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National Security State as Racket on the Danger of Terrorism
Review of Literature

“Plunderers of the world, when nothing remains on the lands to which they have laid waste by wanton thievery, they search out across the seas. The wealth of another region excites their greed; and if it is weak, their lust for power as well. Nothing from the rising to the setting of the sun is enough for them. Among all others only they are compelled to attack the poor as well as the rich. Robbery, rape, and slaughter they falsely call empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace.”

Tacitus, Agricola
 

News Corporatism Recommended Links Did Obama order wiretaps of Trump conversations Neofascism Nation under attack meme
Neoliberal war on reality or the importance of controlling the narrative  Inverted Totalitarism The Deep State Mystery of Building 7 Collapse Reconciling Human Rights With Total Surveillance Is national security state in the USA gone rogue ?
Total Surveillance Media-Military-Industrial Complex The Grand Chessboard Elite Theory And the Revolt of the Elite Two Party System as Polyarchy The Iron Law of Oligarchy
Edward Snowden as Symbol of Resistance to National Security State Facebook as Giant Database about Users Social Sites as intelligence collection tools Systematic Breach of Vienna Convention Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism Corporate Media: Journalism In the Service of the Powerful Few
American Exceptionalism New American Militarism Machiavellism Is national security state in the USA gone rogue ? Humor Etc

"The greatest threat is that we shall become like those who seek to destroy us"

the legendary US diplomat George Kennan warned in 1947

“In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem”


Ronal Reagan about a different crisis

Books have been written about President Eisenhower’s famous farewell warning in 1961 about the “military-industrial complex,” and what he described as its “unwarranted influence.” But an even greater leviathan today, one that the public knows little about, is the “intelligence-industrial complex.”

Michael Hirsh in

How America's Top Tech Companies
Created the Surveillance State )

If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.

- James Madison


Introduction

The National Security State is an ideology and practice of the USA elite, closely connected with the idea of the rule of the Media-Military-Industrial Complex, and especially three-letter agencies ("Trumanites" because of our 33rd president's role in founding the CIA, the modern Defense Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the National Security Agency).  It is somewhat different from national socialist idea as it is married to neoliberalism and does not included the decisive influence of the state in economic sphere.

Under neoliberalism society has become increasingly militarized, meaning that as most aspects of the social-democratic state (New Deal state) are eliminated, a police state is rising in its place. All problems that in the past were seen as social problems, and hence required social solutions, now acquire police solutions. Heavily militarized police became praetorian guard of 0.1% that is in power.

In economic sphere deregulation (economic liberalism or neoliberalism) produce social conflict, which at some point can not be masked by neoliberal demagogy ("shareholder value", "stakeholder participation" and other neoliberal crap).  As the state now represents interest only of the top 0.1% population, economic and political spheres became merged under authoritarian rule of financial oligarchy, not unlike the USSR under bolshevism with the only difference that "nomenklatura" was more aligned with the interests of the society then financial oligarchy,  Tax laws, inheritance rules, status to trade unions, "revolving door" regulations (which highly correlates with the degree of corruption of the society) became political decisions and  require constant brainwashing of the population and instilling fear using external threat. Terrorism is used for this purpose not unlike permanent war between Oceania and Eurasia in the Orwell's famous  novel 1984,  It is clear that the war with terrorism is quintessential for waging "permanent war for permanent peace".  This link to rampant militarism is close to what we observe in typical neo-fascist movements (Fascism - Wikipedia ):

Fascism is a form of radical authoritarian nationalism[1][2] that came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe, influenced by national syndicalism. Fascism originated in Italy during World War I and spread to other European countries. Fascism opposes liberalism, Marxism and anarchism and is usually placed on the far-right within the traditional left–right spectrum.[3][4]

Fascists saw World War I as a revolution that brought massive changes in the nature of war, society, the state, and technology. The advent of total war and total mass mobilization of society had broken down the distinction between civilian and combatant. A "military citizenship" arose in which all citizens were involved with the military in some manner during the war.[5][6] The war had resulted in the rise of a powerful state capable of mobilizing millions of people to serve on the front lines and providing economic production and logistics to support them, as well as having unprecedented authority to intervene in the lives of citizens.[5][6]

Fascists believe that liberal democracy is obsolete, and they regard the complete mobilization of society under a totalitarian one-party state as necessary to prepare a nation for armed conflict and to respond effectively to economic difficulties.[7] Such a state is led by a strong leader—such as a dictator and a martial government composed of the members of the governing fascist party—to forge national unity and maintain a stable and orderly society.[7] Fascism rejects assertions that violence is automatically negative in nature, and views political violence, war, and imperialism as means that can achieve national rejuvenation.[8][9][10][11] Fascists advocate a mixed economy, with the principal goal of achieving autarky through protectionist and interventionist economic policies.[12]

Since the end of World War II in 1945, few parties have openly described themselves as fascist, and the term is instead now usually used pejoratively by political opponents. The descriptions neo-fascist or post-fascist are sometimes applied more formally to describe parties of the far right with ideologies similar to, or rooted in, 20th century fascist movements.[13]

In this social system US intelligence apparatus and military establishment are raised to the level above and beyond civilian control and become a somewhat autonomous system, a hidden government of the USA. Deep state as it is now called. Which, as a minimum, assume the role of king maker for the most top positions in the USA government. And, if necessary, can act as a king remover (JFK assassination is a nice example here; CIA fingerprints are all over the place, but nobody from CIA went to jail for this "accomplishment": mission accomplished).

The colossal budget with  juicy cost-plus contracts of affiliated private companies gives those agencies not only tremendous power, but also vested ideological and financial interests. For example, for the moment of its creation, due to Allen Dulles background CIA was aligned with the interests of Wall Street. There no real overseeing of three letter agencies from neither executive branch, not from the Congress, nor from the Supreme Court.

But the reverse is not true. In a way they can serve as a surrogate king.   In other words, instead of the servant of the state intelligence agencies became the master. This phenomenon is not limited to the USA. The same hijacking of executive, parliamentarian and judicial braches of govern happened in other countries. A very interesting example provides the USSR: it was actually betrayal of KGB brass, who switched side and decided to privatize the country, that among other things doomed the USSR.

The key "three letter agencies" (CIA, DOD, NSA, FBI) were established by the National Security Act of 1947, signed in September 18, 1947 by President Harry S. Truman. This year can be considered as the year when National Security State was born and probably should be celebrated accordingly instead of old-fashioned Independence Day.  Very little was preserved from the "old republic" after this transformation of the USA. 

It is prudent to view National Security State as a modern form of corporatism, closely related to concepts of neo-fascism and Inverted Totalitarism. As ellatynemouth noted in the comment to the Guardian article Internet privacy as important as human rights, says UN's Navi Pillay (Dec 26, 2013):

The surveillance state is the ruling class's key hole through which they monitor us and our potential dissent. It's now an integral part of capitalism and can't be removed.

The game has changed. It's now about convincing us as much as possible that they will stop snooping on us. They won't though. It will just become more heavily hidden.

Surveillance state was made possible with the advent of computers, Internet and wireless communication. In some features it is close to neo-fascism and Latin-American far right authoritarian regimes, but there are important difference. Instead of organized violence against opponents it achieved its goals without relentless physical repression/elimination of opponents. It's key feature is mass surveillance, discreditation and blackmailing of opponents (like in German Democratic Republic there are dossier for every member of society and skeletons from the closet can be revealed for any politician or activist)  as well as control and manipulation of media, not mass repression of opponents. Like neofascist regimes of the past (such as Pinochet regime in Chile) and authoritarian "communist" regimes of the past and present, it make organized opposition to the government virtually impossible. Of the 20 characteristic traits of neo-fascist regimes probably around the half are applicable to the national security state.

After 9/11, Bush government's behavior and especially appeals to public clearly resonate with the proto-fascist "... uber alles" ideas. As an amazing example of doublespeak  Bushists managed to integrate American exceptionalism into the framework of globalist neoliberal regime (as the command-and-control center for neoliberal world empire, no less). Bush government inspired post-9/11 paranoia doesn’t come cheaply, though. Costs were staggering: the military ($682 billion), Homeland Security (about $60 billion), and 15 intelligence agencies (official figure of combined budget is perhaps $75 billion; but in reality in many times more then that). The total is probably over a trillion.

Nothing changed under President Obama, which suggests that he is just a figurehead and the  "deep state" is actually in charge. In most area Obama administration was more like Bush II administration , then "change we can believe in".  In this sense this was the most blatant "bait and switch" in the recent  political history of the USA. This is the view of Professor Michel Greenon, who in his book advocated the view that tradition troika of powers in the USA became by and large ceremonial and that real actors, at least in area of national security are not non-elected executives of super-powerful and well financed three-letter agencies. Here is a brief overview taken from review published by Reason (National Security State - Reason.com):

Though Glennon doesn't describe his thesis in terms of public choice theory, it echoes that discipline's insight that institutions are run for the benefit of the people who run the institutions. For the Trumanites, Glennon explains, "benefits take the form of enlarged budgets, personnel, missions; costs take the form of retrenchments in each." Witness the vast archipelago of intelligence facilities-nearly three Pentagons' worth of office space-that have been erected in greater Washington, D.C., since 9/11.

The national security state is becoming an autonomous, self-perpetuating entity, Glennon warns. It sets the table for elected officials' choices and increasingly dictates terms to them. The permanent bureaucracy basks in the "glow" of Madisonian institutions, drawing legitimacy from the illusion that elected officials are in charge. But while the buck may stop with the president, the real power resides with the Trumanites.

This explanation is strongest in the realm of state surveillance, which serves as Glennon's central case study. Recall the embarrassing revelation, in the summer of 2013, that the NSA was tapping German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone. What did the president know, and when did he know it? If you believe top administration officials, Obama was almost as surprised as Merkel. Glennon quotes Secretary of State John Kerry to the effect that the Merkel wiretap, like a lot of NSA programs, occurred "on autopilot."

On one hand, that's what you'd expect them to say. On the other hand, the claim is entirely plausible, and it is consistent with the earlier history of NSA abuses uncovered by the Church Committee in the 1970s. Under Project SHAMROCK, for example, the NSA collected the content of virtually all cable traffic entering or leaving the United States for three decades-150,000 messages a month at its height. It was, the committee's final report concluded, "probably the largest governmental interception program affecting Americans ever undertaken." And yet it's not clear that any president ordered, approved, or was even aware of SHAMROCK. When the program's existence was exposed in the mid-'70s, Louis Tordella, longtime deputy director of the NSA, admitted that he didn't know whether any president or attorney general had ever been briefed on it.

The picture grows somewhat more complicated when we look at the modern practice of presidential war making. From the Truman administration onward, the president has accumulated enormous unchecked authority, despite James Madison's conviction that, since the executive department was "most distinguished by its propensity to war," it is "the practice of all states, in proportion as they are free, to disarm this propensity of its influence."

When it comes to picking the wars we wage, it's not clear that the Trumanites are fully in charge. Take four major war-powers decisions during the Obama administration: the Afghan surge, the escalation of drone attacks, the Libya intervention, and the current war against ISIS. I put the Trumanite win-loss record at roughly .500 here. The military and national security bureaucracy fought hard for the surge and the drone escalation, and got them. They generally opposed the Libyan action, and some prominent Trumanites-such as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs -appear to have been reluctant to endorse our latest war in the Middle East.

In the case of this most recent war, domestic politics seems a better explanation: The president yielded to the near-irresistible demand that he "do something" about the beheading of Americans and the implosion of the Iraqi state. Bombing ISIS is something, so we're doing it.

The Obama experience suggests we get the wars the Trumanites want -- and also some they don't. But this is hardly fatal to Glennon's thesis. He stresses that "a good theory of institutional behavior can predict, at best, only tendency over time"; his "predicts only that national security policy will change little from one administration to the next." So far, that theory is holding up rather well.

Even so, I've always been partial to one version of the "government politics" explanation. A few years ago, I wrote a book arguing that "Americans' unconfined conception of presidential responsibility is the source of much of our political woe and some of the gravest threats to our liberties." If the political reality is such that the president will be held personally accountable for any domestic terror attack, don't be surprised when he seeks powers nearly as vast as the expectations put upon him.

Glennon acknowledges it's not either-or; "explanations overlap," he writes. Dumb wars and security-state overreach are the result of political choices and the bureaucratic imperative. Policy continuity is depressingly overdetermined.

Real-time histories of key national security decisions in the Obama years tend to underscore this point. In Kill or Capture, reporter Daniel Klaidman describes the enormous political pressure the Obama administration was under after the failed "underwear bomber" attack on December 25, 2009. "For the White House," Klaidman writes, "the psychic toll of Christmas Day was profound. Obama realized that if a failed terror attempt could suck up so much political oxygen, a successful attack would absolutely devastate his presidency. And much as he liked to talk about returning to first principles, Obama also had a powerful instinct for self-correction-as well as self-preservation."

The psychic aftershock of Christmas 2009 helped shape a lot of what followed: from body scanners at airports to ramped-up drone strikes to the lethal targeting of an American citizen.

But to Glennon's point, the administration was under pressure from the Trumanites well before that. In the 2012 book, The Obamians: The Struggle Inside the White House to Redefine American Power, James Mann describes a concerted effort by then-CIA director Michael Hayden and other senior intelligence officials to preserve business as usual by scaring the hell out of the incoming Obama team. Their private name for this scheme was the "Aw, Shit! Campaign."

The scare tactics worked. Klaidman reports that both Harold Koh, legal advisor at the State Department, and Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon's general counsel, used the same metaphor to describe the military pressure for more targeted killings: a runaway train. It was like "a massive freight train hurling down the tracks" Koh said. "You would have to throw yourself on the tracks to try to stop it," said Johnson.

All this helps shed light on Obama's strange and disorienting May 2013 "drone speech" at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., in which the president seemed to be speaking not as commander in chief, but as his own loyal opposition.

In the speech, Obama said things like "Unless we discipline our thinking, our definitions, our actions, we may be drawn into more wars we don't need to fight, or continue to grant Presidents unbound powers." And: "The very precision of drone strikes can also lead a president and his team to view [them] as a cure-all for terrorism." I remember thinking: "A president"? Which one? Anyone in particular? Who's in charge here, anyway?

National Security and Double Government suggests that the answer to that last question isn't quite so obvious, that the "most powerful man in the world" isn't nearly as powerful as he might appear.

It remains the case that Obama had the formal authority to say no to mass surveillance and perpetual war. But saying no would require resisting enormous bureaucratic and political pressure. And anybody willing to do what it takes to become president is unlikely to transform himself into a self-denying Cincinnatus once in office. Political survivors don't jump in front of trains.

While US government spent around $3.67 trillion in 2013, the revenue was just $2.77 trillion. Of that amount over one trillion went to three-letter agencies and DOD. Now you understand to whom real power belongs.  Moreover the government has to borrow about $900 billion in order to maintain national security state programs intact. And there are 5 million (yes million) people in the USA with security clearance and around 3 million with top security clearance. In other words "Welcome to the USSR." or even Third Reich (actually republican senators opposed Truman initiative due to fear that he replicated institution of the Third Reich in the USA and only support of powerful Democrats allowed the president to push the act through the Congress.

But even if it was close to the Third Reich in political effects and its essence, this type of political structure is different, because it does not rely on mass mobilization. Instead it relied on the power of "deep state" and mass surveillance as well as passivity of most electorate. 

As Paxton describes it (Tracking Fascism) fascism as just hypertrophied and misguided nationalism, a specific flavor of far right nationalism. The central emotions in fascism and nationalism are identical. In other words at the core of fascist emotional mobilization always lies far right nationalism and that is important distinction with national security state and neoliberalism which are globalist and  "imperial" and does not stress particular nationality as long of the person/group serves empire interests:

...Feelings propel fascism more than thought does. We might call them mobilizing passions, since they function in fascist movements to recruit followers and in fascist regimes to "weld" the fascist "tribe" to its leader. The following mobilizing passions are present in fascisms, though they may sometimes be articulated only implicitly:
  1. The primacy of the group, toward which one has duties superior to every right, whether universal or individual.
  2. The belief that one's group is a victim, a sentiment which justifies any action against the group's enemies, internal as well as external.
  3. Dread of the group's decadence under the corrosive effect of individualistic and cosmopolitan liberalism.
  4. Closer integration of the community within a brotherhood (fascio) whose unity and purity are forged by common conviction, if possible, or by exclusionary violence if necessary.
  5. An enhanced sense of identity and belonging, in which the grandeur of the group reinforces individual self-esteem.
  6. Authority of natural leaders (always male) throughout society, culminating in a national chieftain who alone is capable of incarnating the group's destiny.
  7. The beauty of violence and of will, when they are devoted to the group's success in a Darwinian struggle.

Post 9/11  "passions" in the USA were definitely skillfully used by Bush administration to push the nation into the Iraq war and the attacks on dissenters that occurred during it were pretty vicious, really in traditions of Third Reich ("you are either with us, or with our enemies"). 

But public was not really central in this whole issue. Americans were extras at best, patsies at worst,  Essentially all major decisions were made "behind the curtain" by deep state structures and public was just brainwashed into approval of those action. That's an important different between national security state and classical fascist regimes. In classic fascist state the leading fascist party would be central to unleashing such a war.  Here it was bust a bunch of highly placed bureaucrats in Bush II administration (so called neocons, which is an ideological group allied with the military industrial complex, but not an organized party as such).

Here is a more extended treatment of this issue (cited from Rush, Newspeak and Fascism An exegesis IV Tracking Fascism):

1. [Group primacy]: See, again, the Bush Doctrine. An extension of this sentiment is at play among those jingoes who argue that Americans may need to sacrifice some of their civil rights -- say, free speech -- during wartime.
2. [Victim mentality]: This meme is clearly present in all the appeals to the victims of Sept. 11 as justifications for the war. It is present at nearly all levels of the debate: from the White House, from the media, even from the jingoist entertainment industry (see, e.g., the lyric of Darryl Worley's extraordinarily popular country-western hit, "Have You Forgotten?": "Some say this country's just out looking for a fight / Well after 9/11 man I'd have to say that's right.").
3. [Dread of liberal decadence]: This meme has been stock in trade of the talk-radio crowd since at least 1994 -- at one time it focused primarily on the person of Bill Clinton -- and has reached ferocious levels during the runup to the war and after it, during which antiwar leftists have regularly and remorselessly been accused of treason.
4. [Group integration] and 5. [Group identity as personal validation] are, of course, among the primary purposes of the campaign to demonize liberals -- to simultaneously build a cohesive brotherhood of like-minded "conservatives" who might not agree on the details but are united in their loathing of all things liberal. It plays out in such localized manifestations as the KVI Radio 570th On-Air Cavalry, which has made a habit of deliberately invading antiwar protests with the express purpose of disrupting them and breaking them up. Sometimes, as they did recently in Bellingham, this is done with caravans of big trucks blaring their horns; and they are also accompanied by threatening rhetoric and acts of physical intimidation. They haven't yet bonded in violence -- someone did phone in a threat to sniper-shoot protesters -- but they are rapidly headed in that direction.
6. [Authority of leaders]: This needs hardly any further explanation, except to note that George W. Bush is actually surprisingly uncharismatic for someone who inspires as much rabid loyalty as he does. But then, that is part of the purpose of Bush's PR campaign stressing that he receives "divine guidance" -- it assures in his supporters' mind the notion that he is carrying out God's destiny for the nation, and for the conservative movement in particular.
7. [An aesthetic of violence]: One again needs only turn to the voluminous jingoes of Fox News or the jubilant warbloggers to find abundant examples of celebrations of the virtues -- many of them evidently aesthetic -- of the evidently just-completed war.

I would like to stress that similar processes occurred in different states after WWII as well (Latin America military dictatorships are one example). And with new force and on the new level after the dissolution of the USSR in Russia.  Of course the USSR was a National Security Surveillance State even before WWII, being one of the "pioneers" of this form of state along with Italy and Germany. But it was a rather "primitive" form of national security state  in a sense that it did not rely on computers, collecting "envelope" of all Internet communication, emails headers and other "meta-data" as well as systematic interception of SMS-based communications as well interception of wireless communication and financial operations via computerized banking (especially credit card transactions)  for surveillance.

Rule of Trumanites as the essence of the US National security state -- Boston Globe review of Michael Glennon book

Mickey Edwards, who served in Congress from 1977 to 1993, and is the author of “The Parties Versus the People: How to Turn Republicans and Democrats Into Americans.” published a very penetrating review of the book in  The Boston Globe. In which he stated:

It has long been the province of conspiracy theorists to claim that the real power of government is not wielded by the obvious practitioners of statecraft — presidents, members of Congress, the judiciary — but by secret or semi-secret entities, real wizards whose hidden machinations send us to war, sell us out to enemies, siphon public treasure into private hands. Depending on your talk show or paranoia of choice, these are the bankers, oil barons, one-worlders, war profiteers, Bilderbergers, Masons, Catholics, Jews, or Trilateralists. Our formal institutions, in this scenario, are stage sets, Potemkin villages; our officials are puppets; we are an unsuspecting audience.

Michael Glennon, a respected academic (Tufts’s FLETCHER SCHOOL) and author of a book brought to us by an equally respected publisher (Oxford University Press), is hardly the sort to indulge in such fantasies. And that makes the picture he paints in “National Security and Double Government” all the more arresting. Considering Barack Obama’s harsh pre-election criticisms of his predecessor’s surveillance policies, for example, Glennon notes that many of those same policies — and more of the same kind — were continued after Obama took office. “Why,” he asks, “does national security policy remain constant even when one President is replaced by another, who as a candidate repeatedly, forcefully, and eloquently promised fundamental changes in that policy?”

The answer Glennon places before us is not reassuring: “a bifurcated system — a structure of double government — in which even the President now exercises little substantive control over the overall direction of US national security policy.” The result, he writes, is a system of dual institutions that have evolved “toward greater centralization, less accountability, and emergent autocracy.”

If this were a movie, it would soon become clear that some evil force, bent on consolidating power and undermining democratic governance, has surreptitiously tunneled into the under-structure of the nation. Not so. In fact, Glennon observes, this hyper-secret and difficult-to-control network arose in part as an attempt to head off just such an outcome. In the aftermath of World War II, with the Soviet Union a serious threat from abroad and a growing domestic concern about weakened civilian control over the military (in 1949, the Hoover Commission had warned that the Joint Chiefs of Staff had become “virtually a law unto themselves”), President Truman set out to create a separate national security structure.

By 2011, according to The Washington Post, there were 46 separate federal departments and agencies and 2,000 private companies engaged in classified national security operations with millions of employees and spending of roughly a trillion dollars a year. As Glennon points out, presidents get to name fewer than 250 political appointees among the Defense Department’s nearly 700,000 civilian employees, with hundreds more drawn from a national security bureaucracy that comprise “America’s Trumanite network” — in effect, on matters of national security, a second government.

Glennon’s book is not a breezy read: It’s thick with fact and not unappreciative of conundrum (“The government is seen increasingly by elements of the public as hiding what they ought to know, criminalizing what they ought to be able to do, and spying upon what ought to be private. The people are seen increasingly by the government as unable to comprehend the gravity of security threats.”). Nor is he glib with proposed solutions: to adequately respond to the threats posed by a below-the-radar second government will require “a general public possessed of civic virtue,” which prompts Glennon to cite retired Supreme Court justice David Souter’s bemoaning of a “pervasive civic ignorance.” Not all of the problem can be laid at Truman’s feet. And if we ourselves are part of the zeitgeist that allows invisible governments to flourish, repair will be difficult. As Glennon puts it, “the term Orwellian will have little meaning to a people who have never known anything different, who have scant knowledge of history, civics, or public affairs, and who in any event have never heard of George Orwell.”

This is no secret conspiracy nor a plot to deprive Americans of their civil liberties. It is the unintended consequence of a thoughtful attempt to head off the very threats that those attempts have inadvertently created. But if Glennon’s book is enlightening it is also scary. And it’s not fiction.

Why National Security State needs provocations -- pseudo terrorist attacks (false flag attacks)

There are multiple reasons such as to instill fear, and to demonstrate competence (Big Brother’s Liberal Friends — Crooked Timber)

Dr. Hilarius, 10.27.14 at 11:44 pm
An excellent analysis and summation.

Any defense of the national security state requires the proponent to show, at a minimum, that the present apparatus is competent at its task. Having lived through Vietnam, the Gulf Wars, Iraq and Afghanistan (not to mention many smaller governmental adventures) I see no evidence of competence. Instead, it’s repetitive failures of analysis and imagination no matter how much raw intelligence is gathered.

Nor is there any evidence that existing oversight mechanisms function as intended. Recent revelations about the CIA spying on the Senate should be enough to dispel the idea that leakers have no role to play.

Kinsley is particularly loathsome. His position is little more than “your betters know best” and that the state’s critics are guttersnipes needing to be kicked to the curb. Kinsley doesn’t need a coherent position, his goal is to be a spokesman for the better sorts, nothing more...

Tremendous push (or acceleration of pre-existing tendencies) toward National Security State occurred after 9/11 under the banner of fighting terrorism. At the point technological capabilities of mass surveillance using computers and the ability to have a dossier for everybody were in place, while mass deployment of PC, credit cards and cell phones provides constant stream of information to those dossiers, not that different from "gum shoes" reports. On November, 2001 the phone records of most Americans begin flowing to the N.S.A. After 9/11, President Bush authorizes the N.S.A. to collect phone and Internet content and metadata without a warrant. Within weeks, under the so-called President’s Surveillance Program (P.S.P.), the major telephone companies voluntarily hand over the data. The N.S.A. creates a twenty-four-hour “Metadata Analysis Center” (MAC) to search the phone records. In October 26, 2001: The Patriot Act is passed. Section 215 allows the government to seize “any tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items) for an investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.”

At this point the process started with adoption of Truman doctrine came to a logical end: national surveillance state became a reality. Formally Truman Doctrine was created "to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures." but in reality their function was more questionable and after 9/11 (some people date this event as early as 1963 -- JFK assassination) those activities created what is called "The State Within a State" similar to the USSR KGB role (see The State Within a State by Yevgenia Albats and Catherine A. Fitzpatrick). Here is one review of the book:

A Customer

passionate albeit muddled, August 24, 1999

I have problems with the author's obvious hatred of the Russian Revolution and Stalin and the way she claims there is an unbroken chain of horror going all the way back to 1917. Obviously things are better today -- hence her book! She says 66.7 million people died under "Chekist" rule since the Russian Revolution -- and then cites the Guiness Book of Records as her source!? No one could ever prove such a figure, I think its one of things that's repeated 'til it becomes fact.

I also find the author's lack of knowledge about our own CIA kind of disheartening. This fine organization has spread as much death and terror in the Third World (Indonesia, Guatemala,Chile, Argentina, Brazil etc. etc. ) as the KGB ever did anywhere, yet she seems to make them out to be benevolent compared to the KGB (which if you read this book are responsible for everything wrong with the world today).

After reading this book I still don't understand why she thinks the KGB or its incarnations are as bad today as they were at the height of the Terror in 1937. Its not really explained in the book. I still am not convinced that the KGB was the NKVD, and definitely convinced that either was the SS. Research I have done casually has never come up with hard, convincing figures for a Nazi style genocide in the USSR, and this anecdotal, unconvincing book didn't change my historical views.

See Michael J. Hogan, A Cross of Iron: Harry S. Truman and the Origins of the National Security State, 1945-1954. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998; which "explains the transformative process that ended in the ultimate demise of the New Deal state with its emphasis on social spending and ushered in the militarist National Security State." From Amazon review:

Hogan, a specialist in American diplomatic and national security studies, has written a complex but interesting work on the emergence of the national security state. To create this state, it was necessary to merge the armed forces, the Defense Department, and scientists into a single unit to enhance the military's capabilities. To a large extent, this unification was accomplished in the 1950s. The driving forces were James Forrestal, Dean Acheson, and powerful members of Congress such as Carl Vinson (D-GA), who chaired the Committee on Naval Affairs, along with presidents Truman and Eisenhower.

Hogan presents a compelling case but overemphasizes the importance of Truman and Eisenhower while downplaying the role of Vinson and others in the security state's creation. In fact, both Truman and Eisenhower often seemed opposed to it but succumbed to pressure from Congress and key figures like Acheson. This extremely complex study, which deals with a subject few other books handle, is designed for scholars and informed lay readers interested in the creation of the "military-industrial complex." by Richard P. Hedlund, Ashland Community Coll., KY

Former CIA officer Victor Marchetti in his book "Propaganda and Disinformation: How the CIA Manufactures History" noted:

"As I pointed out in the preface to The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence in 1974, democratic governments fighting totalitarian enemies run the risk of imitating their methods and thereby destroying democracy. By suppressing historical fact, and by manufacturing historical fiction, the CIA, with its obsessive secrecy and its vast resources, has posed a particular threat to the right of Americans to be informed for the present and future by an objective knowledge of the past.

As long as the CIA continues to manipulate history, historians of its activities must be Revisionist if we are to know the truth about the agency's activities, past and present."

Attempts to curtain the surveillance proved to by fruitless.  Church Committee was probably the most important "after JFK assassination" attempt to somewhat tame three latter agencies and especially CIA, but it ended in nothing.

Later NSA overtook CIA in many areas of intelligence gathering activities. Which create internal frictions between two agencies. State Department also "infringed" in CIA role in foreign countries and, for example, in organization of neoliberal color revolutions in oil rich or strategically important countries it is difficult to tell when clandestine actions of State Department ends and clandestine actions of CIA stars and vice versa. 

In is interesting to note that even Senators feel threatened by this total surveillance system. In December 14, 2005 Senators Barack Obama, Chuck Hagel, John Kerry, Richard Durbin, and several colleagues sign a letter warning that Section 215 “would allow the government to obtain library, medical and gun records and other sensitive personal information” that “would allow government fishing expeditions targeting innocent Americans.” They demand that the records requested should “have some connection to a suspected terrorist or spy,” a requirement that would

protect innocent Americans from unnecessary surveillance and ensure that government scrutiny is based on individualized suspicion, a fundamental principle of our legal system.

In March, 2006, the Patriot Act is reauthorized without the changes sought by Obama and others.

In his October 19, 2012 review of the book Saman Mohammadi (The Excavator) wrote:

The case could be made that the creation of the CIA and the National Security State in 1947 was necessary. But after sixty years of human rights abuses, systematic attacks on the constitution, false flag terror events, assassinations of political reformers, and other horrible crimes against humanity, should not the CIA be reformed?

Let's put the question of morality aside. What are the "national security" reasons that legitimize the existence of the CIA? Once you learn that Al-Qaeda is a CIA creation and proxy insurgent army and that 9/11 was a massive false flag operation, you come to the natural conclusion that the CIA does not perform a national security role.

The CIA plays a much dirtier role: engineering the American mind. It is not denied that the shadow CIA has major influence in the mainstream media, especially amongst top newspapers such as The Washington Post and The New York Times. Michael S. Rozeff speculates that the New York Times is entirely run by the CIA.

We can't know for certain if that is true because of the lack of historical documentation in the public domain, but there is a mountain of observable evidence that proves the CIA has many of its spooks working for the New York Times. Go here for just one example.

Until the American people demand that the U.S. government commit to radical transparency and the principles enshrined in the U.S. constitution, the shadow CIA and the mainstream media can twist history and manage public perceptions of reality as much as they like.

The shadow CIA's greatest power comes from its command of the American public mind as well as its ability to create a fictional version of history. The false flag September 11 events was the shadow CIA's biggest media operation to date. It was their Mona Lisa. They painted the canvas of reality with the brush of myth, and worked day and night to shape the collective memory of the American people while the horror of the tragic attacks was still fresh in the nation's mind.

Although the shadow CIA doesn't have a total command of the American mind and of history, as proven by the rise of the global 9/11 truth and justice movement, it possesses enough media power to mold world public opinion and dictate government policy for the United States with ease. There is no question that its power is totalitarian in nature and its aims are evil. It does not serve the interests of the American people; that much is clear.

How can there be freedom when CIA officials in television studios, newspaper offices, and publishing companies drive the public conversation and form the national narrative on every issue of significance. The global alternative media is the only global civil society actor that is putting limits on the CIA's power to make up history and suppress the truth about historical events like 9/11 and the occult sacrifice of JFK.

In the past, the shadow CIA was presented with roadblocks in the Congress. But 9/11 fixed that problem. The laws and the politics changed. In "The Big Chill," author Dan Froomkin says the absence of Congressional leadership in the post-9/11 political universe has strengthened executive power. Here is an excerpt his article:

After past periods of executive excess, the Fourth Estate was certainly more robust and arguably more persistent, but it also found natural allies in the other branches of government—particularly Congress. By contrast, over the summer of 2012, the publication of a minimal amount of new information regarding drones, cyberwarfare and targeted killings incited bipartisan agreement on Capitol Hill—not to conduct hearings into what had been revealed, but to demand criminal investigations into the leaking.

That's how Congress has been ever since the terrorist attacks 11 years ago. "We never got our post 9/11 Church Committee," said Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists's Project on Government Secrecy, referring to a special investigative Senate committee that held hearings on widespread intelligence abuses after the Watergate scandal. "What we've got instead is the intelligence oversight committee drafting legislation to penalize leaks."

Since the Congress is not willing to stand up for the rights of the American people, the truth, human rights, and the U.S. Constitution, then the American people and global civil society must stand up. Congress has no real power. According to a recent Rasmussen survey, Congress only has an eight percent approval rating. There are underground, neo-Nazi groups in Europe that are more popular than the Congress.

The mainstream media is no better. It is content with its role as a propaganda arm of the shadow CIA, and that is a tragedy. American newspapers have the power to improve their nation and change the world for the better, but instead they choose to cover up independent investigations of shady events like 9/11 that shed light on how the U.S. government really operates.

Alternative media outlets like Infowars.com, Veterans Today, Lew Rockwell.com, Washington's Blog, The Corbett Report, and countless others are doing the best they can to educate the American people and wake up humanity.

The last thing the shadow CIA wants to see is an informed and awakened America. It is waging a silent war on human consciousness because it is scared of an enlightened world. A world that is awake and aware of its crimes against humanity is its greatest nightmare.

If the shadow CIA has its way, it will continue inventing stories and passing it off as history with total immunity. But the global alternative media is telling the shadow CIA: Enough is enough, stop lying to the American people and the world.

The CIA's reckless disregard of U.S. traditions and laws made former President Harry Truman rethink his decision to create the CIA in the first place. On December 22, 1963, Truman wrote in The Washington Post:

For some time I have been disturbed by the way the CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas. I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations.

On August 17, 1975 Senator Frank Church stated on NBC's Meet the Press without mentioning the name of the NSA about this agency (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]

Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer list of features of National security state

In his book "Brave New World Order" (Orbis Books, 1992, paper), Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer argues that the Bush I war in Iraq (as well as Bush II invasion and occupation of the country) was an action of the military industrial complex usurping the "peace dividend". Iraq was attractive target as it has oil and far enough away to prove a good vehicle for eating up contract cash. He views the rise of the National Security Defense State as a consequence of "the threat of peace" for military industrial complex and identifies seven characteristics of a such a state:

  1. The military is the highest authority. In a National Security State the military not only guarantees the security of the state against all internal and external enemies, it has enough power to determine the overall direction of the society. In a National Security State the military exerts important influence over political, economic, as well as military affairs.
  2. Political democracy and democratic elections are viewed with suspicion, contempt, or in terms of political expediency. National Security States often maintain an appearance of democracy. However, ultimate power rests with the military or within a broader National Security Establishment.
  3. The military and related sectors wield substantial political and economic power. They do so in the context of an ideology which stresses that 'freedom" and "development" are possible only when capital is concentrated in the hands of elites.
  4. Obsession with enemies. There are enemies of the state everywhere. Defending against external and/or internal enemies becomes a leading preoccupation of the state, a distorting factor in the economy, and a major source of national identity and purpose.
  5. The working assumption is that the enemies of the state are cunning and ruthless. Therefore, any means used to destroy or control these enemies is justified.
  6. It restricts public debate and limits popular participation through secrecy or intimidation. Authentic democracy depends on participation of the people. National Security States limit such participation in a number of ways: They sow fear and thereby narrow the range of public debate; they restrict and distort information; and they define policies in secret and implement those policies through covert channels and clandestine activities. The state justifies such actions through rhetorical pleas of "higher purpose" and vague appeals to "national security."
  7. The church is expected to mobilize its financial, ideological, and theological resources in service to the National Security State.
Now we can add one additional feature
  1. Total surveillance

Compare that definition of the National Security State with the definition of Inverted Totalitarism. Most countries now have features of both.

The debate about National Security State reemerged in June 2008 due to revelations make about existence of the Prism program and similar program by British security services. For example, Jacob Augstein used the term "Obama's Soft Totalitarianism" in his article Europe Must Stand Up to American Cyber-Snooping published by SPIEGEL.

Here is an interesting comment of user MelFarrellSr in The Guardian discussion of the article NSA analysts 'willfully violated' surveillance systems, agency admits (August 24, 2013):

Here's the thing about the NSA, the GCHQ, Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, et al...

We all have to stop commenting as if the NSA and the GCHQ are in this thing on their own; the reality is that no one was supposed to know one iota about any of these programs; the NSA and the GCHQ began and put in place the structure that would allow all internet service providers, and indeed all corporations using the net, the ability to track and profile each and every user on the planet, whether they be using the net, texting, cell, and landline.

We all now know that Google, Yahoo, and the rest, likely including major retailers, and perhaps not so major retailers, are all getting paid by the United States government, hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money, our money, to profile 24/7 each and every one of us..., they know how we think, our desires, our sexual preferences, our religious persuasion, what we spend, etc.; make no mistake about it, they know it all, and what they don’t currently have, they will very soon…

These agencies and indeed all those who are paid by them, will be engaged over the next few weeks in a unified program of "perception management" meaning that they will together come up with an all-encompassing plan that will include the release of all manner of statements attesting to the enforcement of several different disciplinary actions against whomever for "illegal" breaches of policy...

They may even bring criminal actions against a few poor unfortunate souls who had no idea they would be sacrificed as one part of the "perception management" game.

Has anyone wondered why, to date, no one in power has really come out and suggested that the program must be curtailed to limit its application to terrorism and terrorist types?

Here’s why; I was fortunate recently to have given an education on how networks such as Prism, really work, aside from the rudimentary details given in many publications. They cannot, and will not, stop monitoring even one individuals activity, because to do so will eventually cause loss of the ability to effectively monitor as many as 2.5 Million individuals.

Remember the “Two to Three Hop” scenario, which the idiot in one of the hearings inadvertently spoke of; therein lies the answer. If the average person called 40 unique people, three-hop analysis would allow the government to mine the records of 2.5 million Americans Do the math; Internet usage in the United States as of June 30, 2012 reached a total of over 245,000,000 million…

The following link shows how connected the world is… http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats2.htm

We should never forget how the Internet began, and who developed it, the United States Armed Forces; initially it was known as Arpanet, see excerpt and link below…

"The Internet may fairly be regarded as a never-ending worldwide conversation." - Supreme Court Judge statement on considering first amendment rights for Internet users.

"On a cold war kind of day, in swinging 1969, work began on the ARPAnet, grandfather to the Internet. Designed as a computer version of the nuclear bomb shelter, ARPAnet protected the flow of information between military installations by creating a network of geographically separated computers that could exchange information via a newly developed protocol (rule for how computers interact) called NCP (Network Control Protocol).”

http://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aa091598.htm

There is no government anywhere on the planet that will give up any part of the program…, not without one hell of a fight...

Incidentally, they do hope and believe that everyone will come to the same conclusion; they will keep all of us at bay for however long it takes; they have the money, they have the time, and they economically control all of us...

Pretty good bet they win...

Whether the United States stands within the order of international law or outside it ?

The book American Exceptionalism and Human Rights (edited by Ignatieff) raised an important and probably the most controversial question in world politics: whether the United States stands within the order of international law or outside it.

Following are based on the article by Laurence W. Britt published in Free Inquiry magazine

To a secular humanist, the principles of international law seems logical, right, and crucial. Yet, there is one archetypal political philosophy that is anathema to almost all of these principles. It is fascism. And fascism’s principles are wafting in the air today, surreptitiously masquerading as something else, challenging everything we stand for. The cliché that people and nations learn from history is not only overused, but also overestimated; often we fail to learn from history, or draw the wrong conclusions. Sadly, historical amnesia is the norm.

We are two-and-a-half generations removed from the horrors of Nazi Germany, although constant reminders jog the consciousness. German and Italian fascism form the historical models that define this twisted political worldview. Although they no longer exist, this worldview and the characteristics of these models have been imitated by protofascist regimes at various times in the twentieth century. Both the original German and Italian models and the later protofascist regimes show remarkably similar characteristics. Although many scholars question any direct connection among these regimes, few can dispute their visual similarities.

Beyond the visual, even a cursory study of these fascist and protofascist regimes reveals the absolutely striking convergence of their modus operandi. This, of course, is not a revelation to the informed political observer, but it is sometimes useful in the interests of perspective to restate obvious facts and in so doing shed needed light on current circumstances.

The following regimes can be studies in this respect: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Papadopoulos’s Greece, Pinochet’s Chile, and Suharto’s Indonesia. They constitute a mixed bag of national identities, cultures, developmental levels, and history. But they all followed the fascist or protofascist model in obtaining, expanding, and maintaining power. Further, all these regimes have been overthrown, so a more or less complete picture of their basic characteristics and abuses is possible. Analysis of these seven regimes reveals fourteen common threads that link them in recognizable patterns of national behavior and abuse of power. These basic characteristics are more prevalent and intense in some regimes than in others, but they all share at least some level of similarity.

One can wonder how many of those are applicable to Bush/McCain. What do you think ?
  1. Propaganda of nationalism and Exceptionalism ("shining city on the hill", beckon of democracy, etc). Prominent displays of flags and ubiquitous lapel pins. The fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy. Pride in the military, and demands for unity are way of expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a level of suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia (French fries - Freedom fries).

  2. Disdain for the importance of human rights. Despite "freedom rhetorics" the party views human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious and truth about gulags is out, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.

  3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause. The use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people’s attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice—relentless propaganda and disinformation—were usually effective. Often the parties would incite “spontaneous” acts against the target scapegoats, such as Muslims, communists/socialists/liberals, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and “terrorists.” Opponents of these party were inevitably labeled as terrorists stooges and dealt with accordingly.

  4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism. Ruling elites identified closely with the military. A disproportionate share of national budget is allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an ultimate expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.

  5. Sexism. Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, the party covertly views women as second-class citizens. Often are both anti-abortion and homophobic with the cover of religious values. For propaganda reasons those attitudes were masterfully blended into strong support of the fundamentalist religious sects, thus lending the party some legitimacy to cover for its abuses.

  6. A controlled mass media. The mass media could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Control can be indirect and subtle with formal adoption of slogan about "free media". Methods included the control of licensing, access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders and owners of the mass media are part of the power elite. The result is rampant brainwashing, which usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the party's excesses.

  7. Obsession with national security. A national security apparatus is bend to come under direct control of the ruling elite. It is used to bypass laws as a direct instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting “national security,” and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.

  8. Abuse of religion. The party attaches itself to the dominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of religious values. The fact that the ruling elite’s behavior was incompatible with those values is swept under the rug. Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents are “godless.” A perception was manufactured that opposing the party is tantamount to an attack on religion.

  9. Power of corporations protected. Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of “have-not” citizens.

  10. Power of organized labor suppressed or eliminated. Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Being poor was considered akin to a vice.

  11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals. Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these party. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal. Universities professors come under close scrutiny; politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or scientific theories, especially economic, are strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed.

  12. Obsession with crime and punishment. Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police is often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. Criminal charges sometimes are used against political opponents. Fear, and hatred, of criminals or “traitors” was often promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power.

  13. Rampant cronyism and corruption. Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.

  14. Fraudulent elections. Elections in the form of two candidates representing the same power elite are usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they would usually be perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters, suppressing responsibilities for legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.

Does any of this ring alarm bells? Of course not. After all, this is America, officially a democracy with the rule of law, a constitution, a free press, honest elections, and a well-informed public constantly being put on guard against evils. Historical comparisons like these are just exercises in verbal gymnastics. Maybe, maybe not.

Edward Snowden quotes about National Security State

The most recent debate about the legitimacy of national security state as exists in the USA was sparked by Edward Snowden revelations. The following are 27 quotes from Edward Snowden about National Security State modus operandi  might send a chill up your spine...


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[May 24, 2017] Rank Incompetence by William S. Lind

Notable quotes:
"... The schools teach a combination of staff process and sophomore-level college courses in government and international relations. No one is taught how to be a commander in combat. One Army lieutenant colonel recently wrote me that he got angry when he figured out that nothing he needs to know to command would be taught to him in any Army school. ..."
"... The promotion system reinforces professional ignorance. ..."
Feb 01, 2013 | www.theamericanconservative.com
It was tragic that the career of General David Petraeus was brought down by a mere affair. It should have ended several years earlier as a consequence of his failure as our commander in Afghanistan. Petraeus, like every other theater commander in that war except Stanley McChrystal, could have been replaced by a concrete block and nothing would have changed. They all kept doing the same things while expecting a different result.

Thomas Ricks's recent book The Generals has reintroduced into the defense debate a vital factor the press and politicians collude in ignoring: military incompetence. It was a major theme of the Military Reform Movement of the 1970s and '80s. During those years, a friend of mine who was an aide to a Marine Corps commandant asked his boss how many Marine generals, of whom there were then 60-some, could competently fight a battle. The commandant came up with six. And the Marine Corps is the best of our services.

Military incompetence does not begin at the rank of brigadier general. An old French proverb says that the problem with the generals is that we select them from among the colonels. Nonetheless, military competence-the ability to see quickly what to do in a military situation and make it happen-is more rare at the general officer level. A curious aspect of our promotion system is that the higher the rank, the smaller the percentage of our competent officers.

Why is military incompetence so widespread at the higher levels of America's armed forces? Speaking from my own observations over almost 40 years, I can identify two factors. First, nowhere does our vast, multi-billion dollar military-education system teach military judgment. Second, above the rank of Army, Marine Corps, or Air Force captain, military ability plays essentially no role in determining who gets promoted. (It has been so long since our Navy fought another navy that, apart from the aviators, military competence does not seem to be a consideration at any level.)

Almost never do our military schools, academies, and colleges put students in situations where they have to think through how to fight a battle or a campaign, then get critiqued not on their answer but the way they think. Nor does American military training offer much free play, where the enemy can do whatever he wants and critique draws out why one side won and the other lost. Instead, training exercises are scripted as if we are training an opera company. The schools teach a combination of staff process and sophomore-level college courses in government and international relations. No one is taught how to be a commander in combat. One Army lieutenant colonel recently wrote me that he got angry when he figured out that nothing he needs to know to command would be taught to him in any Army school.

The promotion system reinforces professional ignorance. Above the company grades, military ability does not count in determining who gets promoted. At the rank of major, officers are supposed to accept that the "real world" is the internal world of budget and promotion politics, not war. Those who "don't get it" have ever smaller chances of making general. This represents corruption of the worst kind, corruption of institutional purpose. Its result is generals and admirals who are in effect Soviet industrial managers in ever worse-looking suits. They know little and care less about their intended product, military victory. Their expertise is in acquiring resources and playing the military courtier.

[May 24, 2017] All Power to the Banks!

This is not a new trick, but still it was impressive. Macron played his hand well and brought extreme neoliberals to power using threat of fascism, while his neoliberal views might be even closer to neo-fascism then LePen's.
"Divide and conquer" and "bait and switch" proved again very effective tools. In other words Macron victory is another neoliberal coup after Argentina and Brazil. Neoliberal zombies do not want to die. The power of neoliberal propaganda is still substantial -- the population can be brainwashed despite the fact that must now understand that neoliberal promised are fake and the redistribution of wealth up destroys middle class and impoverishes lower 60-80% of population
Notable quotes:
"... Les Républicains (LR), ..."
"... In reality, both have adopted neoliberal economic policies, or more precisely, they have followed European Union directives requiring member states to adopt neoliberal economic policies. Especially since the adoption of the common currency, the euro, a little over fifteen years ago, those economic policies have become tangibly harmful to France, hastening its deindustrialization, the ruin of its farmers and the growing indebtedness of the State to private banks. ..."
"... The most thoughtful reaction has been to start realizing that it is the European Union itself that imposes this unpopular economic conformism. ..."
"... To quell growing criticism of the European Union, the well-oiled Macron machine, labeled "En Marche!" ..."
"... The destruction of the Socialist Party was easy. Since the "Socialist" government was so unpopular that it could not hope to win, it was easy to lure prominent members of that party to jump the sinking ship and rally to Macron, who had been economics minister in that unpopular government, but who was advertised by all the media as "new" and "anti-system". ..."
"... Fillon still cared about preserving France, and favored an independent foreign policy including good Canard Enchainé ..."
"... These "civil society" newcomers tend to be successful individuals, winners in the game of globalized competition, who will have no trouble voting for anti-labor measures. Macron is thus confirming Marine Le Pen's longstanding assertion that the two main parties were really one big single party, whose rhetorical differences masked their political convergence. ..."
"... Macron won in part because older voters in particular were frightened by his opponents' hints at leaving the European Union, which they have been indoctrinated to consider necessary to prevent renewal of Europe's old wars. But only the hysterical anti-fascist scare can explain why self-styled leftist "revolutionaries" such as François Ruffin, known for his successful anti-capitalist movie "Merci Patron", could join the stampede to vote for Macron – promising to "oppose him later". But how? ..."
"... Later, after five years of Macron, opposition may be harder than ever. In recent decades, as manufacturing moves to low wage countries, including EU members such as Poland and Rumania, France has lost 40% of its industry. Loss of industry means loss of jobs and fewer workers. When industry is no longer essential, workers have lost their key power: striking to shut down industry. Currently the desperate workers in a failing auto-works factory in central France are threatening to blow it up unless the government takes measures to save their jobs. But violence is powerless when it has no price tag. ..."
"... The Macron program amounts to a profound ideological transformation of the French ideal of égalité ..."
"... Macron is sufficiently Americanized, or, to be more precise, globalized, to have declared that "there is no such thing as French culture". From this viewpoint, France is just a place open to diverse cultures, as well as to immigrants and of course foreign capital. He has clearly signaled his rejection of French independence in the foreign policy field. ..."
"... Macron echoes the Russophobic line of the neocons. He broke tradition on his inauguration by riding down the Champs-Elysées in a military vehicle. A change of tone is indicated by his cabinet nominations. The title of the new foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, who served as defense minister in the Hollande government, is "Minister of Europe and of Foreign Affairs", clearly giving Europe preference in the matter. Sylvie Goulard, an ardent Europeist who has remarked that "she does not feel French", has been named Minister of Armies and Minister of Defense. Clearly national defense is an afterthought, when the main idea is to deploy the armed forces in various joint Western interventions. ..."
"... Mélenchon ran a spectacularly popular campaign, leaving the Socialist Party far behind (the party he personally left behind years ago). Initially, as he seemed to be taking votes away from Le Pen as well as from the Socialists, he got friendly media coverage, but as he came closer to making it to the decisive second round, the tone started to change. Just as Le Pen was finally knocked out as a "fascist", there is little doubt that had Mélenchon been Macron's challenger, he would have been increasingly denounced as "communist". ..."
"... La France Insoumise ..."
"... categories populaires ..."
"... Marine Le Pen would have tried to enact measures to save French industry and the jobs it provides, provide various benefits for low-income people, withdraw from NATO, and even promote a peaceful world, starting with friendly relations with Russia. She would even have begun to prepare her compatriots for escape from the euro. ..."
"... A "color revolution" was ready to be stirred up. The deep state is vigilant in NATOland. ..."
May 24, 2017 | www.unz.com
A ghost of the past was the real winner of the French presidential election. Emmanuel Macron won only because a majority felt they had to vote against the ghost of "fascism" allegedly embodied by his opponent, Marine Le Pen. Whether out of panic or out of the need to feel respectable, the French voted two to one in favor of a man whose program most of them either ignored or disliked. Now they are stuck with him for five years.

If people had voted on the issues, the majority would never have elected a man representing the trans-Atlantic elite totally committed to "globalization", using whatever is left of the power of national governments to weaken them still further, turning over decision-making to "the markets" – that is, to international capital, managed by the major banks and financial institutions, notably those located in the United States, such as Goldman-Sachs.

The significance of this election is so widely misrepresented that clarification requires a fairly thorough explanation, not only of the Macron project, but also of what the (impossible) election of Marine Le Pen would have meant.

From a Two Party to a Single Party System

Despite the multiparty nature of French elections, for the past generation France has been essentially ruled by a two-party system, with government power alternating between the Socialist Party, roughly the equivalent of the U.S. Democratic Party, and a party inherited from the Gaullist tradition which has gone through various name changes before recently settling on calling itself Les Républicains (LR), in obvious imitation of the United States . For decades, there has been nothing "socialist" about the Socialist Party and nothing Gaullist about The Republicans.

In reality, both have adopted neoliberal economic policies, or more precisely, they have followed European Union directives requiring member states to adopt neoliberal economic policies. Especially since the adoption of the common currency, the euro, a little over fifteen years ago, those economic policies have become tangibly harmful to France, hastening its deindustrialization, the ruin of its farmers and the growing indebtedness of the State to private banks.

This has had inevitable political repercussions. The simplest reaction has been widespread reaction against both parties for continuing to pursue the same unpopular policies. The most thoughtful reaction has been to start realizing that it is the European Union itself that imposes this unpopular economic conformism.

To quell growing criticism of the European Union, the well-oiled Macron machine, labeled "En Marche!" has exploited the popular reaction against both governing parties. It has broken and absorbed large parts of both, in an obvious move to turn En Marche! into a single catch-all party loyal to Macron.

The destruction of the Socialist Party was easy. Since the "Socialist" government was so unpopular that it could not hope to win, it was easy to lure prominent members of that party to jump the sinking ship and rally to Macron, who had been economics minister in that unpopular government, but who was advertised by all the media as "new" and "anti-system".

Weakening the Republicans was trickier. Thanks to the deep unpopularity of the outgoing Socialist government, the Republican candidate, François Fillon, looked like a shoo-in. But despite his pro-business economic policies, Fillon still cared about preserving France, and favored an independent foreign policy including good Canard Enchainé to be revealed at a critical moment in the campaign. The uproar drowned out the issues. To an electorate already wary of "establishment politicians", these revelations were fatal. The impression that "politicians are all corrupt" played into the hands of Emmanuel Macron, too young to have done anything worse than make a few quick millions during his passage through the Rothschild Bank, and there's nothing illegal about that.

In France, the presidential election is followed by parliamentary elections, which normally give a majority to the party of the newly elected president. But Macron had no party, so he is creating one for the occasion, made up of defectors from the major defeated parties as well as his own innovation, candidates from "civil society", with no political experience, but loyal to him personally. These "civil society" newcomers tend to be successful individuals, winners in the game of globalized competition, who will have no trouble voting for anti-labor measures. Macron is thus confirming Marine Le Pen's longstanding assertion that the two main parties were really one big single party, whose rhetorical differences masked their political convergence.

The Macron victory demoralized Republicans. Weakening them further, Macron named a Republican, Edouard Philippe, as his Prime Minister, in a government with four Socialist and two Republican, alongside his own selections from "civil society".

Transforming France

Macron won in part because older voters in particular were frightened by his opponents' hints at leaving the European Union, which they have been indoctrinated to consider necessary to prevent renewal of Europe's old wars. But only the hysterical anti-fascist scare can explain why self-styled leftist "revolutionaries" such as François Ruffin, known for his successful anti-capitalist movie "Merci Patron", could join the stampede to vote for Macron – promising to "oppose him later". But how?

Later, after five years of Macron, opposition may be harder than ever. In recent decades, as manufacturing moves to low wage countries, including EU members such as Poland and Rumania, France has lost 40% of its industry. Loss of industry means loss of jobs and fewer workers. When industry is no longer essential, workers have lost their key power: striking to shut down industry. Currently the desperate workers in a failing auto-works factory in central France are threatening to blow it up unless the government takes measures to save their jobs. But violence is powerless when it has no price tag.

Emmanuel Macron has said that he wants to spend only a short time in political life, before getting back to business. He has a mission, and he is in a hurry. If he gains an absolute majority in the June parliamentary elections, he has a free hand to govern for five years. He means to use this period not to "reform" the country, as his predecessors put it, but to "transform" France into a different sort of country. If he has his way, in five years France will no longer be a sovereign nation, but a reliable region in a federalized European Union, following a rigorous economic policy made in Germany by bankers and a bellicose foreign policy made in Washington by neocons.

As usual, the newly elected French president's first move was to rush to Berlin to assert loyalty to the increasingly lopsided "Franco-German partnership". He was most warmly welcomed by Chancellor Angela Merkel, thanks to his clear determination to force through the austerity measures demanded by the Frankfurt budget masters. Macron hopes that his fiscal obedience will be rewarded by German consent to a European investment fund for stimulating economic growth, but this implies a degree of federalism that the pfennig-pinching Germans show little sign of accepting.

First of all, he has promised to complete the dismantling of the French labor code, which offers various protections to workers. This should save money for employers and the government. For Macron, the ruin of French industry and French farming seem to be welcome steps toward an economy of individual initiative, symbolized by startups.

The Macron program amounts to a profound ideological transformation of the French ideal of égalité , equality, from a horizontal concept, meaning equal benefits for all, to the vertical ideal of "equality of opportunity", meaning the theoretical chance of every individual to rise above the others. This is an ideal easily accepted in the United States with its longstanding myth of the self-made man. The French have traditionally been logical enough to understand that everyone can't rise above the others.

Horizontal equality in France has primarily meant institutional redistribution of wealth via universal access to benefits such as health care, pensions, communications and transportation facilities, allocations for families raising children, unemployment insurance, free education at all levels. These are the benefits that are under threat from the European Union in various ways. One way is the imposition of "competition" rules that impose privatization and favor foreign takeovers that transform public services into profit-seekers. Another is the imposition of public budget restrictions, along with the obligation of the State to seek private loans, increasing its debt, and the loss of tax revenue that all end up up making the State too poor to continue providing such services.

Very few French people would want to give up such horizontal equality for the privilege of hoping to become a billionaire.

Macron is sufficiently Americanized, or, to be more precise, globalized, to have declared that "there is no such thing as French culture". From this viewpoint, France is just a place open to diverse cultures, as well as to immigrants and of course foreign capital. He has clearly signaled his rejection of French independence in the foreign policy field. Unlike his leading rivals, who all called for improved relations with Russia, Macron echoes the Russophobic line of the neocons. He broke tradition on his inauguration by riding down the Champs-Elysées in a military vehicle. A change of tone is indicated by his cabinet nominations. The title of the new foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, who served as defense minister in the Hollande government, is "Minister of Europe and of Foreign Affairs", clearly giving Europe preference in the matter. Sylvie Goulard, an ardent Europeist who has remarked that "she does not feel French", has been named Minister of Armies and Minister of Defense. Clearly national defense is an afterthought, when the main idea is to deploy the armed forces in various joint Western interventions.

The Divided Opposition

Unless the June parliamentary elections produce stunning surprises, the opposition to Macron's catch-all governance party appears weak and fatally divided. The Socialist Party is almost wiped out. The Republicans are profoundly destabilized. Genuine opposition to the Macron regime can only be based on defense of French interests against EU economic dictates, starting with the euro, which prevents the country from pursuing an independent economic and foreign policy. In short, the genuine opposition must be " souverainiste ", concerned with preserving French sovereignty.

Two strong personalities emerged from the presidential election as potential leaders of that opposition: Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Marine Le Pen. But they are drastically divided.

Mélenchon ran a spectacularly popular campaign, leaving the Socialist Party far behind (the party he personally left behind years ago). Initially, as he seemed to be taking votes away from Le Pen as well as from the Socialists, he got friendly media coverage, but as he came closer to making it to the decisive second round, the tone started to change. Just as Le Pen was finally knocked out as a "fascist", there is little doubt that had Mélenchon been Macron's challenger, he would have been increasingly denounced as "communist".

Mélenchon is intelligent enough to have realized that the social policies he advocates cannot be achieved unless France recovers control of its currency. He therefore took a stand against both NATO and the euro. So did Marine Le Pen. Mélenchon was embarrassed by the resemblance between their two programs, and contrary to other eliminated candidates, refrained from endorsing Macron, instead calling on his movement, La France Insoumise , to choose between Macron and abstention. Finally, 25% of Mélenchon voters abstained in the second round, but 62% voted for Macron – almost exclusively motivated by the alleged need to "stop fascism". That compares with the final total results of 66% for Macron and 34 % for Le Pen.

That vote confirmed the impossibility of forming a unified souverainiste opposition and allows Marine Le Pen to strengthen her claim to be the leader of a genuine opposition to Macron. She has admitted her own mistakes in the campaign, particularly in her debate with Macron, who beat her hands down with his arrogant performance as the economic expert. But despite her mere 34%, she retains the most loyal base of supporters in a changing scene. The problem for Mélenchon is that his electorate is more versatile.

Despite his loud appeal to "youth", Macron was elected by France's huge population of old people. Among voters over 65, he won 80% against 20% for Le Pen. Marine Le Pen did best with the youngest age group, 18 to 24, winning 44% against Macron's 56%. [1] According to poll of 7,752 representative voters by Le Figaro/LCI,

The differences were also significant between socio-professional categories. Macron won a whopping 83% of the votes coming from the "superior socio-professional categories" – categories where the "winners" in competitive society are largely ensconced. But in what are described as " categories populaires ", a French term for ordinary folk, with less education, the vote was 53% in favor of Le Pen. And she confirmed her position as favorite candidate of the working class, winning 63% of workers' votes.

Note that the "superior socio-professional categories" are where the significance of these results will be defined. Individuals from that category – journalists, commentators and show business personalities – are all in a position to spread the word that this vote indicates that the workers must be "racist", and therefore that we have narrowly escaped being taken over by "fascism".

One of the many odd things about the latest French presidential election is the rejoicing among foreign "leftists" over the fact that the candidate of the rich roundly defeated the candidate of the poor. It used to be the other way around, but that was long ago. These days, the winners in the competitive game comfort themselves that they morally deserve their success, because they are in favor of diversity and against racism, whereas the less fortunate, the rural people and the working class, don't deserve much of anything, because they must be "racist" to be wary of globalization.

The fact that Paris voted 90% for Macron is natural, considering that real estate prices have pushed the working class out of the capital, whose population is now overwhelmingly what is called "bobo" – the bohemian bourgeoisie, many of whom are employed in various branches of the dominant human rights ideology fabrication business: journalists, professors, teachers, consultants, the entertainment industry. In these milieux, hardly anyone would even dare speak a positive word about Marine Le Pen.

What if Marine Le Pen had won?

Since politics is largely fantasy, we may as well try to imagine the unimaginable: what if Marine Le Pen had won the election? This was never a realistic possibility, but it is worth imagining.

It could have had one, perhaps only one, extremely positive result: it could have freed France from its paralyzing obsession with the nonexistent "fascist threat". The ghost would be exorcised. If the word has any meaning, "fascism" implies single party rule, whereas Marine Le Pen made clear her desire to govern by coalition, and selected the leader of a small Gaullist party, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, as her prospective prime minister. Poof! No fascism. That would have been an immeasurable benefit for political debate in France. At last genuine issues might matter. Real threats could be confronted.

Another advantage would have been the demise of the National Front. Since Marine Le Pen took over the notorious party founded by her reactionary father, it has kept a precarious balance between two opposing wings. There is the right wing in the southeast, along the Riviera, the bastion of the party's founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, a region represented in the outgoing parliament by his conservative granddaughter Marion Maréchal Le Pen. In the old industrial northeast region, between Arras and Lille, Marine Le Pen has built her own bastion, as champion of ordinary working people, where she won a majority of votes in the presidential election.

This is not the only time in history when an heiress has gone away with the heritage to join someone of whom her father disapproves. All those who want to cling to their comforting hatred of the left's official Satan have trouble believing that Marine Le Pen broke with her reactionary father to go her own way (just as U.S. hawks couldn't believe in Gorbachev). This change owes everything to her encounter with Florian Philippot, an intellectual who gave up on the ability of the Socialists to face the real issues. Marine has the personal qualities of a leader, and Philippot provided the intellectual substance she needed. Marine has decisively chosen Philippot as her advisor and co-leader, despite grumblings by Jean-Marie that she has been led astray by a gay Marxist. Had Marine won, her left wing would have been strengthened enough to enable her and Philippot to scrap the National Front and found a new "Patriot Party". However, by scoring below 40%, she has weakened her authority and must try to hold the troublesome party together in order to win seats in the new parliament – which will not be easy.

Marine Le Pen would have tried to enact measures to save French industry and the jobs it provides, provide various benefits for low-income people, withdraw from NATO, and even promote a peaceful world, starting with friendly relations with Russia. She would even have begun to prepare her compatriots for escape from the euro.

But not to worry, none of this "fascist" program would ever have come to pass. If she had won, bands of protesting "antifascists" would have invaded the streets, smashing windows and attacking police. The outgoing Socialist government was preparing to use the resulting chaos as a pretext to stay in power long enough to manage the parliamentary elections, [2] "Si Le Pen avait été élue le plan secret pour 'protéger la République'", Le Nouvel Observateur, May 17, 2017 , ensuring that President Marine Le Pen would be held in check. A "color revolution" was ready to be stirred up. The deep state is vigilant in NATOland.

Diana Johnstone is co-author of " From MAD to Madness: Inside Pentagon Nuclear War Planning ", by Paul H. Johnstone, her father. She can be reached at diana.johnstone@wanadoo.fr

[May 23, 2017] Since Wheeler and the Riches found the dead horse heads at the foot of their beds, things started happening

www.unz.com

Erebus , May 22, 2017 at 1:51 pm GMT

May 23, 2017 | www.unz.com

@Carlton Meyer Private investigator Rod Wheeler made a few bucks doing an investigation, but soon realized that he stirred up a high-level hornets nest. Whoever killed Rich would not hesitate to threaten Wheeler or his family or his pension. Suddenly, Wheeler recants everything that he recently put in writing, with no explanation. Soon he will claim that he never did the investigation and has never even been to DC.

[May 23, 2017] Media Collusion with the "Espionage Establishment" by Cliff Kincaid

Notable quotes:
"... The Director, ..."
May 23, 2017 | www.aim.org
March 6, 2017 AIM Column -- Host Chris Wallace of "Fox News Sunday" spent most of his Sunday show on the subject of whether there is any evidence of Trump officials colluding with Russia to affect the 2016 presidential election. "On the Russian collusion, there's a lot of smoke, no evidence," said panelist Bob Woodward of Washington Post Watergate fame.

But we do have substantial evidence of media collusion with the U.S. intelligence community.

"Few understand the CIA and espionage culture as well as [David] Ignatius," Woodward once said of his colleague, a foreign affairs columnist for the paper. These comments are significant. Ignatius is the Post journalist who received an illegal leak of classified information regarding Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn's conversations with the Russian ambassador. The disclosure led to Flynn's resignation as Trump's national security adviser.

The leak and its publication on January 12 were both illegal actions under the law.

Attorney Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch tells Accuracy in Media that Ignatius is not alone. "What you see in these leaks-David Ignatius of The Washington Post and others-are the intelligence agencies being manipulated by the left to destroy the Trump presidency and everybody around him." Ignatius openly boasts of his contacts in the intelligence community, especially the CIA.

Woodward was a guest on the Sunday edition of "Fox News Sunday," but was never asked about his colleague receiving illegal leaks of communications intelligence information.

Instead, the major issue on the show was whether President Trump has made charges about wire-tapping his administration without proof. "NO EVIDENCE CITED FOR 'WATERGATE' PLOT" was one of the front-page headlines in the Post over President Trump's charges that former President Obama was behind the wiretapping.

The media were unanimous. "Trump's baseless wiretap claim" was the headline over a CNN story.

While Trump's tweet alleging Obama's personal role seemed like a stretch, some reported "facts" already in the media put some substance behind what the President was trying to convey in a few words and phrases. For example, the British Guardian reported on January 11:

"The Guardian has learned that the FBI applied for a warrant from the foreign intelligence surveillance (FISA) court over the summer in order to monitor four members of the Trump team suspected of irregular contacts with Russian officials. The FISA court turned down the application asking FBI counter-intelligence investigators to narrow its focus. According to one report, the FBI was finally granted a warrant in October , but that has not been confirmed, and it is not clear whether any warrant led to a full investigation."

Regarding the alleged personal involvement of former President Obama, the left-wing publication The Intercept reported on January 13:

"With only days until Donald Trump takes office, the Obama administration on Thursday announced new rules that will let the NSA share vast amounts of private data gathered without warrant, court orders or congressional authorization with 16 other agencies, including the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Department of Homeland Security."

The conservative Wall Street Journal reported :

"Only days before the inauguration, President Obama also signed an executive order that allows the National Security Agency to share raw intercepts and data with the 16 other agencies in the intelligence community. NSA analysts used to filter out irrelevant information and minimize references to Americans . Now such material is being leaked anonymously."

The new rules and procedures, which were promulgated pursuant to a presidential executive order, were signed by Obama Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch on January 3 and reported under the innocuous New York Times headline , "N.S.A. Gets More Latitude to Share Intercepted Communications."

As the Journal suggests, what Obama's administration did was to set the stage for the leaks through David Ignatius of the Post and others. You don't have to be Bob Woodward to suspect something is going on here.

"The people that report on national intelligence at all the networks, including Fox-and I love Fox News-are scared of taking on the intelligence agencies because their sources will be cut off and they won't have a profession anymore," Larry Klayman tells Accuracy in Media.

Interestingly, the personal website of David Ignatius features a laudatory review of one of his books, The Director, about a fictional director of the CIA. This is the context in which Bob Woodward said of Ignatius, "Few understand the CIA and espionage culture as well as Ignatius." Another reviewer, Philip Kerr, also of The Washington Post, says "I strongly suggest you read The Director . It makes Tom Clancy look like an episode of Get Smart."

"Get Smart" was the comedy show about a bumbling secret agent who had a phone in his shoe. Ignatius clearly understands the nature of the intelligence business and doesn't joke around.

But most of the media won't raise the obvious question: who is Ignatius collaborating with and why? The answers suggest actual collusion and even criminal conduct.

Woodward said on "Fox News Sunday" that "you've got to understand that as President Trump has this vast espionage establishment as his disposal, $50 billion a year plus, even in the CIA they call him the First Customer. So he can get the information he wants. He's the only one in the government."

But is he really a customer? Or is he in this case a victim?

If the intelligence community is trying to bring down a duly elected government of the United States, it is a story that must

[May 23, 2017] The speed of explanation might well be a useful False Flag indicator. For a False Flag to work, it cant have alternative perpetrators or confusion as to who did what. The story has to be presented fully formed and at high volume right from the start

Notable quotes:
"... nowadays my default position is to assume it's a false flag/hoax and wait for the Grassy Knollers to arrive and dismantle the narrative. ..."
"... I've also come to the understanding that the most salient point of these events is the exploitation that now inevitably follows. The manner, method, and speed with which the soon-to-follow attempt at exploitation propagates is more interesting than the actual event. ..."
May 23, 2017 | www.unz.com

Miro23 , May 23, 2017 at 6:25 am GMT

@Erebus WND has a good update on developments, even though it is "according to a WND source close to the situation."...
http://www.wnd.com/2017/05/bar-manager-cops-never-talked-with-staff-about-night-seth-rich-died/

The frustration in trying to figure out what is going on is that the world is now full of "sound and fury" signifying, not nothing but the frantic efforts by competing factions to control narratives. The noise is everywhere, all the time, and reading 30k words of crap to glean 1k words of plausibility requires an ongoing investment that's difficult to maintain. So, I've taken a different tack...

Take the Manchester bomb last night. Too early, and too little info for me to come to any sort of conclusion, but nowadays my default position is to assume it's a false flag/hoax and wait for the Grassy Knollers to arrive and dismantle the narrative. Right or wrong, they provide an invaluable yeoman's service in ferreting out what really happened.

I've also come to the understanding that the most salient point of these events is the exploitation that now inevitably follows. The manner, method, and speed with which the soon-to-follow attempt at exploitation propagates is more interesting than the actual event. It's the "Why?" behind the "How?". So, I'll wait to see whether the West should "Bomb Iran/Syria/Yemen!", or if "The Russians did it!" after all. Maybe it was the "Brexit" supporters, or the "Bremains". I don't know at this point, but it will clear up soon. 19-20 dead, so this is big enough to set the stage for somebody's meme.

Apropos the Seth Rich/email saga...

I was excitedly directed to a poster who appeared on 4Chan recently, claiming to be the ER surgeon on duty when Rich was brought in. The poster says the wounds were not life threatening, gives some details of his/her treatment of Rich's routine abdominal gunshot wounds, and weaves a coherent, professional sounding narrative about hospital routines and their disruption by Law Enforcement. All quite plausible, except for the fact that his/her timeline makes no sense, and contradicts what is officially known. Also, (s)he'd be trivial to identify, so why bother with anonymity? IOW, probably a provocation, so I wasted half an hour finding and reading it.

[May 23, 2017] Clapper intelligence assessment sounds a little bit like the Warren Commission and 9/11 Commission

May 23, 2017 | www.unz.com

Carroll Price , May 22, 2017 at 11:42 pm GMT

.Director of National Intelligence James Clapper explained in his testimony that two dozen or so "seasoned experts" were "handpicked" from the contributing agencies" and drafted the ICA "under the aegis of his former office" While Clapper claimed these analysts were given "complete independence" to reach their findings, he added that their conclusions "were thoroughly vetted and then approved by the directors of the three agencies and me."

Sounds a bit like the Warren Commission and 9/11 Commission, with both being presented with the results of what their investigation would uncover prior to any investigation taking place.

[May 23, 2017] The China-US Arms Race

May 23, 2017 | www.unz.com

US Nuclear Weapon Upgrade Program: "CBO estimates that nuclear forces will cost $348 billion between FY 2015 and FY 2024. Three independent estimates put the expected total cost over the next 30 years at as much as $1 trillion."

[aircarft carrier] The Gerald R. Ford, $12.8 billion + $4.7 billion R&D (estimated). The Navy wants ten.

Columbia , the Navy's upcoming new nukey-boomer, formerly ORP, Ohio Replacement Program. "The total lifecycle cost of the entire class is estimated at $347 billion.": Wikipedia

..." Trump's proposed increase in US military spending is almost as big as Russia's entire defense budget."

aceofspades , May 18, 2017 at 8:55 pm GMT

Well, this is very ironic. Back in the 1980′s, the Soviets spent a massive amount of money on their military to keep up with America, and this ended up bankrupting them and causing their collapse. Now the US of A is spending a horrific amount of money on their military, despite the fact we are 20 trillion dollars in debt. Not to mention that fact that we need to rebuild our infrastructure and pay off all the people on welfare and government benefits. 20 trillion will become 30 trillion, which will be 40 trillion ..whats the end game?

anon , May 19, 2017 at 3:12 am GMT

@aceofspades Well, this is very ironic. Back in the 1980's, the Soviets spent a massive amount of money on their military to keep up with America, and this ended up bankrupting them and causing their collapse. Now the US of A is spending a horrific amount of money on their military, despite the fact we are 20 trillion dollars in debt. Not to mention that fact that we need to rebuild our infrastructure and pay off all the people on welfare and government benefits. 20 trillion will become 30 trillion, which will be 40 trillion.....whats the end game?

athEIst , May 19, 2017 at 5:32 am GMT

@aceofspades Well, this is very ironic. Back in the 1980's, the Soviets spent a massive amount of money on their military to keep up with America, and this ended up bankrupting them and causing their collapse. Now the US of A is spending a horrific amount of money on their military, despite the fact we are 20 trillion dollars in debt. Not to mention that fact that we need to rebuild our infrastructure and pay off all the people on welfare and government benefits. 20 trillion will become 30 trillion, which will be 40 trillion.....whats the end game?

dfordoom , Website May 20, 2017 at 2:42 pm GMT

The aircraft relies on the assumption that, in thirteen years when it enters service, anti-stealth technology will not have reached the point of making it even more obviously useless.

The purpose of this sort of technology is to make lots and lots of money for the right people. Whether it works or not is entirely irrelevant.

dfordoom , Website May 20, 2017 at 2:51 pm GMT

@Sunbeam One thing I'm waiting to see is when non-American culture producers start to beat Americans.

Bollywood is gigantic. And has a huge presence in parts of Asia.

There used to be Hong Kong Cinema. Not sure what happened to it. Successful, but not on the scale of Star Wars or The Fast And The Furious or something.

Brazilian T&A soap operas are spreading around the world.

K-Pop is doing the same.

Japanese Anime and Manga, maybe the odd pop star, is worldwide now as well.

But one day we are going to see that the past year's biggest movie worldwide was made in Bollywood or China.

I'm a nationalist, but I will absolutely cheer as the first nail goes in Hollywood's coffin.

Running rabbit , May 23, 2017 at 9:24 am GMT

As someone who has travelled to the US and China (Beijing), I was astounded by how advanced China's infrastructure was to that of the US. Subways, freight trains, highways, airports, bridges you name it. The investment is still on going and only really been going on for 25 or so years. I had the feeling in the US things were being neglected. Also China is almost unbelievably safe walking the streets. Everybody behaved like mature adults. No forty year olds who dressed like teenagers, in fact most of the teenagers dressed like forty year olds should. Infrastructure is critical to a modern society, the military merely protects it. Economy is the source of viable military spending, not the other way around.

Z-man , May 23, 2017 at 12:40 pm GMT

This marvelous revelation from Wikipedia: "In July 2016, the U.S. Air Force stated they would not release the estimated cost for the B-21 contract with Northrop Grumman. The Air Force argued releasing the cost would reveal too much information about the classified project to potential adversaries." As, for example, taxpayers.

Hilarious and unfortunately true.

Erebus , May 23, 2017 at 12:41 pm GMT

@The Alarmist


"The aircraft relies on the assumption that, in thirteen years when it enters service, anti-stealth technology will not have reached the point of making it even more obviously useless."
It will still be good for terrorizing ... sorry ... for policing rogue states like N. Korea, Serbia, Yemen, and Syria.

[May 22, 2017] Key points of TIME magazine cover story on the Russian takeover of America

Notable quotes:
"... TIME magazine has just published a cover story on the Russian takeover of America: Inside Russia's Social Media War on America . The cover image shows the White House turned into the Kremlin. I will list some of the key points below with quotes from the article: ..."
May 22, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

Petri Krohn | May 18, 2017 8:57:21 PM | 71

TIME magazine has just published a cover story on the Russian takeover of America: Inside Russia's Social Media War on America . The cover image shows the White House turned into the Kremlin. I will list some of the key points below with quotes from the article:

1) Social media has become a danger to democracy.

The vast openness and anonymity of social media has cleared a dangerous new route for antidemocratic forces. "Using these technologies, it is possible to undermine democratic government."

2) Democratic society must isolate itself from public opinion.

Russia may finally have gained the ability it long sought but never fully achieved in the Cold War: to alter the course of events in the U.S. by manipulating public opinion.

3) Russia spies on you.

The Russians "target you and see what you like, what you click on, and see if you're sympathetic or not sympathetic."

4) America is losing the cyberwar.

As Russia expands its cyberpropaganda efforts, the U.S. and its allies are only just beginning to figure out how to fight back.

5) Russia has clever algorithms that America lacks.

American researchers have found they can use mathematical formulas to segment huge populations into thousands of subgroups... Propagandists can then manually craft messages to influence them, deploying covert provocateurs, either humans or automated computer programs known as bots, in hopes of altering their behavior.

6) Russia has huge troll farms.

Putin dispatched his newly installed head of military intelligence, Igor Sergun, to begin repurposing cyberweapons previously used for psychological operations in war zones for use in electioneering. Russian intelligence agencies funded "troll farms," botnet spamming operations and fake news outlets as part of an expanding focus on psychological operations in cyberspace.

7) You must trust mainstream media.

Eager to appear more powerful than they are, the Russians would consider it a success if you questioned the truth of your news sources, knowing that Moscow might be lurking in your Facebook or Twitter feed.

8) Russia invaded Ukraine in April 2014 .

Putin was aiming his new weapons at the U.S. Following Moscow's April 2014 invasion of Ukraine.

9) Hillary Clinton did not murder Seth Rich.

That story went viral in late August, then took on a life of its own after Clinton fainted from pneumonia and dehydration at a Sept. 11 event in New York City. Elsewhere people invented stories saying Pope Francis had endorsed Trump and Clinton had murdered a DNC staffer.

10) The evidence:

Russia plays in every social media space. The intelligence officials have found that Moscow's agents bought ads on Facebook to target specific populations with propaganda. "They buy the ads, where it says sponsored by–they do that just as much as anybody else does," says the senior intelligence official. (A Facebook official says the company has no evidence of that occurring.) The ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner of Virginia, has said he is looking into why, for example, four of the top five Google search results the day the U.S. released a report on the 2016 operation were links to Russia's TV propaganda arm, RT. (Google says it saw no meddling in this case.) Researchers at the University of Southern California, meanwhile, found that nearly 20% of political tweets in 2016 between Sept. 16 and Oct. 21 were generated by bots of unknown origin; investigators are trying to figure out how many were Russian.

[May 22, 2017] Making Russia a scapegoat for political tension connected with the crumbling of the neoliberal society due to austerity, inequality and impoverishment of the lower 80% of population

Notable quotes:
"... "Corporate media and the intelligence community are united in making the Russia Federation the scapegoat for the crumbling of the West that is due to austerity, inequality and impoverishment. If a world war breaks out, that is it." ..."
"... Donald Trump used alt-right messaging to get into the White House but he and his third-rate staff haven't the slightest clue of what gave rise to the deplorables in the first place and how to address the root [causes of] despair of the western working class. ..."
May 22, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

libezkova, May 22, 2017 at 03:58 PM

A comment from MoA contains an insightful observation

"Corporate media and the intelligence community are united in making the Russia Federation the scapegoat for the crumbling of the West that is due to austerity, inequality and impoverishment. If a world war breaks out, that is it."

http://www.moonofalabama.org/2017/05/the-special-council-investigation-will-be-bad-for-trump.html#c6a00d8341c640e53ef01b7c8f9d50c970b

VietnamVet | May 18, 2017 9:19:08 PM | 75

This is tragic. Corporate media and the intelligence community are united in making the Russia Federation the scapegoat for the crumbling of the West that is due to austerity, inequality and impoverishment.

If a world war breaks out, that is it. Donald Trump used alt-right messaging to get into the White House but he and his third-rate staff haven't the slightest clue of what gave rise to the deplorables in the first place and how to address the root [causes of] despair of the western working class.

They will blunder about in lost befuddlement until they vanish.

[May 22, 2017] Corporate media and the intelligence community are united in making the Russia Federation the scapegoat for the crumbling of the West that is due to austerity, inequality and impoverishment

Notable quotes:
"... If a world war breaks out, that is it. Donald Trump used alt-right messaging to get into the White House but he and his third-rate staff haven't the slightest clue of what gave rise to the deplorables in the first place and how to address the root despair of the western working class ..."
May 18, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

VietnamVet | May 18, 2017 9:19:08 PM | 75

This is tragic. Corporate media and the intelligence community are united in making the Russia Federation the scapegoat for the crumbling of the West that is due to austerity, inequality and impoverishment.

If a world war breaks out, that is it. Donald Trump used alt-right messaging to get into the White House but he and his third-rate staff haven't the slightest clue of what gave rise to the deplorables in the first place and how to address the root despair of the western working class .

They will blunder about in lost befuddlement until they vanish.

[May 22, 2017] NSA is here to help you or Spying as a service (SAAS)

May 22, 2017 | www.unz.com

Willem Hendrik, May 21, 2017 at 9:50 pm GMT

Look at the bright side; If you lost the grocery list your wife gave you, call the NSA and ask them to send you a copy.

If your boss denies promising you a raise call NSA for supporting materials.

SAAS ( Spying as a service)

[May 22, 2017] The Russian Obsession Goes Back Decades by Jacob G. Hornberger

Notable quotes:
"... Just consider the accusations that have been leveled at the president: ..."
"... He has committed treason by befriending Russia and other enemies of America. ..."
"... He has subjugated America's interests to Moscow. ..."
"... President Donald Trump? No, President John F. Kennedy. What lots of Americans don't realize, because it was kept secret from them for so long, is that what Trump has been enduring from the national-security establishment, the mainstream press, and the American right-wing for his outreach to, or "collusion with," Russia pales compared to what Kennedy had to endure for committing the heinous "crime" of reaching out to Russia and the rest of the Soviet Union in a spirit of peace and friendship. They hated him for it. They abused him. They insulted him. They belittled him. They called him naïve. They said he was a traitor. All of the nasties listed above, plus more, were contained in an advertisement and a flier that appeared in Dallas on the morning of November 22, 1963, the day that Kennedy was assassinated. They can be read here and here . Ever since then, some people have tried to make it seem like the advertisement and flier expressed only the feelings of extreme right-wingers in Dallas. That's nonsense. They expressed the deeply held convictions of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the CIA, the conservative movement, and many people within the mainstream media and Washington establishment. In June 1963, Kennedy threw down the gauntlet in a speech he delivered at American University, now entitled the " Peace Speech ." It was one of the most remarkable speeches ever delivered by an American president. It was broadcast all across the communist Soviet Union, the first time that had ever been done. ..."
"... Kennedy wasn't dumb. He knew what he was up against. He had heard Eisenhower warn the American people in his Farewell Address about the dangers to their freedom and democratic way of life posed by the military establishment. After Kennedy had read the novel Seven Days in May, ..."
"... Kennedy didn't stop with his Peace Speech. He also began negotiating a treaty with the Soviets to end above-ground nuclear testing, an action that incurred even more anger and ire within the Pentagon and the CIA. ..."
"... By this time, Kennedy's war with the national-security establishment was in full swing. He had already vowed to tear the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds after its perfidious conduct in the Bay of Pigs fiasco. By this time, he had also lost all confidence in the military after it proposed an all-out surprise nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, much as Japan had done at Pearl Harbor, after the infamous plan known as Operation Northwoods, which proposed terrorist attacks and plane hijackings carried out by U.S. agents posing as Cuban communists, so as to provide a pretext for invading Cuba, and after the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the military establishment accused him of appeasement and treason for agreeing not to ever invade Cuba again. ..."
"... What Kennedy didn't know was that his "secret" negotiations with the Soviet and Cuban communists weren't so secret after all. As it turns out, it was a virtual certainty that the CIA (or NSA) was listening in on telephone conversations of Cuban officials at the UN in New York City, much as the CIA and NSA still do today, during which they would have learned what the president was secretly doing behind their backs. ..."
"... In response to the things that were said in that advertisement and flier about him being a traitor for befriending Russia, he told his wife Jackie on the morning he was assassinated: "We are heading into nut country today." Of course, as he well knew, the nuts weren't located only in Dallas. They were also situated throughout the U.S. national-security establishment ..."
"... For more information, attend The Future of Freedom Foundation's one-day conference on June 3, 2017, entitled " The National Security State and JFK " at the Washington Dulles Marriott Hotel. ..."
May 20, 2017 | ronpaulinstitute.org

Just consider the accusations that have been leveled at the president:

  1. He has betrayed the Constitution, which he swore to uphold.
  2. He has committed treason by befriending Russia and other enemies of America.
  3. He has subjugated America's interests to Moscow.
  4. He has been caught in fantastic lies to the American people, including personal ones, like his previous marriage and divorce.
President Donald Trump? No, President John F. Kennedy. What lots of Americans don't realize, because it was kept secret from them for so long, is that what Trump has been enduring from the national-security establishment, the mainstream press, and the American right-wing for his outreach to, or "collusion with," Russia pales compared to what Kennedy had to endure for committing the heinous "crime" of reaching out to Russia and the rest of the Soviet Union in a spirit of peace and friendship.

They hated him for it. They abused him. They insulted him. They belittled him. They called him naïve. They said he was a traitor.

All of the nasties listed above, plus more, were contained in an advertisement and a flier that appeared in Dallas on the morning of November 22, 1963, the day that Kennedy was assassinated. They can be read here and here .

Ever since then, some people have tried to make it seem like the advertisement and flier expressed only the feelings of extreme right-wingers in Dallas. That's nonsense. They expressed the deeply held convictions of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the CIA, the conservative movement, and many people within the mainstream media and Washington establishment.

In June 1963, Kennedy threw down the gauntlet in a speech he delivered at American University, now entitled the " Peace Speech ." It was one of the most remarkable speeches ever delivered by an American president. It was broadcast all across the communist Soviet Union, the first time that had ever been done.

In the speech, Kennedy announced that he was bringing an end to the Cold War and the mindset of hostility toward Russia and the rest of the Soviet Union that the U.S. national-security establishment had inculcated in the minds of the American people ever since the end of World War II.

It was a radical notion and, as Kennedy well understood, a very dangerous one insofar as he was concerned. The Cold War against America's World War II partner and ally had been used to convert the United States from a limited-government republic to a national-security state, one consisting of a vast, permanent military establishment, the CIA, and the NSA, along with their broad array of totalitarian-like powers, such as assassination, regime change, coups, invasions, torture, surveillance, and the like. Everyone was convinced that the Cold War - and the so-called threat from the international communist conspiracy that was supposedly based in Russia - would last forever, which would naturally mean permanent and ever-increasing largess for what Kennedy's predecessor, President Dwight Eisenhower, had called the "military-industrial complex."

Suddenly, Kennedy was upending the Cold War apple cart by threatening to establish a relationship of friendship and peaceful coexistence with Russia, the rest of the Soviet Union, and Cuba.

Kennedy knew full well that his actions were considered by some to be a grave threat to "national security." After all, don't forget that it was Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz's outreach to the Soviets in a spirit of friendship that got him ousted from power by the CIA and presumably targeted for assassination as part of that regime-change operation. It was Cuban leader Fidel Castro's outreach to the Soviets in a spirit of friendship that made him the target of Pentagon and CIA regime-change operations, including through invasion, assassination, and sanctions. It was Congo leader's Patrice Lamumba's outreach to the Soviets in a spirit of friendship that got him targeted for assassination by the CIA. It would be Chilean President Salvador Allende's outreach to the Soviets in a spirit of friendship that got him targeted in a CIA-instigated coup in Chile that resulted in Allende's death.

Kennedy wasn't dumb. He knew what he was up against. He had heard Eisenhower warn the American people in his Farewell Address about the dangers to their freedom and democratic way of life posed by the military establishment. After Kennedy had read the novel Seven Days in May, which posited the danger of a military coup in America, he asked friends in Hollywood to make it into a movie to serve as a warning to the American people. In the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the Pentagon and the CIA were exerting extreme pressure on Kennedy to bomb and invade Cuba, his brother Bobby told a Soviet official with whom he was negotiating that the president was under a severe threat of being ousted in a coup. And, of course, Kennedy was fully mindful of what had happened to Arbenz, Lamumba, and Castro for doing what Kennedy was now doing - reaching out to the Soviets in a spirit of friendship.

In the eyes of the national-security establishment, one simply did not reach out to Russia, Cuba, or any other "enemy" of America. Doing so, in their eyes, made Kennedy an appeaser, betrayer, traitor, and a threat to "national security."

Kennedy didn't stop with his Peace Speech. He also began negotiating a treaty with the Soviets to end above-ground nuclear testing, an action that incurred even more anger and ire within the Pentagon and the CIA. Yes, that's right - they said that "national security" depended on the U.S. government's continuing to do what they object to North Korea doing today - conducting nuclear tests, both above ground and below ground.

Kennedy mobilized public opinion to overcome fierce opposition in the military, CIA, Congress, and the Washington establishment to secure passage of his Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

He then ordered a partial withdrawal of troops from Vietnam, and told close aides that he would order a complete pull-out after winning the 1964 election. In the eyes of the U.S. national-security establishment, leaving Vietnam subject to a communist takeover would pose a grave threat to national security here in the United States.

Worst of all, from the standpoint of the national-security establishment, Kennedy began secret personal negotiations with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and Cuban leader Fidel Castro to bring an end to America's Cold War against them. That was considered to be a grave threat to "national security" as well as a grave threat to all the military and intelligence largess that depended on the Cold War.

By this time, Kennedy's war with the national-security establishment was in full swing. He had already vowed to tear the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds after its perfidious conduct in the Bay of Pigs fiasco. By this time, he had also lost all confidence in the military after it proposed an all-out surprise nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, much as Japan had done at Pearl Harbor, after the infamous plan known as Operation Northwoods, which proposed terrorist attacks and plane hijackings carried out by U.S. agents posing as Cuban communists, so as to provide a pretext for invading Cuba, and after the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the military establishment accused him of appeasement and treason for agreeing not to ever invade Cuba again.

What Kennedy didn't know was that his "secret" negotiations with the Soviet and Cuban communists weren't so secret after all. As it turns out, it was a virtual certainty that the CIA (or NSA) was listening in on telephone conversations of Cuban officials at the UN in New York City, much as the CIA and NSA still do today, during which they would have learned what the president was secretly doing behind their backs.

Kennedy's feelings toward the people who were calling him a traitor for befriending Moscow and other "enemies" of America? In response to the things that were said in that advertisement and flier about him being a traitor for befriending Russia, he told his wife Jackie on the morning he was assassinated: "We are heading into nut country today." Of course, as he well knew, the nuts weren't located only in Dallas. They were also situated throughout the U.S. national-security establishment.

For more information, attend The Future of Freedom Foundation's one-day conference on June 3, 2017, entitled " The National Security State and JFK " at the Washington Dulles Marriott Hotel.

Reprinted with permission from the Future of Freedom Foundation .

[May 21, 2017] What Obsessing About Trump Causes Us To Miss by Andrew Bacevich

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Yet the U.S. maintains nuclear strike forces on full alert, has embarked on a costly and comprehensive trillion-dollar modernization of its nuclear arsenal, and even refuses to adopt a no-first-use posture when it comes to nuclear war. The truth is that the United States will consider surrendering its nukes only after every other nation on the planet has done so first. How does American nuclear hypocrisy affect the prospects for global nuclear disarmament or even simply for the non-proliferation of such weaponry? ..."
"... Declassified CIA leaks from the DNC indicate these trees actively made maple syrup for terrorists. This gives terrorists big muscles, like Popeye, and reduces urges to eat human organs. ..."
"... The conflict commonly referred to as the Afghanistan War is now the longest in U.S. history - having lasted longer than the Civil War, World War I, and World War II combined. What is the Pentagon's plan for concluding that conflict? When might Americans expect it to end? ..."
"... Well, looks like I missed the war ending .but with the war ended, one would think we wouldn't have to be dropping the world's biggest bomb ..."
"... I'm thinking the bigMFing bomb was more a marketing theater driven initative rather than Afgan Strategic Theatre driven. ..."
"... Some great questions here. Recently I was at a Town Hall with my representative to Congress and asked him if our government, or even just the Democrats, had a long term strategy for peace in the Middle East. The answer was basically, No. ..."
"... Bacevitch needs to be a little more critical about all the claims about US energy. The US may be exporting some oil and oil products, but it is importing more. We have no prospect of "energy independence" in the forseeable future, unless there is a drastic cutback in consumption. When it comes to energy forecasting, top governmental agencies have had an abysmal record. Independent experts like David Hughes and Art Berman regularly expose the wishful thinking and poor analysis of the economists at these agencies. ..."
"... Instead he invites us all to assume the Soviets were acting and the West was reacting. In my view this genuinely childish view of international relations is the template for American exceptionalism and, unless we break free of it, a logic of privileged exceptionalism will continually assert itself. The Trump era offers us a chance to raze this mythology and seriously confront how market-oriented imperatives, not devils and angels, drive international conflict. ..."
"... Is it because a self-perpetuating top-heavy military bureaucracy was never properly demobilized after the Second World War, and only promotes the sort of sociopathic, narcissistic, borderline personalities who are relentlessly able to bully the groveling toadies and wussies who make up our perpetually campaigning political-climber class? ..."
"... Andrew Bacevich needs to study more deeply about Syrian history and politics, since his description of Syrian president Bashar Assad as a brutal dictator fits as a description of Bashar's father Hafez Assad but is inaccurate in relation to Bashar Assad, who seems to have a rather gentle personality and is actually one of the more benign leaders in the Middle East. ..."
"... Under that new constitution, in 2014 he ran in a free election observed by international observers against two other politicians and was reelected president. He has promised that if he loses the next election he will step down. ..."
"... Nevertheless Assad has been systematically demonized by the governments and MSM of the US, UK, and France, as well as by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. Demonization is a technique that is often used to prepare the way for regime change, and it is not based on objective analysis. ..."
May 08, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
May 8, 2017 by Yves Smith By Andrew J. Bacevich, a TomDispatch regular , is the author of America's War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History , now out in paperback . His next book will be an interpretive history of the United States from the end of the Cold War to the election of Donald Trump. Originally published at TomDispatch

If only it were so. How wonderful it would be if President Trump's ascendancy had coincided with a revival of hard-hitting, deep-dive, no-holds-barred American journalism. Alas, that's hardly the case. True, the big media outlets are demonstrating both energy and enterprise in exposing the ineptitude, inconsistency, and dubious ethical standards, as well as outright lies and fake news, that are already emerging as Trump era signatures. That said, pointing out that the president has (again) uttered a falsehood, claimed credit for a nonexistent achievement, or abandoned some position to which he had previously sworn fealty requires something less than the sleuthing talents of a Sherlock Holmes. As for beating up on poor Sean Spicer for his latest sequence of gaffes - well, that's more akin to sadism than reporting.

Apart from a commendable determination to discomfit Trump and members of his inner circle (select military figures excepted, at least for now), journalism remains pretty much what it was prior to November 8th of last year: personalities built up only to be torn down; fads and novelties discovered, celebrated, then mocked; "extraordinary" stories of ordinary people granted 15 seconds of fame only to once again be consigned to oblivion - all served with a side dish of that day's quota of suffering, devastation, and carnage. These remain journalism's stock-in-trade. As practiced in the United States, with certain honorable (and hence unprofitable) exceptions, journalism remains superficial, voyeuristic, and governed by the attention span of a two year old.

As a result, all those editors, reporters, columnists, and talking heads who characterize their labors as "now more important than ever" ill-serve the public they profess to inform and enlighten. Rather than clearing the air, they befog it further. If anything, the media's current obsession with Donald Trump - his every utterance or tweet treated as "breaking news!" - just provides one additional excuse for highlighting trivia, while slighting issues that deserve far more attention than they currently receive.

To illustrate the point, let me cite some examples of national security issues that presently receive short shrift or are ignored altogether by those parts of the Fourth Estate said to help set the nation's political agenda. To put it another way: Hey, Big Media, here are two dozen matters to which you're not giving faintly adequate thought and attention.

1. Accomplishing the "mission" : Since the immediate aftermath of World War II, the United States has been committed to defending key allies in Europe and East Asia. Not long thereafter, U.S. security guarantees were extended to the Middle East as well. Under what circumstances can Americans expect nations in these regions to assume responsibility for managing their own affairs? To put it another way, when (if ever) might U.S. forces actually come home? And if it is incumbent upon the United States to police vast swaths of the planet in perpetuity, how should momentous changes in the international order - the rise of China, for example, or accelerating climate change - affect the U.S. approach to doing so?

2 . American military supremacy : The United States military is undoubtedly the world's finest. It's also far and away the most generously funded , with policymakers offering U.S. troops no shortage of opportunities to practice their craft. So why doesn't this great military ever win anything? Or put another way, why in recent decades have those forces been unable to accomplish Washington's stated wartime objectives? Why has the now 15-year-old war on terror failed to result in even a single real success anywhere in the Greater Middle East? Could it be that we've taken the wrong approach? What should we be doing differently?

3. America's empire of bases : The U.S. military today garrisons the planet in a fashion without historical precedent. Successive administrations, regardless of party, justify and perpetuate this policy by insisting that positioning U.S. forces in distant lands fosters peace, stability, and security. In the present century, however, perpetuating this practice has visibly had the opposite effect. In the eyes of many of those called upon to "host" American bases, the permanent presence of such forces smacks of occupation. They resist. Why should U.S. policymakers expect otherwise?

4. Supporting the troops : In present-day America, expressing reverence for those who serve in uniform is something akin to a religious obligation. Everyone professes to cherish America's "warriors." Yet such bountiful, if superficial, expressions of regard camouflage a growing gap between those who serve and those who applaud from the sidelines. Our present-day military system, based on the misnamed All-Volunteer Force, is neither democratic nor effective. Why has discussion and debate about its deficiencies not found a place among the nation's political priorities?

5. Prerogatives of the commander-in-chief : Are there any military actions that the president of the United States may not order on his own authority? If so, what are they? Bit by bit, decade by decade, Congress has abdicated its assigned role in authorizing war. Today, it merely rubberstamps what presidents decide to do (or simply stays mum ). Who does this deference to an imperial presidency benefit? Have U.S. policies thereby become more prudent, enlightened, and successful?

6. Assassin-in-chief : A policy of assassination, secretly implemented under the aegis of the CIA during the early Cold War, yielded few substantive successes. When the secrets were revealed, however, the U.S. government suffered considerable embarrassment , so much so that presidents foreswore politically motivated murder. After 9/11, however, Washington returned to the assassination business in a big way and on a global scale, using drones. Today, the only secret is the sequence of names on the current presidential hit list , euphemistically known as the White House "disposition matrix." But does assassination actually advance U.S. interests (or does it merely recruit replacements for the terrorists it liquidates)? How can we measure its costs, whether direct or indirect? What dangers and vulnerabilities does this practice invite?

7. The war formerly known as the "Global War on Terrorism" : What precisely is Washington's present strategy for defeating violent jihadism? What sequence of planned actions or steps is expected to yield success? If no such strategy exists, why is that the case? How is it that the absence of strategy - not to mention an agreed upon definition of "success" - doesn't even qualify for discussion here?

8. The campaign formerly known as Operation Enduring Freedom : The conflict commonly referred to as the Afghanistan War is now the longest in U.S. history - having lasted longer than the Civil War, World War I, and World War II combined. What is the Pentagon's plan for concluding that conflict? When might Americans expect it to end? On what terms?

9. The Gulf : Americans once believed that their prosperity and way of life depended on having assured access to Persian Gulf oil. Today, that is no longer the case. The United States is once more an oil exporter . Available and accessible reserves of oil and natural gas in North America are far greater than was once believed . Yet the assumption that the Persian Gulf still qualifies as crucial to American national security persists in Washington. Why?

10. Hyping terrorism : Each year terrorist attacks kill far fewer Americans than do auto accidents , drug overdoses , or even lightning strikes . Yet in the allocation of government resources, preventing terrorist attacks takes precedence over preventing all three of the others combined. Why is that?

11. Deaths that matter and deaths that don't : Why do terrorist attacks that kill a handful of Europeans command infinitely more American attention than do terrorist attacks that kill far larger numbers of Arabs? A terrorist attack that kills citizens of France or Belgium elicits from the United States heartfelt expressions of sympathy and solidarity. A terrorist attack that kills Egyptians or Iraqis elicits shrugs. Why the difference? To what extent does race provide the answer to that question?

12. Israeli nukes : What purpose is served by indulging the pretense that Israel does not have nuclear weapons?

13. Peace in the Holy Land : What purpose is served by indulging illusions that a "two-state solution" offers a plausible resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? As remorselessly as white settlers once encroached upon territory inhabited by Native American tribes, Israeli settlers expand their presence in the occupied territories year by year. As they do, the likelihood of creating a viable Palestinian state becomes ever more improbable. To pretend otherwise is the equivalent of thinking that one day President Trump might prefer the rusticity of Camp David to the glitz of Mar-a-Lago.

14. Merchandizing death : When it comes to arms sales, there is no need to Make America Great Again. The U.S. ranks number one by a comfortable margin, with long-time allies Saudi Arabia and Israel leading recipients of those arms. Each year, the Saudis (per capita gross domestic product $20,000) purchase hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. weapons. Israel (per capita gross domestic product $38,000) gets several billion dollars worth of such weaponry annually courtesy of the American taxpayer. If the Saudis pay for U.S. arms, why shouldn't the Israelis? They can certainly afford to do so.

15. Our friends the Saudis (I) : Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on September 11, 2001, were Saudis. What does that fact signify?

16. Our friends the Saudis (II) : If indeed Saudi Arabia and Iran are competing to determine which nation will enjoy the upper hand in the Persian Gulf, why should the United States favor Saudi Arabia? In what sense do Saudi values align more closely with American values than do Iranian ones?

17. Our friends the Pakistanis : Pakistan behaves like a rogue state. It is a nuclear weapons proliferator . It supports the Taliban. For years, it provided sanctuary to Osama bin Laden. Yet U.S. policymakers treat Pakistan as if it were an ally. Why? In what ways do U.S. and Pakistani interests or values coincide? If there are none, why not say so?

18. Free-loading Europeans : Why can't Europe, " whole and free ," its population and economy considerably larger than Russia's, defend itself? It's altogether commendable that U.S. policymakers should express support for Polish independence and root for the Baltic republics. But how does it make sense for the United States to care more about the wellbeing of people living in Eastern Europe than do people living in Western Europe?

19. The mother of all "special relationships" : The United States and the United Kingdom have a "special relationship" dating from the days of Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. Apart from keeping the Public Broadcasting Service supplied with costume dramas and stories featuring eccentric detectives, what is the rationale for that partnership today? Why should U.S. relations with Great Britain, a fading power, be any more "special" than its relations with a rising power like India? Why should the bonds connecting Americans and Britons be any more intimate than those connecting Americans and Mexicans? Why does a republic now approaching the 241st anniversary of its independence still need a "mother country"?

20. The old nuclear disarmament razzmatazz : American presidents routinely cite their hope for the worldwide elimination of nuclear weapons. Yet the U.S. maintains nuclear strike forces on full alert, has embarked on a costly and comprehensive trillion-dollar modernization of its nuclear arsenal, and even refuses to adopt a no-first-use posture when it comes to nuclear war. The truth is that the United States will consider surrendering its nukes only after every other nation on the planet has done so first. How does American nuclear hypocrisy affect the prospects for global nuclear disarmament or even simply for the non-proliferation of such weaponry?

21. Double standards (I) : American policymakers take it for granted that their country's sphere of influence is global, which, in turn, provides the rationale for the deployment of U.S. military forces to scores of countries. Yet when it comes to nations like China, Russia, or Iran, Washington takes the position that spheres of influence are obsolete and a concept that should no longer be applicable to the practice of statecraft. So Chinese, Russian, and Iranian forces should remain where they belong - in China, Russia, and Iran. To stray beyond that constitutes a provocation, as well as a threat to global peace and order. Why should these other nations play by American rules? Why shouldn't similar rules apply to the United States?

22. Double standards (II) : Washington claims that it supports and upholds international law. Yet when international law gets in the way of what American policymakers want to do, they disregard it. They start wars, violate the sovereignty of other nations, and authorize agents of the United States to kidnap, imprison, torture, and kill. They do these things with impunity, only forced to reverse their actions on the rare occasions when U.S. courts find them illegal. Why should other powers treat international norms as sacrosanct since the United States does so only when convenient?

23. Double standards (III) : The United States condemns the indiscriminate killing of civilians in wartime. Yet over the last three-quarters of a century, it killed civilians regularly and often on a massive scale. By what logic, since the 1940s, has the killing of Germans, Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese, Laotians, Cambodians, Afghans, and others by U.S. air power been any less reprehensible than the Syrian government's use of "barrel bombs" to kill Syrians today? On what basis should Americans accept Pentagon claims that, when civilians are killed these days by U.S. forces, the acts are invariably accidental, whereas Syrian forces kill civilians intentionally and out of malice? Why exclude incompetence or the fog of war as explanations? And why, for instance, does the United States regularly gloss over or ignore altogether the noncombatants that Saudi forces (with U.S. assistance ) are routinely killing in Yemen?

24. Moral obligations : When confronted with some egregious violation of human rights, members of the chattering classes frequently express an urge for the United States to "do something." Holocaust analogies sprout like dandelions. Newspaper columnists recycle copy first used when Cambodians were slaughtering other Cambodians en masse or whenever Hutus and Tutsis went at it. Proponents of action - typically advocating military intervention - argue that the United States has a moral obligation to aid those victimized by injustice or cruelty anywhere on Earth. But what determines the pecking order of such moral obligations? Which comes first, a responsibility to redress the crimes of others or a responsibility to redress crimes committed by Americans? Who has a greater claim to U.S. assistance, Syrians suffering today under the boot of Bashar al-Assad or Iraqis, their country shattered by the U.S. invasion of 2003? Where do the Vietnamese fit into the queue? How about the Filipinos, brutally denied independence and forcibly incorporated into an American empire as the nineteenth century ended? Or African-Americans, whose ancestors were imported as slaves? Or, for that matter, dispossessed and disinherited Native Americans? Is there a statute of limitations that applies to moral obligations? And if not, shouldn't those who have waited longest for justice or reparations receive priority attention?

Let me suggest that any one of these two dozen issues - none seriously covered, discussed, or debated in the American media or in the political mainstream - bears more directly on the wellbeing of the United States and our prospects for avoiding global conflict than anything Donald Trump may have said or done during his first 100 days as president. Collectively, they define the core of the national security challenges that presently confront this country, even as they languish on the periphery of American politics.

How much damage Donald Trump's presidency wreaks before it ends remains to be seen. Yet he himself is a transient phenomenon. To allow his pratfalls and shenanigans to divert attention from matters sure to persist when he finally departs the stage is to make a grievous error. It may well be that, as the Times insists, the truth is now more important than ever. If so, finding the truth requires looking in the right places and asking the right questions.

DH , May 8, 2017 at 11:36 am

Kahneman's "Thinking Fast and Slow" has many of the answers to the questions about why the MSM is the way it is. People are hard-wired to react to sound bites, especially potential pleasure or terror. The MSM is very good at that. Populist politicians feed off of the same.

B.J.M. , May 8, 2017 at 2:58 pm

"What would be far more useful than a specialised list of inadequately reported topics would be to analyze this MSM behaviour, explore how it comes about and how it has evolved, to reveal some of the darker connections to power, and put up some strategies for slowly reversing it."

Sorry MoiAussie, but the analysis has already been done, unfortunately nobody really cares.

Propaganda and the Public Mind
Necessary Illusions

witters , May 8, 2017 at 6:01 pm

"What would be far more useful than a specialised list of inadequately reported topics would be to analyze this MSM behaviour, explore how it comes about and how it has evolved, to reveal some of the darker connections to power, and put up some strategies for slowly reversing it. In a nutshell, how to foster thriving independent media with broad reach that expose MSM stenography and resist censorship?"

Well, yes. Except the behaviour you are analysing is, presumably, among other things, the behviour involved in inadequately addressing these topics.

cat's paw , May 8, 2017 at 1:57 am

One can sleep soundly tonight safe in the knowledge that not even the pretense of a nonreply to Bacevich's questions will be forthcoming.

oho , May 8, 2017 at 8:45 am

stop fighting about identity politics (i'm not holding my breath for either side)

elements of both sides want to return to a non-interventionist US foreign policy, except there is always a fight about something else that serves as a distraction.. like cats and shiny toys.

Norb , May 8, 2017 at 9:18 am

The only thing one can do is persistently bring important issues forward to friends and colleagues. In other words, become in many respects a social pariah. Challenging the status quo by definition makes you an outsider.

The strategic effectiveness of this dissent becomes manifest when you actually change how you live your life. You become an example for others to follow.

Any successful movement building must follow this path. The strategic plan is to live and think like a socialist in a crumbling capitalist world. The rising levels of inequality must surely bring this about, one way or another.

Socialism or Barbarism. How many working people could disagree with that? It needs to be repeated over and over. That spirit needs to be reflected in individual life in order to survive.

B.J.M. , May 8, 2017 at 2:47 pm

" But it raises the question, what can individuals do to change the behavior of the media?"

We can continue to ignore them and opt for the following: Naked Capitalism, CounterPunch, ZeroHedge, Liberty Blitzkreig, ContraCorner, Truthout, Consortium News, The Unz Review, Tom Dispatch, Democracy Now, Pando Daily, The Intercept, etc, etc. That is the mainstream media's worst nightmare.

The only reason to check the NYT or Washington Post is to see what meme is being promoted by the deep state; then you know what not to believe.

I find this whole debate about fake news to be somewhat laughable. Americans have been subject to fake news for decades, they just didn't know it. Noam Chomsky has been writing about this for 40 years. His books: Propaganda and the Public Mind, Deterring Democracy, Manufacturing Consent and Necessary Illusions are all excellent and contain extensive research and details to support his claims. Of course part to the fake news strategy has been to ignore people like Chomsky. Instead we get intellectual clowns like Tom Friedman telling us how the world works.

Now that we have some real news, the fake news mainstream media has gone into panic mode and its strategy is to label the real new as fake news. Orwell and Huxley must be rolling in their graves with laughter.

Enjoy the show!

optimader , May 8, 2017 at 11:18 am

True, the big media outlets are demonstrating both energy and enterprise in exposing the ineptitude, inconsistency, and dubious ethical standards, as well as outright lies and fake news, that are already emerging as Trump era signatures. That said, pointing out that the president has (again) uttered a falsehood, claimed credit for a nonexistent achievement, or abandoned some position to which he had previously sworn . "uttered a falsehood, claimed credit for a nonexistent achievement, or abandoned some position.." a new development in POTUS behavior ushered in by DTrump??

craazyboy , May 8, 2017 at 2:05 am

Ok, so the USG has 24 issues. Let's not be nit-picky.

On this one, we've had a bit of progress.

"8. The campaign formerly known as Operation Enduring Freedom: The conflict commonly referred to as the Afghanistan War is now the longest in U.S. history - having lasted longer than the Civil War, World War I, and World War II combined. What is the Pentagon's plan for concluding that conflict? When might Americans expect it to end? On what terms?"

We dropped a $30 million BMF'ing bomb on an undefensible, open plain. Killed 67 trees and terrified Afgan flora from border to border. Egyptian cotton kids refuse to migrate there on their little parachute thingies because they are terrified !

Declassified CIA leaks from the DNC indicate these trees actively made maple syrup for terrorists. This gives terrorists big muscles, like Popeye, and reduces urges to eat human organs.

This is appreciated by other terrorists in camp and they sleep better , too.

However, the Fava Beans and Olive Oil have been spilled. Unemployed tree hugger reporters report that the BMF'ing bomb caused the tree sap to instantly turn to maple sugar candies and the candies are now enclosed in a depleted uranium candy tins. Fake research scientists believe the bomb casing was made of the depleted uranium. Could happen, opines Krugman, now minority owner of the NYT, and seconded by Chelsea, whom did the secret HS science project back in the 90s in Yugoslavia. She drew a cute picture of Daddy on the bomb's belly, but a lot of Very Serious Men In Black Suits did everything else.

As to when the entire Afgan issue ends, we know the war becomes fiscally irresponsible when the USG runs out of new trees to bomb and the maple sugar candies no longer can fund the onslaught.

Krugman is working on the macro analysis and will send the Noble Prize people an advanced copy for editing, puffing up, and general focus grouping. One area of neglect is developing a universal political correctness language – the semantics are daunting and definitions have to be dynamic, yet synchronized with meanings according to domestic needs. That's a tough one.

Then people have to learn it, instead of lazily doing what they do now. Which I think may involve much use of sign language.

An advance against the reward money is expected, and a pic of the statues with Kruggies name on it would signal good faith and seal the deal. Bully to Trump!

fresno dan , May 8, 2017 at 11:12 am

craazyboy
May 8, 2017 at 2:05 am

"The conflict commonly referred to as the Afghanistan War is now the longest in U.S. history - having lasted longer than the Civil War, World War I, and World War II combined. What is the Pentagon's plan for concluding that conflict? When might Americans expect it to end?"

Apparently, the Afghanistan war has ended. It makes me feel a little less stupid, although I have a lot of excess stupid in reserve, to know others missed it as well ..

fresno dan

After dropping its largest conventional bomb ever used in combat in Afghanistan on 13 April, the US military said the massive ordnance air blast, or Moab, was a "very clear message to Isis" that they would be "annihilated".

Defence secretary Jim Mattis said the bomb was "necessary to break Isis". The Afghan government claimed the bomb killed 94 Isis militants, while harming no civilians.

======================================================================= http://www.militarytimes.com/story/military/pentagon/2014/12/29/afghanistan-war-officially-ends/21004589/

Well, looks like I missed the war ending .but with the war ended, one would think we wouldn't have to be dropping the world's biggest bomb

optimader , May 8, 2017 at 11:22 am

its now a police action!

fresno dan , May 8, 2017 at 2:26 pm

optimader
May 8, 2017 at 11:22 am

the military takes more and more "police actions" while the police use more and more military equipment and tactics ..
Considering all the "surplus" stuff that goes to the police, how soon before the police drop the biggest "anti-criminal suppression device" i.e., the mother of all bombs???

optimader , May 8, 2017 at 4:43 pm

how soon before the police drop the biggest "anti-criminal suppression device" i.e., the mother of all bombs???

low yield Neutron bomb.. don't damage what left of the domestic infrastructure, the REIT managers would go crazy!

The backhanded criticism that the MFing bomb didn't do enough damage is related to where it was used.
Try a barometric pressure bomb in a place like Manhattan and it would be a much different outcome than say on the other end of the spectrum, at a latitude/longitude in Nevada where the before and after pics would be identical.

A dark side of the media criticism of the MFing Bomb is that it may well goad the MIC/Pentagon Product Managers into a do-over. Afterall, who likes their handiwork criticized?

DTrump told them I want something big and flashy while Xi is in town and that's what they came up with..

Back to the Product Development Group. Just need to tweak the neutron emission!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Davy_Crockett_(nuclear_device)

DH , May 8, 2017 at 2:29 pm

They are just suppressing protests. In the US they are limited to tear gas but in Afghanistan they can use MOAB since the ACLU is weak there.

DH , May 8, 2017 at 2:38 pm

"The guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea." Mao Zedong

The cool thing about guerilla warfare is it largely eliminates the concept of civilians since anybody could be a soldier, even children. That is why civilian casualties are frequently so low, because pretty much anybody over the age of 6 is a combatant. it also increases the enemy combatant body count which makes it clear that the government forces are winning, as was so ably shown in the Vietnam War.

optimader , May 8, 2017 at 12:09 pm

I'm thinking the bigMFing bomb was more a marketing theater driven initative rather than Afgan Strategic Theatre driven.

It was so DTrump could be at the breakfast table before the President of China and to greet him with.. Wow, sorry I had to cut out before Dessert last night, had some things to take care of, how was the Chocolate cake.. the Cake?" ( he like to repeat things)

DH , May 8, 2017 at 2:32 pm

I view the use of MOAB on ISIS as the equivalent of giving an antibiotic shot so that the in-country Taliban immune system can wipe out the remaining ISIS bacteria. I don't think the Taliban wants ISIS there since it focuses too much US attention on the area, so they may be willing to mop up the remaining ISIS fighters.

Dick Burkhart , May 8, 2017 at 2:21 am

Some great questions here. Recently I was at a Town Hall with my representative to Congress and asked him if our government, or even just the Democrats, had a long term strategy for peace in the Middle East. The answer was basically, No. A few weeks later I actually got a phone call from his office on this very question, yet the answer was still basically No. He did say that Kerry had sought a UN brokered regime change in Syria (opposed by Russia), after I suggested something like this.

However Bacevitch needs to be a little more critical about all the claims about US energy. The US may be exporting some oil and oil products, but it is importing more. We have no prospect of "energy independence" in the forseeable future, unless there is a drastic cutback in consumption. When it comes to energy forecasting, top governmental agencies have had an abysmal record. Independent experts like David Hughes and Art Berman regularly expose the wishful thinking and poor analysis of the economists at these agencies.

DanB , May 8, 2017 at 7:49 am

"Independent experts like David Hughes and Art Berman regularly expose the wishful thinking and poor analysis of the economists at these agencies." Thanks for pointing this out.

Toolate , May 8, 2017 at 2:24 am

This truly is an appalling list. One wonders how many Americans have ever considered even one of these ?

Temporarily Sane , May 8, 2017 at 2:42 am

It's great to see people from across the ideological spectrum who served in the military, intelligence services and in various administrations, speaking out. Hindsight is 20/20as the cliche goes. Now if only people who are currently serving in those institutions would step up to the plate and speak truth to power. At what point does it become unconscionable for good people to do nothing? Or, rather, when does critical mass kick in and make resisting the insanity that reigns in our institutions more than just a flash in the pan and career suicide?

John Wright , May 8, 2017 at 10:55 am

The past is not encouraging, war hero Eisenhower could only warn of the MIC as he was exiting.

The economic footprint of the MIC + think tanks + academia + security agencies is huge (maybe a trillion/year)

A lot of people depend on the defense budget staying large as the MIC is a jobs program throughout much of the USA,.

I remember CA Senator Boxer, one of the few senators who voted against the AUMF in Iraq, fighting to keep the local (to me) Mare Island Naval Shipyard from closing in 1996.

The adjacent city, Vallejo, subsequently went through bankruptcy.

One illustrative MIC family is the Kagan-Nuland family,

Victoria Nuland was Hillary Clinton's Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and seemed to be in charge of stirring up trouble in the Ukraine.

Her husband is noted neocon (he prefers "liberal interventionist") Robert Kagan of the Bookings Institution, and his brother, Frederick, is at the American Enterprise institute.

Frederick's wife, Kimberly, heads up the "Institute for the Study of War" funded by Raytheon, General Dynamics, DynCorp and others.

One might suggest this family gets meaning, purpose and income through USA military action.

One could posit there many other similar families.

It is difficult to be optimistic that much can be done.

Mel , May 8, 2017 at 8:46 am

These aren't independent issues (and, ultimately, there's no reason they have to be.)
Like, what's preventing the solution of #1 (expecting nations in these regions to assume responsibility for managing their own affairs?) #17. When the Pakistanis have to deal with huge problems on the other side of the invisible line, they aren't so reliable about sticking to the script. Especially a script that has written out all the huge problems.

I guess that is the point. 45 seconds with this list pastes two items together and makes the framework for a story. But the run of stories that appear are like Captain America saw a bad guy and punched him in the face. Makes a good comic panel, and, when the press has been taught the true meaning of "profitable", it makes a good newspaper page too. Right.

A working State Department could do interesting things with this list too, but - Captain America.

oho , May 8, 2017 at 8:50 am

the US hasn't fought a peer nation since 1945-even then the USSR did a lot of the heavy lifting. the US still hasnt beaten the Taliban.

US full spectrum dominance could be propaganda for all we know--with our vaunted carriers and fighters sitting ducks to swarms of cheap first-world missiles.

in any fight with China or Russia, theyd only have to play defense. The US would be the ones without home field advantage, likely in a war with limited domestic support as the fight probablyt would not be about an existential issue to the US homeland

DH , May 8, 2017 at 11:46 am

If a group like the Taliban has indigenous support, then you pretty much are left with destroying the village in order to save it as the only military option. Putting a corrupt mafia in charge of the country is not the appropriate alternate civilian political approach to win hearts and minds.

In the 1990s nobody cared about the Taliban except when they were blowing up big Buddhas. Their fatal error was allowing bin-Laden to launch major attacks against the US home soil. My guess at this time is that the Taliban have been inoculated against spreading terror overseas. If the US left Afghanistan, the Taliban would probably take many of the valleys back and kick ISIS out so that they don't have to worry about the US coming back in to deal with 9/11 terrorists again. Afghanistan would probably be fairly "peaceful" at that point in a fundamental Muslim way, kind of like the fundamental Christian utopia that Mike Pence tried to create in Indiana.

hemeantwell , May 8, 2017 at 8:55 am

Bacevich's indictment suffers from an inability to explain how this genuflecting celebration of American intentions degenerated into what he goes on to elaborate.

Accomplishing the "mission": Since the immediate aftermath of World War II, the United States has been committed to defending key allies in Europe and East Asia. Not long thereafter, U.S. security guarantees were extended to the Middle East as well.

The beginning of the Cold War continues to be shrouded in assumptions about Soviet aggressiveness and American and British benevolence. Otherwise critical thinkers become kool aid dispensers when they are obliged to reference it. Bacevich skates over questions such as the division of Germany - was it because the US wanted to allow Germany to quickly reindustrialize and the Soviets were afraid of yet another invasion? - and whether city-destroying nuclear weapons would be internationally controlled or remain a US monopoly.

Instead he invites us all to assume the Soviets were acting and the West was reacting. In my view this genuinely childish view of international relations is the template for American exceptionalism and, unless we break free of it, a logic of privileged exceptionalism will continually assert itself. The Trump era offers us a chance to raze this mythology and seriously confront how market-oriented imperatives, not devils and angels, drive international conflict.

Whine Country , May 8, 2017 at 10:16 am

You must have missed this yesterday:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/05/05/war-and-empire-the-american-way-of-life/

Some are trying to deal with the issue you raise. Oliver Stone had a lot to say on the subject in his "Untold History of the United States".

JEHR , May 8, 2017 at 9:10 am

I would like to see CNN or any other channel begin a series of TV presentations where each one of these items is discussed by the relevant people. (When no officials show up for the program, then the producers will know they are on the right track.) A great idea for a series of investigative reports by journalists also.

However, would such a program make any difference in how things are done?

DH , May 8, 2017 at 11:48 am

It might if the Kardashians were invited to participate in the debate.

Lil'D , May 8, 2017 at 9:24 am

It's systemic. Journalism is a business of delivering eyeballs to advertisers. These important issues don't sell. Get more flashy drama in the framing of the story and you might have a chance

B.J.M. , May 8, 2017 at 3:03 pm

exactly, it is "systemic"! Until one understands that the mainstream media's core business is not news; it is selling audiences to advertisers, one will never properly understand the problem.

Felix_47 , May 8, 2017 at 11:29 am

Could it be that our leadership in Washington has no idea why we are still in Afghanistan either? Could it be that our allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, like the idea of the US military sitting at the back door to Iran? Could it be that we are getting the best foreign policy Saudi and Israeli money can buy? And the MIC is glad to oblige.

Art Eclectic , May 8, 2017 at 1:41 pm

My assumption is that everything inexplicable is ultimately explained by money if you dug deep enough.

JTMcPhee , May 8, 2017 at 3:34 pm

String theory? Dark matter? Why my dog still pees right inside the patio door?

witters , May 8, 2017 at 6:42 pm

Why not? See Richard Rorty's "Consequences of Pragmatism".

Susan the other , May 8, 2017 at 12:05 pm

Well we can certainly speculate on 1 – 24. In almost every case there is an implied answer: We aren't quite finished yet establishing and maintaining our control. Over finance and power.

And even though war is too expensive and we have resorted to a kind of high-tech guerrilla warfare, we still need boots on the ground. That is because we live in a material world and goods are manufactured, transported and trafficked.

An even more stubborn war is going on in international finance (Hudson) – that's the one I'd like to see reporters understand. Colonel Wilkerson said it is all about finance and power and we will be in Afghanistan for 50 years. What's going on right now really seems like never ending pointlessness. So maybe we should discuss exactly what we want to achieve control for – what's the plan? In detail. Starting with the health of the planet and sustainable civilization.

Tom Stone , May 8, 2017 at 12:07 pm

Y U H8 'Murika?

templar555510 , May 8, 2017 at 2:35 pm

Andrew could have headed his piece " Analysis of an Empire ' and then added the sub-heading ' A Tale of Vested Interests ' because that is surely why these atrocities ( yes that's right ) continue ad infintum, ad nauseum . And these same interests are those that sell us soap, automobiles, liquor etc, etc, maybe not directly, but the interconnections are now so complete as to make distinctions irrelevant.

Sluggeaux , May 8, 2017 at 4:23 pm

Is it because a self-perpetuating top-heavy military bureaucracy was never properly demobilized after the Second World War, and only promotes the sort of sociopathic, narcissistic, borderline personalities who are relentlessly able to bully the groveling toadies and wussies who make up our perpetually campaigning political-climber class?

Gen Dau , May 8, 2017 at 7:55 pm

Andrew Bacevich needs to study more deeply about Syrian history and politics, since his description of Syrian president Bashar Assad as a brutal dictator fits as a description of Bashar's father Hafez Assad but is inaccurate in relation to Bashar Assad, who seems to have a rather gentle personality and is actually one of the more benign leaders in the Middle East.

Bashar Assad had planned to be a doctor, and he studied medicine for two years in the UK before being ordered to return to Syria by his father after his elder brother died in an accident. Although there were some excesses by the police in 2011, Bashar Assad quickly relaxed some old security laws and pushed for a new democratic constitution, which was promulgated in 2012. Under that new constitution, in 2014 he ran in a free election observed by international observers against two other politicians and was reelected president. He has promised that if he loses the next election he will step down.

Nevertheless Assad has been systematically demonized by the governments and MSM of the US, UK, and France, as well as by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. Demonization is a technique that is often used to prepare the way for regime change, and it is not based on objective analysis. Although Assad is often called a butcher who gasses his own people, experts such as Theodore Postol of MIT and others have shown that not a single allegation of gassing by the Syrian government under Assad has ever been proven. In addition, many of the excesses by the Syrian police against demonstrators in 2011 seem to have been initiated by armed members of the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda in Syria, who quickly infiltrated the demonstrations. There have even been allegations that jihadi sharpshooters on rooftops shot demonstrators in false-flag attacks. Similar tactics were used in Ukraine in February 2014 by ultranationalist Right Sector sharpshooters, who were seen shooting Maidan demonstrators. The deaths of the demonstrators were then blamed on the police. In the case of Syria:

"Syrian-based Father Frans van der Lugt was the Dutch priest murdered by a gunman in Homs . His involvement in reconciliation and peace activities never stopped him from lobbing criticisms at both sides in this conflict. But in the first year of the crisis, he penned some remarkable observations about the violence – this one in January 2012:

"'From the start the protest movements were not purely peaceful. From the start I saw armed demonstrators marching along in the protests, who began to shoot at the police first. Very often the violence of the security forces has been a reaction to the brutal violence of the armed rebels.'

"In September 2011 he wrote: 'From the start there has been the problem of the armed groups, which are also part of the opposition The opposition of the street is much stronger than any other opposition. And this opposition is armed and frequently employs brutality and violence, only in order then to blame the government.'"
https://www.rt.com/op-edge/157412-syria-hidden-massacre-2011/

For an objective overview of the context of the events of 2011 in Syria that led to the international war against the elected Syrian government, see Stephen Gowans, "The Revolutionary Distemper in Syria That Wasn't."
https://gowans.wordpress.com/2016/10/22/the-revolutionary-distemper-in-syria-that-wasnt/
Also see Gowans' well-researched 2016 book 'Washington's Long War on Syria.' The US has been demonizing and trying to overthrow the Syrian government for several decades now, above all because it is the only remaining semi-socialist nation in the Middle East and has single-payer national health insurance, support for the elderly, and free college education for all. Assad is no saint, but he is one of the more democratic and forward-looking leaders in the Middle East today.

Westley Wood , May 8, 2017 at 8:12 pm

Thugs committing heinous acts " and some had opportunity to squeal " S. Crane

[May 21, 2017] Now we have a government dominated by Banking and Distribution, think Goldman Sacks and Walmart

Notable quotes:
"... Over the last thirty years the power of the Manufacturing and Infrastructure concerns has fallen dramatically. So now we have a government dominated by Banking and Distribution, think Goldman Sacks and Walmart. ..."
"... According to former CIA director Richard Helms, when Allen Dulles was tasked in 1946 to "draft proposals for the shape and organization of what was to become the Central Intelligence Agency," he recruited an advisory group of six men made up almost exclusively of Wall Street investment bankers and lawyers. ..."
"... Dulles himself was an attorney at the prominent Wall Street law firm, Sullivan and Cromwell. Two years later, Dulles became the chairman of a three-man committee which reviewed the young agency's performance. ..."
"... So we see that from the beginning the CIA was an exclusive Wall Street club. Allen Dulles himself became the first civilian Director of Central Intelligence in early 1953. ..."
"... The current Democratic Party was handed two golden opportunities and blew both of them. Obama blew the 2008 financial crisis. And Hillary Clinton blew the 2016 election. ..."
"... Neoliberal Democrats seek to create the same tribablist/identity voting block on the left that the republicans have on the right. The is why people like sanjait get totally spastic when progressives criticize the party. ..."
May 21, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

Gibbon1 , May 19, 2017 at 04:24 PM

Among the rich I think there were three groups based on where their wealth and interests laid.

Banking/Insurance industry.
Distribution/logistics.
Manufacturing and Infrastructure.

Over the last thirty years the power of the Manufacturing and Infrastructure concerns has fallen dramatically. So now we have a government dominated by Banking and Distribution, think Goldman Sacks and Walmart.

libezkova - , May 20, 2017 at 09:03 PM
"Over the last thirty years the power of the Manufacturing and Infrastructure concerns has fallen dramatically. So now we have a government dominated by Banking and Distribution, think Goldman Sacks and Walmart."

This trend does not apply to Military-industrial complex (MIC). MIC probably should be listed separately. Formally it is a part of manufacturing and infrastructure, but in reality it is closely aligned with Banking and insurance.

CIA which is the cornerstone of the military industrial complex to a certain extent is an enforcement arm for financial corporations.

Allen Dulles came the law firm that secured interests of Wall Street in foreign countries, see http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30605.htm )

According to former CIA director Richard Helms, when Allen Dulles was tasked in 1946 to "draft proposals for the shape and organization of what was to become the Central Intelligence Agency," he recruited an advisory group of six men made up almost exclusively of Wall Street investment bankers and lawyers.

Dulles himself was an attorney at the prominent Wall Street law firm, Sullivan and Cromwell. Two years later, Dulles became the chairman of a three-man committee which reviewed the young agency's performance.

The other two members of the committee were also New York lawyers. For nearly a year, the committee met in the offices of J.H. Whitney, a Wall Street investment firm.

According to Peter Dale Scott, over the next twenty years, all seven deputy directors of the agency were drawn from the Wall Street financial aristocracy; and six were listed in the New York social register.

So we see that from the beginning the CIA was an exclusive Wall Street club. Allen Dulles himself became the first civilian Director of Central Intelligence in early 1953.

The prevalent myth that the CIA exists to provide intelligence information to the president was the promotional vehicle used to persuade President Harry Truman to sign the 1947 National Security Act, the legislation which created the CIA.iv

But the rationale about serving the president was never more than a partial and very imperfect truth...

Gibbon1 - , May 19, 2017 at 04:59 PM
The current Democratic Party was handed two golden opportunities and blew both of them. Obama blew the 2008 financial crisis. And Hillary Clinton blew the 2016 election.

If you have a tool and the tool it broken you try to fix it. One doesn't pretend there is nothing wrong.

The difference between neoliberal democrats and progressives is they differ on what's wrong.

Neoliberal Democrats seek to create the same tribablist/identity voting block on the left that the republicans have on the right. The is why people like sanjait get totally spastic when progressives criticize the party.

Progressives seek to create an aggressive party that represents the interests of working class and petite bourgeoisie. That is why you see progressives get spastic when the corporate democrats push appeasement policies.

[May 21, 2017] CIA is the cornerstone of the military industrial complex and, to a certain extent, an enforcement arm for financial corporations

May 21, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

DrDick, May 19, 2017 at 04:23 PM

The same as every other Republican since Eisenhower, lie to them.
Gibbon1, May 19, 2017 at 04:24 PM
Among the rich I think there were three groups based on where their wealth and interests laid.

Banking/Insurance industry.
Distribution/logistics.
Manufacturing and Infrastructure.

Over the last thirty years the power of the Manufacturing and Infrastructure concerns has fallen dramatically. So now we have a government dominated by Banking and Distribution, think Goldman Sacks and Walmart.

libezkova, May 20, 2017 at 09:03 PM
"Over the last thirty years the power of the Manufacturing and Infrastructure concerns has fallen dramatically. So now we have a government dominated by Banking and Distribution, think Goldman Sacks and Walmart."

This trend does not apply to Military-industrial complex (MIC). MIC probably should be listed separately. Formally it is a part of manufacturing and infrastructure, but in reality it is closely aligned with Banking and insurance.

CIA which is the cornerstone of the military industrial complex to a certain extent is an enforcement arm for financial corporations.

Allen Dulles came the law firm that secured interests of Wall Street in foreign countries, see http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30605.htm )

According to former CIA director Richard Helms, when Allen Dulles was tasked in 1946 to "draft proposals for the shape and organization of what was to become the Central Intelligence Agency," he recruited an advisory group of six men made up almost exclusively of Wall Street investment bankers and lawyers.

Dulles himself was an attorney at the prominent Wall Street law firm, Sullivan and Cromwell. Two years later, Dulles became the chairman of a three-man committee which reviewed the young agency's performance.

The other two members of the committee were also New York lawyers.i For nearly a year, the committee met in the offices of J.H. Whitney, a Wall Street investment firm.ii

According to Peter Dale Scott, over the next twenty years, all seven deputy directors of the agency were drawn from the Wall Street financial aristocracy; and six were listed in the New York social register.iii

So we see that from the beginning the CIA was an exclusive Wall Street club. Allen Dulles himself became the first civilian Director of Central Intelligence in early 1953.

The prevalent myth that the CIA exists to provide intelligence information to the president was the promotional vehicle used to persuade President Harry Truman to sign the 1947 National Security Act, the legislation which created the CIA.iv

But the rationale about serving the president was never more than a partial and very imperfect truth...

[May 21, 2017] Keeping communications private in the age of Big Brother (a practical HOWTO) - The Unz Review

Notable quotes:
"... the NSA has to prioritize its efforts: shall they use their supercomputers, translators, analysts, senior officers, etc. to spy after, say, the girlfriend of a senior Chinese diplomat or spy after you? ..."
"... Using sophisticated ComSec technologies only draws unwanted attention to you ..."
"... My advice is simple: never use any form of encryption while at work ..."
"... .If ComSec is important for you, you really ought to ditch your Windows or Mac/Apple machines. They – like anything Google, are basically a subsidiary of the NSA. ..."
"... The real cost of security will always be convenience : the painful reality is that good security is always inconvenient. ..."
"... The key here is "is it worth it?" and that is a personal decision of yours to take. Also, you will also need to factor in the costs of not using high-tech ..."
"... when the General Petraeus sex scandal made news, it was revealed that he communicated with is lover using this method. Since they are both career CIA officers, I guess it works. ..."
"... It's been discussed that the CIA and Deep State promoted Abstract Art as ideological weapon during the Cold War. When will people discuss the fact that Homomania is now the #1 ideological weapon of Globo-Imperialism in the Gold War. ..."
"... And the content of your messages is almost irrelevant. GCHQ doesn't monitor content of UK residents without explicit authority. It hardly needs to. It can monitor who you call, when, how often, how long are the calls, your locations, the receiver's locations, your other contacts, their other contacts. With that much information, the content is almost irrelevant. ..."
"... Re: Peter Principle. Your discussion of the open-source community level of quality made me wonder if there is a mirror image of the Peter Principle, say, the Paul Principle? ..."
"... Does anyone trust Android phones? I was sad that the Ubuntu phone failed. ..."
May 21, 2017 | www.unz.com
Second, both spying and ComSec are cost-driven . Yes, even the NSA has a limited (if huge) budget. And yes, even the NSA has to prioritize its efforts: shall they use their supercomputers, translators, analysts, senior officers, etc. to spy after, say, the girlfriend of a senior Chinese diplomat or spy after you?

It is true that all our communications are intercepted and recorded. This is especially true of the 'metadata' (who contacted whom and when and how and how often), but it is also true of our more or less 'secure' communications, be they protected by a very weak encryption algorithm or a military-grade encryption system. Once that data is stored, the NSA has to parse it (mostly looking at the metadata) and take a decision as to how much resources it is willing to allocate to your specific case. No offense intended, but if you are a small pot grower with a history of political activism who emigrated to the USA form, say, Turkey 10 years ago and if you are emailing your friends in Antalya, the NSA would need to decrypt your email. That would take them less than 1 milisecond, but somebody needs to authorize it.

Then they would have to get a machine translation from Turkish into English which will be hopefully good enough (I am quite sure that the few Turkish-language translators they have will not be allocated to you, sorry, you are just not that important). Then some analyst must read that text and decide to pass it on to his boss for follow-up. If the analyst finds your email boring, he will simply send it all into a virtual trash bin. Conclusions: For the bad guys to spy after you must be worth their time as expressed in dollars and cents, including opportunity costs (time spend *not* going after somebody more important) It is exceedingly unlikely that the NSA will put their best and brightest on your case so don't assume they will.

... ... ...

Using sophisticated ComSec technologies only draws unwanted attention to you . This one was very true and is still partially true. But the trend is in the right direction. What this argument says is that in a culture where most people use postcards to communicate using a letter in a sealed envelope makes you look suspicious. Okay, true, but only to the extend that few people are using envelopes. What has changed in the past, say, 20-30 years is that nowadays everybody is expecting some degree of security and protection. For example, many of you might remember that in the past, most Internet addresses began with HTTP whereas now they mostly begin with HTTPS: that "s" at the end stands for "secure" . Even very mainstream applications like Skype or Whatsapp use a very similar technology to the one justifying the "s" at the end of HTTPS. We now live in a world were the number of users of sealed envelopes is growing where the usage of postcards is in free fall. Still, it IS true that in some instances the use of a top-of-the-line encryption scheme will draw somebody's attention to you.

... ... ...

My advice is simple: never use any form of encryption while at work or on the clock. ...Just keep a reasonably low profile. For public consumption, I also recommend using Google's Gmail. Not only does it work very well, but using Gmail makes you look "legit" in the eyes of the idiots. So why not use it?

...The US government has many ways to spy on you. You can use the most advanced encryption schemes, but if your computer is running Windows you are *begging* for a backdoor and, in fact, you probably already have many of them in your machine. But even if your operating system is really secure like, say OpenBSD or SEL-Debian, the NSA can spy on you ,,,

...If ComSec is important for you, you really ought to ditch your Windows or Mac/Apple machines. They – like anything Google, are basically a subsidiary of the NSA.

If you use remote servers to provide you with " software as a service " try to use those who have a stake in being peer-reviewed and who only use open source technologies (Silent Circle's Silent Phone is an example). There are public interest and "watchdog" type of organizations out there who will help you make the right choices, such as the Electronic Freedom Foundation .

... ... ...

The real cost of security will always be convenience : the painful reality is that good security is always inconvenient. In theory, security does not need to harm convenience, but in reality it always, always does. For example, to become more or less proficient in ComSec you need to educate yourself, that takes time and energy. Using a key to enter a home takes more time than to open an unlocked door. A retinal scan takes even more time (and costs a lot more). You might always spend a great deal of time trying to convince your friends to adopt your practices, but they will reject your advice for many more or less valid reasons. The key here is "is it worth it?" and that is a personal decision of yours to take. Also, you will also need to factor in the costs of not using high-tech.

... ... ...

Carlton Meyer , Website May 21, 2017 at 3:22 am GMT

I have read about a simpler method. Open a web mail account with yahoo or whoever and share the username/password. Then compose a message and save the draft. Your partner later opens the draft and adds a response, saves draft, and so on. No e-mail is ever sent, so there is nothing to intercept.

This sounded crafty but I was unsure if it was secure and have no need anyway, but when the General Petraeus sex scandal made news, it was revealed that he communicated with is lover using this method. Since they are both career CIA officers, I guess it works.

Philip Owen , May 21, 2017 at 11:59 am GMT

Medieval methods work best. Surround a large building with guards. In the middle of the large internal space place a circle of (inspected) chairs. Meet in a huddle.

For the poor, nothing beats a walk in the countryside, even a park.

Anon , May 21, 2017 at 6:38 pm GMT

It's been discussed that the CIA and Deep State promoted Abstract Art as ideological weapon during the Cold War. When will people discuss the fact that Homomania is now the #1 ideological weapon of Globo-Imperialism in the Gold War.

Philip Owen , May 21, 2017 at 7:28 pm GMT

And the content of your messages is almost irrelevant. GCHQ doesn't monitor content of UK residents without explicit authority. It hardly needs to. It can monitor who you call, when, how often, how long are the calls, your locations, the receiver's locations, your other contacts, their other contacts. With that much information, the content is almost irrelevant.

Ivy , May 21, 2017 at 8:12 pm GMT

Re: Peter Principle. Your discussion of the open-source community level of quality made me wonder if there is a mirror image of the Peter Principle, say, the Paul Principle?

DaveE , May 21, 2017 at 8:33 pm GMT

A great way to keep your cellphone radio-silent is to wrap it in a (2 is better still) metallized mylar potato chip or Doritos bag. (The more silvery looking, the better, in my experience.)

The cell sites will NOT be able to ask your phone for its ID or give up its location, until you take it out of the bag, of course.

It's a great way to take a road trip without the NSA knowing EXACTLY where you are at every point along the way. And generally, you will be able to return your calls when you get home since there will be a record of the calls at your provider, which will come up (in your message box) when the phone is re-enabled.

Be aware though, once the phone is taken out of the bag, it will register with the local cell sites (i.e. your cover will be blown.)

Ben Banned , May 21, 2017 at 8:50 pm GMT

Debian with the ssl bug that quietly existed for years – most likely for spying? That OS? That "community" effort? Which is basically derived from (Redhat) which is the DOD? Pffrt. Most of this is nonsense.

The NSA has made people their bitch, in the most obvious ways. In the spirit of security then and being a dutiful patriotic bitch – keep posting on social media given to you by the "truth tellers". They are here to help you right? Tell you all the truthiness because they "were" in the military, and "were" spooks. Keep your iphones close and let your mind do the deep state's thinking.

Eagle Eye , May 22, 2017 at 12:54 am GMT

For your emails: Protonmail https://protonmail.com/ (free of charge)

Free of charge? Paid for by whom?

As others have pointed out (if not in so many words), 95% of the spying efforts by the NSA and others are directed at traffic analysis , not analyzing the CONTENT of communications. Who contacted whom, when, for how long, etc. can tell you a lot about what is going on, and is very easy and cheap to do on a massive (humanity-wide) scale using existing computer technology.

The Electronic Frontiers Foundation referred to in the Saker's piece illustrates the point:

• They know you rang a phone sex service at 2:24 am and spoke for 18 minutes. But they don't know what you talked about.
• They know you called the suicide prevention hotline from the Golden Gate Bridge. But the topic of the call remains a secret.
• They know you spoke with an HIV testing service, then your doctor, then your health insurance company in the same hour. But they don't know what was discussed.
• They know you received a call from the local NRA office while it was having a campaign against gun legislation, and then called your senators and congressional representatives immediately after. But the content of those calls remains safe from government intrusion.
• They know you called a gynecologist, spoke for a half hour, and then called the local Planned Parenthood's number later that day. But nobody knows what you spoke about.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/06/why-metadata-matters

In a similar vein, it is said (almost certainly correctly) that Target can spot whether a shopper is pregnant long before she starts buying obvious baby-related stuff.

Johnny F. Ive , May 22, 2017 at 2:00 am GMT

I didn't know about the phone apps. They look nice. Does anyone trust Android phones? I was sad that the Ubuntu phone failed. I'd like smart phones to be more like PCs where new operating systems can be installed on them. Is "SEL-Debian," Security Enhanced Linux? The NSA developed that. OpenBSD supposed to be real nice and encrypted. How about systemd? The good thing about open source is that the code is open but does anyone read it?

...

[May 21, 2017] The New Anti-Russian Hysteria by Edward S. Herman

Notable quotes:
"... It is sad to see the liberals carried away on the wave of hysteria about the supposed Russian information warfare menace and possible influence over or even capture of the Trump presidency. It is also very dangerous to human welfare as it helps consolidate the power of the military-industrial complex, its war party associates, and the regressive deep state political forces that liberals claim to oppose. These political forces can fix a party line that quickly becomes an incontestible truth in the mainstream media (MSM). ..."
"... Thus, with the Soviet Union declared an "evil empire" it could be effectively tagged for crimes it did not commit (e.g., organizing the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981), and Saddam Hussein could be found allied with Al Qaeda and in possession of a large stock of weapons of mass destruction in 2003, lies that the MSM had no trouble swallowing. ..."
"... The steady process of Putin demonization escalated with the Ukraine crisis of 2014 and its sequel of Kiev warfare against East Ukraine, Russian support of the Eastern Ukraine resistance, and the Crimean referendum and absorption of Crimea by Russia. ..."
"... The Putin connection was given great impetus by the January 6, 2017 release of a report of the Office of Director of National Intelligence, on Background of Assessing Russian Activities and Intention in Recent U.S. Elections This short document spends about half of its space describing the Russian-sponsored RT-TV network which it seems to consider an illegitimate propaganda source as it often reports on and even criticizes U.S. policy and institutions. ..."
"... RT is allegedly part of Russia's "influence campaign," which consists of reporting on subjects that Russian leaders deem in Russia's interest. "We assess the influence campaign aspired to help President-elect Trump's chances of victory when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to the President-elect. ..."
"... So the purpose and importance of the Assessment is clear. Thin and even ludicrous though its evidence of a Putin ordered propaganda campaign and Russian e-mail hacks transmitted through WikiLeaks may be, the release and pushing into prominence of this material behind the backs of the incoming administration was a major political action by agencies in principle subordinate to the political leadership. Of course it follows similar tactics by the departing Obama administration, one of whose last acts was expelling 35 Russian Embassy personnel in retaliation for the supposed Russian hacking (which Obama didn't even believe-in his final press conference he referred to "leaks" rather than "hacking"). But the political point of the Assessment seems to have been, at minimum, to tie the Trump administration's hands in its dealings with Russia. ..."
"... The NYT has run neck-and-neck with the WP in stirring up fears of the Russian information war and improper involvement with Trump. ..."
Mar 27, 2017 | zcomm.org
It is sad to see the liberals carried away on the wave of hysteria about the supposed Russian information warfare menace and possible influence over or even capture of the Trump presidency. It is also very dangerous to human welfare as it helps consolidate the power of the military-industrial complex, its war party associates, and the regressive deep state political forces that liberals claim to oppose. These political forces can fix a party line that quickly becomes an incontestible truth in the mainstream media (MSM).

Thus, with the Soviet Union declared an "evil empire" it could be effectively tagged for crimes it did not commit (e.g., organizing the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981), and Saddam Hussein could be found allied with Al Qaeda and in possession of a large stock of weapons of mass destruction in 2003, lies that the MSM had no trouble swallowing.

Boris Yeltsin, accommodating to U.S. advice and pressure from 1991-2000, seriously damaged his own people's well-being (Russian GDP fell 50 percent, between 1991-1998), but, while he was also creating an oligarchic and authoritarian economic and political structure he was lauded as a great democrat in the MSM. Yeltsin's election victory in 1996, greatly assisted by U.S. consultants, advice and money, and otherwise seriously corrupt, was "A Victory for Russian Democracy" (NYT, ed,, July 4, 1996). His successor, Vladimir Putin, gradually discarding the Yeltsin-era subservience, became a steadily increasing menace. His reelection in 2012, although surely less corrupt than Yeltsin's in 1996, was treated harshly in the media. No "victory for Russian democracy" here, and the lead NYT article on May 5, 2012 featured "a slap in the face" from OSCE observers, claims of no real competition, and "thousands of antigovernment protesters gathered in Moscow square to chant 'Russia without Putin'" (Ellen Barry and Michael Schwartz, "After Election, Putin Faces Challenges to Legitimacy"). There were no "challenges to legitimacy" reported in the MSM in Yeltsin's corrupt victory in 1996, although it was so corrupt that Yeltsin may actually have lost the election but for a fraudulent count (on February 20, 2012, outgoing Russian President Dmitri Medvedev shocked a small group of visitors by acknowledging that Yeltsin might really have lost the 1996 election to Communist Gennadi Zyuganov).

The steady process of Putin demonization escalated with the Ukraine crisis of 2014 and its sequel of Kiev warfare against East Ukraine, Russian support of the Eastern Ukraine resistance, and the Crimean referendum and absorption of Crimea by Russia. This was all declared to be "aggression" by the U.S. and its allies and clients, sanctions were imposed on Russia and the U.S.-NATO buildup on the Russian borders increased. Tensions mounted further with the shootdown of Malaysian Airlines MH-17, effectively but almost surely falsely, blamed on the "pro-Russian" rebels and Russia itself (see Robert Parry, "Troubling Gaps in the New MH-17 Report," Consortiumnews.com, September 28, 2016). A further cause of demonization and anti-Russian hostility resulted from escalated Russian intervention in Syria in support of Bashar al-Saddad and against ISIS. The U.S. and its NATO and local Middle East allies had been committing aggression against Syria and in de facto alliance with ISIS and Al-Nusrah, an offshoot of Al Qaeda. Russian intervention turned the tide, the U.S. (etc) goal of removing Saddad was upset and the tacit U.S. ally, ISIS, was also severely weakened. Certainly demonic behavior. The next and ongoing phase of anti-Russian hysteria was based on Russia's purported entry into the 2016 presidential campaign and on the growing role of the CIA and other U.S. security services in hysteria-implementation, in close alliance with the MSM. In the third presidential debate, on October 19, 2016, Clinton declared that Trump would be a Putin "puppet" as president, and her campaign placed great emphasis on this. This emphasis increased after the election, with the help of the media and intelligence services as the Clinton camp sought to explain the election loss and possibly get the election result overturned in the courts or electoral college by blaming it on Russia.

The Putin connection was given great impetus by the January 6, 2017 release of a report of the Office of Director of National Intelligence, on Background of Assessing Russian Activities and Intention in Recent U.S. Elections This short document spends about half of its space describing the Russian-sponsored RT-TV network which it seems to consider an illegitimate propaganda source as it often reports on and even criticizes U.S. policy and institutions.

RT is allegedly part of Russia's "influence campaign," which consists of reporting on subjects that Russian leaders deem in Russia's interest. "We assess the influence campaign aspired to help President-elect Trump's chances of victory when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to the President-elect. "

There is no semblance of proof that there was a planned "campaign" rather than the expression of opinion and associated news judgments. All the logic and proofs of a Russian "influence campaign" could be applied with at least equal force to U.S. media treatment of any Russian election.

As regards their effort to prove that the Russians intervened more directly in the U.S. electoral process, the authors hedge by saying the report doesn't provide the "full supporting evidence," but it provides no supporting evidence-only assertions, assessments, assumptions and guesses. It states blandly that "We assess that Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2015" designed to defeat Clinton, and "to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process," but it provides no evidence whatsoever for any such order. It also provides no evidence that Russia hacked the DNC, Clinton and Podesta e-mails, or that it gave hacked information to WikiLeaks. Julian Assange and Craig Murray have repeatedly claimed that these sources were leaked by local insiders, not hacked by anybody. And veteran intelligence agency experts William Binney and Ray McGovern also contend that the WikiLeaks evidence was surely leaked, not hacked ("The Dubious Case on Russian 'Hacking'," Consortiumnews.com, January 6, 2017). It is of interest that among the intelligence agencies who signed on to the DNI document, the one with the greatest reservations-only "moderate confidence"--was the NSA, which is the agency that would most clearly be in possession of proof of Russian hacking and transmission to Wiki-Leaks as well as any "orders" from Putin.

In the immediate aftermath of the election, Clinton blamed FBI head James Comey's reopening and then quickly closing the case on her earlier unauthorized use of a private email server, as the key factor in her election loss ("Clinton Blames FBI Director for Her Defeat," NYT, November 13, 2016). This suggests that even she and her campaigners didn't consider the alleged Russian hacking and WikiLeaks revelations as that important. But the Russian-Putin connection lived on and even escalated further.

The MSM have given no attention to the politicization of the intelligence agencies in these cases. The more durable and important case involving Russia has been damaging to Trump and any peace prospects that his presidency might have brought. But the FBI-Clinton episode was damaging to Clinton and benefited Trump's electoral chances. One theory is that the FBI leadership favored Trump while the CIA favored Clinton. Another theory is that the intelligence agencies trusted neither candidate, so fatally injured Clinton and then turned their guns on Trump, with the FBI signing on to the joint agencies "Assessment" after having finished with Clinton. (Robert Parry, "A Spy Coup in America?" Consortiumnews.com, December 18, 2016.)

But the CIA's hostility to Trump has been conspicuous, and their brazen intervention in the election process broke new ground in secret service politicization. Former CIA head Michael Morell had an August 5, 2016 op-ed in the New York Times entitled "I Ran the C.I.A. Now I'm Endorsing Hillary Clinton"; and former CIA boss Michael Hayden had an op-ed in the Washington Post, just days before the election, entitled "Former CIA Chief: Trump is Russia's Useful Fool" (November 3, 2016). These attacks were unrelievedly insulting to Trump and laudatory to Clinton, though interestingly there is no mention of the merits or demerits of the candidates domestic policy programs. It is explicit that Clinton's more pugnacious approach to Syria and Russia is much preferred to Trump's leanings toward negotiation and cooperation with Russia.

So the purpose and importance of the Assessment is clear. Thin and even ludicrous though its evidence of a Putin ordered propaganda campaign and Russian e-mail hacks transmitted through WikiLeaks may be, the release and pushing into prominence of this material behind the backs of the incoming administration was a major political action by agencies in principle subordinate to the political leadership. Of course it follows similar tactics by the departing Obama administration, one of whose last acts was expelling 35 Russian Embassy personnel in retaliation for the supposed Russian hacking (which Obama didn't even believe-in his final press conference he referred to "leaks" rather than "hacking"). But the political point of the Assessment seems to have been, at minimum, to tie the Trump administration's hands in its dealings with Russia.

This was also true of the further scandal with Michael Flynn's call from the Russian Ambassador, possibly including exchanges about future policy actions. This was quickly grasped by the outgoing Obama officials and security personnel, with the FBI interrogating Flynn and with widespread expressions of horror at Flynn's action, allegedly possibly setting him up for blackmail. But such pre-inauguration meetings with Russian diplomats have been a "common practice" according to Jack Matlock, the U.S. ambassador to Russia under Reagan and Bush, and Matlock had personally arranged such a meeting for Carter. Obama's own Russia adviser, Michael McFaul, admitted to visiting Moscow for talks with officials in 2008 even before the election. Daniel Lazare makes a good case that the illegality and blackmail threat are implausible, that the FBI's interrogation of Flynn reeks of entrapment, and he asks what is wrong with trying to reduce tensions with Russia? "Yet anti-Trump liberals are trying to convince the public that it's all 'worse than Watergate'." ("Democrats, Liberals, Catch McCarthyistic Fever," Consortiumnews.com, February 17, 2017.)

One of the few positive features of the Trump campaign had been a refusal to demonize Putin and an indication of a desire to normalize relations with Russia. Given the growth and power of the military-industrial complex, and the security agencies, there were powerful vested interests in continued hostile relations with Russia, manifested in the Assessment and other security agency overt and covert leaks, and the cooperation of the media (as in their publication of the CIA election letters).

Paralleling the Assessment's stress on the Russian "influence campaign," the MSM became very preoccupied with "fake news," often implicitly or explicitly tied to Russia. An awkward fact in this context is that the disclosures of Clinton, DNC, and Podesta emails allegedly hacked by Russia described facts about electoral manipulations on behalf of the Clinton campaign that might well have affected election results. The focus on the non-existent Russian hacking intrusion helped divert attention from this real electoral abuse. Official and MSM fake news helped bury real news.

The most remarkable media episode in this anti-influence campaign, that was and still is a real anti-Russian disinformation campaign, was the Washington Post's classic by Craig Timberg, "Russian propaganda effort helped spread 'fake news' during election, experts say" (November 24, 2016). The article features a report by an anonymous author or authors, PropOrNot, a "group that insists on public anonymity" according to the WP editors. The group claims to have found 200 websites that wittingly or unwittingly, were "routine peddlers of Russian propaganda." While smearing these websites, the "experts" refused to identify themselves allegedly out of fear of being "targeted by legions of skilled hackers."

As Matt Taibbi says,"You want to blacklist hundreds of people, but you won't put your name to your claims? Take a hike." ("The 'Washington Post's 'Blacklist' Story Is Shameful and Disgusting," RollingStone.com, November 28, 2016.) But the WP welcomed and featured this smear job, which might well be a product of Pentagon or CIA information warfare (and they are well funded and heavily into the propaganda business).

The NYT has run neck-and-neck with the WP in stirring up fears of the Russian information war and improper involvement with Trump. They easily confuse fake news with any criticism of established institutions, as in Mark Scott and Melissa Eddy, "Europe Combats a New Foe of Political Stability: Fake News," February 20, 2017; analyzed, in Robert Parry, "NYT's Fake News about Fake News," Consortium news.com, February 22, 2017. But what is more extraordinary is the uniformity with which the paper's regular columnists accept the CIA's Assessment of the Russian hacking-transmission to WikiLeaks, the dreadfulness of the Flynn case, the possibility or likelihood that Trump is a Putin puppet, and the urgent need of a congressional and "non-partisan" investigation of these claims. This swallowing of a new party line has extended widely in the liberal media (e.g., Robert Reich, Ryan Lizza, Joan Walsh, Rachel Maddow, the AlterNet website, etc.).

On December 23, 2016 President Obama signed the Portman-Murphy "Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act," which will supposedly allow this country to more effectively combat foreign (Russian, Chinese) propaganda and disinformation. It will encourage more government counter-propaganda efforts and provide funding to non-government entities that will help counter propaganda.

It is clearly a follow-on to the claims of Russian hacking and propaganda, and may even be said to be a follow-on to the listing of 200 knowing or "useful tools" of Moscow featured in the Washington Post. Perhaps PropOrNot will qualify for a subsidy and be able to enlarge its list of 200. Liberals have been quiet on this new threat to freedom of speech, which was signed into law on a Friday, perhaps paralyzed by their fears of Russian-based fake news and propaganda. But they may wake up, even if belatedly, when Trump or one of his successors puts it to work on their own notions of fake news and propaganda.

Z

Edward S. Herman is an author, economist, and media analyst with a specialty in corporate and regulatory issues as well as political economy.

[May 21, 2017] During the Cold War the story was Democracy versus the Commies, traditional "good versus evil" type of stuff. Once the USSR collapsed a new evil adversary had to be found.

Notable quotes:
"... Global neo-liberal establishment. Say it three times and click your heels. ..."
"... You remember last year as clearly as I do, how, suddenly, out of seemingly nowhere, the Putin-Nazi menace materialized, and took the place of the "self-radicalized terrorist" as the primary target for people's hatred and fear. ..."
May 21, 2017 | www.unz.com

Punchie , Website May 18, 2017 at 4:13 am GMT

Global neo-liberal establishment. Say it three times and click your heels.

jilles dykstra , May 18, 2017 at 5:42 am GMT

Neoliberalism, another word for 'money rules the world'. Draghi visited the Dutch parliament, Baudet, FVD, asked him if, since Draghi had warned Italy that leaving the euro would cost them about 100 billion euro, Ittalians debts, the Netherland would get about 100 billion if we left the euro. 100 billion is what we lent, say, Draghi. His 'answer' was that the euro is irreversible. He apparently does not know that within tn years after the dissolution of the Habsburg empire all the new states ahd created their own money.

Since all euo zone members still have their central banks, it is quite easy to leave the euro.

Kiza , May 18, 2017 at 6:33 am GMT

No one ever went bankrupt because he overestimated the stupidity of the US people, especially the liberal/neoliberal half. Yet, it escapes both the author and me why this dumber liberal half of Americans has the propensity to call itself "intellectual". Maybe intellectual is a synonym for stupid in the New US Speak, you know like War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength.

Idiocracy it truly is.

As to the intellectuals' media it is the usual assortment of The Jew Pork Slimes, The Washington Compost, The Independent from the Truth, The Guardian of the Lies and so on.

ThereisaGod , May 18, 2017 at 9:50 am GMT

It is time to start saying it out loud. The west is occupied territory and our occupiers are, unfortunately, largely Jews whose first loyaly is tribal and NOT to the country in which they reside. http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/2017/05/16/fake-jews-deceit-and-double-think-in-britains-hostile-elite/

jilles dykstra , May 18, 2017 at 10:08 am GMT

@joe webb

Agent76 , May 18, 2017 at 2:34 pm GMT

Oct 17, 2015 Paul Craig Roberts on the failure of Neoliberalism

Paul Craig Roberts (born April 3, 1939) is an American economist and a columnist for Creators Syndicate. He served as an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration and was noted as a co-founder of Reaganomics. He is a former editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and Scripps Howard News Service. He has testified before congressional committees on 30 occasions on issues of economic policy.

Rurik , Website May 18, 2017 at 2:52 pm GMT

a bevy of former-East German hookers engaging in Odinist sex magick rituals in an FSB-owned bordello in Moscow

yes please! great article

Anon , May 18, 2017 at 2:58 pm GMT

Ramzpaul's bare-bones description of deep state.

joe webb , May 18, 2017 at 3:32 pm GMT

@Agent76 Oct 17, 2015 Paul Craig Roberts on the failure of Neoliberalism

Paul Craig Roberts (born April 3, 1939) is an American economist and a columnist for Creators Syndicate. He served as an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration and was noted as a co-founder of Reaganomics. He is a former editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and Scripps Howard News Service. He has testified before congressional committees on 30 occasions on issues of economic policy.

https://youtu.be/73ipVz-6YYs

Jake , May 18, 2017 at 4:11 pm GMT

If Hopkins continues to write in this vein, he may eventually produce a truly first rate play. Which will mark him forever as a tool of Russia and the mastermind of all EVIL , Putin.

Rurik , Website May 18, 2017 at 4:27 pm GMT

@joe webb one of the characteristic forms of comments here is this: one or two sentences and nothing else. No sustained thought process which can relate X to Y and Z, as in multi-factor analysis, historical parallels, psychology, etc.

Failure of intelligence. There is nothing like intelligence. (or lack thereof)

jilles dykstra , May 18, 2017 at 5:14 pm GMT

@Agent76 Mar 18, 2014 US support of violent neo-Nazis in Ukraine: Video Compilation

Shocking and insightful videos detailing the neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic, ultra-nationalist movement in Ukraine. The videos examine the ongoing US support of these groups, including the Svoboda party and Right Sector.

https://youtu.be/8-RyOaFwcEw

RadicalCenter , May 18, 2017 at 5:34 pm GMT

@Kiza No one ever went bankrupt because he overestimated the stupidity of the US people, especially the liberal/neoliberal half. Yet, it escapes both the author and me why this dumber liberal half of Americans has the propensity to call itself "intellectual". Maybe intellectual is a synonym for stupid in the New US Speak, you know like War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength.

Idiocracy it truly is.

As to the intellectuals' media it is the usual assortment of The Jew Pork Slimes, The Washington Compost, The Independent from the Truth, The Guardian of the Lies and so on.

Anon , May 18, 2017 at 6:28 pm GMT

This 'impeachment' thing should really be called JEW COUP. Jews run the media and shape the Narrative. So, the Liberation of Aleppo was called the 'Fall of Aleppo'. So, Alqaeda elements in Syria were called 'moderate rebels'. So, we were fed lies about Libya to have it destroyed. And so much fuss is made about Evil Putin but we hear nothing of what Jewish oligarchs did to Russian economy in the 90s.

Jews are so powerful they can even convince American Morons that marriage = two men buggering one another. This is not about impeachment. Jews hate Trump because he wants better ties with Russia, a nation that freed itself from total Jewish Control.

RobinG , May 18, 2017 at 10:43 pm GMT

@El Dato So what!

"Intelligence is just a tool to be used toward a goal, and goals are not always chosen intelligently" - Larry Niven from "Protector"

Also,

You remember last year as clearly as I do, how, suddenly, out of seemingly nowhere, the Putin-Nazi menace materialized, and took the place of the "self-radicalized terrorist" as the primary target for people's hatred and fear.
Not at all. After the awkward "russian reset" attempt by the Clinton-Obama axis of diplomacy, which somehow failed, the intolerance to all things Russian started during Snowden's "Summer of Surveillance" redpilling (i.e. 2013). Systemic shock mode was entered when the Ukraine liberation encountered unsuspected and sudden (and definitely "reactive") pushback in 2014 and Russia started supporting Syria against the ISIS "our temporary friends" clownshow in 2015.

(The other "primary target for people's hatred and fear", the always good to amuse the hoi polloi cardboard cutout Ghaddafi had sadly shuffled of this mortal coil a bit earlier. So sad! And the bullshit of "Iran's gonna have da bomb next week, this time for sure" stuff going on since the 90s didn't get much traction anymore.)

annamaria , May 19, 2017 at 4:26 am GMT

@ThereisaGod It is time to start saying it out loud. The west is occupied territory and our occupiers are, unfortunately, largely Jews whose first loyally is tribal and NOT to the country in which they reside.

http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/2017/05/16/fake-jews-deceit-and-double-think-in-britains-hostile-elite/

joe webb , May 19, 2017 at 4:42 am GMT

@Anon single factor analysis. It is not just the jews. The Dems are a coalition of blacks, jews, asians, indians, mexers, and some working class whites who have not left yet for the GOP and Trump, AND White Liberals, mostly professionals, who have sold out to globalism and its One World of Consumers.

Yes, there is a so-called 'Liberal Coalition' of various groups. But are they equal in power and influence?

In truth, Jews dominate. For example, Asians have no agency of their own. They just follow the narratives of other. Mexers are happy to be Guillermos and have no interest apart from tacos. Their only politics is calling whites 'gringos', blacks 'negritos', and Asians 'chinos'. Blacks are loud and vocal, but it's all about blacks. Blacks have no knowledge and interest in the larger world. They are very tribal and provincial.

If not for Jewish Power, NO ONE would be interested in Russia. That is a Jewish thing.
If blacks ran the Democratic Party, they would fixate on some OTHER ISSUE to get at Trump.
Blacks jumped on the Russia bandwagon ONLY BECAUSE Jews set the template and the meme. Since that is the Anti-Trump Meme as chosen by Jews, all anti-Trumpers are parroting the same crap. But Russia became the Key Issue because Jews are obsessed with Russia and what it implies. Jews set the Narrative and others play do the Parrotive.
The Powerful get to decide the Narrative. The less powerful just tag along like dogs and repeat the mantra set by the Powerful. They are parrots with the Parrotive.

Also, only Jews have the direct power in media, deep state, and finance(owning all politicians through AIPAC) to pull off what is happening.

Just think. Suppose Asians don't want to go after Trump but Jews want to. What would happen? Jews would decide, and Asians would have choice but to go along.
Now, suppose Asians want to go after Trump, but Jews don't want to. Could Asians push for impeachment without Jewish support? NO way.

Or suppose blacks want to go after Trump, but Jews say NO and won't give anti-Trump support in media and Deep State. Would it happen? No.
Or suppose blacks want to work with Trump but Jews want to go after him. Would it happen? Yes, because Jews get to pull all the strings.

So, while it is true that there is a Democratic Coalition, Jews have 1000x the power of other groups. I mean consider how most Jews and most Arabs are in the Democratic Camp, but Zionists have far more power than Palestinians/Muslims do.

This is a Jew Coup because Jews are the single-most powerful element in Democratic Party, GOP, Congress(by buying up politicians), FED, Wall Street, and etc.

annamaria , May 19, 2017 at 2:35 pm GMT

@Wally Yeah, sure.

Jewish groups get up to 97% of grants from the Homeland Security

http://mondoweiss.net/2012/07/islamophobia-shmislamophobia-97-of-homeland-security-security-grants-go-to-jewish-orgs

The True Cost of Parasite Israel
Forced US taxpayers money to Israel goes far beyond the official numbers.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-true-cost-of-israel/

How to Bring Down the Elephant in the Room

http://www.unz.com/tsaker/how-to-bring-down-the-elephant-in-the-room/

Agent76 , May 19, 2017 at 3:15 pm GMT

Sep 9, 2016 US-funded Ukrainian army is terrorizing civilians. Russell Bentley is a former US marine, that now fights for the Donbass, Eastern Ukraine, against the US-funded Ukrainian army.

https://youtu.be/92KfmGY12yQ

El Dato , May 19, 2017 at 3:51 pm GMT

@Ace We are awash in lies: race, racism, white privilege, constitutional America, living Constitution, propositional nation, nation of immigrants, American exceptionalism, responsibility to protect (humanitarian war), Assad the Dictator, Islamism/moderate Muslims, our ally Israel, our ally Saudi Arabia, evilevil Putin, the one and only holocaust, right-wing National Socialism, N"A"TO, evil Serbia, Islam's contribution, the Crusades, patriarchy, gender, homosexual marriage, women's suffrage, diversity, multiculturalism, open borders, welfare state, socialized medicine, objective MSM, Saint Abraham, Saint Ze-dong, Obama the natural born citizen, the administrative state, frustrated ghetto rocket scientists, indispensable nation, Gaddafi the Tyrant, Axis of Evil, Judeo-Christianity, the Three Abrahamic religions, globalism, free trade, immigrant monetary contribution doing jobs Americans​won't do, climate change, agw, alternative energy, reasonable gun control, nation building, the glass ceiling, pay inequality, vote suppression, the evil of segregation, black nationalism, private prison oppression, disparity in sentencing, Roe v. Wade, the innocence of Mumia Jaba Jabu, reparations, BLM, debt ceiling, government shutdowns, unemployment, inflation, the "Federal" Reserve, dual citizenship, the EU, refugees, metissage commercials, homosexuality in commercials, white burglars in commercials, POC in commercials. Mexico our friend, GOP principles, bipartisanship, McCarthy the Indecent, Gulf of Tonkin incident, Israel's mistake re the Liberty, the _________ Commission, St. Martin the Patriot, Robert Mueller the FBI Muslim realist, the neocon patriot, Saint Franklin, the New Deal, the "US" Chamber of Commerce Keynesianism, quantitative easing, and St. Hillary the Incorrupt.

Oh yes. And our desperate need for Nigerians, Syrians, and Somalis​. And Hindu software engineers.

I'm out of ideas now at which point​ one must say, "And I could go on and on."

Ace , May 19, 2017 at 8:57 pm GMT

@El Dato This must be the next basic text for an updated Billy Joel's "We didn't Start the Fire" (clip needs to be updated to have Snowden on 24/7 TV and no-one cares)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFTLKWw542g

joe webb , May 20, 2017 at 4:27 am GMT

@Agent76 Sorry joe webb I do not partake in any flavor of Kool-aid! DECEMBER 25, 2015 NATO: Seeking Russia's Destruction Since 1949

In 1990, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, U.S. president George H. W. Bush through his secretary of state James Baker promised Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev that in exchange for Soviet cooperation on German reunification, the Cold War era NATO alliance would not expand "one inch" eastwards towards Russia.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/12/25/nato-seeking-russias-destruction-since-1949/

joe webb , May 20, 2017 at 5:06 am GMT

@huswa That's a really interesting view about operating on principle vs. on in-group relations. Can you please reply with some relevant articles if you have them?

I've traveled quite a lot and have seen principled people in all parts of the world. Sometimes they are really drowned out by the masses. I do not think that altruism is specific to whites. The "White Man's Burden" wasn't altruism. Colonizers weren't in it to lift up the world. They wanted money and other resources. As an example they crippled local economies t Of course, they did a lot of good

[May 21, 2017] Orwellian nature of the USA society

Notable quotes:
"... The Goldman Sachs vampires are back in the White House (as they have been for over one hundred years). The post-Cold War destabilization and restructuring of the Middle East is moving forward right on schedule. ..."
"... The Russians, Iranians, North Koreans, and other non-globalist-ball-playing parties remain surrounded by the most ruthlessly murderous military machine in the annals of history. Greece is being debt-enslaved and looted. And so on. Life is back to normal. ..."
"... the completely ridiculous "Trump is a Putinist agent" propaganda they'd been relentlessly spewing since he won the election, a significant number of deluded persons, having swallowed their official vomitus (i.e., the vomitus of Blow and Krugman, and other neoliberal establishment hacks) like the hungry Adélie penguin chicks in those nature shows narrated by David Attenborough are convinced (these deluded persons are) that the Russians are waging a global campaign not only to maliciously hack, or interfere with, or marginally influence, free and fair elections throughout the Western world, but to control the minds of Westerners themselves, in some Orwellian, or possibly Wachowskian fashion. ..."
"... Worse yet, these deluded persons are certain, the Russians are now secretly running the White House, and are just using Trump, and the Goldman Sachs gang, and capitalist centurions like General McMaster, as a front for their subversive activities, like denying Americans universal healthcare and privatizing the hell out of everything ..."
May 21, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
libezkova , May 20, 2017 at 03:35 PM

Here is an interesting quote from

http://www.unz.com/article/invasion-of-the-putin-nazis/

Invasion of the Putin-Nazis by C.J. Hopkins

So, here we are, a little over one hundred days into " The Age of Darkness " and the " racially Orwellian " Trumpian Reich , and, all right, while it's certainly no party, it appears that those reports we heard of the Death of Neoliberalism were greatly exaggerated. Not only has the entire edifice of Western democracy not been toppled, but the global capitalist ruling classes seem to be going about their business in more or less the usual manner.

The Goldman Sachs vampires are back in the White House (as they have been for over one hundred years). The post-Cold War destabilization and restructuring of the Middle East is moving forward right on schedule.

The Russians, Iranians, North Koreans, and other non-globalist-ball-playing parties remain surrounded by the most ruthlessly murderous military machine in the annals of history. Greece is being debt-enslaved and looted. And so on. Life is back to normal.

Or OK, not completely normal. Because, despite the fact that editorialists at "respectable" papers like The New York Times (and I'm explicitly referring to Charles M. Blow and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman) have recently dropped the completely ridiculous "Trump is a Putinist agent" propaganda they'd been relentlessly spewing since he won the election, a significant number of deluded persons, having swallowed their official vomitus (i.e., the vomitus of Blow and Krugman, and other neoliberal establishment hacks) like the hungry Adélie penguin chicks in those nature shows narrated by David Attenborough are convinced (these deluded persons are) that the Russians are waging a global campaign not only to maliciously hack, or interfere with, or marginally influence, free and fair elections throughout the Western world, but to control the minds of Westerners themselves, in some Orwellian, or possibly Wachowskian fashion.

Worse yet, these deluded persons are certain, the Russians are now secretly running the White House, and are just using Trump, and the Goldman Sachs gang, and capitalist centurions like General McMaster, as a front for their subversive activities, like denying Americans universal healthcare and privatizing the hell out of everything.

[May 20, 2017] Still Chasing the Wrong Rainbows by Andrew Bacevich

Notable quotes:
"... Today, in the era of Donald Trump, that confusion has returned with a vengeance. Trump for his part vows to "Make America Great Again," with greatness measured in quantitative terms: jobs, income, profits, stock prices, and trade balances. For those ordinary Americans left behind or dispossessed by the economic and social changes that have swept the United States in recent decades, the appeal of Trump's promise of greatness restored is understandable. Their resentment handed him the White House. ..."
"... Yet Trump's first hundred days in residence there offer precious little evidence that he will deliver on that promise. Neither he nor anyone else in the Republican leadership has demonstrated the requisite competence or political savvy. Furthermore, nothing that Trump has said or done since taking office suggests that he possesses the capacity or even the inclination to articulate a unifying conception of a common good . The real, although unarticulated slogan of his presidency, is one that looks to "Deepen American Divisions," with members of the fiercely anti-Trump Left, his ironic collaborators. On all sides, resentment grows. ..."
"... Trump assured his supporters that he was going to break the hold of the foreign-policy establishment. In fact, he has embraced the establishment's penchant for "using our power for whatever we happen at the moment to want, or against whatever at the moment we do not like." ..."
"... To align foreign policy with American values and with "the realities of the world," Williams believed, offered a first step toward something even bigger. Williams understood the intimate linkage between the way the United States acts abroad and what it is at home-each expressing the other. To correct the defects in U.S. foreign policy, especially its misuse of force, could "generate the kind of changes that could transform America into a more humane and creative country." ..."
May 20, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com
So the remarks that Williams made some fifty-two years ago included the following reflection, worth pondering by present-day conservatives. "If we justify our intervention in Vietnam on the grounds that it is crucial to our national security," he said, "we will soon be able to justify using our power for whatever we happen at the moment to want, or against whatever at the moment we do not like." Furthermore, "That kind of moral arrogance-that kind of playing at being God-will destroy any chance we have to construct a good society." Then Williams added:

Notice that I said good society. We already have a great society, and I think that may be the source of much of the trouble with our leaders. For greatness has primarily to do with size, strength, and power. But we citizens who are gathered here are primarily concerned with quality, equity, and with honoring our potential for becoming more fully and truly human.

In 1965, confusion about the distinction between great and good found American leaders "following the wrong rainbow." President Johnson was promising Americans a "Great Society." What he was actually delivering was an unnecessary war destined to cost the country dearly and leave it bitterly divided.

Today, in the era of Donald Trump, that confusion has returned with a vengeance. Trump for his part vows to "Make America Great Again," with greatness measured in quantitative terms: jobs, income, profits, stock prices, and trade balances. For those ordinary Americans left behind or dispossessed by the economic and social changes that have swept the United States in recent decades, the appeal of Trump's promise of greatness restored is understandable. Their resentment handed him the White House.

Yet Trump's first hundred days in residence there offer precious little evidence that he will deliver on that promise. Neither he nor anyone else in the Republican leadership has demonstrated the requisite competence or political savvy. Furthermore, nothing that Trump has said or done since taking office suggests that he possesses the capacity or even the inclination to articulate a unifying conception of a common good . The real, although unarticulated slogan of his presidency, is one that looks to "Deepen American Divisions," with members of the fiercely anti-Trump Left, his ironic collaborators. On all sides, resentment grows.

Meanwhile, to judge by Trump's one-and-done missile attack on Syria and the fatuous deployment of the "Mother of All Bombs" in Afghanistan, our president's approach to statecraft makes Lyndon Johnson look circumspect by comparison. Trump assured his supporters that he was going to break the hold of the foreign-policy establishment. In fact, he has embraced the establishment's penchant for "using our power for whatever we happen at the moment to want, or against whatever at the moment we do not like." U.S. national-security policy has become monumentally incoherent, with the man in charge apparently doing whatever his gut or his latest visitor at Mar-a-Lago tells him to do.

This defines the nation's current predicament: Whatever agreement once existed on what it means to be either great or good has pretty much disappeared from American political culture. Our fragmented society pursues any number of illusory rainbows. Restoring some semblance of a common culture thereby poses a daunting challenge, even larger today than back in the Sixties when everything seemed to be coming apart at the seams. I will refrain from offering any glib advice for how to promote that restoration.

If hardly less challenging, imparting a modicum of coherence to U.S. policy abroad may actually qualify as more urgent. After all, the impetuous Trump appears more likely than Lyndon Johnson to blow up the world.

In that regard, the views expressed by Professor Williams back in 1965 in explaining the rationale for the "teach-ins" offer at least a place to begin. "We are trying to bring our Government back into a dialogue with its own citizens," he explained.

We are trying to encourage Congress to meet its responsibilities and to function as a full partner in governing the country. We are trying to change our foreign policy so that it will be closer to the realities of the world and far more in keeping with our best traditions and highest ideals-and thereby make it pragmatically more effective.

To align foreign policy with American values and with "the realities of the world," Williams believed, offered a first step toward something even bigger. Williams understood the intimate linkage between the way the United States acts abroad and what it is at home-each expressing the other. To correct the defects in U.S. foreign policy, especially its misuse of force, could "generate the kind of changes that could transform America into a more humane and creative country."

As a place to begin, it was good advice then. It remains good advice today.

Andrew J. Bacevich is TAC's writer-at-large.

[May 20, 2017] Invasion of the Putin-Nazis by C.J. Hopkins

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... So, here we are, a little over one hundred days into " The Age of Darkness " and the " racially Orwellian " Trumpian Reich , and, all right, while it's certainly no party, it appears that those reports we heard of the Death of Neoliberalism were greatly exaggerated. Not only has the entire edifice of Western democracy not been toppled, but the global capitalist ruling classes seem to be going about their business in more or less the usual manner. The Goldman Sachs vampires are back in the White House (as they have been for over one hundred years). The post-Cold War destabilization and restructuring of the Middle East is moving forward right on schedule. The Russians, Iranians, North Koreans, and other non-globalist-ball-playing parties remain surrounded by the most ruthlessly murderous military machine in the annals of history. Greece is being debt-enslaved and looted. And so on. Life is back to normal. ..."
"... OK, not completely normal. Because, despite the fact that editorialists at "respectable" papers like The New York Times (and I'm explicitly referring to Charles M. Blow and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman) have recently dropped the completely ridiculous "Trump is a Putinist agent" propaganda they'd been relentlessly spewing since he won the election, a significant number of deluded persons, having swallowed their official vomitus (i.e., the vomitus of Blow and Krugman, and other neoliberal establishment hacks) ..."
"... They are convinced (these deluded persons are) that the Russians are waging a global campaign not only to maliciously hack, or interfere with, or marginally influence, free and fair elections throughout the Western world, but to control the minds of Westerners themselves, in some Orwellian, or possibly Wachowskian fashion. Worse yet, these deluded persons are certain, the Russians are now secretly running the White House, and are just using Trump, and the Goldman Sachs gang, and capitalist centurions like General McMaster, as a front for their subversive activities, like denying Americans universal healthcare and privatizing the hell out of everything. ..."
"... whomever is responsible for ferreting out the Putin-Nazi infiltrators that "respected" pundits like Blow and Krugman (and stark raving loonies like Louise Mensch) have convinced them are now controlling the government. Weirdly, these same "respected" journalists, the ones who have been assuring the world that The President of the United States is a covert agent working for Russia, have failed to even mention this March for Truth, and are acting like they had nothing to do with whipping these folks up into a frenzy of apoplectic paranoia. ..."
"... Oh, yeah, and if Russiagate isn't paranoid enough, apparently, the corporate media is now prepared to deploy the "Putin-Nazi Election Hackers" propaganda in any and every election going forward ( as they did in the recent French election , and as they tried to do in the Dutch elections , and presumably will in the German elections, and as The Guardian appears to be retroactively doing in regard to the Brexit referendum ). Any day now, we should be hearing of the "Putin-Nazi-Corbyn Axis," and the "Putin-Nazi-Podemos Pact," and video footage of Martin Schultz and a bevy of former-East German hookers engaging in Odinist sex magick rituals in an FSB-owned bordello in Moscow. Soon, it won't just be elections no, we'll be hearing reports of Russian shipments of rocks, bottles, and pointy sticks to the "Putin-Nazi Palestinian Terrorists," and well, who knows how far they're willing to take this? ..."
"... You remember last year as clearly as I do, how, suddenly, out of seemingly nowhere, the Putin-Nazi menace materialized, and took the place of the "self-radicalized terrorist" as the primary target for people's hatred and fear. OK, sure, at first, there were no Putin-Nazis. It was just that the Brexit folks were fascists, and Trump was Hitler, and Bernie Sanders was some sort of racist hacky sack Communist. But then the Putinists poisoned Clinton , and unleashed their legions of Russian propagandists on the gullible, Oxycodone-addicted denizens of "flyover country," and, as they say, the rest is history. ..."
"... In any event, here we are now stuck inside this simulation of "reality" where Putin-Nazi hackers are coming out of the woodwork, a partyless neoliberal banker has been elected the President of France, Donald Trump is an evil mastermind or a Russian operative, depending on what day it is (as opposed to just a completely incompetent, narcissistic billionaire idiot), and neoliberal propaganda outfits like The New York Times , The Washington Post , MSNBC, CNN, The Guardian , NPR, et al., are perceived as "respectable" sources of journalism, as if their role in generating and occasionally revising the official narrative weren't so insultingly obvious. ..."
May 17, 2017 | www.unz.com
So, here we are, a little over one hundred days into " The Age of Darkness " and the " racially Orwellian " Trumpian Reich , and, all right, while it's certainly no party, it appears that those reports we heard of the Death of Neoliberalism were greatly exaggerated. Not only has the entire edifice of Western democracy not been toppled, but the global capitalist ruling classes seem to be going about their business in more or less the usual manner. The Goldman Sachs vampires are back in the White House (as they have been for over one hundred years). The post-Cold War destabilization and restructuring of the Middle East is moving forward right on schedule. The Russians, Iranians, North Koreans, and other non-globalist-ball-playing parties remain surrounded by the most ruthlessly murderous military machine in the annals of history. Greece is being debt-enslaved and looted. And so on. Life is back to normal.

Or OK, not completely normal. Because, despite the fact that editorialists at "respectable" papers like The New York Times (and I'm explicitly referring to Charles M. Blow and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman) have recently dropped the completely ridiculous "Trump is a Putinist agent" propaganda they'd been relentlessly spewing since he won the election, a significant number of deluded persons, having swallowed their official vomitus (i.e., the vomitus of Blow and Krugman, and other neoliberal establishment hacks) like the hungry Adélie penguin chicks in those nature shows narrated by David Attenborough.

They are convinced (these deluded persons are) that the Russians are waging a global campaign not only to maliciously hack, or interfere with, or marginally influence, free and fair elections throughout the Western world, but to control the minds of Westerners themselves, in some Orwellian, or possibly Wachowskian fashion. Worse yet, these deluded persons are certain, the Russians are now secretly running the White House, and are just using Trump, and the Goldman Sachs gang, and capitalist centurions like General McMaster, as a front for their subversive activities, like denying Americans universal healthcare and privatizing the hell out of everything.

If you think I'm being hyperbolic, check out #MarchforTruth on Twitter, or its anonymous Crowdpac fundraising page , which at first glance I took for an elaborate prank, but which seems to be in deadly earnest about "restoring faith in American government," uncovering Trump's "collusion" with Russia, and reversing his "subversion of the will of the people." The plan is, on June 3, 2017, thousands of otherwise rational Americans are going to pour into the streets "demanding answers" from well, I'm not sure whom, some independent prosecutor, or congressional committee, or intelligence agency, or whomever is responsible for ferreting out the Putin-Nazi infiltrators that "respected" pundits like Blow and Krugman (and stark raving loonies like Louise Mensch) have convinced them are now controlling the government. Weirdly, these same "respected" journalists, the ones who have been assuring the world that The President of the United States is a covert agent working for Russia, have failed to even mention this March for Truth, and are acting like they had nothing to do with whipping these folks up into a frenzy of apoplectic paranoia.

Incidentally, one of my colleagues contacted Mr. Blow directly and inquired as to whether he'd be vociferously supporting or possibly leading the March for Truth, and was chastised by Blow and his Twitter followers. I found this reaction extremely troubling, and asked my colleague to contact Mensch and suggest she check with her handlers at The Times to make sure the Russians haven't gotten to him. However, just as he was sitting down to do that, the "Comey-firing" brouhaha broke, which seems to have brought Blow back to the fold , albeit in a less hysterical manner than his Rooskie-hunting readers have grown accustomed to. We can only hope that both he and Krugman return to form in the weeks to come as Russiagate builds to its dramatic climax.

Oh, yeah, and if Russiagate isn't paranoid enough, apparently, the corporate media is now prepared to deploy the "Putin-Nazi Election Hackers" propaganda in any and every election going forward ( as they did in the recent French election , and as they tried to do in the Dutch elections , and presumably will in the German elections, and as The Guardian appears to be retroactively doing in regard to the Brexit referendum ). Any day now, we should be hearing of the "Putin-Nazi-Corbyn Axis," and the "Putin-Nazi-Podemos Pact," and video footage of Martin Schultz and a bevy of former-East German hookers engaging in Odinist sex magick rituals in an FSB-owned bordello in Moscow. Soon, it won't just be elections no, we'll be hearing reports of Russian shipments of rocks, bottles, and pointy sticks to the "Putin-Nazi Palestinian Terrorists," and well, who knows how far they're willing to take this?

All joking aside, as I've written about previously , what we're dealing with here is more than just a lame attempt by the Democratic Party to blame its humiliating loss on Putin (although of course it certainly is that in part). The global neoliberal establishment is rolling out a new official narrative. It's actually just a slight variation on the one it's been selling us since 2001. I could come up with a sixteen-syllable, academic-sounding name for this narrative, but I'm trying to keep things simple these days so let's call it The Normals versus The Extremists , (the Normals being the neoliberals and the Extremists being everyone else). The goal of this narrative is to stigmatize and otherwise marginalize opposition to Neoliberalism, regardless of the nature of that opposition (i.e., whether it comes from the left, right, or from religious, environmentalist, or any other quarters). Now, as any professional storyteller will tell you, one of the most important aspects of the narrative you're trying to suck people into is to make your protagonist a likeable underdog, and then pit him or her against a much more powerful and ideally incorrigibly evil enemy. During the Cold War, this was easy to do - the story was Democracy versus the Commies , traditional "good versus evil"-type stuff.

Once the U.S.S.R. collapsed, the concept needed major rewrites, as a new evil adversary had to be found. This (i.e., the 1990s) was a rather awkward and frustrating period. The global capitalist ruling classes, giddy with joy after having become the first ever global ideological hegemon in the history of aspiring global hegemons, got all avant-garde for a while, and thought they could do without an "enemy." This approach, as you'll recall, did not sell well.

No one quite got why we were bombing Yugoslavia, and Bush and Baker had to break out the Hitler schtick to gin up support for rescuing the Kuwaitis from their old friend Saddam. Fortunately, in September 2001, the show runners got the break they were looking for, and the official narrative was instantly switched to Democracy versus The Islamic Terrorists . This re-brand got extremely good ratings, and would have been extended indefinitely if not for what began to unfold in the latter half of 2016. (One could go back and locate the week when the mainstream media officially switched from the " Summer of Terror " narrative they were flogging to the new "Invasion of the Putin-Nazis" narrative my guess is, it was early to mid-September.) It started with the Brexit referendum, continued with the rise of Trump, and well, I don't have to recount it, do I? You remember last year as clearly as I do, how, suddenly, out of seemingly nowhere, the Putin-Nazi menace materialized, and took the place of the "self-radicalized terrorist" as the primary target for people's hatred and fear. OK, sure, at first, there were no Putin-Nazis. It was just that the Brexit folks were fascists, and Trump was Hitler, and Bernie Sanders was some sort of racist hacky sack Communist. But then the Putinists poisoned Clinton , and unleashed their legions of Russian propagandists on the gullible, Oxycodone-addicted denizens of "flyover country," and, as they say, the rest is history.

In any event, here we are now stuck inside this simulation of "reality" where Putin-Nazi hackers are coming out of the woodwork, a partyless neoliberal banker has been elected the President of France, Donald Trump is an evil mastermind or a Russian operative, depending on what day it is (as opposed to just a completely incompetent, narcissistic billionaire idiot), and neoliberal propaganda outfits like The New York Times , The Washington Post , MSNBC, CNN, The Guardian , NPR, et al., are perceived as "respectable" sources of journalism, as if their role in generating and occasionally revising the official narrative weren't so insultingly obvious. Personally, I am looking forward to the upcoming German elections this Autumn, wherein Neoliberal Party "A" is challenging Neoliberal Party "B" for the right to continue privatizing Greece (and any other formerly sovereign nations the banks can get their hands on) in a demonstration of European unity, and fiscal austerity and, you know, whatever.

If this is the Death of Neoliberalism, just imagine what awaits us at the Resurrection.

C. J. Hopkins is an award-winning American playwright, novelist and satirist based in Berlin. His plays are published by Bloomsbury Publishing (UK) and Broadway Play Publishing (USA). His debut novel, ZONE 23 , is published by Snoggsworthy, Swaine & Cormorant. He can reached at cjhopkins.com or consentfactory.org .

[May 20, 2017] While Microsoft griped about NSA exploit stockpiles, it stockpiled patches Fridays WinXP fix was built in February by Iain Thomson

Notable quotes:
"... However, our analysis of the metadata within these patches shows these files were built and digitally signed by Microsoft on February 11, 13 and 17, the same week it had prepared updates for its supported versions of Windows. In other words, Microsoft had fixes ready to go for its legacy systems in mid-February but only released them to the public last Friday after the world was engulfed in WannaCrypt. ..."
May 16, 2017 | theregister.co.uk
And it took three months to release despite Eternalblue leak 16 May 2017 at 01:44, When the WannaCrypt ransomware exploded across the world over the weekend, infecting Windows systems using a stolen NSA exploit, Microsoft president Brad Smith quickly blamed the spy agency . If the snoops hadn't stockpiled hacking tools and details of vulnerabilities, these instruments wouldn't have leaked into the wild, sparing us Friday's cyber assault, he said.

"This attack provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem," said Smith.

Speaking of hoarding, though, it's emerged Microsoft was itself stockpiling software – critical security patches for months.

Around January this year, Microsoft was tipped off by persons unknown that the NSA's Eternalblue cyber-weapon, which can compromise pre-Windows 10 systems via an SMBv1 networking bug, had been stolen and was about to leak into the public domain. In March, Microsoft emitted security fixes for supported versions of Windows to kill off the SMB vulnerability, striking Eternalblue dead on those editions.

In April, exactly a month later, an NSA toolkit of hacking weapons , including Eternalblue, was dumped online by the Shadow Brokers: a powerful loaded gun was now in the hands of any willing miscreant.

In May, just last week in fact, the WannaCrypt ransomware, equipped with this weapon, spread across networks and infected tens of thousands of machines worldwide, from hospital computers in the UK and Fedex terminals in the US, to railways in Germany and Russia, to cash machines in China.

On Friday night, Microsoft issued emergency patches for unsupported versions of Windows that did not receive the March update – namely WinXP, Server 2003, and Windows 8 RT. Up until this point, these systems – and all other unpatched pre-Windows 10 computers – were being menaced by WannaCrypt, and variants of the software nasty would be going after these systems in the coming weeks, too.

The Redmond tech giant was praised for issuing the fixes for its legacy Windows builds. It stopped supporting Windows XP in April 2014 , and Server 2003 in July 2015 , for instance, so the updates were welcome.

However, our analysis of the metadata within these patches shows these files were built and digitally signed by Microsoft on February 11, 13 and 17, the same week it had prepared updates for its supported versions of Windows. In other words, Microsoft had fixes ready to go for its legacy systems in mid-February but only released them to the public last Friday after the world was engulfed in WannaCrypt.

Here's the dates in the patches:

    Windows 8 RT (64-bit x86): Feb 13, 2017 Windows 8 RT (32-bit x86): Feb 13, 2017 Windows Server 2003 (64-bit x86): Feb 11, 2017 Windows Server 2003 (32-bit x86): Feb 11, 2017 Windows XP: Feb 11, 2017 Windows XP Embedded: Feb 17, 2017

The SMBv1 bug is trivial , by the way: it is a miscalculation from a 32-bit integer to a 16-bit integer that can be exploited by an attacker to overflow a buffer, push too much information into the file networking service, and therefore inject malicious code into the system and execute it. Fixing this programming blunder in the Windows codebase would have been easy to back port from Windows 8 to XP.

If you pay Microsoft a wedge of cash, and you're important enough, you can continue to get security fixes for unsupported versions of Windows under a custom support license. It appears enterprises and other organizations with these agreements got the legacy fixes months ago, but us plebs got the free updates when the house was already on fire.

Smith actually alluded to this in his blog post over the weekend: "We are taking the highly unusual step of providing a security update for all customers to protect Windows platforms that are in custom support only , including Windows XP, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2003." [Italics are ours.]

Money talks

Custom support is a big earner: Microsoft charged Britain's National Health Service $200 per desktop for year one, $400 for year two and $800 for a third year as part of its contract. UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt cancelled the contract after a year as a cost-saving measure. The idea was that a year would give NHS trusts time to manage their upgrades and get modern operating systems, but instead it seems some trusts preferred to spend the money not on IT upgrades but on executive remuneration, nicer offices, and occasionally patient care. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon claimed on Sunday that "less than five per cent of [NHS] trusts" still use Windows XP.

Naturally, Microsoft doesn't want to kill the goose that lays such lovely golden eggs, by handing out patches for old gear for free. And supporting a 16-year-old operating system like Windows XP must be a right pain in the ASCII for its engineers. And we appreciate that computers still running out-of-date operating systems are probably doing so for a reason – perhaps it's a critical device or an MRI scanner that can't be upgraded – and thus it doesn't matter if a patch landed in February, March or May: while every little helps, the updates are unlikely to be applied anyway.

On the other hand, we're having to live with Microsoft's programming mistakes nearly two decades on, mistakes that Microsoft is seemingly super reluctant to clean up, unless you go the whole hog and upgrade the operating system.

Most crucially, it's more than a little grating for Microsoft, its executives, and its PR machine, to be so shrill about the NSA stockpiling zero-day exploits when the software giant is itself nesting on a pile of fixes – critical fixes it's keeping secret unless you pay it top dollar. Suddenly, it's looking more like the robber baron we all know, and less like the white knight in cyber armor.

We asked Microsoft to comment on the timing of its patching, but its spokespeople uselessly referred us back to Smith's blog. Meanwhile, here's some more technical analysis of the WannaCrypt worm and how a kill switch for the nasty was found and activated over the weekend.

[May 19, 2017] The Rise of the Generals by Patrick J. Buchanan

The problem with Patrick Buchanan version is that he assumes that Trump is not a marionette. Like was the case with Barack Obama this hypothesis might be wrong. I think the working hypothesis about Trump should be -- he is a republican version of Barack Obama -- the man without the past. Former playboy with trophy wife and murky past, probably connected to "kosher nostra"
In both cases Hillary Clinton played an important, the decisive role in bringing them to power.
Notable quotes:
"... Has President Donald Trump outsourced foreign policy to the generals? So it would seem. Candidate Trump held out his hand to Vladimir Putin. He rejected further U.S. intervention in Syria other than to smash ISIS. ..."
"... Trump no longer calls NATO "obsolete," but moves U.S. troops toward Russia in the Baltic and eastern Balkans. Rex Tillerson, holder of Russia's Order of Friendship, now warns that the U.S. will not lift sanctions on Russia until she gets out of Ukraine. ..."
"... In 1991, Bush I and Secretary of State James Baker thought the very idea of Ukraine's independence was the product of a "suicidal nationalism." ..."
"... Where do we think this demonization of Putin and ostracism of Russia is going to lead? ..."
"... The War Party seems again ascendant. John McCain and Lindsey Graham are happy campers. In Afghanistan, the U.S. commander is calling for thousands more U.S. troops to assist the 8,500 still there, to stabilize an Afghan regime and army that is steadily losing ground to the Taliban. ..."
"... In Yemen, Houthi rebels overthrew and expelled a Saudi satrap. The bombing, blockading, and intervention with troops is being done by Saudi and Sunni Arabs, assisted by the U.S. Navy and Air Force. ..."
"... It was not Iran, but the U.S. that invaded Iraq, overthrew the Baghdad regime and occupied the country. ..."
"... Monday, the USS Mahan fired a flare to warn off an Iranian patrol boat, 1,000 meters away. Supposedly, this was a provocation. But Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif had a point when he tweeted: "Breaking: Our Navy operates in-yes, correct-the Persian Gulf, not the Gulf of Mexico. Question is what US Navy doing 7,500 miles from home." ..."
"... The generals, Bibi Netanyahu and the neocons, congressional hawks with Cold War mindsets, the Saudi royal family and the Gulf Arabs-they are winning the battle for the president's mind. ..."
"... before President Trump proceeds along the path laid out for him by his generals, brave and patriotic men that they are, he should discover if any of them opposed any of the idiotic wars of the last 15 years, beginning with that greatest of strategic blunders-George Bush's invasion of Iraq. ..."
"... Seems the US is back on track for more of the same; more of the same that has not changed despite the "window dressing" since GHWB spoke the "New World Order" out of the shadows. ..."
"... The question is exactly how long will the world, tolerate, much less survive the pure EVIL infesting Washington, DC. ..."
"... been said, and repeated by USA govt. .officialdom hundreds of times , AMERICAN interests are threatened ! nobody has bothered to explain what those INTERESTS ARE ..."
"... and . why they think they are important enough to promote and actualize military actions , invasions and regime change ..."
"... An emotionally unstable president who wants approval more than anything else in a job where approval can be difficult to come by, particularly if one is as incompetent as Trump, with a base of support which has in common cheering when he orders an act of war. ..."
"... Trump made it. The ideas didn't. Because he dumped them. What blindness; what monumental folly. ..."
"... I think we must accept that we were all sold a bill of goods so to speak; and Mr. Trump has a history of doing so .but we were so desperate for an alternative he told us what we wanted to hear with no intention of even an attempt at following through. ..."
"... It seemed the Trump of 2016 was hinting at less involvement and intervention, but to me it seemed all he did was hint. What we know of the Trump of 2016 and 2017 is that he is often improvising, saying things off the top of his head, playing to the audience, but that nothing he says can be considered set in stone: his political philosophy is "flexibility." ..."
Apr 28, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Has President Donald Trump outsourced foreign policy to the generals? So it would seem. Candidate Trump held out his hand to Vladimir Putin. He rejected further U.S. intervention in Syria other than to smash ISIS.

He spoke of getting out and staying out of the misbegotten Middle East wars into which Presidents Bush II and Obama had plunged the country.

President Trump's seeming renunciation of an anti-interventionist foreign policy is the great surprise of the first 100 days, and the most ominous. For any new war could vitiate the Trump mandate and consume his presidency.

Trump no longer calls NATO "obsolete," but moves U.S. troops toward Russia in the Baltic and eastern Balkans. Rex Tillerson, holder of Russia's Order of Friendship, now warns that the U.S. will not lift sanctions on Russia until she gets out of Ukraine.

If Tillerson is not bluffing, that would rule out any rapprochement in the Trump presidency. For neither Putin, nor any successor, could surrender Crimea and survive.

What happened to the Trump of 2016?

When did Kiev's claim to Crimea become more crucial to us than a cooperative relationship with a nuclear-armed Russia? In 1991, Bush I and Secretary of State James Baker thought the very idea of Ukraine's independence was the product of a "suicidal nationalism."

Where do we think this demonization of Putin and ostracism of Russia is going to lead?

To get Xi Jinping to help with our Pyongyang problem, Trump has dropped all talk of befriending Taiwan, backed off Tillerson's warning to Beijing to vacate its fortified reefs in the South China Sea, and held out promises of major concessions to Beijing in future trade deals.

"I like [Xi Jinping] and I believe he likes me a lot," Trump said this week. One recalls FDR admonishing Churchill, "I think I can personally handle Stalin better than your Foreign Office Stalin hates the guts of all your people. He thinks he likes me better."

FDR did not live to see what a fool Stalin had made of him.

Among the achievements celebrated in Trump's first 100 days are the 59 cruise missiles launched at the Syrian airfield from which the gas attack on civilians allegedly came, and the dropping of the 22,000-pound MOAB bomb in Afghanistan.

But what did these bombings accomplish?

The War Party seems again ascendant. John McCain and Lindsey Graham are happy campers. In Afghanistan, the U.S. commander is calling for thousands more U.S. troops to assist the 8,500 still there, to stabilize an Afghan regime and army that is steadily losing ground to the Taliban.

Iran is back on the front burner. While Tillerson concedes that Tehran is in compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, Trump says it is violating "the spirit of the agreement."

How so? Says Tillerson, Iran is "destabilizing" the region, and threatening U.S. interests in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Lebanon.

But Iran is an ally of Syria and was invited in to help the UN-recognized government put down an insurrection that contains elements of al-Qaeda and ISIS. It is we, the Turks, Saudis, and Gulf Arabs who have been backing the rebels seeking to overthrow the regime.

In Yemen, Houthi rebels overthrew and expelled a Saudi satrap. The bombing, blockading, and intervention with troops is being done by Saudi and Sunni Arabs, assisted by the U.S. Navy and Air Force.

It is we and the Saudis who are talking of closing the Yemeni port of Hodeida, which could bring on widespread starvation.

It was not Iran, but the U.S. that invaded Iraq, overthrew the Baghdad regime and occupied the country. It was not Iran that overthrew Colonel Gadhafi and created the current disaster in Libya.

Monday, the USS Mahan fired a flare to warn off an Iranian patrol boat, 1,000 meters away. Supposedly, this was a provocation. But Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif had a point when he tweeted: "Breaking: Our Navy operates in-yes, correct-the Persian Gulf, not the Gulf of Mexico. Question is what US Navy doing 7,500 miles from home."

Who is behind the seeming conversion of Trump to hawk?

The generals, Bibi Netanyahu and the neocons, congressional hawks with Cold War mindsets, the Saudi royal family and the Gulf Arabs-they are winning the battle for the president's mind.

And their agenda for America?

We are to recognize that our true enemy in the Mideast is not al-Qaeda or ISIS, but Shiite Iran and Hezbollah, Assad's Syria and his patron, Putin. And until Hezbollah is eviscerated, Assad is gone, and Iran is smashed the way we did Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yemen, the flowering of Middle East democracy that we all seek cannot truly begin.

But before President Trump proceeds along the path laid out for him by his generals, brave and patriotic men that they are, he should discover if any of them opposed any of the idiotic wars of the last 15 years, beginning with that greatest of strategic blunders-George Bush's invasion of Iraq.

Patrick J. Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative and the author of the book The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority .

Lee , says: April 27, 2017 at 11:13 pm

Seems the US is back on track for more of the same; more of the same that has not changed despite the "window dressing" since GHWB spoke the "New World Order" out of the shadows.

The question is exactly how long will the world, tolerate, much less survive the pure EVIL infesting Washington, DC.

jerrold k. , says: April 27, 2017 at 11:48 pm
been said, and repeated by USA govt. .officialdom hundreds of times , AMERICAN interests are threatened ! nobody has bothered to explain what those INTERESTS ARE ,

and . why they think they are important enough to promote and actualize military actions , invasions and regime change .

ADC Wonk , says: April 27, 2017 at 11:52 pm
"What happened to the Trump of 2016?"

Nothing. He's still the same flim-flam man, thin-skinned, shallow, corrupt, and obsessed with looking like he's a winner.

If you're surprised, a bit of self-examination about why you were taken in might be in order. A whole lotta people figured that out about him a number of years ago by watching what he was doing while declaring bankruptcy more times (four) than he got married (three).

bacon , says: April 28, 2017 at 4:34 am
I recently read an article containing abridged interviews with many Trump voters. A few were disappointed in him, but most thought he is doing fine. Several supposed accomplishments were mentioned, but a common thread present in almost all comments was approval of the missile attack in Syria. "He showed the world, we're back, the US is back", not an exact quote, but close enough.

That's as scary as anything I've heard lately. An emotionally unstable president who wants approval more than anything else in a job where approval can be difficult to come by, particularly if one is as incompetent as Trump, with a base of support which has in common cheering when he orders an act of war.

EliteCommInc. , says: April 28, 2017 at 4:41 am
I don't fault men and women in the military. After all we spend money to make them dogs of war. Their desire to go bash heads actually makes sense.

What doesn't make sense is that we have a civilian leadership that should understand you don't unleash the dogs unless necessary.

Mr. Trump has yet to demonstrate he ha the courage to say, no. I guess the campaign has taken all the fight out of him.

Balconesfault , says: April 28, 2017 at 5:39 am
Who could have ever expected that anything Trump said on the campaign stump was subject to"re-negotiation" as soon as he took office?
Liam , says: April 28, 2017 at 7:12 am
The "Trump of 2016" was just as much of a con as the Trump of any other year.
Dana Pavlick , says: April 28, 2017 at 7:50 am
Trump made it. The ideas didn't. Because he dumped them. What blindness; what monumental folly.
Just Dropping By , says: April 28, 2017 at 8:41 am
No offense, Pat, but what did Trump do or say during the campaign that made you believe he was actually going to follow a generally non-interventionist path in office? Yes, Trump made some criticisms of the Iraq War and a few other remarks of a non-interventionist tone here and there, but there was no evidence during the campaign that he actually had a principled and consistent theory of non-interventionism that he could be trusted to follow once in office. About the most that could be said for him was that it looked like he would have a less confrontational Russia policy than Clinton, but at the trade off of more aggressive policies toward China, Iran, and anybody who looked cross-eyed at the US.
SDS , says: April 28, 2017 at 9:13 am
I think we must accept that we were all sold a bill of goods so to speak; and Mr. Trump has a history of doing so .but we were so desperate for an alternative he told us what we wanted to hear with no intention of even an attempt at following through.

PT Barnum was right, again .

Besides the fact that he probably doesn't understand most of what they are telling him to do anyway . The Neocons or Netanyahu pat him on the head and he does what he is told . with no comprehension of the consequences

And he thought it would be EASIER than it actually is

SAD!

John Gruskos , says: April 28, 2017 at 9:42 am
This is one of the best and most important Buchanan columns ever written.
Mac61 , says: April 28, 2017 at 10:01 am
It seemed the Trump of 2016 was hinting at less involvement and intervention, but to me it seemed all he did was hint. What we know of the Trump of 2016 and 2017 is that he is often improvising, saying things off the top of his head, playing to the audience, but that nothing he says can be considered set in stone: his political philosophy is "flexibility." At this rate, the real question is what the Trump of 2020 will look like - what, if anything, for him is bedrock?

[May 19, 2017] Global Cyberattack Are Private Interests Using States: The global cyberattack, the NSA and Washingtons war propaganda against Russia by Bill Van Auken

Notable quotes:
"... Thus, amid the hysterical propaganda campaign over Russian hacking, Washington has been developing an array of cyber-weapons that have the capability of crippling entire countries. Through the carelessness of the NSA, some of these weapons have now been placed in the hands of criminals. US authorities did nothing to warn the public, much less prepare it to protect itself against the inevitable unleashing of the cyber weapons it itself had crafted. ..."
"... There was no question then of an investigation taking months to uncover the culprit, much less any mystery going unsolved. Putin and Russia were declared guilty based upon unsubstantiated allegations and innuendo. Ever since, the Times ..."
"... Since Trump's inauguration, the Democratic Party has only intensified the anti-Russian propaganda. It serves both as a means of pressuring the Trump administration to abandon any turn toward a less aggressive policy toward Moscow, and of smothering the popular opposition to the right-wing and anti-working class policies of the administration under a reactionary and neo-McCarthyite campaign painting Trump as an agent of the Kremlin. ..."
May 16, 2017 | www.defenddemocracy.press

The cyberattack that hit some 200,000 computers around the world last Friday, apparently using malicious software developed by the US National Security Agency, is only expected to escalate and spread with the start of the new workweek.

The cyber weapon employed in the attack, known as "WannaCrypt," has proven to be one of the most destructive and far-reaching ever. Among the targets whose computer systems were hijacked in the attack was Britain's National Health Service, which was unable to access patient records and forced to cancel appointments, treatments and surgeries.

Major corporations hit include the Spanish telecom Telefonica, the French automaker Renault, the US-based delivery service Fedex and Germany's federal railway system. Among the worst affected countries were reportedly Russia, Ukraine and Japan.

The weaponized software employed in the attacks locks up files in an infected computer by encrypting them, while demanding $300 in Bitcoin (digital currency) to decrypt them and restore access.

Clearly, this kind of attack has the potential for massive social disruption and, through its attack on institutions like Britain's NHS, exacting a toll in human life.

This event, among the worst global cyberattacks in history, also sheds considerable light on issues that have dominated the political life of the United States for the past 10 months, since WikiLeaks began its release of documents obtained from the hacked accounts of the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

The content of these leaked documents exposed, on the one hand, the DNC's machinations to sabotage the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, and, on the other, the subservience of his rival, Hillary Clinton, to Wall Street through her own previously secret and lavishly paid speeches to financial institutions like Goldman Sachs.

Read also: Obama Warned to Defuse Tensions with Russia

This information, which served to discredit Clinton, the favored candidate of the US military and intelligence apparatus, was drowned out by a massive campaign by the US government and the corporate media to blame Russia for the hacking and for direct interference in the US election, i.e., by allegedly making information available to the American people that was supposed to be kept secret from them.

Ever since then, US intelligence agencies, Democratic Party leaders and the corporate media, led by the New York Times , have endlessly repeated the charge of Russian hacking, involving the personal direction of Vladimir Putin. To this day, none of these agencies or media outlets have provided any probative evidence of Russian responsibility for "hacking the US election."

Among the claims made to support the allegations against Moscow was that the hacking of the Democrats was so sophisticated that it could have been carried out only by a state actor. In a campaign to demonize Russia, Moscow's alleged hacking was cast as a threat to the entire planet.

Western security agencies have acknowledged that the present global cyberattack-among the worst ever of its kind-is the work not of any state agency, but rather of a criminal organization. Moreover, the roots of the attack lie not in Moscow, but in Washington. The "WannaCrypt" malware employed in the attack is based on weaponized software developed by the NSA, code-named Eternal Blue, part of a bundle of documents and computer code stolen from the NSA's server and then leaked by a hacking group known as "Shadow Brokers."

Read also: The End of Freedom? Secret Services developing like a Cancer

Thus, amid the hysterical propaganda campaign over Russian hacking, Washington has been developing an array of cyber-weapons that have the capability of crippling entire countries. Through the carelessness of the NSA, some of these weapons have now been placed in the hands of criminals. US authorities did nothing to warn the public, much less prepare it to protect itself against the inevitable unleashing of the cyber weapons it itself had crafted.

In its report on the global cyberattacks on Saturday, the New York Times stated: "It could take months to find out who was behind the attacks-a mystery that may go unsolved."

The co-author of these lines was the New York Times chief Washington correspondent David E. Sanger, who, in addition to writing for the "newspaper of record," finds time to lecture at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, a state-connected finishing school for top political and military officials. He also holds membership in both the Council on Foreign Relations and the Aspen Strategy Group, think tanks that bring together capitalist politicians, military and intelligence officials and corporate heads to discuss US imperialist strategy.

All of this makes Sanger one of the favorite media conduits for "leaks" and propaganda that the CIA and the Pentagon want put into the public domain.

It is worth contrasting his treatment of the "WannaCrypt" ransomware attack with the way he and the Times dealt with the allegations of Russian hacking in the run-up to and aftermath of the 2016 US presidential election.

There was no question then of an investigation taking months to uncover the culprit, much less any mystery going unsolved. Putin and Russia were declared guilty based upon unsubstantiated allegations and innuendo. Ever since, the Times, serving as the propaganda outlet of the US intelligence services, has given the lead to the rest of the media by endlessly repeating the allegation of Russian state direction of the hacking of the Democratic Party, without bothering to provide any evidence to back up the charge.

Read also: Political Coverup of Iraq Atrocities

With the entire world now under attack from a weapon forged by Washington's cyberwarfare experts, the hysterical allegations of Russian hacking are placed in perspective.

From the beginning, they have been utilized as war propaganda, a means of attempting to promote popular support for US imperialism's steady escalation of military threats and aggression against Russia, the world's second-largest nuclear power.

Since Trump's inauguration, the Democratic Party has only intensified the anti-Russian propaganda. It serves both as a means of pressuring the Trump administration to abandon any turn toward a less aggressive policy toward Moscow, and of smothering the popular opposition to the right-wing and anti-working class policies of the administration under a reactionary and neo-McCarthyite campaign painting Trump as an agent of the Kremlin.

SOURCE www.wsws.org

[May 19, 2017] There are other search engines, browsers, email services besides those operated by the giants. DuckDuckGo, protonmail, and the Opera browser (with free built-in VPN!) work well for me

As soon as DuckDuckGo shows ads and you have Javascript enabled your privacy evaporate the same way it evaporated in Google, unless you use VPN. But even in this case there are ways to "bound" your PC to you via non IP based methods.
May 19, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

lyman alpha blob , May 19, 2017 at 1:58 pm

There are other search engines, browsers, email services, etc. besides those operated by the giants. DuckDuckGo, protonmail, and the Opera browser (with free built-in VPN!) work well for me.

The problem is, if these other services ever do get popular enough, the tech giants will either block them by getting their stooges appointed to Federal agencies and regulating them out of existence, or buy them.

I've been running from ISP acquisitions for years, as the little guys get bought out I have to find an even littler one.

Luckily I've found a local ISP, GWI, that I've used for years now. They actually came out against the new regulations that would allow them to gather and sell their customers' data. Such anathema will probably wind up with their CEO publicly flayed for going against all that is good and holy according to the Five Horsemen.

[May 19, 2017] Notes From an Emergency Tech Feudalism

Notable quotes:
"... ByMaciej Cegłowski, a painter and computer guywho livesin San Francisco and runs a bookmarking site called Pinboard. Originally published at Idle Words ..."
"... This is the text version of a talk I gave on May 10, 2017, at the re:publica conference in Berlin. ..."
"... The emergency I want to talk about is the rise of a vigorous ethnic nationalism in Europe and America. This nationalism makes skillful use of online tools, tools that we believed inherently promoted freedom, to advance an authoritarian agenda. ..."
"... Facebook is the dominant social network in Europe, with 349 million monthly active users. Google has something like 94% of market share for search in Germany. The servers of Europe are littered with the bodies of dead and dying social media sites. The few holdouts that still exist, like Xing , are being crushed by their American rivals. ..."
"... And so Trump is in charge in America, and America has all your data. This leaves you in a very exposed position. US residents enjoy some measure of legal protection against the American government. Even if you think our intelligence agencies are evil, they're a lawful evil. They have to follow laws and procedures, and the people in those agencies take them seriously. ..."
"... But there are no such protections for non-Americans outside the United States. The NSA would have to go to court to spy on me; they can spy on you anytime they feel like it. ..."
"... A very cleverly designed trap, and one in which the cattle to be slaughtered all believe they are choosing their own destiny even as they are herded inexorably closer to the slaughterhouse. ..."
May 19, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Posted on May 19, 2017 by Yves Smith Yves here. This is a wide-ranging, lively, sobering talk about the implications of tech feudalism and what we can do about it.

ByMaciej Cegłowski, a painter and computer guywho livesin San Francisco and runs a bookmarking site called Pinboard. Originally published at Idle Words

This is the text version of a talk I gave on May 10, 2017, at the re:publica conference in Berlin.

The good part about naming a talk in 2017 'Notes from an Emergency' is that there are so many directions to take it.

The emergency I want to talk about is the rise of a vigorous ethnic nationalism in Europe and America. This nationalism makes skillful use of online tools, tools that we believed inherently promoted freedom, to advance an authoritarian agenda.

Depending on where you live, the rise of this new right wing might be nothing new. In the United States, our moment of shock came last November, with the election of Donald Trump. The final outcome of that election was:

65.8 million for Clinton
63.0 million for Trump

This was the second time in sixteen years that the candidate with fewer votes won the American Presidency. There is a bug in the operating system of our democracy, one of the many ways that slavery still casts its shadow over American politics.

But however tenuously elected, Trump is in the White House, and our crisis has become your crisis. Not just because America is a superpower, or because the forces that brought Trump to power are gaining ground in Europe, but because the Internet is an American Internet.

Facebook is the dominant social network in Europe, with 349 million monthly active users. Google has something like 94% of market share for search in Germany. The servers of Europe are littered with the bodies of dead and dying social media sites. The few holdouts that still exist, like Xing , are being crushed by their American rivals.

In their online life, Europeans have become completely dependent on companies headquartered in the United States.

And so Trump is in charge in America, and America has all your data. This leaves you in a very exposed position. US residents enjoy some measure of legal protection against the American government. Even if you think our intelligence agencies are evil, they're a lawful evil. They have to follow laws and procedures, and the people in those agencies take them seriously.

But there are no such protections for non-Americans outside the United States. The NSA would have to go to court to spy on me; they can spy on you anytime they feel like it.

This is an astonishing state of affairs. I can't imagine a world where Europe would let itself become reliant on American cheese, or where Germans could only drink Coors Light.

In the past, Europe has shown that it's capable of identifying a vital interest and moving to protect it. When American aerospace companies were on the point of driving foreign rivals out of business, European governments formed the Airbus consortium , which now successfully competes with Boeing.

A giant part of the EU budget goes to subsidize farming , not because farming is the best use of resources in a first-world economy, but because farms are important to national security, to the landscape, to national identity, social stability, and a shared sense of who we are.

But when it comes to the Internet, Europe doesn't put up a fight. It has ceded the ground entirely to American corporations. And now those corporations have to deal with Trump. How hard do you think they'll work to defend European interests?

The Feudal Internet

The status quo in May 2017 looks like this:

There are five Internet companies-Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook. Together they have a market capitalization just under 3 trillion dollars.

Bruce Schneier has called this arrangement the feudal Internet . Part of this concentration is due to network effects, but a lot of it is driven by the problem of security. If you want to work online with any measure of convenience and safety, you must choose a feudal lord who is big enough to protect you.

These five companies compete and coexist in complex ways.

Apple and Google have a duopoly in smartphone operating systems. Android has 82% of the handset market , iOS has 18%.

Google and Facebook are on their way to a duopoly in online advertising. Over half of the revenue in that lucrative ($70B+) industry goes to them, and the two companies between them are capturing all of the growth (16% a year).

Apple and Microsoft have a duopoly in desktop operating systems. The balance is something like nine to one in favor of Windows , not counting the three or four people who use Linux on the desktop, all of whom are probably at this conference.

Three companies, Amazon, Microsoft and Google, dominate cloud computing. AWS has 57% adoption , Azure has 34%. Google has 15%.

Outside of China and Russia, Facebook and LinkedIn are the only social networks at scale. LinkedIn has been able to survive by selling itself to Microsoft.

And outside of Russia and China, Google is the world's search engine .

That is the state of the feudal Internet, leaving aside the court jester, Twitter, who plays an important but ancillary role as a kind of worldwide chat room.

Google in particular has come close to realizing our nightmare scenario from 1998, a vertically integrated Internet controlled by a single monopoly player. Google runs its own physical network, builds phone handsets, develops a laptop and phone operating system, makes the world's most widely-used browser, runs a private DNS system, PKI certificate authority, has photographed nearly all the public spaces in the world, and stores much of the world's email.

But because it is run by more sympathetic founders than Bill Gates, because it builds better software than early Microsoft did, and because it built up a lot of social capital during its early "don't be evil" period, we've given it a pass.

Security

It's not clear that anyone can secure large data collections over time. The asymmetry between offense and defense may be too great. If defense at scale is possible, the only way to do it is by pouring millions of dollars into hiring the best people to defend it. Data breaches at the highest levels have shown us that the threats are real and ongoing. And for every breach we know about, there are many silent ones that we won't learn about for years.

A successful defense, however, just increases the risk. Pile up enough treasure behind the castle walls and you'll eventually attract someone who can climb them. The feudal system makes the Internet more brittle, ensuring that when a breach finally comes, it will be disastrous.

Each of the big five companies, with the important exception of Apple, has made aggressive user surveillance central to its business model. This is a dilemma of the feudal internet. We seek protection from these companies because they can offer us security. But their business model is to make us more vulnerable, by getting us to surrender more of the details of our lives to their servers, and to put more faith in the algorithms they train on our observed behavior.

These algorithms work well, and despite attempts to convince us otherwise, it's clear they work just as well in politics as in commerce. So in our eagerness to find safety online, we've given this feudal Internet the power to change our offline world in unanticipated and scary ways.

Globalism

These big five companies operate on a global scale, and partly because they created the industries they now dominate, they enjoy a very lax regulatory regime. Everywhere outside the United States and EU, they are immune to government oversight, and within the United Statesl the last two administrations have played them with a light touch. The only meaningful attempt to regulate surveillance capitalism has come out of the European Union.

Thanks to their size and reach, the companies have become adept at stonewalling governments and evading attempts at regulation or oversight. In many cases, this evasion is noble. You don't want Bahrain or Poland to be able to subpoena Facebook and get the names of people organizing a protest rally. In other cases, it's purely self-serving. Uber has made a sport of evading all authority, foreign and domestic, in order to grow.

Good or bad, the lesson these companies have drawn is the same: they need only be accountable to themselves.

But their software and algorithms affect the lives of billions of people. Decisions about how this software works are not under any kind of democratic control. In the best case, they are being made by idealistic young people in California with imperfect knowledge of life in a faraway place like Germany. In the worst case, they are simply being read out of a black-box algorithm trained on God knows what data.

This is a very colonial mentality! In fact, it's what we fought our American War of Independence over, a sense of grievance that decisions that affected us were being made by strangers across the ocean.

Today we're returning the favor to all of Europe.

Facebook, for example, has only one manager in Germany to deal with every publisher in the country. One! The company that is dismantling the news industry in Germany doesn't even care enough to send a proper team to manage the demolition.

Denmark has gone so far as to appoint an ambassador to the giant tech companies, an unsettling but pragmatic acknowledgement of the power relationship that exists between the countries of Europe and Silicon Valley.

So one question (speaking now as an EU citizen): how did we let this happen? We used to matter! We used to be the ones doing the colonizing! We used to be a contender!

How is it that some dopey kid in Palo Alto gets to decide the political future of the European Union based on what they learned at big data boot camp? Did we lose a war?

The lack of accountability isn't just troubling from a philosophical perspective. It's dangerous in a political climate where people are pushing back at the very idea of globalization. There's no industry more globalized than tech, and no industry more vulnerable to a potential backlash.

China and Russia show us that the Internet need not be a world-wide web, that it can be subverted and appropriated by the state. By creating a political toolkit for authoritarian movements, the American tech giants may be putting their own future at risk.

Irreality

Given this scary state of the world, with ecological collapse just over the horizon, and a population sharpening its pitchforks, an important question is how this globalized, unaccountable tech industry sees its goals. What does it want? What will all the profits be invested in?

What is the plan?

The honest answer is: rocket ships and immortality.

I wish I was kidding.

The best minds in Silicon Valley are preoccupied with a science fiction future they consider it their manifest destiny to build. Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are racing each other to Mars. Musk gets most of the press, but Bezos now sells $1B in Amazon stock a year to fund Blue Origin. Investors have put over $8 billion into space companies over the past five years, as part of a push to export our problems here on Earth into the rest of the Solar System.

As happy as I am to see Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos fired into space, this does not seem to be worth the collapse of representative government.

Our cohort of tech founders is feeling the chill breath of mortality as they drift into middle age. And so part of what is driving this push into space is a more general preoccupation with 'existential risk'.

Musk is persuaded that we're living in a simulation, and he or a fellow true believer has hired programmers to try to hack it.

Peter Thiel, our most unfortunate German import, has built a survival retreat for himself in New Zealand .

Sam Altman hoards gold in Big Sur .

OpenAI, a religious cult thinly disguised as a research institution, has received $1B in funding to forestall the robot rebellion.

The biggest existential risk, of course, is death, so a lot of money is going to make sure that our big idea men don't expire before the world has been received the full measure of their genius.

Google Ventures founded the very secretive life extension startup Calico , with $1.5B dollars in funding. Google loses $4B a year on its various "moon shots", which include life extension. They employ Ray Kurzweil, who believes we're still on track for immortality by 2045 . Larry Ellison has put $370M to anti-aging research , as anybody would want to live in a world with an immortal Larry Ellison. Our plutocrats are eager to make death an opt-out experience.

Now, I'm no fan of death. I don't like the time commitment, or the permanence. A number of people I love are dead and it has strained our relationship.

But at the same time, I'm not convinced that a civilization that is struggling to cure male-pattern baldness is ready to take on the Grim Reaper. If we're going to worry about existential risk, I would rather we start by addressing the two existential risks that are indisputably real-nuclear war and global climate change-and working our way up from there.

But real problems are messy. Tech culture prefers to solve harder, more abstract problems that haven't been sullied by contact with reality. So they worry about how to give Mars an earth-like climate, rather than how to give Earth an earth-like climate. They debate how to make a morally benevolent God-like AI, rather than figuring out how to put ethical guard rails around the more pedestrian AI they are introducing into every area of people's lives.

The tech industry enjoys tearing down flawed institutions, but refuses to put work into mending them. Their runaway apparatus of surveillance and manipulation earns them a fortune while damaging everything it touches. And all they can think about is the cool toys they'll get to spend the profits on.

The message that's not getting through to Silicon Valley is one that your mother taught you when you were two: you don't get to play with the new toys until you clean up the mess you made.

The circumstances that have given the tech industry all this power will not last long. There is a limited time in which our small caste of tech nerds will have the power to make decisions that shape the world. By wasting the talents and the energies of our brightest people on fantasy role play, we are ceding the future to a more practical group of successors, some truly scary people who will take our tools and use them to advance a very different agenda.

To recap: the Internet has centralized into a very few hands. We have an extremely lucrative apparatus of social control, and it's being run by chuckleheads.

The American government is also being run by chuckleheads.

The question everybody worries about is, what happens when these two groups of chuckleheads join forces?

The Winter

For many Americans, the election was a moment of profound shock. It wasn't just Trump's policies that scared us. It was the fact that this unserious, cruel, vacant human being had been handed the power of the American presidency.

Scariest to me was how little changed. No one in the press or in social media had the courage to say "we fucked up." Pundits who were stunned by the election result still made confident predictions about what would happen next, as if they had any claim to predictive power.

After the election both Facebook and Google looked at the mountains of data they had collected on everyone, looked at the threats the Trump Administration was making-to deport 11 million people, to ban Muslims from entering the country-and said to themselves, "we got this."

The people who did worry were tech workers. For a moment, we saw some political daylight appear between the hundreds of thousands of people who work in the tech sector, and the small clique of billionaires who run it. While the latter filed in to a famously awkward meeting with Trump and his children at the top of his golden tower, the former began organizing in opposition, including signing a simple but powerful pledge to resign rather than help Trump fulfill one of his key campaign promises: barring Muslims from the United States.

This pledge was a small gesture, but it represented the first collective action by tech workers around a political agenda that went beyond technology policy, and the first time I had ever seen tech workers come out in open defiance of management.

A forest of new organizations sprung up. I started one, too, called Tech Solidarity, and started traveling around the country and holding meetings with tech workers in big cities. I had no idea what I was doing, other than trying to use a small window of time to organize and mobilize our sleepy industry.

That feeling of momentum continued through when Trump took office. The Women's March in January brought five million people out onto the streets. America is not used to mass protests. To see the streets of our major cities fill with families, immigrants, in many cases moms and daughters and grandmothers marching together, that was a sight to take your breath away.

Hard on the heels of it came the travel ban, an executive order astonishing not just in its cruelty-families were split at airports; in one case a mom was not allowed to breastfeed her baby -but in its ineptitude. For a week or two lawyers were camped out at airports, working frantically, sleeping little, with spontaneous efforts to bring them supplies, get them funding, to do anything to help. We held a rally in San Francisco that raised thirty thousand dollars from a room of a hundred people. Some of the organizations we were helping couldn't even attend, they were too busy at the airport. It didn't matter.

The tech companies did all they could to not get involved. Facebook has a special ' safety check ' feature for exactly this kind of situation, but never thought of turning it on at airports. Public statements out of Silicon Valley were so insipid as to be comical .

Employees, however, were electrified. It looked like not only visitors but permanent residents would be barred from the United States. Google employees staged a walkout with the support of their management; Facebook (not wishing to be left behind) had its own internal protest a couple of days later, but kept it a secret. Every time the employees pushed, management relented . Suddenly top executives were going on the record against the travel ban.

People briefly even got mad at Elon Musk , normally a darling of the tech industry, for his failure to resign from the President's advisory council. The silent majority of tech employees had begun to mobilize.

And then nothing happened. This tech workforce, which had gotten a taste of its own power, whose smallest efforts at collective action had produced immediate results, who had seen just how much sway they held, went back to work. The worst of Trump's travel ban was blocked by the court, and we moved on. With the initial shock of Trump in office gone, we now move from crisis to crisis, but without a plan or a shared positive goal.

The American discomfort with prolonged, open disagreement has set in.

When I started trying to organize people in November, my theory was that tech workers were the only group that had leverage over the tech giants.

My reasoning went like this: being monopolies or near-monopolies, these companies are impervious to public pressure. Boycotts won't work, since opting out of a site like Google means opting out of much of modern life.

Several of these companies are structured (unusually for American corporations) in such a way that the board can't control the majority of votes. At Google and Facebook, for example, the ultimate say goes to the founders. And since Google and Facebook are the major online publishing outlets, it's unlikely that the press would ever criticize them, even if journalists were capable of that kind of sustained attention.

So that leaves just one point of leverage: employees. Tech workers are hard to find, expensive to hire, take a long time to train, and can have their pick of jobs. Tech companies are small compared to other industries, relying heavily on automation. If even a few dozen workers on an ops team acted in concert, they would have the power to shut down a tech giant like Google. All they had to do was organize around a shared agenda.

Workers seemed receptive to the argument, but confused about how they could make collective action a reality. Trade unions in the United States have been under attack for decades. There is almost no union culture in technology. Our tech workers are passive and fatalistic.

So here I am in Europe, wondering, what on Earth can we do?

And I keep coming back to this idea of connecting the tech industry to reality. Bringing its benefits to more people, and bringing the power to make decisions to more people.

Closing the Loop

After Communism collapsed in Poland, I started visiting the country every eight months or so. Even in the darkest period of the 1990's, it was striking to see people's material standard of living improve. Suddenly people had cars, phones, appliances. These gains were uneven but broad. Even farmers and retirees, though they were the hardest hit, had access to consumer goods that weren't available before. You could see the change in homes and in public spaces. It was no longer necessary for office workers in Kraków to change their shirts at lunchtime because of soot in the air. The tap water in Warsaw went from light brown to a pleasant pale yellow.

For all the looting, corruption, and inefficiency of privatization, enough of the new wealth got through that the overall standard of living went up. Living standards in Poland in 2010 had more than doubled from 1990.

In the same time period, in the United States, I've seen a whole lot of nothing. Despite fabulous technical progress, practically all of it pioneered in our country, there's been a singular failure to connect our fabulous prosperity with the average person.

A study just out shows that for the median male worker in the United States, the highest lifetime wages came if you entered the workforce in 1967 . That is astonishing. People born in 1942 had better lifetime earnings prospects than people entering the workforce today.

You can see this failure to connect with your own eyes even in a rich place like Silicon Valley. There are homeless encampments across the street from Facebook headquarters . California has a larger GDP than France , and at the same time has the highest poverty rate in America , adjusted for cost of living. Not only did the tech sector fail to build up the communities around it, but it's left people worse off than before, by pricing them out of the places they grew up.

Walk the length of Market Street (watch your step!) in San Francisco and count the shuttered store fronts. Take Caltrain down to San Jose, and see if you can believe that it is the richest city in the United States , per capita. The massive increase in wealth has not connected with a meaningful way with average people's lives even in the heart of tech country, let alone in the forgotten corners of the country.

The people who run Silicon Valley identify with progressive values. They're not bad people. They worry about these problems just like we do; they want to help.

So why the failure to do anything?

Like T.S. Eliot wrote :

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow

As I said earlier, the tech industry hates messy problems. We'd rather dream up new problems we can solve from scratch.

One reason nothing happens is a culture of tax evasion. There's a folk belief in American business that if you pay full taxes, you're not doing your fiduciary duty, and your board will fire you.

Apple now has a quarter trillion dollars offshore that it refuses to put into direct productive use in the United States. Apple boasts that its products are designed in California-they will sell you a $300 book called Designed By Apple In California . But they do their damndest to make sure that California never sees a penny of their overseas profits.

You in the EU are all too familiar with this brand of tax evasion. Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft have all been under investigation or in court on charges of evading European taxes.

Another reason good intentions don't translate is that capitalism, especially venture capital, doesn't work very well when there is vast wealth inequality.

The richest 20 people in tech control a fortune of half a trillion dollars in personal wealth, more than the GDP of Sweden.

This small subculture of wealthy technophiles promotes investment into luxury goods for rich people, or into "mom as a service" types of companies that cater to spoiled workaholics in the tech industry. And so we end up with things like a $120M juice squeezer , or three startups competing to deliver organic baby food .

Silicon Valley brings us the worst of two economic systems: the inefficiency of a command economy coupled with the remorselessness of laissez-faire liberalism.

One reason it's been difficult to organize workers in the tech industry is that people have a hard time separating good intentions from results. But we have to be cold-blooded about this.

Tech companies are run by a feckless leadership accountable to no one, creating a toolkit for authoritarianism while hypnotized by science-fiction fantasy.

There are two things we have to do immediately. The first is to stop the accelerating process of tracking and surveillance before it can do any more harm to our institutions.

The danger facing us is not Orwell, but Huxley. The combo of data collection and machine learning is too good at catering to human nature, seducing us and appealing to our worst instincts. We have to put controls on it. The algorithms are amoral; to make them behave morally will require active intervention.

The second thing we need is accountability. I don't mean that I want Mark Zuckerberg's head on a pike, though I certainly wouldn't throw it out of my hotel room if I found it there. I mean some mechanism for people whose lives are being brought online to have a say in that process, and an honest debate about its tradeoffs.

I'm here today because I believe the best chance to do this is in Europe. The American government is not functional right now, and the process of regulatory capture is too far gone to expect any regulations limiting the tech giants from either party. American tech workers have the power to change things, but not the desire.

Only Europe has the clout and the independence to regulate these companies. You can already point to regulatory successes, like forcing Facebook to implement hard delete on user accounts. That feature was added with a lot of grumbling, but because of the way Facebook organizes its data, they had to make it work the same for all users. So a European regulation led to a victory for privacy worldwide.

We can do this again.

Here are some specific regulations I would like to see the EU impose:

    A strict 30 day time limit on storing behavioral data. The right to opt out of data collection while continuing to use services. A ban on the sale or transfer of behavioral data, including to third-party ad networks. A requirement that advertising be targeted strictly to content, not users.

With these rules in place, we would still have Google and Facebook, and they would still make a little bit of money. But we would gain some breathing room. These reforms would knock the legs out from underground political ad campaigns like we saw in Brexit, and in voter suppression efforts in the US election. They would give publishers relief in an advertising market that is currently siphoning all their earnings to Facebook and Google. And they would remove some of the incentive for consumer surveillance.

The other thing I hope to see in Europe is a unionized workforce at every major tech company. Unionized workers could demand features like ephemeral group messaging at Facebook, a travel mode for social media, a truly secure Android phone, or the re-imposition of the wall between Gmail and DoubleClick data. They could demand human oversight over machine learning algorithms. They could demand non-cooperation with Trump.

And I will say selfishly, if you can unionize here, it will help us unionize over there.

If nothing else, we need your help and we need you to keep the pressure on the tech companies, the Trump Administration, and your own politicians and journalists, so that the disaster that happened in the United States doesn't repeat itself in Germany.

You have elections coming soon. Please learn from what happened to us. Please stay safe.

And please regulate, regulate, regulate this industry, while you can.

Thank you.

DJG , May 19, 2017 at 10:20 am

Definitely worth reading and reading again. What popped on first reading is the description of the rise of income in Poland and the stagnation of income in the U S of A. What pops for me on seccond reading is these paragraphs about tax evasion and income inequality: >>

One reason nothing happens is a culture of tax evasion. There's a folk belief in American business that if you pay full taxes, you're not doing your fiduciary duty, and your board will fire you.

Apple now has a quarter trillion dollars offshore that it refuses to put into direct productive use in the United States. Apple boasts that its products are designed in California-they will sell you a $300 book called Designed By Apple In California. But they do their damndest to make sure that California never sees a penny of their overseas profits.

You in the EU are all too familiar with this brand of tax evasion. Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft have all been under investigation or in court on charges of evading European taxes.

Another reason good intentions don't translate is that capitalism, especially venture capital, doesn't work very well when there is vast wealth inequality.

[Tax evasion isn't just a folk belief: It is taught in U.S. law schools and in business schools, along with union busting.]

Jef , May 19, 2017 at 10:52 am

What the author inadvertently points out is that capitalism, particularly the so called consumer capitalism that we have is like a board game;

It has a begining when anything is possible.
A middle when a broad spectrum of players prosper and there is extra money for infrastructure and public amenities.
Then an end where wealth is increasingly concentrated in fewer and fewer hands and the waste stream has taken its toll.

justanotherprogressive , May 19, 2017 at 10:23 am

A long but brilliant article that everyone should take the time to read! I want all the techies in my family to read it because it points out some of the uneasiness even techies feel about the their industry.

My favorite paragraph (although there were many close seconds):

"But real problems are messy. Tech culture prefers to solve harder, more abstract problems that haven't been sullied by contact with reality. So they worry about how to give Mars an earth-like climate, rather than how to give Earth an earth-like climate. They debate how to make a morally benevolent God-like AI, rather than figuring out how to put ethical guard rails around the more pedestrian AI they are introducing into every area of people's lives."
Yep .

Thomas Williams , May 19, 2017 at 11:04 am

Nice piece: Two things to note

– The Clintons, Bush & Obama presided over this mess and aided in it's creation but the albatross of abuse is being hung on Trump.

– He shares an enormous egotistical blind spot common to tech workers. He wants unionization and strength for tech workers but seems to advocate for a globalized work force. More than anything else, foreign workers are responsible for wage suppression in the US. Is he saying 'Tech workers are special and should be pampered but others should work for $1.85 per day"?

– The above points are not germaine to his central theme, which is important and well written. But it does raise questions about his values.

Jacobite_In_Training , May 19, 2017 at 11:11 am

" Boycotts won't work, since opting out of a site like Google means opting out of much of modern life ."

Good .Opt out of modern life. Now. Get as far away from it as you possibly can. You'll be the better person for it. There was a time I felt 'modern life' was the place to be .Now the older me realizes 'modern life' is a sham, an illusion, and a trap.

A very cleverly designed trap, and one in which the cattle to be slaughtered all believe they are choosing their own destiny even as they are herded inexorably closer to the slaughterhouse.

Amusingly, although my younger naive and idealistic self had a significant part to play in the great tech revolutions and evolutions through the 90's and early 2000's (for which I will be eternally regretful and ashamed, given how the creations we labored on have been whored out by the pimps in the oligarchy and government) I was also incredibly lucky to have grown up on a farm and learned how to use a hoe, a hand powered washing machine, how to gather eggs and grow things.

Real things, things that can feed people. But more importantly .how to grow things like spirit and independence that do not rely on any flow of electrons to come to glorious fruition.

I also so much better understand what that prophet Edward Abbey was trying to warn us about all those decades ago .

" Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell "

Tom , May 19, 2017 at 11:27 am

Indeed. The promise of technology has devolved into Clickbait Nation - where millions mindlessly click on endless deceptive headlines like rats pushing levers in a giant Skinner box.

[May 19, 2017] I encourage at least skim some of these documents to get a better understanding of the kinds of sickening things perpetrated by the intel community in the past and then ask yourself if the veil of secrecy that surrounds them is to keep secrets from the enemy or to keep the American public from vomiting.

Notable quotes:
"... I found it an odd mix of straight-talk and naivete. The NSA can't spy on Americans without a warrant? Go ahead, pull the other one. ..."
"... This caught my eye earlier. Had to come back to it. Especially after reading Mike Whitney's latest http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/05/19/seth-rich-craig-murray-and-the-sinister-stewards-of-the-national-security-state/ . In it, he details how seriously Clapper, Brennan et al. take those "laws and procedures." ..."
"... Taking a recent and relevant example, remember the ICA, the "Intelligence Community Assessment"? Whitney quotes a Fox news article detailing the many ways in which it's production varied sharply from normal procedures. And of course there was all that "stove-piping" of "intel" that helped make the bogus case for the 2003 war of aggression against Iraq ..."
"... Glad you liked it. Lily Tomlin applies: "No matter how cynical you get, it's impossible to keep up." ..."
"... Excellent post, except for the bit, as some other readers have commented, about American intelligence agencies being law abiding. Europe, and much of the world, crumbled without resistance in the face of the tech juggernauts because of the PR fetishization of anything that came out of silicon valley. ..."
May 19, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Huey Long , May 19, 2017 at 12:00 pm

This piece is absolutely fantastic! Not to nit pick, but I do disagree with the author about the following passage:

Even if you think our intelligence agencies are evil, they're a lawful evil. They have to follow laws and procedures, and the people in those agencies take them seriously.

But there are no such protections for non-Americans outside the United States. The NSA would have to go to court to spy on me; they can spy on you anytime they feel like it.

We know from the Church and Pike committees that this is patently false, and I highly doubt that this has changed much since then, especially in light of Iran-Contra and the made-up intel used to justify the Iraq invasion.

I know I probably sound like a broken record as I often cite the Church and Pike reports in my NC comments, but they're just so little known and so important that I feel compelled to do so.

I encourage the entire commenteriat to at least skim some of these documents to get a better understanding of the kinds of sickening things perpetrated by the intel community in the past and then ask yourself if the veil of secrecy that surrounds them is to keep secrets from the enemy or to keep the American public from vomiting.

diptherio , May 19, 2017 at 12:05 pm

I found it an odd mix of straight-talk and naivete. The NSA can't spy on Americans without a warrant? Go ahead, pull the other one. Talking about the "collapse of representative government" as if we've ever had one. All very cute, and very silly.

His suggestions for putting the brakes on are good, but insufficient. My ideas as to how to go about, "connecting the tech industry to reality. Bringing its benefits to more people, and bringing the power to make decisions to more people," is here:

http://threadingthepearls.blogspot.com/2014/11/youre-doing-it-wrong-politics-as-if.html

Imagine a political party with no national platform-a party where local rank-and-file members select candidates from among themselves, and dictate the policies those candidates will support. [2] Imagine a political party whose candidates are transparent; one that guarantees every member an equal voice in shaping the actual policy proposals-and the votes-of their representatives. Imagine a political party whose focus is on empowering the rank-and-file members, instead of the charismatic con-artists we call politicians. Imagine a political party that runs on direct democracy, from bottom to top: open, transparent and accountable . we'll need an app maybe two

The app already exists, actually, and it's called Loomio. Podemos uses it, along with a lot of other people:

https://www.loomio.org/

JustAnObserver , May 19, 2017 at 12:44 pm

I had the same reaction to that passage, at least initially. However what I think the author might mean by this is that to have the means to combat this evil 2 things are necessary:

o Laws and/or procedures that place limitations on the actions of these agencies – NSA, CIA, DHS etc.

o and, much much more important, the means to ensure those laws/procedures are *enforced* as to both statute and intent.

USians have at least the first part even if the second, enforcement, has rotted to the extent of being no more than a cruel joke. non-USian have neither.

Note that the lack of enforcement thing extends far beyond the IC agencies into anti-trust, environmental regulation, Sarbanes-Oxley, etc. etc.. Even the ludicrous botch called Dodd-Frank could work marginally better if there was some attempt to actually enforce it.

Wisdom Seeker , May 19, 2017 at 1:03 pm

"Dodd-Frank could work marginally better if there was some attempt to actually enforce it."

Unenforceable and unenforced laws are a feature, not a bug, and demonstrate the corruption of the system.

Bugs Bunny , May 19, 2017 at 2:14 pm

The USSR had laws guaranteeing freedom of expression.

Michael Fiorillo , May 19, 2017 at 5:35 pm

It's a fine and entertaining piece, but flawed.

That bit about tech workers defying management to protest Trump's travel ban seems demonstrably untrue, as the companies want that human capital pipeline kept open, and they can simultaneously wrap themselves in muliti-cultural virtue as they defend their employment practices.

Also, and I know people here will disagree or think it irrelevant, but the "They're not bad people," thing is wrong; I think people such as Thiel, Kalanick, Zuckerberg, Ellison, add-your-own-candidates, seem like pretty awful people doing a lot of awful things, whatever their brilliance, business acumen, and relentlessness.

Finally, while as a union guy I was pleased to see the importance he gave it, the idea of tech workers unionizing in this country seems like social science fiction, whatever their European counterparts might hopefully do.

TheCatSaid , May 19, 2017 at 3:18 pm

I, too, stumbled / choked when I read those paragraphs. They are provably false in so many dimensions I hardly know where to begin. It made it hard to read past.

I will try again because so many commenters are so positive. But the author's credibility sinks when a piece starts with such blindness or misinformation or pandering.

PhilM , May 19, 2017 at 3:41 pm

On the one hand, it's probably some pandering, because he knows he is being watched. We all throw that same bone once in a while. From Vergil, it is called "a sop to Cerberus." On the other hand, he is correct, too: it is a "lawful evil" because it functions using tax money, which is money extorted by force with the sanction of law, rather than "chaotic evil," which is money extorted by force or fraud without that sanction. So in that positive-law-philosophy way of thinking, he has a point, even if it's a pandering point.

knowbuddhau , May 19, 2017 at 12:16 pm

>>>"They have to follow laws and procedures, and the people in those agencies take them seriously."

This caught my eye earlier. Had to come back to it. Especially after reading Mike Whitney's latest http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/05/19/seth-rich-craig-murray-and-the-sinister-stewards-of-the-national-security-state/ . In it, he details how seriously Clapper, Brennan et al. take those "laws and procedures."

Taking a recent and relevant example, remember the ICA, the "Intelligence Community Assessment"? Whitney quotes a Fox news article detailing the many ways in which it's production varied sharply from normal procedures. And of course there was all that "stove-piping" of "intel" that helped make the bogus case for the 2003 war of aggression against Iraq .

I appreciate the author's point: it would be harder to surveil a particular American than a European. I'm sure rank & file people by & large respect law and procedure. But don't worry, if there's a political will to get you, there's a way. Ask Chelsea Manning.

Whitney concludes by quoting an especially apt question posed by Michael Glennon in the May issue of Harper's: "Who would trust the authors of past episodes of repression as a reliable safeguard against future repression?"

People who think they're immune to said repression, for one. Or who don't know or believe it happened/is happening at all. IOW political elites and most Americans, that's who. I think there's a good chance the soft coup will work, and most Americans would even accept a President-General.

So while I see the author's point, I see it this way. They take laws and procedures seriously like I take traffic laws seriously. Only their solution is to corrupt law enforcement, not follow the law.

"Stop throwing the Constitution in my face, it's just a goddamned piece of paper!" - President George W. Bush

Silicon Valley elites apparently think the same.

TheCatSaid , May 19, 2017 at 3:25 pm

Mike Whitney's article you linked to was interesting. George Webb's ongoing YouTube series is going further still, as he is uncovering numerous anomalies with Seth Rich's death and the circumstances and "investigation". It turns out that nothing in this story is what it seems (the "school play" scenario).

Disturbingly, there are similarities and patterns that connect up with numerous other patterns discussed earlier in this 208-day (so far) odyssey, which started with looking at irregularities around oil pipelines and drugs shipments, and ended up including numerous additional criminal enterprises, all with direct links to high-up government staff and political staff from both major parties, with links among key participants going back over decades in some cases.

To return to your observation–knowing what I know now–personal as well as second-hand, I don't think it's harder to surveil an american than a european. The compromises of law enforcement, justice and intelligence and rogue contractors have no international boundaries. The way the compromises are done vary depending on local methods, and the degree of public awareness may vary, but the actuality and ease–no different overall.

knowbuddhau , May 19, 2017 at 3:36 pm

Glad you liked it. Lily Tomlin applies: "No matter how cynical you get, it's impossible to keep up."

TheCatSaid , May 19, 2017 at 4:31 pm

That says it all. The rabbit holes are many and deep. As a society we are in for many rude awakenings. I don't expect soft landings.

mwbworld , May 19, 2017 at 12:22 pm

Lots of great stuff in here, but I'll raise a slight objection to:

three or four people who use Linux on the desktop, all of whom are probably at this conference.

We're now up to easily 5 or 6 thank you very much, and I wasn't at the conference. ;-)

MoiAussie , May 19, 2017 at 12:30 pm

Make that 7.

HotFlash , May 19, 2017 at 1:05 pm

Eight, nine and ten in this household. I don't use any Google-stuff and have hard-deleted my Facebook account. At least they told me had, I should ask a friend to check to see if I am still there ;)

voislav , May 19, 2017 at 1:23 pm

But we all know that a Linux user is worth only 3/5 of a regular user, so we are back to 6. Writing this from a 2003 vintage Pentium 4 machine running Linux Mint 17.

knowbuddhau , May 19, 2017 at 3:40 pm

8. Built this thing myself 5 years ago. It's a quad core on an MSI mobo. Or maybe I only count as a half, since it's a dual boot with Linux Mint 17.3/Win7 Pro.

Disturbed Voter , May 19, 2017 at 12:54 pm

A history lesson. The PC brought freedom from the IT department, until networking enslaved us again. The freedom was temporary, we were originally supposed to be serfs of a timeshare system connected to a mainframe. France was ahead of the US in that, they had MiniTel. But like everything French is was efficient but static. In Europe, like in the US, the PC initially liberated, and then with networking, enslaved. Arpanet was the predecessor of the Internet it was a Cold War system of survivable networking, for some people. The invention of HTTP and the browser at CERN democratized the Arpanet. But it also greatly enabled State-sponsored snooping.

We are now moving to cloud storage and Chrome-books which will restore the original vision of a timeshare system connected to a mainframe, but at a higher technical standard. What was envisioned in 1968 will be achieved, but later than planned, and in a round about way. We are not the polity we used to be. In 1968 this would have been viewed by the public with suspicion. But after 50 years later the public will view this as progress.

Huey Long , May 19, 2017 at 1:22 pm

In 1968 this would have been viewed by the public with suspicion. But after 50 years later the public will view this as progress.

50 years of being force fed Bernays Sauce will tend to do that to a people :-(.

LT , May 19, 2017 at 2:50 pm

One thing just as dangerous and limiting as the idealized past of the conservative mindset is the idealized sense of progress of the the liberal mindset.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , May 19, 2017 at 2:15 pm

You have 'a little learning is a dangerous thing.'

Then you have the Andromeda Strain that is toxic within a small PH range.

That is to say, nothing is inherently good or bad. It depends on when, where, what and how much.

And so the PC brought freedom and now it doesn't.

I suspect likewise with left-wing ideas and right-wing ideas. "How much of it? When?"

duck1 , May 19, 2017 at 1:09 pm

SV tech owners (think about) . . . the cool toys they'll spend profits on . . . run by chuckle heads . . . identify with progressive values . . . they want to help . . . run by a feckless leadership accountable to no one . . .
Can't send them to Mars quick enough, I say.

Oregoncharles , May 19, 2017 at 1:13 pm

." Even if you think our intelligence agencies are evil, they're a lawful evil. They have to follow laws and procedures, and the people in those agencies take them seriously."

This is standup comedy?

Huey Long , May 19, 2017 at 1:24 pm

This is standup comedy?

To the NCer, yes.

To the general public who have swallowed what I like to call the "Jack Ryan Narrative" of how things are at the CIA, no.

duck1 , May 19, 2017 at 1:47 pm

The real kneeslapper was. . . American government (also) run by chuckle heads . . . what happens when these two groups . . . join forces?
Knock me over with a feather, let us know when that happens. How many Friedman units will we have to wait?

Oregoncharles , May 19, 2017 at 1:19 pm

"And outside of Russia and China, Google is the world's search engine."

How can this be? I don't use it except very rarely; my wife does, but complains about it bitterly, and so do people here at NC, presumably tech-savvy. My wife is using it out of pure habit; what about the rest of them?

Phemfrog , May 19, 2017 at 2:53 pm

I literally don't know anyone who doesn't use it.

Oregoncharles , May 19, 2017 at 1:28 pm

"Given this scary state of the world, with ecological collapse just over the horizon, and a population sharpening its pitchforks, "
And unfortunately, that's the likeliest solution. (The family blogging "L" on this keyboard doesn't work right, so make some allowances.)

Despite my nitpicks above, this is a very important speech and a frightening issue. In particular, I've long been concerned that so much organizing depends on giant corporations like Faceborg and Twitter. They have no reason to be our friends, and some important reasons, like this speech, to be our enemies. Do we have a backup if FB and Google decide to censor the Internet for serious?

Thuto , May 19, 2017 at 1:33 pm

Excellent post, except for the bit, as some other readers have commented, about American intelligence agencies being law abiding. Europe, and much of the world, crumbled without resistance in the face of the tech juggernauts because of the PR fetishization of anything that came out of silicon valley.

The laxity of lawmakers and regulators was partly because of their unwillingness to be seen as standing in the way of "progress". A public drunk on the need to be in with the new, "disruptive" kids on the block who were "changing the world" would have teamed up with the disruptors to run rough shod over any oversight mechanisms proposed by regulators. Hence the silicon valley PR machine always prioritises the general public as the first targets of intellectual capture, because an intellectually captured public loath to give up the benefits and convenience of "progress and disruption" is a powerful weapon in the arsenal of tech giants in their global war against regulation. And the insidious nature of the damage of overreach by these tech giants isn't just limited to online interactions anymore, but the real world is also now experiencing disruption in the true sense of the word with gig economy companies reshaping the dynamics of entire markets and squeezing the most vulnerable members of society to the periphery of said markets, if not pushing them out entirely. In my own city of cape town south africa, a housing crisis is brewing as locals are being squeezed out of the housing market because landlords profit more from airbnb listings than making their properties available for long term rentals. Asset prices are being pushed up as "investors" compete to snap up available inventory to list on airbnb. And city officials seem more interested in celebrating cape town's status as "one of the top airbnb destinations" than actually protecting the interests of their own citizens. Intellectual capture, and the need to be "in with the cool disruptive kids" is infecting even public sector organizations with severe consequences for the public at large, but the public is blind to this as they've binged on the "disruption, changing the world" cool-aid

Bill Smith , May 19, 2017 at 4:15 pm

"PR fetishization of anything that came out of silicon valley"

It had nothing to do with individuals thinking this stuff had value? Cell phones -> iPhone (smartphone) for example.

Thuto , May 19, 2017 at 6:03 pm

While individuals might derive value from "this stuff", the tech companies providing the stuff use said value, allied with massive amounts of PR spin to render regulators impotent in providing safe guards to stop the techies from morphing from value providers into something akin to encroachers for profit/power/control (e.g. encroaching upon our right to privacy by selling off our data). Providing value to the public shouldn't be used as a cloak under which the dagger used to erode our rights is hidden

LT , May 19, 2017 at 1:50 pm

In the links today, there is a Guardian story on Tesla workers with the quote: "Everything feels like the future but us."

I'm reminded of another Guardian article about an ideology underpinning the grievances in Notes From An Emergency. It's imperative to understand the that the system we find ourselves in is a belief system – an ideology – and the choices to be made in regards to challenging it.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/11/accelerationism-how-a-fringe-philosophy-predicted-the-future-we-live-in/
An excerpt:
"Accelerationists argue that technology, particularly computer technology, and capitalism, particularly the most aggressive, global variety, should be massively sped up and intensified – either because this is the best way forward for humanity, or because there is no alternative. Accelerationists favour automation. They favour the further merging of the digital and the human. They often favour the deregulation of business, and drastically scaled-back government. They believe that people should stop deluding themselves that economic and technological progress can be controlled. They often believe that social and political upheaval has a value in itself.

Accelerationism, therefore, goes against conservatism, traditional socialism, social democracy, environmentalism, protectionism, populism, nationalism, localism and all the other ideologies that have sought to moderate or reverse the already hugely disruptive, seemingly runaway pace of change in the modern world "

Be sure to catch such quotes as this:
"We all live in an operating system set up by the accelerating triad of war, capitalism and emergent AI," says Steve Goodman, a British accelerationist

That should remind one of this:
"Musk is persuaded that we're living in a simulation, and he or a fellow true believer has hired programmers to try to hack it ."

Oregoncharles , May 19, 2017 at 1:58 pm

"Boycotts won't work, since opting out of a site like Google means opting out of much of modern life."

I wish he wouldn't keep dropping into openly delusional statements like that. Granted, i use Google News, but there are alternatives.

jrs , May 19, 2017 at 6:11 pm

Yes I know, it's ridiculous. And we use them to "protect" us he claims. But about the only place where "protect" makes any sense in his whole argument is actually Amazon. It is pretty safe to buy from Amazon (or using Amazon-pay) if you fear a credit card being hacked from on online purchase. That much has some truth.

But how does using Facebook protect anyone? How does Google protect anyone? Ok Android security is a different debate, but I really don't understand how issues of "security" etc. applies to using a Google search as opposed to any other.

LT , May 19, 2017 at 2:12 pm

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/11/accelerationism-how-a-fringe-philosophy-predicted-the-future-we-live-in

A long read, but gives some background on the "disruptors" a rebrand of "accelerationism."

(I thought I had accidently removed the link in the previous post)

begob , May 19, 2017 at 2:15 pm

The right wing in Britain seems to have come up with an authoritarian solution: "Theresa May is planning to introduce huge regulations on the way the internet works, allowing the government to decide what is said online."

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/theresa-may-internet-conservatives-government-a7744176.html

David, by the lake , May 19, 2017 at 2:52 pm

Lost me right at the opening by bringing up the popular vote and the bemoaning of a "broken" system. We are a federal republic of states and I'd prefer to keep it that way. Ensuring that the executive has the support of the populations of some minimal number of states is a good thing in my view.

craazyman , May 19, 2017 at 7:39 pm

so much to read. so little time.

that's when I bailed too. What drek. If a reader has half a mind, they slip and fall on a greasy doo doo in the first 15 seconds? No way can I stand to wade through the rest of what seems like a tortured screed (although I did speed read it). Turns out, I may agree in a minor way with some points, but I'll never know. I have time to waste in the real world, and I can't waste it if I'm reading somebody's internet screed about Donald Trump. God Good almighty. Enough.

Authors watch your words. They matter! LOL. And always remember - sometimes less is more. Not NC's finest post evah. And post author's shouldn't refer to people's heads on pikes in their hotel room as being something they wouldn't object to. I mean really. That's not even junior high school humor. I give this post a 2.3 on a scale of 1-10. 1 is unbearable. 3 is readable. 10 is genius.

PKMKII , May 19, 2017 at 3:12 pm

The people who run Silicon Valley identify with progressive values

Nope. There are some true progressives in the industry, yes, but they're few and far between. Understanding the dominant mindset in Silicon Valley is vital to understanding why there hasn't been pushback on all this. Sure, they like their neoliberal IdPol as it appeals to their meritocracy worship (hence the protests against the travel ban), but not with any intersectionality, especially with regards to women (the red pill/MRA mind virus infects a lot of brains in SV). Socio-economics, though, it's heavy on the libertarianism, albeit with some support for utopian government concepts like UBI, plus a futurist outlook out of that Rationality cult; Yudkowsky and his LessWrong nonsense have influence over a lot of players, big and small, in the bay area. So what you get is a bunch of people deluded into thinking they're hyperlogical while giving themselves a free pass on the begged question of where their "first principles" emerged out of. It's not just their sci-fi bubble that needs a poppin', it's their Rothbardian/Randite one as well.

Sue , May 19, 2017 at 3:27 pm

+1,000
"The people who run Silicon Valley identify with progressive values"
True! I've seen some smoking weed while talking machine language and screwing half of humanity

Michael Fiorillo , May 19, 2017 at 5:49 pm

Better still, they micro-dose on psychedelics while coding our binary chains: how cool is that!

TheCatSaid , May 19, 2017 at 3:38 pm

The points you raise are accurate. And even long before those things existed, Silicon Valley arose as conscious, deliberate high-level government strategy (or beyond-government deep state).

The sources of new technology and funding have been deliberately obscured, at least as far as the general public debate goes. It has nothing to do with "innovation" and "entrepreneurship". It is amazing to see all countries around the world hop onto the innovation, let's-imitate-Silicon-Valley bandwagon, with no awareness that SV was no accident of a few smart/lucky individual entrepreneurs.

jfleni , May 19, 2017 at 4:12 pm

NOBODY has to join buttBook, review slimy effing GIGGLE, and especially use MICROSWIFT; ALTERNATIVES are easy and often more effective and especially annoying to the rich slime.

When Balmer was Billy-Boy's Ceo he actually preached that Linux was a nefarious plot to deprive clowns like him of their well deserved "emoluments". Fortuneately, all he has to do now is sell beer and hot dogs, and make sure the cheerleaders keep their clothing on. Good job for him.

Decide NOT to be a lemming; instead be a BOLSHIE and hit 'em hard. YOU and the whole internet will benefit.

ginnie nyc , May 19, 2017 at 5:36 pm

I think some of the naivete of this talk is based on a superficial knowledge of American history. Things like his remark about the Women's DC March – "America is not used to large demonstrations " Oh really.

The writer, though intelligent, is apparently unaware of massive demos during the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement, the anti-Iraq war marches, the Bonus March etc etc. Perhaps his ignorance is a function of age, and perhaps the fact he was not born here, vis a vis his name.

different clue , May 19, 2017 at 7:27 pm

I will reply to an almost tangential little something which Maciej Ceglowski wrote near the beginning of his piece.

" 65.8 million for Clinton
63.0 million for Trump

This was the second time in sixteen years that the candidate with fewer votes won the American Presidency. There is a bug in the operating system of our democracy, one of the many ways that slavery still casts its shadow over American politics."

Really? A bug in the operating system of our democracy? That sounds like something a Clintonite would say. It sounds like something that many millions of Clintonites DID say, over and over and over again.

Clinton got more popular votes? She got almost all of them in California. So Mr. Ceglowski thinks Clinton should be President based on that? That means Mr. Ceglowski wants the entire rest of America to be California's colonial possession, ruled by a President that California picked. And don't think we Midwestern Deplorables don't understand exACTly how Ceglowski thinks and what Ceglowski thinks of us out here in Deploristan.

Some Clinton supporters are smarter than that. Some were not surprised. Michael Moore was not surprised. He predicted that we Deploristani Midwesterners would make Trump President whether the digitally beautiful people liked it or not. Did Mr. Ceglowski support Clinton? Did the "tech workers in short-lived revolt" support Clinton? And did they support NAFTA back in the day? You thought you would cram Trade Treason Clinton down our throat? Well, we flung Trade Patriot Trump right back in your face.

[May 17, 2017] How to avoid the WannaCrypt virus if you run Windows XP in VM

May 17, 2017 | www.techconnect.com
WannaCrypt may be exclusively a problem for Windows users, but the worm/virus combination could hit a Mac user with a Boot Camp partition or Windows virtual machines in VMware Fusion, Parallels, or other software. If you fit that bill and haven't booted your Windows system since mid-March or you didn't receive or install Microsoft's vital security update (MS17-010) released at that time, read on.

It's critical that you don't start up a Windows XP or later installation that's unpatched and let it connect to the Internet unless you're absolutely sure you have the SMB file-sharing service disabled or firewall or network-monitoring software installed that will block any attempt from an outside connection.

Also, if you use Windows XP or a few later releases of Windows that are past Microsoft's end of support since mid-March, you wouldn't have received the security updates that Microsoft was reserving only for corporate subscribers until last Friday . At that point, they made these updates generally available. If you booted any of those systems between mid-March and Friday, you're unprotected as well.

If your Mac is on a network that uses NAT and DHCP to provide private IP addresses, which is most home networks and most small-office ones, and your router isn't set up to connect the SMB file service from outside the local private network to your computer (whether Boot Camp or a VM), then the WannaCrypt worm can only attack your system from other computers on the same network. If they're already patched or there are no other Windows instances of any kind, you can boot up the system, disable SMBv1, and apply the patches.

If you don't want to take that chance or you have a system that can be reached from the greater Internet directly through whatever method (a routable IP or router port mapping to your Mac), you should disable networking on your computer before restarting into Boot Camp or launching a VM. This is easy with ethernet, but if you're using Wi-Fi for your Windows instance, you need to unplug your network from the Internet.

After booting, disable SMBv1. This prevents the worm from reaching your computer, no matter where it is. Microsoft offers instructions for Windows 7 and later at this support note . If you have a Windows XP system, the process requires directly editing the registry, and you will want to install firewall software to prevent incoming connections to SMB (port 445) before proceeding. The firewall approach is a good additional method for any Windows instance.

Once you've either disabled SMBv1 or have a firewall in place, you can enable network access and install all the patches required for your release, including MS17-010.

In some cases, you no longer need SMBv1, already known to be problematic, and can leave it disabled. If for legacy reasons you have to re-enable it, make sure you have both networking monitoring and firewall software (separately or a single app) that prevents unwanted and unexpected SMB access.

[May 17, 2017] Demonization of Russia that neoliberal DemoRats enjoy is not a policy. This is an attempt to create an alibi for Hillary fiasco

May 17, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

pgl , May 17, 2017 at 11:28 AM

Paul Ryan shows zero interest in investigating whether Trump obstructed justice or is in bed with the Russian government. Why? He needs to get these massive tax cuts for the 1% and take away from the "moochers" first.
libezkova, May 17, 2017 at 07:12 PM
" in bed with the Russian government."

Are you a closet neocon ?

libezkova, May 17, 2017 at 07:37 PM
Demonization of Russia that people like PGL enjoy is not a policy. This is an attempt to create an alibi for Hillary fiasco.

And as any witch hunt this is an obstacle to thinking rationally, of having a rational discourse about proper role of Russia in enhancing American national security.

Which of cause is impossible with imperial pretension of Washington neocons.

In any case Clinton's attempt to colonize Russia failed and after Yugoslavia war the USA neocons are responsible for the deteriorating relations.

Taking into account complexity of modern weapon systems and the fact the USA has just 30 min and Russia 10-15 min for reacting to any emerging threat of rocket attack, my impression is that Washington is full of psychopaths, who enjoy walking on the blade edge. Kind of self-selection.

Public is so successfully brainwashed that even mentioning the fact that Putin probably does not vivisect kittens provokes a strong negative reaction.

Invoking Goodwin law there were already a country with the population brainwashed to the same extent.

See Professor Stephen F. Cohen comments at

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-kovalik/rethinking-russia-a-conve_b_7744498.html

[May 17, 2017] The corporate media isnt interested in the truth or rationality. Russia is bad and needs to be destroyed is the narrative of the deep state that needs to be perpetuated.

Hey this is blasphemous non-sense! Putin vivisects kittens for pleasure! We aren't supposed to think rationally about any of this. One of the foremost experts on Russia, Princeton's Stephen F. Cohen is rarely heard in the U.S. because the corporate media isn't interested in the truth or rationality. There is always some narrative of the deep state that needs to be perpetuated.
Notable quotes:
"... Professor Cohen, a long-time friend of Mikhail Gorbachev, is one of the most important Russia scholars in the world and a member of the founding board of directors of the American Committee for East-West Accord , a pro-detente organization that seeks rethinking and public discussion of U.S. policy toward Russia. ..."
"... Despite his impressive credentials and intimate knowledge of Russia and its history, you will rarely hear Cohen's voice in the mainstream press. And it is not for a lack of trying; his views, and those of others like him, are simply shut out of the media, which, along with almost every U.S. politician, has decided to vilify Russian and Putin, irrationally equating Putin with such tyrants as Adolf Hitler. ..."
"... Even Henry Kissinger - I think it was in March 2014 in the Washington Post ..."
"... And then I wrote in reply to that: That's right, but it's much worse than that, because it's also that the demonization of Putin is an obstacle to thinking rationally, having a rational discourse or debate about American national security. And it's not just this catastrophe in Ukraine and the new Cold War; it's from there to Syria to Afghanistan, to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, to fighting global terrorism. The demonization of Putin excludes a partner in the Kremlin that the U.S. needs, no matter who sits there. ..."
"... Ukraine had been on Washington's agenda for a very, very long time; it is a matter of public record. It was to that that Putin reacted. It was to the fear that the new government in Kiev, which overthrew the elected government, had NATO backing and its next move would be toward Crimea and the Russian naval base there. ... But he was reacting, and as Kiev began an all-out war against the East, calling it the "anti-terrorist operation," with Washington's blessing. ... ..."
"... Meanwhile, NATO began escalating its military presence. In each of these stages, a very close examination will show, as I'm sure historians will when they look back, that Putin has been primarily reactive. Now maybe his reactions have been wrong-headed. Maybe they've been too aggressive. That's something that could be discussed. ... ..."
May 17, 2017 | www.huffingtonpost.com

Last week I had the honor of interviewing Stephen F. Cohen, Professor Emeritus of Russian Studies and Politics at NYU and Princeton University, where for many years he was director of its Russian Studies program. Professor Cohen, a long-time friend of Mikhail Gorbachev, is one of the most important Russia scholars in the world and a member of the founding board of directors of the American Committee for East-West Accord , a pro-detente organization that seeks rethinking and public discussion of U.S. policy toward Russia.

Despite his impressive credentials and intimate knowledge of Russia and its history, you will rarely hear Cohen's voice in the mainstream press. And it is not for a lack of trying; his views, and those of others like him, are simply shut out of the media, which, along with almost every U.S. politician, has decided to vilify Russian and Putin, irrationally equating Putin with such tyrants as Adolf Hitler. As Cohen explains:

Even Henry Kissinger - I think it was in March 2014 in the Washington Post - wrote this line: "The demonization of Putin is not a policy. It's an alibi for not having a policy."

And then I wrote in reply to that: That's right, but it's much worse than that, because it's also that the demonization of Putin is an obstacle to thinking rationally, having a rational discourse or debate about American national security. And it's not just this catastrophe in Ukraine and the new Cold War; it's from there to Syria to Afghanistan, to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, to fighting global terrorism. The demonization of Putin excludes a partner in the Kremlin that the U.S. needs, no matter who sits there.

And Cohen reminds us that, quite contrary to the common, manufactured perception in this country, we have a very willing and capable potential partner in Moscow right now. As Cohen explains, "Bill Clinton said this not too long ago: To the extent that he knew and dealt with Putin directly, he never knew him to say anything that he, Putin, didn't mean, or ever to go back on his word or break a promise he made to Clinton."

What's more, as Cohen reminds us, when the 9/11 attacks happened, Putin was the very first international leader to offer help to President Bush:

Putin called George Bush after 9/11 and said, "George, we're with you, whatever we can do," and in fact did more to help the Americans fight a land war in Afghanistan to oust the Taliban from Kabul. ... Russia still had a lot of assets in Afghanistan, including a fighting force called the Northern Alliance. It had probably better intelligence in and about Afghanistan than any country, and it had air-route transport for American forces to fight in Afghanistan. He gave all this - Putin gave all this - to the Bush administration. Putin's Kremlin, not a member of NATO, did more to help the American land war and save American lives, therefore, in Afghanistan, than any NATO country.

However, as Cohen explains, Bush strangely repaid Putin by (1) unilaterally withdrawing from the anti-ballistic (ABM) treaty, the "bedrock" of Russia's national security, and (2) launching the second wave of NATO expansion toward Russia.

And, as Cohen points out, this was not the only case in which the U.S. quite brazenly betrayed Russia in recent decades. Thus he notes that Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama have all violated the very clear agreement that, in return for Gorbachev's allowing the reunification of Germany, the U.S. would not move NATO one inch further east. In addition, the U.S. undermined then-President Medvedev (who we claim to prefer to Putin) by unseating Gaddafi in Libya - with disastrous consequences - despite our promise to Russia that we would do no such thing if Russia agreed to the Security Council resolution approving the no-fly zone over Libya.

All of this history must be considered when we view the current crisis in Ukraine, which, Cohen warns, is quickly leading to a hot war with Russia. As Cohen relates:

If you took even the short time frame of the Ukrainian crisis and you began it in November 2013, when the then-elected president of Ukraine, Yanukovych, didn't actually refuse to sign the European Union's offer of a partnership with Europe. He asked for time to think about it. That brought the protesters in the streets. That led to the illegal overthrow of Yanukovych, which, by the way, Poroshenko, the current president, strangely now admits was illegal. ...

Then comes Putin's annexation or reunification of Crimea, as Russians call it. Then already evolving now in Eastern Ukraine are protests against what's happening in Kiev, because Eastern Ukraine was the electoral base of Yanukovych. Yanukovych was its president in a fundamental way. Then comes the proxy war, with Russia helping the rebel fighters in Eastern Ukraine and the United States and NATO helping the military forces of Kiev. ...

And so it went, on and on. Now, if you back up and ask who began the aggression, it's my argument - for which I'm called a "Putin apologist," which I am not - ... but the reality is that Putin has been mostly reactive. Let me say that again: reactive. If we had the time, I could explain to you why the reportedly benign European Union offer to Kiev in 2013 was not benign at all. No Ukrainian who wanted to survive could have accepted that. And by the way, it had clauses buried below that would've obliged Kiev to adhere to NATO military security policy. ...

Ukraine had been on Washington's agenda for a very, very long time; it is a matter of public record. It was to that that Putin reacted. It was to the fear that the new government in Kiev, which overthrew the elected government, had NATO backing and its next move would be toward Crimea and the Russian naval base there. ... But he was reacting, and as Kiev began an all-out war against the East, calling it the "anti-terrorist operation," with Washington's blessing. ...

This was clearly meant to be a war of destruction. ... Meanwhile, NATO began escalating its military presence. In each of these stages, a very close examination will show, as I'm sure historians will when they look back, that Putin has been primarily reactive. Now maybe his reactions have been wrong-headed. Maybe they've been too aggressive. That's something that could be discussed. ...

But this notion that this is all Putin's aggression, or Russia's aggression, is, if not 100-percent false, let us say, for the sake of being balanced and ecumenical, it's 50-percent false. And if Washington would admit that its narrative is 50-percent false, which means Russia's narrative is 50-percent correct, that's where negotiations begin and succeed.

I can only hope that the policy makers in this country will hear the voices of people like Professor Cohen and enter into rational negotiations with Russia in order that we may be spared what is shaping up to be a disastrous war in Europe.

Follow Dan Kovalik on Twitter: www.twitter.com/danielmkovalik

MyLessThanPrimeBeef

But underlying all of this, and all the furor, is a fundamental assumption. It's a term that's used constantly in the media and by the various political pundits on the media, which is "Russia is our adversary." You have to basically assume that the adversary, Russia, has an antagonistic relationship with the United States, and then underneath all of that, then you have Flynn and Comey investigation and so on. Because if Russia isn't the great adversary, then it's unlikely there'd be such a to-do about all of this.

You know your opponent is a great master when you realize no one on this side is addressing that assumption.

The bystanders, like us, are all too busy trying to find out if Trump didn't do this or he did do that.

RMO May 17, 2017 at 2:53 pm

We survived the original cold war (just barely and by chance – go ahead and look up how many times we came within a gnat's eyelash of global Armageddon) w don't need another one. The Washington DC elite have gone so far round the bend that General Jack D. Ripper looks calm, sane and trustworthy by comparison.

Chauncey Gardiner

Thanks for this informative interview with Robert English. I too share the view that a significant opportunity was squandered in the early to mid-1990s to build a constructive relationship with Russia, with the key actors mostly those who were unable to put the Cold War behind them, and who used the opportunity to debilitate Russia economically and expand U.S. power globally; as well as US and Western European financial and economic interests to a more limited extent.

That the Trump administration is attempting to move the needle toward a more constructive geopolitical and economic relationship with Russia is a positive development IMO, as I agree with Trump that U.S. and Russian geopolitical, economic and environmental interests are often aligned, albeit not always. However, I remain concerned about global organized crime, oligarchic political and economic control, corruption and impairment of civil liberties, issues which transcend national boundaries and are not unique to Russia; and those politicians and their sponsors in the U.S. who are seeking expanded military conflict.

I view the conversation reflected in this interview on two levels: Those predominantly interested in preserving (the perception of) U.S. global hegemony, and those primarily seeking to disempower and replace Trump as president, although they are not necessarily mutually exclusive groups. In any event, there is little question who presently has the media megaphone. It has been educational to see how pervasive their narrative can be.

[May 16, 2017] Mark Ames: The FBI Has No Legal Charter But Lots of Kompromat

Notable quotes:
"... Today, it seems, the best description of the FBI's main activity is corporate enforcer for the white-collar mafia known as Wall Street. There is an analogy to organized crime, where the most powerful mobsters settled disputes between other gangs of criminals. Similarly, if a criminal gang is robbed by one of its own members, the mafia would go after the guilty party; the FBI plays this role for Wall Street institutions targeted by con artists and fraudsters. Compare and contrast a pharmaceutical company making opiates which is targeted by thieves vs. a black market drug cartel targeted by thieves. In one case, the FBI investigates; in the other, a violent vendetta ensues (such as street murders in Mexico). ..."
"... The FBI executives are rewarded for this service with lucrative post-retirement careers within corporate America – Louis Freeh went to credit card fraudster, MBNA, Richard Mueller to a corporate Washington law firm, WilmerHale, and Comey, before Obama picked him as Director, worked for Lockheed Martin and HSBC (cleaning up after their $2 billion drug cartel marketing scandal) after leaving the FBI in 2005. ..."
"... Some say they have a key role to play in national security and terrorism – but their record on the 2001 anthrax attacks is incredibly shady and suspicious. The final suspect, Bruce Ivins, is clearly innocent of the crime, just as their previous suspect, Steven Hatfill was. Ivins, if still alive, could have won a similar multi-million dollar defamation lawsuit against the FBI. All honest bioweapons experts know this to be true – the perpetrators of those anthrax letters are still at large, and may very well have had close associations with the Bush Administration itself. ..."
"... Comey's actions over the past year are certainly highly questionable, as well. Neglecting to investigate the Clinton Foundation ties to Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments and corporations, particularly things like State Department approval of various arms deals in which bribes may have been paid, is as much a dereliction of duty as neglecting to investigate Trump ties to Russian business interests – but then, Trump has a record of shady business dealings dating back to the 1970s, of strange bankruptcies and bailouts and government sales that the FBI never looked at either. ..."
May 16, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Mark Ames, founding editor of the Moscow satirical paper The eXile and co-host of the Radio War Nerd podcast with Gary Brecher (aka John Dolan). Subscribe here . Originally published at The Exiled

I made the mistake of listening to NPR last week to find out what Conventional Wisdom had to say about Trump firing Comey, on the assumption that their standardized Mister-Rogers-on-Nyquil voice tones would rein in the hysteria pitch a little. And on the surface, it did-the NPR host and guests weren't directly shrieking "the world is ending! We're all gonna die SHEEPLE!" the way they were on CNN. But in a sense they were screaming "fire!", if you know how to distinguish the very minute pitch level differences in the standard NPR Nyquil voice.

The host of the daytime NPR program asked his guests how serious, and how "unprecedented" Trump's decision to fire his FBI chief was. The guests answers were strange: they spoke about "rule of law" and "violating the Constitution" but then switched to Trump "violating norms"-and back again, interchanging "norms" and "laws" as if they're synonyms. One of the guests admitted that Trump firing Comey was 100% legal, but that didn't seem to matter in this talk about Trump having abandoned rule-of-law for a Putinist dictatorship. These guys wouldn't pass a high school civics class, but there they were, garbling it all up. What mattered was the proper sense of panic and outrage-I'm not sure anyone really cared about the actual legality of the thing, or the legal, political or "normative" history of the FBI.

For starters, the FBI hardly belongs in the same set with concepts like "constitutional" or " rule of law." That's because the FBI was never established by a law. US Lawmakers refused to approve an FBI bureau over a century ago when it was first proposed by Teddy Roosevelt. So he ignored Congress, and went ahead and set it up by presidential fiat. That's one thing the civil liberties crowd hates discussing - how centralized US political power is in the executive branch, a feature in the constitutional system put there by the holy Founders.

In the late 1970s, at the tail end of our brief Glasnost, there was a lot of talk in Washington about finally creating a legal charter for the FBI -70 years after its founding. A lot of serious ink was spilled trying to transform the FBI from an extralegal secret police agency to something legal and defined. If you want to play archeologist to America's recent history, you can find this in the New York Times' archives, articles with headlines like "Draft of Charter for F.B.I. Limits Inquiry Methods" :

The Carter Administration will soon send to Congress the first governing charter for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The proposed charter imposes extensive but not absolute restrictions on the bureau's employment of controversial investigative techniques, .including the use of informers, undercover agents and covert criminal activity.

The charter also specifies the duties and powers of the bureau, setting precise standards and procedures for the initiation ,and conduct of investigations. It specifically requires the F.B.I. to observe constitutional rights and establishes safeguards against unchecked harassment, break‐ins and other abuses.

followed by the inevitable lament, like this editorial from the Christian Science Monitor a year later, "Don't Forget the FBI Charter". Which of course we did forget-that was Reagan's purpose and value for the post-Glasnost reaction: forgetting. As historian Athan Theoharis wrote , "After 1981, Congress never seriously considered again any of the FBI charter proposals."

The origins of the FBI have been obscured both because of its dubious legality and because of its original political purpose-to help the president battle the all-powerful American capitalists. It wasn't that Teddy Roosevelt was a radical leftist-he was a Progressive Republican, which sounds like an oxymoron today but which was mainstream and ascendant politics in his time. Roosevelt was probably the first president since Andrew Jackson to try to smash concentrated wealth-power, or at least some of it. He could be brutally anti-labor, but so were the powerful capitalists he fought, and all the structures of government power. He met little opposition pursuing his imperial Social Darwinist ambitions outside America's borders-but he had a much harder time fighting the powerful capitalists at home against Roosevelt's most honorable political obsession: preserving forests, parks and public lands from greedy capitalists. An early FBI memo to Hoover about the FBI's origins explains,

"Roosevelt, in his characteristic dynamic fashion, asserted that the plunderers of the public domain would be prosecuted and brought to justice."

According to New York Times reporter Tim Wiener's Enemies: A History of the FBI , it was the Oregon land fraud scandal of 1905-6 that put the idea of an FBI in TR's hyperactive mind. The scandal involved leading Oregon politicians helping railroad tycoon Edward Harriman illegally sell off pristine Oregon forest lands to timber interests, and it ended with an Oregon senator and the state's only two House representatives criminally charged and put on trial-along with dozens of other Oregonians. Basically, they were raping the state's public lands and forests like colonists stripping a foreign country-and that stuck in TR's craw.

TR wanted his attorney general-Charles Bonaparte (yes, he really was a descendant of that Bonaparte)-to make a full report to on the rampant land fraud scams that the robber barons were running to despoil the American West, and which threatened TR's vision of land and forest conservation and parks. Bonaparte created an investigative team from the US Secret Service, but TR thought their report was a "whitewash" and proposed a new separate federal investigative service within Bonaparte's Department of Justice that would report only to the Attorney General.

Until then, the US government had to rely on private contractors like the notorious, dreaded Pinkerton Agency, who were great at strikebreaking, clubbing workers and shooting organizers, but not so good at taking down down robber barons, who happened to also be important clients for the private detective agencies.

In early 1908, Attorney General Bonaparte wrote to Congress asking for the legal authority (and budget funds) to create a "permanent detective force" under the DOJ. Congress rebelled, denouncing it as a plan to create an American okhrana . Democrat Joseph Sherley wrote that "spying on men and prying into what would ordinarily be considered their private affairs" went against "American ideas of government"; Rep. George Waldo, a New York Republican, said the proposed FBI was a "great blow to freedom and to free institutions if there should arise in this country any such great central secret-service bureau as there is in Russia."

So Congress's response was the opposite, banning Bonaparte's DOJ from spending any funds at all on a proposed FBI. Another Congressman wrote another provision into the budget bill banning the DOJ from hiring Secret Service employees for any sort of FBI type agency. So Bonaparte waited until Congress took its summer recess, set aside some DOJ funds, recruited some Secret Service agents, and created a new federal detective bureau with 34 agents. This was how the FBI was born. Congress wasn't notified until the end of 1908, in a few lines in a standard report - "oh yeah, forgot to tell you-the executive branch went ahead and created an American okhrana because, well, the ol' joke about dogs licking their balls. Happy New Year!"

The sordid history of America's extralegal secret police-initially named the Bureau of Investigation, changed to the FBI ("Federal") in the 30's, is mostly a history of xenophobic panic-mongering, illegal domestic spying, mass roundups and plans for mass-roundups, false entrapment schemes, and planting what Russians call "kompromat"- compromising information about a target's sex life-to blackmail or destroy American political figures that the FBI didn't like.

The first political victim of J Edgar Hoover's kompromat was Louis Post, the assistant secretary of labor under Woodrow Wilson. Post's crime was releasing over 1,000 alleged Reds from detention facilities near the end of the FBI's Red Scare crackdown, when they jailed and deported untold thousands on suspicion of being Communists. The FBI's mass purge began with popular media support in 1919, but by the middle of 1920, some (not the FBI) were starting to get a little queasy. A legal challenge to the FBI's mass purges and exiles in Boston ended with a federal judge denouncing the FBI. After that ruling, assistant secretary Louis Post, a 71-year-old well-meaning progressive, reviewed the cases against the last 1500 detainees that the FBI wanted to deport, and found that there was absolutely nothing on at least 75 percent of the cases. Post's review threatened to undo thousands more FBI persecutions of alleged Moscow-controlled radicals.

So one of the FBI's most ambitious young agents, J Edgar Hoover, collected kompromat on Post and his alleged associations with other alleged Moscow-controlled leftists, and gave the file to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives-which promptly announced it would hold hearings to investigate Post as a left subversive. The House tried to impeach Post, but ultimately he defended himself. Post's lawyer compared his political persecutors to the okhrana (Russia, again!): "We in America have sunk to the level of the government of Russia under the Czarist regime," describing the FBI's smear campaign as "even lower in some of their methods than the old Russian officials."

Under Harding, the FBI had a new chief, William Burns, who made headlines blaming the terror bombing attack on Wall Street of 1920 that killed 34 people on a Kremlin-run conspiracy. The FBI claimed it had a highly reliable inside source who told them that Lenin sent $30,000 to the Soviets' diplomatic mission in New York, which was distributed to four local Communist agents who arranged the Wall Street bombing. The source claimed to have personally spoken with Lenin, who boasted that the bombing was so successful he'd ordered up more.

The only problem was that the FBI's reliable source, a Jewish-Polish petty criminal named Wolf Lindenfeld, turned out to be a bullshitter-nicknamed "Windy Linde"-who thought his fake confession about Lenin funding the bombing campaign would get him out of Poland's jails and set up in a comfortable new life in New York.

By 1923, the FBI had thoroughly destroyed America's communist and radical labor movements-allowing it to focus on its other favorite pastime: spying on and destroying political opponents. The FBI spied on US Senators who supported opening diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union: Idaho's William Borah, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee; Thomas Walsh of the Judiciary Committee, and Burton K Wheeler, the prairie Populist senator from Montana, who visited the Soviet Union and pushed for diplomatic relations. Harding's corrupt Attorney General Dougherty denounced Sen. Wheeler as "the Communist leader in the Senate" and "no more a Democrat than Stalin, his comrade in Moscow." Dougherty accused Sen. Wheeler of being part of a conspiracy "to capture, by deceit and design, as many members of the Senate as possible and to spread through Washington and the cloakrooms of Congress a poison gas as deadly as that which sapped and destroyed brave soldiers in the last war."

Hoover, now a top FBI official, quietly fed kompromat to journalists he cultivated, particularly an AP reporter named Richard Whitney, who published a popular book in 1924, "Reds In America" alleging Kremlin agents "had an all-pervasive influence over American institutions; they had infiltrated every corner of American life." Whitney named Charlie Chaplin as a Kremlin agent, along with Felix Frankfurter and members of the Senate pushing for recognition of the Soviet Union. That killed any hope for diplomatic recognition for the next decade.

Then the first Harding scandals broke-Teapot Dome, Veterans Affairs, bribery at the highest rungs. When Senators Wheeler and Walsh opened bribery investigations, the FBI sent agents to the senators' home state to drum up false bribery charges against Sen. Wheeler. The charges were clearly fake, and a jury dismissed the charges. But Attorney General Dougherty was indicted for fraud and forced to resign, as was his FBI chief Burns-but not Burns' underling Hoover, who stayed in the shadows.

"We want no Gestapo or Secret Police. FBI is tending in that direction. They are dabbling in sex-life scandals and plain blackmail This must stop."

With the Cold War, the FBI became obsessed with homosexuals as America's Fifth Column under Moscow's control. Homosexuals, the FBI believed, were susceptible to Kremlin kompromat-so the FBI collected and disseminated its own kompromat on alleged American homosexuals, supposedly to protect America from the Kremlin. In the early 1950s, Hoover launched the Sex Deviates Program to spy on American homosexuals and purge them from public life. The FBI built up 300,000 pages of files on suspected homosexuals and contacted their employers, local law enforcement and universities to "to drive homosexuals from every institution of government, higher learning, and law enforcement in the nation," according to Tim Weiner's book Enemies. No one but the FBI knows exactly how many Americans' lives and careers were destroyed by the FBI's Sex Deviants Program but Hoover-who never married, lived with his mother until he was 40, and traveled everywhere with his "friend" Clyde Tolson .

In the 1952 election, Hoover was so committed to helping the Republicans and Eisenhower win that he compiled and disseminated a 19-page kompromat file alleging that his Democratic Party rival Adlai Stevenson was gay. The FBI's file on Stevenson was kept in the Sex Deviants Program section-it included libelous gossip, claiming that Stevenson was one of Illinois' "best known homosexuals" who went by the name "Adeline" in gay cruising circles.

In the 1960s, Hoover and his FBI chiefs collected kompromat on the sex lives of JFK and Martin Luther King. Hoover presented some of his kompromat on JFK to Bobby Kennedy, in a concern-trollish way claiming to "warn" him that the president was opening himself up to blackmail. It was really a way for Hoover to let the despised Kennedy brothers know he could destroy them, should they try to Comey him out of his FBI office. Hoover's kompromat on MLK's sex life was a particular obsession of his-he now believed that African-Americans, not homosexuals, posed the greatest threat to become a Kremlin Fifth Column. The FBI wiretapped MLK's private life, collecting tapes of his affairs with other women, which a top FBI official then mailed to Martin Luther King's wife, along with a note urging King to commit suicide.

FBI letter anonymously mailed to Martin Luther King Jr's wife, along with kompromat sex tapes

After JFK was murdered, when Bobby Kennedy ran for the Senate in 1964, he recounted another disturbing FBI/kompromat story that President Johnson shared with him on the campaign trail. LBJ told Bobby about a stack of kompromat files - FBI reports "detailing the sexual debauchery of members of the Senate and House who consorted with prostitutes." LBJ asked RFK if the kompromat should be leaked selectively to destroy Republicans before the 1964 elections. Kennedy recalled,

"He told me he had spent all night sitting up and reading the files of the FBI on all these people. And Lyndon talks about that information and material so freely. Lyndon talks about everybody, you see, with everybody. And of course that's dangerous."

Kennedy had seen some of the same FBI kompromat files as attorney general, but he was totally opposed to releasing such unsubstantiated kompromat-such as, say, the Trump piss files-because doing so would "destroy the confidence that people in the United States had in their government and really make us a laughingstock around the world."

Imagine that.

Which brings me to the big analogy every hack threw around last week, calling Trump firing Comey "Nixonian." Actually, what Trump did was more like the very opposite of Nixon, who badly wanted to fire Hoover in 1971-2, but was too afraid of the kompromat Hoover might've had on him to make the move. Nixon fell out with his old friend and onetime mentor J Edgar Hoover in 1971, when the ailing old FBI chief refused to get sucked in to the Daniel Ellsberg/Pentagon Papers investigation, especially after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the New York Times. Part of the reason Nixon created his Plumbers team of black bag burglars was because Hoover had become a bit skittish in his last year on this planet-and that drove Nixon crazy.

Nixon called his chief of staff Haldeman:

Nixon: I talked to Hoover last night and Hoover is not going after this case [Ellsberg] as strong as I would like. There's something dragging him.

Haldeman: You don't have the feeling the FBI is really pursuing this?

Nixon: Yeah, particularly the conspiracy side. I want to go after everyone. I'm not so interested in Ellsberg, but we have to go after everybody who's a member of this conspiracy.

Hoover's ambitious deputies in the FBI were smelling blood, angling to replace him. His number 3, Bill Sullivan (who sent MLK the sex tapes and suicide note) was especially keen to get rid of Hoover and take his place. So as J Edgar was stonewalling the Daniel Ellsberg investigation, Sullivan showed up in a Department of Justice office with two suitcases packed full of transcripts and summaries of illegal wiretaps that Kissinger and Nixon had ordered on their own staff and on American journalists. The taps were ordered in Nixon's first months in the White House in 1969, to plug up the barrage of leaks, the likes of which no one had ever seen before. Sullivan took the leaks from J Edgar's possession and told the DOJ official that they needed to be hidden from Hoover, who planned to use them as kompromat to blackmail Nixon.

Nixon decided he was going to fire J Edgar the next day. This was in September, 1971. But the next day came, and Nixon got scared. So he tried to convince his attorney general John Mitchell to fire Hoover for him, but Mitchell said only the President could fire J Edgar Hoover. So Nixon met him for breakfast, and, well, he just didn't have the guts. Over breakfast, Hoover flattered Nixon and told him there was nothing more in the world he wanted than to see Nixon re-elected. Nixon caved; the next day, J Edgar Hoover unceremoniously fired his number 3 Bill Sullivan, locking him out of the building and out of his office so that he couldn't take anything with him. Sullivan was done.

The lesson here, I suppose, is that if an FBI director doesn't want to be fired, it's best to keep your kompromat a little closer to your chest, as a gun to hold to your boss's head. Comey's crew already released the piss tapes kompromat on Trump-the damage was done. What was left to hold back Trump from firing Comey? "Laws"? The FBI isn't even legal. "Norms" would be the real reason. Which pretty much sums up everything Trump has been doing so far. We've learned the past two decades that we're hardly a nation of laws, at least not when it comes to the plutocratic ruling class. What does bind them are "norms"-and while those norms may mean everything to the ruling class, it's an open question how much these norms mean to a lot of Americans outside that club.

Huey Long , May 16, 2017 at 2:33 am

Wow, and this whole time I thought the NSA had a kompromat monopoly as they have everybody's porn site search terms and viewing habits on file.

I had no idea the FBI practically invented it!

3.14e-9 , May 16, 2017 at 3:04 am

The Native tribes don't have a great history with the FBI, either.

https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/culture/thing-about-skins/comey-fbi-destructive-history-native-people/

voteforno6 , May 16, 2017 at 6:06 am

Has anyone ever used the FBI's lack of a charter as a defense in court?

Disturbed Voter , May 16, 2017 at 6:42 am

The USA doesn't have a legal basis either, it is a revolting crown colony of the British Empire. Treason and heresy all the way down. Maybe the British need to burn Washington DC again?

Synoia , May 16, 2017 at 9:46 pm

Britain burning DC, and the so call ed "war" of 1812, got no mention in my History Books. Napoleon on the other hand, featured greatly

In 1812 Napoleon was busy going to Russia. That went well.

Ignim Brites , May 16, 2017 at 7:55 am

Wondered how Comey thought he could get away with his conviction and pardon of Sec Clinton. Seems like part of the culture of FBI is a "above and beyond" the law mentality.

Watt4Bob , May 16, 2017 at 7:56 am

Back in the early 1970s a high school friend moved to Alabama because his father was transferred by his employer.

My friend sent a post card describing among other things the fact that Alabama had done away with the requirement of a math class to graduate high school, and substituted a required class called "The Evils of Communism" complete with a text-book written by J. Edgar Hoover; Masters of Deceit.

JMarco , May 16, 2017 at 2:52 pm

In Dallas,Texas my 1959 Civics class had to read the same book. We all were given paperback copies of it to take home and read. It was required reading enacted by Texas legislature.

Watt4Bob , May 16, 2017 at 4:47 pm

So I'd guess you weren't fooled by any of those commie plots of the sixties, like the campaigns for civil rights or against the Vietnamese war.

I can't really brag, I didn't stop worrying about the Red Menace until 1970 or so, that's when I started running into returning vets who mostly had no patience for that stuff.

Carolinian , May 16, 2017 at 8:35 am

We've learned the past two decades that we're hardly a nation of laws, at least not when it comes to the plutocratic ruling class. What does bind them are "norms"

Or as David Broder put it (re Bill Clinton): he came in and trashed the place and it wasn't his place.

It was David Broder's place. Of course the media play a key role with all that kompromat since they are the ones needed to convey it to the public. The tragedy is that even many of the sensible in their ranks such as Bill Moyers have been sucked into the kompromat due to their hysteria over Trump. Ames is surely on point in this great article. The mistake was allowing secret police agencies like the FBI and CIA to be created in the first place.

Katharine , May 16, 2017 at 8:37 am

Sorry, my initial reaction was that people who don't know the difference between "rein" and "reign" are not to be trusted to provide reliable information. Recognizing that as petty, I kept reading, and presently found the statement that Congress was not informed of the founding of the FBI until a century after the fact, which seems implausible. If in fact the author meant the end of 1908 it was quite an achievement to write 2008.

Interesting to the extent it may be true, but with few sources, no footnotes, and little evidence of critical editing who knows what that may be?

Carolinian , May 16, 2017 at 9:12 am

Do you even know who Mark Ames is?

Petty .yes.

Katharine , May 16, 2017 at 10:08 am

Who he is is irrelevant. I don't take things on faith because "the Pope said" or because Mark Ames said. People who expect their information to be taken seriously should substantiate it.

Bill Smith , May 16, 2017 at 12:00 pm

Yeah, in the first sentence

Interesting article though.

Fiery Hunt , May 16, 2017 at 9:21 am

Yeah, Kathatine, you're right .very petty.

And completely missed the point.

Or worse, you got the point and your best rejection of that point was pointing out a typo.

Katharine , May 16, 2017 at 10:13 am

I neither missed the point nor rejected it. I reserved judgment, as I thought was apparent from my comment.

sid_finster , May 16, 2017 at 10:50 am

But Trump is bad. Very Bad.

So anything the FBI does to get rid of him must by definition be ok! Besides, surely our civic-minded IC would never use their power on the Good Guys™!

Right?

JTMcPhee , May 16, 2017 at 9:21 am

Ah yes, the voice of "caution." And such attention to the lack of footnotes, in this day when the curious can so easily cut and paste a bit of salient text into a search engine and pull up a feast of parse-able writings and video, from which they can "judiciously assess" claims and statements. If they care to spend the time, which is in such short supply among those who are struggling to keep up with the horrors and revelations people of good will confront every blinking day

Classic impeachment indeed. All from the height of "academic rigor" and "caution." Especially the "apologetic" bit about "reign" vs "rein." Typos destroy credibility, don't they? And the coup de grass (sic), the unrebuttable "plausibility" claim.

One wonders at the nature of the author's curriculum vitae. One also marvels at the yawning gulf between the Very Serious Stuff I was taught in grade and high school civics and history, back in the late '50s and the '60s, about the Fundamental Nature Of Our Great Nation and its founding fathers and the Beautiful Documents they wrote, on the one hand, and what we mopes learn, through a drip-drip-drip process punctuated occasionally by Major Revelations, about the real nature of the Empire and our fellow creatures

PS: My earliest memory of television viewing was a day at a friend's house - his middle-class parents had the first "set" in the neighborhood, I think an RCA, in a massive sideboard cabinet where the picture tube pointed up and you viewed the "content" in a mirror mounted to the underside of the lid. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5onSwx7_Cn0 The family was watching a hearing of Joe McCarthy's kangaroo court, complete with announcements of the latest number in the "list of known Communists in the State Department" and how Commyanism was spreading like an unstoppable epidemic mortal disease through the Great US Body Politic and its Heroic Institutions of Democracy. I was maybe 6 years old, but that grainy black and white "reality TV" content had me asking "WTF?" at a very early age. And I'd say it's on the commentor to show that the "2008" claim is wrong, by something other than "implausible" as drive-by impeachment. Given the content of the original post, and what people paying attention to all this stuff have a pretty good idea is the general contours of a vast corruption and manipulation.

"Have you stopped beating your wife? Yes or no."

Katharine , May 16, 2017 at 10:19 am

It is the author's job to substantiate information, not the reader's. If he thinks his work is so important, why does he not make a better job of it?

Edward , May 16, 2017 at 9:22 pm

I think the MLK blackmail scheme is well-established. Much of the article seems to be based on Tim Wiener's "Enemies: A History of the FBI".

nonsense factory , May 16, 2017 at 11:16 am

Interesting article on the history of the FBI, although the post-Hoover era doesn't get any treatment. The Church Committee hearings on the CIA and FBI, after the exposure of notably Operation CHAOS (early 60s to early 70s) by the CIA and COINTELPRO(late 1950s to early 1970s) by the FBI, didn't really get to the bottom of the issue although some reforms were initiated.

Today, it seems, the best description of the FBI's main activity is corporate enforcer for the white-collar mafia known as Wall Street. There is an analogy to organized crime, where the most powerful mobsters settled disputes between other gangs of criminals. Similarly, if a criminal gang is robbed by one of its own members, the mafia would go after the guilty party; the FBI plays this role for Wall Street institutions targeted by con artists and fraudsters. Compare and contrast a pharmaceutical company making opiates which is targeted by thieves vs. a black market drug cartel targeted by thieves. In one case, the FBI investigates; in the other, a violent vendetta ensues (such as street murders in Mexico).

The FBI executives are rewarded for this service with lucrative post-retirement careers within corporate America – Louis Freeh went to credit card fraudster, MBNA, Richard Mueller to a corporate Washington law firm, WilmerHale, and Comey, before Obama picked him as Director, worked for Lockheed Martin and HSBC (cleaning up after their $2 billion drug cartel marketing scandal) after leaving the FBI in 2005.

Maybe this is legitimate, but this only applies to their protection of the interests of large corporations – as the 2008 economic collapse and aftermath showed, they don't prosecute corporate executives who rip off poor people and middle-class homeowners. Banks who rob people, they aren't investigated or prosecuted; that's just for people who rob banks.

When it comes to political issues and national security, however, the FBI has such a terrible record on so many issues over the years that anything they claim has to be taken with a grain or two of salt. Consider domestic political activity: from the McCarthyite 'Red Scare' of the 1950s to COINTELPRO in the 1960s and 1970s to targeting of environmental groups in the 1980s and 1990s to targeting anti-war protesters under GW Bush to their obsession with domestic mass surveillance under Obama, it's not a record that should inspire any confidence.

Some say they have a key role to play in national security and terrorism – but their record on the 2001 anthrax attacks is incredibly shady and suspicious. The final suspect, Bruce Ivins, is clearly innocent of the crime, just as their previous suspect, Steven Hatfill was. Ivins, if still alive, could have won a similar multi-million dollar defamation lawsuit against the FBI. All honest bioweapons experts know this to be true – the perpetrators of those anthrax letters are still at large, and may very well have had close associations with the Bush Administration itself.

As far as terrorist activities? Many of their low-level agents did seem concerned about the Saudis and bin Laden in the late 1990s and pre-9/11 – but Saudi investigations were considered politically problematic due to "geostrategic relationships with our Saudi allies" – hence people like John O'Neil and Coleen Rowley were sidelined and ignored, with disastrous consequences. The Saudi intelligence agency role in 9/11 was buried for over a decade, as well. Since 9/11, most of the FBI investigations seem to have involved recruiting mentally disabled young Islamic men in sting operations in which the FBI provides everything needed. You could probably get any number of mentally ill homeless people across the U.S., regardless of race or religion, to play this role.

Comey's actions over the past year are certainly highly questionable, as well. Neglecting to investigate the Clinton Foundation ties to Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments and corporations, particularly things like State Department approval of various arms deals in which bribes may have been paid, is as much a dereliction of duty as neglecting to investigate Trump ties to Russian business interests – but then, Trump has a record of shady business dealings dating back to the 1970s, of strange bankruptcies and bailouts and government sales that the FBI never looked at either.

Ultimately, this is because FBI executives are paid off not to investigate Wall Street criminality, nor shady U.S. government activity, with lucrative positions as corporate board members and so on after their 'retirements'. I don't doubt that many of their junior members mean well and are dedicated to their jobs – but the fish rots from the head down.

Andrew Watts , May 16, 2017 at 3:58 pm

As far as terrorist activities? Many of their low-level agents did seem concerned about the Saudis and bin Laden in the late 1990s and pre-9/11 – but Saudi investigations were considered politically problematic due to "geostrategic relationships with our Saudi allies" – hence people like John O'Neil and Coleen Rowley were sidelined and ignored, with disastrous consequences.

The Clinton Administration had other priorities. You know, I think I'll let ex-FBI Director Freeh explain what happened when the FBI tried to get the Saudis to cooperate with their investigation into the bombing of the Khobar Towers.

"That September, Crown Prince Abdullah and his entourage took over the entire 143-room Hay-Adams Hotel, just across from Lafayette Park from the White House, for six days. The visit, I figured, was pretty much our last chance. Again, we prepared talking points for the president. Again, I contacted Prince Bandar and asked him to soften up the crown prince for the moment when Clinton, -- or Al Gore I didn't care who -- would raise the matter and start to exert the necessary pressure."

"The story that came back to me, from "usually reliable sources," as they say in Washington, was that Bill Clinton briefly raised the subject only to tell the Crown Prince that he certainly understood the Saudis; reluctance to cooperate. Then, according to my sources, he hit Abdullah up for a contribution to the still-to-be-built Clinton presidential library. Gore, who was supposed to press hardest of all in his meeting with the crown Prince, barely mentioned the matter, I was told." -Louis J. Freeh, My FBI (2005)

In my defense I picked the book up to see if there was any dirt on the DNC's electoral funding scandal in 1996. I'm actually glad I did. The best part of the book is when Freeh recounts running into a veteran of the Lincoln Brigade and listens to how Hoover's FBI ruined his life despite having broken no laws. As if a little thing like laws mattered to Hoover. The commies were after our precious bodily fluids!

verifyfirst , May 16, 2017 at 12:53 pm

I'm not sure there are many functioning norms left within the national political leadership. Seemed to me Gingrich started blowing those up and it just got worse from there. McConnell not allowing Garland to be considered comes to mind

lyman alpha blob , May 16, 2017 at 1:14 pm

Great article – thanks for this. I had no idea the FBI never had a legal charter – very enlightening.

JMarco , May 16, 2017 at 2:59 pm

Thanks to Mark Ames now we know what Pres. Trump meant when he tweeted about his tapes with AG Comey. Not some taped conversation between Pres. Trump & AG Comey but bunch of kompromat tapes that AG Comey has provided Pres. Trump that might not make departing AG Comey looked so clean.

[May 16, 2017] Ransomware scum have already unleashed kill-switch-free WannaCry pt variant • The Register

Notable quotes:
"... Danish firm Heimdal Security warned on Sunday that the new Uiwix strain doesn't include a kill-switch domain, like the one that proved instrumental in minimising the harm caused by WannaCrypt last week, although this is subject to some dispute. ..."
"... Other researchers, including Kevin Beaumont, are also telling us they haven't yet seen a variant of WannaCrypt without a kill switch. ..."
"... Certainly the NSA should have reported it to Microsoft but they apparently didn't ... ..."
"... Implying that Windows 8, and Windows 10 are better than an unmaintained Windows XP SP3 Installation. Which can still do it's job. Probably better than those other Two numbskull OSs. Assuming Microsoft were kind enough to continue supporting it. But, alas that way only madness lay. As XP does not contain Tracker's, and (Cr)App Stores to take your Moneyz. ..."
"... It's clear the NSA intended to not inform Microsoft at all as this was part or their arsenal, a secret tool on their version of a Bat Belt. We must blame the NSA as they developed it, hoarded it and then lost control of it when it got out. This should be an example of how such organisations should not be using such methods. ..."
"... The NSA found it. Kept it secret, then lost the code due to real humans making mistakes or breaking in who discover a pot of "hacker gold" runnable and mature from the fist double click. ..."
"... In my experience with embedded systems there is nothing particularly fancy about the way the PC talks to the special hardware. There is nothing that says it can't be upgraded to say 32 bit Windows 7 or even rewritten for Linux. Much of the code is written in C or Delphi. It would take a bit of work but not impossible. ..."
"... The problem is that like Microsoft the manufacturers have moved on. They are playing with their next big thing and have forgotten about that old stuff. ..."
"... And in a few years it will all be forgotten. Nachi / Blaster anyone? ..."
"... Patching and AV inevitably often is bolting the stable door after horses gone for the first hit. Yet proper user training and proper IT configuration mitigates against almost all zero day exploits. I struggle to think of any since 1991. ..."
"... Firewalls, routers, internal email servers (block anything doubtful), all superfluous services and applications removed, no adhoc sharing. users not administrators, and PROPER training of users. ..."
"... Went to the doctor's surgery this morning. All the computers were down. I queried if they'd been hit with the malware, but apparently it was as a preventative measure as their main NHS trust has been badly hit, so couldn't bring up any records or even know what the wife's blood test was supposed to be for. Next I'm expecting the wife's hospital appt to be canceled due to the chaos it is causing. ..."
"... The answer is not to avoid Windows. It's for our so-called security agencies to get to understand that they are not supposed to be a dirty tricks department collecting weapons for use against others, but that they are supposed to work on our national security - which includes public and private services and businesses as well as the Civil Service. ..."
"... Windows 10 STILL has SMBv1 needlessly enabled by default. Should either be disabled by default or removed all together. Wonder when someone will find another exploitable weakness. Staying secure means turning off protocols you don't need. ..."
"... Instead of that, criminally stupid idots at NHS IT in the affected trusts as well as other enterprises which were hit: 1. Put these unpatchable and unmaintainable machines in the same flat broadcast domain with desktop equipment. There was no attempt at isolation and segmentation whatsoever. ..."
"... Each of these should be a sackable offense for the IT staff in question. ..."
"... Systems vendors to the NHS are borderline criminal. In pharmacy, there are only 1 of 4 mandated systems vendors you can choose. The 3 desktop based ones have so much legacy crap etc that they still only work on windows 7. They also insist on bundling in a machine to just a stupid high cost to a tech illiterate customer base - generally a cut down crappier version of something you could by uin argos for 300 quid they will charge over a grand for. Their upgrade cycles are a f**king joke and their business model makes their customers very reluctant to do so as they have fork out silly money ..."
"... Firstly, a state actor attack would be far better targeted. Stuxnet, for example, actually checked the serial numbers of the centrifuges it targeted to ensure that it only hit ones created in the right date span to impact only those bought by Iran. The vector on this attack, on the other hand, literally just spammed itself out to every available IP address that had port 445 open. ..."
"... most of the original bits of this were actually quite shittily written. Oh sure, there was a genuine bit of high-tech NSA code in there from the shadow broker leak... but there was also a fair load of primitive crap there too. It's a bit like an 16 year old came into possession of an F-16; it was destructive as hell but he didn't really know how to fly it. ..."
"... there's literally 5 different layers of my SMB's security that blocked this (patching, permissions, firewall, commercial AV, VLANs). And we're not exactly cutting-edge - just running best practice. ..."
"... In short, if this was state-backed, then the state in question would have to be somewhere like Honduras, not one of the big-league infosec powers. ..."
"... I read the Malwaretech log (excellent description of why you'd look for a nonexistent domain to determine if you're sandboxed) and thought: OK, so the virus writer should check a randomly generated domain, instead of a fixed one. That way, they can't all be registered, your virus can't be kill-switched the way this one was, and your virus can still tell if it's being run in a sandbox. ..."
"... the code is not proxy aware and the kill switch would not work in well structured environments where the only access to the net is via a configured non transparent proxy. ..."
"... In this case, knowing there are a number of nation state backed cyber defence teams looking into this... they either a) have balls big enough to need a wheelbarrow and believe that they wont get caught no matter what and cyber defence is really too hard to deliver effectively, regardless of backers. or b) that they are insanely stupid and greedy and are not following the news... ..."
"... Given that the only safe/undetected way of laundering the bitcoins will be to buy drugs or guns or other such illegal goods on the darkweb and then turn that into cash by selling it on then the perps are as you say both greedy and insanely (criminally) stupid. ..."
"... If Microsoft had an update channel for security patches only, not unwanted features and M$'s own brand of malware, people would but alot more inclined to stay up to date. ..."
"... Rumors running around that this is Deep State sponsored coming out of various cliques in intelligence agencies in retaliation for the Vault 7 leaks. ..."
May 16, 2017 | theregister.co.uk
15 May 2017 at 09:42, John Leyden Miscreants have launched a ransomware worm variant that abuses the same vulnerability as ‪the infamous WannaCry‬pt‪ malware .

Danish firm Heimdal Security warned on Sunday that the new Uiwix strain doesn't include a kill-switch domain, like the one that proved instrumental in minimising the harm caused by WannaCrypt last week, although this is subject to some dispute.

"As far as I know there's only been two variants (one this morn) and none without [a kill]switch," security researcher Dave Kennedy told El Reg . Other researchers, including Kevin Beaumont, are also telling us they haven't yet seen a variant of WannaCrypt without a kill switch.

What isn't in question is that follow-up attacks based on something similar to WannaCrypt are likely and that systems therefore really need protecting. Black hats might well create a worm that attacks the same Windows vulnerability more stealthily to install a backdoor on the many vulnerable systems still out there, for example.

The WannaCrypt ransomware spread to devastating effect last week using worm -like capabilities that relied on a recently patched vulnerability in Microsoft's SMB file-sharing services (MS17-010). WannaCrypt used a purloined EternalBlue exploit originally developed by the US National Security Agency before it was leaked by the Shadow Brokers last month.

WannaCrypt's victims included the National Health Service, Spain's Telefónica and numerous other organisations across the world. A techie at Telefónica confirmed that the initial infection vector was a phishing email . The scale of the attack prompted Microsoft to take the highly unusual step of releasing patches for unsupported operating systems , including Windows XP. ®

Re: Inevitable

Don't blame the NSA - anyone could have discovered this issue and weaponized it. Certainly the NSA should have reported it to Microsoft but they apparently didn't ... who knows.

The real issue here is that Microsoft stopped has patching XP and Vista systems in an attempt to force users to upgrade -- that's where the real money is in these vulnerabilities. So who's going to make out like a bandit from WannaCry et al? Expect Microsoft Win 10 share to increase over the next few months - they are the real winners here.

Mage

Re: The real issue here is that Microsoft stopped has patching XP

Actually technically they haven't stopped. (Vista yes).

BUT THE PATCHING IS NEARLY IRRELEVANT!

Like most other spam borne "attacks" this would be totally mitigated by

1) User training and common sense.

2) Better configured systems.

XP use by NHS is a red herring.

Even if EVERYONE used Linux* and it was updated daily, it will NOT stop this until the USERs are better trained and use email properly.

[*Because all the spam based attacks would be aimed at Linux]

Ken Hagan

Re: Inevitable

"Because the likes of the FSB & PLA must be too stupid to have also discovered these types of vulnerabilities."

If they knew about them, they didn't do a very good job of protecting their own gear from them.

M.
Re: Inevitable

Your Comment: "Yes, the NSA is criminal for making these immoral and unlawful cyber weapons..."

Unlawful? By what law, specifically? (NOTE: Title 10 and Title 50 authorities directly - and legally - trump certain US laws.) As an analogy - It's not "illegal" for a policeman to speed to catch up to a criminal. It's not "illegal" for the NSA to create tools to compromise computers.

You can argue all day as to whether it is illegal to DEPLOY tools, once created, against CERTAIN computers, but I don't think you have a leg to stand on calling the fact that NSA *creates* such a tool - if they even did create one themselves - in any way an illegal act.

Michael Habel
Re: Inevitable

Implying that Windows 8, and Windows 10 are better than an unmaintained Windows XP SP3 Installation. Which can still do it's job. Probably better than those other Two numbskull OSs. Assuming Microsoft were kind enough to continue supporting it. But, alas that way only madness lay. As XP does not contain Tracker's, and (Cr)App Stores to take your Moneyz.

DuncanLarge
Re: Inevitable

"Don't blame the NSA - anyone could have discovered this issue and weaponized it. Certainly the NSA should have reported it to Microsoft but they apparently didn't ... who knows."

It's clear the NSA intended to not inform Microsoft at all as this was part or their arsenal, a secret tool on their version of a Bat Belt. We must blame the NSA as they developed it, hoarded it and then lost control of it when it got out. This should be an example of how such organisations should not be using such methods.

The only way Microsoft knew about this and patched this was because the NSA lost control of the code to ShadowBrokers who then reported it to Microsoft giving them enough time to roll out a patch before a public release.

As you correctly say, anyone could have developed code that exploits the flaw. But who detected that flaw first? So who should have the social responsibility to improve the "cyber" defense of at least their own nation by disclosing such a flaw?

The NSA found it. Kept it secret, then lost the code due to real humans making mistakes or breaking in who discover a pot of "hacker gold" runnable and mature from the fist double click.

For this very reason Apple, correctly, refused to create a version of iOS that could be installed on an iphone to weaken the pin entry screen to allow the FBI entry. Apple knew they could not simply trust that this hacked version of iOS could be kept under control.

inmypjs
Re: Inevitable

"blaming a commercial company for not patching a 13 year"

I think blaming and criticising a company that sold you buggy vulnerable crap and refuses to fix bugs because someone else didn't find and advise them of them soon enough is entirely justified.

I have some compilers from a company with a policy that finding a bug in an obsolete unsupported version of the compiler entitles you to a free upgrade to a current supported version. That would be the policy of a decent company (which Microsoft clearly isn't). Of course Microsoft's current supported version being a piece of shit that no one wants would stymie such a policy.

Wayland
Re: So you're blaming a commercial company for not patching a 13 year old OS?

In my experience with embedded systems there is nothing particularly fancy about the way the PC talks to the special hardware. There is nothing that says it can't be upgraded to say 32 bit Windows 7 or even rewritten for Linux. Much of the code is written in C or Delphi. It would take a bit of work but not impossible.

The problem is that like Microsoft the manufacturers have moved on. They are playing with their next big thing and have forgotten about that old stuff.

What is needed is a commitment from the manufacturers to either support the gear for 30 years or share the code and the schematics. Obviously a consideration would be required from the buyer, I don't see why they should do that for free.

The easiest thing would be to keep XP going and Microsoft will do that if you pay them. The next thing would be to fit each XP system with a hardware firewall. Don't expect XP to protect itself, put a packet sniffing firewall in between.

Dr Who
You could look at an event such as that of the last few days as the Internet's version of a wildfire. In the short run some damage is done but in the long run the fire's job is to clear out dead wood and enable the regrowth of a stronger, healthier ecosystem. Short term pain for long term gain.
Lost all faith...
And in a few years it will all be forgotten. Nachi / Blaster anyone?
katrinab
Not really.

"We've installed the MS security patch, we've restored from back-up. Everything's OK now".

Papworth NHS Trust has had something like 16 of these ransomware attacks in the last 12 months, and hasn't done anything. It is going to take a lot more than this to change management attitudes.

Mage
Internet's version of a wildfire.

No, because very few organisations and users will learn the real lessons.

Patching and AV inevitably often is bolting the stable door after horses gone for the first hit. Yet proper user training and proper IT configuration mitigates against almost all zero day exploits. I struggle to think of any since 1991.

Firewalls, routers, internal email servers (block anything doubtful), all superfluous services and applications removed, no adhoc sharing. users not administrators, and PROPER training of users.

Anonymous Coward

I wish! The idiots who think it's fine to run XP are paid ten times more than me and they'll still be in the same role this time next year. They'll be no getting rid of dead wood, just more winging it and forcing underpaid Techies to work more weekends after more screw ups.

Stuart 22
Is it just me?

Its surely incredible that a lone pizza stuffed actor could get immediate access to the worm and spend a night before he spotted the 'call home' vector? Is that really that hard? And beat the best resourced detection agencies worldwide?

Surely every IT detective agency including GCHQ would have sandboxed it on first sight, thrown their best at it if only to beat their friends across the pond, to save Jeremy Hunt & Mother Theresa's bacon just ahead of a new funding opportunity (aka new government).

It all smells not only of pizza but planted news. And if it is genuine what on earth are we paying this organisation and every anti-virus firm for?

Andy Non
Re: Experts all giving advice how how to stay secure

Went to the doctor's surgery this morning. All the computers were down. I queried if they'd been hit with the malware, but apparently it was as a preventative measure as their main NHS trust has been badly hit, so couldn't bring up any records or even know what the wife's blood test was supposed to be for. Next I'm expecting the wife's hospital appt to be canceled due to the chaos it is causing.

I wonder if we can get a go-fund-me page set up to hire someone to track down this hacker scum and take out a hit on them? A bullet to the brain may give other scumbags something to think about.

Voyna i Mor
Re: Experts all giving advice how how to stay secure

The answer is not to avoid Windows. It's for our so-called security agencies to get to understand that they are not supposed to be a dirty tricks department collecting weapons for use against others, but that they are supposed to work on our national security - which includes public and private services and businesses as well as the Civil Service.

The fact that May and Rudd seem totally unable to get what could go wrong post-Snowden suggests that when one of them became PM, a school somewhere missed the bullet of a particularly anal retentive geography teacher.

Anonymous Coward

Re: Experts all giving advice how how to stay secure

Actually Windows 10 was affected, but because it patches more aggressively the March fix was already applied to must unless they had different WSUS settings in a business/edu environment.

Ferry Michael
Re: Experts all giving advice how how to stay secure

Windows 10 STILL has SMBv1 needlessly enabled by default. Should either be disabled by default or removed all together. Wonder when someone will find another exploitable weakness. Staying secure means turning off protocols you don't need.

I have a dual boot laptop that has not booted to Windows since before March - I need to review what services it has enabled to make it a bit more secure before I connect it to the Internet to download latest patches.

Patching and anti-virus software take time to apply after a vulnerability has been discovered. That can be too late.

roblightbody
Re: Experts all giving advice how how to stay secure

From https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/msrc/2017/05/12/customer-guidance-for-wannacrypt-attacks/

"Customers running Windows 10 were not targeted by the attack today."

Voland's right hand
Re: Experts all giving advice how how to stay secure

Some people do not have any choice. When the X-ray machines in the affected hospital trusts were bought using Windows XP (or even 2001) imaging software, that was state of the art. The issue is that the life of a piece of equipment like this vastly exceeds the lifespan of the OS that was used for the control system. On top of that, quite often these cannot be patched as the software is written so badly that it will work only with a specific patch-level of the core OS.

That CAN and SHOULD be mitigated by:

0. Considering each and every one of those a Typhoid Mary in potentia

2. Preventing any communication except essential management and authentication/authorization going out

3. Providing a single controlled channel to ship out results to a location which we CAN maintain and keep up to date.

Instead of that, criminally stupid idots at NHS IT in the affected trusts as well as other enterprises which were hit:

1. Put these unpatchable and unmaintainable machines in the same flat broadcast domain with desktop equipment. There was no attempt at isolation and segmentation whatsoever.

2. In some cases allowed use of unrelated desktop applications (at ridiculously ancient patch-levels) such as Outlook or even Outlook Express.

3. Opened file sharing on the machines in question.

Each of these should be a sackable offense for the IT staff in question.

mcpharm
Re: Experts all giving advice how how to stay secure

It's more than incompetent IT people and way worse and virtually impossible to fix.

There is a lot of niche or specialist custom software used in the nhs that can only work on XP and ie 6 period. Most of the people who wrote are dead or retired etc

Systems vendors to the NHS are borderline criminal. In pharmacy, there are only 1 of 4 mandated systems vendors you can choose. The 3 desktop based ones have so much legacy crap etc that they still only work on windows 7. They also insist on bundling in a machine to just a stupid high cost to a tech illiterate customer base - generally a cut down crappier version of something you could by uin argos for 300 quid they will charge over a grand for. Their upgrade cycles are a f**king joke and their business model makes their customers very reluctant to do so as they have fork out silly money

for a new shit machine just cos their vendors tells they have to .. our superdupa crap shit fuck software will only work on a machine we provide. Emis/proscript have alot to answer for ..

Lots of the staff and their employers are basically proud of being a digital numbskull. "I am healthcare professional, why should i have to know anything about this" and the drones are so poorly paid / bitched at incessantly about everything they just have an" i dunno i just work here, that's not my job attitude" I have to screenshare to train people how to use our websites .. this means i have to get them stick a url into their browser, that's it ... you have no idea how many can't do that .. then get all offended when i ask them what browser they are using .. "i don;t know, why should i know that, i just use google" is always the response .. when half the nhs work force doesn't know what a f**king browser is and peversely proud of the fact they can't type a url into a brower address bar, how on earth are we ever going to hav any sunnvbnf0ijgogjrnb;vzjnav;kjnnf;kqgfnjv;jnf;jjvn;w

Data Security has turned into one of these tick box things, everyone has dire warning, you will be fined loads of money for doing something wrong that you don't understand and actively don't want to understand so no one gives a f**k as long as they can say they ticked the right boxes.

Anonymous Coward

A dish best served cold

Now, I would *hate* to start an internet rumour... but didn't the USA promise a retaliation? :-)

  • https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/dec/16/obama-retaliation-russia-hacking-us-election
  • http://www.bbc.com/news/world-39919249

Yupp, there was some collateral damage amongst their allies, but thats the new normal.

Anon because I might be right ;-)

Naselus
Re: A dish best served cold

"Anon because I might be right"

You aren't.

Firstly, a state actor attack would be far better targeted. Stuxnet, for example, actually checked the serial numbers of the centrifuges it targeted to ensure that it only hit ones created in the right date span to impact only those bought by Iran. The vector on this attack, on the other hand, literally just spammed itself out to every available IP address that had port 445 open.

Second, US retaliation would almost certainly involve using a few zero-days. If you want to prove that you have vastly more power than your opponent, then you want to do something that literally resembles friggin' magic from his point of view. You want to show him that he can do nothing whatsoever to defend his critical infrastructure from your attacks. This did not; nothing in this hadn't already been discovered and patched. If the best thing the US can throw at Russia could be taken out by just switching on your WSUS server in the past three months, then there's no point even doing it because it would make them look weak, not strong.

Thirdly, and most importantly, most of the original bits of this were actually quite shittily written. Oh sure, there was a genuine bit of high-tech NSA code in there from the shadow broker leak... but there was also a fair load of primitive crap there too. It's a bit like an 16 year old came into possession of an F-16; it was destructive as hell but he didn't really know how to fly it.

I've just finished in a webinar on the incident, and there's literally 5 different layers of my SMB's security that blocked this (patching, permissions, firewall, commercial AV, VLANs). And we're not exactly cutting-edge - just running best practice.

In short, if this was state-backed, then the state in question would have to be somewhere like Honduras, not one of the big-league infosec powers.

Anonymous Coward

On the topic of NSA exploits being used by WannaCry, was the DOUBLEPULSAR exploit patched with MS17-010?

Commswonk
I can't help thinking that announcing the discovery of the kill switch might not have been a good idea.

And you should see the number of downvotes I got in another thread for suggesting exactly that.

Another commentator stated (if I understood him correctly) that the "public announcement" was more or less irrelevant because security experts' chatter on blogs would have given the game away anyway.

In turn that made me think along the lines of " FFS what sort of security experts swap notes on blogs that may be / almost certainly are open to being read by the hackers "

I think I despair... if the above is true then there is simply no hope.

Norman Nescio
Possibly not an intentional kill switch

As the Malwaretech blog entry here:

https://www.malwaretech.com/2017/05/how-to-accidentally-stop-a-global-cyber-attacks.html

points out, it was quite possibly not an intentional kill switch.

Some malware probes for the existence of a selection of randomly generated domains. Some sandbox VMs respond to all DNS lookups by providing back the IP address of the sandbox VM instance. If the malware sees a positive response to the DNS lookups (which should fail), then the logic is that it is probably running in a sandbox VM, which may well be being used to analyse/investigate the malware, so the malware stops running.

The single lookup of the unusual domain name was possibly a poor implementation of this technique.

Alternatively, it is an intentional kill switch, used during development, with a local DNS server on the malware developer's LAN, the function of which was to prevent infection of other devices on the same LAN. If anyone keeps records of DNS lookups, it might be interesting to see where the first lookups came from.

Bill Gray
Re: Possibly not an intentional kill switch

@Norman Nescio : "...The single lookup of the unusual domain name was possibly a poor implementation of this [sandbox detection] technique."

I read the Malwaretech log (excellent description of why you'd look for a nonexistent domain to determine if you're sandboxed) and thought: OK, so the virus writer should check a randomly generated domain, instead of a fixed one. That way, they can't all be registered, your virus can't be kill-switched the way this one was, and your virus can still tell if it's being run in a sandbox.

Except the folks creating sandboxes might take the precaution of checking the domain. Instead of returning a valid result for any garbage domain, check to see if it's been registered first. Suddenly, the virus can no longer tell that it's running in a sandbox.

Except then, the virus author checks four or five valid domains; if they all return identical results, you know you're running in a sandbox. (Reading further, I see that this method is actually used in some cases.)

Except that _then_, the sandbox authors do some revisions so that seemingly accurate results are returned that are actually remapped by the sandbox code.

This is all outside my area of expertise. Still, I could see a nearly endless cycle of fix/counter-fix going on here.

Blotto
Ransome code is not proxy aware, kill switch won't work in most enterprises.

the code is not proxy aware and the kill switch would not work in well structured environments where the only access to the net is via a configured non transparent proxy.

Enterprises will need to think a bit harder about how they ensure the kill switch is effective this time. The miscreants wont make this same mistake next time.

Talking about the kill switch is good, wouldn't have taken the miscreants long to work out something was not right anyway.

Anonymous Coward

What is the motivation here? Is all it seems to be...

<Black Helicopter Icon>

Ransomware usually works on a relatively widespread basis but usually SMB, and domestic users. Big organisations and governments, generally are defended (although clearly some well publicised exceptions)

The beneficiaries are usually relatively safe as law enforcement cannot usually be bothered to investigate and the cash rolls in for the most desperate victims.

In this case, knowing there are a number of nation state backed cyber defence teams looking into this... they either a) have balls big enough to need a wheelbarrow and believe that they wont get caught no matter what and cyber defence is really too hard to deliver effectively, regardless of backers. or b) that they are insanely stupid and greedy and are not following the news...

Or is this already a state backed exercise from somewhere and is simply a global experiment at our expense? The fact the original flaw was used by the NSA is not really relevant, it simply got it publicity but was clearly available for a long time.

Anonymous Coward

Re: What is the motivation here? Is all it seems to be...

Given that the only safe/undetected way of laundering the bitcoins will be to buy drugs or guns or other such illegal goods on the darkweb and then turn that into cash by selling it on then the perps are as you say both greedy and insanely (criminally) stupid. No doubt they'll have their comeuppance shortly - without being "caught" by any nation state backed cyber defense team - probably up some dark alley being stiffed by gangbangers.

Probably just some kid :-(

gerritv
The warning was there in Sep 2016!!

We were told to stop using SMB v1 in Sep 2016. The only reason to keep it enabled is to use it with XP!

https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/filecab/2016/09/16/stop-using-smb1/

IanMoore33
MS should hire the NSA hackers

maybe they can teach them something about software

Anonymous Coward

In light of this threat I just got around to patching a somewhat neglected Windows 7 PC. And now it's got a message from Microsoft (falsely) saying it's not genuine. It may not be registered but it's certainly a legitimately purchased copy. So far it's just a tiny message in the corner of the screen but who knows what else it'll do. I don't have time for this. Guess I'll roll back the update and take my chances.

This bullshit is what I blame more than anything, even the NSA, for outbreaks like this. If Microsoft had an update channel for security patches only, not unwanted features and M$'s own brand of malware, people would but alot more inclined to stay up to date.

Anonymous Coward

The goal here was 2 fold.

1. Hurt Russia.

2. Hurt NSA credibility.

Everything else is gravy for the attackers. Rumors running around that this is Deep State sponsored coming out of various cliques in intelligence agencies in retaliation for the Vault 7 leaks.

Lion
Peer creds

The scum are obviously in hiding - either on a luxury yacht on the Black Sea or in a basement somewhere. I'd hazard a guess it is the latter. There must be other scum in the same racket who know who the are. I wonder if they have earned any street creds for what they did?

  • - chaos (not really)
  • - financial bonanza (nope)
  • - media attention (big win)
  • - shit disturbing (yep - mostly stirred the NSA and Microsoft)
  • - rattle some chains (mostly IT departments)
  • - peer envy (I doubt it)

Their reward beyond the $30K they collected will be prison (blackmail and extortion are felonies).

John Smith 19
So the haul from this little operation is currently what $60K?

V. Poor criminal work. Extortion technique needs more work. Clean up costs have probably been in the $m.

Jim Birch
Re: So the haul from this little operation is currently what $60K?

This is a fairly typical ratio of realized proceeds of crime to cost of crime and prevention measures. The economic case for crime reduction is overwhelming. But it's easier said than done. People are creative, even (especially?) criminals.

truloxmyth
Its a sign of the times that no government is actually interested in Universal security, for the greater good of human kind. We're at a point where everything is now based online, and everyone in the world is connected.

The internet has removed the idea of 'borders' in the traditional sense!! I don't have to get on a plane to Italy, to see Italy. I can log onto remote cameras and a host of other online services, which mean I can be in the country without having to physically be in the country!

The NSA wasn't even bothered about protecting their own country... They didn't release this data, to allow the problem to be solved. If I were American I would be Pissed that my own government has been complicit in this entire debacle by keeping this quiet, and didn't release the information to the wider security community when they found the holes!!

If your doctor found you had terminal cancer, but they had a product that would guaranteed slowing of the cancer or entire removal of the disease then you would expect them to tell you wouldn't you?! But when the shady NSA finds a potentially life threatening exploit, they keep it to themselves?!... the middle letter of NSA stands for SECURITY for effs sake!!

There is no such thing as trust anymore between so called 'allies' as the NSA has just proved. It has also proved that life is worthless to them. This is clearly due to their inability to see the bigger picture of what they have A. Created, and B. Allowed to be released into the wild!!

Yes someone in their bedroom could have found the exploit, but that's a bedroom hacker/cracker. But you put pretty much unlimited resources and man power behind a department, then they are clearly going to come up with the exploit a billion times faster than a sole agent. Or even a collective of agents separated over the globe.

So all this stupidity that the NSA shouldn't be held accountable should be rethought. Because they CLEARLY are at fault here, for NOT DISCLOSING THE INFORMATION LAST YEAR!!!

[May 16, 2017] The Real Meaning of Sensitive Intelligence by Philip Giraldi

Notable quotes:
"... what astonished me was how quickly the media interpreted its use in the hearings to mean that the conversations and emails that apparently were recorded or intercepted involving Trump associates and assorted Russians as "sensitive contacts" meant that they were necessarily inappropriate, dangerous, or even illegal. ..."
"... The Post is unfortunately also providing ISIS with more information than it "needs to know" to make its story more dramatic, further compromising the source. ..."
"... McMaster described the report as "false" and informed the Post that "The president and the foreign minister reviewed common threats from terrorist organizations to include threats to aviation. At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly." Tillerson commented that "the nature of specific threats were (sic) discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods, or military operations." ..."
"... The media will no doubt be seeking to magnify the potential damage done while the White House goes into damage control mode. ..."
"... In this case, the intelligence shared with Lavrov appears to be related to specific ISIS threats, which may include planned operations against civilian aircraft, judging from Trump's characteristically after-hours tweets defending his behavior, as well as other reporting. ..."
"... The New York Times , in its own reporting of the story, initially stated that the information on ISIS did not come from an NSA or CIA operation, and later reported that the source was Israel. ..."
"... And President Trump has one more thing to think about. No matter what damage comes out of the Lavrov discussion, he has a bigger problem. There are apparently multiple leakers on his National Security Council. ..."
"... You have McMaster himself who categorically denies any exposure of sources and methods – he was there in person and witness to the talks – and a cloud of unknown witnesses not present speculating, without reference to McMaster or Tillerson's testimony, about what might have happened. This is the American Media in a nutshell, the Infinite Circle Jerk. ..."
"... I am more disturbed how this story got into the press. While, not an ally, I think we should in cooperation with other states. Because the Pres is not familiar with the protocols and language and I doubt any executive has been upon entering office, I have no doubt he may be reacting or overreacting to the overreaction of others. ..."
"... Here's a word. We have no business engaging n the overthrow of another government that is no threat to the US or her allies, and that includes Israel. Syria is not. And we should cease and desist getting further entangled in the messes of the previous executive, his Sec of State and those organizations who seem to e playing with the life blood of the US by engaging if unnecessary risks. ..."
"... And if I understand the crumbs given the data provided by the Post, the Times and this article, if one had ill will for the source of said information, they have pretty good idea where to start. ..."
"... In general I agree with you, but the media was NEVER concerned about the treatment of sensitive material from HRC! ..."
"... I think he needs to cut back on intelligence sharing with Israel. They do just what the hell they want to do with anything. ..."
May 16, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Intelligence agencies and senior government officials tend to use a lot of jargon. Laced with acronyms, this language sometimes does not translate very well into journalese when it hits the media.

For example, I experienced a sense of disorientation two weeks ago over the word "sensitive" as used by several senators, Sally Yates, and James Clapper during committee testimony into Russiagate. "Sensitive" has, of course, a number of meanings. But what astonished me was how quickly the media interpreted its use in the hearings to mean that the conversations and emails that apparently were recorded or intercepted involving Trump associates and assorted Russians as "sensitive contacts" meant that they were necessarily inappropriate, dangerous, or even illegal.

When Yates and Clapper were using "sensitive" thirteen times in the 86 page transcript of the Senate hearings, they were referring to the medium rather than the message. They were both acknowledging that the sources of the information were intelligence related, sometimes referred to as "sensitive" by intelligence professionals and government insiders as a shorthand way to describe that they are "need to know" material derived from either classified "methods" or foreign-liaison partners. That does not mean that the information contained is either good or bad or even true or false, but merely a way of expressing that the information must be protected because of where it came from or how it was developed, hence the "sensitivity."

The word also popped up this week in a Washington Post exclusive report alleging that the president had, in his recent meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, gone too far while also suggesting that the source of a highly classified government program might be inferred from the context of what was actually revealed. The Post describes how

The information Trump relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said. The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said that Trump's decision to do so risks cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State.

The Post is unfortunately also providing ISIS with more information than it "needs to know" to make its story more dramatic, further compromising the source. Furthermore, it should be understood that the paper is extremely hostile to Trump, the story is as always based on anonymous sources, and the revelation comes on top of another unverifiable Post article claiming that the Russians might have sought to sneak a recording device into the White House during the visit.

No one is denying that the president discussed ISIS in some detail with Lavrov, but National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, both of whom were present at the meeting, have denied that any sources or methods were revealed while reviewing with the Russians available intelligence. McMaster described the report as "false" and informed the Post that "The president and the foreign minister reviewed common threats from terrorist organizations to include threats to aviation. At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly." Tillerson commented that "the nature of specific threats were (sic) discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods, or military operations."

So the question becomes to what extent can an intelligence mechanism be identified from the information that it produces. That is, to a certain extent, a judgment call. The president is able on his own authority to declassify anything, so the legality of his sharing information with Russia cannot be challenged. What is at question is the decision-making by an inexperienced president who may have been showing off to an important foreign visitor by revealing details of intelligence that should have remained secret. The media will no doubt be seeking to magnify the potential damage done while the White House goes into damage control mode.

The media is claiming that the specific discussion with Lavrov that is causing particular concern is related to a so-called Special Access Program , or SAP, sometimes referred to as "code word information." An SAP is an operation that generates intelligence that requires special protection because of where or how it is produced. In this case, the intelligence shared with Lavrov appears to be related to specific ISIS threats, which may include planned operations against civilian aircraft, judging from Trump's characteristically after-hours tweets defending his behavior, as well as other reporting.

There have also been reports that the White House followed up on its Lavrov meeting with a routine review of what had taken place. Several National Security Council members observed that some of the information shared with the Russians was far too sensitive to disseminate within the U.S. intelligence community. This led to the placing of urgent calls to NSA and CIA to brief them on what had been said.

Based on the recipients of the calls alone, one might surmise that the source of the information would appear to be either a foreign-intelligence service or a technical collection operation, or even both combined. The Post claims that the originator of the intelligence did not clear its sharing with the Russians and raises the possibility that no more information of that type will be provided at all in light of the White House's apparent carelessness in its use. The New York Times , in its own reporting of the story, initially stated that the information on ISIS did not come from an NSA or CIA operation, and later reported that the source was Israel.

The Times is also reporting that Trump provided to Lavrov "granular" information on the city in Syria where the information was collected that will possibly enable the Russians or ISIS to identify the actual source, with devastating consequences. That projection may be overreach, but the fact is that the latest gaffe from the White House could well damage an important intelligence liaison relationship in the Middle East while reinforcing the widely held impression that Washington does not know how to keep a secret. It will also create the impression that Donald Trump, out of ignorance or hubris, exhibits a certain recklessness in his dealing with classified information, a failing that he once attributed to his presidential opponent Hillary Clinton.

And President Trump has one more thing to think about. No matter what damage comes out of the Lavrov discussion, he has a bigger problem. There are apparently multiple leakers on his National Security Council.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.

This article has been updated to reflect news developments.

Thymoleontas, says: May 16, 2017 at 12:33 pm

" The latest gaffe from the White House could well damage an important intelligence liaison relationship in the Middle East "

On the other hand, it also represents closer collaboration with Russia–even if unintended–which is an improvement on the status quo ante and, not to mention, key to ending the conflict in Syria.

Dies Irae , says: May 16, 2017 at 12:38 pm
You have McMaster himself who categorically denies any exposure of sources and methods – he was there in person and witness to the talks – and a cloud of unknown witnesses not present speculating, without reference to McMaster or Tillerson's testimony, about what might have happened. This is the American Media in a nutshell, the Infinite Circle Jerk.
MM , says: May 16, 2017 at 12:44 pm
Out of my depth, but was Trump working within the framework, maybe a bit outside if the story is true, of the Joint Implementation Group the Obama administration created last year with Russia?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/r/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2016/07/13/Editorial-Opinion/Graphics/terms_of_reference_for_the_Joint_Implementation_Group.pdf?tid=a_inl

Also, I recall reading that the prior administration promised Russia ISIS intel. Not sure if that ever happened, but I doubt they'd have made it public or leak anything to the press.

Brian W , says: May 16, 2017 at 12:57 pm
Apr 21, 2017 Ike and McCarthy: Dwight Eisenhower's Secret Campaign against Joseph McCarthy

Author David A. Nichols reveals how President Dwight D. Eisenhower masterminded the downfall of the anti-Communist demagogue Senator Joseph McCarthy.

https://youtu.be/FAY_9aQMVbQ

EliteCommInc , says: May 16, 2017 at 12:57 pm
Avoiding the minutia.

I think it should go without saying that intelligence is a sensitive business and protecting those who operate in its murky waters is important to having an effective agency.

Of course the Pres of the US has a duty to do so.

I have not yet read the post article. But I am doubtful that the executive had any intention of putting anyone in harms way. I am equally doubtful that this incident will. If the executive made an error in judgement, I am sure it will be dealt wit in an appropriate manner.

I do wish he'd stop tweeting, though I get why its useful to him.

I am more disturbed how this story got into the press. While, not an ally, I think we should in cooperation with other states. Because the Pres is not familiar with the protocols and language and I doubt any executive has been upon entering office, I have no doubt he may be reacting or overreacting to the overreaction of others.

Here's a word. We have no business engaging n the overthrow of another government that is no threat to the US or her allies, and that includes Israel. Syria is not. And we should cease and desist getting further entangled in the messes of the previous executive, his Sec of State and those organizations who seem to e playing with the life blood of the US by engaging if unnecessary risks.

Just another brier brushfire of a single tumble weed to add to the others in the hope that setting fires in trashcans will make the current exec go away or at least engage in a mea culpa and sign more checks in the mess that is the middle east policy objective that remains a dead end.

__________

And if I understand the crumbs given the data provided by the Post, the Times and this article, if one had ill will for the source of said information, they have pretty good idea where to start.

Cachip , says: May 16, 2017 at 1:12 pm
How do you know it wasn't intended as pure misdirection?
Brian W , says: May 16, 2017 at 1:20 pm
January 10, 2014 *500* Years of History Shows that Mass Spying Is Always Aimed at Crushing Dissent

No matter which government conducts mass surveillance, they also do it to crush dissent, and then give a false rationale for why they're doing it.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/500-years-of-history-shows-that-mass-spying-is-always-aimed-at-crushing-dissent/5364462

Johann , says: May 16, 2017 at 1:54 pm
Politics is now directly endangering innocent civilians. Because of the leaks and its publication, ISIS for sure now knows that there is an information leak out of their organization. They will now re-compartmentalize and may be successful in breaking that information leak. Innocent airline passenger civilians, American, Russian, or whoever may die as a result. Russia and the US are both fighting ISIS. We are de facto allies in that fight whether some people like it or not. Time to get over it.
EliteCommInc. , says: May 16, 2017 at 2:44 pm
Having read the article, uhhh, excuse me, but unlike personal secrets. The purpose of intel is to use to or keep on hand for some-other date. But of that information is related to the security of our interests and certainly a cooperative relationship with Russia is in our interest. Because in the convoluted fight with ISIS/ISIL, Russia is an ally.

What this belies is the mess of the intelligence community. If in fact, the Russians intend to take a source who provided information that was helpful to them, it would be a peculiar twist of strategic action. The response does tell us that we are in some manner in league with ISIS/ISIL or their supporters so deep that there is a need to protect them, from what is anybody's guess. Because if the information is accurate, I doubt the Russians are going to about killing the source, but rather improving their airline security.

But if we are in fact attempting to remove Pres Assad, and are in league with ISIS/ISIL in doing so - I get why the advocates of such nonsense might be in a huff. So ISIS/ISISL our one time foe and now our sometimes friend . . .

Good greif . . .

Pres Trump is the least of muy concerns when it coes to security.

Some relevant material on intel:

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/the-administration/327413-how-the-intel-community-was-turned-into-a-political

http://www.lexingtoninstitute.org/intelligence-failures-more-profound-than-president-admits/

But if I were Pres Trump, I might steer clear of Russia for a while to stop feeding the beast.

Kurt Gayle , says: May 16, 2017 at 3:28 pm
Philip, back on July 23, 2014, you explained in "How ISIS Evades the CIA" "the inability of the United States government to anticipate the ISIS offensive that has succeeded in taking control of a large part of Iraq." You explained why the CIA had to date had no success in infiltrating ISIS.

You continued: "Given U.S. intelligence's probable limited physical access to any actual terrorist groups operating in Syria or Iraq any direct attempt to penetrate the organization through placing a source inside would be difficult in the extreme. Such efforts would most likely be dependent on the assistance of friendly intelligence services in Turkey or Jordan. Both Turkey and Jordan have reported that terrorists have entered their countries by concealing themselves in the large numbers of refugees that the conflict in Syria has produced, and both are concerned as they understand full well that groups like ISIS will be targeting them next. Some of the infiltrating adherents to radical groups have certainly been identified and detained by the respective intelligence services of those two countries, and undoubtedly efforts have been made to 'turn' some of those in custody to send them back into Syria (and more recently Iraq) to report on what is taking place. Depending on what arrangements might have been made to coordinate the operations, the 'take' might well be shared with the United States and other friendly governments."

You then describe the difficulties faced by a Turkish or Jordanian agent trying to infiltrate ISIS: "But seeding is very much hit or miss, as someone who has been out of the loop of his organization might have difficulty working his way back in. He will almost certainly be regarded with some suspicion by his peers and would be searched and watched after his return, meaning that he could not take back with him any sophisticated communications devices no matter how cleverly they are concealed. This would make communicating any information obtained back to one's case officers in Jordan or Turkey difficult or even impossible."

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/how-isis-evades-the-cia/

Notwithstanding how "difficult or even impossible" such an operation would be - and using the New York Times as your only source for a lot of otherwise completely unsubstantiated information – and admitting that "this is sheer speculation on my part" – you say that "it is logical to assume that the countries that have provided numerous recruits for ISIS [Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia] would have used that fact as cover to carry out a seeding operation to introduce some of their own agents into the ISIS organization."

Back to the New York Times as your only source, you say that "the Times is also reporting that Trump provided to Lavrov 'granular' information on the city in Syria where the information was collected that will possibly enable the Russians or ISIS to identify the actual source, with devastating consequences."

But having ventured into the far reaches of that line of speculation, you do admit that "that projection may be overreach." Indeed!

You go on to characterize the events of the White House meeting with the Russians as "the latest gaffe from the White House" – even though there is absolutely no evidence (outside of the unsubstantiated reports of the Washington Post and the New York Times) that anything to do with the meeting was a "gaffe" – and you further speculate that "it could well damage an important intelligence liaison relationship in the Middle East."

That is, again, pure speculation on your part.

One valuable lesson that you've taught TAC readers over the years, Philip: That we need to carefully examine the sources of information – and the sources of dis-information.

KennethF , says: May 16, 2017 at 3:33 pm
Yet again from Giraldi: the problem isn't that the POTUS is ignorant and incompetent; we should all be more concerned that the Deep State is leaking the proof.
collin , says: May 16, 2017 at 4:12 pm
In general I agree with you, but the media was NEVER concerned about the treatment of sensitive material from HRC!
charley , says: May 16, 2017 at 4:51 pm
I think he needs to cut back on intelligence sharing with Israel. They do just what the hell they want to do with anything.
Brad Kain , says: May 16, 2017 at 5:03 pm
Trump has now essentially confirmed the story from the Post and contradicted the denials from McMaster – he shared specific intelligence to demonstrate his willingness to work with the Russians. Moreover, it seems that Israel was the ally that provided this intelligence. The author and others will defend this, but I can only see this as a reckless and impulsive decision that only causes Russia and our allies to trust the US less.

[May 16, 2017] Trump facing shark tank feeding frenzy from military industrial media

Notable quotes:
"... What's your take on it? Is the media on to something big here? ..."
"... "sources and methods" ..."
"... 'Deep State' ..."
"... The mainstream media is going on little more than 'anonymous sources.' Could it have a hidden agenda here? ..."
"... "drain the swamp." ..."
"... "I am moving forward with my program." ..."
"... Do you think mainstream media is a part of something big and controlled all over from the top? ..."
"... The media has run with this. Are they on to something big here? ..."
"... Trump attacked Hillary Clinton as being unreliable with state secrets. Can the same now be said of him? ..."
"... The mainstream media is going on little more than 'anonymous sources'... could it have a hidden agenda here? ..."
May 16, 2017 | www.rt.com
There are elements of the 'Deep State' here who are very opposed to the things Donald Trump said during the campaign. They don't want to cooperate with Russia, Jim Jatras, former US diplomat, told RT. Political analyst John Bosnitch joins the discussion. US President Trump said his White House meeting last week with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov ranged from airline safety to terrorism. A Washington Post story, however, has accused the American leader of revealing classified information to Russian officials.

RT: What's your take on it? Is the media on to something big here?

Jim Jatras: To start with, again, this is from the Washington Post and an unnamed source. So you do have to doubt the accuracy of the information knowing the vendetta the Washington Post and other mainstream media have against the Trump administration and against President Trump personally and how much they want to disrupt any kind of cooperation with Russia against the terrorist threat. I would say that was the first thing.

'I was in the room. It didn't happen' - National Security Advisor H.R. #McMaster https://t.co/gVIHigqXaT

- RT America (@RT_America) 15 мая 2017 г.

Second, as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Deputy of National Security Adviser Dina Powell, who were both in the meeting, have stated since the Washington Post article appeared – there was nothing discussed with Mr. [Sergey] Lavrov and Mr. [Sergey] Kislyak that compromised what they call "sources and methods" that would lead to any kind of intelligence vulnerability on the part of the US. But rather this was all part of a discussion of common action against ISIS. Those are the first things to be noted

Let's remember that there are elements of what we call the 'Deep State' here who are very opposed to the things Donald Trump said during the campaign. They don't want to cooperate with the Russians; they don't want improved relations with Moscow. And let's be honest, they have a very strong investment in the various jihadist groups that we have supported for the past six years trying to overthrow the legitimate government in Damascus. I am sure there are people – maybe in the National Security Council, maybe in the Staff, maybe in the State Department – who are finding some way to try and discredit the Trump administration. The question is where is the investigation into these leaks? Who is going to hold these people accountable?

RT: The mainstream media is going on little more than 'anonymous sources.' Could it have a hidden agenda here?

JJ: Of course. In fact, I would even go further. I wouldn't be at all surprised if President Trump timed his firing with the FBI Director James Comey – what some people even pointed out – he himself in one of his tweets says "drain the swamp." One of the first elements was getting rid of the principals of the Deep State who have been trying to hijack his policy; that he did this precisely because he was meeting with Mr. Lavrov and Mr. Kislyak the next day. He's shoving it in their face, saying: "I am moving forward with my program." And I think that's the reason we're getting this hysteria building around the Russians, the Russians, the Russians when what we need is to move forward on an America First national security policy.

'US policy today: Aircraft, where co-pilots try to override pilots' (Op-Edge) https://t.co/x153yPtqVS

- RT (@RT_com) 16 мая 2017 г.

RT: Do you think mainstream media is a part of something big and controlled all over from the top?

JJ: Absolutely. There is a whole structure of what people call the 'Deep State' establishment, the oligarchy – whatever you want to call it. Of course, the mainstream media is part of this. It includes all the Democrats, who were very easy on the Soviet Union when it was Communist. But now that it is not Communist under Russia, they have a deep, very deep hatred of Russia, and they don't want any kind of rapprochement with Russia. And unfortunately, there are Republicans who sympathize with this agenda, as well. I think we can say at this point that Mr. Trump is only partially in control of the apparatus of government. He does not yet have complete control and that there is a frantic effort by these elements to make sure he is not able to get control of the American government and carry out the policies he talked about.

#Trump says he had 'absolute right' to share data on flight safety & terrorism with Russia https://t.co/U6h9FW2ZKy pic.twitter.com/eFBIRhVaI3

- RT (@RT_com) 16 мая 2017 г.
The 'military industrial media'

The mainstream media of the US is owned lock, stock, and barrel by the military industrial complex. If you want to call it anything, you can call it the 'military media,' John Bosnitch , political analyst, told RT.

RT: The media has run with this. Are they on to something big here?

John Bosnitch: I wouldn't say so. I've worked in this field for three decades. I don't see a scrap of evidence here. But I do see like a shark tank of media feeding – no evidence.

RT: Trump attacked Hillary Clinton as being unreliable with state secrets. Can the same now be said of him?

JB: Trump is the chief executive officer of the United States of America. As the chief executive officer of the country, he has full legal and constitutional authority to use state secrets in the conduct of diplomacy. He's also the chief diplomat of the country. So there is a big difference between the chief executive officer deciding what information he can share in conducting of state policy, and Hillary Clinton deciding as a cabinet minister which laws she chooses to obey, and which ones she doesn't.

'You cannot reset:' No way for US & Russia to start over 'with clean slate' – #Tillerson https://t.co/vC71YbLpQL

- RT (@RT_com) 15 мая 2017 г.

RT: The mainstream media is going on little more than 'anonymous sources'... could it have a hidden agenda here?

JB: I don't see any other possibility, whatsoever. Let's not play the game of dividing the so-called mainstream media from its owners. The mainstream media of the US is owned lock, stock, and barrel by the military industrial complex. If you want to call it anything, you can call it the 'military media.' The military makes money by making war; they buy the media to promote war. They use the media to promote propaganda in favor of war. And that is where we get into the mess we're in today. Because we have a president who is a businessman and would prefer to make money, and would prefer to put people to work in any industry other than war. The military industrial media in the United States is depending on being able to speak to a captive audience of uninformed viewers The military controls the media because they own them.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

[May 15, 2017] The Hazards of Military Worship: Everyone Loves the Troops and Their Generals, But History Indicates That Military Advice Isn't All It's Cracked Up to Be by Danny Sjursen

Afghan war is actually Afghanistan occupation with some insurgency, not a war...
Notable quotes:
"... civilian control of the military, and of the policymaking process that goes with military action, is not just a constitutional imperative but desirable for thoroughly practical reasons. Which, in turn, is why the makeup of the current administration - with an unprecedented number of generals in key positions - raises some serious questions. ..."
"... And yet the problem is so much bigger than that. Somehow - and this should be truly unnerving - Americans have gotten to a place where, it seems, they trust only ..."
"... Where the nation puts its money both reflects this reality and aggravates it. Consider that in this fiscal year military spending exceeded $600 billion, or 12 times the State Department's budget. Worse still, the new president's proposed budget would cut State by more than one-third - despite former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates's quip that there are already more members of military bands than Foreign Service officers. ..."
"... MacArthur in Korea ..."
"... Ike vs. the Generals ..."
"... Kennedy and the Joint Chiefs Deal With Cuba ..."
"... The Generals Grapple With Southeast Asia ..."
"... our nation turned its lonely eyes to him ..."
"... Before he used his new troops to launch his first major offensive into largely Taliban-controlled, opium-poppy-rich Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan, McChyrstal proudly announced that he not only had a military force ready to go, but "a government in a box, ready to roll in," too. Seven years later, with more American soldiers once again being sent back into Helmand Province and the Taliban ascendant in significant parts of it, can there be any question how badly McChrystal's strategy failed? Today, in fact, more of Afghanistan is under Taliban control than at any time since 2001. As retired army colonel and Professor Gregory Daddis observed , "Looking back, the logic flaws become clear." After all, Daddis continued, "how could counterinsurgents provide security if the population too often saw U.S. soldiers as 'anti-bodies' invading their body politic?" ..."
"... After much positive and often fawning news coverage in the wake of his recent Tomahawk missile strike in Syria, it's hard to imagine that the president won't grant the generals' wishes. In fact, he has already reportedly turned over decision-making on U.S. troop levels in Syria and Iraq to them. And yet it should be obvious enough that more of the same, without even the semblance of credible alternatives or dissenting voices, is an innovation-stifling loser of an option. Fifteen years later, it doesn't take a genius to know that something about U.S. strategy hasn't been and isn't working . ..."
"... Civilian policymakers haven't always been right, but since World War II, the generals have the weaker (and far more hair-raising) record. ..."
"... Republics are imperiled when a military caste diverges from civil society. Despite the glowing (if shallow) praise heaped on America's all-volunteer force, it is increasingly distant from the population in whose name it theoretically fights. ..."
"... What's the purpose of this all-powerful US military? To transform much of the world into a simulacrum of a semi-religious Anglo-Celtic Israel-worshiper? Or turn the people of the world into a mass of secular hedonist consumerist debtors in servitude to the banks? The Soviet Union is long dead and every POTUS since 9/11 has said how much we all have to love Islam except for a tiny band of fanatics. ..."
"... So what is all the fuss about and why are we worshiping the military? ..."
May 11, 2017 | www.unz.com

More, more, more.

I was guilty of it myself. Commanding a small cavalry troop of about 85 soldiers in southwest Kandahar Province back in 2011, I certainly wanted and requested more: more troopers, more Special Forces advisers, more Afghan police, more air support, more supplies, more money, more everything. Like so many others in Afghanistan back then, I wanted whatever resources would protect the guys in my unit and fend off the insurgent threat. No one, of course, asked me if the U.S. military should even be there, nor did I presume to raise the question. I was, after all, just a captain dug into a tough fight in a dangerous district.

It's funny, though, people sometimes ask me now, "What's really going on in Afghanistan?" They ask the same question about Iraq, where I led a unit back in 2006-2007. I mean, the implication is: If you served over there, unlike those (liberal!) pundits and politicians who regularly mouth off on the subject, who would know better? But I've learned over the years that what they don't want to hear is my real answer to such questions, so I rarely bother to tell them that historians, analysts, and thoughtful critics, even ones who haven't been within thousands of miles of our war zones, probably understand the "big picture" better than most soldiers.

That's the dirty little secret of America's wars: despite the omniscient claims of some veterans, most soldiers see their version of war as if gazing through a straw at 30,000 feet. Combat and dedication to your unit and mission naturally steer you toward such tunnel vision. And here's the sad thing that no one wants to admit: that mantra applies as strongly to generals as to sergeants (and if you don't believe that, just check out our wars of the last 15 years). So it's worrisome when president after president defers to and all too often hides behind the supposed wisdom of active and retired three- and four-star flag officers.

Don't get me wrong, some of these guys can be impressive. No one is perfect, but former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey was a gem with genuine scholarly and combat bona fides . But consider him and a few others the exceptions that prove the rule. Which is why civilian control of the military, and of the policymaking process that goes with military action, is not just a constitutional imperative but desirable for thoroughly practical reasons. Which, in turn, is why the makeup of the current administration - with an unprecedented number of generals in key positions - raises some serious questions.

And yet the problem is so much bigger than that. Somehow - and this should be truly unnerving - Americans have gotten to a place where, it seems, they trust only soldiers. In June 2016, for instance, a Gallup poll found that 73% of Americans had "quite a lot" of confidence in the military, versus 36% for the presidency and 6% for Congress. Such disparities ought to inspire distress about the direction of our public institutions, but rarely do.

Where the nation puts its money both reflects this reality and aggravates it. Consider that in this fiscal year military spending exceeded $600 billion, or 12 times the State Department's budget. Worse still, the new president's proposed budget would cut State by more than one-third - despite former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates's quip that there are already more members of military bands than Foreign Service officers.

The Myth of (Infallible) Military Judgment

By now, it's part of American lore that, facing a thorny problem or potential conflict abroad, a president should throw some stars at it. If only generals were indeed pixie dust. Historically speaking, though, since World War II, calling on the generals has often resulted in abject failure. There's plenty of evidence of that in the last 15 years of, at best, inconclusive war in the Greater Middle East, but first, let's take a brief tour of military advice from the previous century's crises.

MacArthur in Korea

In October 1950, just months after the Korean War began, President Harry Truman met General Douglas MacArthur, commander of the coalition forces in Korea, on Wake Island. There, MacArthur assured the president of two things: that the Chinese would not intervene in the war and that the fighting would be over by Christmas. A month later, hundreds of thousands of Chinese "volunteers" streamed across the Yalu River into northern Korea, sending MacArthur's troops into headlong retreat. Wrong once, the general promptly called for a massive U.S. troop escalation and the bombing of China, perhaps even nuclear attacks on that country. Truman recoiled, fired the general, and opened negotiations, all while avoiding nuclear war. And what happened to the twice-wrong MacArthur? In April 1951, with the war still underway - an armistice wouldn't finally come until July 1953 - he received a record-breaking 19-mile-long ticker-tape parade through New York City in which 3,249 tons of paper rained down on him.

Ike vs. the Generals

President Dwight Eisenhower so loved the Army that he asked his successor to return him to his five-star rank. That way he'd be addressed as "General" rather than "Mr. President" in retirement. Yet no president was more dismissive of the notion that military men, rather than civilians, know what's best. When a senator contended that the Air Force was better positioned than politicians to assess its own needs, Ike snapped back, "Bunk!" (He knew the Pentagon regularly overstated its case.) As for sage military advice, Eisenhower dismissed General Mark Clark's plans for an all-out assault in Korea as "madness" and sacked all his service chiefs after they "revolted" over a truncated defense budget he proposed. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Arthur Radford, even hinted that it might be "high time" to reexamine the taboo against using nuclear weapons in that war. Despite significant saber-rattling, Ike ultimately chose restraint.

In fact, he was notoriously skeptical of his generals' advice and left office famously warning Americans about a growing "military-industrial complex." The result of his presidency: the commanding general and hero of World War II held down defense spending, never used nukes, ended the bloody stalemate of a war in Korea, and - most importantly - avoided World War III.

Kennedy and the Joint Chiefs Deal With Cuba

The U.S. high command, like much of the American public, was obsessed with newly Communist Cuba. In April 1961, after the Bay of Pigs, a disastrous CIA-sponsored invasion by Cuban émigrés, the generals proposed a new plan , Operation Northwoods. Approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, it called for false-flag terrorist attacks on émigrés in Miami or on U.S. ships off the coast to drum up public support for a war against Cuba. President John F. Kennedy refused.

Soon after came the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, which brought humanity as close to extinction as it's ever come. When U.S. intelligence learned that the Soviet Union had stationed nuclear missiles on that island, just 90 miles from Florida, the government entered full-scale panic mode. During deliberations on how to proceed, the Joint Chiefs - to a man - recommended air strikes against Cuba and a possible follow-on invasion. Later, in a memo, they declared that they were prepared to use "nuclear weapons for limited war operations in the Cuban area."

Instead, Kennedy chose a blockade and negotiations. The Russians responded by pulling their missiles out of Cuba and humankind lived to fight another day. After one of those meetings, Kennedy remarked to an aide, "These brass hats [generals and admirals] have one great advantage. If we do what they want us to do, none of us will be alive later to tell them that they were wrong." Deeply disturbed by the advice of the Chiefs during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy later confided to some White House guests that "the first thing I'm going to tell my successor is to watch the generals, and to avoid feeling that just because they were military men, their opinions on military matters were worth a damn."

The Generals Grapple With Southeast Asia

In April 1961, the Joint Chiefs recommended that President Kennedy intervene to stop a "North Vietnamese-sponsored" Communist offensive in Laos through the use of air strikes and the introduction of U.S. ground forces in that country. When Kennedy asked the military chiefs what to do if the North Vietnamese Communists bombed Laotian airports as the U.S. flew in troops, one replied : "You [drop] a bomb on Hanoi, and you start using atomic weapons!" In fact, Army General Lyman Lemnitzer assured the president that "if we are given the right to use nuclear weapons, we can guarantee victory." Kennedy ruled against his generals on both counts.

Nevertheless, Kennedy and then President Lyndon Johnson foolishly agreed to escalate U.S. involvement in Vietnam. In that war, admittedly, civilian policymakers were often the chief villains. However, the generals were anything but blameless. In 1967, as U.S. casualties increased and many Americans began to question the country's involvement in the conflict, the senior commander, General William Westmoreland, assured Congress that there was, in a phrase that became infamous, "light at the end of the tunnel." When Vietcong guerillas attacked nearly every American base in South Vietnam in the January 1968 Tet Offensive, he had only one answer, a solution once again all-too-familiar to twenty-first-century Americans: more. He requested 206,000 additional U.S. troops on top of the half-million-plus already in Vietnam. President Johnson balked and began negotiations with North Vietnam. It took - tragically - seven more bloody years, but eventually U.S. troops were extracted from what a near consensus of credible historians now conclude was an "unwinnable" war.

These examples obviously don't imply that no general ever gave solid advice or that civilians weren't perfectly capable of concocting their own hare-brained war-making schemes. Rather, the point is to deflate - just a bit - the present all-too-popular notion of American military infallibility, or at least superiority.

It's dangerous to deify any public institution, let alone the country's bureau of violence. That's not, in itself, a knock at the military to which I've dedicated my adult life, but a basic recognition of the gravity of all martial exertions. No government agency is so holy that it shouldn't be scrutinized, not in a real democracy. Yet American society is headed in that very direction, along with its new president. On Inauguration Day, finding himself in a crowded room with all the generals he had appointed to key positions in his administration around him, he declared emphatically, "I see my generals, generals that are going to keep us so safe."

We usually imagine the threat of military control over decision-making as an aspect of opaque autocracies, but it can also stem from the excessive exultation of a "warrior" class in a democracy. Consider the chilling comments of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer after a controversial raid in Yemen in January left Ryan Owens, a Navy SEAL, several al-Qaeda fighters, and a number of civilians, as well as several children, dead .

Spicer took umbrage after a number of people, including the notoriously hawkish, wildly pro-military, former POW Senator John McCain, questioned the operation's value. The press secretary's statement, however, went beyond standard partisan defensiveness and into genuinely treacherous territory when he asserted that "anyone who would suggest [the raid] is not a success does disservice to the life of Chief Ryan Owens." That represents a new standard for public debate on military operations. Think of the implications: if a single serviceman dies, then all critical scrutiny of such actions is off the table, being by its very nature disrespectful and unpatriotic. Taken to its logical conclusion, such an approach would leave no room for public protest or even the vestiges of an antiwar movement in response to future American war making.

Lest anyone imagine that Spicer simply misspoke, President Trump promptly upped the ante. He tweeted : "Sen. McCain should not be talking about the success or failure of a mission to the media. Only emboldens the enemy our hero died on a winning mission." Take a moment to let that sink in: to question the effectiveness of a raid in a country with which the U.S. is not at war, which resulted in multiple military and civilian deaths - even when the critic is the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services committee - should now be considered "emboldening" the enemy. Somebody pinch me.

Generally, however, that raid led mainly to endless praise for both Chief Petty Officer Owens and the U.S. military. In fact, no matter the situation, the carnage involved, or the decision-making behind it, the rhetoric of praise for America's "warriors" has become a commonplace of our national life.

In fact, we military professionals ought to be confident enough to weather genuine scrutiny of both our decision-making and our acts. The danger is this: while we're caught up in the countless " thanks-for-your-service " platitudes, upgraded airline seating, ever larger flags flying o'er sporting events, and other forms of hollow soldier-worship and militarized "patriotism," the nation may be losing something precious: the right to dissent.

Bogus "Options"

In nearly every recent instance when military commanders were asked for a strategy review, the response was the same. What was needed, swore the generals repeatedly, were more troops, more airstrikes, more bases, more money, and more time. A rare exception to this litany of more came from former Joint Chiefs Chairman Dempsey who laid out not just the options, but also the potential costs of a Syrian intervention.

Presidents deserve and require such real options. Too often, however, especially in this country's 15-year "war on terror" across the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa, senior military leaders have failed to present plausible, achievable choices to the commander-in-chief. Nearly all of them have proved to be "more" guys.

Consider, for instance, Afghanistan in 2009. Things had been going poorly indeed in what was already an eight-year-old war. And so our nation turned its lonely eyes to him - General Stanley McChrystal, a special operator fresh off a tour tracking down and killing al-Qaeda in Iraq's leadership, including Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Asked to conduct a "strategic review" and present Barack Obama with military options in Afghanistan, McChrystal instead offered the new president a Goldilocks dilemma. He submitted what were, in essence, three versions of the same option: surge big, surge little, or surge just right. Those "options" failed the Army's own doctrinal course of action test - solutions must be suitable, feasible, acceptable, and distinguishable. Since all three of McChrystal's choices involved counterinsurgency and troop escalation, they were hardly distinguishable.

Instead, they did what they were meant to do and boxed the young president into an escalatory corner, a "more" decision being not just the commander's favored but only course of action. Obama grumbled and then sent McChrystal his reinforcements. It sounded like Iraq 2006-2007 all over again. Only this time - the president and Americans more generally were assured - the ensuing surge would be even better, involving a supposedly comprehensive, interagency approach to the Afghan War.

Before he used his new troops to launch his first major offensive into largely Taliban-controlled, opium-poppy-rich Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan, McChyrstal proudly announced that he not only had a military force ready to go, but "a government in a box, ready to roll in," too. Seven years later, with more American soldiers once again being sent back into Helmand Province and the Taliban ascendant in significant parts of it, can there be any question how badly McChrystal's strategy failed? Today, in fact, more of Afghanistan is under Taliban control than at any time since 2001. As retired army colonel and Professor Gregory Daddis observed , "Looking back, the logic flaws become clear." After all, Daddis continued, "how could counterinsurgents provide security if the population too often saw U.S. soldiers as 'anti-bodies' invading their body politic?"

Perhaps at this point it won't surprise you to learn that two civilians on the Obama team - Vice President Joseph Biden and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan (as well as ex-lieutenant general) Karl Eikenberry - doubted from the start the U.S. military's ability to impose an external solution on Afghans via such a surge. They were ignored. After all, who knows better than the guys overseeing the actual fighting?

Which raises the question: How will the Trump administration's generals, now in crucial government positions, counsel the president regarding Syria, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and North Korea? Predictions are always a dicey matter, but recent history suggests that we can expect military escalation, which already seems to be underway in at least three of those countries. More , after all, remains the option of choice for America's generals almost 70 years after MacArthur went head to head with his president over Korea.

What then is to be expected when it comes to the conflict with ISIS in Iraq, the complex, multi-faceted Syrian civil war, and America's longest war of all in Afghanistan? All signs point to more of the same. Open up a newspaper or check out a relevant website and you'll find, for example, that U.S. Afghan commander General John Nicholson wants a new mini-surge of American troops dispatched into that country, while the U.S. commander in the fight against ISIS, General Stephen Townsend, may require yet more ground troops to "win" in Iraq and Syria.

After much positive and often fawning news coverage in the wake of his recent Tomahawk missile strike in Syria, it's hard to imagine that the president won't grant the generals' wishes. In fact, he has already reportedly turned over decision-making on U.S. troop levels in Syria and Iraq to them. And yet it should be obvious enough that more of the same, without even the semblance of credible alternatives or dissenting voices, is an innovation-stifling loser of an option. Fifteen years later, it doesn't take a genius to know that something about U.S. strategy hasn't been and isn't working .

The Choice

So, isn't it well past time for the generals and civilian leaders to ask the obvious question: Does the U.S. even have the ability to improve such societies via military power? These days, unfortunately, such thinking rings heretical to martial ears. Yet not to raise such questions is to ensure that Americans will experience a kind of endless déjà vu in their wars.

What this country needs right now are civilian leaders who think strategically, exude confidence, and aren't afraid to challenge military advice. Appropriate respect for senior servicemen shouldn't mean either impulsive adulation or timid apprehension. Civilian policymakers haven't always been right, but since World War II, the generals have the weaker (and far more hair-raising) record.

Republics are imperiled when a military caste diverges from civil society. Despite the glowing (if shallow) praise heaped on America's all-volunteer force, it is increasingly distant from the population in whose name it theoretically fights.

For those of us still in uniform, thoughtlessly soldiering on may sound both stalwart and romantic, but it rarely amounts to a sagacious strategy. Don't take my word for it, consider the climactic scene in Once an Eagle , a legendary novel within the American officer corps and long a staple on every general's recommended professional reading list. This highly touted , if ill-understood , book ends as its protagonist, an aged, decorated general, slowly dies from wounds inflicted by a Vietnamese "terrorist" bomber. Gasping his final breath, the old soldier dispenses his last pearl of wisdom to a junior officer: "Remember, Joey, if it comes to a choice between being a good soldier and a good human being - try to be a good human being "

In war, as in much else, there's often wisdom in abstention. And when it comes to war, sometimes less is more.

Major Danny Sjursen, a TomDispatch regular , is a U.S. Army strategist and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has written a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge . He lives with his wife and four sons near Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

[ Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.]

fnn says: May 12, 2017 at 1:24 am GMT • 100 Words

What's the purpose of this all-powerful US military? To transform much of the world into a simulacrum of a semi-religious Anglo-Celtic Israel-worshiper? Or turn the people of the world into a mass of secular hedonist consumerist debtors in servitude to the banks? The Soviet Union is long dead and every POTUS since 9/11 has said how much we all have to love Islam except for a tiny band of fanatics.

So what is all the fuss about and why are we worshiping the military?

[May 14, 2017] Classified America Why Is the US Public Allowed To Know So Little by Robert Koehler

Notable quotes:
"... And I have yet to hear a mainstream journo challenge or question that word or ask what could be at stake that requires protective secrecy even as the U.S. government seemingly threatens to collapse around Michael Flynn, America's national security advisor for three weeks, and his relationship to Russia. Is there really any there there? ..."
"... I'm not suggesting that there isn't, or that it's all fake news. Trump and pals are undoubtedly entwined financially with Russian oligarchs, which of course is deeply problematic. And maybe there's more. And maybe some of that "more" is arguably classified for a valid reason, but I want, at the very least, to know why it's classified. What I read and hear feels, instead, like collusion: journalists unquestioningly honoring bureaucratic keep-out signs as objective, even sacred, stopping points. Public knowledge must go no further because . . . you know, national security. But the drama continues! ..."
"... And this is troubling to me because, for starters, nations built on secrecy are far more unstable than those that aren't. ..."
"... The United States is engaged in endless war, at unbelievable and never-discussed cost, to no end except destruction in all directions. Those who have launched and perpetuated the wars remain the determiners of what's classified and what isn't. And Russia lurks silently in the background as a new Cold War gestates. And the media participate not in reporting the news but promoting the drama. ..."
"... Occasionally this has not been the case. Remember the Pentagon Papers? Daniel Ellsberg photocopied a multi-thousand-page secret history of the Vietnam War in 1971 and handed it over to the New York Times. It was classified! But papers printed it. And Sen. Mike Gravel later read portions of the text aloud at a Senate subcommittee hearing. ..."
"... "These portions," notes history.com , "revealed that the presidential administrations of Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson had all misled the public about the degree of US involvement in Vietnam, from Truman's decision to give military aid to France during its struggle against the communist-led Viet Minh to Johnson's development of plans to escalate the war in Vietnam as early as 1964, even as he claimed the opposite during that year's presidential election." ..."
"... Our own government, in short, is as untrustworthy as the governments of our allies and our enemies. Government officials left to operate free of public scrutiny – bereft of public input – have proven themselves over and over to be shockingly shortsighted and cold-blooded in their decision-making, and indifferent to the impact they have on the future. ..."
"... "It is nearly a truism," writes Jeffrey Sachs , "that US wars of regime change have rarely served America's security needs. Even when the wars succeed in overthrowing a government, as in the case of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and Moammar Khadafy in Libya, the result is rarely a stable government, and is more often a civil war. ..."
May 14, 2017 | original.antiwar.com

Classified America: Why Is the US Public Allowed To Know So Little?

by Robert Koehler , May 13, 2017 Print This | Share This For a journalist – especially one covering government and politics – the most suspicious, least trustworthy word in the language ought to be: "classified."

As the drama continues to swirl around Russiagate, or whatever the central controversy of the Trump administration winds up being known as, that word keeps popping up, teasingly, seductively: "It appeared that there was a great deal more (former acting Attorney General Sally) Yates wished she could share," the Washington Post informed us the other day, for instance, "but most of the information surrounding everything that happened remains classified."

And the drama continues! And I have yet to hear a mainstream journo challenge or question that word or ask what could be at stake that requires protective secrecy even as the U.S. government seemingly threatens to collapse around Michael Flynn, America's national security advisor for three weeks, and his relationship to Russia. Is there really any there there?

I'm not suggesting that there isn't, or that it's all fake news. Trump and pals are undoubtedly entwined financially with Russian oligarchs, which of course is deeply problematic. And maybe there's more. And maybe some of that "more" is arguably classified for a valid reason, but I want, at the very least, to know why it's classified. What I read and hear feels, instead, like collusion: journalists unquestioningly honoring bureaucratic keep-out signs as objective, even sacred, stopping points. Public knowledge must go no further because . . . you know, national security. But the drama continues!

And this is troubling to me because, for starters, nations built on secrecy are far more unstable than those that aren't. Job #1 of a free, independent media is the full-on, continuous challenge to government secrecy. Such a media understands that it answers to the public, or rather, that it's a manifestation of the public will. Stability and freedom are not the result of private tinkering. And peace is something created openly. The best of who we are is contained in the public soul, not bequeathed to us by unfathomably wise leaders.

So I cringe every time I hear the news stop at the word "classified." Indeed, in the Trump era, it seems like a plot device: a way to maintain the drama. ". . . there was a great deal more Yates wished she could share, but most of the information surrounding everything that happened remains classified."

Stay tuned, and keep your imaginations turned to high! This is Russia we're talking about. They messed with our election. They "attacked" us in cyberspace. We'd tell you more about how bad things are, but . . . you know, national security.

If nothing else, this endless retreat behind the word "classified" is a waste of the Trump presidency. This administration's recklessness is opening all sorts of random doors on national secrets that need airing. It's not as though the country was sailing along smoothly and keeping the world safe and peaceful till Donald Trump showed up.

Trump could well be making a bad situation worse, but, as William Hartung pointed out: "After all, he inherited no less than seven conflicts from Barack Obama: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen."

The United States is engaged in endless war, at unbelievable and never-discussed cost, to no end except destruction in all directions. Those who have launched and perpetuated the wars remain the determiners of what's classified and what isn't. And Russia lurks silently in the background as a new Cold War gestates. And the media participate not in reporting the news but promoting the drama.

Occasionally this has not been the case. Remember the Pentagon Papers? Daniel Ellsberg photocopied a multi-thousand-page secret history of the Vietnam War in 1971 and handed it over to the New York Times. It was classified! But papers printed it. And Sen. Mike Gravel later read portions of the text aloud at a Senate subcommittee hearing.

"These portions," notes history.com , "revealed that the presidential administrations of Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson had all misled the public about the degree of US involvement in Vietnam, from Truman's decision to give military aid to France during its struggle against the communist-led Viet Minh to Johnson's development of plans to escalate the war in Vietnam as early as 1964, even as he claimed the opposite during that year's presidential election."

Our own government, in short, is as untrustworthy as the governments of our allies and our enemies. Government officials left to operate free of public scrutiny – bereft of public input – have proven themselves over and over to be shockingly shortsighted and cold-blooded in their decision-making, and indifferent to the impact they have on the future.

"It is nearly a truism," writes Jeffrey Sachs , "that US wars of regime change have rarely served America's security needs. Even when the wars succeed in overthrowing a government, as in the case of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and Moammar Khadafy in Libya, the result is rarely a stable government, and is more often a civil war. A 'successful' regime change often lights a long fuse leading to a future explosion, such as the 1953 overthrow of Iran's democratically elected government and installation of the autocratic Shah of Iran, which was followed by the Iranian Revolution of 1979."

All of this, and so much more, preceded Trump. He's only the tail end of our troubles.

Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His new book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound is now available. Contact him at koehlercw@gmail.com or visit his website at commonwonders.com . Reprinted with permission from PeaceVoice .

[May 14, 2017] AfterMidnight -- new NSA malware

May 14, 2017 | failedevolution.blogspot.gr
WikiLeaks

Today, May 12th 2017, WikiLeaks publishes "AfterMidnight" and "Assassin", two CIA malware frameworks for the Microsoft Windows platform.
"AfterMidnight" allows operators to dynamically load and execute malware payloads on a target machine.

The main controller disguises as a self-persisting Windows Service DLL and provides secure execution of "Gremlins" via a HTTPS based Listening Post (LP) system called "Octopus".

Once installed on a target machine AM will call back to a configured LP on a configurable schedule, checking to see if there is a new plan for it to execute.

If there is, it downloads and stores all needed components before loading all new gremlins in memory. "Gremlins" are small AM payloads that are meant to run hidden on the target and either subvert the functionality of targeted software, survey the target (including data exfiltration) or provide internal services for other gremlins.

The special payload "AlphaGremlin" even has a custom script language which allows operators to schedule custom tasks to be executed on the target machine.

"Assassin" is a similar kind of malware; it is an automated implant that provides a simple collection platform on remote computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system. Once the tool is installed on the target, the implant is run within a Windows service process. "Assassin" (just like "AfterMidnight") will then periodically beacon to its configured listening post(s) to request tasking and deliver results.

Communication occurs over one or more transport protocols as configured before or during deployment. The "Assassin" C2 (Command and Control) and LP (Listening Post) subsystems are referred to collectively as" The Gibson" and allow operators to perform specific tasks on an infected target..

Documents:
https://wikileaks.org/vault7/#AfterMidnight

[May 13, 2017] What Is Americas Goal in the World by Patrick Buchanan

Notable quotes:
"... Excellent, concise summary of Cold War and post-Cold War military history. I also thought that during the campaign Trump was broadly outlining a less interventionist approach – with the exception of ISIS. It's clear now his only political philosophy is "flexibility" and he surrounds himself with people of all kinds of persuasions, including neocons. ..."
"... Patrick again draws attention to our over commitment around the world. It is time to implode and focus on issues here at home. ..."
www.nakedcapitalism.com
Sebastian , says: May 11, 2017 at 10:56 pm
The root cause of our engagement in the world is to justify our treaty to protect israel no matter what.
Mac61 , says: May 12, 2017 at 12:34 am
Excellent, concise summary of Cold War and post-Cold War military history. I also thought that during the campaign Trump was broadly outlining a less interventionist approach – with the exception of ISIS. It's clear now his only political philosophy is "flexibility" and he surrounds himself with people of all kinds of persuasions, including neocons. I tend to favor "flexibility" over a all-neocon administration (Geo. W. Bush) but Trump's "flexibility" is in reality "impulsiveness" - let's just hope more stable voices prevail inside the White House of the President of the United States Donald "It's Complicated" Trump, AKA The Apprentice.
MEOW , says: May 12, 2017 at 3:11 am
Patrick again draws attention to our over commitment around the world. It is time to implode and focus on issues here at home. We still have an immigration problem. The problem of chronic unemployment continues to exist. The people that were displaced by the transfer of our industrial sector overseas continue to haunt us. Student loans are like a millstone around our academic necks. We bailed out the banksters after giving them an open-door policy to near ad infinitum indebt our student body. The Fed not only creates money out of thin air, but it is a price setting entity owned and operated in large foreign bankers; not Federal but Foreign. Does anyone know when setting wages and prices have been successful? We know the Fed has been a dismal and costly failure. Count their made in DC disasters since its inception in 1913. The unemployment stabilizer for the young from the non- elite class is the U.S. military with risk to life and limb. Time to bring back the military draft without any exceptions then designer wars will be challenged by the vast-unwilling when war becomes a reality not something to watch on nightly TV. Is there hope? There was absolutely no hope in the 2016 presidential election. The worst imaginable field of candidates in modern-history and we are now stuck with Trump and family who seem to enjoy wars, but have not participated in U.S. wars.
John S , says: May 12, 2017 at 7:07 am
Is Mr. Buchanan aware that these "war guarantees" are a two-way street? Is he aware that Latvians and Montenegrans have fought for America? And out of proportion to their size?
Liam , says: May 12, 2017 at 8:13 am
"seemed"

No, Pat, you just were too eager to believe he understood this.

He never understood this.

And never will.

Pay much more attention to that disturbance you are feeling rather than your hopes.

Brian , says: May 12, 2017 at 8:49 am
I believe the question should be more like what is the Pentagons Empire Dreams and Goals?

December 24, 2013 The Worldwide Network of US Military Bases The Global Deployment of US Military Personnel

The US Military has bases in *63* countries. Brand new military bases have been built since September 11, 2001 in seven countries. In total, there are 255,065 US military personnel deployed Worldwide. These facilities include a total of 845,441 different buildings and equipments. The underlying land surface is of the order of *30* million acres. According to Gelman, who examined 2005 official Pentagon data, the US is thought to own a total of *737* bases in foreign lands. Adding to the bases inside U.S. territory, the total land area occupied by US military bases domestically within the US and internationally is of the order of *2,202,735 hectares*, which makes the *Pentagon* one of the largest landowners worldwide!

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-worldwide-network-of-us-military-bases/5564

SDS , says: May 12, 2017 at 9:01 am
"Donald Trump once seemed to understand this. Does he still?"

It appears he never did nor cared to ..
P.T. Barnum was right again .
We who clamored for an alternate path stuck our jaws out in desperation and were sucker-punched again .
The Donald laughing all the way as he had no intent to know, care, or understand what he was getting into or what he wanted to do.

He just wanted to be the Boss .
SO he is; and floundering by the hour.

God help the United States.

collin , says: May 12, 2017 at 10:56 am
May I suggest taking a different course here? Why are the 'Peace' Presidents winners change when in they are in the White House? And for all the complaints of the liberal MSM, why is the MSM so pro-war? Look the peace writers on the Times are the economist, Krugman, and religious one, Douthat.

Anyway, I don't think Trump ever understood this because he believed the big mistake of the Iraq was not winning in 12 months and taking their oil.

Moi , says: May 12, 2017 at 2:15 pm
Once a nation starts thinking it's exceptional, it's screwed. It's really that simple.
Igor , says: May 12, 2017 at 2:41 pm
USA made a strategic mistake in the 1990s, focusing on the destruction and the weakening of Russia after the collapse of communism and the collapse of the USSR.
If the US instead went the other way and supported Russia and strengthened its position in the post-Soviet space and in Eastern Europe, now US would have had a good ally in Eurasia, and not on what the Baltic dregs and torn by civil war fascist Ukraine.
Eurasia under the control of the United States, anyway, will not take place for any scenario, but especially now – with the loss of the state of world hegemony.
Eurasia under the leadership of Germany, Poland or Ukraine is the same scenario from the category of unscientific fantasy.
But Eurasia led by Russia – it was a very real and viable project in the 1990s, the word, alive now only in a different, less responsive to the interests of the United States, form.
By the way, the project more attractive to US than indicated by the perspective of the hegemony of China in Eurasia.
Only now, the US should try very hard to, despite the flaws in his politics in the 1990s, to strengthen the position of Russia, and not any other player as Eurasian leader.
EliteCommInc. , says: May 12, 2017 at 5:57 pm
"Once a nation starts thinking it's exceptional, it's . . ."

Nonsense. It's perfectly well and good to be exceptional and think of oneself as such. The issue does one's exceptionalism lead to taking unnecessary risks or needlessly throwing one's weight around.

I think that is the issue. I think we are also being reminded that our exceptionalism does always make us right or intimidate others to do our bidding. That in the long run, it might have been a good idea not to disrupt the lives of others merely because they disagree or live a life different from our own. It fact, needlessly destroying the life of others for the sake of whatever – in unethical, something we used to press for, despite our own imperfections.

Nothing quite so empty as undermining other people to get one's way and then attempting to blackmail with the consequence of your underhanded behavior.

[May 12, 2017] Worst-Ever Recorded Ransomware Attack Strikes Over 57,000 Users Worldwide, Using NSA-Leaked Tools

Cyber attacks on a global scale took place on Friday, May 12, 2017. The notable hits include computers in 16 UK hospitals, Telefonica Telecom in Spain, Gas Natural, Iberdrola. Several thousand computer were infected in 99 countries. WannaCry ransomware attack - Wikipedia
WannaCry is believed to use the EternalBlue exploit, which was developed by the U.S. National Security Agency[15][16] to attack computers running Microsoft Windows operating systems. Once it invades a network, it is self-replicated and transmitted to other computers.
Initial infection vector is either via LAN, an email attachment, or drive-by download.
A kill switch has been found in the code, which since May 13 helps to prevent new infections. This swich was accidentally activated by an anti-virus researcher from GB. However, different versions of the attack may be released and all vulnerable systems still have an urgent need to be patched.
Notable quotes:
"... Hollywood Overwhelmed With Hack Attacks; FBI Advises 'Pay Ransom'... ..."
May 12, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

The ransomware has been identifed as WannaCry

* * *

Update 4 : According to experts tracking and analyzing the worm and its spread, this could be one of the worst-ever recorded attacks of its kind .

The security researcher who tweets and blogs as MalwareTech told The Intercept "I've never seen anything like this with ransomware," and "the last worm of this degree I can remember is Conficker." Conficker was a notorious Windows worm first spotted in 2008; it went on to infect over nine million computers in nearly 200 countries. As The Intercept details,

Today's WannaCry attack appears to use an NSA exploit codenamed ETERNALBLUE, a software weapon that would have allowed the spy agency's hackers to break into any of millions of Windows computers by exploiting a flaw in how certain version of Windows implemented a network protocol commonly used to share files and to print. Even though Microsoft fixed the ETERNALBLUE vulnerability in a March software update, the safety provided there relied on computer users keeping their systems current with the most recent updates. Clearly, as has always been the case, many people (including in governments) are not installing updates. Before, there would have been some solace in knowing that only enemies of the NSA would have to fear having ETERNALBLUE used against them–but from the moment the agency lost control of its own exploit last summer, there's been no such assurance.

Today shows exactly what's at stake when government hackers can't keep their virtual weapons locked up.

As security researcher Matthew Hickey, who tracked the leaked NSA tools last month, put it, "I am actually surprised that a weaponized malware of this nature didn't spread sooner."

Update 3: Microsoft has issued a statement, confirming the status the vulnerability:

Today our engineers added detection and protection against new malicious software known as Ransom:Win32.WannaCrypt.

In March, we provided a security update which provides additional protections against this potential attack.

Those who are running our free antivirus software and have Windows updates enabled, are protected. We are working with customers to provide additional assistance.

Update 2: Security firm Kaspersky Lab has recorded more than 45,000 attacks in 74 countries in the past 10 hours

Seventy-four countries around the globe have been affected, with the number of victims still growing, according to Kaspersky Lab. According to Avast, over 57,000 attacks have been detected worldwide, the company said, adding that it "quickly escalated into a massive spreading."

57,000 detections of #WannaCry (aka #WanaCypt0r aka #WCry ) #ransomware by Avast today. More details in blog post: https://t.co/PWxbs8LZkk

- Jakub Kroustek (@JakubKroustek) May 12, 2017

According to Avast, the ransomware has also targeted Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan. The virus is apparently the upgraded version of the ransomware that first appeared in February. Believed to be affecting only Windows operated computers, it changes the affected file extension names to ".WNCRY." It then drops ransom notes to a user in a text file, demanding $300 worth of bitcoins to be paid to unlock the infected files within a certain period of time.

While the victim's wallpaper is being changed, affected users also see a countdown timer to remind them of the limited time they have to pay the ransom. If they fail to pay, their data will be deleted, cybercriminals warn. According to the New York Times, citing security experts, the ransomware exploits a "vulnerability that was discovered and developed by the National Security Agency (NSA)." The hacking tool was leaked by a group calling itself the Shadow Brokers, the report said, adding, that it has been distributing the stolen NSA hacking tools online since last year.

Predictably, Edward Snowden - who has been warning about just such an eventuality - chimed in on Twitter, saying " Whoa: @NSAGov decision to build attack tools targeting US software now threatens the lives of hospital patients."

* * *

Update 1 : In a shocking revelation, The FT reports that hackers responsible for the wave of cyber attacks that struck organisations across the globe used tools stolen from the US National Security Agency.

A hacking tool known as "eternal blue", developed by US spies has been weaponised by the hackers to super-charge an existing form of ransomware known as WannaCry, three senior cyber security analysts said. Their reading of events was confirmed by western security officials who are still scrambling to contain the spread of the attack. The NSA's eternal blue exploit allows the malware to spread through file-sharing protocols set up across organisa