Ex-US Officer to Al-Manar: My Country’s Government Stands on the Wrong Side

November 25, 2022

Former US army officer Scott Bennett stressed that the American people have been through years deceived by the pro-Zionist media, underlining importance of addressing these crowds in a bid to “let them know the truth” about Palestine, Hezbollah and other resistance factions in the region.

In a recent exclusive interview, the ex-officer in the US’ 11th Psychological Operations Battalion revealed to Batoul Wehbe, the Editor-in-chief of Al-Manar English Website, how the US administration funded ISIS (ISIL), Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra Front and other terrorists.

He narrated how he was jailed by the US government after he exposed the US support to Takifris in the region.

Mr. Bennett also slammed double standards in dealing with Ukraine and Palestine, as he revealed that the 9/11 attacks in 2001 was plotted by the Zionists.

“Americans Brainwashed”

The former US officer described the American people as “brainwashed”, noting that they “need to wake up” and stand by the Palestinian people against Israeli crimes.

He pointed to a change in the political powers in the world, “with the decrease of the western influence and the rise of independent states.”

Asked about the possibility of having a third Intifada in Palestine, Mr. Bennett said: “we may be in the verge of the Israelis being foolish enough to start another fight but if they do they will lose it and they will also recognize no one in America or Europe supports Israel’s genocide, apartheid and racist bigotry.”

Ukraine: Hypocrisy, Double Standards
Talking about Ukraine, the former Psychological officer slammed what he called “hypocrisy and double standards” in dealing with Ukraine and Palestine.

In this context, he stressed that Ukraine is “a wasted effort”, adding that the US and the EU “stand on the wrong side” while Russia “stands on the right side.”

Affirming that Russia has already won the war against Ukraine, he pointed to US’ betrayal of Europe and destroying its gas ability, expecting a ‘revolution’ against Washington in the European countries this winter.

Bennet Exposed US’ Financing of Terrorists

Asked to define terrorism, Dr. Bennett narrated how he came out as a “different man” after being jailed because of a report he handed over to the US army command that exposed the US government’s financing of terrorists.

He also mentioned that he had worked with American whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Hezbollah and Sayyed Nasrallah Psychological Tactics

Praising Hezbollah’s Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah as a powerful speaker, Mr. Bennett hoped that Sayyed Nasrallah can address the western crowds and “tell them the truth.”

He noted meanwhile, that America “is greatly suffering as t’s embroiling with all kinds of perversions,” stressing that this country “needs to be spiritually healed.”

9/11 Attacks Plotted by Zionists, CIA

The US Psychological analyst lashed out at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “war criminal.” In this context, he revealed that the Zionist entity’s Mossad was behind the 9/11 attacks in 2001, alongside with intelligence of several other countries.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

CALL OF DUTY IS A GOVERNMENT PSYOP: THESE DOCUMENTS PROVE IT

NOVEMBER 18TH, 2022


ALAN MACLEOD

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II has been available for less than three weeks, but it is already making waves. Breaking records, within ten days, the first-person military shooter video game earned more than $1 billion in revenue. Yet it has also been shrouded in controversy, not least because missions include assassinating an Iranian general clearly based on Qassem Soleimani, a statesman and military leader slain by the Trump administration in 2020, and a level where players must shoot “drug traffickers” attempting to cross the U.S./Mexico border.

The Call of Duty franchise is an entertainment juggernaut, having sold close to half a billion games since it was launched in 2003. Its publisher, Activision Blizzard, is a giant in the industry, behind titles games as the Guitar HeroWarcraftStarcraftTony Hawk’s Pro SkaterCrash Bandicoot and Candy Crush Saga series.

Yet a closer inspection of Activision Blizzard’s key staff and their connections to state power, as well as details gleaned from documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, reveal that Call of Duty is not a neutral first-person shooter, but a carefully constructed piece of military propaganda, designed to advance the interests of the U.S. national security state.

MILITARY-ENTERTAINMENT COMPLEX

It has long been a matter of public record that American spies have targeted and penetrated Activision Blizzard games. Documents released by Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA, CIA, FBI and Department of Defense infiltrated the vast online realms such as World of Warcraft, creating make-believe characters to monitor potential illegal activity and recruit informers. Indeed, at one point, there were so many U.S. spies in one video game that they had to create a “deconfliction” group as they were wasting time unwittingly surveilling each other. Virtual games, the NSA wrote, were an “opportunity” and a “target-rich communication network”.

However, documents obtained legally under the Freedom of Information Act by journalist and researcher Tom Secker and shared with MintPress News show that the connections between the national security state and the video game industry go far beyond this, and into active collaboration.

In September 2018, for example, the United States Air Force flew a group of entertainment executives – including Call of Duty/Activision Blizzard producer Coco Francini – to their headquarters at Hurlburt Field, Florida. The explicit reason for doing so, they wrote, was to “showcase” their hardware and to make the entertainment industry more “credible advocates” for the U.S. war machine.

“We’ve got a bunch of people working on future blockbusters (think Marvel, Call of Duty, etc.) stoked about this trip!” wrote one Air Force officer. Another email notes that the point of the visit was to provide “heavy-hitter” producers with “AFSOC [Air Force Special Operations Command] immersion focused on Special Tactics Airmen and air-to-ground capabilities.”

“This is a great opportunity to educate this community and make them more credible advocates for us in the production of any future movies/television productions on the Air Force and our Special Tactics community,” wrote the AFSOC community relations chief.

Francini and others were shown CV-22 helicopters and AC-130 planes in action, both of which feature heavily in Call of Duty games.

Yet Call of Duty collaboration with the military goes back much further. The documents show that the United States Marine Corps (USMC) was involved in the production of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Call of Duty 5. The games’ producers approached the USMC at the 2010 E3 entertainment convention in Los Angeles, requesting access to hovercrafts (vehicles which later appeared in the game). Call of Duty 5 executives also asked for use of a hovercraft, a tank and a C-130 aircraft.

This collaboration continued in 2012 with the release of Modern Warfare 4, where producers requested access to all manner of air and ground vehicles.

Secker told MintPress that, by collaborating with the gaming industry, the military ensures a positive portrayal that can help it reach recruitment targets, stating that,

For certain demographics of gamers it’s a recruitment portal, some first-person shooters have embedded adverts within the games themselves…Even without this sort of explicit recruitment effort, games like Call of Duty make warfare seem fun, exciting, an escape from the drudgery of their normal lives.”

Secker’s documentary, “Theaters of War: How the Pentagon and CIA Took Hollywood” was released earlier this year.

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The military clearly held considerable influence over the direction of Call of Duty games. In 2010, its producers approached the Department of Defense (DoD) for help on a game set in 2075. However, the DoD liaison “expressed concern that [the] scenario being considered involves future war with China.” As a result, Activision Blizzard began “looking at other possible conflicts to design the game around.” In the end, due in part to military objections, the game was permanently abandoned.

FROM WAR ON TERROR TO FIRST-PERSON SHOOTERS

Not only does Activision Blizzard work with the U.S. military to shape its products, but its leadership board is also full of former high state officials. Chief amongst these is Frances Townsend, Activision Blizzard’s senior counsel, and, until September, its chief compliance officer and executive vice president for corporate affairs.

Prior to joining Activision Blizzard, Townsend spent her life working her way up the rungs of the national security state. Previously serving as head of intelligence for the Coast Guard and as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s counterterrorism deputy, in 2004, President Bush appointed her to his Intelligence Advisory Board.

As the White House’s most senior advisor on terrorism and homeland security, Townsend worked closely with Bush and Rice, and became one of the faces of the administration’s War on Terror. One of her principal achievements was to whip the American public into a constant state of fear about the supposed threat of more Al-Qaeda attacks (which never came).

Frances Townsend
Before she joined Activision Blizzard, Frances Townsend worked in Homeland Security and Counterterrorism for the Bush White House. Ron Edmonds | AP

As part of her job, Townsend helped popularize the term “enhanced interrogation techniques” – a Bush-era euphemism for torturing detainees. Worse still, Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, the officer in charge of the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, alleged that Townsend put pressure on him to ramp up the torture program, reminding him “many, many times” that he needed to improve the intelligence output from the Iraqi jail.

Townsend has denied these allegations. She also later condemned the “handcuff[ing]” and “humiliation” surrounding Abu Ghraib. She was not referring to the prisoners, however. In an interview with CNN, she lamented that “these career professionals” – CIA torturers – had been subject to “humiliation and opprobrium” after details of their actions were made public, meaning that future administrations would be “handcuffed” by the fear of bad publicity, while the intelligence community would become more “risk-averse”.

During the Trump administration, Townsend was hotly tipped to become the Director of National Intelligence or the Secretary of Homeland Security. President Trump also approached her for the role of director of the FBI. Instead, however, Townsend took a seemingly incongruous career detour to become an executive at a video games company.

ENTER THE WAR PLANNERS

In addition to this role, Townsend is a director of the NATO offshoot, the Atlantic Council, a director at the Council on Foreign Relations, and a trustee of the hawkish think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a group MintPress News has previously covered in detail.

Funded by weapons companies, NATO and the U.S. government, the Atlantic Council serves as the military alliance’s brain trust, devising strategies on how best to manage the world. Also on its board of directors are high statespersons like Henry Kissinger and Conzoleezza Rice, virtually every retired U.S. general of note, and no fewer than seven former directors of the CIA. As such, the Atlantic Council represents the collective opinion of the national security state.

Two more key Call of Duty staff also work for the Atlantic Council. Chance Glasco, a co-founder of Infinity Ward developers who oversaw the game franchise’s rapid rise, is the council’s nonresident senior fellow, advising top generals and political leaders on the latest developments in tech.

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Game designer and producer Dave Anthony, crucial to Call of Duty’s success, is also an Atlantic Council employee, joining the group in 2014. There, he advises them on what the future of warfare will look like, and devises strategies for NATO to fight in upcoming conflicts.

Anthony has made no secret that he collaborated with the U.S. national security state while making the Call of Duty franchise. “My greatest honor was to consult with Lieut. Col. Oliver North on the story of Black Ops 2,” he stated publicly, adding, There are so many small details we could never have known about if it wasn’t for his involvement.”

Oliver North is a high government official gained worldwide infamy after being convicted for his role in the Iran-Contra Affair, whereby his team secretly sold weapons to the government of Iran, using the money to arm and train fascist death squads in Central America – groups who attempted to overthrow the government of Nicaragua and carried out waves of massacres and ethnic cleansing in the process.

REPUBLICANS FOR HIRE

Another eyebrow-raising hire is Activision Blizzard’s chief administration officer, Brian Bulatao. A former Army captain and consultant for McKinsey & Company, until 2018, he was chief operating officer for the CIA, placing him third in command of the agency. When CIA Director Mike Pompeo moved over to the State Department, becoming Trump’s Secretary of State, Bulatao went with him, and was appointed Under Secretary of State for Management.

There, by some accounts, he served as Pompeo’s personal “attack dog,” with former colleagues describing him as a “bully” who brought a “cloud of intimidation” over the workplace, repeatedly pressing them to ignore potential illegalities happening at the department. Thus, it is unclear if Bulatao is the man to improve Activision Blizzard’s notoriously “toxic” workplace environment that caused dozens of employees to walk out en masse last summer.

After the Trump administration’s electoral defeat, Bulatao went straight from the State Department into the highest echelons of Activision Blizzard, despite no experience in the entertainment industry.

Donald Trump,
Trump stands with then-CIA Chief Operations Officer Brian Bulatao at CIA Headquarters, May 21, 2018, in Langley, Va. Evan Vucci | AP

The third senior Republican official Activision Blizzard has recruited to its upper ranks is Grant Dixton. Between 2003 and 2006, Dixton served as associate counsel to President Bush, advising him on many of his administration’s most controversial legal activities (such as torture and the rapid expansion of the surveillance state). A lawyer by trade, he later went on to work for weapons manufacturer Boeing, rising to become its senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary. In June 2021, he left Boeing to join Activision Blizzard as its chief legal officer.

Other Activision Blizzard executives with backgrounds in national security include senior vice president and chief information security officer Brett Wahlin, who was a U.S. Army counterintelligence agent, and chief of staff, Angela Alvarez, who, until 2016, was an Army chemical operations specialist.

That the same government that was infiltrating games 10-15 years ago now has so many former officials controlling the very game companies raises serious questions around privacy and state control over media, and mirrors the national security state penetration of social media that has occurred over the same timeframe.

WAR GAMES

These deep connections to the U.S. national security state can perhaps help partly explain why, for years, many have complained about the blatant pro-U.S. propaganda apparent throughout the games.

The latest installment, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, is no exception. In the game’s first mission, players must carry out a drone strike against a character named

The latest installment, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, is no exception. In the game’s first mission, players must carry out a drone strike against a character named General Ghorbrani. The mission is obviously a recreation of the Trump administration’s illegal 2020 drone strike against Iranian General Qassem Soleimani – the in game general even bears a striking resemblance to Soleimani.

General Ghorbrani
The latest Call of Duty game has players assassinate a General Ghorbrani, a nebulous reference to Iranian General Qassem Solemani, pictured right

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II ludicrously presents the general as under Russia’s thumb and claims that Ghorbrani is “supplying terrorists” with aid. In reality, Soleimani was the key force in defeating ISIS terror across the Middle East – actions for which even Western media declared him a “hero”. U.S.-run polls found that Soleimani was perhaps the most popular leader in the Middle East, with over 80% of Iranians holding a positive opinion of him.

Straight after the assassination, Pompeo’s State Department floated the falsehood that the reason they killed Soleimani was that he was on the verge of carrying out a terror attack against Americans. In reality, Soleimani was in Baghdad, Iraq, for peace talks with Saudi Arabia.

These negotiations could have led to peace between the two nations, something that the U.S. government is dead against. Then-Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi revealed that he had personally asked President Trump for permission to invite Soleimani. Trump agreed, then used the opportunity to carry out the killing.

Therefore,, just as Activision Blizzard is recruiting top State Department officials to its upper ranks, its games are celebrating the same State Department’s most controversial assassinations.

This is far from the first time Call of Duty has instructed impressionable young gamers to kill foreign leaders, however. In Call of Duty Black Ops (2010), players must complete a mission to murder Cuban leader Fidel Castro. If they manage to shoot him in the head, they are rewarded with an extra gory slow motion scene and obtain a bronze “Death to Dictators” trophy. Thus, players are forced to carry out digitally what Washington failed to do on over 600 occasions.

Call of Duty: Black Ops
A mission from “Call of Duty: Black Ops” has players assassinate a hostage-taking Fidel Castro

Likewise, Call of Duty: Ghosts is set in Venezuela, where players fight against General Almagro, a socialist military leader clearly modelled on former president Hugo Chavez. Like Chavez, Almagro wears a red beret and uses Venezuela’s oil wealth to forge an alliance of independent Latin American nations against the U.S. Washington attempted to overthrow Chavez and his successor, Nicolás Maduro, multiple times. During the sixth mission of the game, players must shoot and kill Almagro from close range.

The anti-Russian propaganda is also turned up to 11 in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019). One mission recreates the infamous Highway of Death incident. During the First Iraq War, U.S.-led forces trapped fleeing Iraqi troops on Highway 80. What followed was what then-Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell described as “wanton killing” and “slaughter for slaughter’s sake” as U.S. troops and their allies pummeled the Iraqi convoy for hours, killing hundreds and destroying thousands of vehicles. U.S. forces also reportedly shot hundreds of Iraqi civilians and surrendered soldiers in their care.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare recreates this scene for dramatic effect. However, in their version, it is not the U.S.-led forces doing the killing, but Russia, thereby whitewashing a war crime by pinning the blame on official enemies.

A mission in “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” has players recreate the infamous highway of death

Call of Duty, in particular, has been flagged up for recreating real events as game missions and manipulating them for geopolitical purposes,” Secker told MintPress, referring to the Highway of Death, adding,

In a culture where most people’s exposure to games (and films, TV shows and so on) is far greater than their knowledge of historical and current events, these manipulations help frame the gamers’ emotional, intellectual and political reactions. This helps them turn into more general advocates for militarism, even if they don’t sign up in any formal way.”

Secker’s latest book, “Superheroes, Movies and the State: How the U.S. Government Shapes Cinematic Universes,” was published earlier this year.

GAME OVER

In today’s digitized era, the worlds of war and video games increasingly resemble one another. Many have commented on the similarities between piloting drones in real life and in games such as Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Prince Harry, who was a helicopter gunner in Afghanistan, described his “joy” at firing missiles at enemies. “I’m one of those people who loves playing PlayStation and Xbox, so with my thumbs I like to think I’m probably quite useful,” he said. “If there’s people trying to do bad stuff to our guys, then we’ll take them out of the game,” he added, explicitly comparing the two activities. U.S. forces even control drones with Xbox controllers, blurring the lines between war games and war games even further.

The military has also directly produced video games as promotional and recruitment tools. One is a U.S. Air Force game called Airman Challenge. Featuring 16 missions to complete, interspersed with facts and recruitment information about how to become a drone operator yourself. In its latest attempts to market active service to young people, players move through missions escorting U.S. vehicles through countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, serving up death from above to all those designated “insurgents” by the game.

Players earn medals and achievements for most effectively destroying moving targets. All the while, there is a prominent “apply now” button on screen if players feel like enlisting and conducting real drone strikes on the Middle East.

U.S. Armed Forces use the popularity of video games to recruit heavily among young people, sponsoring gaming tournaments, fielding their own U.S. Army Esports team, and directly trying to recruit teens on streaming sites such as Twitch. The Amazon-owned platform eventually had to clamp down on the practice after the military used fake prize giveaways that lured impressionable young viewers onto recruitment websites.

Video games are a massive business and a huge center of soft power and ideology. The medium makes for particularly persuasive propaganda because children and adolescents consume them, often for weeks or months on end, and because they are light entertainment. Because of this, users do not have their guards up like if they were listening to a politician speaking. Their power is often overlooked by scholars and journalists because of the supposed frivolity of the medium. But it is the very notion that these are unimportant sources of fun that makes their message all the more potent.

The Call of Duty franchise is particularly egregious, not only in its messaging, but because who the messengers are. Increasingly, the games appear to be little more than American propaganda masquerading as fun first-person shooters. For gamers, the point is to enjoy its fast-paced entertainment. But for those involved in their production, the goal is not just making money; it is about serving the imperial war machine.

Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

The persecution of Graham Phillips by the UK government

September 06, 2022

Dear friends

About a month ago I wrote about the truly Orwellian persecution of the journalist Graham Phillips by the UK government and I did a short Q&A with Graham himself.  Graham has sent me s number official document regarding his case, I concatenated them into one PDF which I will now share with you:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1nf-QOTN1H4feYcekUeKVEMorPEF_7maI/preview

This is a scary, but very interesting read.  One thing is very very clear: Graham’s “crime” is that he dared to disagree with the official narrative: for pages and pages the UK officials denounce Graham for daring to call the Ukronazis “Nazis”.  He is also guilty of “obfuscating” the false flag massacre in Bucha.  All of which makes him a “involved person”.  Here is just one “great” example of how these folks think: (excerpt from the document)

Summary: Guardian article which offers a profile on Graham PHILLIPS. It notes that PHILLIPS has claimed that ‘Ukraine is run by Nazis and the massacre of Ukrainians in Bucha was staged’. The Guardian is a highly credible source.

Ain’t that just beautiful?  Graham says that the Nazis in Kiev are Nazis and Bucha was staged.  And The Guardian is a “highly credible source”.  This is the trick which all the western Gestapos have been running for a while now: “leak” to a 100% loyal and Gestapo controlled “highly credible source”, any modern version of the Völkischer Beobachter will do, then built a case against any person daring to challenge the official narrative by, you guessed it, referencing the “credible article” in the “highly credible” Völkischer Beobachter“, and then call it all “open source intelligence” (OSINT) and all the sheep reading the said Völkischer Beobachter will jointly bleat “crucify him! crucify him!” or whatever the lynching slogan of the day might be.

Just read the full thing, it is quite worth it.  Orwell would have been absolutely fascinated to see that the UK has fully adopted his 1984 model and is now openly persecuting people for their ideas and for daring to speak their minds.

If modern journos were not the presstitutes they all are (as the French philosopher Alain Soral likes to remind us: “there are only 2 types of journalists [in the West]: prostitutes and unemployed) they would have to all rise up in horror and demand that this kind of ideological persecution be immediately stopped.  Oh, wait!  I am talking about the same people who “forgot” the vicious persecution of Julian Assange’s by the self-same UK authorities, so why would anybody expect them to speak up on behalf of Graham Philips?  Besides, with all these urgent issues which need to be addressed (LGBTQ+ “rights”, the “Putin inflation”, taking short showers to “stick it to Putin”, the triumph of black actors in white roles, the immense danger presented by schoolgirls in hijabs, the immense danger of a resurgence of “Antisemitism” and how “heroically” the Ukronazis and their brilliant leader “Ze” stand as a thin Nazi line defending Europe and democracy from the evil Rooskie Asiatic hordes which are poised to invade the entire planet, etc.)  there is simply no time to deal with such “petty” issues as journalists persecuted for doing their jobs!

So Alain Soral was wrong: there are not two, but three types of journalists in the West: prostitutes, unemployed and the viciously persecuted ones (Soral, of course, knows this, as he has been crimincally persecuted nonstop for his views).

Truth be told, the UK is definitely the worst and most Orwellian state in the West (I am not even counting the 3B+PU clowns as part of the “West” here).  Things are marginally better in the other EU countries and even in the United States which, at least on paper, still have the Bill of Rights.  That being said, all you need to do to bypass and totally ignore the Bill of Rights in the USA use the expression “national security” and, voilà, you can kidnap, torture, disappear, and basically do anything to anybody, including US citizens.  So while the UK is the worst, it is also the model towards which all of the West follows (and I won’t even mention what the UK will be like with that absolute ignorant imbecile Liz Truss in charge!).

Thank God, Graham Philips is safe for as long as he stays in Russian controlled territories, just like Snowden.  But this does not change the fact that in the UK they want to make him a “unperson“.

Of course, I could conclude here by quoting Martin Niemöller’s famous “first they came…” but I prefer to conclude with another one of my absolutely favorite aphorisms, this one by Yehuda Bauer: “Thou shalt not be a victim. Thou shalt not be a perpetrator. And above all, Thou shalt not be a bystander.  So, please, if you can, especially if you are in the UK, speak up on defense of Graham Phillips and do not allow the British ruling class hide behind your silence when crushing those who dare to speak the truth!

Andrei

PS: also make sure to watch this latest video by Graham Phillipshttp://thesaker.is/liz-truss-vs-graham-phillips-and-the-donbass-truth/

COGNITIVE WARFARE: ISRAEL TARGETS JOURNALISTS WHO THREATEN ITS REALITY-CREATION TACTICS

JUNE 23RD, 2022

Source

TODD PIERCE

They were shooting directly at the journalists: New evidence suggests Shireen Abu Akleh was killed in targeted attack by Israeli forces”. Thus read a CNN headline on May 26, 2022, for an article describing what may have been a “targeted killing,” – that is, assassination – of Al Jazeera journalist Shirleen Abu Akleh, a 51-year-old highly esteemed Palestinian-American journalist who had covered Israeli repression of the Palestinian population for about 25 years before she was killed.

With this killing and its aftermath, one knows that it is all hands on deck for an Israeli government cognitive campaign in the perpetual cognitive war Israel wages against the world, as will be explained below.

According to the CNN article, Abu Akleh was killed by a bullet to the head at around 6:30 a.m. on May 11, while standing with a group of journalists near the entrance of Jenin refugee camp as they covered an Israeli raid. “We stood in front of the Israeli military vehicles for about five to ten minutes before we made moves to ensure they saw us. And this is a habit of ours as journalists; we move as a group and we stand in front of them so they know we are journalists, and then we start moving,” a Palestinian reporter, Shatha Hanaysha, told CNN, describing their cautious approach toward the Israeli army convoy before the gunfire began.

Video recordings of the surrounding area showed the killing shots could have come only from the Israeli soldiers in specially designed “sniper” vehicles that were in direct line-of-fire positions to Abu Akleh that morning. Eyewitnesses told CNN that they “believed Israeli forces on the same street fired deliberately on the reporters in a targeted attack. All of the journalists were wearing protective blue vests that identified them as members of the news media.”

“LAWFUL TARGETS” IN A “COGNITIVE WAR”

The “blue vests” might have been what ensured the journalists would be targeted by Israeli forces, if Israeli forces see journalists as “lawful targets” in the war they continue to wage against the Palestinians, in what is in fact a continuation of the 1967 War. That is, an unrelenting military occupation in violation of international law, which constitutes a continuation of the “war.” And the evidence shows Israeli military/intel forces do see journalists as “lawful targets,” as part of the “Cognitive War” they wage against the Palestinians, but more particularly against the global population in an attempt to legitimize their military oppression of the Palestinians in their ongoing effort of “population expulsion” of the Palestinians from Palestinian territory. As Benjamin Netanyahu’s father, Benzion, proclaimed shortly before he died, this is the objective of Israel Zionists like him.

In fact, while Abu Akleh was the only journalist killed that day by Israeli forces, she wasn’t the only Palestinian journalist shot. A group of four Palestinian reporters was fired upon as well, with one also injured in the gunfire. That was not because Israeli forces had an obstructed view; footage showed a direct line of sight between the reporters and the Israeli convoy. That only one of the four was hit, besides Abu Akleh, is probably taken by military superiors as a sign that their marksmanship must be improved.

A firearms expert told CNN: “The relatively tight grouping of the rounds indicate Shireen was intentionally targeted with aimed shots and not the victim of random or stray fire.”

But an indication of how the Israeli military sees journalists, other than “reliable” Israeli press, was revealed on the day of the shooting by an Israeli military spokesperson, Ran Kochav. Kochav told Army Radio that Abu Akleh had been “filming and working for a media outlet amidst armed Palestinians. They’re armed with cameras, if you’ll permit me to say so.” And if they are “armed,” they are “lawful targets” in “war.”

In fact, the killing of journalists has been openly called for in the “flagship publication” of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, The Journal of International Security Affairs, by retired U.S. Army Officer Ralph Peters. The odious 2009 article – potentially a war crime in itself – stated: “Although it seems unthinkable now, future wars may require censorship, news blackouts, and, ultimately, military attacks on the partisan media.”

THE POWER OF “COGNITIVE WARFARE”

The Israeli military said it was conducting an investigation into the killing of Abu Akleh, and added, “assertions regarding the source of the fire that killed Ms. Abu Akleh must be carefully made and backed by hard evidence. This is what the IDF is striving to achieve.” In fact, obfuscating that is what the IDF and its Cognitive Warfare component must be seen as “striving to achieve” – at least if Israeli Cognitive War theorists, one of whom is quoted at length below, are to be believed.

Leaving it to those few journalists who report honestly to provide more facts on this assassination – as Abu Akleh would have, giving motive to Israeli forces to particularly target her with lethal fire – “Cognitive Warfare” should be explained further.

The best source for understanding the concept is Israel’s own doctrinal statements about the “cognitive domain” of warfare. A clue to that was presented when an Israeli lawyer filed a lawsuit alleging that “Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs [is] carrying out a global propaganda campaign on behalf of the Israeli government that violates human rights and is acting without authority to do so… Attorney Schachar Ben Meir’s petition demands that the High Court of Justice order a halt to the activities carried out by the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, headed by Gilad Erdan.”

The substance of the claim was that the Israeli government had approved the payment of NIS 128 million ($38 million) to a private organization called Kela-Shlomo to carry out “mass consciousness activities” within the framework of what the Ministry of Strategic Affairs calls “extra-governmental discourse.” That is, publication of government propaganda on social networks and newspapers often carried out through private businesses and non-profit organizations operating in Israel and abroad.

But to determine the correct “messages” to promote or counter requires “surveilling citizens and conducting illegal operations intended to influence and manipulate public opinion.” That is what constitutes “mass consciousness activities” – a fascist type of governmental activity if there ever was one, but “updated” to utilize “private contractors” to conduct operations, in addition to governmental military/intel assets. This explains the proliferation of “private Israeli intelligence/influence” firms.

THE MUSINGS OF A COGNITIVE WARFARE THEORIST

The current Minister of Diaspora Affairs, Nachman Shai, who in the past was a spokesperson for the Israeli military, explained and promoted the higher level to which cognitive warfare has been taken from its origins as mere “propaganda” or “hasbara,” in his book “Hearts and Minds: Israel and the Battle for Public Opinion.”

He explained that, in the expected 21st-century wars of Israel and the United States, the “principal effort will be the battle for consciousness.” He explained further:

[There] are various terms to describe the battle for consciousness. In Britain, it is called the fight for hearts and minds. The U.S. military uses the expressions psychological warfare, perception management, influence management, and information operation. The idea speaks about consciousness: the strategy of limited conflict is to win a decision of consciousness in the society with the help of military means. The battle is for the society’s consciousness and for national resilience.”

Furthermore, according to Shai: “Consciousness is not a natural and inherent concept but rather a structured process, continually shaped by interested parties and by those who wield wealth and power.” How this is done in its current terminology is described in a publication of the Israeli “Institute for National Security Studies” entitled: “The Cognitive Campaign: Strategic and Intelligence Perspectives.” Its Preface states:

It is important to distinguish between cognition and the cognitive campaign. Cognition is the set of insights that an individual or individuals have regarding the surrounding reality and the way they want to shape it, derived from the set of the values and beliefs through which they examine and interpret their environment and work to confront its inherent challenges, and even to change it. In contrast, the cognitive campaign involves the actions and tools that entities that are part of a certain campaign framework use to influence the cognition of target audiences or to prevent influence on them. The purpose of  the cognitive campaign is to cause target audiences to adopt the perception of reality held by the side wielding the effort, so that it can more easily advance the strategic and/or operational objectives that it sees as critical. The cognitive campaign can be negative, that is, prevent the development of undesirable cognitive states, or positive, with an attempt to produce the desired cognition.

That the “cognitive campaign can be negative, that is, prevent the development of undesirable cognitive states,” is why Julian Assange has been imprisoned for years now, with no likelihood he will ever be freed by the U.S. government and why Edward Snowden was forced to take refuge in a foreign country to avoid the same fate. The U.S. must silence them and other dissidents, lest an “undesirable cognitive state” develops in the U.S. population – as one eventually developed over the Vietnam War, and eventually forced the U.S. out of Vietnam.

Thus it is reasonable to believe that is why Israel has targeted so many journalists over the last couple of decades – as has the U.S. It would be foolish and/or naïve not to believe that when retired military officers openly call for “targeted killings” of journalists, that they aren’t already being targeted!

MAKING OUR OWN REALITY

When Karl Rove was alleged to have said how the United States is now “an empire, we make our own reality,” he was not just making a hubristic statement. Rather, it can be seen as an indication that he was aware of how powerful a “cognitive campaign” is. In fact, such campaigns were always how the CIA conducted post-World War II coups, and it can be speculated that “cognitive campaigns” were introduced into U.S. political campaigns by Arthur Finkelstein and his “Six-Party Theory” in the 1972 Nixon campaign, down to the 2016 Trump campaign, based upon cognitive warfare principles drawn from CIA coups and the Israeli military occupation.

The authors of “The Cognitive Campaign: Strategic and Intelligence Perspectives” wrote:

The cognitive campaign is not new, and it is an inseparable aspect of every strategic and military conflict. In recent years, this struggle has played a much more important role than in past conflicts; at times it takes place without a direct military context and is not even led by military bodies. The cognitive campaign is a continuous campaign; thus, its prominence is greater in the period between wars (as a part of the “campaign between wars).”

In fact, as these authors know, there is no such thing as “between wars” in Israel or the United States, with both countries in “Perpetual War” regardless of the level of aggressive kinetic war they are waging at any given moment.

Carl von Clausewitz wrote in “On War” that two different motives make men fight one another: hostile feelings and hostile intentions. Inciting those “feelings” is done by both Israel and the U.S. continuously, by multifarious networks to “condition” their populations with “hostile feelings and hostile intentions.” As has been done in the U.S. to incite hatred of Russia, China, Iran, et al., so that a war with either one, or all, can explode at any moment. Israel does the same against Iran and the Palestinians. Mission Accomplished!

Snowden’s award-winning director: Pegasus extremely violent, invasive

December 11, 2021

Famous director Laura Poitras’ latest documentary criticizes Israeli-manufactured spyware firm NSO and its surveillance software Pegasus.

Film director Laura Poitras, known for her documentary about US whistleblower Edward Snowden and Oscar-winning Citizenfour, delved into the surveillance topic to focus on private Israeli spyware firm NSO’s Pegasus program.

Poitras’ most recent work, Terror Contagion, is among the documentaries awaited to be shortlisted for the Oscar awards.

NSO Group’s Pegasus was exposed as having been used by oppressive regimes to spy on journalists, human rights activists, dissidents, and even heads of state. 

According to an investigation led by The Washington Post and 16 media partners, Pegasus is military-grade spyware leased by the Israeli firm to governments who used it in attempted and successful hacks of 37 smartphones belonging to journalists, human rights activists, and business executives.

“It’s classified as a cyber weapon. This is how extremely violent and invasive this technology is,” Poitras told Deadline.

“NSO Group, this Israeli company, sells to other countries, often countries that have a very bad history or track record of human rights,” she added.

The Israeli manufactured software was allegedly used by the Saudi regime to assassinate Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 with the approval of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

Information has shown that Omar Abdulaziz, Khashoggi’s friend, had his phone hacked in order to spy on the journalist. 

In Poitras’ documentary, Shourideh Malavi, a researcher with Forensic Architecture firm points out that Khashoggi’s “assassination was empowered with Israeli software.”

The award-winning director explained that when dealing with such software, “You don’t have to click on anything malicious. All they have to do is call you and you’re infected.”

“The infection allows them to obtain everything that’s on your phone, to activate your camera and your microphone. So, there’s no way to fend against it,” Poitras expressed.

She also noted that the software “can pretend to be you.”

“It can send messages as if it’s coming from you… or an email ‘from you’ that actually is coming through whoever the attacker is.”

Criticizing NSO, the director said such companies have “no sense of accountability… Now we have these cyber weapon mercenaries, NSO Group and others, that are selling these incredibly invasive, dangerous tools to regimes all over the world.”

Apple sued spyware maker NSO for targeting the users of its devices, saying the Israeli firm, at the center of the Pegasus surveillance scandal, needs to be held to account.

iOS devices of almost 10 US State Department employees were subjected to an attack by spyware developed by the Israeli NSO Group. Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters the assailant was unknown.

The sources told the agency the hacks took place over the last several months, and their targets were either based in Uganda or focused on matters concerning Kampala.

For its part, the United States placed NSO Group on its list of restricted companies.

As a victim herself, Poitras believes that surveillance is “a form of violence” that could damage many people, especially if it’s a journalist or a lawyer working with sources and clients.

“Anything you write, anything you do on your phone, anything you do over your computers, you just have to assume that it’s not private and it really impacts your life.”

Silencing Julian Assange: Why bother with a trial when you can just kill him?

October 7, 2021

By Philip Giraldi

Source

It is an issue of the abuses enabled by powerful men who believe that their power is unlimited, Philip Giraldi writes.

An English friend recently learned about the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) plan to either kidnap or kill journalist Julian Assange and quipped “I’ll bet he’s happy to be safe and sound in Belmarsh Prison if he has a chance to read about that!” I replied that his time in Belmarsh has been made as demeaning as possible by an English judge and the British are just as capable of executing a Jeffrey Epstein suicide or “accident” if called upon to do so by their American “cousins.” He agreed, reluctantly. Indeed, the roles of American allies Britain and Australia in what is turning out to be one of the world’s longest-playing judicial dramas has been reprehensible.

For those readers who have missed some of the fun of the Assange saga, a recap is in order. Julian Assange, an Australian citizen who was living in London, was the Editor in Chief and driving force behind Wikileaks, which debuted in 2006 and was one of the alternative news sites that have sprung up over the past twenty years. WikiLeaks was somewhat unique in that it often did not write up its own stories but rather was passed documentary material by sources in government and elsewhere that it then reprinted without any editing.

Assange attracted the ire of the ruling class when he obtained in 2010 a classified video from an unidentified source that showed an unprovoked 2007 shooting incident involving U.S. Army helicopters in Baghdad in which a dozen completely innocent people were killed. The government’s anger at WikiLeaks intensified when, in 2013, Edward Snowden, a National Security Agency contractor, fled to Hong Kong with classified material that demonstrated that the U.S. government was illegally spying on Americans. WikiLeaks also reportedly helped to arrange Snowden’s subsequent escape to Russia from Hong Kong.

The bipartisan animus directed against WikiLeaks intensified still further in the summer of 2016 when the group’s website began to release emails from the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The immediate conclusion propagated by Team Hillary but unsupported by facts was that Russian intelligence had hacked the emails and given them to WikiLeaks.

It was perhaps inevitable that Assange’s reporting, which has never been found to be factually inaccurate, was in some circles claimed to be based on information provided to him by Russian hackers. Even though he repeatedly denied that that was the case and there are technical reasons why that was unlikely or even impossible, this led to a sharp Russophobic response from a number of intelligence and law enforcement services close to the United States. Assange was charged in Britain in November 2010 on an international warrant demanding that he be extradited to Sweden over claims that he had committed rape in that country, an accusation which later turned out to be false. He posted bail but lost a legal battle to annul the warrant and then skipped a preliminary hearing in London in June 2012 to accept asylum in the Ecuadorean Embassy, which has diplomatic immunity. He stayed in the Embassy for eighty-two months, at which point a new government in Quito made clear that his asylum would be revoked and he would be expelled from the building. He was preparing to leave voluntarily in April 2019 when police arrived and he was arrested on a charge of his failure to appear in court seven years before which was regarded as “bail jumping.” He was sent immediately to Belmarsh high security prison, where Britain’s terrorist prisoners are confined.

After his arrest, Assange continued to be incarcerated due to a U.S. Justice Department extradition request based on the Espionage Act of 1918, apparently derived from possible interaction with the Chelsea Manning whistleblower case. Assange has now been in Belmarsh for 29 months in spite of increasing international pressure asserting that he is a journalist and should be released. The British have hesitated to extradite him on the basis of the evidence produced by the U.S. government, which included the claim that Assange aided the former U.S. Army analyst Manning break into a classified computer network in order to obtain and eventually publish classified material, but they have likewise failed to release him. The British judge denied extradition in January, suggesting that if he were to be returned forcibly to the U.S. he would likely commit suicide, but she also denied Assange bail as he was considered to be a flight risk. The U.S. appealed that verdict and the next hearing is scheduled for the end of October. It should be noted that no evidence produced by the Justice Department has plausibly linked Assange to the Russian intelligence services.

Which brings us to the Yahoo news revelation regarding the CIA plot to shoot, poison or kidnap Assange while he was sheltering in the Ecuadorian Embassy. It goes something like this: in 2017, Assange’s fifth year in the Embassy, the CIA debated going after him to end the alleged threat posed to government secrets by him and his organization, which was still operating and presumed to be in contact with him. WikiLeaks had at that time been publishing extremely sensitive CIA hacking tools, referred to as “Vault 7,” which constituted “the largest data loss in CIA history.”

In an April 2017 speech, Donald Trump’s new CIA Director Mike Pompeo said “WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service and has encouraged its followers to find jobs at the CIA in order to obtain intelligence. It’s time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is: a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.” It was a declaration of war. The label “non-state hostile intelligence service” is a legal designation which more-or-less opened the door to non-conventional responses to eliminate the threat. CIA Stations where WikiLeaks associates were known to be present were directed to increase surveillance on them and also attempt to interdict any communications they might seek to have with Assange himself in the embassy. A staff of analysts referred to as the “WikiLeaks Team” worked full time to target the organization and its leaders.

At the top level of the Agency debate over more extreme options prevailed, though there were legitimate concerns about the legality of what was being contemplated. In late 2017, in the midst of the debate over possible kidnapping and/or assassination, the Agency picked up alarming though unsubstantiated reports that Russian intelligence operatives were preparing plans to help Assange escape from the United Kingdom and fly him to Moscow.

CIA responded by preparing to foil Assange’s possible Russian-assisted departure to include potential gun battles with Moscow’s spies on the streets of London or crashing a car into any Russian diplomatic vehicle transporting Assange to seize him. One scenario even included either blocking the runway or shooting out the tires of any Russian plane believed to be carrying Assange before it could take off for Moscow. Pompeo himself reportedly favored what is referred to as a “rendition,” which would consist of breaking into the Ecuadorian Embassy, kidnapping Assange, and flying him clandestinely to the U.S. for trial. Others in the national security team favored killing Assange rather than going through the complexity of kidnapping and removing him. Fortunately, saner views prevailed, particularly when the British refused to cooperate in any way with activity they regarded as clearly illegal.

So Assange is still in prison and what does it all mean? The only possible charge that would convincingly demonstrate that Assange was spy paid by Russia would be related to his possibly helping Chelsea Manning to circumvent security to steal classified material, but there is no real evidence that Assange actually did that or that he is under Russian control. So that makes him a journalist. That he has embarrassed the United States, most often when it misbehaves, is what good journalists do. But beyond that the disgraceful CIA plans to kill or abduct Assange as an option to get rid of him reveal yet again the dark side of what the United States of America has become since 9/11.

More to the point, getting rid of Assange will accomplish nothing. He worked with a number of like-minded colleagues who have been more than able to pick up where he left off. He has been largely incommunicado since he has been languishing in Belmarsh Prison and it is his associates who have continued to solicit information and publish it on their site. Mike Pompeo’s unapologetic response to this assassination or kidnapping story was “They were engaged in active efforts to steal secrets themselves, and pay others to do the same …” Of course, if all that were true Mike and the government lawyers have had an opportunity to demonstrate just that in a British court. They couldn’t do so and instead promoted the easier option of just killing someone for publishing something true. And assassination is a blunt instrument that rarely accomplishes anything. One recalls that in January 2020 Pompeo certainly participated in the assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi Militia Leader Muhandis in Baghdad. What did that accomplish apart from turning a nominally friendly Iraq hostile to the U.S. presence?

Or, as Assange’s lawyer put it more to the point, “As an American citizen, I find it absolutely outrageous that our government would be contemplating kidnapping or assassinating somebody without any judicial process simply because he had published truthful information.” Unfortunately, that is not all that the Assange case is about. It is not just a question of truth or fiction and journalistic ethics, but rather an issue of the abuses enabled by powerful men who believe that their power is unlimited. That is the real abyss that the United States has fallen into and the only way out is to finally hold such people, starting with Pompeo, accountable for what they have done.

A Pardoning Time of Year

By Philip Giraldi

Source

Will the president do the right thing?
Julian Assange Pardon 89b36

The resistance to the apparent election of Joe Biden as President of the United States is continuing to play out. Current President Donald Trump is continuing to fight against the presumed results of the November national election with his final card appearing to be a vote in Congress when it reconvenes on January 6th to throw out the results due to fraud in certain key states. Many have noted how the registration and electoral processes in the United States, varying as they do from state to state, were and are vulnerable to fraud. That, plus some eyewitness testimony and technical analysis, suggests that possibly systematic fraud did take place but it is far from clear whether it was decisive. This is particularly true of the vote by mail option, which was promoted by leading Democrats and which empowered literally millions of new voters with only limited attempts made to validate whether citizens or even real people were voting.

Vote by mail is now one of several options that are appearing to be weaponized by the cash-rich Democrats in the state of Georgia, where two Senate races will be up for grabs in runoff elections on January 5th. If the Democrats obtain both, they will control the Senate through the Vice President’s role in presiding over the upper chamber where she has the tie breaking vote. That will mean that we the voters can expect some dramatic changes as the Democrats respond to their various constituencies with their well enunciated grievances.

In what may be its last weeks in office, the Trump Administration is also exploiting its executive power to pardon to reverse perceived injustices and to protect remaining allies, to include some family members. Trump is already on track to pardon more individuals than any preceding president with 90 pardons issued as of Christmas Eve and many more expected. One of his initial pardons was a notable example of a miscarriage of justice in the case of presidential national security advisor designate Michael Flynn, who was wrongly accused of collaborating with Russia. If anything, he was actually cooperating with a request that came from Israel, which Congress and the media apparently do not regard as wrongdoing.

Trump’s pardon of his daughter Ivanka’s father-in-law Charles Kushner is particularly controversial, as Kushner was a multimillionaire real estate developer and a leading Democratic Party donor when he was convicted in 2005 to two years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to 18 counts, which included both tax evasion and making illegal campaign contributions. The tale of Charles Kushner is particularly unsavory because he reportedly sought revenge after he learned that his brother-in-law and former business partner was aiding federal authorities. Charles hired a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law in a New Jersey motel room, making a recording of the encounter using a hidden camera that he then showed to his brother-in-law’s wife, who was, of course, Kushner’s own sister.

Kushner’s prosecution was directed by then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, who afterwards became a prominent Trump supporter and head of his transition team before being fired in 2016, apparently per orders originating with Jared Kushner. In a 2019 interview Christie explained “Mr. Kushner pled guilty. He admitted the crimes. And so what am I supposed to do as a prosecutor? I mean, if a guy hires a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law, and videotapes it, and then sends the videotape to his sister to attempt to intimidate her from testifying before a grand jury, do I really need any more justification than that? I mean, it’s one of the most loathsome, disgusting crimes that I prosecuted. And I was U.S. attorney in New Jersey, so we had some loathsome and disgusting crime going on there.”

Charles Kushner is also a close friend and supporter of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which might also be relevant to his pardon and I will leave any assessment of the ethics of the Kushner clan up to the reader. Nevertheless, the consequence of Jared’s ability to influence the president could be politically damaging as he reportedly has been responsible for many of the pardons that have already taken place and is now the conduit for new petitioners.

Another highly criticized Trump pardon has involved the four Blackwater mercenaries who massacred 19 Iraqis including 2 children firing from a helicopter into a crowded Nisour Square Baghdad in 2007. The president is reportedly very friendly with Blackwater founder and former president Erik Prince, whose sister Betsy DeVos is Education Secretary and also close to the president. But in any event Trump’s pardon record is different only in terms of magnitude from those of some of his predecessors as there have been some highly questionable pardons in the past, to include Marc Rich under Bill Clinton and Elliot Abrams under George W. Bush.

There remains a long list of possible candidates for Trump to sign off on, to include a possible self-pardon, and more pardons for family members Ivanka, Jared and two of his sons as well as his lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Other current and impending pardon recipients have been individuals who were involved in the Trump campaigns, to include Paul Manafort and Roger Stone. Pardons are a particularly attractive pre-emptive option currently as a number of leading Democrats have been calling for “truth commissions” and other forms of punishment of Trump supporters and officials.

The process of issuing presidential pardons will undoubtedly continue up until Inauguration Day on January 20th, but sources are uncertain whether Trump will be courageous enough to pardon the two individuals whose freedom would most definitely be sending a powerful message for integrity in government. They are Julian Assange and Edward Snowden. Both men’s names have been coming up frequently in the alternative media, together with the development of active lobbying groups that are seeking their freedom.

Assange, a journalist and founder of WikiLeaks, is currently languishing in a British prison, where he has been for twenty-one months, awaiting a decision on whether he will be extradited to the United States or not which will reportedly be decided on January 4th. The Department of Justice has claimed that he violated the Espionage Act of 1917 by receiving classified information from Chelsea Manning. Reportedly, Assange’s mental and physical health have deteriorated sharply as he is being held in solitary confinement with only short periods of exercise and without access to reading or writing material to occupy his time. The British judge appears to be completely unsympathetic to Assange and it is generally believed that she will order his extradition if he does not fortuitously die in prison before that could take place.

Snowden, meanwhile, is living in Russia and has been granted citizenship, a country to which he fled by way of Hong Kong in 2013, after revealing to journalists details of a vast and illegal surveillance program run by the National Security Agency (NSA) against American citizens, something he discovered while he was employed as a NSA contractor. He had attempted to raise his concerns with supervisors but was rebuffed and he eventually became a self-declared whistleblower and fled the country. He has repeatedly offered to return to the United States to face trial, but has also insisted that a fair hearing would be impossible under the current circumstances.

It should be observed that Snowden is absolutely correct to assume that he would be convicted both on grounds of espionage and of compromise of classified information. The federal court in Alexandria, where national security cases are usually tried, always finds for the government even if evidence is questionable or even non-existent. A recent conviction involved ex-CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, who was sent to prison for 42 months even though it could not be demonstrated that he had actually done anything. The court concluded that “it had to be him.”

To be sure, revealing classified information is a serious matter, even though many former government employees would agree that much material that is classified does not actually damage national security if it is revealed. Frequently, classification is used to keep the government from being embarrassed or to shut down any revelation that it has acted illegally. Both Assange and Snowden would argue that they had acted appropriately in revealing war crimes, illegal acts and even violations of the Constitution as consequences of the so-called “global war on terror.” Assange, who regards himself as a journalist, published details of the Blackwater massacre of civilians committed by the crew of a helicopter gunship in Iraq and also was involved in the exposure of the Hillary Clinton emails. Snowden, as noted above, claims to be a whistle-blower and has sought protection under relevant laws in the United States, so far to no avail.

The illegal and otherwise unconscionable acts by various elements in the U.S. government that were exposed by Assange and Snowden include war crimes, so they are not trivial. Trump, having already done a “favor” to Blackwater, might be disinclined to pardon someone who exposed its mercenaries’ crimes. But there is nevertheless, as is often the case, an interesting aspect to the story that is worth paying attention to. Trump, as is widely conceded even by some Democrats, was targeted by the Deep State even before he was nominated, an effort to destroy his presidency that persisted for years through the completely contrived mechanism of Russiagate. Given that, it would behoove Trump to strike back in his waning days in office. Both Assange and Snowden exposed illegal activities and cover-ups by the Deep State, almost certainly to include the active participation of some of the very people who have sought to bring the president down. And they both may have more to say. If Donald Trump seriously seeks to strike a blow against his enemies, it would be both fitting and just to pardon both men on that basis alone. Let us hope that President Trump has both the wisdom and fortitude to take that step in his last days in office.

Trump Regime Targets Whistleblower Edward Snowden’s New Book

By Stephen Lendman

Source

The Trump Regime sued Edward Snowden and publishers of his new memoir titled “Permanent Record.” More on this below.

Exposing government wrongdoing is a noble act. Like dissent, it’s a high form of patriotism, warranting praise, not persecution and condemnation.

The 1989 US Whistleblower Protection Act protects federal employees who report misconduct.

Federal agencies are prohibited from retaliating against individuals who do the right thing. Yet it happens time and again. 

Whistleblowers may report law or regulatory violations, gross mismanagement, waste, fraud and/or abuse, or acts endangering public health or safety.

The FBI is exempt from WPA provisions. Instead of protecting the rights of whistleblowers, the agency targets them.

Since WPA’s 1994 revisions, it ruled on over 200 cases — only three times in favor of whistleblowers, the deck stacked against them. US law fails to protect them, circumvented by its police state apparatus.

The 2012 Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) failed to protect government employees from reprisal for disclosing official misconduct, revealing it to co-workers or supervisors, or disclosing policy decision consequences — any or all of the above in relation to their jobs or duties.

The Obama regime prosecuted more whistleblowers and leakers involved in exposing US wrongdoing than all his predecessors combined, nine targeted individuals, Trump following the same repressive practice, wanting US dirty linen concealed.

The US is a surveillance state. Big Brother watches everyone, privacy virtually nonexistent, including our health and financial records, cellphone and email communications, everything posted on social media, along with workplace and other public areas surveilled.

Exposing government wrongdoing is hazardous to personal safety and welfare. Julian Assange is imprisoned in London at the behest of the Trump regime — for the “high crime” of truth-telling journalism the way it should be universally.

Courageous whistleblower Chelsea Manning spent years in prison for revealing US high crimes of war and against humanity in Afghanistan and Iraq — imprisoned again indefinitely for refusing to aid the Trump regime’s lynching of Assange.

Granted asylum in Russia, a noble gesture, Edward Snowden was luckier. He followed in the footsteps of Daniel Ellsberg and likeminded others, connecting the dots for countless millions to know how they’re illegally and repressively spied on.

Earlier he said “I really want the focus to be on (documents revealed) which I hope will trigger among citizens around the globe what kind of world we want to live in.”

Enactment of the USA Freedom Act (the renamed Patriot Act) did little to change things. US spy agencies continue trampling on Bill of Rights protections.

They compromise due process, habeas rights, free expression, assembly and association, as well as protection from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, YouTube, Apple, and major telecommunications companies are complicit in spying on their customers for US dark forces.

US intelligence community spying targets friends and foes alike. It’s for total control, political and economic advantage, to be one up on foreign competitors —information used advantageously in trade, geopolitical, and military relations.

Domestic spying is longstanding. It has nothing to do with protecting national security. America’s only foreign, domestic, or terrorists threats are invented.

The Trump regimes Justice Department sued Snowden and three publishers of his memoir — MacMillan Publishers, Henry Holt and Co., and Holtzbrinck Publishers.

The repressive suit aims to freeze assets from book sales. US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia G. Zachary Terwilliger said the following:

“Intelligence information should protect our nation, not provide personal profit (sic). This lawsuit will ensure that Edward Snowden receives no monetary benefits from breaching the trust placed in him (sic).”

The lawsuit is the latest example of Washington’s assault on speech, media and academic freedoms, targeting what diverges from the official narrative on major issues.

It accused Snowden and his publishers of going to press “without submitting (the book for) pre-publication review.”

The notion that US approval is required of current or former federal employees to write or speak publicly on issues related to their work flies in the face of their constitutional rights.

In response to the suit, Snowden tweeted: “The government of the United States has just announced a lawsuit over my memoir, which was just released today worldwide. This is the book the government does not want you to read…”

Already a bestseller, Snowden said in his preface “I used to work for the government, but now I work for the public,” adding:

“It took me nearly three decades to (understand the) distinction…I now spend my time trying to protect the public from the” US intelligence community — working against ordinary people .

Separately, he tweeted: “It is hard to think of a greater stamp of authenticity than the US government filing a lawsuit claiming your book is so truthful that it was literally against the law to write.” 

It reveals no state secrets, nothing not already in the public domain, including from establishment media reports.

The ACLU and Knight First Amendment Institute are challenging the so-called pre-publication review process, attorney Max Kaufman, saying:

“(I)ts current form is broken and unconstitutional, and it needs to go.”

“It’s one thing to censor the nuclear codes, but it’s another to censor the same information high schoolers are pulling from Wikipedia.” 

“Prepublication review gives the government far too much power to suppress speech that the public has a right to hear.”

Snowden hopes the DOJ lawsuit will promote his memoir, enabling it to attract greater readership worldwide.

Leaked Docs Show NSA Fed «Israel» Intel for Targeted Assassinations

By Staff, Agencies

Frustrated by a legal ban on sharing intelligence with “Israeli” operatives conducting targeted assassinations against Hezbollah, the NSA crafted a loophole giving them total access even to US citizens’ data, leaked documents show.

The so-called “Israeli” SIGINT National Unit [ISNU], the NSA’s counterpart in Tel Aviv, convinced the Americans to circumvent the legal prohibition on providing surveillance data for targeted assassinations during the “Israeli” entity’s 2006 aggression on Lebanon, according to the newest revelation from the archives obtained by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Using the familiar rationale of “terrorism” to excuse cooperation they knew was illegal, the NSA and ISNU found a workaround using the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that provided the “Israelis” with all the intelligence they needed, according to an October 2006 article in the NSA’s internal publication.

“To ISNU, this prohibition [on sharing data for targeted killings] was contrary not only to supporting ‘Israel’ in its fight against Hizballah [Hezbollah] but overall, to support the US Global War on Terrorism,” said an article in SIDToday.

Its author, whose name is redacted, details the “late-night, sometimes tense discussions” he had with ISNU officials who believed they deserved an exemption from the US prohibition on abetting targeted killings.

The documents don’t include details of what “arrangement” was eventually worked out with the ODNI, but the “Israeli” military used American data to lay waste to Lebanon’s civilian population, much like the tech-enhanced US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, whose kill-counts swelled with civilian victims after they received access to NSA targeting data.

“‘Israel’ repeatedly, and in some cases egregiously, violated the laws of war,” Human Rights Watch reporter Nadim Houry told the Intercept, adding that the “Israelis” “engaged in indiscriminate aerial attacks” and cluster bombing against “civilian infrastructure that was not tied in any way to the armed conflict.”

This ‘strategy’ had a name – the “Dahiyeh doctrine” – and “Israeli” officials admitted it was deliberate, but despite this brutality, they were unable to win the war. A leaked presentation about the NSA-ISNU relationship notes that “public confidence in” the “Israeli” Occupation Forces [IOF] “erodes” and IOF “image damaged” after the seemingly-outmatched Hezbollah revolutionaries were able to keep the “Israelis” at bay. Nevertheless, the IDF was, according to the presentation, “Gearing up for Round II.”

Apparently unsatisfied with the legal loophole the Americans had created for them, the “Israelis” sought and received full access to the NSA’s massive surveillance data troves after the war. A 2009 memorandum of understanding officially gave ISNU unrestricted access to the NSA’s raw intelligence data – including the phone and internet records of American citizens and citizens of third-party countries. Only American officials’ data was excluded, on an honor-system basis [with ISNU instructed to “destroy upon recognition” any records originating with a government official]. Almost no strings were attached to this bonanza – the “Israelis” could even release the identities of Americans whose information had been scooped up in the dragnet, as long as they asked the NSA for permission first, and could pass the data on to anyone at all if the names were redacted.

While a leaked presentation calls ISNU “NSA’s most valued third party partner,” it also suggests there was “high anxiety” among the “Israelis” “heavily reliant” on NSA data for support. One slide reads “What Did ISNU Want? Everything!!!” and complaints about the ‘Israelis’’ “robust” spying on Americans crop up frequently in the Snowden archives. The NSA did not seem to mind, because the “Israelis” were very, very grateful for all the information.

“Throughout all of my discussions – no matter what the tone or subject – ISNU stressed their deep gratitude for the cooperation and support they received from the NSA,” the SIDToday article reads.

“Assange Should Have Picked the Russian Embassy.” But He Did.

 • APRIL 11, 2019

moscow-patriarch-poinds

In another timeline, Julian Assange may have enjoyed long walks with Edward Snowden by the Patriarch Ponds in Moscow.

Imagine that you are a dissident at risk of extradition to a jilted superpower, whose secrets you just spilled for the entire world to gawk at, and you happen to be caught up in the capital of one of its vassal states.

What do? Which Embassy do you pick?

map-us-rogues-and-lackeys

Map of how often countries vote with the US at the UN.

One of your first, more elementary considerations should be that your target country would actually be willing to give you political asylum. This rules out pretty much the entire West, and America’s various vassal states in the Third World. This is the relatively easy part, and few go wrong here. Though there are exceptions. I am reminded of a particularly dim MI6 agent who tried to sell UK intelligence secrets to… the Netherlands. But say what you will of him – Assange is mostly certainly not stupid.

Second, it should be a powerful, politically stable country. For instance, Russia has never extradited Western spies back to their homelands, even during the Americanophile 1990s under Yeltsin. In contrast, while much of Latin America might be run by American-skeptical leftists these days, they have a habit of veering sharply to the right, which tends to be highly subservient to the United States there. Ecuador narrowly avoided that in 2017, when the neoliberal Guillermo Lasso – who had promised to evict Assange – was defeated by Lenin Moreno, who promised to continue Correa’s policies. But Ecuador is a small country, vulnerable to outside pressure, and in any case, as has already long been clear, Moreno is not so committed to the anti-imperialist struggle as his predecessor.

Third, it should preferably have a physically big embassy. You are potentially going to be spending a lot of time there, and being confined to a small room for years on end will be comfortable neither for you, nor for your hosts. It will be like going to prison anyway, if with more dignity. Moreover, should you get a serious medical issue, you will be in a real pickle. In fairness, this point is mostly covered by the second requirement, since the more powerful countries also tend to have the bigger Embassies. For instance, Hungary’s Cardinal Mindszenty made the right decision, opting for the US Embassy in the wake of the crushing of the Hungarian Uprising in 1956. He ended up spending 15 years there, but at least his accomodations were reasonably lavish, consisting of two rooms and his own bathroom.

Presumably, the US Embassy was not an option for Assange. So that left China or Russia.

And of these, Russia must have been the better deal. It already had much worse relations with the West in general, and the UK in particular, than China, and was even then considered likelier to stick it to the West. This was seemingly confirmed a year later, when China pressured Edward Snowden to move on from Hong Kong to Russia, to avoid a lengthy extradition battle with the US. Seeking refuge on Russian territory would also not have been as completely ideologically contradictory for a freedom of speech activist. While Russia doesn’t have much to write home about on that front, at least its Internet was more or less entirely free back then.

Hence, my article on August 16, 2012, at the height of the drama over whether Ecuador would give him refuge: “Assange Should Have Picked the Russian Embassy.” In an exchange with the blogger spandrell in the comments, I argued that this was Assange’s own choice, on the basis that his ideological values – which included strong antipathy to “authoritarian conspiracies” – were hardly compatible with the very nature of the Russian secret police state.

Well, more fool me. Julian Assange did try to claim asylum with Russia.

Only problem was: He was refused.

This would be unambiguously confirmed to me several years later by a source who must remain anonymous, but who was in a consummately first hand position to know those details. Russian diplomatic officials were apparently not happy with the decision, but the order was clear and it came from the highest levels of the Russian government. A few months ago, a senior Russia-based journalist who has excellent access to the Kremlin elites told me he heard the same.

In September 2018, AP released an investigation showing that Julian Assange sought, and received, a Russian visa in 2010 thanks to the efforts of Israel Shamir. This happened ten days after Sweden issued a warrant for his arrest over sex crimes charges, and a day after Wikileaks began releasing the US State Department cables. Julian Assange left it too late to go to Russia physically – but he was, at least, exploring this possibility.

So why did Russia, two years later, refuse Assange asylum in their London Embassy? Why did they refuse to harbor the man who was supposed to be their puppet, at least according to the mainstream Western narrative?

Israel Shamir on the pages of this webzine has suggested that it was just a function of Russians’ general suspicion towards “ideologues” of Assange’s calibre:

It is said that Assange was in cahoots with the Russians, that they guided him and provided with the stuff they hacked and even that “Wikileaks is a Front for Russian Intelligence”. As a matter of fact, Russians were extremely hesitant to have anything to do with Assange. They could not believe he was for real. Are you so naïve, they told me, that you do not understand he is a CIA trap? Such people do not exist.

It is a problem of the Russian mind: as a rule, they do not understand and do not trust Western dissidents of Assange’s ilk. They want their western sympathisers to be bought and paid for. Free agents are suspicious in their eyes. God knows there are many people in the West whose opinions roughly coincide with those of the Russians; but the Russians would prefer to buy a journalist off the peg. That’s why RT has had more than its fair share of defectors, that is of broadcasters who denounced RT and went to the Western mass media.

As the AP investigation showed, Israel Shamir may well have been in a better position to know than most of us had hitherto expected (at least assuming he was also privy to the denied asylum request).

Still, perhaps the real explanation is more banal.

Putin, like many in the Russian elite, had started off as an Anglophile, and his strongest relationship with a Western leader during the early years of his rule was with Tony Blair. The Litvinenko Affair and the South Ossetian War had certainly soured relations with the West in general, and Britain in particular, but not in a way that appeared hopeless and permanent, as has increasingly seemed to be the case since 2014. There were hopes that things would go back to normality, and I can only assume that Putin didn’t want to set himself up a headache for the next few years, if not decades.

I suppose he sort of failed at that.

For his part, Assange will have to place his hopes on the British judicial system and its political independence.

Israeli Software Was Used to Track Khashoggi: Snowden

US fugitive whistle-blower Edward Snowden

Israeli Software Was Used to Track Khashoggi: Snowden

November 7, 2018

US whistleblower Edward Snowden has accused the Israel cyber intelligence firm NSO Group Technologies of “selling a digital burglary tool” which he claimed had been used to track Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed in Istanbul last month, according to the Jerusalem Post.

He said in this context that that NSO’s software is not

“just being used for catching criminals and stopping terrorist attacks […] not just for saving lives, but for making money […] such a level of recklessness […] actually starts costing lives.”

Snowden spoke via video conference from an undisclosed location in Russia at an event organized by Tel-Aviv-based strategic, corporate, tech and financial communications firm OH! Orenstein Hoshen.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor, disappeared on October 2 after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where he had arrived to obtain the necessary papers for his upcoming wedding.

After more than two weeks of denials, Saudi Arabia acknowledged that the journalist had been killed in a fight inside the consulate.

The Saudi prosecutor general, for his part, admitted that Khashoggi’s murder had been premeditated, with Riyadh claiming that the killing had nothing to do with the Saudi Royal family.

Turkey, which conducts a separate investigation into the matter, said that Khashoggi was assassinated by a hit squad sent from Saudi Arabia specifically for the task.

SourceSputnik

Obama and Osama

EDITOR’S CHOICE | 11.06.2015 | 11:35

 

Since Osama bin Laden’s death 2 May 2011, the official account of the Navy Seals’ raid has been challenged, most recently and cogently by journalist Seymour Hersh, alleging that “Washington’s official account of the hunt for Bin Laden and the raid that led to his death was a lie.” In fact, there have been more “conspiracy-factual theories” about this event than there are on Illuminati. Was OBL there? Was he even alive then? Is he still?

Indeed, mere days after the 9/11/01 attacks, on 18 September, 2001, George Monbiot wrote in the Guardian that “If Osama bin Laden did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him” since “his usefulness to Western governments lies in the power to terrify,” enabling the continuous unleashing of billions of dollars in military spending — on any given day, all year, the Pentagon spends almost $2 billion. No wonder the ghost of Osama rises from Pakistan, from Sudan, from Afghanistan, or from the open ocean. A lie to gin up demand for obscene profits and power? That is easy to believe. The truth? That is tougher to find.

Origins

Since the collapse of the Soviet Era in 1990, America found itself with all its threats seemingly neutralized. War, however, is always great business venture, not only for nation-states but for all manner of military contracting corporations, the gateway to amass profits at rates no legitimate business can produce. Enemies are required–real, imaginary, or manufactured.  In 1995, Ray Moseley wrote in the Chicago Tribune: Could it be that NATO discovered the Islamic threat because, after the demise of communism it desperately needed a new threat to survive as an organization?

Controversial lies in plain sight?

If the Pakistanis were left out of the operation as Obama alleged, where does this leave us with the notions by Pakistani Ex-Spy Chief General Asad Durrani that “ISI probably knew of the al-Qaeda chief’s whereabouts until his death”? The US has underwritten ISI by the $billions for decades. When will the US taxpayer start to wonder about the value of this?

And most interestingly, why has there come no vivid clinical information (rather than verbal claims) about Osama’s DNA, his death-in-combat pictures and his burial. Obama asserted that Osama was given a proper Muslim burial. Says who? Says which Muslim authority? Which Imam was present? Where is it written that proper Islamic burial takes place at sea? Nowhere! It is as if we have settled for a reality that might have scored as a poor episode of 24.

Now what?

Separating fact from fiction is an endless labor. Leaks by Edward Snowden that the NSA actually forced Google and Samsung to allow a Trojan horse to surveil Americans and international citizens shows the ongoing erosion of civil liberties. People are no longer citizens of their nations but instead are often “persons of interest” for entirely legal conduct. Are we an autocracy or a democracy? Dictatorial regimes like Saudi Arabia have been massively supported under the banner of ‘ally’ despite their bad record on human rights and governance issues. In fact today’s war on terrorism has played the total replica of the much worse unending, unfinished Cold War. We support state terrorists in the name of opposing non-state terrorists.

Whether events surrounding Osama death were a spoof or as Seal Team 6 claimed, questions continue and the US seems arrogantly proud of its “global manhunting machine.” Osama’s ghost has not rested. Seymour M. Hersh notes, “Obama today is not facing re-election as he was in the spring of 2011. His principled stand on behalf of the proposed nuclear agreement with Iran says much, as does his decision to operate without the support of the conservative Republicans in Congress. High-level lying nevertheless remains the modus operandi of US policy, along with secret prisons, drone attacks, Special Forces night raids, bypassing the chain of command, and cutting out those who might say no.” In 1969, Hersh was the young investigative journalist who broke the story of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam after the Army covered it up and lied consistently about it; he is still on point today.

Whatever happened to Osama bin Laden, his ghost may be found in the spirit of ISIS and all other US enemies, real and imaginary, urging the US empire to crack its hull on the rocks of war and militarism and join him in a watery, bloody grave. Will we let bin Laden’s ghost have the last laugh?

Ibrahim Bahati, counterpunch.org

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

‘To topple or not to topple, that is the question!’

Via FLC

“… Sir John told the Financial Times that the lesson of Afghanistan and Iraq was that a government can be toppled in months but it then takes years to rebuild the country.He said: “If you decide not to [rebuild], as we did in Libya, partly because of the scars from Iraq, then you topple the government and you end up having nothing in its place.”And if you don’t intervene at all, you end up with a situation like you have in Syria. These are real dilemmas.”…”

Snowden on the darkest corners of US govt.

No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the US Security State by Glenn Greenwald, published by Metropolitan Books, an imprint of Henry Holt and Company, LLC.

 No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the US Security State by Glenn Greenwald, published by Metropolitan Books, an imprint of Henry Holt and Company, LLC.

Tue May 13, 2014 2:4PM GMT


This essay is a shortened and adapted version of Chapter 1 of Glenn Greenwald’s new book, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Security State, and appears at TomDispatch.com with the kind permission of Metropolitan Books.]

On December 1, 2012, I received my first communication from Edward Snowden, although I had no idea at the time that it was from him.

The contact came in the form of an email from someone calling himself Cincinnatus, a reference to Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, the Roman farmer who, in the fifth century BC, was appointed dictator of Rome to defend the city against attack. He is most remembered for what he did after vanquishing Rome’s enemies: he immediately and voluntarily gave up political power and returned to farming life. Hailed as a “model of civic virtue,” Cincinnatus has become a symbol of the use of political power in the public interest and the worth of limiting or even relinquishing individual power for the greater good.

The email began: “The security of people’s communications is very important to me,” and its stated purpose was to urge me to begin using PGP encryption so that “Cincinnatus” could communicate things in which, he said, he was certain I would be interested. Invented in 1991, PGP stands for “pretty good privacy.” It has been developed into a sophisticated tool to shield email and other forms of online communications from surveillance and hacking.

In this email, “Cincinnatus” said he had searched everywhere for my PGP “public key,” a unique code set that allows people to receive encrypted email, but could not find it. From this, he concluded that I was not using the program and told me, “That puts anyone who communicates with you at risk. I’m not arguing that every communication you are involved in be encrypted, but you should at least provide communicants with that option.”

“Cincinnatus” then referenced the sex scandal of General David Petraeus, whose career-ending extramarital affair with journalist Paula Broadwell was discovered when investigators found Google emails between the two. Had Petraeus encrypted his messages before handing them over to Gmail or storing them in his drafts folder, he wrote, investigators would not have been able to read them. “Encryption matters, and it is not just for spies and philanderers.”

“There are people out there you would like to hear from,” he added, “but they will never be able to contact you without knowing their messages cannot be read in transit.” Then he offered to help me install the program.  He signed off: “Thank you. C.”

Using encryption software was something I had long intended to do. I had been writing for years about WikiLeaks, whistleblowers, the hacktivist collective known as Anonymous, and had also communicated with people inside the U.S. national security establishment. Most of them are concerned about the security of their communications and preventing unwanted monitoring. But the program is complicated, especially for someone who had very little skill in programming and computers, like me. So it was one of those things I had never gotten around to doing.

C.’s email did not move me to action. Because I had become known for covering stories the rest of the media often ignores, I frequently hear from all sorts of people offering me a “huge story,” and it usually turns out to be nothing. And at any given moment I am usually working on more stories than I can handle. So I need something concrete to make me drop what I’m doing in order to pursue a new lead.

Three days later, I heard from C. again, asking me to confirm receipt of the first email. This time I replied quickly. “I got this and am going to work on it. I don’t have a PGP code, and don’t know how to do that, but I will try to find someone who can help me.”

C. replied later that day with a clear, step-by-step guide to PGP: Encryption for Dummies, in essence. At the end of the instructions, he said these were just “the barest basics.” If I couldn’t find anyone to walk me through the system, he added, “let me know. I can facilitate contact with people who understand crypto almost anywhere in the world.”

This email ended with more a pointed sign-off: “Cryptographically yours, Cincinnatus.”

Despite my intentions, I did nothing, consumed as I was at the time with other stories, and still unconvinced that C. had anything worthwhile to say.

In the face of my inaction, C. stepped up his efforts. He produced a 10-minute video entitled PGP for Journalists.

It was at that point that C., as he later told me, became frustrated. “Here am I,” he thought, “ready to risk my liberty, perhaps even my life, to hand this guy thousands of Top Secret documents from the nation’s most secretive agency — a leak that will produce dozens if not hundreds of huge journalistic scoops. And he can’t even be bothered to install an encryption program.”

That’s how close I came to blowing off one of the largest and most consequential national security leaks in U.S. history.

 

“He’s Real”

The next I heard of any of this was 10 weeks later. On April 18th, I flew from my home in Rio de Janeiro to New York, and saw on landing at JFK Airport, that I had an email from Laura Poitras, the documentary filmmaker. “Any chance you’ll be in the U.S. this coming week?” she wrote. “I’d love to touch base about something, though best to do in person.”

I take seriously any message from Laura Poitras. I replied immediately: “Actually, just got to the U.S. this morning… Where are you?” We arranged a meeting for the next day in the lobby at my hotel and found seats in the restaurant. At Laura’s insistence, we moved tables twice before beginning our conversation to be sure that nobody could hear us. Laura then got down to business. She had an “extremely important and sensitive matter” to discuss, she said, and security was critical.

First, though, Laura asked that I either remove the battery from my cell phone or leave it in my hotel room. “It sounds paranoid,” she said, but the government has the capability to activate cell phones and laptops remotely as eavesdropping devices. I’d heard this before from transparency activists and hackers but tended to write it off as excess caution.  After discovering that the battery on my cell phone could not be removed, I took it back to my room, then returned to the restaurant.

Now Laura began to talk. She had received a series of anonymous emails from someone who seemed both honest and serious. He claimed to have access to some extremely secret and incriminating documents about the U.S. government spying on its own citizens and on the rest of the world. He was determined to leak these documents to her and had specifically requested that she work with me on releasing and reporting on them.

Laura then pulled several pages out of her purse from two of the emails sent by the anonymous leaker, and I read them at the table from start to finish. In the second of the emails, the leaker got to the crux of what he viewed as his mission:

The shock of this initial period [after the first revelations] will provide the support needed to build a more equal internet, but this will not work to the advantage of the average person unless science outpaces law. By understanding the mechanisms through which our privacy is violated, we can win here. We can guarantee for all people equal protection against unreasonable search through universal laws, but only if the technical community is willing to face the threat and commit to implementing over-engineered solutions. In the end, we must enforce a principle whereby the only way the powerful may enjoy privacy is when it is the same kind shared by the ordinary: one enforced by the laws of nature, rather than the policies of man.

“He’s real,” I said when I finished reading. “I can’t explain exactly why, but I just feel intuitively that this is serious, that he’s exactly who he says he is.”

“So do I,” Laura replied. “I have very little doubt.”

I instinctively recognized the author’s political passion. I felt a kinship with our correspondent, with his worldview, and with the sense of urgency that was clearly consuming him.

In one of the last passages, Laura’s correspondent wrote that he was completing the final steps necessary to provide us with the documents. He needed another four to six weeks, and we should wait to hear from him.

Three days later, Laura and I met again, and with another email from the anonymous leaker, in which he explained why he was willing to risk his liberty, to subject himself to the high likelihood of a very lengthy prison term, in order to disclose these documents. Now I was even more convinced: our source was for real, but as I told my partner, David Miranda, on the flight home to Brazil, I was determined to put the whole thing out of my mind. “It may not happen. He could change his mind. He could get caught.” David is a person of powerful intuition, and he was weirdly certain. “It’s real. He’s real. It’s going to happen,” he declared. “And it’s going to be huge.”

 

“I Have Only One Fear”   

A message from Laura told me we needed to speak urgently, but only through OTR (off-the-record) chat, an encrypted instrument for talking online securely.

Her news was startling: we might have to travel to Hong Kong immediately to meet our source. I had assumed that our anonymous source was in Maryland or northern Virginia. What was someone with access to top-secret U.S. government documents doing in Hong Kong?  What did Hong Kong have to do with any of this?

Answers would only come from the source himself. He was upset by the pace of things thus far, and it was critical that I speak to him directly, to assure him and placate his growing concerns. Within an hour, I received an email from Verax@******. Verax means “truth teller” in Latin. The subject line read, “Need to talk.”

“I’ve been working on a major project with a mutual friend of ours,” the email began. “You recently had to decline short-term travel to meet with me. You need to be involved in this story,” he wrote. “Is there any way we can talk on short notice? I understand you don’t have much in the way of secure infrastructure, but I’ll work around what you have.” He suggested that we speak via OTR and provided his user name.

My computer sounded a bell-like chime, signaling that the source had signed on. Slightly nervous, I clicked on his name and typed “hello.” He answered, and I found myself speaking directly to someone who I assumed had, at that point, revealed a number of secret documents about U.S. surveillance programs and who wanted to reveal more.

“I’m willing to do what I have to do to report this,” I said. The source — whose name, place of employment, age, and all other attributes were still unknown to me — asked if I would come to Hong Kong to meet him. I did not ask why he was there; I wanted to avoid appearing to be fishing for information and I assumed his situation was delicate. Whatever else was true, I knew that this person had resolved to carry out what the U.S. government would consider a very serious crime.

“Of course I’ll come to Hong Kong,” I said.

We spoke online that day for two hours, talking at length about his goal. I knew from the emails Laura had shown me that he felt compelled to tell the world about the massive spying apparatus the U.S. government was secretly building. But what did he hope to achieve?

“I want to spark a worldwide debate about privacy, Internet freedom, and the dangers of state surveillance,” he said. “I’m not afraid of what will happen to me. I’ve accepted that my life will likely be over from my doing this. I’m at peace with that. I know it’s the right thing to do.” He then said something startling: “I want to identify myself as the person behind these disclosures. I believe I have an obligation to explain why I’m doing this and what I hope to achieve.” He told me he had written a document that he wanted to post on the Internet when he outed himself as the source, a pro-privacy, anti-surveillance manifesto for people around the world to sign, showing that there was global support for protecting privacy.

“I only have one fear in doing all of this,” he said, which is “that people will see these documents and shrug, that they’ll say, ‘We assumed this was happening and don’t care.’ The only thing I’m worried about is that I’ll do all this to my life for nothing.”

“I seriously doubt that will happen,” I assured him, but I wasn’t convinced I really believed that. I knew from my years of writing about NSA abuses that it can be hard to generate serious concern about secret state surveillance.

This felt different, but before I took off for Hong Kong, I wanted to see some documents so that I understood the types of disclosures the source was prepared to make.

I then spent a couple of days online as the source walked me through, step by step, how to install and use the programs I would need to see the documents.

I kept apologizing for my lack of proficiency, for having to take hours of his time to teach me the most basic aspects of secure communication. “No worries,” he said, “most of this makes little sense. And I have a lot of free time right now.”

Once the programs were all in place, I received a file containing roughly twenty-five documents: “Just a very small taste: the tip of the tip of the iceberg,” he tantalizingly explained.

I unzipped the file, saw the list of documents, and randomly clicked on one of them. At the top of the page in red letters, a code appeared: “TOP SECRET//COMINT/NO FORN/.”

This meant the document had been legally designated top secret, pertained to communications intelligence (COMINT), and was not for distribution to foreign nationals, including international organizations or coalition partners (NO FORN). There it was with incontrovertible clarity: a highly confidential communication from the NSA, one of the most secretive agencies in the world’s most powerful government. Nothing of this significance had ever been leaked from the NSA, not in all the six-decade history of the agency. I now had a couple dozen such items in my possession. And the person I had spent hours chatting with over the last two days had many, many more to give me.

As Laura and I arrived at JFK Airport to board a Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong, Laura pulled a thumb drive out of her backpack. “Guess what this is?” she asked with a look of intense seriousness.

“What?”

“The documents,” she said. “All of them.”

 

“README_FIRST”

For the next 16 hours, despite my exhaustion, I did nothing but read, feverishly taking notes on document after document. One of the first I read was an order from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court, which had been created by Congress in 1978, after the Church Committee discovered decades of abusive government eavesdropping. The idea behind its formation was that the government could continue to engage in electronic surveillance, but to prevent similar abuse, it had to obtain permission from the FISA court before doing so. I had never seen a FISA court order before. Almost nobody had. The court is one of the most secretive institutions in the government. All of its rulings are automatically designated top secret, and only a small handful of people are authorized to access its decisions.

The ruling I read on the plane to Hong Kong was amazing for several reasons. It ordered Verizon Business to turn over to the NSA “all call detail records” for “communications (i) between the United States and abroad; and (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls.” That meant the NSA was secretly and indiscriminately collecting the telephone records of tens of millions of Americans, at least. Virtually nobody had any idea that the Obama administration was doing any such thing. Now, with this ruling, I not only knew about it but had the secret court order as proof.

Only now did I feel that I was beginning to process the true magnitude of the leak. I had been writing for years about the threat posed by unconstrained domestic surveillance; my first book, published in 2006, warned of the lawlessness and radicalism of the NSA. But I had struggled against the great wall of secrecy shielding government spying: How do you document the actions of an agency so completely shrouded in multiple layers of official secrecy? At this moment, the wall had been breached. I had in my possession documents that the government had desperately tried to hide. I had evidence that would indisputably prove all that the government had done to destroy the privacy of Americans and people around the world.

In 16 hours of barely interrupted reading, I managed to get through only a small fraction of the archive. But as the plane landed in Hong Kong, I knew two things for certain. First, the source was highly sophisticated and politically astute, evident in his recognition of the significance of most of the documents. He was also highly rational. The way he chose, analyzed, and described the thousands of documents I now had in my possession proved that. Second, it would be very difficult to deny his status as a classic whistleblower. If disclosing proof that top-level national security officials lied outright to Congress about domestic spying programs doesn’t make one indisputably a whistleblower, then what does?

Shortly before landing, I read one final file. Although it was entitled “README_FIRST,” I saw it for the first time only at the very end of the flight. This message was an explanation from the source for why he had chosen to do what he did and what he expected to happen as a result — and it included one fact that the others did not: the source’s name.

“I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions, and that the return of this information to the public marks my end. I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon, and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed for even an instant. If you seek to help, join the open source community and fight to keep the spirit of the press alive and the internet free. I have been to the darkest corners of government, and what they fear is light.

Edward Joseph Snowden, SSN: *****

CIA Alias “***** ”

Agency Identification Number: *****

Former Senior Advisor | United States National Security Agency, under corporate cover

Former Field Officer | United States Central Intelligence Agency, under diplomatic cover

Former Lecturer | United States Defense Intelligence Agency, under corporate cover”

—–

Excerpted and adapted from No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the US Security State by Glenn Greenwald, published by Metropolitan Books, an imprint of Henry Holt and Company, LLC.

AN/ISH

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

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