Bolton Gone: Improved Peace Prospects?

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September 13, 2019
The departure of John Bolton as US National Security Adviser is a good step towards decreasing international tensions by the Trump administration. But a lot more is needed from President Donald Trump to indicate a serious pivot to normalizing relations with Russia, Iran and others.

When Trump gave Bolton his marching orders earlier this week, the president said he “strongly disagreed” with his erstwhile security adviser over a range of foreign policy issues. Trump had also expressed frustration with Bolton’s incorrigible militarist tendencies.

There is no doubt Bolton was an odious figure in the White House cabinet. One of our SCF authors, Martin Sieff, wrote this excoriating commentary on Bolton’s nefarious record of warmongering dating as far back as the launching of US wars in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, when the mustachioed maverick served then as a chief neocon ideologue in the GW Bush administration.

One wonders why Trump brought such a war hawk into his administration when he appointed Bolton as NSA in April 2018. Perhaps, as another of our writers, Robert Bridge, surmised in a separate commentary this week, Trump was using hardliner Bolton as a foil to deflect opponents from within the Washington establishment who have been trying to undermine the president as “soft on foreign enemies”. A ruse by Trump of keeping “your enemies close”, it is averred.

Bolton certainly did his best to hamper Trump’s seeming attempts at scaling back US foreign military interventions. He opposed the plan to withdraw American troops from Syria. The reckless Bolton also wound up a policy of aggression and regime change against Venezuela, which Trump has latterly seemed to grow wary of as a futile debacle.

In regard to Russia, Bolton carried heaps of Cold War baggage which made Trump’s declared intentions of normalizing relations with Moscow more difficult.

The shameless warmonger Bolton openly advocated for regime change in Iran, which seemed to contradict Trump’s oft-stated position of not seeking regime change in Tehran, despite the president’s own animosity towards Iran.

The former NSA also opposed any attempt by Trump to engage in detente with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Reportedly, it was Bolton who derailed the incipient efforts at opening up dialogue with Pyongyang.

It is also thought that Bolton used his influence to impede Trump’s recent bid to host Taliban leaders at Camp David earlier this month which was aimed at trust-building for a proposed peace deal to withdraw US troops from that country after nearly 18 years of disastrous war.

That said, however, President Trump has not shown himself to be exactly a dovish figure. He has overseen countless sanctions being imposed on Russia, the abandoning of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty, and ongoing military support for the anti-Russia regime in Kiev.

Too, it was Trump who ordered the US collapse of the 2015 international nuclear accord with Iran in May 2018 and the re-imposition of harsh sanctions on Tehran. So, it would be misplaced to paint Bolton as the sole malign actor in the White House. Trump is personally responsible for aggravating tensions with Iran, as well as with Russia, Venezuela and others.

Nevertheless, it is to be welcomed that an inveterate war hawk like Bolton no longer has the president’s ear. Perhaps Trump can be freer to act on his instincts as a pragmatic deal-maker. One thing that the president deserves credit for is his unconventional style of engaging with nations and leaders who are designated as foes of America.

Russia this week gave a reserved response to the sacking of Bolton. The Kremlin said it would make assessments of a positive change in US policy based on actions, not mere announcements, such as the firing of Bolton. Time will tell.

It seems significant that immediately after Bolton was relieved of his post, Trump hinted to reporters that he was considering lifting sanctions off Iran if such a move persuaded Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to hold a face-to-face meeting with Trump at the United Nations general assembly in New York later this month.

Iran has repeatedly stated categorically that there will be no talks with Trump unless his administration revokes sanctions and returns to abiding by the nuclear accord. If there is a serious pivot to normal diplomacy by the White House, then what Trump does about sanctions on Iran will be a litmus test.

The same can be said about US sanctions on Russia. If Trump is earnest about a genuine reset in bilateral relations, then he must get rid of the raft of sanctions that Washington has piled on Moscow since the 2014 Ukraine crisis amid the many spurious allegations leveled against Russia.

Bolton banished is but a small step towards a more diplomatically engaged US administration. But it would be unwise to expect the departure of this one figure as being a portent for progress and a more peaceful policy emerging in Washington.

The Washington establishment, the deep state and the bipartisan War Party, with its entrenched Cold War ideology, seems to have an endemic sway over policy which may thwart Trump’s efforts to direct a less belligerent US.

To illustrate the twisted nature of the US establishment, one only had to read the way sections of the American corporate-controlled media lamented the departure of Bolton. The New York Times, which is a dutiful conduit for deep state intelligence and the foreign policy establishment, actually bemoaned the ouster of Bolton, calling him a “voice of restraint”.

The NY Times commented, with approval, on how Bolton “objected to attempts to pursue diplomatic avenues with players considered American enemies. And he angered Trump with a last-minute battle against a peace agreement with the Taliban… whether it was inviting the Taliban to Camp David or cooperating with Russia, he [Bolton] was the national security adviser who said no.”

In another piece this week, the NY Times commented, again approvingly of Bolton: “Mr Bolton strongly opposed detente with Iran, and his unceremonious ouster has reignited concerns among some Republicans [and Democrats] in Congress about the White House’s declining projection of American military power around the world.”

Can you believe it? The so-called US “newspaper of record” is somehow valorizing an out-and-out warmonger in the form of Bolton, and appears to be advocating “projection of American military power around the world”. The latter phrase being but an Orwellian euphemism for imperialism and war.

The sobering conclusion is that Bolton’s departure hardly heralds a new beginning of diplomacy and engagement by Trump, if we assume to give this president the benefit of doubt for good intentions. Bolton may be gone, but there are formidable political forces in the US establishment which will work to ensure Trump’s room for maneuver remains heavily compressed. The Cold War ideology is so ingrained in Washington, it is much bigger than just one man, whether that is the vile personage of Bolton or the more flexible Trump.

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.
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The Russiagate hoax is now fully exposed.

by Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog

The Russiagate hoax is now fully exposed.

The last leg of the Russiagate hoax to become exposed was on August 16th, when Gareth Porter bannered at The American Conservative“U.S. States: We Weren’t Hacked by Russians in 2016”. He revealed there that, “A ‘bombshell’ Senate Intelligence Committee report released in July repeated the familiar claim that Russia targeted the electoral websites of at least 21 states — but statements from the states themselves effectively undermine that narrative,” and NONE of the states was claiming that even a possibility had existed that its vote-counts had been affected, at all, by any hacker, anywhere. However, in one case, that of Illinois, there actually had been a hack; but it might have been by a criminal in order to sell the information, and not by any politically involved entity.

Porter reported:

The states’ own summary responses contained in the report show that, with one exception, they found either no effort to penetrate any of their election-related sites or merely found scanning and probing associated with an IP address that the FBI had warned about ahead of the 2016 election. Hardly a slam dunk.

Federal authorities, including Independent Counsel Robert Mueller, later claimed that the Russians used that IP address to hack into the Illinois state election systems and access some 200,000 voter records, though Mueller provided no additional evidence for that in his report. Nor was there any evidence that any data was tampered with, or a single vote changed.

About the same time, in August 2016, it was reported that Arizona state election systems were also breached, and it was widely speculated afterward that the Russians were behind it. But the Senate committee itself acknowledged that it was a criminal matter, and didn’t involve the Russians.

The “Russian” hack on the Illinois website, however, eventually became part of conventional wisdom, mainly because of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of 12 GRU (Russia’s foreign intelligence agency) officers for allegedly carrying it out. 

But the overarching reality here is that there was no real penetration anywhere else. As for outside “probing” and “testing of vulnerabilities” (which, when closely read, makes up the vast majority of the “targeting” cited in the Senate report), that is something that states contend with every day at the hands of an untold number of potential hackers, including, but not limited to, foreign actors.

As Lisa Vasa, Oregon’s chief information security officer, explained to The Washington Post, the state blocks “upwards of 14 million attempts to access our network every day.” And Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams told the Post that the kind of scanning that was discussed by DHS “happens hundreds, if not thousands, of times per day.”  

Furthermore, not all federal officials buy into the theory that the Illinois intrusion was political — rather than criminal — in nature. In fact, DHS Assistant Secretary for Cyber Security and Communications Andy Ozment testified in late September 2016 that the aim of the hackers in the Illinois case was “possibly for the purpose of selling personal information,” since they had stolen the data but made no effort to alter it online.

The Senate Intelligence Committee, DHS, and the intelligence community nevertheless chose to omit that reality from consideration, presumably because it would have interfered with their desired conclusion regarding the Russian cyber attacks on the 2016 election.

——

Prior to that revelation, here were highlights from the major news-reports which had exposed other fraudulent aspects of the “Russiagate” accusations:

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The Real Russiagate Scandal”

9 May, 2019  in Uncategorized by craig View Comments

Robert Mueller is either a fool, or deeply corrupt. I do not think he is a fool.

I did not comment instantly on the Mueller Report as I was so shocked by it, I have been waiting to see if any other facts come to light in justification. Nothing has. I limit myself here to that area of which I have personal knowledge – the leak of DNC and Podesta emails to Wikileaks. On the wider question of the corrupt Russian 1% having business dealings with the corrupt Western 1%, all I have to say is that if you believe that is limited in the USA by party political boundaries, you are a fool.

On the DNC leak, Mueller started with the prejudice that it was “the Russians” and he deliberately and systematically excluded from evidence anything that contradicted that view.

Mueller, as a matter of determined policy, omitted key steps which any honest investigator would undertake. He did not commission any forensic examination of the DNC servers. He did not interview Bill Binney. He did not interview Julian Assange. His failure to do any of those obvious things renders his report worthless.

There has never been, by any US law enforcement or security service body, a forensic examination of the DNC servers, despite the fact that the claim those servers were hacked is the very heart of the entire investigation. Instead, the security services simply accepted the “evidence” provided by the DNC’s own IT security consultants, Crowdstrike, a company which is politically aligned to the Clintons.

That is precisely the equivalent of the police receiving a phone call saying:

Hello? My husband has just been murdered. He had a knife in his back with the initials of the Russian man who lives next door engraved on it in Cyrillic script. I have employed a private detective who will send you photos of the body and the knife. No, you don’t need to see either of them.”

There is no honest policeman in the world who would agree to that proposition, and neither would Mueller, were he remotely an honest man.

Two facts compound this failure.

The first is the absolutely key word of Bill Binney, former Technical Director of the NSA, the USA’s $14 billion a year surveillance organisation. Bill Binney is an acknowledged world leader in cyber surveillance, and is infinitely more qualified than Crowdstrike. Bill states that the download rates for the “hack” given by Crowdstrike are at a speed – 41 Megabytes per second – that could not even nearly be attained remotely at the location: thus the information must have been downloaded to a local device, eg a memory stick. Binney has further evidence regarding formatting which supports this. …

——

US Govt’s Entire Russia-DNC Hacking Narrative Based On Redacted Draft Of Crowdstrike Report”

17 June 2019

It’s been known for some time that the US Government based its conclusion that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee (DNC) on a report by cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike, which the DNC paid over a million dollarsto conduct forensic analysis and other work on servers they refused to hand over to the FBI. 

CrowdStrike’s report made its way into a joint FBI/DHS report on an Russia’s “Grizzly Steppe“, which concluded Russia hacked the DNC’s servers. At the time, Crowdstrike’s claim drew much scrutiny from cybersecurity expertsaccording to former Breitbart reporter Lee Stranahan. 

Now, thanks to a new court filing by longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone requesting the full Crowdstrike analysis, we find out that the US government was given a redacted version of the report marked “Draft,” 

——

“CrowdStrikeOut: Mueller’s Own Report Undercuts Its Core Russia-Meddling Claims”

5 July 2019 By Aaron Maté, RealClearInvestigations, 6,539 words

Mueller’s other “central allegation” regards a “Russian ‘Active Measures’ Social Media Campaign” with the aim of “sowing discord” and helping to elect Trump.

In fact, Mueller does not directly attribute that campaign to the Russian government, and makes only the barest attempt to imply a Kremlin connection. According to Mueller, the social media “form of Russian election influence came principally from the Internet Research Agency, LLC (IRA), a Russian organization funded by Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin and companies he controlled.” 

After two years and $35 million, Mueller apparently failed to uncover any direct evidence linking the Prigozhin-controlled IRA’s activities to the Kremlin. …

——

“Judge dismisses DNC lawsuit”

W. 31 July 2019 by Eric London

US federal court exposes Democratic Party conspiracy against Assange and WikiLeaks

In a ruling published late Tuesday, Judge John Koeltl of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York delivered a devastating blow to the US-led conspiracy against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

In his ruling, Judge Koeltl, a Bill Clinton nominee and former assistant special prosecutor for the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, dismissed “with prejudice” a civil lawsuit filed in April 2018 by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) alleging WikiLeaks was civilly liable for conspiring with the Russian government to steal DNC emails and data and leak them to the public.

Jennifer Robinson, a leading lawyer for Assange, and other WikiLeaks attorneys welcomed the ruling as “an important win for free speech.”

The decision exposes the Democratic Party in a conspiracy of its own to attack free speech and cover up the crimes of US imperialism and the corrupt activities of the two parties of Wall Street. Judge Koeltl stated:

If WikiLeaks could be held liable for publishing documents concerning the DNC’s political financial and voter-engagement strategies simply because the DNC labels them ‘secret’ and trade secrets, then so could any newspaper or other media outlet. But that would impermissibly elevate a purely private privacy interest to override the First Amendment interest in the publication of matters of the highest public concern. The DNC’s published internal communications allowed the American electorate to look behind the curtain of one of the two major political parties in the United States during a presidential election. This type of information is plainly of the type entitled to the strongest protection that the First Amendment offers. …

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In the World of Truth and Fact, Russiagate is Dead. In the World of the Political Establishment, it is Still the New”

4 Aug, 2019 

Douglas Adams famously suggested that the answer to life, the universe and everything is 42. In the world of the political elite, the answer is Russiagate. What has caused the electorate to turn on the political elite, to defeat Hillary and to rush to Brexit? Why, the evil Russians, of course, are behind it all.

It was the Russians who hacked the DNC and published Hillary’s emails, thus causing her to lose the election because… the Russians, dammit, who cares what was in the emails? It was the Russians. It is the Russians who are behind Wikileaks, and Julian Assange is a Putin agent (as is that evil Craig Murray). It was the Russians who swayed the 1,300,000,000 dollar Presidential election campaign result with 100,000 dollars worth of Facebook advertising. It was the evil Russians who once did a dodgy trade deal with Aaron Banks then did something improbable with Cambridge Analytica that hypnotised people en masse via Facebook into supporting Brexit.

All of this is known to be true by every Blairite, every Clintonite, by the BBC, by CNN, by the Guardian, the New York Times and the Washington Post. “The Russians did it” is the article of faith for the political elite who cannot understand why the electorate rejected the triangulated “consensus” the elite constructed and sold to us, where the filthy rich get ever richer and the rest of us have falling incomes, low employment rights and scanty welfare benefits. You don’t like that system? You have been hypnotised and misled by evil Russian trolls and hackers.

Except virtually none of this is true. Mueller’s inability to defend in person his deeply flawed report took a certain amount of steam out of the blame Russia campaign. But what should have killed off “Russiagate” forever is the judgement of Judge John G Koeltl of the Federal District Court of New York.

In a lawsuit brought by the Democratic National Committee against Russia and against Wikileaks, and against inter alia Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and Julian Assange, for the first time the claims of collusion between Trump and Russia were subjected to actual scrutiny in a court of law. And Judge Koeltl concluded that, quite simply, the claims made as the basis of Russiagate are insufficient to even warrant a hearing.

The judgement is 81 pages long, but if you want to understand the truth about the entire “Russiagate” spin it is well worth reading it in full. Otherwise let me walk you through it. …

The key finding is this. Even accepting the DNC’s evidence at face value, the judge ruled that it provides no evidence of collusion between Russia, Wikileaks or any of the named parties to hack the DNC’s computers. It is best expressed here in this dismissal of the charge that a property violation was committed, but in fact the same ruling by the judge that no evidence has been presented of any collusion for an illegal purpose, runs through the dismissal of each and every one of the varied charges put forward by the DNC as grounds for their suit.

Judge Koeltl goes further and asserts that Wikileaks, as a news organisation, had every right to obtain and publish the emails in exercise of a fundamental First Amendment right. The judge also specifically notes that no evidence has been put forward by the DNC that shows any relationship between Russia and Wikileaks. Wikileaks, accepting the DNC’s version of events, merely contacted the website that first leaked some of the emails, in order to ask to publish them.

Judge Koeltl also notes firmly that while various contacts are alleged by the DNC between individuals from Trump’s campaign and individuals allegedly linked to the Russian government, no evidence at all has been put forward to show that the content of any of those meetings had anything to do with either Wikileaks or the DNC’s emails.

In short, Koeltl dismissed the case entirely because simply no evidence has been produced of the existence of any collusion between Wikileaks, the Trump campaign and Russia. That does not mean that the evidence has been seen and is judged unconvincing. In a situation where the judge is duty bound to give credence to the plaintiff’s evidence and not judge its probability, there simply was no evidence of collusion to which he could give credence. The entire Russia-Wikileaks-Trump fabrication is a total nonsense. But I don’t suppose that fact will kill it off. …

And in conclusion, I should state emphatically that while Judge Koeltl was obliged to accept for the time being the allegation that the Russians had hacked the DNC as alleged, in fact this never happened. The emails came from a leak not a hack. The Mueller Inquiry’s refusal to take evidence from the actual publisher of the leaks, Julian Assange, in itself discredits his report. Mueller should also have taken crucial evidence from Bill Binney, former Technical Director of the NSA, who has explained in detail why an outside hack was technically impossible based on the forensic evidence provided.

The other key point that proves Mueller’s Inquiry was never a serious search for truth is that at no stage was any independent forensic independence taken from the DNC’s servers, instead the word of the DNC’s own security consultants was simply accepted as true. Finally no progress has been made – or is intended to be made – on the question of who killed Seth Rich, while the pretend police investigation has “lost” his laptop.

Though why anybody would believe Robert Mueller about anything is completely beyond me.

So there we have it. Russiagate as a theory is as completely exploded as the appalling Guardian front page lie published by Kath Viner and Luke Harding fabricating the “secret meetings” between Paul Manafort and Julian Assange in the Ecuadorean Embassy. But the political class and the mainstream media, both in the service of billionaires, have moved on to a stage where truth is irrelevant, and I do not doubt that Russiagate stories will thus persist. They are so useful for the finances of the armaments and security industries, and in keeping the population in fear and jingoist politicians in power.

——

Did Russian Interference Affect the 2016 Election Results?”

8 August 2019  Alan I. Abramowitz, Senior Columnist, Sabato’s Crystal Ball

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s recent testimony was a reminder that Russia attempted to influence the outcome of the 2016 election and very well may try to do so again in 2020.

— This begs the question: Is there any evidence that Russian interference may have impacted the results, particularly in key states?

— The following analysis suggests that the 2016 results can be explained almost entirely based on the political and demographic characteristics of those states. So from that standpoint, the answer seems to be no.

What explains the 2016 results?

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s recent testimony before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, and the Mueller Report itself, make it very clear that the Russian government made a major effort to help Donald Trump win the 2016 U.S. presidential election. What the Mueller Report did not determine, however, was whether that effort was successful. In this article, I try to answer that question by examining whether there are any indications from the 2016 results that Russian interference efforts may have played a clear role in the outcome. One such indication would be if Trump did better in key swing states than a range of demographic, partisan, and historical factors would have predicted.

We know from the Mueller Report that Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort briefed a longtime associate who the FBI believes had ties with Russian intelligence about campaign strategy and, according to Manafort deputy Rick Gates, discussed decisive battleground states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Manafort also directed Gates to share internal polling data, which may have influenced Russian operations.

In order to address the question of whether the Russian interference effort worked, I conducted a multiple regression analysis of the election results at the state level. The dependent variable in this analysis was the Trump margin. My independent variables were the 2012 Mitt Romney margin, to control for traditional state partisanship, state ideology measured by the Gallup Poll (the percentage of conservatives minus the percentage of liberals), the percentage of a state’s population made up of whites without college degrees, the estimated turnout of eligible voters in the state, the state unemployment rate in November 2016 (to measure economic conditions), the number of Trump campaign rallies in the state, the number of Clinton campaign rallies in the state, a dummy variable for the state of Utah to control for the large vote share won by an independent conservative Mormon candidate from that state, Evan McMullin, and, finally, a dummy variable for swing states. The swing states included Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Virginia, in addition to Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The results of the regression analysis are displayed in Table 1 along with a scatterplot of the actual and predicted results in Figure 1.

Table 1: Results of regression analysis of Trump margin in the states

Source: Data compiled by author.

Figure 1: Scatterplot of actual Trump margin by predicted Trump margin in the states

Note: Alaska and District of Columbia omitted due to lack of state ideology data.

Source: Data compiled by author.

The regression equation proved to be extremely successful in predicting the election results, explaining a remarkable 98% of the variance in Trump vote margin in the states. Several of the independent variables had very powerful effects including the 2012 Romney margin, state ideology, and the percentage of non-college whites in the state. Even after controlling for traditional state partisanship and ideology, the size of the non-college white population in a state was a strong predictor of support for Donald Trump. The data in Table 1 also show that Evan McMullin’s candidacy dramatically reduced Trump’s vote share in Utah — although Trump still carried the state easily. In addition, the results show that voter turnout had a modest but highly significant effect on the results — the higher the turnout in a state, the lower the vote share for Trump. These results seem to confirm the conventional wisdom that higher voter turnout generally helps Democrats.

In addition to showing what mattered in explaining the results of the 2016 presidential election in the states, the data in Table 1 also show what did not matter. Economic conditions at the state level, at least as measured by state unemployment, did not matter. The number of campaign rallies held by the candidates in a state did not matter. Finally, and perhaps most importantly from the standpoint of estimating the impact of Russian interference, Donald Trump did no better than expected in the swing states. The coefficient for the swing state dummy variable is extremely small and in the wrong direction: Trump actually did slightly worse than expected in the swing states based on their other characteristics.

Table 2: Predicted and actual Trump margin in key swing states

Source: Data compiled by author.

This can also be seen in Table 2, which compares the actual and predicted results in the three swing states that ultimately decided the outcome of the election: Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. What is most striking about the data in this table is that Donald Trump actually slightly under-performed the model’s predictions in all three states. He did about one point worse than predicted in Michigan, about two points worse than predicted in Pennsylvania, and between two and three points worse than predicted in Wisconsin. There is no evidence here that Russian interference, to the extent that it occurred, did anything to help Trump in these three states.

Conclusions

I find no evidence that Russian attempts to target voters in key swing states had any effect on the election results in those states. …

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Overstock CEO Turned Over Docs To DOJ ‘In Greatest Political Scandal In US History’”

12 August 2019

Via SaraACarter.com,

Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne delivered to the Department of Justice a number of documents, including emails and text messages, in April, regarding both the origins of the Russian investigation, and an FBI operation into Hillary Clinton with which he was personally involved during the first months of 2016, according to a U.S. official who spoke SaraACarter.com.

Byrne has also confirmed the account.

Byrne claims the documents, which have not been made public and are currently under investigation by the DOJ, are allegedly communications he had with the FBI concerning both the Clinton investigation and the origins of the Russian investigation. …

I gave to the DOJ documents concerning both the origin of the Russian probe and the probe into Hillary Clinton, both of which I was involved in, and both of which turned out to be less about law enforcement than they were about political espionage,” Byrne told SaraACarter.com Monday. …

This is going to become the greatest political scandal in US history,” he said. …

Byrne said the investigation into Clinton was one of the main reasons he came forward. …

Here’s the bottom line. There is a deep state like a submarine lurking just beneath the waves of the periscope depth watching our shipping lanes. …

I think we’re about to see the biggest scandal in American history as a result. But it was all political. …

It’s all a cover-up. It was all political espionage.” …

——

The Russiagate hoax was used by Obama’s successor, Trump — who, of course, had been one of the two targets of the Obama-initiated hoax — in order to step up actions against Russia. Here is one example of that:

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https://www.nytimes.com/2019/

http://archive.is/ek04S

http://web.archive.org/web/

U.S. Escalates Online Attacks on Russia’s Power Grid”

By David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth June 15, 2019 front page Sunday 16 June 2019

WASHINGTON — The United States is stepping up digital incursions into Russia’s electric power grid in a warning to President Vladimir V. Putin and a demonstration of how the Trump administration is using new authorities to deploy cybertools more aggressively, current and former government officials said.

In interviews over the past three months, the officials described the previously unreported deployment of American computer code inside Russia’s grid and other targets as a classified companion to more publicly discussed action directed at Moscow’s disinformation and hacking units around the 2018 midterm elections.

Advocates of the more aggressive strategy said it was long overdue, after years of public warnings from the Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I. that Russia has inserted malware that could sabotage American power plants, oil and gas pipelines, or water supplies in any future conflict with the United States.

But it also carries significant risk of escalating the daily digital Cold War between Washington and Moscow.

The administration declined to describe specific actions it was taking under the new authorities, which were granted separately by the White House and Congress last year to United States Cyber Command, the arm of the Pentagon that runs the military’s offensive and defensive operations in the online world.

But in a public appearance on Tuesday, President Trump’s national security adviser, John R. Bolton, said the United States was now taking a broader view of potential digital targets as part of an effort “to say to Russia, or anybody else that’s engaged in cyberoperations against us, ‘You will pay a price.’”

Power grids have been a low-intensity battleground for years. …

——

MY CONCLUSION: Both the liberal (Democratic) and conservative (Republican) wings of the U.S. aristocracy hate and want to conquer Russia’s Government. The real question now is whether that fact will cause the book on this matter to be closed as being unprofitable for both sides of the U.S. aristocracy; or, alternatively, which of those two sides will succeed in skewering the other over this matter. At the present stage, the Republican billionaires seem likelier to win if this internal battle between the two teams of billionaires’ political agents continues on. If they do, and Trump wins re-election by having exposed the scandal of the Obama Administration’s having manufactured the fake Russiagate-Trump scandal, then Obama himself could end up being convicted. However, if Trump loses — as is widely expected — then Obama is safe, and Trump will likely be prosecuted on unassociated criminal charges. To be President of the United States is now exceedingly dangerous. Of course, assassination is the bigger danger; but, now, there will also be the danger of imprisonment. A politician’s selling out to billionaires in order to reach the top can become especially risky when billionaires are at war against each other — and not merely against some foreign (‘enemy’) aristocracy. At this stage of American ‘democracy’, the public are irrelevant. But the political battle might be even hotter than ever, without the gloves, than when the public were the gloves.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

The Terrorists Among US- Cyber War and Privateers are the true Domestic Terrorists

August 14, 2019

by George Eliason for The Saker Blog

The Terrorists Among US- Cyber War and Privateers are the true Domestic Terrorists

What are Cyber Privateers and should you be afraid of them? Cyber privateers and cyber bounty hunters are criminals that are not covered under international law as government agents. In reality, this almost nullifies the chance for war to start over any particular hacking or compromised data event.

The problems hired or volunteer contractors create include a projectable legal attribution. You don’t have to be able to prove a country was behind a cyber attack or hack as long as you meet certain conditions. You can literally project the blame entirely to a different entity. The legal aspects will be covered in the next article.

It also nullifies the myth cyber privateers/ bounty hunters can use government tools on civilian or otherwise protected classes of people and infrastructure at will. International law doesn’t give people hired or volunteering to commit crimes under any auspices a free pass.

This is a new class of terrorism which separates a cowardly criminal element from the victim the same way a remotely detonated explosive would when used at a shopping mall. This criminal activity is spreading at a rate that raises alarm bells especially with the projection of 3 million untrained new hires over the next few years.

In the last article, I introduced you to Jimmy and Gary. After three difficult months of online Youtube training, both of our heroes were ready to take on careers as international men of mystery.

The absolute risk this presents to international peace and security should be obvious regardless of what accepted policy is. Everybody gets to spy or nobody gets to spy is the mantra this generation of Intel managers was brought along with. Most of the tools in the NSA arsenal have their start or at the very least a counterpart that is freeware.

Disgruntled people have access to software that can literally trigger a heart attack for someone with a pacemaker, cause a seizure, or even take control of your car.

More than 70 percent of the Pentagon’s Counterintelligence Field Activity: CIFA is staffed by green badge contractors. The majority of personnel at the DIA, the CIA National Clandestine Service, the National Counter Terrorism Center, and more than 80% of the NSA budget goes to private contractors.

All of the agencies are filled with what amounts to day labor. How many of them already have the keys to the barn that potentially starts the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse on their way?

State sized tools give emotionally inadequate and politically repulsive people the ability to illegally mimic or ply actions that are inherently governmental in nature. These same disgruntled overpaid groups fill out the do not fly lists. They are putting people on domestic terrorist watch lists. They are deplatforming journalists and people expressing opinions contrary to their employers and taking over social media and opinion for their employers.

The same groups are hacking websites and stealing financial account information. They gain access to bank accounts through phishing exploits and siphon your account dry. One group I am writing about did this to a family member of mine because of the exposure I’m giving. I’ll get back to that later in the series.

Over the last five years, I’ve not only described the role cyber privateers are playing in world affairs, but have been documenting the players and the damage they are causing.

This article will describe the now accepted US cyber policies that were written by cybercriminals to give themselves cover so they can use the American people and people of the world as their own personal cash cow or reservoir. If they don’t like you, no need to wonder who gets to pay for that.

The inherent problem with cyber privateers is covered in the job description as well as their rather fanciful notion they are anything but criminals.

Privateers operate as sanctioned pirates. These throwbacks pretend to operate like their 18th century inspirations did. Back in the day, the sponsor country allowed them to make money attacking merchant and military vessels they didn’t like but didn’t necessarily want a war with. When mistakes were made, privateers supposedly made reparations to the groups they victimized. They had to identify themselves and offer a remedy for damages.

The 2019 cyber privateer or bounty hunter is under no such compunction. They don’t identify themselves and their victims rarely know who hit them. In fact, when they do identify themselves, it’s just to gloat. They do it in a setting that implies the message that needs to get across without confessions that would hold up in a court.

If this sounds wordy, cutesy, or alarmist, private contractors have interrupted the power grid in Venezuela and hacked into Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. They are penetrating the power grid in Russia. This is an ongoing problem that’s exasperated by the fact legislators rely on the terrorists to draft the laws to protect them from everyone else.

Think of it this way, if Joey, going by the cool hacker name HedCh33z3, decides he doesn’t like Latvia, can he disrupt their electrical infrastructure, medical infrastructure, or elections?

The fact is they move in and out of government service so often, they never bother to switch hats or status. Think of it this way, Joey works for the NSA for a week under a subcontractor and picks up a ton of tools to stalk his Ex and sadistically destroy her life piece by piece.  This is what happens when people assume the right to government powers without the authority or responsibility to use them.

Are you willing to send your kid to war or go yourself because Joey HedCh33z3’s ex-girlfriend’s family thinks he’s a creep and they are from XXX country? Yet, we are now snugly very close to being put in this horrific position by politically and emotionally stunted people.

Privateers are Terrorists

So, where do they get the right to do this? Starting right after September 11, 2001, OSINT and cyber started as a serious money-making cottage industry. In the last article, we closed with the DOD actively hiring cyber Bounty Hunters to hack into foreign countries infrastructure.

This practice didn’t just start yesterday. Since 2001, there have been many attempts to codify US hiring of cyber privateers or bounty hunters into law. What this has done is enshrine it in US cyber-policy. The DOD use of subcontractors says a lot.

  • What are cyber bounty hunters and cyber privateers and what do they actually do?
  • Work with direct action military subcontractors
  • Work for NGOs, corporations, lobby groups
  • Work for US government agencies like the FBI, CIA, DIA, DOD, DNI
  • Work for political parties and causes
  • Work for foreign governments like Ukraine as shown in this series against the interests of the American people
  • Work for themselves

They provide Intel through OSINT and hacking. They provide direct action through hacking and Information Operations. Today, they are taking on inherently governmental responsibilities and making decisions they don’t have the authority to make and they make decisions that belong to State agencies.

  • Who is the enemy?
  • Who is friendly (or are there really any friends out there)?
  • Who is a danger and how?
  • Why are they a danger?
  • What is their motivation?
  • What steps will the US need to take to stop them, turn them in a different direction, or make peace with them?

One attempt to legalize this activity is called the Morgan Doctrine.

You’re aware that the U.S. Secretary of State is actually dumb enough to host her own email server. Even if you’re a third-world country without the infrastructure to create serious cyber attacks yourself, a few thousand dollars in Bitcoins to Hackers-R-US will get you zero-day exploits to crack just about any individual server. Either way, you’re going to OWN that server before the next national holiday (pick your country, pick your holiday).

The Morgan Doctrine states simply that if you attack my computers (or my banking assets held in US-based computers), then under a certain set of well-defined conditions, a licensed and bonded “cyber privateer” may attack you in your home country and split the proceeds with the U.S. government…You raid our bank accounts, we raid yours. You make money from off-shore child pornography, we’re going to loot your bank accounts and, with some REALLY creative black hat operations, you will be taken off the grid worldwide to the extent that you’ll not even complete a cell phone conversation for the remainder of your miserable depraved life.- The Morgan Doctrine

Who decides what is right, legal, or legally binding? Is it right when someone who gets paid to find you and accuse you also makes his money from destroying your life and reputation, or directly by stealing money directly from you?

According to the Morgan doctrine blogger who does this kind of work for Oracle, Salesforce.com, BIGFIX, and other technology companies, the answer is a big yes.

The USA followed by Ukraine makes up the highest percentage of over 50,000 readers which reflects the numbers the Ukrainian Diaspora hired to create the illusion of Russian aggression in Ukraine and the 2016 election interference meme. This is a serious attempt to push legislators for legal cover for what is accepted at the policy level.

Let’s spell this out. If a cyber bounty hunter or cyber privateer say you work for Russia while they work against Russia, according to this, you picked your side in the war they get paid to fight. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know you’re in one.

When they work for NGOs, foreign governments, political parties, and companies, they are given cover. They found out along the way they are entitled to your bank account as part of their payment as well as the joy of ruining your life every way they can. It means no more than a video game to them.

In the private sector they now illegally, harass, stalk, and locate people with no legal justification. They are trying to facilitate renditions and executions. Let’s be clear, these are your neighbors doing this to your neighbors.

Aric Toler and Bellingcat helped set up the functionality of Ukraine’s hit for hire website Myrotvorets (peacemaker). The only goal of the site is to publish personal and contact information of anyone they consider standing against Ukrainian nationalism so they can be dealt with by private parties.

toler go get him.JPG

The above clipped from Christelle Neant’s article should be clear enough to understand on its own and she asks the right questions. Bellingcat’s work with privateer groups has included trying to leverage their collective expertise and locate and rendition me.

Almost every time I’ve been threatened by Ukraine, it’s an American collaborator making the threat for them. The linked article shows one such person who also designed Ukraine’s Information Policy. He also wrote the policy paper for the US government’s cyber policy.

The people that testify for the US Congress on cyber and OSINT are the same people doing these things. They are training and setting up groups in multiple countries and under different auspices.

More than one of them trained the full spectrum of alphabet agencies. CIA, NSA, DIA, FBI, DNI, DOD, and we can keep going across the board.

They were behind setting up the policy that guided the Tallinn Manual defining cyberwar and international law. We’ll be opening that up within a couple of articles.

As a testament of their cyber mojo, they spent the last few years collectively trying to locate someone who didn’t change locations often and used normal communications and social media. I publish articles in 5 or 6 publications regularly. I have 4 or 5 different social platform accounts.

helfire missile targeter.jpg

They couldn’t figure out that I was where I said I was for the last 5 years. This spring I wrote a Victory Day article with local video and interviews. Even though I clearly showed my location, they still weren’t too sure.

The one thing you can say about them and their ally Bellingcat is they are consistent. Consistently wrong that is. In Ukraine, Bellingcat’s chief source of Intel is Ukrainian Intelligence. This includes the Ukrainian State hackers that contacted me after my sister was hacked. Journalism from the Donbass side of the contact line is a crime against Ukrainian sensibilities.

This group supplies Intel to NATO and individual EU countries and makes the rounds in Congress. Bellingcat’s work in Syria is chiefly supplied by the other side of Bellingcat’s Intel fabricators who also work for Ukraine.

We now have Americans working with foreign Intel stalking Americans and foreign citizens/ journalists for foreign countries they know will be tortured and killed. This clearly falls under terrorist activity.

One side of the group that works for Ukrainian Intel contacted me for the first time the day after the bank account was hacked and cleaned out using the hacker’s preferred method. What was the reason for the sudden communication? He wanted me to know how smart he really was.

Yet, these same so-called super spies claim to be able to find information about things people are actively trying to hide like weapons systems, motive. Most of the time they don’t speak the language of the country they claim to have expertise for. They decide guilt even though reality shows they aren’t able to actually do the job. Strange, isn’t it?

It was US policy to make them extra-legal but not illegal in the US after 9-11. Congress worked with these groups to write laws that refuse to criminalize what they do when it’s done on citizens. In fact, it no longer matters which side of the spectrum holds the reins, they feel empowered and will continue to do so until laws are written regulating their industry.

Over the last articles, I developed a slow-burn look into the world of the private spy. The idea that in less than 4 years the industry wants to hire 3 million unlicensed, unbonded, and untrained experts to work both government and corporate Intel and spy gigs should scare the hell out of you.

Can you give me a reason why the US which already collects and analyzes every piece of data on the internet needs so many more of what amounts to interns working with state sized software packages?

That’s 82 US citizens per new hire private sector OSINT agent. They have to literally spend 4 days on each person they investigate (82 per year including babies) just to get a full year’s worth of work because of the existing DNI, FBI, CIA, DIA, DOD OSINT agents have the rest of the world covered.

How serious is the information I’m providing? The EU Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-EU) sent the articles to the EU institutions, agencies and bodies as well as outside governments and agencies. This means the EU has real concerns about the practice, laws, and policies allowing the practice because of the inherent damage so-called bit-players in private Intel and Information Operations (IO) can do at home and abroad not to mention diplomatically.

cert-eu for article.JPG

After you grasp the magnitude of the problem and begin unwinding the moving parts it can become manageable again through lawfare. Legal and societal protections you take for granted no matter where you live went out the window as soon as these practices became the norm.

Even from street level, people can make large sweeping changes to the world. Before you poo-poo, the idea, look at the CERT-EU screenshot again. I believe this can be done because I have already done it.

Towards the bottom of the article, we’ll get into the international policy for cyberwar and non-war situations. The same people that I’ve been writing about for the last 5 years exposing how they go after groups with protected status also wrote the policy for the US Government, all the agencies. While they didn’t write international policy directly, people they trained or work with closely did.

Four years ago, I exposed a flaw that exposes them to justice in the Tallinn Manual and threatened to pursue it. I did this because to win, I needed that gap closed. Tallinn is about applying the laws of war to cyber. It is something that otherwise would get no mention at all because it’s not considered a gap in any other context.

They closed that specific gap verbosely and gave me the opportunity to show how sordid this mess is. This also paves the way to provide a real resolution from private spies attacking civilians, social groups, political groups, journalists and other protected parties. Myrotvorets and Propornot should take note as should the other better and lesser-known companies and personalities.

No one has the right to use what they, themselves, rightfully label as Al Qaeda tactics on civilian populations, social activists, journalists, and other protected groups without assuming the legal definition of a terrorist, i.e. cyber terrorist.

Should lawfare (legal activism) fail to provide a remedy, the penalties for cyber assault (terrorism) and the right to a vigorous defense against perpetrators is what can make the laws change-FAST. Terrorism is terrorism is terrorism.

Once that fact is established anyone supporting them or hiring them in any way shape or form is guilty of material or direct support of terrorist activities against their own nation. Congressman, what say ye?

Law and policy makers fell in love with this power they never had before because it gives them the ability to shape policy they have no right to change for the sake of constituent and lobbyist cash and gift donations. They create loopholes in the cyber laws they write with the help of the companies and practitioners engaged in criminal behavior (under every other circumstance). Today, they hire the same criminals to help them with elections.  Oppo-research, reputation management, Information Operations, and even projecting their (congressman’s private) own foreign policy agenda into the international arena.

Imagine Congress asking a cybercriminal what kind of regulation or oversight their industry needed? What if Congress then asked the same societal deviants to write the laws that define the limit to what is legal they would agree to. Real criminals decided what the laws protecting their victims should be. They decided what the penalties should be if they got caught.

The tradeoff is this same Congress that was never allowed access to Top Secret information unless they have security clearance on their committee can get the actionable Intel before it’s marked “secret” if it’s gathered through OSINT by a private contractor working for US Intel agencies. That loophole makes it ok for anybody to move information before it’s been vetted and resell it.

Imagine these same legislators hiring you because you’re the expert they trust and they knowingly wink at the crimes you’re committing against your own people. They haven’t updated labeling the new twist on criminal law yet, and they won’t because you don’t want them to. And hardly anyone is referencing the same crimes using older precedent as a reference for prosecution or lawsuits.

This creates huge gray zones in the law. Gray zones are areas of law where even though something is illegal, there is no law on the books against a specific method of a known crime. Stalking is the easiest example. If someone is stalking you, follows you, and threatens you, we can all agree a crime was committed.

So is stalking a crime? Not if you are an OSINT practitioner doing it online because there is no legal or regulatory system you have to justify yourself to.

The gray zone, in this case, exists in a couple of areas. The first is attribution or identifying the perpetrator. This isn’t a small thing. The person with the Twitter handle “little ice cream girl” could actually be Stan from Milwaukee who was hired to sway the vote for his candidate. You annoyed him. The state sized software package he inherited working for XXX contractor that was working for the CIA toppling Antarctica is going to come in handy wrecking your life as thoroughly as the preverbal bull in the china shop.

The second is time and distance. Money concerns aside, if you are stalked, harassed, or threatened from the other side of the country or globe, what local prosecutor can even get his head around this new dimension of law?

Last year when I was originally going to publish this series, I spoke to an attorney specializing in international law. He listened for a short time and told me to stop. He didn’t want to hear any more. It wasn’t because of a lack of proof. His reasoned that the substance of what I was saying would put him in a very dangerous position.

It wasn’t his first rodeo and he claimed the last time around, his own national government refused to give him any cover or come to his aid. In his words, his government views taking on private Intel contractors as akin to taking on the CIA directly. And they weren’t willing to do that.

This is the attitude most people and even Congress takes. You can’t beat the deep state. But, the deep state ISN’T sworn-in law enforcement or agency personnel anymore. The illegal hiring practices for almost 2 decades gave private sector (green badges) oversight of agency personnel and projects. The problem multiplies because they trained the managers at the agencies and wield tremendous influence.

A fundamental truth is private industry cannot take on inherently governmental responsibilities legally or successfully. In the end, a company’s only consideration is their bottom line. Patriotism and companies part ways when it is no longer profitable. That’s just business.

What Congress and policymakers have done is to allow a huge gray area to be created where criminals are allowed to thrive because they provide political candy in the form of mostly fake Intel that supports whatever project a member of Congress needs to appease his pet cause lobbyists.

This could all be cleaned up by applying existing stalking and assault laws to online stalkers by making the punishment extreme. The same goes for political activists that are doing this under the cover written for them. As long as they volunteer, they are not targetable for retribution internationally. If they are provably working with a country or company working with a country, as soon as they stop, they can’t be touched. How’s that for a policy?

Fixes for Online Troll Remediation

Putting all these online Intel related cottage industries under rigid government oversight and forcing them to document what they are doing and to whom both domestically and internationally is the one way any type of privateer scenario that is already OK’d by the current policy can actually work. It also gives protected classes the opportunity to stop harassment and demand damages. This is precisely why it won’t happen unless it is pushed hard.

Congress could write and pass a one-page bill to write protection against this if they had the inclination. The crimes exist in the law already. The only expansion is applying them to technology. They won’t.

The other more realistic approach is to demand US president Donald Trump takes out his magic pen and write an executive order guaranteeing reasonable protections and appropriate punishment.

This is unlikely to happen because the move would literally box in this already metastasized invasive cancer commonly called the deep state. The celebrated work of the CIA and FBI infiltrating perfectly legal civil groups or dispersing propaganda through news platforms like the New York Times has been rendered child’s play in both scope and impact.

And we’re still waiting to see what kind of trouble 3 or 4 million unregulated new hires will bring domestically and internationally.

International Law and Policy for Online and Cyberattacks

Next, let’s establish a few things directly from Tallinn Manual I. From a 2015 article I’ll be highlighting a lot more in the next article I showed clearly that:

  • Civilians are a protected class.
  • If you work with a foreign country against their perceived enemies you are considered a military asset even if you work for a private contractor. You are targetable in every sense that word conveys.
  • If you work with a foreign country against their perceived enemies you are considered a military asset and attacks against civilians is a terrorist act.
  • To my knowledge no western country allows its citizens to make war on each other or citizens of other countries they are at peace with. The Black Letter Rules include: Rule 23.3 Cyber attacks against civilians is a war crime defined by rule 32.
  • Rule 26.7 The concept of “belonging to” defines whether you can be targeted or not. This rule defines civilians as off limits unless they are “engaged” in real war duties. It includes undeclared relationships where behavior makes it clear which side a person is fighting for.
  • Rule 26.9 Virtual online communities and people expressing opinions do not qualify as combatants.
  • Rule 30 defines a cyber attack as a non-kinetic attack reasonably expected to cause damage or death to persons resulting from the attack. If attacker mistakenly calls civilians lawful targets, the attack on civilians still occurred. It is a crime. This is an important consideration considering how interconnected the internet has made people.
  • Rule 31 Psy-Ops including leaflets, mass emails is not prohibited behavior.
  • Rule 33 If there is doubt to the status of a person, that person is to be considered a civilian and not targetable.
  • Rule 35.5 Gathering information for the military makes you a combatant.
  • Journalists are prohibited targets.
  • Once an attack is made, the retribution is legal and does not necessarily need to be in kind.

A cyber attack can be met with conventional weapons.

  • Rule 41 Means and Methods describes cyber weapons broadly as the means to carry out cyber war by use, or intended use of cyber “munitions” designed to cause damage, destruction, or death to its targets. The breadth of the rule is required because of the wide array of possible attacks through cyber means.

Now, the first loophole I wanted to be closed comes from an inverse look at a cyber war attack including stalking and targeting protected classes. Here’s how this can be elevated to war crimes.

Cyber can come from anywhere across the globe, anonymously, and stealthily (you may not even realize you were attacked). Because of today’s events people being attacked are from different parts of a given country and even spread across the globe.

This means if political or social activists are targeted, it may look like random events even though the numbers of victims could be in the hundreds of thousands or potentially millions. Here’s the two-minute example from one of the industry pioneers that attack civilians.

If the attack is considered as a single event because one single protected class or group is targeted even though they are physically at different geographical locations, we can reach the threshold for a cyber attack governed by the laws of war. Since it’s civilians, it would need to be litigated but the settlement would come from the offending country. Cha-ching!

Nevertheless, I collected a sample of 50+- IP addresses. Thank you, Mr. Justin, you are an eminently useful idiot.. . Also, many (most?) of the US readers were at work when they visited antiwar.com. Those US readers are concentrated in New York metro, Washington DC, greater Boston, the Bay Area, and Illinois (Chicago and main campus, U of I). Meanwhile, the Russian readers (there are only two in the dataset) are split between Moscow and Saint-Petersburg.”- Andrew Aaron Weisburd @webradius

https://www.opednews.com/populum/visuals/2015/10/2015-10-58313-500-ImagesAttr-populum_uploadnic_anti-war-10-15--jpg_58313_20151022-534.jpg

I ask why is this Info war agent that trained all the US Intel agencies, NATO, and works for Ukraine geolocating American citizens for Ukrainian purposes?

This group is a political social group reading and commenting at a media platform in a country that still has the 1st Amendment. It is a protected class.

THIS IS ONLY ONE STEP FROM A WAR CRIME. As soon as it’s established Weisburd is doing this for less than Ukraine’s hit for hire site Myrotvorets, we are in the neighborhood of WAR CRIMES. Interestingly, Weisburd helped spawn Myrotvorets and enhanced Ukraine’s geolocation abilities.

Secondly, if it doesn’t meet the war threshold, it is still a terrorist attack on protected groups. When I proposed that injured parties have the right to robust self-defense, Tallinn II closed up the language by barring civilians the right of redress, self-defense, or preemptive assault because this was the domain of nations.

But, that language also makes it imperative for them to persuade Congress to step up to bat and write restrictive laws or the future looks very bleak for private industry spies and IO working against the public interest.

But, that language also makes it an imperative for them to persuade Congress to step up to bat and write restrictive laws or the future looks very bleak for private industry spies and IO working against the public interest.

Did Andy Weisburd take that final step? Stay tuned, it’s detailed in the next articles. Next up, we’ll show the same small groups of OISINT and IO trailblazers are responsible for most fake news, bad Intel, and are covering up crimes against humanity.

Make no doubt about it, they are terrorists. They can be treated like terrorists and people have the right to robustly defend themselves.

Brazilgate is Turning into Russiagate 2.0

June 22, 2019

By Pepe Escobar – with permission and cross-posted with Consortium News

Brazilgate is Turning into Russiagate 2.0

It was a leak, not a hack. Yes: Brazilgate, unleashed by a series of game-changing bombshells published by The Intercept, may be turning into a tropical Russiagate.

The Intercept’s Deep Throat – an anonymous source — has finally revealed in detail what anyone with half a brain in Brazil already knew: that the judicial/lawfare machinery of the one-sided Car Wash anti-corruption investigation was in fact a massive farce and criminal racket bent on accomplishing four objectives.

  • Create the conditions for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff in 2016 and the subsequent ascension of her VP, elite-manipulated puppet, Michel Temer.
  •  Justify the imprisonment of former president Lula in 2018 – just as he was set to win the latest presidential election in a landslide.
  • Facilitate the ascension of the Brazilian extreme-right via Steve Bannon asset (he calls him “Captain”) Jair Bolsonaro.
  • Install former judge Sergio Moro as a justice minister on steroids capable of enacting a sort of Brazilian Patriot Act – heavy on espionage and light on civil liberties.

Moro, side by side with prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol, who was leading the Public Ministry’s 13-strong task force, are the vigilante stars of the lawfare racket. Over the past four years, hyper-concentrated Brazilian mainstream media, floundering in a swamp of fake news, duly glorified these two as Captain Marvel-worthy national heroes. Hubris finally caught up with the swamp.

The Brazilian Goodfellas

The Intercept has promised to release all the files in its possession; chats, audio, videos and pics, a treasure trove allegedly larger than Snowden’s. What has been published so far reveals Moro/Dallagnol as a strategic duo in synch, with Moro as a capo di tutti i capi, judge, jury and executioner rolled into one – replete with serial fabrications of evidence. This, in itself, is enough to nullify all the Car Wash cases in which he was involved – including Lula’s prosecution and successive convictions based on “evidence” that would never hold up in a serious court.

Moro: Installed as justice minister.
(Wikipedia/Marcos Oliveira/Agência Senado.)

In conjunction with a wealth of gory details, the Twin Peaks principle — the owls are not what they seem — fully applies to Brazilgate. Because the genesis of Car Wash involves none other than the United States government (USG). And not only the Department of Justice (DoJ) – as Lula has been stressing for years in every one of his interviews. The op was Deep State at its lowest.

WikiLeaks had already revealed it from the start, when the NSA started spying on energy giant Petrobras and even Rousseff’s smart phone. In parallel, countless nations and individuals have learned how the DoJ’s self-attributed extraterritoriality allows it to go after anyone, anyhow, anywhere.

It has never been about anti-corruption. Instead this is American “justice” interfering in the full geopolitical and geo-economic spheres. The most glaring, recent case, is Huawei’s.

Yet Mafiosi Moro/Dallagnol’s “malign behavior” (to invoke Pentagonese) reached a perverse new level in destroying the national economy of a powerful emerging nation, a BRICS member and acknowledged leader across the Global South.

Car Wash ravaged the chain of energy production in Brazil, which in turn generated the sale – below market prizes – of plenty of valuable pre-salt oil reserves, the biggest oil discovery of the 21stcentury.

Car Wash destroyed Brazilian national champions in engineering and civil construction as well as aeronautics (as in Boeing buying Embraer). And Car Wash fatally compromised important national security projects such as the construction of nuclear submarines, essential for the protection of the “Blue Amazon”.

For the Council of Americas – which Bolsonaro visited back in 2017 – as well as the Council on Foreign Relations—not to mention the “foreign investors”–to have neoliberal Chicago boy Paulo Guedes installed as finance minister was a wet dream. Guedes promised on the record to virtually put all of Brazil for sale. So far, his stint has been an unmitigated failure.

How to Wag the Dog

Mafiosi Moro/Dallagnol were “only a pawn in their game,” to quote Bob Dylan– a game both were oblivious to.

Lula has repeatedly stressed that the key question – for Brazil and the Global South – is sovereignty. Under Bolsonaro, Brazil has been reduced to the status of a banana neo-colony – with plenty of bananas. Leonardo Attuch, editor of the leading portal Brasil247, says “the plan was to destroy Lula, but what was destroyed was the nation.”

As it stands, the BRICS – a very dirty word in the Beltway – have lost their “B”. As much as they may treasure Brazil in Beijing and Moscow, what is delivering for the moment is the “RC” strategic partnership, although Putin and Xi are also doing their best to revive “RIC”, trying to show India’s Modi that Eurasian integration is the way to go, not playing a supporting role in Washington’s fuzzy Indo-Pacific strategy.

Dallagnol: Serial fabricator. (Wikimedia Commons/José Cruz/Agência Brasil)

And that brings us to the heart of the Brazilgate matter: how Brazil is the coveted prize in the master strategic narrative that conditions everything happening in the geopolitical chessboard for the foreseeable future—the no-holds-barred confrontation between the U.S. and Russia-China.

Already in the Obama era, the U.S. Deep State had identified that to cripple BRICS from the inside, the “weak” strategic node was Brazil. And yes; once again it’s the oil, stupid.

Brazil’s pre-salt oil reserves may be worth as much as a staggering $30 trillion. The point is not only that the USG wants a piece of the action; the point is how controlling most of Brazil’s oil ties up with interfering with powerful agribusiness interests. For the Deep State, control of Brazil’s oil flow to agribusiness equals containment/leverage against China.

The U.S., Brazil and Argentina, together, produce 82 percent of the world’s soybeans – and counting. China craves soybeans. These won’t come from Russia or Iran – which on the other hand may supply China with enough oil and natural gas (see, for instance, Power of Siberia I and II). Iran, after all, is one of the pillars of Eurasian integration. Russia may eventually become a soybean export power, but that may take as long as ten years.

The Brazilian military knows that close relations with China – their top trade partner, ahead of the U.S. — are essential, whatever Steve Bannon may rant about. But Russia is a completely different story. Vice-President Hamilton Mourao, in his recent visit to Beijing, where he met with Xi Jinping, sounded like he was reading from a Pentagon press release, telling Brazilian media that Russia is a “malign actor” deploying “hybrid war around the world.”

So the U.S. Deep State may be accomplishing at least part of the ultimate goal: to use Brazil in its Divide et Impera strategy of splitting the Russia-China strategic partnership.

It gets much spicier. Car Wash reconditioned as Leak Wash could also be decoded as a massive shadow play; a wag the dog, with the tail composed of two American assets.

Moro was a certified FBI, CIA, DoJ, Deep State asset. His uber-boss would ultimately be Robert Mueller (thus Russiagate). Yet for Team Trump, he would be easily expendable – even if he’s Captain Justice working under the real asset, Bannon boy Bolsonaro. If he falls, Moro would be assured the requisite golden parachute – complete with U.S. residency and talks in American universities.

The Intercept’s Greenwald is now celebrated by all strands of the Left as a sort of American/Brazilian Simon Bolivar on steroids – with and in may cases without any irony. Yet there’s a huge problem. The Intercept is owned by hardcore information-war practitioner Pierre Omidyar.

Whose Hybrid War?

The crucial question ahead is what the Brazilian military are really up to in this epic swamp – and how deep they are subordinated to Washington’s Divide et Impera.

It revolves around the all-powerful Cabinet of Institutional Security, known in Brazil by its acronym GSI. GSI stalwarts are all Washington consensus. After the “communist” Lula/Dilma years, these guys are now consolidating a Brazilian Deep State overseeing full spectrum political control, just like in the U.S..

GSI already controls the whole intel apparatus, as well as Foreign Policy and Defense, via a decree surreptitiously released in early June, only a few days before The Intercept’s bombshell. Even Captain Marvel Moro is subjected to the GSI; they must approve, for instance, everything Moro discusses with the DoJ and the U.S. Deep State.

As I’ve discussed with some of my top informed Brazilian interlocutors, crack anthropologist Piero Leirner, who knows in detail how the military think, and Swiss-based international lawyer and UN adviser Romulus Maya, the U.S. Deep Stateseems to be positioning itself as the spawning mechanism for the direct ascension of the Brazilian military to power, as well as their guarantors. As in, if you don’t follow our script to the letter – basic trade relations only with China; and isolation of Russia – we can swing the pendulum anytime.

After all, the only practical role the USG would see for the Brazilian military – in fact for all Latin America military – is as “war on drugs” shock troops.

 

Intercept Exclusive: Brazilian Judge in Car Wash Corruption Case Mocked Lula’s Defense and Secretly Directed Prosecutors’ Media Strategy During Trial.

There is no smoking gun – yet. But the scenario of Leak Wash as part of an extremely sophisticated, full spectrum dominance psyops, an advanced stage of Hybrid War, must be seriously considered.

For instance, the extreme-right, as well as powerful military sectors and the Globo media empire suddenly started spinning that The Intercept bombshell is a “Russian conspiracy.”

When one follows the premier military think tank website– featuring loads of stuff virtually copy and pasted straight from the U.S. Naval War College – it’s easy to be startled at how they fervently believe in a Russia-China Hybrid War against Brazil, where the beachhead is provided by “anti-national elements” such as the Left as a whole, Venezuelan Bolivarians, FARC, Hezbollah, LGBT, indigenous peoples, you name it.

After Leak Wash, a concerted fake news blitzkrieg blamed the Telegram app (“they are evil Russians!”) for hacking Moro and Dallagnol’s phones. Telegram officially debunked it in no time.

Then it surfaced that former president Dilma Rousseff and the current Workers’ Party president Gleisi Hoffmann paid a “secret” visit to Moscow only five days before the Leak Wash bombshell. I confirmed the visit with the Duma, as well as the fact that for the Kremlin, Brazil, at least for the moment, is not a priority. Eurasian integration is. That in itself debunks what the extreme-right in Brazil would spin as Dilma asking for Putin’s help, who then released his evil hackers.

Leak Wash – Car Wash’s season two – may be following the Netflix and HBO pattern. Remember that season three of True Detective was an absolute smash. We need Mahershala Ali-worthy trackers to sniff out patches of evidence suggesting the Brazilian military – with the full support of the U.S. Deep State – might be instrumentalizing a mix of Leak Wash and “the Russians” Hybrid War to criminalize the Left for good and orchestrate a silent coup to get rid of the Bolsonaro clan and their sub-zoology collective IQ. They want total control – no clownish intermediaries. Will they be biting more bananas than they can chew?

The Terrorists Among US- Traitors and Terror 3

June 21, 2019

by George Eliason for The Saker Blog

The Terrorists Among US- Traitors and Terror 3

The second part in this series showed clearly that the US Intel community has been overrun by untrainable and undependable people.

The more facts that come out, the worse the situation looks. We trust these people to dissect and analyze critical pieces of information and based on their experience advise the President of the United States whether or not diplomacy, spying, and covert action, sanctions, or even military engagement is warranted.

So, the big question in part 2 became, how do you induct over 3 million new employees with no previous experience into what is supposed to be one of the most complicated professions on the planet? Can this be done in less than 5 years? The answer is you can’t.

Most of the Intel the US is using right now comes from private sector sources. Over 80% of the current NSA budget goes to subcontractors that can hire and layoff on a per-project basis. There is no loyalty to employees or government service. Loyalties are bought and sold by the highest bidders as part of the daily grind to just make a living.

One day Jimmy the 1st year apprentice Intel guy might work for the US government. Two weeks later he might work for the Ukrainian lobby doing Oppo-research. Three weeks later he might work for a company that has both for clients. He takes all the software packages with him as well as insight into the data he’s gained or if it’s OSINT, the data itself can change hands if it does so before being labeled “secret.”- The Unthinkable Consequences of Outsourcing US Intel

Since 2015, I’ve watched the Intel industry go through radical changes in a very short time. This started long before I interviewed Michael Jasinski (MJ), the Assistant Professor Department of Political Science University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh about this.

The following is professor Jasinski’s remarks from the 2017 article and following that the interview we did the other day. In literally 2 years the Intel community hiring standards have gone from university researchers with at least some experience and education in the field down to Jimmy who used to work at Walmart and is now an intern at the CIA, FBI, DIA, DOD or fill in another agency of your choice.

Professor Jasinski had oversight over researchers that were later hired by US Intel agencies following 9/11 and provided evaluations of them prior to their employment.

MJ- “Considering how the intelligence community is depicted in the media or in the movies (and clearly CIA “outreach” plays a role here), you’d think Jedi Knights. The Justice League. Gandalf. But if you ever had personal contact with the “three-letter agencies” for any period of time, you’d think different. My most recent experience with the “intelligence” community was at MIIS, post-9/11 when the agencies were coming there to hire, and they were hiring big. They hired many of my research assistants–I was doing what might be termed “open-source intelligence” on WMD proliferation–and in the process, they’d ask me, their immediate supervisor, for my opinion. So I’d tell them point-blank: can’t read, can’t write, can’t analyze. I don’t care what their CV says, the only language they can function in at any level in English. No matter, they’d get hired anyway. Drug convictions? No matter, they’d get hired anyway (at least at the time, the CIA would hire you if you didn’t have any drug convictions within the last 3 years). Scary political views they wore on their sleeve? No matter, they’d get hired anyway. All of my good assistants went to work for the UN, IAEA, major NGOs. The dregs went to “intelligence.” So now when I see a) the “Russian interference” stories and b) the inability to safeguard, and presumably use responsibly, your own cyber-warfare arsenal, I can’t say I’m exactly surprised. But there are no shortcuts in this kind of work. If you rapidly expand at the cost of dramatically lowering standards, you (and the country) are going to pay a price. We’re paying it right now.”- The Private Contractors Using Vault 7 Tools for US Gov: US Intel Needs a Ground-Up Rebuild Part 1

GE– Professor Jasinski, how do you feel about the idea of can’t read, can’t write the language analyst types gaining NSA size tools and being sent to spy into Russian infrastructure as bounty hunters looking for threats?

MJ-It’s not unlike giving a monkey a live hand grenade, except that the monkey in question would not run the risk of causing major power war. I hope these reports are, essentially, disinformation, because NYT would never publish anything the intel community doesn’t want to see published. At the same time, it may well be Venezuela was thusly targeted, and the recent Latin American power outages could be the collateral damage. If that’s the case, one can imagine the potential scope for trouble. And wouldn’t it be something if a cyber-attack on Russia turned resulted in a major EU or Chinese power outage?

GE-How would you feel about these same analysts gaining manager positions in the agencies and as the private contractor counterparts?

MJ– If in supervisory positions, they will succumb to the First Law of Bureaucracy which is to protect and expand turf, which in practical terms means more and more cyber-ops which are probably already being touted as the new “smart bombs”– a perfect solution to every national security problem, real or imagined. There will be lobbying, policy papers, entire think tanks funded by agencies led by people interested in not only expanding cyber ops but specifically expanding their own agency’s responsibility for cyber ops and in order to do that, you have to have some “track record” of running cyber ops. So you can imagine the potential for rapid escalation.

GE-If this type of activity occurred in say Russia’s nuclear sector where bounty hunter hackers with rancid political views gained access, how bad could this be?

MJ-If you are paranoia-minded (and since I’m from Eastern Europe, I am), the Chernobyl HBO series may serve as an “informational preparation of the battlefield.” If a Russian nuclear power plant is hacked and results in an incident, any incident (it doesn’t need to be as extreme as the what happened at Chernobyl), it damages Russia’s power grid, the credibility of the Russian government and the Russian state (all kinds of “collapse of USSR” parallels would be drawn), and also the attractiveness of Russian nuclear power exports to third countries. Three major US foreign policy aims for the price of one! And all of it can be plausibly blamed on Russian nuclear butterfingers.

GE-Is there any governmental or industrial sector that is hiring private hackers, IO pros, and private spies which could prove beneficial and not cost the US its status in the world or have international repercussions?

MJ- I think this is relatively straightforward. Pretty much everyone will acquire a defensive cyberwar capability, but the problem is that it may be extremely difficult to prevent an offensive arms race from being initiated. What makes this worse than conventional or even nuclear arms races is that you never really know what others have and it’s extremely difficult to verify the elimination of a capability, since we are essentially talking about software tools in a world where everyone and their brother is writing code. And if there is an underlying mistrust among major powers, it will naturally promote the development of offensive capabilities (which will be described as retaliatory, of course), which then will have to be tested in some way.

GE-What is the potential of bounty hunter hackers, IO pros, and private spies fomenting war outside of all government policy or oversight?

MJ– This is a bit more complicated. If the tools really proliferate among non-state actors, it’s the equivalent of selling biowarfare kits in pharmacies all over the world. Anyone can get them, then launch anthrax/black plague/whatever attacks on whatever individual, organization, city, or country they don’t like at the moment. So that probably will not be allowed to happen, and we’ll see something like the de-facto ban on shoulder-launched SAMs from being sold or given to non-state actors. Even the war in Syria did not seem to break that taboo. The bigger problem is governments outsourcing cyberwar to quasi-private actors, in the same way, propaganda has been outsourced to the likes of Bellingcat, censorship to Google and Facebook, killing people to Eric Prince. So, for reasons of plausible deniability, you could set up a Dirty Dozen-style outfit of cybercriminals given suspended sentences in return for cooperating with the gov’t, then use them to stage cyber ops to benefit the US gov’t, or at least the intel community, and do it with considerable plausible deniability and moreover hide it in some “black” budget program. I do wonder who all these Cozy Bears and Fancy Bears really are.

Professor Jasinski’s point is well taken. What would the world be like if anyone could get their hands on aggressive NSA state-level tools and point them at their neighbor?

When he taught the people that would eventually become CIA and FBI OSINT agents and managers, the transition from State to privatized Intel was in its infancy. Part 2 of the series showed Richard Clarke made the US Agency transitions to the privatization of Intel. UK PM David Cameron labeled the man that got the job transitioning US agencies to privatized Intel an idiot. That was Steve Emerson and his sidekick and former gift shop cashier, the lovely Rita Katz.

From the 1990s into the 2000s and 2010s, all of the elite hack, defense, and attack tools were purposely labeled freeware for anyone that decided to pick them up. This means the scenario professor Jasinski labeled as a nightmare is already coming true.

A researcher made an elite hacking tool out of the info in the Vault 7 leak. And most of the tools in their primary form are available online free of charge.

Why did this happen?

The Guardian made the point in November 2014 with “Our choice isn’t between a world where either the good guy’s spy or the bad guy’s spy. It’s a choice of everybody gets to spy or nobody gets to spy.”

So said the security luminary Bruce Schneier at BBC Future’s World-Changing Ideas Summit in October…With so many cheap or free tools out there, it is easy for anyone to set up their own NSA-esque operations and collect all this data. – American Jihadi Starts Private NSA And Attacks America

This has been gradually developing into the norm in America. Your safety and the safety of your loved ones, not to mention the rest of the world is in the hands of otherwise unhireable people that are learning as they go to hack and attack foreign countries and domestic civilians.

“In a Sept. 2013 Reuters article, Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union, said the reported incidents of NSA employees’ violations of the law are likely “the tip of the iceberg” of lax data safeguards. The laws guiding the NSA’s spying authority in the first place are a bigger issue, he said. “If you only focus on instances in which the NSA violated those laws, you’re missing the forest for the trees,” Jaffer said. “The bigger concern is not with willful violations of the law but rather with what the law itself allows.” –NSA staff used spy tools on spouses, ex-lovers: watchdog

The companies and individual actors sell information. For some, this is the basis of how they market their services. They spy on other companies – on regular people – commit espionage and run legally dubious information operations against civilians.

But because of the work they do for both the U.S. government and private corporations, few restrictions are placed on them. Where they are supposed to be supervised by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), in some cases they are supervising themselves and other companies and training DNI agencies to act like them. –Intel-for-Hire Undermines U.S. Intelligence (Part 2)

It is only along this line, the NYT article U.S. Escalates Online Attacks on Russia’s Power Grid can be comprehended. Why is the military leaving the nation’s Commander in Chief blinded from what has the potential to spark a hot war? How?

While Jimmy works at the ODNI this week, the DOD uses 1st year Intel intern Jimmy’s brother Gary. Gary has a solid 6 months behind him as a privatized operator to carry out OSINT against Russian assets.

Do you think I’m exaggerating? My first thought is ole’ Gary made a mess the US government was going to get taken behind the shed for. But, why would the DOD get behind this hacking operation and alienate their Commander in Chief? Why not invoke plausible deniability? Do they think Trump will take the ODNI use of private sector apprentices to heart and fire them?

This is part of an ODNI and DOD Intel policy change. The DOD has been using private citizens like ole’ Gary for a while. Now, it almost seems like they bring these guys into a room and really chat them up before letting them loose to wreak havoc on society.

Ole’ Gary, you are a supa’ spy! Yes, you are. Yes, you are! Now go get me sum red Ruskies!

The US Needs Bounty Hunters For Cyber: Ex-DoD Officials Say

To defend 21st-century networks, should the US use the model of 18th-century privateers?

It seems Ole’ Gary and the Podunk crew received new and improved titles. They are bounty hunters and privateers. This is immensely important and will be the subject of the next article in the series.

All they need to do is go back to the room and get chatted up again and they can start their new careers. I’ve been researching this cottage industry and watching it develop since 2015. The Privatized NSA Army is Attacking YOU!

According to the DOD, this function is supposed to do exactly what the DOD just did. The problem is it is more of an embarrassment to let ole’ Gary and Jimmy loose in the press than it is to embarrass their direct commander and the highest executive according to the Constitution.

CIA morale plummets as Trump becomes president and CIA veterans say spat with Trump could have real-world consequences.

The problem is most of the morale slump is coming from private contractors that are doing the actual work. Contrary to popular belief, the CIA would be relegated to the level of Keystone Cops if they had real agents face forward online every day. So, what does this mean?

Ole Jimmy and Gary want to feel the part. They want to dress the part. They want to live the part. Their lack of GEDs just won’t allow it to happen. Sorry, Jimmy. Sorry, Gary. The CIA doesn’t offer apprenticeships. But, because they do work indirectly for the CIA, they pretend they are CIA and use their real CIA tools on their neighbors. We’ll get into that in the next article.

If U.S. intelligence is questionable and untrustworthy, there is no single greater threat to the planet today. Members of an intelligence community who try to circumvent the democratic process should be prosecuted no matter who they are or who they are trying to undermine.- U.S. Intelligence Crisis Poses a Threat to the World (Part 1)

It’s time for a quiz and let’s see who’s paying attention

Were Hackers Targeting Nuclear Facilities like Homeland Security Dept. and F.B.I. Say?

Or was it Jimmy and Gary again?

If you said yes, you may just win and the US goes back to the things we were all taught to value.

Agents like Jimmy and Gary provide most of the OSINT and Intel for the FBI and Homeland Security.

The next article in the series is mind-boggling because it opens up the reality of cyber privateering and bounty hunting. The reality of the situation and the deviant turns it’s taken make the dire predictions professor Jasinksi made look very tame and optimistic.

Trump’s Attempt to Weaponize NSA Against His Enemies

Trump’s Attempt to Weaponize NSA Against His Enemies

WAYNE MADSEN | 21.04.2019 | WORLD / AMERICAS

Trump’s Attempt to Weaponize NSA Against His Enemies

A few weeks after Donald Trump’s inauguration he blasted the US National Security Agency (NSA), falsely claiming the signals intelligence agency leaked classified information to the media. In February 2017, Trump tweeted: “Information is being illegally given to the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost by the intelligence community (NSA and FBI?)… Just like Russia.” It was Trump’s second public attack on NSA. During the 2016 presidential election campaign, Trump accused NSA of withholding intercepted copies of his opponent Hillary Clinton’s emails.” Trump ranted, “Obviously they [NSA] don’t want to get them… they’re protecting her, they’re coddling her.”

Trump displayed for the world to see his ignorance about the role and mission of the NSA. Even after the agency’s intra-Five Eyes signals intelligence alliance warts were publicly exposed by the Edward Snowden leaks, Trump was making wild accusations about NSA that have only been the fodder for Hollywood movies like “Enemy Of The State.” “Mercury Rising,” “Sneakers,” and “Good Will Hunting.”

The recently-released heavily-redacted report by Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller on foreign involvement in the 2016 presidential election contains a startling revelation: not since the Nixon administration has a US president flagrantly attempted to use the NSA to involve itself in a domestic law enforcement matter in pursuit of an Oval Office cover-up. According to Volume II of the “Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election, President Trump attempted to involve the NSA in the FBI’s then-ongoing investigation into Trump’s campaign and his possible illegal activities as president.

Trump’s actions to misuse a US intelligence agency to protect him from criminal liability is an impeachable offense. The precedence was decided by the US House of Representatives in Article II of its impeachment resolution against Richard Nixon. The House found that, in the case of Nixon, he abused his office by misusing federal agencies in violation of their regulations. The article states that Nixon “repeatedly engaged in conduct violating the constitutional rights of citizens, impairing the due and proper administration of justice and the conduct of lawful inquiries, or contravening the laws governing agencies of the executive branch and the purposes of these agencies.”

Mueller’s investigation uncovered Trump’s possible use of NSA to assist him in stymying the FBI’s investigation of Trump’s 2016 campaign. The report states: “the President reached out to the Director of National Intelligence and the leaders of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA)” to involve them in his goal of suppressing the FBI’s investigation of him and his campaign.

The Mueller Report states, “On March 26, 2017, the day after the President called Coats [Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats], the President called NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers. The President expressed frustration with the Russia investigation, saying it made relations with the Russians difficult.” Mueller’s investigation did not commence until May 17, 2017, so the investigation was still being handled by the Justice Department and FBI.

The Mueller Report continues: “The President told Rogers “the thing with the Russians [wa]s messing up” his ability to get things done with Russia. The President also said that the news stories linking him with Russia were not true and asked Rogers if he could do anything to refute the stories. Deputy Director of the NSA Richard Ledgett, who was present for the call, said it was the most unusual thing he had experienced in 40 years of government service. After the call concluded, Ledgett prepared a memorandum that he and Rogers both signed documenting the content of the conversation and the President’s request, and they placed the memorandum in a safe.”

Considering the fact that Ledgett revealed to Mueller’s investigators that he had never experienced anything like Trump’s request in 40 years of government service, it can be assumed that if Ledgett began his service in 1977 in the US Army in a signals intelligence-related role, followed by his joining the NSA in 1988, his 40 years of NSA or NSA-connected service was during the post-Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) era.

The FISA of 1978 was specifically enacted to prohibit the abuse of NSA or any other intelligence community agency for warrantless political purposes not approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Between 1952 and 1974, using classified eavesdropping programs with codenames like SHAMROCK and MINARET, the NSA compiled files on 75,000 Americans, including civil rights and anti-war activists, members of Congress, journalists, and others. In 1970, Nixon submitted to the directors of the FBI, CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, and NSA his infamous Huston Plan. The plan called for US intelligence agencies to engage in illegal surveillance of “radicals.” Nixon’s Attorney General, John Mitchell, later referred to the Huston Plan as “White House horrors.” Enactment of the FISA was a direct result of Nixon’s threatened Huston Plan. Did Trump ask Rogers and Ledgett to return to the “status quo ante” and illegally collect compromising information on his perceived enemies in Congress, the press – which he refers to as the “enemy of the people,” and others? Answering that question should be one of the top priorities of the House oversight committees.

The NSA director who implemented FISA throughout the US Signals Intelligence system was the no-nonsense Admiral Bobby Ray Inman. In only a few cases since Inman’s tenure has any NSA director veered from a commitment to the laws and regulations implementing FISA and constraining NSA’s authorization to eavesdrop on US citizens. George W. Bush’s operation STELLAR WIND, permitting warrantless surveillance, which was strenuously opposed by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft and his deputy, James Comey, is one notable exception.

Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA program codenamed PRISM may have whetted Trump’s appetite for the type of private communications NSA could harvest without abiding by current laws and regulations. Digging up compromising information on his enemies was Nixon’s most earnest desire when he developed his infamous “enemies’ list.”

Considering that Ledgett said he had never experienced anything like Trump’s request in his 40-years of Army and NSA service and felt compelled to commit the request to a memorandum and, with Rogers, sign it and place it in a safe in one of the most-secure facilities on the planet, Rogers’s insistence that Trump’s request was not “illegal, immoral, unethical, or inappropriate” does not hold logical water. Ledgett’s sudden decision to retire from government service on February 3, 2017, a few weeks after Trump’s inauguration, is also germane. So, too, is Trump’s initial reluctance to award the National Security Medal to Ledgett after his retirement from NSA. Trump was forced to award the medal to Ledgett after pressure was brought by then-National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and DNI Coats.

Shortly after his election in November 2016, Trump summoned Rogers to Trump Tower for a meeting. Apparently, Rogers never informed Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper or anyone in the Obama administration about the Trump-requested meeting. While, it is true that the Obama administration was never happy with Rogers’s overall performance at NSA, there is no indication that he was to be fired during a lame-duck Obama administration. Whatever Trump asked Rogers, the admiral never revealed it prior to the end of his directorship on May 4, 2018. There are unconfirmed reports that Trump considered replacing Clapper as DNI. However, Trump chose Coats and Rogers retired in 2018 to go to work for the Israeli intelligence firm, Team8.

The Rogers-Ledgett Memorandum of March 26, 2017 may be one of the most important “smoking gun” evidentiary documents in the Trump scandal. Of the tapes of 64 Oval Office conversations of Nixon in Watergate, it was one particular tape – that of a conversation six days after the 1972 Watergate break-in – that sped up Nixon’s resignation from office. That tape, recorded on June 23, 1972, contained a conversation between Nixon and White House chief of staff H. R. Haldeman that revealed Nixon’s desire to use US intelligence agencies to cover-up the Watergate break-in. On the tape was “prima facie” evidence that Nixon decided that his White House officials should approach Richard Helms, the director of the CIA, and Vernon A. Walters, CIA deputy director, and convince them to contact L. Patrick Gray, the acting director of the FBI, and compel him to halt the bureau’s investigation of the Watergate burglary on “national security” grounds. Watergate Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski, who replaced Archibald Cox – fired in the October 1973 “Saturday Night Massacre” purge of the Justice Department leadership by Nixon, believed that the President, by involving the CIA in the FBI’s investigation, initiated a criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice.

The exposure of the June 23, 1972 tape sank the Nixon presidency, just as the March 26, 2017 NSA memo could be striking enough in its actual content to show blatant obstruction of justice by Trump. Ledgett claims he never experienced anything like Trump’s request of NSA in his 40 years of government service. There is little chance that the memo merely concerns Trump’s request for the NSA to state publicly that Trump was innocent of any election campaign “collusion” with Russia. For Ledgett to memorialize the conversation in a memo points to Trump making a request that was violative of the law. The memo was written seven days after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer made a wild accusation, based on a flimsy Fox News report, that President Obama had asked Britain’s NSA counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), to spy on the Trump campaign. GCHQ and Rogers rejected the Fox report as nonsense. Past NSA directors and deputy directors have made comments supporting a president’s initiatives, for example, NSA’s public endorsement of President Bill Clinton’s cryptographic key escrow initiatives.

Donald Trump’s knowledge of NSA, as with other agencies of government, is extremely shallow and indicative of a school boy’s appreciation for the roles and responsibilities of agencies like the NSA, CIA, and FBI. Trump, a denizen of and product of pop culture, likely only knows about NSA from the movies and television shows that illustrate the signals intelligence agency as an eavesdropper of private telephone calls and email exchanges. Trump has no appreciation for US Signals Intelligence Directive (USSID 18), which implements the FISA and stipulates that all surveillance and intercepts of the communications of “US Persons” must be pursuant to a legitimate court order – under a FISA or Title III law enforcement predicate – or a compelling “ticking bomb” national security matter.

Trump may only know about NSA from his friend Jon Voight’s portrayal of Thomas Reynolds, a law-breaking renegade Deputy Director of the NSA, in the 1998 film “Enemy of the State.” Trump may have believed that Rogers and Ledgett were in positions to collect dirt on his political enemies. It would be hard to believe that Ledgett, a 40-year career NSA professional, would commit to written form a conversation between the two top NSA chiefs and the President unless the subject of Trump’s requests were in clear violation of FISA, USSID 18, and the Constitution. In other words, the Rogers-Ledgett Memo may be smoking gun evidence of obstruction by Trump on par with the June 23, 1972 Nixon tape.

The Deep State vs. WikiLeaks

Source

The Deep State vs. WikiLeaks

by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with the Strategic Culture Foundation) by special agreement with the author)

The Made by FBI indictment of Julian Assange does look like a dead man walking. No evidence. No documents. No surefire testimony. Just a crossfire of conditionals.

But never underestimate the legalese contortionism of US government (USG) functionaries. As much as Assange may not be characterized as a journalist and publisher, the thrust of the affidavit is to accuse him of conspiring to commit espionage.

In fact the charge is not even that Assange hacked a USG computer and obtained classified information; it’s that he may have discussed it with Chelsea Manning and may have had the intention to go for a hack. Orwellian-style thought crime charges don’t get any better than that. Now the only thing missing is an AI software to detect them.

Assange legal adviser Geoffrey Robertson – who also happens to represent another stellar political prisoner, Brazil’s Lula – cut straight to the chase (at 19:22 minutes); “The justice he is facing is justice, or injustice, in America… I would hope the British judges would have enough belief in freedom of information to throw out the extradition request.”

That’s far from a done deal. Thus the inevitable consequence; Assange’s legal team is getting ready to prove, no holds barred, in a British court, that this USG indictment for conspiracy to commit computer hacking is just an hors d’oeuvre for subsequent espionage charges, in case Assange is extradited to US soil.

All about Vault 7

John Pilger, among few others, has already stressed how a plan to destroy WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was laid out as far back as 2008 – at the tail end of the Cheney regime – concocted by the Pentagon’s shady Cyber Counter-Intelligence Assessments Branch.

It was all about criminalizing WikiLeaks and personally smearing Assange, using “shock troops…enlisted in the media — those who are meant to keep the record straight and tell us the truth.”

This plan remains more than active – considering how Assange’s arrest has been covered by the bulk of US/UK mainstream media.

By 2012, already in the Obama era, WikiLeaks detailed the astonishing “scale of the US Grand Jury Investigation” of itself. The USG always denied such a grand jury existed.

“The US Government has stood up and coordinated a joint interagency criminal investigation of Wikileaks comprised of a partnership between the Department of Defense (DOD) including: CENTCOM; SOUTHCOM; the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA); Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA); Headquarters Department of the Army (HQDA); US Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) for USFI (US Forces Iraq) and 1st Armored Division (AD); US Army Computer Crimes Investigative Unit (CCIU); 2nd Army (US Army Cyber Command); Within that or in addition, three military intelligence investigations were conducted. Department of Justice (DOJ) Grand Jury and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of State (DOS) and Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). In addition, Wikileaks has been investigated by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Office of the National CounterIntelligence Executive (ONCIX), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); the House Oversight Committee; the National Security Staff Interagency Committee, and the PIAB (President’s Intelligence Advisory Board).”

But it was only in 2017, in the Trump era, that the Deep State went totally ballistic; that’s when WikiLeaks published the Vault 7 files – detailing the CIA’s vast hacking/cyber espionage repertoire.

This was the CIA as a Naked Emperor like never before – including the dodgy overseeing ops of the Center for Cyber Intelligence, an ultra-secret NSA counterpart.

WikiLeaks got Vault 7 in early 2017. At the time WikiLeaks had already published the DNC files – which the unimpeachable Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) systematically proved was a leak, not a hack.

The monolithic narrative by the Deep State faction aligned with the Clinton machine was that “the Russians” hacked the DNC servers. Assange was always adamant; that was not the work of a state actor – and he could prove it technically.

There was some movement towards a deal, brokered by one of Assange’s lawyers; WikiLeaks would not publish the most damning Vault 7 information in exchange for Assange’s safe passage to be interviewed by the US Department of Justice (DoJ).

The DoJ wanted a deal – and they did make an offer to WikiLeaks. But then FBI director James Comey killed it. The question is why.

It’s a leak, not a hack

Some theoretically sound reconstructions of Comey’s move are available. But the key fact is Comey already knew – via his close connections to the top of the DNC – that this was not a hack; it was a leak.

Ambassador Craig Murray has stressed, over and over again (see here) how the DNC/Podesta files published by WikiLeaks came from two different US sources; one from within the DNC and the other from within US intel.

There was nothing for Comey to “investigate”. Or there would have, if Comey had ordered the FBI to examine the DNC servers. So why talk to Julian Assange?

The release by WikiLeaks in April 2017 of the malware mechanisms inbuilt in “Grasshopper” and the “Marble Framework” were indeed a bombshell. This is how the CIA inserts foreign language strings in source code to disguise them as originating from Russia, from Iran, or from China. The inestimable Ray McGovern, a VIPS member, stressed how Marble Framework “destroys this story about Russian hacking.”

No wonder then CIA director Mike Pompeo accused WikiLeaks of being a “non-state hostile intelligence agency”, usually manipulated by Russia.

Joshua Schulte, the alleged leaker of Vault 7, has not faced a US court yet. There’s no question he will be offered a deal by the USG if he aggress to testify against Julian Assange.

It’s a long and winding road, to be traversed in at least two years, if Julian Assange is ever to be extradited to the US. Two things for the moment are already crystal clear. The USG is obsessed to shut down WikiLeaks once and for all. And because of that, Julian Assange will never get a fair trial in the “so-called ‘Espionage Court’” of the Eastern District of Virginia, as detailed by former CIA counterterrorism officer and whistleblower John Kiriakou.

Meanwhile, the non-stop demonization of Julian Assange will proceed unabated, faithful to guidelines established over a decade ago. Assange is even accused of being a US intel op, and WikiLeaks a splinter Deep State deep cover op.

Maybe President Trump will maneuver the hegemonic Deep State into having Assange testify against the corruption of the DNC; or maybe Trump caved in completely to “hostile intelligence agency” Pompeo and his CIA gang baying for blood. It’s all ultra-high-stakes shadow play – and the show has not even begun.

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