POTUS issued an official statement yesterday which specifies how the administration plans to respond to alleged Russian hacking during the 2016 election season. In this statement he enumerates a series of symbolic gestures:
"I have issued an executive order that provides additional authority for responding to certain cyber activity that seeks to interfere with or undermine our election processes and institutions, or those of our allies or partners. Using this new authority, I have sanctioned nine entities and individuals: the GRU and the FSB, two Russian intelligence services; four individual officers of the GRU; and three companies that provided material support to the GRU’s cyber operations. In addition, the Secretary of the Treasury is designating two Russian individuals for using cyber-enabled means to cause misappropriation of funds and personal identifying information. The State Department is also shutting down two Russian compounds, in Maryland and New York, used by Russian personnel for intelligence-related purposes, and is declaring 'persona non grata' 35 Russian intelligence operatives. Finally, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are releasing declassified technical information on Russian civilian and military intelligence service cyber activity, to help network defenders in the United States and abroad identify, detect, and disrupt Russia's global campaign of malicious cyber activities."
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has itself offered some comments on the matter:
"We are tired of lies about Russian hackers that continue to be spread in the United States from the very top. The Obama administration launched this misinformation half a year ago in a bid to play up to the required nominee at the November presidential election and, having failed to achieve the desired effect, has been trying to justify its failure by taking it out with a vengeance on Russian-US relations."
Check out this White House fact sheet for additional details. Notice the disclaimer at the top of the Joint Analysis Report (JAR), and note also that there's no mention of WikiLeaks. In other words no hard evidence so far.
Not that it matters. Honestly, is it such a horrible crime that the public got a first hand look at how corrupt the Democratic Party elites are? Obama focuses on the alleged messenger instead of the message and this is the establishment's tell. Democratic elites were caught red handed colluding against Bernie Sanders, pandering to oligarchs, and manipulating the media. Hence they're desperate to change the subject and spread blatant lies. -BB(2016-12-30)
Update: In a recent column the New Yorker shows its colors. Jelani Cobb's observation of bipartisanship is the establishment forming ranks against an act of rebellion by voters. Witness the New Yorker, the alleged pinnacle of highbrow periodicals, refer to a mass dump of verified emails as propaganda. The editorial board at the New Yorker has thrown its full weight behind the establishment's diversion. Eschew a discussion of factual content (e.g. elite corruption) and scream "thief" as loud as they can.
Note the following headline to a recent article in the New York Times by David Sanger.
Chock full of tacit assumptions, the CIA's narrative: that Russia targeted the elite of the Democratic party, leaked their emails to the public and in doing so caused Hillary Clinton to lose the 2016 presidential election. Gasp. A more accurate headline might read:
The CIA has a long and storied history of political meddling going back all the way to Italy at the end of WWII. It also has an extensive history of manufacturing intelligence of questionable value, something which the large agenda setting outlets have chosen to ignore. While the establishment hyperventilates about Russian hacking, is it really such an awful thing that American voters got an honest look at the inner workings of the Democratic Party and their chosen candidate? All the collusion, corruption, and failed media manipulation. That, dear reader, is the real story. Whomever leaked those emails deserves a public service award.
In the background former members of the Deep State murmur about leaks, rather than hacking. Such that the establishment's campaign and its focus on Russia could be interpreted as an act of revolt against a candidate who threatens to violate unspoken tenents of foreign policy espoused by neocons on the right and liberal interventionists on the left. Yet the talking heads of the media drone on together in an incredible lockstep. Propaganda in action. -BB(2016-12-18)
The Washington Post reports that the CIA blames officials from the Russian government for meddling in the 2016 presidential election:
"Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton's chances."
In an interview with John Pilger, Julian Assange stated that "we can say that the Russian government is not the source." Likewise, in an interview with Time Magazine, Donald Trump said that "I don’t believe they interfered... It could be Russia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey." This disconnect, between the President-elect and the intelligence community, is remarkable.
Please keep in mind that attribution is an extremely complicated issue when it comes to cyberattacks. As I wrote to the New York Times a couple of years back:
"Leaked documents reveal classified government programs like HACIENDA and corporate services like Ntrepid's Internet Operations Network, which are leveraged to reroute network traffic and undermine digital trails. Furthermore, logistical signatures can be faked and forensic artifacts can be forged. In other words, when facing off against an organized, well-funded adversary, attribution is largely a lost cause."
The Trump Transition Team, in a biting response, reminds readers that the CIA is not necessarily the sole arbiter of the truth in global matters and that the agency has been horribly wrong on important issues in the past. "These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction"
Yet the documents released by WikiLeaks are genuine. They reveal systemic corruption on behalf of an establishment politician who, with her husband, made over $150 million giving speaches to corporate leaders, promising that her private stance will benefit them despite her public stance.
The same guarantee of authenticity cannot be made for material published by the Washington Post, which fairly recently has been guilty of spreading propaganda about Russian propganda thanks to a compromised journalist named Craig Timberg. Why, pray tell, is the media (which backed Clinton across the board) so focused on the identity of the messenger instead of the message itself? On a national level big money has largely captured our policy making organs. -BB(2016-12-10)
Update: The ODNI has refused to back the CIA's conclusions.
"While the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) does not dispute the CIA's analysis of Russian hacking operations, it has not endorsed their assessment because of a lack of conclusive evidence that Moscow intended to boost Trump over Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, said the officials, who declined to be named."
Update: The Nation has posted an excellent article which explains how the large agenda setting news outlets have failed to question the CIA's narrative:
"The high-profile anchors and analysts on CNN, CBS, ABC, and NBC who have cited the work of The Washington Post and The New York Times seem to have come down with a bad case of historical amnesia. The CIA, in their telling, is a bulwark of American democracy, not a largely unaccountable, out-of-control behemoth that has often sought to subvert press freedom at home and undermine democratic norms abroad."
Several paragraphs down in an article which presumes to focus on efforts to dismiss NSA director Mike Rogers is the following bombshell:
"There was a second, previously undisclosed breach of cybertools, discovered in the summer of 2015, which was also carried out by a TAO employee, one official said. That individual also has been arrested, but his case has not been made public. The individual is not believed to have shared the material with another country, the official said."
The new CIA director, Mike Pompeo, believes that Edward Snowden should be executed. I guess Ed shouldn't plan on coming home any time soon. -BB(2016-11-20)
Shocked, I tell you. Shocked. Yet recall how media editors made a deal to "elevate" Trump. A truly epic backfire! That's $521 million flushed down the tubes. The basket of deplorables has spoken. And now the GOP owns both the executive and congress.
I wonder if Bill Clinton regrets making the call to Donald to chat about running for office.
"No one predicted a night like this" claims the New York Times. As if the media's tarnished credibility were the product of mere oversight. Innocent mistakes. Complete hogwash: Scott Adams, Michael Moore, Allan Lichtman, and the Los Angeles Times/University of Southern California tracking poll were all spot on. What happened is that nearly every paper from the New York Times to Rolling Stone sold their souls early on as part of a backroom strategy to create Republican "pied pipers."
First WMDs in Iraq, then mass surveillance in the United States, then neo-nazis in Ukraine, then CIA-armed jihadists in Syria, and now this. Sorry New York Times, that's way more than three strikes. -BB(2016-11-08)
Film director John Pilger explains that the so-called Global War on Terror™ has nothing to do with eliminating terror. The proof is self-evident: what started off as a small group of jihadists in Afghanistan is now a whole series of extremist movements spread across the Middle East. Instead, the threat of terrorism has been used as a pretext to eliminate regimes that refuse to cede to U.S. foreign policy:
"The attack on Iraq, the attack on Libya, the attack on Syria happened because the leader in each of these countries was not a puppet of the West. The human rights record of a Saddam or a Gaddafi was irrelevant. They did not obey orders and surrender control of their country."
What allows American political leaders to smash the Middle East with a sledgehammer? A press which has relinquished its duty to question the nature of perpetual war and more importantly the forces that incite it. How can there be a war on terrorism when the United States offers "ironclad" guarantees of security to Saudi Arabia and when the CIA secretly trains and arms thousands of jihadists? How can there be a war on terror when our leaders fail to question whether U.S. foreign policy plays a fundamental role in making people receptive to extremist messaging? Pilger calls them out:
"Propaganda is most effective when our consent is engineered by those with a fine education – Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Columbia — and with careers on the BBC, the Guardian, the New York Times, the Washington Post. These organisations are known as the liberal media. They present themselves as enlightened, progressive tribunes of the moral zeitgeist. They are anti-racist, pro-feminist and pro-LGBT. And they love war."
Just like Hillary Clinton, the major liberal outlets pander to identity politics to acquire a progressive veneer because these issues aren't seen as a threat by the American Deep State. -BB(2016-10-29)
Update: Chris Hedges lays out a similar analysis:
"Candidates Trump and Clinton have no plans to halt our slide to oblivion. They are part of the circus. They, like all of the other elites, profit from the system that is destroying us. They lack the incentive and probably the capacity to challenge the structures and assumptions that define corporate capitalism. They function as high priests. They peddle the illusions. They laud our ingenuity and strength. They preach the inevitability of human progress and American exceptionalism. They tell us what we want to hear. They appeal to our emotions, as does all of mass culture. They do not acknowledge reality. That would spoil the show."
Ditto that for the DHS and DNI.
Carefully avoid the message: a corrupt money-driven political system that secretly colluded to undermine a populist movement within the Democratic party in favor of liberal oligarchs. A presidential candidate who speaks out of both sides of her mouth, offering platitudes to the proles while letting the bankers know where she really stands:
"Mrs. Clinton said she dreamed of 'open trade and open borders' throughout the Western Hemisphere. Citing the back-room deal-making and arm-twisting used by Abraham Lincoln, she mused on the necessity of having 'both a public and a private position' on politically contentious issues. Reflecting in 2014 on the rage against political and economic elites that swept the country after the 2008 financial crash, Mrs. Clinton acknowledged that her family's rising wealth had made her 'kind of far removed' from the struggles of the middle class... Mrs. Clinton said it was an 'oversimplification' to blame the global financial crisis of 2008 on the U.S. banking system... The Clintons have made more than $120 million in speeches to Wall Street and special interests since Bill Clinton left the White House in 2001."
"CLINTON SUGGESTS WALL STREET INSIDERS ARE WHAT IS NEEDED TO FIX WALL STREET," "CLINTON ADMITS NEEDING WALL STREET FUNDING”, “CLINTON TOUTS HER RELATIONSHIP TO WALL STREET AS A SENATOR”, “CLINTON IS AWARE OF SECURITY CONCERNS AROUND BLACKBERRIES”, “CLINTON REMARKS ARE PRO KEYSTONE AND PRO TRADE”
These are facts that the establishment didn't want you to read, and with good reason. They demonstrate which groups in society mainstream politicians actually serve. Is it any surprise that the two choices the corporate media serves up in 2016 are a billionaire and a professional politician who clearly wants to become a billionaire. It doesn't really matter who provided this information. Whoever they are they deserve a public service award. Thank you for speaking truth to power WikiLeaks. -BB(2016-10-08)
"The contractor was identified as Harold T. Martin 3rd, 51, of Glen Burnie, Md., according to a criminal complaint filed in late August. He was charged with theft of government property, and unauthorized removal or retention of classified documents."
Do you suppose they'll try to find some way to blame this on the Russians? -BB(2016-10-04).
Update: Like I said, the contortions begin:
"They [FBI investigators] are exploring the possibility, however remote, that someone might have hacked into his home computers, which had minimal security protections."
Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee has issued a scathing critique:
"This policy was not informed by accurate intelligence. In particular, the Government failed to identify that the threat to civilians was overstated and that the rebels included a significant Islamist element. By the summer of 2011, the limited intervention to protect civilians had drifted into an opportunist policy of regime change. That policy was not underpinned by a strategy to support and shape post-Gaddafi Libya. The result was political and economic collapse, inter-militia and inter-tribal warfare, humanitarian and migrant crises, widespread human rights violations, the spread of Gaddafi regime weapons across the region and the growth of ISIL in North Africa. Through his decision making in the National Security Council, former Prime Minister David Cameron was ultimately responsible for the failure to develop a coherent Libya strategy."
How convenient, to spotlight Cameron right after he resigns. Don't expect something similar on this side of the pond even though the whole "Assad must go" mantra is an obvious pretext. It's all about oil. -BB(2016-09-15)
The photo above pretty much says it all. Chris Hedges spells it out while Robert Reich makes apologies for neocon Hillary:
"Well, reducing the election to personalities is kind of infantile at this point. The fact is, we live in a system that Sheldon Wolin calls inverted totalitarianism. It’s a system where corporate power has seized all of the levers of control. There is no way to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs or ExxonMobil or Raytheon. We’ve lost our privacy. We've seen, under Obama, an assault against civil liberties that has outstripped what George W. Bush carried out. We've seen the executive branch misinterpret the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force Act as giving itself the right to assassinate American citizens, including children. I speak of Anwar al-Awlaki's 16-year-old son. We have bailed out the banks, pushed through programs of austerity. This has been a bipartisan effort, because they've both been captured by corporate power. We have undergone what John Ralston Saul correctly calls a corporate coup d’état in slow motion, and it’s over."
"While there is a difference in the temperament of the two major presidential candidates, that difference will play out only in how our poison will be delivered. Political personalities serve global corporate centers of power. They do not control them. Barack Obama illustrates this... They kneel before the war machine, which consumes trillions of dollars to wage futile wars and bankroll a bloated military. To defy the fortress state is political suicide. Politicians are courtiers to Wall Street. The candidates mouth the clichés of justice, improvements in income equality and democratic choice, but it is a cynical game. Once it is over, the victors will go to Washington to work with the lobbyists and financial elites to carry out the real business of ruling."
As Turkey suspends or detains over 50,000 people in the wake of a coup attempt the country's Telecommunications Communications Board announced that it was blocking access to WikiLeaks, which has released a collection of close to 300,000 emails related to Turkey's AKP party.
In the background is another, larger, story that's received very little attention by the American press. Turkey, No doubt concerned by U.S. support for Kurds, has "normalized" its relations with Russia, Isreal, and -get a load of this- Syria! This has the potential to completely undermine Obama's pivot to Asia which, at least in this part of the world, is focused on using Syria to enable a pipeline from Qatar to the EU. Looks like Erdogan may have changed his mind. -BB(2016-07-20)
Related: Patrick Cockburn reports that officials in Turkey fear a second coup attempt
Related: Sources in France estimate that 100 jihadists are still entering Syria from Turkey each week to join ISIS.
Update: Officials in Turkey admit that a purge of Gulen followers had been in the works for years:
"We are not making up these stories; this is not some Jason Bourne trilogy... We have these massive cells, networks, and they [Gulen Network] have a bank. They have massive financial resources."
Still believe that the CIA had nothing to do with this, as Obama claims?
Though some outlets declare that the ongoing coup against the Erdogan government has crumbled other media sources report that it's still unclear exactly who is in charge. The reasons that might drive an insurrection are manifold:
"Mr. Erdogan attracted a wide-ranging constituency in the early years of his tenure, including many liberals who supported his plans to reform the economy and remove the military from politics. But in recent years he has alienated many Turks with his increasingly autocratic ways, cracking down on freedom of expression, imposing a significant role for religion in public life and renewing war with Kurdish militants in the country's southeast."
"Mr. Yildiz said that recent terrorism in the country attributed to Islamic State militants, including a recent attack on Istanbul's main airport that killed dozens, was 'the tipping point' for him. He blamed Turkey’s policy on Syria for the terror attacks. Early in the civil war there, Turkey supported rebel groups fighting against the Syrian government. Many of the fighters who traveled through Turkey to Syria joined the Islamic State, and critics have blamed Mr. Erdogan for enabling its rise."
As with leaders in Pakistan, Erdogan has tried to straddle the fence when it comes to radical jihadists. Now rifts have appeared in Turkey's deep state. We'll see if a dominant faction emerges or if the country, likes its neighbors to the south, plunges into conflict. -BB(2016-07-15)
Update: It looks like U.S. spies didn't see this coming:
"Diplomatic cables and intelligence reports written as recently as this month concluded that Mr. Erdogan had won enough support in the upper ranks of the military to head off any possible plots before they materialized, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence reporting."
Update: Graham Fuller explains why the coup is bad news regardless of what happens:
"How legitimate can any successor government be, when elected with the assistance of the military that pulled the plug on the last government?"
Update: The U.S. embassy in Turkey has stated that local authorities are denying movements on to and off of Incirlik Air Base.
Update: Those engaged in the attempted coup asserted that they wanted "to reinstall the constitutional order, democracy, human rights and freedoms, to ensure that the rule of law once again reigns in the country, for the law and order to be reinstated."
Secretary of State Kerry responded to allegations of U.S. involvement:
"We fully anticipate that there will be questions raised about Mr Gulen, and obviously we invite the government of Turkey ... to present us with any legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny and the United States will accept that and look at it and make judgments appropriately"
Odd that Kerry should mention U.S. involvement in overthrowing leaders. In the distance can be heard "Assad must go."
Update: More than 6,000 have been arrested as members of the military indicate that they were told the whole thing was just a drill. Also there appear to be signs of planning with regard to arrest lists.
The official proclamation of what most people already know: the destruction of Iraq is one vast war crime built upon a sprawling foundation of lies. The report confirms that "there was no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein" and that "the judgments about the severity of the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction – WMDs – were presented with a certainty that was not justified."
WikiLeaks offers an important response: "UK press today, from the BBC to the Guardian, denouncing Blair over Iraq; left unstated: their own huge propaganda effort pushing for war." Indeed, corporate news outlets were instrumental in selling the war to the public using weapons of mass deception.
Note also the following State Department memo that appears to reference the report:
"The UK had 'put measures in place to protect your interests' during the UK inquiry into the causes of the Iraq war."
Related: FAIR covers how the media ignored and then dismissed the Downing Street Memo.
Related: John Stauber explains why the Democrats give Bush and Company a free pass.
Related: Jeffrey St. Clair examines the role of the CIA, the Rendon Group, and the Pentagon's Office of Strategic Influence in fabricating a pretext for invasion.
Per a recent executive order the Office of the DNI has released a report which offers a tally of the number of drone attacks, special ops raids, and manned airstriked in places like Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya. The report explicitly precludes attacks in 'areas of active hostilities' (Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria). Given the Deep State's tendency towards signature strikes it's almost certain that the official range of 64-116 civilians deaths (during the period from January 20, 2009 to December 31, 2015) is drastically understated.
For example, the Bureau of Investigative Journalists finds that:
"This is a fraction of the 380 to 801 civilian casualty range recorded by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism from reports by local and international journalists, NGO investigators, leaked government documents, court papers and the result of field investigations. While the number of civilian casualties recorded by the Bureau is six times higher than the US Government’s figure, the assessments of the minimum total number of people killed were strikingly similar. The White House put this figure at 2,436, whilst the Bureau has recorded 2,753."
The White House needs to downplay the mayhem that U.S. foreign policy causes because it doesn't want to confront the reality that the global war on terror is only creating more terrorists. A self-perpetuating strategem that has taken a small group of jihadists in Afghanistan and turned them into plague that's spread over the entire Middle East. -BB(2016-07-02)
Old money billionaires issued warnings, the political proxies of the donor class echoed similar talking points, aristocrats voiced their outrage, celebrities chimed in, and allegedly progressive news outlets focused myopically on racism.
But ultimately Brexit is really about one thing, democratic governance. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard strikes at the root:
"Stripped of distractions, it comes down to an elemental choice: whether to restore the full self-government of this nation, or to continue living under a higher supranational regime, ruled by a European Council that we do not elect in any meaningful sense, and that the British people can never remove, even when it persists in error"
The British people took a stand today against an entity that has its roots in the American Deep State. In the early days of its genesis the push for a European Union was funded heavily, and covertly, by U.S. intelligence. Though the unification was sold as a way to prevent conflict the actual reason has more to do with consolidating control on behalf of profound sources of influence.
"The documents confirm suspicions voiced at the time that America was working aggressively behind the scenes to push Britain into a European state. One memorandum, dated July 26, 1950, gives instructions for a campaign to promote a fully fledged European parliament. It is signed by Gen William J Donovan, head of the American wartime Office of Strategic Services, precursor of the CIA."
"Because leaving neo-liberal organizations must be met with pain, or other people might do the same. International organizations like the EU, IMF, and WTO are how the elites make sure that neo-liberalism continues, because their rules make it impossible to run non-neo-liberal economies."
Indeed Brexit can be viewed as a proxy vote against the neoliberal project. A campaign that is guided by the desire to put business in front of everything else. Despite the deluge of elite sponsored propaganda the British electorate has opted for sovereignty. A truly historic event. -BB(2016-06-23)
Yves Smith explains how the EU planted the seeds of its own demise:
"One of its underlying principles was a suspicion of democracy and a preference for rule by technocrats. Those experts have done too well from their misrule and are too remote from the victims of their blinkered vision to be able to change course. Europe’s fault lines will thus open into full-bore fractures due to their refusal to abandon the neoliberal policies that sowed the seeds of this revolt."
The person behind the Panama Papers leak has posted a Manifesto. In his ending salvo he spells out the nature of our current economic system:
"The collective impact of these failures has been a complete erosion of ethical standards, ultimately leading to a novel system we still call Capitalism, but which is tantamount to economic slavery. In this system—our system—the slaves are unaware both of their status and of their masters, who exist in a world apart where the intangible shackles are carefully hidden amongst reams of unreachable legalese. The horrific magnitude of detriment to the world should shock us all awake. But when it takes a whistleblower to sound the alarm, it is cause for even greater concern. It signals that democracy's checks and balances have all failed, that the breakdown is systemic, and that severe instability could be just around the corner. So now is the time for real action, and that starts with asking questions."
And so art imitates life as Arthur Jensen explains:
"It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today... There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today."
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard points out a part of europe's recent history that's been whitewashed out of the history books:
"It was Washington that drove European integration in the late 1940s, and funded it covertly under the Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations."
"As this newspaper first reported when the treasure became available, one memorandum dated July 26, 1950, reveals a campaign to promote a full-fledged European parliament. It is signed by Gen William J Donovan, head of the American wartime Office of Strategic Services, precursor of the Central Inteligence Agency."
"The key CIA front was the American Committee for a United Europe (ACUE), chaired by Donovan. Another document shows that it provided 53.5 per cent of the European movement's funds in 1958. The board included Walter Bedell Smith and Allen Dulles, CIA directors in the Fifties, and a caste of ex-OSS officials who moved in and out of the CIA."
The unification project was originally sold under the pretext of preventing conflict. But beneath the surface is the underlying drive to consolidate control. -BB(2016-04-28)
As a student at Columbia President Obama denounced the "billion dollar erector sets" of "military-industrial interests". And during his term in office he has publicly spoken of "America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons."
Such is the nature of American political theater. As the United States plans to double down on nuclear weapons, investing what is projected to be a figure "between $600 billion and $1 trillion over a thirty year period." The President promises "change" while largely preserving the status quo. Don't feel so bad, the dupes of the Norwegian Nobel Committee were also taken in.
One establishment selling point appears to be that the focus will be on designing smaller, less destructive but more precise, nuclear weapons. The problem with this approach is that it has the potential to lower the threshold for use. -BB(2016-04-17)
Update: Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain:
"While the president’s about-face mystified arms-control advocates, one element was thoroughly predictable: Bechtel would be the primary recipient of the lucrative DOE and DOD contracts resulting from the buildup."
One report describes the mayhem caused by American bombs:
"Saudi Arabia-led coalition airstrikes using United States-supplied bombs killed at least 97 civilians, including 25 children, in northwestern Yemen on March 15, 2016"
And another article recounts how heavy ordnance deployed in Iraq and Syria ends up for sale on the Internet.
"In Iraq, the Facebook arms bazaars can resemble inside looks at the failures of American train-and-equip programs, with sellers displaying a seemingly bottomless assortment of weapons provided to Iraq’s government forces by the Pentagon during the long American occupation."
"Similarly, weapons identical to those provided by the United States to Syrian rebels have also been traded on Facebook and other social media or messaging apps."
In the wake of this veritable flood of arms are any number of imploded governments and narco states.
"Afghanistan accounts for 90 percent of the world's heroin; more than two-thirds of that comes from Helmand’s opium poppies... In the last 11 months, 3,000 Afghan government soldiers and policemen have been killed in Helmand, according to General Qahraman's figures. That is half or more of the estimated 6,000 Afghan security forces, police officers and soldiers killed in the country's 34 provinces over the last 12 months... Whoever controls opium territory controls a rich income stream. The Taliban directly impose taxes on the crop; some government officials do, too, or more often solicit bribes to look the other way."
For the execs of the defense industry, all of this unspeakable fallout is simply a negative externality. -BB(2016-04-07)
In an encore of a story originally covered back in 2014 by Ken Silverstein, a massive leak of 11.5 million documents reveals how the wealthy and powerful hide their assets:
"The company at the center of all these stories is Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian provider of offshore companies with dozens of offices all over the world. It sells its shell firms in cities such as Zurich, London, and Hong Kong – in some instances at bargain prices."
"Among others, Mossack Fonsecas' clients include criminals and members of various Mafia groups. The documents also expose bribery scandals and corrupt heads of state and government. The alleged offshore companies of twelve current and former heads of state make up one of the most spectacular parts of the leak, as do the links to other leaders, and to their families, closest advisors, and friends. The Panamanian law firm also counts almost 200 other politicians from around the globe among its clients, including a number of ministers."
Here's a roll call of world leaders: MAURICIO MACRI, President of Argentina. AYAD ALLAWI, Former Iraqi PM. SIGMUNDUR DAVID GUNNLAUGSSON, PM of Iceland. KING SALMAN BIN ABDULAZIZ BIN ABDULRAHMAN AL SAUD, King of Saudi Arabia. PETRO POROSHENKO, President of Ukraine. RAMI AND HAFEZ MAKHLOUF, Cousins of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. KOJO ANNAN, Son of ex-U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. FAMILY OF NAWAZ SHARIF, PM of Pakistan. ARKADY AND BORIS ROTENBERG, Lifelong friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin. SERGEY ROLDUGIN, Close persona friend of Putin. IAN CAMERON, Father of David Cameron.
Cryptome remarks that "Bragging of big number of docs then releasing only a few, hyperbolized and redacted, has become stultifying, pretentious journalism."
Former UK ambassador Craig Murray spells it out:
"The leak is being managed by the grandly but laughably named 'International Consortium of Investigative Journalists', which is funded and organised entirely by the USA's Center for Public Integrity. Their funders include: Ford Foundation, Carnegie Endowment, Rockefeller Family Fund, W K Kellogg Foundation, Open Society Foundation (Soros), among many others. Do not expect a genuine expose of western capitalism. The dirty secrets of western corporations will remain unpublished."
Another investigator concludes:
"The engineered 'leak' of the 'Panama Papers' is a limited hangout designed to incriminate a few people and organization the U.S. dislikes. It is also a demonstration of the 'torture tools' to the people who did business with Mossak Fonseca but have not (yet) been published about. They are now in the hands of those who control the database. They will have to do as demanded or else ..."
Keep in mind that this is just one law firm, the proverbial tip of the iceberg. This data should be available to everyone in a searchable database. That's how Assange would have done it. The fact that the journalists involved in this story haven't done so is very telling. -BB(2016-04-04)
Update: Oh, this is rich:
"Ryle says that the media organizations have no plans to release the full dataset, WikiLeaks-style, which he argues would expose the sensitive information of innocent private individuals along with the public figures on which the group's reporting has focused. 'We're not WikiLeaks. We're trying to show that journalism can be done responsibly'"
Cryptome offers an antidote: "Journalistic pusillanimity is growing with increase in files, as if majestic hoarding justifies picayune cupidity."
Update: McClatchy unearths a handful of Americans:
"There are at least 200 scanned individual U.S. passports. Some appear to be American retirees purchasing real estate in places like Costa Rica and Panama. Also in the database, about 3,500 shareholders of offshore companies who list U.S. addresses. And almost 3,100 companies are tied to offshore professionals based in Miami, New York, and other parts of the United States."
Why so few?
"Americans can form shell companies right in Wyoming, Delaware or Nevada. They have no need to go to Panama to form a shell company to use for illicit activities."
In other words, the United States is itself becoming a tax haven!
"Academic research supports the notion that U.S. financial institutions are very lax when dealing with foreign clients. When conducting experimental research, Sharman and his collaborators tried to set up shell corporations in a number of traditional tax havens while retaining anonymity. They found that providers in many of these tax havens were unwilling to set up companies without getting some kind of identification, such as a notarized copy of a passport. Providers in rich countries in the OECD — including especially the United States — were much happier to set up shell corporations. Only three out of 27 U.S.-based providers demanded some proof of identity."
And here's a related story from 1980 pointed out by Mark Ames. Years ago the CIA put the kibosh on a huge tax evasion case. Why did the DoJ back off?
"What caused the Justice Department to back off seems to have been the CIA's argument that pursuit of the Castle Bank would endanger 'national security.' This was involved because that bank, besides its possible use as a haven for tax evaders, was the conduit for millions of dollars earmarked by the CIA for the funding of clandestine operations against Cuba and for other covert intelligence operations directed at countries in Latin America and the Far East. A major tax evasion investigation of the bank probably would have endangered these CIA operations."
Fairfax Media and Huffington Post are covering a multi-national investigation into a business based in Monaco run by the Ahsani family:
"The US Department of Justice, FBI, UK National Crime Agency and Australian Federal Police are now jointly investigating Unaoil and some its multinational clients. The probe is likely to be one of the world's biggest, given the number of companies and countries involved."
Based on a sizable cache of leaked email what emerges is a picture of corporate-financed corruption on an industrail scale:
"Hundreds of major international corporations -- including Halliburton, its former subsidiary KBR, Rolls-Royce and Samsung -- counted on Unaoil to secure lucrative contracts in Iraq, Kazakhstan, Libya, Syria, Tunisia, and other countries in Africa, the Middle East, and the former Soviet Union, tens of thousands of internal emails and documents reveal. It's common for large multinational corporations to partner with smaller firms with local expertise to win contracts. But in many cases, Unaoil wasn't winning contracts because of its expertise -- it was winning them by paying millions of dollars in bribes to corrupt officials."
As author Adam Hochschild noted, the major oil companies have always formulated their own foreign policy and conducted business according to their own rules. They simply buy what they want. And by doing so these companies directly enable problems that generate widespread political instability. A corrupt government cannot provide the services to its public that it needs to, and this creates the sort of unrest that allows violent movements like ISIS to thrive. Profits for Halliburton and a recipe for failed states. -BB(2016-04-01)
"British financial giant HSBC and American bailout kingpin Citibank processed transactions, managed money and vouched for Unaoil"
The Los Angeles Times describes how the public and clandestine components of U.S. foreign policy are feeding the conflagration in Syria:
"In mid-February, a CIA-armed militia called Fursan al Haq, or Knights of Righteousness, was run out of the town of Marea, about 20 miles north of Aleppo, by Pentagon-backed Syrian Democratic Forces moving in from Kurdish-controlled areas to the east."
"While the Pentagon's actions are part of an overt effort by the U.S. and its allies against the Islamic State, the CIA's backing of militias is part of a separate covert U.S. effort aimed at keeping pressure on the Assad government in hopes of prodding the Syrian leader to the negotiating table."
Such is the defense industry's profitable business model. Arm everyone and then aim them at each other. Upper echelon military leaders like President Eisenhower and Smedley Butler tried to warn us. -BB(2016-03-28)
Snowden has made yet another high-profile appearance, voicing a rather strong opinion:
"The FBI says Apple has the ‘exclusive technical means’ to unlock the phone. Respectfully, that's bullshit"
Hold it a minute, isn't this the same guy who believes that strong crypto is "one of the few things that you can rely on" while he describes Apple as a company which ensures that "your private life remains private". But if Snowden is correct and the FBI can unlock the San Bernardino iPhone...
Let's hope Snowden doesn't become a smug mirror-gazing narcissist like Daniel Ellsberg spending the rest of his days pandering to liberal billionaires. No doubt the Silicon Valley crowd are begging to make Ed into a marketing concubine. Mark Ames comments:
"What Snowden has is the whole American liberal establishment culture invested in his sanctity. You can't break through that faith with mere facts, the infallible hero narrative means the world to them."
At least WikiLeaks has the decency to dump their files. No tepid excuses about wanting to return to the United States some day. In for a penny, in for a pound! -BB(2016-03-10)
Addendum: Tim Shorrock asks:
"I thought the anti-surveillance movement was created to confront power and authority. So why does it need gurus who are never challenged? I wish someone would ask snowden at Logan why Tor is "safe" if the FBI and NSA can penetrate it. Or where's the NSA contractor docs? Mass movements triumph when they're vibrant & diverse & question all forms of authority. This looks like a cult."
Though this topic has been discussed at length in previous posts, it's worth repeating:
"Secret cables and reports by the U.S., Saudi and Israeli intelligence agencies indicate that the moment Assad rejected the Qatari pipeline, military and intelligence planners quickly arrived at the consensus that fomenting a Sunni uprising in Syria to overthrow the uncooperative Bashar Assad was a feasible path to achieving the shared objective of completing the Qatar/Turkey gas link. In 2009, according to WikiLeaks, soon after Bashar Assad rejected the Qatar pipeline, the CIA began funding opposition groups in Syria."
The argument that "Assad must go" because he's a tyrant falls apart in light of the fact that the United States supports brutal regimes all over the planet. Assad refused to play ball with the American Deep State and Syria subsequently was marked for demolition. -BB(2016-02-27)
After finding out that Osama bin Laden had been holed up at a compound in Abbottabad, the following probably isn't that much of a surprise:
"Experts have found a lot of evidence that Pakistan facilitated the Taliban offensive... Its intelligence service has long acted as the manager of international mujahedeen forces, many of them Sunni extremists, and there is even speculation that it may have been involved in the rise of the Islamic State."
And what explains this? Carlotta Gall claims that:
"Pakistan regards Afghanistan as its backyard. Determined not to let its archrival, India, gain influence there, and to ensure that Afghanistan remains in the Sunni Islamist camp, Pakistan has used the Taliban selectively, promoting those who further its agenda and cracking down on those who don't. The same goes for Al Qaeda and other foreign fighters."
Naturally there are extensive links between the ISI and the CIA. I suppose now we know where a good chunk of billions in U.S. foreign aid goes? -BB(2016-02-07)
"Pakistani militants regularly try to sabotage peaceful relations between their country and India... But the important point is who backs, trains, tolerates and supports those militants: the Pakistani military and, most particularly, its spy service, known as the Inter-Services Intelligence, or the I.S.I."
And why, pray tell, would Pakistan's security services back terrorists?
"It keeps the country of Pakistan focussed on something other than its intractable domestic problems, and it justifies the military’s bloated budgets."
Sound familiar? Note how the United States vows to defend the largest source of Islamic terrorism in the world? Terrorism is encouraged to create a pretext for military action abroad, in a gambit to access natural resources, and to justify greater social control domestically. -BB(2016-01-16)
The citizens of a once middle-income nation pay a truly awful cost for the decisions of foreign leaders:
"About 400,000 Syrians are trapped behind front lines, denied access to food and medicine. That United Nations count has risen from 240,000 since 2014, when the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a binding resolution ordering the warring parties to allow aid delivery."