The truth is that the risk of an American being killed by terrorism is close to zero, having been calculated at 1:20,000,000
By John Chuckman | Aletho News | February 25, 2015
In the years since 9/11, American police alone have killed at least twice as many Americans as died in that single large event, the annual toll of police killings being somewhere between 500 and 1,000, the variation owing to many such events going inaccurately reported by police.
Each year, somewhere between 30 and 40 thousand Americans are killed in automobiles, the level having declined in recent years. Each year about 15,000 Americans are murdered, down from about 25,000 not too many years ago. Each year about 100,000 Americans are killed by medical malpractice. About 40,000 Americans commit suicide annually. These are just a few causes of death in America, not the largest ones but some of the more interesting.
Let’s get a rough total estimate of what has happened to Americans from these causes in the time since 9/11. Just using the low number in each case for fourteen years, 7,000 Americans were killed by their own police, 420,000 were killed by something parked in their garage, 210,000 were murdered by fellow citizens, 1,400,000 were killed by friendly family doctors, and there were 560,000 who just decided to pack it in for one reason or another. The total of these various causes of death rounds to 2, 600,000 deaths, nearly 867 times the number of Americans killed on 9/11, 867 collapsed sets of twin towers, nearly 62 collapsed sets of towers per year.
So why are we spending countless billions of dollars fighting terror, an almost insignificant threat to our well-being? We spend a total by various estimates of between 1 and 5 trillion dollars (yes, that’s trillion with a “t”), although such totals can never accurately be given owing to secrecy, false accounting, and the immense waste that is an inherent part of all military and intelligence operations. Even in the crudest military terms of “bang for the buck,” ignoring all the death and destruction and ethical issues, just as the military routinely does in its grim work, the War on Terror has to be the greatest misdirection of resources in all of human history.
Or is it?
Perhaps there are other reasons for the War on Terror, reasons never discussed in newspapers or on news broadcasts, reasons which make the expenditure of such colossal amounts against such an insignificant risk acceptable to those doing the spending? Unless American leaders are all lunatics, I think there must be.
Most people are aware that the War on Drugs has been a stupendous flop, with a great deal of resources having bought nothing except a general diminishment of personal freedoms, construction of new prisons, and make-work employment for many unnecessary police and prison guards. But each year the War on Terror spends many, many times the amount spent on the War on Drugs, and what has it bought us? A far greater debasement of freedoms, almost wiping clean parts of the Bill of Rights, raising to a high status in our society such dark and anti-democratic forces as security agents of every kind and the military, increasing exponentially the secrecy of government and thus giving voters no hope for an informed ballot, making countless future enemies in the world, and causing Americans willy-nilly to support filthy acts identical to the hateful work of military juntas who made tens of thousands of civilians disappear.
I think there are only a couple of explanations for this waste of resources which otherwise employed could have made the world an immeasurably better place. They are assisted greatly by what I’ll call the “crime in the news” effect, although I might just as well call it the “advertising effect,” because advertising works on people’s minds through its seeming omnipresence and repetition planting suggestions, suggestions not entirely different to those planted by the stage-performer hypnotist in the minds of his volunteers from the audience.
It has been demonstrated many times that daily reports of violent crime, even when the crimes occur outside a listening community, cause people to become apprehensive about many ordinary activities such as letting kids walk to school or go to the park to play. And no advertising campaign in history could begin to compare to the complete audience saturation of “terror this or that” in our newspapers, magazines, and on-air. Surely, no totalitarian government ever more completely blanketed its people with fearful suggestions than does America’s “free press” today. You literally cannot hear a news broadcast or read a newspaper with the word terror missing, a fact which keeps most people in an unquestioning frame of mind about what properly should be regarded as sinfully immense expenditures to no useful purpose, at the same time conditioning them to surrender precious freedoms. For most people, the fact is that fear overcomes both logic and courage.
Americans, along with people in other lands heavily under American influence, have voluntarily given up claims to what we believed were well-established rights. Yes, there is some controversy over the high-tech equivalent of Big Brother’s telescreens, over the construction of immense new or expanded agencies such as the TSA and NSA, and even some over a seemingly-endless set or wars, but much less than you might have expected. There has been relatively little controversy over America’s smashing its adherence to everything from the Geneva Conventions to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the complete disregard for established basic principles of common law in America’s international behavior goes largely unremarked, at least in America.
In a very real sense, America’s establishment, its government within the government consisting of leaders in security and the military and of its great corporations, has been given license to create a kind of Frankenstein monster which now stands ready with terrible powers to do its bidding. It certainly isn’t just terrorists who need fear, it is every person with the impulse in his or her breast for justice, fairness, and human decency, and it is every country which has an impulse for independence from America’s imperious declarations of how they should carry on their affairs. I don’t like the expression New World Order, but it does in fact communicate something of what has been pursued relentlessly by America’s establishment since 9/11 with an unbounded sense of its entitlement and privilege. The awesome creature it has brought to life – which already runs secret prisons, tortures, conducts non-judicial killings, and supports horrible governments in many places – is no respecter of principles or human rights or even basic decency. We all know from history and common experience that over time any well-funded, established, and privileged institution grows, altering the terms of its charter and spreading its influence always farther, just as today American intelligence, bound by charter not to spy on Americans, spies on them all the time through various technical arrangements effectively going around its charter.
This monster serves ambitions abroad – crush democracy anywhere it proves inconvenient or a barrier to the interests of America’s establishment, as in Ukraine and in Egypt and as attempted in Venezuela, but also crush old arrangements which have produced advancing societies in other lands, even though they are not yet democratic, as in Syria, Iraq, or Libya.
In a relatively short time the monster has made a chaotic wasteland of such previously prosperous lands as Iraq and Libya, and it is now hard at work doing the same to the lovely, ancient land of Syria where it is allied in its efforts with some of the ugliest violent fanatics you could hope to find anywhere. Its acts have resulted in many hundreds of thousands of deaths in these places, countless refugees and injuries, the destruction of much precious infrastructure, and left people to wallow in chaos for years to come.
It created a coup, and thereby a civil war, in Ukraine, reducing that impoverished land still further, and it allied itself for the effort with the kind of stormfront militia trash that even the pathetic FBI surely would infiltrate and investigate were they active in the United States. It did all this just to gain temporary psychological advantages over Russia, a country whose leadership today far better represents principles of international peace and good order – not without some distant echo of irony for those of us raised on a steady diet of Cold War propaganda – than those in Washington who never stop mouthing slogans about rights and democracy which they routinely ignore. We all have an immense investment in America’s reckless game of “playing chicken” with Russia, the only country on the planet capable of obliterating most of Western civilization. I’ve never liked frat-boy pranks and humor, but in this case the overgrown frat-boys at the CIA are guffawing over stupidities which risk most of what we hold precious.
But the monster serves also to intimidate America’s own population. Don’t hold big or noisy demonstrations against injustice, don’t complain too much about authorities and truly abusive police, don’t communicate with others who may be viewed as undesirables for whatever reasons by the government, and don’t describe any group which has been arbitrarily-declared terrorist as being merely freedom fighters – any of these acts or many others risks arbitrary powers that never formally existed before.
Homeland Security has stocked huge amounts of crowd-control equipment and weapons, and it was a military general who quietly announced a few years back that the Pentagon was prepared should martial law became necessary in America. America’s local police forces, long ago having earned an international reputation for violent, militaristic behavior, have been given surplus military-grade crowd-control equipment. The FBI seeks new authorities and capabilities regularly, the same FBI with such a sorry record, going back to its origins, of abusing authority.
In my mind, and I think in the minds of many, America’s posture towards the world resembles a pug-ugly bully confronting you on the street, someone who just will not let you pass until you give him what he demands. The bully is the country’s immensely wealthy and influential privileged establishment, having the country’s general population now completely in tow, fearful and intimidated, quite apart from being in large part underemployed or unemployed. The bully naturally pays no attention to international organizations and agreements, believing himself above the rules and constraints to which others hold. The organizations are either simply ignored or, as in the case of the UN, coerced into behaving along acceptable lines, America having spent some years recently refusing to pay its legally-required dues just to prove a point as well as having been involved in more than one cabal to unseat a disliked Secretary General.
And I fear this gives us just a hint of what is likely to come because, as we should never stop reminding ourselves, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
The world’s hope for relief from a form of international tyranny comes from the growth of countries like Russia, China, India, and Brazil. I wish I could add the EU to the list, but it seems almost as supine and voiceless as America’s own general population or Canada’s present government. Only forces capable of saying “no” to America’s establishment and building interest blocs to oppose its excesses offer redress and relief in future, and it is only through political contention that new international organizations are likely to emerge, ones with some power and effect. Americans all give lip service to competition in economics, but the concept applies no less to the spheres of politics and world affairs. And Americans all give lip service to democracy, not realizing that its governing elites represent the tiniest fraction of the world’s population and resemble in their acts abroad about as aristocratic a government as ever existed.
Over 150 people have been reported disappeared in the small city of Piedras Negras in the northern border Mexican state of Coahuila in the last 18 months, of which at least 60 have been attributed to elite police forces, according to a lawyer overseeing the cases.
Families of victims and their lawyers accused state government of creating special forces that have carried out arbitrary detentions, tortures and enforced disappearances across Coahuila during the last six years.
The creation of elite police forces, which in the past have been sent to the U.S. for special training by the FBI, is not new in Mexico. These types of forces have been accused of acting as death squads for the government and have sometimes carried out assassinations ordered by organized crime gangs.
“Special units of the army and navy, assassins trained by armed forces deserters and civilians trained by foreign security forces operate in Mexico as death squad,” Proceso published in June of 2013. The Mexican magazine based this assertion on a book published by 0federal lawmaker Ricardo Monreal Avila, which was edited by the congress’ lower house.
Influential newspaper Excelsior in November of last year wrote that, “The special forces created in the states (of Mexico) are under scrutiny due to human rights issues.”
The daily based in Mexico City added that, “these elite police groups have been accused of carrying out enforced disappearances, kidnappings, extortion and torture.”
Excelsior said that “it should be noted that in spite of the negative reputation of these forces in various states, which sometimes receive special training by U.S., Colombian or Israeli elite groups, more states and Mexico City are in the process of integrating elite groups to (allegedly) fight organized crime.”
The newspaper went on to say that the United Nations has questioned the work of special intelligence units in Baja California and Tamaulipas, due to the high number of crimes they have committed against innocent people.
On Friday, the La Jornada newspaper reported that attorney Denise Garcia told reporters that the non-governmental organization United Families has documented 150 cases of disappearances in the last 18 months in Piedras Negras alone.
“In at least 60 of those cases there is evidence that the Special Arms and Tactics Group (GATE) participated in them, as well as other similar types police units that were created by the former Governor Humberto Moreira and which still exist today under the governorship of his brother Ruben,” she said.
Garcia said the 51 people that were disappeared by GATE were later found alive, but all of them, she added, were tortured to confess crimes they did not commit, including drug trafficking, and today they remain jailed under false charges.
These groups have no accountability, Garcia explained, and they don’t report their operations nor their arrests, which is a clear violation of human rights.
“GATE and other special police units work under the recognition and support of the government, despite that many of them are [not] even legally constituted,” she said.
García said they act as illegal death squads, they travel in unmarked vehicles with no license plates, they are masked and commit many other irregularities.
The worst thing, she added, is that “we have denounced these issues to the federal government and the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), which respond with indifference.”
The coach of the Super Bowl winning Seattle Seahawks is in the media again as his team prepares for a second championship game. Coach Pete Carroll is getting special attention in the news because he is known to have questioned the official account of the 9/11 attacks. Even today, he is still looking for answers about those crimes, saying, “I will always be interested in the truth.”
The average football fan, whose exposure to questions about 9/11 is typically limited to snarky, ill-informed mainstream media stories, might wonder why Carroll would go there.
Here are a dozen quick reasons why everyone should seek the truth about 9/11.
- The directors of the FBI and the CIA ignored or facilitated terrorism in the years leading up to 9/11.
- Before 9/11, the nation’s leading counter-terrorism expert repeatedly notified his friends in the United Arab Emirates of top-secret U.S. plans to capture Osama bin Laden. These treasonous leaks prevented Bin Laden’s capture on at least two separate occasions.
- On 9/11, NORAD was running military exercises that mimicked the events of the day. This caused the military air defense responders to confuse the actual hijackings with the exercises.
- In the years since 9/11, we’ve been given several, distinctly different, official explanations for the failure to intercept any of the hijacked planes. The last explanation, given in The 9/11 Commission Report, requires us to believe that many U.S. Air Force officers had previously been lying in a way that made them all look very bad.
- We’ve also been given several, distinctly different, official explanations for the unprecedented destruction of the World Trade Center (WTC) towers. The last explanation is false in every way and critical evidence has been ignored to this day.
- The U.S. government now admits that the third WTC skyscraper that was destroyed on 9/11 was in free-fall. The official report for its destruction was built entirely on a computer model that we are not allowed to see.
- No changes have been made to building construction standards in response to the officially cited root causes for the WTC destruction. No existing buildings have been retrofitted to ensure that they do not fail from those alleged causes.
- On 9/11, the Secret Service did not protect the president at his well-publicized location, despite the obvious danger from terrorism.
- The 9/11 Commission claimed 63 times in its Report that it could find “no evidence” related to important aspects of the crimes.
- The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission notified the FBI of suspected 9/11 insider trading transactions. That evidence was ignored and the suspects were not even questioned by the FBI or the 9/11 Commission.
- The first alleged Al-Qaeda leader detained by the U.S., upon whose torture testimony the 9/11 Commission Report was built, is now known to have never had any relationship to Al-Qaeda at all. The 9/11 Commission vice-chairman has developed amnesia about that most important torture victim while his Report stands as the best, and perhaps only, argument in favor of a continued U.S. torture policy.
- Some of the most lucid and intelligent Americans, including Noam Chomsky, quickly feign ignorance when presented with information that contradicts the official account of 9/11.
Therefore Pete Carroll probably has good reasons to wonder what really happened on 9/11. The next question is—will football fans be able to take Carroll’s lead and move beyond the vacuous official account of 9/11? As the threat of never-ending war continues, an increasing number will answer in the affirmative.
As it remains unclear who might have actually sponsored the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, if indeed anyone did, a great deal of speculation about motives and resources is perhaps inevitable. If one goes by the traditional “cui bono” standard, who benefits, there are perhaps two possible beneficiaries. One would be a terrorist sponsoring group which would be able to claim credit for a dramatic success against a major western government that is regarded as an enemy because it has been participating in wars against Islamic states. Terrorist organizations routinely make such claims after an attack because it establishes their bona fides and serves as a magnet for volunteers and donations from supporters. Very often the claims are suspect, particularly as many terrorist actions are now decentralized franchise operations that are carried out without direction or support by so-called “loners.”
The other possibility is Israel. Israel would benefit from an Islamist terrorist incident in France and would have powerful motives for allowing or encouraging such an attack to take place. First, it would reverse what it would see as a deplorable trend in France (and in Europe) to support Palestinian statehood, which Paris and other European governments endorsed at the United Nations on December 30 th. Second, it would dramatically shift the narrative in the media away from the continued brutal treatment of the Palestinians. And third it would heighten anti-Islamic sentiments and get the Europeans back on board for the perpetual war on terror, which inextricably links Muslims to terrorism and effectively makes Israel’s enemies the enemies of both Europe and the United States.
To demonstrate what the actual Israeli government viewpoint might be, one has only to recall the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s satisfaction when he first heard about 9/11. He said “We are benefiting from one thing, and that is the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq, swung American public opinion in our favor.” Netanyahu knew that the attack could be manipulated to inextricably tie the United States to the Israeli view of the nature of Islamic terrorism and what to do about it. In that he was correct and the U.S. has been paying the price for a disproportionate and misguided counter-terrorism policy ever since. Netanyahu’s bizarre performance at the Charlie Hebdo solidarity parade in Paris also suggests that he is prepared to milk the current situation for the maximum political advantage, both for himself and for Israel.
But in spite of the clear evidence that Tel Aviv would like to see more terrorist attacks in Europe, even hypothesizing that Israel might be directly involved or knowledgeable in some way regarding Charlie Hebdo produces the predictable response, i.e. that it is anti-Semites who are making such a suggestion and that Israel is not so cynical or evil as to engage in such activity. One pundit casually dismisses speculation that the attack might have been engineered by “specifically the mystical supermen of Israel’s Mossad. Such a theory is stupid and scurrilous, as well as on so many grounds self-evidently incorrect.” The author does not explain why it is “self-evidently incorrect.”
A false flag operation is one in which the sponsors adopt a false identity, most often pretending to be from a different country or adhering to a different organization than that which they actually represent. Because Israel is reviled in much of the world, Israeli agents do not regularly tell anyone about their true affiliation. And Israel has a long history of both black and false flag operations going back to the Lavon Affair in 1954 in which the Israelis sought to blow up the United States government offices in Alexandria and blame it on the Egyptians. It has also frequently used non-Israeli passports, many provided unknowingly by immigrants from the U.S.,
Canada, Europe and Oceania, to cover the agents involved in its more creative overseas operations. When operating against Iran, the Israelis have sometimes pretended to be Americans as they knew that few Iranian dissidents would want to cooperate with Israel.
A great advantage Israel has for carrying out black operations is its stable of diaspora Jews who come from Arab countries, speak Arabic fluently and understand both the culture and Islam. Using false passports and identities, they could easily pretend to have links with either al-Qaeda or the Islamic State and it would not be that difficult for them to infiltrate small radicalized groups or connect with disaffected individuals in target countries. In the past when terrorist organizations were tightly controlled from the top it would have been difficult to pass as an adherent of such groups lest one be checked out and exposed, but the decentralization of terrorism over the past ten years has greatly reduced that possibility.
At the heart of the argument against any Israeli involvement is the belief that a false-flag operation would be too complicated to execute. In reality, the greatest difficulty is to avoid getting caught by the local police authorities while one is pretending to be someone else, a risk referred to as blowback.
The targets that one is trying to motivate to undertake some terrorist act will generally be gullible and willing to cooperate once access to a group is attained and credibility is established. An analogy with how the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) operates inside the United States would not be inappropriate. The FBI works with the National Security Agency (NSA) to identify dissidents by monitoring email transmissions and telephone calls. It then insinuates an informant into the group who uses a false identity and pretends to share the views of those being targeted. At that point it all becomes somewhat murky, at least if the FBI account is to be believed.
For the FBI informant to motivate and possibly enable the would-be terrorists to actually commit a crime would be regarded as “entrapment” which is itself an impropriety by law enforcement that would render inadmissible any evidence developed for a possible prosecution. But recent anti-terrorist legislation provides maximum advantage to prosecutors who only have to demonstrate some kind of material or other assistance to terrorism. Consequently, the line drawn regarding encouraging an action and enabling it has since 9/11 become somewhat blurry, even when the informant provides the targets with weapons that do not work or bombs that cannot explode. In practice, most alleged terrorists arrested in the United States are incapable of carrying out a terrorist act but they are nevertheless successfully prosecuted. This is due to the involvement of the informant and it is widely believed that the informant more often than not actually enables the planning for the crime to take place.
In reality, the FBI informant plays the same role that an Israeli or other agent might play in infiltrating a group and motivating it to carry out a terrorist attack. The potential targets could be identified online using Israel’s highly sophisticated technical resources and an agent might wait for an opportunity to make nonthreatening contact. Once contact is made, the relationship would be developed to the point where the agent becomes an active collaborator and makes suggestions about what might be done. He then gradually withdraws from the activity and lets the targets execute their planned attack.
I am not suggesting that either Israel or any other government was behind the two terrorist attacks in
Paris but it would be foolish to rule anything out. Knee jerk reactions against conspiracy theories are frequently as irrational as some of the theories themselves but anyone who is open minded should appreciate that some very strange things have happened over the past fourteen years. 9/11 critics are regularly derided as crazy “truthers” but anyone who has read the entirety of the 9/11 Commission Report might very well come to the conclusion that there is a lot missing, to include the redacted section about a possible Saudi Arabian connection. I have in the past noted that the possible leads involving Israel and
Pakistan have also failed to be investigated adequately and included in the report. One might reasonably consider that the principal role of government currently is to spin a narrative that exonerates its own behavior, making truth a rarely encountered commodity.
Fake plots get busted, real ones get a pass
If you’re planning to commit an act of terror in the US and want to be left alone by the FBI, make sure your target is something, or someone, that the US government doesn’t like or care about.
Consider these two terrorist plots.
Just last week, on Jan. 14, the FBI announced that it had arrested Christopher Lee Cornell, a guy in Ohio the bureau alleges had plans to attack Congress with pipe bombs and guns. Apparently acting alone, Cornell is alleged by the FBI to have “researched how to make pipe bombs” (there’s no indication that he actually made or tested any actual bombs), and to have purchased a pair of M-15 semi-automatic rifles and ammunition. How Cornell, who is described as a self-styled “jihadist,” but one with no real connection with foreign Islamic militants, planned to get past the metal detectors and tight security at the Capitol Building in Washington, was not explained, and probably was not known to Cornell himself. It also appears that the FBI was watching Cornell all along, and no doubt encouraging him too, as it was working with a snitch — a man facing prosecution who was in communication with Cornell and may well have been a provocateur, given the Bureau’s prior history of luring vulnerable people into planning terror acts which it then busts.
Compare this case with one we reported on earlier here, which was in the works in the fall of 2011. I’m referring to a terrorism plot in Houston, TX, which the FBI never did report publicly, but which was instead disclosed only thanks to some documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act in 2012 by the Washington, DC-based public interest law firm Partnership for Civil Justice, and which involved an apparently well-developed plan to assassinate leaders of the Houston Occupy Movement. Those documents — internal memos sent out by FBI offices in Houston and Gainesville, FL — refer to “one identified [deleted]” that “planned to engage in sniper attacks against protesters in Houston, Texas if deemed necessary.”
The initial memo, sent to FBI headquarters in Washington from the Houston FBI office, went on to say that the “identified” plotters “had received intelligence that indicated the protesters in New York and Seattle planned similar protests in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin, Texas,” and that they “planned to gather intelligence against the leaders of the protest group and obtain photographs, then formulate a plan to kill the leadership by suppressed sniper rifles.”
A second memo, sent out by the Gainesville, FL FBI office, says that the Houston assassination plot, while not executed, was actually just put on hold. As that memo states: “writer sent via email an excerpt from the daily [DELETED] regarding FBI Houston’s [DELETED] to all IAs, SSRAs and SSA [DELETED] This [DELETED] identified the exploitation of the Occupy Movement by [LENGTHY DELETION] interested in developing a long-term plan to kill local Occupy leaders via sniper fire.”
That’s a lot of rich detail about an evidently serious plot that never resulted in any arrests.
Yet as we reported in an article which just won a 2015 Project Censored Award, the FBI never pursued this plot and never arrested anyone. Indeed when Paul Bresson, the senior public affairs officer for the Bureau in Washington, was asked by this reporter for an explanation for this bizarre lack of interest in a known plot to murder innocent protesters, and for the identity of the terrorist plotters, he evasively replied, “The FOIA documents that you reference are redacted in several places pursuant to FOIA and privacy laws that govern the release of such information so therefore I am unable to help fill in the blanks that you are seeking. Exemptions are cited in each place where a redaction is made. As far as the question about the murder plot, I am unable to comment further, but rest assured if the FBI was aware of credible and specific information involving a murder plot, law enforcement would have responded with appropriate action.”
Actually, the response of the US Homeland Security Department to journalists who looked into the federal government’s involvement in the violent suppression of the 2011 Occupy movement shouldn’t make anyone feel like “resting assured” about anything. In 2014, we learned that our publication, in fact, had been the subject back on Nov. 18, 2011, of an alert sent out by Homeland Security’s Washington Office of Threat Assessment to all Fusion Centers around the country, saying ThisCantBeHappening! had published an article exposing the Homeland Security’s central role in orchestrating the wave of local police violence against Occupy encampments across the country.
The conclusion, hard to avoid, is that the FBI and Justice Department are playing a double game when it comes to terrorism. On one hand they have been aggressively pursuing a campaign of entrapment and outright incitement, actively promoting and assisting in the development of bogus terror plots by naive or mentally unbalanced individuals, so that they can later “bust” those plots, thereby justifying their expansive police-state tactics while keeping the public in a constant state of fear. On the other hand, they are either turning a blind eye towards genuine plots aimed against activists and radical protests, such as the one “identified” in Houston in the fall of 2011, or worse, are maybe actively involved in the development of those plots, which they then do not prosecute or prevent from happening.
This is something we need to keep in mind as we watch the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the only surviving suspect or witness in the Boston Marathon bombing — an actual terrorism act that has many rational people wondering how much the government knew in advance, or wondering if they were just patsies who were set up to look that way.
This year, Martin Luther King, Jr. would have turned 85-years-old. Since he embraced peace, practiced nonviolent resistance, and sought a loving society, for years the media has cast him as a sincere, avuncular, dreamy leader. This hardly comports with his essence or his fiercely tenacious battles—against war, racism and poverty—found in his writings, speeches, marches, and jail time.
King died because he was a radical thinker and activist whose movement challenged the powerful and made dangerous enemies. In 1964 when he won the Nobel Peace Prize, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover called him “the most notorious liar in the country.” When he denounced the Vietnam War in 1967 the liberal New York Times and Washington Post roundly condemned him for questioning this part of America’s anti-communist crusade.
King’s views were far from popular. The year of his death public opinion polls showed 72 percent of whites and 55 percent of African Americans disapproved of his opposition to the war and his campaign to eradicate poverty.
The King to celebrate united as many people as he could behind his radical plan for a peaceful world . . . and fought like a tiger. At New York City’s Riverside Church a year before his death, King referred despairingly to the cost of American militarism and hopefully to revolutionary movements. He said Lyndon Johnson’s war in Asia had “eviscerated” the War on Poverty “like some demonic, destructive suction tube.”
“The madness of Vietnam is devastating the hopes of the poor at home” and will “totally poison America’s society,” said King. Urging withdrawal of U.S. forces from Vietnam, King added that “I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.” He called the United States “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,” and began to unite Americans across lines of race, class, nationalities, and religion for a Poor People’s March on Washington.
King’s bold stands increased the death threats while the FBI reduced his protection. While assisting striking Memphis garbage workers in April 1968 he was killed by a rifleman.
Soon after his death King was again targeted, this time by assassins in suits armed with laptops and enjoying media access. Their rewrite of the King story muted his strong voice and buried his radical proposals. And for the good reason—Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks to today’s injustices. In 1968 the U.S. had military bases all around the world, and now it has more. A government that invaded and bombed Southeast Asia, now has military footprints on Middle East soil.
Would King have greeted recent the U.S. interventions in the Middle East as steps toward peace? Would he have looked away from “enhanced” interrogations the world defined as torture, endorsed U.S. threats of air strikes against Iran, approved a “war on terror” that terrorizes civilian populations, and justified occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan that never end? Would he have approved of U.S. drone strikes?
The King who told us the people of Vietnam “must see Americans as strange liberators,”—what would he tell us about U.S. foreign occupations today?
When he denounced war, poverty, and injustice. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke for “the shirtless and barefooted people of the land.” Poor Americans and distant people “who languish under our bombs and consider us . . . the real enemy.” Is this voice not worth listening to today?
Get to know the real Dr. King. Listen to his 1967 speech at Riverside Church.
The US Still Cannot be Rational When Dealing with North Korea
When it comes to North Korea, for the US government and its media, time stands still. They remain fixated in the 1950s Joe McCarthy worldview: the Red-Yellow peril, a monster capable of unimaginable evil, threatens our civilization and freedoms. North Korea’s Kim family is presented as three reincarnations of a Communist Dr. Fu Manchu.
The US makes a racist comedy about murdering a foreign head of state, and with a straight face, calls it an issue of “artistic” freedom. Obama showed himself happy to push this line, and pressed for its distribution after Sony withdrew it.
What war hysteria would grip the US political elites if Putin endorsed a Russian comedy about murdering Obama, or if Iran made one about killing Netanyahu!
Deliberately unmentioned in the noise around North Korea is the long history of US intervention in Korea. In 1945, the US, divided the Korean peninsula in two, with no Korean input, even though Koreans were allies in the struggle against the Japanese occupation. The US then pushed for separate elections in the South in 1948, and then invaded the country to back its ruthless dictator Syngman Rhee. During most of the Korean War, the United States held near-total aerial superiority, which it used, according to General Curtis LeMay, to kill one quarter of the north’s population, and to raze every city and structure in the north. An estimated four million Koreans has been killed, seventy percent of whom were civilians. In spite of that genocide, Koreans fought on, inflicting on the US its first post-World War II defeat. In the US the war is referred to as “The Forgotten War,” whereas in North Korea, no one is able to forget.
The inflammatory twist to the comedy, The Interview, blowing the head off evil enemy No. 1 Kim Jong Un, came from the CIA. An email from Sony’s senior vice president Marisa Liston, indicated that it came from Sony through the intelligence agency. “They mention that a former CIA agent and someone who used to work for Hilary [sic] Clinton looked at the script.” Sony CEO Michael Lynton reveals that he checked with ” someone very senior in State” who, confidentially, encouraged him to finish this film representation of the assassination of a living head of state, a first in U.S. film history.
Sony emails also show that Ambassador Robert King, incredibly enough, called “U.S. Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights” provided advice on the film.
Who knows if King was instrumental in bringing the report to the UN Security Council that claimed North Korean prison guards were accused of cooking a prison inmate’s baby and feeding it to dogs, a story reminiscent of those the Nazis spread about Jews. Other abuses claimed to have taken place in North Korean prisons sound identical to what we have learned of US conduct in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.
After Sony was hacked and embarrassed by what was revealed, the FBI quickly determined, based on secret information only they possess and cannot share with us (for our own safety) that the DPRK was behind this evil deed. Then, Obama denounced North Korea and declared there will be consequences for threatening our freedoms and national security.
It is remarkable how fast they operated here, compared to the laboriously slow – and unfinished – process the US government took over the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, or the case of Troy Davis.
And let’s recall that North Korea has been dubbed a “black hole” by former CIA director Robert Gates, and “the longest-running intelligence failure in the history of espionage” according to ex-CIA Seoul station chief and former U.S. ambassador to South Korea Donald Gregg.
A variety of computer analysts have disputed the claim that North Korea was involved in the hacking, but the Obama administration brushed it off with claims of safeguarding their “sensitive information” that allegedly proves North Korea’s guilt.
In response to the US accusations, The Korean Central News Agency of the DPRK said on December 20,
“They, without presenting any specific evidence, are asserting they can not open it to public, as it is ‘sensitive information.’ Clear evidence is needed to charge a sovereign state with a crime. … We propose the U.S. side that we conduct a joint investigation into the case, given that Washington is slandering Pyongyang by spreading unfounded rumors.”
A sensible request.
They add, “We have a way to prove that we have nothing to do with the case without resorting to torture as the CIA does.”
But it was beneath the dignity of civilized and freedom-loving America to even respond. The story given to us by the corporate U.S. media was clear: North Korea was responsible for the hack because the government said it was.
More than a few have noted the similarity of Obama’s story of North Korean hacking to Lyndon B. Johnson’s concocted Gulf of Tonkin incident, which led to sharply escalating the disastrous Vietnam war, and to Colin Powell’s just-so story to the United Nations Security Council about Saddam Hussein’s hidden stashes of chemical weapons, which led to the present disastrous wars in the Middle East.
While claiming to be indignant about threats to the internet, in a move that only the US does not find to be utter hypocrisy, the US then proceeded to disrupt North Korea’s internet system and cell phone service.
President Obama then escalated that unjustified provocation by imposing new sanctions on North Korea, which the Treasury Department claimed was a response to that country’s “efforts to undermine U.S. cyber-security and intimidate U.S. businesses and artists exercising their right of freedom of speech.” Lost on them is that the US is doing exactly this, to North Korea.
And meanwhile, the actual guilty party, a woman ex-employee of Sony, gets off scott free. Such is the manner in which the US government “protects” our internet freedoms.
“One leading cybersecurity firm, Norse Corp., said Monday it has narrowed its list of suspects to a group of six people — including at least one Sony veteran with the necessary technical background to carry out the attack, according to reports… Kurt Stammberger, senior vice president at Norse, said he used Sony’s leaked human-resources documents and cross-referenced the data with communications on hacker chat rooms and its own network of Web sensors to determine it was not North Korea behind the hack.”
“All the leads that we did turn up that had a Korean connection turned out to be dead ends,” he said. The information found by Norse points to an employee or employees terminated in a May restructuring and hackers involved in distributing pirated movies online that have been pursued by Sony, Stammberger told Bloomberg.
Obama in his last press conference of the year, did use the occasion to push for the release of this racist comedy The Interview, using this issue to divert attention from the recently released report on CIA torture and his own refusal to prosecute the US terrorists-in-chief. The US then moved to reinstall North Korea on its “State Sponsors of Terrorism” list.
Simultaneous with an Obama press conference attacking the DPRK, in actual real news from Korea, unmentioned here, the South Korean government banned the United Progressive Party, the only party advocating peace, reunification, and social justice, claiming “it was under orders from North Korea to subvert the South Korean state through violent revolution.”
Sometimes North Korean editorials go over the top, as the December 27 one after Obama held a news conference and pushed for the release of the film belittling North Korea and assassinating Kim Jong Un: “Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest.” Yet US leaders themselves have a long history of habitually depicting North Koreans in a racist and sub-human manner.
The DPRK statement did go on to say:
“We’d like to ask if somebody made a film concerning terror, and if somebody intends to instigate terror, can Obama talk about freedom of expression and value of modern civilization? We take this opportunity to clearly announce once again: the hacking attack on Sony Pictures has nothing to do with us. We make it clear that our target is not such individual corporations as Sony Picture but the US imperialist brigands who keep a grudge against our entire nation. If the US intends to insist that we are the hacking attackers they must present evidence now. But the United States unconditionally connects the disastrous hacking attack with us, without evidence [and] without clear grounds. Actually, the big United States shamelessly began to obstruct the internet operations of major media of the DPRK. We have already warned them not to act in the way of shaking a fist after being hit by somebody.
“Of course, we do not expect our warning would work on the brigands because it is the United State that makes the truth recognized by all people into a falsehood, triggers wars of aggression, and unhesitatingly intervenes in the internal affairs of a sovereign state if it is to satisfy their aggressive ambitions… It [was] none other than the United States that ignited an aggressive war in Korea… [that] triggered off the aggressive Vietnamese war and that conquered Iraq, by fabricating a groundless conspiratorial farce, called ‘removal of weapons of mass destruction.’ If the US persists in American-style arrogant, high-handed and gangster-like arbitrary practices despite [the DPRK’s] repeated warnings, the US should bear in mind that its failed political affairs will face inescapable deadly blows.”
These are words that would strike one as worth consideration, if it were not that the US public remained so mired in Joe McCarthy’s worldview on Korea, where we are still the world good guys, and they, the evil red-yellow peril, are so evil that no one dare murmur that North Korea be taken seriously.
By John Chuckman | Aletho News | December 30, 2014
The Palestinians are seeking a vote in the United Nations’ Security Council on a resolution favoring their statehood, unquestionably a reasonable proposal in the minds of most of the world’s people. Of course, the United States, a permanent member of the Security Council, would automatically veto such a resolution, as it vetoes all efforts to restore order to the chaos of the Middle East. And of course, were such a resolution somehow miraculously to pass, Israel would simply ignore it, as it has ignored a long list of binding UN resolutions. But a veto and certain contempt are not enough for an upright, God-fearing Southern gentleman like US Senator Lindsey Graham. He busied himself recently with threatening America’s withholding funds from a United Nations that gets involved in the “peace process.” Imagine, the United Nations getting involved in peace? That is a chilling thought. Since the United States has a history of withholding its UN dues against its solemn treaty obligations to bully its way to certain changes, such threats do carry weight.
Senator Graham, regarded neither as an idealist nor a voice for peace, is only doing what so many American politicians do under the unbelievably corrupt, money-drenched American election system, and that is to make ridiculous public statements about the Middle East in return for generous dollops of campaign funds from the world’s most tireless political lobby, that for Israel. You might think that the lobby itself would tire of funding backwater blowhards demanding the other ninety-five percent of humanity play the game by America’s rules or America is picking up its marbles or chips or whatever and going home, but clearly it does not.
“The peace process” is the longest running farce on the planet, continuing for nearly fifty years. It might have been funny in the vein of The Mouse That Roared, but there is nothing remotely funny in the killing of thousands of people and the extreme abuse and hopelessness of millions. You just could not make a worse hash of a diplomatic and human welfare situation than America has made in the Middle East. And the situation has only intensified in its cruelty and injustice. Today, Israel openly and regularly steals homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. It threatens ancient Muslim shrines and desecrates some of them. It has savaged Gaza, the world’s largest open-air prison camp, twice, killing close to four thousand including nearly a thousand children. It has attempted to starve Gaza’s people out with a years-long embargo, and is making ugly noises about still another invasion. It is about to steal Syrian oil on the occupied Golan Heights, drilling there illegally, and it is busy arranging the theft of offshore natural gas that belongs to Gaza and Lebanon. It does all of this with complete impunity and not even a cross word from the likes of Senator Graham. I do think the Middle East provides the strongest possible evidence of the complete unsuitability of the United States to play a dominant role in international affairs. It is genuinely a case of the inmates running the asylum.
In another example of chaos mixed with farce, the United States pretends to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and while that charade continues, planes loaded with American weapons keep flying out of Turkey to make the seeming lunatics even stronger. Indeed, the various ragtag factions trying to overthrow the Syrian government, cutthroats assembled by the US and its friends from all corners of the globe in a kind of hellish foreign legion, announced a new alliance, so telling Washington’s approved terrorists in the conflict from those who haven’t made the cut is more difficult than ever. Recently, one or another of the lunatic mobs shot down two fighter jets, and how do you think they managed that without American anti-aircraft missiles? Turkey’s certifiably unbalanced president, Tayyip Erdoğan, one day makes fiery speeches threatening Israel (to please the poor fools voting for him) and the next makes new secret deals with Israel. Remember, this is a man who just built a one-thousand room palace for himself – yes, that’s right, exactly one thousand rooms – and it is the ugliest, most pointless large structure built since the early Soviet era, a kind of gigantic sprawling warehouse incrusted with jewels and filled with porcelain.
Well, dippiness is no barrier to membership in a secret club in the region which includes the UAE, Saudia Arabia, and Israel, all lovingly assisted by the US. They are all governments who regard change as desirable only when it results in an even more rigid status quo, as in Egypt. Never mind the welfare of the region’s people or democracy or human rights or national boundaries. These guys resemble twelfth century lords seeing paupers cross their paths: they run them down and proceed to a rollicking good dinner in the great hall. The club is all about security for hereditary monarchs, security for America’s crusader fortress colony in the Middle East, and security for helper states in the American agenda. We’ve had many reports recently of secret air-freight flights between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi. We also have reports of flights out of Turkey into Syria. The never explained events at Benghazi were undoubtedly blowback from an operation collecting unemployed thugs and arms for secret shipment to Turkey and then into Syria. Saudi Arabia is voluntarily taking a bath by pushing oil prices down, a favor to the US and Israel and Turkey and a way of hurting Russia, Iran, Syria, and even Venezuela – all current members in good standing of Captain America’s ever-changing galaxy of villains – aka, the Axis of Evil. The US is willing to sacrifice for the time being its booming shale oil industry, whose more costly production requires higher prices than Saudi conventional crude, in return for the Saudi sacrifice.
Since both countries are desperate to hurt Russia, Iran, and Syria, the deal is a marriage made in Realpolitik heaven. Russia has helped Syria and does business with Iran, while Saudi Arabia and Israel hate Iran and Syria. The US has made a large investment in toppling Syria for Israel’s benefit, but the plan has been thwarted by Syrian endurance and Russian help. The plan also overlooked the loyalty of important Syrian societal groups to President Assad, but America often overlooks details as it attempts to reshape the world to its liking with bombs. Of course, there was also the precedent of Iraq, a bloody fiasco that achieved nothing but a million deaths and splintering a country into pieces. That splintering, by the way, continues with the ISIS fiasco: Iraq’s Kurds are being used against ISIS to strengthen their own region’s quasi-independence from Iraq.
The chaos the secret club-member countries have created in Syria – perhaps 200,000 killed and a couple of million refugees – appears not to bother them in the least, just so many paupers in the roadway when galloping home to dinner at the great hall. The victims do provide useful free material for the propaganda war being waged, the understanding implicit in America’s and Canada’s and Europe’s press being always that President Assad is responsible for the catastrophe. The US, and cheerleaders on the sidelines like Canada’s current dismal right-wing government, are doing virtually nothing for the refugees, or for the many civilians crippled or wounded. Ironically, Israel actually accepts for treatment in its northern medical facilities some of the very fanatics wounded in the dirty work. After all, it is ultimately Israel’s dirty work they do, regardless of their fanaticism. It’s a phenomenon we might call selective terrorism: fanatical killers who do America’s work, or Israel’s, are not treated as terrorists at all. No matter how many women and children you kill, no matter how many places you bomb, you only become a terrorist if you oppose the interests of America or Israel.
The toll in killed and wounded and homeless in Eastern Ukraine continues to mount. New punitive measures come regularly from Kiev, undoubtedly with American advice about possible vulnerabilities – after all, a top cabinet minister in the coup-created government is American. Only the other day we read reports of Ukrainian militia-types, the kind of right-wing thugs who helped the US overthrow an elected government in Kiev, blocking food traffic into the East. Attempting to starve people into submission is defined in international law as a war crime, but we hear no word of concern from America, just as we heard no word of concern for Israel’s original blockade of Gaza which actually included a calculated level of calories intended to just keep the population alive (since modified under intense secret international pressure).
In all these induced chaotic situations, we hear little or nothing from the UN, an institution which should be among the first condemning aggressive behavior. But the UN, despite the many differing private views of its members, is now in all official capacities under the thumb of the US. Its current Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, a candidate favored by America, is ineffectual and behaves at times almost as though he headed an organization having nothing to do with peace or human rights.
Well, there is some intimidating history. Boutros Boutros-Ghali was the only UN secretary-general not to be elected to a second term in office, and the reason was an American plan to be rid of him, one of Madeleine Albright’s glorious career achievements. America vetoed his second term because it was most unhappy when he did not embrace the bombing of Bosnia, and they disliked other of his views which tended to be thoughtful and compassionate. Earlier, Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, a much admired man, was assassinated in an engineered plane crash, said to have been the work of Belgian mining companies unhappy with the UN’s policies in Congo, a place the mining companies had drained of wealth for decades of brutal exploitation, but I think it unlikely anything of that nature happened without at least a nod of approval from Washington, which after all was a major customer for the products of Congo.
The evidence is piling up, despite delays and many irregularities in the official investigation into the crash of airline Flight MH-17 in Ukraine, that a Ukrainian pilot deliberately shot the plane down. His fighter jet is said to have been armed with air-to-air missiles on take-off, something completely out-of-the-ordinary in the conflict since Eastern Ukrainians have no air force. It returned, according to an eye-witness, with no missiles and the pilot muttering cryptic phrases. Of course, this would be the kind of act you might expect from people who used sniper rifles earlier this year to kill many hundreds of civilians in Maidan, the central square of Kiev, in order to terrorize the population and start the coup. But where is America’s voice in these grotesque doings? As Russia has patiently pointed out, an American spy satellite was virtually overhead at the time of the crash, so definitive evidence exists without a doubt but is not produced. But then neither is it produced for the destruction of Flight MH-370 in the Indian Ocean, an event it is virtually certain was the work of American forces at the secret Diego Garcia base as the plane came their way for whatever unknown reason.
The irregularities around Flight MH-17’s investigation include Malaysia, owners of the airline, being excluded from the group conducting the investigation and include the fact that segments of the wreckage were left behind at the crash site, and that after taking a very long time to get there in the first place, making manipulation of forensic evidence possible and even likely. We also have the absence of any American satellite or radar records, and we have not a word about the autopsy on the pilot, something which might solve the entire mystery, as from the discovery of Ukrainian missile fragments in his body.
What kind of world do we want to live in? One where coups and civil wars are engineered for the pleasure of others? One where airliners full of people are shot down deliberately? This is the chaos, and just part of it, America has bestowed upon us in the twenty-first century. I won’t even go into the financial tsunami it created in 2008 with the same lack of caution for others and concern about doing things correctly. The full impact of that has yet to strike us all.
But America brings laughable trivia, too. The President of the United States spending time and breath on the hacking of a private company’s web site? A Japanese company, no less? And turning the relatively trivial business of hacking, which happens every day now somewhere, into an international incident by blaming, almost certainly incorrectly, North Korea?
The President said the FBI had investigated and assured him that North Korea was responsible. What he didn’t tell us was that the FBI has a decades-long record of being wrong, seriously wrong, a great deal of the time. Given the FBI’s history, it certainly is in the running for the title of Most Incompetent Security Organization in the Western World, although, like other national security institutions in the United States, it is grossly over-funded with money gushing out like water from broken plumbing. Americans pay more per unit of misinformation than likely any other people on the planet.
Anyone familiar with the record of the FBI listens to assurances like the President’s with a sarcastic smile at best (see FOOTNOTE for a partial list of the FBI’s viciousness and incompetence over the years). Shortly after the president’s silly words, we had several world-class tech experts tell us why it could not have been North Korea, and I’ll take bets against the FBI on this one from anyone.
It likely was someone at Sony doing a publicity stunt to promote what by all reports is a dud of a film, but why should the man with the biggest job in the world join in? Consider also the fact that if you make what can be viewed as a threatening comment or presentation of any kind against the President of the United States, you will be visited and interviewed by the Secret Service, who will then keep you on file permanently. Why is it okay to make a movie about the assassination of North Korea’s president then, the subject of The Interview ? Sony certainly has a right to do stupidly foolish things, but it is more than a little muddled for the President, eagerly, to support it. Will he now address the rights of porn actors in California to work without condoms?
As I write this, a British newspaper reports that some Sony employees have been quietly dismissed. Reported also is the discovery of a web site strongly suggesting disgruntled employees. See what I mean about America overlooking the facts before it acts?
FOOTNOTE ON HOW WRONG AND DISHONEST THE FBI HAS BEEN: The FBI was wrong in claiming there was no such thing as the Mafia, something J. Edgar Hoover insisted for many years while he gambled at their racetracks and stayed at their resorts for free, some biographers believing Hoover had been compromised by the Mafia with photos of his secret gay, cross-dressing life. The FBI was wrong in focusing huge resources for many years on the pathetic American Communist Party, half of whose small membership is said to have consisted of FBI agents. The FBI was wrong about the threat of Albert Einstein, seeking his extradition for a time and checking the contents of his garbage to his dying day. The FBI was wrong about the danger of Dr. Martin Luther King, and it played judge and jury with his personal life. The FBI was wrong about Dr. Wen Ho Lee of Los Alamos being a spy, although it ruined his career. The FBI was wrong about the crash of TWA Flight 800, taking an inordinate amount of time trying to let public interest cool and avoid the obvious fact that the crash was an accidental shoot-down by the American military, there being a radar track showing something like a missile rising towards the plane. Despite its vast resources, the FBI never saw 9/11 coming. One of its own senior agents, Robert Hanssen, was one of the more damaging spies of modern times, a man whose carelessness in many details, classic indicators of a paid spy, went unnoticed for years. The FBI was wrong in the Atlanta Olympic bombing, ruining the life of another innocent man. It couldn’t have been more wrong in its handling of the sad kooks at Waco, effectively murdering them all. So, too, at the Ruby Ridge standoff where an FBI sniper killed a woman and her child needlessly. The FBI Crime Labs were cited in the 1990s by the Inspector General for misconduct and manipulating evidence, something many had suspected for years. The FBI specialized for years in hurting the reputations of those it didn’t like or those it merely suspected, as by asking questions at their place of work and neighborhood, not have any proof of wrong-doing. The FBI, at least under J. Edgar Hoover, held career-threatening information obtained by spying over the heads of many prominent congressmen and government leaders, effectively blackmailing them to do its bidding. It did the same with non-government officials where it felt so inclined. The FBI was wrong about the assassination of President Kennedy, it being the only investigative agency for the lamentable, embarrassing Warren Commission, thereby assuming at least equal responsibility for its inaccurate, dishonest report. Indeed, the FBI did not reveal at the time that Oswald secretly worked for them as a paid informant (since documented). It also lied about evidence a senior FBI agent destroyed after the assassination, a note Oswald had written.
Despite claims by the FBI that North Korea was behind the massive hack against Sony, several cybersecurity experts have come forward to raise questions about the allegation, with some suggesting that insiders at the company could be to blame.
One such expert, Kurt Stammberger from the Norse cybersecuirty firm, told CBS News that his team believes a woman identified only as “Lena” was heavily involved in the hack – not North Korea.
“We are very confident that this was not an attack master-minded by North Korea and that insiders were key to the implementation of one of the most devastating attacks in history,” he told the news outlet.
“Sony was not just hacked, this is a company that was essentially nuked from the inside,” Stammberger added.
Little is known about Lena, but Norse believes the woman is somehow linked with the hacking group behind the attack, known as the ‘Guardians of Peace.’ The firm also suspects the woman was a former employee of Sony who worked there for 10 years before leaving in May 2014.
According to Stammberger, Lena’s position in the company would have given her the access and knowledge needed to identify the servers that hackers ultimately stole troves of data from.
Stammberger didn’t completely rule out North Korea’s role in the cyber attack, but he told CBS that evidence pointing to the country could actually be a case of misdirection.
“There are certainly North Korean fingerprints on this but when we run all those leads to ground they turn out to be decoys or red herrings,” he said.
Last week, the FBI officially pinned the hack on North Korea, saying the breach involved lines of code, methods, and encryption algorithms previously developed by the country.
“Technical analysis of the data deletion malware used in this attack revealed links to other malware that the FBI knows North Korea actors previously developed,” the FBI said in its statement. “The FBI also observed significant overlap between the infrastructure used in this attack and other malicious cyber activity the US government has previously linked directly to North Korea.”
“Separately, the tools used in the SPE attack have similarities to a cyberattack in March of last year against South Korean banks and media outlets, which was carried out by North Korea.”
Still, some remain unconvinced. Cybersecurity expert Bruce Schneier wrote that the code used by the hackers seems “to point in all directions at once.” Looking at the evidence cited by the FBI, Schneier said it’s the kind that is “easy to fake, and it’s even easier to interpret it incorrectly.” He also cast doubt on the “insider threat” theory, arguing that such an individual wouldn’t need the hacking tools used to breach Sony’s servers.
Schneier noted that the FBI has not revealed all the reasons for its claim, though, and acknowledged that classified evidence could clearly point the finger at North Korea. Unless that evidence is known, it’s hard to say with any certainty.
Other possibilities include the idea that North Korea “co-opted” the initial attack after an embarrassing glut of information was made public, using that as an opportunity to strike Sony, as it was reeling and facing pressure to cancel ‘The Interview’ movie.
While Sony did cancel the premiere and release of ‘The Interview’ – a comedy which tells the story of a CIA plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un – it has since relented in the face of public criticism, which included harsh words from President Barack Obama. The movie is now available on streaming services and will be in theaters in limited release on Christmas Day.
Regarding the film’s release, a North Korean envoy to the United Nations said the country will condemn the decision but will not have any “physical reaction.” He added that the movie is an “unpardonable mockery of our sovereignty and dignity of our supreme leader.”
The diplomat also told the Associated Press that his country was not involved in the hack.
“GAO says FBI’s investigation of anthrax attacks was flawed”:
“The FBI used flawed scientific methods to investigate the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people and sickened 17 others, federal auditors said Friday in a report sure to fuel skepticism over the FBI’s conclusion that Army biodefense researcher Bruce Ivins was the sole perpetrator.”
Yes, having absolutely no evidence would ‘be sure to fuel skepticism’ over the frame-up of Ivins.
“Ivins died in July 2008 of an apparently intentional Tylenol overdose as the Justice Department prepared to indict him.”
Steven Hatfill was the first patsy the FBI picked, and when he fought back too successfully, they settled on Ivins, whose personal weaknesses made it too difficult for him to challenge the lies. As we’ve seen with the recent FBI blame on North Korea for the Sony hacking case, the FBI is nothing more than a lie factory.
From the same time period (fall of 2001), a possible murder that many have wondered about:
The mysterious deaths of such people were fashionable at the time:
Barrett Brown faces eight and a half years in prison today for the crime of being a journalist. For any U.S. media outlet that claims to practice journalism, this story should be front page news.
Officially, Brown is charged with three crimes: (1) transmitting a threat in interstate commerce, (2) obstructing the execution of a search warrant, and (3) being an accessory after the fact to an unauthorized access to a protected computer.
Unofficially, Brown is being prosecuted for founding Project PM, a WikiLeaks-like website which dares to investigate “the intelligence contracting industry, the PR industry’s interface with totalitarian regimes, the mushrooming infosec/’cybersecurity’ industry, and other issues constituting threats to human rights, civic transparency, individual privacy, and the health of democratic institutions.”
On March 6, 2012, FBI agent Robert Smith raided Brown’s apartment and Brown’s mother’s house, supposedly looking for information on the hack of intelligence firm HBGary. Agent Smith took away Brown’s computers, which contained Brown’s research into contractors who spy or conduct information warfare on behalf of government and corporate clients.
Following the raid, Barrett Brown faced 100 years in prison for sharing a link on the leaked Stratfor emails, emails which revealed that Stratfor (called the “shadow CIA” by some) had allegedly partnered with a former Goldman Sachs director and other informants in order to profit from insider trading, among other dirty laundry. After prosecutors dropped the 11 charges related to Brown’s sharing a link, the only “crimes” the government had left to charge Brown with resulted from the raid on Brown’s apartment, where Brown allegedly hid his own laptops (aka obstructing the execution of a search warrant) and tried to protect Jeremy Hammond , now in prison for hacking Stratfor, from getting caught (being an accessory after the fact to an unauthorized access to a protected computer). As the FBI held on to his computers, Brown posted a pissed-off YouTube video lashing out at Agent Smith (transmitting a threat in interstate commerce).
While the government would argue that Brown is not being politically prosecuted, the government has taken many actions that say otherwise. Beyond seeking 100 years of jail time for Brown, the government has prosecuted Brown’s mother for obstruction (resulting in six months probation and a $1,000 fine), tried to seize Brown’s legal defense fund, obtained a gag order preventing Brown from speaking about his own case, tried to identify contributors to the website where Brown and others researched links between intelligence companies and governments, and argued that Brown seeks to overthrow the U.S. government.
For anyone horrified that the government would equate researching intelligence companies with trying to overthrow the government, today’s sentencing of Barrett Brown is a major event. Barrett Brown has already spent two years in prison for daring to be a real journalist.
The question now is, how much longer will the First Amendment be locked in a jail cell?
The director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation left the door open to the possibility that officers may falsely represent themselves as journalists in the course of an investigation, so long as it’s done with “significant supervision.”
Despite last month’s furor following revelations that an FBI agent had posed as an employee of the Associated Press as part of a sting operation, James Comey said he was not willing to swear off the use of such ploys in the future.
“I’m not willing to say ‘never’,” Comey told a press roundtable discussion on Tuesday, AP reported. “Just as I wouldn’t say that we would never pose as an educator or a doctor or, I don’t know, a rocket scientist.”
The response will certainly reverberate through AP, which was furious after Comey revealed in a letter to the New York Times that an FBI agent had posed as an AP journalist in 2007 during an investigation of a 15-year-old who was believed to be delivering bomb threats at a high school in Olympia, Washington.
Kathleen Carroll, executive editor of the AP, called the FBI’s covert activities “unacceptable.”
“This latest revelation of how the FBI misappropriated the trusted name of the Associated Press doubles our concern and outrage, expressed earlier to Attorney General Eric Holder, about how the agency’s unacceptable tactics undermine AP and the vital distinction between the government and the press,” Carroll said in a statement.
She said such activities serve to diminish public trust in AP’s “legacy of objectivity, truth, accuracy and integrity.”
Comey remained ambiguous about the future of such activities, saying they require “significant supervision, if it’s going to be done.”
This is not the first time the news collective has experienced problems with government agencies.
On May 13, 2013, the Associated Press said telephone records for 20 of their journalists during a two-month period in 2012 had been subpoenaed by the Justice Department. The agency never provided an explanation for its demand.