JINSA–the letters stand for “Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.” Officially it’s a think tank, although basically what it boils down to is another pro-Israel lobby group–and like AIPAC, it has offices in Washington. Why would a group like this be handing out awards to US military personnel?
Is JINSA awarding Americans for fighting wars for Israel? Or are they maybe trying to recognize those US soldiers who do the best job training terrorists? These are some of the thoughts that went through my head when I came across the story below. According to JINSA’s website, the “Grateful Nation” award is “presented annually to six young heroes recognized for having distinguished themselves through superior conduct in the War on Terrorism.” The war on terrorism or the war for terrorism?
Additionally, JINSA describes itself as being “dedicated to educating Congressional, military and civilian national security decision-makers on American defense and strategic interests, primarily in the Middle East, the cornerstone of which is a robust U.S.-Israeli security cooperation. JINSA believes that a strong American military and national security posture is the best guarantor of peace and the survival of our values and civilization.”
This is also, by the way, the same organization responsible for arranging free trips to Israel for US police officers to undergo training, a program that has been referred to as “the Israelification of America’s security apparatus.” At any rate, the following article, rather brief and succinct as it is, appeared two days ago on a US Air Force website.
A Brazilian judge sentenced Eduardo Cunha, the former speaker of the lower house and mastermind behind the parliamentary coup against former President Dilma Rousseff, to 15 years and four months in jail Thursday for corruption charges.
The sentence is the result of a criminal suit investigating Cunha for fraud related to millions of dollars in kickbacks he received for the 2011 purchase of an oil field in the West African country of Benin by the state-run oil company, Petrobras, which has been at the center of a major anti-corruption probe in the South American country known as Operation Car Wash.
Federal Judge Sergio Moro handed down the sentence over charges of corruption, money laundering and tax evasion. The former head of the lower house has been held in pre-trial detention since last October.
“The responsibility of a federal parliamentarian is enormous, and therefore so is his guilt when he commits crimes,” said Moro. “There is no bigger crime than that of trying to use one’s parliamentary mandate and the sacred trust the people place in it to obtain personal gain.”
According to Moro, Cunha received US$1.5 million in bribes for the Benin oil field contract, which, according to an internal Petrobras investigation reported by local media, resulted in US$77.5 million in losses for the state-run oil company after no oil was found at the site.
The federal public prosecutor’s office had called for Cunha to be forced to pay full damages to Petrobras, but Moro has signaled that a fine equivalent to the US$1.5 million bribe he received will be ordered.
While Cunha’s defense team has said that they will appeal the decision, Moro confirmed that the politician will remain behind bars while the appeals process moves forward.
Despite himself facing multimillion dollar bribery and fraud charges, Cunha was a key architect in painting the impeachment process against Dilma Rousseff as a campaign to root out government corruption.
A member of unelected President Michel Temer’s PMDB party, Cunha is accused of corruption, money laundering and tax evasion linked to raking in at least US$5 million in illicit kickbacks between 2006 and 2012 and hiding the wealth in Swiss bank accounts.
Cunha was removed from his position as speaker of the lower house last September after being suspended in May 2016 — just weeks after the lower house pushed through the impeachment bid against Rousseff — to face an impeachment process over accusations that he intimidated lawmakers and hampered investigations. The Congress voted overwhelmingly by 450 to 10 to remove the unpopular politician.
The overwhelming decision to remove Cunha also stripped him of the parliamentary immunity he long enjoyed, opening him up to the corruption charges. Authorities arrested him at his apartment in Brasilia last October over accusations he hid laundered money in secret Swiss bank account while in office.
Despite the power he has wielded over Brazilian politics, polling over the past year has repeatedly unmasked Cunha as one of the most unpopular politicians in the country, including among his own party.
Several other top Temer allies have also been targeted in the Operation Car Wash investigations that have led to the arrests of dozens of politicans and economic elites over bribery schemes and corruption linked to Petrobras.
Lawyers at EFF, the ACLU, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers released a report today outlining strategies for challenging law enforcement hacking, a technique of secretly and remotely spying on computer users to gather evidence. Federal agents are increasingly using this surveillance technique, and the report will help those targeted by government malware—and importantly their attorneys—fight to keep illegally-obtained evidence out of court.
A recent change in little-known federal criminal court procedures, which was quietly pushed by the Justice Department, has enabled federal agents to use a single warrant to remotely search hundreds or thousands of computers without having to specify whose information is being captured or where they are. We expect these changes to result in much greater use of the technique, and the guide will arm attorneys with information necessary to defend their clients and ensure that law enforcement hacking complies with the Constitution and other laws.
In the largest known government hacking campaign to date, the FBI seized servers running a website accused of hosting child pornography and, instead of shutting down the site, continued to operate it. Relying on a single warrant, the FBI then hacked into users that accessed the site, totaling nearly 9,000 devices located in 120 countries around the world. The FBI charged hundreds of suspects who visited the website, several of whom are challenging the validity of the warrant. In briefs filed in these cases, EFF says that the warrant that enabled this massive hacking exercise is unconstitutional and evidence gathered using it should be suppressed.
As with every new surveillance power obtained by the government, it’s just a matter of time before these secret malware attacks are used in other cases. That’s why it’s important for criminal defense attorneys to get educated about how these attacks work and how they can vigorously defend their clients rights when the technique is used.
The report, “Challenging Government Hacking in Criminal Cases,” explains how to recognize the use of government malware in a criminal case, and it outlines the most important and potentially effective procedural and constitutional arguments to raise when hacking was used to gather evidence. Our hope is that the guide will help attorneys fight back against illegal surveillance, and ultimately place important and needed checks on the government’s ability to hack into our personal electronic devices.
Two pro-Israel activists were removed from the House of Lords during a pro-Palestinian event for breaching Houses of Parliament rules and regulations on Wednesday.
Pro-Israel activist and journalist Jerry Lewis and Jonathan Hoffman were removed by police after refusing repeated requests to switch off their recording device by Lord Warner, who was chairing the event.
The meeting was organised by the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC), a London based Palestinian advocacy group, under the heading: “Balfour Declaration, no marking, no celebration, it is an apology”.
PRC representative, Sameh Habeeb, informed MEMO that the Israeli parliamentary correspondent, Jerry Lewis “broke into the meeting”. Habeeb said that this was an invitation only event and guests were requested to confirm their attendance prior to the meeting.
The organisers say that they had to be extra vigilant following the misrepresentation of their previous meeting in October by members of the pro-Israel lobby who accused the chair, Baroness Jenny Tonge, of anti-Semitism.
A parliamentary inquiry committee at the British House of Commons, however, acquitted Tonge of anti-Semitism.
Habeeb said that Lewis, who has a parliamentary accreditation as a journalist, was not invited to the meeting but he came in middle of the seminar and switched on his recording device, even though it was a violation of the rules of the Parliamentary Estate.
To record, Lewis needed permission from the event chair and the Black Rod office, which he failed to do.
Following his refusal to turn the camera off, police confiscated his Parliament Press pass and led him out of the building.
Hoffman was also requested to leave the meeting for his disruptive and disrespectful conduct towards the chair. He also used abusive language against Lord Warner and event’s audience.
Hoffman has a history of attending pro-Palestinian meetings in order to cause disruption.
In their press release, the PRC commended Lord Warner and asked all participants to respect the rules of the House.
The Centre also believes that pro-Israel activists are attempting to sabotage discussions and freedom of expression in the UK by constant smear campaigns, lies and misinformation.
Following the announcement by top US diplomats that Washington will no longer pursue regime change in Syria, Republican senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham condemned the administration’s shift in priorities, saying it would empower ISIS and Al-Qaeda.
On Thursday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the future of President Bashar Assad “will be decided by the Syrian people.” Earlier in the day, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said Washington’s “priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out.”
Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), said he was “deeply disturbed” by Haley and Tillerson’s pronouncement, John McCain adding that their “suggestion that Assad can stay in power appears to be just as devoid of strategy as President Obama’s pronouncements that ‘Assad must go’.”
Syrian people can’t decide the future of their country “when they are being slaughtered by Assad’s barrel bombs, Putin’s aircraft, and Iran’s terrorist proxies,” McCain said in a statement.
He also said a “Faustian bargain with Assad and Putin” would betray US allies and partners and “empower ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other radical Islamist terrorists as the only alternative to the dictator that the Syrian people have fought for six years to remove.”
Fellow committee member Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) joined McCain in denouncing the policy shift, calling it “crushing news to the Syrian opposition and to our allies throughout the Middle East.”
“I fear it is a grave mistake,” Graham said, adding that the Syrian people want Assad gone and that leaving him in power would be “a great reward for Russia and Iran.”
McCain and Graham have been vocal critics of President Donald Trump throughout the 2016 campaign, and have since become two of the most prominently featured Republicans in the mainstream US media. Both have a reputation for being foreign policy hawks, championing US military interventions from the Balkans and Ukraine to the Middle East.
When McCain ran for president in 2008, a recording emerged of him singing “Bomb, bomb Iran” to a tune of a 1960s pop song. Earlier this month, he accused Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) of “working for Vladimir Putin,” for expressing reservations about NATO’s expansion to Montenegro. Most recently, he called North Korean leader Kim Jong-un a “crazy fat kid.”
Regarding the McLaren Report and the Politicization of Doping in Sports
Russian track and field athletes, plus the entire Paralympics team, were banned from the Rio Games last summer.
This was based on the first McLaren report commissioned by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA).
The second McLaren Report was published in December 2016 and immediately accepted by the western media and political establishment as “proof” of the accusations about institutional corruption and doping conspiracy in Russia.
The following “open letter” is a critical review of the second McLaren Report and accusations of ‘state sponsored doping’ in Russia which have been promoted in the West.
March 27, 2017
Dear WADA President Sir Craig Reedie and Executive Committee,
Dear IOC President Thomas Bach and Executive Committee,
I hope you will persevere and overcome the differences and disagreements between WADA and the International Olympic Committee and Russia. Many people around the world were displeased with the controversy last summer. The contentious situation and mutual accusations distracted from the Rio Olympics, reduced attendance and appeared to undermine the goals of the Olympic Charter against national discrimination.
We are at a point where things could get better or worse. Russian President Putin has said that while they do not accept the accusation of ‘state sponsored doping’, they acknowledge doping violations which need to be prevented in future through coordination with WADA. Some WADA officials have responded favorably. Yet there are countervailing efforts. The U.S. Congress recently held a hearing to further politicize the situation. Meanwhile the Institute of National anti-doping organizations has opposed proposals for independent testing and aggressively criticized the IOC.
As you know, the banning of Russian athletes from the Rio Olympics and Paralympics was largely based on the private statements and first report of Richard McLaren. The evidence supporting these accusations along with details of the “athlete part of the conspiracy” are said to be in McLaren Report #2 issued in December 2016.
To determine the best way forward in keeping with the goals of WADA and the IOC, it is important to look at the facts objectively. As shown below, there are significant inconsistencies, inaccuracies and errors in McLaren Report #2. The problems range from the lack of specific evidence to distortion of the findings of the “toolmarks expert”.
Clearly the situation has been politicized. We need you to resist the pressures and reject calls for blanket condemnations which hurt innocent and guilty alike. Please reject the politicization of doping in sports.
Inaccuracies and distortions in the final McLaren Report include:
(1) McLaren’s Report #2 falsely claims the first report was not challenged. On page 7 McLaren says “The fundamentals of what was described in the 1st Report have neither been the subject of criticism nor contested …” That is untrue. Here are a few examples:
* Forbes published a concise but devastating editorial titled “Russian Complaints about McLaren Report on Alleged State Sponsored Doping Have Merit”. The author, a well known sports and ethnics attorney, identified three ways in which the McLaren Report #1 violated due process. He talked of the significance of this failing:
“Due process is not an empty phrase. Without it, there cannot be justice. Surely it should be required before a major sporting nation’s athletes are banned from the Olympics and Paralympics.”
* The British Sports Integrity Initiative published a detailed critique of McLaren Report #1 with the following conclusion: “WADA has an important task that deserves support, but not if it becomes a politically biased crusade. As shown above, the McLaren Report has major deficiencies. The targeting of Russia and indiscriminate punishment of their athletes is a betrayal of the Olympic spirit.”
* The Italian Dirito Penale Contemporaneo published a Critical Analysis of the Report of Richard McLaren. The 13 page analysis concludes that the McLaren Report #1 possesses “inconsistencies and exaggerations” and is “biased and unsubstantiated”.
(2) McLaren is inconsistent in his accusations against Russian athletes and knows the evidence may be weak. On page 2 he says “Over 1000 Russian athletes …. can be identified as being involved in or benefiting from manipulations to conceal positive doping tests.” On page 5 there is less certainty as he says “over 1000 Russian athletes … appear to have been involved ….” On page 20 the previous certainty is reduced even more as he says “246 athletes can be identified as potentially knowingly participating in manipulation…” (underlining added). On page 18 McLaren acknowledges the evidence may be weak as he says “the IP has not assessed the sufficiency of the evidence to prove an ADRV by any individual athlete.” (For readers unfamiliar with the acronyms, McLaren is the “Independent Person” or “IP” and “ADRV” is anti-doping rule violation).
(3) Sports Federations are now confirming that McLaren’s evidence is weak. The lack of evidence is confirmed in the recent findings by different athletic federations. For example the International Biathlon Union recently evaluated McLaren’s information and cleared 22 of 29 Russians who had been implicated. Investigation of the other 7 continues. Even if all 7 are ultimately found guilty that means that 76% were not and suggests that McLaren’s accusation of 1000 complicit Russian athletes was a huge exaggeration.
(4) McLaren accuses Russian officials and institutions without providing evidence. On page 20 he states “The cover up and manipulation of doping control processes involved officials in the Ministry of Sport (“MofS”), CSP , and Federal Security Service (“FSB”) as well as other sport officials and coaches. Also included were both the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (“RUSADA”) and the Moscow Laboratory.” It is widely known that Rodchenkof and the Moscow Laboratory were at the center of doping violations. What is new and requires evidence are the accusations that officials from the Ministry of Sports, Security Services and RUSADA were part of a conspiracy.
When this author contacted Richard McLaren asking where the evidence is, he replied “The EDP is divided into categories so you can locate the documents you are looking for.” The “Evidence Disclosure Package” contains 1,031 evidence documents. A chart assigns each document among twelve general categories. McLaren’s major accusations do not reference a specific document. In effect, the Independent Person tells readers to find it for themselves. This is a very curious way to persuade or convince anyone. It raises the question whether the evidence is weak or non-existent. McLaren admits that there is “no direct evidence of ROC (Russian Olympic Committee) involvement in the conspiracy.”
By contrast, when McLaren explained why he declined the request of the Vice Chairman of the IOC Ethics Commission, he refers to a specific letter which documents the communication (EDP1164). When McLaren describes the WADA directive telling Moscow Laboratory to save samples, he documents the communication (EDP1160). If McLaren has evidence of the “institutional conspiracy”, why does he not identify or present the evidence?
(5) McLaren smears all Russian athletes, innocent and guilty alike. On pages 46-47 he says “doping manipulation and cover up of doping control processes was institutionalized … It is unknown whether athletes knowingly or unknowingly participated in the processes involved. However they may be part of the conspiracy… Together, all of these parties were implicated parts amounting to a conspiracy….” With this logic, McLaren says all Russian athletes are guilty – whether or not they knew, whether or not they participated.
(6) McLaren claims that Rodchenkov followed the directions and instructions of high officials in the Ministry of Sports but provides no evidence. For example, on page 82 McLaren says “On Deputy Minister Nagornykh’s instructions, the first phase in developing the sample swapping technique was launched.” On page 83 he says “At the direction of the MofS, these athletes would collect clean urine in baby bottles, Coke bottles or similar containers and supply it to the CSP.” On page 84 he says, “By direction of Minister Mutko and Deputy Minister Nagornykh all pre-competition washout samples for testing were to be collected only ‘under the table’ in unofficial containers.” If this is true, why does McLaren not provide the evidence in the form of emails or other communication?
(7) McLaren suggests without evidence that the Ministry of Sports was responsible for distributing performance enhancing drugs (“PEDs”). On page 64 he says “Centralizing and controlling distribution of PEDs to athletes became an increasingly important element of the doping control system and manipulation.” This is contradicted by the fact that Rodchenkov was previously arrested for possession and distribution of PEDs and his sister was convicted for this activity. It is contradicted by the fact the Rodchenkov and coach Melnikov received payments for the drugs and falsified tests. Many piece of evidence confirm the guilt of McLaren’s principal witness, Dr. Rodchenkov, but none give proof of collusion or direction by the Minister of Sports or another high official. In a footnote on page 68 McLaren says “it appears that athletes had to pay Coach Melnikov and Rodchenkov for positive samples to be clean.” This suggests a profit making or extortion scheme rather than state organized.
(8) McLaren makes sensational accusations based on erroneous or misleading references. For example on page 74 he refers to the ‘hijacking of the London 2012 Games’. To substantiate this extraordinary claim, McLaren refers to the 2016 IOC media release “IOC sanctions eight athletes for failing anti-doping test at London 2012” . It is implied these are some of the Russian athletes who “hijacked” the London Games. This is misleading because only two of the eight disqualified athletes were Russian.
(9) McLaren bases his “forensic analysis” on the findings of a “world renowned expert in firearms and toolmarks examinations” but mysteriously keeps his identity secret and does not cross-check or validate his investigation results. Richard McLaren says his conclusions are based on “immutable facts” and “forensic analysis”. The lofty words largely boil down to this:
– A toolmarks expert determined there was a way to open the supposedly tamper-proof urine sample bottles to allow exchange of dirty urine with clean urine. However the clandestine bottle cap opening would leave some slight marks. The marks were found to be of two types.
– Based on advice from Rodchenkov, McLaren did an investigation of select Russian sample bottles from the Sochi Games and afterwards and found that the samples were contaminated and either had mismatched DNA or impossible salt content.
– The toolmarks expert studied a small number of sample bottles from during and after the Sochi Games, again based on Rodchenkov’s suggestions, and determined that most of them had the “marks” suggesting they had been clandestinely opened.
Given the importance of the investigation, and the fact it was presumed to be impartial and objective, it is reasonable to ask some questions: Why is the expert anonymous? How was his evaluation and testing cross-checked and validated? Why was the Swiss manufacturer of the sample bottles (Berlinger) not involved in the examination and testing? That should have been done for two reasons:
- because Berlinger has technical staff who are the most knowledgeable about these urine sample bottles
- to assist in correcting any flaw in the design, if it actually exists, to prevent future abuse.
In addition, it is important to note the highly selective nature of this examination. The Sochi Olympic and Paralympic athletes’ samples that were investigated were selected by the person who was said to be at the heart of the corruption.
(10) McLaren distorts the findings of the “toolmarks expert”. On page 103 McLaren says “the forensic testing, which is based on immutable facts, is conclusive… The results of the forensic and laboratory analysis initiated by the IP establish the conspiracy that was perpetrated at the Sochi Games.” However, the toolmarks expert makes no such claims. The findings in the “Forensic Report” (EDP0902) are much more qualified:
- McLaren asserts that “marks” on the inside of the urine sample bottle confirm tampering. However the expert does not say that. Regarding “Type 1 marks”, the expert concluded that “these marks were reproduced and found to be present after screwing the lid on forcefully”. This means that if a user over-tightened the bottle cap trying to insure no urine leakage, it would cause similar marks.
- Regarding “Type 2 marks”, the expert found that “If there was manual manipulation of the metal ring and spring steel washer before the lids were screwed on for whatever reason, marks similar to some of the Type 2 marks were reproduced. This could for example result from fingers or cloth being used to wipe the inside of the lid to clean it.”
- On page 22 of the “Forensic Report”, the expert concludes with the following warning: “These marks on their own should not be considered to be conclusive evidence of opening the bottles or attempts to open the bottles ….”. (underlining added). This is opposite to what McLaren claimed.
Finally, I note the following: If the goal was to discover whether or not there was widespread tampering with sample bottles from one country, then it could be done by examining random sample bottles from many different countries to see if there are telltale marks from only one country. That would also be a strong indicator that the marks were from tampering and not from the incidental causes which the toolmarks expert warned of. This was evidently not done.
It’s clear that there were doping violations by some Russian athletes with collusion and assistance by the Moscow Laboratory Director Rodchenkov and some others. Despite McLaren’s accusations of “state sponsored doping” and an “institutional conspiracy”, he has presented little or no evidence showing this.
If there is clear evidence in the Evidence Disclosure Package, why is it not identified? What does it say about the integrity and fairness of someone in authority who makes sensational accusations which grab the headlines while knowing the evidence is weak and many of the accused may be innocent? What kind of ethics and “fair play” does this demonstrate?
It seems clear there needs to be an independent and NOT nationally-based testing authority which can implement common standards and prevent doping use, evasion and false accusations.
In closing, I appeal to the leaders of WADA and IOC to please find a way to reduce the politicization of doping in sports and resist the demands of those saying they wish to “protect clean athletes” by taking away the rights of other clean athletes based on national discrimination.
Germany’s recently published job offer for Russian “extras” for US and NATO military drills caused vivid reaction among media and politicians. Political observer Alexander Khrolenko believes that Western armed forces are being trained “for a Ukrainian scenario.”
According to the expert, the exercises mean that NATO is preparing for a full-scale military conflict with Russia.
“It is not difficult to guess that the Pentagon has organized training for a Ukrainian scenario, because the only ‘crisis region’ in Europe, where people speak Russian, is Donbass,” Khrolenko wrote for RIA Novosti.
In his opinion, the Pentagon is concerned about the psychological factors servicemen may face in a war against Russians.
“The simulation of the conflicts with partisan groups in large cities makes it possible to predict major problems in the area of operation that can involve the Russian-speaking population,” the journalist wrote.
Earlier, a job offer was published on the official web portal of Berlin on Sunday seeking Russian “role players” for North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and US Army training drills.
“We are looking for performers to take part in role games during US military exercises,” the website said.
The starting date was said to be April 26. All participants must have a good knowledge of Russian, English and German. It would be “a great advantage” if they also know Polish or Czech, the advertisement said.
“Interestingly, there are no signs of an international scandal in Germany. If Russia were recruiting American extras for military exercises, then there would be a lot of noise. But now everything is good,” the expert noted.
According to Khrolenko, only several activists oppose the drills. For instance, Deputy Chairman of the German Left Party Tobias Pfluger called the job offer “a disaster from the point of view of world politics.” He also noted that the situation is quite dangerous and can lead to escalation given the high concentration of NATO forces deployed against Russia.
RT – March 31, 2017
Who rules? Elected officials or the national security state? The fact this question is being asked reflects the dangerous times we live in. Governments collect intelligence to protect the state and citizens. Is intelligence now a political weapon of unelected stakeholders? CrossTalking with Michael Patrick Flanagan, Philip Giraldi, and Robert David Steele.
WikiLeaks’ latest batch of documents, named ‘Marble’, details CIA hacking tactics and how they can hamper forensic investigators from attributing viruses, trojans and hacking attacks to the spy agency . The tool was in use as recently as 2016.
The third release, which contains 676 source code files for the agency’s secret anti-forensics framework, is part of the CIA’s Core Library of malware, according to a statement from WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks said Marble hides fragments of texts that would allow for the author of the malware to be identified, meaning the agency allows another party to be blamed for the hack.
A Marble framework document reveals it supports the ability to “add foreign languages” to malware. “Now comes the fun stuff,” it reads, listing Chinese, Russian, Korean, Arabic and Farsi in example code, indicating the potential for the CIA to divert attention to international actors.
It’s “designed to allow for flexible and easy-to-use obfuscation” as “string obfuscation algorithms” often link malware to a specific developer, according to the whistleblowing site.
“This would permit a forensic attribution double game, for example by pretending that the spoken language of the malware creator was not American English, but Chinese, but then showing attempts to conceal the use of Chinese, drawing forensic investigators even more strongly to the wrong conclusion,” WikiLeaks explains, “But there are other possibilities, such as hiding fake error messages.”
The code also contains a ‘deobfuscator’ which allows the CIA text obfuscation to be reversed. “Combined with the revealed obfuscation techniques, a pattern or signature emerges which can assist forensic investigators attribute previous hacking attacks and viruses to the CIA.”
Previous Vault7 releases have referred to the CIA’s ability to mask its hacking fingerprints.
WikiLeaks claims the latest release will allow for thousands of viruses and hacking attacks to be attributed to the CIA.
On January 30 NBC News reported that “On a snowy Polish plain dominated by Russian forces for decades, American tanks and troops sent a message to Moscow and demonstrated the firepower of the NATO alliance. Amid concerns that President Donald Trump’s commitment to NATO is wavering, the tanks fired salvos that declared the 28-nation alliance a vital deterrent in a dangerous new world.”
One intriguing aspect of this slanted account are the phrases “dominated by Russian forces for decades” and “vital deterrent” which are used by NBC to imply that Russia yearns, for some unspecified reason, to invade Poland. As is common in the Western media there is no justification or evidence to substantiate the suggestion that Russia is hell-bent on domination, and the fact that US troops are far from home, operating along the Russian border, is regarded as normal behaviour on the part of the world’s “indispensable nation.”
Then Reuters recorded that “Beginning in February, US military units will spread out across Poland, the Baltic states, Bulgaria, Romania and Germany for training, exercises and maintenance. The Army is also sending its 10th Combat Aviation Brigade with about 50 Black Hawk and 10 CH-47 Chinook helicopters and 1,800 personnel, as well as a separate aviation battalion with 400 troops and 24 Apache helicopters.”
As the US-NATO military alliance continues its deployments along Russia’s borders, including the US-UK supported Joint Viking 2017 exercise in Norway that began on March 1 and the deployment of more US troops in Poland “from the start of April, as the alliance sets up a new force in response to Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea,” the campaign by the US and British governments against alleged “Russian Aggression” continues to increase in volume and intensity, aided by an ever-compliant media.
During his visit to Washington on March 6-7 Ukraine’s foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin met with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Senator Marco Rubio of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and received assurances of US support in “confronting Russian aggression” while in Britain it was announced that its foreign minister, Boris Johnson, the “mop-haired buffoon” was about to visit Russia in order to tell it to “keep its nose” out of western affairs. Mr Johnson declared that Russia “was up to all sorts of no good” and “engaged in cyber-warfare.”
The splendid irony of the Johnson allegation about cyber warfare is that it came just before the revelation that Britain’s intelligence agencies were deeply involved with those of the United States in cyber-chicanery on a massive scale. WikiLeaks once again showed the depths of deceit and humbug to which the West’s great democracies submerge themselves, and revealed that leaked files “describe CIA plans and descriptions of malware and other tools that could be used to hack into some of the world’s most popular technology platforms. The documents showed that the developers aimed to be able to inject these tools into targeted computers without the owners’ awareness . . . the documents show broad exchanges of tools and information between the CIA, the National Security Agency and other US federal intelligence agencies, as well as intelligence services of close allies Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.”
ABC News then announced, without a shred of proof, that “Julian Assange, the man behind WikiLeaks, appears to have a strong relationship with Russia” but could not disguise the report by CNN that the documents disclosed that “to hide its operations, the CIA routinely adopted techniques that enabled its hackers to appear as if they were Russian.”
There has been no comment on the WikiLeaks revelations by such as US Senator Amy Klobuchar who declared in January that “Russia used cyberattacks and propaganda to try and undermine our democracy. We are not alone. Russia has a pattern of waging cyberattacks and military invasions against democracies across the world.” She was echoed by Senator Ben Sasse who declared that increased US sanctions would “upend Putin’s calculus and defend America from Russian cyberattacks and political meddling.”
Of course it would be impossible for the Senators to revise their rabid hatred of Russia and overcome their dismal pride to acknowledge that on March 1 the US National Reconnaissance Office launched a spy satellite carried by an Atlas V rocket that was powered by a Russian RD-180 engine. In an astonishing example of petty-minded obfuscation, the 1,500-word official report on the launching mentioned RD-180 three times — but failed to state its country of manufacture. The mainstream media followed suit.
There was to be another Atlas V launch in March, carrying supplies to the International Space Station, but it was delayed by “a hydraulic issue that was uncovered on ground support equipment required for launch.” Had it been deferred because of malfunction of the Russian engine that powers it, there would have been gloating headlines.
Reaction by the US government to the WikiLeaks disclosures has been to denounce them because they supposedly “not only jeopardise US personnel and operations, but also equip our adversaries with tools and information to do us harm.” Predictably, Senator Sasse tweeted that “Julian Assange should spend the rest of his life wearing an orange jumpsuit. He’s an enemy of the American people and an ally to Vladimir Putin.”
There should be no surprise about the activities of US and British intelligence agencies, because they already have a proven record of spying on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Chancellor Merkel of Germany, French Presidents Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, to name but a few world leaders subjected to the indignity of greasy little eavesdroppers sniggering at their private conversations.
In June 2013 it was revealed that the United States of America had been spying on European Union computer networks in the EU offices in Washington and New York. According to Germany’s Der Spiegel a document of September 2010 “explicitly named the Union’s representation at the UN as a ‘location target’.” Der Spiegel discovered that “the NSA had also conducted an electronic eavesdropping operation in a building in Brussels where the EU Council of Ministers and the European Council were located.” Together with their British colleagues, the techno-dweebs of Government Communications Headquarters, the US agencies have been having a ball — but have been unable to prove that Russia “used cyberattacks and propaganda to try and undermine our democracy.”
The faithful CIA mouthpiece, the New York Times, stated in December that “American spy and law enforcement agencies were united in the belief, in the weeks before the presidential election, that the Russian government had deployed computer hackers to sow chaos during the campaign.” Not only this, but “CIA officials presented lawmakers with a stunning new judgment that upended the debate: Russia, they said, had intervened with the primary aim of helping make Donald J Trump president.”
But there is no evidence whatever that there was election-time hacking by Russia, and now there is proof that “to hide its operations, the CIA routinely adopted techniques that enabled its hackers to appear as if they were Russian.”
Although none of the assertions that Russia has been conducting a cyber war against America can be substantiated, Washington’s anti-Russia propaganda campaign will continue for the foreseeable future, while President Trump’s initial intentions to enter into dialogue with his counterpart in Moscow wither away to nothing. Even if he does resurrect the sensible policy he seemed to endorse, his acolytes in Washington will do their best to maintain confrontation by spreading more allegations of Russian “aggression” and “cyberattacks.” The anti-Russia campaign is gathering force, and it is not difficult to put a finger on why such a counter-productive crusade appeals to so many in the West.
The US arms and intelligence industries are the main beneficiaries of confrontation with Russia, closely followed by the hierarchy of the defunct US-NATO military alliance who have been desperately seeking justification for its existence for many years. For so long as the military-industrial complex holds sway in Washington, there will continue to be sabre-rattling and mindless military posturing.
But the International Space Station will continue to be resupplied by rockets powered by Russian engines.
Brian Cloughley writes about foreign policy and military affairs. He lives in Voutenay sur Cure, France.
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence convened today, hearing testimony from three “star witnesses”. If you have a spare three hours, and a strong stomach, feel free to watch the whole sordid ordeal here. Not surprisingly there was no mention of that fact the that the FBI didn’t analyse the DNC servers – they were not allowed to. Likewise, there was no talk of CrowdStrike, the private firm that did get to do analysis, and then had to backtrack on their own findings.
None of that was deemed important. Instead we got three hours of speeches from people who had nothing to say. The three expert witnesses have startlingly similar backgrounds, all hailing from the intelligence community in some way or other. They are all very long on exposition…and very short on actual evidence. Rather than citing statistics, or bringing up evidence of any kind, the Senators are more than happy to just let the three men ramble along twisting narrative pathways.
Two of them had the good-grace to be non-committal, or at least vague, in their answers. Preferring to rely on out-dated historical references and unspoken “modern parallels”. The third man, Clint Watts, a bounty of unsubstantiated Russophobic gossip, and all out paranoia… his testimony was a goldmine for headline writers and scaremongerers the world over. Asserting there needs to be a complete “media black-out” of wikileaks, and declaring:
We are weak. We do not respond, we have no organized response as a country or even a policy towards Russia right now,”
I’m not sure what, if any, experience of Russia Mr Watts has, there’s certainly none listed on his brief biography, supplied by the Senate website. But putting together his seeming lack of serious credentials, his penchant for over-stating wild speculations as if they were established facts, and his statement that all his work is done with “three laptops, from my house”… one begins to get the impression he’s a kind of American Elliot Higgins. Self-important enough to believe his own BS, and crazy enough to say it out-loud, without realising he’s being used to voice a position with which more important people refuse to tarnish their “credibility”.
For example, this line from his bio:
Clint used modeling to outline Russian influence operations via social media and the Kremlin’s return to Active Measures.
Is classic Bellingcat. What “modelling” likely means is looking at Facebook and deciding everyone saying pro-Russian stuff is a “troll”, and then making a bad diagram about it in MS Paint. A visit to his twitter did not disappoint:
3- shout out to the @bellingcat team, keep up the fight and bring the pain on Russia’s Active Measures
— Clint Watts (@selectedwisdom) March 30, 2017
And then right on cue… in with the diagrams:
This is truly startling evidence of Russian hacking, I mean…. there’s writing EVERYWHERE, lots of pictures of people… and look at all the arrows!
I don’t know about you guys, but I’m sold.
Washington’s priorities in Syria have changed with the new administration, and the US will no longer focus on the removal of President Bashar Assad as a condition for ending the six-year civil war, a top official said.
“Our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out,” Ambassador Nikki Haley told a small group of reporters on Thursday.
“Our priority is to really look at how do we get things done, who do we need to work with to really make a difference for the people in Syria.”
Earlier in the day, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the future of President Assad “will be decided by the Syrian people.”
Tillerson was in Ankara meeting with his Turkish colleague Mevlut Cavusoglu. Some of their discussion involved Turkey’s support for the US-led coalition against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq and Syria.
Since 2011, when the conflict in Syria began, Washington has insisted that “Assad must go” as the only acceptable solution for peace in the country.
The US has provided weapons and training to what it called “moderate rebels” in Syria, ostensibly so they could fight IS rather than the government.
Leaving the State Department in January, now former Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged that the Obama administration planned to oust Assad’s government by supporting the rebels, but “that whole ball game changed” when Russia intervened in September 2015.
Turkey also intervened in Syria, launching Operation “Euphrates Shield” in August 2016. Ankara officially announced the operation’s end on Wednesday, but did not say if and when the Turkish army will withdraw from the zone it occupied in northern Syria.