Category Archives: Geopolitics/War

Only 2% of US Politicians Actually Want to Stop Arming Terrorists — Here’s Why

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Alice Salles
The Anti-Meida : June 22, 2017

One of the few elected Democratic lawmakers with an extensive anti-war record, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), has combined forces with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) to push legislation through both the House and the Senate that would bar federal agencies from using taxpayer-backed funds to provide weapons, training, intelligence, or any other type of support to terrorist cells such as al-Qaeda, ISIS, or any other group that is associated with them in any way. The Stop Arming Terrorists Act is so unique that it’s also the only bill of its kind that would also bar the government from funneling money and weapons through other countries that support (directly or indirectly) terrorists such as Saudi Arabia.

To our surprise — or should we say shame? — only 13 other lawmakers out of hundreds have co-sponsored Gabbard’s House bill. Paul’s Senate version of the bill, on the other hand, has zero cosponsors.

While both pieces of legislation were introduced in early 2017, no real action has been taken as of yet. This proves that Washington refuses to support bills that would actually provoke positive chain reactions not only abroad but also at home. Why? Well, let’s look at the groups that would lose a great deal in case this bill is signed into law.

Military & Homeland Security Companies, Lobbyists, And Lawmakers All Profit From War

With trillions of tax dollars flowing to companies such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and even IBM, among others, companies that invest heavily in weapons, cyber security systems, and other technologies that are widely used in times of war would stand to lose a lot — if not everything — if all of a sudden, the United States chose to become a nation that stands for peace and free market principles.

For one, these companies have a heavy lobbying presence, ensuring that lawmakers sympathetic to their plight are elected every two years. When the possibility of a new conflict appears on the horizon, these companies are the first to lobby heavily for action.

But this dynamic isn’t a secret. We all know that the crony capitalist system that thrives in Washington, D.C., is the very bread and butter of politics in America. After all, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the nation in his farewell address in 1961 that “an immense military establishment and a large arms industry” were becoming the great powers behind U.S. politics, and that if we weren’t weary of this influence, we would risk living in a perpetual state of war.

Still, we allowed it to take over. And there isn’t one industry powerful enough to counter this destructive authority.

With the support of an army of well-established and connected millionaire lobbyists, the war machine operating in Washington is so powerful that anything can be turned into an existential threat.

Any conflict abroad that has absolutely no importance or that poses literally no threat to the common American is inflated to become a threat to the American way of life. They hate us “for our freedom.” Therefore, we must show them what democracy looks like.

Without the same kind of powerful and wealthy team behind the cause for sanity and peace, this army of big money and big lobbyists has single-handedly put us and many generations to come in debt over Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, and now Syria. And as the marketing machine behind this kind of lobbying effort taps into the social justice trend that has infiltrated every aspect of our culture in recent years, these organizations have learned that they will get even broader support from the public if they add feminist, anti-poverty, and pro-equality messages to their pro-war efforts.

Take the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, for instance, which, as NBC has reported, originated with “Obiageli Ezekwesili, a former vice president of the World Bank for the Africa region and a senior advisor on Africa Economic Development Policy for the Open Society Foundations”  —  a George Soros-backed foundation. In no time, the social media “effort” had become the most effective lobbying force behind the expansion of the never-ending war on terror. And whether it was meant to promote this outcome or not, it helped the United States easily invest more tax dollars into an unwinnable war.

As you can see, even if Gabbard and Paul managed to use all of their time to force the Stop Arming Terrorists Act through Congress so it could get to President Donald Trump’s desk, the powers at play in Washington would do their best to sweep this effort under the rug. Not because individuals involved in pro-war lobbying are, perhaps, thirsty for war per se, but because the system under which they operate allows for bad incentives to produce a great deal of wealth and influence, tilting the balance toward evil.

Without a state that can be bribed, companies would be left to fend for themselves and stay afloat by making customers… happy. And you can’t make customers happy if all you have to offer is war.

Source: The Anti-Media(cc)

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Trump bombs Syria… Despite the facts.

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AlternativeFreePress.com

Despite the fact that there is no logical reason that Bashar al Assad would use chemical weapons a week after the US Secretary of State said that Assad’s future would be decided by the people of Syria.

Despite the fact that the Syrian rebels benefit from a chemical weapons attack in Syria more than anyone.

Despite the fact that Syrian rebels are often Islamic State.

Despite the fact that Trump repeatedly claimed non-interventionist positions during his campaign.

Despite the fact that Russia & Syria deny using chemical weapons.

Despite the fact that attacking Syria without asking congress violates the constitution….

Trump “ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched”, claiming “It is in this vital national security interest of the United States” and that “There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons”.

Despite the fact that there is plenty of dispute.

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NGA: The Massive Spy Agency You Haven’t Heard Of

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Alice Salles
The Anti-Media : March 29, 2017

If you’re one of the countless Americans who was distraught to learn of the revelations made by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, the mere idea that there might be yet another agency out there — perhaps just as powerful and much more intrusive —  should give you goosebumps.

Foreign Policy reports that the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, or NGA, is an obscure spy agency former President Barack Obama had a hard time wrapping his mind around back in 2009. But as the president grew fond of drone warfare, finding a way to launch wars without having to go through Congress for the proper authorization, the NGA also became more relevant. Now, President Donald Trump is expected to further explore the multibillion-dollar surveillance network.

Like the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA), the NGA is an intelligence agency, but it also serves as a combat support institution that functions under the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).

With headquarters bigger than the CIA’s, the building cost $1.4 billion to be completed in 2011. In 2016, the NGA bought an extra 99 acres in St. Louis, building additional structures that cost taxpayers an extra $1.75 billion.

Enjoying the extra budget Obama threw at them, the NGA became one of the most obscure intelligence agencies precisely because it relies on the work of drones.

As a body of government that has only one task — to analyze images and videos captured by drones in the Middle East — the NGA is mighty powerful. So why haven’t we heard of it before?

The Shadow Agency That Sees It All

Prior to Trump’s inauguration, the NGA only targeted the Middle East or whatever spy satellites orbiting the globe captured. As far as most of us knew, the agency refrained from pointing its ultra-high-resolution cameras toward the United States. That alone may be why the NGA has been able to stay out of scandals for the most part.

But under Trump, things may look much worse — as if spying on countless people abroad weren’t enough.

Recently, for instance, he gave the CIA the power to wage covert drone warfare, shielding important information on such operations simply by allowing the agency to carry out missions without first seeking authorization from the Pentagon.

Now, Trump might as well move on to NGA, hoping to boost “national security” by turning the agency’s all seeing eyes toward American soil.

As the president hopes to get more money for defense, many have speculated whether he will start to use drones at home, especially since he has already suggested he supports agencies like the NSA based on his desire to target “terrorists.” There’s nothing that implies he wants to slow down the surveillance state.  The White House has expressed its desire to renew Obama-era spying powers — even as the president battles critics who deny his claims that his conversations were intercepted at the same time foreign nationals were under surveillance in 2016.

A partially redacted March 2016 report released by the Pentagon revealed that drones had already been used domestically on about 20 or fewer occasions between 2006 and 2015. Though some of these operations mostly involved natural disasters, National Guard training, and search and rescue missions, quotes from an Air Force law review article found their way into the report. In it, Dawn M. K. Zoldi wrote that technology designed to spy on targets abroad could soon be used against American citizens.

As the nation winds down these wars,” the report explains, and ”assets become available to support other combatant command (COCOM) or U.S. agencies, the appetite to use them in the domestic environment to collect airborne imagery continues to grow.

Up until 2015, oversight was so loose that the capabilities provided by the DOD’s unmanned aircraft system weren’t under scrutiny by any other agency. Without statutes that specify the rules such federal government agencies should follow, watchdogs find it hard to keep track. But would it be any better if there were an agency or a branch of the same government overseeing what the government itself is doing?

The short answer is no.

NGA Has A Precedent, And Trump May Want To Explore It

As fears grow that Trump will revamp the NGA, domestic stories of police departments using drones to spy on locals are also resurfacing.

Some of the most highly publicized instances involved Baltimore and Compton, where police departments deployed aerial surveillance technology without issuing a warrant or seeking authorization from local or state lawmakers.

With a precedent already set, the president might as well ignite a new fight in his continued efforts to fight a war against an imaginary, impossible-to-target enemy. After all, he’s not a stranger to scandals and likely wouldn’t feel overwhelmed one bit if he decided to turn the country’s ultra-high definition cameras toward its citizens.

What could help to put an end to his plans might be exactly what helped halt President George W. Bush’s attempts at setting up spy satellites domestically. In 2007, Bush’s Department of Homeland Security set up an agency known as the National Applications Office with the goal of establishing direct spy satellite stakeouts in America. Thankfully, Congress stepped in and cut off the agency’s funding.

But with Americans seldom showing any interest for important violations of privacy or even basic human rights here and abroad, it’s easy to see how this massive spying agency could end up getting a carte blanche to do whatever it wants once Trump realizes he has the power to order it done. After all, who will pressure Congress to stop him?

Source: The Anti-Media (cc)

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Proof CIA Disguises Their Hacks As Russian, Chinese, Arabic…

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Wikileaks reveals ‘Marble Framework’ from Vault 7

Today, March 31st 2017, WikiLeaks releases Vault 7 “Marble” — 676 source code files for the CIA’s secret anti-forensic Marble Framework. Marble is used to hamper forensic investigators and anti-virus companies from attributing viruses, trojans and hacking attacks to the CIA.

Marble does this by hiding (“obfuscating”) text fragments used in CIA malware from visual inspection. This is the digital equivallent of a specalized CIA tool to place covers over the english language text on U.S. produced weapons systems before giving them to insurgents secretly backed by the CIA.

Marble forms part of the CIA’s anti-forensics approach and the CIA’s Core Library of malware code. It is “[D]esigned to allow for flexible and easy-to-use obfuscation” as “string obfuscation algorithms (especially those that are unique) are often used to link malware to a specific developer or development shop.

The Marble source code also includes a deobfuscator to reverse CIA text obfuscation. Combined with the revealed obfuscation techniques, a pattern or signature emerges which can assist forensic investigators attribute previous hacking attacks and viruses to the CIA. Marble was in use at the CIA during 2016. It reached 1.0 in 2015.

The source code shows that Marble has test examples not just in English but also in Chinese, Russian, Korean, Arabic and Farsi. This would permit a forensic attribution double game, for example by pretending that the spoken language of the malware creator was not American English, but Chinese, but then showing attempts to conceal the use of Chinese, drawing forensic investigators even more strongly to the wrong conclusion, — but there are other possibilities, such as hiding fake error messages.

The Marble Framework is used for obfuscation only and does not contain any vulnerabilties or exploits by itself.

wikileaks

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Key Democratic Officials Now Warning Base Not to Expect Evidence of Trump/Russia Collusion

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The Intercept: March 16, 2017

From MSNBC politics shows to town hall meetings across the country, the overarching issue for the Democratic Party’s base since Trump’s victory has been Russia, often suffocating attention for other issues. This fixation has persisted even though it has no chance to sink the Trump presidency unless it is proven that high levels of the Trump campaign actively colluded with the Kremlin to manipulate the outcome of the U.S. election — a claim for which absolutely no evidence has thus far been presented.

The principal problem for Democrats is that so many media figures and online charlatans are personally benefiting from feeding the base increasingly unhinged, fact-free conspiracies — just as right-wing media polemicists did after both Bill Clinton and Obama were elected — that there are now millions of partisan soldiers absolutely convinced of a Trump/Russia conspiracy for which, at least as of now, there is no evidence. And they are all waiting for the day, which they regard as inevitable and imminent, when this theory will be proven and Trump will be removed.

Key Democratic officials are clearly worried about the expectations that have been purposely stoked and are now trying to tamp them down. Many of them have tried to signal that the beliefs the base has been led to adopt have no basis in reason or evidence.

The latest official to throw cold water on the MSNBC-led circus is President Obama’s former acting CIA chief Michael Morell. What makes him particularly notable in this context is that Morell was one of Clinton’s most vocal CIA surrogates. In August, he not only endorsed Clinton in the pages of the New York Times but also became the first high official to explicitly accuse Trump of disloyalty, claiming, “In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.”

But on Wednesday night, Morell appeared at an intelligence community forum to “cast doubt” on “allegations that members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.” “On the question of the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russians here, there is smoke, but there is no fire at all,” he said, adding, “There’s no little campfire, there’s no little candle, there’s no spark. And there’s a lot of people looking for it.”

Obama’s former CIA chief also cast serious doubt on the credibility of the infamous, explosive “dossier” originally published by BuzzFeed, saying that its author, Christopher Steele, paid intermediaries to talk to the sources for it. The dossier, he said, “doesn’t take you anywhere, I don’t think.”

Morell’s comments echo the categorical remarks by Obama’s top national security official, James Clapper, who told Meet the Press last week that during the time he was Obama’s DNI, he saw no evidence to support claims of a Trump/Russia conspiracy. “We had no evidence of such collusion,” Clapper stated unequivocally. Unlike Morell, who left his official CIA position in 2013 but remains very integrated into the intelligence community, Clapper was Obama’s DNI until just seven weeks ago, leaving on January 20.

Perhaps most revealing of all are the Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee — charged with investigating these matters — who recently told BuzzFeed how petrified they are of what the Democratic base will do if they do not find evidence of collusion, as they now suspect will likely be the case. “There’s a tangible frustration over what one official called ‘wildly inflated’ expectations surrounding the panel’s fledgling investigation,” BuzzFeed’s Ali Watkins wrote.

Moreover, “several committee sources grudgingly say, it feels as though the investigation will be seen as a sham if the Senate doesn’t find a silver bullet connecting Trump and Russian intelligence operatives.” One member told Watkins: “I don’t think the conclusions are going to meet people’s expectations.”

What makes all of this most significant is that officials like Clapper and Morell are trained disinformation agents; Clapper in particular has proven he will lie to advance his interests. Yet even with all the incentive to do so, they are refusing to claim there is evidence of such collusion; in fact, they are expressly urging people to stop thinking it exists. As even the law recognizes, statements that otherwise lack credibility become more believable when they are ones made “against interest.”

Media figures have similarly begun trying to tamp down expectations. Ben Smith, the editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, which published the Steele dossier, published an article yesterday warning that the Democratic base’s expectation of a smoking gun “is so strong that Twitter and cable news are full of the theories of what my colleague Charlie Warzel calls the Blue Detectives — the left’s new version of Glenn Beck, digital blackboards full of lines and arrows.” Smith added: “It is also a simple fact that while news of Russian actions on Trump’s behalf is clear, hard details of coordination between his aides and Putin’s haven’t emerged.” And Smith’s core warning is this:

Trump’s critics last year were horrified at the rise of “fake news” and the specter of a politics shaped by alternative facts, predominantly on the right. They need to be careful now not to succumb to the same delusional temptations as their political adversaries, and not to sink into a filter bubble which, after all, draws its strength not from conservative or progressive politics but from human nature.

And those of us covering the story and the stew of real information, fantasy, and — now — forgery around it need to continue to report and think clearly about what we know and what we don’t, and to resist the sugar high that comes with telling people exactly what they want to hear.

(read the full article at The Intercept

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Rand is the man

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AlternativeFreePress.com

It seems one of the only sane people in Washington DC is Senator Rand Paul. In the past few days, Rand has…

1. Blocked a treaty allowing Montenegro to join NATO.

Here is how he defends his position:

“Currently, the United States has troops in dozens of countries and is actively fighting in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen (with the occasional drone strike in Pakistan). In addition, the United States is pledged to defend 28 countries in NATO. It is unwise to expand the monetary and military obligations of the United States given the burden of our $20 trillion debt.” … “there has to be the thought whether or not it’s in our national interest to pledge to get involved with a war if Montenegro has an altercation with anyone.”…”There’s also another argument, is that when you ask the people of Montenegro, only about 40 percent or slightly less are actually in favor of this. They are close to Russia, they’re close to being sort of, like Ukraine, in the transition from Europe to Asia. Perhaps it would be good to be like Switzerland and be more neutral and trade with both.”

2. Introduced ‘Stop Arming Terrorists Act’ To The Senate.

“One of the unintended consequences of nation-building and open-ended intervention is American funds and weapons benefiting those who hate us. This legislation will strengthen our foreign policy, enhance our national security, and safeguard our resources.”

3. Come out swinging against Trumpcare.

The current Ryan Plan — “Obamacare Lite” — is not about patients. It isn’t about better health care. It isn’t about lowering costs.

It is, plain and simple, about getting more money to the insurance companies and running more of your life from Washington.

I am a career physician. I spent years training and learning to be a doctor. I did it for patients. I don’t give a flip about guaranteeing the profits of insurance companies. And as a Senator, I shouldn’t, either.

But in Washington, somehow, the whole debate seems to be about getting people insurance instead of getting people health care.

Insurance doesn’t equate to health care. Just ask all the Obamacare recipients with $6,000 deductibles.

I’m sick of the insurance companies putting me on hold and telling me to talk to their representative in a foreign country. Screw that.

I’m sick of the government telling me I have to buy their crappy product, and I’m sick of watching us go into more and more debt to do it.

We need a new way, and Obamacare Lite isn’t it.

I want the consumer (aka patient) to be king. I want to empower the patient to get the health care they want at the price they want.

I want to let every American be able to join a co-op to buy their health care. When that happens, the buying power returns to the patients.

Instead of patients having to kiss the boots of insurance company executives, my plan would have insurance executives come on bended knee to the patient.

Sources:
Rand Paul Responds to John McCain: Senator From Arizona Is “Unhinged” and “Past His Prime”

Rand Paul Introduces ‘Stop Arming Terrorists Act’ To The Senate

Let’s ‘Smash’ Paul Ryan’s Obamacare Lite ‘to Smithereens’

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Donald Trump gives CIA power to carry out its own drone strikes

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Harriet Agerholm
Independent : March 14, 2017

The CIA can now kill potential terror suspects with drone strikes after being granted new powers by President Donald Trump, according to a new report.

The new authority – said to have been granted shortly after Mr Trump’s inauguration – takes drone strikes out of the sole control of the military, sparking fears about accountability.

Under the drone policy of the Obama administration, the CIA could find a suspect, but the armed forces would carry out the actual strike.

Unlike the Pentagon, the CIA does not need to disclose drone strikes — or any resulting civilian casualties.

(read the full article at Independent)

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Inside the CIA’s global hacking force: “Vault 7″ CIA Hacking Tools Revealed

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Wikileaks : March 7, 2017

Today, Tuesday 7 March 2017, WikiLeaks begins its new series of leaks on the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Code-named “Vault 7″ by WikiLeaks, it is the largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency.

The first full part of the series, “Year Zero”, comprises 8,761 documents and files from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virgina. It follows an introductory disclosure last month of CIA targeting French political parties and candidates in the lead up to the 2012 presidential election.

Recently, the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized “zero day” exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation. This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA. The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.

“Year Zero” introduces the scope and direction of the CIA’s global covert hacking program, its malware arsenal and dozens of “zero day” weaponized exploits against a wide range of U.S. and European company products, include Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones.

Since 2001 the CIA has gained political and budgetary preeminence over the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). The CIA found itself building not just its now infamous drone fleet, but a very different type of covert, globe-spanning force — its own substantial fleet of hackers. The agency’s hacking division freed it from having to disclose its often controversial operations to the NSA (its primary bureaucratic rival) in order to draw on the NSA’s hacking capacities.

By the end of 2016, the CIA’s hacking division, which formally falls under the agency’s Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI), had over 5000 registered users and had produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other “weaponized” malware. Such is the scale of the CIA’s undertaking that by 2016, its hackers had utilized more code than that used to run Facebook. The CIA had created, in effect, its “own NSA” with even less accountability and without publicly answering the question as to whether such a massive budgetary spend on duplicating the capacities of a rival agency could be justified.

In a statement to WikiLeaks the source details policy questions that they say urgently need to be debated in public, including whether the CIA’s hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency. The source wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.

Once a single cyber ‘weapon’ is ‘loose’ it can spread around the world in seconds, to be used by rival states, cyber mafia and teenage hackers alike.

Julian Assange, WikiLeaks editor stated that “There is an extreme proliferation risk in the development of cyber ‘weapons’. Comparisons can be drawn between the uncontrolled proliferation of such ‘weapons’, which results from the inability to contain them combined with their high market value, and the global arms trade. But the significance of “Year Zero” goes well beyond the choice between cyberwar and cyberpeace. The disclosure is also exceptional from a political, legal and forensic perspective.”

Wikileaks has carefully reviewed the “Year Zero” disclosure and published substantive CIA documentation while avoiding the distribution of ‘armed’ cyberweapons until a consensus emerges on the technical and political nature of the CIA’s program and how such ‘weapons’ should analyzed, disarmed and published.

Wikileaks has also decided to redact and anonymise some identifying information in “Year Zero” for in depth analysis. These redactions include ten of thousands of CIA targets and attack machines throughout Latin America, Europe and the United States. While we are aware of the imperfect results of any approach chosen, we remain committed to our publishing model and note that the quantity of published pages in “Vault 7″ part one (“Year Zero”) already eclipses the total number of pages published over the first three years of the Edward Snowden NSA leaks.

* * *

Analysis

CIA malware targets iPhone, Android, smart TVs

CIA malware and hacking tools are built by EDG (Engineering Development Group), a software development group within CCI (Center for Cyber Intelligence), a department belonging to the CIA’s DDI (Directorate for Digital Innovation). The DDI is one of the five major directorates of the CIA (see this organizational chart of the CIA for more details).

The EDG is responsible for the development, testing and operational support of all backdoors, exploits, malicious payloads, trojans, viruses and any other kind of malware used by the CIA in its covert operations world-wide.

The increasing sophistication of surveillance techniques has drawn comparisons with George Orwell’s 1984, but “Weeping Angel”, developed by the CIA’s Embedded Devices Branch (EDB), which infests smart TVs, transforming them into covert microphones, is surely its most emblematic realization.

The attack against Samsung smart TVs was developed in cooperation with the United Kingdom’s MI5/BTSS. After infestation, Weeping Angel places the target TV in a ‘Fake-Off’ mode, so that the owner falsely believes the TV is off when it is on. In ‘Fake-Off’ mode the TV operates as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the Internet to a covert CIA server.

As of October 2014 the CIA was also looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks. The purpose of such control is not specified, but it would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations.

The CIA’s Mobile Devices Branch (MDB) developed numerous attacks to remotely hack and control popular smart phones. Infected phones can be instructed to send the CIA the user’s geolocation, audio and text communications as well as covertly activate the phone’s camera and microphone.

Despite iPhone’s minority share (14.5%) of the global smart phone market in 2016, a specialized unit in the CIA’s Mobile Development Branch produces malware to infest, control and exfiltrate data from iPhones and other Apple products running iOS, such as iPads. CIA’s arsenal includes numerous local and remote “zero days” developed by CIA or obtained from GCHQ, NSA, FBI or purchased from cyber arms contractors such as Baitshop. The disproportionate focus on iOS may be explained by the popularity of the iPhone among social, political, diplomatic and business elites.

A similar unit targets Google’s Android which is used to run the majority of the world’s smart phones (~85%) including Samsung, HTC and Sony. 1.15 billion Android powered phones were sold last year. “Year Zero” shows that as of 2016 the CIA had 24 “weaponized” Android “zero days” which it has developed itself and obtained from GCHQ, NSA and cyber arms contractors.

These techniques permit the CIA to bypass the encryption of WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Wiebo, Confide and Cloackman by hacking the “smart” phones that they run on and collecting audio and message traffic before encryption is applied.

 

CIA malware targets Windows, OSx, Linux, routers

The CIA also runs a very substantial effort to infect and control Microsoft Windows users with its malware. This includes multiple local and remote weaponized “zero days”, air gap jumping viruses such as “Hammer Drill” which infects software distributed on CD/DVDs, infectors for removable media such as USBs, systems to hide data in images or in covert disk areas ( “Brutal Kangaroo”) and to keep its malware infestations going.

Many of these infection efforts are pulled together by the CIA’s Automated Implant Branch (AIB), which has developed several attack systems for automated infestation and control of CIA malware, such as “Assassin” and “Medusa”.

Attacks against Internet infrastructure and webservers are developed by the CIA’s Network Devices Branch (NDB).

The CIA has developed automated multi-platform malware attack and control systems covering Windows, Mac OS X, Solaris, Linux and more, such as EDB’s “HIVE” and the related “Cutthroat” and “Swindle” tools, which are described in the examples section below.

 

CIA ‘hoarded’ vulnerabilities (“zero days”)

In the wake of Edward Snowden’s leaks about the NSA, the U.S. technology industry secured a commitment from the Obama administration that the executive would disclose on an ongoing basis — rather than hoard — serious vulnerabilities, exploits, bugs or “zero days” to Apple, Google, Microsoft, and other US-based manufacturers.

Serious vulnerabilities not disclosed to the manufacturers places huge swathes of the population and critical infrastructure at risk to foreign intelligence or cyber criminals who independently discover or hear rumors of the vulnerability. If the CIA can discover such vulnerabilities so can others.

The U.S. government’s commitment to the Vulnerabilities Equities Process came after significant lobbying by US technology companies, who risk losing their share of the global market over real and perceived hidden vulnerabilities. The government stated that it would disclose all pervasive vulnerabilities discovered after 2010 on an ongoing basis.

“Year Zero” documents show that the CIA breached the Obama administration’s commitments. Many of the vulnerabilities used in the CIA’s cyber arsenal are pervasive and some may already have been found by rival intelligence agencies or cyber criminals.

As an example, specific CIA malware revealed in “Year Zero” is able to penetrate, infest and control both the Android phone and iPhone software that runs or has run presidential Twitter accounts. The CIA attacks this software by using undisclosed security vulnerabilities (“zero days”) possessed by the CIA but if the CIA can hack these phones then so can everyone else who has obtained or discovered the vulnerability. As long as the CIA keeps these vulnerabilities concealed from Apple and Google (who make the phones) they will not be fixed, and the phones will remain hackable.

The same vulnerabilities exist for the population at large, including the U.S. Cabinet, Congress, top CEOs, system administrators, security officers and engineers. By hiding these security flaws from manufacturers like Apple and Google the CIA ensures that it can hack everyone &mdsh; at the expense of leaving everyone hackable.

 

‘Cyberwar’ programs are a serious proliferation risk

Cyber ‘weapons’ are not possible to keep under effective control.

While nuclear proliferation has been restrained by the enormous costs and visible infrastructure involved in assembling enough fissile material to produce a critical nuclear mass, cyber ‘weapons’, once developed, are very hard to retain.

Cyber ‘weapons’ are in fact just computer programs which can be pirated like any other. Since they are entirely comprised of information they can be copied quickly with no marginal cost.

Securing such ‘weapons’ is particularly difficult since the same people who develop and use them have the skills to exfiltrate copies without leaving traces — sometimes by using the very same ‘weapons’ against the organizations that contain them. There are substantial price incentives for government hackers and consultants to obtain copies since there is a global “vulnerability market” that will pay hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars for copies of such ‘weapons’. Similarly, contractors and companies who obtain such ‘weapons’ sometimes use them for their own purposes, obtaining advantage over their competitors in selling ‘hacking’ services.

Over the last three years the United States intelligence sector, which consists of government agencies such as the CIA and NSA and their contractors, such as Booze Allan Hamilton, has been subject to unprecedented series of data exfiltrations by its own workers.

A number of intelligence community members not yet publicly named have been arrested or subject to federal criminal investigations in separate incidents.

Most visibly, on February 8, 2017 a U.S. federal grand jury indicted Harold T. Martin III with 20 counts of mishandling classified information. The Department of Justice alleged that it seized some 50,000 gigabytes of information from Harold T. Martin III that he had obtained from classified programs at NSA and CIA, including the source code for numerous hacking tools.

Once a single cyber ‘weapon’ is ‘loose’ it can spread around the world in seconds, to be used by peer states, cyber mafia and teenage hackers alike.

 

U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt is a covert CIA hacker base

In addition to its operations in Langley, Virginia the CIA also uses the U.S. consulate in Frankfurt as a covert base for its hackers covering Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

CIA hackers operating out of the Frankfurt consulate ( “Center for Cyber Intelligence Europe” or CCIE) are given diplomatic (“black”) passports and State Department cover. The instructions for incoming CIA hackers make Germany’s counter-intelligence efforts appear inconsequential: “Breeze through German Customs because you have your cover-for-action story down pat, and all they did was stamp your passport”

 

Your Cover Story (for this trip)
Q: Why are you here?
A: Supporting technical consultations at the Consulate.

Two earlier WikiLeaks publications give further detail on CIA approaches to customs and secondary screening procedures.

Once in Frankfurt CIA hackers can travel without further border checks to the 25 European countries that are part of the Shengen open border area — including France, Italy and Switzerland.

A number of the CIA’s electronic attack methods are designed for physical proximity. These attack methods are able to penetrate high security networks that are disconnected from the internet, such as police record database. In these cases, a CIA officer, agent or allied intelligence officer acting under instructions, physically infiltrates the targeted workplace. The attacker is provided with a USB containing malware developed for the CIA for this purpose, which is inserted into the targeted computer. The attacker then infects and exfiltrates data to removable media. For example, the CIA attack system Fine Dining, provides 24 decoy applications for CIA spies to use. To witnesses, the spy appears to be running a program showing videos (e.g VLC), presenting slides (Prezi), playing a computer game (Breakout2, 2048) or even running a fake virus scanner (Kaspersky, McAfee, Sophos). But while the decoy application is on the screen, the underlaying system is automatically infected and ransacked.

 

How the CIA dramatically increased proliferation risks

In what is surely one of the most astounding intelligence own goals in living memory, the CIA structured its classification regime such that for the most market valuable part of “Vault 7″ — the CIA’s weaponized malware (implants + zero days), Listening Posts (LP), and Command and Control (C2) systems — the agency has little legal recourse.

The CIA made these systems unclassified.

Why the CIA chose to make its cyberarsenal unclassified reveals how concepts developed for military use do not easily crossover to the ‘battlefield’ of cyber ‘war’.

To attack its targets, the CIA usually requires that its implants communicate with their control programs over the internet. If CIA implants, Command & Control and Listening Post software were classified, then CIA officers could be prosecuted or dismissed for violating rules that prohibit placing classified information onto the Internet. Consequently the CIA has secretly made most of its cyber spying/war code unclassified. The U.S. government is not able to assert copyright either, due to restrictions in the U.S. Constitution. This means that cyber ‘arms’ manufactures and computer hackers can freely “pirate” these ‘weapons’ if they are obtained. The CIA has primarily had to rely on obfuscation to protect its malware secrets.

Conventional weapons such as missiles may be fired at the enemy (i.e into an unsecured area). Proximity to or impact with the target detonates the ordnance including its classified parts. Hence military personnel do not violate classification rules by firing ordnance with classified parts. Ordnance will likely explode. If it does not, that is not the operator’s intent.

Over the last decade U.S. hacking operations have been increasingly dressed up in military jargon to tap into Department of Defense funding streams. For instance, attempted “malware injections” (commercial jargon) or “implant drops” (NSA jargon) are being called “fires” as if a weapon was being fired. However the analogy is questionable.

Unlike bullets, bombs or missiles, most CIA malware is designed to live for days or even years after it has reached its ‘target’. CIA malware does not “explode on impact” but rather permanently infests its target. In order to infect target’s device, copies of the malware must be placed on the target’s devices, giving physical possession of the malware to the target. To exfiltrate data back to the CIA or to await further instructions the malware must communicate with CIA Command & Control (C2) systems placed on internet connected servers. But such servers are typically not approved to hold classified information, so CIA command and control systems are also made unclassified.

A successful ‘attack’ on a target’s computer system is more like a series of complex stock maneuvers in a hostile take-over bid or the careful planting of rumors in order to gain control over an organization’s leadership rather than the firing of a weapons system. If there is a military analogy to be made, the infestation of a target is perhaps akin to the execution of a whole series of military maneuvers against the target’s territory including observation, infiltration, occupation and exploitation.

 

Evading forensics and anti-virus

A series of standards lay out CIA malware infestation patterns which are likely to assist forensic crime scene investigators as well as Apple, Microsoft, Google, Samsung, Nokia, Blackberry, Siemens and anti-virus companies attribute and defend against attacks.

“Tradecraft DO’s and DON’Ts” contains CIA rules on how its malware should be written to avoid fingerprints implicating the “CIA, US government, or its witting partner companies” in “forensic review”. Similar secret standards cover the use of encryption to hide CIA hacker and malware communication (pdf), describing targets & exfiltrated data (pdf) as well as executing payloads (pdf) and persisting (pdf) in the target’s machines over time.

CIA hackers developed successful attacks against most well known anti-virus programs. These are documented in AV defeats, Personal Security Products, Detecting and defeating PSPs and PSP/Debugger/RE Avoidance. For example, Comodo was defeated by CIA malware placing itself in the Window’s “Recycle Bin”. While Comodo 6.x has a “Gaping Hole of DOOM”.

CIA hackers discussed what the NSA’s “Equation Group” hackers did wrong and how the CIA’s malware makers could avoid similar exposure.

 

Examples

The CIA’s Engineering Development Group (EDG) management system contains around 500 different projects (only some of which are documented by “Year Zero”) each with their own sub-projects, malware and hacker tools.

The majority of these projects relate to tools that are used for penetration, infestation (“implanting”), control, and exfiltration.

Another branch of development focuses on the development and operation of Listening Posts (LP) and Command and Control (C2) systems used to communicate with and control CIA implants; special projects are used to target specific hardware from routers to smart TVs.

Some example projects are described below, but see the table of contents for the full list of projects described by WikiLeaks’ “Year Zero”.

 

UMBRAGE

The CIA’s hand crafted hacking techniques pose a problem for the agency. Each technique it has created forms a “fingerprint” that can be used by forensic investigators to attribute multiple different attacks to the same entity.

This is analogous to finding the same distinctive knife wound on multiple separate murder victims. The unique wounding style creates suspicion that a single murderer is responsible. As soon one murder in the set is solved then the other murders also find likely attribution.

The CIA’s Remote Devices Branch‘s UMBRAGE group collects and maintains a substantial library of attack techniques ‘stolen’ from malware produced in other states including the Russian Federation.

With UMBRAGE and related projects the CIA cannot only increase its total number of attack types but also misdirect attribution by leaving behind the “fingerprints” of the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from.

UMBRAGE components cover keyloggers, password collection, webcam capture, data destruction, persistence, privilege escalation, stealth, anti-virus (PSP) avoidance and survey techniques.

 

Fine Dining

Fine Dining comes with a standardized questionnaire i.e menu that CIA case officers fill out. The questionnaire is used by the agency’s OSB (Operational Support Branch) to transform the requests of case officers into technical requirements for hacking attacks (typically “exfiltrating” information from computer systems) for specific operations. The questionnaire allows the OSB to identify how to adapt existing tools for the operation, and communicate this to CIA malware configuration staff. The OSB functions as the interface between CIA operational staff and the relevant technical support staff.

Among the list of possible targets of the collection are ‘Asset’, ‘Liason Asset’, ‘System Administrator’, ‘Foreign Information Operations’, ‘Foreign Intelligence Agencies’ and ‘Foreign Government Entities’. Notably absent is any reference to extremists or transnational criminals. The ‘Case Officer’ is also asked to specify the environment of the target like the type of computer, operating system used, Internet connectivity and installed anti-virus utilities (PSPs) as well as a list of file types to be exfiltrated like Office documents, audio, video, images or custom file types. The ‘menu’ also asks for information if recurring access to the target is possible and how long unobserved access to the computer can be maintained. This information is used by the CIA’s ‘JQJIMPROVISE’ software (see below) to configure a set of CIA malware suited to the specific needs of an operation.

 

Improvise (JQJIMPROVISE)

‘Improvise’ is a toolset for configuration, post-processing, payload setup and execution vector selection for survey/exfiltration tools supporting all major operating systems like Windows (Bartender), MacOS (JukeBox) and Linux (DanceFloor). Its configuration utilities like Margarita allows the NOC (Network Operation Center) to customize tools based on requirements from ‘Fine Dining’ questionairies.

 

HIVE

HIVE is a multi-platform CIA malware suite and its associated control software. The project provides customizable implants for Windows, Solaris, MikroTik (used in internet routers) and Linux platforms and a Listening Post (LP)/Command and Control (C2) infrastructure to communicate with these implants.

The implants are configured to communicate via HTTPS with the webserver of a cover domain; each operation utilizing these implants has a separate cover domain and the infrastructure can handle any number of cover domains.

Each cover domain resolves to an IP address that is located at a commercial VPS (Virtual Private Server) provider. The public-facing server forwards all incoming traffic via a VPN to a ‘Blot’ server that handles actual connection requests from clients. It is setup for optional SSL client authentication: if a client sends a valid client certificate (only implants can do that), the connection is forwarded to the ‘Honeycomb’ toolserver that communicates with the implant; if a valid certificate is missing (which is the case if someone tries to open the cover domain website by accident), the traffic is forwarded to a cover server that delivers an unsuspicious looking website.

The Honeycomb toolserver receives exfiltrated information from the implant; an operator can also task the implant to execute jobs on the target computer, so the toolserver acts as a C2 (command and control) server for the implant.

Similar functionality (though limited to Windows) is provided by the RickBobby project.

See the classified user and developer guides for HIVE.

 

* * *

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why now?

WikiLeaks published as soon as its verification and analysis were ready.

In Febuary the Trump administration has issued an Executive Order calling for a “Cyberwar” review to be prepared within 30 days.

While the review increases the timeliness and relevance of the publication it did not play a role in setting the publication date.

Redactions

Names, email addresses and external IP addresses have been redacted in the released pages (70,875 redactions in total) until further analysis is complete.

  1. Over-redaction: Some items may have been redacted that are not employees, contractors, targets or otherwise related to the agency, but are, for example, authors of documentation for otherwise public projects that are used by the agency.
  2. Identity vs. person: the redacted names are replaced by user IDs (numbers) to allow readers to assign multiple pages to a single author. Given the redaction process used a single person may be represented by more than one assigned identifier but no identifier refers to more than one real person.
  3. Archive attachments (zip, tar.gz, …) are replaced with a PDF listing all the file names in the archive. As the archive content is assessed it may be made available; until then the archive is redacted.
  4. Attachments with other binary content are replaced by a hex dump of the content to prevent accidental invocation of binaries that may have been infected with weaponized CIA malware. As the content is assessed it may be made available; until then the content is redacted.
  5. The tens of thousands of routable IP addresses references (including more than 22 thousand within the United States) that correspond to possible targets, CIA covert listening post servers, intermediary and test systems, are redacted for further exclusive investigation.
  6. Binary files of non-public origin are only available as dumps to prevent accidental invocation of CIA malware infected binaries.

Organizational Chart

The organizational chart corresponds to the material published by WikiLeaks so far.

Since the organizational structure of the CIA below the level of Directorates is not public, the placement of the EDG and its branches within the org chart of the agency is reconstructed from information contained in the documents released so far. It is intended to be used as a rough outline of the internal organization; please be aware that the reconstructed org chart is incomplete and that internal reorganizations occur frequently.

Wiki pages

“Year Zero” contains 7818 web pages with 943 attachments from the internal development groupware. The software used for this purpose is called Confluence, a proprietary software from Atlassian. Webpages in this system (like in Wikipedia) have a version history that can provide interesting insights on how a document evolved over time; the 7818 documents include these page histories for 1136 latest versions.

The order of named pages within each level is determined by date (oldest first). Page content is not present if it was originally dynamically created by the Confluence software (as indicated on the re-constructed page).

What time period is covered?

The years 2013 to 2016. The sort order of the pages within each level is determined by date (oldest first).

WikiLeaks has obtained the CIA’s creation/last modification date for each page but these do not yet appear for technical reasons. Usually the date can be discerned or approximated from the content and the page order. If it is critical to know the exact time/date contact WikiLeaks.

What is “Vault 7″

“Vault 7″ is a substantial collection of material about CIA activities obtained by WikiLeaks.

When was each part of “Vault 7″ obtained?

Part one was obtained recently and covers through 2016. Details on the other parts will be available at the time of publication.

Is each part of “Vault 7″ from a different source?

Details on the other parts will be available at the time of publication.

What is the total size of “Vault 7″?

The series is the largest intelligence publication in history.

How did WikiLeaks obtain each part of “Vault 7″?

Sources trust WikiLeaks to not reveal information that might help identify them.

Isn’t WikiLeaks worried that the CIA will act against its staff to stop the series?

No. That would be certainly counter-productive.

Has WikiLeaks already ‘mined’ all the best stories?

No. WikiLeaks has intentionally not written up hundreds of impactful stories to encourage others to find them and so create expertise in the area for subsequent parts in the series. They’re there. Look. Those who demonstrate journalistic excellence may be considered for early access to future parts.

Won’t other journalists find all the best stories before me?

Unlikely. There are very considerably more stories than there are journalists or academics who are in a position to write them.

wikileaks

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To Solve Refugee Crisis, Stop Funding Terrorism

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Darius Shahtahmasebi
The Anti-Media : March 2, 2017

Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, the politician who previously accused the U.S. of arming ISIS, is still calling on the U.S. government to stop its disastrous regime change policies in the Middle East.

According to a press release made public on Tuesday, Gabbard has again called for the U.S. to stop aiding terrorists like al-Qaeda and ISIS. Gabbard’s guest at the presidential address to Congress, a Kurdish refugee activist, also called for an end to the U.S. policy of “regime change in Syria.”

Gabbard said:

“In the face of unimaginable heartbreak, Tima has been a voice for the voiceless, a champion for refugees worldwide, and a strong advocate for ending the regime change war in Syria. I am honored to welcome her to Washington tonight as we raise our voices to call on our nation’s leaders to end the counterproductive regime change war in Syria that has caused great human suffering, refugees, loss of life, and devastation. We urge leaders in Congress to pass the Stop Arming Terrorists Act and end our destructive policy of using American taxpayer dollars to provide direct and indirect support to armed militants allied with terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS in Syria, who are fighting to overthrow the Syrian government.”

Gabbard also reportedly told Russian state-owned news station RT:

“For years, our government has been providing both direct and indirect support to these armed militant groups, who are working directly with or under the command of terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS, all in their effort and fight to overthrow the Syrian government.”

The activist, Tima Kurdi, is more widely known as the aunt of a three-year-old boy who drowned on the shores of Turkey in September 2015. The image went viral on social media and was easily manipulated by the mainstream media to further the United States’ agenda in the region, never once laying blame to the U.S. military establishment for spending over $1 billion a year arming Syrian rebels.

According to the press release, Kurdi said the following:

“I am proud to stand with Tulsi and support her work to end regime change war in Syria. My people have suffered for more than six years—enough is enough. Tulsi understands that arming the so-called “rebels” in Syria has only led to more bloodshed, more suffering, and created more refugees. A military solution in Syria is not the answer. I hope that President Trump will stop arming terrorists and commit to a political solution in Syria—it is the only way to restore peace.”

Gabbard came under fire earlier this year when she took a secretive trip to Syria and met with President Assad, as well as a number of other people on the ground. The fact that her proposed policies have the backing of the relative of the drowned Syrian refugee — whose images the media exploited in 2015 to advance the western narrative against Assad — should speak volumes about the efficacy of Gabbard’s approach. Despite this, the media hardly pays heed to Gabbard’s ideas.

In 2014, PBS ran a report in which they interviewed Syrian rebels who had been trained by the CIA at a camp in Qatar. According to one of the fighters:

“They trained us to ambush regime or enemy vehicles and cut off the road…They also trained us on how to attack a vehicle, raid it, retrieve information or weapons and munitions, and how to finish off soldiers still alive after an ambush.” [emphasis added]

The latter emboldened section is a blatant war crime and is also the standard operating procedure for ISIS. Regardless of the banner these rebels operate under, this is a terrorist tactic, and it is ultimately what American taxpayer dollars have been doing in Syria.

Source:The Anti-Media (republished this article under a Creative Commons license)

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Flynn’s Gone But They’re Still Gunning For You, Donald

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by David Stockman
Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity : February 17, 2017

General Flynn’s tenure in the White House was only slightly longer than that of President-elect William Henry Harrison in 1841.  Actually, with just 24 days in the White House, General Flynn’s tenure fell a tad short of old “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too”.  General Harrison actually lasted 31 days before getting felled by pneumonia.

And the circumstances were considerably more benign. It seems that General Harrison had a fondness for the same “firewater” that agitated the native Americans he slaughtered at the famous battle memorialized in his campaign slogan. In fact, during the campaign a leading Democrat newspaper skewered the old general, who at 68 was the oldest US President prior to Ronald Reagan, saying:

Give him a barrel of hard [alcoholic] cider, and… a pension of two thousand [dollars] a year… and… he will sit the remainder of his days in his log cabin.

That might have been a good idea back then (or even now), but to prove he wasn’t infirm, Harrison gave the longest inaugural address in US history (2 hours) in the midst of seriously inclement weather wearing neither hat nor coat.

That’s how he got pneumonia! Call it foolhardy, but that was nothing compared to that exhibited by Donald Trump’s former national security advisor.

General Flynn got the equivalent of political pneumonia by talking for hours during the transition to international leaders, including Russia’s ambassador to the US, on phone lines which were bugged by the CIA. Or more accurately, making calls which were “intercepted” by the very same NSA/FBI spy machinery that monitors every single phone call made in America.

Ironically, we learned what Flynn should have known about the Deep State’s plenary surveillance from Edward Snowden. Alas, Flynn and Trump wanted the latter to be hung in the public square as a “traitor”, but if that’s the solution to intelligence community leaks, the Donald is now going to need his own rope factory to deal with the flood of traitorous disclosures directed against him.

In any event, it was “intercepts” leaked from deep in the bowels of the CIA to the Washington Post and then amplified in a 24/7 campaign by the War Channel (CNN) that brought General Flynn down.

But here’s the thing. They were aiming at Donald J. Trump. And for all of his puffed up bluster about being the savviest negotiator on the planet, the Donald walked right into their trap, as we shall amplify momentarily.

But let’s first make the essence of the matter absolutely clear. The whole Flynn imbroglio is not about a violation of the Logan Act owing to the fact that the general engaged in diplomacy as a private citizen.

It’s about re-litigating the 2016 election based on the hideous lie that Trump stole it with the help of Vladimir Putin. In fact, Nancy Pelosi was quick to say just that:

‘The American people deserve to know the full extent of Russia’s financial, personal and political grip on President Trump and what that means for our national security,’ House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a press release.

Yet, we should rephrase. The re-litigation aspect reaches back to the Republican primaries, too. The Senate GOP clowns who want a war with practically everybody, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, are already launching their own investigation from the Senate Armed Services committee.

And Senator Graham, the member of the boobsey twins who ran for President in 2016 while getting a GOP primary vote from virtually nobody,  made clear that General Flynn’s real sin was a potential peace overture to the Russians:

Sen. Lindsey Graham also said he wants an investigation into Flynn’s conversations with a Russian ambassador about sanctions: “I think Congress needs to be informed of what actually Gen. Flynn said to the Russian ambassador about lifting sanctions,” the South Carolina Republican told CNN’s Kate Bolduan on “At This Hour. And I want to know, did Gen. Flynn do this by himself or was he directed by somebody to do it?”

We say good riddance to Flynn, of course, because he was a shrill anti-Iranian warmonger. But let’s also not be fooled by the clinical term at the heart of the story. That is, “intercepts” mean that the Deep State taps the phone calls of the President’s own closest advisors as a matter of course.

This is the real scandal as Trump himself has rightly asserted. The very idea that the already announced #1 national security advisor to a President-elect should be subject to old-fashion “bugging,” albeit with modern day technology, overwhelmingly trumps the utterly specious Logan Act charge at the center of the case.

As one writer for LawNewz noted regarding acting Attorney General Sally Yates’ voyeuristic pre-occupation with Flynn’s intercepted conversations, Nixon should be rolling in his grave with envy:

Now, information leaks that Sally Yates knew about surveillance being conducted against potential members of the Trump administration, and disclosed that information to others. Even Richard Nixon didn’t use the government agencies themselves to do his black bag surveillance operations. Sally Yates involvement with this surveillance on American political opponents, and possibly the leaking related thereto, smacks of a return to Hoover-style tactics. As writers at Bloomberg and The Week both noted, it wreaks of ‘police-state’ style tactics. But knowing dear Sally as I do, it comes as no surprise.

Yes, that’s the same career apparatchik of the permanent government that Obama left behind to continue the 2016 election by other means. And it’s working. The Donald is being rapidly emasculated by the powers that be in the Imperial City due to what can only be described as an audacious and self-evident attack on Trump’s Presidency by the Deep State.

Indeed, it seems that the layers of intrigue have gotten so deep and convoluted that the nominal leadership of the permanent  government machinery has lost track of who is spying on whom. Thus, we have the following curious utterance by none other than the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes:

‘I expect for the FBI to tell me what is going on, and they better have a good answer,’ he told The Washington Post. ‘The big problem I see here is that you have an American citizen who had his phone calls recorded.’

Well, yes. That makes 324 million of us, Congressman.

But for crying out loud, surely the oh so self-important chairman of the House intelligence committee knows that everybody is bugged. But when it reaches the point that the spy state is essentially using its unconstitutional tools to engage in what amounts to “opposition research” with the aim of election nullification, then the Imperial City has become a clear and present danger to American democracy and the liberties of the American people.

As Robert Barnes of LawNewz further explained, Sally Yates, former CIA director John Brennan and a large slice of the Never Trumper intelligence community were systematically engaged in “opposition research” during the campaign and the transition:

According to published reports, someone was eavesdropping, and recording, the conversations of Michael Flynn, while Sally Yates was at the Department of Justice. Sally Yates knew about this eavesdropping, listened in herself (Pellicano-style for those who remember the infamous LA cases), and reported what she heard to others. For Yates to have such access means she herself must have been involved in authorizing its disclosure to political appointees, since she herself is such a political appointee. What justification was there for an Obama appointee to be spying on the conversations of a future Trump appointee?

Consider this little tidbit in The Washington Post. The paper, which once broke Watergate, is now propagating the benefits of Watergate-style surveillance in ways that do make Watergate look like a third-rate effort.  (With the) FBI ‘routinely’ monitoring conversations of Americans…… Yates listened to ‘the intercepted call,’ even though Yates knew there was ‘little chance’ of any credible case being made for prosecution under a law ‘that has never been used in a prosecution.’

And well it hasn’t been. After all, the Logan Act was signed by President John Adams in 1799 in order to punish one of Thomas Jefferson’s supporters for having peace discussions with the French government in Paris. That is, it amounted to pre-litigating the Presidential campaign of 1800 based on sheer political motivation.

According to the Washington Post itself, that is exactly what Yates and the Obama holdovers did day and night during the interregnum:

Indeed, the paper details an apparent effort by Yates to misuse her office to launch a full-scale secret investigation of her political opponents, including ‘intercepting calls’ of her political adversaries.

So all of the feigned outrage emanating from Democrats and the Washington establishment about Team Trump’s trafficking with the Russians is a cover story. Surely anyone even vaguely familiar with recent history would have known there was absolutely nothing illegal or even untoward about Flynn’s post-Christmas conversations with the Russian Ambassador.

Indeed, we recall from personal experience the thrilling moment on inauguration day in January 1981 when word came of the release of the American hostages in Tehran. Let us assure you, that did not happen by immaculate diplomatic conception — nor was it a parting gift to the Gipper by the outgoing Carter Administration.

To the contrary, it was the fruit of secret negotiations with the Iranian government during the transition by private American citizens. As the history books would have it because it’s true, the leader of that negotiation, in fact, was Ronald Reagan’s national security council director-designate, Dick Allen.

As the real Washington Post later reported, under the by-line of a real reporter, Bob Woodward:

Reagan campaign aides met in a Washington DC hotel in early October, 1980, with a self-described ‘Iranian exile’ who offered, on behalf of the Iranian government, to release the hostages to Reagan, not Carter, in order to ensure Carter’s defeat in the November 4, 1980 election.

The American participants were Richard Allen, subsequently Reagan’s first national security adviser, Allen aide Laurence Silberman, and Robert McFarlane, another future national security adviser who in 1980 was on the staff of Senator John Tower (R-TX).

To this day we have not had occasion to visit our old friend Dick Allen in the US penitentiary because he’s not there; the Logan Act was never invoked in what is surely the most blatant case ever of citizen diplomacy.

So let’s get to the heart of the matter and be done with it. The Obama White House conducted a sour grapes campaign to delegitimize the election beginning November 9th and it was led by then CIA Director John Brennan.

That treacherous assault on the core constitutional matter of the election process culminated in the ridiculous Russian meddling report of the Obama White House in December. The latter, of course, was issued by serial liar James Clapper, as national intelligence director, and the clueless Democrat lawyer and bag-man, Jeh Johnson, who had been appointed head of the Homeland Security Department.

Yet on the basis of  the report’s absolutely zero evidence and endless surmise, innuendo and “assessments”, the Obama White House imposed another round of its silly school-boy sanctions on a handful of Putin’s cronies.

Of course, Flynn should have been telling the Russian Ambassador that this nonsense would be soon reversed!

But here is the ultimate folly. The mainstream media talking heads are harrumphing loudly about the fact that the very day following Flynn’s call — Vladimir Putin announced that he would not retaliate against the new Obama sanctions as expected; and shortly thereafter, the Donald tweeted that Putin had shown admirable wisdom.

That’s right. Two reasonably adult statesman undertook what might be called the Christmas Truce of 2016. But like its namesake of 1914 on the bloody no man’s land of the western front, the War Party has determined that the truce-makers shall not survive.

The Donald has been warned.

Source: The Ron Paul Institute

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The Cancer Of War: U.S. Admits To Using Radioactive Munitions In Syria

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Daniel Mcadams
February 17, 2017 : The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity

Despite vowing not to use depleted uranium (DU) weapons in its military action in Syria, the US government has now admitted that it has fired thousands of the deadly rounds into Syrian territory. As Foreign Policy Magazine reports:

US Central Command (CENTCOM) spokesman Maj. Josh Jacques told Airwars and Foreign Policy that 5,265 armor-piercing 30 mm rounds containing depleted uranium (DU) were shot from Air Force A-10 fixed-wing aircraft on Nov. 16 and Nov. 22, 2015, destroying about 350 vehicles in the country’s eastern desert.

Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman John Moore said in 2015 that:

US and coalition aircraft have not been and will not be using depleted uranium munitions in Iraq or Syria during Operation Inherent Resolve.

Now we know that is not true. 

Numerous studies have found that depleted uranium is particularly harmful when the dust is inhaled by the victim. A University of Southern Maine study discovered that:

…DU damages DNA in human lung cells. The team, led by John Pierce Wise, exposed cultures of the cells to uranium compounds at different concentrations.

 

The compounds caused breaks in the chromosomes within cells and stopped them from growing and dividing healthily. ‘These data suggest that exposure to particulate DU may pose a significant [DNA damage] risk and could possibly result in lung cancer,’ the team wrote in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.

We should remember that the United States is engaged in military activities in Syria in violation of international and US law. There is no Congressional authorization for US military action against ISIS in Syria and the United Nations has not authorized military force in violation of Syria’s sovereignty either.

The innocent citizens of Syria will be forced to endure increased risks of cancer, birth defects, and other disease related to exposure to radioactive materials. Depleted uranium is the byproduct of the enrichment of uranium to fuel nuclear power plants and has a half-life in the hundreds of millions of years. Damage to Syrian territory will thus continue long after anyone involved in current hostilities is dead.

Source: Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity

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9/11 Mastermind’s Letter to Obama: Here’s Why We Attacked America

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Carey Wedler
Anti-Media :February 8, 2017

When Barack Obama was still in office, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, one of the perpetrators of the 9/11 terror attacks, penned a letter to him. Though a judge recently ruled that letter could be sent to the White House before the outgoing president left office, the contents were to be withheld from the public until a month later — until after President Trump had assumed power.

This week, the Miami Herald obtained and published the contents of the 18-page letter, originally written in 2015 and titled “LETTER FROM THE CAPTIVE MUJAHID KHALID SHAIKH MOHAMMAD TO THE HEAD OF THE SNAKE, BARACK OBAMA, THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, THE COUNTRY OF OPPRESSION AND TYRANNY.” It contains the Kuwait-born Pakistani terrorist’s insights into why 9/11 occurred, as well as surprisingly accurate assessments of American politics.

One of the main reasons for 9/11, according to Mohammed, is one terrorists have referenced before: American foreign policy. His explanation is rooted both in history and in current affairs.

The American people were misled by the Johnson administration and the Pentagon into waging a war in Vietnam that cost 58,000 U.S. lives and millions of Vietnamese lives and ultimately led to a humiliating defeat,” he writes, correctly referencing Johnson’s false flag attack in the Gulf of Tonkin, which the Democratic president used to push the U.S. into a prolonged, messy, and ultimately failed war.

Mohammed also focused on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and the Muslim world specifically, providing a long list of reasons why the “U.S. reaped what it sowed on 9/11.” One of those grievances was the U.S. government and CIA’s scheme to back and support  “the Indonesian dictator Suharto when his army-led massacres slaughtered hundreds of thousands of landless farmers,” though his examples span the globe.

He cites America’s notorious desire for oil, referencing when the U.S. built “military bases in the Arabian Peninsula in Tabuk, Dhahran, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and U.A.E – which is prohibited by Sharia laws – to secure a non-stop flood of oil to [their] country at the cheapest price.” He argues this was “to support the dictatorial rule of monarchial families and oppressive, corrupt, dynastic regimes and looting the wealth of the Muslim Ummah population; and to accomplish [U.S.] military objectives there.”

He references the CIA’s 1953 coup in Iran — conducted in conjunction with their British intelligence counterparts — to overthrow the country’s democratically elected leader and empower the “Shah of Iran and Safak, the brutal Iranian intelligence agency, for 40 years.”

Discussing Iraq in the 1990s, he references “when Anglo-Saxon crusaders imposed sanctions against the Iraqi people in a manner of collective punishment that resulted in the death of half a million civilians.” He later addresses former U.N. ambassador Madeleine Albright’s claim that the deaths of half a million children were “worth it.”

Mohammed also points out hypocrisies in American foreign policy, such as the American officials’ ties to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad before they wanted to oust him. He also points out that before invading Iraq, the U.S. “supported Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War, even when he was using poison mustard gas against the Kurds…”

Mohammed discusses at length the centuries of Western attacks on Muslims and their countries, also noting the way Western countries broke up formerly Ottoman nations in the early 20th century, dividing them up and claiming control in the region.

He circles back to indict the whole of American foreign policy, noting the U.S. has escaped prosecution for their “brutal and savage massacres against the American Indian and [their] crimes in Vietnam, Korea, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, and Latin America; and for [their] support for the Chinese Dictator, Chiang Kai-Shek, and Mexico’s dictator, Santa Ana.”

You can keep your military bases in Japan, Germany, Italy, and elsewhere,” he writes, “but Muslim land will never accept infidels army bases in their land.” He credits Allah with helping them fight back against Western aggression, frequently weaving in religious sentiments as justification for further violence.

Though Mohammed focuses largely on U.S. imperialism, one of his main grievances is the U.S. government’s support for Israel throughout the decades. He argues America reaped what it sowed on 9/11 in part because of America’s backing of Israel “in the political arena, when you blocked resolutions in the United Nations Security Council more than 45 times to protect repeated Israeli crimes.” Mohammed cites the U.S.’ support for Israel’s invasions of Lebanon throughout the years, ultimately arguing that jihadists fight for all oppressed Muslims. He claims they represent Palestinians and others who have been crushed by Western influence and invasion (of course, it is impossible to prove all victimized Muslims support terrorism as recourse, making this claim rather grandiose).

He discusses Obama’s ongoing efforts to continue providing weaponry to Israel even as the former president openly questioned Israeli settlements. “While your children may play safely in the White House backyard, the entire world is watching your weapons kill Palestinian children at play on the Gaza beach during Holy Month of Ramadan or studying in their classrooms.”

Mohammed criticizes American politicians’ repeated claims that Israel “has a right to defend itself.”

Why can’t you or any American president before you say that the Palestinians have a right to defend themselves against Israeli crimes?” he wonders. “The answer is very clear but you can’t say it because your lords will be very angry.” Indeed, Israel wields significant influence over American policy.

The notion that American politicians are beholden to higher powers is echoed throughout the letter, but not just with regard to Israel’s influence through lobbying organization AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee). With surprising accuracy, Mohammed details corporate influence throughout government. Early in the letter, he points out that politicians must serve their donors, whether they are in the healthcare industry, the prison industry, or “Blackwater, Halliburton, or any other arms industry of weapons firm.” He says the latter industry requires politicians “to push the DoD and U.S. soldiers into more wars…

He condemns American capitalism and the farce of democracy throughout the letter, referring to politicians as mercenaries working for their financiers. He asserts that “[i]n the end, this will lead the rich to grow richer and the poor to grow poorer. The country will sink into debt and finally the nation will die.

Mohammed also singles out Obama, citing his drone strikes, which killed countless innocent civilians and children. He condemns Obama’s assassination of American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki without trial — followed by the killing of his 16-year-old son — as well as the president’s establishment of indefinite detention and his failure to close Guantanamo, where Mohammed has been imprisoned for years.

He calls out Western media, as well. “Don’t let Fox, CNN, BBC, or American and pro-Israeli channels cover your eyes because they never show the truth, their main task is brainwashing,” he argues. “They are experts at lying and distorting the facts to achieve their masters’ ends.

(Instead, he praises Al-Jazeera, which is, in fact, a news agency originally funded by the oil-rich Qatari government, an ally of the United States.)

Since 9/11, the political establishment’s narrative has asserted Islamic terrorists target the United States because they hate us for our freedom, because their religion is violent, and because they are hellbent on destroying anyone who disagrees with their ideology. While it’s indisputable that anyone who would seek to kill 3,000 civilians is a cold-blooded murderer, his explanation has been echoed by terrorists before; the Charlie Hebdo shooters, the Boston Marathon bombers, and the Orlando night club shooter all referenced violent, imperialistic American policy as reasons for their attacks.

Mohammed concludes:

If your government and public won’t tolerate 9/11, then how can you ask Muslims to tolerate your 60 years of crimes in Palestine, Lebanon, the Arabian Peninsula and the whole Muslim World?

As former congressman and longtime non-interventionist Dr. Ron Paul warned in 1998 — long before 9/11:

“Far too often, the bombing of declared (or concocted) enemies, whether it’s the North Vietnamese, the Iraqis, the Libyans, the Sudanese, the Albanians, or the Afghans, produces precisely the opposite effect to what is sought. It kills innocent people, creates more hatred toward America, unifies and stimulates the growth of the extremist Islamic movement and makes them more determined than ever to strike back with their weapon of choice – terror.”

The Anti-Media (cc)

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Canadians Won’t Forget Trudeau’s Broken Promise on Electoral Reform

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Claudia Chwalisz
The Tyee: February 3, 2017

In his mandate letter to the new Minister of Democratic Institutions, Karina Gould, Justin Trudeau told the nation that he was breaking one of his key election promises: “Changing the electoral system will not be in your mandate.”

Blaming a lack of consensus on reform despite extensive consultations, Trudeau claimed that it would be harmful to Canada’s stability to pursue reform or a referendum on the issue. In question period, he added, “I’m not going to do something that is wrong for Canadians just to tick off a box on an electoral platform.”

His other comments implied that now that Canadians had a government with which they were happy, they were less interested in changing the system. But Trudeau’s remarks fly in the face of the truth.

The All-Party Parliamentary Committee which was tasked with recommending a way forward on reform said that “overwhelming majority” of submissions by almost 200 electoral experts and by thousands of Canadians were in favour of proportional representation. The committee itself recommended the government design a new system of proportional representation and gauge public support through a referendum.

In terms of wider public opinion, a recent Ekos poll found that 43 per cent of Canadians said proportional representation would be the best option for Canada (higher than for any other option) and 33 per cent said it would be second best. The same survey found that 59 per cent of people think the Liberals should deliver on their promise.

Why would the Liberals abandon their promise in the face of such stark evidence? They must feel they can get away with it electorally. They are riding high in the polls. Only one in five Canadians appeared to be engaged with the consultation process. They’re betting that most people don’t care. That gamble may come back to haunt them.

First, neither of the main opposition parties has a leader at the moment, so it is not surprising that they’re faring worse in the polls. It’s not guaranteed that either party will come back strongly with new leadership, but their public profiles and their ability to scrutinize the government will both be stronger when they are no longer concentrating on internal party politics.

Second, while the Liberals may be reassured by the fact that such a small percentage of Canadians was highly engaged in the electoral reform debate, it would make sense to assume that many of those engaged voters were current or former Green or New Democratic Party supporters. Both parties have been advocates of proportional representation for a long time. In the context of the “Anybody But Harper” election, some of them cast strategic votes for the Liberals at the expense of their beliefs, thinking the next time around the electoral system wouldn’t force them into this situation. Tactical voters will be less likely to believe the Liberals a second time.

Third, while the Liberals are probably banking on most people forgetting the issue by the time 2019 rolls around, there is no way that Elizabeth May, the Green Party leader, will forget, and neither will the NDP after its extensive involvement in the all-party committee. Expect both parties to campaign heavily on the issue, with the added bonus of being able to repeat that Trudeau failed to deliver “real change.” Even the Conservatives are jumping on the opportunity to call Trudeau a liar despite their stance against reform.

(read the full article at The Tyee

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Congresswoman Who Says U.S. Funds ISIS Just Got Back from Syria: Here’s What She Found

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Darius Shahtahmasebi
Anti-Media : January 31, 2017

Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, the lawmaker who accused the U.S. government of funding and arming ISIS and introduced a bill to prevent it from happening in future, recently disclosed that she met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during her recent trip to Syria. The move has reportedly angered many of her fellow congressmen and women.

Upon returning from the war-stricken nation, Gabbard released the following statement in the form of a press release:

“My visit to Syria has made it abundantly clear: Our counterproductive regime change war does not serve America’s interest, and it certainly isn’t in the interest of the Syrian people.

“As I visited with people from across the country, and heard heartbreaking stories of how this war has devastated their lives, I was asked, ‘Why is the United States and its allies helping al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups try to take over Syria? Syria did not attack the United States. Al-Qaeda did.’ I had no answer.”

According to the press release, Gabbard met with refugees, Syrian opposition leaders who led protesters in 2011, widows and family members who fight alongside al-Qaeda groups, pro-Assad troops, humanitarian workers, and students, to name a few. Gabbard also met with high-ranking officials such as Lebanon’s newly-elected President Aon and Prime Minister Hariri, as well as U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard, Syrian President Assad, Grand Mufti Hassoun, and Archbishop Denys Antoine Chahda of the Syrian Catholic Church of Aleppo.

Initially, Gabbard allegedly had no intention of meeting Assad, as she stated in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper.

“When the opportunity arose to meet with him, I did so because I felt that it’s important that if we profess to truly care about the Syrian people, about their suffering, then we’ve got to be able to meet with anyone that we need to if there is a possibility that we can achieve peace,” she told Tapper.

The meeting with Assad is incredibly controversial because of numerous allegations by the U.N. that Assad has committed crimes against humanity.

“Whatever you think about President Assad, the fact is that he is the president of Syria,” she added. “In order for any peace agreement, in order for any possibility of a viable peace agreement to occur there has to be a conversation with him.”

Not surprisingly, the media has hyped up this visit as outrageous but has omitted some very glaring hypocrisies that arise as a result of Gabbard’s trip to Syria.

First, the Obama administration and Bush administration both drew serious allegations of war crimes, but if Gabbard had met with either of those former presidents, it’s doubtful anyone would have batted an eyelid.

Second, former Secretary of State John Kerry met with Assad in 2009, even though, after nine years in office, Assad was clearly responsible for all of the things western media has been relentlessly accusing him of doing since 2011.

Third, Gabbard’s meeting symbolizes the ridiculousness of America’s foreign policy decision-making system. A few hundred old men and women who have never been to Syria — nor care to go — sit in a room and deliberate a piece of paper deciding whether or not to drop million dollar tomahawk missiles on a relatively poor country. Even when these decision-makers are well aware of the horror their edicts will unleash, they are never required to visit the country, talk to its people, or understand the situation and better educate themselves. In the case of Syria, Congress wasn’t even required to approve the air campaign that began in 2014, as Obama authorized airstrikes without their approval anyway.

Gabbard’s move should be applauded — not ridiculed. Singling Assad out as some sort of mass-murdering psychopath while foreign leaders routinely meet with alleged war criminals such as Israel’s Binyamin Netanyahu, Saudi Arabia’s leadership, and Henry Kissinger, to name a few, is the epitome of U.S.-NATO arrogance.

Gabbard may have met with a mass murderer, but she also met with numerous people on the ground — the people who matter most. After doing so, she concluded:

“I return to Washington, DC with even greater resolve to end our illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government. I call upon Congress and the new Administration to answer the pleas of the Syrian people immediately and support the Stop Arming Terrorists Act. We must stop directly and indirectly supporting terrorists—directly by providing weapons, training and logistical support to rebel groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and ISIS; and indirectly through Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Turkey, who, in turn, support these terrorist groups. We must end our war to overthrow the Syrian government and focus our attention on defeating al-Qaeda and ISIS.”

No one can criticize her strategy because, for the last six years, no one has even attempted it.

source: The Anti-Media) (republished this article under a Creative Commons license)

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Getting Real News From Aleppo – With Vanessa Beeley

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Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity
Daniel McAdams : December 15, 2016

As the liberation of Aleppo has destroyed the mainstream media’s narrative, with on-the-ground interviews from east Aleppo residents showing that they were in fact being held captive for four years by an al-Qaeda linked terrorist organization. The mainstream fake news purveyors are in a panic. While virtually none of them are actually on the ground in Syria, they have been strangely uniform in their “reporting.” Why is that? Because they all use the same tainted sources — US funded “NGOs” like the “White Helmets.” What’s the truth in Aleppo? Today’s Liberty Report features one of the very few western journalists brave enough to spend time there. Her well-documented findings expose the lies of the interventionists and their enabling friends in the mainstream media. Today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report is joined live from Syria by Vanessa Beeley:

Source: The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.

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Newt Gingrich Admits – Donald Trump No Longer Wants to ‘Drain the Swamp’

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Michael Krieger
liberty blitzkrieg : December 21, 2016

Not that he ever wanted to, but here’s Newt Gingrich admitting what many of us already knew regarding Donald Trump’s fake populism.

Politico reports:

President-elect Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington of corruption, but now that he’s preparing to move into the White House, Newt Gingrich said the Manhattan real estate mogul is looking to distance himself from that message.

“I’m told he now just disclaims that. He now says it was cute, but he doesn’t want to use it anymore,” the former House Speaker and close Trump adviser said of the “drain the swamp” message in an NPR interview published Wednesday morning. 

Trump’s Cabinet and other high-level appointments seem to have deviated somewhat from his “drain the swamp” message. After attacking Democrat Hillary Clinton regularly throughout the campaign for being too close to Wall Street banks, Trump has put three former Goldman Sachs executives in prominent White House positions, including Steven Mnuchin as treasury secretary, Steve Bannon as chief White House strategist and Gary Cohn as the director of the National Economic Council.

As I highlighted in the recent post, The Election Never Ended:

As Anthony Scaramucci, a hedge fund manager and top adviser to Trump, as well as a former Goldman Sachs banker himself, put it Thursday: “I think the cabal against the bankers is over.” 

Indeed, as we all know, U.S. government economic policy has been essentially handed over to Goldman Sachs during this transition period. Must be a reward for its most recent settlement for rigging yet another market.

Reuters reports:

Goldman Sachs Group Inc will pay a $120 million penalty to resolve civil charges that it attempted to manipulate a global benchmark for interest rate products known on Wall Street as “ISDAFIX,” U.S. derivatives regulators said Wednesday.

The case against Goldman Sachs, brought by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, was the latest in a series of broad investigations into manipulation by big banks of a variety of global benchmark rates.

To date, the CFTC has imposed penalties of over $5.2 billion stemming from these probes, which include Libor and Euribor, foreign exchange benchmarks, and the U.S. Dollar International Swaps and Derivatives Association Fix, or USD ISDAFIX.

A number of banks have also resolved parallel criminal charges related to the manipulation of various global benchmarks.

Goldman Sachs, which was also accused by the CFTC of making false reports on the benchmark rate, will settle the case without admitting or denying the charges.

Penalties don’t change the behavior of white collar criminals. Jail sentences would, but we don’t see any of that when it comes to bank execs.

(full article at liberty blitzkrieg)

UPDATE: Trump is still using the phrase, denies that he was ever going to stop… but the swamp has certainly not been drained.

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Former UK Ambassador has “met the person who leaked” emails & says “simple logic demolishes the CIA’s claims”

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Craig Murray
December 12, 2016

“I’ve met the person who leaked them, and they are certainly not Russian and it’s an insider. It’s a leak, not a hack; the two are different things.”

The CIA’s Absence of Conviction

I have watched incredulous as the CIA’s blatant lie has grown and grown as a media story – blatant because the CIA has made no attempt whatsoever to substantiate it. There is no Russian involvement in the leaks of emails showing Clinton’s corruption. Yes this rubbish has been the lead today in the Washington Post in the US and the Guardian here, and was the lead item on the BBC main news. I suspect it is leading the American broadcasts also.

A little simple logic demolishes the CIA’s claims. The CIA claim they “know the individuals” involved. Yet under Obama the USA has been absolutely ruthless in its persecution of whistleblowers, and its pursuit of foreign hackers through extradition. We are supposed to believe that in the most vital instance imaginable, an attempt by a foreign power to destabilise a US election, even though the CIA knows who the individuals are, nobody is going to be arrested or extradited, or (if in Russia) made subject to yet more banking and other restrictions against Russian individuals? Plainly it stinks. The anonymous source claims of “We know who it was, it was the Russians” are beneath contempt.

As Julian Assange has made crystal clear, the leaks did not come from the Russians. As I have explained countless times, they are not hacks, they are insider leaks – there is a major difference between the two. And it should be said again and again, that if Hillary Clinton had not connived with the DNC to fix the primary schedule to disadvantage Bernie, if she had not received advance notice of live debate questions to use against Bernie, if she had not accepted massive donations to the Clinton foundation and family members in return for foreign policy influence, if she had not failed to distance herself from some very weird and troubling people, then none of this would have happened.

The continued ability of the mainstream media to claim the leaks lost Clinton the election because of “Russia”, while still never acknowledging the truths the leaks reveal, is Kafkaesque.

I had a call from a Guardian journalist this afternoon. The astonishing result was that for three hours, an article was accessible through the Guardian front page which actually included the truth among the CIA hype:

The Kremlin has rejected the hacking accusations, while the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has previously said the DNC leaks were not linked to Russia. A second senior official cited by the Washington Post conceded that intelligence agencies did not have specific proof that the Kremlin was “directing” the hackers, who were said to be one step removed from the Russian government.

 

Craig Murray, the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, who is a close associate of Assange, called the CIA claims “bullshit”, adding: “They are absolutely making it up.”

 

“I know who leaked them,” Murray said. “I’ve met the person who leaked them, and they are certainly not Russian and it’s an insider. It’s a leak, not a hack; the two are different things.

 

“If what the CIA are saying is true, and the CIA’s statement refers to people who are known to be linked to the Russian state, they would have arrested someone if it was someone inside the United States.

 

“America has not been shy about arresting whistleblowers and it’s not been shy about extraditing hackers. They plainly have no knowledge whatsoever.”

But only three hours. While the article was not taken down, the home page links to it vanished and it was replaced by a ludicrous one repeating the mad CIA allegations against Russia and now claiming – incredibly – that the CIA believe the FBI is deliberately blocking the information on Russian collusion. Presumably this totally nutty theory, that Putin is somehow now controlling the FBI, is meant to answer my obvious objection that, if the CIA know who it is, why haven’t they arrested somebody. That bit of course would be the job of the FBI, who those desperate to annul the election now wish us to believe are the KGB.

It is terrible that the prime conduit for this paranoid nonsense is a once great newspaper, the Washington Post, which far from investigating executive power, now is a sounding board for totally evidence free anonymous source briefing of utter bullshit from the executive.

In the UK, one single article sums up the total abnegation of all journalistic standards. The truly execrable Jonathan Freedland of the Guardian writes “Few credible sources doubt that Russia was behind the hacking of internal Democratic party emails, whose release by Julian Assange was timed to cause maximum pain to Hillary Clinton and pleasure for Trump.” Does he produce any evidence at all for this assertion? No, none whatsoever. What does a journalist mean by a “credible source”? Well, any journalist worth their salt in considering the credibility of a source will first consider access. Do they credibly have access to the information they claim to have?

Now both Julian Assange and I have stated definitively the leak does not come from Russia. Do we credibly have access? Yes, very obviously. Very, very few people can be said to definitely have access to the source of the leak. The people saying it is not Russia are those who do have access. After access, you consider truthfulness. Do Julian Assange and I have a reputation for truthfulness? Well in 10 years not one of the tens of thousands of documents WikiLeaks has released has had its authenticity successfully challenged. As for me, I have a reputation for inconvenient truth telling.

Contrast this to the “credible sources” Freedland relies on. What access do they have to the whistleblower? Zero. They have not the faintest idea who the whistleblower is. Otherwise they would have arrested them. What reputation do they have for truthfulness? It’s the Clinton gang and the US government, for goodness sake.

In fact, the sources any serious journalist would view as “credible” give the opposite answer to the one Freedland wants. But in what passes for Freedland’s mind, “credible” is 100% synonymous with “establishment”. When he says “credible sources” he means “establishment sources”. That is the truth of the “fake news” meme. You are not to read anything unless it is officially approved by the elite and their disgusting, crawling whores of stenographers like Freedland.

The worst thing about all this is that it is aimed at promoting further conflict with Russia. This puts everyone in danger for the sake of more profits for the arms and security industries – including of course bigger budgets for the CIA. As thankfully the four year agony of Aleppo comes swiftly to a close today, the Saudi and US armed and trained ISIS forces counter by moving to retake Palmyra. This game kills people, on a massive scale, and goes on and on.

craigmurray.org.uk

Craig Murray is a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, and was the Rector of the University of Dundee

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Top US Spy Agency Refuses To Endorse CIA’s Russian Hacking Assessment Due To “Lack Of Evidence”

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Zero Hedge : December 12, 2016

When the WaPo posted last Friday’s story about a “secret” CIA assessment that Russian cyber attacks were aimed at helping Republican President-elect Donald Trump win the 2016 election, the readers of the Bezos-owned publication took it as gospel, despite, as we promptly noted, there being no evidence provided by the CIA, and as we learned today, the FBI openly resisting the CIA’s assessment. It now appears that once again the WaPo may have been engaging in “partial fake news”, as it did with its Nov. 24 story about “Russian propaganda fake media.”

According to Reuters, the so-called overseers of the U.S. intelligence community as it supervises the 17 agency-strong U.S. intelligence community, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), while not disputing the CIA’s analysis of Russian hacking operations – something which would be unprecedented for the US spy industry and would telegraph just how partisan and broken the country’s intelligence apparatus has become – has refused to endorse the CIA’s assessment “because of a lack of conclusive evidence” that Moscow intended to boost Trump over Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

As Reuters conveniently notes, the ODNI position could give Trump fresh ammunition to dispute the CIA assessment, which he rejected as “ridiculous” in weekend remarks, and press his assertion that no evidence implicates Russia in the cyber attacks. The ODNI’s position confirms that Trump was once again, you guessed it, right.

ODNI is not arguing that the agency (CIA) is wrong, only that they can’t prove intent,” said one of the three U.S. officials.

As reported earlier, the FBI, whose evidentiary standards require it to make cases that can stand up in court, likewise declined to accept the CIA’s analysis – a deductive assessment of the available intelligence – for the same reason, the three officials said.

The ODNI, headed by James Clapper, was established after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the recommendation of the commission that investigated the attacks. The commission, which identified major intelligence failures, recommended the office’s creation to improve coordination among U.S. intelligence agencies.

As a reminder, the first hint that the US would scapegoat Russia for an “unexpected election outcome” took place on October 7, when the U.S. government formally accused Russia of a campaign of cyber attacks against American political organizations ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential election. Back then, president Barack Obama has said he warned Russian President Vladimir Putin about consequences for the attacks. Reports of the assessment by the CIA, which has not publicly disclosed its findings, have prompted congressional leaders to call for an investigation.

The narrative escalated rapidly last week, when outgoing president Obama ordered intelligence agencies to review the cyber attacks and foreign intervention in the presidential election and to deliver a report before he turns power over to Trump on Jan. 20.

So how did the CIA come to its conclusion?

According to Reuters, the agency assessed after the election that the attacks on political organizations were aimed at swaying the vote for Trump because the targeting of Republican organizations diminished toward the end of the summer and focused on Democratic groups, a senior U.S. official told Reuters on Friday. Moreover, only materials filched from Democratic groups – such as emails stolen from John Podesta, the Clinton campaign chairman – were made public via WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy organization, and other outlets, U.S. officials said.

The CIA conclusion – one of induction and no supporting evidence – was a “judgment based on the fact that Russian entities hacked both Democrats and Republicans and only the Democratic information was leaked,” one of the three officials said on Monday. “(It was) a thin reed upon which to base an analytical judgment,” the official added.

Earlier Monday, Senator John McCain said on Monday also confronted the CIA’s assessment, saying there was “no information” that Russian hacking of American political organizations was aimed at swaying the outcome of the election. “It’s obvious that the Russians hacked into our campaigns,” McCain said. “But there is no information that they were intending to affect the outcome of our election and that’s why we need a congressional investigation,” he told Reuters.

(read the full article at zero hedge)

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A “Soft Coup” Attempt: Furious Trump Slams “Secret” CIA Report Russia Helped Him Win

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Zero Hedge: December 10, 2016

Overnight the media propaganda wars escalated after the late Friday release of an article by the Washington Post (which last week admitted to using unverified, or fake, news in an attempt to smear other so-called “fake news” sites) according to which a secret CIA assessment found that Russia sought to tip last month’s U.S. presidential election in Donald Trump’s favor, a conclusion presented without any actual evidence, and which drew an extraordinary, and angry rebuke from the president-elect’s camp.

“These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” Trump’s transition team said, launching a broadside against the spy agency. “The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again.’ ”

The Washington Post report comes after outgoing President Barack Obama ordered a review of all cyberattacks that took place during the 2016 election cycle, amid growing calls from Congress for more information on the extent of Russian interference in the campaign. The newspaper cited officials briefed on the matter as saying that individuals with connections to Moscow provided WikiLeaks with email hacked from the Democratic National Committee, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign chief and others.

Without a shred of evidence provided, and despite Wikileaks’ own on the record denial that the source of the emails was Russian, the WaPo attack piece claims the email messages were steadily leaked out via WikiLeaks in the months before the election, damaging Clinton’s White House run. Essentially, according to the WaPo, the Russians’ aim was to help Donald Trump win and not just undermine the U.S. electoral process, hinting at a counter-Hillary intent on the side of Putin.

“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” the newspaper quoted a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation last week to key senators as saying. “That’s the consensus view.”

CIA agents told the lawmakers it was “quite clear” – although it was not reported exactly what made it “clear” – that electing Trump was Russia’s goal, according to officials who spoke to the Post, citing growing evidence from multiple sources.

And yet, key questions remain unanswered, and the CIA’s report fell short of being a formal U.S. assessment produced by all 17 intelligence agencies the newspaper said, for two reasons. As we reported in November “The “Fact” That 17 Intelligence Agencies Confirmed Russia is Behind the Email Hacks Isn’t Actually…A “Fact“, and then also because aside from so-called “consensus”, there is – once again no evidence, otherwise the appropriate agencies would have long since released it, and this is nothing more than another propaganda attempt to build tension with Russia. In fact, the WaPo admits as much in the following text, which effectively destroys the article’s entire argument :

The CIA presentation to senators about Russia’s intentions fell short of a formal U.S. assessment produced by all 17 intelligence agencies. A senior U.S. official said there were minor disagreements among intelligence officials about the agency’s assessment, in part because some questions remain unanswered.

For example, intelligence agencies do not have specific intelligence showing officials in the Kremlin “directing” the identified individuals to pass the Democratic emails to WikiLeaks, a second senior U.S. official said. Those actors, according to the official, were “one step” removed from the Russian government, rather than government employees. Moscow has in the past used middlemen to participate in sensitive intelligence operations so it has plausible deniability.

* * *

 

 “I’ll be the first one to come out and point at Russia if there’s clear evidence, but there is no clear evidence — even now,” said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a member of the Trump transition team. “There’s a lot of innuendo, lots of circumstantial evidence, that’s it.”

And since even the WaPo is forced to admit that intelligence agents don’t have the proof that Russian officials directed the identified individuals to supply WikiLeaks with the hacked Democratic emails, the best it can do is speculate based on circumstantial inferences, especially since, as noted above, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has denied links with Russia’s government, putting the burden of proof on the side of those who challenge the Wikileaks narrative. So far that proof has not been provided.

Nonetheless, at the White House, Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said Obama called for the cyberattacks review earlier this week to ensure “the integrity of our elections.”

“This report will dig into this pattern of malicious cyberactivity timed to our elections, take stock of our defensive capabilities and capture lessons learned to make sure that we brief members of Congress and stakeholders as appropriate,” Schultz said.

Taking the absurdity to a whole new level, Obama wants the report completed before his term ends on January 20, by none other than a proven and confirmed liar: “The review will be led by James Clapper, the outgoing director of national intelligence, officials said.” In other words, the report that the Kremlin stole the election should be prepared by the time Trump is expected to be sworn in.

“We are going to make public as much as we can,” the spokesman added. “This is a major priority for the president.”

The move comes after Democrats in Congress pressed the White House to reveal details, to Congress or to the public, of Russian hacking and disinformation in the election.

On Oct. 7, one month before the election, the Department of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence announced that “the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of emails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations.” “These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process,” they said.

Trump dismissed those findings in an interview published Wednesday by Time magazine for its “Person of the Year” award. Asked if the intelligence was politicized, Trump answered: “I think so.”

“I don’t believe they interfered,” he said. “It could be Russia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey.”

Worried that Trump will sweep the issue under the rug after his inauguration, seven Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee called on Nov. 29 for the White House to declassify what it knows about Russian interference. The seven have already been briefed on the classified details, suggesting they believe there is more information the public should know. On Tuesday this week, leading House Democrats called on Obama to give members of the entire Congress a classified briefing on Russian interference, from hacking to the spreading of fake news stories to mislead U.S. voters.

Republicans in Congress have also promised hearings into Russian activities once the new administration comes in.

Obama’s homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco said the cyberinterference goes back to the 2008 presidential race, when both the Obama and John McCain campaigns were hit by malicious computer intrusions.

(read full articvl

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Official Washington’s ‘Info-Wars’

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William Blum
strategic-culture: December 2, 2016

On November 16, at a State Department press briefing, department spokesperson John Kirby was having one of his frequent adversarial dialogues with Gayane Chichakyan, a reporter for RT (Russia Today); this time concerning U.S. charges of Russia bombing hospitals in Syria and blocking the U.N. from delivering aid to the trapped population.

When Chichakyan asked for some detail about these charges, Kirby replied: “Why don’t you ask your defense ministry?”

GC: Do you – can you give any specific information on when Russia or the Syrian Government blocked the UN from delivering aid? Just any specific information.

KIRBY: There hasn’t been any aid delivered in the last month.

GC: And you believe it was blocked exclusively by Russia and the Syrian Government?

KIRBY: There’s no question in our mind that the obstruction is coming from the regime and from Russia. No question at all.…

MATTHEW LEE (Associated Press): Let me –- hold on, just let me say: Please be careful about saying “your defense minister” and things like that. I mean, she’s a journalist just like the rest of us are, so it’s -– she’s asking pointed questions, but they’re not –

KIRBY: From a state-owned -– from a state-owned –

LEE: But they’re not –

KIRBY: From a state-owned outlet, Matt.

LEE: But they’re not –

KIRBY: From a state-owned outlet that’s not independent.

LEE: The questions that she’s asking are not out of line.

KIRBY: I didn’t say the questions were out of line…

KIRBY: I’m sorry, but I’m not going to put Russia Today on the same level with the rest of you who are representing independent media outlets.

One has to wonder if State Department spokesperson Kirby knows that in 2011 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking about RT, declared: “The Russians have opened an English-language network. I’ve seen it in a few countries, and it is quite instructive.”

I also wonder how Mr. Kirby deals with reporters from the BBC, a STATE-OWNED television and radio entity in the U.K., broadcasting in the U.S. and all around the world.

Or the state-owned Australian Broadcasting Corporation, described by Wikipedia as follows: “The corporation provides television, radio, online and mobile services throughout metropolitan and regional Australia, as well as overseas… and is well regarded for quality and reliability as well as for offering educational and cultural programming that the commercial sector would be unlikely to supply on its own.”

There’s also Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, Radio Liberty (Central/Eastern Europe), and Radio Marti (Cuba); all (U.S.) state-owned, none “independent”, but all deemed worthy enough by the United States to feed to the world.

And let’s not forget what Americans have at home: PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) and NPR (National Public Radio), which would have a near-impossible time surviving without large federal government grants. How independent does this leave them? Has either broadcaster ever unequivocally opposed a modern American war? There’s good reason NPR has long been known as National Pentagon Radio. But it’s part of American media’s ideology to pretend that it doesn’t have any ideology.

As to the non-state American media … There are about 1,400 daily newspapers in the United States. Can you name a single paper, or a single TV network, that was unequivocally opposed to the American wars carried out against Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Panama, Grenada, and Vietnam while they were happening, or shortly thereafter? Or even opposed to any two of these seven wars? How about one?

In 1968, six years into the Vietnam War, the Boston Globe (Feb. 18, 1968) surveyed the editorial positions of 39 leading U.S. papers concerning the war and found that “none advocated a pull-out.” Has the phrase “invasion of Vietnam” ever appeared in the U.S. mainstream media?

In 2003, leading cable station MSNBC took the much-admired Phil Donahue off the air because of his opposition to the calls for war in Iraq. Mr. Kirby would undoubtedly call MSNBC “independent.”

If the American mainstream media were officially state-controlled, would they look or sound significantly different when it comes to U.S. foreign policy?

New Cold War Propaganda

On Nov. 25, the Washington Post ran an article entitled: “Research ties ‘fake news’ to Russia.” It’s all about how sources in Russia are flooding American media and the Internet with phony stories designed as “part of a broadly effective strategy of sowing distrust in U.S. democracy and its leaders.”

“The sophistication of the Russian tactics,” the article says, “may complicate efforts by Facebook and Google to crack down on ‘fake news’.”

The Post states that the Russian tactics included “penetrating the computers of election officials in several states and releasing troves of hacked emails that embarrassed Clinton in the final months of her campaign.” (Heretofore this had been credited to Wikileaks.)

The story is simply bursting with anti-Russian references:

–An online magazine header – “Trolling for Trump: How Russia Is Trying to Destroy Our Democracy.”
–“the startling reach and effectiveness of Russian propaganda campaigns.”
–“more than 200 websites as routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season.”
–“stories planted or promoted by the disinformation campaign were viewed more than 213 million times.”
–“The Russian campaign during this election season … worked by harnessing the online world’s fascination with ‘buzzy’ content that is surprising and emotionally potent, and tracks with popular conspiracy theories about how secret forces dictate world events.”
–“Russian-backed phony news to outcompete traditional news organizations for audience”
–“They use our technologies and values against us to sow doubt. It’s starting to undermine our democratic system.”
–“Russian propaganda operations also worked to promote the ‘Brexit’ departure of Britain from the European Union.”
–“Some of these stories originated with RT and Sputnik, state-funded Russian information services that mimic the style and tone of independent news organizations yet sometimes include false and misleading stories in their reports.”
–“a variety of other false stories — fake reports of a coup launched at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey and stories about how the United States was going to conduct a military attack and blame it on Russia”

A former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, is quoted saying he was “struck by the overt support that Sputnik expressed for Trump during the campaign, even using the #CrookedHillary hashtag pushed by the candidate.” McFaul said Russian propaganda typically is aimed at weakening opponents and critics.

“They don’t try to win the argument. It’s to make everything seem relative. It’s kind of an appeal to cynicism.” [Cynicism? Heavens! What will those Moscow fascists/communists think of next?]

The Post did, however, include the following: “RT disputed the findings of the researchers in an e-mail on Friday, saying it played no role in producing or amplifying any fake news stories related to the U.S. election.” RT was quoted: “It is the height of irony that an article about ‘fake news’ is built on false, unsubstantiated claims. RT adamantly rejects any and all claims and insinuations that the network has originated even a single ‘fake story’ related to the US election.”

It must be noted that the Washington Post article fails to provide a single example showing how the actual facts of a specific news event were rewritten or distorted by a Russian agency to produce a news event with a contrary political message.

What then lies behind such blatant anti-Russian propaganda? In the new Cold War such a question requires no answer. The new Cold War by definition exists to discredit Russia simply because it stands in the way of American world domination. In the new Cold War, the political spectrum in the mainstream media runs the gamut from A to B.

Source: strategic-culture

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