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20 states threaten legal action over DHS disinformation board

By Dan Frieth | Reclaim The Net | May 6, 2022

Attorneys General from 20 conservative states are threatening legal action against the Department of Homeland Security’s newly formed Disinformation Governance Board, which they said will have a chilling effect on freedom of expression and described as “un-American.”

Virginia’s AG Jason Miyares and 19 other attorneys general sent a letter to Alejandro Mayorkas, the Homeland Security Secretary, demanding the dissolution of the Disinformation Governance Board.

We obtained a copy of the letter for you here.

“This is an unacceptable and downright alarming encroachment on every citizen’s right to express his or her opinions, engage in political debate, and disagree with the government,” the attorneys general wrote.

The Republicans are taking issue with the timing of the new board, as it comes after it was revealed that the White House was flagging posts on behalf of social media platforms. Additionally, it comes just after Tesla CEO Elon Musk, a self-described free speech absolutist, made a bid for Twitter.

“Suddenly, just as Elon Musk prepares to acquire Twitter with the stated purpose of correcting the platform’s censorship of free speech, you announce the creation of the Disinformation Governance Board. As the Biden Administration apparently loses a critical ally in its campaign to suppress speech it deems “problematic,” you have created a new government body to continue that work within the federal government,” the letter says.

“The contemporaneous occurrence of these two events is hard to explain away as mere coincidence. It instead raises troubling questions about the extent of the Biden Administration’s practice of coordinating with private-sector companies to suppress disfavored speech.”

The Republicans also expressed concern about the leader of the board, Nina Jankowicz, noting that she is “often in error but never in doubt.” She claimed the Hunter Biden laptop story was Russian propaganda, a theory that has since been proven wrong.

The attorneys general argue the board is illegal because there is “no statutory authority” supporting its creation.

“Unless you turn back now and disband this Orwellian Disinformation Governance Board immediately, the undersigned will have no choice but to consider judicial remedies to protect the rights of their citizens,” the letter concludes.

May 6, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 1 Comment

Lawmakers reject amendment to prevent monitoring of unvaccinated

By Christina Maas | Reclaim The Net | April 12, 2022

All Democrats in the House Judiciary Committee voted against an amendment that could have protected the unvaccinated from being tracked.

The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2021 gives federal agencies like the FBI, DOJ, and DHS the authority to “analyze and monitor” activities of domestic terrorism and “take steps to prevent domestic terrorism.”

The current administration’s program for tackling domestic terrorism includes monitoring the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories online.

In February, the DHS released a memo that pays attention to those who claim election fraud in 2020’s presidential race and those who spread “misinformation” about COVID-19.

“There is widespread online proliferation of false or misleading narratives regarding unsubstantiated widespread election fraud and COVID-19,” the DHS memo read.

“Grievances associated with these themes inspired violent extremist attacks during 2021.”

“COVID-19 mitigation measures – particularly COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates – have been used by domestic violent extremists to justify violence since 2020 and could continue to inspire these extremists to target government, healthcare, and academic institutions that they associate with those measures.”

Following the release of the memo, Republican Rep. Andy Biggs proposed an amendment to the act to protect unvaccinated Americans from being tracked.

“None of the funds authorized to be appropriated in this Act shall be used to monitor, analyze, investigate or prosecute any individual solely because that individual declined the administration of a vaccine to COVID-19 or expressed opposition to such administration,” Biggs’ proposed amendment read.

According to a tweet by Republican Rep. Thomas Massie, every Democrat in the House Judiciary Committee voted against the proposed amendment.

“Due to a troubling DHS bulletin, @RepAndyBiggsAZ offered an amendment to prevent the targeting of Americans due to their views on COVID vax,” Massie wrote.

“Every Dem. voted against his amdt!”

April 12, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , , , | Leave a comment

DHS says it scans social media for “misinformation” but not “constitutionally protected speech”

But “misinformation” is constitutionally protected speech

By Didi Rankovic | Reclaim The Net | February 18, 2022

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is doubling down on a recently revealed policy of tying the issue of domestic terrorism with online “misinformation,” as well as keeping an extra eye on trucker protests.

The document derived from an event that spelled all this out first appeared on February 7 as a bulletin, detailing the allegedly heightened threats the US is facing – not least because of “an online environment filled with false or misleading narratives and conspiracy theories.”

What was until recently typical of media op-eds and Twitter exchanges has evidently seeped into official policy, so the DHS now explicitly fears that “misleading narratives” found on the internet have the power to undermine trust in US government, not to mention branding free expression and political differences as dangerous “discord.”

Meanwhile, what is sowing true discord – Covid mandates – are mentioned not as a problem in and of itself, but simply something that gives rise to said “misleading narratives.”

“For example, there is widespread online proliferation of false or misleading narratives regarding unsubstantiated widespread election fraud and COVID-19. Grievances associated with these themes inspired violent extremist attacks during 2021,” reads the bulletin.

A week later, after this particular take on the situation raised some eyebrows in the Senate, DHS Counter-Terrorism Coordinator John Cohen is defending the document.

Reports, including in the Washington Times, say that Senator Marsha Blackburn described this particular DHS policy as speech policing, while the nonpartisan Center to Advance Security in America (CASA) wants to know more about the department’s “methodology” in coming up with all this.

But according to Cohen “hard analysis” has taken place (he failed to mention whether it produced any “hard evidence”) which he says shows links between “narratives about government’s response to COVID, the 2020 election, immigration, and race.”

And, he continued, the job of the DHS is not to police thought. One would hope the agency does its job, but a question mark lingers over it since Cohen added that the DHS doesn’t monitor individuals who are engaging in constitutionally protected speech.

“Our job’s not to police thought. Our job is to prevent acts of violence. We don’t monitor individuals engaging in constitutionally protected speech,” he said.

“We’ve put in place a series of protections to make sure that as we’re evaluating online content, it’s only relating to threats, and we’re only handling that information in a privacy, civil liberties-protective way.”

Unfortunately for Cohen’s own “narrative” here, in the US, even what passes as “misinformation” is actually constitutionally protected speech.

As for trucker protests, which are treated in Canada as a national security issue, he said the DHS was monitoring them in cooperation with counterparts across the border.

He diminished the number of participants whose goal was “simply” to express opposition to vaccine mandates by saying there were “some people” who were there for that reason.

But, Cohen went on, there are “significant levels of online and physical participation by ideologically motivated violent extremists.”

February 18, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

DHS Issues Terrorism Bulletin Over “Conspiracy Theories” and “Misleading Narratives”

By Paul Joseph Watson | Summit News | February 9, 2022

The Department of Homeland Security has issued a new terrorism bulletin in response to concerns over “conspiracy theories” and “misleading narratives.”

Yes, really.

“The United States remains in a heightened threat environment fueled by several factors, including an online environment filled with false or misleading narratives and conspiracy theories, and other forms of mis- dis- and mal-information (MDM) introduced and/or amplified by foreign and domestic threat actors,” the DHS bulletin stated.

The advisory goes on to assert that the US is in a “heightened threat landscape” due to “the proliferation of false or misleading narratives, which sow discord or undermine public trust in U.S. government institutions.”

Apparently, lack of trust in the Biden administration and the legacy media represents a terrorist threat.

Under DHS chief Alejandro Mayorkas, who thinks “white extremists” are the biggest terror threat to America, five separate bulletins striking a similar tone have now been issued.

One of the bulletins even suggested that Americans who are angry at COVID lockdown rules or who express concerns about election integrity are potential extremist threats.

“It’s clear as day these bulletins are pure political propaganda to demonize all white people as “domestic terrorists” ready to carry out terrorist attacks at any moment and justify using terrorism laws against them as part of the new Domestic War on Terror,” writes Chris Menahan.

Since Biden took office, his administration has intensified efforts to demonize its political adversaries, tens of millions of ordinary Americans, as domestic extremists.

Following the January 6 Capitol riot, Democrats ludicrously compared the events to September 11 in an attempt to justify using federal resources that would normally be focused on actual terrorists against American conservatives.

Last month, the Justice Department created a new “specialized unit focused on domestic terrorism” in response to an “elevated” threat from violent extremists in the United States.

As we also reported in January, the US Army conducted a “guerrilla warfare exercise” in North Carolina where troops engaged in mock battle against “freedom fighters.”

In September last year, the National Association of School Boards (NASB) sent a letter to the Biden administration claiming parents were engaging in domestic terrorism by fighting against CRT and mask mandates.

Attorney General Merrick Garland subsequently announced the DOJ and FBI would establish a task force aimed at probing a “disturbing spike” in threats against school officials.

February 9, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | 1 Comment

Forget China, was it CEPI’s bio-spooks who locked down the West?

By Paula Jardine | TCW Defending Freedom | December 15, 2021

IT is nearly two years since the world turned upside down and a sequence of unprecedented lockdowns and quarantines in the name of public health and safety were imposed across the West.

The narrative of the still unfolding story of Covid-19 is familiar to all of us, with China the chief bogeyman of the tale. But is that right?

In this drama has something really important been overlooked? Namely, the role of a powerful, self-appointed supranational organisation, set up 2017, called the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

Members of CEPI’s board and scientific advisory committee have been, and still are, key actors in global and national responses to the Covid-19 virus. Its mission? To ‘create a world in which epidemics are no longer a threat to humanity’.

At the start of 2020, all eyes were glued on China. The communist government had dutifully notified the World Health Organisation (WHO) on New Year’s Eve 2019 of its concerns over a small cluster of cases of ‘pneumonia of unknown origin’.

Three weeks later, when the death toll stood at 17, the CCP was sufficiently alarmed to order the home confinement of nearly 12 million mostly healthy people who were unfortunate enough to reside in the outbreak city, Wuhan.

Having fingered as the culprit a relative of the SARS virus that claimed 774 victims in 2003, the Chinese determination to contain the self-evidently nastier 2019 co-variant at all costs was made plain to the world.

The scenes broadcast out of China nightly on the TV news were surreal, but strangely familiar to anyone with a passing familiarity with vintage sci-fi. A nightmare amalgamation of The Andromeda Strain and The Hamburg Syndrome was unfolding in real life, right before our eyes.

Here, a man falling down dead in the street. There, men in white hazmat suits walking through empty Chinese thoroughfares equipped with Ghostbuster-esque backpacks blowing smoke in a desperate attempt to fumigate the invisible peril out of existence.

Knowing that the Queen’s own men at the Porton Down chemical and biological defence establishment long ago discovered that fresh air and sunlight, two commodities already in short supply in Chinese cities, are the most potent of disinfectants, it seemed a strangely futile spectacle. What on Earth were they trying to do? Death apparently lurked around every corner.

As the Wuhan lockdown was being imposed on January 23, 2020, the global elite were busy congregating at their annual networking fest, the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland (where CEPI had been founded three years earlier by the governments of Norway and India, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust global charity organisation, and the World Economic Forum).

Next day, a little-noticed press conference was convened in Davos to discuss the SARS-like, closely-related, but definitely novel, SARS Wuhan coronavirus.

Appearing in front of about 30 reporters were Sir Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust and  board member of CEPI; Richard Hatchett, chief executive of CEPI, and Stephane Bancel, chief executive of Moderna, one of three companies being funded to develop a coronavirus vaccine. A Chinese reporter asked the panel if there was any historical precedent for the lockdown.

Hatchett said: ‘One thing that is important to understand, is that when you don’t have treatments and you don’t have vaccines, non-pharmaceutical interventions are literally the only thing that you have, and it’s a combination of isolation, containment, infection prevention and control and then these social distancing interventions.

‘There is historical precedent for their use. We looked intensively and did an historical analysis of the use of non-pharmaceutical interventions in US cities in 1918 and what we found was that cities that introduced multiple interventions, early in an epidemic, had much better outcomes.

‘The challenge of course is that it is very difficult to sustain these interventions, as they impose enormous cost and they also can produce enormous anxiety among the affected population.’

The ‘we’ Hatchett was referring to was the US Department of Homeland Security where, as an official, he had helped develop the US pandemic preparedness plan in 2005 and 2006 during the H5N1 avian influenza outbreak, which Farrar had discovered in Vietnam.

Hatchett continued: ‘At that time, we looked at how could you have those interventions implemented in a way that maximised their benefit and minimised the cost and we developed an approach that we called “community mitigation” interventions and CDC (the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention) published guidance on this several years ago.

‘There is a literature which I would certainly encourage Chinese authorities to review and certainly I would be happy to talk to them about that, although that’s not my current job.’

There was no need to encourage the Chinese authorities to review the literature. CEPI already had a man in Beijing, Dr George Gao, the director of China’s Centre for Disease Control, but also member of the CEPI scientific advisory panel. The community mitigation approach the Chinese adopted in Wuhan was straight out of the 2006 US Homeland Security pandemic playbook.

Gao, like Farrar, completed his PhD at Oxford University before conducting post-doctoral work under Sir John Bell, the controversial Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford, holder of several extranumerary positions and multiple interests, not least as chair of the global health scientific advisory board of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

An expert on coronaviruses, Gao served on CEPI’s first scientific advisory committee in 2016 and was a player in Event 201, the pandemic simulation hosted in October 2019 by the World Economic Forum, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health – discussed here by Robert F Kennedy Jr.

In all probability, Gao is the old friend Farrar was referring to when he said on Desert Island Discs that he had had a phone call on December 31, 2019 – the day the Chinese authorities reported the Wuhan pneumonia outbreak to the WHO – to alert him that China would release the genome of the new virus on January 10. As things stood on New Year’s Eve, the virus had yet to cause any deaths, although it was making a few people very ill.

By January 17, another CEPI scientific adviser, Dr Christian Drosten, had conveniently developed a PCR test from the genetic sequence posted online by the Chinese, which the WHO advised laboratories could be used as a diagnostic test for Covid-19.

This was almost two months before the WHO declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic on March 11, 2020. Following a visit to Wuhan by the WHO in February 2020, led by its assistant director-general Dr Bruce Aylward, the world was being encouraged to adopt what were now being called Chinese measures.

‘China didn’t approach this new virus with an old strategy for one disease or another disease,’ said Aylward. ‘It developed its own approach to a new disease and extraordinarily has turned around this disease with strategies most of the world didn’t think would work.’

The Chinese government, with its own Big Brother infrastructure, had its own reasons for going along with that. But the response plan is in reality far more complex, and has a much darker background in the West.

The Yellow Brick Road that passes through CEPI and Beijing leads right back to the US Department of Homeland Security, and its 1998 Pentagon strategy paper.

The response plan is in reality an American scheme, with its origins more than decade and a half earlier and against a backdrop of bioterrorism concerns. Uncle Sam is the wizard behind the curtain, not acting in the West’s interests at all.

December 15, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Domestic Surveillance of Journalists & Citizens Became Standard US Government Practice

By Ekaterina Blinova | Sputnik | December 14, 2021

Under the Trump administration, the Counter Network Division, a special unit within Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, used government databases intended for terrorist tracking to investigate 20 US-based journalists, Yahoo News revealed on Saturday.

CBP is the largest federal law enforcement agency in the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The bombshell revelation prompted ire among US news organisations, with AP’s executive editor, Julie Pace, urging DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to explain why the agency ran the name of an AP reporter through its databases. In its statement, the CBP claimed that the agency “does not investigate individuals without a legitimate and legal basis to do so.” However, according to AP, “this appears to be an example of journalists being targeted for simply doing their jobs, which is a violation of the First Amendment.”

Are US Federal Probes Turning Into Paranoia?

“The Department of Homeland Security has pretty much summed up America’s authoritarian drift since its creation in the wake of 9/11,” says Daniel Lazare, an independent journalist, author, and writer.

Lazare mocks the newly revealed operation, carried out by the Counter Network Division’s Jeffrey Rambo in 2017 and dubbed “Operation Whistle Pig,” adding that “the particulars of the case are less interesting than the general trend, which is toward greater and greater paranoia.” To illustrate his point the independent journalist refers to the FBI’s Operation Crossfire Hurricane into alleged Trump-Russia collusion which turned out to be what CNN described as a “big nothing burger”.

He also cites the US intelligence community and mainstream media attempts to depict New York Post’s allegations about Hunter Biden as “Russia disinformation.” Lazare also posits what he refers to as vain efforts by the Democrat-run US House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack as a means of steering public attention away from a question of “whether FBI or CIA informants helped egg on the insurrection.”

“So while the DHS has promised to call off its bloodhounds with regard to the AP, my sense is that paranoia will merely take on new forms as it continues to metastasize,” the writer says. “The problem can only get worse.”

Why US Federal Agencies are Tracking Independent Journalists

“Operation Whistle Pig” is just one of numerous surveillance efforts carried out by US federal agencies against journalists, notes former Department of Defence veteran analyst Karen Kwiatkowski.

“Utilising national technical means to track journalists, access their metadata to determine and identify their anonymous or protected sources, and using domestic law enforcement capabilities to monitor, pressure and prosecute journalists into revealing their sources has been done for more than just the previous administration,” Kwiatkowski says, referring to similar ops under the Obama administration.

In particular, the veteran DoD analyst refers to Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter James Risen, who was persecuted under the Obama administration over his refusal to reveal confidential sources. In February 2015, Risen called the Obama administration “the greatest enemy of press freedom.” Additionally, the Obama cabinet and also subsequent US administrations have targeted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, seeking his extradition to the US.

Earlier this year, a scandal erupted over allegations of spying on Fox News host Tucker Carlson. In June the journalist claimed, citing an unnamed whistleblower within the US government, that the National Security Agency (NSA) was monitoring his electronic communications and had planned to leak them to the press to take his show off of the air for “political reasons.”

“This is increasingly standard practice for US administrations,” Kwiatkowski suggests. “However, in the case of US citizens, without FISA Court authorization, this kind of surveillance and targeting remains illegal and unconstitutional.”

While the US government usually justifies its conduct as matters of “national security,” in reality, according to the Pentagon veteran, it is protecting “government security” by chasing those who are leaking factual information that the US leadership finds “embarrassing”.

She refers to ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s revelation with regard to National Security Agency’s global spying programmes; Chelsea Manning’s exposure of Pentagon war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and WikiLeaks bombshells, including Vault 7, which detailed CIA hacking techniques and cyber-tools.

“Avoiding political embarrassment, and controlling a certain political narrative is, for most people in Washington DC, more important and more compelling than national security,” she stresses.

While mainstream journalism in the US “is well moderated and normally serves to promote the government narrative of whatever subject, be it health, national security or science and technology,” there are alternative media sources that occasionally manage to gain audience and traction, she offered.

Ironically, according to Kwiatkowski, US government agencies are keeping an eye on dissenting news sources and independent journalists akin to Washington’s Cold War-era rivals, whom the US leadership used to scold for their own lack of press freedom.

How US Government Agencies are Surveilling Americans

It’s not only journalists who are being surveilled by US government agencies, however, as a FISA compliance review written in November 2020 and declassified on 26 April 2021 revealed that the FBI used the NSA’s massive electronic troves for warrantless searches of US citizens’ information, despite having been previously censured by a court for such activities.

In May 2021, Democratic Senator Ron Wyden raised an alarm over what he described as the Pentagon’s warrantless spying on US citizens. The DoD reportedly used various software tools that used location data harvested from common apps installed on peoples’ phones. Wyden’s investigation also “confirmed the warrantless purchase of Americans’ location data by the Internal Revenue Service, Customs and Border Protection, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Defence Intelligence Agency,” according to the senator’s letter, addressed to Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III.

That same month, CNN reported that the Biden administration was considering using private firms to surveil “suspected domestic terrorists” online under the pretext that the DHS and the FBI, are limited in how they can monitor citizens online without a warrant. An unnamed source said to be familiar with the matter told the broadcaster that outside entities hired by federal authorities would be able to “legally” infiltrate private groups to gather vast amounts of information.

December 15, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

DHS hypes ‘increasing’ threat from ‘conspiracy theorists & extremists’ seeking Trump return… but unaware of ‘specific plots’

RT | August 7, 2021

The US Department of Homeland Security has again alleged growing threats of violence from online conspiracy theorists who expect ex-president Trump to return to power, even as it said it had no details on “planned actions.”

The agency warned of “an increasing but modest level of activity” by those advocating violence online, saying they may resort to more drastic measures if Donald Trump does not regain the presidency sometime this month, as they purportedly believe will happen.

“Some conspiracy theories associated with reinstating former president Trump have included calls for violence if desired outcomes are not realized,” the DHS said on Friday in an internal intelligence bulletin obtained by ABC News.

“Over the last few days… there’s been much more public visibility, meaning the discussions and these theories have migrated away from being contained within the conspiracy and extremist online communities.”

However, despite the alarming tone of the document, the DHS went on to say that “we lack information on specific plots or planned actions,” instead citing generic “reporting” which suggests “these activities may occur during August 2021.”

Still, the agency said it does not have the “luxury” to wait around for evidence and must take a more proactive approach, adding that “lone offenders and small groups of individuals could mobilize to violence with little-to-no warning.” It did not elaborate on how it planned to prevent such unspecific threats.

Friday’s bulletin is far from Homeland’s first on the subject, as it has issued a flurry of similar warnings about so-called “domestic extremists” since the riot at the US Capitol on January 6. The agency churned out two separate documents on the growing extremism threat in June, one also pointing to ‘QAnon’ conspiracy theories about Trump’s imminent return to office. Nonetheless, that bulletin also acknowledged that DHS had “no evidence” of any particular plans for violence at the time, but merely noted that some extremists have been influenced by conspiracy theories in the past.

The FBI has also joined the growing crusade against homegrown extremism, putting out its own series of breathless warnings about QAnon, Trump supporters and conspiracy theories since the unrest at the Capitol. One joint report with the DHS in June predicted that many believers in such theories would soon “disengage from the movement,” though that apparently did not come to pass given the steady stream of warnings since.

Last month, the bureau even went as far as to urge friends and family members of suspected violent extremists to report their loved ones to the feds. The request drew heated criticism online, with some blasting the FBI as the ‘American Stasi.’

August 7, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

FBI goes ‘American Stasi’ encouraging family members to rat each other out for ‘extremism’

RT | July 11, 2021

The FBI has asked Americans to examine their own family members for signs of “homegrown violent extremism,” and report them. The call for snitches comes as the FBI turns its surveillance powers on regular Americans.

“Family members and peers are often best positioned to witness signs of mobilization to violence,” read a tweet from the FBI on Sunday. To help prevent “homegrown violent extremism,” the agency advises Americans to visit its website, “to learn how to spot suspicious behaviors and report them to the FBI.”

The link provided by the FBI brings visitors to a 2019 document listing “mobilization indicators” that may suggest an individual is preparing to engage in terrorism – for example, “preparing and disseminating a martyrdom video,” “communicating directly with violent extremists online,” and “preparing to travel to fight with or support terrorist groups.”

The indicators and imagery used in the document suggest that its focus was on radical Islamic terrorism, but the FBI, along with the rest of the US security apparatus, has in recent months has turned its surveillance powers on white, conservative America.

Since the pro-Trump riot on Capitol Hill in January, FBI Director Christopher Wray has testified before Congress that the anti-government sentiment responsible for the affray has been “metastasizing” in the US for years, and that “the problem of domestic terrorism … is not going away anytime soon.” Former Assistant Director Frank Figliuzzi was more explicit last month when he called for the arrest of high-level Republicans to “really tackle terrorism, this time domestically.”

President Joe Biden has linked the Capitol mob to “white supremacism,” which he called “the most lethal terrorist threat to our homeland today” during his first speech to Congress in April. Against this supposed “threat,” the Justice Department has asked for new powers of prosecution, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has claimed that right-wingers and conservatives, “inspired by foreign terrorist groups” and “emboldened by the breach of the US Capitol Building,” are “plotting attacks against government facilities” and “threatening violence against critical infrastructure.”

In addition to their own powers, the DHS, FBI, and National Security Council also want to hire third-party ‘researchers’ to spy on Americans, recent reports have claimed.

Though the riot on Capitol Hill was broken up in a matter of hours and Congress returned to work the same evening, the FBI has left no stone unturned in finding and prosecuting hundreds of Trump supporters who took part. Out of more than 500 arrested already, some were turned in by their own family members and co-workers, with those who merely entered the building charged alongside militia members in what prosecutors are terming a “shock and awe” campaign of arrests and charges.

The agency’s latest call for snitches didn’t sit well with some pundits and commenters online, who drew uncomfortable parallels with the totalitarian dystopia of George Orwell’s ‘1984’, and with the real-life surveillance and repression of East Germany’s dreaded Stasi.

Amid the ongoing domestic terror crackdown, questions remain unanswered as to the FBI’s suspected foreknowledge of, and potential involvement in organizing, the Capitol Hill riot.

July 11, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | 2 Comments

Inside Biden’s new “domestic terrorism” strategy

By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | July 1, 2021

Following the (completely contrived) Capitol Hill “riot” on January 6th, Joe Biden made it clear – or rather, the people that control Joe Biden made it clear – “domestic terrorism” was going to be a defining issue of his presidency.

Indeed, in an act of startling prescience, the incoming administration had been talking about a new “Domestic Terrorism Bill” for well over three months before the “riot” happened. The media had been calling for one for at least six. Major universities were writing papers about it.

It’s funny how often that happens, isn’t it?

I wrote at the time that the Capitol Hill “riot” could prove to be America’s Reichstag Fire – a fake attack, blamed on an invisible enemy and used to rush through restrictive legislation and emergency powers. A 9/11 sequel, extending the Patriot Act franchise.

Now, just a few short months later, the Biden White House has released their National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism. Let’s take a look inside it, shall we?

SO, WHAT IS “DOMESTIC TERRORISM”?

The first thing to say about the “strategy”… is that it’s not really a strategy. It’s more of a mission statement or even a press release. It hits talking points, but not real policies. Its watchword is “vague” – in both definition of the problem and proposed solutions (with a couple of noteworthy exceptions, but we’ll get to that.)

For starters – who or what IS a “domestic terrorist”?

Well, their answer to that is, essentially, potentially anybody. They’re not identifying any particular ideology or cause or group – but rather EVERY ideology cause or group. I wrote, back in January, that any definition would be kept intentionally loose, and the strategy does not disappoint.

The cause of “domestic terrorism” can be racism, religious intolerance, environmental protest, anti-government feeling, animal rights, anti-abortion campaigners, “perceived government overeach”, “incel ideology”, “anti-corporate globalization feeling” or a mixture of any of the above.

“Domestic terrorists” may espouse violence or they may not espouse violence. They may work in groups, or be loners, or be loose associations with no organizational structure. They can be left wing or right wing, religious or secular.

They can be anybody who thinks anything.

There is a lot of entirely intentional vagueness here. Again and again, we are told that “the domestic terrorism threat is complex, multifaceted, and evolving”. They are keeping their options open.

Don’t expect ANY specifics on who is a “domestic terrorist” until AFTER any legislation is passed. That way, the great American public can insert their own personal bugbear into the ellipsis (and then be taken completely by surprise when it turns out the new laws apply to everyone).

That said, there have been some clues as to the kind of person that might be the target of any new anti-terror legislation.

In the Washington Post, in February this year, California State Senator Richard Pam wrote:

Anti-vaccine extremism is akin to domestic terrorism

He wasn’t alone, on this side of the Atlantic the head of the Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism unit “called for action against coronavirus anti-vaxxers”.

Even this document makes insinuations on that front.

In a startling contradiction, after spending five or six pages talking up the “complex” and “unpredictable” nature of “domestic terrorism,” they then make an incredibly specific prediction about a future “domestic terrorist attack”:

Taken from the “Assessment of the Domestic Violent Extremism Threat” (p. 10):

Newer sociopolitical developments–such as narratives of fraud in the recent general election, the emboldening impact of the violent breach of the U.S. Capitol, conditions related to the COVID–19 pandemic, and conspiracy theories promoting violence–will almost certainly spur some DVEs to try to engage in violence this year.

Apparently, the official position of the FBI, CIA, NSA and DHS is that domestic terrorism is a vast cloud of mystery, swirling with unknown and conflicting motivations…. but they definitely know when the next attack will happen, and why it will take place..

SO WHAT’S TO BLAME?

The evil “domestic terrorists” and “violent extremists” might be widely diverse in their ideologies, social structures, motives and political leanings… but nevertheless, they ALL use the same exact methods of communication, and the same platforms to host their “misinformation”.

It turns out, according to this strategy, there’s really only one thing at the root of all “domestic terrorism”: The internet.

Yes, the vast majority of this “strategy” is focused on the digital world. In only 28 pages of text the words “online”, “social media”, “internet”, “platform”, “encryption”, and “site” occur well over 60 times combined. Here’s some examples:

… social media, file–upload sites, and end–to–end encrypted platforms, all of these elements can combine and amplify threats to public safety…
*
DVEs exploit a variety of popular social media platforms, smaller websites with targeted audiences, and encrypted chat applications to recruit new adherents, plan and rally support for in-person actions, and disseminate materials that contribute to radicalization and mobilization to violence
*
Recruiting and mobilizing individuals to domestic terrorism [is] increasingly happening on Internet–based communications platforms, including social media, online gaming platforms, file–upload sites, and end–to–end encrypted chat platforms
*
… extreme polarization, fueled by a crisis of disinformation and misinformation often channeled through social media platforms, which can tear Americans apart and lead some to violence.
*
DVE attackers often radicalize independently by consuming violent extremist material online.

It goes on, and on and on in that fashion.

As much as the Deep State talks up the supposedly unknowable nature of “domestic terrorism” early on, they are equally sure that every single one of them is on the net. Which, fortunately from the state’s point of view, means they can all be tackled with the same solution.

WHAT THEY’RE GONNA DO ABOUT IT

You probably don’t need me to tell you what the supposed “solution” to this entirely created “problem” is. It’s the same grab-bag of solutions that a power-hungry state will always seek, given the opportunity. Yes, there’s a token reference to guns and “high-capacity” magazines, but really it’s all about controlling the internet.

Specifically – it’s about surveillance, censorship, and propaganda. The big three.

Of course, the document never ever uses those words. Surveillance is “information gathering”. Propaganda is “messaging” or “education”. Censorship is “countering propaganda” or “working with media partners to remove incitement of violence”.

They use the shifting, indirect language of government, but the meaning is clear if you know how to read it:

… the Department of Homeland Security and others are either currently funding and implementing or planning evidence–based digital programming, including enhancing media literacy and critical thinking skills, as a mechanism for strengthening user resilience to disinformation and misinformation online for domestic audiences. The Department of State and United States Agency for International Development are doing similar work globally.

Translation: The DHS is funding massive propaganda campaigns designed to both brainwash the public, and discourage them from reading any sources which disagree with the official line.

The Department of Homeland Security has expanded its efforts to provide financial, educational, and technical assistance to those well placed to recognize and address possible domestic terrorism recruitment and mobilization to violence and will ensure that its counter–domestic terrorism prevention efforts are driven by data and informed by community–based partners.

Translation: DHS is working with social media monopolies to censor certain people, and paying them to pass citizens’ private information to the government and/or intelligence agencies.

Enhancing faith in American democracy demands accelerating work to contend with an information environment that challenges healthy democratic discourse. We will work toward finding ways to counter the influence and impact of dangerous conspiracy theories that can provide a gateway to terrorist violence.

Translation: “Enhancing faith in democracy” means censoring anybody who posts evidence that elections are fixed, that the political class is corrupt or that the media are servants of the state who peddle lies for cash.

And then there are some phrases that need no translation at all:

the Department of Justice is examining carefully what new authorities might be necessary and appropriate.

… seems pretty clear.

The obvious end goal here is new legislation granting greater powers to the state.

THE NATURE OF “VIOLENCE”

Time to address the elephant in the room: “violence”. The word is used a lot in the report. One-hundred and eleven times in 28 pages. It’s never just “extremism” when it can be “violent extremism”. But what does that word really mean in this context?

The answer to that is “absolutely nothing”. It is a phrase robbed of meaning. Applied on an ad hoc basis, based on political convenience rather than physical reality.

A reminder that this is described as “violent extremism”:

And this as “mostly peaceful”:

And this is “inciting violence”:

If the President of the United States can be deleted from the internet, impeached and tried before the Senate because “go home in peace and love” and “stay peaceful” are “inciting violence”, then the word is totally meaningless and we should simply ignore it.

Essentially, they have demonstrated they will classify anything they want as violent, and ignore any actual violence if they need to.

THE ROLE OF IDENTITY POLITICS

I doubt any White House policy announcement has ever leaned so heavily into the politics of identity before now. “Hatred”, “bigotry”, “LGBTQI+” “racism”… and so on. They all get a lot of mentions. But why?

Well, the simple answer is camouflage. Generally, by draping the inevitable Patriot Act 2.0 in the language of identity, they can trick “liberals” into believing it’s some kind of progressive policy.

More specifically, they can align “anti-government” with “white-supremacy”, as if they are always the same. In this sentence for example:

Today’s domestic terrorists espouse a range of violent ideological motivations, including racial or ethnic bigotry and hatred as well as anti–government or anti–authority sentiment…

Look at the other causes listed alongside “White supremacy” in this document: “perceived government overreach”“anti-corporate globalization”“opposing government institutions”“anti-authority sentiment”. Rational, reasonable anti-government positions, bracketed alongside bigotry and racism.

General Mark Miley recently testified in front of the senate about how the need to “understand white rage”.

As Glen Greenwald wrote, this is not about racism, but about aligning the “progressive left” with the military. Turning militaristic, totalitarian Imperialism into a progressive cause, whilst smearing all those who oppose it as bigots and potential “domestic terrorists”.

THE WAY AHEAD

This strategy is just the latest domino put in place. It’s a long con, with multiple moving pieces, but the end is clear. Though this document is deliberaletely cagy about the possibility of new legislation, that is all part of the dance.

The manipulation of the public has been government practice since the dawn of time. The contrived public reticence to act, concealing intrigues behind the scenes which create an apparent need for action. Eventually, the public will beg the state to “do something”, and they’ll unveil the something they were planning the whole time. Tale as old as time. True as it can be.

This is no different.

Only last night, the US Senate voted to create a “select committee” investigating the Capitol Hill riot. This political pantomime will roll on for a few weeks with “shocking testimony” from FBI agents and military intelligence operatives.

They will detail how “misinformation radicalised people online”, alongside admitting they “had knowledge, but lacked the power to act” or that “counter-terrorism forces were focused on foreign groups” and/or lacked “legal authority” to surveil domestic threats. There will be a couple of throwaway admissions, something akin to a “failure of imagination”.

Senators from liberal states will make speeches about how the military/CIA/FBI are institutionally racist because they assumed white people can’t be terrorists, and a few willing uniformed fall guys will look appropriately shame-faced behind their medals.

There will be no real inquest, and no new information. It will be an exercise in reinforcing an entirely fake reality. And the final findings will be that the FBI/CIA/NSA… or whoever…needs more money and power. A new bill (likely already written) will be pushed into the hands of some hip “liberal” politician, who will do a decent job pretending they wrote it.

If there is any noteworthy public objection to the new powers, well then we’ll see another “domestic terrorist” attack. Maybe there’ll be one anyway, just to underline how vital the new bill is. (They’re prepping us already, with the DHS warning about attacks on July 4th and a possible “summer of violence”).

And then, stirring itself to act only at the insistence of the Democrat-controlled Senate, the White House will sign-off on its Patriot Act 2.0.

The final paragraph of the strategy document reads:

This document represents that Strategy – a Strategy whose implementation is, already, well underway.

No kidding.

July 1, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | 1 Comment

FBI hypes QAnon threat again, says some conspiracy theorists ‘likely’ to attack Democrats

RT | June 14, 2021

Some followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory might decide to engage in real-world violence against the ruling Democrats, FBI and Homeland Security analysts wrote in a memo provided to Congress that has now been made public.

“We assess that some DVE [domestic violent extremist] adherents of QAnon likely will begin to believe they can no longer ‘trust the plan’ referenced in QAnon posts and that they have an obligation to change from serving as ‘digital soldiers’ towards engaging in real world violence—including harming perceived members of the ‘cabal’ such as Democrats and other political opposition—instead of continually awaiting Q’s promised actions which have not occurred,” says the memo, breathlessly reported by CNN and other corporate media outlets as a clear and present danger to the US.

Right below that assessment of likelihood, however, the FBI and DHS say that other QAnon adherents “likely will disengage from the movement or reduce their involvement in the wake of the administration change,” which might be “spurred by the large mainstream social media deplatforming of QAnon content.”

The memo itself leads with the disclaimer that it’s “provided for informational purposes only.” It is dated June 4, and was provided to Congress at the request of Senator Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, according to CNN. An earlier, classified version of the memo was provided to lawmakers in February, according to Heinrich.

This might explain why there are references to mass deplatforming of QAnon – which was going on in the wake of the January 6 riot at the US Capitol – and that the most recent example of “DVE activity” is dated January 8.

One of the examples, dated back to March 2020, was also questioned by an expert. There was “no evidence” that the train derailment in California “was directly linked to QAnon,” said Marc-Andre Argentino of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) at King’s College London.

The memo says more than 20 QAnon followers were among those arrested for trespassing at the Capitol on January 6. Over 400 people have been charged in connection with the riot, however. As 25,000 National Guard troops deployed to Washington, DC to secure Joe Biden’s inauguration, mainstream media outlets cited a purported FBI memo warning about militias threatening to storm DC and state capitals. No one showed up on the appointed day, however.

As criticism of the “occupation” in DC grew, the Capitol Police cited another secret intelligence bulletin claiming QAnon, Boogaloo Boys, or some other sovereign citizen militia would try to attack the Capitol on March 4. The House adjourned early citing the threat, while the Senate carried on. Nothing happened.

The Capitol was actually attacked on April 2, but not by QAnon. An African-American man rammed into a barricade, killing one Capitol Police officer and attacking another with a knife before he was shot to death. He claimed to have been a member of Nation of Islam, which disavowed him. The last remaining 2,000 National Guard troops departed the Capitol on May 24.

According to the FBI memo, followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory believe that the US is run by “a corrupt cabal of ‘global elites’ and ‘deep state’ actors run a Satan-worshiping international child sex trafficking ring,” which Donald Trump tried to oppose while president.

Democrats have accused the Republican party of being QAnon believers, but a recent poll suggested that 23% of Republicans – as well as 15% of independent voters and 8% of Democrats – actually found the conspiracy theory plausible.

June 15, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 2 Comments

The New Domestic War on Terror Has Already Begun — Even Without the New Laws Biden Wants

By Glenn Greenwald | June 2, 2021

The Department of Homeland Security on Friday issued a new warning bulletin, alerting Americans that domestic extremists may well use violence on the 100th Anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre. This was at least the fourth such bulletin issued this year by Homeland Security (DHS) warning of the same danger and, thus far, none of the fears it is trying to instill into the American population has materialized.

The first was a January 14 warning, from numerous federal agencies including DHS, about violence in Washington, DC and all fifty state capitols that was likely to explode in protest of Inauguration Day (a threat which did not materialize). Then came a January 27 bulletin warning of “a heightened threat environment across the United States that is likely to persist over the coming weeks” from “ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority” (that warning also was not realized). Then there was a May 14 bulletin warning of right-wing violence “to attack higher-capacity targets,” exacerbated by the lifting of COVID lockdowns (which also never happened). And now we are treated to this new DHS warning about domestic extremists preparing violent attacks over Tulsa (it remains to be seen if a DHS fear is finally realized).

Just like the first War on Terror, these threats are issued with virtually no specificity. They are just generalized warnings designed to put people in fear about their fellow citizens and to justify aggressive deployment of military and law enforcement officers in Washington, D.C. and throughout the country. A CNN article which wildly hyped the latest danger bulletin about domestic extremists at Tulsa had to be edited with what the cable network, in an “update,” called “the additional information from the Department of Homeland Security that there is no specific or credible threats at this time.” And the supposed dangers from domestic extremists on Inauguration Day was such a flop that even The Washington Post — one of the outlets most vocal about lurking national security dangers in general and this one in particular — had to explicitly acknowledge the failure:

Thousands [of National Guard troops] had been deployed to capitals across the country late last week, ahead of a weekend in which potentially violent demonstrations were predicted by the FBI — but never materialized.

Once again on Wednesday, security officials’ worst fears weren’t borne out: In some states, it was close to business as usual. In others, demonstrations were small and peaceful, with only occasional tense moments.

Americans have seen this scam before. Throughout the first War on Terror, DHS, which was created in 2002, was frequently used to keep fear levels high and thus foster support for draconian government powers of spying, detention, and war. Even prior to the Department’s creation, its first Secretary, Tom Ridge, when he was still the White House’s Homeland Security Chief in early 2002, created an elaborate color-coded warning system to supply a constant alert to Americans about the evolving threat levels they faced from Islamic extremists.

DHS Bulletin on domestic extremists, Jan. 27, 2021; DHS Bulletin on domestic extremists, May 14, 2021.

In 2004, Ridge admitted that he had been repeatedly pressured by Bush officials to elevate the warnings and threat levels for political gain and to keep the population in fear. He claims that he, in particular, was coerced against his will to raise the threat level just prior to the 2004 presidential election and resigned for that reason shortly thereafter. DHS’s color scheme became “the brunt of endless jokes and derision,” concluded a 2007 scholarly study in the journal International Security, noting that it “became perceived as being politically motivated” largely due to the complete lack of specific information about what Americans were supposed to fear or avoid. Moreover, “its designers assumed that the population would trust in the national leadership and believe in the utility of the system’s information.” It failed because of how often the alleged threats failed to materialize, and because the warnings were rarely accompanied by any specificity that could permit action to be taken or avoided.

Though Obama scrapped the unpopular color-coded system in 2011, he — in a classic Obama gesture — merely replaced it with an equally vague and fear-generating bureaucratic alternative that was also subject to political manipulation. National security writers at Lawfare ultimately acknowledged that “like the [Bush/Ridge] system, there were no clear triggers for alerts [under Obama’s new scheme,] so the system remained objective and opaque.” As a result, they said, “the lack of specificity over time has resulted in similar levels of confusion as surrounded the [Bush/Ridge] color alerts.”

Fear is crucial for state authority. When the population is filled with it, they will acquiesce to virtually any power the government seeks to acquire in the name of keeping them safe. But when fear is lacking, citizens will crave liberty more than control, and that is when they question official claims and actions. When that starts to happen, when the public feels too secure, institutions of authority will reflexively find new ways to ensure they stay engulfed by fear and thus quiescent.

I saw first-hand how this dynamic functions when doing the Snowden-enabled reporting on mass domestic NSA surveillance under the Obama administration. By the time we broke the stories of mass domestic surveillance on Americans — twelve years after the 9/11 attack — fear levels over Al Qaeda in the U.S. had diminished greatly, especially after the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden. As a result, anger over Obama’s sprawling domestic surveillance programs was pervasive and bipartisan. A bill jointly sponsored by then-Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) — which would have greatly reined in NSA domestic spying powers — was on its way to easy, bipartisan victory as a result of that anger over NSA spying. But suddenly, the Obama White House convinced Nancy Pelosi to whip enough Democratic votes to ensure its defeat and save NSA domestic spying from reform. But the momentum which that bill had — it would have been the first since 9/11 to rollback rather than expand government powers — along with anti-surveillance-and-pro-privacy polling data, proved how significantly the playing field had shifted as a result of those revelations and, especially, the reduction in fear levels experienced by Americans.

But shortly thereafter, a new group — ISIS — emerged to replace Al Qaeda. It had a two-year stint with middling success in scaring Americans, but it was sufficient to turn back the tide of pro-privacy sentiment (at one point in 2014, the U.S. intelligence community claimed out of nowhere that a Syria-based group that virtually nobody in the U.S. had ever heard of previously or since — “the Khorasan Group” — was “a more direct and imminent threat to the United States,” but that new villain disappeared as quickly as it materialized). After ISIS’s star turn in the role of existential threat, the Democrats, during the 2016 campaign, elevated Russia, Putin and the Kremlin to that role, abandoning without explanation Obama’s eight-year argument that Russia was merely a regional power of no threat to the U.S. This revolving carousel of scary villains ensured that the pressure to reduce the powers and secrecy of the U.S. security state eroded in the name of staying safe.


Before Joe Bidenwas even inaugurated, he and his allies knew they needed a new villain. Putin never generated much fear in anyone beyond MSNBC panels, the CNN Green Room, and the newsrooms and op-ed pages of The New York Times and The Washington Post. While negative views of Russia increased in the U.S. during Russiagate mania, few outside of hard-core Democratic partisans viewed that country as a genuine threat or primary enemy. Few Americans woke up shaking in fear about what the Kremlin might do to them.

The search for a new enemy around which the Biden administration could coalesce and in whose name they could keep fear levels high was quickly settled. Cast in that role would be right-wing domestic extremists. In January, The Wall Street Journal reported that “Biden has said he plans to make a priority of passing a law against domestic terrorism, and he has been urged to create a White House post overseeing the fight against ideologically inspired violent extremists and increasing funding to combat them.”

Pending Domestic War on Terror legislation favored by the White House — sponsored by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) — would simply amend the old War on Terror laws, which permitted a wide range of powers to fight foreign terrorist organizations, so as to now allow the U.S. government to also use those powers against groups designated as domestic terror organizations. Just as was true of the first War on Terror, this second one would thus vest the government with new, wide-ranging powers of surveillance, detention, prosecution and imprisonment, though this time for use against U.S. citizens on U.S. soil.

Even while that legislation is pending, the U.S. government is already waging an aggressive new domestic war on terror that has largely flown under the radar. Grave warnings from DHS are now just as common, vague and unreliable — but also fear-inducing — as they were in the days of Tom Ridge. Domestic surveillance is also on the rise. Last month, CNN reported that “the Biden administration is considering using outside firms to track extremist chatter by Americans online, an effort that would expand the government’s ability to gather intelligence but could draw criticism over surveillance of US citizens.”

CNN, May 3, 2021

The security mindset has subsumed the Democratic Party in particular. Just last week, the same Party that spent the summer of 2020 denouncing the police approved $1.9 billion in additional spending for Capitol security and police. The very faction of that party which chanted “Defund the Police” — the Squad — had the power to stop that expenditure, but half of them instead voted “present,” ensuring its passage.

Meanwhile, one of the most repressive features of the first War on Terror — due-process-free no-fly lists against American citizens — is now back in full force. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) have both been demanding that the FBI ban January 6 protesters and other “domestic extremists” from air travel without being convicted of any crime or even given a hearing to determine whether this prohibition is justified. Rep. Thompson even demanded that Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) be put on the no-fly list, then took to Twitter to boast of how proud he was of this demand.

Beyond the DHS bulletins, that agency and other intelligence operatives continue to issue reports, for both public and classified consumption, warning that the greatest national security threat the U.S now faces is domestic extremism. As we reported here last month, that “domestic extremist” designation includes not just anti-Biden and anti-government protesters on the right but also leftist groups including animal rights activists — essentially anyone who objects to prevailing ruling class dogma and wants to use their constitutional rights to advance those views. To compile these reports, the CIA appears clearly to be breaking the law in using its vast intelligence weapons for domestic monitoring and control.

Online censorship, of course, is also rapidly increasing in the name of stopping the threat of domestic extremism. The extraordinary destruction of Parler in January by three Silicon Valley monopolies — Apple, Google and Amazon — occurred after leading Democrats, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) — publicly demanded the platform’s removal from the internet. And Democratic-led Congressional committees continue to summon Silicon Valley executives to demand they impose greater degrees of political censorship against their political adversaries or else face legislative and regulatory reprisals.

These are all the same weapons as the ones invoked for the first War on Terror. Yet what is perhaps most notable about comparing this new domestic War on Terror to the first one is not the common weapons invoked to fight it but rather how identical are the rhetorical strategies used to demand submission to it.


No nuance or questioning is permitted when it comes to discussions of how much danger America really faces from domestic extremists. The parallels with the first War on Terror are manifest.

I know of nobody who dismissed the significance of the 9/11 attacks. A one-day attack that wipes out 3,000 human beings and crashes four passenger jets into three large buildings is a gravely serious event. But there were plenty of people — including myself — who spent years arguing that the threat reflected by that attack was being aggressively and deliberately exaggerated by U.S. officials and both political parties in order to justify extraordinary power grabs for themselves.

In response, a standard tactic was deployed against those who, after 9/11, urged that the threat be placed in rational context rather than melodramatically and cynically inflated. Anyone urging sober restraint was instantly accused of being sympathetic toward if not outright supportive of anti-American terrorism. The Bush administration demanded a binary framework most vividly expressed by the then-president’s decree in his late September, 2001, address to the Congress: “Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.” And thus was any middle ground — I condemn the 9/11 attack but oppose dangerous overreaction or authoritarian power grabs in the name of combatting it — abolished.

That Bush “with-us-or-with-the-terrorists” directive provoked a fair amount of outrage at the time but is now the prevailing mentality within U.S. liberalism and the broader Democratic Party. I do not know a single prominent commentator or political figure who, after seeing what transpired, expressed support for the January 6 riot at the Capitol. Quite the contrary: all of them, at least to my knowledge, condemned the conduct of at least some of the protesters on that day. From the start, that group certainly included me (on January 7, I wrote: “It is not hard to understand why [the Capitol riot] has generated intense political passion and pervasive rage: the introduction of physical force into political protest is always lamentable, usually dangerous, and, except in the rarest of circumstances that are plainly inapplicable here, unjustifiable”). That is still my view, even as I denounce the Biden administration’s expansive domestic powers and attempts to exaggerate the threats and dangers that protest illustrated.

But that position is disallowed, or at least not recognized. Just as was true of the first War on Terror, any attempt to place the actual lingering threat in context (by rejecting the claim that the danger is so grave that it requires vast new powers), or to suggest it is being manipulatively exaggerated (by calling it The Insurrection), or to document actual lies being told in service of the prevailing narrative (such as the ongoing lie that a pro-Trump crowd murdered Officer Brian Sicknick) provokes furious accusations that one must be sympathetic to if not supportive of the January 6 rioters and any groups associated with them. Attempts to suggest that those charged in connection with the January 6 riot are being excessively prosecuted and punished provoke even greater rage — despite the fact that not a single one of them has been charged with treason, sedition, insurrection or domestic terrorism, and despite the fact that concerns about overzelaous prosecutors and the carceral state are supposed to be staples of liberals politics (though ones which, like anti-police sentiment and opposition to killing unarmed protesters, instantly disappear when convenient, such as when it comes time to exploit Officer Sicknick or cheer the fatal point-blank shooting of the unarmed Ashli Babbitt).

Objections to new powers vested in the U.S. security state in the name of fighting domestic terrorism are met with still greater scorn. If you oppose new anti-terrorism legislation for use on U.S. soil or are deeply concerned about the invocation of civil-liberties-destroying weapons such as no-fly lists, online censorship, and heightened domestic surveillance, then it is assumed that you must support domestic extremists — just as those who opposed the war in Iraq or the Patriot Act or NSA spying or torture were accused of supporting Al Qaeda.

It is a shoddy, anti-intellectual and deceitful tactic, to be sure, but it is now commonplace. And that is particularly concerning as the Democrats’ devotion to a new War on Terror continues to grow. On Monday, President Biden, citing “the intelligence community,” asserted that white supremacist terrorism is “the most lethal threat to the Homeland today.”

Opposing this new domestic War on Terror and all those new powers and secrecy authorities that go with it does not require support for or even indifference toward what happened at the Capitol on January 6. It merely requires a basic knowledge of recent U.S. history and how these powers are invariably used by the secretive U.S. security state when government-generated fears lead to their widespread enactment. The dangers of the first War on Terror were grave enough. Transferring it to “the Homeland,” as President Biden calls it, is bound to be far more dangerous still.

June 2, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | Leave a comment

Journalists, Learning They Spread a CIA Fraud About Russia, Instantly Embrace a New One

By Glenn Greenwald | April 16, 2021

That Russia placed “bounties” on the heads of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan was one of the most-discussed and consequential news stories of 2020. It was also, as it turns out, one of the most baseless — as the intelligence agencies who spread it through their media spokespeople now admit, largely because the tale has fulfilled and outlived its purpose.

The saga began on June 26, 2020, when The New York Times announced that unnamed “American intelligence officials” have concluded that “a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops.” The paper called it “a significant and provocative escalation” by Russia. Though no evidence was ever presented to support the CIA’s claims — neither in that original story nor in any reporting since — most U.S. media outlets blindly believed it and spent weeks if not longer treating it as proven, highly significant truth. Leading politicians from both parties similarly used this emotional storyline to advance multiple agendas.

The story appeared — coincidentally or otherwise — just weeks after President Trump announced his plan to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2020. Pro-war members of Congress from both parties and liberal hawks in corporate media spent weeks weaponizing this story to accuse Trump of appeasing Putin by leaving Afghanistan and being too scared to punish the Kremlin. Cable outlets and the op-ed pages of The New York Times and Washington Post endlessly discussed the grave implications of this Russian treachery and debated which severe retaliation was needed. “This is as bad as it gets,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Then-candidate Joe Biden said Trump’s refusal to punish Russia and his casting doubt on the truth of the story was more proof that Trump’s “entire presidency has been a gift to Putin,” while Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) demanded that, in response, the U.S. put Russians and Afghans “in body bags.”

What was missing from this media orgy of indignation and militaristic demands for retaliation was an iota of questioning of whether the story was, in fact, true. All they had was an anonymous leak from “intelligence officials” — which The New York Times on Thursday admitted came from the CIA — but that was all they needed. That is because the vast majority of the corporate sector of the press lives under one overarching rule:

When the CIA or related security state agencies tell American journalists to believe something, we obey unquestioningly, and as a result, whatever assertions are spread by these agencies, no matter how bereft of evidence or shielded by accountability-free anonymity, they instantly transform, in our government-worshipping worldview, into a proven fact — gospel — never to be questioned but only affirmed and then repeated and spread as far and wide as possible.

That has been the dynamic driving the relationship between the corporate press and the CIA for decades, throughout the Cold War and then into the post-9/11 War on Terror and invasion of Iraq. But it has become so much more extreme in the Trump era. As the CIA became one of the leading anti-Trump #Resistance factions — a key player in domestic politics to subvert the presidency of the 45th President regarded by media figures as a Hitler-type menace — the bond between the corporate press and the intelligence community deepened more than ever. It is not an exaggeration to call it a merger: so much so that a parade of former security state officials from the CIA, NSA, FBI, DHS and others was hired by these news outlets to deliver the news. The partnership was no longer clandestine but official, out in the open, and proud.

In case anyone needs reminding, here’s a partial list of the ex-spooks who served as media figures in the Trump years:

John Brennan, James Clapper, Chuck Rosenberg, Michael Hayden, Frank Figliuzzi, Fran Townsend, Stephen Hall, Samantha Vinograd, Andrew McCabe, Josh Campbell, Asha Rangappa, Phil Mudd, James Gagliano, Jeremy Bash, Susan Hennessey, Ned Price, Rick Francona…

Also Michael Morell, John McLaughlin, John Sipher, Thomas Bossert, Clint Watts, James Baker, Mike Baker, Daniel Hoffman, Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes, David Preiss, Evelyn Farkas, Tony Blinken, Mike Rogers, “Alex Finley,” Malcolm Nance…

The first goal this story served was to weaponize it in the battle waged by pro-war House Democrats and their neocon GOP allies to stop Trump’s withdrawal plan from Afghanistan. How, they began demanding upon publication of the CIA/NYT story, can we possibly leave Afghanistan when the Russians are trying to kill our troops? Would that not be a reckless abdication to the Kremlin of this country that we own, and would withdrawal not be a reward to Putin after we learned he was engaged in such dastardly plotting to kill our sons and daughters?

In late June, this alliance of pro-war House Democrats — funded overwhelmingly by military contractors — and the Liz-Cheney-led neocon wing announced amendments to the military budget authorization process that would defund Trump’s efforts to withdraw troops from either Afghanistan or Germany (where they had been stationed for decades to defend Western Europe against a country, the Soviet Union, that ceased to exist decades ago). They instantly weaponized the NYT/CIA story as their primary argument.

The record-breaking $740 billion military budget was scheduled to be approved by the House Armed Services Committee in early July. In a joint statement with Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) on June 29 — the day the NYT story appeared — Liz Cheney proclaimed that “we remain concerned about Russian activity in Afghanistan, including reports that they have targeted U.S. forces.” One of the Democrats’ most pro-war House members, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), announced on July 1 (three days after the NYT story) his own amendment to block any troop withdrawal from Germany, citing “increasing Russian aggression.”

On July 1 and 2, the House Armed Services Committee held its hearings and votes — I watched all fourteen hours and reported on it in a series of articles and a 90-minute video report — and it not only approved this massive military budget but also both amendments to bar troop withdrawal. Over and over, the union of pro-war Democrats and Cheney-led neocon Republicans steamrolled the anti-war faction of left-wing and right-wing war opponents (led by Congressmembers Ro Khanna (D-CA), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL)), and repeatedly used the Russia bounty story to justify continuation of the longest war in America’s history. This little speech from Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) was illustrative of how this CIA story was used all day:

The U.S. media was somehow more militaristic and blindly trusting about this CIA story than even this pro-war union of lawmakers. That the CIA’s leaked claim to The New York Times should even be questioned at all — given that it was leaked anonymously and was accompanied by exactly zero evidence — is not something that even crossed their journalistic minds.

These people who call themselves “journalists” do not view pronouncements from the U.S. security state as something that prompts skepticism let alone requires evidence before believing. The officials who run those agencies are their friends, partners and colleagues — those they most revere — and their every utterance is treated as Gospel. If — after watching them behave this way the last five years without pause — you think that is an exaggeration, watch this short video compilation produced by The Daily Caller to see for yourself how they instantly converted this CIA “Russia bounty” leak into proven fact that nobody, least of all them, should question:

As usual, the media figure most loudly and dramatically enshrining the CIA leak about Russia as Proven Truth was the undisputed Queen of demented conspiracy theories, jingoistic rhetoric, and CIA propaganda: MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.

Over and over, she devoted melodramatic segments to denouncing the unparalleled evil of Russian treachery in Afghanistan (because the U.S. would never pay bounties to kill Russian soldiers in Afghanistan), at no point pausing her histrionics for even a second or two to wonder whether evidence ought to be presented before telling the millions of #Resistance liberals who watch her show that she is vouching for the truth of this story.

Predictably, now that this CIA tale has served its purpose (namely, preventing Trump from leaving Afghanistan), and now that its enduring effects are impeding the Biden administration (which wants to leave Afghanistan and so needs to get rid of this story), the U.S. Government is now admitting that — surprise! — they had no convincing evidence for this story all along.

The Daily Beast on Thursday was the first to notice that “the Biden administration announced that U.S. intelligence only had ‘low to moderate’ confidence in the story after all.” The outlet added: “that means the intelligence agencies have found the story is, at best, unproven—and possibly untrue.” The Guardian also reported that “US intelligence agencies have only ‘low to moderate confidence’ in reports last year that Russian spies were offering Taliban militants in Afghanistan bounties for killing US soldiers.” NBC News went even further, citing Biden’s campaign attacks on Trump for failing to punish Putin for these bounties, and noting: “Such a definitive statement was questionable even then…. They still have not found any evidence, a senior defense official said Thursday.”

What made this admission particularly bizarre — aside from rendering weeks of decrees from media figures and politicians humiliatingly reckless and baseless — is that the Biden administration continued to assert this claim as truth as recently as Thursday. When announcing new sanctions aimed at Moscow and diplomatic expulsions of Russian diplomats — primarily in response to allegations of Russian hacking — the White House said “it was responding to reports that Russia encouraged Taliban fighters to injure or kill coalition forces in Afghanistan.” The official White House announcement of the retaliation said explicitly that “the Administration is responding to the reports that Russia encouraged Taliban attacks against U.S. and coalition personnel in Afghanistan based on the best assessments from the Intelligence Community (IC)” — a claim for which the IC itself admits it has only “low to moderate confidence” is even true.

When asked about this glaring contradiction yesterday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki gave an answer that barely rose to the level of cogency, yet she clearly admitted the lack of evidentiary basis for this long-standing CIA/media tale:

That there is no evidence for this media-laundered CIA story is not something we learned only yesterday. It has been obvious for many months. In September, NBC News — as Maddow was in the midst of her performative sadness and indignation over the story on its cable network — noted:

Two months after top Pentagon officials vowed to get to the bottom of whether the Russian government bribed the Taliban to kill American service members, the commander of troops in the region says a detailed review of all available intelligence has not been able to corroborate the existence of such a program.

“It just has not been proved to a level of certainty that satisfies me,” Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of the U.S. Central Command, told NBC News. McKenzie oversees U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The U.S. continues to hunt for new information on the matter, he said.

“We continue to look for that evidence,” the general said. “I just haven’t seen it yet.

That was what made the refusal to question this story all along so maddening. Not only was no evidence presented to support the CIA’s assertions — something that, by itself, should have prevented every real journalist from endorsing its truth — but commanders in Afghanistan were saying months ago they could not find convincing evidence for it. That is what The Daily Beast meant in Thursday’s report when it said “there were reasons to doubt the story from the start” — not just the lack of evidence but also that “the initial stories emphasize[d] its basis on detainee reporting” and “the bounties represented a qualitative shift in recent Russian engagements with Afghan insurgents.” NBC News on Thursday also said that “such a definitive statement was questionable even then.”

But these doubts were virtually non-existent in most media reports. Indeed, one of the New York Times reporters who broke the story publicly attacked me as a conspiracy theorist back in September when I cited that NBC News story about the lack of evidence while pointing out what a crucial role this uncorroborated story played in stopping troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and claiming Trump was beholden to Putin. And while The Daily Beast on Thursday said there were reasons to doubt the story from the start, that same outlet was one of the most vocal and aggressive in pushing the story as true:

Even worse, other media outlets — led by The Washington Post — purported to have “independently confirmed” the NYT/CIA tale of Russian bounties. Twice in the last year, I have written about this bizarre practice where media outlets purport to “independently confirm” one another’s false stories by doing nothing more than going to the same anonymous sources who whisper to them the same things while providing no evidence. Yet they use this phrase “independent confirmation” to purposely imply that they obtained separate evidence corroborating the truth of the original story:

For months, pro-war members of both parties and leading members of the NYT/CNN/MSNBC media axis pushed a story — an inflammatory, dangerous one — based on nothing more than the say-so of anonymous CIA operatives. How can anyone do this who knows even the bare minimum about what this agency does and what its function is: to spread disinformation not just to foreign countries but the domestic population as well? It is both mystifying and toxic. But for people who call themselves “journalists” to repeat, over and over, evidence-free CIA claims, telling those who trust them to believe it, is nothing short of repulsive.

If you think that, upon learning yesterday’s news, there was any self-reflection on the part of the media figures who spread this, or that they felt chastened about it in any way, you would be very, very wrong. In fact, not only did few if any admit error, but they did exactly the same thing on Thursday about a brand new evidence-free assertion from the U.S. Government concerning Russia: they mindlessly assumed it true and then stated it to millions of people as fact. They are not embarrassed to get caught spreading false CIA propaganda. They see their role, correctly, as doing exactly that.

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, run by Biden’s Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, issued a short Press Release about its targeting of Russian-Ukrainian political consultant, Konstantin Kilimnik, with new sanctions. One sentence of this press release asserted a claim that the Mueller investigation, after searching for eighteen months, never found: namely, that “Kilimnik provided the Russia intelligence services with sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy” that he received from then-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Is it true that Kilimnik passed this polling data to the Kremlin? Maybe. But there is no way for a rational person — let alone someone calling themselves a “journalist” — to conclude that it is true. Why? Because, like the CIA tale about Russian bounties — a claim they learned yesterday had no evidence — this is nothing more than a U.S. Government assertion that lacks any evidence.

Do you think journalists learned the lesson that they just had rubbed in their faces hours before about the foolishness of assuming official statements to be true with no evidence? Of course that is a rhetorical question: too many to count instantly proclaimed that this story was true without spending an ounce of mental energy to question if it was or apply any skepticism. Here’s Maddow’s MSNBC comrade showing how this is done:

Do you see what Hayes just did there? It is vital not to lose sight of how irresponsible and destructive this behavior is just because it is now so common. He saw a Press Release from a U.S. Government agency, read an assertion that it contained in one sentence, had no evidence that this assertion was true, but nonetheless “reported” it as if it were proven fact to millions of people in a predictably viral tweet.

Hayes was far from alone. I cannot count how many employees of corporate media outlets did the same: read the Treasury Department’s Press Release and, without pausing for a second, proclaimed it to be true. Indeed, the two MSNBC hosts who follow Hayes’s nightly news program explicitly described this evidence-free Press Release as “confirmation”— confirmation!

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell celebrating an evidence-free Treasury Department Press Release as “confirmation,” Apr. 15, 2021

Let’s set aside the absurdity of treating this as some shocking revelation even if it were true. Just like the oozing historical ignorance of pretending that there would be something astonishing about Russians paying for the killing of U.S. troops in Afghanistan when the CIA just last week explicitly boasted of having done the same to Russian soldiers in Afghanistan, what is this Treasury Press Release supposed to prove that is so breathtaking and scandalous: that the Kremlin could not possibly have obtained polling data about the U.S. electorate had Manafort not provided it to them? That they never would have known that Wisconsin and Pennsylvania were swing states without an elaborate plot of collusion to learn this from the Trump campaign?

But the far more important point is the U.S. media’s willingness — their subservient eagerness — to obediently treat U.S. government pronouncements as Truth. Just like with the Russia bounty story, where there were ample reasons to doubt it from the start, the same is true of this Treasury Press Release. To begin with, if this were such a smoking gun “confirming” collusion, why did the Mueller investigation after eighteen months of highly aggressive subpoena-driven investigative activity not discover it?

Let’s express this as clearly as it can be expressed. Any journalist who treats unverified stories from the CIA or other government agencies as true, without needing any evidence or applying any skepticism, is worthless. Actually, they are worse than worthless: they are toxic influences who deserve pure contempt. Every journalist knows that governments lie constantly and that it is a betrayal of their profession to serve as mindless mouthpieces for these security agencies: that is why they will vehemently deny they do this if you confront them with this accusation. They know it is a shameful thing to do.

But just look at what they are doing: exactly this. These are not journalists. They are obsequious spokespeople for the CIA and other official authorities. Even when they learn that they deceived millions of people by uncritically repeating a story that the CIA told them was true, they will — on the very same day that they learn they did this — do exactly the same thing, this time with a one-paragraph Treasury Department Press Release. These are agents of disinformation: state media. And when they speak, you should listen to them with the knowledge of what they really are, and treat them accordingly.

April 17, 2021 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment