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Total Surveillance Regime: Big Uncle is Watching You

Mass surveillance is equal to totalitarism. As Joseph Goebbels professed:
"if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear"

The slide above is courtesy of The Guardian

Version 2.0, Oct 17, 2017

News National Security State Recommended Links Edward Snowden as Symbol of resistance to National Security State Privacy is Dead – Get Over It Vault 7 scandal NSA revelations fallout William Binney
NSA Surveillance Industrial Espionage Data Stealing Trojans Flame Duqu Trojan Magic Lantern CIPAV Cyberstalking
Interception of "in-transit" traffic as violation of human rights Search engines privacy Google Toolbar Is Google evil? Keywords in your posts that might trigger surveillance Blocking Facebook Facebook as Giant Database about Users Is national security state in the USA gone rogue ?
Damage to the US tech companies "Everything in the Cloud" Utopia Issues of security and trust in "cloud" env Email security How to analyze your own Web activity Interception of "in-transit" traffic as violation of human rights Steganography Building Snort-based IDS Infrastructure
Neoliberal Brainwashing: Journalism In the Service of the Powerful Few The Guardian Slips Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment Nineteen Eighty-Four Edward Snowden as Symbol of Resistance to National Security State Cyberwarfare History of the USA total surveillance efforts Prizm-related humor Etc
 

Introduction

None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.

- Goethe

1984 is supposed to be a warning, not an instruction manual

The troubling aspect about these disclosures is not so much their significance today, but what surveillance on the nation bodes for the future. Given human nature I am not optimistic.

Bill N. Cambridge MA, NYT.

NSA staff and private contractors have unfettered access to this information. I have a hard time believing that not one of them has used that access to information for personal or political gain. This system makes insider trading, industrial espionage, blackmail, and extortion an almost inevitable outcome. -- The Guardian (from comments).

A new round of debates about the dominance of military industrial complex and the level of control it exerts over the US civil society was caused by recent revelations about NSA activities in the USA.

It might well be the Rubicon was crossed around JFK assassination time. On August 17, 1975 Senator Frank Church stated on NBC's Meet the Press without mentioning the name of the NSA (Church Committee - Wikipedia ):

In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. Now, that is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at enemies or potential enemies. We must know, at the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left such is the capability to monitor everything—telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide.

If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.

I don't want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.[11]

In other words expansionism  and mission creep are immanent qualities, the second nature of large bureaucracies, and unless there is countervailing force. In the absence of countervailing forces they tend to escape from civil control and form a state within a state. In a way any state with powerful three-letter agencies stand with one leg in a tyranny, even if it calls itself a democracy. And that fact was already known to everybody in 1975 (Church Committee).  Actually just after president Kennedy assassination, which, no matter which version of events you adopt, in all cases indirectly pointed out that three letter agencies jumped out of control of civil government. As one Guardian reader commented "The pernicious thing is that it is in the nature of bureaucracies in general and spy agencies in particular to expand beyond reason unless there is effective oversight."

The nature of bureaucracies in general and spy agencies in particular to expand beyond reason unless there is effective oversight. In the case of intelligence agencies it has proven impossible for civil authorities to control them. Recent stories about CIA spying on the US Senate Intelligence Committee  just prove this. 

In the case of intelligence agencies it has proven impossible to control them.  Recent stories about CIA spying on the US Senate Intelligence Committee (which is tasked with the oversight of the agency) just prove this simple fact (CIA apologizes for spying on Senate committee - CNNPolitics July 31, 2014 ). As NYT reported (Inquiry by C.I.A. Affirms It Spied on Senate Panel,  

A statement issued Thursday morning by a C.I.A. spokesman said that John O. Brennan, the agency’s director, had apologized to Ms. Feinstein and the committee’s ranking Republican, Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, and would set up an internal accountability board to review the issue. The statement said that the board, which will be led by a former Democratic senator, Evan Bayh of Indiana, could recommend “potential disciplinary measures” and “steps to address systemic issues.”

But anger among lawmakers grew throughout the day. Leaving a nearly three-hour briefing about the report in a Senate conference room, members of both parties called for the C.I.A. officers to be held accountable, and some said they had lost confidence in Mr. Brennan’s leadership. “This is a serious situation and there are serious violations,” said Mr. Chambliss, generally a staunch ally of the intelligence community. He called for the C.I.A. employees to be “dealt with very harshly.”

Senator Mark Udall, Democrat of Colorado and another member of the Intelligence Committee, demanded Mr. Brennan’s resignation. “The C.I.A. unconstitutionally spied on Congress by hacking into the Senate Intelligence Committee computers,” he said in a written statement. “This grave misconduct not only is illegal but it violates the U.S. Constitution’s requirement of separation of powers.

You can't get a more solid proof of total surveillance...  Please note that Brennan continued his tenure as the head of CIA; attempts to depose him after the incident by some Senators failed. That suggest who was the winner in this skirmish.

That also means that contrary to common perception intelligence agencies are political players and as such are quite capable to defend their staffing and resource consumption levels, despite inefficient waist of resources as typical for large bureaucracies. In other words they are no longer technocratic, but tend to emerge as political bodies, the core of the "deep state" (see Bureaucracy as a Political Coalition). The story of John Brennan the former head of CIA in Obama administration tell volumes about such tendencies. During and after 2016 Presidential elections he emerged as a powerful political broker, later aligning with Hillary Clinton in efforts to form a political coalition capable of deposing President Trump.

We can admire the immortal foresight and moral courage of Secretary of State Henry Stimson's  who closed the Cipher Bureau in 1929.  But this highly ethical, moral and courageous act deprived the US of the capacity to read foreign diplomatic cables as world-wide threats grew.  So it was quickly reversed.

In a way technology dictates the level of government surveillance in the society and in "Internet society" it looks like this level is permanently set on "high". That does not mean that we can't fight it. Yes, we can and one factor that played into the hands of defenders of personal privacy is the you can't drink from a fire hose: as soon as you connect too much information it devalues itself. Also methods of "injecting" false metadata into your profile are reality available. for example for Internet browsing anybody with programmable keyboard can do that. That means that you the set of sites you visited no longer can be considered authentic in "Post-Snowden" world. That dooms effort to assign you a level of "loyalty" based on your browsing history, which is very temping for three letter agencies to do.  Recent failed attempt to create a site that claffies some sites are "Russian propaganda" sites belong to this category (Washington Post Disgracefully Promotes a McCarthyite Blacklist From a New, Hidden, and Very Shady Group.) But such attempts were just shifted to another domain -- "leak prevention" training:

Part of the “Unauthorized Disclosure” training includes watching a Fox News clip on the crackdown on leaks and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ statement announcing an increase in criminal leak investigations. A student guide from the Insider Threat Awareness training includes the McCarthyesque request that employees report on each other for “general suspicious behaviors,” including “Questionable national loyalty” such as “Displaying questionable loyalty to US government or company” or “Making anti-U.S. comments.” Never mind that the only oath government employees take is to the US Constitution, not to any government official or the US government itself and certainly not to a private company.

This also opens people to browsing blackmail.  In this sense post-snowmen world is inherently more difficult for three-letter agencies to navigate.

Computer technology and digital communication as new frontiers for intelligence  agencies

Technology changes can really change the society. And not always in a beneficial for the society way. There is such thing as "blowback" in technologies. We can view recent NSA activities revealed by Snowden as a classic example of such blowback connected with the spread of Internet and cloud based technologies.  In a way Internet begets surveillance. And you can do nothing about it.  As former Sun CEO Scott McNealy (born November 13, 1954)  said  "You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it." (see also Privacy is Dead – Get Over It).  

I think that the first attempt to create a comprehensive nation-wide intelligence network that monitors sentiments of the citizens and hunt enemies of the state goes as far back as Napoleon and his famous minister of police Joseph Fouché. Or may be it even goes as far back as to Byzantine Empire with its first in history organized network of spies. As for recording of mail envelopes, we can even claim that this function for international mail (in a form of "black chambers") is as old as states are. In the USA it started in full force in August 1919 when J. Edgar Hoover became head of the Bureau of Investigation's new General Intelligence Division—also known as the Radical Division because its explicit goal was to monitor and disrupt the work of domestic radicals.

Recording of all email envelopes started long before email was invented and became established practice since the WWII for all regular mail entering or leaving the country.  It just got a new name now -- collection of metadata and the technology that allow correlation of multiple sets of metadata exposing hidden "networks".  Recording metadata of phone calls and often the calls themselves first started before WWII and technology was first polished on international calls, which for obvious reasons are of great interest to all governments.  As intelligence agencies were one of the first to deploy computers after WWII it would be naive to assume that IBM/360 mainframes were not used to analyze collection of metadata of international calls as early as in 1960th.

Hoover and his chosen assistant, George Ruch monitored a variety of U.S. radicals with the intent to punish, arrest, or deport them. Targets during this period included Marcus Garvey; Rose Pastor Stokes and Cyril Briggs; Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman; and future Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter, whom Hoover nicknamed as "the most dangerous man in the United States". So those radicals served a guinea pigs for polishing methods of collection of communications using electronic means of surveillance.

So it would be a mistake to assume that such activities started with 9/11 events and that Bush II was totally responsible for converting the USA into national-security state.  The technology was ready at least 15 years before 9/11 (explosive growth of internet in the USA started in 1996) and new methods of collection of information that are technically available are always adopted and used by clandestine agencies.  They tend to adopt technology as soon as it is available, being, in a pervert way,  classic "early adopters" of any communication or computer technology. And this happens not only in the USA,  although the USA as the  technological leader was probably most profoundly affected.

The creation and use of databases of personal information and the systematic records (archives) of communications of citizens started simultaneously with NSA creation. The first targets were mail and telegraph. Some of this experience came from specialists of Third Reich who were brought to the country after the WWII. At the height of the Cold War in the 1950s, law enforcement and intelligence leaders like J. Edgar Hoover at the FBI. and Allen Dulles at the CIA. aggressively recruited former Nazis of all ranks as secret, anti-Soviet “assets,” declassified records show. They believed the ex-Nazis’ intelligence value against the Russians outweighed what one official called “moral lapses” in their service to the Third Reich. The agency hired one former SS officer as a spy in the 1950s, for instance, even after concluding he was probably guilty of “minor war crimes.” And in 1994, a lawyer with the CIA pressured prosecutors to drop an investigation into an ex-spy outside Boston implicated in the Nazis’ massacre of tens of thousands of Jews in Lithuania, according to a government official (In Cold War, U.S. Spy Agencies Used 1,000 Nazis - NYTimes.com).

We don't know when it was extended on domestic calls, but from purely technical perspective this was a trivial extension of already existing and polished capacity and probably abuse was stated gradually as soon as power of computers allow that. 

But what is true is that after 9/11 and the passage of the USA Patriot Act, the USA government got all the pre-conditions necessary for installing a regime of aggressive total surveillance. Which actually was a hidden intent and 9/11 was just a convenient pretext much like Tonkin incident in Vietnam war. And in this respect Ed Snowden, whatever is his motivation (which might be not as simple as most people assume), did the right thing, when he with the risk to his life informed the US public and the world about those activities. You may approve those revelations, you may disapprove them (and they did damage the USA as a state and devalue many methods which were extremely effective before the revelations), but keeping them secret from the US public is a crime.

NSA technically is a data collection agency. While it has legitimate function to monitor information that is crossing the national border as well as intercept communication of the US adversaries (which is a very flexible category those days ;-), we need to understand that the abuse of this function is inevitable. That actually the nature of the beast -- like any bureaucratic organizations they tend to expand their sphere of activities and escape form control -- and in this sense existence of powerful state intelligence agencies is incompatible with the democracy.  In this sense the appointment of Allan Dulles (who paradoxically was appointed the director under Eisenhower administration in 1952; Eisenhower warnings about the danger of military-industrial complex notwithstanding)  was really unfortunate.

But the capacities to do this type of work had grown dramatically over last four decades. In a way NSA became a victim of growing power of computers as well inherent tendency of bureaucracies, especially government bureaucracies to expand and self-justify their expansion. The classic case was the USSR where KGB was a real "state within the state" and sometimes it was not completely clear whether the Party controls KGB or KGB controls the Party.

But the capacities to do this type of work had grown dramatically over last four decades. In a way NSA became a victim of growing power of computers and as well inherent tendency of bureaucracies, especially government bureaucracies to expand and self-justify their expansion. The classic case was the USSR where KGB was a real "state within the state" and sometimes it was not completely clear whether the Party controls KGB or KGB controls the Party.

The immanent tendency of intelligence agencies to escape civil control
and in turn to establish indirect control of the government

There is deep analogy between financial services and intelligence services. Both try to escape from the control of democratic society. Both try to control the society instead of serve it. As they operate with large and uncontrolled amount of money soon after their creation inevitably the "the tail wagging the dog" (Merriam-Webster):

the tail wagging the dog used to describe a situation in which an important or powerful person, organization, etc., is being controlled by someone or something that is much less important or powerful

At some point the permanent unelected bureaucracy, became the shadow government instead of facilitating the decisions of elected officials. This process proceeds quicker if a sociopath manage to slip to the role of the head of such an organization. That's what the term "deep state" is about. Some authors such as  Douglas Horne view JFK assassination as a political coup d'état launched from the highest levels of US leadership (JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment Why Kennedy Was Assassinated). Here is a quote from the foreword by Jacob G. Hornberger:

By the end of November 1961, profoundly dissatisfied with his own national security advisory apparatus, President Kennedy had firmly pushed back against the national security establishment (in this case the NSC, the State Department, and the CIA) by purging and/or reshuffling many of the civilian hawks in his own administration into other positions, and by placing officials more in line with his own views into key positions. [A change in the top leadership at the Pentagon was to come later, in 1962.] Throughout 1961, the new President had painfully but quickly learned to be quite skeptical of the advice he was receiving, pertaining to matters of war and peace, from his hawkish advisors; and as 1961 progressed, John F. Kennedy repeatedly demonstrated what the hawks in government (the majority) no doubt considered a disturbingly independent (and increasingly all-too-predictable) frame of mind in regard to the national security recommendations he was receiving from the “sacred cows” and “wise men” in Washington, D.C. As I shall demonstrate in these essays, by the end of 1962, the national security establishment in Washington D.C., which had quickly come to know JFK as a skeptic during 1961, had come to view him as a heretic; and by November of 1963, the month he was assassinated, they no doubt considered him an apostate, for he no longer supported most of the so-called “orthodox” views of the Cold War priesthood. Increasingly alone in his foreign policy judgments as 1963 progressed, JFK was nevertheless proceeding boldly to end our “Holy War” against Communism, instead of trying to win it. In retrospect it is clear that the national security establishment wanted to win our own particular “jihad” of the post-WW II era by turning the Cold War against the USSR into a “hot war,” so that we could inflict punishing and fatal blows upon our Communist adversaries (and any other forces we equated with them) on the battlefield. It was this desire for “hot war” by so many within the establishment — their belief that conventional “proxy wars” with the Soviet Bloc were an urgent necessity, and that nuclear war with the USSR was probably inevitable — to which President Kennedy was so adamantly opposed. And it was JFK’s profound determination to avoid nuclear war by miscalculation, and to eschew combat with conventional arms unless it was truly necessary, that separated him from almost everyone else in his administration from 1961 throughout 1963, as events have shown us.

 

Against whom total surveillance is directed

Total surveillance is not so much about terrorism. It's also and mainly about the control of the society by unelected elite. Terrorism is a false pretext -- a smoke screen, if you like. Let's state clearly -- the main goal of total surveillance was the same since it was introduced in Nazi Germany: "Let them be afraid". It's the same as in former German Democratic Republic (with its famous Stasi). In all cases it is to prevent any challenge to the ruling elite or in the terminology of neoliberal "color revolutions" prevent  "regime change", unless it is initiated by more powerful foreign three letter agencies and significantly higher level of financial resources (that's why three letter agencies of newly minted xUSSR state in several cases were unable to prevent color revolutions of their territories).  

In other words surveillance and intelligence agencies are part and parcel of the totalitarian state. And Sheldon Volin actually created a term for such "pseudo-democratic" regime --  inverted totalitarism.  Unlike  classic totalitarism it generally tend to avoid using violence  to crush the dissidents and opposition to the current elite. More "soft" subversive methods are enough. In this sense the  story of crushing "of "Occupy Wall Street" movement is a testament of their efficiency. 

State actors and well funded terrorist organization are a difficult nut to crack.  Any "custom" encrypted communication is far more difficult for intercepting party to decode, then "standard" encryption methods.  Some encryption methods virtually guarantee that it is impossible without stealing the key. Even detecting the fact of communication for such parties nowadays is very difficult as it can be hidden in  some "carrier" transmission (steganography) or split into multiple channels.   Those who have access to technology and to "know how" including the most recent exploits are well armed to resist attempt to intercept their communication. That includes most powerful foreign states. 

That means that NSA has great difficulties intercepting and decoding traffic that is intended to be hidden from state actors.  Modern encryption systems such One-Time-Pad virtually guarantee that you get the "insider information" of the pad used (typically from a mole) they are impenetrable. Even regular encryption methods can be enhanced by additional step of compressing the files transmitted (which by and large eliminates redundancy if done properly and do not leave "tell" sign  of the method encryption used) . Decoding is easier when standard algorithms with possible backdoors are used but  even in this case I have doubts (Triple DEC).  That's why attempts to compensate this deficiency are being developed and one obvious path is intercepting regular citizen communication  of foreign countries which are considered to be unfriendly or adversarial to current the US foreign policy goals (which is the expansion and maintenance of global the Us-led neoliberal empire).

But the situation with  "open" traffic is completely different. Million of people outside the USA use Facebook, Amazon, Gmail and similar platforms. Which makes them a low hanging fruit and here NSA is the king of the hill.  Government officials also sometimes use regular  email and social sites (see Hillary Clinton email scandal). So intelligence agencies were provided with an important opening (and it might well be that the dramatic growth  of Webmail has something to do with their interests)

At the same time the abundance of information, as Biney mentioned, creates another problem --  the problem of "drinking from a fire hose" -- they tend to collect too much information and are swamped with the volume.  Of cause correlation of open traffic of "suspicious persons" can reveal some hidden information, but this is a pretty expensive undertaking, because by definition (unless this is Hillary Clinton ;-) those persons are aware that they are watched, typically are trained to avoid surveillance (including electronic) and behave accordingly.  for example General Petraeus used an interesting method to communicate with his biographer and mistress (The Washington Post) :

They wrote their "intimate messages" as draft e-mails in a shared Gmail account, according to the AP, allowing them to see one anothers' messages while leaving a much fainter data trail. When messages are sent and received, both accounts record the transmission as well as such metadata as the IP addresses on either end, something the two seemed to be seeking to avoid. 

Petraeus and Broadwell apparently used a trick, known to terrorists and teen-agers alike, to conceal their email traffic, one of the law enforcement officials said.

Rather than transmitting emails to the other's inbox, they composed at least some messages and instead of transmitting them, left them in a draft folder or in an electronic "dropbox," the official said. Then the other person could log onto the same account and read the draft emails there. This avoids creating an email trail that is easier to trace.

With the power of modern computers, decoys and steganography offer almost unlimited possibility to obscure the traffic. 

The real questions about NSA activities


Concern about the NSA assault on our privacy is no paranoid fantasy. In the words of an agency PowerPoint slide released by Snowden, the goal is to "collect it all", "process it all" and "know it all". The massive surveillance program is a clear violation of the Forth amendment prohibiting "unreasonable searches" of "persons, houses, papers, and effects" without "probable cause."

- Gene Epstein. "In defence of Snowden",
review of "No Place to Hide" Barrons, Jan 5, 2015, p 17

According to UN Human Right Council Report (17 April 2013) innovations in technology not only have increased the possibilities for communication and protections of free expression and opinion, enabling anonymity, rapid information-sharing and cross-cultural dialogues. They also simultaneously increased opportunities for State surveillance and interventions into individuals’ private communications facilitating to transformation of the state into National Security State, a form of corporatism characterized by continued and encompassing all forms of electronic communication electronic surveillance of all citizens.

Now every Internet or smartphone users probably understand that since probably 2003 or even earlier that that he/she is watched 24 by 7, or as Soviet dissidents called it "Was placed under the [surveillance] dome". Some question that we need to ask ourselves are:

All-in-all it's a good time to smell the coffee and talk about the rise of a new mutation of totalitarism (or may be even neofascism -- as it is, essentially, the merger of corporate and state interests) in the US after 9/11. That's exactly what this "Internet-inspired" flavor of total surveillance due to modern technical capabilities means. There is also distinct shadow of STASI in all those activities. And some countries got into similar trap before, so nothing is new under the sun. As Reinhold Niebuhr noted:

"Communism is a vivid object lesson in the monstrous consequences of moral complacency about the relation of dubious means to supposedly good ends."

There is actually little difference between total surveillance as practiced by NSA and what was practiced by three letters agencies of Eastern block dictatorships such as STASI and KGB. The key goal in both cases is protection and preservation of power of existing elite against the will of common people. So this is more about oppression of 99.9% from top 0.1% then surveillance per see.

Militarization of cyberspace makes Internet a very dangerous medium

We should view Snowden revelations in a larger context. Much of what he revealed about militarization of cyberspace was already known at the time when Flame and Stuxnet worms were discovered in 2011. He just dot the i's and cross the t's , so speak. As a result of his revelations, as The National Interest noted:

An increasing number of adversaries and even allies are coming to believe that the United States is militarizing cyberspace — and that impression of hubris and irresponsibility is beginning to have a real-world impact.

...The Snowden leaks have brought Stuxnet, the U.S.-Israeli program allegedly used to attack Iranian computer systems, back into public debate — and reminded us that the real damage of the Snowden revelations will be international.

...the perception that the United States has become a danger to the global internet is a cause for concern. In their understandable anger at the considerable damage Snowden has done (in the near term at the very least) to the operations of NSA and their allies, U.S. security officials should not lose sight of this fact.

Snowden’s claims build on the Stuxnet revelations. In doing so, they reinforce an impression of overbearing U.S. cyberpower (military and commercial) being used irresponsibly. That is strikingly at odds with the U.S. self-image as a standard bearer of internet freedom and “borderless” exchange, but it is a view that resonates around the world.

In fact the USA policies are stimulating economic and political rivals around the globe to organize and present unified front against this new and dangerous form of total surveillance. As well as implement similar domestic systems. In other words a new arm race started.

As methods and infrastructure of those activities are now revealed, the genie is out of the bottle and can't be put back -- the US now should expect the same or worse treatment from other nations. Which can be no less inventive, or even more inventive the USA specialists in this area. And in this new arm race economically weaker nations actually has some leverage. Blowback, a CIA term for unintended consequences of foreign, military, or clandestine policies, can be similar to the blowback of politically organizing Islamic radicals to fight Soviets in Afghanistan in the past.

Nemesis, the goddess of retribution and vengeance, the punisher of pride and hubris, probably already waits patiently for her meeting with the NSA brass.

Blowback can irreparably damage the ability of the United States to obtain crucial information in foreign environments that are poorly understood in Washington. The cultural divide that exists when operating away from home means that CIA and NSA frequently work overseas through a network of liaison contacts. This in theory limits their activity, but it broadens their ability to collect information that can only be plausibly obtained by a local organization with local capabilities. Though nearly everyone also operates clandestinely outside the parameters of the established relationships insofar as it is possible or expedient to do so, there is an awareness that being caught can cause grave damage to the liaison relationship. Because being exposed is nearly always very painful, such operations are normally limited to collection of critical information that the liaison partner would be unwilling to reveal.

So while it might be comforting to claim that “everyone does it” at least some of the time, and it may even be true that local spy agencies sometimes collaborated with NSA, the United States has a great deal to lose by spying on its friends. This is particularly true as Washington, uniquely, spies on everyone, all the time, even when there is no good reason for doing so.

NSA Blowback The American Conservative

Centralization of user activities on sites like Facebook, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, LinkedIn, with email account mainly at Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo mail along with many positive aspects has tremendous negative side effects. The most significant is that it created a way too easy opportunity both for those organizations as well as government agencies and large corporations to data mine email and Web communications of millions of Americans critical about government (see Total control: keywords in your posts that might trigger surveillance) and all foreigners who use those services (and that includes a significant part of European population and Russia, who have Gmail, Facebook or Yahoo accounts). The history of "total surveillance" suggests that it tends to be abused. It is also huge, irreparable breach on trust in relation to allies. Closely resembles the situation in family when wife or husband learn that the other hired detective to snoop on you.

The analogy with KGB surveillance of dissidents (the Soviet term for total surveillance was "to be under the 'dome' ") and, especially, Stasi (viewing the film "The Lives of Others" might help to understand the phenomenon of "total surveillance") are way too close. At the same time there is an important difference: while such regime does mean indirect (and pretty effective) intimidation of dissidents, cases of prosecution on the base of the those data are either few or non existent, which is a big difference with KGB or Stasi practice. The latter aggressively pursued those who got in their net trying either to convert them into informers or charge them with the some suitable article of Criminal Code. In some cases that practice lead to suicides. So here we can talk more properly talk about total surveillance an instrument of Inverted Totalitarism, or totalitarism in velvet gloves.

We are talking about "passive total surveillance" and temporary (which might be several years or your lifetime) storage of all intercepted data. But in a way, Senator McCartney was probably right about "Communists sympathizers" and communist infiltration, he just was completely wrong about who they are ;-).

Every Breath You Take

Ich bin ein Berliner
J. F. Kennedy

The famous The Police hit Every Breath You Take should probably be the theme song for the NSA. As Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us in his famous speech:

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

Snowden revelations are not something new. The only real revelation was how much of it was going on domestically and gory details of such activities. Before 9/11 the NSA was basically prohibited from operating domestically. Of course it violates those prohibitions, but there were no systematic internal, all encompassing technical surveillance infrastructure in place. Now it is build and is deployed nation-wide. And that's a big change, big difference. Due to "novel" interpretation of a few provisions in the Patriot Act they created domestic dragnet which encompass most types of Internet communications. In addition to intercepting more then 70% of Internet traffic they also enjoy direct access to major cloud providers.

Total continued surveillance even without taking any action on collected data is totalitarian by its nature as it put severe restrictions of the freedom of expression. And like in the USSR, it does change people behavior on the Web. People start thinking about consequences and this page is one of attempts to collect information that might help you to see "bigger picture".

The key mechanism here, well known to those who used to live in the USSR before its dissolution is that people do react on the fact that everything they email, visit, buy on Amazon, etc is registered in giant database outside of their control. Internet will never be the same for most people after Snowden revelations...

The key mechanism here, well known to those who used to live in the USSR before its dissolution is that people do react on the fact that everything they email, visit, buy on Amazon, etc is registered in giant database outside of their control. Internet will never be the same for most people after Snowden revelations...

For example, no one in sound mind can now trust "cloud services" provided by Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc. So attractiveness of Gmail, Hotmail and such are now different, then it was before. And separation of mail accounts between "junk mail" account and important mail account is something to think about. With the latter never in the cloud. In a way excessive using cloud services from a fashionable trend now became kind of indication of a person stupidity.

In a way excessive using of cloud services from a fashionable trend now became an indication of a person stupidity. There is no real justification of providing all your emails and address book to strangers who can abuse this information without your knowledge.

At the same time it is stupid to dramatize the situation. Still, what is really striking is the grotesque disproportionally of all this NSA surveillance "superdome" to the task of keeping the country safe from foreign enemies (NSA statute is about watching foreign communications), begging obvious questions of institutional sanity and competence. They turned all their super powerful collection mechanisms inside the country and now they drink from a firehouse. That means that the results and possibilities of abuse are pretty much predictable. Too many false positives create real danger of not to picking up weak signal. So the other question is "Who the hell made these decisions?" That's a lot of taxpayers money and I am not sure that they are well spend.

As for breach of privacy anyone with connected to Internet PC,  the first thing to understand that if somebody stores data in the cloud they should not expect any privacy, unless they encrypt them. Expecting that your unencrypted data are private is a sign of personal stupidity, no more no less. If somebody, who is keeping his address book in Google assumes that it remains private, that his own illusion. That has nothing to do with the reality.

And it not that only NSA threatens our privacy. After all there are millions of PC users that have computer(s) infected by spyware, which turns them into zombies, externally controlled monitoring devices. And such software BTW can pick up and offload, or encrypt for ransom all your data. I do not see much protest over this situation iether. Microsoft greed and stupidity is one reason for this dismal situation, but essentially any OS is vulnerable if enough money is invested in finding exploits.  And NSA actually created a market for such exploits. Now there are multiple "security firms" that do nothing then find "zero day" exploits and sell them to the highest bidder (which is of course government agencies).  Does not this reminds you 'war on drugs"?

In a way, any networked computer is an unsecure computer and should be treated as such. See Privacy is Dead – Get Over It. The same thing can be mentioned about a cell phone that is outside some metal box. That's two basic "laws of security" in the current environment.

But more important problem here is not snooping per se, but its interaction with self-profiling that you provide via social sites. If you are too enthusiastic about Facebook or Google++ or any similar site and engage regularly and indiscriminately in this "vanity fair" activity that simply means Privacy is Dead – Get Over It. You killed it yourself. The essence of the situation was exposed well in a humorous form in the following Amazon review of Orwell's novel 1984

Bjørn Anders See all my reviews

This is not an instruction manual!, June 14, 2013

This review is from: 1984: 60th-Anniversary Edition (Plume) (Paperback)

Note to US Congress and house of representatives: This is a fictional book, not an instruction manual...

Now we know what would a perfect prototype of Bid Brother ;-). The song (Every Breath You Take ) should probably be the theme song for the NSA. And not only NSA, but its counterparts in other parts of the globe; I think, other things equal, citizens of some other countries would greatly prefer NSA to their domestic counterparts.

Cell phones, laptops, Facebook, Skype, chat-rooms: all allow the NSA and other similar agencies to build a dossier, a detailed profile of a target and anyone associated with him/her. And the number of people caught up in this dragnet can be huge. The NSA say it needs all this data to help prevent another terrorist attack like 9/11. They lie. In order to find the needle in the haystack, they argue, they need access to the whole haystack. But one interesting side effect is that now they are drinking from the fire hose, so to speak.

The power of meta data collection

Another interesting side-effect of the Snowden disclosures that the term ‘metadata’ became a common word in English language. With the growing understanding that metadata includes enough personal information to built a detailed profile of a person without even listening into content of communications. This technology was invented in Iraq war for fighting insurgents (were phone companies were controlled by US) and now is applied at home. In fact, by just using electronic communications, you are sharing a lot more personal information than you think. It's a reflection of a fact that it is very cheap to collect and analyses information about your electronic communications. The digital revolution which led to an explosion in cell phone and internet use, also led to an explosion of snooping after you by the governments.

We need to distinguish "total collection" of data from "total analysis" (or creation of dossiers on everybody as was practiced by STASI and friends). Raw data contain both "signal" and "noise". Analysis or data mining of those raw data is the process of extraction of useful signal from the noise. Of course we should be so naive that to assume that "signal" is related to purely terrorist activities. As recently published documents had shown, the NSA interests are much wider ;-). In bald terms, it sets out its mission:

“Leverage unique key corporate partnerships to gain access to high-capacity international fiber-optic cables, switches and/or routes throughout the world.”

Along with major fiber-optic cables in the US, the NSA has access to data gathered by close intelligence partners such as Britain’s GCHQ.

Sometimes it appear to me that like Uncle Sam got "red disease" and now is trying to imitate "total surveillance" mantra of KGB, STASI and similar agencies on a new technological level. And the key lesson from Soviet experience is fully applicable to the current situation in the USA: when government consider everybody as a potential enemy you better watch your back. And having a cyberstooge following your every step more closely that it was possible for STASI spooks and informers is something you need to react to. Reading your address book, mail, list of books that you bought or borrowed from the library, analyzing your circuit of friends is what STASI was really good at. And it might well be that some unemployed specialists have found a new territory to apply their substantial talents.

The Snowden documents show that the NSA runs these surveillance programs through “partnerships” with major US telecom and internet companies. That means that if you are customer of those major telecom and Internet companies you are like a bug under the microscope.

It is important to understand that metadata of your communications will always be exposed (it other words you are always walking "naked" on the Internet) because those new surveillance capabilities are immanent properties of Internet protocols, as we known it. There is no way to encrypt connection metadata: this is technically impossible unless you owns a vast private VPN network (some large corporations do), but even in this case I have doubts. Even snail-mail metadata are collected (and from 50th to 80th letters were opened and selectively copied by CIA). Diplomatic mail might still be secure, but that's about it.

Technological blowback

Like with any new development there are countervailing trends that after Snowden revelation went in overdrive and can seriously affect NSA capabilities.

One is switching to encrypting communication with most websites such as YouTube. That prevent simple harvesting of video that you watched from HTTP logs (but does not prevent harvesting -- it can be done using other methods)

The second is usage of software like Tor, although I think all connection to Tor sites are closely monitored by NSA.

The third is usage of your own cashing DNS proxy to limit number of DNS requests you make.  

I also think that all those development might give steganography a huge boost.

The other areas of technology that might get huge boost due to Snowden revelations is "Browsing imitating internet robots" technology which permit to drown NSA collection devices in spam -- fake accesses to web sites that is very difficult to distinguish from real browsing, but that make all statistical metrics applied to your Web traffic useless.  For example top visited pages became completely bogus. 

Currently this requires some level of technical sophistication and available mostly to programmers and system administrators interested in "beating NSA back". Programs that have those capabilities are often marketed as proxy logs replayers,  or Apache logs replayers or debugging tools. See for example  Load Testing with JMeter Part 3 - Replaying Apache Logs and Charles Web Debugging Proxy  ( and http - Replaying a Charles proxy session and recording the results - Stack Overflow ). Actually good old Expect can do wonders here if logs are converted into expect scripts. Especially in combination with Javascript (Scalable, Flexible Performance Testing Replaying web server log)

Another danger to society: Lord Acton warning as applied to NSA

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely".

Lord Acton(1834–1902)

As Lord Acton(1834–1902) noted long before NSA started collecting all Internet communications "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely". The history of "total surveillance" suggests that this is unavoidable side effect on the very institution that conducts: such an institution tends to escape the control of civil society and became a shadow power, the element of "deep state". 

The first grave consequence of total surveillance is that it tends to be abused. The history of "total surveillance" suggests that this is unavoidable side effect on the very institution that conducts: such an institution tends to escape the control of civil society and became a shadow power, the element of "deep state".  

And the ability to intercept electronic communications gives those who are in charge of such collection  tremendous political power. Please remember that J. Edgar Hoover was director of FBI very long time partially because he dug a lot of dirt on politicians of his time including both Kennedys. According to President Harry S Truman, Hoover transformed the FBI into his private secret police force. He used the FBI to harass political dissenters and activists, to amass secret files on political leaders, and to collect evidence using illegal methods. Essentially for half of the century he and his organization were out of control "state within the state" and nobody could do anything about it. Only after his death some measures were taken.

It's not that expanding bureaucracy per se is a problem. I doubt that those in the bureaucracy of those agencies do not think about larger consequences for societies of their attempts to expand their sphere of influence. It is much worse: they definitely knew about possible consequences, but go "full forward' anyway preferring job promotions and expansion of their influence. Like bureaucrats often do, they betrayed their nations like nomenklatura betrayed the people of the USSR (with a similar fig leaf of nice slogans about freedom as a smoke screen for pretty nefarious activities).

Elimination of possibility of opposition to the current regime

In case of NSA, this data on you, or particular political or social movement (for example "Occupy Wall Street") can be mined at any time, and what is even worse can be used to destroy any new political movement. And please remember that NSA is a just part of military-industrial complex, an entity that has some interesting political characteristics related to the term "the acquisition of unwarranted influence" . As Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us in his famous farewell speech (which introduced the term "military-industrial complex"):

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

People seldom understand that all three letter agencies are not just part of military industrial complex, but are the key parts. While ability of weapon manufactures to buy or just simply control Congress members matters, three-letter agencies is where "unwarranted influence" fully materialize. By definition they are out of control and as any bureaucracy they want to grow. That was clear to Senator Frank Church who stated on August 17, 1975 NBC's Meet the Press:

In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. Now, that is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at enemies or potential enemies. We must know, at the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left such is the capability to monitor everything—telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.

If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.

I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.[11]

We can applaud his personal courage, but at this point it does not matter. The horse has left the barn. As sgtdoom commented The Guardian article NSA analysts 'willfully violated' surveillance systems, agency admits (August 24, 2013):

...let us be realistic and not fall for the usual story of this being a discrete event (all the latest surveillance, that is).

This dates back to the founding of the Financial-Intelligence-Complex during and in the aftermath of World War II, by the Wall Streeters for their super-rich bosses, the Rockefellers, Morgans, du Ponts, Mellons, Harrimans (now Mortimers), etc.

The most important factor that needs to be taken into account is the total surveillance make organized opposition to the regime impossible. So welcome to nicer, gentler, but no less totalitarian world of 1984 (aka "Back in USSR"). The key equation is very simple:

total surveillance = total control

That simple fact was well understood by various dictators and totalitarian regimes long ago, but none of them has had even a tiny fraction of technical capabilities NSA has now. I think one of the reason that Occupy movement completely dissipated so fast was that they were like a bug under microscope of the government. And government want them to stop harassing Wall Street sharks for their 2008 crisis misdeeds.

Instilling fear

Another important effect of "total surveillance" is instilling fear in the citizenry; fear that our thoughts, words and relationships are subject of interception and analysis; fear that all the content we access on the internet will be exposed. This fear can cause us to withdraw from public spaces like producing this website, censor our communications, refrain from accessing certain sites, buying certain books, etc.

An important effect of "total surveillance" is instilling fear in the citizenry; fear that our thoughts, words and relationships are subject of interception and analysis; fear that all the content we access on the internet will be exposed. This fear can cause us to withdraw from public spaces like producing this website, censor our communications, refrain from accessing certain sites, buying certain books, etc.

In other words understanding that you are watched on 24 x 7 basis modifies behavior and makes self-censorship your second nature exactly the same way as in any totalitarian state, but without any physical coercion. Here is one telling comment from Secret to Prism program Even bigger data seizure

wtpayne

Indeed: The intentions and motivations of the agencies in question; the degree of oversight and so on; is almost irrelevant. To a certain extent, I am content to believe that the intentions of the perpetrators is good; and that the oversight and abuse prevention systems that they have in place are strong.

However, none of that matters if people self-censor; if people worry, not about what the government of today will find objectionable, but what the government of tomorrow will not like. In effect, we end up censoring ourselves from a hypothetical worst-case future government.

Loss of privacy as a side effect of cloud-based Internet technologies

“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

Maybe Dante had some serious vision.

The Guardian

We will concentrate on technical side of the this operation, trying to understand how much information can be stored about a regular "Joe Doer" based on technical capabilities that are available. Let's assume that we deal with mostly "passive surveillance": collection and storage of vast amount of Internet traffic on special computers using either mirrored ports on the key routers or special access to key providers of cloud services.

We can probably assume that several layers of storage of those data exist:

Technology development creates new types of communications as well as new types of government surveillance mechanisms (you can call them "externalities" of new methods of communication). Those externalities, especially low cost of mass surveillance (Wikipedia), unfortunately, bring us closer to the Electronic police state (Wikipedia) or National Security State whether we want it or not. A crucial element of such a state is that its data gathering, sorting and correlation on individual citizens are continuous, cover a large number of citizens and all foreigners, and those activities are seldom exposed.

Cloud computing as a technology that presuppose storing the data "offsite" have several security problems, and one of them is that it is way too much "surveillance friendly" (Misunderstanding of issues of security and trust). With cloud computing powers that be do not need to do complex job of recreating TCP/IP conversations on router level to capture, say, all the emails. You can access Web-based email mailbox directly with all mails in appropriate mailboxes and spam filtered. This is a huge saving of computational efforts ;-).

It means two things:

It puts you essentially in a situation of a bug under microscope on Big Brother. And please understand that modern storage capabilities are such that it is easy to store several years of at least some of your communications, especially emails.

The same is true about your phone calls metadata, credit card transactions and your activities on major shopping sites such as Amazon, and eBay. But here you can do almost nothing. Still I think our support of "brick" merchants is long overdue. Phones are traditional target of government three letter agencies (WSJ) since the WWII. Smartphones with GPS in addition to land line metadata also provide your current geo location. Some point out that using basic phone slightly preferable to smartphone (both in a sense of absence of geodata and the possibility to install spyware on it -- there is simply no RAM to do anything sophisticated). But I do not think you can do much here

I think our support of "brick" merchants is long overdue. And paying cash in the store in not something that you should try to avoid because credit card returns you 1% of the cost of the purchase. This 1% is actually a privacy tax ;-)

Total continued surveillance even without taking any action on collected data is totalitarian by its nature as it put severe restrictions of the freedom of expression and it changes people behavior on the Web. In this sense, Senator McCartney was probably right about "Communists sympathizers" and "KGB infiltration", he just was completely wrong about who they are ;-).

The centralization of searches on Google (and to a lesser extent on Bing -- the latter is standard with new Windows installation) are also serious threats to your privacy. Here diversification between three or more search engines might help a bit.  But limited your time behind the computer is probably more efficient. Generally here I do not think much can be done. Growth of popularity of Duckduckgo suggests that people are vary of Google monopolizing the search, but it is unclear how big are the advantages. You can also save searches as many searches are recurrent and generally you can benefit from using your personal Web proxy with private cashing DNS server. This way to can "shrink" your radar picture, but that's about it. If you are conserved with you "search" profile, you can replay some searches to distort it. In any case,  search engines are now an integral part of our civilization, whether we want it or not.

Collection of your searches for the last several years can pretty precisely outline sphere of your interests. And again technical constrains on storage of data no longer exists: how we can talk about privacy at the age of 3 TB harddrives for $99. There are approximately 314 million of the US citizens and residents, so storing one gigabyte of information for each citizen requires just 400 petabytes.  Which is clearly within the current capabilities of storage technology. For comparison

Films to Understand the Phenomenon

The analogy with KGB surveillance of dissidents (the term was "to be under the "kolpak" (dome) ") and, especially, Stasi (viewing the film "The Lives of Others" might help to understand the phenomenon of "total surveillance") are way too close. And psychological effects of anticipating that you are under total surveillance are well depicted in the final of the film The Conversation (1974) directed by famous Francis Ford Coppola

At the same time there is an important difference: while both regimes creates implicit intimidation and squash dissent, cases of prosecution on the base of the those data are either few or non existent. Which is a big difference with KGB or Stasi practice, which aggressively pursued those dissidents who got in their net, trying either to convert them into informers, or prosecute them using the existing articles of Criminal Code. In some cases that led to suicides. So here we can talk more about Inverted Totalitarism, a velvet gloves mode of suppressing of dissent.

Your email in toxic cloud

Still it is now dramatically more clear then before that centralization of email accounts and user activities on sites like Facebook, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, LinkedIn, with email accounts mainly at Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo mail is far from being a positive development. Along with many positive aspects has tremendous negative side effects. Essentially it turns users into spies on themselves in a way that would be a dream by Stasi. The most significant is that it created an easy opportunities to data mine email databases both for those organizations as well as various government agencies and, possibly (in a limited way for special payment) by large corporations.

Those tendencies probably should be at least resisted, but we do not have means to reverse them.

Attempts to data mine email and Web communications of millions of Americans critical about government (see Total control: keywords in your posts that might trigger surveillance) and all foreigners who use those services (and that includes a significant part of European population and xUSSR area, who often use Gmail, Facebook or Yahoo accounts) means that the country became a National Security State. With all relevant consequences of such a transformation.

And interest in content of your "cloud based" email is not limited to the government:

A sweeping Wall Street Journal investigation in 2010 found that the biggest U.S. websites have technologies tracking people who visit their pages, sometimes upwards of 100 tools per site. One intrusive string of code even recorded users’ keystrokes and transmitted them to a data-gathering firm for analysis.

“A digital dossier over time is built up about you by that site or third-party service or data brokers,” says Adam Thierer, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center’s Technology Policy Program at George Mason University. “They collect these data profiles and utilize them to sell you or market you better services or goods.”

This is what powers the free Internet we know and love; users pay nothing or next to nothing for services — and give up pieces of personal information for advertisers in exchange. If you search for a Mini Cooper on one website, you’re likely to see ads elsewhere for lightweight, fuel-efficient cars. Companies robotically categorize users with descriptions such as “urban upscale” to “rural NASCAR” to tailor the advertising experience, says Jim Harper of the libertarian Cato Institute. “They’ll use ZIP codes and census data to figure out what their lifestyle profile is.”

Tracking your Web access

Most of the site you visit those days was found via search engine, often Google. But Google is interested in more then search terms you use and sometimes plays with you a nasty trick: "Google may choose to exhibit its search results in the form of a 'URL redirector,'" reads Google's main privacy policy. That means that any time it wishes Google can spy on your Web activity:

"When Google uses a URL redirector, if you click on a URL from a search result, information about the click is sent to Google."

Few people check the URL before clicking on Google search results, so in a way this is perfect spying tool.

But there is another powerful spying tool in Google arsenal -- Google toolbar, and I am not sure that all those trick were not reused in Google browser. Google Toolbar sends all user clicks to Google, if advanced mode is enabled (and many people do enable it because they want to have spelling correction available which, conveniently for Google, belongs to the set of advanced features). This way you voluntarily subscribe to a 24x7 monitoring of your web activity using spyware that is installed on your computer with your consent. For the same reason recent smartphones fashion looks greatly misguided. It is better to use regular phone, then smartphone, and the last thing you probably want on your smartphone is Android OS or iOS, or windows 8 OS. In some deep way unlocked Nokia 1280 looks now much more attractive (and is way cheaper ;-).

Google Toolbar in advanced mode is another common snooping tool about your activities. It send each URL you visit to Google and you can be sure that from Google several three letter agencies get this information as well. After all Google has links to them from the very beginning:

Effects on behavior

As soon as they realize that they are watched, people start thinking about consequences and this article is a pretty telling (albeit slightly paranoid ;-) illustration of the effect. The key mechanism here, well known to those who used to live in the USSR before its dissolution is that people preemptively change their behavior, if they know or suspect that they got "under the dome" of government surveillance, that all their emails are intercepted, all web site visits recorded, anything they buy on Amazon, etc is registered in giant database outside of their control.

The angle under which will we try to cover the story is: the situation is such and such, now what? What are the most appropriate actions and strategy of behavior of people who are concerned about their privacy and no longer trust "cloud services" provided by Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc ( and those who trust those providers should probably stop reading at this point). It is impossible to close all those accounts. But some can and should be closed; for example POP3 mail can replace web mail for all "important" mail; this way you avoid "cloud storage" of all your important correspondence. It is impossible not to use search engines, but you can chose which search language to use. It is impractical not to use smartphone and for Android phone you can't avoid registration -- that's the only way to get updates from Google, but you can root the phone, remove some snooping components and use Firefox instead of Chrome. But not it is clear that if mobile web browsing and checking email on your phone is not your thing you are better off with a very simple phone such as Nokia 1280.

The first and the most obvious "change we can believe in" is that we need to change our attitude toward cloud services and especially cloud services from large providers. Now the most reasonable assumption is that most national cloud providers including major retailers are in bed with the government three letter agencies. So you need to be careful what you browse for on Amazon, similarly to what you write from Gmail and Hotmail.

In a way, excessive usage of cloud services from a fashionable trend now became kind of indication of a person stupidity. It is important to understand that for anybody more or less competent with computers (or willing to learn), anything Facebook or Gmail or Hotmail can offer, regular small ISP account with Cpanel can offer with less risk for your privacy for, say, $5 a month or less. And your privacy definitely cost more then $60 a year.

In a way excessive using of cloud services from a fashionable trend now became an indication of a person stupidity. For anybody more or less competent with computers (or willing to learn), anything Facebook or Gmail can offer, regular ISP account with Cpanel can offer too with less risk for your privacy.

At the same time it is also stupid to over-dramatize the situation and isolate yourself by abandoning Internet communications and restricting usage of cell-phone. The reasonable hypothesis is that today’s surveillance is a side effect of new technological developments and it is a new fact of life. It is just a new level of information gathering, which has been going on since the Byzantine Empire. And it is still limited by technological capabilities of sifting through mass of communications. But at the same time, quantity does at one point turns into quality, so the danger is real and as such could providers are suspect by definition. In no way they are new level of technological development. In sense they are one step forward, two sets back.

Also being engages in foreign wars has an interesting side effect that technologies invented come home and used against citizens (naked capitalism). That's actually the origin of indiscriminant collection of metadata used now.

But at the same time we need to understand that there are millions of PC users that have computer(s) infected by spyware, which can make your computer a zombie. And world did not perished due to that.

Still the key lesson is unmistakable: from now on, any networked computer is an unsecure computer that can't be trusted really confidential information, unless it is isolated by firewall and proxy. And if we assume that it is unsecured computer, them it should be treated it as such. The first step is that all confidential data should be deleted and moved to removable storage. In case you need to work with it as much as possible should be done on non-networked computers, limiting the exposure of your data to bare minimum. And the less powerful computer you use for processing you confidential data, the best; the less powerful OS you use, the best (what about using Windows 98 or DOS for those who can still remember it ? ;-). From now on "retro-computing" movement now is inherently linked with the issues of security and privacy and might get a new life.

This retro-computing idea might create a new life for abandoned computers that are in excess in almost every family ;-) See Privacy is Dead – Get Over It. The same thing can be mentioned about a cell phone, which should be as simple as possible. Not all people really benefit from browsing the Web from their smartphones. If you are really paranoid you can think storing you cell phone at home in a metal box ;-).

In other words there are two new "laws of computer security":

But more important problem here is not snooping per se, but voluntarily self-profiling that you provide via social sites. If you are way too enthusiastic about Facebook or Google++ or any similar site and engage regularly and indiscriminately in this "vanity fair" activity you put yourselves voluntarily under surveillance. So not only Privacy is Dead – Get Over It. You killed it yourself. The essence of the situation was exposed well in a humorous form in the following Amazon review of Orwell's novel 1984

Bjørn Anders See all my reviews

This is not an instruction manual!, June 14, 2013

This review is from: 1984: 60th-Anniversary Edition (Plume) (Paperback)

Note to US Congress and house of representatives: This is a fictional book, not an instruction manual...

BTW just after Prism program was revealed in June 2013, Nineteen Eighty-Four became a bestseller on Amazon. As of June 15, 2013 it was #87 in Fiction. If you never have a chance to read it, please do it now. and again, if you think that this revelation of Prism program is a big news, you probably are mistaken. Many people understood that as soon new technical capabilities of surveillance are available they are instantly put to use. As John H. Summers noted in his review (The Deciders - New York Times) of John Mill "Power elite":

...official secrecy steadily expanded its reach.

"For the first time in American history, men in authority are talking about an 'emergency' without a foreseeable end,"

Mills wrote in a sentence that remains as powerful and unsettling as it was 50 years ago.

"Such men as these are crackpot realists: in the name of realism they have constructed a paranoid reality all their own."

Adding insult to injury: Self-profiling

Facebook has nothing without people
silly enough to exchange privacy for photosharing

The key problem with social sites is that many people voluntarily post excessive amount of personal data about themselves, including keeping their photo archives online, etc. So while East Germany analog of the Department of Homeland Security called Ministry for State Security (Stasi) needed to recruit people to spy about you, now you yourself serves as a informer voluntarily providing all the tracking information about your activities ;-).

Scientella, palo alto

...Facebook always had a very low opinion of peoples intelligence - and rightly so!

I can tell you Silicon Valley is scared. Facebook's very existence depends upon trusting young persons, their celebrity wannabee parents and other inconsequential people being prepared to give up their private information to Facebook.

Google, now that SOCIAL IS DEAD, at least has their day job also, of paid referral advertising where someone can without divulging their "social" identity, and not linking their accounts, can look for a product on line and see next to it some useful ads.

But Facebook has nothing without people silly enough to exchange privacy for photosharing.

... ... ...

Steve Fankuchen, Oakland CA

Cook, Brin, Gates, Zuckerberg, et al most certainly have lawyers and public relations hacks that have taught them the role of "plausible deniability."

Just as in the government, eventually some low or mid-level flunkie will likely be hung out to dry, when it becomes evident that the institution knew exactly what was going on and did nothing to oppose it. To believe any of these companies care about their users as anything other than cash cows is to believe in the tooth fairy.

The amount of personal data which users of site like Facebook put voluntarily on the Web is truly astonishing. Now anybody using just Google search can get quit substantial information about anybody who actively using social sites and post messages in discussion he/she particulates under his/her own name instead of a nickname. Just try to see what is available about you and most probably your jaw would drop...

This is probably right time for the users of social sites like Facebook, Google search, and Amazon (that means most of us ;-) to think a little bit more about the risks we are exposing ourselves. We all should became more aware about the risks involved as well as real implications of the catch phase Privacy is Dead – Get Over It.

This is probably right time for the users of social sites like Facebook, Google search, and Amazon (that means most of us ;-) to think a little bit more about the risks we are exposing ourselves.

As Peter Ludlow noted in NYT (The Real War on Reality):

If there is one thing we can take away from the news of recent weeks it is this: the modern American surveillance state is not really the stuff of paranoid fantasies; it has arrived.

Citizens of foreign countries have accounts at Facebook and mail accounts in Gmail, hotmail and Yahoo mail are even in less enviable position then the US citizens. They are legitimate prey. No legal protection for them exists, if they use those services. That means that they voluntarily open all the information they posted about themselves to the US government in addition to their own government. And the net is probably more wide then information leaked by NSA contractor Edward Snowden suggests. For any large company, especially a telecom corporation, operating is the USA it might be dangerous to refuse to cooperate (Qwest case).

Former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio, convicted of insider trading in April 2007, alleged in appeal documents that the NSA requested that Qwest participate in its wiretapping program more than six months before September 11, 2001. Nacchio recalls the meeting as occurring on February 27, 2001. Nacchio further claims that the NSA cancelled a lucrative contract with Qwest as a result of Qwest's refusal to participate in the wiretapping program.[13] Nacchio surrendered April 14, 2009 to a federal prison camp in Schuylkill, Pennsylvania to begin serving a six-year sentence for the insider trading conviction. The United States Supreme Court denied bail pending appeal the same day.[15]

It is not the case of some special evilness of the US government. It simply is more agile to understand and capitalize on those new technical opportunities. It is also conveniently located at the center of Internet universe with most traffic is flowing via US owned or controlled routers (67% or more). But it goes without saying that several other national governments and a bunch of large corporations also try to mine this new gold throve of private information on citizens. Probably with less sophistication and having less financial resources.

In many cases corporations themselves are interested in partnership with the government. Here is one telling comment:

jrs says on June 8, 2013

Yea in my experience that’s how “public/private partnerships” really work:

  1. Companies DO need protection FROM the government. An ill-conceived piece of legislation can put a perfectly decent out of business. Building ties with the government is protection.
  2. Government represents a huge market and eventually becomes one of the top customers for I think most businesses (of course the very fact that a government agency is a main customer is often kept hush hush even within the company and something you are not supposed to speak of as an employee even though you are aware of it)
  3. Of course not every company proceeds to step 3 -- being basically an arm of the government but ..

That means that not only Chinese citizens already operate on the Internet without any real sense of privacy. Even if you live outside the USA the chances are high that you automatically profiled by the USA instead of or in addition to your own government. Kind of neoliberalism in overdrive mode: looks like we all are already citizens of a global empire (Let's call it " Empire of Peace" ) with the capital in Washington.

It is reasonable to assume that a massive eavesdropping apparatus now tracks at least an "envelope" of every electronic communication you made during your lifetime. No need for somebody reporting about you like in "old" totalitarian state like East Germany with its analog of the Department of Homeland Security called the Ministry for State Security (Stasi). So in this new environment, you are like Russians used to say about dissidents who got under KGB surveillance is always "under the dome". In this sense this is just an old vine in a new bottles. But the global scope and lifetime storage of huge amount of personal information for each and every citizen is something new and was made possible the first time in world history by new technologies.

It goes without saying that records about time, sender and receiver of all your phone calls, emails, Amazon purchases, credit card transactions, and Web activities for the last decade are stored somewhere in a database and not necessary only government computers. And that means that your social circle (the set of people you associate with), books and films that you bought, your favorite websites, etc can be easily deducted from those records.

That brings us to an important question about whether we as consumers should support such ventures as Facebook and Google++ which profile you and after several years have a huge amount of pretty private and pretty damaging information about you, information which can get into wrong hands.

Recent discoveries about Prism program: quantity turned into quality.

The most constructive approach to NSA is to view is a large government bureaucracy that expanded to the extent that quantity turned into quality.

Any large bureaucracy is a political coalition with the primary goal of preserving and enhancing of its own power, no matter what are official declarations. And if breaching your privacy helps they will do it. Which is what Bush government did after 9/11. The question is how much bureaucratic bloat resulting in classic dynamics of organizational self-aggrandizement and expansionism happened in NSA. We don't know how much we got in exchange for undermining internet security and US constitution. But we do know the intelligence establishment happily appropriated billions of dollars, had grown by thousand of employees and got substantial "face lift" and additional power within the executive branch of government. To the extent that something it looks like a shadow government. And now they will fight tooth-and nail to protect the fruits of a decade long bureaucratic expansion. Now it is an Intelligence Church and like any religious organization they do not need fact to support their doctrine and influence.

Typically there is an infighting and many factions within any large hierarchical organization, some with and some without factual awareness of the rest. Basically any hierarchical institution corporate, religious, military will abuse available resources for internal political infighting. And with NSA "big data" push this is either happening or just waiting to happen. This is a danger of any warrantless wiretapping program: it naturally convert itself into a saga of eroding checks and disappearing balance. And this already happened in the past, so in a way it is just act two of the same drama (WhoWhatWhy):

After media revelations of intelligence abuses by the Nixon administration began to mount in the wake of Watergate, NSA became the subject of Congressional ire in the form of the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities—commonly known as the “Church Committee” after its chair, Senator Frank Church (D-ID)—established on January 17, 1975. This ad-hoc investigative body found itself unearthing troves of classified records from the FBI, NSA, CIA and Pentagon that detailed the murky pursuits of each during the first decades of the Cold War. Under the mantle of defeating communism, internal documents confirmed the executive branch’s use of said agencies in some of the most fiendish acts of human imagination (including refined psychological torture techniques), particularly by the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Cold War mindset had incurably infected the nation’s security apparatus, establishing extralegal subversion efforts at home and brutish control abroad. It was revealed that the FBI undertook a war to destroy homegrown movements such as the Black Liberation Movement (including Martin Luther King, Jr.), and that NSA had indiscriminately intercepted the communications of Americans without warrant, even without the President’s knowledge. When confronted with such nefarious enterprises, Congress sought to rein in the excesses of the intelligence community, notably those directed at the American public.

The committee chair, Senator Frank Church, then issued this warning about NSA’s power:

That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. Telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. If this government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back, because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology. I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capability that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.

The reforms that followed, as enshrined in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978, included the establishment of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC): a specially-designated panel of judges who are allowed to review evidence before giving NSA a warrant to spy on Americans (only in the case of overseas communication). Hardly a contentious check or balance, FISC rejected zero warrant requests between its inception in 1979 and 2000, only asking that two warrants be “modified” out of an estimated 13,000.

In spite of FISC’s rubberstamping, following 9/11 the Bush administration began deliberately bypassing the court, because even its minimal evidentiary standard was too high a burden of proof for the blanket surveillance they wanted. So began the dragnet monitoring of the American public by tapping the country’s major electronic communication chokepoints in collusion with the nation’s largest telecommunications companies.

When confronted with the criminal conspiracy undertaken by the Bush administration and telecoms, Congress confirmed why it retains the lowest approval rating of any major American institution by “reforming” the statute to accommodate the massive law breaking. The 2008 FISA Amendments Act [FAA] entrenched the policy of mass eavesdropping and granted the telecoms retroactive immunity for their criminality, withdrawing even the negligible individual protections in effect since 1979. Despite initial opposition, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama voted for the act as one of his last deeds in the Senate. A few brave (and unsuccessful) lawsuits later, this policy remains the status quo.

Similarly we should naturally expect that the notion of "terrorist" is flexible and in certain cases can be equal to "any opponent of regime". While I sympathize NYT readers reaction to this incident (see below), I think it is somewhat naive. They forget that they are living under neoliberal regime which like any rule of top 0.01% is afraid of and does not trust its own citizens. So massive surveillance program is a self-preservation measure which allow to crush or subvert the opposition at early stages. This is the same situation as existed with Soviet nomenklatura, with the only difference that Soviet nomenklatura was more modest pushing the USSR as a beacon of progress and bright hope of all mankind ;-). As Ron Paul noted:

Many of us are not so surprised.

Some of us were arguing back in 2001 with the introduction of the so-called PATRIOT Act that it would pave the way for massive US government surveillance—not targeting terrorists but rather aimed against American citizens. We were told we must accept this temporary measure to provide government the tools to catch those responsible for 9/11. That was nearly twelve years and at least four wars ago.

We should know by now that when it comes to government power-grabs, we never go back to the status quo even when the “crisis” has passed. That part of our freedom and civil liberties once lost is never regained. How many times did the PATRIOT Act need renewed? How many times did FISA authority need expanded? Why did we have to pass a law to grant immunity to companies who hand over our personal information to the government?

And while revealed sources of NSA Prism program include Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and others major Internet players, that's probably just a tip of the iceberg. Ask yourself a question, why Amazon and VISA and MasterCard are not on the list? According to The Guardian:

The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian.

The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called Prism, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.

... ... ...

Microsoft – which is currently running an advertising campaign with the slogan "Your privacy is our priority" – was the first, with collection beginning in December 2007. It was followed by Yahoo in 2008; Google, Facebook and PalTalk in 2009; YouTube in 2010; Skype and AOL in 2011; and finally Apple, which joined the program in 2012. The program is continuing to expand, with other providers due to come online.

Collectively, the companies cover the vast majority of online email, search, video and communications networks

... ... ...

A chart prepared by the NSA, contained within the top-secret document obtained by the Guardian, underscores the breadth of the data it is able to obtain: email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice-over-IP (Skype, for example) chats, file transfers, social networking details, and more.

So while the document does not list Amazon, but I would keep fingers crossed.

Questions that arise

To be aware about a situation you need to be able to formulate and answer key questions about it. The first and the most important question is whether the government is engaged in cyberstalking of law abiding citizens. Unfortunately the answer is definite yes, as oligarchy needs total control of prols. As a result National Security State rise to prominence as a dominant social organization of neoliberal societies, the societies which characterized by very high level of inequality.

But there are some additional, albeit less important questions. The answers to them determine utility or futility of small changes of our own behavior in view of uncovered evidence. Among possible set of such question I would list the following:

There are also some minor questions about efficiency of "total surveillance approach". Among them:

The other part of understand the threat is understanding is what data are collected. The short answer is all your phone records and Internet activity (RT USA):

The National Security Agency is collecting information on the Internet habits of millions of innocent Americans never suspected of criminal involvement, new NSA documents leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden suggest.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported Monday that top-secret documents included in the trove of files supplied by the NSA contractor-turned-leaker Edward Snowden reveal that the US intelligence community obtains and keeps information on American citizens accumulated off the Internet without ever issuing a search warrant or opening an investigation into that person.

The information is obtained using a program codenamed Marina, the documents suggest, and is kept by the government for up to a full year without investigators ever having to explain why the subject is being surveilled.

Marina has the ability to look back on the last 365 days' worth of DNI metadata seen by the Sigint collection system, regardless whether or not it was tasked for collection,” the Guardian’s James Ball quotes from the documents.

According to a guide for intelligence analysts supplied by Mr. Snowden, “The Marina metadata application tracks a user's browser experience, gathers contact information/content and develops summaries of target.”

"This tool offers the ability to export the data in a variety of formats, as well as create various charts to assist in pattern-of-life development,” it continues.

Ball writes that the program collects “almost anything” a Web user does online, “from browsing history – such as map searches and websites visited – to account details, email activity, and even some account passwords.”

Only days earlier, separate disclosures attributed to Snowden revealed that the NSA was using a massive collection of metadata to create complex graphs of social connections for foreign intelligence purposes, although that program had pulled in intelligence about Americans as well.

After the New York Times broke news of that program, a NSA spokesperson said that “All data queries must include a foreign intelligence justification, period.” As Snowden documents continue to surface, however, it’s becoming clear that personal information pertaining to millions of US citizens is routinely raked in by the NSA and other agencies as the intelligence community collects as much data as possible.

In June, a top-secret document also attributed to Mr. Snowden revealed that the NSA was collecting the telephony metadata for millions of Americans from their telecom providers. The government has defended this practice by saying that the metadata — rough information that does not include the content of communications — is not protected by the US Constitution’s prohibition against unlawful search and seizure.

Metadata can be very revealing,” George Washington University law professor Orin S. Kerr told the Times this week. “Knowing things like the number someone just dialed or the location of the person’s cellphone is going to allow them to assemble a picture of what someone is up to. It’s the digital equivalent of tailing a suspect.”

According to the Guardian’s Ball, Internet metadata picked up by the NSA is routed to the Marina database, which is kept separate from the servers where telephony metadata is stored.

Only moments after the Guardian wrote of its latest leak on Monday, Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project read a statement before the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs penned by none other than Snowden himself.

When I began my work, it was with the sole intention of making possible the debate we see occurring here in this body,” Snowden said.

Snowden, who has been granted temporary asylum in Russia after being charged with espionage in the US, said through Raddack that “The cost for one in my position of returning public knowledge to public hands has been persecution and exile.”

Limits to spying via data collected about you

If the NSA's mining of data traffic is so effective, why weren't Tsarnaev's family's overseas calls predictive of a bombing at the Boston Marathon?

-Helen Corey WSJ.com

There are limits of this "powerful analytical software" as it currently used. As we mentioned above, even if NSA algorithms are incredibly clever they can't avoid producing large number of false positives. After two year investigation into the post 9/11 intelligence agencies, the Washington Post came to conclusion that they are collecting more information than anyone can comprehend ("drinking from a firehose" or "drowning is a sea of data"):

Every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billions e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications. The NSA sorts a fraction of those into 70 separate databases"

First of all there is a classic problem of "signal vs. noise" (infoglut) in any large scale data collection and presence of noise in the channel makes signal much more difficult to detect.

Analysts who make sense of document and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year -- a volume so large that many are routinely ignored

The enormity of the database exacerbate the problem. That's why NSA is hunting for email on cloud providers, where they are already filtered from spam, and processing required is much less then for emails intercepted from the wire data. Still even with the direct access to user accounts, the volume of data, especially graphic (pictures) and video data, is really huge and that stress the limits of processing capabilities and storage.

Existence of Snowden saga when a single analyst was able to penetrate the system and extract considerable amount information with impunity suggests that the whole Agency is mess, probably like is typical for any large organization with a lot of incompetents or, worse, careerists and psychopaths  at the helm (see Toxic Managers). Which is typical for government agencies and large corporations.

Still the level of logs collection and internal monitoring in NSA proved to be surprisingly weak, as there are indirect signs that the agency does not even know what reports Snowden get into his hands. In any case we, unless this is a very clever inside operation, we need to assume that Edward Snowden stole thousands of documents, abused his sysadmin position in the NSA, and was never caught. Here is one relevant comment from The Guardian

carlitoontour

Oh NSA......that´s fine that you cannot find something......what did you tell us, the World and the US Congress about the "intelligence" of Edward Snowden and the low access he had?

SNOWDEN SUSPECTED OF BYPASSING ELECTRONIC LOGS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. government's efforts to determine which highly classified materials leaker Edward Snowden took from the National Security Agency have been frustrated by Snowden's sophisticated efforts to cover his digital trail by deleting or bypassing electronic logs, government officials told The Associated Press. Such logs would have showed what information Snowden viewed or downloaded.

The government's forensic investigation is wrestling with Snowden's apparent ability to defeat safeguards established to monitor and deter people looking at information without proper permission, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the sensitive developments publicly.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_NSA_SURVEILLANCE_SNOWDEN?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2013-08-24-09-41-24

On the other hand government agencies were never good in making huge and complex software projects work. And large software projects are a very difficult undertaking in any case. Even in industry 50% of software projects fail, and anybody who works in the industry knows, that the more complex the project is the higher are chances that it will be mismanaged and its functionality crippled due to architectural defects ("a camel is a horse designed by a committee"). It is given that such project will be over budget. Possibly several times over...

But if money is not a problem such system will eventually be completed ("with enough thrust pigs can fly"). Still there’s no particular reason to think that corruption (major work was probably outsourced) and incompetence (on higher management levels and, especially on architectural level as in "camel is a horse designed by a committee") don't affect the design and functionality of such government projects. Now when this activity come under fire some adjustments might be especially badly thought out and potentially cripple the existing functionality.

As J. Kirk Wiebe, a NSA insider, noted

"The way the government was going about those digital data flows was poor formed, uninformed. There seen to be more of a desire to contract out and capture money flow then there was a [desire} to actually perform the mission".

See the interview of a trio of former National Security Agency whistle-blowers to USA TODAY ( J. Kirk Wiebe remarks starts at 2:06 and the second half of it continues from 6:10):

In military organizations the problem is seldom with the talent (or lack of thereof) of individual contributors. The problem is with the bureaucracy that is very effective in preventing people from exercising their talents at the service of their country. Such system is deformed in such a way that it hamstrings the men who are serving in it. As a results, more often then not the talents are squandered or misused by patching holes created by incompetence of higher-up or or just pushed aside in the interdepartmental warfare.

In a way, incompetence can be defined as the inability to avoid mistakes which, in a "normal" course of project development could and should be avoided. And that's the nature of military bureaucracy with its multiple layer of command and compete lack of accountability on higher levels.

In addition, despite the respectable name of the organization many members of technical staff are amateurs. They never managed to sharpen their technical skills, while at the same time acquiring the skills necessary to survive the bureaucracy. Many do not have basic academic education and are self-taught hackers and/or "grow on the job". Typically people at higher level of hierarchy, are simply not experts in software engineering, but more like typical corporate "PowerPoint" warriors. They can be very shred managers and accomplished political fighters, but that's it.

This is the same situation that exists in security departments of large multinationals, so we can extrapolate from that. The word of Admiral Nelson "If the enemy would know what officer corps will confront them, it will be trembling, like I am". Here is Bill Gross apt recollection of his service as naval officer (The Tipping Point) that illustrate the problems:

A few years ago I wrote about the time that our ship (on my watch) was almost cut in half by an auto-piloted tanker at midnight, but never have I divulged the day that the USS Diachenko came within one degree of heeling over during a typhoon in the South China Sea. “Engage emergency ballast,” the Captain roared at yours truly – the one and only chief engineer. Little did he know that Ensign Gross had slept through his classes at Philadelphia’s damage control school and had no idea what he was talking about. I could hardly find the oil dipstick on my car back in San Diego, let alone conceive of emergency ballast procedures in 50 foot seas. And so…the ship rolled to starboard, the ship rolled to port, the ship heeled at the extreme to 36 degrees (within 1 degree, as I later read in the ship’s manual, of the ultimate tipping point). One hundred sailors at risk, because of one twenty-three-year-old mechanically challenged officer, and a Captain who should have known better than to trust him.

Huge part of this work is outsourced to various contractors and this is where corruption really creeps in. So the system might be not as powerful as many people automatically assume when they hear the abbreviation of NSA. So in a way when news about such system reaches public it might serve not weakening but strengthening of the capabilities of the system. Moreover, nobody would question the ability of such system to store huge amount of raw or semi-processed data including all metadata for your transactions on the Internet.

Also while it is a large agency with a lot of top mathematic talent, NSA is not NASA and motivation of the people (and probably quality of architectural thinking about software projects involved) is different despite much better financing. While they do have high quality people, like most US agencies in general, large bureaucracies usually are unable to utilize their talent. Mediocrities with sharp elbows, political talent, as well as sociopaths typically rule the show.

That means two things:

So even with huge amount of subcontractors that can chase mostly "big fish". Although one open question is why with all those treasure trove of data organized crime is so hard to defeat. Having dataset like this should generally expose all the members of any gang. Or, say, network of blue collar insider traders. So in an indirect way the fact that organized crime not only exists and in some cities even flourish can suggest one of two things:

There is also a question of complexity of analysis:

Possibility of abuses of collected data

Errors in algorithms and bugs in those programs can bite some people in a different way then branding them as "terrorists". Such people have no way of knowing why all of a sudden, for example, they are paying a more for insurance, why their credit score is so low no matter what they do, etc. In no way government in the only one who are using the mass of data collected via Google / Facebook / Yahoo / Microsoft / Verizon / Optonline / AT&T / Comcast, etc. It also can lead to certain subtle types of bias if not error. And there are always problems of intentional misuse of data sets having extremely intimate knowledge about you.

Corporate corruption can lead to those data that are shared with the government can also be shared for money with private actors. Inept use of this unconstitutionally obtained data is a threat to all of us.

Then there can be cases when you can be targeted just because you are critical to the particular area of government policy, for example the US foreign policy. This is "Back in the USSR" situation in full swing, with its prosecution of dissidents. Labeling you as a "disloyal/suspicious element" in one of government "terrorism tracking" databases can have drastic result to your career and you never even realize whats happened. Kind of Internet era McCarthyism .

Obama claims that the government is aware about this danger and tried not to overstep, but he is an interested party in this discussion. In a way government is pushed in this area by the new technologies that open tremendous opportunities for collecting data and making some correlations.

That's why even if you are doing nothing wrong, it is still important to know your enemy, as well as avoid getting into some traps. One typical trap is excessive centralization of your email on social sites, including using a single Webmail provider. It is much safer to have mail delivery to your computer via POP3 and to use Thunderbird or other email client. If your computer is a laptop, you achieve, say, 80% of portability that Web-based email providers like Google Gmail offers. That does not mean that you should close your Gmail or Yahoo account. More important is separating email accounts into "important" and "everything else". "Junk mail" can be stored on Web-based email providers without any problems. Personal emails is completely another matter.

Conclusions

#14 Gus Hunt, the chief technology officer at the CIA: "We fundamentally try to collect everything and hang onto it forever."

New Internet technology developments has huge "Externality":
Profiling is now really easy and almost automatic, especially with your own help

Technology development create new types of communications as well as new types of government surveillance mechanisms (you can call them "externalities" of new methods of communication). Those externalities, especially low cost of mass surveillance (Wikipedia), unfortunately, bring us closer to the Electronic police state (Wikipedia) or National Security State whether we want it or not. A crucial element of such a state is that its data gathering, sorting and correlation are continuous, cover a large number of citizens and all foreigners and those activities are seldom exposed.

Cloud computing as a technology that presuppose storing the data "offsite" on third party servers have several security problems, and one of them is that it is way too much "surveillance friendly" (Misunderstanding of issues of security and trust). With cloud computing powers that be do not need to do complex job of recreating TCP/IP conversations on router level to capture, say, all the emails. You can access Web-based email mailbox directly with all mails in appropriate mailboxes and spam filtered. Your address book is a bonus ;-). This is huge saving of computational efforts.

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[Mar 18, 2019] Journalists who are spies

Highly recommended!
Can you trust the BBC news? How many journalists are working for the security services?
Notable quotes:
"... Can you trust the BBC news? How many journalists are working for the security services? ..."
"... "Most tabloid newspapers - or even newspapers in general - are playthings of MI5." ..."
"... Bloch and Fitzgerald, in their examination of covert UK warfare, report the editor of "one of Britain's most distinguished journals" as believing that more than half its foreign correspondents were on the MI6 payroll. ..."
"... The heart of the secret state they identified as the security services, the cabinet office and upper echelons of the Home and Commonwealth Offices, the armed forces and Ministry of Defence, the nuclear power industry and its satellite ministries together a network of senior civil servants. ..."
"... As "satellites" of the secret state, their list included "agents of influence in the media, ranging from actual agents of the security services, conduits of official leaks, to senior journalists merely lusting after official praise and, perhaps, a knighthood at the end of their career". ..."
"... Stephen Dorril, in his seminal history of MI6, reports that Orwell attended a meeting in Paris of resistance fighters on behalf of David Astor, his editor at the Observer and leader of the intelligence service's unit liasing with the French resistance. ..."
Mar 03, 2006 | www.nytimes.com

Can you trust the BBC news? How many journalists are working for the security services? The following extracts are from an article at the excellent Medialens

http://www.medialens.org/alerts/06/060303_hacks_and_spooks.php

HACKS AND SPOOKS

By Professor Richard Keeble

And so to Nottingham University (on Sunday 26 February) for a well-attended conference...

I focus in my talk on the links between journalists and the intelligence services: While it might be difficult to identify precisely the impact of the spooks (variously represented in the press as "intelligence", "security", "Whitehall" or "Home Office" sources) on mainstream politics and media, from the limited evidence it looks to be enormous.

As Roy Greenslade, media specialist at the Telegraph (formerly the Guardian), commented:

"Most tabloid newspapers - or even newspapers in general - are playthings of MI5."

Bloch and Fitzgerald, in their examination of covert UK warfare, report the editor of "one of Britain's most distinguished journals" as believing that more than half its foreign correspondents were on the MI6 payroll.

And in 1991, Richard Norton-Taylor revealed in the Guardian that 500 prominent Britons paid by the CIA and the now defunct Bank of Commerce and Credit International, included 90 journalists.

In their analysis of the contemporary secret state, Dorril and Ramsay gave the media a crucial role. The heart of the secret state they identified as the security services, the cabinet office and upper echelons of the Home and Commonwealth Offices, the armed forces and Ministry of Defence, the nuclear power industry and its satellite ministries together a network of senior civil servants.

As "satellites" of the secret state, their list included "agents of influence in the media, ranging from actual agents of the security services, conduits of official leaks, to senior journalists merely lusting after official praise and, perhaps, a knighthood at the end of their career".

Phillip Knightley, author of a seminal history of the intelligence services, has even claimed that at least one intelligence agent is working on every Fleet Street newspaper.

A brief history

Going as far back as 1945, George Orwell no less became a war correspondent for the Observer - probably as a cover for intelligence work. Significantly most of the men he met in Paris on his assignment, Freddie Ayer, Malcolm Muggeridge, Ernest Hemingway were either working for the intelligence services or had close links to them.

Stephen Dorril, in his seminal history of MI6, reports that Orwell attended a meeting in Paris of resistance fighters on behalf of David Astor, his editor at the Observer and leader of the intelligence service's unit liasing with the French resistance.

The release of Public Record Office documents in 1995 about some of the operations of the MI6-financed propaganda unit, the Information Research Department of the Foreign Office, threw light on this secret body - which even Orwell aided by sending them a list of "crypto-communists". Set up by the Labour government in 1948, it "ran" dozens of Fleet Street journalists and a vast array of news agencies across the globe until it was closed down by Foreign Secretary David Owen in 1977.

According to John Pilger in the anti-colonial struggles in Kenya, Malaya and Cyprus, IRD was so successful that the journalism served up as a record of those episodes was a cocktail of the distorted and false in which the real aims and often atrocious behaviour of the British intelligence agencies was hidden.

And spy novelist John le Carré, who worked for MI6 between 1960 and 1964, has made the amazing statement that the British secret service then controlled large parts of the press – just as they may do today.

In 1975, following Senate hearings on the CIA, the reports of the Senate's Church Committee and the House of Representatives' Pike Committee highlighted the extent of agency recruitment of both British and US journalists.

And sources revealed that half the foreign staff of a British daily were on the MI6 payroll.

David Leigh, in The Wilson Plot, his seminal study of the way in which the secret service smeared through the mainstream media and destabilised the Government of Harold Wilson before his sudden resignation in 1976, quotes an MI5 officer: "We have somebody in every office in Fleet Street"

Leaker King

And the most famous whistleblower of all, Peter (Spycatcher) Wright, revealed that MI5 had agents in newspapers and publishing companies whose main role was to warn them of any forthcoming "embarrassing publications".

Wright also disclosed that the Daily Mirror tycoon, Cecil King, "was a longstanding agent of ours" who "made it clear he would publish anything MI5 might care to leak in his direction".

Selective details about Wilson and his secretary, Marcia Falkender, were leaked by the intelligence services to sympathetic Fleet Street journalists. Wright comments: "No wonder Wilson was later to claim that he was the victim of a plot". King was also closely involved in a scheme in 1968 to oust Prime Minister Harold Wilson and replace him with a coalition headed by Lord Mountbatten.

Hugh Cudlipp, editorial director of the Mirror from 1952 to 1974, was also closely linked to intelligence, according to Chris Horrie, in his recently published history of the newspaper.

David Walker, the Mirror's foreign correspondent in the 1950s, was named as an MI6 agent following a security scandal while another Mirror journalist, Stanley Bonnet, admitted working for MI5 in the 1980s investigating the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

Maxwell and Mossad

According to Stephen Dorril, intelligence gathering during the miners' strike of 1984-85 was helped by the fact that during the 1970s MI5's F Branch had made a special effort to recruit industrial correspondents – with great success.

In 1991, just before his mysterious death, Mirror proprietor Robert Maxwell was accused by the US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh of acting for Mossad, the Israeli secret service, though Dorril suggests his links with MI6 were equally as strong.

Following the resignation from the Guardian of Richard Gott, its literary editor in December 1994 in the wake of allegations that he was a paid agent of the KGB, the role of journalists as spies suddenly came under the media spotlight – and many of the leaks were fascinating.

For instance, according to The Times editorial of 16 December 1994: "Many British journalists benefited from CIA or MI6 largesse during the Cold War."

The intimate links between journalists and the secret services were highlighted in the autobiography of the eminent newscaster Sandy Gall. He reports without any qualms how, after returning from one of his reporting assignments to Afghanistan, he was asked to lunch by the head of MI6. "It was very informal, the cook was off so we had cold meat and salad with plenty of wine. He wanted to hear what I had to say about the war in Afghanistan. I was flattered, of course, and anxious to pass on what I could in terms of first-hand knowledge."

And in January 2001, the renegade MI6 officer, Richard Tomlinson, claimed Dominic Lawson, the editor of the Sunday Telegraph and son of the former Tory chancellor, Nigel Lawson, provided journalistic cover for an MI6 officer on a mission to the Baltic to handle and debrief a young Russian diplomat who was spying for Britain.

Lawson strongly denied the allegations.

Similarly in the reporting of Northern Ireland, there have been longstanding concerns over security service disinformation. Susan McKay, Northern editor of the Dublin-based Sunday Tribune, has criticised the reckless reporting of material from "dodgy security services". She told a conference in Belfast in January 2003 organised by the National Union of Journalists and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission: "We need to be suspicious when people are so ready to provide information and that we are, in fact, not being used." (www.nuj.org.uk/inner.php?docid=635)

Growing power of secret state

Thus from this evidence alone it is clear there has been a long history of links between hacks and spooks in both the UK and US.

But as the secret state grows in power, through massive resourcing, through a whole raft of legislation – such as the Official Secrets Act, the anti-terrorism legislation, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and so on – and as intelligence moves into the heart of Blair's ruling clique so these links are even more significant.

Since September 11 all of Fleet Street has been awash in warnings by anonymous intelligence sources of terrorist threats.

According to former Labour minister Michael Meacher, much of this disinformation was spread via sympathetic journalists by the Rockingham cell within the MoD.

A parallel exercise, through the office of Special Plans, was set up by Donald Rumsfeld in the US. Thus there have been constant attempts to scare people – and justify still greater powers for the national security apparatus.

Similarly the disinformation about Iraq's WMD was spread by dodgy intelligence sources via gullible journalists.

Thus, to take just one example, Michael Evans, The Times defence correspondent, reported on 29 November 2002: "Saddam Hussein has ordered hundred of his officials to conceal weapons of mass destruction components in their homes to evade the prying eyes of the United Nations inspectors." The source of these "revelations" was said to be "intelligence picked up from within Iraq". Early in 2004, as the battle for control of Iraq continued with mounting casualties on both sides, it was revealed that many of the lies about Saddam Hussein's supposed WMD had been fed to sympathetic journalists in the US, Britain and Australia by the exile group, the Iraqi National Congress.

Sexed up – and missed out

During the controversy that erupted following the end of the "war" and the death of the arms inspector Dr David Kelly (and the ensuing Hutton inquiry) the spotlight fell on BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan and the claim by one of his sources that the government (in collusion with the intelligence services) had "sexed up" a dossier justifying an attack on Iraq.

The Hutton inquiry, its every twist and turn massively covered in the mainstream media, was the archetypal media spectacle that drew attention from the real issue: why did the Bush and Blair governments invade Iraq in the face of massive global opposition? But those facts will be forever secret.

Significantly, too, the broader and more significant issue of mainstream journalists' links with the intelligence services was ignored by the inquiry.

Significantly, on 26 May 2004, the New York Times carried a 1,200-word editorial admitting it had been duped in its coverage of WMD in the lead-up to the invasion by dubious Iraqi defectors, informants and exiles (though it failed to lay any blame on the US President: see Greenslade 2004). Chief among The Times' dodgy informants was Ahmad Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress and Pentagon favourite before his Baghdad house was raided by US forces on 20 May.

Then, in the Observer of 30 May 2004, David Rose admitted he had been the victim of a "calculated set-up" devised to foster the propaganda case for war. "In the 18 months before the invasion of March 2003, I dealt regularly with Chalabi and the INC and published stories based on interviews with men they said were defectors from Saddam's regime." And he concluded: "The information fog is thicker than in any previous war, as I know now from bitter personal experience. To any journalist being offered apparently sensational disclosures, especially from an anonymous intelligence source, I offer two words of advice: caveat emptor."

Let's not forget no British newspaper has followed the example of the NYT and apologised for being so easily duped by the intelligence services in the run up to the illegal invasion of Iraq.

~

Richard Keeble's publications include Secret State, Silent Press: New Militarism, the Gulf and the Modern Image of Warfare (John Libbey 1997) and The Newspapers Handbook (Routledge, fourth edition, 2005). He is also the editor of Ethical Space: The International Journal of Communication Ethics. Richard is also a member of the War and Media Network.

[Mar 18, 2019] Doublethink and Newspeak Do We Have a Choice by Greg Guma

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... In Orwell's imagination, society was ruled in the future by Big Brother. It wasn't a computer, but rather the collective expression of the Party. But not like the Republicans; this Party was an autonomous bureaucracy and advanced surveillance state interested only in perpetuating itself as a hierarchy. In this dystopia, "the people" had become insignificant, without the power of "grasping that the world could be other than it is." ..."
"... Concepts like freedom were perverted by a ruthless Newspeakperpetuated by the Party through the media. A Goodthinker was someone who followed orders without thinking. Crimestop was the instinctual avoidance of any dangerous thought, and Doublethink was the constant distortion of reality to maintain the Party's image of infallibility. ..."
"... Writing in 1948, Orwell was projecting what could happen in just a few decades. By most measures, even 70 years later we're not quite there yet. But we do face the real danger that freedom and equality will be seriously distorted by a new form of Newspeak, a Trumpian version promoted by the administration and its allies through their media. We already have Trumpian Goodthinkers -- the sychophantic surrogates who follow his lead without thinking, along with Crimestop -- the instinctual avoidance of "disloyal" thought, and Doublethink -- the constant distortion of reality to maintain Trump's insatiable ego and image of infallibility. Orwellian ideas are simply resurfacing in a post-modern/reality TV form. ..."
"... As community life unravels and more institutions fall into disrepute, media have become among of the few remaining that can potentially facilitate some social cohesion. Yet instead they fuel conflict and crisis. It's not quite Crimestop, but does often appeal to some of the basest instincts and produce even more alienation and division. ..."
"... In 1980, Ralph Nader called the race for president at that time -- between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan -- a choice between mediocrity and menace. It was funny then, but now we can see what real menace looks like. Is Trump-ism what Orwell warned us about? Not quite, though there are similarities. Like Trump, you can't talk to Big Brother. And he rarely gives you the truth, only doublespeak. But Trump is no Big Brother. More like a Drunk Uncle with nukes. ..."
"... Security is tight and hard to avoid, on or offline. There are cameras everywhere, and every purchase and move most people make is tracked by the state. Still, there are four bombings in the first week of the Games. There is also another kind of human tragedy. Four runners collapse during preliminary rounds as a result of a toxic mix -- heat and pollution. ..."
"... Greg Guma is the Vermont-based author of Dons of Time, Uneasy Empire, Spirits of Desire, Big Lies, and The People's Republic: Vermont and the Sanders Revolution. ..."
"... This article was originally published by Greg Guma: For Preservation & Change . ..."
Aug 21, 2017 | www.globalresearch.ca
Region: USA Theme: Media Disinformation , Police State & Civil Rights

More people are becoming alienated, cynical, resentful or resigned, while too much of mass and social media reinforces less-than-helpful narratives and tendencies. The frog's in the frying pan and the heat is rising.

On the big screens above us beautiful young people demonstrated their prowess. We were sitting in the communications center, waiting for print outs to tell us what they'd done before organizing the material for mass consumption. Outside, people were freezing in the snow as they waited for buses. Their only choice was to attend another event or attempt to get home.

The area was known as the Competition Zone, a corporate state created for the sole purpose of showcasing these gorgeous competitors. Freedom was a foreign idea here; no one was more free than the laminated identification card hanging around your neck allowed.

Visitors were more restricted than anyone. They saw only what they paid for, and had to wait in long lines for food, transport, or tickets to more events. They were often uncomfortable, yet they felt privileged to be admitted to the Zone. Citizens were categorized by their function within the Organizing Committee's bureaucracy. Those who merely served -- in jobs like cooking, driving and cleaning -- wore green and brown tags. They could travel between their homes and work, but were rarely permitted into events. Their contact with visitors was also limited. To visit them from outside the Zone, their friends and family had to be screened.

Most citizens knew little about how the Zone was actually run, about the "inner community" of diplomats, competitors and corporate officials they served. Yet each night they watched the exploits of this same elite on television.

The Zone, a closed and classified place where most bad news went unreported and a tiny elite called the shots through mass media and computers, was no futuristic fantasy. It was Lake Placid for several weeks in early 1980 -- a full four years before 1984.

In a once sleepy little community covered with artificial snow, the Olympics had brought a temporary society into being. Two thousand athletes and their entourage were its royalty, role models for the throngs of spectators, townspeople and journalists. This convergence resulted in an ad hoc police state, managed by public and private forces and a political elite that combined local business honchos with an international governing committee. They dominated a population all too willing to submit to arbitrary authority.

Even back then, Lake Placid's Olympic "village" felt like a preview of things to come. Not quite George Orwell's dark vision, but uncomfortably close.

In Orwell's imagination, society was ruled in the future by Big Brother. It wasn't a computer, but rather the collective expression of the Party. But not like the Republicans; this Party was an autonomous bureaucracy and advanced surveillance state interested only in perpetuating itself as a hierarchy. In this dystopia, "the people" had become insignificant, without the power of "grasping that the world could be other than it is."

Concepts like freedom were perverted by a ruthless Newspeakperpetuated by the Party through the media. A Goodthinker was someone who followed orders without thinking. Crimestop was the instinctual avoidance of any dangerous thought, and Doublethink was the constant distortion of reality to maintain the Party's image of infallibility.

Writing in 1948, Orwell was projecting what could happen in just a few decades. By most measures, even 70 years later we're not quite there yet. But we do face the real danger that freedom and equality will be seriously distorted by a new form of Newspeak, a Trumpian version promoted by the administration and its allies through their media. We already have Trumpian Goodthinkers -- the sychophantic surrogates who follow his lead without thinking, along with Crimestop -- the instinctual avoidance of "disloyal" thought, and Doublethink -- the constant distortion of reality to maintain Trump's insatiable ego and image of infallibility. Orwellian ideas are simply resurfacing in a post-modern/reality TV form.

Our fast food culture is also taking a long-term toll. More and more people are becoming alienated, cynical, resentful or resigned, while too much of mass and social media reinforces less-than-helpful narratives and tendencies. The frog's in the frying pan and the heat is rising.

Much of what penetrates and goes viral further fragments culture and thought, promoting a cynicism that reinforces both rage and inaction. Rather than true diversity, we have the mass illusion that a choice between polarized opinions, shaped and curated by editors and networks, is the essence of free speech and democracy. In reality, original ideas are so constrained and self-censored that what's left is usually as diverse as brands of peppermint toothpaste.

When the Bill of Rights was ratified, the notion that freedom of speech and the press should be protected meant that the personal right of self-expression should not be repressed by the government. James Madison, author of the First Amendment, warned that the greatest danger to liberty was that a majority would use its power to repress everyone else. Yet the evolution of mass media and the corporate domination of economic life have made these "choicest privileges" almost obsolete.

As community life unravels and more institutions fall into disrepute, media have become among of the few remaining that can potentially facilitate some social cohesion. Yet instead they fuel conflict and crisis. It's not quite Crimestop, but does often appeal to some of the basest instincts and produce even more alienation and division.

In general terms, what most mass media bring the public is a series of images and anecdotes that cumulatively define a way of life. Both news and entertainment contribute to the illusion that competing, consuming and accumulating are at the core of our aspirations. Each day we are repeatedly shown and told that culture and politics are corrupt, that war is imminent or escalating somewhere, that violence is random and pervasive, and yet also that the latest "experts" have the answers. Countless programs meanwhile celebrate youth, violence, frustrated sexuality, and the lives of celebrities.

Between the official program content are a series of intensely packaged sales pitches. These commercial messages wash over us, as if we are wandering in an endless virtual mall, searching in vain for fulfillment as society crumbles.

In 1980, Ralph Nader called the race for president at that time -- between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan -- a choice between mediocrity and menace. It was funny then, but now we can see what real menace looks like. Is Trump-ism what Orwell warned us about? Not quite, though there are similarities. Like Trump, you can't talk to Big Brother. And he rarely gives you the truth, only doublespeak. But Trump is no Big Brother. More like a Drunk Uncle with nukes.

So, is it too late for a rescue? Will menace win this time? Or can we still save the environment, reclaim self-government, restore communities and protect human rights? What does the future hold?

It could be summer in Los Angeles in 2024, the end of Donald Trump's second term. The freeways are slow-moving parking lots for the Olympics. Millions of people hike around in the heat, or use bikes and cycles to get to work. It's difficult with all the checkpoints, not to mention the extra-high security at the airports. Thousands of police, not to mention the military, are on the lookout for terrorists, smugglers, protesters, cultists, gangs, thieves, and anyone who doesn't have money to burn or a ticket to the Games.

Cash isn't much good, and gas has become so expensive that suburban highways are almost empty.

Security is tight and hard to avoid, on or offline. There are cameras everywhere, and every purchase and move most people make is tracked by the state. Still, there are four bombings in the first week of the Games. There is also another kind of human tragedy. Four runners collapse during preliminary rounds as a result of a toxic mix -- heat and pollution.

... ... ...

Greg Guma is the Vermont-based author of Dons of Time, Uneasy Empire, Spirits of Desire, Big Lies, and The People's Republic: Vermont and the Sanders Revolution.

This article was originally published by Greg Guma: For Preservation & Change .

[Mar 18, 2019] The Why are the media playing lapdog and not watchdog – again – on war in Iraq?

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... General Electric, the world's largest military contractor, still controls the message over at the so-called "liberal" MSNBC. MSNBC's other owner is Comcast, the right wing media conglomerate that controls the radio waves in every major American Market. Over at CNN, Mossad Asset Wolf Blitzer, who rose from being an obscure little correspondent for an Israeli Newspaper to being CNN's Chief "Pentagon Correspondent" and then was elevated to supreme anchorman nearly as quickly, ensures that the pro-Israeli Message is always in the forefront, even as the Israeli's commit one murderous act after another upon helpless Palestinian Women and Children. ..."
"... Every single "terrorism expert", General or former Government Official that is brought out to discuss the next great war is connected to a military contractor that stands to benefit from that war. Not surprisingly, the military option is the only option discussed and we are assured that, if only we do this or bomb that, then it will all be over and we can bring our kids home to a big victory parade. I'm 63 and it has never happened in my lifetime--with the exception of the phony parade that Bush Senior put on after his murderous little "First Gulf War". ..."
"... The Generals in the Pentagon always want war. It is how they make rank. All of those young kids that just graduated from our various academies know that war experience is the only thing that will get them the advancement that they seek in the career that they have chosen. They are champing at the bit for more war. ..."
"... the same PR campaign that started with Bush and Cheney continues-the exact same campaign. Obviously, they have to come back at the apple with variations, but any notion that the "media will get it someday" is willfully ignorant of the obvious fact that there is an agenda, and that agenda just won't stop until it's achieved-or revolution supplants the influence of these dark forces. ..."
"... The US media are indeed working overtime to get this war happening ..."
"... In media universe there is no alternative to endless war and an endless stream of hyped reasons for new killing. ..."
"... The media machine is a wholly owned subsidiary of the United States of Corporations. ..."
"... Oh, the greatest propaganda arm the US government has right now, bar none, is the American media. It's disgraceful. we no longer have journalists speaking truth to power in my country, we have people practicing stenography, straight from the State Department to your favorite media outlet. ..."
"... But all that research from MIT, from the UN, and others, has been buried by the American media, and every single story on Syria and Assad that is written still refers to "Assad gassing his own people". It's true, it's despicable, and it's just one example of how our media lies and distorts and misrepresents the news every day. ..."
Oct 10, 2014 | The Guardian
BradBenson, 10 October 2014 6:14pm
The American Public has gotten exactly what it deserved. They have been dumbed-down in our poor-by-intention school systems. The moronic nonsense that passes for news in this country gets more sensational with each passing day. Over on Fox, they are making the claim that ISIS fighters are bringing Ebola over the Mexican Border, which prompted a reply by the Mexican Embassy that won't be reported on Fox.

We continue to hear and it was even reported in this very fine article by Ms. Benjamin that the American People now support this new war. Really? I'm sorry, but I haven't seen that support anywhere but on the news and I just don't believe it any more.

There is also the little problem of infiltration into key media slots by paid CIA Assets (Scarborough and brainless Mika are two of these double dippers). Others are intermarried. Right-wing Neocon War Criminal Dan Senor is married to "respected" newsperson Campbell Brown who is now involved in privatizing our school system. Victoria Nuland, the slimey State Department Official who was overheard appointing the members of the future Ukrainian Government prior to the Maidan Coup is married to another Neo-Con--Larry Kagan. Even sweet little Andrea Mitchell is actually Mrs. Alan Greenspan.

General Electric, the world's largest military contractor, still controls the message over at the so-called "liberal" MSNBC. MSNBC's other owner is Comcast, the right wing media conglomerate that controls the radio waves in every major American Market. Over at CNN, Mossad Asset Wolf Blitzer, who rose from being an obscure little correspondent for an Israeli Newspaper to being CNN's Chief "Pentagon Correspondent" and then was elevated to supreme anchorman nearly as quickly, ensures that the pro-Israeli Message is always in the forefront, even as the Israeli's commit one murderous act after another upon helpless Palestinian Women and Children.

Every single "terrorism expert", General or former Government Official that is brought out to discuss the next great war is connected to a military contractor that stands to benefit from that war. Not surprisingly, the military option is the only option discussed and we are assured that, if only we do this or bomb that, then it will all be over and we can bring our kids home to a big victory parade. I'm 63 and it has never happened in my lifetime--with the exception of the phony parade that Bush Senior put on after his murderous little "First Gulf War".

Yesterday there was a coordinated action by all of the networks, which was clearly designed to support the idea that the generals want Obama to act and he just won't. The not-so-subtle message was that the generals were right and that the President's "inaction" was somehow out of line-since, after all, the generals have recommended more war. It was as if these people don't remember that the President, sleazy War Criminal that he is, is still the Commander in Chief.

The Generals in the Pentagon always want war. It is how they make rank. All of those young kids that just graduated from our various academies know that war experience is the only thing that will get them the advancement that they seek in the career that they have chosen. They are champing at the bit for more war.

Finally, this Sunday every NFL Game will begin with some Patriotic "Honor America" Display, which will include a missing man flyover, flags and fireworks, plenty of uniforms, wounded Vets and soon-to-be-wounded Vets. A giant American Flag will, once again, cover the fields and hundreds of stupid young kids will rush down to their "Military Career Center" right after the game. These are the ones that I pity most.

BaronVonAmericano , 10 October 2014 6:26pm
Let's be frank: powerful interests want war and subsequent puppet regimes in the half dozen nations that the neo-cons have been eyeing (Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan). These interests surely include industries like banking, arms and oil-all of whom make a killing on any war, and would stand to do well with friendly governments who could finance more arms purchases and will never nationalize the oil.

So, the same PR campaign that started with Bush and Cheney continues-the exact same campaign. Obviously, they have to come back at the apple with variations, but any notion that the "media will get it someday" is willfully ignorant of the obvious fact that there is an agenda, and that agenda just won't stop until it's achieved-or revolution supplants the influence of these dark forces.

IanB52, 10 October 2014 6:57pm

The US media are indeed working overtime to get this war happening. When I'm down at the gym they always have CNN on (I can only imagine what FOX is like) which is a pretty much dyed in the wool yellow jingoist station at this point. With all the segments they dedicate to ISIS, a new war, the "imminent" terrorist threat, they seem to favor talking heads who support a full ground war and I have never, not once, heard anyone even speak about the mere possibility of peace. Not ever.

In media universe there is no alternative to endless war and an endless stream of hyped reasons for new killing.

I'd imagine that these media companies have a lot stock in and a cozy relationship with the defense contractors.

Damiano Iocovozzi, 10 October 2014 7:04pm

The media machine is a wholly owned subsidiary of the United States of Corporations. The media doesn't report on anything but relies on repeating manufactured crises, creating manufactured consent & discussing manufactured solutions. Follow the oil, the pipelines & the money. Both R's & D's are left & right cheeks of the same buttock. Thanks to Citizens United & even Hobby Lobby, a compliant Supreme Court, also owned by United States of Corporations, it's a done deal.

ID5868758 , 10 October 2014 10:20pm
Oh, the greatest propaganda arm the US government has right now, bar none, is the American media. It's disgraceful. we no longer have journalists speaking truth to power in my country, we have people practicing stenography, straight from the State Department to your favorite media outlet.

Let me give you one clear example. A year ago Barack Obama came very close to bombing Syria to kingdom come, the justification used was "Assad gassed his own people", referring to a sarin gas attack near Damascus. Well, it turns out that Assad did not initiate that attack, discovered by research from many sources including the prestigious MIT, it was a false flag attack planned by Turkey and carried out by some of Obama's own "moderate rebels".

But all that research from MIT, from the UN, and others, has been buried by the American media, and every single story on Syria and Assad that is written still refers to "Assad gassing his own people". It's true, it's despicable, and it's just one example of how our media lies and distorts and misrepresents the news every day.

[Mar 17, 2019] Mueller uses the same old false flag scams, just different packaging of his forensics-free findings

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... It appears the FBI, CIA, and NSA have great difficulty in differentiating between Russians and Democrats posing as Russians. ..."
"... Maybe the VIPS should look into the murder of Seth Rich, the DNC staffer who had the security clearance required to access the DNC servers, and who was murdered in the same week as the emails were taken. In particular, they should ask why the police were told to stand down and close the murder case without further investigation. ..."
"... What a brilliant article, so logical, methodical & a forensic, scientific breakdown of the phony Russiagate project? And there's no doubt, this was a co-ordinated, determined Intelligence project to reverse the results of the 2016 Election by initiating a soft coup or Regime change op on a elected Leader, a very American Coup, something the American Intelligence Agencies specialise in, everywhere else, on a Global scale, too get Trump impeached & removed from the Whitehouse? ..."
"... Right. Since its purpose is to destroy Trump politically, the investigation should go on as long as Trump is in office. Alternatively, if at this point Trump has completely sold out, that would be another reason to stop the investigation. ..."
"... Nancy Pelosi's announcement two days ago that the Democrats will not seek impeachment for Trump suggests the emptiness of the Mueller investigation on the specific "collusion" issue. ..."
"... We know and Assange has confirmed Seth Rich, assassinated in D.C. for his deed, downloaded the emails and most likely passed them on to former British ambassador Craig Murray in a D.C. park for transport to Wikileaks. ..."
"... This so-called "Russiagate" narrative is an illustration of our "freedom of the press" failure in the US due to groupthink and self censorship. He who pays the piper is apt to call the tune. ..."
"... Barr, Sessions, every congressmen all the corporate MSM war profiteer mouth pieces. They all know that "Russia hacked the DNC" and "Russia meddled" is fabricated garbage. They don't care, because their chosen war beast corporate candidate couldn't beat Donald goofball Trump. So it has to be shown that the war beast only lost because of nefarious reasons. Because they're gonna run another war beast cut from the same cloth as Hillary in 2020. ..."
"... Mar 4, 2019 Tom Fitton: President Trump a 'Crime Victim' by Illegal Deep State DOJ & FBI Abuses: https://youtu.be/ixWMorWAC7c ..."
"... Trump is a willing player in this game. The anti-Russian Crusade was, quite simply, a stunningly reckless, short-sighted effort to overturn the 2016 election, removing Trump to install Hillary Clinton in office. ..."
"... Much ado about nothing. All the talk and chatter and media airplay about "Russian meddling" in the 2016 election only tells me that these liars think the American public is that stupid. ..."
"... Andrew Thomas I'm afraid that huge amounts of our History post 1947 is organized and propagandized disinformation. There is an incredible page that John Simpkin has organized over the years that specifically addresses individuals, click on a name and read about them. https://spartacus-educational.com/USAdisinformation.htm ..."
"... It's pretty astonishing that Mueller was more interested in Roger Stone and Jerome Corsi as credible sources about Wikileaks and the DNC release than Craig Murray! ..."
"... Yes, he has done his job. And his job was to bring his royal Orangeness to heel, and to make sure that detente and co-operation with Russia remained impossible. The forever war continues. Mission Accomplished. ..."
Mar 17, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

O Society , March 16, 2019 at 7:55 am

The Truth is Out There. I Want to Believe!

Same old scams, different packaging. That's New & Improved for you.

http://opensociet.org/2019/03/16/the-return-of-the-hidden-persuaders

Raymond Comeau , March 15, 2019 at 12:35 pm

I could not suffer through reading the whole article. This is mainly because I have watched the news daily about Mueller's Investigation and I sincerely believe that Mueller is Champion of the Democrats who are trying to depose President Donald Trump at any cost.

For what Mueller found any decent lawyer with a Degree and a few years of experience could have found what Mueller found for far far less money. Mueller only found common crimes AND NO COLLUSION BETWEEN PRESIDENT TRUMP AND PUTIN!

The Mueller Investigation should be given to an honest broker to review, and Mueller should be paid only what it would cost to produce the commonplace crimes Mueller, The Democrats, and CNN has tried to convince the people that indeed Trump COLLUDED with RUSSIA. Mueller is, a BIG NOTHING BURGER and THE DEMOCRATS AND CNN ARE MUELLER'S SINGING CANARYS! Mueller should be jailed.

Bogdan Miller , March 15, 2019 at 11:04 am

This article explains why the Mueller Report is already highly suspect. For another thing, we know that since before 2016, Democrats have been studying Russian Internet and hacking tactics, and posing as Russian Bots/Trolls on Facebook and other media outlets, all in an effort to harm President Trump.

It appears the FBI, CIA, and NSA have great difficulty in differentiating between Russians and Democrats posing as Russians.

B.J.M. Former Intelligence Analyst and Humint Collector

vinnieoh , March 15, 2019 at 8:17 am

Moving on: the US House yesterday voted UNANIMOUSLY (remember that word, so foreign these days to US governance?) to "urge" the new AG to release the complete Mueller report.

A non-binding resolution, but you would think that the Democrats can't see the diesel locomotive bearing down on their clown car, about to smash it to pieces. The new AG in turn says he will summarize the report and that is what we will see, not the entire report. And taxation without representation takes a new twist.

... ... ...

Raymond Comeau , March 15, 2019 at 12:38 pm

What else would you expect from two Political Parties who are really branches of the ONE Party which Represents DEEP STATE".

DWS , March 15, 2019 at 5:58 am

Maybe the VIPS should look into the murder of Seth Rich, the DNC staffer who had the security clearance required to access the DNC servers, and who was murdered in the same week as the emails were taken. In particular, they should ask why the police were told to stand down and close the murder case without further investigation.

Raymond Comeau , March 15, 2019 at 12:47 pm

EXACTLY! But, Deep State will not allow that. And, it would ruin the USA' plan to continue to invade more sovereign countries and steal their resources such as oil and Minerals. The people of the USA must be Ostriches or are so terrified that they accept anything their Criminal Governments tell them.

Eventually, the chickens will come home to roost and perhaps the USA voters will ROAST when the crimes of the USA sink the whole country. It is time for a few Brave Men and Women to find their backbones and throw out the warmongers and their leading Oligarchs!

KiwiAntz , March 14, 2019 at 6:44 pm

What a brilliant article, so logical, methodical & a forensic, scientific breakdown of the phony Russiagate project? And there's no doubt, this was a co-ordinated, determined Intelligence project to reverse the results of the 2016 Election by initiating a soft coup or Regime change op on a elected Leader, a very American Coup, something the American Intelligence Agencies specialise in, everywhere else, on a Global scale, too get Trump impeached & removed from the Whitehouse?

If you can't get him out via a Election, try & try again, like Maduro in Venezuela, to forcibly remove the targeted person by setting him up with fake, false accusations & fabricated evidence? How very predictable & how very American of Mueller & the Democratic Party. Absolute American Corruption, corrupts absolutely?

Brian Murphy , March 15, 2019 at 10:33 am

Right. Since its purpose is to destroy Trump politically, the investigation should go on as long as Trump is in office. Alternatively, if at this point Trump has completely sold out, that would be another reason to stop the investigation.

If the investigation wraps up and finds nothing, that means Trump has already completely sold out. If the investigation continues, it means someone important still thinks Trump retains some vestige of his balls.

DH Fabian , March 14, 2019 at 1:19 pm

By last June or July the Mueller investigation has resulted in roughly 150 indictments for perjury/financial crimes, and there was a handful of convictions to date. The report did not support the Clinton wing's anti-Russian allegations about the 2016 election, and was largely brushed aside by media. Mueller was then reportedly sent back in to "find something." presumably to support the anti-Russian claims.

mike k , March 14, 2019 at 12:57 pm

From the beginning of the Russia did it story, right after Trump's electoral victory, it was apparent that this was a fraud. The democratic party however has locked onto this preposterous story, and they will go to their graves denying this was a scam to deny their presidential defeat, and somehow reverse the result of Trump's election. My sincere hope is that this blatant lie will be an albatross around the party's neck, that will carry them down into oblivion. They have betrayed those of us who supported them for so many years. They are in many ways now worse than the republican scum they seek to replace.

DH Fabian , March 14, 2019 at 1:26 pm

Trump is almost certain to be re-elected in 2020, and we'll go through this all over again.

Tom , March 14, 2019 at 12:00 pm

The very fact that the FBI never had access to the servers and took the word of a private company that had a history of being anti-Russian is enough to throw the entire ruse out.

LJ , March 14, 2019 at 2:39 pm

Agreed!!!! and don't forget the FBI/Comey gave Hillary and her Campaign a head's up before they moved to seize the evidence. . So too, Comey said he stopped the Investigation , thereby rendering judgement of innocence, even though by his own words 'gross negligence' had a occurred (which is normally considered grounds for prosecution). In doing so he exceeded the FBI's investigative mandate. He rationalized that decision was appropriate because of the appearance of impropriety that resulted from Attorney General Lynch having a private meeting on a plane on a runway with Bill and Hillary . Where was the logic in that. Who called the meeting? All were Lawyers who had served as President, Senator, Attorney General and knew that the meeting was absolutely inappropriate. . Comey should be prosecuted if they want to prosecute anyone else because of this CRAP. PS Trump is an idiot. Uhinfortunately he is just a symptom of the disease at this point. Look at the cover of Rolling Stone magazine , carry a barf bag.

Jane Christ , March 14, 2019 at 6:51 pm

Exactly. This throws doubt on the ability of the FBI to work independently. They are working for those who want to cover -up the Hillary mess . She evidently has sufficient funds to pay them off. I am disgusted with the level of corruption.

hetro , March 14, 2019 at 10:50 am

Nancy Pelosi's announcement two days ago that the Democrats will not seek impeachment for Trump suggests the emptiness of the Mueller investigation on the specific "collusion" issue. If there were something hot and lingering and about to emerge, this decision is highly unlikely, especially with the reasoning she gave at "so as not to divide the American people." Dividing the people hasn't been of much concern throughout this bogus witch hunt on Trump, which has added to his incompetence in leavening a growing hysteria and confusion in this country. If there is something, anything at all, in the Mueller report to support the collusion theory, Pelosi would I'm sure gleefully trot it out to get a lesser candidate like Pence as opposition for 2020.

James Clooney , March 14, 2019 at 11:17 am

We know and Assange has confirmed Seth Rich, assassinated in D.C. for his deed, downloaded the emails and most likely passed them on to former British ambassador Craig Murray in a D.C. park for transport to Wikileaks.

We must also honor Shawn Lucas assassinated for serving DNC with a litigation notice exposing the DNC conspiracy against Sanders.

hetro , March 14, 2019 at 3:18 pm

Where has Assange confirmed this? Assange's long-standing position is NOT to reveal his sources. I believe he has continued to honor this position.

Skip Scott , March 15, 2019 at 7:15 am

It has merely been insinuated by the offering of a reward for info on Seth's murder. In one breath he says wikileaks will never divulge a source, and in the next he offers a $20k reward saying that sources take tremendous risk. Doesn't take much of a logical leap to connect A to B.

DH Fabian , March 14, 2019 at 1:30 pm

Are you aware that Democrats split apart their 0wn voting base in the 1990s, middle class vs. poor? The Obama years merely confirmed that this split is permanent. This is particularly relevant for Democrats, as their voting base had long consisted of the poor and middle class, for the common good. Ignoring this deep split hasn't made it go away.

hetro , March 14, 2019 at 3:24 pm

Even more important is how the Democrats have sold out to an Establishment view favoring neocon theory, since at least Bill Clinton. Pelosi's recent behavior with Ilhan Omar confirms this and the split you're talking about. My point is it is distinctly odd that Pelosi is discouraging impeachment on "dividing the Party" (already divided, of course, as you say), whereas the Russia-gate fantasy was so hot not that long ago. Again it points to a cynical opportunism and manipulation of the electorate. Both parties are a sad excuse to represent ordinary people's interests.

Skip Scott , March 15, 2019 at 7:21 am

She said "dividing the country", not the party. I think she may have concerns over Trump's heavily armed base. That said, the statement may have been a ruse. There are plenty of Republicans that would cross the line in favor of impeachment with the right "conclusions" by Mueller. Pelosi may be setting up for a "bombshell" conclusion by Mueller. One must never forget that we are watching theater, and that Trump was a "mistake" to be controlled or eliminated.

Cindy Haddix , March 14, 2019 at 8:04 am

Mueller should be ashamed that he has made President Trump his main concern!! If all this investigation would stop he could save America millions!!! He needs to quit this witch-hunt and worry about things that really need to be handled!!! If the democrats and Trump haters would stop pushing senseless lies hopefully this would stop ? It's so disgusting that his democrat friend was never really investigated ? stop the witch-hunt and move forward!!!!

torture this , March 14, 2019 at 7:29 am

According to this letter, mistakes might have been made on Rachel Maddow's show. I can't wait to read how she responds. I'd watch her show, myself except that it has the same effect on me as ipecac.

Zhu , March 14, 2019 at 3:37 am

People will cling to "Putin made Trump President!!!" much as many cling "Obama's a Kenyan Muslim! Not a real American!!!". Both nut theories are emotionally satisfying, no matter what the historical facts are. Many Americans just can't admit their mistakes and blaming a scapegoat is a way out.

O Society , March 14, 2019 at 2:03 am

Thank you VIPS for organizing this legit dissent consisting of experts in the field of intelligence and computer forensics.

This so-called "Russiagate" narrative is an illustration of our "freedom of the press" failure in the US due to groupthink and self censorship. He who pays the piper is apt to call the tune.

It is astounding how little skepticism and scientifically-informed reasoning goes on in our media. These folks show themselves to be native advertising rather than authentic journalists at every turn.

DH Fabian , March 14, 2019 at 1:33 pm

But it has been Democrats and the media that market to middle class Dems, who persist in trying to sell the Russian Tale. They excel at ignoring the evidence that utterly contradicts their claims.

O Society , March 15, 2019 at 3:50 pm

Oh, we're well beyond your "Blame the middle class Dems" stage.

The WINNING!!! team sports bullshit drowns the entire country now the latrine's sprung a leak. People pretend to live in bubbles made of blue or red quite like the Three Little Pigs, isn't it? Except instead of a house made of bricks saving the day for the littlepiggies, what we've got here is a purple puddle of piss.

Everyone's more than glad to project all our problems on "THEM" though, aren't we?

Meanwhile, the White House smells like a urinal not washed since the 1950s and simpletons still get their rocks off arguing about whether Mickey Mouse can beat up Ronald McDonald.

T'would be comic except what's so tragic is the desperate need Americans have to believe, oh just believe! in something. Never mind the sound of the jackhammer on your skull dear, there's an app for that or is it a pill?

I don't know, don't ask me, I'm busy watching TV. Have a cheeto.

https://opensociet.org/2018/12/18/the-disneyfication-of-america/

Sam F , March 13, 2019 at 6:45 pm

Very good analysis clearly stated, especially adding the FAT timestamps to the transmission speeds.

Minor corrections: "The emails were copied from the network" should be "from the much faster local network" because this is to Contradict the notion that they were copied over the internet network, which most readers will equate with "network." Also "reportedin" should be "reported in."

Michael , March 13, 2019 at 6:25 pm

It is likely that New Knowledge was actually "the Russians", possibly working in concert with Crowdstrike. Once an intelligence agency gets away with something like pretending to be Russian hackers and bots, they tend to re-use their model; it is too tempting to discard an effective model after a one-off accomplishment. New Knowledge was caught interfering/ determining the outcome in the Alabama Senate race on the side of Democrat Doug Jones, and claimed they were merely trying to mimic Russian methods to see if they worked (they did; not sure of their punishment?). Occam's razor would suggest that New Knowledge would be competent to mimic/ pretend to be "Russians" after the fact of wikileaks' publication of emails. New Knowledge has employees from the NSA and State department sympathetic to/ working with(?) Hillary, and were the "outside" agency hired to evaluate and report on the "Russian" hacking of the DNC emails/ servers.

DH Fabian , March 13, 2019 at 5:48 pm

Mueller released report last summer, which resulted in (the last I checked) roughly 150 indictments, a handful of convictions to date, all for perjury/financial (not political) crimes. This wasn't kept secret. It simply wasn't what Democrats wanted to hear, so although it was mentioned in some lib media (which overwhelmingly supported neoliberal Hillary Clinton), it was essentially swept under the carpet.

Billy , March 13, 2019 at 11:11 pm

Barr, Sessions, every congressmen all the corporate MSM war profiteer mouth pieces. They all know that "Russia hacked the DNC" and "Russia meddled" is fabricated garbage. They don't care, because their chosen war beast corporate candidate couldn't beat Donald goofball Trump. So it has to be shown that the war beast only lost because of nefarious reasons. Because they're gonna run another war beast cut from the same cloth as Hillary in 2020.

Realist , March 14, 2019 at 3:22 am

You betcha. Moreover, who but the Russians do these idiots have left to blame? Everybody else is now off limits due to political correctness. Sigh Those Catholics, Jews, "ethnics" and sundry "deviants" used to be such reliable scapegoats, to say nothing of the "undeveloped" world. As Clapper "authoritatively" says, only this vile lineage still carries the genes for the most extremes of human perfidy. Squirrels in your attic? It must be the damned Russkies! The bastards impudently tried to copy our democracy, economic system and free press and only besmirched those institutions, ruining all of Hillary's glorious plans for a worldwide benevolent dictatorship. All this might be humorous if it weren't so funny.

And those Chinese better not get to thinking they are somehow our equals just because all their trillions invested in U.S. Treasury bonds have paid for all our wars of choice and MIC boondoggles since before the turn of the century. Unless they start delivering Trump some "free stuff" the big man is gonna cut off their water. No more affordable manufactured goods for the American public! So there!

As to the article: impeccable research and analysis by the VIPS crew yet again. They've proven to me that, to a near certainty, the Easter Bunny is not likely to exist. Mueller won't read it. Clapper will still prance around a free man, as will Brennan. The Democrats won't care, that is until November of 2020. And Hillary will continue to skate, unhindered in larding up the Clinton Foundation to purposes one can only imagine.

Joe Tedesky , March 14, 2019 at 10:02 pm

Realist,

I have posted this article 'the Russia they Lost' before and from time to time but once again it seems appropriate to add this link to expound upon for what you've been saying. It's an article written by a Russian who in they're youth growing up in the USSR dreamed of living the American lifestyle if Russia were to ever ditch communism. But . Starting with Kosovo this Russian's youthful dream turned nightmarishly ugly and, as time went by with more and yet even more USA aggression this Russian author loss his admiration and desire for all things American to be proudly envied. This is a story where USA hard power destroyed any hope of American soft power for world unity. But hey that unity business was never part of the plan anyway.

https://slavyangrad.org/2014/09/24/the-russia-they-lost/

Realist , March 15, 2019 at 10:38 pm

right you are, joe. if america was smart rather than arrogant, it would have cooperated with china and russia to see the belt and road initiative succeed by perhaps building a bridge or tunnel from siberia to alaska, and by building its own fleet of icebreakers to open up its part of the northwest passage. but no, it only wants to sabotage what others propose. that's not being a leader, it's being a dick.

i'm gonna have to go on the disabled list here until the sudden neurological problem with my right hand clears up–it's like paralysed. too difficult to do this one-handed using hunt and peck. at least the problem was not in the old bean, according to the scans. carry on, sir.

Brian James , March 13, 2019 at 5:04 pm

Mar 4, 2019 Tom Fitton: President Trump a 'Crime Victim' by Illegal Deep State DOJ & FBI Abuses: https://youtu.be/ixWMorWAC7c

DH Fabian , March 13, 2019 at 5:55 pm

Trump is a willing player in this game. The anti-Russian Crusade was, quite simply, a stunningly reckless, short-sighted effort to overturn the 2016 election, removing Trump to install Hillary Clinton in office. Trump and the Republicans continue to win by default, as Democrats only drive more voters away.

Howard , March 13, 2019 at 4:36 pm

Thank you Ray McGovern and the Other 17 VIPS C0-Signers of your National Security Essay for Truth. Along with Craig Murray and Seymour Hirsch, former Sam Adams Award winners for "shining light into dark places", you are national resources for objectivity in critical survival information matters for our country. It is more than a pity that our mainstream media are so beholden to their corporate task masters that they cannot depart from the company line for fear of losing their livelihoods, and in the process we risk losing life on the planet because of unconstrained nuclear war on the part of the two main adversaries facing off in an atmosphere of fear and mistrust. Let me speak plainly. THEY SHOULD BE TALKING TO YOU AND NOT THE VESTED INTERESTS' MOUTHPIECES. Thank you for your continued leadership!

James Clooney , March 14, 2019 at 11:28 am

Roger Ailes founder of FOX news died, "falling down stairs" within a week of FOX news exposing to the world that the assassinated Seth Rich downloaded the DNC emails.

DH Fabian , March 13, 2019 at 6:03 pm

Google the Mueller investigation report from last June or July. When it was released, the public response was like a deflated balloon. It did not support the "Russian collusion" allegations -- the only thing Democrats still had left to sell. The report resulted in roughly 150 indictments for perjury/financial crimes (not political), and a handful of convictions to date -- none of which had anything to do with the election results.

Hank , March 13, 2019 at 6:19 pm

Much ado about nothing. All the talk and chatter and media airplay about "Russian meddling" in the 2016 election only tells me that these liars think the American public is that stupid. They are probably right, but the REAL reason that Hillary lost is because there ARE enough informed people now in this nation who are quite aware of the Clinton's sordid history where scandals seem to follow every where they go, but indictments and/or investigations don't. There IS an internet nowadays with lots of FACTUAL DOCUMENTED information. That's a lot more than I can say about the mainstream corporate-controlled media!

I know this won't ever happen, but an HONEST investigation into the Democratic Party and their actions during the 2016 election would make ANY collusion with ANY nation look like a mole hill next to a mountain! One of the problems with living in this nation is if you are truly informed and make an effort 24/7 to be that way by doing your own research, you more-than-likely can be considered an "island in a sea of ignorance".

Tom , March 14, 2019 at 12:13 pm

We know that the FBI never had access to the servers and a private company was allowed to handle the evidence. Wasnt it a crime scene? The evidence was tampered with And we will never know what was on the servers.

Mark McCarty , March 13, 2019 at 4:10 pm

As a complement to this excellent analysis, I would like to make 2 further points:

The Mueller indictment of Russian Intelligence for hacking the DNC and transferring their booty to Wikileaks is absurd on its face for this reason: Assange announced on June 12th the impending release of Hillary-related emails. Yet the indictment claims that Guccifer 2.0 did not succeed in transferring the DNC emails to Wikileaks until the time period of July 14-18th – after which they were released online on July 22nd. Are we to suppose that Assange, a publisher of impeccable integrity, publicly announced the publication of emails he had not yet seen, and which he was obtaining from a source of murky provenance? And are we further to suppose that Wikileaks could have processed 20K emails and 20K attachments to insure their genuineness in a period of only several days? As you will recall, Wikileaks subsequently took a number of weeks to process the Podesta emails they released in October.

And another peculiarity merits attention. Assange did not state on June 12th that he was releasing DNC emails – and yet Crowdstrike and the Guccifer 2.0 personna evidently knew that this was in store. A likely resolution of this conundrum is that US intelligence had been monitoring all communications to Wikileaks, and had informed the DNC that their hacked emails had been offered to Wikileaks. A further reasonable prospect is that US intelligence subsequently unmasked the leaker to the DNC; as Assange has strongly hinted, this likely was Seth Rich. This could explain Rich's subsequent murder, as Rich would have been in a position to unmask the Guccifer 2.0 hoax and the entire Russian hacking narrative.

https://medium.com/@markfmccarty/muellers-new-indictment-do-the-feds-take-us-for-idiots-5406ef955406

https://medium.com/@markfmccarty/how-did-crowdstrike-guccifer-2-0-know-that-wikileaks-was-planning-to-release-dnc-emails-42e6db334053

Sam F , March 13, 2019 at 7:06 pm

Curious that Assange has Not explicitly stated that the leaker was Seth Rich, if it was, as this would take pressure from himself and incriminate the DNC in the murder of Rich. Perhaps he doesn't know, and has the honor not to take the opportunity, or perhaps he knows that it was not Rich.

James Clooney , March 14, 2019 at 11:40 am

View the Dutch TV interview with Asssange and there is another interview available on youtube in which Assange DOES subtly confirmed it was Seth Rich.

Assange posted a $10,000 reward for Seth Rich's murders capture.

Abby , March 13, 2019 at 10:11 pm

Another mistaken issue with the "Russia hacked the DNC computers on Trump's command" is that he never asked Russia to do that. His words were, "Russia if you 'find' Hillary's missing emails let us know." He said that after she advised congress that she wouldn't be turning in all of the emails they asked for because she deleted 30,000 of them and said that they were personal.

But if Mueller or the FBI wants to look at all of them they can find them at the NYC FBI office because they are on Weiner's laptop. Why? Because Hillary's aid Huma Abedin, Weiner's wife sent them to it. Just another security risk that Hillary had because of her private email server. This is why Comey had to tell congress that more of them had been found 11 days before the election. If Comey hadn't done that then the FBI would have.

But did Comey or McCabe look at her emails there to see if any of them were classified? No they did not do that. And today we find out that Lisa Page told congress that it was Obama's decision not to charge Hillary for being grossly negligent on using her private email server. This has been known by congress for many months and now we know that the fix was always in for her to get off.

robert e williamson jr , March 13, 2019 at 3:26 pm

I want to thank you folks at VIPS. Like I have been saying for years now the relationship between CIA, NSA and DOJ is an incestuous one at best. A perverse corrupted bond to control the masses. A large group of religious fanatics who want things "ONE WAY". They are the facilitators for the rogue government known as the "DEEP STATE"!

Just ask billy barr.

More truth is a very good thing. I believe DOJ is supporting the intelligence community because of blackmail. They can't come clean because they all risk doing lots of time if a new judicial mechanism replaces them. We are in big trouble here.

Apparently the rule of law is not!

You folks that keep claiming we live in the post truth era! Get off me. Demand the truth and nothing else. Best be getting ready for the fight of your lives. The truth is you have to look yourself in the mirror every morning, deny that truth. The claim you are living in the post truth era is an admission your life is a lie. Now grab a hold of yourself pick a dogdamned side and stand for something,.

Thank You VIPS!

Joe Tedesky , March 13, 2019 at 2:58 pm

Hats off to the VIP's who have investigated this Russian hacking that wasn't a hacking for without them what would we news junkies have otherwise to lift open the hood of Mueller's never ending Russia-gate investigation. Although the one thing this Russia-gate nonsense has accomplished is it has destroyed with our freedom of speech when it comes to how we citizens gather our news. Much like everything else that has been done during these post 9/11 years of continual wars our civil rights have been marginalized down to zero or, a bit above if that's even still an argument to be made for the sake of numbers.

Watching the Manafort sentencing is quite interesting for the fact that Manafort didn't conclude in as much as he played fast and loose with his income. In fact maybe Manafort's case should have been prosecuted by the State Department or, how about the IRS? Also wouldn't it be worth investigating other Geopolitical Rain Makers like Manafort for similar crimes of financial wrongdoing? I mean is it possible Manafort is or was the only one of his type to do such dishonest things? In any case Manafort wasn't charged with concluding with any Russians in regard to the 2016 presidential election and, with that we all fall down.

I guess the best thing (not) that came out of this Russia-gate silliness is Rachel Maddow's tv ratings zoomed upwards. But I hate to tell you that the only ones buying what Ms Maddow is selling are the died in the wool Hillary supporters along with the chicken-hawks who rally to the MIC lobby for more war. It's all a game and yet there are many of us who just don't wish to play it but still we must because no one will listen to the sanity that gets ignored keep up the good work VIP's some of us are listening.

Andrew Thomas , March 13, 2019 at 12:42 pm

The article did not mention something called to my attention for the first time by one of the outstanding members of your commentariat just a couple of days ago- that Ambassador Murray stayed publicly, over two years ago, that he had been given the thumb drive by a go-between in D.C. and had somehow gotten it to Wikileaks. And, that he has NEVER BEEN INTERVIEWED by Mueller &Company. I was blown away by this, and found the original articles just by googling Murray. The excuse given is that Murray "lacks credibility ", or some such, because of his prior relationship with Assange and/or Wikileaks. This is so ludicrous I can't even get my head around it. And now, you have given me a new detail-the meeting with Pompeo, and the complete lack of follow-up thereafter. Here all this time I thought I was the most cynical SOB who existed, and now I feel as naive as when I was 13 and believed what Dean Rusk was saying like it was holy writ. I am in your debt.

Bob Van Noy , March 13, 2019 at 2:33 pm

Andrew Thomas I'm afraid that huge amounts of our History post 1947 is organized and propagandized disinformation. There is an incredible page that John Simpkin has organized over the years that specifically addresses individuals, click on a name and read about them. https://spartacus-educational.com/USAdisinformation.htm

Mark McCarty , March 13, 2019 at 4:18 pm

A small correction: the Daily Mail article regarding Murray claimed that Murray was given a thumbdrive which he subsequently carried back to Wikileaks. On his blog, Murray subsequently disputed this part of the story, indicating that, while he had met with a leaker or confederate of a leaker in Washington DC, the Podesta emails were already in possession of Wikileaks at the time. Murray refused to clarify the reason for his meeting with this source, but he is adamant in maintaining that the DNC and Podesta emails were leaked, not hacked.

And it is indeed ludicrous that Mueller, given the mandate to investigate the alleged Russian hacking of the DNC and Podesta, has never attempted to question either Assange or Murray. That in itself is enough for us to conclude that the Mueller investigation is a complete sham.

Ian Brown , March 13, 2019 at 4:43 pm

It's pretty astonishing that Mueller was more interested in Roger Stone and Jerome Corsi as credible sources about Wikileaks and the DNC release than Craig Murray!

LJ , March 13, 2019 at 12:29 pm

A guy comes in with a pedigree like that, """ former FBI head """ to examine and validate if possible an FBI sting manufactured off a phony FISA indictment based on the Steele Report, It immediately reminded me of the 9-11 Commission with Thomas Kean, former Board member of the National Endowment for Democracy, being appointed by GW Bush the Simple to head an investigation that he had previously said he did not want to authorize( and of course bi partisan yes man Lee Hamilton as #2, lest we forget) . Really this should be seen as another low point in our Democracy. Uncle Sam is the Limbo Man, How low can you go?

After Bill and Hillary and Monica and Paula Jones and Blue Dresses well, Golden Showers in a Moscow luxury hotel, I guess that make it just salacious enough.

Mueller looks just like what he is. He has that same phony self important air as Comey . In 2 years this will be forgotten.. I do not think this hurts Trumps chances at re-election as much as the Democrats are hurting themselves. This has already gone on way too long.

Drew Hunkins , March 13, 2019 at 11:59 am

Mueller has nothing and he well knows it. He was willingly roped into this whole pathetic charade and he's left grasping for anything remotely tied to Trump campaign officials and Russians.

Even the most tenuous connections and weak relationships are splashed across the mass media in breathless headlines. Meanwhile, NONE of the supposed skulduggery unearthed by Mueller has anything to do with the Kremlin "hacking" the election to favor Trump, which was the entire raison d'etre behind Rosenstein, Brennan, Podesta and Mueller's crusade on behalf of the deplorable DNC and Washington militarist-imperialists. It will be fascinating to witness how Mueller and his crew ultimately extricate themselves from this giant fraudulent edifice of deceit. Will they even be able to save the most rudimentary amount of face?

So sickening to see the manner in which many DNC sycophants obsequiously genuflect to their godlike Mueller. A damn prosecutor who was likely in bed with the Winter Hill Gang.

Jack , March 13, 2019 at 12:21 pm

You have failed. An investigation is just that, a finding of the facts. What would Mueller have to extricate himself from? If nothing is found, he has still done his job. You are a divisive idiot.

Skip Scott , March 13, 2019 at 1:13 pm

Yes, he has done his job. And his job was to bring his royal Orangeness to heel, and to make sure that detente and co-operation with Russia remained impossible. The forever war continues. Mission Accomplished.

Drew Hunkins , March 13, 2019 at 2:12 pm

@Jack,
Keep running cover for an out of control prosecutor, who, if he had any integrity, would have hit the bully pulpit mos ago declaring there's nothing of substance to one of the most potentially dangerous accusations in world history: the Kremlin hacking the election. Last I checked it puts two nuclear nation-states on the brink of potential war. And you call me divisive? Mueller's now a willing accomplice to this entire McCarthyite smear and disinformation campaign. It's all so pathetic that folks such as yourself try and mislead and feed half-truths to the people.

You're failing Jack, in more ways than you know.

Gregory Herr , March 13, 2019 at 9:13 pm

https://www.kcrw.com/culture/shows/scheer-intelligence/liberals-are-digging-their-own-grave-with-russiagate-2019-03-08

Drew, you might enjoy this discussion Robert Scheer has with Stephen Cohen and Katrina vanden Heuvel.

Realist , March 15, 2019 at 3:38 am

Moreover, as the Saker pointed out in his most recent column in the Unz Review, the entire Deep State conspiracy, in an ad hoc alliance with the embarrassed and embarrassing Democrats, have made an absolute sham of due process in their blatant witch hunt to bag the president. This reached an apex when his personal lawyer, Mr. Cohen, was trotted out before congress to violate Trump's confidentiality in every mortifying way he could even vaguely reconstruct. The man was expected to say anything to mitigate the anticipated tortures to come in the course of this modern day inquisition by our latter day Torquemada. To his credit though, even with his ass in a sling, he could simply not confabulate the smoking gun evidence for the alleged Russian collusion that this whole farce was built around.

Tom , March 14, 2019 at 12:30 pm

Mueller stood with Bush as he lied the world into war based on lies and illegally spied on America and tortured some folks.

George Collins , March 13, 2019 at 2:02 pm

QED: as to the nexus with the Winter Hill gang wasn't there litigation involving the Boston FBI, condonation of murder by the FBI and damages awarded to or on behalf of convicted parties that the FBI had reason to know were innocent? The malfeasance reportedly occurred during Mueller time. Further on the sanctified diligence of Mr. Mueller can be gleaned from the reports of Coleen Rowley, former FBI attorney stationed in Milwaukee??? when the DC FBI office was ignoring warnings sent about 9/11. See also Sibel Edmonds who knew to much and was court order muzzled about FBI mis/malfeasance in the aftermath of 9/11.

I'd say it's game, set, match VIPS and a pox on Clapper and the complicit intelligence folk complicit in the nuclear loaded Russia-gate fibs.

Kiers , March 13, 2019 at 11:47 am

How can we expect the DNC to "hand it " to Trumpf, when, behind the scenes, THEY ARE ONE PARTY. They are throwing faux-scary pillow bombs at each other because they are both complicit in a long chain of corruptions. Business as usual for the "principled" two party system! Democracy! Through the gauze of corporate media! You must be joking!

Skip Scott , March 13, 2019 at 11:28 am

"We believe that there are enough people of integrity in the Department of Justice to prevent the outright manufacture or distortion of "evidence," particularly if they become aware that experienced scientists have completed independent forensic study that yield very different conclusions."

I wish I shared this belief. However, as with Nancy Pelosi's recent statement regarding pursuing impeachment, I smell a rat. I believe with the help of what the late Robert Parry called "the Mighty Wurlitzer", Mueller is going to use coerced false testimony and fabricated forensics to drop a bombshell the size of 911. I think Nancy's statement was just a feint before throwing the knockout punch.

If reason ruled the day, we should have nothing to worry about. But considering all the perfidy that the so-called "Intelligence" Agencies and their MSM lackeys get away with daily, I think we are in for more theater; and I think VIPS will receive a cold shoulder outside of venues like CN.

I pray to God I'm wrong.

Sam F , March 13, 2019 at 7:32 pm

My extensive experience with DOJ and the federal judiciary establishes that at least 98% of them are dedicated career liars, engaged in organized crime to serve political gangs, and make only a fanatical pretense of patriotism or legality. They are loyal to money alone, deeply cynical and opposed to the US Constitution and laws, with no credibility at all beyond any real evidence.

Eric32 , March 14, 2019 at 4:24 pm

As near I can see, Federal Govt. careers at the higher levels depend on having dirt on other players, and helping, not hurting, the money/power schemes of the players above you.

The Clintons (through their foundation) apparently have a lot of corruption dirt on CIA, FBI etc. top players, some of whom somehow became multi-millionaires during their civil service careers.

Trump, who was only running for President as a name brand marketing ploy with little desire to actually win, apparently came into the Presidency with no dirt arsenal and little idea of where to go from there.

Bob Van Noy , March 13, 2019 at 11:09 am

I remember reading with dismay how Russians were propagandized by the Soviet Press Management only to find out later the depth of disbelief within the Russian population itself. We now know what that feels like. The good part of this disastrous scenario for America is that for careful readers, disinformation becomes revelatory. For instance, if one reads an editorial that refers to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, or continually refers to Russian interference in the last Presidential election, then one can immediately dismiss the article and question the motivation for the presentation. Of course the problem is how to establish truth in reporting

Jeff Harrison , March 13, 2019 at 10:41 am

Thank you, VIPs. Hopefully, you don't expect this to make a difference. The US has moved into a post truth, post reality existence best characterized by Karl Rove's declaration: "we're an empire now, when we act, we create our own reality." What Mr. Rove in his arrogance fails to appreciate is that it is his reality but not anyone else's. Thus Pompous can claim that Guaido is the democratic leader in Venezuela even though he's never been elected .

Gary Weglarz , March 13, 2019 at 10:21 am

Thank you. The next time one of my friends or family give me that glazed over stare and utters anymore of the "but, RUSSIA" nonsense I will refer them directly to this article. Your collective work and ethical stand on this matter is deeply appreciated by anyone who values the truth.

Russiagate stands with past government propaganda operations that were simply made up out of thin air: i.e. Kuwaiti incubator babies, WMD's, Gaddafi's viagra fueled rape camps, Assad can't sleep at night unless he's gassing his own people, to the latest, "Maduro can't sleep at night unless he's starving his own people."

The complete and utter amorality of the deep state remains on display for all to see with "Russiagate," which is as fact-free a propaganda campaign as any of those just mentioned.

Marc , March 13, 2019 at 10:13 am

I am a computer naif, so I am prepared to accept the VIPS analysis about FAT and transfer rates. However, the presentation here leaves me with several questions. First, do I understand correctly that the FAT rounding to even numbers is introduced by the thumb drive? And if so, does the FAT analysis show only that the DNC data passed through a thumb drive? That is, does the analysis distinguish whether the DNC data were directly transferred to a thumb drive, or whether the data were hacked and then transferred to a thumb drive, eg, to give a copy to Wikileaks? Second, although the transatlantic transfer rate is too slow to fit some time stamps, is it possible that the data were hacked onto a local computer that was under the control of some faraway agent?

Jeff Harrison , March 13, 2019 at 11:12 am

Not quite. FAT is the crappy storage system developed by Microsoft (and not used by UNIX). The metadata associated with any file gets rewritten when it gets moved. If that movement is to a storage device that uses FAT, the timestamp on the file will end in an even number. If it were moved to a unix server (and most of the major servers run Unix) it would be in the UFS (unix file system) and it would be the actual time from the system clock. Every storage device has a utility that tells it where to write the data and what to write. Since it's writing to a storage device using FAT, it'll round the numbers. To get to your real question, yes, you could hack and then transfer the data to a thumb drive but if you did that the dates wouldn't line up.

Skip Scott , March 14, 2019 at 8:05 am

Jeff-

Which dates wouldn't line up? Is there a history of metadata available, or just metadata for the most recent move?

David G , March 13, 2019 at 12:22 pm

Marc asks: "[D]oes the analysis distinguish whether the DNC data were directly transferred to a thumb drive, or whether the data were hacked and then transferred to a thumb drive, eg, to give a copy to Wikileaks?"

I asked that question in comments under a previous CN piece; other people have asked that question elsewhere.

To my knowledge, it hasn't been addressed directly by the VIPS, and I think they should do so. (If they already have, someone please enlighten me.)

Skip Scott , March 13, 2019 at 1:07 pm

I am no computer wiz, but Binney has repeatedly made the point that the NSA scoops up everything. If there had been a hack, they'd know it, and they wouldn't only have had "moderate" confidence in the Jan. assessment. I believe that although farfetched, an argument could be made that a Russian spy got into the DNC, loaded a thumb drive, and gave it to Craig Murray.

David G , March 13, 2019 at 3:31 pm

Respectfully, that's a separate point, which may or may not raise issues of its own.

But I think the question Marc posed stands.

Skip Scott , March 14, 2019 at 7:59 am

Hi David-

I don't see how it's separate. If the NSA scoops up everything, they'd have solid evidence of the hack, and wouldn't have only had "moderate" confidence, which Bill Binney says is equivalent to them saying "we don't have squat". They wouldn't even have needed Mueller at all, except to possibly build a "parallel case" due to classification issues. Also, the FBI not demanding direct access to the DNC server tells you something is fishy. They could easily have gotten a warrant to examine the server, but chose not to. They also purposely refuse to get testimony from Craig Murray and Julian Assange, which rings alarm bells on its own.

As for the technical aspect of Marc's question, I agree that I'd like to see Bill Binney directly answer it.

[Mar 17, 2019] VIPS- Mueller's Forensics-Free Findings

Highly recommended!
Mar 13, 2019 | Consortiumnews

The final Mueller report should be graded "incomplete," says VIPS, whose forensic work proves the speciousness of the story that DNC emails published by WikiLeaks came from Russian hacking.

MEMORANDUM FOR: The Attorney General

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Mueller's Forensics-Free Findings

Executive Summary

Media reports are predicting that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is about to give you the findings of his probe into any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump. If Mueller gives you his "completed" report anytime soon, it should be graded "incomplete."

Major deficiencies include depending on a DNC-hired cybersecurity company for forensics and failure to consult with those who have done original forensic work, including us and the independent forensic investigators with whom we have examined the data. We stand ready to help.

We veteran intelligence professionals (VIPS) have done enough detailed forensic work to prove the speciousness of the prevailing story that the DNC emails published by WikiLeaks came from Russian hacking. Given the paucity of evidence to support that story, we believe Mueller may choose to finesse this key issue and leave everyone hanging. That would help sustain the widespread belief that Trump owes his victory to President Vladimir Putin, and strengthen the hand of those who pay little heed to the unpredictable consequences of an increase in tensions with nuclear-armed Russia.

There is an overabundance of "assessments" but a lack of hard evidence to support that prevailing narrative. We believe that there are enough people of integrity in the Department of Justice to prevent the outright manufacture or distortion of "evidence," particularly if they become aware that experienced scientists have completed independent forensic study that yield very different conclusions. We know only too well -- and did our best to expose -- how our former colleagues in the intelligence community manufactured fraudulent "evidence" of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

We have scrutinized publicly available physical data -- the "trail" that every cyber operation leaves behind. And we have had support from highly experienced independent forensic investigators who, like us, have no axes to grind. We can prove that the conventional-wisdom story about Russian-hacking-DNC-emails-for-WikiLeaks is false. Drawing largely on the unique expertise of two VIPS scientists who worked for a combined total of 70 years at the National Security Agency and became Technical Directors there, we have regularly published our findings. But we have been deprived of a hearing in mainstream media -- an experience painfully reminiscent of what we had to endure when we exposed the corruption of intelligence before the attack on Iraq 16 years ago.

This time, with the principles of physics and forensic science to rely on, we are able to adduce solid evidence exposing mistakes and distortions in the dominant story. We offer you below -- as a kind of aide-memoire -- a discussion of some of the key factors related to what has become known as "Russia-gate." And we include our most recent findings drawn from forensic work on data associated with WikiLeaks' publication of the DNC emails.

We do not claim our conclusions are "irrefutable and undeniable," a la Colin Powell at the UN before the Iraq war. Our judgments, however, are based on the scientific method -- not "assessments." We decided to put this memorandum together in hopes of ensuring that you hear that directly from us.

If the Mueller team remains reluctant to review our work -- or even to interview willing witnesses with direct knowledge, like WikiLeaks' Julian Assange and former UK Ambassador Craig Murray, we fear that many of those yearning earnestly for the truth on Russia-gate will come to the corrosive conclusion that the Mueller investigation was a sham.

In sum, we are concerned that, at this point, an incomplete Mueller report will fall far short of the commitment made by then Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein "to ensure a full and thorough investigation," when he appointed Mueller in May 2017. Again, we are at your disposal.

Discussion

The centerpiece accusation of Kremlin "interference" in the 2016 presidential election was the charge that Russia hacked Democratic National Committee emails and gave them to WikiLeaks to embarrass Secretary Hillary Clinton and help Mr. Trump win. The weeks following the election witnessed multiple leak-based media allegations to that effect. These culminated on January 6, 2017 in an evidence-light, rump report misleadingly labeled "Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA)." Prepared by "handpicked analysts" from only three of the 17 U.S. intelligence agencies (CIA, FBI, and NSA), the assessment expressed "high confidence" in the Russia-hacking-to-WikiLeaks story, but lacked so much as a hint that the authors had sought access to independent forensics to support their "assessment."

The media immediately awarded the ICA the status of Holy Writ, choosing to overlook an assortment of banal, full-disclosure-type caveats included in the assessment itself -- such as:

" When Intelligence Community analysts use words such as 'we assess' or 'we judge,' they are conveying an analytic assessment or judgment. Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact. Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary High confidence in a judgment does not imply that the assessment is a fact or a certainty; such judgments might be wrong."

To their credit, however, the authors of the ICA did make a highly germane point in introductory remarks on "cyber incident attribution." They noted: "The nature of cyberspace makes attribution of cyber operations difficult but not impossible. Every kind of cyber operation -- malicious or not -- leaves a trail." [Emphasis added.]

Forensics

The imperative is to get on that "trail" -- and quickly, before red herrings can be swept across it. The best way to establish attribution is to apply the methodology and processes of forensic science. Intrusions into computers leave behind discernible physical data that can be examined scientifically by forensic experts. Risk to "sources and methods" is normally not a problem.

Direct access to the actual computers is the first requirement -- the more so when an intrusion is termed "an act of war" and blamed on a nuclear-armed foreign government (the words used by the late Sen. John McCain and other senior officials). In testimony to the House Intelligence Committee in March 2017, former FBI Director James Comey admitted that he did not insist on physical access to the DNC computers even though, as he conceded, "best practices" dictate direct access.

In June 2017, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr asked Comey whether he ever had "access to the actual hardware that was hacked." Comey answered, "In the case of the DNC we did not have access to the devices themselves. We got relevant forensic information from a private party, a high-class entity, that had done the work. " Sen. Burr followed up: "But no content? Isn't content an important part of the forensics from a counterintelligence standpoint?" Comey: "It is, although what was briefed to me by my folks is that they had gotten the information from the private party that they needed to understand the intrusion by the spring of 2016."

The "private party/high-class entity" to which Comey refers is CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm of checkered reputation and multiple conflicts of interest, including very close ties to a number of key anti-Russian organizations. Comey indicated that the DNC hired CrowdStrike in the spring of 2016.

Given the stakes involved in the Russia-gate investigation – including a possible impeachment battle and greatly increased tension between Russia and the U.S. -- it is difficult to understand why Comey did not move quickly to seize the computer hardware so the FBI could perform an independent examination of what quickly became the major predicate for investigating election interference by Russia. Fortunately, enough data remain on the forensic "trail" to arrive at evidence-anchored conclusions. The work we have done shows the prevailing narrative to be false. We have been suggesting this for over two years. Recent forensic work significantly strengthens that conclusion.

We Do Forensics

Recent forensic examination of the Wikileaks DNC files shows they were created on 23, 25 and 26 May 2016. (On June 12, Julian Assange announced he had them; WikiLeaks published them on July 22.) We recently discovered that the files reveal a FAT (File Allocation Table) system property. This shows that the data had been transferred to an external storage device, such as a thumb drive, before WikiLeaks posted them.

FAT is a simple file system named for its method of organization, the File Allocation Table. It is used for storage only and is not related to internet transfers like hacking. Were WikiLeaks to have received the DNC files via a hack, the last modified times on the files would be a random mixture of odd-and even-ending numbers.

Why is that important? The evidence lies in the "last modified" time stamps on the Wikileaks files. When a file is stored under the FAT file system the software rounds the time to the nearest even-numbered second. Every single one of the time stamps in the DNC files on WikiLeaks' site ends in an even number.

We have examined 500 DNC email files stored on the Wikileaks site. All 500 files end in an even number -- 2, 4, 6, 8 or 0. If those files had been hacked over the Internet, there would be an equal probability of the time stamp ending in an odd number. The random probability that FAT was not used is 1 chance in 2 to the 500th power. Thus, these data show that the DNC emails posted by WikiLeaks went through a storage device, like a thumb drive, and were physically moved before Wikileaks posted the emails on the World Wide Web.

This finding alone is enough to raise reasonable doubts, for example, about Mueller's indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking the DNC emails given to WikiLeaks. A defense attorney could easily use the forensics to argue that someone copied the DNC files to a storage device like a USB thumb drive and got them physically to WikiLeaks -- not electronically via a hack.

Role of NSA

For more than two years, we strongly suspected that the DNC emails were copied/leaked in that way, not hacked. And we said so. We remain intrigued by the apparent failure of NSA's dragnet, collect-it-all approach -- including "cast-iron" coverage of WikiLeaks -- to provide forensic evidence (as opposed to "assessments") as to how the DNC emails got to WikiLeaks and who sent them. Well before the telling evidence drawn from the use of FAT, other technical evidence led us to conclude that the DNC emails were not hacked over the network, but rather physically moved over, say, the Atlantic Ocean.

Is it possible that NSA has not yet been asked to produce the collected packets of DNC email data claimed to have been hacked by Russia? Surely, this should be done before Mueller competes his investigation. NSA has taps on all the transoceanic cables leaving the U.S. and would almost certainly have such packets if they exist. (The detailed slides released by Edward Snowden actually show the routes that trace the packets.)

The forensics we examined shed no direct light on who may have been behind the leak. The only thing we know for sure is that the person had to have direct access to the DNC computers or servers in order to copy the emails. The apparent lack of evidence from the most likely source, NSA, regarding a hack may help explain the FBI's curious preference for forensic data from CrowdStrike. No less puzzling is why Comey would choose to call CrowdStrike a "high-class entity."

Comey was one of the intelligence chiefs briefing President Obama on January 5, 2017 on the "Intelligence Community Assessment," which was then briefed to President-elect Trump and published the following day. That Obama found a key part of the ICA narrative less than persuasive became clear at his last press conference (January 18), when he told the media, "The conclusions of the intelligence community with respect to the Russian hacking were not conclusive as to how 'the DNC emails that were leaked' got to WikiLeaks.

Is Guccifer 2.0 a Fraud?

There is further compelling technical evidence that undermines the claim that the DNC emails were downloaded over the internet as a result of a spearphishing attack. William Binney, one of VIPS' two former Technical Directors at NSA, along with other former intelligence community experts, examined files posted by Guccifer 2.0 and discovered that those files could not have been downloaded over the internet. It is a simple matter of mathematics and physics.

There was a flurry of activity after Julian Assange announced on June 12, 2016: "We have emails relating to Hillary Clinton which are pending publication." On June 14, DNC contractor CrowdStrike announced that malware was found on the DNC server and claimed there was evidence it was injected by Russians. On June 15, the Guccifer 2.0 persona emerged on the public stage, affirmed the DNC statement, claimed to be responsible for hacking the DNC, claimed to be a WikiLeaks source, and posted a document that forensics show was synthetically tainted with "Russian fingerprints."

Our suspicions about the Guccifer 2.0 persona grew when G-2 claimed responsibility for a "hack" of the DNC on July 5, 2016, which released DNC data that was rather bland compared to what WikiLeaks published 17 days later (showing how the DNC had tipped the primary scales against Sen. Bernie Sanders). As VIPS reported in a wrap-up Memorandum for the President on July 24, 2017 (titled "Intel Vets Challenge 'Russia Hack' Evidence)," forensic examination of the July 5, 2016 cyber intrusion into the DNC showed it NOT to be a hack by the Russians or by anyone else, but rather a copy onto an external storage device. It seemed a good guess that the July 5 intrusion was a contrivance to preemptively taint anything WikiLeaks might later publish from the DNC, by "showing" it came from a "Russian hack." WikiLeaks published the DNC emails on July 22, three days before the Democratic convention.

As we prepared our July 24 memo for the President, we chose to begin by taking Guccifer 2.0 at face value; i. e., that the documents he posted on July 5, 2016 were obtained via a hack over the Internet. Binney conducted a forensic examination of the metadata contained in the posted documents and compared that metadata with the known capacity of Internet connection speeds at the time in the U.S. This analysis showed a transfer rate as high as 49.1 megabytes per second, which is much faster than was possible from a remote online Internet connection. The 49.1 megabytes speed coincided, though, with the rate that copying onto a thumb drive could accommodate.

Binney, assisted by colleagues with relevant technical expertise, then extended the examination and ran various forensic tests from the U.S. to the Netherlands, Albania, Belgrade and the UK. The fastest Internet rate obtained -- from a data center in New Jersey to a data center in the UK -- was 12 megabytes per second, which is less than a fourth of the capacity typical of a copy onto a thumb drive.

The findings from the examination of the Guccifer 2.0 data and the WikiLeaks data does not indicate who copied the information to an external storage device (probably a thumb drive). But our examination does disprove that G.2 hacked into the DNC on July 5, 2016. Forensic evidence for the Guccifer 2.0 data adds to other evidence that the DNC emails were not taken by an internet spearphishing attack. The data breach was local. The emails were copied from the network.

Presidential Interest

After VIPS' July 24, 2017 Memorandum for the President, Binney, one of its principal authors, was invited to share his insights with Mike Pompeo, CIA Director at the time. When Binney arrived in Pompeo's office at CIA Headquarters on October 24, 2017 for an hour-long discussion, the director made no secret of the reason for the invitation: "You are here because the President told me that if I really wanted to know about Russian hacking I needed to talk with you."

Binney warned Pompeo -- to stares of incredulity -- that his people should stop lying about the Russian hacking. Binney then started to explain the VIPS findings that had caught President Trump's attention. Pompeo asked Binney if he would talk to the FBI and NSA. Binney agreed, but has not been contacted by those agencies. With that, Pompeo had done what the President asked. There was no follow-up.

Confronting James Clapper on Forensics

We, the hoi polloi, do not often get a chance to talk to people like Pompeo -- and still less to the former intelligence chiefs who are the leading purveyors of the prevailing Russia-gate narrative. An exception came on November 13, when former National Intelligence Director James Clapper came to the Carnegie Endowment in Washington to hawk his memoir. Answering a question during the Q&A about Russian "hacking" and NSA, Clapper said:

" Well, I have talked with NSA a lot And in my mind, I spent a lot of time in the SIGINT business, the forensic evidence was overwhelming about what the Russians had done. There's absolutely no doubt in my mind whatsoever." [Emphasis added]

Clapper added: " as a private citizen, understanding the magnitude of what the Russians did and the number of citizens in our country they reached and the different mechanisms that, by which they reached them, to me it stretches credulity to think they didn't have a profound impact on election on the outcome of the election."

(A transcript of the interesting Q&A can be found here and a commentary on Clapper's performance at Carnegie, as well as on his longstanding lack of credibility, is here .)

Normally soft-spoken Ron Wyden, Democratic senator from Oregon, lost his patience with Clapper last week when he learned that Clapper is still denying that he lied to the Senate Intelligence Committee about the extent of NSA surveillance of U.S. citizens. In an unusual outburst, Wyden said: "James Clapper needs to stop making excuses for lying to the American people about mass surveillance. To be clear: I sent him the question in advance. I asked him to correct the record afterward. He chose to let the lie stand."

The materials brought out by Edward Snowden in June 2013 showed Clapper to have lied under oath to the committee on March 12, 2013; he was, nevertheless, allowed to stay on as Director of National Intelligence for three and half more years. Clapper fancies himself an expert on Russia, telling Meet the Press on May 28, 2017 that Russia's history shows that Russians are "typically, almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever."

Clapper ought to be asked about the "forensics" he said were "overwhelming about what the Russians had done." And that, too, before Mueller completes his investigation.

For the steering group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity:

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) is made up of former intelligence officers, diplomats, military officers and congressional staffers. The organization, founded in 2002, was among the first critics of Washington's justifications for launching a war against Iraq. VIPS advocates a US foreign and national security policy based on genuine national interests rather than contrived threats promoted for largely political reasons. An archive of VIPS memoranda is available at Consortiumnews.com.

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Tags: Bill Binney Donald Trump Hillary Clinton James Clapper James Comey Mike Pompeo Robert Mueller Veteran Intelligence Professional for Sanity VIPS WikiLeaks


[Mar 09, 2019] Zuckerberg's new 'privacy-focused vision' for Facebook is just PR and damage control by Danielle Ryan

Notable quotes:
"... While it's nice that Zuckerberg has suddenly realized that people value their privacy online, and end-to-end encryption for private conversations is obviously a positive step, his critics aren't entirely buying the new image. One technology writer described the move as "a power grab disguised as an act of contrition." ..."
"... Why? Because the long-winded spiel about the importance of privacy masks the fact that Zuckerberg's real motivation for combining the three services is to stave off efforts by US and EU regulators to force the unbundling of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram and introduce new competition to the market. ..."
Mar 09, 2019 | www.rt.com

Mark Zuckerberg is on a mission to rehabilitate Facebook's image. The CEO announced his new "privacy-focused vision" for the social media platform this week – but it looks more like a PR stunt than anything else. "Privacy gives people the freedom to be themselves and connect more naturally, which is why we build social networks," Zuckerberg wrote . Now, is there anyone who really believes Facebook was built to give people "the freedom to be themselves?"

Zuckerberg does understand, however, why people are questioning Facebook's newfound commitment to privacy, "...because frankly we don't currently have a strong reputation for building privacy protective services." For a company plagued with privacy scandal after privacy scandal, that seems like a bit of an understatement.

Putting "Privacy-focussed" in the headline is a great strategy, but none of the things mentioned stop Facebook knowing who you are, your location, mobile number, who you're connected to, linking this to other data sets, or following you around the web https://t.co/iKhYUtl4CC pic.twitter.com/UeRRpxWzz2

-- Jeremy Burge (@jeremyburge) March 6, 2019

Still, reading through Zuckerberg's grand vision for a new kind of privacy-focused Facebook, we are given the impression that the company is about to completely revamp itself from top to bottom – but the only real concrete change proposed is one that critics are already saying might not enhance privacy that much and isn't even really motivated by privacy concerns at all. Essentially, Zuckerberg plans to integrate Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram direct messages to build a kind of single, end-to-end messaging system (which we've actually known-about since January). This change is because he now believes "the future of communication will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services where people can be confident what they say to each other stays secure."

*LOL* So @facebook merges all the data from #Instagram , #WhatsApp and #Facebook , while only encrypting the content data (not the meta data) of Facebook messages and sells the package as a #privacy move - a PR masterpiece and the media falls for it.. 😜😂

-- Max Schrems (@maxschrems) March 7, 2019

While it's nice that Zuckerberg has suddenly realized that people value their privacy online, and end-to-end encryption for private conversations is obviously a positive step, his critics aren't entirely buying the new image. One technology writer described the move as "a power grab disguised as an act of contrition."

Why? Because the long-winded spiel about the importance of privacy masks the fact that Zuckerberg's real motivation for combining the three services is to stave off efforts by US and EU regulators to force the unbundling of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram and introduce new competition to the market.

Does anybody think that Facebook owning Instagram and WhatsApp is a good thing for America, privacy, journalism, or anything except Zuck & shareholders getting rich?

Breaking up Facebook from Instagram and WhatsApp seems like the least radical idea, and I hope we do it soon.

-- Zephyr Teachout (@ZephyrTeachout) March 7, 2019

Zuckerberg is now firmly on a collision course with regulators around the world. Germany's antitrust body ruled last month that Facebook was abusing its dominant position in the market by combining the three services. Facebook, Zuckerberg wrote, has been "obsessed" with creating an "intimate environment" for WhatsApp users. But an "intimate" feeling "environment" isn't really going to cut it. Facebook has already been fined $122 million by the EU for misleading antitrust regulators when it said its WhatsApp acquisition would not mean user information from the two platforms would be combined (which, of course, it was).

Facebook exists primarily to sell advertisements – and its entire business model rests on mining our data to do just that. So while protecting private conversations is a good thing in and of itself, it doesn't appear that anything else fundamental about Facebook will really be changing. Facebook still has a million other ways to get hold of our data and monitor our online activity – and even with stronger messaging encryption, Facebook can still use metadata to tell who we are talking to and when, which is valuable information in itself.

This wasn't Zuckerberg's first effort to redeem himself and do damage control for Facebook and its multiplying privacy scandals – and it certainly won't be his last. A blog post laying out a blueprint for a "privacy-focused" company that doesn't actually exist doesn't mean much. Zuckerberg has been offering apologies left, right and center for the last year.

He doesn't have a great track record when it comes to keeping his promises, though. Plenty of privacy tools Facebook has promised in the past never came to fruition. Remember that "clear history" button that Zuckerberg promised nearly two years ago and users are still waiting for today?

Anyone who thinks Facebook is really going to put its business model at risk, as it scrambles to shield itself from regulators and maintain its monolithic status is more than likely deluded.

Danielle Ryan, RT

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See also

[Mar 09, 2019] Government-To-Facebook Pipeline Reveals A Corrupt Mix Of Social Media The State

Mar 09, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Government-To-Facebook Pipeline Reveals A Corrupt Mix Of Social Media & The State

by Tyler Durden Fri, 03/08/2019 - 18:40 525 SHARES Authored by Matt Agorist via TheFreeThoughtProject.com,

The next time someone tells you that "Facebook is a private company" ask them if they know about the dozens of government employees who fill its ranks...

As the Free Thought Project has previously reported, the phrase "Facebook is a private company" is not accurate as they have formed a partnership with an insidious neoconservative "think tank" known as the Atlantic Council which is directly funded and made up of groups tied to the pharmaceutical industry, the military industrial complex, and even government itself. The Atlantic Council dictates to Facebook who is allowed on the platform and who is purged.

Because the Atlantic Council is funded in part by the United States government -- and they are making decisions for Facebook -- this negates the claim that the company is private.

Since our six million followers and years of hard work were wiped off the platform during the October purge , TFTP has consistently reported on the Atlantic Council and their ties to the social media giant. This week, however, we've discovered something just as ominous -- the government to Facebook pipeline and revolving door.

It is a telltale sign of a corrupt industry or company when they create a revolving door between themselves and the state. Just like Monsanto has former employees on the Supreme Court and Pharmaceutical industry insiders move back and fourth from the FDA to their companies, we found that Facebook is doing the same thing.

Below are just a few of corrupt connections we've discovered while digging through the list of current and former employees within Facebook.

Facebook's Head of Cybersecurity Policy -- aka, the man who doles out the ban hammer to anyone he wishes -- is Nathaniel Gleicher. Before Gleicher was censoring people at Facebook, he prosecuted cybercrime at the U.S. Department of Justice, and served as Director for Cybersecurity Policy at the National Security Council (NSC) in the Obama White House.

While Facebook may have an interest in seeking out Gleicher's expertise, this man is an outspoken advocate of tyranny.

After deleting the pages of hundreds of antiwar and pro-peace media and activist outlets in October, last month, Facebook made another giant move to silence. This time, they had no problem noting that they went after pages whose specific missions were "anti-corruption" or "protest" movements. And it was all headed up by Gleicher.

"Some of the Pages frequently posted about topics like anti-NATO sentiment, protest movements, and anti-corruption ," Gleicher wrote in a blog post.

"We are constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don't want our services to be used to manipulate people."

Seems totally legit, right?

The list goes on.

In 2017, as the Russian/Trump propaganda ramped up, Facebook hired Joel Benenson , a former top adviser to President Barack Obama and the chief strategist for Hillary Clinton's failed 2016 presidential campaign, as a consultant.

While filling team Zuck with Obama and Clinton advisers, Facebook hired Aneesh Raman , a former Obama speechwriter who now heads up Facebook's "economic impact programming."

Highlighting the revolving door aspect of Facebook and the US government is Sarah Feinberg who left the Obama train in 2011 to join Facebook as the director of corporate and strategic communications. She then moved on after and went back to Obama in 2015 to act as the administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

David Recordon also highlights the revolving door between Facebook and the government. Recordon was the former Director of IT for Obama's White House. He was also Engineering Director at Facebook prior to his role at the White House, and returned to the position after the 2016 election. He is currently Engineering Director for the Chan-Zuckerberg initiative.

Starting to see a pattern of political influence here? You should. But just in case you don't, the list goes on.

Meredith Carden -- who, you guessed, came from the Obama administration -- joined the Facebook clan last year to be a part of Facebook's "News Integrity Team." Now, she's battling fake news on the platform and as we've shown, there is a ridiculous amount of selective enforcement of these so-called "standards."

In fact, there are dozens of former Obama staffers, advisers, and campaign associates who quite literally fill Facebook's ranks. It is no wonder the platform has taken such a political shift over the past few years. David Ploufe, Josh W. Higgins, Lauryn Ogbechie, Danielle Cwirko-Godycki , Sarah Pollack, Ben Forer, Bonnie Calvin , and Juliane Sun , are just some of the many Facebook execs hailing out of the Obama era White House.

But fret not right wingers, Facebook likes their neocons too.

Jamie Fly, who was a top adviser to neocon Florida Senator Marco Rubio and who started his career in US political circles as an adviser to the George W. Bush administration, actually took credit for the massive purge of peaceful antiwar pages that took place last October.

"They can invent stories that get repeated and spread through different sites. So we are just starting to push back. Just this last week Facebook began starting to take down sites. So this is just the beginning," Fly said in December.

Fly backs up his words with the fact that he works with Facebook's arm of the Atlantic Council to ensure those dangerous antiwar folks don't keep pushing their propaganda of peace and community.

And yes, this list goes on.

Joel David Kaplan is Facebook's vice president of global public policy. Prior to his major role within Facebook, Kaplan took the place of neocon extraordinaire Karl Rove as the White House Deputy Chief of Staff for George W. Bush. Before that, from 2001 to 2003 he was Special Assistant to the President for Policy within the White House Chief of Staff's office. Then he served as Deputy Director of the Office of Management And Budget (OMB).

Myriah Jordan was a special policy assistant in the Bush White House, who was hired on as a policy manager for Facebook's congressional relations team -- aka, a lobbyist. Jordan has moved back and forth between the private sector and the US government multiple times over his career as he's made millions greasing the skids of the state for his corrupt employers.

So there you have it. Facebook, who claims to be a private entity, is quite literally made up of and advised by dozens of members of government. We're ready for a change, are you?


Jung , 1 hour ago link

As q just posted, FB is backed completely by the CIA, so this is all part of still needs to be drained in this swamp where the CIA calls the shots. A lot of people will have to be replaced, not only in the FBI and DOJ where a lot has already happened.

So far, against my early prejudice against Q, all he posted has come true and it has been a news source where facts have found a place.

StarGate , 3 hours ago link

It's been reported Facebook is the 2nd incarnation of DARPA's (US military intel) program "Lifelog". Lifelog stopped one day and Facebook launched the next on the Lifelog platform. Sort of a friendly way to collect everyone's personal data as they mindlessly volunteer it.

So the govt tech geniuses just moved over too.

FGopher , 5 hours ago link

"It is a telltale sign of a corrupt industry or company when they create a revolving door between themselves and the state."

It is also a sign of a corrupt and fascist government.

wolf pup , 7 hours ago link

The revolving door to and from EvilGoogle and the Obama White House never stopped rotating, either. Far more Wh->EvilGoogle back to WH then again EvilGoogle employees than even Facebook. Even the WaPo and NYT wrote of the "peculiar" nature of those employments. It went on for years.

That was BT; Before Trump. Every so often WaPo etc. could still write a few items in a less than fully politicized tone.

I saved several such items as links, but alas, funny thing happened on the way to viewing them; they've been deleted. It was noteworthy in its numbers. Only several months would pass and the original EvilGoogle or WH employees would have come and gone to and from the other.

uhland62 , 7 hours ago link

Where the Atlantic Council has its finger in, there is propaganda and brainwashing.

Before 1989 they had a right to exist as we did not really want the corruption and militarism from the Warsaw Pact countries. Now we have a worse militarism and corruption under the NATO umbrella.

The Atlantic Council is another tool for fleecing us through NATO and by global companies operating from tax havens. (never been on FB)

[Mar 07, 2019] Are you ready? Here is all the data Facebook and Google have on you by Dylan Curran

Highly recommended!
Google stores your location (if you have location tracking turned on) every time you turn on your phone. You can see a timeline of where you've been from the very first day you started using Google on your phone. After reading this you might start sympathizing to Ted Kaczynski ;-)
Notable quotes:
"... Google stores search history across all your devices. That can mean that, even if you delete your search history and phone history on one device, it may still have data saved from other devices . ..."
"... Google stores information on every app and extension you use. They know how often you use them, where you use them, and who you use them to interact with. That means they know who you talk to on Facebook, what countries are you speaking with, what time you go to sleep. ..."
"... Google stores all of your YouTube history, so they probably know whether you're going to be a parent soon, if you're a conservative, if you're a progressive, if you're Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, if you're feeling depressed or suicidal, if you're anorexic ..."
"... Facebook also stores what it thinks you might be interested in based off the things you've liked and what you and your friends talk about (I apparently like the topic "girl"). ..."
"... The data they collect includes tracking where you are, what applications you have installed, when you use them, what you use them for, access to your webcam and microphone at any time, your contacts, your emails, your calendar, your call history, the messages you send and receive, the files you download, the games you play, your photos and videos, your music, your search history, your browsing history, even what radio stations you listen to. ..."
Mar 28, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

The harvesting of our personal details goes far beyond what many of us could imagine. So I braced myself and had a look .

A slice of the data that Facebook keeps on the author: 'This information has millions of nefarious uses.' Photograph: Dylan Curran W ant to freak yourself out? I'm going to show just how much of your information the likes of Facebook and Google store about you without you even realising it. Google knows where you've been

Google stores your location (if you have location tracking turned on) every time you turn on your phone. You can see a timeline of where you've been from the very first day you started using Google on your phone.

Here is every place I have been in the last 12 months in Ireland. You can see the time of day that I was in the location and how long it took me to get to that location from my previous one.

Google stores search history across all your devices. That can mean that, even if you delete your search history and phone history on one device, it may still have data saved from other devices .

Click on this link to see your own data: myactivity.google.com/myactivity

Why have we given up our privacy to Facebook and other sites so willingly?
Google has an advertisement profile of you

Google creates an advertisement profile based on your information, including your location, gender, age, hobbies, career, interests, relationship status, possible weight (need to lose 10lb in one day?) and income.

Click on this link to see your own data: google.com/settings/ads/

Google knows all the apps you use

Google stores information on every app and extension you use. They know how often you use them, where you use them, and who you use them to interact with. That means they know who you talk to on Facebook, what countries are you speaking with, what time you go to sleep.

Click on this link to see your own data: security.google.com/settings/secur

Google has all of your YouTube history

Google stores all of your YouTube history, so they probably know whether you're going to be a parent soon, if you're a conservative, if you're a progressive, if you're Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, if you're feeling depressed or suicidal, if you're anorexic

Click on this link to see your own data: youtube.com/feed/history/s

The data Google has on you can fill millions of Word documents

Google offers an option to download all of the data it stores about you. I've requested to download it and the file is 5.5GB big , which is roughly 3m Word documents.

Manage to gain access to someone's Google account? Perfect, you have a diary of everything that person has done

This link includes your bookmarks, emails, contacts, your Google Drive files, all of the above information, your YouTube videos, the photos you've taken on your phone, the businesses you've bought from, the products you've bought through Google

They also have data from your calendar, your Google hangout sessions, your location history, the music you listen to, the Google books you've purchased, the Google groups you're in, the websites you've created, the phones you've owned, the pages you've shared, how many steps you walk in a day

Click on this link to see your own data: google.com/takeout

Facebook has reams and reams of data on you, too

Facebook offers a similar option to download all your information. Mine was roughly 600MB, which is roughly 400,000 Word documents.

This includes every message you've ever sent or been sent, every file you've ever sent or been sent, all the contacts in your phone, and all the audio messages you've ever sent or been sent.

Click here to see your data: https://www.facebook.com/help/131112897028467

Facebook Twitter Pinterest 'A snapshot of the data Facebook has saved on me.' Photograph: Dylan Curran Facebook stores everything from your stickers to your login location

Facebook also stores what it thinks you might be interested in based off the things you've liked and what you and your friends talk about (I apparently like the topic "girl").

Somewhat pointlessly, they also store all the stickers you've ever sent on Facebook (I have no idea why they do this. It's just a joke at this stage).

They also store every time you log in to Facebook, where you logged in from, what time, and from what device.

And they store all the applications you've ever had connected to your Facebook account, so they can guess I'm interested in politics and web and graphic design, that I was single between X and Y period with the installation of Tinder, and I got a HTC phone in November.

(Side note, if you have Windows 10 installed, this is a picture of just the privacy options with 16 different sub-menus, which have all of the options enabled by default when you install Windows 10)

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Privacy options in Windows 10. Photograph: Dylan Curran They can access your webcam and microphone

The data they collect includes tracking where you are, what applications you have installed, when you use them, what you use them for, access to your webcam and microphone at any time, your contacts, your emails, your calendar, your call history, the messages you send and receive, the files you download, the games you play, your photos and videos, your music, your search history, your browsing history, even what radio stations you listen to.

Facebook told me it would act swiftly on data misuse – in 2015 | Harry Davies
Here are some of the different ways Google gets your data

I got the Google Takeout document with all my information, and this is a breakdown of all the different ways they get your information.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest 'My Google Takeout document.' Photograph: Dylan Curran

Here's the search history document, which has 90,000 different entries, even showing the images I downloaded and the websites I accessed (I showed the Pirate Bay section to show how much damage this information can do).

Facebook Twitter Pinterest 'My search history document has 90,000 different entries.' Photograph: Dylan Curran Google knows which events you attended, and when

Here's my Google Calendar broken down, showing all the events I've ever added, whether I actually attended them, and what time I attended them at (this part is when I went for an interview for a marketing job, and what time I arrived).

Facebook Twitter Pinterest 'Here is my Google calendar showing a job interview I attended.' Photograph: Dylan Curran And Google has information you deleted

This is my Google Drive, which includes files I explicitly deleted including my résumé, my monthly budget, and all the code, files and websites I've ever made, and even my PGP private key, which I deleted, that I use to encrypt emails.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Google can know your workout routine

This is my Google Fit, which shows all of the steps I've ever taken, any time I walked anywhere, and all the times I've recorded any meditation/yoga/workouts I've done (I deleted this information and revoked Google Fit's permissions).

Facebook Twitter Pinterest And they have years' worth of photos

This is all the photos ever taken with my phone, broken down by year, and includes metadata of when and where I took the photos

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Google has every email you ever sent

Every email I've ever sent, that's been sent to me, including the ones I deleted or were categorised as spam.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest And there is more

I'll just do a short summary of what's in the thousands of files I received under my Google Activity.

First, every Google Ad I've ever viewed or clicked on, every app I've ever launched or used and when I did it, every website I've ever visited and what time I did it at, and every app I've ever installed or searched for.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest 'They have every single Google search I've made since 2009.'

They also have every image I've ever searched for and saved, every location I've ever searched for or clicked on, every news article I've ever searched for or read, and every single Google search I've made since 2009. And then finally, every YouTube video I've ever searched for or viewed, since 2008.

This information has millions of nefarious uses. You say you're not a terrorist. Then how come you were googling Isis? Work at Google and you're suspicious of your wife? Perfect, just look up her location and search history for the last 10 years. Manage to gain access to someone's Google account? Perfect, you have a chronological diary of everything that person has done for the last 10 years.

This is one of the craziest things about the modern age. We would never let the government or a corporation put cameras/microphones in our homes or location trackers on us. But we just went ahead and did it ourselves because – to hell with it! – I want to watch cute dog videos.

NOTE: A caption was corrected on 28 March 2018 to replace "privacy options in Facebook" with "privacy options in Windows 10".

Dylan Curran is a data consultant and web developer, who does extensive research into spreading technical awareness and improving digital etiquette

[Mar 02, 2019] How do you like the NKVD libruls afraid of Trump bringing fascism who were running a gestapo (the FBI wiring tapping other countrys Ministers) on US citizens of the opposing party?

Feb 19, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
ilsm : , February 18, 2017 at 04:45 AM
Vox, what about reporting from a crystal ball requires truth?
Peter K. -> ilsm... , February 18, 2017 at 07:37 AM
The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming! Hide under your bed.
ilsm -> Peter K.... , February 18, 2017 at 12:42 PM
Flynn could have said something "inappropriate" by a Clintonista definition of "inappropriate", and he "could" be prosecuted under a law designed to muzzle US citizens, that has never been tried bc a Bill of rights argument would win!

How do you like the NKVD libruls afraid of Trump bringing fascism who were running a gestapo (the FBI wiring tapping other country's Ministers) on US citizens of the opposing party?

If the fascists are coming they would keep Obama's FBI!

[Feb 26, 2019] Banning Huawei in the US will hurt US Huawei dealers more than it will hurt Huawei.

Feb 26, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Hoarsewhisperer , Feb 24, 2019 1:29:18 PM | link

I'm watching CGTN ... Huawei are telling the Yanks that they can live without the USA market and will NOT allow back doors in their phones; adding that banning Huawei in the US will hurt US Huawei dealers more than it will hurt Huawei. The report also included an Advertorial for the new Huawei folding smart phone. It looks like a 7" tablet when open and folds down the centre with the screen on the OUTSIDE of the closed phone. It can download a 1 Gb movie in 3 (three) seconds and will cost $2600-00, making it the most expensive smartphone on the market.
Sounds like a great big FU AmeriKKKa to me.

[Feb 23, 2019] Smartphone Apps Sending Intensely Personal Information To Facebook - Whether Or Not You Have An Account

Feb 23, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Smartphone Apps Sending "Intensely Personal Information" To Facebook - Whether Or Not You Have An Account

by Tyler Durden Fri, 02/22/2019 - 18:05 72 SHARES

Facebook has been collecting "intensely personal information" from millions of people - whether they have Facebook accounts or not, according to testing performed by the Wall Street Journal .

According to tests of more than 70 apps using software to monitor internet communications, the Journal found that "the apps often send the data without any prominent or specific disclosure," and that " Facebook software collects data from many apps even if no Facebook account is used to log in and if the end user isn't a Facebook member. "

Eleven of the apps tested sent Facebook "potentially sensitive information about how users behaved or actual data they entered."

For example, Flo Health Inc.'s "Period & Ovulation Tracker" - which boasts 25 million active users, was sending Facebook information on when women were having their periods - or indicated their desire to get pregnant , according to the tests.

Note: After being contacted by the Journal, Flo said it has 'substantially limited' data sharing with third-party analytics services.

Source: Wall Street Journal testing of the app

Other apps found sending Facebook information include; Instant Heart Rate: HR MOnitor, Realtor.com's app, "at least six of the top 15 health and fitness apps" and BetterMe: Weight Loss Workouts"

Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.'s Google, which operate the two dominant app stores, don't require apps to disclose all the partners with whom data is shared. Users can decide not to grant permission for an app to access certain types of information, such as their contacts or locations. But these permissions generally don't apply to the information users supply directly to apps, which is sometimes the most personal.

In the Journal's testing, Instant Heart Rate: HR Monitor, the most popular heart-rate app on Apple's iOS, made by California-based Azumio Inc., sent a user's heart rate to Facebook immediately after it was recorded . - Wall Street Journal

Facebook told The Journal that some of the data sharing uncovered by the tests violate its business terms , by which app developers are instructed not to send "health, financial information or other categories of sensitive information." The company has notified app developers identified in the tests to stop sending sensitive information to them, and it may take additional steps if the apps don't adhere to their requests.

""We require app developers to be clear with their users about the information they are sharing with us," said a Facebook spokeswoman. In other words, they're sorry they got caught and are now on a finger-wagging campaign.

Apple and Google had relatively lawyerly responses to the investigation; Apple said its guidelines require apps to seek "prior user consent" before collecting user data, adding "When we hear of any developer violating these strict privacy terms and guidelines, we quickly investigate and, if necessary, take immediate action." Google declined to comment - pointing to the company's policy requiring that apps which handle sensitive data prominently "disclose the type of parties to which any personal or sensitive user data is shared."

Flo initially said in a written statement that it doesn't send "critical user data" and that the data it does send Facebook is "depersonalized" to keep it private and secure.

The Journal's testing, however, showed sensitive information was sent with a unique advertising identifier that can be matched to a device or profile. A Flo spokeswoman subsequently said the company will "substantially limit" its use of external analytics systems while it conducts a privacy audit.

Move, the owner of real-estate app Realtor.com -- which sent information to Facebook about properties that users liked, according to the Journal's tests -- said "we strictly adhere to all local, state and federal requirements," and that its privacy policy "clearly states how user information is collected and shared." The policy says the app collects a variety of information, including content in which users are interested, and may share it with third parties. It doesn't mention Facebook. - Wall Street Journal

"This is a big mess," said Disconnect's chief technology officer Patrick Johnson, who analyzed apps for the Journal analysis. "This is completely independent of the functionality of the app."

While the software used by the Journal wasn't able to decipher specific content sent by Android apps, Defensive Lab Agency's Esther Onfroy found in a separate test that at least one Android app flagged by the Journal - BetterMe: Weight Loss Workouts, shared users' weights and heights with Facebook almost immediately after they were entered.

How is this possible?

Apps often incorporate code known as software-development kits (SDKs) which allow developers to integrate various features or functions across platforms. One of these is Facebook's SDK - which allow apps to collect data for targeted advertising or to allow apps to beter understand user behavior.

Facebook's SDK, which is contained in thousands of apps, includes an analytics service called "App Events" that allows developers to look at trends among their users. Apps can tell the SDK to record a set of standardized actions taken by users, such as when a user completes a purchase. App developers also can define "custom app events" for Facebook to capture -- and that is how the sensitive information the Journal detected was sent.

Facebook says on its website it uses customer data from its SDK, combined with other data it collects, to personalize ads and content, as well as to "improve other experiences on Facebook, including News Feed and Search content ranking capabilities." - Wall Street Journal

A Facebook spokeswoman said that Facebook is now looking into how to search for apps violating its data sharing terms, and will build safeguards to prevent the company from storing any sensitive data which may be provided by apps.

Last year Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg claimed that the company would create a "Clear History" feature to allow users to analyze data which had been collected about them from various apps and websites - and then delete it from Facebook.

We're still waiting on that...


Thom Paine , 3 minutes ago link

keep a separate camera

message via Wickr

Use a VPN on phone and PC

encrypt all personal data immediately (cards, passwords etc) and keep under two factor security (I do this)

If you use your phone as camera disconnect from networks first, then bluetooth to somewhere else, delete - if you are photographing the misstress.

me or you , 14 minutes ago link

Time for all of you to consider an Open Source Android OS.

- /e/

- UbuntuTouch

- LineageOS for MicroG

I've been using /e/ for almost a year already and all my apps are Open Source...I don't nedd Google for anything.

smacker , 18 minutes ago link

Solution's easy. Shut down Phacephuq and deal with Zuckerslimeberg.

GeezerGeek , 22 seconds ago link

Try Linux. Create multiple user accounts. Use a VPN. If you do wireless, use a few extra cheap wireless USB devices to swap MACs. On a wired (ethernet) connection, see if you can sometimes use wireless, and vice versa. Use different size monitors. It's frightening what your PC tells the rest of the world about your system so web sites know what to send you.

For linux, use Ubuntu because more people use that than any other distro, I think. That is part of what gets sent out when you connect to the internet.

You may want to load up VirtualBox and create a handful of different virtual machines. That, too, can add to the confusion.

Alternate solution: read a book.

Rockwell , 32 minutes ago link

Surveilo Capitalism at its finest. This won't stop until blood is spilt.

itstippy , 1 hour ago link

Some clever hacking group is going to start massively corrupting Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Alphabet data (and thus NSA data) instead of stealing it. It can't be too difficult to submit bogus data if these idiot data collectors are so cavalier about their sources that they accept info from "Flo Health Inc."

Send 'em intel on Maxine Water's preferred brand of cigars, Donald Trump's menstrual cycle, Ralph Crandon's interest in high end Manhattan real estate, Carrot Top's NASCAR obsession, Mitch McConnel's "How To Make A Bomb" searches, that kind of thing, only on a grand scale. Make the databases so corrupted that they're utterly unreliable and useless to advertisers and spooks.

yourlifeisamyth , 1 hour ago link

You are the product... but then do you really care?

Lucky Guesst , 1 hour ago link

My daughter and her husband have this experiment where they pick a random product that they don't own and have never researched online. They start saying the name of that item out loud randomly when they are on the phone with each other. Two out of the three times they started getting ads for that item on FB. I'm still working on getting her to delete FB.

Consuelo , 1 hour ago link

Most of the know-nothings using this waste of time & space don't know what the F they care about, other than that their daily hedonistic rituals of eating, entertaining and cell-phoning aren't interrupted by a bolt of clear thinking.

[Feb 19, 2019] How 1984 turned into an instruction manual by Simon Black

Feb 18, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
By Simon Black via Sovereignman.com

"Sometimes [two and two are four], Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane."

One of the key themes from George Orwell's dystopic novel 1984 is that the Party can do and say whatever it wants.

And more importantly, you must believe it, with all your heart. No matter how absurd.

That's doublethink . It is impossible for two plus two to equal three, four, and five simultaneously. But if the Party says it is so, it is so.

If you can't make yourself believe two contradictory facts simultaneously, that makes you a thought criminal– an enemy of the Party.

Thoughtcrime is thinking any thought that contradicts the Party.

Facecrime is when you have the wrong expression on your face. For instance, if captured enemy soldiers are being paraded through the streets, looking sympathetic is a facecrime.

Newspeak is the language of the Party–one that has painstakingly been removed of unnecessary words, or words that might contradict the Party's ideals.

"Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it."

During daily two minutes hate , citizens shout and curse whatever enemies the Party shows them.

And the face of the Party, Big Brother , is watching you. He helps you be a better citizen.

This isn't just some random literature lesson. Understanding Orwell's 1984 will help you understand 2019 America.

For instance, one California state senator is working on her own version of Newspeak.

She has banned the members of her committee from using gender pronouns, such as he, she, her, and him. Instead they must use "they and them" to respect non-binary gender choices.

So Billy Joel's famous song "She's always a woman" would become "They're always a non-binary gender. . ." Somehow that just doesn't ring with the same sweetness.

Last month a high school student famously committed a facecrime when he stood, apparently smirking, while a Native American activist beat a drum in his face.

The 16-year-old was then subjected to "two minutes hate" by the entire nation. The Party labeled him an enemy, and Twitter obliged.

Of course when I reference the 'Party', I don't mean to imply that all these Orwellian developments are coming from a single political party.

They've ALL done their parts to advance Orwellian dystopia and make it a reality.

Senators Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders want to limit corporate stock buybacks and share payouts. But the tax code already has the accumulated profits tax, which punishes corporations for NOT engaging in stock buybacks and share payouts

It's like doublethink you have to simultaneously pay and not pay out dividends.

Same goes for cops will pull you over for speeding, but also for "suspicious" textbook perfect driving .

The #MeToo movement made it a thoughtcrime to not immediately believe the accuser and condemn the accused , no evidence required.

When Matt Damon pointed out that we should not conflate a pat on the butt with rape, he was met with "two minutes hate" for expressing the wrong opinion.

On college campuses, some students are upset that white students are using multicultural spaces . Apparently "multicultural" is newspeak for "no whites allowed."

And when a controversy over offensive Halloween costumes erupted at Yale a few years ago, it was a student free speech group which suppressed any debate on the topic.

It's amazing how they want you to celebrate diversity as long as its not intellectual diversity.

1984 was supposed to be a warning. Instead, it has become an instruction manual.

[Feb 18, 2019] Facebook labelled 'digital gangsters' by report on fake news Technology by David Pegg

Notable quotes:
"... The report accuses Mark Zuckerberg , Facebook's co-founder and chief executive, of contempt for parliament in refusing three separate demands for him to give evidence, instead sending junior employees unable to answer the committee's questions. ..."
Feb 18, 2019 | www.theguardian.com

Company broke privacy and competition law and should be regulated urgently, say MPs

Facebook deliberately broke privacy and competition law and should urgently be subject to statutory regulation, according to a devastating parliamentary report denouncing the company and its executives as "digital gangsters".

The final report of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee's 18-month investigation into disinformation and fake news accused Facebook of purposefully obstructing its inquiry and failing to tackle attempts by Russia to manipulate elections.

"Democracy is at risk from the malicious and relentless targeting of citizens with disinformation and personalised 'dark adverts' from unidentifiable sources, delivered through the major social media platforms we use every day," warned the committee's chairman, Damian Collins.

The report accuses Mark Zuckerberg , Facebook's co-founder and chief executive, of contempt for parliament in refusing three separate demands for him to give evidence, instead sending junior employees unable to answer the committee's questions.

Warns British electoral law is unfit for purpose and vulnerable to interference by hostile foreign actors, including agents of the Russian government attempting to discredit democracy. Calls on the British government to establish an independent investigation into "foreign influence, disinformation, funding, voter manipulation and the sharing of data" in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, the 2016 EU referendum and the 2017 general election.

[Feb 17, 2019] Trump is Russian asset memo is really neocon propaganda overkill

Highly recommended!
The ability of those in power to manipulate the ways ordinary people think, act and vote has allowed for an inverted totalitarianism which turns the citizenry into their own prison wardens, allowing those with real power to continue doing as they please unhindered by the interests of the common man.
In neoliberal MSM there is positive feedback loop for "Trump is a Russian agent" stories. So the meme feeds on itself.
Notable quotes:
"... And yet the trending, most high-profile stories about Trump today all involve painting him as a Putin puppet who is working to destroy America by taking a weak stance against an alarming geopolitical threat. This has had the effect of manufacturing demand for even more dangerous escalations against a nuclear superpower that just so happens to be a longtime target of U.S. intelligence agencies. ..."
"... the mass media is not in the business of reporting facts, it's in the business of selling narratives. Even if those narratives are so shrill and stress-inducing that they imperil the health of their audience. ..."
"... Trump is clearly not a Russian asset, he's a facilitator of America's permanent unelected government just like his predecessors, and indeed as far as actual policies and administration behavior goes he's not that much different from Barack Obama and George W Bush. Hell, for all his demagogic anti-immigrant speech Trump hasn't even caught up to Obama's peak ICE deportation years ..."
"... Used to be that the U.S. mass media only killed people indirectly, by facilitating establishment war agendas in repeating government agency propaganda as objective fact and promulgating narratives that manufacture support for a status quo which won't even give Americans health insurance or safe drinking water ..."
"... Now they're skipping the middle man and killing them directly by psychologically brutalizing them so aggressively that it ruins their health, all to ensure that Democrats support war and adore the U.S. intelligence community . ..."
"... The social engineers responsible for controlling the populace of the greatest military power on the planet are watching France closely, and understand deeply what is at stake should they fail to control the narrative and herd ordinary Americans into supporting U.S. government institutions. ..."
"... The ability of those in power to manipulate the ways ordinary people think, act and vote has allowed for an inverted totalitarianism which turns the citizenry into their own prison wardens, allowing those with real power to continue doing as they please unhindered by the interests of the common man. ..."
Jan 23, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

The always excellent Moon of Alabama blog has just published a sarcasm-laden piece documenting the many, many aggressive maneuvers that this administration has made against the interests of Russia, from pushing for more NATO funding to undermining Russia's natural gas interests to bombing Syria to sanctioning Russian oligarchs to dangerous military posturing.

<picture deleted>

And yet the trending, most high-profile stories about Trump today all involve painting him as a Putin puppet who is working to destroy America by taking a weak stance against an alarming geopolitical threat. This has had the effect of manufacturing demand for even more dangerous escalations against a nuclear superpower that just so happens to be a longtime target of U.S. intelligence agencies.

If the mass media were in the business of reporting facts, there would be a lot less "Putin's puppet" talk and a lot more "Hey, maybe we should avoid senseless escalations which could end all life on earth" talk among news media consumers. But there isn't, because the mass media is not in the business of reporting facts, it's in the business of selling narratives. Even if those narratives are so shrill and stress-inducing that they imperil the health of their audience.

Like His Predecessors

Trump is clearly not a Russian asset, he's a facilitator of America's permanent unelected government just like his predecessors, and indeed as far as actual policies and administration behavior goes he's not that much different from Barack Obama and George W Bush. Hell, for all his demagogic anti-immigrant speech Trump hasn't even caught up to Obama's peak ICE deportation years.

If the mass media were in the business of reporting facts, people would be no more worried about this administration than they were about the previous ones, because when it comes to his administration's actual behavior, he's just as reliable an upholder of the establishment-friendly status quo as his predecessors.

Used to be that the U.S. mass media only killed people indirectly, by facilitating establishment war agendas in repeating government agency propaganda as objective fact and promulgating narratives that manufacture support for a status quo which won't even give Americans health insurance or safe drinking water.

Now they're skipping the middle man and killing them directly by psychologically brutalizing them so aggressively that it ruins their health, all to ensure that Democrats support war and adore the U.S. intelligence community .

They do this for a reason, of course. The Yellow Vests protests in France have continued unabated for their ninth consecutive week , a decentralized populist uprising resulting from ordinary French citizens losing trust in their institutions and the official narratives which uphold them.

The social engineers responsible for controlling the populace of the greatest military power on the planet are watching France closely, and understand deeply what is at stake should they fail to control the narrative and herd ordinary Americans into supporting U.S. government institutions. Right now they've got Republicans cheering on the White House and Democrats cheering on the U.S. intelligence community, but that could all change should something happen which causes them to lose control over the thoughts that Americans think about their rulers.

Propaganda is the single most-overlooked and under-appreciated aspect of human society. The ability of those in power to manipulate the ways ordinary people think, act and vote has allowed for an inverted totalitarianism which turns the citizenry into their own prison wardens, allowing those with real power to continue doing as they please unhindered by the interests of the common man.

The only thing that will lead to real change is the people losing trust in corrupt institutions and rising like lions against them. That gets increasingly likely as those institutions lose control of the narrative, and with trust in the mass media at an all-time low, populist uprisings restoring power to the people in France, and media corporations acting increasingly weird and insecure , that looks more and more likely by the day.

[Feb 12, 2019] Snowden revelations did not chnage thebahviour of JoeUser

Feb 12, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Despite the Snowden revelations of the extent of official data gathering and storage on individuals, the overwhelming majority of citizens have not only resigned themselves to electronic surveillance but are putting themselves in a position to have their habits examined microscopically by bringing eavesdropping digital assistants into their home and buying "smart" home appliances.

[Feb 09, 2019] Facebook The Government's Propaganda Arm

Feb 09, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Jeff Charles via Liberty Nation,

The social media giant has a disturbing number of former Obama officials in key positions of authority over content...

Imagine for a moment what it would look like if the federal government launched its own social media network. Every day, Americans could freely use the platform to express their views on everything from economic theory to the best tips for baking peanut butter cookies. They could even discuss their political views and debate the important issues of the day.

But what if the government were empowered to determine which political views are appropriate and which are too obscene for the American public? Well, it looks like this is already happening. Of course, the state has not created a social media network; they didn't have to. It appears the government is using Facebook – the world's largest social media company – to sway public opinion.

The Government's Fingers In Facebook

The Free Thought Project recently published a report revealing that Facebook has some troubling ties to the federal government and that this connection could be enabling former state officials to influence the content displayed. The social media provider has partnered with various think tanks which receive state funding, while hiring an alarming number of individuals who have held prominent positions in the federal government.

Facebook recently announced their partnership with the Atlantic Council – which is partly funded by tax dollars – to ensure that users are presented with quality news stories. And by "quality," it seems that they mean "progressive." The council is well known for promoting far-left news sources, including the Xinhua News Agency, which was founded by the Communist Party of China. Well, that's reassuring. What red-blooded American capitalist doesn't want to get the news from a communist regime?

But there one aspect of this story is even more troubling: the government-to-Facebook pipeline. The company has employed a significant number of former officials in positions that grant them influence over what content is allowed on the platform.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's Head of Cybersecurity Policy, prosecuted cybercrimes at the Department of Justice under President Obama. Now, he is responsible for determining who gets banned or suspended from the network. But that's not the worst of it. He also spearheaded the company's initiative to scrub anti-war content and "protest" movements. In a blog post, Gleicher wrote: "Some of the Pages frequently posted about topics like anti-NATO sentiment, protest movements, and anti-corruption." He continued, "We are constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don't want our services to be used to manipulate people."

The company has also hired others who served in key positions in the Obama administration. Some of these include:

To make things more interesting, Facebook has also hired neocons to help them determine the type of content that is being published. So if you happen to be a conservative that isn't too crazy about interventionism, your views are not as welcome on the network as others. After all, how many times have you heard of people being banned for posting pro-war or socialist propaganda?

Are Private Companies Truly Private?

The notion that government officials could be using positions of power in the private industry to advance a statist agenda is disturbing, but the fact that most Americans are unaware of this is far worse. It would be inaccurate to argue that the government is controlling Facebook's content, but the level of the state's involvement in the world's biggest social media company is a disturbing development.

This is not the only case of state officials becoming involved with certain industries. This trend is rampant in the certain industries in which individuals move back and forth between private organizations and the FDA. For example, Monsanto, an agricultural and agrochemical company, has been under scrutiny for its ties to the federal government.

It is not clear if there is anything that can be done to counteract inappropriate relations between the government and certain companies – especially organizations with the level of influence enjoyed by the likes of Facebook. But it essential that the public is made aware of these relations, otherwise the state will continue to exert influence over society – with Americans none the wiser.

[Feb 08, 2019] Amazing that a bunch of academics would "criticize" the CIA and leave out all the real facts about the CIA.

Feb 08, 2019 | www.unz.com

never-anonymous , says: Next New Comment February 8, 2019 at 9:26 pm GMT

Edward Curtain writes for the CIA about the CIA. Amazing that a bunch of academics would "criticize" the CIA and leave out all the real facts about the CIA.

ISIS, Al Qaeda, Pornhub, Facebook, Google – or whatever the CIA calls themselves and their weapons isn't in the business of informing you about anything at all.

Read 1984, it will explain it to you, another psychological warfare treatise written by a Government agent.

Agent76 , says: Next New Comment February 8, 2019 at 10:03 pm GMT
Documentary: On Company Business [1980] FULL [Remaster]

Rare award winning CIA documentary, On Company Business painfully restored from VHS.

[Feb 08, 2019] The CIA Then and Now Old Wine in New Bottles by Edward Curtin

Intelligence agencies like CIA is a threat to "normal" societies as they tend to acquire power with time and tail start wagging the dog. Mechanism of control are usually subverted and considerable part of their activities is dome without informing "supervisory" structures.
In the USA sometimes CIA monitor Congress communications and tries to coerce them like was the case when the torture program was revealed. In other words intelligence agencies are the core neofascist structures in modern society and as such represent a distinct danger.
Notable quotes:
"... Organizations like the CIA are obviously fallible and have made many mistakes and failed to anticipate world events. But they are also very powerful, having great financial backing, and do the bidding of their masters in banking, Wall St., finance, etc. They are the action arm of these financial elites, and are, as Douglass Valentine has written, organized criminals. ..."
"... The corporate mass media take their orders, orders that need not be direct, but sometimes are, because these media are structured to do the bidding of the same elites that formed the CIA and own the media. And while their ostensible raison d'ȇtre is to provide intelligence to the nation's civilian leaders, this is essentially a cover story for their real work that is propaganda, killing, and conducting coups d'états at home and abroad. ..."
"... Because they have deep pockets, they can afford to buy all sorts of people, people who pimp for the elites. Some of these people do work that is usually done by honest academics and independent intellectuals, a dying breed, once called free-floating intellectuals. These pimps analyze political, economic, technological, and cultural trends. They come from different fields: history, anthropology, psychology, sociology, political science, cultural studies, linguistics, etc. They populate the think tanks and universities. They are often intelligent but live in bad faith, knowing they are working for those who are doing the devil's work. But they collect their pay and go their way straight to the bank, the devil's bank. They often belong to the Council of Foreign Relations or the Heritage Foundation. They are esteemed and esteem themselves. But they are pimps. ..."
"... Infecting minds with such symbols and stories must be done directly and indirectly, as well as short-term and long-term. Long term propaganda is like a slowly leaking water pipe that you are vaguely aware of but that rots the metal from within until the pipe can no longer resist the pressure. Drip drop, drip drop, drip drop -- and the inattentive recipients of the propaganda gradually lose their mettle to resist and don't know it, and then when an event bursts into the news -- e.g. the attacks of September 11, 2001 or Russia-gate -- they have been so softened that their assent is automatically given. They know without hesitation who the devil is and that he must be fought. ..."
"... The purpose of the long-term propaganda is to create certain predispositions and weaknesses that can be exploited when needed. Certain events can be the triggers to induce the victims to react to suggestions. When the time is ripe, all that is needed is a slight suggestion, like a touch on the shoulder, and the hypnotized one acts in a trance. ..."
"... Very entertaining. Now tell us how all this works. And what the CIA gets out of it. I mean they surely don't do it for nothing do they? Does the CIA Director get rich for working for 'masters in banking, Wall St., finance, etc'? Or is everyone under a giant Satanic Cult in the sky and the CIA is their headquarters on earth? ..."
Feb 08, 2019 | www.unz.com
Edward Curtin • January 31, 2019 • 3,100 Words • 24 CommentsReply

...The Nazis had a name for their propaganda and mind-control operations: weltanschauungskrieg -- "world view warfare." As good students, they had learned many tricks of the trade from their American teachers, including Sigmund Freud's nephew, Edward Bernays, who had honed his propagandistic skills for the United States during World War I and had subsequently started the public relations industry in New York City, an industry whose raison d'etre from the start was to serve the interests of the elites in manipulating the public mind.

In 1941, U.S. Intelligence translated weltanschauungskrieg as "psychological warfare," a phrase that fails to grasp the full dimensions of the growing power and penetration of U.S. propaganda, then and now. Of course, the American propaganda apparatus was just then getting started on an enterprise that has become the epitome of successful world view warfare programs, a colossal beast whose tentacles have spread to every corner of the globe and whose fabrications have nestled deep within the psyches of many hundreds of millions of Americans and people around the world. And true to form in this circle game of friends helping friends, this propaganda program was ably assisted after WW II by all the Nazis secreted into the U.S. ("Operation Paperclip") by Allen Dulles and his henchmen in the OSS and then the CIA to make sure the U.S. had operatives to carry on the Nazi legacy (see David Talbot's The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, The CIA, and The Rise of America's Secret Government , an extraordinary book that will make your skin crawl with disgust).

This went along quite smoothly until some people started to question the Warren Commission's JFK assassination story. The CIA then went on the offensive in 1967 and put out the word to all its people in the agency and throughout the media and academia to use the phrase "conspiracy theory" to ridicule these skeptics, which they have done up until the present day. This secret document -- CIA Dispatch 1035-960 -- was a propaganda success for many decades, marginalizing those researchers and writers who were uncovering the truth about not just President Kennedy's murder by the national security state, but those of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy. Today, the tide is turning on this score, as recently more and more Americans are fed up with the lies and are demanding that the truth be told. Even the Washington Post is noting this, and it is a wave of opposition that will only grow.

The CIA Exposed -- Partially

But back in the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, some covert propaganda programs run by the CIA were "exposed." First, the Agency's sponsorship of the Congress of Cultural Freedom, through which it used magazines, prominent writers, academics, et al. to spread propaganda during the Cold War, was uncovered. This was an era when Americans read serious literary books, writers and intellectuals had a certain cachet, and popular culture had not yet stupefied Americans. The CIA therefore secretly worked to influence American and world opinion through the literary and intellectual elites. Frances Stonor Saunders comprehensively covers this in her 1999 book, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA And The World Of Arts And Letters , and Joel Whitney followed this up in 2016 with Finks: How the CIA Tricked the World's Best Writers, with particular emphasis on the complicity of the CIA and the famous literary journal The Paris Review.

Then in 1975 the Church Committee hearings resulted in the exposure of abuses by the CIA, NSA, FBI, etc. In 1977 Carl Bernstein wrote a long piece for Esquire -- "The CIA and the Media" -- naming names of journalists and publications ( The New York Times, CBS , etc.) that worked with and for the CIA in propagandizing the American people and the rest of the world. (Conveniently, this article can be read on the CIA's website since presumably the agency has come clean, or, if you are the suspicious type, or maybe a conspiracy theorist, it is covering its deeper tracks with a "limited hangout," defined by former CIA agent Victor Marchetti, who went rogue, as "spy jargon for a favorite and frequently used gimmick of the clandestine professionals. When their veil of secrecy is shredded and they can no longer rely on a phony cover story to misinform the public, they resort to admitting -- sometimes even volunteering -- some of the truth while still managing to withhold the key and damaging facts in the case. The public, however, is usually so intrigued by the new information that it never thinks to pursue the matter further.")

Confess and Move On

By the late 1970s, it seemed as if the CIA had been caught in flagrante delicto and disgraced, had confessed its sins, done penance, and resolved to go and sin no more. Seeming, however, is the nature of the CIA's game. Organized criminals learn to adapt to the changing times, and that is exactly what the intelligence operatives did. Since the major revelations of the late sixties and seventies -- MKUltra, engineered coups all around the world, assassinations of foreign leaders, spying on Americans, etc. -- no major program of propaganda has been exposed in the mainstream media. Revealing books about certain CIA programs have been written -- e.g. Douglas Valentine's important The Phoenix Program being one -- and dissenting writers, journalists, researchers, and whistleblowers (Robert Parry, Gary Webb, Julian Assange, James W. Douglass, David Ray Griffin, Edward Snowden, et al.) have connected the U.S. intelligence services to dirty deeds and specific actions, such as the American engineered coup d'état in Ukraine in 2013-14, electronic spying, and the attacks of September 11, 2001.

But the propaganda has for the most part continued unabated at a powerful and esoteric cultural level, while illegal and criminal actions are carried out throughout the world in the most blatant manner imaginable, as if to say fuck you openly while insidiously infecting the general population through the mass electronic screen culture that has relegated intellectual and literary culture to a tiny minority.

Planning Ahead

Let me explain what I think has been happening.

Organizations like the CIA are obviously fallible and have made many mistakes and failed to anticipate world events. But they are also very powerful, having great financial backing, and do the bidding of their masters in banking, Wall St., finance, etc. They are the action arm of these financial elites, and are, as Douglass Valentine has written, organized criminals. They have their own military, are joined to all the armed forces, and are deeply involved in the drug trade. They control the politicians. They operate their own propaganda network in conjunction with the private mercenaries they hire for their operations. The corporate mass media take their orders, orders that need not be direct, but sometimes are, because these media are structured to do the bidding of the same elites that formed the CIA and own the media. And while their ostensible raison d'ȇtre is to provide intelligence to the nation's civilian leaders, this is essentially a cover story for their real work that is propaganda, killing, and conducting coups d'états at home and abroad.

Because they have deep pockets, they can afford to buy all sorts of people, people who pimp for the elites. Some of these people do work that is usually done by honest academics and independent intellectuals, a dying breed, once called free-floating intellectuals. These pimps analyze political, economic, technological, and cultural trends. They come from different fields: history, anthropology, psychology, sociology, political science, cultural studies, linguistics, etc. They populate the think tanks and universities. They are often intelligent but live in bad faith, knowing they are working for those who are doing the devil's work. But they collect their pay and go their way straight to the bank, the devil's bank. They often belong to the Council of Foreign Relations or the Heritage Foundation. They are esteemed and esteem themselves. But they are pimps.

... ... ...

Methods of Propaganda

Infecting minds with such symbols and stories must be done directly and indirectly, as well as short-term and long-term. Long term propaganda is like a slowly leaking water pipe that you are vaguely aware of but that rots the metal from within until the pipe can no longer resist the pressure. Drip drop, drip drop, drip drop -- and the inattentive recipients of the propaganda gradually lose their mettle to resist and don't know it, and then when an event bursts into the news -- e.g. the attacks of September 11, 2001 or Russia-gate -- they have been so softened that their assent is automatically given. They know without hesitation who the devil is and that he must be fought.

The purpose of the long-term propaganda is to create certain predispositions and weaknesses that can be exploited when needed. Certain events can be the triggers to induce the victims to react to suggestions. When the time is ripe, all that is needed is a slight suggestion, like a touch on the shoulder, and the hypnotized one acts in a trance. The gun goes off, and the entranced one can't remember why (see: Sirhan Sirhan). This is the goal of mass hypnotization through long-term propaganda: confusion, memory loss, and automatic reaction to suggestion.

Intelligence Pimps and Liquid Screen Culture

When the CIA's dirty tricks were made public in the 1970s, it is not hard to imagine that the intellectual pimps who do their long-range thinking were asked to go back to the drawing board and paint a picture of the coming decades and how business as usual could be conducted without further embarrassment. By that time it had become clear that intellectual or high culture was being swallowed by mass culture and the future belonged to electronic screen culture and images, not words. What has come to be called "postmodernity" ensued, or what the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman calls "liquid modernity" and Guy Debord "the society of the spectacle." Such developments, rooted in what Frederic Jameson has termed "the cultural logic of late capitalism," have resulted in the fragmentation of social and personal life into pointillistic moving pictures whose dots form incoherent images that sow mass confusion and do not cohere.

... ... ...

Edward Curtin is a writer whose work has appeared widely. He teaches sociology at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. His website is http://edwardcurtin.com/


renfro , says: February 8, 2019 at 6:53 am GMT

But they are also very powerful, having great financial backing, and do the bidding of their masters in banking, Wall St., finance, etc. They are the action arm of these financial elites, and are, as Douglass Valentine has written, organized criminals. They have their own military, are joined to all the armed forces, and are deeply involved in the drug trade. They control the politicians. They operate their own propaganda network in conjunction with the private mercenaries they hire for their operations. The corporate mass media take their orders, orders that need not be direct, but sometimes are, because these media are structured to do the bidding of the same elites that formed the CIA and own the media. And while their ostensible raison d'ȇtre is to provide intelligence to the nation's civilian leaders, this is essentially a cover story for their real work that is propaganda, killing, and conducting coups d'états at home and abroad.

Very entertaining. Now tell us how all this works. And what the CIA gets out of it. I mean they surely don't do it for nothing do they? Does the CIA Director get rich for working for 'masters in banking, Wall St., finance, etc'? Or is everyone under a giant Satanic Cult in the sky and the CIA is their headquarters on earth?

... ... ...

Michael Kenny , says: February 8, 2019 at 10:36 am GMT
Is the author saying anything other than the CIA operates like all other intelligence agencies? Does he really think his readers don't know that?
Commentator Mike , says: February 8, 2019 at 11:32 am GMT
Under "The CIA Exposed" could have mentioned Philip Agee's "Inside the Company" as he was the Edward Snowden of his day.

Interestingly, CIA agent Miles Copeland, Jr., the father of the drummer of the British band "The Police", said the book was "as complete an account of spy work as is likely to be published anywhere" and that it is "an authentic account of how an ordinary American or British 'case officer' operates

All of it is presented with deadly accuracy."

(ref. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Agee )

Jake , says: February 8, 2019 at 2:22 pm GMT

" Sigmund Freud's nephew, Edward Bernays, who had honed his propagandistic skills for the United States during World War I and had subsequently started the public relations industry in New York City, an industry whose raison d'etre from the start was to serve the interests of the elites in manipulating the public mind.

In 1941, U.S. Intelligence translated weltanschauungskrieg as "psychological warfare," a phrase that fails to grasp the full dimensions of the growing power and penetration of U.S. propaganda, then and now."

The Yank propaganda machine always was an alliance between WASP Elites and Jews. Always. The Yank WASPs knew that Brit and British Commonwealth WASPs had done the same thing: make alliance to rule the world, which featured – not a bug but a feature – new ways to use psy ops to pervert the vast majority of white Christians they ruled.

Until that is understood, which means accepting that WASP culture itself is a problem as big as Jews and Jewish culture, all that is done in opposition to all that is horrendously wrong today is wasted time and energy.

Jake , says: February 8, 2019 at 2:28 pm GMT
@DESERT FOX The CIA is a British creation, just like Israel's Mossad and Saudi Arabia's General Intelligence Presidency.

The CIA is a pure WASP Elite creation. It always has served the interests of the WASP Elite, in the UK and the rest of the Anglosphere as well the US. And the CIA always has served the interests of Jews and Israel, because that makes perfect sense for WASP culture, which was formed fully, completed, by the Judaizing heresy Anglo-Saxon Puritanism.

Judaizing heresy guarantees pro-Jewish politics and culture.

AWM , says: February 8, 2019 at 2:48 pm GMT
James Jesus Angleton
This guy had it figured out.
Insert Fake Iriish Name here , says: February 8, 2019 at 3:38 pm GMT
Sean, Who else, is here first with the CIA line, "CIA works for the president!" CIA shoehorned that into the Pike Committee report right after Don Gregg visited the committees and gave them an ultimatum: back off or it's martial law.

Then Sean mouths a bit of bureaucratic bafflegab about feasibility.

The feasibility of CIA crime is a product of CIA impunity. So next Sean feeds you more CIA boilerplate by trying to pathologize anyone who's aware of CIA impunity through formal legal pretexts in municipal law. John Bolton, Trump's CIA ventriloquist, had one prime directive as unauthorized UN ambassador: remove any reference to impunity from the Summit Outcome Document. To that end he submitted 600+ NeoSoviet amendments to paralyze the drafting process.

That's how touchy CIA is about its impunity. CIA is the state, with illegal absolute sovereignty because they can kill you or torture you and get away with it.

If you're John Kennedy, if you're Robert Kennedy, if you're Dag Hammarskjöld, if you're Judge Robert Vance. No matter who you are.

[Feb 02, 2019] One Of The Biggest At-Home DNA Testing Companies Is Secretly Sharing Data With The FBI

Feb 01, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Just one week ago, we warned that the government -- helped by Congress (which adopted legislation allowing police to collect and test DNA immediately following arrests), President Trump (who signed the Rapid DNA Act into law), the courts (which have ruled that police can routinely take DNA samples from people who are arrested but not yet convicted of a crime), and local police agencies (which are chomping at the bit to acquire this new crime-fighting gadget) -- was embarking on a diabolical campaign to create a nation of suspects predicated on a massive national DNA database.

As it turns out we were right, but we forgot one key spoke of the government's campaign to collect genetic information from as many individuals as possible: "innocent", commercial companies, who not only collect DNA from willing clients, but are also paid for it.

FamilyTreeDNA, one of the pioneers of the growing market for "at home", consumer genetic testing, confirmed a report from BuzzFeed that it has quietly granted the Federal Bureau of Investigation access to its vast trove of nearly 2 million genetic profiles.

... ... ...

Worse, it did so secretly, without obtaining prior permission from its users.

The move is of significant concern to much more than just privacy-minded FamilyTreeDNA customers. As Bloomberg notes, one person sharing genetic information also exposes those to whom they are closely related. That's how police caught the alleged Golden State Killer. And here is a stunning statistics - according to a 2018 study, only 2% of the population needs to have done a DNA test for virtually everyone's genetic information to be represented in that data.

[Jan 29, 2019] US steps up offensive against China with more "hacking charges" by Mike Head

Notable quotes:
"... Washington Post ..."
"... Sections of the Chinese regime responded belligerently to the accusations. An editorial in the state-owned Global Times ..."
"... The editorial asked: "Assuming China is so powerful that it has stolen technological information for over a decade that is supposedly worth over a trillion in intellectual property, as the US has indicated, then how is it that China still lags behind the US in so many fields, from chips to electric vehicles, and even aviation engines?" ..."
Dec 21, 2018 | www.wsws.org

Further escalating its economic and strategic offensive to block China from ever challenging its post-World War II hegemony, the US government yesterday unveiled its fifth set of economic espionage charges against Chinese individuals since September.

As part of an internationally-coordinated operation, the US Justice Department on Thursday published indictments of two Chinese men who had allegedly accessed confidential commercial data from US government agencies and corporate computers in 12 countries for more than a decade.

The announcement represents a major intensification of the US ruling class's confrontation against China, amid a constant build-up of unsubstantiated allegations against Beijing by both the Republican and Democrat wings of Washington's political establishment.

Via salacious allegations of "hacking" on a "vast scale," every effort is being made by the ruling elite and its media mouthpieces to whip up anti-China hysteria.

The indictment's release was clearly politically timed. It was accompanied by a global campaign by the US and its allies, accusing the Chinese government of an illegal cyber theft operation to damage their economies and supplant the US as the world's "leading superpower."

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen immediately issued a statement accusing China of directing "a very real threat to the economic competitiveness of companies in the United States and around the globe."

Within hours, US allies around the world put out matching statements, joined by declarations of confected alarm by their own cyber-warfare and hacking agencies.

The Washington Post called it "an unprecedented mass effort to call out China for its alleged malign acts." The coordination "represents a growing consensus that Beijing is flouting international norms in its bid to become the world's predominant economic and technological power."

The Australian government, the closest ally of the US in the Indo-Pacific region, was in the forefront. Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton explicitly accused the Chinese government and its Ministry of State Security (MSS) of being responsible for "a global campaign of cyber-enabled commercial intellectual property theft."

Geoffrey Berman, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, called the Chinese cyber campaign "shocking and outrageous." Such pronouncements, quickly emblazoned in media headlines around the world, destroy any possibility of anything resembling a fair trial if the two men, named as Zhu Hua and Zhang Shilong, are ever detained by US agencies and brought before a court.

The charges themselves are vaguely defined. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan accused the men of conspiracy to commit computer intrusions, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Zhu and Zhang acted "in association with" the MSS, as part of a hacking squad supposedly named "APT1o" or "Stone Panda," the indictment said.

FBI Director Christopher Wray called a news conference to issue another inflammatory statement against China. Pointing to the real motivations behind the indictments, he declared: "China's goal, simply put, is to replace the US as the world's leading superpower, and they're using illegal methods to get there."

Coming from the head of the US internal intelligence agency, this further indicates the kinds of discussions and planning underway within the highest echelons of the US political and military-intelligence apparatus to prepare the country, ideologically and militarily, for war against China.

Washington is determined to block President Xi Jinping's "Made in China 2025" program that aims to ensure China is globally competitive in hi-tech sectors such as robotics and chip manufacture, as well as Beijing's massive infrastructure plans, known as the Belt and Road Initiative, to link China with Europe across Eurasia.

The US ruling class regards these Chinese ambitions as existential threats because, if successful, they would undermine the strategic position of US imperialism globally, and the economic dominance of key American corporations.

Yesterday's announcement seemed timed to fuel tensions between Washington and Beijing, after the unprecedented December 1 arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, in Canada at the request of the US.

Last weekend, US Vice President Mike Pence again accused China of "intellectual property theft." These provocations came just weeks after the US and Chinese administrations agreed to talks aimed at resolving the tariff and trade war launched by US President Donald Trump.

The Trump administration is demanding structural changes to China's state-led economic model, greater Chinese purchases of American farm and industrial products and a halt to "coercive" joint-venture licensing terms. These demands would severely undermine the "Made in China 2025" program.

Since September, US authorities have brought forward five sets of espionage allegations. In late October, the Justice Department unsealed charges against 10 alleged Chinese spies accused of conspiring to steal sensitive commercial secrets from US and European companies.

Earlier in October, the US government disclosed another unprecedented operation, designed to produce a show trial in America. It revealed that a Chinese citizen, accused of being an intelligence official, had been arrested in Belgium and extradited on charges of conspiring to commit "economic espionage" and steal trade secrets.

The extradition was announced days after the Pentagon released a 146-page document, titled "Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and Defense Industrial Base and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States," which made clear Washington is preparing for a total war effort against both China and Russia.

Trump, Pence and Wray then all declared China to be the greatest threat to America's economic and military security. Trump accused China of interfering in the US mid-term elections in a bid to remove him from office. In a speech, Pence said Beijing was directing "its bureaucrats and businesses to obtain American intellectual property -- the foundation of our economic leadership -- by any means necessary."

Whatever the truth of the spying allegations against Chinese citizens -- and that cannot be assumed -- any such operations would hardly compare with the massive global intrigue, hacking, regime-change and military operations directed by the US agencies, including the National Security Agency (NSA) and its "Five Eyes" partners.

These have been exposed thoroughly by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Leaked documents published by WikiLeaks revealed that the CIA has developed "more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses and other 'weaponized' malware," allowing it to seize control of devices, including Apple iPhones, Google's Android operating system, devices running Microsoft Windows, smart TVs and possibly the control of cars and trucks.

In an attempt to broaden its offensive against China, the US government said that along with the US and its Five Eyes partners, such as Britain, Canada and Australia, the countries targeted by the alleged Chinese plot included France, Germany, Japan, Sweden and Switzerland.

Chinese hackers allegedly penetrated managed services providers (MSPs) that provide cybersecurity and information technology services to government agencies and major firms. Finance, telecommunications, consumer electronics and medical companies were among those said to be targeted, along with military and US National Aeronautics and Space Administration laboratories.

Sections of the Chinese regime responded belligerently to the accusations. An editorial in the state-owned Global Times branded them "hysterical" and a warning sign of a "comprehensive" US attack on China.

The editorial asked: "Assuming China is so powerful that it has stolen technological information for over a decade that is supposedly worth over a trillion in intellectual property, as the US has indicated, then how is it that China still lags behind the US in so many fields, from chips to electric vehicles, and even aviation engines?"

The Global Times declared that "instead of adhering to a low-profile strategy, China must face these provocations and do more to safeguard national interests."

The promotion of Chinese economic and militarist nationalism by a mouthpiece of the Beijing regime is just as reactionary as the nationalist xenophobia being stoked by the ruling elite of American imperialism and its allies. The answer to the evermore open danger of war is a unified struggle by the international working class to end the outmoded capitalist profit system and nation-state divisions and establish a socialist society.

Ron Ruggieri13 hours ago

ANY rational person would think : a nation like USA TODAY which can name a different ENEMY every other week is clearly SICK, led by sociopaths. China ? Russia, Iran, North Korea ? Venezuela ? ( all fail to live up to the high moral standards of " OUR democracy " ?)
How are any of these countries a greater threat to YOU than the local Democratic or Republican party hacks ?
If YOU think that so many people hate you , would it not make sense to ask if there is perhaps something wrong with YOU ?
Lidiya17 hours ago
Imperialism means wars, as usual, Lenin was right in his polemics against Kautsky.

[Jan 25, 2019] Big Tech Merging With Big Brother Is A Big Problem

Jan 25, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Big Tech Merging With Big Brother Is A Big Problem

by Tyler Durden Thu, 01/24/2019 - 23:25 48 SHARES Authored by David Samuels, Excerpted from Wired.com,

A FRIEND OF mine, who runs a large television production company in the car-mad city of Los Angeles, recently noticed that his intern, an aspiring filmmaker from the People's Republic of China, was walking to work.

WHEN HE OFFERED to arrange a swifter mode of transportation, she declined. When he asked why, she explained that she "needed the steps" on her Fitbit to sign in to her social media accounts. If she fell below the right number of steps, it would lower her health and fitness rating, which is part of her social rating , which is monitored by the government. A low social rating could prevent her from working or traveling abroad.

China's social rating system, which was announced by the ruling Communist Party in 2014, will soon be a fact of life for many more Chinese.

By 2020, if the Party's plan holds, every footstep, keystroke, like, dislike, social media contact, and posting tracked by the state will affect one's social rating.

Personal "creditworthiness" or "trustworthiness" points will be used to reward and punish individuals and companies by granting or denying them access to public services like health care, travel, and employment, according to a plan released last year by the municipal government of Beijing. High-scoring individuals will find themselves in a "green channel," where they can more easily access social opportunities, while those who take actions that are disapproved of by the state will be "unable to move a step."

Big Brother is an emerging reality in China. Yet in the West, at least, the threat of government surveillance systems being integrated with the existing corporate surveillance capacities of big-data companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon into one gigantic all-seeing eye appears to trouble very few people -- even as countries like Venezuela have been quick to copy the Chinese model.

Still, it can't happen here, right? We are iPhone owners and Amazon Prime members, not vassals of a one-party state. We are canny consumers who know that Facebook is tracking our interactions and Google is selling us stuff.

Yet it seems to me there is little reason to imagine that the people who run large technology companies have any vested interest in allowing pre-digital folkways to interfere with their 21st-century engineering and business models , any more than 19th-century robber barons showed any particular regard for laws or people that got in the way of their railroads and steel trusts.

Nor is there much reason to imagine that the technologists who run our giant consumer-data monopolies have any better idea of the future they're building than the rest of us do.

Facebook, Google, and other big-data monopolists already hoover up behavioral markers and cues on a scale and with a frequency that few of us understand . They then analyze, package, and sell that data to their partners.

A glimpse into the inner workings of the global trade in personal data was provided in early December in a 250-page report released by a British parliamentary committee that included hundreds of emails between high-level Facebook executives. Among other things, it showed how the company engineered sneaky ways to obtain continually updated SMS and call data from Android phones . In response, Facebook claimed that users must "opt-in" for the company to gain access to their texts and calls.

The machines and systems that the techno-monopolists have built are changing us faster than they or we understand. The scale of this change is so vast and systemic that we simple humans can't do the math -- perhaps in part because of the way that incessant smartphone use has affected our ability to pay attention to anything longer than 140 or 280 characters.

As the idea of a "right to privacy," for example, starts to seem hopelessly old-fashioned and impractical in the face of ever-more-invasive data systems -- whose eyes and ears, i.e., our smartphones, follow us everywhere -- so has our belief that other individual rights, like freedom of speech , are somehow sacred.

Being wired together with billions of other humans in vast networks mediated by thinking machines is not an experience that humans have enjoyed before. The best guides we have to this emerging reality may be failed 20th-century totalitarian experiments and science fiction. More on that a little later.

The speed at which individual-rights-and-privacy-based social arrangements collapse is likely to depend on how fast Big Tech and the American national security apparatus consummate a relationship that has been growing ever closer for the past decade. While US surveillance agencies do not have regular real-time access to the gigantic amounts of data collected by the likes of Google, Facebook, and Amazon -- as far as we know, anyway -- there is both anecdotal and hard evidence to suggest that the once-distant planets of consumer Big Tech and American surveillance agencies are fast merging into a single corporate-bureaucratic life-world, whose potential for tracking, sorting, gas-lighting, manipulating, and censoring citizens may result in a softer version of China's Big Brother.

These troubling trends are accelerating in part because Big Tech is increasingly beholden to Washington, which has little incentive to kill the golden goose that is filling its tax and political coffers. One of the leading corporate spenders on lobbying services in Washington, DC, in 2017 was Google's parent company, Alphabet, which, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, spent more than $18 million . Lobbying Congress and government helps tech companies like Google win large government contracts. Perhaps more importantly, it serves as a shield against attempts to regulate their wildly lucrative businesses.

If anything, measuring the flood of tech dollars pouring into Washington, DC, law firms, lobbying outfits, and think tanks radically understates Big Tech's influence inside the Beltway. By buying The Washington Post , Amazon's Jeff Bezos took direct control of Washington's hometown newspaper. In locating one of Amazon's two new headquarters in nearby Northern Virginia, Bezos made the company a major employer in the area -- with 25,000 jobs to offer.

Who will get those jobs? Last year, Amazon Web Services announced the opening of the new AWS Secret Region, the result of a 10-year, $600 million contract the company won from the CIA in 2014. This made Amazon the sole provider of cloud services across "the full range of data classifications, including Unclassified, Sensitive, Secret, and Top Secret," according to an Amazon corporate press release.

Once the CIA's Amazon-administered self-contained servers were up and running, the NSA was quick to follow suit, announcing its own integrated big-data project. Last year the agency moved most of its data into a new classified computing environment known as the Intelligence Community GovCloud, an integrated "big data fusion environment," as the news site NextGov described it, that allows government analysts to "connect the dots" across all available data sources, whether classified or not.

The creation of IC GovCloud should send a chill up the spine of anyone who understands how powerful these systems can be and how inherently resistant they are to traditional forms of oversight, whose own track record can be charitably described as poor .

Amazon's IC GovCloud was quickly countered by Microsoft's secure version of its Azure Government cloud service, tailored for the use of 17 US intelligence agencies. Amazon and Microsoft are both expected to be major bidders for the Pentagon's secure cloud system, the Joint Enterprise Defense Initiative -- JEDI -- a winner-take-all contract that will likely be worth at least $10 billion.

With so many pots of gold waiting at the end of the Washington, DC, rainbow, it seems like a small matter for tech companies to turn over our personal data -- which legally speaking, is actually their data -- to the spy agencies that guarantee their profits. This is the threat that is now emerging in plain sight. It is something we should reckon with now, before it's too late.

IN FACT, BIG tech and the surveillance agencies are already partners...

...

THE FLIP SIDE of that paranoid vision of an evolving American surveillance state is the dream that the new systems of analyzing and distributing information may be forces for good, not evil. What if Google helped the CIA develop a system that helped filter out fake news, say, or a new Facebook algorithm helped the FBI identify potential school shooters before they massacred their classmates? If human beings are rational calculating engines, won't filtering the information we receive lead to better decisions and make us better people?

Such fond hopes have a long history. Progressive techno-optimism goes back to the origins of the computer itself, in the correspondence between Charles Babbage, the 19th-century English inventor who imagined the "difference engine" -- the first theoretical model for modern computers -- and Ada Lovelace, the brilliant futurist and daughter of the English Romantic poet Lord Byron.

"The Analytical Engine," Lovelace wrote, in one of her notes on Babbage's work, "might act upon other things besides number, where objects found whose mutual fundamental relations could be expressed by those of the abstract science of operations, and which should be also susceptible of adaptations to the action of the operating notation and mechanism of the engine. Supposing, for instance, that the fundamental relations of pitched sounds in the science of harmony and of musical composition were susceptible of such expression and adaptations, the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent."

This is a pretty good description of the principles of digitizing sound; it also eerily prefigures and predicts the extent to which so much of our personal information, even stuff we perceive of as having distinct natural properties, could be converted to zeros and ones.

The Victorian techno-optimists who first envisioned the digital landscape we now inhabit imagined that thinking machines would be a force for harmony, rather than evil, capable of creating beautiful music and finding expressions for "fundamental relations" of any kind according to a strictly mathematical calculus.

The idea that social engineering could help produce a more efficient and equitable society was echoed by early 20th-century American progressives. Unlike 19th- and early 20th-century European socialists, who championed the organic strength of local communities, early 20th-century American progressives like Herbert Croly and John Dewey put their faith in the rise of a new class of educated scientist-priests who would re-engineer society from the top down according to a strict utilitarian calculus.

The lineage of these progressives -- who are not identical with the "progressive" faction of today's Democratic Party -- runs from Woodrow Wilson to champions of New Deal bureaucracy like Franklin D. Roosevelt's secretary of the interior, Harold Ickes. The 2008 election of Barack Obama, a well-credentialed technocrat who identified very strongly with the character of Spock from Star Trek , gave the old-time scientistic-progressive religion new currency on the left and ushered in a cozy relationship between the Democratic Party and billionaire techno-monopolists who had formerly fashioned themselves as government-skeptical libertarians.

"Amazon does great things for huge amounts of people," Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer told Kara Swisher of Recode in a recent interview , in which he also made approving pronouncements about Facebook and Google. "I go to my small tech companies and say, 'How does Google treat you in New York?' A lot of them say, 'Much more fairly than we would have thought.'"

Big Tech companies and executives are happy to return the favor by donating to their progressive friends, including Schumer .

But the cozy relationship between mainstream Democrats and Silicon Valley hit a large-sized bump in November 2016, when Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton -- in part through his mastery of social media platforms like Twitter. Blaming the election result on Russian bots or secret deals with Putin betrayed a shock that what the left had regarded as their cultural property had been turned against them by a right-wing populist whose authoritarian leanings inspired fear and loathing among both the technocratic elite and the Democratic party base.

Yet in the right hands, progressives continued to muse, information monopolies might be powerful tools for re-wiring societies malformed by racism, sexism, and transphobia. Thinking machines can be taught to filter out bad information and socially negative thoughts. Good algorithms, as opposed to whatever Google and Facebook are currently using, could censor neo-Nazis, purveyors of hate speech, Russian bots, and transphobes while discouraging voters from electing more Trumps .

The crowdsourced wisdom of platforms like Twitter, powered by circles of mutually credentialing blue-checked "experts," might mobilize a collective will to justice, which could then be enforced on retrograde institutions and individuals . The result might be a better social order, or as data scientist Emily Gorcenski put it , "revolution."

The dream of centralized control over monopolistic information providers can be put to more prosaic political uses, too -- or so politicians confronted by a fractured and tumultuous digital media landscape must hope. In advance of next year's elections for the European Parliament, which will take place in May, French President Emmanuel Macron signed a deal with Facebook in which officials of his government will meet regularly with Facebook executives to police "hate speech."

The program, which will continue through the May elections, apparently did little to discourage fuel riots by the " gilets jaunes ," which have set Paris and other French cities ablaze, even as a claim that a change in Facebook's local news algorithm was responsible for the rioting was quickly picked up by French media figures close to Macron.

At root, the utopian vision of AI-powered information monopolies programmed to advance the cause of social justice makes sense only when you imagine that humans and machines "think" in similar ways. Whether machines can "think," or -- to put it another way, whether people think like machines -- is a question that has been hotly debated for the past five centuries. Those debates gave birth to modern liberal societies, whose foundational assumptions and guarantees are now being challenged by the rise of digital culture.

...

THE ORIGIN OF the utilitarian social calculus and its foundational account of thinking as a form of computation is social contract theory. Not coincidentally, these accounts evolved during the last time western societies were massively impacted by a revolution in communications technology, namely the introduction of the printing press , which brought both the text of the Bible and the writings of small circles of Italian and German humanists to all of Europe. The spread of printing technologies was accompanied by the proliferation of the simple hand mirror , which allowed even ordinary individuals to gaze at a "true reflection" of their own faces, in much the same way that we use iPhones to take selfies.

Nearly every area of human imagination and endeavor -- from science to literature to painting and sculpture to architecture -- was radically transformed by the double-meteor-like impact of the printing press and the hand mirror , which together helped give rise to scientific discoveries, great works of art, and new political ideas that continue to shape the way we think, live, and work.

The printing press fractured the monopoly on worldly and spiritual knowledge long held by the Roman Catholic Church, bringing the discoveries of Erasmus and the polemics of Martin Luther to a broad audience and fueling the Protestant Reformation, which held that ordinary believers -- individuals, who could read their own Bibles and see their own faces in their own mirrors -- might have unmediated contact with God. What was once the province of the few became available to the many, and the old social order that had governed the lives of Europe for the better part of a millennium was largely demolished.

In England, the broad diffusion of printing presses and mirrors led to the bloody and ultimately failed anti-monarchical revolution led by Oliver Cromwell. The Thirty Years' War, fought between Catholic and Protestant believers and hired armies in Central and Eastern Europe, remains the single most destructive conflict, on a per capita basis, in European history, including the First and Second World Wars.

The information revolution spurred by the advent of digital technologies may turn out to be even more powerful than the Gutenberg revolution; it is also likely to be bloody. Our inability to wrap our minds around a sweeping revolution in the way that information is gathered, analyzed, used, and controlled should scare us. It is in this context that both right- and left-leaning factions of the American elite appear to accept the merger of the US military and intelligence complex with Big Tech as a good thing, even as centralized control over information creates new vulnerabilities for rivals to exploit .

The attempt to subject the American information space to some form of top-down, public-private control was in turn made possible -- and perhaps, in the minds of many on both the right and the left, necessary -- by the collapse of the 20th-century American institutional press. Only two decades ago, the social and political power of the institutional press was still so great that it was often called "the Fourth Estate" -- a meaningful check on the power of government. The term is rarely used anymore, because the monopoly over the printed and spoken word that gave the press its power is now gone.

Why? Because in an age in which every smartphone user has a printing press in their pocket, there is little premium in owning an actual, physical printing press . As a result, the value of "legacy" print brands has plummeted. Where the printed word was once a rare commodity, relative to the sum total of all the words that were written in manuscript form by someone, today nearly all the words that are being written anywhere are available somewhere online. What's rare, and therefore worth money, are not printed words but fractions of our attention .

The American media market today is dominated by Google and Facebook, large platforms that together control the attention of readers and therefore the lion's share of online advertising. That's why Facebook, probably the world's premier publisher of fake news, was recently worth $426 billion, and Newsweek changed hands in 2010 for $1, and why many once-familiar magazine titles no longer exist in print at all .

The operative, functional difference between today's media and the American media of two decades ago is not the difference between old-school New York Times reporters and new-media bloggers who churn out opinionated "takes" from their desks. It is the difference between all of those media people, old and new, and programmers and executives at companies like Google and Facebook. A set of key social functions -- communicating ideas and information -- has been transferred from one set of companies, operating under one set of laws and values, to another, much more powerful set of companies, which operate under different laws and understand themselves in a different way .

According to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, information service providers are protected from expensive libel lawsuits and other forms of risk that publishers face. Those protections allowed Google and Facebook to build their businesses at the expense of "old media" publishers, which in turn now find it increasingly difficult to pay for original reporting and writing.

The media once actively promoted and amplified stories that a plurality or majority of Americans could regard as "true." That has now been replaced by the creation and amplification of extremes . The overwhelming ugliness of our public discourse is not accidental; it is a feature of the game, which is structured and run for the profit of billionaire monopolists, and which encourages addictive use .

The result has been the creation of a socially toxic vacuum at the heart of American democracy, from which information monopolists like Google and Facebook have sucked out all the profit, leaving their users ripe for top-down surveillance, manipulation, and control.

TODAY, THE PRINTING press and the mirror have combined in the iPhone and other personal devices, which are networked together. Ten years from now, thanks to AI, those networks, and the entities that control them -- government agencies, private corporations, or a union of both -- may take on a life of their own.

Perhaps the best way to foresee how this future may play out is to look back at how some of our most far-sighted science fiction writers have wrestled with the future that is now in front of us.

...

Yet even classic 20th-century dystopias like Aldous Huxley's Brave New World or George Orwell's 1984 tell us little about the dangers posed to free societies by the fusion of big data, social networks, consumer surveillance, and AI.

Perhaps we are reading the wrong books.

Instead of going back to Orwell for a sense of what a coming dystopia might look like, we might be better off reading We , which was written nearly a century ago by the Russian novelist Yevgeny Zamyatin. We is the diary of state mathematician D-503, whose experience of the highly disruptive emotion of love for I-330, a woman whose combination of black eyes, white skin, and black hair strike him as beautiful. This perception, which is also a feeling, draws him into a conspiracy against the centralized surveillance state.

The Only State, where We takes places, is ruled by a highly advanced mathematics of happiness, administered by a combination of programmers and machines. While love has been eliminated from the Only State as inherently discriminatory and unjust, sex has not. According to the Lex Sexualis, the government sex code, "Each number has a right towards every other number as a sex object." Citizens, or numbers, are issued ration books of pink sex tickets. Once both numbers sign the ticket, they are permitted to spend a "sex hour" together and lower the shades in their glass apartments.

Zamyatin was prescient in imagining the operation and also the underlying moral and intellectual foundations of an advanced modern surveillance state run by engineers. And if 1984 explored the opposition between happiness and freedom, Zamyatin introduced a third term into the equation, which he believed to be more revolutionary and also more inherently human: beauty. The subjective human perception of beauty, Zamyatin argued, along lines that Liebniz and Searle might approve of, is innately human, and therefore not ultimately reconcilable with the logic of machines or with any utilitarian calculus of justice.

...

Against a centralized surveillance state that imposes a motionless and false order and an illusory happiness in the name of a utilitarian calculus of "justice," Basile concludes, Zamyatin envisages a different utopia: "In fact, only within the 'here and now' of beauty may the equation of happiness be considered fully verified." Human beings will never stop seeking beauty, Zamyatin insists, because they are human. They will reject and destroy any attempt to reorder their desires according to the logic of machines.

A national or global surveillance network that uses beneficent algorithms to reshape human thoughts and actions in ways that elites believe to be just or beneficial to all mankind is hardly the road to a new Eden. It's the road to a prison camp. The question now -- as in previous such moments -- is how long it will take before we admit that the riddle of human existence is not the answer to an equation. It is something that we must each make for ourselves, continually, out of our own materials, in moments whose permanence is only a dream.

Read the full, ominous report here...

[Jan 24, 2019] Looks like some users left Facebook, or never existed

People do not understand that Facebook is actually a surveillance company. Everything else is a side business. From comments: "Facebook basically steals ad revenue from idiot companies who think the clicks are real. THEYRE NOT. Bots clicking on your ad does nothing for your business!!
Jan 24, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

The team detailed their findings in a 70-page report published on their website.

Facebook has been lying to the public about the scale of its problem with fake accounts, which likely exceed 50% of its network. Its official metrics -- many of which it has stopped reporting quarterly -- are self-contradictory and even farcical. The company has lost control of its own product.

Ultimately, this is just the latest sign that Facebook - formerly one of the world's most successful companies - is doomed to go the way of CompuServe and AOL.

PlainSite is a project launched by the Think Computer Corporation and Think Computer Foundation which aims to make "data accessible to the public free of charge" and "lets ordinary citizens impact the law- making process," according to Bloomberg. Aaron Greenspan recently told his story about how he fit into the history of Facebook's founding at Harvard on a podcast .

Facebook's fraudulent numbers hurt its customers (advertisers) by overstating the effectiveness of Facebook's product, the company said.

DeathMerchant , 13 minutes ago link

" Zuckerberg's creation is a reflection of his own flaws. It is a mirror of his own personality and the insecurity and endless need of approval he has sought his whole life leading to its creation. It is Zuckerberg made virtually. It is not a success nor is it a triumph, it is a window into a flawed psyche. It spreads as an infection because it is."

[Jan 22, 2019] Banned by Facebook for Telling the Truth by Israel Shamir

Jan 22, 2019 | www.unz.com

Pinche Perro , says: January 19, 2019 at 6:06 am GMT

Mr. Shamir, Facebook is a complete and total cesspool. You are too good for it! Why bother with it? I deleted my account and I haven't looked back.
israel shamir , says: January 20, 2019 at 8:01 am GMT
@Dacian Julien Soros Facebook has no (or little) original content. It does not compete with Unz.com or with CNN. It leads users to the sites where original content is published. It is meta-site.
So much is being published on so many sites that we need a community to cross-post. This is done by Facebook.
I hope now you understand that you do not waste your time here instead of Facebook. Facebook can lead you here, that's all. Or to Moon of Alabama, or to LRB or to wherever something interesting had been published. Facebook is like a map of Treasure Island, not the treasure itself.
Che Guava , says: January 20, 2019 at 12:33 pm GMT
You have a good point, but why not always avoid Facebook? I have read about it since it was Harvard-only, then student-only.

That it had so much press coverage at those times, while it never had the accounts, clearly a conspiracy.

I have somewhat friends, they say 'You must go on Facebook', I say 'No, you have my telephone number and e-mail address, why are you trying to force me onto Facebook?' They are generally stupid, but then, one must tolerate the stupid to have any social life.

Back to the progation of FB. Google was quite similar, there were many search engines that were as good or better at the time, the NYT ran many articles to promote them, I was working at a U.S.-owned company at the time, it was neo-religious, 'oh, you have to use Google', it was the same kind of propaganda, earlier of course, as compulsory FB.

I never used google (the mis-spelling of googol shows what morons they are), OK, I don't want to lie, did a little early last decade (very few), other search engines are usually better.

onebornfree , says: Website January 20, 2019 at 12:47 pm GMT
This "just" in:

Facebook = CIA/NSA etc.

Alphabet/Google/YouTube = CIA/NSA etc.

Wikipedia= CIA/NSA etc.

Always were, always will be. And thats just "the tip of the iceberg".

Regards, onebornfree

jacques sheete , says: January 20, 2019 at 1:00 pm GMT

The mainstream media from Tokyo to Paris [yap, yap, yap ]

Stopped reading right there.

Look, the word is mass media because that's what it's for, i.e., the unthinking masses. Even an ignorant moron such as myself can understand that the media use the term to help make mindless, mass-produced, garbage appear acceptable. It's obvious that the term is supposed to suggest that "everyone" goes along with the message when it's their own compostable ideas that they're trying to introduce and promote. The interests of the "mainstream" or majority are in no way promoted, nor are they intended to be.

Anyone who's so mentally lazy as to use mass media's own legitimizing term for themselves in the way they intend has nothing to say to me. Furthermore, I don't come to UR to be exposed to the usual drivel mouthed incessantly by narcissistic, sociopathic, simple-minded, goons.

Other acceptable terms are corporate media, propaganda media, or sewage media. No one with a lick of sense views it as "mainstream" in any way. Get a clue already!

Anonymous [367] Disclaimer , says: January 20, 2019 at 1:32 pm GMT
@gmachine1729 ... ... ...

WeChat? Bad advice. End-to-server encryption means the Chinese government inspects all messages. Right now, they're crouching tiger but who knows when they're going to go all hidden dragon on us?

Use WhatsApp. It's got full end to end encryption and built in ways to verify no MITM attacks. Safe choice.

For search engines, use startpage or duckduckgo.com. If you're performing really sensitive searches, use tor browser. Only need to use yandex or baidu if the search terms themselves are sensitive (very rare).

Anon [424] Disclaimer , says: January 20, 2019 at 1:48 pm GMT
I do not use Facebook . It is evident that they spy everything , you just look for a hotel in your computer and they send you hotel propaganda for weeks or months .

But , commercial purposes apart , don`t you think that a system that spies so much ends up losing the sense of reality and thus dementing itself ?

wayfarer , says: January 20, 2019 at 2:50 pm GMT

There is no calamity greater than lavish desires. There is no greater guilt than discontent. And there is no greater disaster than greed.

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laozi

Manufactured Consent and the Homogeneity of Public Discourse

AnonFromTN , says: January 20, 2019 at 4:33 pm GMT
@jacques sheete

Other acceptable terms are corporate media, propaganda media, or sewage media

Germans have a more descriptive term: Lugenpresse (lying press).

AnonFromTN , says: January 20, 2019 at 5:03 pm GMT
@gmachine1729 Yes, as a stopgap measure one can boycott FB, Twitter, Google, and other services that practice disgusting PC. I don't use FB or Twitter, use Google only occasionally. Need to stop using it altogether and switch to Yandex and/or Baidu.

However, in the long run what needs to be built is a PC-free Internet. This would require huge investment that only governments of serious countries (like China or Russia) that are not subservient to the Empire can afford. These governments do have their own axes to grind, but at the moment they are not as disgusting as the Empire and its vassals, or Israel, for that matter.

[Jan 22, 2019] The National Security Agency Is A Criminal Organization by Paul Craig Roberts

Notable quotes:
"... As Binney had no documents to give to the media, blowing the whistle had no consequence for NSA. This is the reason that Snowden released the documents that proved NSA to be violating both law and the Constitution, but the corrupt US media focused blame on Snowden as a "traitor" and not on NSA for its violations. ..."
"... Whistleblowers are protected by federal law. Regardless, the corrupt US government tried to prosecute Binney for speaking out, but as he had taken no classified document, a case could not be fabricated against him. ..."
"... Binney blames the NSA's law-breaking on Dick "Darth" Cheney. He says NSA's violations of law and Constitution are so extreme that they would have to have been cleared at the top of the government. ..."
Jan 17, 2019 | www.unz.com
Paul Craig Roberts

Years before Edward Snowden provided documented proof that the National Security Agency was really a national insecurity agency as it was violating law and the US Constitution and spying indiscriminately on American citizens, William Binney, who designed and developed the NSA spy program revealed the illegal and unconstitutional spying.

Binney turned whistleblower, because NSA was using the program to spy on Americans. As Binney was well known to the US Congress, he did not think he needed any NSA document to make his case. But what he found out was

"Congress would never hear me because then they'd lose plausible deniability. That was really their key. They needed to have plausible deniability so they can continue this massive spying program because it gave them power over everybody in the world.

Even the members of Congress had power against others [in Congress]; they had power on judges on the Supreme Court, the federal judges, all of them. That's why they're so afraid. Everybody's afraid because all this data that's about them, the central agencies  --  the intelligence agencies  --  they have it. And that's why Senator Schumer warned President Trump earlier, a few months ago, that he shouldn't attack the intelligence community because they've got six ways to Sunday to come at you. That's because it's like J. Edgar Hoover on super steroids. . . . it's leverage against every member of parliament and every government in the world."

To prevent whistle-blowing, NSA has "a program now called 'see something, say something' about your fellow workers. That's what the Stasi did. That's why I call [NSA] the new New Stasi Agency. They're picking up all the techniques from the Stasi and the KGB and the Gestapo and the SS. They just aren't getting violent yet that we know of  --  internally in the US, outside is another story."

As Binney had no documents to give to the media, blowing the whistle had no consequence for NSA. This is the reason that Snowden released the documents that proved NSA to be violating both law and the Constitution, but the corrupt US media focused blame on Snowden as a "traitor" and not on NSA for its violations.

Whistleblowers are protected by federal law. Regardless, the corrupt US government tried to prosecute Binney for speaking out, but as he had taken no classified document, a case could not be fabricated against him.

Binney blames the NSA's law-breaking on Dick "Darth" Cheney. He says NSA's violations of law and Constitution are so extreme that they would have to have been cleared at the top of the government.

Binney describes the spy network, explains that it was supposed to operate only against foreign enemies, and that using it for universal spying so overloads the system with data that the system fails to discover many terrorist activities. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/50932.htm

Apparently, the National Security Agency values being able to blackmail citizens and members of government at home and abroad more than preventing terrorist attacks.

Unfortunately for Americans, there are many Americans who blindly trust the government and provide the means, the misuse of which is used to enslave us. A large percentage of the work in science and technology serves not to free people but to enslave them. By now there is no excuse for scientists and engineers not to know this. Yet they persist in their construction of the means to destroy liberty.

[Jan 21, 2019] France hits Google with record €50mn fine over 'forced consent' data collection

Jan 21, 2019 | www.rt.com

France's data protection watchdog is slapping Google with an unprecedented fine citing the company's failure to meet privacy and transparency standards with user information. The French Data protection agency CNIL released a statement Monday stating that the staggering €50 million ($56.8mn) fine was motivated by complaints about the company's illegal practices in the collection and use of personal data. At present, there is no reliable information available on how long the company saves user data, nor if they allow it to be used by other sites.

Around 10,000 people signed the initial petition to initiate an investigation, which was filed by France's Quadrature du Net group and None Of Your Business, an NGO which advocates for consumer privacy.

Read more Facebook may face a record fine over privacy lapses – reports Facebook may face a record fine over privacy lapses – reports

The investigation turned up two infractions to the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which was approved in 2016. They found that the company doesn't provide easy access to information it collects from users and that the information they do provide is often incomprehensible. This creates a situation where people are not able to manage how their information is being used, especially in relation to targeted ads.

Users' " consent " is currently set as the global default setting, which fails to meet the regulator's requirement that companies obtain " specific " consent. They also say that the pop-ups currently used by the company to ask for consent on Android software seem to threaten that services will not be available if the users don't accept the terms.

While the number looks over-the-top, CNIL says that the fine was decided " by the severity of the infringements observed, " as well as Google's position in the French market.

Although Google responded to the decision by saying that they committed to meeting the " high standards of transparency and control " expected of them by users – as well as by the strict new EU data law – they are nonetheless challenging the decision. While no official decision has been made as of yet, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg

[Jan 20, 2019] Frederick Felman

Mar 03, 2004 | esj.com
Malware is on its way toward "zero-day" threats -- the time between the announcement of a vulnerability and the implementation of its exploit is shrinking to mere days, even hours. For example, in the case of SQL Slammer, the time from published vulnerability to exploit was half a year; but for MS-Blast, that period was a single month. With dwindling timeframes, there's less chance of a patch being released or deployed before the exploit appears.

As if that weren't alarming enough, recent threats have shown an unprecedented compression of transmission time. Recently, MyDoom became the fastest-spreading malware threat ever -- possibly accounting for as much as 30 percent of all e-mail traffic at its peak. Couple the shrinking vulnerability-to-exploit period with lightning-fast transmission, and you have the greatest worry for many of us in IT: an immensely destructive threat that spreads unchecked, and for which there are no fixes -- until it's too late.

Against these zero-day threats, reactive security is helpless. Reactive security solutions such as anti-virus patterns and patches can be created only after a threat strikes. This vulnerability gap is unavoidable with reactive security solutions. Unfortunately, it means that there are always victims to every threat. You could say that the very model of reactive security allows a certain amount of "acceptable losses." If it's your network that's lost, that's hardly acceptable.

But there is a solution: a proactive approach to security.

The Proactive Approach

Unlike anti-virus, IDS, and after-the-fact patches, a proactive approach to security protects your assets against even unknown threats. Case in point: the Sobig.F worm caused the greatest damage at the start of its outbreak, before corporate IT departments could test and deploy the patches and AV patterns that were issued in response. In contrast, companies that had the foresight to employ proactive solutions like endpoint firewalls and well-planned network architecture were much less vulnerable to Sobig.F, even during the height of the epidemic.

Let's examine Sobig.F's propagation vectors. It traveled via infected e-mail and proliferated within networks by copying itself to open network shares. From there, the threat often spread unchecked across the entire network. Infection via shares is rapidly becoming the most predictable feature in worms and viruses, and obviously, enterprises are particularly vulnerable to it. It strikes right at the heart of the difficult balance we attempt to strike between keeping our users protected and productive. No one actually assumes their internal network is 100 percent trustworthy any more, but many of us still don't take the steps we should to protect the network -- from itself.

In addition to the standard layers of protection against malware attacks -- for example, firewalls and anti-virus software -- you should also reduce your vulnerability by compartmentalizing your network. In essence, segregate your higher-risk network endpoints -- put all your similar shares onto the same subnet, and set appropriate access rules. For example, put all PCs with shared drives on a separate subnet (or subnets), and set that subnet as "untrusted" for all users. Depending on your security tools, you can do this either by restricting outbound access from the high-risk subnet or by restricting other subnets in the connections they can accept from the high-risk subnet. Another example: because very few worms target shared printers, you should be able to safely place all printers on one subnet and make that subnet "trusted" to all users.

If you happen to be planning your network now, it will be easy for you to implement these suggestions. If you've already built your network, the last thing you want to hear is the dreaded "R" word: rearchitect. But not to worry -- even at this stage, segregating your shares is not a huge amount of work. If it's not feasible to engage in actually changing your subnets, you can still get some protection by compartmentalizing your network with VLANs. Placing all your high-risk endpoints onto a VLAN is a relatively quick process, and applying the access rules described above to a VLAN should also be fairly painless. Plus, you can use VLANs to compartmentalize your network along other useful lines, such as keeping valuable servers separate from often-infected PCs.

Segregating network shares is certainly not your first line of defense. The idea of using VLANs for security is controversial; after all, it's not too difficult to make them fail open. But security is, after all, about layers. No single solution stops all threats. Considering the minimal investment required to move your shares onto a different subnet or VLAN, it's a good investment if it turns out to be the tactic that prevents the next MS-Blast, Sobig, or MyDoom from rampaging through your network. To that end, don't forget these additional sometimes-overlooked proactive layers of protection:

Reactive security solutions are essential in preventing "flare-ups" of viruses and worms, so you should certainly deploy them. Just don't let them lull you into a false sense of security. Invest in proactive defenses now, before you have to spend ten times the money and time cleaning up after a security incident.

Frederick Felman is Vice President of Marketing at Zone Labs and has more than 18 years experience in marketing software and services. During his time with Zone Labs, Mr. Felman launched several key products, helping to define Zone Labs' enterprise product, Zone Labs Integrity.

[Jan 15, 2019] The Trump-Russia Scam - How Obama Enabled The FBI To Spy On Trump

Mueller investigation is a continuation of JFK assassination by other means.
Notable quotes:
"... Washington Post ..."
"... Now, as the 'Russian influence' narrative is dying down, the anti-Trump - anti-Russian campaign is moving to new grounds. ..."
"... Initiating a counter-intelligence investigation, for which there was no basis, gave the FBI, and later the Mueller investigation, unfettered access to NSA 'signals intelligence' that could then possibly be used to incriminate Trump or his associates. ..."
"... It was the Obama administration which had given the FBI access to this tool : ..."
"... Washington Post ..."
"... Trump is no populist. A populist can't be elected by the money-based US political system. Trump's election was almost certainly arranged ..."
"... Then why did Trump nominate Gina Haspel as head of the CIA? She is the acolyte of Trump nemesis Brennan. Why does Trump choose people like Nikki Halley, Pompeo, Bolton? ..."
"... "I very much dislike most of Trump's domestic and foreign policy. But he was duly elected under the existing rules. The campaign the media and the intelligence services have since run against him undermines the will of the people." ..."
"... the assassination of JFK opened the floodgates of blatant depravity perpetrated by those whose greed and lust for power will ultimately destroy us. ..."
"... There are trends: A growing US citizen realization that their political system prior to Trump was nearly completely corrupt; the Clintons are more broadly understood as the pathological criminals that they are; the Podesta emails with their sick connotations remain 'in the air' - See Ben Swann's work, for example. The Clinton Foundation is far more broadly understood as a massive criminal enterprise. ..."
"... "Pompeo met on October 24 [at Trump's request] with William Binney, a former National Security Agency official-turned-whistleblower who co-authored an analysis published by a group of former intelligence officials that challenges the U.S. intelligence community's official assessment that Russian intelligence was behind last year's theft of data from DNC computers. Binney and the other former officials argue that the DNC data was "leaked," not hacked, "by a person with physical access" to the DNC's computer system." ..."
"... In short the last two years have been about trying to defeat Trump but the attackers are looking more and more wounded, and Trump, well, he's hanging in there. General Kelly and others have described Trump's work ethic as exhausting. ..."
"... Trump has been put under intense investigation by Deep State hacks who are determined to see him impeached. And all they have come up with is that he is a compulsive pussy-grabber (no shit, hey?). ..."
"... Well, if he has then he has hidden them extraordinarily well, because Mueller with all his resources hasn't found any. Indeed, Mueller's investigation is so well-resourced that the only conclusion I can reach is that Trump has no such skeletons. ..."
"... "Simply put, the Russia NIA is not an "IC-coordinated" assessment -- the vehicle for such coordination, the NIC, was not directly involved in its production, and no NIO was assigned as the responsible official overseeing its production. Likewise, the Russia NIA cannot be said to be the product of careful coordination between the CIA, NSA and FBI -- while analysts from all three agencies were involved in its production, they were operating as part of a separate, secretive task force operating under the close supervision of the Director of the CIA, and not as an integral part of their home agency or department." ..."
"... Escalation towards war with Russia was a matter of public record in late pre-election 2016, thanks to Clinton News Network ... now ask yourselves where is that general in the press conference nowadays? ..."
"... For a thorough update on the Integrity Initiative and its offshoots, check out the latest from legal investigator Barbara Boyd. ..."
"... To defeat the "Deep State" in the U.S., it is essential to understand the role of British Intelligence. While it is essential to know the role of Hillary Clinton, Obama, Comey, DOJ/FBI operatives, et.al., it is even more important to understand the geopolitical assumptions behind Russiagate. And for that, one must turn to the British. ..."
"... The aim of the counterintelligence operation and of the Russiagate hoax was not to build a prosecution case against President Trump. It was to put the United States in constitutional limbo by creating a parallel and competing center of constitutional legitimacy. ..."
"... Very difficult to judge: what is the result of infighting in the US vs. any agreed-on never mind coherent foreign policy? That the question is even asked - all over the world now - spells stage one collapse. ..."
"... Trump's nationalist credentials are further belied by such things as: adding TPP provisions to the new North American trade agreement; attacking Syria based on false flags; arming Ukraine; pulling out of the INF treaty and engaging in an unnecessary and costly arms race; actively seeking to overthrow the governments of Iran and Venezuela; etc. ..."
"... My own theory about 2016 is that everybody miscalculated. Trump was (IMO) running as an ego-building publicity stunt. Hillary (and her Deep State sponsors) had actively helped Trump get the nomination with hundreds of millions of dollars of free publicity which also enhanced the bottom lines of Big Media. His multiple flaws were airbrushed away. ..."
Jan 15, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Despite the loss of major narratives, the war of the deep state against U.S. President Trump continues unabated. The main of tool in this war are allegations of relations between Trump and anything Russia. The war runs along several parallel paths.

The narrative war in the media is most visible one. When any of the fake stories about Trump and Russia gets debunked and disposed, new ones are created or others intensified.

In parallel to these propaganda efforts the deep state created an investigation that Trump has no way to escape from. Enabled by one of the Obama administrations last acts the investigation is using signal intelligence to entrap and flip the people surrounding Trump (see section three below). The big price will be Trump himself. Here we take a look at what transpired during the last weeks.


One major anti-Trump narrative was that 'Russian influence' helped to put him into office. This was based on the alleged nefarious influence a Russian clickbait company, the Internet Research Agency (IRA) in St. Peterburg, had on the U.S. electorate. That explanation never made sense. Little of the IRA activities had to do with the election. It used sockpuppets on Facebook and Twitter to attract people to websites filled with puppy pictures or similar nonsense. The IRA would then sell advertisement and promotions on these sites.

This was obvious for anyone following the factual content of the news instead of the 'opinions' a whole bunch of anti-Trump 'experts' and the media formed around them.

That the Mueller investigation finally indicted several of the IRA's officers over minor financial transactions was seen as a confirmation of the political aspects of the IRA activities. But nearly all the reporting left out that Mueller confirmed the commercial intent behind the IRA and its activities. There is nothing political in the accusations. Indeed point 95 of the Mueller indictment of the IRA says:

Defendants and their co-conspirators also used the accounts to receive money from real U.S. persons in exchange for posting promotions and advertisements on the ORGANIZATION-controlled social media pages. Defendants and their co-conspirators typically charged certain U.S. merchants and U.S. social media sites between 25 and 50 U.S. dollars per post for promotional content on their popular false U.S. persona accounts , including Being Patriotic, Defend the 2nd, and Blacktivist.

Part of the false narrative of a political influence campaign was the claim that the $100,000 the IRA spent for advertisement to promote its clickbait webpages through Facebook ads somehow moved people to vote for Trump. But 56% of the IRA ads ran after the election, 25% of all its ads were never seen by anyone. How a few $10,000 for ads only few saw moved an election that was fought with several billions spent by each candidate's campaign was left unexplained.

This week, only fifteen month after this site came to the conclusion that IRA was a commercial clickbait business , the Washington Post finally admitted that the alleged political targeting of voters by the IRA never happened:

[T]he common understanding is that Russia's interference efforts included sophisticated targeting of specific voting groups on Facebook, which could have made the difference in states that Trump narrowly won on his way to an electoral-vote victory.

That understanding about Russia's sophisticated targeting, though, is not supported by the evidence -- if it's not flat-out wrong.
...
Most of the ads purchased by the Russians didn't specify a geographic target smaller than the United States on the whole, according to a Post review of the ads released by the House Intelligence Committee. Those that did target specific states heavily targeted those that weren't really considered targets of the 2016 election, such as Missouri and Maryland. And of those ads that did target specific states, most happened well before or well after the final weeks of the campaign.

All the claims that some Russian sockpuppets influenced the 2016 elections were and are nonsense. The IRA sockpuppets never had any political intent.

Likewise the allegations that Russian intelligence hacked the DNC and Clinton crony Podesta's email are mere assertions for which no hard evidence was ever provided. The only known fact is that the emails and papers were real, and that there content revealed the shoddiness of Hillary Clinton, the DNC, and her campaign.

Now, as the 'Russian influence' narrative is dying down, the anti-Trump - anti-Russian campaign is moving to new grounds. Last week the New York Times claimed that Paul Manafort, who for some time ran the Trump election campaign, gave public and internal polling data to the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska: Manafort Accused of Sharing Trump Polling Data With Russian Associate . A day after that sensational claim made a large splash throughout U.S. media the New York Times recanted:

Kenneth P. Vogel @kenvogel - 18:39 utc - 9 Jan 2019

CORRECTION: PAUL MANAFORT asked KONSTANTIN KILIMNIK to pass TRUMP polling to the Ukrainian oligarchs SERHIY LYOVOCHKIN & RINAT AKHMETOV, & not to OLEG DERIPASKA, as originally reported. We have corrected the story & I deleted a tweet repeating the error.

Duh. Manafort gave polling data to his Ukrainian fixer Konstantin Kilimnik with the request to pass it along to Ukrainian oligarchs for who he had worked before joining the Trump campaign. Kilimnik had long worked for the International Republican Institute office in Moscow. The IRI is a CIA offshot under Republican Party tutelage that is used to influence politics abroad. Its long time head was the deceased hawkish Senator John McCain. While he worked with Kilimnik in the Ukraine, Manafort concentrated on moving the Ukraine towards the European Union and away from Russia. His and Kilimnik efforts were always opposed to Russian interests. But the NYT and others falsely try to pass them off as the opposite with the sole purpose of feeding the anti-Trump/anti-Russia campaign.

Another anti-Trump/anti-Russian propaganda effort is a new sensational NYT piece on obvious misbehavior in the upper rows of the FBI :

In the days after President Trump fired James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, law enforcement officials became so concerned by the president's behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests , according to former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation.

The inquiry carried explosive implications. Counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether the president's own actions constituted a possible threat to national security. Agents also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow's influence.

The NYT lets it seem as if the decision to launch a counter-intelligence investigation related to Trump was as based on some reasonable suspicion the FBI had. It was not. This was an act of revenge by the upper anti-Trump echelons in the FBI with which they attempted to undermine Trump's presidency. Note what the claimed suspicion was based on:

Mr. Trump had caught the attention of F.B.I. counterintelligence agents when he called on Russia during a campaign news conference in July 2016 to hack into the emails of his opponent, Hillary Clinton. Mr. Trump had refused to criticize Russia on the campaign trail, praising President Vladimir V. Putin. And investigators had watched with alarm as the Republican Party softened its convention platform on the Ukraine crisis in a way that seemed to benefit Russia.

Other factors fueled the F.B.I.'s concerns, according to the people familiar with the inquiry. Christopher Steele, a former British spy who worked as an F.B.I. informant, had compiled memos in mid-2016 containing unsubstantiated claims that Russian officials tried to obtain influence over Mr. Trump by preparing to blackmail and bribe him.

Trump made a joke during the election campaign asking Russia to release the 30,000 emails Hillary Clinton had deleted from her illegal private email server. There is no requirement, as far as I know, for any candidate to criticize this or that country. How can not following the non existing requirement to criticize Russia be suspicious? The Republican Party did not soften its convention platform on Ukraine. It rejected an amendment that would have further sharpened it. Overall the Republican platform was more hawkish than the Democratic one. The Steele dossier was of course from A to Z made up nonsense paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign.

It is non sensible to claim that these were reasonable suspicions sufficient to open a counter-intelligence investigation. The hasty FBI move to launch a counter-intelligence operation obviously had a different motive and aim.

After Trump fired FBI director Comey, the FBI was led by Andrew McCabe, later also fired for leaking to the media and lying about it. His legal council was Lisa Page who exchange tons of anti-Trump SMS messages with her lover, the FBI agent Peter Strozk. These are the people who initiated the counter-intelligence investigation :

Strzok and Page sent other text messages that raise the possibility they were discussing opening up a counterintelligence investigation against Trump before Comey's firing.

"And we need to open the case we've been waiting on now while Andy is acting ," Strzok wrote to Page on the day of Comey's ouster.

Andy is Andrew McCabe, who served as deputy FBI director.

Page gave some indication in her congressional testimony in July 2018 that the text message was a reference to an investigation separate from the obstruction probe that has already been reported.

Normally the FBI needs to clear such counter-intelligence investigations with the Justice Department. In this case it did not do so at all :

In the case of the investigation into Trump, the FBI's decision to open a file on the president so quickly after Comey's firing in May 2017 was a source of concern for some officials at the Justice Department because the FBI acted without first consulting leadership at the department . But those worries were allayed when, days later, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III was appointed to oversee the Russia probe ...

After Comey was fired, the FBI made a very hasty move, without reasonable suspicion and without informing the Justice Department, to launch a counter-intelligence operation involving the sitting president and his administration. What was the real purpose of this move?

Initiating a counter-intelligence investigation, for which there was no basis, gave the FBI, and later the Mueller investigation, unfettered access to NSA 'signals intelligence' that could then possibly be used to incriminate Trump or his associates.

It was the Obama administration which had given the FBI access to this tool :

The Hoarse Whisperer @HoarseWisperer - 4:05 utc - 12 Jan 2019

On his way out the door, we all were wallowing in our winter of discontent, Obama signed an executive order...
...
The order revised the rules around intelligence sharing among our intel community. Specifically, it made the firehose of raw intelligence collected by the NSA directly accessible to the FBI and CIA. Instead of having to ask for intel and getting what they filtered down the FBI and CIA could directly access the unfiltered "SigInt" or signals intelligence. Intercepted phone calls, emails, raw intel from human sources. Everything our vast intelligence vacuum hoovers up, available directly... but only for counterintel and foreign intel purposes .

The NSA can sit on virtually every communication into and out of the U.S. that takes place over networks. Obama made it possible for the FBI to directly access everything they had on Trump, et al. Obama supercharged the FBI's ability to investigate Trump.

The Obama administration enacted the changed executive order EO 12333 in early January 2017, shortly before Trump took over:

Previously, the N.S.A. filtered information before sharing intercepted communications with another agency, like the C.I.A. or the intelligence branches of the F.B.I. and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The N.S.A.'s analysts passed on only information they deemed pertinent, screening out the identities of innocent people and irrelevant personal information.

Now, other intelligence agencies will be able to search directly through raw repositories of communications intercepted by the N.S.A. and then apply such rules for "minimizing" privacy intrusions.
...
[T]he 12333 sharing procedures allow analysts, including those at the F.B.I., to search the raw data using an American's identifying information only for the purpose of foreign intelligence or counterintelligence investigations , not for ordinary criminal cases. And they may do so only if one of several other conditions are met, such as a finding that the American is an agent of a foreign power.

However, under the rules, if analysts stumble across evidence that an American has committed any crime, they will send it to the Justice Department.

At that time Peter Lee, aka Chinahand, already had the suspicion that Obama was behind the FBI campaign against Trump.

With the changes in EO 12333 Obama gave the FBI the ability to launch a world wide snooping operation against the incoming Trump administration under the guise of a 'counter-intelligence' operation. The hasty FBI move after Comey was fired activated this instrument. The Mueller investigation has since used it extensively. 'Crimes' revealed through the snooping operation are turned over to the Justice Department.

The NYT claim that the counter-intelligence investigation was initiated because of reasonable suspicion of Russian influence over Trump is nonsense. It was initiated to get access to a set of tools that would allow unlimited access to communication of Trump and anyone related to him. It was Obama who on his way out of the door gave the FBI these capabilities.

There are signs that the unlimited access the FBI and Mueller investigation have to signal intelligence is used to create prosecutions via ' parallel construction ':

The Hoarse Whisperer @HoarseWisperer - 18:50 utc - 12 Jan 2019

An active counterintel investigation means the Trump Administration's crimes were only as secure as the weakest link in their weakest moment. We got hints of this early. Our intelligence folks picked up "signals intelligence" or SigInt from Russians talking to Russians.
Those "signals" aren't the kind of evidence that finds its way into a courtroom. In fact, it's important that it doesn't. It would burn sources and methods. It lays out the crimes and the players though... and then prosecutors find ways to make triable cases other ways .
The public sees cases for specific charges carrying significant prison time without ever knowing that the NSA and prosecutors knew so much more than they ever revealed. Now, apply those principles to the cases we've seen Mueller bring forward so far.

Mike Flynn: pleaded out to a minor charge, rolled over in full and then produced five rounds of documents. Likely: Flynn was confronted with the intel they had on him and knew he was cooked. They knew the crimes. They heard and saw everything. There'd be no escape.

By flipping and pleading out Flynn, all of that secret intel stays secret. Our intelligence efforts are protected. And Flynn goes down. And he cooks a bunch of other gooses. He's savvy enough to know that once they have the intel, all that's left to do is make the case.
...

The 'crime' that di Flynn in was misremembering a phone call he had with the Russian ambassador. Similar happened with Rick Gates, Paul Manafort's righthand man and a member of Trump's transition team. Then it happened to Paul Manafort himself and to George Papadopoulos.

The Mueller investigation, thanks to the snooping Obama and the FBI enabled, knows the content of every phonecall, chat and email any member of the Trump administration made and make to someone abroad (and likely also within the U.S.). It invites people as witnesses and asks them about the content of a specific calls they made. If they misremember or lie - bang - Mueller has the transcript ready. A crime has been created and an indictment for lying to the FBI will follow. This is what happened to Flynn and the others the Mueller investigation entrapped and convicted.

Because of the counter-intelligence investigation the anti-Trump gang in the FBI hastened to initiate, the investigators got hands on signal intelligence - phone calls, chats and emails - that allowed them to indict minor people for petty crimes and to flip them to talk to the investigation.

The aim, in the end, was and is to build a prosecution case against President Trump for whatever minor and petty half-backed illegal doing there may be.


To make such a prosecution and an indictment publicly palpable the media is assigned with launching story after story about nefarious relations between Trump and anything Russia.

As we have seen above with the IRA story, the retracted NYT 's Manafort bang, and the NYT's false claims about the motive of the FBI's counter-intelligence investigation, none of these stories hold up to diligent scrutiny. Today's Washington Post adds another example of no-beef stories that insinuate mystic 'Russian influence' over Trump:

Trump has concealed details of his face-to-face encounters with Putin from senior officials in administration .

The first graph claims:

President Trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his conversations with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin , including on at least one occasion taking possession of the notes of his own interpreter and instructing the linguist not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials, current and former U.S. officials said.

The rest of the story largely refutes the claim made in its headline and very first sentence:

Trump did so after a meeting with Putin in 2017 in Hamburg that was also attended by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
...
Trump generally has allowed aides to listen to his phone conversations with Putin ..
...
In an email, Tillerson said that he " was present for the entirety of the two presidents' official bilateral meeting in Hamburg,"...

After Trump had a first White House meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in Washington, lots of leaks about the talk appeared in the DC media. Trump was accused of giving information about an ISIS plot to the Russians that was allegedly secret. It was not . Since then Trump clamped down on the number of participants, briefings and readouts for such talks. That is simply a necessary and laudable behavior. Now the media try to construct that into 'Trump is concealing details' about talks with Russia even when the U.S. Secretary of State and others are present in these.


Ever since Trump won the Republican primaries, the Clinton campaign, the Obama administration and the U.S. and British intelligence services prepared to prevent a successful Trump presidency. The Steele dossier, created by 'former' British intelligence agents and paid for by the Clinton campaign, was the basis for an FBI investigation that was seen as an insurance against a Trump win. Any possible Russia relations Trump might have came under scrutiny. This prevented him from fulfilling his campaign promise of coming to better relations with Russia.

Shortly before Obama left the office he created the tool the FBI needed to put its investigation on steroids. When Trump fired Comey for his handling of the Clinton email affair, the FBI put that tool into action. With unfettered access to signal intelligence the Mueller investigation was able to entrap a number of Trump related people and to flip them to its side. It will use any information they give up to find some angle under which Trump can be prosecuted and eventually impeached. Even if nothing comes off this investigations, the media reports and slander all this created may well be enough to prevent an election of Trump for a second term.

I very much dislike most of Trump's domestic and foreign policy. But he was duly elected under the existing rules. The campaign the media and the intelligence services have since run against him undermines the will of the people. Unfortunately I see no way that Trump could escape from the hold it has gained over him. Exposing it as much as possible might well be his best defense.


Jose Garcia , Jan 13, 2019 1:51:10 PM | link

It is information that is put out there that is never cross checked by the American people. They are too busy, too involved with other things or too stupid to find out the true facts. It is hard to predict what will occur next year. I feel it all depends who wins the primary on the Democrat side.

Jackrabbit , Jan 13, 2019 2:32:02 PM | link
I have to take issue with a few points, b.

[Trump] ... was duly elected under the existing rules. The campaign the media and the intelligence services have since run against him undermines the will of the people.

There is a major flaw in reasoning here. Trump is no populist. A populist can't be elected by the money-based US political system. Trump's election was almost certainly arranged:

  • The anti-Russia campaign began in earnest in 2014 (well before the 2016 election);
  • Trump's pre-election relationship to the Clinton's is highly suspect: they were likely to be much closer than we have been led to believe;
  • An FBI informant worked for Trump for over 10 years - during the time that Mueller was FBI director;
  • Trump was the ONLY populist on the Republican side (out of 19 contenders!);
  • Sanders was a 'sheepdog' and Hillary ran a terrible campaign in which she made obvious mistakes that a seasoned campaigner like herself would never make;
  • British involvement in the election (Fusion GPS, Cambridge Analytica, a Brit 'spy' in the Sanders campaign, etc.) suggests CIA-MI6 working together;
  • Trump Administration policies are consistent those of Clinton-Bush-Obama:
> Obamacare was not repealed "on day one" - it has been strengthened by not defending coverage for prior conditions;

> Trump put TPP provisions into his new North American trade deal;

> Trump continues ME meddling;

> Trump continues militarism and tax cutting;

> Etc.

The only major "difference" that I can think of are Trump's Wall and China tariffs. But these are consistent with the 'Deep State' goals.
Surveys show that the "will of the people" is very different than the neoliberal, neoconservative policies that the establishment fosters upon us.

MAGA is a POLICY CHOICE as much as it is a campaign slogan. It is designed to meet the challenge posed by Russia and China and 'turn the page' on the deceit and duplicity of the Obama Administration just as Obama's "Change You Can Believe In" was designed to turn the page on the the militarism of the Bush Administration. These BI-PARTISAN page-turnings ensure that there is no accountability and provides each new Administration with a new sly story line that the public readily swallows. Each new Presidential charade entertains and misdirects as the interests of the Empire are advanced with a refreshed box of tricks and dishonest narratives.

...war of the deep state against U.S. President Trump continues unabated.

Then why did Trump nominate Gina Haspel as head of the CIA? She is the acolyte of Trump nemesis Brennan. Why does Trump choose people like Nikki Halley, Pompeo, Bolton?

The war of the Deep State is a psyop to crush dissent as the butt-hurt Deep State continues to pursue their dream of global hegemony. Anyone that believes that Trump is no part of that psyop is delusional.

radiator , Jan 13, 2019 2:36:06 PM | link
Wow, man. Thanks to you and all the regulars here who contribute to gathering relevant info from all kinds of sources. I hate to repeat myself, but I feel that a little praise every 3 or 6 months is not too much spamming. This is what serious journalism looks like.
Jackrabbit , Jan 13, 2019 2:43:34 PM | link
Zachary Smith @2: ... I just don't buy into the "insurance" theory.

And I don't buy the theory that Hillary is hell bent on war. The Clinton's are very rational and calculating and no President has the freedom that your theory suggests. IMO what the Deep State has done under their man Trump is very similar to what the Deep State would have done if they had selected Clinton instead. The fact is, a populist nationalist is what was deemed necessary to meet the challenge from Russia and China. And that is what we got (surprise!).

<> <> <> <> <> <> <>

Furthermore, focusing on personality and Party is just what they want

"Watch what they do, not what they say" has a corollary: pay attention to the polices, not the politicians.

jacktheokie , Jan 13, 2019 3:01:49 PM | link
MoA's final paragraph is just about how I feel.

"I very much dislike most of Trump's domestic and foreign policy. But he was duly elected under the existing rules. The campaign the media and the intelligence services have since run against him undermines the will of the people."

This pretty well sums it up for me. Being old enough to remember FDR and the brief rise of the middle class in the 40's, 50's and 60's (and having benefited from that attempt at leveling the playing field), I am more than saddened at the downward spiral of our nation. Politics have obviously never been clean and fair, but the assassination of JFK opened the floodgates of blatant depravity perpetrated by those whose greed and lust for power will ultimately destroy us.

donkeytale , Jan 13, 2019 3:19:32 PM | link
Of course b you have nothing here to offer except your opinion. Your views regarding the relentlessness of the US criminal justice system are on target, just ask the underclasses about that. Once in view, you are never let be and in the US everyone can be found guilty of something.

Rather nice to see the pampered son of inherited tax-free wealth on the receiving end for once, in my opinion.

Trump is a crook. Russian collusion is his smokescreen. His crimes have already been demonstrated through what little we already know and there is still much we don't know and probably never will know.

This essay reads something like a veiled mea culpa from you.

You were wrong about Trump from the get go. Why not just admit it and move along? Why remain steadfastly in thrall to any shred of rightwing, authoritarianism of the elite masquerading as populism?

Whatever Trump gets from the criminal justice system, Congress or the voters appears to be well-deserved. He has brought this on himself and really there is no one else to blame even as he never will accept responsibility. He is stupid at best, dishonest at best, a useful idiot at best.

Trump saved his ass financially after a series of disastrous business bankruptcies by accepting what appears by all indications to be laundered money from literally hundreds of anonymous shell companies investing in his condos since at least 2008.

He has run roughshod over the emoluments clause quite openly.

I do believe, knowing what we know now, he will probably avoid indictment and escape impeachment, maybe only through resignation/pardon but more likely the old fashioned way: defeat at the polls in 2020.

In many ways Trump has done some good by reinvigorating the US left (such as it is) and bringing at least enough cohesion in the ranks of a badly splintered populace mainly among white females and white college educated voters who now reject the GOP, or at least the GOP of Trump.

Whether this will lead to badly needed fixes for the heinous wealth inequality (started with Reagan) is doubtful but at least the conversation is now underway (started with Bernie) which is the first step.

Tax increases, social security stabilisation, re-funneling wasted MIC billions to domestic programs for the poor, etc.

It is a start. Will it become a solution or a revolution in time?

That is up to the people who are still under the yoke of neoliberalism and global capital flight.

Don Bacon , Jan 13, 2019 3:29:06 PM | link
re:
Mike Flynn: pleaded out to a minor charge, rolled over in full and then produced five rounds of documents. Likely: Flynn was confronted with the intel they had on him and knew he was cooked. They knew the crimes. They heard and saw everything. There'd be no escape.
By flipping and pleading out Flynn, all of that secret intel stays secret. Our intelligence efforts are protected. And Flynn goes down. And he cooks a bunch of other gooses. He's savvy enough to know that once they have the intel, all that's left to do is make the case.//

So the situation is worse than I thought. The clear inference is that (1) Flynn (and others) really did commit some major crimes, and then (2) got off easy by admitting to a memory lapse (3) while cooking a bunch of other gooses.

Flynn does the easy (2) and gets away with (1) and (3), both very serious. This is justice?

Zachary Smith , Jan 13, 2019 3:42:11 PM | link
@ Jackrabbit #6

Well sir, opinions certainly do vary on this issue.

As you may recall, the woman threatened conflict on cyberattacks.

"As president, I will make it clear that the United States will treat cyberattacks just like any other attack," the Democratic presidential nominee said. "We will be ready with serious political, economic and military responses."

Regarding the Deep State and Trump, Syria is in the process of winning against the neocons. And Iran has not yet been attacked. Hillary has a record, and for the most part hasn't even tried to run away from it.

Hillary Clinton's War Record – 100% For Genocide

If you know of any instances of the woman speaking against the War Solution to problems, kindly tell me about them.

Trump is an incomparable jerk, but perhaps not quite as bad as HRC.

james , Jan 13, 2019 3:43:30 PM | link
thanks b... the topic is so very tiring.. i am sick of hearing about it.. if the usa fell off a cliff and never came back again - i would be fine with that.. thank you regardless, for taking it apart and trying ti dispel the bullshite.. it is so thick, it defies logic.. i agree with @1 jose garcia, and @4 radiator...

trump is a crook... so what? most of the business class in the west are at this point! politics and crookery go hand in hand... i would be surprised if it was any different at this point in time.. how about the intel agencies? you want to sleep with them? lol..

Hoarsewhisperer , Jan 13, 2019 3:57:17 PM | link
There's either something wrong with this assumption, or something we're not being told...

The Mueller investigation, thanks to the snooping Obama and the FBI enabled, knows the content of every phonecall, chat and email any member of the Trump administration made and make to someone abroad (and likely also within the U.S.). It invites people as witnesses and asks them about the content of a specific calls they made. If they misremember or lie - bang - Mueller has the transcript ready. A crime has been created and an indiction for lying to the FBI will follow. This is what happened to Flynn and the others the Mueller investigation entrapped and convicted.

Option 1. Something wrong? If you're being cross-examined in a court or pseudo-legal forum about things you may or may not remember, you have the right to decline to answer a question, or to preface any and every answer with the phrase "If I remember correctly blah blah blah..."

Option 2. Something we're not being told? If the interrogators were able to ambush Flynn, then it's probably because they didn't acquaint him with all of his rights, or he didn't have a lawyer with him.

Trump's not stupid. He won't blunder into a situation bereft of any semblance of legal Human Rights protections designed to ambush him. And if he can't have a lawyer with him when the questions start, then he can probably refuse to attend without breaking any law.

Tess Ting , Jan 13, 2019 3:57:41 PM | link
@donkeytale There has been close to three years of serious investigative intent to lay a glove on Trump (HRC's team, the FBI and Mueller) and there is only the merest scratch of a womaniser (which with three marriages doesn't come as a surprise). What is quite remarkable, despite all the investigative effort, is how clean Trump has managed to keep himself despite building a fortune in one of the toughest cities in the world, building himself up through the eras of the five families, junk bonds and ponzi schemes and soviet union mobsters, not to mention the corruption of the poltical classes and regulatory abuses and unionised labor.

For the world's he moves in, the only explanation that gives him enough protection is that for a long time Trump has been a protected FBI asset for one of the field offices, possibly now senior service figures. And it's this deep relationship with well connected parts of the FBI or other secret services that has given him the ability to steer past the various attempts by the deep state. Why, for instance, do we have such a lot of leakage of the inner workings of the anti-Trump FBI? Some part of the deep state has become disgusted at the spying (eg on congress), the blackmailing, the warmongering, and deep corruption of the anti-constitutionalists, and Trump is their vengence. You just have to decide which side you are on...

Zachary Smith , Jan 13, 2019 4:06:26 PM | link
"Tess Ting" #14

I read that as Testing - perhaps a trial/demonstration as a professional troll for somebody or other. How else to interpret "only the merest scratch of a womaniser" or "how clean Trump has managed to keep himself". Maybe I'm surprised not to also see praise for the clever Government Shutdown.

Peter AU 1 , Jan 13, 2019 4:11:46 PM | link
Hoarsewhisperer 13 I think it unlikely that the likes of Flynn would not know their basic legal rights.
brian , Jan 13, 2019 4:17:24 PM | link
meanwhile..trump and his appointees attack legitimacy of Venezuela govt.
Trump is in bad odor at home while seeking to attack other govts.

' Washington has explicitly expressed its support for a potential coup against the elected Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, by offering its backing to the opposition and stating outright it was time for a "new government."

"The Maduro regime is illegitimate and the United States will continue ... to work diligently to restore a real democracy" to Venezuela, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters on his trip to the Middle East on Saturday, adding that Washington would attempt to make the Latin American nations "come together to deliver that."'
https://www.rt.com/news/448673-us-venezuela-time-new-government/

Peter AU 1 , Jan 13, 2019 4:25:14 PM | link
One thing the US deep state and their muller proxy would have on Trump, and most if not all of Trump's team, is collusion with Israel (can this convert into charges of treason as threats). A weapon that is good for threats against and turning those around Trump, and possibly used in as a last resort to remove Trump.
Peter AU 1 , Jan 13, 2019 4:33:00 PM | link
Adding to my post @ 18
Pat Lang has a post up "What is wrong with Trump?" "But, how does one explain his lack of action on the border? Does someone or some thing in Russia, Israel, the UK, his former business associates, have something really juicy on Trump, something that he fears to unleash through decisive action? pl"

Collusion with Israel is something neither side - team Trump and the deep state - would wish to bring into the open, but this may be the only thing they have on Trump.

Robert Snefjella , Jan 13, 2019 4:43:58 PM | link
Great journalism b!

A few more points: from: https://theconservativetreehouse.com/

"On Thursday November 17th, 2016, NSA Director Mike Rogers traveled to New York and met with President-Elect Donald Trump.

On Friday November 18th The Washington Post reported on a recommendation in "October" that [NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers] Mike Rogers be removed from his NSA position:

The heads of the Pentagon and the nation's intelligence community have recommended to President Obama that the director of the National Security
Agency, Adm. Michael S. Rogers, be removed.

In a move apparently unprecedented for a military officer, Rogers, without notifying superiors, traveled to New York to meet with Trump on Thursday at Trump Tower.

Occam's Razor. NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers didn't want to participate in the spying scheme [on Trump]

(Clapper, Brennan, Etc.), which was the baseline for President Obama's post presidency efforts to undermine Donald Trump and keep Trump from digging into [who knows what crimes]"

After the visit by Rogers, Trump vacated Trump Towers. There is considerable irony in the Mueller 'probe' and the continuing avalanche of MSM lies and evasions and spin etc pertaining to Trump.

There are trends: A growing US citizen realization that their political system prior to Trump was nearly completely corrupt; the Clintons are more broadly understood as the pathological criminals that they are; the Podesta emails with their sick connotations remain 'in the air' - See Ben Swann's work, for example. The Clinton Foundation is far more broadly understood as a massive criminal enterprise.

Serious criminality at the highest levels of the FBI is now far more obvious to far more people

MSM as evil propaganda is more widely understood.

It is understood widely that the DNC material to Wikileaks was not 'hacked' (Binney)

From the theintercept.com :

"Pompeo met on October 24 [at Trump's request] with William Binney, a former National Security Agency official-turned-whistleblower who co-authored an analysis published by a group of former intelligence officials that challenges the U.S. intelligence community's official assessment that Russian intelligence was behind last year's theft of data from DNC computers. Binney and the other former officials argue that the DNC data was "leaked," not hacked, "by a person with physical access" to the DNC's computer system."

In short the last two years have been about trying to defeat Trump but the attackers are looking more and more wounded, and Trump, well, he's hanging in there. General Kelly and others have described Trump's work ethic as exhausting.

Brendan , Jan 13, 2019 5:12:30 PM | link
The Internet Research Agency (IRA) paid $100,000 for Facebook ads and then charged its customers for the clickbait service (between 25 and 50 U.S. dollars per post for promotional content). So even if the IRA didn't manage to make a profit, the net cost for them must have been much lower than $100,000. Does anyone know how much revenue it made from that operation? Facebook must know but they've kept quiet about it. Same with Mueller.
juliania , Jan 13, 2019 5:17:56 PM | link
Thank you, b. I am so glad I did not vote for Obama a second time around. A very rotten duopoly has taken over the US government, all based on the premise that money is speech and money runs government, the people be damned. Hence the shutdown being orchestrated by money, with Trump in the crosshairs.

I also very much adhere to your final paragraph's sentences. Let no one be in any doubt - what is underway is no less than traitorous activity, a clear violation of the US Constitution, motivated by corrupt individuals whose meanness is beyond dispute. How it can be redressed at this very late stage beggars the mind; I can only hope it be done as peacefully as possible.

vk , Jan 13, 2019 5:19:18 PM | link
If this is really true, then it's a clear sign of decline: Obama sacrificed a huge chunk of American freedom just for the sake of personal political revenge. The USA is transitioning from a laissez faire to a highly burocratized, byzantine economy.
Hal Duell , Jan 13, 2019 6:27:54 PM | link
Shortly after the USSR's experiment with communism collapsed, I read an article which suggested that if the noise from that fall was loud, even louder will be the noise when the second shoe (the American experiment with capitalism) falls. And this is the crux of why I appreciate The Donald. His is the most honest face the US can present to the world at this point in time. So look at it closely, and marvel at where we have come to.
Zachary Smith , Jan 13, 2019 6:47:25 PM | link
@ juliania #23
I am so glad I did not vote for Obama a second time around.

LOL (first time I've ever written this!)

You made the same mistake I did in 2008. The deck was really stacked in that election, though I was too blind to see it at the time. Smiling & smooth-talking black face issuing zillions of promises, and this was right after the Codpiece Commander. It took me a whole year to realize I'd been suckered, and by 2012 understood the fix was STILL on. Obama had lost most all of his glitter by then, so the Power Elites arranged his opposition to be a financial predator/Mormon bishop paired up with the most awful Libertarian POS I've ever seen. Speaking the honest truth here, I'd prefer to have Sarah Palin as POTUS to Paul Ryan. What a combo! That's why I offered anybody I met 10:1 odds on Obama winning. Hillary thought she had had seen a winning pattern from all that, and arranged to have as her opponent a fellow named Donald Trump.

Yeah, Right , Jan 13, 2019 8:35:30 PM | link
@15 Zachary Smith "How else to interpret 'only the merest scratch of a womaniser' or 'how clean Trump has managed to keep himself'."

Zachary Smith, I have been posting here for a number of years, and on this I have to agree with the newcomer Tess Ting

Trump has been put under intense investigation by Deep State hacks who are determined to see him impeached. And all they have come up with is that he is a compulsive pussy-grabber (no shit, hey?).

To my mind Trump is a very offensive human being, but that isn't an impeachable character trait. I had assumed that he would have skeletons in his cupboard that would be grounds for impeachment.

Well, if he has then he has hidden them extraordinarily well, because Mueller with all his resources hasn't found any. Indeed, Mueller's investigation is so well-resourced that the only conclusion I can reach is that Trump has no such skeletons.

As I say, that is extraordinary. But - apparently - also true.

Blooming Barricade , Jan 13, 2019 9:21:09 PM | link
Astonishing how out in the open the military coup plotting against Venezuela is right now, it was consisted an outrage to overthrow Allende and that was even before direct proof of US involvement, now the anti-war and left wing consciousness of the public and the intellectual class has been so corroded that nobody care and many even see an attempted coup as a god thing. The ideological counter revolution in full swing.
psychohistorian , Jan 13, 2019 9:48:09 PM | link
@ Yeah, Right who wrote:
"
Indeed, Mueller's investigation is so well-resourced that the only conclusion I can reach is that Trump has no such skeletons.
"

I would just bring your attention to the possibility that bringing Trump down brings them down as well. Your assertion that Trump doesn't have any skeletons in the closet is laughable.

Also consider that most of what is known comes from compromised sources and much of the house of cards we live is built on sketchy assumptions.

Cui Bono for Trump?

I am beginning to understand how Trump fits the elite plan and instead of your "grab them by the pussy" thought change it to "they have him by the balls". They played his ego to get him to run the race and then, gee, he won.

I now see Trump as the last great hope of the elite to carve out as big a chunk as they can of the new world....and try and hold onto it. The ongoing proxy conflicts will keep the musical chair game playing for a bit more but then something is going to stop the music.

A shrink told me once that after fire came music. What comes after music?

NemesisCalling , Jan 13, 2019 10:18:57 PM | link
@3 jr

How did I know that you would be first up after b's exhaustive story on the IC's corruption and utterly obvious attempt to take Trump down to cry, "Fiction."

Here is a reply to all your points:

- yes, the Russia-bad narrative was picking up steam before Trump's election. The MSM and TPTB incorrectly surmised that there would be enough anti-Russia fervor among the masses that pinning the accusation on Trump would stick. It did not. It is evidence of THEIR stupidity.
- you must have never heard of keeping your enemies close. The Clintons are powerbrokers. Trump used them. Maybe he did like them at one point, but clearly shat on his relationship with them and since the election they have truly been trashed and unable to recover any good fortune or power. The Dems made a mistake will backing HRC. They weren't acting under Deep State orders once again, Occam's Razor dictates that stupidity is the culprit here.
- How does FBI informant in campaign neccessarily implicate Trump in conspiracy and not confirm IC's weasely attempts to dig up dirt?
- Look at prior Repub primaries? Notice anything? Populists don't float in the Yacht Club Party, do they? Trump was an anomoly indicitive of the times (again, Occam's Razor).
- Again, it is absolutely absurd and suspicious that you can not admit that the Dems are a party of retards and that they consistently step over quarters to pick up pennies.
- Your opinion that Trump's policies do not differ from the Dems needs qualifying. I don't agree that his domestic policies align and verdict is still out on his FP. We know he is not a True-Believer, which is good.
- British involvement again suggests that the IC is compromised and globalized yielding national sovereignty to centralized planning. Trump deserves that ire and proves that there is a contest afoot.

Jen , Jan 13, 2019 10:32:05 PM | link
Tess Ting @ 14, Zachary Smith (really?!) @ 15, Yeah, Right @ 28, Psychohistorian @ 30:

Donald Trump has declared six business bankruptcies and there is considerable information on these bankruptcies if you Google for information on them, such as the article linked to here:
https://www.thoughtco.com/donald-trump-business-bankruptcies-4152019

If Trump's corporate bankruptcies are so well-known, and picked over several times by different media sources (even Snopes has covered them), surely any other behaviour or incident that might call Trump's character or ethics into question must have been uncovered by Robert Mueller by now?

ab initio , Jan 13, 2019 11:03:11 PM | link
I can't imagine the scale of exploding heads among the media talking heads and the establishment of the two parties, IF, Trump gets re-elected. DC would be in serious melt down. After 4 years of continuous assault the voters may actually repudiate the corporate media and the DC elites in the 2020 elections.

In any case with the Democrat candidates starting to announce we are essentially into the next presidential campaign. I don't think it is smart to under-estimate Trump's electoral chances.

slit , Jan 13, 2019 11:05:10 PM | link
Great work, B!

"Normally the FBI needs to clear such counter-intelligence investigations with the Justice Department. In this case it did not do so at all:"This sounds like the same "kangaroo court" MO Scott Ritter detailed a few years ago:

"Simply put, the Russia NIA is not an "IC-coordinated" assessment -- the vehicle for such coordination, the NIC, was not directly involved in its production, and no NIO was assigned as the responsible official overseeing its production. Likewise, the Russia NIA cannot be said to be the product of careful coordination between the CIA, NSA and FBI -- while analysts from all three agencies were involved in its production, they were operating as part of a separate, secretive task force operating under the close supervision of the Director of the CIA, and not as an integral part of their home agency or department."

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/did-17-intelligence-agencies-really-come-to-consensus-on-russia/

slit , Jan 13, 2019 11:25:22 PM | link
Zachary @2, JackRabbit:

Why does it have to be either-or?; it could have been for insurance AND warmongering narrative/dog whistling.

Escalation towards war with Russia was a matter of public record in late pre-election 2016, thanks to Clinton News Network ... now ask yourselves where is that general in the press conference nowadays?

DNC Russia Hotwar

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dIYHje-rv5w

Jackrabbit , Jan 14, 2019 1:19:29 AM | link
NemesisCalling @31: Here is a reply to all your points

Well, you haven't replied to all my points, nor have you addressed the the thrust of my remarks. But I'll answer the issues that you raised so my view is clear to everyone.

=
- yes, the Russia-bad narrative was picking up steam before Trump's election. The MSM and TPTB incorrectly surmised that there would be enough anti-Russia fervor among the masses that pinning the accusation on Trump would stick. It did not. It is evidence of THEIR stupidity.
Wrong. Firstly, I was referring to the anti-Russia imperative in official circles NOT to the propaganda effort. That imperative intensified greatly after Russia blocked USA-proxy takeover of Syria (2013), and Crimea and Donbas (2014). In fact, Kissinger wrote a WSJ Op-Ed in Aug 2014 that issued a cryptic call for MAGA.

"picking up steam before Trump's election" needs some unpacking. The anti-Russia fervor among the masses has been entirely concocted, and mostly AFTER 2014.

Nothing has stuck to Trump because there's no substance to the allegations.

=
- you must have never heard of keeping your enemies close. The Clintons are powerbrokers. Trump used them. Maybe he did like them at one point, but clearly shat on his relationship with them and since the election they have truly been trashed and unable to recover any good fortune or power. The Dems made a mistake will backing HRC. They weren't acting under Deep State orders once again, Occam's Razor dictates that stupidity is the culprit here.
What does Occam's Razor have to say about the remarkable continuity of US foreign and domestic policy for the last 30 years?

Trump and the Clintons were known to be close. Even their daughter's were/are close.

Are you unaware of the CIA connections of Clinton, Bush, and Obama? Should we assume that Trump is free of any such connection?

=
- How does FBI informant in campaign neccessarily implicate Trump in conspiracy and not confirm IC's weasely attempts to dig up dirt?
The FBI informant (Felix Sater) worked for Trump from about 2001 to 2013. This was essentially the same period in which Mueller was FBI Director. Mueller and Comey are close and are connected to the Clinton's.

The informant wasn't investigating Trump or digging up dirt on him, he was informing on the Russian mob, and probably using employment by Trump to get closer to the mob. FBI/counter intel might have also used info provided to turn some of the Russians into US intel assets.

=
- Look at prior Repub primaries? Notice anything? Populists don't float in the Yacht Club Party, do they? Trump was an anomoly indicitive of the times (again, Occam's Razor).
Have you heard of the Tea Party? Have you heard of Obama using the IRS against the Tea Party? Seems that a Republican populist would get a lot of votes against the hated Hillary who championed Obama's "legacy".

- Again, it is absolutely absurd and suspicious that you can not admit that the Dems are a party of retards and that they consistently step over quarters to pick up pennies.
You can't admit that the Dem's have failed the left so consistently that it is unlikely to be due to their mental capacity or an accident of circumstance.

=
- Your opinion that Trump's policies do not differ from the Dems needs qualifying. I don't agree that his domestic policies align and verdict is still out on his FP. We know he is not a True-Believer, which is good.
I didn't say that they don't differ from the Dems, I said that Trump policies are consistent with policies of previous Administrations and that Hillary likely would've ruled in much the same way.

=
- British involvement again suggests that the IC is compromised and globalized yielding national sovereignty to centralized planning. Trump deserves that ire and proves that there is a contest afoot
The US IC is undoubtedly primary and universally acknowledged to be the lead in the US-Brit Intel relationship.

The only 'contest' I can discern is how best to fool the people.

<> <> <> <> <> <> <> <>

You seem to believe that a populist outsider can be elected President. And, you also believe that a US President can be both all powerful (Obama) or constrained by Deep State whim (Trump).

You also seem to believe that Trump's rhetoric is gospel-truth and means what you think it does. Surprise! "Negotiation with Russia" doesn't mean peace. Troop 'pull out' doesn't mean it'll happen any time soon (and possibly never). Anti-TPP doesn't mean he won't implement TPP provisions in other trade agreements. Etc.

PS The establishment doesn't benefit DESPITE our populist President's, they benefit BECAUSE we are willing to believe that our populist President's work for US.

NemesisCalling , Jan 14, 2019 2:14:54 AM | link
Jr, it was a fruitless endeavor, to be sure, but I gave it a shot.

For the record, I never counted Trump as savior, although he could very well be if he continues on getting caught with his dick in his hand as the empire around him crumbles. He's not a true believer, but he can at the very least be a useful idiot for the real anti-imperialists in the world.

bryan hemming , Jan 14, 2019 7:05:34 AM | link
It is of note that Oleg Deripaska is not a stranger to the world of politics and politicians. Before his fortunes changed dramatically, Oleg Deripaska was well-known for entertaining world politicians on his luxury yacht moored off Kassiopi in the northwest corner of the Greek Island of Corfu.

The Rothschilds have an estate outside Kassiopi. Among the many high-powered friends and guests of Deripaska was UK Tory politician, George Osborne, who visited him on his yacht at Kassiopi while still British Chancellor of the Exchequer. Osborne and EU Commissioner Peter Mandelson, a powerful force in Tony Blair's government, were both guests at a function held aboard the yacht in 2008. Baron Mandelson's position in the EU, at the time, led to accusations of a conflict of interest.

Among other movers and shakers, John McCain was also a friend of Oleg Deripaska, but that friendship may have soured after the virtual collapse of the Russian billionaire companies. McCain was more a fairweather friend than a stalwart ally through thick and thin. The reason I mention these tidbits is because the corporate media fails to join all the pieces that show just how corrupt Western politicians have become.

Harley Schlanger , Jan 14, 2019 7:06:30 AM | link
For a thorough update on the Integrity Initiative and its offshoots, check out the latest from legal investigator Barbara Boyd.

To defeat the "Deep State" in the U.S., it is essential to understand the role of British Intelligence. While it is essential to know the role of Hillary Clinton, Obama, Comey, DOJ/FBI operatives, et.al., it is even more important to understand the geopolitical assumptions behind Russiagate. And for that, one must turn to the British.

https://larouchepac.com/20190110/part-ii-integrity-initiatives-foreign-agents-influence-invade-united-states

Hoarsewhisperer , Jan 14, 2019 7:36:44 AM | link
It would help to get a handle on the precise nature and format of these FBI "under oath" fishing expeditions if the FBI released transcripts of a few of the recent hi-profile Q & A sessions. If suspects are being convicted for misdemeanors of dubious relevance to the stated aim of the Mueller Crusade then transcripts would allow inconsistencies to be counted and evaluated. It would also be interesting to discover whether the FBI uses a seductive approach to questioning, or a confrontational approach, given the petty nature of the 'crimes' exposed to date.
Petri Krohn , Jan 14, 2019 8:58:50 AM | link
The aim of the counterintelligence operation and of the Russiagate hoax was not to build a prosecution case against President Trump. It was to put the United States in constitutional limbo by creating a parallel and competing center of constitutional legitimacy.

The Obama Administration would live on in the structure of this "investigation", without ever having to relinquish power to Trump. The investigation would form the center of "The Resistance", with the ability to question the legitimacy of the Trump Administration.

donkeytale , Jan 14, 2019 9:43:31 AM | link
Jackrabbit @ 37

I didn't say that they don't differ from the Dems, I said that Trump policies are consistent with policies of previous Administrations and that Hillary likely would've ruled in much the same way.

This is very true but only in the same sort of overgeneralised sense with you populate your latest CT. That is, sweep any of the plainly ridiculous assumptions in your theory under the widest possible rug available to conspiratards.

At least you aint exactly drinking the Orange Kool-Aid like so many of the posters on this thread. That's a big positive in my book. As for them, it's more a reflection of the love for rightwing authoritarianism than for Trump himself. What they really wish for is a crafier, shrewder Amerikkkan version of Putin, but they accept Trump because his bumbling is the existential proof of US decline in relative power, as if such proof was necessary.

And if you overlook all Trump's achievements (such as they are):

1. Obamacare/Medicaid expansion repeal and subsequent degradation of the enrollment and funding processes by executive degree when appeal failed thanks only to McCain's "in yo office sucka" thumbs down vote.

2. Tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations (basically same thing)

3. SCOTUS and federal bench selections


The US system is meant to create a uniparty environment whereby opposing views are compromised into a "third way" legislative process.

I grok this system is broken and completely controlled by the wealthiest (show me a political system anywhere that you prefer that is not controlled by the wealthiest) but the funding mechanisms need changing before there will ever be significant change to governing processes.

Trump through his ignorance, corruption and loose lips has tilted the playing field left. Hilliary through her elitism, arrogance, corruption and lack of retail political skills gets a big assist in the same tilting.

Those who believe (if any truly do) that Trump represents anything more than the end of Reaganist conservatism are "wishin' and hopin'" as Dusty Springfield would say.

I do applaud those who are willing to show in the comments that they suffer from the real "Trump Derangement Syndrome," such as your good buddy James. They're all crooks, in his opinion.

So what is it Jim? Do you excuse Trump only or do you excuse them all? LMAO

Peter AU 1 , Jan 14, 2019 9:45:39 AM | link
Putin January 2017 - "You know, there is a category of people who leave without saying goodbye, out of respect for the situation that has evolved, so as not to upset anything. And then there are people who keep saying goodbye but don't leave. I believe the outgoing administration belongs to the second category.

What are we seeing in the United States? We are seeing the continuation of an acute internal political struggle despite the fact that the presidential election is over and it ended in Mr Trump's convincing victory. Nevertheless, in my opinion, several goals are being set in this struggle. Maybe there are more, but some of them are perfectly obvious."

The first is to undermine the legitimacy of the US president-elect. By the way, in this regard, I would like to point out that whether deliberately or not, these people are causing enormous damage to US interests. Simply enormous. The impression is that, after a practice run in Kiev, they are now ready to organise a Maidan in Washington to prevent Trump from taking office."

Peter AU 1 , Jan 14, 2019 9:46:40 AM | link
The link for my post @45
http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/53744

Posted by: pretzelattack , Jan 14, 2019 10:05:43 AM | link

sure, no doubt trump has been involved in financial improprieties; this in no way means he colluded with Russia to fix the election, or that russia on its own hacked the election, or any of the other false narratives the ic is trying to cram down our throats with the connivance of the msm and (mostly, but there are some republicans pushing it, too) the "centrist" dems.

And the clintons have their own skeletons, but they seem to be judgement proof with the aid of comey et al.

donkeytale , Jan 14, 2019 10:22:40 AM | link
pretzelattack @ 47

The only real difference between Trump and the Clintons at end of the day is they are smart lawyers who obviously better understand how to navigate the treacherous legal waters surrounding them.

They also know what the definition of "is, is" and how to carefully craft their words in public, while Trump is all loose cannon all the time ahd his legal representation appears to follow his lead, IE Giuliani and Cohen.

Jackrabbit , Jan 14, 2019 10:53:12 AM | link
Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jan 14, 2019 9:45:39 AM | 45:
We are seeing the continuation of an acute internal political struggle despite the fact that the presidential election is over and it ended in Mr Trump's convincing victory.
Not really. What we are seeing is Deep State controlled media force-feeding the public a toxic concoction: the narrative of a political struggle that centers on anti-Russia hysteria.

Maybe you missed Romney's Op-Ed in which he praised Trump's pro-establishment policies while attacking his Russia-friendly 'pull out' from Syria. That's the best example of the two-faced establishment bullsh*t.

Welcome to the rabbit hole.

Robert Snefjella , Jan 14, 2019 10:57:29 AM | link
What is loosely called 'globalism', consisting of various trends and ideologies and practices: the EU and the aborted for now 'North American Union' and satellites, and cell phones able to instantly transmit images from the other side of the planet, and so on, has also importantly aimed at and advocated for and implemented various means by which national sovereignty was eroded.

And this erosion meant a reduction of the ability of a country's people to wield an effective national politics, let alone something vaguely democratic, or to implement policies which were at odds with the various globalist institutions and imperatives and programs. So we've seen on numerous occasions, for example, the IMF impose its globalist economic 'recipe' on a nation's economic policies.

And even the destruction of Libya in 2011 was primarily or importantly directed at preventing Libya from implementing a national financial strategy intended to give African countries an alternative to the depredations of global financial 'business as usual'.

But over the last two years the movement to restore or renovate national sovereignty has made something of a comeback.

So for example, Macron as recently as roughly two years ago was being lauded as a great new leader of the globalist project, and both he and Merkel have gone on record decrying the very concept of national sovereignty.

But now Macron and Merkel are largely reviled, especially Macron, by their people, and 'populist' enthusiasm strengthens. You can see the same trend in virtually every European country.

And in the United States, the tens of millions of 'deplorables' backing Trump are doing so partly, perhaps mostly, because he champions the restoration of national sovereignty and has questioned dominant globalist institutions.

Now for those who are committed to the view that Trump doesn't really mean it, that he isn't really an American nationalist, and so on, well, fine, believe what you like. But in the end, Trump's base of support is nationalistic, and that is as I noted above a very general trend that is quickly manifesting.

pretzelattack , Jan 14, 2019 11:17:45 AM | link
https://theintercept.com/2019/01/14/the-fbis-investigation-of-trump-as-a-national-security-threat-is-itself-a-serious-danger-but-j-edgar-hoover-pioneered-the-tactic/
Noirette , Jan 14, 2019 12:00:27 PM | link
Collapse ctd.

Re. the USA, when the handmaidens of power, aka politicians, the servant class in an oligarchic corporatist 'state,' are alarmingly seen to fight to the death in public it is crystal clear that control (which may take the shape of relatively informal and obscure networks ) is lost, .. > the 'fight' will only serve to weaken all parties.

Trump is loathed because he upset the apple cart and revealed weakness and fissures in the system. (+ possibly because he is an upstart, from the wrong side of whatever, has bad hair, is dumb, a thief, more )

He ran as an anti-establishment maverick:

  • "Drain the Swamp!"
  • "Lock her up!"
  • "Build the Wall!"

- and was elected only for that reason. It was disconcertingly easy to do, which is also terrifying to the PTB. Plus, election/voter fraud did not perform as expected - help !! The MSM promoted him with mega 24/24 coverage - help !!

As the no. 1 disruptive foe is merely an elderly scummy biz type, an intruder, some other entity like malignant agressive Russia had to be associated with him. (Yes, is was Obama-Clinton who started the highjinks + the following Mueller investig.; see b at top - also, bashing Russia gradually took wing as it recovered under Putin, the Ukraine plots did not work out, etc. *Crimea!* the last straw! ..)

If Obama had announced that 2K USA personnel were to be withdrawn from Syria because the good folks want their wonderful husbands and wives, great ppl, our folks, home soon, they have dutifully served, etc. the MSM and anyone who bothered to digest that news would have clapped and sent off pixel sparkles and sweet tweets.

Very difficult to judge: what is the result of infighting in the US vs. any agreed-on never mind coherent foreign policy? That the question is even asked - all over the world now - spells stage one collapse.

Jackrabbit , Jan 14, 2019 12:23:45 PM | link
Robert Snefjella @50:
Now for those who are committed to the view that Trump doesn't really mean it, that he isn't really an American nationalist, and so on, well, fine, believe what you like. But in the end, Trump's base of support is nationalistic ..."

Did Obama really mean it when he touted "Change You Can Believe In"? No. His rhetoric was meant to turn the page from the Bush Administration excesses and convince the world that USA was not the threat that they perceived us to be. In fact, he was given a Nobel Prize for essentially not being Bush. But it was all psyop. Obama refused to hold CIA accountable for rendition and torture, refused to stop NSA pervasive spying, conducted covert wars and regime change ops, bragged of his drone targeting skills, made Bush tax cuts permanent, bailed out bankers, etc.

Does Trump really mean his nationalism? Only to the extent that a nationalist was needed to meet the challenge from Russia and China. People don't fight for globalist principals.

US is still a member of NATO, still involved in the Middle East, still has hundreds of bases around the world.

Trump's nationalist credentials are further belied by such things as: adding TPP provisions to the new North American trade agreement; attacking Syria based on false flags; arming Ukraine; pulling out of the INF treaty and engaging in an unnecessary and costly arms race; actively seeking to overthrow the governments of Iran and Venezuela; etc.

Welcome to the rabbit hole.

Peter AU 1 , Jan 14, 2019 12:41:01 PM | link
dahoit 53

Is there a requirement for an open trial on these sort of things. I'm not sure about the US, but normally gag orders are all that's required to keep something quiet. All the people around Trump could be taken down in this way with charges that would stick.
Apparently the only one they cannot take down in this way is the president (Another post up now at SST on the legalities of investigating the president). As far as I know, the president can only be taken down by impeachment so I guess they wouldn't try to use collusion with Israel for that unless they could keep what they were impeaching him for secret.

donkeytale , Jan 14, 2019 1:18:09 PM | link
Snefjella @ 50

And in the United States, the tens of millions of 'deplorables' backing Trump are doing so partly, perhaps mostly, because he champions the restoration of national sovereignty and has questioned dominant globalist institutions.

Yes, "Amerikkka First" represents nationalism for sure. Many, maybe most Amerikkkans have always been nationalistic and detest globalist structures because they view them as limiting Amerikkka's rightful global sovereignty. This is a fine distinction I believe gets lost in commentary such as yours. Trump isn't looking to retreat from Amerikkkan Exceptionalism at all, it his raison d etre for the tariffs and increases in military spending.

The movement which elected Trump represents the nostalgic view of a lost Amerikkkan dominance over the globe, which of course they blame on those hated Democratic and Republican establishment globalists, Bushes, Clintons and Obama.

donkeytale , Jan 14, 2019 1:23:22 PM | link
And I meant "rightful" in quotation marks not that I believe it is rightful but is the opinion of the "Deplorables".
Zachary Smith , Jan 14, 2019 1:43:05 PM | link
@ Jackrabbit #28
You see all that and then assume that the Hillary-Trump contest was genuine?

Why not assume that the Deep State's candidate won in every election since Carter and work from there.

That first is a difficult one to answer, for I quite agree with you on the second part. Rigged elections from Carter on to the present day matches my own thoughts as well. In 2000 "they" had to go all the way to the Supreme Court to get their man in office, but GWB did indeed move into the White House.

My own theory about 2016 is that everybody miscalculated. Trump was (IMO) running as an ego-building publicity stunt. Hillary (and her Deep State sponsors) had actively helped Trump get the nomination with hundreds of millions of dollars of free publicity which also enhanced the bottom lines of Big Media. His multiple flaws were airbrushed away. Hillary ran a horrible campaign because she is an arrogant and "entitled" woman. The incompetence of that campaign simply didn't uncover the extent to which she was hated by so many people. (myself included, but I didn't vote for the torture-loving Trump, either)

The biggest mistake of all was not having any plan in place to use the touch-screen voting systems (think "Diebold") to nail down her victory. Again an opinion, but I think that was judged to be a little too risky plus the fact it was obviously totally unnecessary. Hillary didn't have a "loss" speech prepared, and Trump didn't have a "victory" one.

This is why I call Trump an "accidental" President. I'll admit the Deep State has reacted pretty well since 2016, but they're still playing catchup. Israel - to name just one - remains in shell shock.

In summary, I think we barely disagree. :)

vk , Jan 14, 2019 1:55:56 PM | link
I think Trump's election was a miscalculation of the American elites...
Robert Snefjella , Jan 14, 2019 2:54:31 PM | link
Further to American's general support for Trump's declared intention of reduction of troops in Syria and Afghanistan, the Daily Caller on the 9th of January 2019 cited 56 % in support, 20 % not sure, and 27 % opposing. This is after MSM and general national political outrage and 'deep concern' over Trump's decision.

Note that US involvement in Syria has been justified by the most lurid of lies and disinfo continually poured for years into American's psyches. For Tulsi Gabbard to have a direct conversation with Assad (the designated 'butcher of Damascus', the 'horrid monstrous dictator' accused over and over of attacking his own people, often with chemical weapons from barrel bombs, and especially targeting children and hospitals: the man can have no soul, no heart! We must help the Syrians in their struggle against this animal!) was an outrage!

So not only do most Americans want American troops out of Syria, it would seem that there is some growing immunity among the people of the United States to their diet of diseased propaganda.

karlof1 , Jan 14, 2019 3:16:31 PM | link
Just finished b's excellent recap and the entire affair reeks of Treason -- not against Trump, but against the Nation.
Jackrabbit , Jan 14, 2019 4:57:11 PM | link
Posted by: vk | Jan 14, 2019 1:55:56 PM | 60

Donald Trump as an outsider of the GOP

The populist hero must be portrayed as an "outsider" that takes on the establishment. Obama was positioned in much the same way.

Trump is no "outsider". He is very establishment. Even before running for President, he had access that ordinary people never get.

Trump only won because of a bizarre technicality of the American electoral system.

You are directing our attention to what the establishment wants us to see. It ignores Hillary's spectacular failure: snubbing of Sanders progressives; Cold shoulder to black voters; insult to white voters ("deplorables"); choosing not to campaign in crucial states; the wierdness of Bill Clinton being discovered meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch (Bill Clinton is one of the most recognizable people in America - why why why would be meeting with the Attorney General on an airport tarmac?), etc.

If the race were easy, Trump woundn't be a populist hero, would he? And Hillary's winning the popular vote is a nice consolation prize to the Clinton's. Plus, it nicely sets up the fake Deep State vs. Trump conflict.

Linda Amick , Jan 14, 2019 8:22:16 PM | link
While Trump is a member of the elite establishment that practically owns the country he has always been a pariah for one main reason. He does not honor the unspoken code of never exposing inside information about other elite members. He is a big mouth.

Given that, the establishment and their propaganda arm of the media have been out to get him even before he was elected. His presidency has largely been an inside struggle. However, Trump is clever and crafty. During his tenure he has been give access to tremendous amounts of information about his political enemies and he continues to bait, insult and fire them, pushing them deeper and deeper into insanity.

He will fight fire with fire. If they attempt to impeach him he will tit for tat release information incriminating his enemies. I view this as a positive direction for the US in the long run. ALL of these people need to be banished to "Elba". Maybe they will fight to the death of both sides. One can dream.

[Jan 13, 2019] NSA Director Mike Rogers visit to Donald Trump

Notable quotes:
"... On Friday November 18th The Washington Post reported on a recommendation in "October" that [NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers] Mike Rogers be removed from his NSA position: The heads of the Pentagon and the nation's intelligence community have recommended to President Obama that the director of the National Security Agency, Adm. Michael S. Rogers, be removed. ..."
"... After the visit by Rogers, Trump vacated Trump Towers. ..."
Jan 13, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Robert Snefjella , Jan 13, 2019 4:43:58 PM | link

Great journalism b!

A few more points: from: https://theconservativetreehouse.com/

"On Thursday November 17th, 2016, NSA Director Mike Rogers traveled to New York and met with President-Elect Donald Trump.

On Friday November 18th The Washington Post reported on a recommendation in "October" that [NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers] Mike Rogers be removed from his NSA position: The heads of the Pentagon and the nation's intelligence community have recommended to President Obama that the director of the National Security Agency, Adm. Michael S. Rogers, be removed.

In a move apparently unprecedented for a military officer, Rogers, without notifying superiors, traveled to New York to meet with Trump on Thursday at Trump Tower.

Occam's Razor. NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers didn't want to participate in the spying scheme [on Trump]

(Clapper, Brennan, Etc.), which was the baseline for President Obama's post presidency efforts to undermine Donald Trump and keep Trump from digging into [who knows what crimes]"

After the visit by Rogers, Trump vacated Trump Towers.

There is considerable irony in the Mueller 'probe' and the continuing avalanche of MSM lies and evasions and spin etc pertaining to Trump.

There are trends: A growing US citizen realization that their political system prior to Trump was nearly completely corrupt; the Clintons are more broadly understood as the pathological criminals that they are; the Podesta emails with their sick connotations remain 'in the air' - See Ben Swann's work, for example. The Clinton Foundation is far more broadly understood as a massive criminal enterprise.

Serious criminality at the highest levels of the FBI is now far more obvious to far more people

MSM as evil propaganda is more widely understood.

It is understood widely that the DNC material to Wikileaks was not 'hacked' (Binney)

From the theintercept.com :

"Pompeo met on October 24 [at Trump's request] with William Binney, a former National Security Agency official-turned-whistleblower who co-authored an analysis published by a group of former intelligence officials that challenges the U.S. intelligence community's official assessment that Russian intelligence was behind last year's theft of data from DNC computers. Binney and the other former officials argue that the DNC data was "leaked," not hacked, "by a person with physical access" to the DNC's computer system."

In short the last two years have been about trying to defeat Trump but the attackers are looking more and more wounded, and Trump, well, he's hanging in there. General Kelly and others have described Trump's work ethic as exhausting.

[Jan 12, 2019] CLASSIFIED The most powerful investor you never heard of by globalintelhub

Jan 12, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Pre IPO Swap New York, NY 1/12/2019

Did you know that the CIA has its own Venture Fund? And did you know that Venture fund was key in starting Facebook and Google? As explained in the book Splitting Pennies – the world is not as it seems.

For many readers especially on this comes as no surprise, as you are well aware of the octopus that wraps its tentacles around the globe. But it may surprise you how active In-Q-Tel is and how chummy they are with the rest of the VC community. It's as if they are just another VC, but with another purpose. Let's look at some of the stats, from Crunchbase:

Here's a list of recent investments

If you dig back you won't see Google or Facebook on there – which is company policy for retail consumer investments that can impact the public (it's kept secret behind an NDA). Here's how it works – In-Q-Tel may invest in your startup but there's a big catch. First, you have to sign an NDA which is enforced strongly – that you are not to disclose your partner. Second, you must agree to 'cooperation' when it comes to information sharing now or down the road, such as location data on people using Facebook, Google, or other systems – perhaps only to feed it into a big data brain at Palantir. Or perhaps for more street level surveillance. The surveillance is known by fact, not conspiracy theory – but by fact – due to the disclosure of classified documents by Edward Snowden. If it were not for Snowden, we could only guess about this. The name of the main program is PRISM but there are many others.

For those in the VC community that are deep in the know- the "Deep VCs" like Peter Thiel for example, the Snowden revelations would come as no surprise. MUST READ – No Place To Hide – the story of the NSA, PRISM, and Snowden (written by Greenwald).

But for others, it may come as a surprise that not only the CIA has its own VC fund, but that it sits on many corporate boards alongside many Wall St. firms and other VCs.

And of course, they always do well.

Let's consider the doors they opened for Google, or in the case of Google it was more like the doors that were closed. Google was not the best search engine, it was not superior technology – it wasn't even really very good. It just became a monopoly and crushed the competition. Many wonder how they were able to do it, and that this is part of the Entrepreneur "Magic" that few have. Well we can say in the case of Google there was no Magic they had a helping hand from a friend in the deep shadows. Google wanted to become huge – the CIA wants information (they always do, so we don't use the past tense 'wanted'). So it was a cozy and rational partnership – in exchange for making the right handshakes at the right time, allowing Google to become a global behemoth, all they needed to do was share a little information about users. Actually, a lot of information. No harm in that, right?

But in doing so Google violated itself as well as prostituted its model and its users. Google still does this and is not nearly as flagrant as its brother Facebook, however Google shares more detailed 'meta data' which is actually more useful to Echelon systems like Palantir that rely on big data, not necessarily photos of what you ate for breakfast (but that can be helpful too, they say).

The metaphor is making a deal with the devil; you get what you want but it comes at a price. And that's the price users pay to Google – they get service 'free' but at a huge cost, their privacy. Of course – this is all based on the concept of Freedom which really does exist in USA. You don't have to use Google – there are many alternatives like the rising star Duck Duck Go :

But who cares about privacy; only criminals, hackers, programmers, super wealthy (UHNWI) and a few philosophers.

Google remains the dominant search platform and much more. Google exploits niche by niche even competing with Amazon's Alexa service.

The argument here is that Google wouldn't be Google without the help of the CIA. This isn't our idea it's a fact, you can read about it here on qz.com:

Two decades ago, the US intelligence community worked closely with Silicon Valley in an effort to track citizens in cyberspace. And Google is at the heart of that origin story. Some of the research that led to Google's ambitious creation was funded and coordinated by a research group established by the intelligence community to find ways to track individuals and groups online. The intelligence community hoped that the nation's leading computer scientists could take non-classified information and user data, combine it with what would become known as the internet, and begin to create for-profit, commercial enterprises to suit the needs of both the intelligence community and the public. They hoped to direct the supercomputing revolution from the start in order to make sense of what millions of human beings did inside this digital information network. That collaboration has made a comprehensive public-private mass surveillance state possible today.

There you have it – Google is the child of the digital revolution of the surveillance state. Why spy, when you can collect data electronically and analyze with machine learning?

The new spy is the web bot.

And the investors in Google did well – so that's the investing story that matters here. It pays well to have friends in high places, and in dark places. Of all the investments In-Q-Tel made, almost all of them have done very well. That doesn't mean that Palantir is going to grow to the size of Google, but it does provide natural support should a company backed by In-Q-Tel run into problems.

By the time Facebook came out, digital surveillance was already in the n-th generation of evolution, and they really stepped up their game. In the creepiest examples, Facebook doesn't necessarily (and primarily) collect data on Facebook users – it does this too. But that's just a given – you don't need to perform surveillance on someone who gives all their data to the system willingly – you always know where they are and what they are doing at any given moment. The trick is to get information about those who may try to hide their activities, whether they are real terrorists or just paranoid geniuses.

How does Facebook do this? There are literally hundreds of programs running – but in one creepy example, Facebook collects photos that users take to analyze the environment surrounding. Incidentally, the location data is MUCH MORE accurate than you see on the retail front end. So you get the newspaper and see a gift in your mailbox for your birthday – you take a photo because the ribbons are hanging out. What shows up in the background? All kinds of information. What the neighbor is doing. License plate of the car driving by. Trash waiting to be picked up by the street. A child's toy left by the sidewalk. You get the picture. Facebook users have been turned into sneaky little digital spies! While they are walking around with their 'smartphones' (should be called 'dumbphones') scrolling their walls and snapping photos away – they are taking photos of you too. That means, Facebook collects data for the CIA about users who don't have Facebook accounts. This is the huge secret that the mainstream media doesn't want to tell you. Deleting your Facebook account will do nothing – every time you go out in public you are being photographed, video recorded, and more – all going into big data artificial intelligence for analysis.

But here's the best part. You own it! The CIA may have a bad reputation but it is part of the US Government, and thus – profits go back to the Treasury (those which are declared) or at least they are supposed to. Considering this, why is there a stigma about even talking about In-Q-Tel when in fact we should be more involved in any US Government operation when it is technically owned by the people and funded by taxpayers? Meaning, do taxpayers have rights to know what goes in in taxpayer funded entities, like In-Q-Tel? The big difference between In-Q-Tel and the CIA is that In-Q-Tel functions just like any other VC – they disclose most of their investments, they attend conferences, they accept business plans. You can literally submit your idea to In-Q-Tel and get funding. Of course, like any VC there's a very small chance of being funded.

So what's an investor's take on this story? In-Q-Tel is not Freddie Mac there is nor a quasi-government entity; it's not an NGO and there is no implicit guarantee that In-Q-Tel's deals will do any better than Andreessen Horowitz .

However, their deals do very well. Companies they fund not only have the backing of the CIA explicitly, it's not only about business – it's about national security! Under that guise, it's no wonder that companies like Google and Facebook rocket to the top.

We are not suggesting that investors double down on In-Q-Tel bets. We are only suggesting that at a minimum, we follow what they do. It's a data point – a good source of information. And the best part is that it's public.

Their most recent investment is in a virtual reality company in Boca Raton, FL called Immersive Wisdom:

Immersive Wisdom® is an enterprise software platform that allows users to collaborate in real-time upon diverse data sets and applications within a temporal and geospatially-aware Virtual, Mixed, and Augmented Reality space. Immersive Wisdom is hardware-agnostic and runs on VR, AR, as well as 2D displays. Regardless of geographic location , multiple users can be together in a shared virtual workspace, standing on maps, with instant access to relevant information from any available source. Users can simultaneously, and in real time, visualize, fuse, and act upon sensor inputs, cyber/network data, IoT feeds, enterprise applications, telemetry, tagged assets, 3D Models, LiDAR, imagery and UAV footage/streaming video, providing an omniscient, collaborative view of complex environments. Immersive Wisdom also acts as a natural human interface to multi-dimensional data sets generated by AI and machine learning systems. The platform includes a powerful SDK (Software Developer Kit) that enables the creation of customer-specific workflows as well as rapid integration with existing data sources/applications.

Cool stuff for sure – but it's in early stages. Pre IPO Swap suggests real Pre IPO 'unicorns' not because of size, but because of the right mix of risk and reward. https://preiposwap.com/pitch " style="color:#0d2e46; text-decoration:underline">See why we think so in our pitch.

In any analysis, it's worth watching In-Q-Tel, which is a top source of funding and investment data we watch on www.preiposwap.com/ ">https:// www.preiposwap.com/ " style="color:#0d2e46; text-decoration:underline">Pre IPO Swap.

To get real-time updates on companies like this, companies that In-Q-Tel invests in - www.preiposwap.com/follow ">http:// www.preiposwap.com/follow ">follow our blog free.

[Jan 08, 2019] No, wealth isn t created at the top. It is merely devoured there by Rutger Bregman

Highly recommended!
Financialization is a new type of racket...
Notable quotes:
"... Bankers, pharmaceutical giants, Google, Facebook ... a new breed of rentiers are at the very top of the pyramid and they're sucking the rest of us dry @rcbregman ..."
"... 'A big part of the modern banking sector is essentially a giant tapeworm gorging on a sick body' ..."
"... This piece is about one of the biggest taboos of our times. About a truth that is seldom acknowledged, and yet – on reflection – cannot be denied. The truth that we are living in an inverse welfare state. These days, politicians from the left to the right assume that most wealth is created at the top. By the visionaries, by the job creators, and by the people who have "made it". By the go-getters oozing talent and entrepreneurialism that are helping to advance the whole world. ..."
"... To understand why, we need to recognise that there are two ways of making money. The first is what most of us do: work. That means tapping into our knowledge and know-how (our "human capital" in economic terms) to create something new, whether that's a takeout app, a wedding cake, a stylish updo, or a perfectly poured pint. To work is to create. Ergo, to work is to create new wealth. ..."
"... But there is also a second way to make money. That's the rentier way : by leveraging control over something that already exists, such as land, knowledge, or money, to increase your wealth. You produce nothing, yet profit nonetheless. By definition, the rentier makes his living at others' expense, using his power to claim economic benefit. ..."
"... For those who know their history, the term "rentier" conjures associations with heirs to estates, such as the 19th century's large class of useless rentiers, well-described by the French economist Thomas Piketty . These days, that class is making a comeback. (Ironically, however, conservative politicians adamantly defend the rentier's right to lounge around, deeming inheritance tax to be the height of unfairness.) But there are also other ways of rent-seeking. From Wall Street to Silicon Valley , from big pharma to the lobby machines in Washington and Westminster, zoom in and you'll see rentiers everywhere. ..."
"... It may take quite a mental leap to see our economy as a system that shows solidarity with the rich rather than the poor. So I'll start with the clearest illustration of modern freeloaders at the top: bankers. Studies conducted by the International Monetary Fund and the Bank for International Settlements – not exactly leftist thinktanks – have revealed that much of the financial sector has become downright parasitic. How instead of creating wealth, they gobble it up whole. ..."
"... In other words, a big part of the modern banking sector is essentially a giant tapeworm gorging on a sick body. It's not creating anything new, merely sucking others dry. Bankers have found a hundred and one ways to accomplish this. The basic mechanism, however, is always the same: offer loans like it's going out of style, which in turn inflates the price of things like houses and shares, then earn a tidy percentage off those overblown prices (in the form of interest, commissions, brokerage fees, or what have you), and if the shit hits the fan, let Uncle Sam mop it up. ..."
"... Bankers are the most obvious class of closet freeloaders, but they are certainly not alone. Many a lawyer and an accountant wields a similar revenue model. Take tax evasion . Untold hardworking, academically degreed professionals make a good living at the expense of the populations of other countries. Or take the tide of privatisations over the past three decades, which have been all but a carte blanche for rentiers. One of the richest people in the world, Carlos Slim , earned his millions by obtaining a monopoly of the Mexican telecom market and then hiking prices sky high. The same goes for the Russian oligarchs who rose after the Berlin Wall fell , who bought up valuable state-owned assets for song to live off the rent. ..."
"... Even paragons of modern progress like Apple, Amazon, Google , Facebook, Uber and Airbnb are woven from the fabric of rentierism. Firstly, because they owe their existence to government discoveries and inventions (every sliver of fundamental technology in the iPhone, from the internet to batteries and from touchscreens to voice recognition, was invented by researchers on the government payroll). And second, because they tie themselves into knots to avoid paying taxes, retaining countless bankers, lawyers, and lobbyists for this very purpose. ..."
"... Even more important, many of these companies function as "natural monopolies", operating in a positive feedback loop of increasing growth and value as more and more people contribute free content to their platforms. Companies like this are incredibly difficult to compete with, because as they grow bigger, they only get stronger. ..."
"... Most of Mark Zuckerberg's income is just rent collected off the millions of picture and video posts that we give away daily for free. And sure, we have fun doing it. But we also have no alternative – after all, everybody is on Facebook these days. Zuckerberg has a website that advertisers are clamouring to get onto, and that doesn't come cheap. Don't be fooled by endearing pilots with free internet in Zambia. Stripped down to essentials, it's an ordinary ad agency. In fact, in 2015 Google and Facebook pocketed an astounding 64% of all online ad revenue in the US. ..."
"... Rentierism is, in essence, a question of power. That the Sun King Louis XIV was able to exploit millions was purely because he had the biggest army in Europe. It's no different for the modern rentier. He's got the law, politicians and journalists squarely in his court. That's why bankers get fined peanuts for preposterous fraud, while a mother on government assistance gets penalised within an inch of her life if she checks the wrong box. ..."
"... The biggest tragedy of all, however, is that the rentier economy is gobbling up society's best and brightest. Where once upon a time Ivy League graduates chose careers in science, public service or education, these days they are more likely to opt for banks, law firms, or trumped up ad agencies like Google and Facebook. When you think about it, it's insane. We are forking over billions in taxes to help our brightest minds on and up the corporate ladder so they can learn how to score ever more outrageous handouts. ..."
"... One thing is certain: countries where rentiers gain the upper hand gradually fall into decline. Just look at the Roman Empire. Or Venice in the 15th century. Look at the Dutch Republic in the 18th century. Like a parasite stunts a child's growth, so the rentier drains a country of its vitality. ..."
Mar 30, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

Rutger Bregman

Bankers, pharmaceutical giants, Google, Facebook ... a new breed of rentiers are at the very top of the pyramid and they're sucking the rest of us dry @rcbregman

Comments 890

'A big part of the modern banking sector is essentially a giant tapeworm gorging on a sick body'.

This piece is about one of the biggest taboos of our times. About a truth that is seldom acknowledged, and yet – on reflection – cannot be denied. The truth that we are living in an inverse welfare state. These days, politicians from the left to the right assume that most wealth is created at the top. By the visionaries, by the job creators, and by the people who have "made it". By the go-getters oozing talent and entrepreneurialism that are helping to advance the whole world.

Now, we may disagree about the extent to which success deserves to be rewarded – the philosophy of the left is that the strongest shoulders should bear the heaviest burden, while the right fears high taxes will blunt enterprise – but across the spectrum virtually all agree that wealth is created primarily at the top.

So entrenched is this assumption that it's even embedded in our language. When economists talk about "productivity", what they really mean is the size of your paycheck. And when we use terms like " welfare state ", "redistribution" and "solidarity", we're implicitly subscribing to the view that there are two strata: the makers and the takers, the producers and the couch potatoes, the hardworking citizens – and everybody else.

In reality, it is precisely the other way around. In reality, it is the waste collectors, the nurses, and the cleaners whose shoulders are supporting the apex of the pyramid. They are the true mechanism of social solidarity. Meanwhile, a growing share of those we hail as "successful" and "innovative" are earning their wealth at the expense of others. The people getting the biggest handouts are not down around the bottom, but at the very top. Yet their perilous dependence on others goes unseen. Almost no one talks about it. Even for politicians on the left, it's a non-issue.

To understand why, we need to recognise that there are two ways of making money. The first is what most of us do: work. That means tapping into our knowledge and know-how (our "human capital" in economic terms) to create something new, whether that's a takeout app, a wedding cake, a stylish updo, or a perfectly poured pint. To work is to create. Ergo, to work is to create new wealth.

But there is also a second way to make money. That's the rentier way : by leveraging control over something that already exists, such as land, knowledge, or money, to increase your wealth. You produce nothing, yet profit nonetheless. By definition, the rentier makes his living at others' expense, using his power to claim economic benefit.

'From Wall Street to Silicon Valley, zoom in and you'll see rentiers everywhere.'

For those who know their history, the term "rentier" conjures associations with heirs to estates, such as the 19th century's large class of useless rentiers, well-described by the French economist Thomas Piketty . These days, that class is making a comeback. (Ironically, however, conservative politicians adamantly defend the rentier's right to lounge around, deeming inheritance tax to be the height of unfairness.) But there are also other ways of rent-seeking. From Wall Street to Silicon Valley , from big pharma to the lobby machines in Washington and Westminster, zoom in and you'll see rentiers everywhere.

There is no longer a sharp dividing line between working and rentiering. In fact, the modern-day rentier often works damn hard. Countless people in the financial sector, for example, apply great ingenuity and effort to amass "rent" on their wealth. Even the big innovations of our age – businesses like Facebook and Uber – are interested mainly in expanding the rentier economy. The problem with most rich people therefore is not that they are coach potatoes. Many a CEO toils 80 hours a week to multiply his allowance. It's hardly surprising, then, that they feel wholly entitled to their wealth.

It may take quite a mental leap to see our economy as a system that shows solidarity with the rich rather than the poor. So I'll start with the clearest illustration of modern freeloaders at the top: bankers. Studies conducted by the International Monetary Fund and the Bank for International Settlements – not exactly leftist thinktanks – have revealed that much of the financial sector has become downright parasitic. How instead of creating wealth, they gobble it up whole.

Don't get me wrong. Banks can help to gauge risks and get money where it is needed, both of which are vital to a well-functioning economy. But consider this: economists tell us that the optimum level of total private-sector debt is 100% of GDP. Based on this equation, if the financial sector only grows, it won't equal more wealth, but less. So here's the bad news. In the United Kingdom, private-sector debt is now at 157.5% . In the United States, the figure is 188.8% .

In other words, a big part of the modern banking sector is essentially a giant tapeworm gorging on a sick body. It's not creating anything new, merely sucking others dry. Bankers have found a hundred and one ways to accomplish this. The basic mechanism, however, is always the same: offer loans like it's going out of style, which in turn inflates the price of things like houses and shares, then earn a tidy percentage off those overblown prices (in the form of interest, commissions, brokerage fees, or what have you), and if the shit hits the fan, let Uncle Sam mop it up.

The financial innovation concocted by all the math whizzes working in modern banking (instead of at universities or companies that contribute to real prosperity) basically boils down to maximizing the total amount of debt. And debt, of course, is a means of earning rent. So for those who believe that pay ought to be proportionate to the value of work, the conclusion we have to draw is that many bankers should be earning a negative salary; a fine, if you will, for destroying more wealth than they create.

Bankers are the most obvious class of closet freeloaders, but they are certainly not alone. Many a lawyer and an accountant wields a similar revenue model. Take tax evasion . Untold hardworking, academically degreed professionals make a good living at the expense of the populations of other countries. Or take the tide of privatisations over the past three decades, which have been all but a carte blanche for rentiers. One of the richest people in the world, Carlos Slim , earned his millions by obtaining a monopoly of the Mexican telecom market and then hiking prices sky high. The same goes for the Russian oligarchs who rose after the Berlin Wall fell , who bought up valuable state-owned assets for song to live off the rent.

But here comes the rub. Most rentiers are not as easily identified as the greedy banker or manager. Many are disguised. On the face of it, they look like industrious folks, because for part of the time they really are doing something worthwhile. Precisely that makes us overlook their massive rent-seeking.

Take the pharmaceutical industry. Companies like GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer regularly unveil new drugs, yet most real medical breakthroughs are made quietly at government-subsidised labs. Private companies mostly manufacture medications that resemble what we've already got. They get it patented and, with a hefty dose of marketing, a legion of lawyers, and a strong lobby, can live off the profits for years. In other words, the vast revenues of the pharmaceutical industry are the result of a tiny pinch of innovation and fistfuls of rent.

Even paragons of modern progress like Apple, Amazon, Google , Facebook, Uber and Airbnb are woven from the fabric of rentierism. Firstly, because they owe their existence to government discoveries and inventions (every sliver of fundamental technology in the iPhone, from the internet to batteries and from touchscreens to voice recognition, was invented by researchers on the government payroll). And second, because they tie themselves into knots to avoid paying taxes, retaining countless bankers, lawyers, and lobbyists for this very purpose.

Even more important, many of these companies function as "natural monopolies", operating in a positive feedback loop of increasing growth and value as more and more people contribute free content to their platforms. Companies like this are incredibly difficult to compete with, because as they grow bigger, they only get stronger.

Aptly characterising this "platform capitalism" in an article, Tom Goodwin writes : "Uber, the world's largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world's most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world's largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate."

Facebook Twitter Pinterest 'Every sliver of fundamental technology in the iPhone, from the internet to batteries and from touchscreens to voice recognition, was invented by researchers on the government payroll.' Photograph: Regis Duvignau/Reuters

So what do these companies own? A platform. A platform that lots and lots of people want to use. Why? First and foremost, because they're cool and they're fun – and in that respect, they do offer something of value. However, the main reason why we're all happy to hand over free content to Facebook is because all of our friends are on Facebook too, because their friends are on Facebook because their friends are on Facebook.

Most of Mark Zuckerberg's income is just rent collected off the millions of picture and video posts that we give away daily for free. And sure, we have fun doing it. But we also have no alternative – after all, everybody is on Facebook these days. Zuckerberg has a website that advertisers are clamouring to get onto, and that doesn't come cheap. Don't be fooled by endearing pilots with free internet in Zambia. Stripped down to essentials, it's an ordinary ad agency. In fact, in 2015 Google and Facebook pocketed an astounding 64% of all online ad revenue in the US.

But don't Google and Facebook make anything useful at all? Sure they do. The irony, however, is that their best innovations only make the rentier economy even bigger. They employ scores of programmers to create new algorithms so that we'll all click on more and more ads. Uber has usurped the whole taxi sector just as Airbnb has upended the hotel industry and Amazon has overrun the book trade. The bigger such platforms grow the more powerful they become, enabling the lords of these digital feudalities to demand more and more rent.

Think back a minute to the definition of a rentier: someone who uses their control over something that already exists in order to increase their own wealth. The feudal lord of medieval times did that by building a tollgate along a road and making everybody who passed by pay. Today's tech giants are doing basically the same thing, but transposed to the digital highway. Using technology funded by taxpayers, they build tollgates between you and other people's free content and all the while pay almost no tax on their earnings.

This is the so-called innovation that has Silicon Valley gurus in raptures: ever bigger platforms that claim ever bigger handouts. So why do we accept this? Why does most of the population work itself to the bone to support these rentiers?

I think there are two answers. Firstly, the modern rentier knows to keep a low profile. There was a time when everybody knew who was freeloading. The king, the church, and the aristocrats controlled almost all the land and made peasants pay dearly to farm it. But in the modern economy, making rentierism work is a great deal more complicated. How many people can explain a credit default swap , or a collateralised debt obligation ? Or the revenue model behind those cute Google Doodles? And don't the folks on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley work themselves to the bone, too? Well then, they must be doing something useful, right?

Maybe not. The typical workday of Goldman Sachs' CEO may be worlds away from that of King Louis XIV, but their revenue models both essentially revolve around obtaining the biggest possible handouts. "The world's most powerful investment bank," wrote the journalist Matt Taibbi about Goldman Sachs , "is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money."

But far from squids and vampires, the average rich freeloader manages to masquerade quite successfully as a decent hard worker. He goes to great lengths to present himself as a "job creator" and an "investor" who "earns" his income by virtue of his high "productivity". Most economists, journalists, and politicians from left to right are quite happy to swallow this story. Time and again language is twisted around to cloak funneling and exploitation as creation and generation.

However, it would be wrong to think that all this is part of some ingenious conspiracy. Many modern rentiers have convinced even themselves that they are bona fide value creators. When current Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein was asked about the purpose of his job, his straight-faced answer was that he is " doing God's work ". The Sun King would have approved.

The second thing that keeps rentiers safe is even more insidious. We're all wannabe rentiers. They have made millions of people complicit in their revenue model. Consider this: What are our financial sector's two biggest cash cows? Answer: the housing market and pensions. Both are markets in which many of us are deeply invested.

Recent decades have seen more and more people contract debts to buy a home, and naturally it's in their interest if house prices continue to scale new heights (read: burst bubble upon bubble). The same goes for pensions. Over the past few decades we've all scrimped and saved up a mountainous pension piggy bank. Now pension funds are under immense pressure to ally with the biggest exploiters in order to ensure they pay out enough to please their investors.

The fact of the matter is that feudalism has been democratised. To a lesser or greater extent, we are all depending on handouts. En masse, we have been made complicit in this exploitation by the rentier elite, resulting in a political covenant between the rich rent-seekers and the homeowners and retirees.

Don't get me wrong, most homeowners and retirees are not benefiting from this situation. On the contrary, the banks are bleeding them far beyond the extent to which they themselves profit from their houses and pensions. Still, it's hard to point fingers at a kleptomaniac when you have sticky fingers too.

So why is this happening? The answer can be summed up in three little words: Because it can.

Rentierism is, in essence, a question of power. That the Sun King Louis XIV was able to exploit millions was purely because he had the biggest army in Europe. It's no different for the modern rentier. He's got the law, politicians and journalists squarely in his court. That's why bankers get fined peanuts for preposterous fraud, while a mother on government assistance gets penalised within an inch of her life if she checks the wrong box.

The biggest tragedy of all, however, is that the rentier economy is gobbling up society's best and brightest. Where once upon a time Ivy League graduates chose careers in science, public service or education, these days they are more likely to opt for banks, law firms, or trumped up ad agencies like Google and Facebook. When you think about it, it's insane. We are forking over billions in taxes to help our brightest minds on and up the corporate ladder so they can learn how to score ever more outrageous handouts.

One thing is certain: countries where rentiers gain the upper hand gradually fall into decline. Just look at the Roman Empire. Or Venice in the 15th century. Look at the Dutch Republic in the 18th century. Like a parasite stunts a child's growth, so the rentier drains a country of its vitality.

What innovation remains in a rentier economy is mostly just concerned with further bolstering that very same economy. This may explain why the big dreams of the 1970s, like flying cars, curing cancer, and colonising Mars, have yet to be realised, while bankers and ad-makers have at their fingertips technologies a thousand times more powerful.

Yet it doesn't have to be this way. Tollgates can be torn down, financial products can be banned, tax havens dismantled, lobbies tamed, and patents rejected. Higher taxes on the ultra-rich can make rentierism less attractive, precisely because society's biggest freeloaders are at the very top of the pyramid. And we can more fairly distribute our earnings on land, oil, and innovation through a system of, say, employee shares, or a universal basic income .

But such a revolution will require a wholly different narrative about the origins of our wealth. It will require ditching the old-fashioned faith in "solidarity" with a miserable underclass that deserves to be borne aloft on the market-level salaried shoulders of society's strongest. All we need to do is to give real hard-working people what they deserve.

And, yes, by that I mean the waste collectors, the nurses, the cleaners – theirs are the shoulders that carry us all.

• Pre-order Utopia for Realists and How Can We Get There by Rutger Bregman

• Translated from the original Dutch by Elizabeth Manton

See also:

[Jan 04, 2019] Anonymous Data Collection Is More Risky Than Users Think

Jan 04, 2019 | www.itprotoday.com

Without much thought, users frequently sign away rights to supposedly anonymous data collected by businesses and other organizations , with the idea that the information will ultimately improve their services and online experience. But a new study from MIT suggests that "anonymous" data can be woven together using multiple sources and is far more identifiable than most people realize.

The researchers used logs from a mobile network operator and timestamps from a public transportation system in Singapore to match individuals. With a week's worth of anonymous data collection, the researchers could match the cell phone logs and trip timestamps to a unique user about 17 percent of the time. With a month's data, a person could be identified about 55 percent of the time. In 11 weeks, users could be identified 95 percent of the time.

The researchers also said they could easily speed up identification of users by adding another stream of data. With less than a week's data, the researchers estimated they could identify 95 percent of people by using the sort of GPS location data that's regularly collected by smartphone apps.

[Jan 02, 2019] American People Admit Having Facebook Data Stolen Kind Of Worth It To Watch That Little Fucker Squirm

Jan 02, 2019 | www.theonion.com

CHICAGO -- Saying it was ultimately a small price to pay in exchange for the splendid spectacle that has followed, millions of Americans admitted Thursday that they didn't really mind having their Facebook data stolen if it meant getting to watch that little fucker squirm.

[Dec 22, 2018] US Embassy Shopping List

Dec 22, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

An anticapitalist voice , Dec 22, 2018 11:57:21 AM | link

"US Embassy Shopping List" - New dump from WikiLeaks on US embassies being used for international spying - procurement forms of equipment. There is total mainstream media silence in English-speaking countries on WikiLeaks releases following the original Vault 7 documents, I would not be surprised if this was intentional and based on wrongly guilty feelings among liberals at those outlets that they lost Hillary the election. We'll see what excitement 2019 brings but hopefully it will see a retreat of the neoliberals as well as the far-right in favor of left-wing politics #socialism #communism #anarchism

https://www.rt.com/news/447193-wikileaks-spying-us-embassies/

[Dec 21, 2018] China national charged with stealing trade secrets by David Shepardson and Makini Brice

Dec 21, 2018 | finance.yahoo.com

The U.S. Justice Department said on Friday a Chinese national had been arrested for stealing trade secrets from a U.S.-based petroleum company, his employer, related to a product worth more than $1 billion.

The department alleged Hongjin Tan downloaded hundreds of files related to the manufacture of a "research and development downstream energy market product," which he planned to use to benefit a company in China that had offered him a job. He was arrested on Thursday in Oklahoma and will next appear in court on Wednesday, the department said.

Tan's LinkedIn page said he has worked as a staff scientist for Phillips 66 (PSX.N) in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, since May 2017.

Phillips 66 said in a statement it was cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in a probe involving a "former employee at our Bartlesville location," but declined to comment further.

An FBI affidavit said Phillips 66 called the agency last week to report the theft of trade secrets and Tan told a former co-worker he was leaving to return to China.

The FBI found on Tan's laptop an employment agreement from a Chinese company that has developed production lines for lithium ion battery materials.

Tan accessed files for marketing the trade secret "in cell phone and lithium-based battery systems," the FBI said. Phillips 66 said it has one of two refineries in the world that manufacture the unspecified product.

Tan was responsible for research and development of the U.S. company's battery programme and developing battery technologies using its proprietary processes. Phillips 66 told the FBI it had earned an estimated $1.4 billion to $1.8 billion from the unspecified technology.

[Dec 16, 2018] Writers Silenced by Surveillance Self-Censorship in the Age of Big Data by Nik Williams

Notable quotes:
"... Nik Williams, the policy advisor for Scottish PEN, the Scottish centre of PEN International. We are leading the campaign opposing suspicionless surveillance and protecting the rights of writers both in Scotland and across the globe. Find out more on Twitter at @scottishpen and @nikwilliams2 . Originally published at openDemocracy ..."
"... In 2013, NSA whistle blower, Edward Snowden revealed the extent of government surveillance that enables intelligence agencies to capture the data of internet users around the world. Some of the powers revealed enable agencies to access emails in transit, files held on devices, details that document our relationships and location in real-time and data that could reveal our political opinions, beliefs and routines. ..."
"... As big data and digital surveillance is interwoven into the fabric of modern society there is growing evidence that the perception of surveillance affects how different communities engage with the internet. ..."
"... In 2013, PEN America surveyed American writers to see whether the Snowden revelations impacted their willingness to explore challenging issues and continue to write. In their report, Chilling Effects: NSA Surveillance Drives US Writers to Self-Censor , PEN America found that "one in six writers avoided writing or speaking on a topic they thought would subject them to surveillance". ..."
"... At times, surveillance appears unavoidable and this was evident in many of the writers' responses to whether they could take actions to mitigate the risks of surveillance. Without knowing how to secure themselves there are limited options: writers either resign themselves to using insecure tools or choose to avoid the internet all together, cutting them off from important sources of information and potential communities of readers and support. ..."
"... Although not explicitly laid out in the post, I'm inclined to believe any online research on PETs might single one out as a "Person of Interest" ..."
"... we know better now – EVERYTHING is recorded and archived. Privacy may not be dead yet, but now exists only in carefully curated offline pockets, away from not just the phone and the laptop, but also the smart fridge's and the face-recognising camera's gimlet eye. ..."
"... And it's not just off centre political opining that could be used in such efforts. The percentages of internet users who have accused [people of using] porn sites suggests there would be some serious overlap between the set of well known and/or 'important' people and the set of porn hounds. Remember the cack-handed attempts to smear Hans Blix? ..."
"... Most of us (real writers or just people who write) need to hold down a job and increasingly HR depts don't just 'do a Google' on all potential appointees to important roles but in large concerns at least, use algorithmic software connected to the web and the Cloud to process applications. ..."
"... Weekly Standard ..."
"... The Great Gatsby ..."
Dec 15, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Writers Silenced by Surveillance: Self-Censorship in the Age of Big Data Posted on December 15, 2018 by Yves Smith Nik Williams, the policy advisor for Scottish PEN, the Scottish centre of PEN International. We are leading the campaign opposing suspicionless surveillance and protecting the rights of writers both in Scotland and across the globe. Find out more on Twitter at @scottishpen and @nikwilliams2 . Originally published at openDemocracy

We know what censorship looks like: writers being murdered, attacked or imprisoned; TV and radio stations being shut down; the only newspapers parrot the state; journalists lost in the bureaucratic labyrinth to secure a license or permit; government agencies approving which novels, plays and poetry collections can be published; books being banned or burned or the extreme regulation of access to printing materials or presses. All of these damage free expression, but they leave a fingerprint, something visible that can be measured, but what about self-censorship? This leaves no such mark.

When writers self-censor, there is no record, they just stop writing or avoid certain topics and these decisions are lost to time. Without being able to record and document isolated cases the way we can with explicit government censorship, the only thing we can do is identify potential drivers to self-censorship.

In 2013, NSA whistle blower, Edward Snowden revealed the extent of government surveillance that enables intelligence agencies to capture the data of internet users around the world. Some of the powers revealed enable agencies to access emails in transit, files held on devices, details that document our relationships and location in real-time and data that could reveal our political opinions, beliefs and routines. Following these revelations, the UK government pushed through the Investigatory Powers Act , an audacious act that modernised, consolidated and expanded digital surveillance powers. This expansion was opposed by civil rights organisations, (including Scottish PEN where I work), technologists, a number of media bodies and major tech companies, but on 29th November 2016, it received royal assent.

But what did this expansion do to our right to free expression?

As big data and digital surveillance is interwoven into the fabric of modern society there is growing evidence that the perception of surveillance affects how different communities engage with the internet. Following the Snowden revelations, John Penny at the Oxford Internet Institute analysed traffic to Wikipedia pages on topics designated by the Department of Homeland Security as sensitive and identified "a 20 percent decline in page views on Wikipedia articles related to terrorism, including those that mentioned 'al Qaeda,' 'car bomb' or 'Taliban.'" This report was in line with a study by Alex Marthews and Catherine Tucker who found a similar trend in the avoidance of sensitive topics in Google search behaviour in 41 countries. This has significant impact on both free expression and democracy, as outlined by Penney: "If people are spooked or deterred from learning about important policy matters like terrorism and national security, this is a real threat to proper democratic debate."

But it doesn't end with sourcing information. In a study of Facebook, Elizabeth Stoycheff discovered that when faced with holders of majority opinions and the knowledge of government surveillance, holders of minority viewpoints are more likely to "self-censor their dissenting opinions online". If holders of minority opinions step away from online platforms like Facebook, these platforms will only reflect the majority opinion, homogenising discourse and giving a false idea of consensus. Read together, these studies document a slow erosion of the eco-system within which free expression flourishes.

In 2013, PEN America surveyed American writers to see whether the Snowden revelations impacted their willingness to explore challenging issues and continue to write. In their report, Chilling Effects: NSA Surveillance Drives US Writers to Self-Censor , PEN America found that "one in six writers avoided writing or speaking on a topic they thought would subject them to surveillance". But is this bigger than the US? Scottish PEN, alongside researchers at the University of Strathclyde authored the report, Scottish Chilling: Impact of Government and Corporate Surveillance on Writers to explore the impact of surveillance on Scotland-based writers, asking the question: Is the perception of surveillance a driver to self-censorship? After surveying 118 writers, including novelists, poets, essayists, journalists, translators, editors and publishers, and interviewing a number of participants we uncovered a disturbing trend of writers avoiding certain topics in their work or research, modifying their work or refusing to use certain online tools. 22% of responders have avoided writing or speaking on a particular topic due to the perception of surveillance and 28% have curtailed or avoided activities on social media. Further to this, 82% said that if they knew that the UK government had collected data about their Internet activity they would feel as though their personal privacy had been violated, something made more likely by the passage of the investigatory Powers Act.

At times, surveillance appears unavoidable and this was evident in many of the writers' responses to whether they could take actions to mitigate the risks of surveillance. Without knowing how to secure themselves there are limited options: writers either resign themselves to using insecure tools or choose to avoid the internet all together, cutting them off from important sources of information and potential communities of readers and support.

Literacy concerning the use of Privacy-Enhancing Technologies (oftentimes called PETs) is a vital part of how we protect free expression in the digital age, but as outlined by the concerns of a number of the participants, it is largely under-explored outside of the tech community: "I think probably I need to get educated a wee bit more by someone because I think we probably are a bit exposed and a wee bit vulnerable, more than we realize." Another was even more stark about their worries about the available alternatives: "I have no idea about how to use the Internet 'differently'".

When interviewed, a number of writers expressed concerns about how their writing process has changed or is in danger of changing as a result of their awareness of surveillance. One participant who had covered the conflict in Northern Ireland in 70s and 80s stated that they would not cover the conflict in the same manner if it took place now; another stopped writing about child abuse when they thought about what their search history may look to someone else; when they heard of a conviction based on the ownership of the Anarchist Cookbook, a participant who bought a copy for research shredded it. Further to this a participant stated: "I think I would avoid direct research on issues to do with Islamic fundamentalism. I might work on aspects of the theory, but not on interviewing people in the past, I have interviewed people who would be called 'subversives'."

These modifications or avoidance strategies raise a stark and important question: What are we as readers being denied if writers are avoiding sensitive topics? Put another way, what connects the abuse of personal data by Cambridge Analytica, the treatment of asylum seekers by the Australian government on Manus and Nauru, the hiding of billions of pounds by wealthy individuals as revealed in the Panama and Paradise Papers, the deportation of members of the 'Windrush Generation' and the Watergate scandal? In each case, writers revealed to the world what others wanted hidden. Shadows appear less dense if writers are able to explore challenging issues and expose wrongdoing free from the coercive weight of pervasive surveillance. When writers are silenced, even by their own hand, we all suffer.

Surveillance is going nowhere – it is embedded into the fabric of the internet. If we ignore the impact it has on writers, we threaten the very foundations of democracy; a vibrant and cacophonous exchange of ideas and beliefs, alongside what it means to be a writer. In the words of one participant: "You can't exist as a writer if you're self-censoring."

Thuto , December 15, 2018 at 4:18 am

Thanks Yves, this is an important topic. Although not explicitly laid out in the post, I'm inclined to believe any online research on PETs might single one out as a "Person of Interest" (after all the state wants unfettered access to our digital lives and any attempt by individuals to curtail such access is viewed with suspicion, and maybe even a little contempt).

I trust the takeaway message from this post will resonate with any person who holds what might be considered "heretical" or dissenting views. I'd also argue that it's not just writers who are willingly submitting themselves to this self-censorship straitjacket, ordinary people are themselves sanitizing their views to avoid veering too far off the official line/established consensus on issues, lest they fall foul of the machinery of the security state.

norm de plume , December 15, 2018 at 10:31 pm

Yes – not just 'writers' as in 'those who write for a living or at least partly define themselves as writers in either a creative or an activist sense, or both' – but all of us who do not perceive ourselves as 'writers', only as people who in the course of their lives write a bit here and there, some of it on public platforms such as this, but much of it in emails and texts to friends and family. It wouldn't be quite so bad if the surveillance was only of the public stuff, but we know better now – EVERYTHING is recorded and archived. Privacy may not be dead yet, but now exists only in carefully curated offline pockets, away from not just the phone and the laptop, but also the smart fridge's and the face-recognising camera's gimlet eye.

Staying with the 'not just' for a moment – the threat is not just government security agencies and law enforcement, or indeed Surveillance Valley. It is clear that if egghead techs in those employments are able to crack our lives open then egghead techs in their parent's basement around the corner may be capable of the same intrusions, their actions not subject to any of the official box-ticking govt actors with which govt actors must (or at least should) comply.

And it is not just the danger of govt/sinister 3rd parties identifying potential security (or indeed political or economic) threats out of big data analysis, but the danger of govt and especially interested third parties targeting particular known individuals – political enemies to be sure, but also love rivals, toxic bosses, hated alpha males or queen bitches, supporters of other football clubs, members of other races not deemed fully human,.. the list is as long as that of human hatreds and jealousies. The danger lies not just in the use of the tech to ID threats (real or imagined) but in its application to traduce threats already perceived.

And it's not just off centre political opining that could be used in such efforts. The percentages of internet users who have accused [people of using] porn sites suggests there would be some serious overlap between the set of well known and/or 'important' people and the set of porn hounds. Remember the cack-handed attempts to smear Hans Blix? Apparently no fire behind that smoke, but what if there was? The mass US surveillance of other parties prior to UN Iraq deliberations (from the Merkels down to their state-level support bureaucrats) was a fleeting and hastily forgotten glimpse of the reach of TIA, its 'full spectrum dominance', from the heights of top level US-free strategy meetings down to the level of the thoughts and hopes of valets and ostlers to the leaders, who may be useful in turning up references to the peccadilloes of the higher-ups 'go massive – sweep it all up, things related and not'

And it's not just the fear of some sort of official retribution for dissenting political activism that guides our hands away from typing that deeply held but possibly inflammatory and potentially dangerous opinion. Most of us (real writers or just people who write) need to hold down a job and increasingly HR depts don't just 'do a Google' on all potential appointees to important roles but in large concerns at least, use algorithmic software connected to the web and the Cloud to process applications.

This is done without human intervention at the individual level but the whole process is set up in such a way that the algorithms are able to neatly, bloodlessly, move applicants for whom certain keywords turned up matches (union or party membership, letters to the editor or blog posts on financial fraud, climate change vanguardism, etc) to the back of the queue, in time producing a grey army of yes people in our bureaucracies.

The normal person's ability to keep pace with (let alone ahead of) the tech disappeared long ago. So when a possible anonymising solution – Tor – crops up but is soon exposed as yet another MI/SV bastard love child, the sense of disappointment is profound. Shocked but not surprised.

Truly, we are surrounded.

Steve H. , December 15, 2018 at 5:57 am

"Then they got rid of the sick, the so-called incurables. – I remember a conversation I had with a person who claimed to be a Christian. He said: Perhaps it's right, these incurably sick people just cost the state money, they are just a burden to themselves and to others. Isn't it best for all concerned if they are taken out of the middle [of society]? "

We already know insurers have been using online searches to discriminate amongst the victimae. The married/unmarried differences in cancer treatments are a confirmation. Self-censorship is a rational decision in seeking information in a linked world. (I gave up on affording insurance, and I do searches for friends; the ads I get are amusing.)

It could be said that journalists have a professional duty, but as the man said, "If you believed something different, you wouldn't be sitting where you're sitting."

As the woman said, "If your business depends on a platform, your business is already dead."

(As for the above quote, check the provenance for the relevance.)

Yves Smith Post author , December 15, 2018 at 6:07 am

The quote is, "If your business depends on a platform, you don't have a business."

Steve H. , December 15, 2018 at 7:08 am

Thank you very much, I had searched and found the variant.

Seriously, do you have a link to the original (post? comment?) I quote you often on this. Or try to.

Yves Smith Post author , December 15, 2018 at 10:46 am

Aaaw ..Lambert may have quoted it in Water Cooler. We've both said it but mainly in comments.

Steve H. , December 15, 2018 at 11:10 am

That's exactly what happened.

I confess I do concatenate your quotes on occasion: "For a currency to function as a reserve currency is tantamount to exporting jobs." Some of your most illuminating statements are in side comments to linked articles.

Means I spend a lot of time reading the site. But then I get to recategorize most other current events sites as 'Entertainment.' And since they're not very, they've been downregulated.

Arizona Slim , December 15, 2018 at 10:11 am

Giving up on affording insurance. That should never happen.

Steve H. , December 15, 2018 at 10:55 am

My choice being shackled e'n more to chains of FIRE, or living a healthy happy life, rather than increasing my stress by fighting institutions, we're investing in ourselves. Good sleep, good food, good exercise.

The basis of our diet is coffee, with cocoa (7% daily fiber with each tablespoon) and organic heavy whipping cream (your fats should be organic (;)). That cream's not cheap; well, actually it is amazingly cheap considering the energy inputs. I'll be fasting soon to murder cancer cells, and fasting also costs, lets see, nothing.

That the best thing you can do is nothing, occasionally, is a strong offset to the institutional framework. Janet's been a nurse 40 years, and every day (truth) we get another instance of not wanting the probisci inserted. Even when we get M4A, we'll be cautious in our approach.

KPC , December 15, 2018 at 5:40 pm

Pure air, pure water, pure food leads to pura vida or the good life. Paraphrasing the Karma Sutra.

The Rev Kev , December 15, 2018 at 6:58 am

I suppose that here we are looking at the dogs that did not bark for evidence of self-censorship. Certainly my plans to take over the world I do not keep on my computer. I had not considered the matter but I think that a case could be made that this may extend further than just writers. The number of writers that cannot publish in the US but must publish their work in obscure overseas publications is what happens to those who do not seek to self censor. There are other forms of censorship to be true. I read once where there was an editorial meeting for either the Washington Post or New York Times when a story came up that would make Israel look bad. The people at the table looked around and without so much as a nod that story was dropped from publication. Now that is self-censorship.
But I can see this self censorship at work elsewhere. To let my flight take fancy, who will paint the modern "Guernica" in this age? Would there be any chance that a modern studio would ever film something like "The Day After" mentioned in comments yesterday again? With so many great stories to be told, why has Hollywood run itself into a creative ditch and is content to film 1960s TV shows as a movie or a version of Transformers number 32? Where are the novels being written that will come to represent this era in the way that "The Great Gatsby" came to represent the 1920s? My point is that with a total surveillance culture, I have the feeling that this is permeating the culture and creating a chilling effect right across the board and just not in writing.

Tomonthebeach , December 15, 2018 at 1:31 pm

What we are experiencing censorship-wise is nothing new, just more insidious. It is not even a Left/Right politics issue. We just saw Trumpist fascist conservatives KILL the Weekly Standard (an action praised by Trump) for advocating the wrong conservativism. The shift in the televised/streamed media from news to infotainment has enabled neoliberal capitalism to censor any news that might alienate viewers/subscribers to justify obscene charges for advertising. Hilariously, even fascist Laura Ingram got gored by her own neolib ox.

Of course, a certain amount of self-censorship is prudent. Insulting, inflammatory, inciteful, hateful speech seldom animates beneficial change – just pointless violence (an sometimes law suits). Americans especially are so hung up on "free speech" rights that they too often fail to realize that no speech is truly free . There are always consequences for the purveyor, good and bad. Ask any kid on the playground with a bloody nose.

I would like to see some Google traitor write an article on the latest semantic analysis algorithms and tools. Thanks to the government, nobody but the FEDs and Google have access to these new tools that can mine terabytes of speech in seconds to highlight global patterns which might indicate plotting or organizing that might be entirely legal. I have been trying for years to get access to the newer unobtainable tools to help improve the development of diagnostic and monitoring self-report health measures. Such tools can also quickly scan journals to highlight and coordinate findings to accelerate new discoveries. For now, they are used to determine if your emails indicate you are a jihadist terrorist or dope peddler, or want to buy a Toyota or a Ford.

lyman alpha blob , December 15, 2018 at 5:07 pm

Where are the novels ?

Rhetorical I know, but Don DeLillo is quite good. It was in his novel Libra , although arguably from/about a different era at this point, where it first hit home to me that the Blob really does manipulate the media to its own ends all the time. And you can't swing a cat without hitting a terrorist in his books.

But to your point, DeLillo is pretty old at this point and I'm hard pressed to think of anyone picking up his mantle. And none of his novels, as brilliant as some of them might be, rise to the level of The Great Gatsby in the popular imagination to begin with.

cnchal , December 15, 2018 at 8:06 am

The surveillance people are the nicest, kindest human beings that have only your best interest at heart.

They would never break down your door and terrorize you for searching online for a pressure cooker and if you heard stories that they did that, the surveillancers have an answer for you, it's fake news, and if you persisted in not believing them, there are other methods of persuasion to get you to change your mind or at least shut up about it.

Carolinian , December 15, 2018 at 9:50 am

That pressure cooker story gets a lot of mileage. While there is undoubtedly a lot of surveillance it might be interesting to see a story on just how much of it leads to actual arrests on real or trumped up charges. Here's suggesting that the paranoia induced by books like Surveillance Valley is over the top in the same way that TV news' focus on crime stories causes the public to think that crime is rampant when it may actually be declining.

That said, journalists who indulge their vanity with Facebook or Twitter accounts are obviously asking for it. And the journalistic world in general needs to become a lot more technologically "literate" and realize that Youtube videos can be faked as well as how to separate the internet wheat from the chaff. Plus there's that old fashioned way of learning a story that is probably the way most stories are still reported: talking to people–hopefully in a room that hasn't been bugged.

Just to add that while the above may apply to America that doesn't mean the web isn't a much more sinister phenomenon in countries like China with its new social trust score. We must make sure the US never goes there.

Jeremy Grimm , December 15, 2018 at 3:36 pm

For your first sentence I think you are referencing:
The surveillance people are "the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being[s] I've ever known in my life." (ref. Statement by Major Marco about Raymond Shaw from 1962 and 2004 movies "The Manchurian Candidate"). ?
Maybe you need some refresher re-education.

thoughtful person , December 15, 2018 at 8:25 am

Expression of minority opinions and surpressed information is not a safe activity, thus we self censor. However reality asserts itself and perhaps in those moments one can more safely express alternate points of view. As far as writing online i worry about the future – with everything recorded and searchable, will we at some point be facing round ups of dissidents? What kind of supression will stressed governments and corporate hierarchies do in the future?

juliania , December 15, 2018 at 2:51 pm

Solzhenitsyn's "The First Circle" is a case in point, and not about the future either.

William Hunter Duncan , December 15, 2018 at 10:43 am

I think the last blog post I wrote that was linked here at NC was called "TPP is Treason."

I was writing and was published on the Internet from 2011-2016. I continue to write, but I no longer publish anything online, I closed my Facebook account, and I rarely comment on articles outside of NC, especially anywhere I have to give up a digital-ton of personal info and contacts just to say a few words one time.

Goodness knows I do not worry a bit about fundamentalist Islamic militancy. Do I have any anxiety about jackbooted "law enforcement" mercenaries in riot gear and automatic rifles breaking down my door at the behest, basically, of the corporate/banking/billionaire, neoliberal/neoconservative status quo, my big mouth excoriating these elite imperialists, at the same time asset forfeiture laws are on the books and I can have EVERYTHING taken from me for growing a single plant of cannabis, or even having any cannabis in my house, or not, all they have to report to a complicit media and prosecutorial State is that I was growing cannabis when there was none.

Of course there is little danger of that if I am not publishing, and hardly anyone knows I ever have, and no one currently is paying any attention.

The fact in America at least is, as long as the status quo is secure, TPTB don't really care what I write, as long as they do not perceive it as a threat, and the only way they would is if a LOT of people are listening But still, there is nothing more terrifying on earth than America's Law/Corporate/Bank/Privatized Military/Media imperialist State, chilling to say the least, evidence