ministers, priests, rabbi’s or even counselors.

Basically DHS has succeeded in creating a network of secret government spies masquerading as everyday people.

A TLOs job is to report people for doing mundane things like asking questions, taking pictures or being observant of one’s surroundings. TLOs are also reporting people for “suspicious” social media posts, whatever that means.

“According to one FOUO TLO’s report, an individual was seen taking photos of Zach Scott’s Topfer Theatre on Sept. 22, 2016. The report includes five different pictures of a young person using a camera on a tripod to photograph the theatre from across the street.”

To make it easier to report Americans for doing mundane things, Fusion Centers have provided TLOs with a checklist.

The leaked documents include submission forms TLOs use to make their reports. At the top of the forms are boxes to check indicating the type of activity being reported. These include the aforementioned “School Threat,” but also Eliciting Infor­ma­tion, Observation/Surveillance, and Suspicious/Odd Facebook Post. The TLO report spreadsheet contains 128 reports of school threats. But the category most reported by far was Expressed or Implied Threat, with more than a thousand entries.”

To say that this is reminiscent of China, the USSR or East Germany is an understatement. As the Chronicle warned, ‘worrisome examples of suspicious activity have led to increased scrutiny’ which means the Feds and local police could be secretly monitoring innocent Americans without out any public scrutiny.

If you thought DHS’s “If You See Something, Say Something” was a failure guess again. DHS has managed to justify creating 78 Fusion Centers whose sole purpose, it seems, is to spy on innocent Americans and track their daily movements.

August 6, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 1 Comment

Cybereason Announces New Plans to “Accelerate” Access to US Govt Networks Ahead of 2020 Election

By Whitney Webb | The Last American Vagabond | July 27, 2020

A cybersecurity firm tied to Israeli intelligence’s Unit 8200 that simulated a series of terrorist attacks occurring on the U.S. 2020 election has announced a new hire with deep ties to the U.S. intelligence and defense communities with the goal of gaining greater access to U.S. government networks.

A cybersecurity company tied to Israeli intelligence and a series of unnerving simulations regarding cyber-terrorist attacks on the upcoming U.S. elections has recently announced a new hire who plans to aid the company in further penetrating the U.S. public sector. Last Wednesday, the company Cybereason announced that it had hired Andrew Borene as its Managing Director for its recently launched U.S. public sector business. Borene, who boasts longstanding ties to the U.S. intelligence community and the Pentagon, “will accelerate Cybereason’s partner and customer presence in the U.S. public sector,” according to a Cybereason press release.

“My goal is to build a strong business for Cybereason within the U.S. public sector and I am planning to recruit a group of direct support executives, veterans and alumni of the elite [U.S.] military units and agencies that have defended our nation in the information age. I’ll also work to establish a network of the best channel and delivery partners for federal, state and local governments,” Borene said per the press release.

Eric Appel, Cybereason’s General Manager for North American Sales, stated that “We’re excited about Andrew joining Cybereason and the opportunity in the U.S. public sector for Cybereason to make a profound impact on helping the nation’s federal civilian, military, state and local government agencies…”

Borene will likely be successful in his ability to recruit a sales team of prominent alumni from the U.S. intelligence and defense communities to market Cybereason’s products throughout the U.S. government. Prior to joining Cybereason, Borene was a senior advisor to the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), the intelligence community’s “DARPA” equivalent that is housed within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). He served in that capacity on behalf of intelligence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Prior to that, Borene served as Associate Deputy General Counsel to the Pentagon and was previously a military intelligence officer for the U.S. Marine Corps.

Borene’s private sector experience is also significant, as he was a senior executive at IBM. Notably, the current Chief Information Officer for the CIA, Juliane Gallina, had served alongside Borene as a top IBM executive prior to taking her current position at the agency. In addition, Borene also boasts ties to Wall Street as a veteran of Wells Fargo’s investment banking division.

In addition, Borene has deep ties to Washington’s foreign policy establishment as a “life member” of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and to the national security-think tank nexus through his senior fellowship at the National Security Institute (NSI). NSI’s board includes former NSA directors, Keith Alexander and Michael Hayden (also a former CIA director); former Deputy Defense Secretary and “architect” of the Iraq War, Paul Wolfowitz; former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, David Shedd; and a variety of other former top intelligence and defense officials as well as Silicon Valley executives and venture capitalists.

Notably, Borene is the latest addition to Cybereason with ties to the U.S. intelligence and defense communities as the company’s advisors include Robert Bigman, former Chief Information Security Officer for the CIA as well as Peter Sherlock, the former Chief Operating Officer of MITRE corporation, a major intelligence and defense contractor connected to the Ptech-9/11 controversy.

Cybereason: a front for Israeli Military Intelligence

Cybereason’s announcement of its hire of Andrew Borene coincided with its launch of its new “U.S. public sector business,” meaning that Cybereason now seeks to have its cybersecurity software running on even more of the U.S. government’s most classified networks. Cybereason, for years, has already been running on several sensitive U.S. government networks through its partnerships with IT contractors for intelligence and defense, such as Lockheed Martin (also a Cybereason investor), WWT and Leidos. However, Borene’s hire and this new publicly announced pivot towards the U.S. public sector clearly demonstrates the company’s interest in further deepening its presence on U.S. government networks.

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

In addition, all three Cybereason co-founders, after leaving Unit 8200, went on to work for two private Israel-based tech/telecom companies with a notorious history of aggressive espionage against the U.S. government: Amdocs and Comverse Infosys (the latter is now known as Verint Systems Inc.). This raises the possibility that Cybereason software could potentially be used as a backdoor by unauthorized actors, given that the company’s co-founders all previously worked for firms that have a history of placing backdoors into U.S. telecommunications and electronic infrastructure as well as aggressively spying on U.S. federal agencies.

Also notable is the fact that the company’s current CEO and co-founder Lior Div was much more than the average Unit 8200 officer during his time in the unit, as he “served as a commander [in Unit 8200] and carried out some of the world’s largest cyber offensive campaigns against nations and cybercrime groups. For his achievements, he received the Medal of Honor, the highest honor bestowed upon Unit 8200 members,” according to his biography. Troublingly, in an interview that Div gave to TechCrunch last year, Div stated that his work at Cybereason is “the continuation of the six years of training and service he spent working with the Israeli army’s 8200 Unit.”

This is particularly noteworthy given that Israel’s government has openly admitted that an on-going intelligence operation, first initiated in 2012 – the year Cybereason was founded, involves Israeli military intelligence and intelligence operations that had previously done “in house” (i.e. as part of Unit 8200, Mossad, etc.) being spun off into private companies, specifically start-ups in the “cyber” realm.

This operation is part of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “deliberate policy” to have former members of Israel’s “military and intelligence units … merge into companies with local partners and foreign partners” in order to make it all but impossible for major corporations and foreign governments to boycott Israel and to also to ensure that Israel becomes the world’s dominant “cyber power.”

One notable report on this policy, published by Israeli outlet Calcalist Tech, interviewed dozens of Israeli military, intelligence and government officials and noted that “since 2012, cyber-related and intelligence projects that were previously carried out in-house in the Israeli military and Israel’s main intelligence arms are transferred to companies that in some cases were built for this exact purpose.” The article also states that beginning in 2012, Israel’s intelligence and military intelligence agencies began to outsource “activities that were previously managed in-house, with a focus on software and cyber technologies.”

“Simulating” the Cancellation of the 2020 Election

In light of Cybereason’s background and the “acceleration” of their presence on U.S. government networks, the timing of their redoubled efforts to court the U.S. public sector add additional layers of concern given that it precedes the U.S. 2020 election by a matter of months. Since last year, Cybereason has conducted multiple simulations focused on the 2020 election, which were attended by federal officials from the FBI, DHS and the U.S. Secret Service and all of which ended in disaster. In those simulations, the 2020 election was ultimately canceled and martial law was then declared due to the chaos created by a group of hackers led by Cybereason employees.

Notably, Cybereason stood to gain nothing financially from the simulations given that their software could not have prevented the attacks waged against the U.S.’ electoral infrastructure in the exercise and the company framed their hosting of the simulations as merely “altruistic” because of their professed desire to help “protect” U.S. election infrastructure. The attacks conducted in the simulations by Cybereason employees included creating power grid blackouts, the use of deep fakes to sow confusion, creating havoc with municipal sewage systems and crashing self-driving cars into voters waiting in line to cast their ballots, killing 32 and injuring over a hundred people.

In the months since I first wrote about Cybereason and their 2020 “doomsday” simulations back in January, U.S. government officials and mass media alike have been warning that these same types of attacks that Cybereason simulated are likely to come to pass on this upcoming election day, scheduled for November 3rd of this year. More recently, in less than a week, headlines like “Election Security Experts Expect ‘Chaos’ Unless Action Taken,” “New York’s Pandemic Voting ‘Chaos’ Set to Go Nationwide in November,” and “Foreign adversaries ‘seeking to compromise’ presidential campaigns, intel warns,” among others, have been published in major U.S. media outlets.

While these narratives have asserted that China, Russia and/or Iran will be to blame for such attacks, it is worth noting that a tight-knit web of Israeli state-owned and private companies tied to Israeli military intelligence now run the software controlling key parts of the power grid in New York, California and elsewhere in the U.S.; are the main global producers of deep fakes; and the main providers of “security” software for self-driving and semi-self-driving cars, the quantity of which on U.S. streets has grown dramatically as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

With Cybereason’s newly announced push to run its software on critical U.S. government networks at both the federal and state levels, the company’s history of simulating terror attacks on critical U.S. infrastructure and their openly admitted and on-going ties to Israeli military intelligence deserve more scrutiny than ever as the U.S. election draws closer.

July 27, 2020 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

By Whitney Webb | Unlimited Hangout | July 15, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cybereason widely used by US Government, thanks to Lockheed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SoftBank, Cybereason and the Vision Fund

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 15, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Russophobia | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Seth Rich, Julian Assange and Dana Rohrabacher – Will We Ever Know the Truth About the Stolen DNC Files?

Seth Rich, Julian Assange and Dana Rohrabacher. Credit: Public domain/Gage Skidmore/ Flickr
By Philip Giraldi | American Herald Tribune | February 29, 2020

The media is doing its best to make the  story go away, but it seems to have a life of its own, possibly due to the fact that the accepted narrative about how Rich died makes no sense. In its Iatest manifestation, it provides an alternative explanation for just how the information from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) computer somehow made its way to Wikileaks. If you believe that Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide and that he was just a nasty pedophile rather than an Israeli intelligence agent, read no farther because you will not be interested in Rich. But if you appreciate that it was unlikely that the Russians were behind the stealing of the DNC information you will begin to understand that other interested players must have been at work.

For those who are not familiar with it, the backstory to the murder of apparently disgruntled Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, who some days before may have been the leaker of that organization’s confidential emails to Wikileaks, suggests that a possibly motiveless crime might have been anything but. The Washington D.C. police investigated what they believed to be an attempted robbery gone bad but that theory fails to explain why Rich’s money, credit cards, cell phone and watch were not taken. Wikileaks has never confirmed that Rich was their source in the theft of the proprietary emails that had hitherto been blamed on Russia but it subsequently offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to resolution of the case and Julian Assange, perhaps tellingly, has never publicly clarified whether Rich was or was not one of his contacts, though there is at least one report that he confirmed the relationship during a private meeting.

Answers to the question who exactly stole the files from the DNC server and the emails from John Podesta have led to what has been called Russiagate, a tale that has been embroidered upon and which continues to resonate in American politics. At this point, all that is clearly known is that in the Summer of 2016 files and emails pertaining to the election were copied and then made their way to WikiLeaks, which published some of them at a time that was damaging to the Clinton campaign. Those who are blaming Russia believe that there was a hack of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) server and also of John Podesta’s emails that was carried out by a Russian surrogate or directly by Moscow’s military intelligence arm. They base their conclusion on a statement issued by the Department of Homeland Security on October 7, 2016, and on a longer assessment prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on January 6, 2017. Both government appraisals implied that there was a U.S. government intelligence agency consensus that there was a Russian hack, though they provided little in the way of actual evidence that that was the case and, in particular, failed to demonstrate how the information was obtained and what the chain of custody was as it moved from that point to the office of WikiLeaks. The January report was particularly criticized as unconvincing, rightly so, because the most important one of its three key contributors, the National Security Agency, had only moderate confidence in its conclusions, suggesting that whatever evidence existed was far from solid.

An alternative view that has been circulating for several years suggests that it was not a hack at all, that it was a deliberate whistleblower-style leak of information carried out by an as yet unknown party, possibly Rich, that may have been provided to WikiLeaks for possible political reasons, i.e. to express disgust with the DNC manipulation of the nominating process to damage Bernie Sanders and favor Hillary Clinton.

There are, of course, still other equally non-mainstream explanations for how the bundle of information got from point A to point B, including that the intrusion into the DNC server was carried out by the CIA which then made it look like it had been the Russians as perpetrators. And then there is the hybrid point of view, which is essentially that the Russians or a surrogate did indeed intrude into the DNC computers but it was all part of normal intelligence agency probing and did not lead to anything. Meanwhile and independently, someone else who had access to the server was downloading the information, which in some fashion made its way from there to WikiLeaks.

Both the hack vs. leak viewpoints have marshaled considerable technical analysis in the media to bolster their arguments, but the analysis suffers from the decidedly strange fact that the FBI never even examined the DNC servers that may have been involved. The hack school of thought has stressed that Russia had both the ability and motive to interfere in the election by exposing the stolen material while the leakers have recently asserted that the sheer volume of material downloaded indicates that something like a higher speed thumb drive was used, meaning that it had to be done by someone with actual physical direct access to the DNC system. Someone like Seth Rich.

What the many commentators on the DNC server issue choose to conclude is frequently shaped by their own broader political views, producing a result that favors one approach over another depending on how one feels about Trump or Clinton. Or the Russians. Perhaps it would be clarifying to regard the information obtained and transferred as a theft rather than either a hack or a leak since the two expressions have taken on a political meaning of their own in the Russiagate context. With all the posturing going on, the bottom line is that the American people and government have no idea who actually stole the material in question, though the Obama Administration was extraordinarily careless in its investigation and Russian President Vladimir Putin has generally speaking been blamed for what took place.

The story currently bouncing around the media concerns an offer allegedly made in 2017 by former Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher to imprisoned WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. According to Assange’s lawyers, Rohrabacher offered a pardon from President Trump if Assange were to provide information that would attribute the theft or hack of the Democratic National Committee emails to someone other than the Russians. He was presumably referring to Seth Rich.

Assange did not accept the offer, but it should be noted that he has repeatedly stated in any event that he did not obtain the material from a Russian or Russian-linked source. In reality, he might not know the original source of the information. Since Rohrabacher’s original statement, both he and Trump have denied any suggestion that there was a firm offer with a quid pro quo for Assange. Trump claims to hardly know Rohrabacher and also asserts that he has never had a one-on-one meeting with him.

The U.S. media’s coverage of the story has emphasized that Assange’s cooperation would have helped to absolve Russia from the charge of having interfered decisively in the U.S. election, but the possible motive for doing so remains unclear. Russian-American relations are at their lowest point since the Cold War and that has largely been due to policies embraced by Donald Trump, to include the cancellation of START and medium range missile agreements. Trump has also approved NATO military maneuvers and exercises right up to the Russian border and has provided lethal weapons to Ukraine, something that his predecessor Barack Obama balked at. He has also openly confronted the Russians in Syria.

Given all of that back story, it would be odd to find Trump making an offer that focuses only on one issue and does not actually refute the broader claims of Russian interference, which are based on a number of pieces of admittedly often dubious evidence, not just the Clinton and Podesta emails. Which brings the tale back to Seth Rich. If Rich was indeed responsible for the theft of the information and was possibly killed for his treachery, it most materially impacts on the Democratic Party as it reminds everyone of what the Clintons and their allies are capable of. It will also serve as a warning of what might be coming at the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee in July as the party establishment uses fair means or foul to stop Bernie Sanders. How this will all play out is anyone’s guess, but many of those who pause to observe the process will be thinking of Seth Rich.

Philip M. Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer who served nineteen years overseas in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Spain. He was the CIA Chief of Base for the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and was one of the first Americans to enter Afghanistan in December 2001. Phil is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a Washington-based advocacy group that seeks to encourage and promote a U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East that is consistent with American values and interests.

February 29, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , , , , , | Leave a comment

DHS Head Claims Russia Seeks to ‘Undermine American Way of Life’, Expects US 2020 Voter Interference

Sputnik – 18.01.2020

Acting Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Chad Wolf has joined the ranks of US officials who observe the DC political creed that Russia interferes in US internal affairs.

Wolf, in his 17 January speech, most of which was dedicated to what he referred to as the “top threats facing the Homeland” – Iran, China and Russia, claimed that even though Moscow does not strive to diminish the US role in the international arena, the nation is nonetheless looking to disrupt and undermine the “American way of life”.

“Lastly, let me touch on Russia. Unlike China, Russia doesn’t seek to weaken our economy and surpass us on the world-stage; rather they focus on actions that disrupt and undermine the American way of life. As we saw in 2016, we fully expect Russia to attempt to interfere in the 2020 elections to sow public discord and undermine our democratic institutions”, Wolf, serving as DHS acting secretary since November 2019, said, during an event hosted by the Homeland Security Experts Group in Washington DC.The official claimed that the 2018 midterm elections were “the most secure elections in the modern era” as the US created “classified and unclassified election war rooms” that “connected election officials in all 50 states, political parties, social media companies and agencies across the US Government, including DOD, the FBI and the Intelligence Community”.

“Let me be clear: We are prepared,” Wolf said. “More importantly, the state and local officials who run our elections are prepared. We are working with our federal partners to make sure those officials on the front lines of our elections have the information and the tools they need to combat Russian interference.”

“In 2020, we’re doing this and more to prevent our adversaries from degrading faith in our democracy and election results”, Wolf said.The acting secretary acknowledged that “100 percent security is never realistic” and asserted that US federal government and intelligence agencies were “laser-focused” on securing the upcoming elections.

Russian Trail

US intelligence agencies and lawmakers have accused Moscow of meddling in US elections since Trump’s 2016 victory, a political event that provoked allegations of Trump’s cooperation with Moscow as a means spreading anti-opponent propaganda online.

The US Department of Justice at the time launched an investigation headed by US Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller but the report concluded that no sufficient evidence existed to prove the allegations.

Both Trump and Russian officials have together repeatedly denied claims that they worked together to influence the results of the election.

In December 2019, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that he had not seen any proof in support of allegations that Russia interfered in US elections, arguing that “No one has given us this proof because simply it does not exist”, while noting that Moscow is prepared to exchange assurances with Washington on non-interference in each other’s domestic affairs.Besides the US, the narrative of Russian involvement in the internal affairs of other countries has been used by a variety of European nations, however, again, no proof has been furnished.

In November 2019, El Pais published several stories alleging Russian influence in Catalonia, according to Spanish intelligence officers, again without providing evidence. The Russian embassy in Spain responded by joking about the allegations.

“With regards to the tireless work of El Pais researchers on linking the source of the Catalan crisis to Russia, we would like to draw their attention to a revealing fact. There is a suspicious coincidence: the number of the alleged Russian unit, which is mentioned in the newspaper, ends with 155, which itself creates a new reality. So – [follow] the trail,” the embassy tweeted.Spain’s constitution contains Article 155, used by Madrid to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy and violently introduce direct rule in the wake of a 2017 independence declaration.

January 18, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cybereason widely used by US Government, thanks to Lockheed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SoftBank, Cybereason and the Vision Fund

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How the CIA, Mossad and “the Epstein Network” are exploiting mass shootings to create an Orwellian nightmare

Graphic by Claudio Cabrera
By Whitney Webb | MintPress News | September 6, 2019

Following the arrest and subsequent death in prison of alleged child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, a little-known Israeli tech company began to receive increased publicity, but for all the wrong reasons. Not long after Epstein’s arrest, and his relationships and finances came under scrutiny, it was revealed that the Israeli company Carbyne911 had received substantial funding from Jeffrey Epstein as well as Epstein’s close associate and former Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Barak, and Silicon Valley venture capitalist and prominent Trump backer Peter Thiel.

Carbyne911, or simply Carbyne, develops call-handling and identification capabilities for emergency response services in countries around the world, including the United States, where it has already been implemented in several U.S. counties and has partnered with major U.S. tech companies like Google. It specifically markets its product as a way of mitigating mass shootings in the United States without having to change existing U.S. gun laws.

Yet, Carbyne is no ordinary tech company, as it is deeply connected to the elite Israeli military intelligence division, Unit 8200, whose “alumni” often go on to create tech companies — Carbyne among them — that frequently maintain their ties to Israeli intelligence and, according to Israeli media reports and former employees, often “blur the line” between their service to Israel’s defense/intelligence apparatus and their commercial activity. As this report will reveal, Carbyne is but one of several Israeli tech companies marketing themselves as a technological solution to mass shootings that has direct ties to Israeli intelligence agencies. 

In each case, these companies’ products are built in such a way that they can easily be used to illegally surveil the governments, institutions and civilians that use them, a troubling fact given Unit 8200’s documented prowess in surveillance as a means of obtaining blackmail and Israel’s history of using tech companies to aggressively spy on the U.S. government. This is further compounded by the fact that Unit 8200-linked tech companies have previously received U.S. government contracts to place “backdoors” into the U.S.’ entire telecommunications system as well as into the popular products of major American tech companies including Google, Microsoft and Facebook, many of whose key managers and executives are now former Unit 8200 officers.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it no secret that placing Unit 8200 members in top positions in multinational tech companies is a “deliberate policy” meant to ensure Israel’s role as the dominant global “cyber power”, while also combating non-violent boycott movements targeting Israel’s violations of international law and stifling the United Nations’ criticisms of Israeli government policy and military operations abroad.

As Jeffrey Epstein’s links to intelligence in both the United States and Israel — the subject of a recent four-part series exclusive to MintPress — began to be revealed in full, his financing of Carbyne came under scrutiny, particularly for the company’s deep ties to Israeli intelligence as well as to certain Americans with known connections to U.S. intelligence. Ehud Barak’s own role as both financier and chairman of Carbyne has also added to that concern, given his long history of involvement in covert intelligence operations for Israel and his long-standing ties to Israeli military intelligence.

Another funder of Carbyne, Peter Thiel, has his own company that, like Carbyne, is set to profit from the Trump administration’s proposed hi-tech solutions to mass shootings. Indeed, after the recent shooting in El Paso, Texas, President Trump — who received political donations from and has been advised by Thiel following his election — asked tech companies to “detect mass shooters before they strike,” a service already perfected by Thiel’s company Palantir, which has developed “pre-crime software” already in use throughout the country. Palantir is also a contractor for the U.S. intelligence community and also has a branch based in Israel.

Perhaps most disturbing of all, whatever technological solution is adopted by the Trump administration, it is set to use a controversial database first developed as part of a secretive U.S. government program that involved notorious Iran-Contra figures like Oliver North as a means of tracking and flagging potential American dissidents for increased surveillance and detention in the event of a vaguely defined “national emergency.”

As this report will reveal, this database — often referred to as “Main Core” — was created with the involvement of Israeli intelligence and Israel remained involved years after it was developed, and potentially to the present. It was also used by at least one former CIA official on President Reagan’s National Security Council to blackmail members of Congress, Congressional staffers and journalists, among others.

Given recent reports on the Trump administration’s plan to create a new government agency to use “advanced technology” to identify “neurobehavioral signs” of “someone headed toward a violent explosive act” using data collected by consumer electronic devices, the picture painted by the technology currently being promoted and implemented under the guise of “keeping Americans safe” is deeply Orwellian. In fact, it points directly to the genesis of a far-reaching surveillance state far more extensive than anything yet seen in American history and it is being jointly developed by individuals connected to both American and Israeli intelligence.

Demystifying Carbyne

Carbyne911, which will be referred to simply as Carbyne in this report, is an Israeli tech-startup that promises to revolutionize how calls are handled by emergency service providers, as well as by governments, corporations and educational institutions. Not long after it was founded in 2014 by veterans of Israeli military intelligence, Carbyne began to be specifically marketed as a solution to mass shootings in the United States that goes “beyond the gun debate” and improves the “intelligence that armed emergency responders receive before entering an armed shooter situation” by providing video-streaming and acoustic input from civilian smartphones and other devices connected to the Carbyne network.

Prior to Jeffrey Epstein’s arrest in July, Carbyne had been receiving high praise from U.S. and Israeli media, with Fox News hailing the company’s services as the answer to the U.S.’ “aging 911 systems” and the Jerusalem Post writing that the company’s platform offers “hi-tech protection to social workers and school principals.” Other reports claimed that Carbyne’s services result in “a 65% reduction in time-to-dispatch.”

Carbyne’s call-handling/crisis management platform has already been implemented in several U.S. counties and the company has offices not only in the U.S. but also in Mexico, Ukraine and Israel. Carbyne’s expansion to more emergency service provider networks in the U.S. is likely, given that federal legislation seeks to offer grants to upgrade 911 call centers throughout the country with the very technology of which Carbyne is the leading provider. One of the main lobby groups promoting this legislation, the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), has a “strong relationship” with Carbyne, according to Carbyne’s website. In addition, Carbyne has also begun marketing its platform for non-emergency calls to governments, educational institutions and corporations.

Yet, what seemed like the inevitability of Carbyne’s widespread adoption in the U.S. hit a snag following the recent arrest and subsequent death of sex trafficker and pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who exploited underage girls for the purpose of obtaining “blackmail” on the rich and poweful, an operation that had clear ties to intelligence. Epstein, after his first arrest and light sentence for soliciting sex from a minor in 2007, was tapped by former Israeli Prime Minister and former head of Israeli military intelligence Ehud Barak, to become a key financial backer of Carbyne.

Ehud Barak, center, poses with Carbyne co-founders Alex Dizengof, Amir Elichai and Lital Leshem. Photo | Yossi Seliger

As a result of increased scrutiny of Epstein’s business activities and his ties to Israel, particularly to Barak, Epstein’s connection to Carbyne was revealed and extensively reported on by the independent media outlet Narativ, whose exposé on Carbyne revealed not only some of the key intelligence connections of the start-up company but also how the architecture of Carbyne’s product itself raises “serious privacy concerns.”

MintPress detailed many of Carbyne’s main intelligence connections in Part III of the investigative series “Inside the Jeffrey Epstein Scandal: Too Big to Fail.” In addition to Barak — former Israeli prime minister and former head of Israeli military intelligence — serving as Carbyne’s chairman and a key financer, the company’s executive team are all former members of Israeli intelligence, including the elite military intelligence unit, Unit 8200, which is often compared to the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).

Carbyne’s current CEO, Amir Elichai, served in Unit 8200 and tapped former Unit 8200 commander and current board member of AIPAC Pinchas Buchris to serve as the company’s director and on its board. In addition to Elichai, another Carbyne co-founder, Lital Leshem, also served in Unit 8200 and later worked for Israeli private spy company Black Cube. The only Carbyne co-founder that didn’t serve in Unit 8200 is Alex Dizengof, who previously worked for Israel’s Prime Minister’s office.

As MintPress noted in a past report detailing Israeli military intelligence’s deep ties to American tech giant Microsoft, Unit 8200 is an elite unit of the Israeli Intelligence corps that is part of the IDF’s Directorate of Military Intelligence and is involved mainly in signal intelligence (i.e., surveillance), cyberwarfare and code decryption. It is frequently described as the Israeli equivalent of the NSA and Peter Roberts, senior research fellow at Britain’s Royal United Services Institute, characterized the unit in an interview with the Financial Times as “probably the foremost technical intelligence agency in the world and stand[ing] on a par with the NSA in everything except scale.”

Notably, the NSA and Unit 8200 have collaborated on numerous projects, most infamously on the Stuxnet virus as well as the Duqu malware. In addition, the NSA is known to work with veterans of Unit 8200 in the private sector, such as when the NSA hired two Israeli companies, to create backdoors into all the major U.S. telecommunications systems and major tech companies, including Facebook, Microsoft and Google. Both of those companies, Verint and Narus, have top executives with ties to Israeli intelligence and one of those companies, Verint (formerly Comverse Infosys), has a history of aggressively spying on U.S. government facilities. Unit 8200 is also known for spying on civilians in the occupied Palestinian territories for “coercion purposes” — i.e., gathering info for blackmail — and also for spying on Palestinian-Americans via an intelligence-sharing agreement with the NSA.

Unlike many other Unit 8200-linked start-ups, Carbyne also boasts several tie-ins to the Trump administration, including Palantir founder and Trump ally Peter Thiel — another investor in Carbyne. In addition, Carbyne’s board of advisers includes former Palantir employee Trae Stephens, who was a member of the Trump transition team, as well as former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff. Trump donor and New York real-estate developer Eliot Tawill is also on Carbyne’s board, alongside Ehud Barak and Pinchas Buchris.

Yet, privacy concerns with Carbyne go beyond the company’s ties to Israeli intelligence and U.S. intelligence contractors like Peter Thiel. For instance, Carbyne’s smartphone app extracts the following information from the phones on which it is installed:

Device location, video live-streamed from the smartphone to the call center, text messages in a two-way chat window, any data from a user’s phone if they have the Carbyne app and ESInet, and any information that comes over a data link, which Carbyne opens in case the caller’s voice link drops out.” (emphasis added)

According to Carbyne’s website, this same information can also be obtained from any smartphone, even if it does not have Carbyne’s app installed, if that phone calls a 911 call center that uses Carbyne or merely any other number connected to Carbyne’s network.

Carbyne gathers data points from users’ phones as well as a myriad of other web-connected devices.

Carbyne is a Next-Generation 9-11 (NG911) platform and the explicit goal of NG911 is for all 911 systems nationwide to become interconnected. Thus, even if Carbyne is not used by all 911 call centers using an NG911 platform, Carbyne will ostensibly have access to the data used by all emergency service providers and devices connected to those networks. This guiding principle of NG911 also makes it likely that one platform will be favored at the federal level to foster such interconnectivity and, given that it has already been adopted by several counties and has ties to the Trump administration, Carbyne is the logical choice.

Another cause for concern is how other countries have used platforms like Carbyne, which were first marketed as emergency response tools, for the purpose of mass surveillance. Narativ noted the following in its investigation of Carbyne:

In May, Human Rights Watch revealed Chinese authorities use a platform not unlike Carbyne to illegally surveil Uyghurs. China’s Integrated Joint Operations Platform brings in a much bigger data-set and sources of video, which includes an app on people’s phones. Like Carbyne, the platform was designed to report emergencies. Chinese authorities have turned it into a tool of mass surveillance.

Human Rights Watch reverse-engineered the app. The group discovered the app automatically profiles a user under 36 “person types” including “followers of Six Lines” which is the term used to identify Uyghurs. Another term refers to “Hajj,” the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca. The app monitors every aspect of a user’s life, including personal conversations [and] power usage, and tracks a user’s movement.”

Such technology is currently used by Israeli military intelligence and Israel’s domestic intelligence agency Shin Bet to justify “pre-crime” detentions of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. As will be noted in greater detail later in this report, Palestinians’ comments on social media are tracked by artificial intelligence algorithms that flag them for indefinite detention if they write social media posts that contain “tripwire” phrases such as “the sword of Allah.”

Carbyne’s platform has its own “pre-crime” elements, such as it’s c-Records component, which stores and analyzes information on past calls and events that pass through its network. This information “enables decision makers to accurately analyze the past and present behavior of their callers, react accordingly, and in time predict future patterns.” (emphasis added)

Concerns have recently been raised that “pre-crime” technology may soon become more widely adopted in the U.S., after President Trump stated that one of his planned solutions to mass shootings in the wake of the recent tragedy in El Paso was for big tech companies to detect potential shooters before they strike.

Israeli intelligence, Blackmail and Silicon Valley

Though many of the individuals involved in funding or managing Carbyne have proven ties to intelligence, a closer look into several of these players reveals even deeper connections to both Israeli and U.S. intelligence.

One of Carbyne’s clearest connections to Israeli intelligence is through its chairman and one of its funders, Ehud Barak. Though Barak is best known for being a former prime minister of Israel, he is also a former minister of defense and the former head of Israeli military intelligence. He oversaw Unit 8200’s operations, as well as other units of Israeli military intelligence, in all three of those positions. For most of his military and later political career, Barak has been closely associated with covert operations.

Prior to the public scrutiny of Barak’s relationship to Jeffrey Epstein, following the latter’s arrest this past July and subsequent death, Barak had come under fire for his ties to disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein. Indeed, it was Ehud Barak who put Weinstein in contact with the Israeli private intelligence outfit Black Cube, which employs former Mossad agents and Israeli military intelligence operatives, as Weinstein sought to intimidate the women who had accused him of sexual assault and sexual harassment. Former Mossad director Meir Dagan led Black Cube’s board until his death in 2016 and Carbyne co-founder Lital Leshem is Black Cube’s former director of marketing.

After Barak put him in contact with Black Cube’s leadership, Weinstein, according to The New Yorker, used the private spy firm to “‘target,’ or collect information on, dozens of individuals, and compile psychological profiles that sometimes focused on their personal or sexual histories.” In addition, The New Yorker noted that “Weinstein monitored the progress of the investigations personally” and “also enlisted former employees from his film enterprises to join in the effort, collecting names and placing calls that, according to some sources who received them, felt intimidating.”

Yet, more recently, it has been Barak’s close relationship to Epstein that has raised eyebrows and opened him up to political attacks from his rivals. Epstein and Barak were first introduced by former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres in 2002, a time when Epstein’s pedophile blackmail and sex trafficking operation was in full swing.

Barak was a frequent visitor to Epstein’s residences in New York, so often that The Daily Beast reported that numerous residents of an apartment building linked to Epstein “had seen Barak in the building multiple times over the last few years, and nearly half a dozen more described running into his security detail,” adding that “the building is majority-owned by Epstein’s younger brother, Mark, and has been tied to the financier’s alleged New York trafficking ring.” Specifically, several apartments in the building were “being used to house underage girls from South America, Europe and the former Soviet Union,” according to a former bookkeeper employed by one of Epstein’s main procurers of underage girls, Jean Luc Brunel.

Barak is also known to have spent the night at one of Epstein’s residences at least once, was photographed leaving Epstein’s residence as recently as 2016, and has admitted to visiting Epstein’s island, which has sported nicknames including “Pedo Island,” “Lolita Island” and “Orgy Island.” In 2004, Barak received $2.5 million from Leslie Wexner’s Wexner Foundation, where Epstein was a trustee as well as one of the foundation’s top donors, officially for unspecified “consulting services” and “research” on the foundation’s behalf.

In 2015, Barak formed a limited partnership company in Israel for the explicit purpose of investing in Carbyne (then known as Reporty) and invested millions of dollars in the company, quickly becoming a major shareholder and subsequently the company’s public face and the chairman of its board. At least $1 million of the money invested in this Barak-created company that was later used to invest in Carbyne came from the Southern Trust Company, which was owned by Jeffrey Epstein.

In a statement to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Barak asserted:

I saw the business opportunity and registered a partnership in my control in Israel. A small number of people I know invest in it… Since these are private investments, it wouldn’t be proper or right for me to expose the investors’ details.”

However, Barak later admitted that Epstein had been one of the investors.

MintPress’ recent series on the Jeffrey Epstein scandal noted in detail Epstein’s ties to CIA/Mossad intelligence assets, such as Adnan Khashoggi; CIA front companies, such as Southern Air Transport; and organized crime, through his close association with Leslie Wexner. In addition, Epstein’s long-time “girlfriend” and alleged madam, Ghislaine Maxwell, has family links to Israeli intelligence through her father, Robert Maxwell. While it appears that Epstein may have been working for more than one intelligence agency, Zev Shalev, former executive producer for CBS News and journalist at Narativ, recently stated that he had independently confirmed with two unconnected sources “closely connected to the Epstein story and in a position to know” that Epstein had “worked for Israeli military intelligence.”

Notably, Epstein, who was known for his interest in obtaining blackmail through the sexual abuse of the underaged girls he exploited, also claimed to have “damaging information” on prominent figures in Silicon Valley. In a conversation last year with New York Times reporter James Stewart, Epstein claimed to have “potentially damaging or embarrassing” information on Silicon Valley’s elite and told Stewart that these top figures in the American tech industry “were hedonistic and regular users of recreational drugs.” Epstein also told Stewart that he had “witnessed prominent tech figures taking drugs and arranging for sex” and claimed to know “details about their supposed sexual proclivities.”

In the lead-up to his recent arrest, Jeffrey Epstein appeared to have been attempting to rebrand as a “tech investor,” as he had done interviews with several journalists including Stewart about technology investing in the months before he was hit with federal sex trafficking charges.

Jessica Lessin, editor-in-chief of The Information, told Business Insider that a journalist working for The Information had interviewed Epstein a month before his recent arrest because “he was believed to be an investor in venture capital funds.” However, Lessin claimed that the interview was not “newsworthy” and said the site had no plans to publish its contents. Business Insider claimed that the way the interviews with Epstein had been arranged “suggests that someone in Silicon Valley may have been trying to help Epstein connect with reporters.”

Though it is unknown exactly which Silicon Valley figures were most connected to Epstein and which tech executives were potentially being blackmailed by Epstein, it is known that Epstein associated with several prominent tech executives, including Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman.

Last year, Epstein claimed to be advising Tesla and Elon Musk, who had been previously photographed with Epstein’s alleged madam Ghislaine Maxwell. A few years ago, Epstein also attended a dinner hosted by LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman, where Musk had allegedly introduced Epstein to Mark Zuckerberg. Google’s Sergey Brin is known to have attended a dinner hosted by Epstein at his New York residence where Donald Trump was also in attendance.

Elon Musk with Epstein’s alleged madam Ghislaine Maxwell at an Oscars after-party on March 2, 2014. Kevin Mazur | VF14

These associations suggest that the person in Silicon Valley who was trying to boost Epstein’s image as a tech investor before his arrest may have been Peter Thiel, whose Founders Fund had also invested in Carbyne. Thiel was an early investor in Facebook and is still on its board, connecting him to Zuckerberg; he is also a funder of Elon Musk’s SpaceX and a former colleague of Musk’s through PayPal. In addition, Thiel has ties to Reid Hoffman and both Thiel and Hoffman are prominent backers of Facebook.

It is unknown whether Epstein’s “damaging information” and apparent blackmail on notable individuals in the American technology industry were used to advance the objectives of Carbyne, which recently partnered with tech giants Google and Cisco Systems — and, more broadly, the expansion of Israeli intelligence-linked tech companies into the American tech sector, particularly through the acquisition of Israeli tech start-ups linked to Unit 8200 by major U.S. tech companies.

The latter seems increasingly likely given that the father of Ghislaine Maxwell — one of Epstein’s chief co-conspirators in his intelligence-linked sexual blackmail operation involving minors — was a Mossad operative who helped sell software that had been bugged by Israeli intelligence to government agencies and sensitive facilities around the world, including in the United States.

As will be noted later in this report, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — to whom all of Israel’s intelligence agencies answer by virtue of his position — has stated on more than one occasion that the acquisition of Israeli intelligence-linked start-ups by foreign tech giants, especially in Silicon Valley, is a current and “deliberate policy” of the state of Israel.

Carbyne’s ties to U.S. intelligence

While Epstein and Barak are the two financiers of Carbyne whose ties to intelligence are clearest, another funder of Carbyne, Peter Thiel, has ties to U.S. intelligence and a history of investing in other companies founded by former members of Unit 8200. Thiel co-founded and still owns a controlling stake in the company Palantir, which was initially funded with a $2 million investment from the CIA’s venture capital fund In-Q-Tel and quickly thereafter became a contractor for the CIA.

After the success of its contract with the CIA, Palantir became a contractor for a variety of federal agencies, including the FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the National Security Agency (NSA), the Department of Homeland Security(DHS) and the military’s Special Operations Command, among others. Last year, it won a contract to create a new battlefield intelligence system for the U.S. Army. Palantir is also in demand for its “pre-crime technology,” which has been used by several U.S. police departments. According to the Guardian, “Palantir tracks everyone from potential terrorist suspects to corporate fraudsters, child traffickers and what they refer to as ‘subversives’… it is all done using prediction.”

Thiel has gained attention in recent years for his support of President Trump and for becoming an adviser to Trump following the 2016 election, when he was “a major force in the transition,” according to Politico, and “helped fill positions in the Trump administration with former staff.” One of those former staffers was Trae Stephens, who is also on Carbyne’s board of advisers. Thiel also has business ties to Trump’s son-in-law and influential adviser, Jared Kushner, as well as to Kushner’s brother Josh. A senior Trump campaign aide told Politico in 2017 that “Thiel is immensely powerful within the administration through his connection to Jared.”

Thiel has also backed some prominent Israeli tech start-ups connected to Unit 8200, such as BillGuard, which Thiel funded along with former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and other investors. BillGuard was founded by Raphael Ouzan, a former officer in Unit 8200, who serves on the board of directors of Start-Up Nation Central (SUNC) alongside neoconservative American hedge fund manager Paul Singer, neoconservative political operative and adviser Dan Senor, and Terry Kassel, who works for Singer at his hedge fund, Elliott Management.

Peter Thiel greets Netanyahu during a 2017 meeting in Israel. Photo | Israel PM

SUNC is an organization founded by Paul Singer, who has donated heavily to both President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Since it was founded in 2012, SUNC has sought to integrate Unit 8200-connected Israeli tech start-ups into foreign companies, primarily American companies, and has helped oversee the shift of thousands of high-paying tech jobs from the U.S. to Israel.

Another Carbyne-connected individual worth noting is the former head of the Department of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, who serves on Carbyne’s board of advisers. In addition to Chertoff’s ties to DHS, Chertoff’s company, The Chertoff Group, employees several prominent former members of the U.S. intelligence community as principals, including Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and former director of the NSA; and Charles Allen, former assistant director of Central Intelligence for Collection at the CIA, who worked at the agency for over 40 years.

The Chertoff Group has a long-standing and lucrative contract with the company OSI Systems, which produces full-body scanners and markets itself as a solution to mass shootings and crisis events, not unlike Carbyne. While Chertoff’s company was advising OSI Systems, Chertoff went on a media blitz to promote the widespread use of the machines produced by OSI Systems and even called on Congress to “fund a large-scale deployment of next-generation systems.” Chertoff did not disclose his conflict of interest while publicly promoting OSI’s full-body scanners.

Some have also alleged that Chertoff’s mother, Livia Eisen, had links to Israeli intelligence. According to her 1998 obituary, cited by both researcher/author Christopher Bollyn and journalist Jonathan Cook, Eisen participated in the Mossad operation code-named “Magic Carpet” while working for Israel’s El Al Airlines. Both Bollyn and Cook have suggested that Eisen’s participation in this covert Israeli intelligence operation strongly indicates that she had ties to the Mossad.

Melding into Silicon Valley

Beyond its troubling connections to Silicon Valley oligarchs, Israeli military intelligence and the U.S.-military industrial complex, Carbyne’s recent partnerships with two specific technology companies — Google and Cisco Systems — raise even more red flags.

Carbyne announced its partnership with Cisco Systems this past April, with the latter announcing that it would begin “aligning its unified call manager with Carbyne’s call-handling platform, allowing emergency call centers to collect data from both 911 callers and nearby government-owned IoT [Internet of Things] devices.” A report on the partnership published by Government Technology magazine stated that “Carbyne’s platform will be integrated into Cisco Kinetic for Cities, an IoT data platform that shares data across community infrastructure, smart city solutions, applications and connected devices.” The report also noted that “Carbyne will also be the only 911 solution in the Cisco Marketplace.”

As part of the partnership, Carbyne’s President of North American Operations Paul Tatro told Government Technology that the Carbyne platform would combine the data it obtains from smartphones and other Carbyne-connected devices with “what’s available through nearby Cisco-connected road cameras, roadside sensors, smart streetlamps, smart parking meters or other devices.” Tatro further asserted that “Carbyne can also analyze data that’s being collected by Cisco IoT devices … and alert 911 automatically, without any person making a phone call, if there appears to be a worthy problem,” and expressed his view that soon most emergency calls will not be made by human beings but “by smart cars, telematics or other smart city devices.”

A few months after partnering with Cisco Systems, Carbyne announced its partnership with Google on July 10, just three days after Carbyne funder Jeffrey Epstein was arrested in New York on federal sex trafficking charges. Carbyne’s press release of the partnership described how the company and Google would be teaming up in Mexico “to offer advanced mobile location to emergency communications centers (ECCs) throughout Mexico” following the conclusion of a successful four-week pilot program between Carbyne and Google in the Central American nation.

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt meets Netanyahu at his Jerusalem office. Israel PM | YouTube

The press release also stated:

Carbyne will provide Google’s Android ELS (Emergency Location Service) in real time from emergency calls made on AndroidTM devices. Deployment for any ECC in the country won’t require any integration, with Carbyne providing numerous options for connection to their secure ELS Gateway once an ECC is approved. The Carbyne automated platform, requiring no human interaction, has the potential to save thousands of lives each year throughout Mexico.”

The reason Carybne’s partnerships with Cisco Systems and Google are significant lies in the role that Cisco and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt have played in the creation of a controversial “incubator” for Israeli tech start-ups with deep ties to Israeli military intelligence, American neoconservative donor Paul Singer, and the U.S.’ National Security Agency (NSA).

This company, called Team8, is an Israeli company-creation platform whose CEO and co-founder is Nadav Zafrir, former commander of Unit 8200. Two of the company’s other three co-founders are also “alumni” of Unit 8200. Among Team8’s top investors is Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, who also joined Peter Thiel in funding the Unit 8200-linked BillGuard, as well as major tech companies including Cisco Systems and Microsoft.

Last year, Team8 controversially hired the former head of the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command, Retired Admiral Mike Rogers, and Zafrir stated that his interest in hiring Rogers was that Rogers would be “instrumental in helping strategize” Team8’s expansion in the United States. Jake Williams, a veteran of NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) hacking unit, told CyberScoop:

Rogers is not being brought into this role because of his technical experience. … It’s purely because of his knowledge of classified operations and his ability to influence many in the U.S. government and private-sector contractors.”

Team8 has also been heavily promoted by Start-Up Nation Central (SUNC). SUNC prominently features Team8 and Zafrir on the cybersecurity section of its website and also sponsored a talk by Zafrir and an Israeli government economist at the World Economic Forum, often referred to as “Davos,” that was attended personally by Paul Singer.

SUNC itself has deep ties to Israeli military intelligence, with former Unit 8200 officer Raphael Ouzan serving on its board of directors. Another example of SUNC-Unit 8200 ties can be seen with Inbal Arieli, who served as SUNC’s Vice President of Strategic Partnerships from 2014 to 2017 and continues to serve as a senior adviser to the organization. Arieli, a former lieutenant in Unit 8200, is the founder and head of the 8200 Entrepreneurship and Innovation Support Program (EISP), which was the first start-up accelerator in Israel aimed at harnessing “the vast network and entrepreneurial DNA of [Unit] 8200 alumni” and is currently one of the top company accelerators in Israel, alongside Team8. Arieli was the top executive at 8200 EISP while working at SUNC and several other top SUNC staffers are also connected to Israeli military intelligence.

Thus, Google and Cisco’s connections to Team8 suggests that their partnerships with another Israeli military intelligence-connected firm like Carbyne is a deepening of those two companies’ links to the growing bi-national security state that is uniting key players in the U.S. military-industrial complex and Israeli intelligence.

Mossad-backed Panic Buttons, coming to a school near you

Carbyne is hardly the only Israeli intelligence-linked tech company marketing itself in the United States as a solution to mass shootings. Another Israeli start-up, known as Gabriel, was founded in 2016 in response to a shooting in Tel Aviv and the Pulse Nightclub shooting in the United States, which took place just days apart.

Created by Israeli-American Yoni Sherizen and Israeli citizen Asaf Adler, Gabriel is similar to Carbyne in the sense that elements of its crisis response platform require installation on civilian smartphones as well as devices used by crisis responders. The main difference is that Gabriel also installs one or a series of physical “panic buttons,” depending on the size of the building to be secured, that also double as video and audio communication devices connected to the Gabriel network.

As with Carbyne, the ties between Gabriel and Israeli intelligence are obvious. Indeed, Gabriel’s four-person advisory board includes Ram Ben-Barak, former deputy director of the Mossad and former director-general of Israel’s intelligence ministry; Yohanan Danino, former chief of police for the state of Israel; and Kobi Mor, former director of overseas missions for the Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bet. The only American on the advisory board is Ryan Petty, the father of a Parkland shooting victim and friend of former Florida Governor Rick Scott.

Gabriel’s only disclosed funder is U.S.-based MassChallenge, a start-up accelerator non-profit. Gabriel is funded by MassChallenge’s Israel branch, which was opened six months prior to Gabriel’s creation and is partnered with the Israeli government and the Kraft Group. The Kraft Group is managed by Robert Kraft, who is currently embroiled in a prostitution scandal and is also a close friend of President Trump.

Notably, one of MassChallenge Israel’s featured experts is Wendy Singer, the executive director of SUNC, the organization created and funded by neoconservative Trump backer Paul Singer with the explicit purpose of promoting Israel’s tech start-ups and their integration into foreign, chiefly American, businesses. As was noted in a recent MintPress report on SUNC, Wendy Singer is the sister of neoconservative political operative Dan Senor, who founded the now-defunct Foreign Policy Initiative with Robert Kagan and Bill Kristol, and was previously the director of AIPAC’s Israel office for 16 years.

Gabriel’s founders have been quite upfront about the fact that the uptick in shootings in the U.S. has greatly aided their company’s growth and success. Last November, Sherizen told The Jerusalem Post that new mass shootings in the U.S. not only increased U.S. demand for his company’s product but also were opportunities to show the effectiveness of Gabriel’s approach:

Unfortunately every month there seems to be another high-profile event of this nature. After the Vegas shooting, we were able to show [that] our system would have managed to identify the location of the shooter much quicker.”

The Jerusalem Post noted that Gabriel is set to make considerable profits if concern over mass shootings continues to build in the U.S., writing:

With more than 475,000 soft targets across the US and amid increasing security fears, the potential market for Gabriel is huge. The company could gain revenues of almost $1 billion if only 10% of soft targets were to invest around $20,000 in its alert systems.”

Sherizen told the Jerusalem Post:

Our starter kit costs $10,000. Depending on the size and makeup of the community building, it would cost between $20-30,000 to fully outfit the location. We have made it very affordable. This is a game-changer for the lock-down and active shooter drills that are now a standard part of any child’s upbringing in the States.”

Much more than just a start-up

While it is certainly possible that numerous former officials and commanders of elite Israeli intelligence agencies may have no ulterior motive in advising or founding technology start-up companies, it is worth pointing out that top figures in Israel’s military intelligence agencies and the Mossad don’t see it that way.

Last March, Israeli media outlet Calcalist Tech published a report entitled “Israel Blurs the Line Between Defense Apparatus and Local Cybersecurity Hub,” which noted that “since 2012, cyber-related and intelligence projects that were previously carried out in-house in the Israeli military and Israel’s main intelligence arms are transferred to companies that in some cases were built for this exact purpose.” (emphasis added)

The article notes that beginning in 2012, Israel’s intelligence and military intelligence agencies began to outsource “activities that were previously managed in-house, with a focus on software and cyber technologies.” (emphasis added)

It continues:

In some cases, managers of development projects in the Israeli military and intelligence arms were encouraged to form their own companies, which then took over the project,’ an Israeli venture capitalist familiar with the matter told Calcalist Tech.”

Notably, Calcalist Tech states that the controversial company Black Cube was created this way and that Black Cube had been contracted, and is likely still contracted, by Israel’s Ministry of Defense. The private security agency Black Cube is known to have two separate divisions for corporations and governments. The firm was recently caught attempting to undermine the Iran nuclear deal — then also a top political objective of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — by attempting to obtain information on the “financial or sexual impropriety” (i.e., blackmail) of top U.S. officials involved in drafting the accord. NBC News noted last year that “Black Cube’s political work frequently intersects with Israel’s foreign policy priorities.” As previously mentioned, one of Carbyne’s co-founders — Lital Leshem, also a veteran of Unit 8200 — worked for Black Cube prior to starting Carbyne.

One of the main companies profiled in the Calcalist Tech report appeared to be a front for Israeli intelligence, as its registered owner was found not to exist: even high-level employees at the company had never heard of him; his registered addresses were for nonexistent locations in Israel’s capital of Tel Aviv; and the three people with that name in Tel Aviv denied any association with the business.

This company — which Calcalist Tech was unable to name after the Israeli military censor determined that doing so could negatively impact Israeli “national security” — was deliberately created to service the Israeli military and Israeli intelligence. It is also “focused on cyber technologies with expertise in research and development of advanced products and applications suitable for defense and commercial entities.” (emphases added) In addition, the company’s management consists largely of “veterans of Israeli military technology units.”

Notably, a former employee of this company told Calcalist Tech that “crossing the lines between military service and employment at the commercial outfit was ‘commonplace’ while he was working at the company.”

It’s not exactly clear why Israel’s military intelligence and other intelligence agencies decided to begin outsourcing its operations in 2012, though Calcalist Tech suggests the reasoning was related to the difference in wages between the private sector and the public sector, with pay being much higher in the former. However, it is notable that 2012 was also the year that Paul Singer — together with Netanyahu’s long-time economic adviser and former chair of the Israeli National Economic Council, Eugene Kandel — decided to create Start-Up Nation Central.

As MintPress noted earlier this year, SUNC was founded as part of a deliberate Israeli government effort to counter the nonviolent Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement and to make Israel the dominant global “cyber power.” This policy is aimed at increasing Israel’s diplomatic power and specifically undermining BDS as well as the United Nations, which has repeatedly condemned Israel’s government for war crimes and violations of international law in relation to the Palestinians.

Last year, Netanyahu was asked by Fox News host Mark Levin whether the large growth seen in recent years in Israel’s technology sector, specifically tech start-ups, was part of Netanyahu’s plan. Netanyahu responded, “That’s very much my plan … It’s a very deliberate policy.” He later added that “Israel had technology because the military, especially military intelligence, produced a lot of capabilities. These incredibly gifted young men and women who come out of the military or the Mossad, they want to start their start-ups.”

Netanyahu again outlined this policy at the 2019 Cybertech Conference in Tel Aviv, where he stated that Israel’s emergence as one of the top five “cyber powers” had “required allowing this combination of military intelligence, academia and industry to converge in one place” and that this further required allowing “our graduates of our military and intelligence units to merge into companies with local partners and foreign partners.”

The direct tie-ins of SUNC to Israel’s government and the successful effort led by SUNC and other companies and organizations to place former military intelligence and intelligence operatives in strategic positions in major multinational technology companies reveal that this “deliberate policy” has had a major and undeniable impact on the global tech industry, especially in Silicon Valley.

Mossad gets its own In-Q-Tel

This “deliberate policy” of Netanyahu’s also recently resulted in the creation of a Mossad-run venture capital fund that is specifically focused on financing Israeli tech start-ups. The venture capital fund, called Libertad, was first announced by Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office and was created with the explicit purpose of “increasing the Israeli intelligence agency’s knowledge base and fostering collaboration with Israel’s vibrant startup scene” It was modeled after the CIA’s venture capital fund In-Q-Tel, which invested in several Silicon Valley companies turned government and intelligence contractors — including Google and Palantir — with a similar goal in mind.

Libertad declines to reveal the recipients of its funding, but announced last December that it had chosen five companies in the fields of robotics, energy, encryption, web intelligence, and natural language processing and text analysis. In regard to its interest in web intelligence, a Mossad employee told the Jerusalem Post that the intelligence agency was specifically interested in “innovative technologies for [the] automatic identification of personality characteristics – personality profiling – based on online behavior and activity, using methods based on statistics, machine learning, and other areas.” (emphasis added)

According to Libertad’s website, in return for its investment, now set at NIS 2 million (~$580,000) per year per company, “the Mossad will receive access to the IP [initial product] developed during R&D [Research and Development] while under contract, and a non-commercial, non-exclusive license to use it. Libertad’s contract with the company will not provide it with any additional rights.” In an interview with Calcalist Tech, Mossad Director Yossi Cohen told the paper that the Mossad’s partnership with civilian companies in Israel is “excellent” and that the agency will continue to strengthen those ties.

Israeli intelligence has a documented history in placing “backdoors” into technology products for the purpose of surveillance, with one well-known case being Israel’s repurposing of the PROMIS software, discussed in Part III of MintPress’ series on Jeffrey Epstein. Furthermore, given that U.S. intelligence, specifically the NSA, had “backdoors” placed into the products of major Silicon Valley companies (a service performed by Israeli intelligence-linked tech companies no less), Mossad may very well plan on doing the same with the technology products of companies it backs through Libertad.

Tim Shorrock, investigative journalist and author of Spies For Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing, told MintPress that the Mossad’s continuation of such practices through Libertad was definitely plausible, especially given what Shorrock described as the “unusual” choice of Libertad choosing not to release the identities of the companies in which it invests.

“The Mossad is trying to hide what they are investing in,” Shorrock stated, adding that Libertad’s secrecy “raises a lot of questions” particularly given that it was modeled after the CIA’s In-Q-Tel. Shorrock noted that In-Q-Tel and other venture capital funds with ties to U.S. intelligence or the U.S. military rarely, if ever, hide the identities of the companies they finance.

However, Libertad is merely the latest and most public expression of the Mossad’s interest in Israeli tech start-ups, the lion’s share of which are created by veterans of Unit 8200 or other Israeli intelligence agencies. Indeed, former Mossad Director Tamir Pardo stated in 2017 that “everyone” in the Israeli cybertechnology sector is an “alumni” of either Israeli intelligence, like the Mossad, or Israeli military intelligence, like Unit 8200. Pardo even went as far as to say that the Mossad itself is “like a start-up.”

Pardo himself, after leaving his post as Mossad director in 2016, dove straight into the world of Israeli tech start-ups, becoming chairman of Sepio Systems, whose two CEOs are former Unit 8200 officers. Sepio Systems’ advisory board includes the former chief information security officer of the CIA, Robert Bigman; former member of the U.S. Military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), Geoff Hancock; and former head of the Israel National Cyber Bureau and veteran of Israeli military intelligence, Rami Efrati. Sepio Systems’ cybersecurity software has been adopted by several banks, telecom and insurance companies, including in the U.S. and Brazil.

Pardo is not the only prominent figure in Israel’s intelligence community to compare Israeli intelligence agencies to tech start-ups. Shin Bet Director Nadav Argaman described Israel’s domestic spy agency in similar terms. “The Shin Bet is like an evolving start-up, with unmatched strength,” Argaman stated in a June 2017 speech, as he extolled the agency’s use of “pre-crime” technology to detain Palestinians based on their social media activity.

Argaman, at the time, claimed that more than 2,000 Palestinians, whom he described as “potential lone-wolf terrorists,” had been arrested as a result of these “breakthrough technological advances” that use artificial-intelligence algorithms to monitor the social media accounts of Palestinians, especially younger Palestinians, for the use of “tripwire” phrases that have been used by Palestinians who later committed acts of violence. In the case of those who use such terms, “their phones are tracked to see if they meet other suspects, or leave their districts to move towards potential Israeli targets. In such cases, security forces detain the suspect,” according to a 2017 report on the practice by The Economist.

The road to fascism, paved by a corrupted PROMIS

Though Israeli intelligence’s interest in tech companies goes back several years, there is a well-documented history of Israeli intelligence using bugged software to surveil and gain “backdoor” access to government databases around the world, particularly in the United States.

As was mentioned in Part III of MintPress’ Epstein series, a sinister yet cunning plan was executed to place a backdoor for Israeli intelligence into the Prosecutor’s Management Information System (PROMIS) software, which was then being used by the U.S. Department of Justice and was the envy of government agencies, particularly intelligence agencies, around the world. This bugged version of PROMIS — born out of the collusion between Earl Brian, Ronald Reagan’s then-envoy to Iran, and Rafi Eitan, then-director of the now-defunct Israeli intelligence agency Lekem — was seeded around the world by Brian’s company Hadron as well as by Mossad-linked media mogul Robert Maxwell, father of Jeffrey Epstein’s long-time girlfriend and alleged madam, Ghislaine Maxwell.

After this first PROMIS “backdoor” was discovered, Israel would again gain access to sensitive U.S. government communications, as well as civilian communications, thanks to the collusion between Israeli intelligence and Israeli telecom and tech companies, especially Amdocs and Comverse Infosys (now Verint), that were operating throughout the United States. Today, Unit 8200-linked start-ups appear to have taken up the torch.

While the PROMIS software is perhaps best known for offering Israeli intelligence a backdoor into as many as 80 intelligence agencies and other sensitive locations around the world for nearly a decade, it was also used for a very different purpose by prominent officials linked to Iran-Contra.

One key Iran-Contra figure — Lt. Col. Oliver North, then serving on the National Security Council — decided to use PROMIS neither for espionage nor for foreign policy. Instead, North turned PROMIS’ power against Americans, particularly perceived dissidents, a fact that remained unknown for years.

Beginning in 1982, as part of the highly classified Continuity of Government (COG) program, North used the PROMIS software at a 6,100-square-foot “command center” in the Department of Justice, as well as at a smaller operations room at the White House, to compile a list of American dissidents and “potential troublemakers” if the COG protocol was ever invoked.

According to a senior government official with a high-ranking security clearance and service in five presidential administrations who spoke to Radar in 2008, this was:

A database of Americans, who, often for the slightest and most trivial reason, are considered unfriendly, and who, in a time of panic might be incarcerated. The database can identify and locate perceived ‘enemies of the state’ almost instantaneously.”

In 1993, Wired described North’s use of PROMIS in compiling this database as follows:

Using PROMIS, sources point out, North could have drawn up lists of anyone ever arrested for a political protest, for example, or anyone who had ever refused to pay their taxes. Compared to PROMIS, Richard Nixon’s enemies list or Sen. Joe McCarthy’s blacklist look downright crude.”

The COG program defined this “time of panic” as “a national crisis, such as nuclear war, violent and widespread internal dissent, or national opposition to a US military invasion abroad,” whereby the government would suspend the Constitution, declare martial law, and incarcerate perceived dissidents and other “unfriendlies” in order to prevent the government’s (or then-serving administration’s) overthrow.

This secretive database has often been referred to as “Main Core” by government insiders and, most troubling of all, it still exists today. Journalist Christ Ketcham, citing senior government officials, reported in 2008 that, at that time, Main Core was believed to contain the names of as many as 8 million Americans. Eleven years later, it is highly likely that the number of Americans included in the Main Core database has grown considerably.

Author and investigative journalist Tim Shorrock also covered other disturbing aspects of the evolution of Main Core back in 2008 for Salon. At the time, Shorrock reported that the George W. Bush administration was believed to have used Main Core to guide its domestic surveillance activities following the September 11 attacks.

Citing “several former U.S. government officials with extensive knowledge of intelligence operations,” Shorrock further noted that Main Core — as it was 11 years ago at the time his report was published — was said to contain “a vast amount of personal data on Americans, including NSA intercepts of bank and credit card transactions and the results of surveillance efforts by the FBI, the CIA and other agencies.”

Bill Hamilton, former NSA intelligence officer and the original creator of the PROMIS software, told Shorrock at the time that he believed that “U.S. intelligence uses PROMIS as the primary software for searching the Main Core database” and had been told as much by an intelligence official in 1992 and an NSA official in 1995. Dan Murphy, former deputy director at the CIA, had told Hamilton that the NSA’s use of PROMIS was “so seriously wrong that money alone cannot cure the problem.” “I believe in retrospect that Murphy was alluding to Main Core,” Hamilton had told Shorrock.

Though most reporting on Main Core, from the time its existence was first revealed to the present, has treated the database as something used by the U.S. government and U.S. intelligence for domestic purposes, MintPress has learned that Israeli intelligence was also involved with the creation of the Main Core database. According to a former U.S. intelligence official with direct knowledge of the U.S. intelligence community’s use of PROMIS and Main Core from the 1980s to 2000s, Israeli intelligence played a role in the U.S. government’s deployment of PROMIS as the software used for the Main Core domestic surveillance database system.

Israeli intelligence remained involved with Main Core at the time of the August 1991 death of journalist Danny Casolaro, who was investigating not only the government’s misuse of the stolen PROMIS software but also the Main Core database. This same official, who chose to remain anonymous, told MintPress that, shortly before his death, Casolaro had obtained copies of computer printouts from the PROMIS-based Main Core domestic surveillance database system from NSA whistleblower Alan Standorf, who was found murdered a few months before Casolaro’s lifeless body would be found in a West Virginia hotel room.

The source also stated that Main Core’s contents had been used for the political blackmail of members of Congress and their staff, journalists, and others by Walter Raymond, a senior CIA covert operator in psyops and disinformation who served on President Reagan’s National Security Council during and after Main Core’s creation. If used for this purpose by Raymond in the 1980s, Main Core has also likely been used by other individuals with access to the database for blackmailing purposes in the years since.

Given that Israeli intelligence was known to have placed a backdoor into the PROMIS software, before it was marketed and sold around the world by Earl Brian and Robert Maxwell, its role in the U.S. government’s decision to use PROMIS in the creation of Main Core suggests that Israeli intelligence likely advocated for the version of PROMIS containing this backdoor, thereby giving Israeli intelligence access to Main Core. Given that Reagan aides and officials colluded with Israeli “spymaster” Rafi Eitan in his efforts to create a backdoor into the software for Israeli military intelligence, the use of this version of PROMIS in the Main Core database is certainly plausible.

Furthermore, the fact that Israeli intelligence was known to be involved in Main Core nearly a decade after its creation suggests that Israeli intelligence may have played a role in certain aspects of the database, such as the criteria used to flag Americans as “unfriendly,” and — like Walter Raymond — may have used information in the database to blackmail Americans. In addition, the fact that the cooperation between U.S. and Israeli intelligence, particularly between Unit 8200 and the NSA, has only grown since 1991 further suggests that Israeli involvement in Main Core continues to the present.

While Main Core’s very existence is troubling for many reasons, the alleged involvement of a foreign intelligence service in the creation, expansion and maintenance of a database with personal details and potentially damaging information on millions of Americans targeted for detention or increased surveillance in times of crisis is chilling. It is especially so considering that the Trump administration’s latest proposals to prevent mass shootings before they occur are likely to use Main Core to flag certain Americans for increased surveillance or potentially detention, as was done by the George W. Bush administration following the September 11 attacks.

It appears that Main Core serves a dual purpose; first as a mass targeted surveillance system to crush dissent during times of “national crisis” — whether spontaneous or engineered — and, second, as a massive blackmail database used to keep every potential opponent in line during non-emergencies.

Peter Thiel’s Seeing Stone

As was mentioned earlier in this report, Palantir — the company co-founded by Peter Thiel — is set to profit handsomely from the Trump administration’s plans to use its “pre-crime” technology, which is already used by police departments throughout the country and also used to track Americans based on the company’s integrative data-mining approach. Palantir, named for the “seeing stones” in the Lord of the Rings novels, also markets software to foreign (and domestic) intelligence agencies that predicts the likelihood that an individual will commit an act of terrorism or violence.

Aside from its “pre-crime” products, Palantir has come under fire in recent years as a result of the company’s contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), where it created an intelligence system known as Investigative Case Management (ICM). The IB Times described ICM as “a vast ‘ecosystem’ of data to help immigration officials in identifying targets and creating cases against them” and also “provides ICE agents with access to databases managed by other federal agencies.” ICM further gives ICE access to “targets’ personal and sensitive information, such as background on schooling, employment, family relationships, phone records, immigration history, biometrics data, criminal records as well as home and work addresses.” In other words, Palantir’s ICM is essentially a “Main Core” for immigrants.

Notably, part of Oliver North’s original intentions in “Main Core” was to track immigrants then coming from Central America as well as Americans who opposed Reagan era policy with respect to Central America. At that time, Main Core was believed to be controlled by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), which is now part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

VICE News reported in July that the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, which is run by DHS, “serves around 300 communities in northern California and is what is known as a ‘fusion center,’ a Department of Homeland Security intelligence center that aggregates and investigates information from state, local, and federal agencies, as well as some private entities, into large databases that can be searched using software like Palantir. “ VICE further noted that this center alone used Palantir to surveil as many as 8 million Ameicans. There are many more such DHS “fusion centers” throughout the United States.

If the Trump administration moves forward with its proposal of employing technology to detect potential mass shooters before they strike, Palantir’s technology is set to be used, given that it has already been used by U.S. law enforcement and U.S. intelligence to determine which people run “the highest risk of being involved in gun violence,” according to an investigation of Palantir by The Verge. Furthermore, Palantir’s close ties to the Trump administration make the company’s role in a future nationwide “pre-crime” prevention system based on technology appear inevitable.

Worse still is the apparent overlap between Palantir and Main Core. Palantir — which has obvious similarities to PROMIS — is already known to use its software to track potential terror threats, including domestic terror threats, and a category of people it refers to as “subversives.” Palantir’s tracking of these individuals “is all done using prediction.” Palantir’s close ties to the U.S. intelligence community suggest that Palantir may already have access to the Main Core database. Tim Shorrock told MintPress that Palantir’s use of Main Core is “certainly possible,” particularly in light of the company’s use of the term “subversive” to describe a category of people that its software tracks.

Palantir also has alleged ties to Israeli intelligence, as there have long been suspicions that Israeli intelligence has used Palantir as part of its AI “pre-crime” algorithms targeting Palestinians after Palantir opened a research and development (R&D) center in Israel in 2013. The current head of Palantir Israel, Hamultal Meridor, previously founded a brain-machine interface organization and was senior director of web intelligence at Verint (formerly Comverse Infosys), which has deep connections to Unit 8200, a history of espionage in the United States and was one of the two companies contracted by the NSA to insert a “backdoor” into the U.S. telecommunications system and popular products of major American tech companies.

Given the above, Peter Thiel’s 2018 decision to fund Carbyne, the Unit 8200-linked start-up that markets itself as a technological solution to mass shootings in the U.S., strongly suggests that Thiel has been anticipating for some time the now-public efforts of the Trump administration to employ “pre-crime” technology to track and target Americans who show signs of “mental illness” and “violent tendencies.”

A nightmare even Orwell could not have predicted

In early August, in the wake of the shooting at an El Paso Walmart, President Trump called on big tech companies to collaborate with the Justice Department in the creation of software that “stops mass murders before they start” by detecting potential mass shooters before they cnm act. Though Trump’s ideas were short on specifics, there is now a new proposal that would create a new government agency that will use data gathered from civilian electronic devices to identify “neurobehavioral” warning signs, thereby flagging “potential shooters” for increased surveillance and potentially detention.

This new agency, as proposed by the foundation led by former NBC Universal president and vice chairman of General Electric Robert Wright, would be known as the Health Advanced Research Projects Agency (HARPA) and would be modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Per the proposal, recently detailed by the Washington Post, the flagship program of HARPA would be “Safe Home” (Stopping Aberrant Fatal Events by Helping Overcome Mental Extremes), which would use “breakthrough technologies with high specificity and sensitivity for early diagnosis of neuropsychiatric violence,” specifically “advanced analytical tools based on artificial intelligence and machine learning.”

The program would cost an estimated $60 million over four years and would use data from “Apple Watches, Fitbits, Amazon Echo and Google Home” and other consumer electronic devices, as well as information provided by health-care providers to identify who may be a threat.

The Washington Post reported that President Trump has reacted “very positively” to the proposal and that he was “sold on the concept.” The Post also noted that Wright sees the president’s daughter, Ivanka, as “the most effective champion of the proposal and has previously briefed her on HARPA himself.” Ivanka has previously been cited as a driving force behind some of her father’s policy decisions, including his decision to bomb Syria after an alleged chemical weapons attack in 2017.

Liz Fed — president of the Susan Wright Foundation, which is led by Robert Wright and created the proposal for HARPA and “Safe Home” — told the Post that the proposal emulated DARPA because “DARPA is a brilliant model that works. They have developed the most transformational capabilities in the world for national security…We’re not leveraging the tools and technologies available to us to improve and save lives.” Fed further asserted that DARPA’s technological approach had yet to be applied to the field of healthcare.

For anyone familiar with DARPA, such claims should immediately sound loud alarm bells, especially since DARPA is already developing its own solution to “mental health” issues in the form of a “brain-machine interface” as part of its N3 program. That program, according to reports, involves “noninvasive and ‘minutely’ invasive neural interfaces to both read and write into the brain,” help distance soldiers “from the emotional guilt of warfare” by “clouding their perception” and “to program artificial memories of fear, desire, and experiences directly into the brain.” Though N3 is intended to improve the prowess of American soldiers, it is also set to be used as a means of pursuing DARPA’s Systems-Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies (SUBNETS) project, which aims to “to develop a tiny, implanted chip in the skull to treat psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, PTSD and major depression.”

Given that HARPA’s lead scientific adviser is Dr. Geoffrey Ling, former director and founder of DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office (BTO), which “merges biology, engineering, and computer science to harness the power of natural systems for national security,” it seems likely that DARPA’s neurological-focused research programs, like SUBNETS and N3, would be folded into HARPA’s portfolio, making the proposed agency’s approach to mental health very questionable indeed.

Aside from the dystopian nature of both DARPA and potentially HARPA’s approach to mental health, there is grave cause for concern regarding the Trump administration’s moves to address U.S. mass shooting events by implementing pre-crime technology based on artificial intelligence, data-mining and mass surveillance, technologies already laying in wait thanks to companies like Palantir and numerous Israeli tech start-ups led by former Unit 8200 officers.

With companies like Carbyne — with its ties to both the Trump administration and to Israeli intelligence — and the Mossad-linked Gabriel also marketing themselves as “technological” solutions to mass shootings while also doubling as covert tools for mass data collection and extraction, the end result is a massive surveillance system so complete and so dystopian that even George Orwell himself could not have predicted it.

Following another catastrophic mass shooting or crisis event, aggressive efforts will likely follow to foist these “solutions” on a frightened American public by the very network connected, not only to Jeffrey Epstein, but to a litany of crimes and a frightening history of plans to crush internal dissent and would-be dissenters in the United States.

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

September 6, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Now It’s Official: US Visa Can Be Denied If You (Or Even Your Friends) Are Critical of American Policies

By Philip Giraldi | Strategic Culture Foundation | September 5, 2019

There have been several interesting developments in the United States government’s war on free speech and privacy. First of all, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP), which is responsible for actual entry of travelers into the country, has now declared that it can legally access phones and computers at ports of entry to determine if there is any subversive content which might impact on national security. “Subversive content” is, of course, subjective, but those seeking entry can be turned back based on how a border control agent perceives what he is perusing on electronic media.

Unfortunately, the intrusive nature of the procedure is completely legal, particularly as it applies to foreign visitors, and is not likely to be overturned in court in spite of the Fourth Amendment’s constitutional guarantee that individuals should “… be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” Someone at a port of entry is not legally inside the United States until he or she has been officially admitted. And if that someone is a foreigner, he or she has no right by virtue of citizenship even to enter the country until entry has been permitted by an authorized US Customs and Border Protection official. And that official can demand to see anything that might contribute to the decision whether or not to let the person enter.

And there’s more to it than just that. Following the Israeli model for blocking entry of anyone who can even be broadly construed as supporting a boycott, the United States now also believes it should deny admittance to anyone who is critical of US government policy, which is a reversal of previous policy that considered political opinions to be off-limits for visa denial. DHS, acting in response to pressure from the White House, now believes it can adequately determine hostile intent from the totality of what appears on one’s phone or laptop, even if the material in question was clearly not put on the device by the owner. In other words, if a traveler has an email sent to him or her by someone else that complains about behavior by the United States government, he or she is responsible for that content.

One interesting aspect of the new policy is that it undercuts the traditional authority of US Embassies and Consulates overseas to issue visas to foreigners. The State Department visa process is rigorous and can include employment and real property verification, criminal record checks, social media reviews and Google-type searches. If there is any doubt about the visa applicant, entry into the US is denied. With the new DHS measures in place, this thoroughly vetted system is now sometimes being overruled by a subjective judgment made by someone who is not necessarily familiar with the traveler’s country or even regarding the threat level that being a citizen of that country actually represents.

Given the new rules regarding entering the United States, it comes as no surprise that the story of an incoming Harvard freshman who was denied entry into the United States after his laptop and cellphone were searched at Boston’s Logan Airport has been making headlines. Ismail Ajjawi, a 17-year-old Palestinian resident of Lebanon, was due to begin classes as a freshman, but he had his student visa issued in by the US Embassy in Beirut rejected before being flown back to Lebanon several hours later.

Ajjawi was questioned by one immigration officer who asked him repeatedly about his religion before requiring him to turn over his laptop and cell phone. Some hours later, the questioning continued about Ajjawi’s friends and associates, particularly those on social media. At no point was Ajjawi accused of having himself written anything that was critical of the United States and the interrogation rather centered on the views expressed by his friends.

The decision to ban Ajjawi produced such an uproar worldwide that it was reversed a week later, apparently as a result of extreme pressure exerted by Harvard University. Nevertheless, the decisions to deny entry are often arbitrary or even based on bad information, but the traveler normally has no practical recourse to reverse the process. And the number of such searches is going up dramatically, numbering more than 30,000 in 2017, some of which have been directed against US residents. Even though permanent resident green card holders and citizens have a legal right to enter the United States, there are reports that they too are having their electronic media searched. That activity is the subject of an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security that is currently working its way through the courts. The ACLU is representing 10 American citizens and a legal permanent resident who had their media searched without a warrant as required by the Fourth Amendment.

It is believed that many of the arbitrary “enforcements” by the CBP are carried out by the little-known Tactical Response Team (TRT) that targets certain travelers that fit a profile. DHS officials confirmed in September 2017 that 1,400 visa holders had been denied entry due to TRT follow-up inspections. And there are also reports of harassment of American citizens by possible TRT officials. A friend of mine was returning from Portugal to a New York Area airport when he was literally pulled from the queue as he was departing the plane. A Customs agent at the jetway was repeatedly calling out his birth date and then also added his name. He was removed from the line and taken to an interrogation room where he was asked to identify himself and then queried regarding his pilot’s license. He was then allowed to proceed with no other questions, suggesting that it was all harassment of a citizen base on profiling pure and simple.

My friend is a native-born American who has a Master’s degree and an MBA, is an army veteran and has no criminal record, not even a parking ticket. He worked for an American bank in the Middle East more than thirty years ago, which, together with the pilot’s license, might be the issue these days with a completely paranoid federal government constantly on the lookout for more prey “to keep us safe.” Unfortunately, keeping us safe has also meant that freedom of speech and association as well as respect for individual privacy have all been sacrificed. As America’s Founding Father Benjamin Franklin once reportedly observed, “Those who would give up essential Liberty to purchase a little temporary Safety will wind up with neither.”

September 5, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Islamophobia | , | 1 Comment

Big Tech & Big Brother meet at Facebook HQ to discuss how to ‘secure’ US elections

RT | September 5, 2019

Security teams for Facebook, Google, Twitter and Microsoft met with the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence’s office to coordinate a strategy to win – er, secure – the 2020 elections.

The tech platforms met with government officials at Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters on Wednesday, the company has confirmed, boasting that Big Tech and Big Brother have developed a “comprehensive strategy” to get control of previous election-related “vulnerabilities” while “analyzing and getting ahead of new threats.”

Facebook has scrambled to get in front of the 2020 election after being blamed for Trump’s 2016 electoral victory over merely allowing the “Russian trolls” to buy a bunch of ads, most of which appeared after the vote and had nothing to do with the election. But the company insisted last week it had tightened its rules for verifying purchasers of “political” ads, for real this time, after the 2018 contest showed they could still be duped into running obviously-fake ads “paid for by” the Islamic State terror group and Cambridge Analytica.

Aside from the occasional purge of accounts accused of being linked to countries like Russia, Iran, and China on the US’ ever-lengthening enemies’ list, however, it’s hard to tell what exactly any platform has done to make itself immune to ‘manipulation’. Twitter banned state-owned media from buying ads on its platform last month, holding the move up as a victory against the dreaded “foreign meddling,” but its own founder’s account was hacked last week, suggesting it has bigger security issues than a few wrongthink-prone advertisers.

And Google’s potential to sway elections has been the subject of Senate hearings – yet the company has remained silent on addressing the problem, suggesting it doesn’t see it as a bug at all, but a feature. Subsidiary YouTube, meanwhile, conducted another round of deplatforming last month even while declaring it was an open platform for controversial ideas.

The electoral meeting of the minds came less than a week after the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA) declared war on deepfakes and other potentially discord-sowing information, promising to neutralize all “malicious” content within four years – if not for this election, then certainly for the next.

Until then, there’s Microsoft’s ElectionGuard software, which the company announced in July it would provide to all the nation’s voting machines, free of charge, out of the goodness of its (and the Pentagon-owned contractor that helped develop the program’s) heart. And if Microsoft’s act of selfless charity doesn’t convince a district their democracy is worth protecting, there’s always Cyberdome, the election security nonprofit advised by half a dozen former intel agency heads who want what’s best for your vote (when they’re not authorizing torture or warrantless wiretapping).

Getting the DHS involved was a nice touch, too, after that agency was accused of attempting to hack electoral systems in multiple states thousands of times during the period surrounding the 2016 election. Unlike the “Russian hacking” allegations that remain unproven, multiple officials from Idaho, Georgia, Indiana, West Virginia, and Kentucky claim the agency attempted to access their systems after they opposed its efforts to “secure” those systems. After initially denying any involvement, the DHS claimed the attempted breach alarms were set off accidentally, during routine “legitimate work.”

September 5, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Law Enforcement To Flag & Spy On Future Criminals

DHS’s (old) Risk Assessment Chart
MassPrivateI | August 20, 2019

America’s fear of mass-shootings is about to take a truly bizarre turn. That’s because our law enforcement will soon be used as fortune tellers to spy on future criminals.

How will law enforcement be used as fortune tellers?

A recent Albuquerque Journal article revealed that law enforcement will flag people that they think might pose a potential risk.

“Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham directed state Homeland Security and Emergency Management Secretary Jackie Lindsay to start enrolling all 33 county sheriffs in a data-sharing program so that individuals deemed a potential risk could be flagged and monitored.”

What types of things could Americans do that law enforcement would consider threatening?

Inside Sources revealed that police would be looking for “certain indicators.”

State Police Chief Tim Johnson said, “I think it’s obviously important for all of the citizens of New Mexico to be on the lookout for certain indicators of these types of folks that would do this.  And part of our job as government officials is to ensure that the citizens of the community understand what those indicators are so they can report them.”

The Tampa Bay Times reports that police are looking for “certain critical threat indicators” on students social media posts and have even created their own FortifyFL app that allows anyone to secretly report suspicious behavior.

What these “indicators” are is anyone’s guess.

Johnson also said that it was “important for law enforcement and other social services to follow up” on reports of possibly dangerous citizens “in the hopes of preventing” acts of domestic terrorism.

Law enforcement and other agencies are being encouraged to report on and flag anyone that they deem a “potential risk.”

What could possibly go wrong?

It was only a couple of months ago, when I warned people about the “Threat Assessment, Prevention and Safety Act” that basically allows law enforcement to label anyone a potential threat.

“The TAPS Act would encourage law enforcement to give everyone a personal threat assessment (kids and adults) and single out those that they deem as future threats.”

Police across the country are already using “red flag” laws to take weapons away from people they deem a potential threat. So why is Homeland Security creating a whole new class of suspicious people?

Because the War on Terror constantly needs new enemies if it is to keep Americans living in fear.

The Albuquerque Journal revealed how law enforcement plans to use the red flag bill to allow law enforcement and other agencies to give people secret threat ratings.

“Sheriffs had been working with the Democratic sponsor of a proposed red flag bill toward a possible compromise. In its original form, the bill would have allowed courts to order the temporary taking of guns from someone deemed an immediate threat, “San Juan County Sheriff Shane Ferrari said.

From Homeland Security spying on everyone’s social media posts to the FBI, it seems like no one is safe from Big Brother’s prying eyes.

Reason.com warned that the FBI’s “red flag” social media spying tool is “a meme-illiterate Facebook-stalking precog from the Minority Report.”

Reason also warned that spying on everyone’s social media posts could spiral out of control.

“There are operations centers and watch floors, which monitor news and events to create reports for the relevant FBI team. These would spur the activation of fusion center, tactical teams which use early notification and accurate geo-locations. Which could allow law enforcement to target and even disenfranchise social media users whose posts may have been misinterpreted.”

Placing people on a secret risk chart is a disaster waiting to happen, just ask those people on the no-fly list or terror watch list.

There are no law enforcement risk rating charts yet.

Based on DHS’s old risk advisory chart we could expect law enforcement to use something similar to Canada’s workplace risk assessment ratings chart:

Canada’s workplace risk assessment ratings chart is a disturbing example of how DHS could give everyone a personal risk assessment.

Asking law enforcement to guess who might become a criminal is at best fortune telling; and at worst, an excuse to incarcerate more people.

August 21, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 1 Comment

How the Department of Homeland Security Created a Deceptive Tale of Russia Hacking US Voter Sites

By Gareth Porter | Consortium News | August 28, 2018

The narrative of Russian intelligence attacking state and local election boards and threatening the integrity of U.S. elections has achieved near-universal acceptance by media and political elites. And now it has been accepted by the Trump administration’s intelligence chief, Dan Coats, as well.

But the real story behind that narrative, recounted here for the first time, reveals that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) created and nurtured an account that was grossly and deliberately deceptive.

DHS compiled an intelligence report suggesting hackers linked to the Russian government could have targeted voter-related websites in many states and then leaked a sensational story of Russian attacks on those sites without the qualifications that would have revealed a different story. When state election officials began asking questions, they discovered that the DHS claims were false and, in at least one case, laughable.

The National Security Agency and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigating team have also claimed evidence that Russian military intelligence was behind election infrastructure hacking, but on closer examination, those claims turn out to be speculative and misleading as well. Mueller’s indictment of 12 GRU military intelligence officers does not cite any violations of U.S. election laws though it claims Russia interfered with the 2016 election.

A Sensational Story 

On Sept. 29, 2016, a few weeks after the hacking of election-related websites in Illinois and Arizona, ABC News carried a sensational headline: “Russian Hackers Targeted Nearly Half of States’ Voter Registration Systems, Successfully Infiltrated 4.” The story itself reported that “more than 20 state election systems” had been hacked, and four states had been “breached” by hackers suspected of working for the Russian government. The story cited only sources “knowledgeable” about the matter, indicating that those who were pushing the story were eager to hide the institutional origins of the information.

Behind that sensational story was a federal agency seeking to establish its leadership within the national security state apparatus on cybersecurity, despite its limited resources for such responsibility. In late summer and fall 2016, the Department of Homeland Security was maneuvering politically to designate state and local voter registration databases and voting systems as “critical infrastructure.” Such a designation would make voter-related networks and websites under the protection a “priority sub-sector” in the DHS “National Infrastructure Protection Plan, which already included 16 such sub-sectors.

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and other senior DHS officials consulted with many state election officials in the hope of getting their approval for such a designation. Meanwhile, the DHS was finishing an intelligence report that would both highlight the Russian threat to U.S. election infrastructure and the role DHS could play in protecting it, thus creating political impetus to the designation. But several secretaries of state—the officials in charge of the election infrastructure in their state—strongly opposed the designation that Johnson wanted.

On Jan. 6, 2017—the same day three intelligence agencies released a joint “assessment” on Russian interference in the election—Johnson announced the designation anyway.

Media stories continued to reflect the official assumption that cyber attacks on state election websites were Russian-sponsored. Stunningly, The Wall Street Journal reported in December 2016 that DHS was itself behind hacking attempts of Georgia’s election database.

The facts surrounding the two actual breaches of state websites in Illinois and Arizona, as well as the broader context of cyberattacks on state websites, didn’t support that premise at all.

In July, Illinois discovered an intrusion into its voter registration website and the theft of personal information on as many as 200,000 registered voters. (The 2018 Mueller indictments of GRU officers would unaccountably put the figure at 500,000.) Significantly, however, the hackers only had copied the information and had left it unchanged in the database.

That was a crucial clue to the motive behind the hack. DHS Assistant Secretary for Cyber Security and Communications Andy Ozment told a Congressional committee in late September 2016 that the fact hackers hadn’t tampered with the voter data indicated that the aim of the theft was not to influence the electoral process. Instead, it was “possibly for the purpose of selling personal information.” Ozment was contradicting the line that already was being taken on the Illinois and Arizona hacks by the National Protection and Programs Directorate and other senior DHS officials.

In an interview with me last year, Ken Menzel, the legal adviser to the Illinois secretary of state, confirmed what Ozment had testified. “Hackers have been trying constantly to get into it since 2006,” Menzel said, adding that they had been probing every other official Illinois database with such personal data for vulnerabilities as well. “Every governmental database—driver’s licenses, health care, you name it—has people trying to get into it,” said Menzel.

In the other successful cyberattack on an electoral website, hackers had acquired the username and password for the voter database Arizona used during the summer, as Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan learned from the FBI. But the reason that it had become known, according to Reagan in an interview with Mother Jones, was that the login and password had shown up for sale on the dark web—the network of websites used by cyber criminals to sell stolen data and other illicit wares.

Furthermore, the FBI had told her that the effort to penetrate the database was the work of a “known hacker” whom the FBI had monitored “frequently” in the past. Thus, there were reasons to believe that both Illinois and Arizona hacking incidents were linked to criminal hackers seeking information they could sell for profit.

Meanwhile, the FBI was unable to come up with any theory about what Russia might have intended to do with voter registration data such as what was taken in the Illinois hack. When FBI Counterintelligence official Bill Priestap was asked in a June 2017 hearing how Moscow might use such data, his answer revealed that he had no clue: “They took the data to understand what it consisted of,” said the struggling Priestap, “so they can affect better understanding and plan accordingly in regards to possibly impacting future elections by knowing what is there and studying it.”

The inability to think of any plausible way for the Russian government to use such data explains why DHS and the intelligence community adopted the argument, as senior DHS officials Samuel Liles and Jeanette Manfra put it, that the hacks “could be intended or used to undermine public confidence in electoral processes and potentially the outcome.” But such a strategy could not have had any effect without a decision by DHS and the U.S. intelligence community to assert publicly that the intrusions and other scanning and probing were Russian operations, despite the absence of hard evidence. So DHS and other agencies were consciously sowing public doubts about U.S. elections that they were attributing to Russia.

DHS Reveals Its Self-Serving Methodology

In June 2017, Liles and Manfra testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee that an October 2016 DHS intelligence report had listed election systems in 21 states that were “potentially targeted by Russian government cyber actors.” They revealed that the sensational story leaked to the press in late September 2016 had been based on a draft of the DHS report. And more importantly, their use of the phrase “potentially targeted” showed that they were arguing only that the cyber incidents it listed were possible indications of a Russian attack on election infrastructure.

Furthermore, Liles and Manfra said the DHS report had “catalogued suspicious activity we observed on state government networks across the country,” which had been “largely based on suspected malicious tactics and infrastructure.” They were referring to a list of eight IP addresses an August 2016 FBI “flash alert” had obtained from the Illinois and Arizona intrusions, which DHS and FBI had not been able to  attribute to the Russian government.

Manfra: No doubt it was the Russians. (C-SPAN)

The DHS officials recalled that the DHS began to “receive reports of cyber-enabled scanning and probing of election-related infrastructure in some states, some of which appeared to originate from servers operated by a Russian company.” Six of the eight IP addresses in the FBI alert were indeed traced to King Servers, owned by a young Russian living in Siberia. But as DHS cyber specialists knew well, the country of ownership of the server doesn’t prove anything about who was responsible for hacking: As cybersecurity expert Jeffrey Carr pointed out, the Russian hackers who coordinated the Russian attack on Georgian government websites in 2008 used a Texas-based company as the hosting provider.

The cybersecurity firm ThreatConnect noted in 2016 that one of the other two IP addresses had hosted a Russian criminal market for five months in 2015. But that was not a serious indicator, either. Private IP addresses are reassigned frequently by server companies, so there is not a necessary connection between users of the same IP address at different times.

The DHS methodology of selecting reports of cyber incidents involving election-related websites as “potentially targeted” by Russian government-sponsored hackers was based on no objective evidence whatever. The resulting list appears to have included any one of the eight addresses as well as any attack or “scan” on a public website that could be linked in any way to elections.

This methodology conveniently ignored the fact that criminal hackers were constantly trying to get access to every database in those same state, country and municipal systems. Not only for Illinois and Arizona officials, but state electoral officials.

In fact, 14 of the 21 states on the list experienced nothing more than the routine scanning that occurs every day, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee. Only six involved what was referred to as a “malicious access attempt,” meaning an effort to penetrate the site. One of them was in Ohio, where the attempt to find a weakness lasted less than a second and was considered by DHS’s internet security contractor a “non-event” at the time.

State Officials Force DHS to Tell the Truth

For a year, DHS did not inform the 21 states on its list that their election boards or other election-related sites had been attacked in a presumed Russian-sponsored operation. The excuse DHS officials cited was that it could not reveal such sensitive intelligence to state officials without security clearances. But the reluctance to reveal the details about each case was certainly related to the reasonable expectation that states would publicly challenge their claims, creating a potential serious embarrassment.

On Sept. 22, 2017, DHS notified 21 states about the cyber incidents that had been included in the October 2016 report. The public announcement of the notifications said DHS had notified each chief election officer of “any potential targeting we were aware of in their state leading up to the 2016 election.” The phrase “potential targeting” again telegraphed the broad and vague criterion DHS had adopted, but it was ignored in media stories.

But the notifications, which took the form of phone calls lasting only a few minutes, provided a minimum of information and failed to convey the significant qualification that DHS was only suggesting targeting as a possibility. “It was a couple of guys from DHS reading from a script,” recalled one state election official who asked not to be identified. “They said [our state] was targeted by Russian government cyber actors.”

A number of state election officials recognized that this information conflicted with what they knew. And if they complained, they got a more accurate picture from DHS. After Wisconsin Secretary of State Michael Haas demanded further clarification, he got an email response from a DHS official  with a different account. “[B]ased on our external analysis,” the official wrote, “the WI [Wisconsin] IP address affected belongs to the WI Department of Workforce Development, not the Elections Commission.”

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said DHS initially had notified his office “that Russian cyber actors ‘scanned’ California’s Internet-facing systems in 2016, including Secretary of State websites.” But under further questioning, DHS admitted to Padilla that what the hackers had targeted was the California Department of Technology’s network.

Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos and Oklahoma Election Board spokesman Byron Dean also denied that any state website with voter- or election-related information had been targeted, and Pablos demanded that DHS “correct its erroneous notification.”

Despite these embarrassing admissions, a statement issued by DHS spokesman Scott McConnell on Sept. 28, 2017 said the 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.” The statement retreated from the previous admission that the notifications involved “potential targeting,” but it also revealed for the first time that DHS had defined “targeting” very broadly indeed.

It said the category included “some cases” involving “direct scanning of targeted systems” but also cases in which “malicious actors scanned for vulnerabilities in networks that may be connected to those systems or have similar characteristics in order to gain information about how to later penetrate their target.”

It is true that hackers may scan one website in the hope of learning something that could be useful for penetrating another website, as cybersecurity expert Prof. Herbert S. Lin of Stanford University explained to me in an interview. But including any incident in which that motive was theoretical meant that any state website could be included on the DHS list, without any evidence it was related to a political motive.

Arizona’s further exchanges with DHS revealed just how far DHS had gone in exploiting that escape clause in order to add more states to its “targeted” list. Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan tweeted that DHS had informed her that “the Russian government targeted our voter registration systems in 2016.” After meeting with DHS officials in early October 2017, however, Reagan wrote in a blog post that DHS “could not confirm that any attempted Russian government hack occurred whatsoever to any election-related system in Arizona, much less the statewide voter registration database.”

What the DHS said in that meeting, as Reagan’s spokesman Matt Roberts recounted to me, is even more shocking. “When we pressed DHS on what exactly was actually targeted, they said it was the Phoenix public library’s computers system,” Roberts recalled.

In April 2018, a CBS News “60 Minutes” segment reported that the October 2016 DHS intelligence report had included the Russian government hacking of a “county database in Arizona.” Responding to that CBS report, an unidentified “senior Trump administration official” who was well-briefed on the DHS report told Reuters that “media reports” on the issue had sometimes “conflated criminal hacking with Russian government activity,” and that the cyberattack on the target in Arizona “was not perpetrated by the Russian government.”

NSA Finds a GRU Election Plot

National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, Md. (Wikimedia)

NSA intelligence analysts claimed in a May 2017 analysis to have documented an effort by Russian military intelligence (GRU) to hack into U.S. electoral institutions. In an intelligence analysis obtained by The Intercept and reported in June 2017, NSA analysts wrote that the GRU had sent a spear-phishing email—one with an attachment designed to look exactly like one from a trusted institution but that contains malware design to get control of the computer—to a vendor of voting machine technology in Florida. The hackers then designed a fake web page that looked like that of the vendor. They sent it to a list of 122 email addresses NSA believed to be local government organizations that probably were “involved in the management of voter registration systems.” The objective of the new spear-phishing campaign, the NSA suggested, was to get control of their computers through malware to carry out the exfiltration of voter-related data.

But the authors of The Intercept story failed to notice crucial details in the NSA report that should have tipped them off that the attribution of the spear-phishing campaign to the GRU was based merely on the analysts’ own judgment—and that their judgment was faulty.

The Intercept article included a color-coded chart from the original NSA report that provides crucial information missing from the text of the NSA analysis itself as well as The Intercept’s account. The chart clearly distinguishes between the elements of the NSA’s account of the alleged Russian scheme that were based on “Confirmed Information” (shown in green) and those that were based on “Analyst Judgment” (shown in yellow). The connection between the “operator” of the spear-phishing campaign the report describes and an unidentified entity confirmed to be under the authority of the GRU is shown as a yellow line, meaning that it is based on “Analyst Judgment” and labeled “probably.”

A major criterion for any attribution of a hacking incident is whether there are strong similarities to previous hacks identified with a specific actor. But the chart concedes that “several characteristics” of the campaign depicted in the report distinguish it from “another major GRU spear-phishing program,” the identity of which has been redacted from the report.

The NSA chart refers to evidence that the same operator also had launched spear-phishing campaigns on other web-based mail applications, including the Russian company “Mail.ru.” Those targets suggest that the actors were more likely Russian criminal hackers rather than Russian military intelligence.

Even more damaging to its case, the NSA reports that the same operator who had sent the spear-phishing emails also had sent a test email to the “American Samoa Election Office.” Criminal hackers could have been interested in personal information from the database associated with that office. But the idea that Russian military intelligence was planning to hack the voter rolls in American Samoa, an unincorporated U.S. territory with 56,000 inhabitants who can’t even vote in U.S. presidential elections, is plainly risible.

The Mueller Indictment’s Sleight of Hand

The Mueller indictment of GRU officers released on July 13 appeared at first reading to offer new evidence of Russian government responsibility for the hacking of Illinois and other state voter-related websites. A close analysis of the relevant paragraphs, however, confirms the lack of any real intelligence supporting that claim.

Mueller accused two GRU officers of working with unidentified “co-conspirators” on those hacks. But the only alleged evidence linking the GRU to the operators in the hacking incidents is the claim that a GRU official named Anatoly Kovalev and “co-conspirators” deleted search history related to the preparation for the hack after the FBI issued its alert on the hacking identifying the IP address associated with it in August 2016.

A careful reading of the relevant paragraphs shows that the claim is spurious. The first sentence in Paragraph 71 says that both Kovalev and his “co-conspirators” researched domains used by U.S. state boards of elections and other entities “for website vulnerabilities.” The second says Kovalev and “co-conspirators” had searched for “state political party email addresses, including filtered queries for email addresses listed on state Republican Party websites.”

Mueller: Don’t read the fine print. (The White House/Wikimedia)

Searching for website vulnerabilities would be evidence of intent to hack them, of course, but searching Republican Party websites for email addresses is hardly evidence of any hacking plan. And Paragraph 74 states that Kovalev “deleted his search history”—not the search histories of any “co-conspirator”—thus revealing that there were no joint searches and suggesting that the subject Kovalev had searched was Republican Party emails. So any deletion by Kovalev of his search history after the FBI alert would not be evidence of his involvement in the hacking of the Illinois election board website.

With this rhetorical misdirection unraveled, it becomes clear that the repetition in every paragraph of the section of the phrase “Kovalev and his co-conspirators” was aimed at giving the reader the impression the accusation is based on hard intelligence about possible collusion that doesn’t exist.

The Need for Critical Scrutiny of DHS Cyberattack Claims

The DHS campaign to establish its role as the protector of U.S. electoral institutions is not the only case in which that agency has used a devious means to sow fear of Russian cyberattacks. In December 2016, DHS and the FBI published a long list of IP addresses as indicators of possible Russian cyberattacks. But most of the addresses on the list had no connection with Russian intelligence, as former U.S. government cyber-warfare officer Rob Lee found on close examination.

When someone at the Burlington, Vt., Electric Company spotted one of those IP addresses on one of its computers, the company reported it to DHS. But instead of quietly investigating the address to verify that it was indeed an indicator of Russian intrusion, DHS immediately informed The Washington Post. The result was a sensational story that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. power grid. In fact, the IP address in question was merely Yahoo’s email server, as Rob Lee told me, and the computer had not even been connected to the power grid. The threat to the power grid was a tall tale created by a DHS official, which the Post had to embarrassingly retract.

Since May 2017, DHS, in partnership with the FBI, has begun an even more ambitious campaign to focus public attention on what it says are Russian “targeting” and “intrusions” into “major, high value assets that operate components of our Nation’s critical infrastructure”, including energy, nuclear, water, aviation and critical manufacturing sectors. Any evidence of such an intrusion must be taken seriously by the U.S. government and reported by news media. But in light of the DHS record on alleged threats to election infrastructure and the Burlington power grid, and its well-known ambition to assume leadership over cyber protection, the public interest demands that the news media examine DHS claims about Russian cyber threats far more critically than they have up to now.


Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. His latest book is Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.

August 28, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , , , | 1 Comment