Yet another bombshell report from Seymour Hersh. Back in the summer of 2013 a classified all-source assessment by the Pentagon concluded that moderate forces were largely imaginary and that the CIA's program was essentially arming extremist groups like Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS. Yet team Obama was so intent on "Assad must go" that they ignored an opposition force comprised of jihadists. The White House promoted the myth that the United States could fight terror and depose Assad at the same time.
So, what did the generals do?
"In the autumn of 2013 they decided to take steps against the extremists without going through political channels, by providing US intelligence to the militaries of other nations, on the understanding that it would be passed on to the Syrian army and used against the common enemy, Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State... Obama didn't know, but Obama doesn’t know what the JCS does in every circumstance and that's true of all presidents."
And where are alleged U.S. allies in all of this?
"Saudi Arabia continues to be a major provider of funds to the Syrian opposition, estimated by US intelligence last year at $700 million."
Can you guess what happened when CIA director Brennan asked the Saudis to stop funding said extremists? Pretty please, with sugar on top?
"Brennan's message was ignored by the Saudis, the adviser said, who 'went back home and increased their efforts with the extremists and asked us for more technical support. And we say OK, and so it turns out that we end up reinforcing the extremists.'"
"But the Saudis were far from the only problem: American intelligence had accumulated intercept and human intelligence demonstrating that the Erdogan government had been supporting Jabhat al-Nusra for years, and was now doing the same for Islamic State."
Yet Obama continues to abide by a narrative that reeks of cognitive dissonance. Refusing to confront the Gulf States or Turkey. Replacing Martin Dempsey at the JCoS with Joseph Dunford, a general who accepts the canard of "moderate" rebels. -BB(2015-12-21)
In a clever ploy, politicians took the questionable legal provisions of CISA 2015 (aka S. 754) and, right before the holidays, quietly stuck them into the recently passed omnibus spending bill (aka H.R. 2029: The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016).
"By sticking CISA into such a huge omnibus bill, there's basically no way it won't become law. And if anything, the version of CISA that was quietly slipped into this budget plays with privacy even faster and looser than the original. For one, a previously held prohibition against sharing information with the NSA has been removed, meaning America's best surveillance agency can receive pertinent data without it being handled by Homeland Security first. More importantly, the provision that required personal information to be scrubbed from cybersecurity reports also seems to have gone missing, leaving that task up to the discretion of which ever agency gets their hands on it."
Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) warned us of the implications back in late October:
"Information sharing without robust privacy protections — millions of Americans are going to say that's a surveillance bill"
Notice how the New York Times simply mumbles something about this in passing, buried way down in its coverage. As if to say "And, oh, by the way"...
"The package also incorporates legislation that expands the sharing of information between private firms and federal security agencies to prevent cyberattacks."
Both parties helped push this legislation through. They'll probably do a victory lap in the press to create the impression that they accomplished something. Accomplished for whom? Bill Moyers offers an answer:
"By such are we governed today: soulless puppets dangling from the rich man’s string, their wooden hands outstretched, palms upturned. As we speak they are writing in secret new rules to perpetuate the rule of the few."
A sad day, and a reminder that oligarchy is bipartisan. -BB(2015-12-19)
Yesterday the Telegraph offered a peek behind the curtain with regard to the decade-spanning global war on terror that's ravaged the Middle East. Meet megacorp Vitol:
"Simply put, Vitol is one of the biggest trading companies on the planet. It is the ninth largest corporation in the world by revenue, behind only Shell and BP from the FTSE 100, and comfortably ahead of Volkswagen, Apple and Chevron. Last year Vitol's sprawling empire raked in $270bn in sales."
Like many actors on the world stage this company has leveraged its power to influence international developments:
"Taylor's buccaneering reputation was cemented the previous year when it emerged that Vitol had been a key backer of the Libyan revolution. Its savvy traders had managed to avoid a barrage of Nato bombs and a naval blockade to send dozens of tankers to rebel-held ports such as Tobruk and Zawiya. Supplies of diesel, petrol and fuel kept creaking power stations under rebel control from grinding to a halt and ultimately proved vital to efforts to overthrow Gadaffi."
This is the side of history that we're not meant to see. A contest that hides itself behind a torrent of mass media propaganda, to carve up what's left of the world. Powerful corporate interests are institutionally compelled to acquire access to new markets and resources in a mad race to maximize profits. -BB(2015-12-13)
Terrorists don't destroy freedom, it's a short-sighted response to the threat of terrorism which does that. -BB(2015-11-13)
Update: Recall the black and white world view of former President George Bush: "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." In a similar fashion ISIS actively seeks to employ terror to "sharpen the contradictions" (foment the "The Extinction of The Grayzone") and polarize the world. French President François Hollande declares "we are going to lead a war which will be pitiless." Does he not realize that a crackdown will only radicalize more people?
The mayhem in France is a direct reflection of the unspeakable death and destruction that plagues the middle east. In Syria the death toll exceeds well over 200,000 people with millions of refugees. This, dear reader, is the natural result of covert programs that armed, trained, and supported Suuni extremists. All in a gambit to depose Assad, a policy agenda that was established years ago. France is now suffering from the unenlightened self-interest of the Atlantic ruling class. We need to contemplate the forces that create terrorism rather than address the symptoms.
Ian Welsh offers an astute synopsis: "'Terrorists' and western Governments have become co-dependent. Many in the West want further excuses for internal repression (which is usually justified as just being against a despised minority, then spreads), and for more war."
Update: The lesson to be gleaned? Don't ask western leadership to "fix" anything. Western leaders organized jihadists in Afghanistan and created Al Qaeda. They smashed Iraq with a sledgehammer and this gave birth to ISIS. They don't fix things. "The Iraq war was an immense profit opportunity and that a great deal of money was funneled to the right people. Again, this is one of our leaders core competencies, this is what they do well."
William Blum is back from a hiatus and in his latest dispatch presents a series of facts that provide some much-needed context about what's happening in Syria:
"The mainstream media almost never mentions the proposed Qatar natural-gas pipelines – whose path to Europe Syria has stood in the way of for years – as a reason for much of the hostility toward Syria. The pipelines could dethrone Russia as Europe’s dominant source of energy."
"US policy in Syria in the years leading up to the 2011 uprising against Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, which began the whole current mess, was designed to promote sectarianism, which in turn led to civil war with the goal of regime change"
Assad defied the Atlantic ruling class and they set the country ablaze. This is what happens to nations which have an independent foreign policy and refuse to submit to the mandates of the American deep state. -BB(2015-11-04)
George Santayana observed that "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." (The Life of Reason, 1905). Having said that, here's news from the Beltway:
"The United States will deploy dozens of special operations forces to northern Syria... The White House said the troops would be on a mission to 'train, advise and assist' and would number fewer than 50."
Russia has taken notice and issued a warning:
"The question of using military force in any form without the agreement of Damascus is for us unacceptable"
Another sad chapter in the endless war on terror. The defense industry whistles the national athem while processing all those new orders. -BB(2015-10-30)
Update: the White House claims these troops will "advise local forces fighting the Islamic State." Local forces? I take it that this means terrorist groups (so-called "moderate" fighters)? POTUS is being intentionally vague so that his alleged war on terror doesn't look so contradictory. It would also appear that special forces troops in Syria are doing a whole lot more than just advising, as the Delta Commando Raid in May revealed. As usual, truth is the first casualty when the White House desperately tries to gain leverage during talks in Vienna, pushing for regime change in the name of American oil interests.
Update: Quietly, in the background while all of the focus in on overt programs, "A covert train-and-equip effort run by the C.I.A. is still very much active." Training who? Equipping who? "Moderate" terrorists?
Update: According to the NYTimes the special forces and 50 ton payload of ammo are intended for an "alliance" (the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces) which consists primarily of Y.P.G. Kurdish troops and a token smattering of other fighters. Hard to view this as anything other than a propaganda contrivance by the United States to "play down its close relationship with the Kurds so as not to alarm Turkey."
Update: The Wall Street Journal reports that the CIA and Saudi Arabia will be arming "moderate" terrorists. Arming our enemies, a shot in the arm for the defense industry. It guarantees future profits...
WikiLeaks strikes again, with a collection of documents derived from CIA Director Brennan's AOL account. Check out the corporate links between POTUS, Brennan, and the CIA:
"Brennan went private in 2005-2008, founding an intelligence and analysis firm The Analysis Corp (TAC). In 2008 Brennan became a donor to Obama. The same year TAC, led by Brennan, became a security advisor to the Obama campaign and later that year to the Obama-Biden Transition Project. It is during this period many of the Obama administration's key strategic policies to China, Iran and 'Af-Pak' were formulated. When Obama and Biden entered into power, Brennan was lifted up on high, resulting in his subsequent high-level national security appointments."
Reading a document on TAC yields an interesting side note concerning the CIA's watchlist (see page 24 under "Workflow'):
"84% of the names reviewed did not meet the standard for nomination to any watchlist."
As noted by Cryptome, Brennan's private sector company The Analysis Corporation (TAC) was the Intelligence Solutions business of Global Defense Technology & Systems, Inc. ('GTEC'), now renamed Sotera Defense Solutions. -BB(2015-10-22)
It appears that yet another Ed Snowden figure has emerged, this one with a stash of secret documents which describe America's drone program:
"The secret documents lead to the conclusion that Washington's 14-year high-value targeting campaign suffers from an overreliance on signals intelligence, an apparently incalculable civilian toll, and — due to a preference for assassination rather than capture — an inability to extract potentially valuable intelligence from terror suspects. They also highlight the futility of the war in Afghanistan by showing how the U.S. has poured vast resources into killing local insurgents, in the process exacerbating the very threat the U.S. is seeking to confront."
Case in Point: Operation Haymaker. Here are some choice excerpts:
"The documents show that during a five-month stretch of the campaign, nearly nine out of 10 people who died in airstrikes were not the Americans' direct targets. By February 2013, Haymaker airstrikes had resulted in no more than 35 'jackpots,' a term used to signal the neutralization of a specific targeted individual, while more than 200 people were declared EKIA — 'enemy killed in action.'"
"According to the documents, raids performed on the ground during Haymaker were far less lethal than airstrikes and led to the capture of scores of individuals. Research by Larry Lewis, formerly a principal research scientist at the Center for Naval Analyses, supports that conclusion... He found that drone strikes in Afghanistan were 10 times more likely to kill civilians than conventional aircraft."
The drone program itself is based on the premise that we can kill our way out of trouble rather than revisit our disastrous foreign policy. The elite prefer to set fire to broad swathes of the Middle East. They engage in a global war on terror that perpetuates itself. The failed state model of neocolonialism. -BB(2015-10-15)
Pluralists may contend that true power in the United States has been constitutionally vested in "the people" through mechanisms like the electoral process, freedom of speech, and the ability to establish political parties. The traditional view is that these aspects of our political system result in a broad distribution of power that prevents any one faction from gaining an inordinate amount of influence. And today the New York Times shows just how flawed this vantage point is:
"Now they [plutocrats] are deploying their vast wealth in the political arena, providing almost half of all the seed money raised to support Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. Just 158 families, along with companies they own or control, contributed $176 million in the first phase of the campaign"
"More than 50 members of these families have made the Forbes 400 list of the country's top billionaires, marking a scale of wealth against which even a million-dollar political contribution can seem relatively small. The Chicago hedge fund billionaire Kenneth C. Griffin, for example, earns about $68.5 million a month after taxes, according to court filings made by his wife in their divorce. He has given a total of $300,000 to groups backing Republican presidential candidates. That is a huge sum on its face, yet is the equivalent of only $21.17 for a typical American household, according to Congressional Budget Office data on after-tax income."
Update: Ian Welsh offers a similar analysis.
"You keep precisely, and only, the rights (which includes property and jobs) that you are able and willing to fight for. Anything you have in excess of that will eventually be taken away from you, awaiting only someone with enough power having the opportunity and motive to do so."
If there was ever any doubt, the GCHQ implemented a program that aimed to build the world's biggest surveillance engine and henceforth profile every single user of the web:
"The system was designed to provide the agency with 'either (a) a web browsing profile for every visible user on the Internet, or (b) a user profile for every visible website on the Internet.'"
"One system builds profiles showing people’s web browsing histories. Another analyzes instant messenger communications, emails, Skype calls, text messages, cell phone locations, and social media interactions. Separate programs were built to keep tabs on 'suspicious' Google searches and usage of Google Maps."
People who frequent cryptome.org, for instance, are of particular interest. And the drive by spies to conquer encryption with subversion is also on full display:
"'Pertinent metadata events will be locked within the encrypted channels and difficult, if not impossible, to prise out,' the report says, adding that the agencies were working on a plan that would '(hopefully) allow our Internet Exploitation strategy to prevail.'"
So, yes, they're watching and collecting damn near everything. -BB(2015-09-25)
Technical surveillance counter measures professional James Atkinson comments:
"I believe that you have caught the U.S. government red-handed allowing GCHQ free and unrestricted access to spy on U.S. citizen, inside the United States, within any form of warrant, or with what is called a 'General Warrant' which the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled is illegal."
"Someone at or near the location in Sterling, VA is performing a MITM attack on Cryptome visitors, and this image out of the slidedeck with the two GPS coordinates is the U.S. Government performing a MITM attack against Cryptome and sharing the collected intelligence with the Brits, or the U.S. Government giving the British government backdoor access into the U.S. (illegal) collection systems."
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Saudis are moving to establish their own nuclear program.
"Saudi Arabia, the most ambitious of the group, has announced plans to build 16 reactors over the next several decades, providing a projected 15% of the country’s electricity possibly as early as 2032, according to a Saudi government website. The estimated cost of the program: more than $80 billion, according to an analysis of the plans by Ali Ahmad, a research fellow and lecturer on energy policy at Princeton University. Mr. Ahmad says he based his calculation on a roughly $5 billion price tag for each reactor."
No sanctions for the country that plays a major role in supporting extremist groups like ISIS. No sir! Client states always get a free pass as well as ironclad security assurances from the United States. -BB (2015-09-19)
In a much-needed Counterpunch piece Dave Lindorff calls out the President's political theater in Alaska:
"Now we have this flimflam artist up in Alaska, talking about the crisis he has helped worsen, calling it an existential issue. And yet even as he speaks, the Shell Oil Company is towing a giant oil drilling rig up to the Arctic Ocean, thanks to an Obama administration permit, to begin drilling for oil in the shallow waters north of Alaska — drilling for yet more oil, that is, even as the world is facing a glut of the stuff, in a delicate region that would be devastated by a well blow-out, because ice would make containment an impossibility."
The most credible source on this matter is Admiral William D. Leahy, who was then chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff and Truman's leading military advisor. In his book I Was There Leahy wrote (page 441):
"It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons."
As Washington's Blog points out, the decision was likely a political one intended to intimidate the Soviets. When the American Deep State wants to send a strong message to groups of ruling elites in other countries, it doesn't care how many dead bodies it has to walk over. If you have any questions about the nature of the wealthy factions who formulate U.S. foreign policy, all you have to do is contemplate this photo taken inside of the Nagasaki blast radius. -BB(2015-08-09)
James Bamford reports that the NSA intercepted a phone call in March of 2000 destined for Osama bin Laden's operations center in Yemen. The phone call originated from a line in San Diego belonging to Khalid al-Mihdhar, one of the 911 hijackers. If American spies had followed up on this lead it's likely they would've unearthed the 911 plot. Only they didn't.
Then NSA director Michael Hayden claimed that the NSA wasn't able to geolocate the San Diego call based on technical limitations and subsequently used this explanation to help justify the NSA's bulk collection of phone records. Former NSA senior executive Thomas Drake argues that Hayden is wrong:
"Every number that comes into that switchboard, if you're cast-iron coverage on that switchboard, you know exactly what that number is and where it comes from.… You know exactly—otherwise it can’t get there."
Another NSA veteran, Kirk Wiebe, notes that every phone call is transmitted with billing information:
"You know the phone numbers involved, who’s making the phone call, and who it's going to because the billing system has to have that metadata to charge you,"
In other words, the NSA could clearly tell that Khalid al-Mihdhar was calling from San Diego. Moving forward from this conclusion raises a lot of interesting questions. -BB(2015-07-24)
WikiLeaks has posted a Top Secret intelligence report from 2005 where German Foreign Minister FrankWalter Steinmeier appeared to be pleased that American officials had stonewalled him on CIA rendition flights:
"Steinmeier described the mood during his talks with U.S. officials as very good, but feared that the most difficult part was still ahead. He seemed relieved that he had not received any definitive response from the U.S. Secretary of State regarding press reports of CIA flights through Germany to secret prisons in eastern Europe allegedly used for interrogating terrorism suspects."
WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange spells out the implications:
"The NSA has been used to help the CIA kidnap and torture with impunity. For years the CIA was systematically abducting and torturing people, with the tacit complicity of European governments. In 2005 German Foreign Minister Steinmeier was thrilled that his tactic of asking Condoleezza Rice no hard questions about CIA renditions had worked. The US said nothing that would require him to do anything. And how do we know about it? Because the National Security Agency was gloating to the US senior executive about intercepting this cowardly display."
Germany largely toes the neoliberal line. Like a good little client state. -BB(2015-07-21)
Adding to the conclusions of two previous reports, the American Psychological Association (APA) Board of Directors hired attorney David Hoffman of law firm Sidley Austin to investigate the involvement of the APA in CIA torture. The Sidley Austin report is damning (see p. 11):
"The evidence supports the conclusion that APA officials colluded with DoD officials to, at the least, adopt and maintain APA ethics policies that were not more restrictive than the guidelines that key DoD officials wanted"
James Risen of the New York Times observes:
"Two former presidents of the psychological association were on a C.I.A. advisory committee, the report found. One of them [Joseph Matarazzo] gave the agency an opinion that sleep deprivation did not constitute torture, and later held a small ownership stake in a consulting company founded by two men who oversaw the agency’s interrogation program"
The APA has issued an apology. A testimony to the Deep State's ability to infiltrate and undermine scientific organizations. Robert Jay Lifton is spot on, the psychologists who aided torture should be charged, as should the torturers. -BB(2015-07-11)
Related: Mark Ames writes about the long and storied history of American psychologists working with the CIA:
"Half a century ago, the president of the American Psychiatric Association, Ewen Cameron, was paid by the CIA to conduct bizarre and brutal mind-control experiments on unwitting patients at McGill University who’d checked in for relatively minor psychological problems (anxiety, postpartum depression) and ended up near-vegetables."
First France, then Germany, and now Brazil joins the list of countries infiltrated by American spies:
"The publication proves that not only President Dilma Rousseff was targeted but also her assistant, her secretary, her chief of staff, her Palace office and even the phone in her Presidential jet. The US targetted not only those closest to the President, but waged an economic espionage campaign against Brazil, spying on those responsible for managing Brazil's economy, including the head of its Central Bank. The US also extensively targetted Brazil's diplomacy, targetting the phones of its Foreign Minister and its ambassadors to Germany, France, the EU, the US and Geneva as well as its military chiefs."
"The economic targets within Brazil's government include its key Finance Ministers and even the Governor of the Brazilian Central Bank. Cabinet Minister Nelson Henrique Barbosa Filho, who served as Executive Secretary at Brazil's Ministry of Finance from 2011 to 2013 and who is now Minister of Planning, Budget and Management is on the target list, as is Antonio Palocci, Minister of Finance under former President Lula and now Dilma's Chief of Staff."
More proof that U.S. spies are the Praetorian Guard of American corporate interests. It's all about opening up markets and accessing resources to feed an economic system that demands infinite growth from a finite planet. Profit above all else... even if it means extinction. -BB(2015-07-04)
A few days back the Germans dropped an inquiry into claims that the U.S. tapped Angela Merkel’s Phone for lack of evidence. Well, now we have proof that Angela and her peers in German leadership were indeed spied upon. Here are some choice intercepts: Merkel's not optimistic about Greece and mention of a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT), something I'm sure American bankers are opposed to.
Will Germany continue to behave like a good little U.S. client state, or will it show some backbone and take a stand? Sadly, history informs that there may be perfunctory show of outrage (for domestic consumption) but then Germany will fall back into line. -BB(2015-07-02)
For years now government officials have thrown temper tantrums about China spying on American companies. Thanks to WikiLeaks the world can now understand the depth of their brazen hypocrisy. They have absolutely no shame:
"The United States has been conducting economic espionage against France for more than a decade. Not only has it spied on the French Finance Minister, it has ordered the interception of every French company contract or negotiation valued at more than $200 million. That covers not only all of France's major companies, from BNP Paribas, AXA and Credit Agricole to Peugeot and Renault, Total and Orange, but it also affects the major French farming associations. $200 million is roughly 3,000 French jobs. Hundreds of such contracts are signed every year. The United States not only uses the results of this spying itself, but swaps these intercepts with the United Kingdom. Do French citizens deserve to know that their country is being taken to the cleaners by the spies of supposedly allied countries?"
And who, pray tell, benefits from this spying? The true constituents of American intelligence: the large corporate interests that have achieved state capture. The American Deep State. -BB(2015-06-30)
Economics professor Michael Hudson offers a concise synopsis of what's unfolding between Greece and the European Troika. Here are some excerpts:
"Last weekend a group of us met in Delphi to discuss and draft the following Declaration of Support for Greece against the neoliberal Institutions. It is now clear that finance is the new mode of warfare. The creditors' objective is the same as military conquest: they want the land, the natural resource rights and monopolies, and they want tribute (in this case, debt service). And they don't want sovereign Greece to tax the economic rent from these assets. In short, the negotiation between The Institutions and Greece is a bold exercise in rent extraction."
"Followers of recent news reports should bear in mind that despite all the statements of good faith that Greece 'wants to pay its debts,' the reality is that there is no money to do so – except to the extent that the IMF may 'extend and pretend' the charade by advancing Greece the IMF's own money to pay. As matters have turned out, Tsipras and Varoufakis have not paid foreign debts with Greek money. They have not balanced the Greek budget by cutting back pensions, nor have they sold off the crown jewels of publicly owned infrastructure that European banks hoped to finance to their clients."
Hudson's preface is followed by a statement of support signed by those who met in Delphi. One point they make resonates in particular:
"You may live in Lisbon or in Paris, in Frankfurt or in Stockholm, you may think that you are living in relative security. Do not keep such illusions. You should look to Greece, to see there the future your elites are preparing for you, for all of us and for our children. It is much easier and intelligent to stop them now, than it will be later. Not only Greeks, but all of us and our children will pay an enormous price, if we permit to our governments to complete the social slaughter of a whole European nation."
Neocolonialism is at work. The insistence on austerity by the Troika is very telling. -BB(2015-06-27)
"If it wins the referendum, the Greek government will be empowered by democratic legitimacy"
"With voters both furious at ever-greater demands for austerity and unwilling to leave the euro... The referendum will, in effect, ask voters to choose their priority, and give Tsipras a mandate to do what he must "
"Tsipras should have held a referendum long before he stripped the Greek government of funds to keep paying the creditors, since a default is better managed with some cash on hand... the referendum ruse looks to be about trying to spare Tsipras and Syriza the worst consequences of his having underestimated the creditors and not preparing for worst-case scenarios, which is another responsibility of leadership that he and his party have neglected."
Enthen mén Skýlle, hetérothi de dîa Charubdis
"Prominent within the top secret cache of documents are intelligence summaries of conversations between French government officials concerning some of the most pressing issues facing France and the international community, including the global financial crisis, the Greek debt crisis, the leadership and future of the European Union, the relationship between the Hollande administration and the German government of Angela Merkel, French efforts to determine the make-up of the executive staff of the United Nations, French involvement in the conflict in Palestine and a dispute between the French and US governments over US spying on France."
Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "Fuck the EU", no? -BB(2015-06-23)
Related: Cryptome offers kudos to WikiLeaks for releasing this data without redactions or presumably a government run-by. Unlike other news outlets, ahem, that have agreed to check with government spies before releasing documents:
"What I did was that I worked in partnership with the journalists who received the material. As a condition of receiving the material they agreed, prior to publication, to run these stories by the government. Not for the government to censor them, but for the government to be able to look at these and go “look, this isn’t going to get anybody killed, this isn’t going to put a human agent behind enemy lines at risk” or something like that."
It's interesting to note that the whole pivot metaphor, the product of policy architects like Kurt Campbell, was first brought to the public's attention by Hillary Clinton in a 2011 op-ed. Here are some salient excerpts:
"As the war in Iraq winds down and America begins to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, the United States stands at a pivot point. Over the last 10 years, we have allocated immense resources to those two theaters. In the next 10 years, we need to be smart and systematic about where we invest time and energy, so that we put ourselves in the best position to sustain our leadership [hegemony], secure our interests [$$$], and advance our [neoliberal] values."
"Harnessing Asia's growth and dynamism is central to American economic and strategic interests and a key priority for President Obama. Open markets in Asia provide the United States with unprecedented opportunities for investment, trade, and access to cutting-edge technology. Our economic recovery at home will depend on exports and the ability of American firms to tap into the vast and growing consumer base of Asia."
Whose economic recovery? Mike Whitney offers a translation:
"Having reduced the great American middle class to a lifeless, rotting corpse incapable of sustaining even meager demand or growth, US elites are packing the boats and heading for China, the shining corporate Valhalla on the hill."
This isn't about saving the American middle class. It's about sustaining corporate profits and infinite economic growth on a finite planet. Hillary Clinton essentially tips her hat to the plutocrats who drive this process. More evidence that oligarchy is bi-partisan. -BB(2015-06-23)
The Intercept released some 250 pages of Snowden documents today. The GCHQ's dirty tricks department, JTRIG, has been hard at work:
"The document lays out the tactics the agency uses to manipulate public opinion, its scientific and psychological research into how human thinking and behavior can be influenced, and the broad range of targets that are traditionally the province of law enforcement rather than intelligence agencies."
Likewise members of the Five Eyes are neck deep in Software Reverse Engineering (SRE) in an effort to identify security holes:
"Reverse engineering 'is essential in order to be able to exploit such software and prevent detection of our activities,' the electronic spy agency said in a warrant renewal application."
Company names that appeared: Exlade's CrypticDisk, Acer's eDataSecurity, vBulletin, Invision Power Board, Kaspersky Labs, Cisco,...
Honestly, breaking copyright law is of little concern to GCHQ. Covert spy ops that kill and maim are commonplace. -BB(2015-06-22)
"On June 10, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bipartisan amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act – from Reps. John Conyers Jr., D-Michigan, and Ted Yoho, R-Florida – that would block U.S. training of the Azov battalion and would prevent transfer of shoulder -fired anti-aircraft missiles to fighters in Iraq and Ukraine."
For specific details see H.R. 2685, Section 10009:
"None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to provide arms, training, or other assistance to the Azov Battalion."
Keep in mind that this is the first time since WWII that Neo-Nazi outgrowths have openly acquired positions in government and been appointed as high-level advisors. The American media has largely neglected to cover this. A sure sign that Deep State power is being applied. -BB(2015-06-13)
Related: The Pentagon, pending the approval of POTUS and the Secretary of Defense, wants to send heavy weaponry to NATO allied nations in Eastern Europe:
"The 'prepositioned' stocks — to be stored on allied bases and enough to equip a brigade of 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers — also would be similar to what the United States maintained in Kuwait for more than a decade after Iraq invaded it in 1990 and was expelled by American and allied forces early the next year."
"A full brigade’s worth of equipment — formally called the European Activity Set — would include about 1,200 vehicles, including some 250 M1-A2 tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, and armored howitzers, according to a senior military official."
A recent article by Tim Shorrock at the Nation describes the emergence of a new national-security class. Government officials who leverage their security clearances and inside contacts on behalf of powerful corporate interests once they leave the public sector:
"The cyberintelligence- industrial complex is qualitatively different from—and more dangerous than—the military-industrial complex identified by President Eisenhower in his famous farewell address. This is because its implications for democracy, inequality, and secrecy are far more insidious."
Not only can big business purchase influence with politicians, now they can acquire insights based on classified secrets. There's a reason someone like Keith Alexander can ask for $1 million a month. This offers large multinational corporations access to the black hole of official secrecy which has proven to resist both oversight and accountability. Hence creating a dynamic where money begets power in a feedback loop that accelerates itself. -BB(2015-05-28)
In a New Yorker piece Mattathias Schwartz indicates that the problem is systemic. Power has become so concentrated that rule of law has broken down:
"Some have argued that the current surveillance regime isn't as bad as the activities of Henry Kissinger, who ordered wiretaps on his rivals during the Vietnam era, or of J. Edgar Hoover, who used the F.B.I. to authorize the covert infiltration of left-wing groups and terrorized Martin Luther King, Jr., with anonymous threats. Those abuses led to the lengthy investigations of the Church Committee, and the current system of judicial and congressional oversight. It's true that the modern surveillance regime is less about the passions of individuals and more about the tendencies of institutions. But those tendencies—especially the belief that national security can trump the plain English of the law—will likely make it hard for this generation to achieve meaningful surveillance reform. This week's debate over Section 215 should be the beginning of a much larger conversation."
"Noting that 'the Salafist [sic], the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [al-Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria,' the document states that 'the West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition,' while Russia, China and Iran 'support the [Assad] regime.'"
"In a strikingly prescient prediction, the Pentagon document explicitly forecasts the probable declaration of 'an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria.'"
"The secret Pentagon document thus provides extraordinary confirmation that the US-led coalition currently fighting ISIS, had three years ago welcomed the emergence of an extremist 'Salafist Principality' in the region as a way to undermine Assad, and block off the strategic expansion of Iran. Crucially, Iraq is labeled as an integral part of this 'Shia expansion.'"
As Obama eventually admitted, the notion of Syrian moderates making a difference was a 'fantasy.' Never mind that the term was repeated by Western officials ad nauseam. The implications are unsettling:
"The revelations contradict the official line of Western governments on their policies in Syria, and raise disturbing questions about secret Western support for violent extremists abroad, while using the burgeoning threat of terror to justify excessive mass surveillance and crackdowns on civil liberties at home."
Divide and rule abroad while consolidating power at home. The American Deep State has a long tradition of helping to create, fund, and arm its enemies. The Hegelian Dialectic is still in use. -BB(2015-05-24)
Barclays, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and the Royal Bank of Scotland have all pleaded guilty to manipulating prices in the $5-trillion-a-day foreign currency markets. They'll pay over $5 billion in penalties, an insitutional slap on the wrist that will allow wealthy executives to walk away scot-free.
"For the banks, though, life as a felon is likely to carry more symbolic shame than practical problems. Although they could be barred by American regulators from certain activities, the banks scrambled behind the scenes to persuade those regulators to grant exemptions."
Matt Taibbi comments:
"Every single day, that $5 in your pocket was worth a little bit more or a little bit less, based on what these people were doing. And if you spread that out to everybody on Earth, it turns into a financial crime that's on a scale that, you know, you would normally only think of in Bond movies or something like that."
"They have been dinged for everything from bribery to money laundering, to rigging Libor, to mass fraud in the subprime mortgage markets and now the forex markets. It's one mass crime over—you know, after another, and there's no consequence."
Of course, we've been sold out. What, pray tell, did President Obama tell bankers in the wake of the 2008 collapse?
"You guys have an acute public relations problem that's turning into a political problem. And I want to help... I'm not here to go after you. I'm protecting you... I'm going to shield you from congressional and public anger."
This piece at the Mint Press explains that the establishment views Snowden's core message as being far less threatening than Hammond's:
"Snowden is giving us a message of reform... We can just tweak this one thing and everything will go back to being right as rain regarding corporate and government surveillance. Whereas Jeremy is saying this is egregious and it all has to go from start to finish."
As Congressman Otis Pike observed decades ago, what ails the American body politic isn't just a couple of bad apples. It's a systemic problem:
"In this situation they are asked much more; they are asked to believe that their country has been evil. And nobody wants to believe that."
Elements of the corporate elite don't mind it when you bash their political operatives in office. But witness how they're engaged in all sorts of public relations stunts so that they appear to be mere innocent victims and champions of privacy. -BB(2015-05-19)
Based on information from a retired senior intelligence official, Seymour Hersh indicates that the government's story behind the killing of Osama Bin Laden is chock full of fabrications:
"Bin Laden had been a prisoner of the ISI at the Abbottabad compound since 2006; that Kayani and Pasha knew of the raid in advance and had made sure that the two helicopters delivering the Seals to Abbottabad could cross Pakistani airspace without triggering any alarms; that the CIA did not learn of bin Laden’s whereabouts by tracking his couriers, as the White House has claimed since May 2011, but from a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer who betrayed the secret in return for much of the $25 million reward offered by the US, and that, while Obama did order the raid and the Seal team did carry it out, many other aspects of the administration's account were false."
Our close allies, the Saudis are also implicated:
"The Saudis didn't want bin Laden's presence revealed to us because he was a Saudi, and so they told the Pakistanis to keep him out of the picture. The Saudis feared if we knew we would pressure the Pakistanis to let bin Laden start talking to us about what the Saudis had been doing with al-Qaida. And they were dropping money – lots of it. The Pakistanis, in turn, were concerned that the Saudis might spill the beans about their control of bin Laden. The fear was that if the US found out about bin Laden from Riyadh, all hell would break out. The Americans learning about bin Laden's imprisonment from a walk-in was not the worst thing."
The whole Zero Dark Thirty narrative about torture playing a key role was nothing more than raw propaganda fed to the public by the CIA and Hollywood. The American Deep State openly backs a regime that plays a central role in supporting Al Qaeda. It's clear that there's an entire segment of society (e.g. bankers, spies, politicians) that are largely above the law. -BB(2015-05-11)
Update: Shamus Cooke explains why this information is so vital:
"The White House-Zero Dark Thirty narrative gave a mighty PR boost to the 'war on terror,' where the U.S. throws hundreds of billions of dollars into bombs, warplanes, and mass surveillance that has proved to be a miraculous failure. The war on terror has 'succeeded' only in further destabilizing the Middle East that then fertilizes the ground for extremist groups like ISIS."
Related: The mainstream media has launched a volley of smear pieces at Hersh. Trevor Timm offers a cogent response:
"How many people knew about the Bush administration's manipulation of intelligence before the Iraq war? Hundreds? Over a thousand? How many knew about the NSA’s mass phone metadata program aimed at Americans until Edward Snowden revealed it? A thousand? Ten thousand? It stayed secret for more than seven years until a single person—a contractor, not an NSA employee—exposed it."
"Most journalists would never dream of confronting CIA officials with the same aggressiveness they now direct at Hersh—even though, less than six months ago, the Senate released a 500-page report documenting in meticulous detail the dozens of times the CIA blatantly lied to the public, the press, and Congress about torture over the past decade."
"In 1968, for example, The Washington Post published a photo of a US soldier waterboarding a North Vietnamese prisoner. The Defense Department investigated the incident, court-martialed the soldier, and convicted him of torture."
"Some current and former CIA leaders will argue that torture netted actionable intelligence that saved American lives. I was working in the CIA's counterterrorism center at the same time they were, and I can tell you that they’re lying."
Related: Alexander Cockburn saw through Obama's volcano of lies back in 2011!
"Specific knowledge by US intelligence of the compound and its likely possible prime denizen goes back to 2005."
Mark Ames points out that history repeats itself as Hersh is now being smeared as he was when he reported on the CIA's MH-CHAOS program in 1974. And Noam Chomsky offers some qualifications from his book What We Say Goes(page 19):
"You got to understand that any report by any reporter from an unidentified intelligence or diplomatic source is reporting what they want you to believe. It may or may not be true."
Related: The CIA denies drugging detainees.
"Brent Mickum, an attorney who represents Abu Zubaydah, a detainee mentioned more than 1,000 times in the Senate's executive summary and the only high-value captive subjected to all 10 of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques, said he doesn't doubt that Abu Zubaydah was drugged during interrogations."
The global war on terror's program of high-value targeting (read assassination) has its origins in the global war on drugs. In both cases flawed reasoning aggravated problems rather than addressing them constructively. The United States cannot kill its way out of trouble. Andrew Cockburn spells it out. Here are some excerpts.
"Implicit in the concept was the assumption that the United States faced a hierarchically structured threat that could be defeated by removing key leadership components... Far from impeding the flow of cocaine onto the street and up the nostrils of America, it was accelerating it. Eliminating kingpins actually increased supply."
The war on terror has witnessed similar results:
"As with the kingpin strategy, the causes of this apparently counter-intuitive result became obvious upon reflection. Dead commanders were immediately replaced, and the newcomers were almost always younger and more aggressive than their predecessors, eager to 'make their bones' and prove their worth."
And who benefits?
"The kingpin strategy might have failed on the streets of American cities, but it had been a roaring success when it came to the prosperity of the DEA... The strategy has, however, been of inestimable benefit to a host of interested parties, ranging from drone manufacturers to the CIA counterterrorism officials who so signally failed to ward off 9/11 only to adopt assassination as their raison d'être."
The Hegelian Dialectic is alive and well. Assassination programs constitute a self-licking ice cream cone. -BB(2015-04-28)
Back in 2013 POTUS remarked: "Before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured -- the highest standard we can set."
In outlining his four-part plan to counter terrorism POTUS touted Yemen as a successful case-study: "This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years."
During his 2015 State of the Union address POTUS stated: "As Americans, we respect human dignity... and worked to make sure our use of new technology like drones is properly constrained."
A report by the Open Society Justice Initiative casts doubt on all of these claims:
"The United States has been conducting targeted killings in Yemen at least since 2002. These killings have been cloaked in secrecy. Neither the U.S. nor the Yemeni government systematically discloses information on civilian deaths and injuries caused by U.S. airstrikes."
"The nine case studies documented in this report provide evidence of 26 civilian deaths [including five children] and injuries to an additional 13 civilians."
In an approach that borders on Orwellian Newspeak, the political operatives of the Deep State simply change their definition of words so that public statements like the above can be made. The same dynamic applies to mass surveillance. Placate the unwashed masses with soothing assurances so that they don't oppose what's being perpetrated behind a veil of official secrecy. -BB(2015-04-14)
Update: Right on schedule the New York Times reports a drone attack that kills an Al Qaeda's spokesmen in Yemen.
Update: The Intercept reveals that Germany, a U.S. client state, is operating a drone base out of Ramstein.
Update: The Washington Post reports that a drone attack near the Afghan border killed two hostages. Why do these two deaths warrant an official White House "Statement" when there are hundreds of innocent people who have been killed? Because its a vital propaganda tool.
Dan Froomkin notes the madness of the Deep State:
"Obama and the political operatives running the White House continue to make life-or-death decisions in a bubble, surrounded by overconfident and overly bellicose men who are so in denial about the fact that they routinely kill civilians that they have created their own reality in which everyone who dies deserved it, and every death helps."
The New York Times claims that the American public approves:
"Despite the bad reviews overseas, drone strikes remain persistently popular with the American public, with about two-thirds expressing approval in polls. And despite the protests of a few liberal Democrats or libertarian Republicans, they have enjoyed unusual bipartisan support in Congress, where they are viewed as reducing the threat of terrorist attack and keeping American operators out of harm's way."
The New York Times subsequently prints a cheer-leading report on drone attacks in Pakistan, then posts an additional piece that describes how "conflicted" POTUS is about a state-sponsored terror program which kills far more civilians than terrorists.
Update: The New York Times describes how the CIA's Michael D’Andrea (aka "the wolf") achieved deep support for drone attacks in Congress and how CIA Director Brennan has failed to move the Drone program to the Pentagon. In 2013 Dianne Feinstein stated:
"The figures we have obtained from the executive branch, which we have done our utmost to verify, confirm that the number of civilian casualties that have resulted from such strikes each year has typically been in the single digits"
Independent reports expose this for the lie that it is (a reality that even an establishment paper like the New York Times has been forced to admit). Yet Dianne Feinstein, dutifully backs the Deep State:
"Ms. Feinstein was asked in a meeting with reporters in 2013 why she was so sure she was getting the truth about the drone program while she accused the C.I.A. of lying to her about torture"
Mark Ames at Pando offers astute insights into President Obama's response:
"you can see the logic of Obama deciding to one-up Team Bush's refusal to ever take responsibility for their myriad catastrophic screw-ups, by flipping it around and taking responsibility for everything. Because doing so in a political context of zero accountability means zero consequences, lots of brownie points from all the other compromised Beltway hacks"
John Brennan was at Harvard recently. Regarding the war on terrorism he commented that the United States is 'winning':
"It has taken off of the battlefield a lot more terrorists, than it has put on."
Using the neocon meme of the 'long war' Brennan later added that he didn't see an end in sight:
"It's a long war, unfortunately. But it's been a war that has been in existence for millennia... this is going to be something, I think, that we're always going to have to be vigilant about"
According to a CIA-FBI taskforce at the time of 9/11 Al-Qaeda numbered somewhere in the range of 500-1,000. They were practically nonexistent in Iraq. Fast forward to 2015: Afghanistan is a narco state, Iraq is a war zone, and the Middle East is awash with tens of thousands of radical jihadists. For example, in September of 2014 the CIA put ISIS numbers at around 30,000 but Kurdish leaders claim there are at least 200,000. Never mind other groups like al-Nusra.
This is what happens when U.S. leadership takes a sledgehammer to the middle east, subjects entire populations to drones, and offers support to both jihadist groups and the primary source of radical ideology in the region. The war against terrorism will never end because it's self-perpetuating. All to the greater glory of the Deep State. -BB(2015-04-09)
Related: the Global War on Terror (GWOT) can be seen as an extension of the Global War on Drugs (GWOD):
"Both are brutally expensive and arguably un-winnable. And in both cases, use of the word 'war' is a deliberate and calculated language choice. Americans are taught that a war is something an entire nation must fight, and something that requires sacrifice for the greater good. Considered in the context of government surveillance, both 'wars' are euphemisms for a specific kind of government rationalization."
"Today the vast majority of the money supply in Western countries is created by private bankers. That tradition goes back to the 17th century, when the privately-owned Bank of England, the mother of all central banks, negotiated the right to print England's money after Parliament stripped that power from the Crown. When King William needed money to fight a war, he had to borrow. The government as borrower then became servant of the lender."
"In All the Presidents' Bankers, Nomi Prins names six banking giants and associated banking families that have dominated politics for over a century. No popular third party candidates have a real chance of prevailing, because they have to compete with two entrenched parties funded by these massively powerful Wall Street banks."
"Running for office became expensive, so that those who seek office require wealthy sponsors to whom they are then beholden. Second, the great majority of voters have little independent knowledge of those for whom they vote or of the issues to be dealt with. Their judgments are, accordingly, dependent on what they learn from the mass media. These media, in turn, are controlled by moneyed interests."
"Today's global economy is fully transnational. The money power is not much interested in boundaries between states and generally works to reduce their influence on markets and investments"
The large corporate banking houses are the ringleaders of the neoliberal system. They embody a way of organizing society that imposes a pathological emphasis on profit above all else, including democracy. -BB (2015-04-07)
Related: Defense Secretary Ashton Carter pushes for TPP:
"Passing TPP is as important to me as another aircraft carrier"
Attempts to implement reform are hobbled:
"But as the evolution of Reg AB II suggests, banks and their advocates have managed to preserve many of the industry’s pre-crisis practices by focusing lobbying efforts on obscure corners of the regulatory world, far from the glare of congressional debate or public scrutiny. Many of these agencies are staffed by appointees from the industry they regulate and return to it when their stints are over."
This is the end result of policies that were allegedly born out of a hunt for imaginary nuclear weapons:
"This investigation comes to the conclusion that the war has, directly or indirectly, killed around 1 million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan, i.e. a total of around 1.3 million"
Nuclear weapons? That Saddam admitted Iraq didn't have? Really? Better judgement informs that the spoils of perpetual conflict were too good for the Deep State to pass up. Destroy, rebuild, pillage, launder,... repeat. It continues unabated. -BB(2015-03-26)
Don't forget how the New York Times largely failed in its duty as a watchdog with regard to Iraq, mass surveillance, ISIS, and Nazis in Ukraine.
"Neither newspaper would publish a story that urged the United States to launch a bombing campaign to destroy Israel's actual nuclear arsenal as a step toward creating a nuclear-free Middle East. That would be considered outside responsible thought and reasonable debate."
"The Times doesn't even blush when one of its most celebrated columnists mulls over the idea of sending weapons to the terrorists in ISIS"
"But beyond the hypocrisy and, arguably, the criminality of these propaganda pieces, there is also the neocon record of miscalculation. Remember how the invasion of Iraq was supposed to end with Iraqis tossing rose petals at the American soldiers instead of planting 'improvised explosive devices' – and how the new Iraq was to become a model pluralistic democracy?"
"According to the Snowden documents, it has a range of 'deception techniques' in its toolbox. These include 'false flag' operations to 'create unrest,' and using so-called 'effects' operations to 'alter adversary perception.'"
Hence the whole idea of deterrence promoted by spymasters like Admiral Mike Rogers is revealed as a flimsy pretext for requesting funds. You can't retaliate if you're not sure who attacked you. The offensive mindset of Rogers will undermine our collective security on behalf of a cabal of spies, the Praetorian Guard of the moneyed elite. -BB(2015-03-23)
The Guardian drops a bombshell:
"In a series of videotaped confessions to investigators, some of which have been broadcast on American television, Morlock detailed how he and other members of his Stryker brigade set up and faked combat situations so that they could kill civilians who posed no threat to them. Four other soldiers are still to come to trial over the incidents."
Another sad chapter in a war that, despite the President's talking points, hasn't ended:
"American officials are girding for another year of bloody fighting with the insurgents. Senior Obama administration officials broadly concluded during meetings over the last week that many of the roughly 10,000 troops and thousands of civilian contractors in Afghanistan would be needed well into 2016, officials said."
Torture, drones, covert ops. These soldiers are the offspring of the Deep State. -BB(2015-03-20)
The Grey Lady delivers a telling report this morning:
"The announcement on Tuesday by Germany, France and Italy that they would follow Britain and join the Chinese-led venture delivered a stinging rebuke to Washington from some of its closest allies. It also called into question whether the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which grew out of a multination conference in Bretton Woods, N.H., in 1944 and established an economic pecking order that lasted 70 years, will find their influence diminished."
American political leadership are none too happy about this because it means that their divide and conquer strategy isn't working:
"US powerbrokers are convinced that America's economic slide can only be arrested by staking a claim in Central Asia, dismembering Russia, encircling China, and quashing all plans for an economically-integrated EU-Asia."
Wolfowitz spelled this out explicitly way back in the 1990s:
"Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union"
A meme which is echoed, predictably, by STRATFOR's CEO (from segment 1:40 to 1:57):
"The primordial interest of the United States, over which for centuries we have fought wars–the First, the Second and Cold Wars–has been the relationship between Germany and Russia, because united there, they're the only force that could threaten us. And to make sure that that doesn't happen."
Tyrants like Genghis Khan didn't vanish into the history books. They're still around and fomenting conflict for their own gain. -BB(2015-03-18)
From the IC's latest Worldwide Threat Assessment:
"The likelihood of a catastrophic attack from any particular actor is remote at this time. Rather than a 'Cyber Armageddon' scenario that debilitates the entire US infrastructure, we envision something different. We foresee an ongoing series of low-to-moderate level cyber attacks from a variety of sources over time, which will impose cumulative costs on US economic competitiveness and national security"
After years of hyperbole the IC finally concedes. The Cult of Cyberwar can eat crow. Industry puppets like Leon Panetta, Paul Kurtz, and Mike McConnell can enjoy a thick generous serving of humble pie.
Even then, note that cyber attacks are hardly what anyone would call an existential threat. Despite what Keith Alexander claims about cybercrime representing the "greatest transfer of wealth in history." Good lord, I guess he's never heard of Quantitative Easing. -BB(2015-03-13)
See also: Nomi Prins on Quantitative Easing.
"Rather than show meaningful initiative to engender safety in the financial system (which if she had, or wanted to, would have rendered her a non-viable candidate for her position), she reprimanded the banks while providing them cheap capital."
Another [incomplete] dump of non-Snowden docs that focuses on HUMINT:
"Spanning a period from 2006 until December 2014, they include detailed briefings and internal analyses written by operatives of South Africa's State Security Agency (SSA). They also reveal the South Africans' secret correspondence with the US intelligence agency, the CIA, Britain's MI6, Israel's Mossad, Russia's FSB and Iran's operatives, as well as dozens of other services from Asia to the Middle East and Africa."
Lots of hype (to bolster ad $$$) and redactions (to please spies). Read the editor's apologia. -BB(2015-02-23)
Netanyahu Lied About Iran Nuclear Program : Mossad concluded that Iran was not producing nuclear weapons, after PM sounded alarm at UN in 2012.
South Africa's National Intelligence Agency Riddled With Foreign Spies : [quelle surprise!]
Intelligence Services Spread Lies for Political Gains : Iraq in 2003 remains the poster child
Spies Pass Off Fantasy as Analysis, Spread Rumors : Just like journalists, they sensationalize to lure sponsor funds. We've got the real dirt! Open your wallet...
South African Spies a Law Unto Themselves : Sound familiar? CIA watching the watchers in the Senate?
Mossad Cozy with Egyptian Deep State : They literally use the term "Deep State"
The source of the leaks is ostensibly a former apartheid-era intelligence agent:
"The agent, whose name is known to The Sunday Independent, had given his brother-in-law access to his official computer."
"The brother-in-law copied all the files in the hard drive and then sold them to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the British secret intelligence MI6."
"Secretly intercepted a package in transit, booby-trapped its contents, and sent it to its intended destination. In 2002 or 2003, Equation Group members did something similar with an Oracle database installation CD"
"USB stick-based reconnaissance malware to map air-gapped networks... Bypassing code-signing restrictions... Rewrote the hard-drive firmware of infected computers—a never-before-seen engineering marvel that worked on 12 drive categories from manufacturers including Western Digital, Maxtor, Samsung, IBM, Micron, Toshiba, and Seagate."
Investigators haven't claimed outright that this is an NSA campaign, but I would tend to believe with some degree of confidence that it is. -BB(2015-02-17).
"Equation Group hard disk subverson portends same for CPU, memory, graphics, peripherals, networks, personal devices. HW spy ubiquity sub SW."
"Firmware, HW, SW of the Internet subverted from its birth by design to allow access to anything linked to it. Cybersec is placebo."
A 13 year-old boy in Yemen named Mohammed Toiman al-Jahmi, whose father and brother had both been killed earlier by American drone attacks, was likewise murdered by a Hellfire missile. Glenn Greenwald makes three important observations:
"The U.S. media just got done deluging the American public with mournful stories about the Jordanian soldier, Moaz al-Kasasbeh, making him a household name... By stark contrast, I'd be willing to bet that the name 'Mohammed Tuaiman al-Jahmi' is never uttered on mainstream American television."
"I have no idea whether this 13-year-old boy was 'a member of al-Qaeda,' whatever that might mean for a boy that young. But neither does the New York Times, which is why it's incredibly irresponsible for media outlets reflexively to claim that those killed by U.S. drone strikes are terrorists."
"If it were American teenagers rather than Yemeni ones regularly being burned to death – on American soil rather than Yemeni soil – does it take any effort to understand why there'd be widespread calls for violence against the perpetrators in response?... In 2009, the U.S. got caught using cluster bombs in Yemen in an attack that slaughtered 35 women and children. Obama then successfully demanded that the Yemeni journalist who proved that the attack was from the U.S., Abdulelah Haider Shaye, be imprisoned for years. In December, 2013, a U.S. drone strike killed 12 people as they traveled to a wedding."
When it comes to spreading death, destruction, and chaos the United States is second to none. This is the bloody gaping maw of empire that apologists try to conceal with glittering generalities like "freedom" and "democracy." -BB(2015-02-12)
Noam Chomsky explains how ISIS is the direct result of U.S. and Saudi imperialism:
"The US created the background out of which ISIS grew and developed... One of the effects of the invasion was immediately to institute sectarian divisions."
"An extremist version of Saudi extremism is the doctrine that was picked up by ISIS. So it grew ideologically out of the most extremist form of Islam, the Saudi version, and the conflicts that were engendered by the US sledgehammer that smashed up Iraq and has now spread everywhere."
U.S. Nuclear Stockpile : In 2013 - 4,804 weapons
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists reports:
"Secret documents reveal that global banking giant HSBC profited from doing business with arms dealers who channeled mortar bombs to child soldiers in Africa, bag men for Third World dictators, traffickers in blood diamonds and other international outlaws."
"The documents obtained by ICIJ are based on data originally smuggled away by a former HSBC employee-turned-whistleblower, Hervé Falciani, and handed to French authorities in 2008."
The Guardian also has a hand in this emerging story:
"The HSBC files [almost 60,000], which cover the period 2005-2007, amount to the biggest banking leak in history, shedding light on some 30,000 accounts holding almost $120bn (£78bn) of assets."
The world's second largest bank, a veritable pillar of the global neoliberal agenda, puts access to cheap raw material (blood soaked cash) above all else (alleged "Scottish banking principles") as plutocrats extract wealth and then refuse to contribute anything back. It's likely that HSBC will get away with another billion dollar fine, demonstrating that bankers for all intents and purposes are above the law. -BB(2015-02-09)
In order to destroy ISIS it's necessary to look at the forces that created the organization. In a detailed treatment that's well worth the read Nafeez Ahmed reminds us not to forget the role played by clandestine intelligence agencies. Here are some of his conclusions:
"It [ISIS] is a co-creation of the Western and Muslim worlds, specifically of Western and Muslim 'security' agencies who have lost all moral compass in the pursuit of geopolitical prowess, self-aggrandisement and corporate profiteering."
"We must exert robust oversight over our unaccountable intelligence services, whose secret support for militants abroad has undermined national security and permitted associated extremists to run amok at home."
"Ultimately, we must re-evaluate the role of the West in the region and, in doing so, accept that the only way to end IS’s capacity to recruit extremists is to restore hope: the same hope that we extinguished with unfathomable levels of violence, which to this day we continue to deny. Restoring hope means that Western governments must let go of their counterproductive geopolitical self-interest, apologise wholeheartedly for their wanton destruction of Iraq, and replace the endless provision of instruments of death and torture, with meaningful aid to help rebuild life in the form of humanitarian relief, reconstruction and economic development"
Not an easy task seeing the sway that private capital has over political leaders in the United States. The elite stranglehold over domestic and foreign policy needs to be broken in order to save the human species. -BB(2015-02-08)
"If the US truly wanted to stop the proliferation of nation-state hacking, they would push for UN conferences to establish guidelines defining and prohibiting 'cyber-warfare'. This would require coming clean and putting an end to their own operations, but if they won't even abide by the Geneva Conventions regarding prisoners of war and the use of torture, there's no reason to expect they wouldn't continue hacking in secret. Just as the US government want a monopoly on the use of military force – waging wars to 'spread democracy' while condemning those who fight back as 'terrorists' – they correspondingly seek a monopoly on the use of hacking."
"When those in power break their own laws then there is no law and no moral authority; there are just competing factions in an international power struggle to control resources like oil, land, drugs and information. Like all wars, only the rich ruling class benefits, and everyone else suffers."
Yesterday the Guardian reported that the UK's Military, following the example of the United States and Israel, would be forming a social media brigade to manipulate public opinion:
"The 77th Brigade, to be based in Hermitage, near Newbury, in Berkshire, will be about 1,500-strong and formed of units drawn from across the army... Both the Israeli and US army already engage heavily in psychological operations."
"The Israel Defence Forces have pioneered state military engagement with social media, with dedicated teams operating since Operation Cast Lead, its war in Gaza in 2008-9. The IDF is active on 30 platforms – including Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Instagram – in six languages"
Thanks to a ground-breaking 2008 Report By WikiLeaks we know that this sort of program is actually standard practice:
"The policy states that while the entire UK population is usually considered the 'principal target', among the 'overlapping sub-sets across the spectrum of UK society', the 'most influential target' is 'the limited group of people who hold disproportionate influence on the direction of government and public thinking and policy development'. This group includes 'politicians and statesmen, members of 'think-tanks' and professional bodies, special political advisers, newspaper columnists, academics, analysts and journalists (who are increasingly voicing opinions on current affairs issues)'."
"The report shows that the UK government has learned little from earlier scandals such as Operation Mass Appeal, where MI6 planted stories prior to the invasion of Iraq to boost support for the war. In the United States such domestic propaganda operations are illegal and while there have been a number of violations, there has also been a number of subsequent investigations into those violations."
For an eye-opening look at American PSYOPs, watch Scott Noble's film PSYWAR online for free. -BB(2015-02-01)
In May of 2014 China banned Windows 8 from government machines and subsequently announced that it would implement a vetting process for high-tech equipment sold in China, in addition to developing its own national operating system. According to an article published by the New York Times, China's State Internet Information Office wants vendors to hand over source code and institute back doors:
"The bank rules say 75 percent of technology products used by Chinese institutions must be classified as 'secure and controllable' by 2019... For most computing and networking equipment, the chart says, source code must be turned over to Chinese officials... The chart also calls for companies that want to sell to banks to set up research and development centers in China, obtain permits for workers servicing technology equipment and build 'ports' to allow Chinese officials to manage and monitor data processed by their hardware."
The New York Times neglects to mention that hi-tech companies actively cooperate with the NSA to enable covert back doors. Though there is mention in this article of the NSA's campaign to undermine technology both at home and abroad.
The market for high-tech equipment in China runs into hundreds of billions of dollars per year. Many denizens of the C-Suites will likely choose to "obey the law" in order to maintain quarterly profits while government officials claim that everything they do is perfectly "legal." -BB(2015-01-29)
The New York Times reports:
"In the last presidential election, the Republican National Committee and the party's two congressional campaign committees spent a total of $657 million."
"In 2012, the Kochs' network spent just under $400 million, an astonishing sum at the time. The $889 million spending goal for 2016 would put it on track to spend nearly as much as the campaigns of each party's presidential nominee."
There are something like 300 donors in the Koch Network. Overall in the U.S. there are around 70,000 ultra-high net worth individuals worth more than $30 million each and over 1,300 billionaires. A small group of leveraged plutocrats outspends everyone else. Hence, it should come as no surprise that both Hillary and the GOP candidates are all talking to donors at the moment. You know, the folks who matter. -BB(2015-01-27)
Henry Giroux warns that:
"Democracy is dead in the United States. A new society is being constructed that no longer believes in political concessions, given its addiction to greed, power and its savage willingness to use state violence to manage its problems."
Zephr Teachout hits the nail on the head:
"Think of campaign contributions as the gateway drug to bribes. In our private financing system, candidates are trained to respond to campaign cash and serve donors' interests. Politicians are expected to spend half their time talking to funders and to keep them happy. Given this context, it's not hard to see how a bribery charge can feel like a technical argument instead of a moral one."
Richard Wolf takes his analysis a step further:
"Corruption is endemic to the capitalist system and has not been successfully regulated away. Perhaps a system change is warranted?"
A recent article from Der Spiegel describes the NSA's gambit for "global network dominance" a term that no doubt is derived from the Pentagon's notion of "full spectrum dominance." The DoD's hyperbolic rhetoric merely reflects a broader foreign policy agenda, a pathological desire to maintain unilateral control in a world that is gradually becoming multi-polar. Recall Snowden's description of NSA programs in an open letter to Brazil:
"These programs were never about terrorism: they're about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They're about power."
As we explain in our book, Behold a Pale Farce, a veritable parade of officials, former officials, and think tank spin artists have vocally warned us of cyberwar doomsday scenarios. By directing the public's attention outward these end time myths serve to conceal the depth of America's hypocritical commitment to offensive technology. U.S. spies are neck deep in clandestine ops at home and abroad and they've been enabled by the emergence of a sprawling underground industry that develops weaponized malware and tools of mass surveillance. The resulting top-down security model undermines our collective security. Spies and their patrons stand to gain while everyone else outside of the top-secret circle is left to fend for themselves, security for the 1%.
Scott Horton in his book Lords of Secrecy accurately describes what's happening:
"The more serious threats to American democracy are internal. They stem from a steady transfer of democratic decision making and authority away from the people and to unelected elites. This has occurred both with respect to the disproportionate grasp of power by wealthy super elites, and by the rise of national security elites who increasingly take the key decisions about national security matters without involving the people in any meaningfully democratic process."
The Spiegel article says something similar:
"Intelligence agencies have adopted 'plausible deniability' as their guiding principle for Internet operations. To ensure their ability to do so, they seek to make it impossible to trace the author of the attack."
"It's a stunning approach with which the digital spies deliberately undermine the very foundations of the rule of law around the globe. This approach threatens to transform the Internet into a lawless zone in which superpowers and their secret services operate according to their own whims with very few ways to hold them accountable for their actions."
The NSA's interest in anti-forensic technology puts the Sony Hack in a whole new light, doesn't it? Yet after all of the lies we've been fed their are still people who would have us blindly accept the official narratives conveyed by high-ranking national security apparatchiks.
At this point rationally questioning what we're told is practically a civic duty. -BB(2015-01-18)
"Plots and conspiracies, orchestrated from abroad or home grown, conducted by well-trained jihadis or by angry young men with kitchen knives, pose threats too numerous and diverse for them all to be prevented."
"It was political leaders who got rid of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Muammar Gaddafi in Libya and have tried to displace Bashar al-Assad in Syria without thinking through the consequences."
Update: Chris Hedges succinctly encapsulates this message:
"We have engineered the rage of the dispossessed. The evil of predatory global capitalism and empire has spawned the evil of terrorism. And rather than understand the roots of that rage and attempt to ameliorate it, we have built sophisticated mechanisms of security and surveillance, passed laws that permit the targeted assassinations and torture of the weak, and amassed modern armies and the machines of industrial warfare to dominate the world by force."
Echoed by Shamus Cooke:
"Islamic fundamentalism was virtually extinguished from 1950-1980, with Saudi Arabia and later Qatar being the last bastion and protective base of fundamentalists who were exiled from the secular countries. This dynamic was accentuated during the cold war, where the U.S. aligned itself with Islamic fundamentalism — Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states"
"The U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria have destroyed four civilizations within Muslim-majority nations. Once proud people have been crushed by war — either killed, injured, made refugees, or smothered by mass unemployment and scarcity. These are the ideal conditions for the Saudi-style Islamic fundamentalism to flourish"
"I guarantee you that very powerful individuals in Nigeria are allowing this to happen or looking the other way, similar to what happens with the Saudi royals with acts of terrorism around the world, where, on the one hand, they say, 'Oh, we’re with America, and we denounce this,' on the other hand, their cousin is one of the major funders of it."
"Every single one of those heads of state or representatives of governments there have waged their own wars against journalists."