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WikiLeaks’ Latest CIA Data Dump Undermines Case Against Russia Election Hack

By Dave Lindorff | This Can’t Be Happening! |March 8, 2017

The so-called Deep State and Democratic Party campaign to demonize Russia for allegedly “hacking the US election,” and delivering the country into the hands of Donald Trump suffered a huge and probably mortal blow this week with the release by WikiLeaks of over 7000 secret CIA documents disclosing secret CIA hacking technologies.

The case being made against Russia as being the source of leaked emails of the Democratic National Committee and of Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta — documents that proved that the DNC had been corrupting the primary process in favor of corporatist candidate Hillary Clinton and undermining the campaign of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, and that also revealed the embarrassing contents of Clinton’s highly paid secret speeches to a number of giant Wall Street banks — had always been tenuous, with no hard evidence ever presented. All the intelligence agencies would say was that they had a “high degree of certainty,” or “strong reason to believe” that the Russians were the source of the deeply damaging documents late in the campaign season.

Adding to doubts that Russia had actually hacked the DNC was WikiLeaks itself, which insisted that it had obtained the DNC and Podesta emails not from a hack of computers, but from an internal DNC staffer who actually pulled them off computers with a thumb drive and provided them to the organization — a person later identified as Seth Rich, who was mysteriously murdered on his way home from DNC headquarters in Washington, shot in the back at night in an unsolved case that the local police quickly labeled a “botched burglary,” although nothing was taken from his body by his assailant — not his wallet or watch even. (Wikileaks has offered a $20,000 reward for information that helps solve that uninvestigated case.)

But one thing the blame-Russia conspiracy theorists did have going for them was their assertion that the leaked DNC documents contained routing information and ISPs that pointed to Russia as the source of the hacks.

Now, however, the new CIA documents released by WikiLeaks — the first of a much larger trove of such documents that are reportedly going to be released as WikiLeaks goes through them to remove information that might jeopardize agents or national security — show that among the technologies and hacking tools that the CIA has been using to attack targeted computers, internet servers and even so-called “smart” appliances in people’s homes, like Samsung TV sets, are a number of Russian-developed hacking programs.

As the New York Times wrote in its article on the latest Wikileaks document release, which it is calling “Vault 7”:

Another program described in the documents, named Umbrage, is a voluminous library of cyber-attack techniques that the CIA has collected from malware produced by other countries, including Russia. According to the WikiLeaks release, the large number of techniques allows the CIA to mask the origin of some of its attack and confuse forensic investigators.

The WikiLeaks material includes lists of softward tools that the CIA uses to create exploits and malware to carry out hacking. Many of the tools are those used by developers around the world: coding languages, such as Python, and tools like Sublime Text, a program used to write code, and Git, a tool that helps developers collaborate.”

What this means is that current efforts by Democratic Party leaders and Deep State leakers in the government intelligence sector to pin the blame on Russia for hacking the election or for trying to help elect Trump as president, now must confront the counter-argument that the Deep State itself, in the form of the CIA, may have been behind the hacks, but is making it look like the Russians did it.

Why would the CIA do that? Well, if the concern was that Trump, as he stated throughout the campaign, wanted to end US hostility towards Russia, and to develop friendly relations with that country and its leader, President Vladimir Putin, what better way to toss a spanner into such plans than to make it look like Russia had tried to corrupt the US election?

That charge has been largely adopted unquestioningly by the corporate media in recent months, but it now founders on the new evidence that the CIA has the ability to pose as a Russian hacker!

It looks like the campaign to portray President Trump as a Putin puppet, and to portray Russia as an evil underminer of US democracy will have to come up with another way to attack the Trump administration, and to gin up a new Cold War with Russia. The current effort will no longer pass the laugh test. Democrats seeking to undermine Trump with the US public will have to do better — like maybe actually analyzing the reasons for their epic election defeat, and coming up with a genuinely populist, as opposed to corporatist, program to show ordinary Americans that the party has their interests at heart, and not just the interests of rich campaign contributors.

WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, the latter holed up these past four years under threat of arrest in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, have done it again.

Although the Deep State hasn’t given up. The NY Times, in its report today on the WikiLeaks documents, also includes the rather lame argument by James Lewis, described as “an expert on cybersecurity at the Center for Strategic and International Studies” (a Washington think-tank closely linked to the US defense and intelligence establishment), that the latest WikiLeaks documents “most likely” were provided not by a “conscience-stricken CIA whistleblower,” but rather via another source. Lewis then suggests that:

“… a foreign state, most likely Russia, stole the documents by hacking or other means and delivered them to WikiLeaks, which may not know how they were obtained.”

Lewis gives no real explanation as to why a Russian hack would be “more likely” than a whistle-blowing CIA employee or contractor to be the source of the leaked documents provided to WikiLeaks, but the Times and its intelligence establishment sources are putting that alternative out there anyhow, clearly in an effort to keep the crumbling anti-Russia campaign afloat.

It will be interesting to see how far the McCarthyite campaign to demonize Russia and to damage the Trump presidency by linking it to Russian perfidy will go, given this new information that the CIA was well-equipped to do its hacking work posing as a Russian entity.

March 12, 2017 Posted by | Deception | , , , | Leave a comment

US, NATO powers intensify preparations for nuclear war

By Thomas Gaist | WSWS | June 26, 2015

The NATO military alliance is preparing to implement a more aggressive nuclear weapons strategy in response to alleged “Russian aggression,” according to NATO sources cited by the Guardian Wednesday evening.

Proposed changes include provisions for greater involvement of nuclear forces in ongoing NATO military exercises along Russia’s borders and new guidelines for nuclear escalation against Russia, according to the NATO officials.

The alliance’s nuclear doctrine has been the subject of quiet, informal discussions “on the sidelines” of the ongoing NATO summit. The new policies will be formally articulated and confirmed at an upcoming conference of the alliance’s Nuclear Planning Group, which was rescheduled for an earlier date this week as word got around about the secretive planning.

“There is very real concern about the way in which Russia publicly bandies around nuclear stuff. So there are quite a lot of deliberations in the alliance about nuclear weapons,” an unnamed NATO diplomat told the Guardian.

The claim that discussion about a revision of nuclear weapons policy is in response to Russian aggression turns reality on its head. In the aftermath of the US and NATO-backed coup in Ukraine last year, the major imperialist powers have engaged in a relentless militarization of Eastern Europe, including the establishment of a rapid reaction force of 40,000 troops.

This week, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced that the US would permanently deploy tanks, military vehicles and other equipment to countries bordering Russia. There are also ongoing discussions about directly arming Ukraine, beyond the extensive assistance the right-wing government already receives.

NATO is now planning to respond to any attempt by Russia to maintain or counter US imperialism’s aggressive moves in Eastern Europe with even more massive military response, including nuclear weapons.

An indication of the thinking of NATO strategists was provided by a report in the Financial Times. In the event of a conflict involving one of the Baltic countries, “Russia might… accuse the alliance of escalating the conflict and threaten to use intermediate range nuclear weapons.” The Times quotes Elbridge Colby, of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS): “NATO does not need a total nuclear rethink. But it needs to be realistic about how it would respond and willing to show Putin that he would not get away with it.”

This scenario builds on allegations from the US that Russia has violated the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), allegations that the Russian government has denied. US officials have stated that the Pentagon is preparing to launch preemptive attacks against missiles or other targets in Russia, including with nuclear weapons, in response to Moscow’s alleged violation of the treaty.

The announcement of major revisions to NATO’s nuclear strategy came just days after the publication of an extensive report, “Project Atom: Defining US Nuclear Strategy and Posture for 2025-2050,” by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). The main portions of the report were authored by a career US government strategist and senior CSIS analyst, Clark Murdock, a man who previously worked in high-level strategy jobs at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Department of Defense (DOD), the US Air Force and the National War College. The report included contributions from a large team of researchers and experts, including panels from the CNAS and the National Institution for Public Policy (NIPP).

The thrust of the CSIS analysis is that the US must make its nuclear arsenal easier to use in a war with Russia, China or some other power. The military must adopt “a US nuclear strategy designed for twenty-first century realities,” based on new generations of tactical warheads and delivery systems.

More advanced tactical nuclear weapons will enable Washington to threaten and launch small nuclear wars, without being “self-deterred” by concerns that its actions would lead to a nuclear holocaust, the CSIS report argues.

“The United States needs to develop and deploy more employable nuclear weapons,” the CSIS wrote, including “low collateral damage, enhanced radiation, earth penetration, electromagnetic pulse, and others as technology advances.”

Such advances, the report argues, are the only way to counter the erosion of American technological superiority by the growth of the Chinese and Russian nuclear arsenals, together with the addition of as many as nine new governments to the “nuclear club.”

Under the “Measured Response” theory advocated by the CSIS and Murdock, these types of highly mobile nuclear strike forces could engage in “controlled nuclear operations,” firing “low yield, accurate, special effects” nukes against enemy targets without leading to a full-scale nuclear war.

By “forward deploying a robust set of discriminate nuclear response options,” the US could launch tactical nuclear strikes “at all rungs of the nuclear escalation ladder,” Murdock wrote.

Such “small-scale” nuclear conflicts would inevitably claim tens, if not hundreds of millions of lives, even assuming they did not escalate into a global nuclear war.

The continental US, according to this theory, would be protected from the consequences of regional-scale nuclear warfare by the deterrent effect of Washington’s huge arsenal of high-yield strategic weapons. Any “controlled” nuclear conflicts started by the US government, moreover, would not involve nuclear operations targeting or launched from North America.

“The US homeland would not be engaged in the US response to a nuclear attack on a regional ally,” the CSIS wrote.

In barely veiled language, CSIS is suggesting that the US should utilize allied and client governments as staging areas and arenas for “controlled” atomic warfare.

As the product of collaboration between an extensive network of ruling-class policy theorists, such proposals are extremely ominous and represent a grave warning to the international working class.

There have been other calls for a significant expansion of US nuclear weapons capacity. In comments to the Atlantic Council earlier this week, US Congressman Mac Thornberry, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, called for a “national conversation about building new nuclear weapons.”

“That’s something we haven’t been able to even have a conversation about for a while, but I think we’re going to have to,” Thornberry declared.

Late last year, the Obama administration announced plans for a $1 trillion, three-decades-long upgrade of nuclear weapons capability.

In the writings of the CSIS and the other discussions within the state apparatus, there is a degree of insanity. The strategists of American imperialism are coldly calculating the best tactics for waging and winning nuclear war. Yet this insanity flows from the logic of American imperialism and the drive by the financial aristocracy to control—ever more directly through the use of military force—the entire world.

June 28, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

On Somalia, The Opposite Is Probably True

By Stephen Roblin   ·   NYTX   ·   July 4, 2013

Evidently, in the worldview of the New York Times, the United States can play a “vital role in improving” a country despite subjecting it to mass famine death, while at the same time be a victim of the country’s internal troubles. This remarkable interpretation of recent events is implied from the few statements made about Somalia this past week.

As Carol Giacomo, a member of the NYT’s editorial board, informs us, the Obama administration “has played critical roles in stabilizing Somalia.” Elsewhere, NYT reporters cite the view of J. Stephen Morrison, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, that the administration has played a “vital role in improving Somalia, a country whose troubles have bedeviled several American presidents.” When Somalia is the topic of discussion, the views expressed here are often put forth and taken for granted.

Before subjecting these views to Obama’s actual record, let us briefly entertain a hypothetical in order to achieve some helpful perspective. Imagine that Syria was on the brink of famine. And in its effort to prop up the Assad regime and prevent aid from “benefitting” the rebels, the Iranian government prevented international humanitarian relief agencies from providing life-saving assistance to civilians in rebel-controlled territory. By doing so in this hypothetical, Tehran played a major role in causing the death of an estimated 250,000 people. Needless to say, the American press would not overlook this policy in investigating whether Iran has played a “vital role in improving” Syria.

Of course, no historical analogy is perfect. But the one drawn here is sufficiently close to illustrate how remarkable the statements cited above are in light of the Obama administration’s record on the 2011 Somali famine, which may have killed over 250,000 people, according to a recent mortality study.

Obama’s contribution to humanitarianism has been to lead an assault on the very notion of humanitarian relief. The victims of the Somali famine are part of this legacy. By instituting and enforcing “counterterrorism” restrictions on aid operations, his administration effectively criminalized humanitarian relief in regions where anyone labelled a “terrorist” resides. In Somalia, this meant criminalizing relief in Al Shabaab-controlled territory, which was nearly all of southern Somalia. Due to these restrictions and Al Shabaab’s ban on numerous Western aid agencies, the region was largely “depopulated” of humanitarian relief operations. When an “epic” drought hit the Horn of Africa in late 2010 and 2011, the conditions were ripe for famine. (For a detailed assessment of the famine’s various causes and contributive factors, see the special issue on the Somalia famine in Global Food Security.) Despite the fact that the catastrophe was predicted close to a year in advance, the U.S. refused to de-criminalize humanitarian relief in the region, even after the UN officially declared famine in July 2011.

Obama did offer nice words as the horror that he helped create unfolded. “[T]ogether, we must insist on unrestricted humanitarian access,” he declared, “so that we can save the lives of thousands of men and women and children.” Ever the moral leader, he called on us to “show that the life of a child in Somalia is as precious as any other.” His record is understood well enough to unveil the deep cynicism and contempt present in these words. (See: Ken Menkhaus, “No access: Critical bottlenecks in the 2011 Somali famine,” Global Food Security, December 2012; Roblin, “New Study Claims Over 250,000 Died From 2011 Somali Famine, U.S.-Al Shabaab Savagery To Blame,” ZNet, May 11, 2013; Roblin, “The ‘Unscandal’ of Mass Famine Deaths in Somalia,” NYT eXaminer, Jun 26, 2013; and “Horn of Africa Crisis: Somalia’s Famine,” Al Jazeera, November 29, 2011.)

It’s true that to some degree conditions in Somalia have improved, particularly on the political front. However, it’s arguable that progress in this area has occurred largely in spite of the policies pursued by the U.S. and other Western “donors,” rather than because of them. Putting aside this issue, we should recall that since 2006 Somalia has struggled to climb out of the hell that Washington and its regional client, Ethiopia, created. Indeed, Somalia has been “bedeviled” by Washington far more than the other way around–there’s simply no comparison. Here’s a quick list of some of the more notable policies pursued by Somalia’s patron saint: the closure of Somalia’s largest remittance company, Al Barakaat, in November 2001; hiring warlords to wage a dirty war on the streets of Mogadishu (2004-2006); authoring Ethiopian aggression and backing its brutal two year-long occupation (2006-2009); criminal airstrikes and drone strikes (see link); criminalizing humanitarian relief (2009 to present); and supporting Kenya’s criminal invasion that began in October 2011. (For more on this record, see my articles: “War and famine, the only option?,” part I and part IIZNet, September 2011; “Kenya’s Criminal Assault on Famine-Stricken Somalia,” Truthout, December 18, 2011; “Somalia’s ‘Climate of Impunity’ Enjoyed By More Than Just Pirates,” NYT eXaminer, August 1, 2012; and “The Maury Levy Method of Journalism,” NYT eXaminer, October 28, 2012.)

To conclude, when readers of the “paper of record” come across historical themes that concern Somalia, they should assume the opposite is true and then investigate for themselves. Last week confirmed the reliability of this heuristic device, which very well may have wider application.

July 4, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Comments Off on On Somalia, The Opposite Is Probably True

Brzezinski: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, their western allies orchestrated Syria crisis

Press TV –  June 29, 2013

The former US national security adviser says the ongoing crisis in Syria has been orchestrated by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and their western allies.

“In late 2011 there are outbreaks in Syria produced by a drought and abetted by two well-known autocracies in the Middle East: Qatar and Saudi Arabia,” Zbigniew Brzezinski said in an interview with The National Interest on June 24.

He added that US President Barack Obama also supported the unrest in Syria and suddenly announced that President Bashar al-Assad “has to go — without, apparently, any real preparation for making that happen.”

“Then in the spring of 2012, the election year here, the CIA under General Petraeus, according to The New York Times of March 24th of this year, a very revealing article, mounts a large-scale effort to assist the Qataris and the Saudis and link them somehow with the Turks in that effort,” said Brzezinski, who was former White House national security adviser under Jimmy Carter and now a counselor and trustee at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a senior research professor at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

Criticizing the Obama administration’s policies regarding Syria, he questioned, “Was this a strategic position? Why did we all of a sudden decide that Syria had to be destabilized and its government overthrown? Had it ever been explained to the American people? Then in the latter part of 2012, especially after the elections, the tide of conflict turns somewhat against the rebels. And it becomes clear that not all of those rebels are all that ‘democratic.’ And so the whole policy begins to be reconsidered.”

“I think these things need to be clarified so that one can have a more insightful understanding of what exactly US policy was aiming at,” Brzezinski added.

He also called on US officials to push much more urgently to draw in China, Russia and other regional powers to reach some kind of peaceful end to the Syrian crisis.

“I think if we tackle the issue alone with the Russians, which I think has to be done because they’re involved partially, and if we do it relying primarily on the former colonial powers in the region-France and Great Britain, who are really hated in the region-the chances of success are not as high as if we do engage in it, somehow, with China, India and Japan, which have a stake in a more stable Middle East,” Brzezinski said.

Brzezinski also warned again any US-led military intervention in Syria or arming the militants fighting government forces there.

“I’m afraid that we’re headed toward an ineffective American intervention, which is even worse. There are circumstances in which intervention is not the best but also not the worst of all outcomes. But what you are talking about means increasing our aid to the least effective of the forces opposing Assad. So at best, it’s simply damaging to our credibility. At worst, it hastens the victory of groups that are much more hostile to us than Assad ever was. I still do not understand why — and that refers to my first answer — why we concluded somewhere back in 2011 or 2012 — an election year, incidentally that Assad should go.”

Foreign-sponsored militancy in Syria, which erupted in March 2011, has claimed the lives of many people, including large numbers of Syrian soldiers and security personnel.

The New York Times said in a recent report the CIA was cooperating with Turkey and a number of other regional governments to supply arms to militants fighting the government in Syria.

The report comes as the US has repeatedly voiced concern over weapons falling into the hands of al-Qaeda-linked terrorist groups.

Al-Nusra Front was named a terrorist organization by Washington last December, even though it has been fighting with the US-backed so-called Free Syrian Army in its battle against Damascus.

~

Excerpt from TNI interview:

Heilbrunn: Are we, in fact, witnessing a delayed chain reaction? The dream of the neoconservatives, when they entered Iraq, was to create a domino effect in the Middle East, in which we would topple one regime after the other. Is this, in fact, a macabre realization of that aspiration?

Brzezinski: True, that might be the case. They hope that in a sense Syria would redeem what happened originally in Iraq. But I think what we have to bear in mind is that in this particular case the regional situation as a whole is more volatile than it was when they invaded Iraq, and perhaps their views are also infected by the notion, shared by some Israeli right-wingers, that Israel’s strategic prospects are best served if all of its adjoining neighbors are destabilized. I happen to think that is a long-term formula for disaster for Israel, because its byproduct, if it happens, is the elimination of American influence in the region, with Israel left ultimately on its own. I don’t think that’s good for Israel, and, to me, more importantly, because I look at the problems from the vantage point of American national interest, it’s not very good for us.

June 29, 2013 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Rafael Correa, the Press, and Whistleblowers

By ADAM CHIMIENTI | CounterPunch | June 25, 2013

Once again, we are witnessing a growing frustration with “tiny” Ecuador. The United States government is clearly not happy with what would be the latest diplomatic slap in the face coming from the South American country, i.e. the pending arrival of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in the coming days. Beyond the United States’ government though, the US press corps are also seemingly up in arms. Why are they so angry? Well, it appears that they are indignant over the perceived hypocrisy of President Rafael Correa.

According to an article from The Atlantic (and another similar one from NPR here), the Ecuadorian leader “has created a safe space for foreigners like Assange — and now possibly Snowden –[but] he doesn’t do the same for dissenters within his own country.” News agencies like NBC News and The Atlantic think this is “interesting” and want to know ‘Why Ecuador?’ Such inquiries naturally turn to the NGOs, who are also less than pleased with this unruly little country. Freedom House, the Committee to Protect Journalists and others are upset that this very week, the one-year anniversary of Assange being holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London (and the same week that the Snowden asylum request is being reviewed), the Ecuadorian National Assembly has passed a Communications Bill that detractors claim is a major blow to a free press.

Claims of Hypocrisy

For several of the opposition figures and US-based observers, Ecuador’s new media legislation has sealed the deal on the stasi-like state that they imply or openly charge Correa has been dreaming about for years. In other words, transparency advocates like Assange and Snowden are compromising their credibility by associating with the Correa government. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the right-wing terrorist supporter/US Congresswoman representing Miami, has been busy tweeting as much. The Ecuadorian government, however, asserts that the bill is meant to place more media power in the hands of public groups and move away from privately owned media monopolies.

Meanwhile, the Council of Hemispheric Relations, Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the Heritage Foundation all say that Ecuador must be punished for this latest insult to the US government. James Roberts of Heritage lashed out at the South American leader on June 24, writing in the National Review Online:

“Rafael Correa has demonstrated a blatant disregard for international standards of justice. That kind of conduct may not be surprising from a man who seeks to don the mantle of Chávez, but it should not be rewarded with trade preferences.”

It doesn’t take much imagination to understand how a figure like Correa would have been dealt with a few decades back, but it appears that the more heavy-handed approach is not really possible at the moment, much to the dismay of the powerful and connected.

Returning to the issue of freedom, has the defiant president of Ecuador used the National Assembly to pass a law that NPR, The Atlantic and others tell us will be used to make the country less transparent and more hostile to journalists who only wish to be free to monitor the government and act as a check on state power? Well, let’s hold off on the most absurd elements of irony here for a moment and address the issue at hand.

About a Coup

It should certainly not be regarded as a good thing if the case was simply a cut-and-dry example of authoritarian overreach. Freedom of the press, as we are learning with the Snowden case, has seemingly never before been so important, or so contentious for that matter. However, the Ecuadorian issue is not so simple and it was certainly complicated after a day of crisis nearly three years earlier when factions of the National Police and armed forces attacked the president of Ecuador on September 30, 2010. The event was widely regarded as a coup attempt. What exactly went down is still somewhat unclear. There was a dramatic showdown between Correa himself and police officers that were angered by a supposed attempt to cut their pay. What is for certain, though, is that it was a countrywide, well-coordinated attempt to shut down the National Assembly, the two major airports in Guayaquil and Quito and eventually a hospital where the president was being treated for wounds. Furthermore, the plotters were also attacking journalists throughout the country, and most of these were pro-government reporters working for public media outlets.

The opposition press has taken an active role in attempts to discredit Correa since he first ran for president. He has elaborated on his views of the press and they are certainly not very congenial. In 2012, during a public TV interview in Spain, Correa said, “one of the main problems around the world is that there are private networks in the communication business, for-profit businesses providing public information, which is very important for society. It is a fundamental contradiction.”

One of the issues that NGOs and journalists have cited in their litany of complaints about Ecuador’s endangered freedom of the press actually stems from the 2010 police and military uprising. During the chaos that ensued during the alleged coup attempt, one reporter from the paper of record in Guayaquil took the opportunity to claim that Correa had ordered police to fire on a crowd of innocent onlookers caught up in the melee, presumably aiming to provoke anti-government sentiments. The claim turned out to be completely unsubstantiated. The government fined the journalist and his paper El Universo some $40 million for defamation but later withdrew the charges. Consider what might have happened in the US if the Los Angeles Times or Washington Post would have falsely claimed that Barack Obama had personally ordered military or police forces to fire on a crowd of protesters and innocent people were injured as a result somewhere in Washington, D.C It would be difficult to imagine a reporter and his editors ever committing such a stupid move, but if they had, there would have been some serious consequences. Alas, this is not really too shocking in the context of a sensationalist Latin American press.

Televised and Untelevised Revolutions

That dramatic Ecuadorian affair is reminiscent of the 2003 documentary film The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,directed by the Irish filmmakers Kim Bartley and Donnacha Ó Briai. The pair happened to be in Caracas, Venezuela during one of several 21st century Latin American coup attempts thus far. The film provided a key glimpse into the nature of media in the region, so often dominated by pro-US elites. It showed the efforts expended by private media outlets to incite anger and get people out in the streets in order to challenge the power of anti-Washington governments.

Right up until his death, it was a sort of requirement for US and European governments, journalists and NGOs to claim that Hugo Chávez Frías was a dictator for not renewing the license of RCTV. The outlet, owned by Marcel Granier, was one of the most virulent anti-government television stations operating on the state-owned airwaves and the Venezuelan government eventually forced them over to cable television. The criticism of the allegedly authoritarian leader served to cover up the very questionable coverage by corporate media. Indeed, one anti-Chávez commentator honestly noted six months ago that the idea that Chavez ever controlled the Venezuelan media was a myth. He pointed out that back in April 2002,

“Coup plotters collaborated with Venezuelan media figures before the coup. The media refused to show statements by officials condemning the coup d’état. When the coup d’état failed, the private Venezuelan networks refused to broadcast the news that Chávez had returned to power.”

“Correa is a Very Smart Guy”

The Venezuelan experience did not escape the attention of the rather astute and confident Correa. Neither did the fact that, only 15 months prior to the attempted coup in Ecuador, there was a successful coup in Honduras, removing the president of that country, Manuel Zelaya, by gunpoint in the middle of the night. This was considered to be illegal by President Obama himself, although soon after the offending and illegitimate new government of Roberto Micheletti was accepted by his administration and is still backed to this day by Washington (under current President Porfirio Lobo). This support comes despite a terrible record of human rights abuses and, yes, a genuine threat to a the flow of crucial information. Journalists have been censored and intimidated since the 2009 coup in Tegucigalpa and, what’s worse, have frequently been murdered by the government and its allies. Honduras consistently ranks as one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. The double standards are blatant and many would like to see the opinion-makers from the States take a closer look in the mirror.

Popular Support and Popular Media

Anyone who would have spent some time watching The Revolution Will Not Be Televised would have also learned what President Hugo Chávez, then only a mere three years into his presidency, meant to the millions of impoverished and the historically marginalized majority in Venezuela. This did not stop the State Department and its allies from focusing on how best to rid Venezuela of its president. (Incidentally, while doing an internship for the State Department in the fall of 2001, I was invited by the Public Diplomacy department to work on ideas on how to get the message out to Venezuelan people about the dangerous nature of President Chávez.) That coup attempt failed, as the one in Ecuador would eight and a half years later, mainly because the people staunchly backed the president of the Republic.

At the time of the 2002 coup attempt, Chávez was wildly popular and the same was true of Rafael Correa in September 2010; two weeks before the coup attempt, polls found that he had the support of 67% of respondents in the capital Quito and nearly 60% in his native Guayaquil, the second largest city. Correa actually got a nice bump in approval ratings after the whole affair and, more recently, he has just won a major reelection bid in February of this year precisely because he has brought political and economic stability to the country of 15 million people. Poverty has been reduced dramatically since Correa took office. Public works projects have resulted in huge improvements to the country’s infrastructure and, more importantly, there is a sense of independence from the yoke of neocolonialism so prevalent in years past.

It appears that Correa and the government may have some good reasons to increase the influence of publicly owned media companies and challenge private corporate media elites. This foray into press control is a dangerous game, however, especially since there appear to be some genuine concerns from indigenous and environmental activists who oppose the government’s expansive plans for an economy based primarily on extraction. Often, those who disagree with Correa are dismissed as childish Marxists, or more alarmingly, terrorists. There must be more attempts to reach a humane and considerate consensus on some of these crucial issues, especially as the Chinese enter the fray in search of resources to fuel their economic needs and a gateway into South America (and Ecuador recovers from two major oil spills so far this year). There are clearly opportunities, but also responsibilities to the environment and the people that live outside of the metropoles.

With such considerations in mind, is there a reason to agree with the opinion-makers in the US who would dub Correa as a dictator, increasingly revealing his dangerous nature?

One of Correa’s main antagonists is Martin Pallares, a senior political editor at one of the major national newspapers El Comercio. Pallares recently said, “I think freedom of press in Ecuador is gravely threatened by a system managed by the government. They have the objective to discredit the media, affect their credibility. And they also want to characterize the press like political adversaries and destabilization agents.” In a very important sense, the media should or even must by its nature act like political adversaries. Destabilization is a different story however. In the case of the coups in Latin America, there is typically interference by Western powers, especially the United States, and this often serves to destabilize governments Washington deems troublesome (through the funding of local civil society groups via the National Endowment for Democracy, USAID and, of course, the CIA). The message is often that these groups are just trying to further democratic causes, but this belies an obvious mission by colluding corporate and government powers that is evident throughout the many anti-democratic interventions and support of such leaders in postwar history (from Iran in 1953 to both the Maldives and Paraguay in 2012).

Felonious Journalists

Returning to the issue of irony, here you have several of the leading news outlets in the US reporting on the lack of media freedom in Ecuador, yet ignoring the major issues raised by leakers, journalists, and publishers such as Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden. In effect, these major corporate outlets are legitimizing or are even themselves guilty of demonization of these individuals who have put everything on the line to get the public talking about some serious violations of human rights and privacy, and the dangerous encroachment of the corporate state. One has to wonder if the fact that many of these commentators themselves are getting paid major corporate money has anything to do with their take on the Snowden/Ecuador affair.

If you watched the Sunday morning talk show highlights, you should be able to draw your own conclusion. One jaw-dropping example of the corporate media’s lack of objectivity in this discussion was the meticulously staged interview that George Stephanopoulos did with General Keith Alexander, the man who has access to the personal data of nearly anyone he so chooses to target. There were several moments in which the responses to some of the host’s softball questions were so weak (lots of babbling about dots) that it was unbelievable that Stephanopoulos didn’t pounce. Yet, why he did not or would not do such a thing is evident considering the establishment’s treatment of the recently departed journalist Michael Hastings, loathed for his refusal to play footsie with the biggest fish in the game. That sort of behavior simply cannot be tolerated.

Also on the talk show rounds, there was David Gregory’s aggressive and ethically revealing accusation thrown at guest Glenn Greenwald in the form of a ‘tough question’. Gregory actually asked Greenwald why he shouldn’t be charged with a crime, and The Guardian columnist sharply replied that it was “pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies”, with no evidence of wrongdoing. But there you have the attitude that the establishment needs to maintain close ties; it mustn’t be overly adversarial and never threaten the stability of the government or a particular administration, even if that means sitting on stories such as the spying on US citizens, like The New York Times was guilty of in 2004 when it delayed publication of a story on government surveillance after being approached by the Bush Administration.

Indy (media) to the Rescue

Modern professional journalism often leaves us wanting for more. Thankfully, we have the independent media outlets that are often way ahead on exposing some of the more heinous crimes of the times. This helps millions around the world identify the mantras of the media elite in the United States: 1) the corporate bias is never to be exposed or acknowledged; 2) it should never be overly adversarial to the government; and 3) a “journalist” should always attempt to divert from important issues that arise from whistleblowing by attacking the whistleblower’s character.

Of course, all of these conventions go out the window when it comes to perceived enemies, in which case the media, NGOs, corporations and the US government always work together in delegitimization and destabilization efforts. Snowden has followed Assange’s lead and is headed to Ecuador not simply because, as The Atlantic has suggested, both parties feel persecuted or they want to ‘poke the US in the eye’. The reason why Ecuador has offered asylum and why Snowden was seeking it from them is because they believe that there is hope in the future, beyond the grossly excessive power of the United States and its presumed worldwide dominion. The whistleblowers and the Ecuadorian leaders, like countless others around the world, believe that the only hopeful way forward is to shatter the antiquated and dangerous notions inherent in establishment journalism, corporate supremacy, and US hegemony. I guess it is no surprise that the privileged classes vehemently disagree.

Adam Chimienti is a teacher and a doctoral student originally from New York. He can be reached at ajchimienti@gmail.com.

June 25, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Supporters Say All The Wrong Things to Try and Pass CISPA

By Mark M. Jaycox | EFF | April 8, 2013

Ever since reintroducing CISPA, the so-called “cybersecurity bill,” its supporters promote the bill with craftily worded or just plain misleading claims. Such claims have been lobbed over and over again in op-eds, at hearings, and in press materials.  One “fact sheet” by Rep. Rogers and Ruppersberger titled “Myth v. Fact” is so dubious that we felt we had to comment.

Here are some of the statements supporters of CISPA are pushing and why they’re false:

Supporters of CISPA say, “There are no broad definitions”

Supporters are keen to note that the bill doesn’t have broad definitions. In the “Myth v. Fact” sheet, the authors of CISPA specifically point to the definition of “cyber threat information.” Cyber threat information is information about an online threat that companies can share with each other and with any government agency—including the NSA. In hearings, experts have said that they don’t need to share personally identifiable information to combat threats. But the definition in the bill allows for any information related to a perceived threat or vulnerability—including sensitive personal information—to be shared. Cyber threat information should be a narrowly defined term.

Another example of a broad (or missing) definition is the term “cybersecurity system.”  Companies can use a “cybersecurity system” to “identify or obtain” information about a potential threat (“cyber threat information”). The definition is critical to understanding the bill, but is circular.  CISPA defines a “cybersecurity system” as “a system designed or employed” for a cybersecurity purpose (i.e. to protect against vulnerabilities or threats). The language is not limited to network security software or intrusion detection systems, and is so broadly written that one wonders if a “system” involving a tangible item—e.g., locks on doors—could be considered a “cybersecurity system.”  In practical terms, it’s unclear what is exactly covered by such a “system,” because the word “system” is never defined.

The best example of a dangerous undefined term in the bill is found within the overly broad legal immunity for companies. The clause grants a company who acts in “good faith” immunity for “any decisions made” based off of the information it learns from the government or other companies. Does this cover decisions to violate other laws, like computer crime laws? Or privacy laws intended to protect users? Companies should not be given carte blanche immunity to violate long-standing computer crime and privacy law. And it is notoriously hard to prove that a company acted in bad faith, in the few circumstances where you would actually find out your privacy had been violated.

Supporters of CISPA say, “The bill is not a government surveillance program”

Supporters are adamant CISPA doesn’t create a wide-ranging “government surveillance program.” It’s true the bill doesn’t create such a surveillance program like the one described in the ongoing warrantless wiretapping lawsuits.

But the trick here is what is meant by “government surveillance.”  We think that if the bill aims at having our information flow to the government, it’s tantamount to government surveillance, whether or not the government initially collected the information.

The bill creates a loophole in the privacy laws that prevented companies from disclosing your information to the government and gives companies broad legal immunity for sharing information with the government. As a result, CISPA makes it more likely that companies will surveil their own users and then disclose that information.  The sly wording dodges the key issue: that CISPA encourages companies to conduct surveillance on their networks and hand “cyber threat information” to the government. In short, the bill encourages a de facto private spying regime, with the same end result.

Supporters of CISPA say, “The government can’t read your private email”

Reps. Rogers and Ruppersberger are adamant CISPA doesn’t grant the government access to read private emails. The claim was recently repeated by James Lewis, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. But the broad definitions do allow for personal information to be gathered by companies and then sent to the government without any mandatory minimization of personal information. And under the vague definitions an aggressive company could claim that private messages are related to the threat, obtain them, and share then with the government.  If Reps. Rogers and Ruppersberger did want content of emails disclosed under CISPA, it would be easy enough to exclude them explicitly.

Supporters say, “CISPA follows advice from privacy and civil liberty advocates”

In his introduction of the bill, Rep. Rogers assured the audience that he has listened to the privacy and civil liberties community.

This year’s CISPA does contain some language added after privacy and civil liberties advocates complained in 2012.  But those changes didn’t address some big issues that were raised last year, and this year’s privacy and civil liberties complaints about CISPA remain unaddressed.

Let’s Stop CISPA

Reps. Rogers and Ruppersberger are on a strong publicity offensive to make sure the bill passes. The American public deserves full explanations and clear meanings about what CISPA can do and the extent to which it can do it. The public doesn’t need carefully worded messaging materials that obfuscate and mislead a discussion on CISPA. The issues at stake—like the broad legal immunity and new spying powers that allow for companies to collect private, and sensitive, user information—are too serious.

To stop this type of misinformation—and to stop CISPA—we urge you to tell your members of Congress to stand up for privacy.

April 9, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Supporters Say All The Wrong Things to Try and Pass CISPA

‘Iran not involved in cyber strikes like US’

Press TV – January 10, 2013

Iran’s mission to the United Nations has dismissed allegations of the Iranian government being behind cyber attacks on the US banking system.

The mission said in a statement on Thursday that the Islamic Republic condemns any use of malware that target important service-providing institutes by violating the national sovereignty of states.

“Unlike the United States, which has, per reports in the media, given itself the license to engage in illegal cyber-warfare against Iran, Iran respects the international law and refrains from targeting other nations’ economic or financial institutions,” the statement said.

The US Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has claimed that Iran has orchestrated cyber attacks on US financial institutions.

“We believe that raising such groundless accusations are aimed at sullying Iran’s image and fabricating pretexts to push ahead with and step up illegal actions against the Iranian nation and government,” the Iranian mission’s statement noted.

January 10, 2013 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Comments Off on ‘Iran not involved in cyber strikes like US’