Softpanorama
May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)

Contents Bulletin Scripting in shell and Perl Network troubleshooting History Humor

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 Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism 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...


Top updates

Softpanorama Switchboard
Softpanorama Search


NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

[Feb 15, 2017] Flynn Resignation Is a Surveillance State Coup Nightmare

The globalist mafia is trying to destroy Trump. There might be the same part of intelligence community which is still loyal to Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Still Flynn discussing sanctions, which could have been a violation of an 18th century law, the Logan Act, that bars unauthorized citizens from brokering deals with foreign governments involved in disputes with the United States.
Keith Kellogg links with Oracle my be as asset to Trump team.
Feb 15, 2017 | www.breitbart.com

As far back as the passage of the Patriot Act after 9/11, civil libertarians worried about the surveillance state, the Panopticon, the erosion of privacy rights and due process in the name of national security.

Paranoid fantasies were floated that President George W. Bush was monitoring the library cards of political dissidents. Civil libertarians hailed NSA contractor Edward Snowden as a hero, or at least accepted him as a necessary evil, for exposing the extent of Internet surveillance under President Barack Obama.

Will civil libertarians now speak up for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, whose career has been destroyed with a barrage of leaked wiretaps? Does anyone care if those leaks were accurate or legal?

Over the weekend, a few honest observers of the Flynn imbroglio noted that none of the strategically leaked intercepts of his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak proved he actually did anything wrong .

The media fielded accusations that Flynn discussed lifting the Obama administration's sanctions on Russia – a transgression that would have been a serious violation of pre-inauguration protocol at best, and a prosecutable offense at worst. Flynn ostensibly sealed his fate by falsely assuring Vice President Mike Pence he had no such discussions with Kislyak, prompting Pence to issue a robust defense of Flynn that severely embarrassed Pence in retrospect.

On Tuesday, Eli Lake of Bloomberg News joined the chorus of skeptics who said the hive of anonymous leakers infesting the Trump administration never leaked anything that proved Flynn lied to Pence:

He says in his resignation letter that he did not deliberately leave out elements of his conversations with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak when he recounted them to Vice President Mike Pence. The New York Times and Washington Post reported that the transcript of the phone call reviewed over the weekend by the White House could be read different ways. One White House official with knowledge of the conversations told me that the Russian ambassador raised the sanctions to Flynn and that Flynn responded that the Trump team would be taking office in a few weeks and would review Russia policy and sanctions . That's neither illegal nor improper.

Lake also noted that leaks of sensitive national security information, such as the transcripts of Flynn's phone calls to Kislyak, are extremely rare. In their rush to collect a scalp from the Trump administration, the media forgot to tell its readers how unusual and alarming the Flynn-quisition was:

It's very rare that reporters are ever told about government-monitored communications of U.S. citizens, let alone senior U.S. officials. The last story like this to hit Washington was in 2009 when Jeff Stein, then of CQ, reported on intercepted phone calls between a senior Aipac lobbyist and Jane Harman, who at the time was a Democratic member of Congress.

Normally intercepts of U.S. officials and citizens are some of the most tightly held government secrets. This is for good reason. Selectively disclosing details of private conversations monitored by the FBI or NSA gives the permanent state the power to destroy reputations from the cloak of anonymity. This is what police states do.

In the past it was considered scandalous for senior U.S. officials to even request the identities of U.S. officials incidentally monitored by the government (normally they are redacted from intelligence reports). John Bolton's nomination to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations was derailed in 2006 after the NSA confirmed he had made 10 such requests when he was Undersecretary of State for Arms Control in George W. Bush's first term. The fact that the intercepts of Flynn's conversations with Kislyak appear to have been widely distributed inside the government is a red flag.

While President Trump contemplated Flynn's fate on Monday evening, the Wall Street Journal suggested: "How about asking if the spooks listening to Mr. Flynn obeyed the law?" Among the questions the WSJ posed was whether intelligence agents secured proper FISA court orders for the surveillance of Flynn.

That s the sort of question that convulsed the entire political spectrum, from liberals to libertarians, after the Snowden revelations. Not long ago, both Democrats and Republicans were deeply concerned about accountability and procedural integrity for the sprawling surveillance apparatus developed by our law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Those are among the most serious concerns of the Information Age, and they should not be cast aside in a mad dash to draw some partisan blood.

There are several theories as to exactly who brought Flynn down and why. Was it an internal White House power struggle, the work of Obama administration holdovers, or the alligators of the "Deep State" lunging to take a bite from the president who promised to "drain the swamp?"

The Washington Free Beacon has sources who say Flynn's resignation is "the culmination of a secret, months-long campaign by former Obama administration confidantes to handicap President Donald Trump's national security apparatus and preserve the nuclear deal with Iran."

Flynn has prominently opposed that deal. According to the Free Beacon, this "small task force of Obama loyalists" are ready to waylay anyone in the Trump administration who threatens the Iran deal, their efforts coordinated by the sleazy Obama adviser who boasted of his ability to manipulate the press by feeding them lies, Ben Rhodes.

Some observers are chucking at the folly of Michael Flynn daring to take on the intelligence community, and paying the price for his reckless impudence. That is not funny – it is terrifying. In fact, it is the nightmare of the rogue NSA come to life, the horror story that kept privacy advocates tossing in their sheets for years.

Michael Flynn was appointed by the duly elected President of the United States. He certainly should not have been insulated from criticism, but if he was brought down by entrenched, unelected agency officials, it is nearly a coup – especially if, as Eli Lake worried on Twitter, Flynn's resignation inspires further attacks with even higher-ranking targets:

This was a major error for @Reince & @mike_pence It's now open season on this administration from without and within. #FlynnResignation

- Eli Lake (@EliLake) February 14, 2017

Lake's article caught the eye of President Trump, who endorsed his point that intelligence and law enforcement agencies should not interfere in U.S. politics:

Thank you to Eli Lake of The Bloomberg View – "The NSA & FBI should not interfere in our politics and is" Very serious situation for USA

- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2017

On the other hand, Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard openly endorsed the Deep State overthrowing the American electorate and overturning the results of the 2016 election:

Obviously strongly prefer normal democratic and constitutional politics. But if it comes to it, prefer the deep state to the Trump state.

- Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) February 14, 2017

Among the many things hideously wrong with this sentiment is that the American people know absolutely nothing about the leakers who brought Flynn down, and might be lining up their next White House targets at this very moment. We have no way to evaluate their motives or credibility. We didn't vote for them, and we will have no opportunity to vote them out of office if we dissent from their agenda. As mentioned above, we do not know if the material they are leaking is accurate .

Byron York of the Washington Examiner addressed the latter point by calling for full disclosure:

Important that entire transcript of Flynn-Kislyak conversation be released. Leakers have already cherrypicked. Public needs to see it all.

- Byron York (@ByronYork) February 14, 2017

That is no less important with Flynn's resignation in hand. We still need to know the full story of his downfall. The American people deserve to know who is assaulting the government they voted for in 2016. They deserve protection from the next attempt to manipulate our government with cherry picked leaks.

They also deserve some intellectual consistency from those who have long and loudly worried about the emergence of a surveillance state, and from conservatives who claim to value the rule of law. Unknown persons with a mysterious agenda just made strategic use of partial information from a surveillance program of uncertain legality to take out a presidential adviser.

Whether it's an Obama shadow government staging a Beltway insurrection, or Deep State officials protecting their turf, this is the nightmare scenario of the post-Snowden era or are we not having that nightmare anymore, if we take partisan pleasure in the outcome?

[Feb 15, 2017] Google, Youtube and net neutarality

Feb 15, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Eureka Springs , February 15, 2017 at 7:22 am

Net neutrality has always been confined to the narrowest of meanings to a point of being self-defeating by simply self-kettling ourselves into such limited fights/expectations. I know you coastal and big city elites (that's half snark) will never understand much more empathize or rally with us flyover deplorables who are limited to 10 gigs a month no matter what provider we use, no matter how much we pay. I recently read that most homes with fiber now utilize over a thousand gigs a month that one HD movie can be much more bandwidth than my entire monthly 70 bucks can buy.

Over twenty years ago the entire U.S. should have established high speed affordable unlimited fiber to every home on the grid and that's where the argument should be today. It covers the neutrality issue and so, so very much more. And it is far more inclusive of many more people who would benefit in so many ways. It's way past time to remove the internet highway system. Separate the content providers, the monitors, data mining, from the public highway system itself. That's where the beginning of neutrality should begin.

So yes, point out the most egregious hypocrites in the misleadership class, but don't let them all win by keeping us divided and losing within the extremely limited confines of their argument.

oh , February 15, 2017 at 8:59 am

Among the many promises that Barry broke was the one to provide hi speed internet. One grifter follows another!
We the people need to set some discrete goals and protest. Calling or writing to the Congress critters will not work. We need to storm their office on behalf each issue.

Sally , February 15, 2017 at 2:14 pm

"Separate the content providers, the monitors, data mining, from the public highway system itself. That's where the beginning of neutrality should begin."

That is the key point.

Trump would be an idiot if he allowed the likes of Google/UTube, Facebook, big tech boys to be able to start rigging the content because his campaign relied hugely on the Internet. A lot of his support by-passed the traditional TV/Newspaper media. I heard that Twitter are apparantly using ways and means to make his Twitter acccount only see hostile responses for the first 100 or so responses. Have no idea if that's true but some of these firms are getting very close to utility status.

Anti trust laws should be wheeled out. They are already on the books.

likbez , February 15, 2017 at 2:45 pm

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Companies such as Netflix are essentially subsidized by telecom providers. So this is a model that somewhat reminds me of Uber.

The same is true for Google (especially YouTube part of it) and Facebook. When somebody tries to download 4.7Gb movie that affects other people on the same subnet,

On the other hand if, for example, popular blogs are forced to pay per gigabyte of consumed bandwidth, that is as close to censorship as we can get. 1000 gigabytes per month that is consumed by a medium site even at $1 per gigabyte is $1000 per month rent. And guess who will be able to afford it.

There are a lot complex nuances here. For example, everybody who use wireless at home are not in the same group as who are using landlines (fiber or cable) even if they live in metropolitan areas. They are closer to flyover country residents.

Also as soon as something is not metered some sophisticated forms of abuse emerge. For example, some corporations are abusing public networks by switching to "home office" model which dramatically cuts the required office and parking space. Several corporations built their new headquarters with the assumption that only half of employees are present at any given day (so called hotel model). When employees view some clueless corporate video conference via VPN that affects their neighborhood the same way as heavy Netflix users. Excessive WebEx videoconferences have a similar effect.

Quanka , February 15, 2017 at 8:08 am

+1 to Eureka Springs.

Go back to Bill Clinton's administration when Verizon was a fledgling company and the government gave massive subsidies to the Telecoms to do exactly what Eureka Springs notes: bring fast, reliable internet service across the country. Fast forward to today - those companies took all the subsidies, didn't build out shit for network capacity, and now spend all their money lobbying to give themselves more power and limit net neutrality.

If there were a microcosm for this whole problem, this is it. Dems give big subsidies to corporate players, dont track the work/take for granted that they "did something" and then get caught flat footed. Now we are all left to battle it out for the scraps. Exactly where we were 20 years ago.

Watching the Oroville Dam, juxtaposing with all this "infrastructure spending" talk - everyone should be weary b/c we've been here before with Telecoms.

cocomaan , February 15, 2017 at 9:12 am

+1 to both of you!

It reminds me of the land grant system that enabled the railroad industry to thrive.

Guess what happened to Southern Pacific Railroad Company, who benefited greatly from this government intervention? Later, they turned into Sprint ( S outhern P acific R ailroad I nternal N etworking T elephony)!

Scott , February 15, 2017 at 9:41 am

I really wish I could get more worked up about Net Neutrality, but I can't. I'm deeply concerned about the high prices and lack of availability in much of the country, but I find that much of the debate boils down to conflict between Silicon Valley and the Telcos about who controls the internet. Content providers (Facebook, Google, Netflix) want to use the network effects to manipulate public opinion in their favored version of Net Neutrality, which seems to involve universal unmetered broadband, which ISPs must build out to meet demand, shifting costs from the providers to the ISPs, while profits go the other way. Meanwhile the ISPs do the tricks described in the post and overchange customers for poor service. I have little sympathy for either group.

My general belief is that broadband should be cheap, universal, regulated, and, yes, metered. The latter would encourage high volume users and content providers to change their behavior and technology to use bandwidth more efficiently, which would reduce the size of the infrastructure needed over the long-term. I would also include search neutrality at the same time, but for some reason that doesn't have the same level of support among the technology industry.

[Feb 12, 2017] Trump is now assigned to be as designated scapegoat for all blunders of three previous neoliberal administrations by three Deep State wholly-owned subsidiaries: Bloomberg, NYT and Wapo

Notable quotes:
"... Bloomberg, like WaPo and NYT, is "a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Deep State" ..."
"... Thank God they stopped their Putin-did-it nonsense. Now they have found something new along the lines Trump-did-it. Both those attempts to control the narrative are false and dishonest. ..."
"... I understand that Trump is now assigned to be as designated scapegoat for all blunders of three previous neoliberal administrations. ..."
Feb 12, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

im1dc : February 12, 2017 at 07:44 PM

The Tax stuff is maybe, this is happening now

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-12/america-s-biggest-creditors-dump-treasuries-in-warning-to-trump

"America's Biggest Creditors Dump Treasuries in Warning to Trump"

by Brian Chappatta...February 12, 2017...5:00 PM EST

> Japanese investors cull U.S. government debt by most since '13

> Currency-hedged returns were worst on record last quarter

"In the age of Trump, America's biggest foreign creditors are suddenly having second thoughts about financing the U.S. government.

In Japan, the largest holder of Treasuries, investors culled their stakes in December by the most in almost four years, the Ministry of Finance's most recent figures show. What's striking is the selling has persisted at a time when going abroad has rarely been so attractive. And it's not just the Japanese. Across the world, foreigners are pulling back from U.S. debt like never before.

From Tokyo to Beijing and London, the consensus is clear: few overseas investors want to step into the $13.9 trillion U.S. Treasury market right now. Whether it's the prospect of bigger deficits and more inflation under President Donald Trump or higher interest rates from the Federal Reserve, the world's safest debt market seems less of a sure thing -- particularly after the upswing in yields since November. And then there is Trump's penchant for saber rattling, which has made staying home that much easier.

"It may be more difficult than usual for Japanese to invest in Treasuries and the dollar this year because of political uncertainty," said Kenta Inoue, chief strategist for overseas bond investments at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities in Tokyo. "Treasury yields may rise rapidly again in the near future, which will continue to discourage them from buying aggressively."

Nobody is saying that foreigners will abandon Treasuries altogether. After all, they still hold $5.94 trillion, or roughly 43 percent of the U.S. government debt market. (Though that's down from 56 percent in 2008.) A significant drawdown can harm major holders like Japan and China as much as it does the U.S.

And, of course, homegrown demand has of late been able to absorb the pickup in overseas selling..."

libezkova -> im1dc...
im1dc,

Here is the link https://www.bloomberg.com/amp/news/articles/2017-02-12/america-s-biggest-creditors-dump-treasuries-in-warning-to-trump )

Bloomberg, like WaPo and NYT, is "a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Deep State"

Thank God they stopped their Putin-did-it nonsense. Now they have found something new along the lines Trump-did-it. Both those attempts to control the narrative are false and dishonest.

I understand that Trump is now assigned to be as designated scapegoat for all blunders of three previous neoliberal administrations.

But can you please ask yourself two very simple questions:

  1. Who and how accumulated that much debt?
  2. Who did run the wars of neoliberal empire expansion to the tune of five trillion dollars?

Was it Trump?

I would greatly appreciated if you can answer them in the reply to this post. Or, even better, make some pause in posting neoliberal propaganda.

[Feb 12, 2017] America Versus the Deep State - KUNSTLER

Notable quotes:
"... Support James Howard Kunstler blog by visiting Jim's Patreon Page ! ..."
"... The New York Times ..."
"... Putin Led a Complex Cyberattack Scheme to Aid Trump, Report Finds ..."
"... Did the Russians make Hillary Clinton look bad? Or did Hillary Clinton manage to do that herself? The NSA propaganda was designed as a smokescreen to conceal the veracity of the Wikileaks releases. Whoever actually rooted out the DNC and Podesta emails for Wikileaks ought to get the Pulitizer Prize for the outstanding public service of disclosing exactly how dishonest the Hillary operation was. ..."
"... The story may have climaxed with Trump's Friday NSA briefing, the heads of the various top intel agencies all assembled in one room to emphasize the solemn authority of the Deep State's power. ..."
"... This hulking security apparatus has become a menace to the Republic. ..."
"... Whether Trump himself is a menace to the Republic remains to be seen. Certainly he is the designated bag-holder for all the economic and financial depravity of several preceding administrations. When the markets blow, do you suppose the Russians will be blamed for that? Did Boris Yeltsin repeal the Glass-Steagall Act? Was Ben Bernanke a puppet of Putin? No, these actions and actors were homegrown American. For more than thirty years, we've been borrowing too much money so we can pretend to afford living in a blue-light-special demolition derby. And now we can't do that anymore. The physics of capital will finally assert itself. ..."
"... perhaps it's a good thing that the American people for the moment cannot tell exactly what the fuck is going on in this country, because from that dismal place there is nowhere to go but in the direction of clarity. ..."
Feb 12, 2017 | kunstler.com

Support James Howard Kunstler blog by visiting Jim's Patreon Page !

The bamboozlement of the public is nearly complete. The Deep State has persuaded 80 percent of Americans that all news is propaganda, especially the news emanating from the Deep State's own intel department. They're still shooting for 100 percent. The fakest of all "fake news" stories turns out to be "Russia Hacks Election." It was reported conclusively Saturday on the front page of The New York Times , a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Deep State:

Putin Led a Complex Cyberattack Scheme to Aid Trump, Report Finds

WASHINGTON - President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia directed a vast cyberattack aimed at denying Hillary Clinton the presidency and installing Donald J. Trump in the Oval Office, the nation's top intelligence agencies said in an extraordinary report they delivered on Friday to Mr. Trump.

You can be sure that this is now the "official" narrative aimed at the history books, sealing the illegitimacy of Trump's election. It was served up with no direct proof, only the repeated "assertions" that it was so. In fact, it's just this repetition of assertions-without-proof that defines propaganda. It can also be interpreted as a declaration of war against an incoming president. The second civil war now takes shape: It begins inside the groaning overgrown apparatus of the government itself. Perhaps after that it spreads to the WalMart parking lots that have become America's new town square. (WalMart sells pitchforks and patio torches.)

Did the Russians make Hillary Clinton look bad? Or did Hillary Clinton manage to do that herself? The NSA propaganda was designed as a smokescreen to conceal the veracity of the Wikileaks releases. Whoever actually rooted out the DNC and Podesta emails for Wikileaks ought to get the Pulitizer Prize for the outstanding public service of disclosing exactly how dishonest the Hillary operation was.

The story may have climaxed with Trump's Friday NSA briefing, the heads of the various top intel agencies all assembled in one room to emphasize the solemn authority of the Deep State's power. Trump worked a nice piece of ju-jitsu afterward, pretending to accept the finding as briefly and hollowly as possible and promising to "look into the matter" after January 20 th - when he can tear a new asshole in the NSA. I hope he does. This hulking security apparatus has become a menace to the Republic.

Whether Trump himself is a menace to the Republic remains to be seen. Certainly he is the designated bag-holder for all the economic and financial depravity of several preceding administrations. When the markets blow, do you suppose the Russians will be blamed for that? Did Boris Yeltsin repeal the Glass-Steagall Act? Was Ben Bernanke a puppet of Putin? No, these actions and actors were homegrown American. For more than thirty years, we've been borrowing too much money so we can pretend to afford living in a blue-light-special demolition derby. And now we can't do that anymore. The physics of capital will finally assert itself.

What we're actually seeing in the current ceremonial between the incoming Trump and the outgoing Obama is the smoldering wreckage of the Democratic Party (which I'm still unhappily enrolled in), and flames spreading into the Republican party - as idiots such as Lindsey Graham and John McCain beat their war drums against Russia. The suave Mr. Obama is exiting the scene on a low wave of hysteria and the oafish Trump rolls in on the cloudscape above, tweeting his tweets from on high, and perhaps it's a good thing that the American people for the moment cannot tell exactly what the fuck is going on in this country, because from that dismal place there is nowhere to go but in the direction of clarity.

... ... ...

[Feb 12, 2017] US Budgetary Costs of Wars through 2016 are close to five trillioins

Feb 12, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
ken melvin : , February 10, 2017 at 07:43 AM

The FBI overheard The over reaction to 9/11, greatly abetted by the media, marked the beginning of this slide into Stasi-land. The associated paranoia has led to the likes of Trump and this goofy arsed Congress. We now have governance based not on reality, but on paranoia; on evidence free facts, on convenient facts, on alternative facts, to each of us our own facts. I've seen no accounting of the economic and social costs of this paranoia, but am certain they exceed the damage of 9/11 by orders of many magnitude.

Are these symptoms of America's undeniable demise? How do we turn the ship of state around? This precedent set by the election of Trump, how does the nation remove the stain? Can we avoid the continuance into despotism, authoritarianism?

anne -> anne... , February 10, 2017 at 08:29 AM
http://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/files/cow/imce/papers/2016/Costs%20of%20War%20through%202016%20FINAL%20final%20v2.pdf

September, 2016

US Budgetary Costs of Wars through 2016: $4.79 Trillion and Counting
Summary of Costs of the US Wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan and Homeland Security
By Neta C. Crawford

Summary

Wars cost money before, during and after they occur - as governments prepare for, wage, and recover from them by replacing equipment, caring for the wounded and repairing the infrastructure destroyed in the fighting. Although it is rare to have a precise accounting of the costs of war - especially of long wars - one can get a sense of the rough scale of the costs by surveying the major categories of spending.

As of August 2016, the US has already appropriated, spent, or taken on obligations to spend more than $3.6 trillion in current dollars on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria and on Homeland Security (2001 through fiscal year 2016). To this total should be added the approximately $65 billion in dedicated war spending the Department of Defense and State Department have requested for the next fiscal year, 2017, along with an additional nearly $32 billion requested for the Department of Homeland Security in 2017, and estimated spending on veterans in future years. When those are included, the total US budgetary cost of the wars reaches $4.79 trillion....

ilsm -> anne... , February 10, 2017 at 04:52 PM
The pentagon and congress are spending the US to disarmament.

While congress spent $4.8T directly on the wars they spent at least $9T more on the usual stuff for the military industry complex troughers.

pk's observation about a shoot out with a small PLA Navy unit made me laugh.

In one of those China would be in complete control!

anne -> anne... , February 10, 2017 at 08:39 AM
America has been continually at war since 2001, at war under 2 presidents, at war in a range of countries that were in no way connected to the attack on America and did not threaten America. Tensions were building even with Russia and China. We have now the possibility of ending our warring or working to mutual advantage with China and Russia, which will be to the advantage of many countries.

China and America have just moved to the forming of a new mutually beneficial partnership. I find reason to be hopeful.

[Feb 12, 2017] Instead of the endless perception management or strategic communication or psychological operations or whatever the new code words are, you could open up the files regarding key turning-point moments and share the facts with the citizens

Notable quotes:
"... This bizarre feature of Trump's executive order shows how deep Official Washington's dysfunction goes. Trump has picked a major constitutional battle over a travel ban that targets the wrong countries. ..."
"... But there's a reason for this dysfunction: No one in Official Washington can speak the truth about terrorism without suffering severe political damage or getting blacklisted by the mainstream media. Since the truth puts Israel and especially Saudi Arabia in an uncomfortable position, the truth cannot be spoken. ..."
"... There was some hope that President Trump – for all his irascibility and unpredictability – might break from the absurd "Iran is the principal source of terrorism" mantra. But so far he has not. Nor has Trump moved to throw open the files on the Syrian and Ukraine conflicts so Americans can assess how the Obama administration sought to manipulate them into supporting these "regime change" adventures. ..."
"... But Trump has resisted intense pressure to again entrust U.S. foreign policy to the neoconservatives, a number of whom lost their jobs when President Obama left office, perhaps most significantly Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who helped orchestrate the violent overthrow of Ukraine's elected president and is an architect of the New Cold War with Russia. ..."
"... Other neocons who angled for jobs in the new administration, including John Bolton and James Woolsey, have failed to land them. Currently, there is pressure to ensconce Elliott Abrams, a top neocon dating back to the Reagan administration, in the key post of Deputy Secretary of State but that idea, too, has met resistance. ..."
"... The neocon threat to Trump's stated intent of restoring some geopolitical realism to U.S. foreign policy is that the neocons operate almost as an ideological cabal linked often in a subterranean fashion – or as I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's neocon chief of staff, once wrote in a cryptic letter to neocon journalist Judith Miller that aspen trees "turn in clusters, because their roots connect them." ..."
"... What is less clear is whether Trump, Tillerson and his fledgling State Department team have the intellectual heft to understand why U.S. foreign policy has drifted into the chaos and conflicts that now surround it – and whether they have the skill to navigate a route toward a safe harbor. ..."
"... My first concern, however, is the USA predilection for 'regime change" wars - and for that I blame the neocons. ..."
Feb 12, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
RGC : February 10, 2017 at 06:44 AM

If you wanted to bring sanity to a U.S. foreign policy that has spun crazily out of control, there would be some immediate steps that you – or, say, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson – could take, starting with a renewed commitment to tell the truth to the American people.

Instead of the endless "perception management" or "strategic communication" or "psychological operations" or whatever the new code words are, you could open up the files regarding key turning-point moments and share the facts with the citizens – the "We the People" – who are supposed to be America's true sovereigns.

For instance, you could release what the U.S. government actually knows about the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin gas attack in Syria; what the files show about the origins of the Feb. 22, 2014 coup in Ukraine; what U.S. intelligence analysts have compiled about the July 17, 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine. And those are just three examples of cases where U.S. government propagandists have sold a dubious bill of goods to the American and world publics in the "information warfare" campaign against the Syrian and Russian governments.

If you wanted to base U.S. foreign policy on the firm foundation of reality, you also could let the American people in on who is actually the principal sponsor of the terrorism that they're concerned about: Al Qaeda, Islamic State, the Taliban – all Sunni-led outfits, none of which are backed by Shiite-ruled Iran. Yet, all we hear from Official Washington's political and media insiders is that Iran is the chief sponsor of terrorism.

Of course, that is what Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Israel want you to believe because it serves their regional and sectarian interests, but it isn't true. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are the ones arming and financing Al Qaeda and Islamic State with Israel occasionally bombing Al Qaeda's military enemies inside Syria and providing medical support for Al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate operating near the Golan Heights.

The reason for this unsavory network of alliances is that Israel, like Saudi Arabia and the Sunni-led Gulf states, sees Iran and the so-called "Shiite crescent" – from Tehran through Damascus to Beirut – as their principal problem. And because of the oil sheiks' financial wealth and Israel's political clout, they control how pretty much everyone in Official Washington's establishment views the Middle East.

But the interests of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are not in line with the interests of the American people – nor the average European – who are not concerned about militant Shiites as much as militant Sunnis. After all, the worst terror attacks on Europe and the U.S. have come from Sunni extremists belonging to or inspired by Al Qaeda and Islamic State.

This gap between the reality of Sunni-extremist terrorism and the fantasy of Official Washington's "group think" fingering Shiite-ruled Iran explains the cognitive dissonance over President Trump's travel ban on people from seven mostly Muslim countries. Beyond the offensive anti-Muslim prejudice, there is the fact that he ignored the countries that produced the terrorists who have attacked the U.S., including the 9/11 hijackers.

This bizarre feature of Trump's executive order shows how deep Official Washington's dysfunction goes. Trump has picked a major constitutional battle over a travel ban that targets the wrong countries.

But there's a reason for this dysfunction: No one in Official Washington can speak the truth about terrorism without suffering severe political damage or getting blacklisted by the mainstream media. Since the truth puts Israel and especially Saudi Arabia in an uncomfortable position, the truth cannot be spoken.

There was some hope that President Trump – for all his irascibility and unpredictability – might break from the absurd "Iran is the principal source of terrorism" mantra. But so far he has not. Nor has Trump moved to throw open the files on the Syrian and Ukraine conflicts so Americans can assess how the Obama administration sought to manipulate them into supporting these "regime change" adventures.

But Trump has resisted intense pressure to again entrust U.S. foreign policy to the neoconservatives, a number of whom lost their jobs when President Obama left office, perhaps most significantly Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who helped orchestrate the violent overthrow of Ukraine's elected president and is an architect of the New Cold War with Russia.

Other neocons who angled for jobs in the new administration, including John Bolton and James Woolsey, have failed to land them. Currently, there is pressure to ensconce Elliott Abrams, a top neocon dating back to the Reagan administration, in the key post of Deputy Secretary of State but that idea, too, has met resistance.

The neocon threat to Trump's stated intent of restoring some geopolitical realism to U.S. foreign policy is that the neocons operate almost as an ideological cabal linked often in a subterranean fashion – or as I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's neocon chief of staff, once wrote in a cryptic letter to neocon journalist Judith Miller that aspen trees "turn in clusters, because their roots connect them."

In other words, if one neocon is given a key job, other neocons can be expected to follow. Then, any Trump deviation from neocon orthodoxy would be undermined in the classic Washington tradition of strategic leaking to powerful media and congressional allies.

So far, the Trump inner circle has shown the administrative savvy to avoid bringing in ideologues who would dedicate their efforts to thwarting any significant change in U.S. geopolitical directions.

What is less clear is whether Trump, Tillerson and his fledgling State Department team have the intellectual heft to understand why U.S. foreign policy has drifted into the chaos and conflicts that now surround it – and whether they have the skill to navigate a route toward a safe harbor.

https://consortiumnews.com/2017/02/09/trumps-foreign-policy-at-a-crossroads/

Julio -> RGC... , February 10, 2017 at 09:04 AM
Very good analysis.
The first and obvious question about the ban is "why isn't Saudi Arabia included"? As the article shows, this question unravels this (Trump's) current version of dysfunctional foreign policy based on misleading the public.
RGC -> Julio ... , February 10, 2017 at 09:43 AM
Yes, Trump seems to want to act directly but he also seems to often be off-target.

My first concern, however, is the USA predilection for 'regime change" wars - and for that I blame the neocons.

sanjait said in reply to RGC... , February 10, 2017 at 10:56 AM
I am all for transparency but very strongly opposed to asinine conspiracy theories.
RGC -> sanjait... , February 10, 2017 at 11:29 AM
Why should anyone care? Maybe you should actually learn something about a topic before you comment on it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_for_the_New_American

[Feb 12, 2017] Russia Will Not Sell Snowden To Trump; Heres Why Zero Hedge

Feb 12, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

Submitted by Alexander Mercouris via TheDuran.com,

On Friday 10th February 2017 NBC circulated a report the Russian government in order to improve relations with the Trump administration was preparing to hand Edward Snowden over to the US.

The report obviously worried Snowden himself, who tweeted that the report proved that he was not and never had been a Russian agent . That suggests that he took the report seriously.

Snowden should not be worried, since the report is groundless and is clearly a provocation. To see why it is only necessary to look at the NBC report itself , which makes it clear who is behind it...

U.S. intelligence has collected information that Russia is considering turning over Edward Snowden as a "gift" to President Donald Trump - who has called the NSA leaker a "spy" and a "traitor" who deserves to be executed.

That's according to a senior U.S. official who has analyzed a series of highly sensitive intelligence reports detailing Russian deliberations and who says a Snowden handover is one of various ploys to "curry favor" with Trump. A second source in the intelligence community confirms the intelligence about the Russian conversations and notes it has been gathered since the inauguration.

(bold italics added)

It turns out that the story does not originate in Russia. It originates with our old friends the 'anonymous officials' of the US intelligence community.

One of these officials claims that the story is based on "intelligence" of "Russian conversations" that the US intelligence community has 'gathered since the inauguration". We have no way of knowing at what level these "conversations" took place, assuming they took place at all, but it is inconceivable that the US intelligence community is genuinely informed of discussions within the top level of the Russian leadership – where such a question would be discussed – or if it is that it would publicise the fact by blurting the fact out to NBC.

The reality is that there is no possibility of the Russians handing Snowden over to the US in order to please Donald Trump . Not only would doing so almost certainly breach Russian law – as Snowden's lawyer, who has denied the whole story , has pointed out – but it contradicts what I personally heard Russian President Putin say at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in 2014 when the subject of Snowden was brought up, which is that Russia never hands over people like Snowden once they have gained asylum in Russia. That is indeed Russian practice extending far back into the Soviet period, and I can think of no exceptions to it.

As it happens Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova has denied the story in a Facebook post which links it to the ongoing struggle between the Trump administration and the US intelligence community (about which see more below). Here is how RT translates her post

Today, US intelligence agencies have stepped up their work, updating two stale stories, 'Russia can gift Snowden to Trump' and 'confirmation found on the details of the scandalous dossier on Trump allegedly collected by an ex-employee of British intelligence.' But it may seem so only to those who do not understand the essence of the game. None of these statements have been made by representatives of the special services, but is information coming from NBC and CNN, citing unnamed sources. The difference is obvious, but only to experts. Yet it is useful for scandalizing the public and maintaining a degree of [public outrage] .

It is evident that the pressure on the new administration on the part of political opponents within the United States continues, bargaining is going on. And that's why the US foreign policy doctrine has not yet been formed

It is just possible that US intelligence overheard some gossip in Moscow about the Kremlin handing Snowden over to Donald Trump in order to curry favour with him. The various reports the US intelligence community released during the Clinton leaks hacking scandal show that the US intelligence community is not actually very well informed about what goes on in Moscow or how the Russian government works. In light of that it would not be entirely surprising if someone overheard some gossip about Snowden in Moscow which the US intelligence community is over-interpreting.

Far more likely however is that – as Maria Zakharova says – this is a deliberate provocation, spread by someone within the US intelligence community who either wants to signal to Moscow what Moscow 'needs to do' if it wants better relations with the US, or (more probably) as a signal to Donald Trump of the minimum the US intelligence community expects of him if he wants the US intelligence community's support in seeking better relations with Russia.

This story is interesting not because of what it says about what the Russians are going to do to Snowden – which in reality is nothing. Rather it is interesting because it shows the degree to which Snowden continues to be an object of obsession for the US intelligence community.

The reason for that is that the US intelligence community knows that Snowden is not a Russian spy.

As Snowden has pointed out, if he really were a Russian spy no-one in Washington would be talking about the Russians handing him over. The Russians do not hand their spies over any more than the US does, and if Snowden really were a Russian spy no-one in Washington would talking about the Russians handing him over.

However if Snowden had been a Russian spy his actions would in that case have been simply a Russian intelligence operation of which the US intelligence community was the victim, of which there have been many since the Second World War. Espionage is what the US and Russia routinely do to each other, and there would be nothing remarkable about Snowden in that case.

It is the fact that Snowden is on the contrary a deeply patriotic American who acted from patriotic motives that has the US intelligence community enraged and alarmed. From their point of view having a patriotic American publicly expose their practices Jason Bourne style is a far greater threat than have a Russian spy penetrate their systems, since because of the far greater publicity it is far more likely to damage them politically.

This explains the extraordinary feud the US intelligence community has waged against Snowden, which in part explains why it has become so hostile to Russia, the country which has become his protector.

Mr.Sono -> knukles •Feb 12, 2017 5:41 PM
Putin is a man of his words and not a little bitch like Obama. I was suprised that fake news was all over zerohedge regarding this topic, but at the end zerohedge confirmed the fake news.
Giant Meteor -> FreeShitter •Feb 12, 2017 5:35 PM
One of the smartest plays the deep state could make is allowing him back, make small fuss, and issue a pardon. It would go far in deflating, diffusing the situation, de minimis so to speak. But, I suppose it is more about absolute control, control of the narrative, full spectrum dominance, cautionary tales etc. Pride goeth before the fall (destruction) I believe. Eventually this laundry is going to get sorted and cleaned, one way or the other.
boattrash •Feb 12, 2017 5:13 PM
" as Maria Zakharova says – this is a deliberate provocation, spread by someone within the US intelligence community who either wants to signal to Moscow what Moscow 'needs to do' if it wants better relations with the US, or (more probably) as a signal to Donald Trump of the minimum the US intelligence community expects of him if he wants the US intelligence community's support in seeking better relations with Russia."

A full pardon from Trump would improve his standing with the American people, IMHO, on both the left and the right.

HumanMan -> boattrash •Feb 12, 2017 5:29 PM
This was my thought when the story broke. Putin can no longer claim to be a protector of human rights if he hands over Snowden...Unless Trump is going to pardon him. As you pointed you, that would be great (politically) for Trump too. Done this way would be a win win for the two and another win for We The People. On top of that, Putin doesn't want to babysit Snowden. I'm sure the Russians would be happy to have a politically expediant way to get the American spy out of their country.
HRClinton •Feb 12, 2017 5:16 PM
The Deep State rules, no matter what DJT thinks.

The roots go deep in my fomer DOS and in the CIA. Even in the DOD and Senate. Bill and I know this better than anyone.

FAKE NEWS:

On Friday 10th February 2017 NBC circulated a report the Russian government in order to improve relations with the Trump administration was preparing to hand Edward Snowden over to the US.

How many gringos were fooled???--- not many

shovelhead •Feb 12, 2017 5:37 PM
Pissgate II...

Brought to you from your friends at the CIA.

Mr. Crisp •Feb 12, 2017 5:50 PM
Snowden showed the world that the NSA wasn't just tracking terrorists, they were tracking pretty much everyone, everywhere. He deserves a full pardon.

[Feb 12, 2017] Washington Post Caught Spreading More Fake News About Russian Hackers Zero Hedge

Notable quotes:
"... Use a linux system Kirk, no need for firewalls, Firefox with duckduckgo search, set options to clear after every session, Adblocker, it's not Tor, but the best open option. ..."
"... I am using DuckDuckGo.Com for search (and looking at YaCy) ..."
"... I also use Firefox for my browser, with AdBlockplus, Flasblock, EFF's Privacy Badger, and a password management app called LastPass (which gives me unique, 16-character, random passwords for each of my sites). ..."
"... Another thing to suggest is to use a private e-mail. ..."
"... I long ago gave up yahoo and g-mail(never had one) ..."
Dec 31, 2016 | www.zerohedge.com

Readers of the Washington Post received some alarming news yesterday when the paper published a story alleging that those pesky "Russian hackers" were up to their no good tricks again and had managed to "penetrate the U.S. electricity grid through a utility in Vermont."

Kirk2NCC1701, Dec 31, 2016 9:17 PM
Not surprised. I wonder if ZH users are also under cyber attack. Today I noticed that my desktop browser (Firefox and Chrome) deny me access to any ZH link or pages. I get the "URL does not exist". Have to use Tor browser to get to ZH.

Anyone know what's going on, and what the RX is? Thanks.

refill6times Kirk2NCC1701 , Dec 31, 2016 9:31 PM
Use a linux system Kirk, no need for firewalls, Firefox with duckduckgo search, set options to clear after every session, Adblocker, it's not Tor, but the best open option.

I use cinnimon 17.3, but your flavor may vary.

Zarbo refill6times , Dec 31, 2016 9:47 PM
Good R x , however I would use the firewall -- best to not tempt fate. There are rootkits for Linux.

That said, it is stable and quite usable.

I am using DuckDuckGo.Com for search (and looking at YaCy), also using TutaNova.Com encrypted email, looking at Frendica to replace Facebook, using http://Gab.ai as a Twitter replacement, Thunderbird (replace Outlook) with Enigmail for encryption and email signing.

I also use Firefox for my browser, with AdBlockplus, Flasblock, EFF's Privacy Badger, and a password management app called LastPass (which gives me unique, 16-character, random passwords for each of my sites).

The open, free, reliable solutions are out there.

Side note: Enable two-factor login for all your accounts, you won't regret it.

peddling-fiction Zarbo , Dec 31, 2016 10:29 PM
You always need to enable the Ubuntu uncomplicated firewall, or else. All that is needed is to type the following command:

> sudo ufw enable

refill6times Zarbo , Dec 31, 2016 11:36 PM
Thank you Zarbo, any help and sugestions that don't come from Microsoft are best.

I saw on another thread a poster who asked how to stop the annoying ads, someone replied to get firefox, and he replied " how do I get that ?"

I feel bad as I replied to use duckduckgo, I suppose it was sarcasm.

Another thing to suggest is to use a private e-mail.

I long ago gave up yahoo and g-mail(never had one)

Akzed Kirk2NCC1701 , Dec 31, 2016 9:35 PM
No problems detected here. Over.
rejected Kirk2NCC1701 , Dec 31, 2016 10:06 PM
Use their IP Addr if you suspect meddling. ZH has 2:

34.192.18.153
52.6.109.9

A nice site to find IP of a Host Name is: http://www.hcidata.info/host2ip.htm

Be sure to clear history and do that twice. Clear History.... Shut down FF,,, Start FF,,, Clear History.

Linux is a good system if your not married to MS Windows for some reason.

Happy New Year to Everyone....

[Feb 10, 2017] Our neoliberal media and commenters would serve themselves and their Oligarch owners better, if they ignored Trumps tweets, or Ivanka fashion business and focus on what he and his Administration are doing and what consequences that would entail

Notable quotes:
"... We also learn from those presstitutes that O'Bomber who killed God know how many innocent brown people at God knows how many weddings, wouldn't have gone through with the raid because too risky! So Saint Obama for Times presstitutes is the good experienced killer, while Trump is the bad, inexperienced killer. The irony of their twisted logic escapes them. ..."
Feb 10, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
libezkova -> Tom aka Rusty... Thursday, February 09, 2017 at 07:50 PM
Our neoliberal media and commenters would serve themselves and their Oligarch owners better, if they ignored Trump's tweets, or Ivanka fashion business and focus on what he and his Admin are doing and what consequences that would entail.

Take Times article about the special ops raid in Yemen. The obama team planned it, but it was Trump (or somebody from hs administration below him) who pulled the trigger.

Now those suckers claim that Yemen government is against special ops raid. (Yemen has a government? Really ? )

We also learn from those presstitutes that O'Bomber who killed God know how many innocent brown people at God knows how many weddings, wouldn't have gone through with the raid because too risky! So Saint Obama for Times presstitutes is the good experienced killer, while Trump is the bad, inexperienced killer. The irony of their twisted logic escapes them.

[Feb 10, 2017] General Nicholson the commander of the American-led international military force in Afghanistan wants a few thousand more troops

Notable quotes:
"... Wars cost money before, during and after they occur - as governments prepare for, wage, and recover from them by replacing equipment, caring for the wounded and repairing the infrastructure destroyed in the fighting. Although it is rare to have a precise accounting of the costs of war - especially of long wars - one can get a sense of the rough scale of the costs by surveying the major categories of spending. ..."
"... As of August 2016, the US has already appropriated, spent, or taken on obligations to spend more than $3.6 trillion in current dollars on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria and on Homeland Security (2001 through fiscal year 2016). To this total should be added the approximately $65 billion in dedicated war spending the Department of Defense and State Department have requested for the next fiscal year, 2017, along with an additional nearly $32 billion requested for the Department of Homeland Security in 2017, and estimated spending on veterans in future years. When those are included, the total US budgetary cost of the wars reaches $4.79 trillion.... ..."
Feb 10, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne : , February 09, 2017 at 10:52 AM
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/09/us/politics/us-afghanistan-troops.html

February 9, 2017

U.S. General Seeks More Troops in Afghanistan
By MICHAEL R. GORDON

Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., the commander of the American-led international military force in Afghanistan, said "a few thousand" more troops were needed.

anne -> anne... , February 09, 2017 at 11:00 AM
http://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/files/cow/imce/papers/2016/Costs%20of%20War%20through%202016%20FINAL%20final%20v2.pdf

September, 2016

US Budgetary Costs of Wars through 2016: $4.79 Trillion and Counting
Summary of Costs of the US Wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan and Homeland Security
By Neta C. Crawford

Summary

Wars cost money before, during and after they occur - as governments prepare for, wage, and recover from them by replacing equipment, caring for the wounded and repairing the infrastructure destroyed in the fighting. Although it is rare to have a precise accounting of the costs of war - especially of long wars - one can get a sense of the rough scale of the costs by surveying the major categories of spending.

As of August 2016, the US has already appropriated, spent, or taken on obligations to spend more than $3.6 trillion in current dollars on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria and on Homeland Security (2001 through fiscal year 2016). To this total should be added the approximately $65 billion in dedicated war spending the Department of Defense and State Department have requested for the next fiscal year, 2017, along with an additional nearly $32 billion requested for the Department of Homeland Security in 2017, and estimated spending on veterans in future years. When those are included, the total US budgetary cost of the wars reaches $4.79 trillion....

[Feb 08, 2017] The stunning collapse of the Soviet empire in 1989-91 has often been heralded in the West as a triumph of capitalism and democracy, as though this eventwere obviously a direct result of the policies of the Reagan and Thatcher governments. This self-congratulatory analysis has little relation to measurable facts, circumstances, and internal political dynamics that were the real historical causes of the deterioration of the Soviet empire and ultimately the Soviet state itself

Notable quotes:
"... Around 1975, the Soviet Union entered a period of economic stagnation from which it would never emerge. Increasingly, the USSR looked to Europe, primarily West Germany, to provide hard currency financing through massive loans, while the U.S. became a major supplier of grain.[1] Despite moments of anti-Communist grandstanding, the Americans and Western Europeans maintained trade relations with the cash-strapped Soviet Union, which dipped into its Stalin-era gold reserves to increase availability of consumer goods . ..."
"... Soviet living standards remained poor by Western standards. By 1980, only 9 percent of Soviets had automobiles, which was actually a vast improvement under Brezhnev. Very little was computerized, due to state paranoia about the use of telecommunications for counterrevolutionary purposes. The USSR was able to endure this technological lag because its closed economy protected it from competition, but its ability to maintain military superiority increasingly depended on the ability to keep pace with Western modernization. ..."
"... It did not need a foreign enemy to "defeat" it, for it was deteriorating from within. ..."
"... In the Great Game of "chicken," in which we all are mostly passengers in the speeding cars with loony drivers ya-hooing out the windows, I recall the Soviets were the ones to veer off from that head-on collision that might have ended it all earlier than it seems increasingly likely to end anyway. And Russian leadership seems more concerned about the survival of the nation than our own clown-car leadership. ..."
"... And patently the military-security monkey that's riding our backs is doing a p!ss-poor job of "defending us" in any ordinary sense of the term, and not even a vary good job of playing Imperial Forces. Though of course the net effects of military and political chaos-building and destabilization do blast out a nice open-pit mine for corporate looters to get at the extractables.. ..."
Feb 08, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

February 7, 2017 at 12:22 pm

An over extended Soviet Empire collapsed in no small part due to its obsession with winning a war, albeit one that thankfully remained 'cold', that it never could.

A corrupt, nepotistic distant, paranoid elite that instead of dividing its efforts into looking after its own society's well-being, as well a apparently just defending it, opted for near as dammed bankrupting itself attempting to feed an insatiable military machine it could ill afford (and would mostly never use) at its increasingly disaffected, divided, restive people's expense.

Mind you, they were just dumb Commies.

JTMcPhee, February 7, 2017 at 3:25 pm

First, did the Soviet state "bankrupt itself damm near" mostly by trying to feed an "insatiable military machine," or did the wealth of the Soviets get dissipated into other ratholes as well, alongside various external pressures and effects? And what scale applied to each political-decision "allocation"? One view, among a flood of intersecting and competing interpretations, of course:

The stunning collapse of the Soviet empire in 1989-91 has often been heralded in the West as a triumph of capitalism and democracy, as though this event were obviously a direct result of the policies of the Reagan and Thatcher governments. This self-congratulatory analysis has little relation to measurable facts, circumstances, and internal political dynamics that were the real historical causes of the deterioration of the Soviet empire and ultimately the Soviet state itself. Fiery political speeches and tough diplomatic postures make good theater, but they are ineffective at forcing political transformation in totalitarian nations, as is proven by the persistence of far less powerful Communist regimes in Cuba and east Asia in the face of punishing trade embargos. The key to understanding the reasons for the demise of the Soviet Union is to be found not in the speeches or policies of Western politicians, but in internal Soviet history.

1. Stagnation in the 1970s

The Soviet Union was already in decline as a world power well before 1980. Any illusions of global Communist hegemony had evaporated with the collapse of Sino-Soviet relations in the 1960s. As the Nixon administration improved American relations with an increasingly independent China, the Soviets saw a strategic need to scale down the nuclear arms race, which placed enormous strains on its faltering economy. The threat of a nuclear confrontation was reduced considerably by the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) and strategic arms limitation treaties (SALT) contracted with the Nixon administration in 1972. This détente, or easing of tensions, allowed Leonid Brezhnev to focus on domestic economic and social development, while boosting his political popularity.

Around 1975, the Soviet Union entered a period of economic stagnation from which it would never emerge. Increasingly, the USSR looked to Europe, primarily West Germany, to provide hard currency financing through massive loans, while the U.S. became a major supplier of grain.[1] Despite moments of anti-Communist grandstanding, the Americans and Western Europeans maintained trade relations with the cash-strapped Soviet Union, which dipped into its Stalin-era gold reserves to increase availability of consumer goods .

Foreign trade and mild economic reforms were not enough to overcome the inefficiencies of the Soviet command economy, which remained technologically backward and full of corruption. Economic planners were frequently unable to diagnose and remedy problems, since they were given false reports by officials who only pretended to be productive.

Soviet living standards remained poor by Western standards. By 1980, only 9 percent of Soviets had automobiles, which was actually a vast improvement under Brezhnev. Very little was computerized, due to state paranoia about the use of telecommunications for counterrevolutionary purposes. The USSR was able to endure this technological lag because its closed economy protected it from competition, but its ability to maintain military superiority increasingly depended on the ability to keep pace with Western modernization.

In his radio broadcasts during the late 1970s, Ronald Reagan complained that the capitalist nations propped up the intrinsically flawed Soviet regime, instead of allowing it to naturally collapse from its own inefficiency and inhumanity.[2] In contrast to his later hagiographers, Reagan did not envision defeating the Soviet Union by forceful action, but instead he perceived that the regime would collapse from its own failings once the West removed its financial life support system. It is this early Reagan, far more thoughtful than he is generally credited, who proved to be most astute in diagnosing the state of the USSR. It did not need a foreign enemy to "defeat" it, for it was deteriorating from within.
http://www.arcaneknowledge.org/histpoli/soviet.htm

And I recall the Soviet military leadership was largely (no, not exclusively of course, humans being what they are) reacting to the clear and present danger that "the West" presented. Among many other considerations, of course. In the Great Game of "chicken," in which we all are mostly passengers in the speeding cars with loony drivers ya-hooing out the windows, I recall the Soviets were the ones to veer off from that head-on collision that might have ended it all earlier than it seems increasingly likely to end anyway. And Russian leadership seems more concerned about the survival of the nation than our own clown-car leadership.

Seems to me that all of us ordinary people, many of whom would gladly take advantage of opportunities to do some looting themselves, to "get ahead" in the "rat race," if only those opportunities were presented, have insufficient collective concern about the many systems, living and political-economy, that apparently are collapsing or running out of control. And patently the military-security monkey that's riding our backs is doing a p!ss-poor job of "defending us" in any ordinary sense of the term, and not even a vary good job of playing Imperial Forces. Though of course the net effects of military and political chaos-building and destabilization do blast out a nice open-pit mine for corporate looters to get at the extractables..

But yeah, the halls of history are full of echoes and shadows and reflections in a glass darkly And I wonder if London bookies are running a line on when history, as recorded and debated and acted out by humans, will REALLY end, thanks to our wonderful unbridled inventiveness and lack of that genetic predisposition to survive as a species that ants and termites and rats and cats and other "lesser creatures" seem to have

Anon , February 7, 2017 at 12:50 pm

Commies? That last paragraph sounds like post-WWII history in the US.

Gman , February 7, 2017 at 2:13 pm

;-)

[Feb 07, 2017] How the CIA made Google

Feb 07, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

Pinto Currency -> J S Bach , Feb 6, 2017 10:47 PM

How the CIA made Google

https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/how-the-cia-made-google-e836451a...

918pigpen -> buckstopshere , Feb 6, 2017 10:42 PM

People ask me why I refused to use google many years ago.

THIS!!!

Yars Revenge , Feb 6, 2017 10:39 PM

(((GOOGLE)))

rlouis , Feb 6, 2017 10:45 PM

So, the alphabet company, aka CIA is funding this?

wisefool , Feb 6, 2017 10:45 PM

Who would have think some kids working on bublesort 2.0 (1980s era search engine tech) could have bootstrapped themselves to the biggest brand in the world. Until facebook came along.

They did not get a 1 million dollar loan from their dad like donald trump did. They might have got some money from big brother. But we don't talk about that in polite company.

Neochrome , Feb 6, 2017 10:48 PM

If you're a thief, it's your "duty" to break the law.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/13/google-tax-dodge_n_2292077.html

Google's chairman says he is "proud" of the way his company avoids paying taxes.

"It's called capitalism," Eric Schmidt told Bloomberg in a Wednesday article. "We are proudly capitalistic. I'm not confused about this."

Google's effective U.S. tax rate is unclear. Citizens for Tax Justice did not analyze Google in a 2011 study because Google reports most of its profits as foreign, even though that may not be true.

[Feb 04, 2017] The Washington Post Has Declared War On Peacemakers; Dennis Kucinich Rages Against The Military-Industrial-Complex

Feb 04, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

Feb 4, 2017 11:53 AM Via Dennis Kucinich's Facebook page... I have dedicated my life to peace. As a member of Congress I led efforts to avert conflict and end wars in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Syria and Iran. And yet those of us who work for peace are put under false scrutiny to protect Washington's war machine. Those who undermine our national security by promoting military attacks and destroying other nations are held up as national leaders to admire. Recently Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and I took a Congressional Ethics-approved fact finding trip to Lebanon and Syria, where we visited Aleppo and refugee camps, and met with religious leaders, governmental leaders and people from all sides of the conflict, including political opposition to the Syrian government. Since that time we have been under constant attack on false grounds. The media and the war establishment are desperate to keep hold of their false narrative for world-wide war, interventionism and regime change, which is a profitable business for Washington insiders and which impoverishes our own country. Today, Rep. Gabbard came under attack yet again by the Washington Post's Josh Rogin who has been on a tear trying to ruin the reputations of the people and the organization who sponsored our humanitarian, fact-finding mission of peace to the Middle East. Rogin just claimed in a tweet that as community organization I have been associated with for twenty years does not exist. The organization is in my neighborhood. Here's photos I took yesterday of AACCESS-Ohio's marquee. It clearly exists, despite the base, condescending assertions of Mr. Rogin. Enough of this dangerous pettiness. Let's dig in to what is really going on, inside Syria, in the State Department, the CIA and the Pentagon. These leaders of the Christian faith in Aleppo begged for the US to stop funding terrorists in #Syria. They expressed that before international interventions (covert and overt) Syrians lived in peace without concern as to whether they were Christian, Muslim or Jew. In the words of President Eisenhower, let's beware (and scrutinize) the military-industrial-complex. It is time to be vigilant for our democracy.

Uzda Farce -> Liberal , Feb 4, 2017 4:16 PM

Janet Yellen, like every other Fed chairman since WW2, is a member of the Rockefeller/CFR. See member lists at cfr dot org.

John McCain, David Petraeus, Joe Lieberman and Lynn Forester de Rothschild are also CFR members. All of them are trustees at the McCain Institute at U. of Arizona. Does that help?

https://www.mccaininstitute.org/staff/?filter=board-of-trustees

Wulfkind -> Looney , Feb 4, 2017 12:12 PM

Rage all you want peaceniks.

War is a money making machine. And what makes money....has to abide no matter what.

So says the banksters.

And no one is going to corral the banksters because this high tech, utopian just in time Amazon, robot A.I assisted casheless society all comes crumbling down.

So.....bones will be crushed, blood will be shed because somewhere someone has some natural resource the Elties need to feed the machinery of modern life.

And the Spice Must Flow at all costs. Including human lives if need be.

Paul Kersey -> Paul Kersey , Feb 4, 2017 12:43 PM

The Washington Post is a propaganda machine for the Deep State establishment.

Uzda Farce -> Paul Kersey , Feb 4, 2017 4:29 PM

"Operation Mockingbird was established by Frank Wisner, director of the Office of Policy Coordination... Wisner recruited Philip Graham from the Washington Post to run the project within the industry... After 1953, the media network was overseen by CIA Director Allen Dulles, by which time Operation Mockingbird had major influence over 25 newspapers and wire agencies." -- Wikipedia

Wisner, Graham and Dulles were also members of the Rockefeller/CFR.

YHC-FTSE -> Wulfkind , Feb 4, 2017 1:10 PM

I follow Dennis Kucinich, Tulsi Gabbard and Ron Paul in my newsfeed to remind myself that there are sane people who dedicate themselves to fight against the MIC and the Fed.

Unreported here, but this week, Tulsi Gabard made a two-pronged attack on the establishment to curb funding to the terrorists in Syria/Iraq with the self-explanatory bill entitled, "Stop Arming Terrorists Bill" . And at the same time, flanking the banksters to reinstate the Glass Steagall Act . I have never been so impressed by a politician's tactical awareness and passion to fight against the criminals in power.

She had the foresight and courage to visit Syria to see for herself what is happening on the ground and I reckon she deserves all the help I can muster. I cannot praise her enough and having satisfied myself that the lady is genuine, I think she will be the next primary target of a smear campaign against her. If Trump is at all serious about draining the swamp, he should be giving the Congresswoman a major role in his cabinet.

We've just handed what Snowden described as a system that was built to be, "turn-key tyrrany", to a political outsider hoping he can take on the establishment. Yet he has surrounded himself with the worst of the establishment bunch, the Israel-first zionists, connected to Wall St., Wahabist nutjobs, the Federal Reserve's zionist owners. What will transpire in the coming months, complicated by yet another set of zionists in the media and civil services who are invested in Hitlery, is the question. War and chaos are what the establishment thrives on - if not with Russia, then Iran or China. A huge drive is going on to slip in a wedge - to divide and conquer - these countries but equally within the USA, wedges are being driven in between people to paint Trump as an incompetent monster. It is the oldest tactic in the book, often practiced by the zionists at home to keep the fear and loathing, stealing and murdering going for decades.

Quite frankly, I'm fucking sick of those who drive the narrative on both sides of the political spectrum - one side calling the other, "Racists and Nazis" while the other calls them "Pussies and Libtards". It's tiresome and infantile that distracts people from the real problems of the MIC, Banking and media cartels hidden in plain sight, pulling the strings to enrich and protect their homeland: Israel. Look, I don't want to sound like a broken record and god knows I don't ever want to hate people, but whenever I look at every major crime against humanity from 9/11, to Ukraine and Syria, zionists keep popping up at the epicentre and we are led once again to destroy Israel's enemies causing untold misery to innocent people.

Ms No , Feb 4, 2017 11:57 AM

Dennis Kucinich was always the real deal. I do not agree with his economics but he was the real version of what Bernie Sanders pretended to be. He voted with Ron Paul all the time.

BabaLooey -> Ms No , Feb 4, 2017 12:15 PM

You should have seen what Kucinch did in Cleveland Ms. No....

I lived there during his tenure as mayor. 1977 to 1979. Jesus did he give the establishment the stink finger.

The Plain Squealer reported on him like they do Trump today. EVERY day was "Dennis this and Dennis that". His wife at the time, Sandy, was a lunatic, which did not help him. His handling of Muni Light was decades before the time when politicians called out the debt-game. He damn near got whacked for it, and the "boy-mayor" got defeated by Voinovich - seen then as "an adult".

Dennis is most times whack-o with his fiscal policies, but holy SHIT the entire U.S. Government is also!

If Tulsi Gabbard likes him, then it shows Dennis is not far off base.

Kucinch is a different politician - to say the least. He actually needs to get back IN Congress, IMO.

jonny quest -> BabaLooey , Feb 4, 2017 2:42 PM

Yeah, I was there too and before. Burn on big river, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtW8RkI3-c4 , Muny Light, etc. We were circling the drain back then. Not so much better now, but god damn, Trump, you gotta keep the EPA! You've got mountaintops blown apart in WV for coal, and eastern NC awash in pigshit. Chemical and radioactive waste aplenty across the rest. There's your infrastructure stimulus right there, Donny J.

BabaLooey -> jonny quest , Feb 4, 2017 3:23 PM

Former Brunswick, Middleburg Heights, Parma, Willowick, North Olmstead, Richmond Heights - and then Copley denizen here.

The Land of the Cleves was a sorry state in the 70's. That black bastard Stokes. Guvnuh Jimmy Rhodes.

I survived the Blizzard of '77 living at the Islander Apartments.

Kucinich didn't have a chance. He was surrounded by fat-cat politicians, and I can still remember John Hambrick's arching eyebrow, and Dorothy Fuldheim slaying Dennis at every turn.

Fuck, even Gib Shanley weighed in on him. Big Chuck & Hoolihan didn't help much either. I fondly remember loitering around with Kid Leo at a Peaches opening the summer of '78, when he said; "Kucinich doesn't stand a chance; the buzzard's are circling - no pun intended".

jonny quest -> BabaLooey , Feb 4, 2017 3:55 PM

Gawd, Gib Shanley, John Hambrick, Big Chuck & Hoolihan, and Dorothy Fuldheim. Haven't heard those names mentioned in years. Remember Paige Palmer? My mom's TV workout coach. Dick Goddard finally retired. The Boss was a friend of Kid Leo's. Oh those concerts @ the Agora that segued to Richfield...

IntTheLight -> Ms No , Feb 4, 2017 1:38 PM

Bernie is loyal to his tribe. He was the pied piper leading earnest, well meaning people off a cliff. His supporters represented the last gasp of white people in that party. If you recall, Hillarys people repeatedly mocked the berniebots as too white.

DetectiveStern , Feb 4, 2017 11:58 AM

Snowflakes are out in Manchester protesting Trump again over refugees, still non of them protesting the actual wars.

Sad fucks.

Mustafa Kemal -> DetectiveStern , Feb 4, 2017 12:17 PM

"protesting Trump again over refugees, still non of them protesting the actual wars."

In a conversation with a muslim friend of mine the other day, he told me

1) "I dont give a fuck( he rarely cusses) if they make me leave the US, I want them instead to stop desroying Syrian, Libya, ....."

2) "dont talk to me about killing babies in Syria. Instead stop destroying Syria"

It seems we have a meeting of the minds

Bay of Pigs , Feb 4, 2017 11:58 AM

The local rag here in Maui was criticizing Gabbard for meeting with Assad.

This state is full of brainwashed libtards.

Ignatius -> Bay of Pigs , Feb 4, 2017 12:04 PM

When it comes to American delusions about the nature and purpose of the national security state, the brainwashing is across the board, left to right. We could wish that it's just liberal idiots.

BarkingCat , Feb 4, 2017 12:00 PM

Dennis Kucinich is probably the only truly honest democrat. While I have always disagreed with much of his point of view, I have never doubted his honesty and sincerity.

HowdyDoody -> BarkingCat , Feb 4, 2017 12:32 PM

Gabbard is a Democrat too.

[Feb 01, 2017] Why are we even talking about something so absurdly rare as death by jihadists when over the past decade 5 times more people die from lightning strikes

Notable quotes:
"... "...Are we plain and simply insane?" [I am not sure that it is either that plain or simple. Otherwise there might be some hope for a cure.] ..."
Feb 01, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
DeDude : February 01, 2017 at 07:16 AM , 2017 at 07:16 AM
Why are we even talking about something so absurdly rare as death by jihadists when over the past decade 5 times more people die from lightning strikes. More people die due to guns in two days than have died from jihadism in a decade. Are we plain and simply insane?

https://qz.com/898207/the-psychology-of-why-americans-are-more-scared-of-terrorism-than-guns-though-guns-are-3210-times-likelier-to-kill-them/

DrDick -> DeDude... , February 01, 2017 at 07:33 AM
Some of us, the NRA and Republicans, clearly are. Wholesale misinformation and "bothsiderism" in the press also play an important role.
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> DeDude... , February 01, 2017 at 07:38 AM
"...Are we plain and simply insane?" [I am not sure that it is either that plain or simple. Otherwise there might be some hope for a cure.]

[Jan 28, 2017] Putin said for over two centuries Russia has supported the United States, was its ally during the two world wars, and now sees the United States as a major partner in fighting international terrorism.

Notable quotes:
"... "Both sides demonstrated a mood for active, joint work on stabilizing and developing Russian-American cooperation," the Kremlin said in a statement, saying Putin and Trump had agreed to work on finding a possible time and place for a meeting. ..."
"... The Kremlin said the US President asked his Russian counterpart "to wish the Russian people happiness and prosperity" on his behalf, adding Americans "have warm feelings towards Russia and its citizens." Putin said the feeling was "mutual," stressing that historically, the Russians and the Americans were close allies on more than one occasion. ..."
"... Putin said "for over two centuries Russia has supported the United States, was its ally during the two world wars, and now sees the United States as a major partner in fighting international terrorism." ..."
"... Moscow, for its part, has repeatedly suggested fostering closer cooperation between the Russian and US Air Forces in Syria, but blamed the previous Obama administration for failing to adequately respond to its entreaties. Relations between the two countries have been marred in recent years over various issues, including divisions on the Syrian crisis and allegations of Russian meddling into the US elections in November of 2016. US sanctions against Russia - imposed over the crisis in Ukraine - was one of the issues expected to be on the agenda of the Trump-Putin exchange. However, the issue was not mentioned in the Kremlin's statement summarizing the conversation. ..."
"... Russia has been cautious about the prospects for a potential "reset" with the US under the new administration. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said the country has no "naive expectations" and is under no "illusions." ..."
Jan 28, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Fred C. Dobbs January 28, 2017 at 01:06 PM

Putin, Trump, in 'Positive' Call, Say Want to Cooperate in Syria: Kremlin https://nyti.ms/2jIzuKa
NYT - REUTERS - January 28, 2017

MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump said in a "positive" phone call on Saturday they favored their two countries cooperating in Syria to defeat Islamic State, the Kremlin said in a statement.

In an eagerly awaited phone call, the first since Trump's inauguration, the two men stressed the importance of restoring economic ties between the two countries and of stabilizing relations, the Kremlin said.

U.S.-Russia relations had hit a post-Cold War low under Barack Obama and Trump has made clear he wants a rapprochement with Moscow if he can get along with Putin.

"Both sides demonstrated a mood for active, joint work on stabilizing and developing Russian-American cooperation," the Kremlin said in a statement, saying Putin and Trump had agreed to work on finding a possible time and place for a meeting.

There was no mention in the statement that the possibility of Trump easing sanctions on Moscow imposed over the Ukraine conflict had been mentioned, a subject widely expected to be raised.

The Kremlin said Trump and Putin had agreed to establish "partner-like cooperation" when it came to global issues such as Ukraine, Iran's nuclear program, tensions on the Korean peninsula and the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Trump's stance on Russia has been under intense scrutiny from critics who say he was elected with help from Russian intelligence, an allegation he denies. His detractors have also accused him of being too eager to make an ally of Putin.

For Putin, an easing of Western sanctions would be a major coup ahead of next year's presidential election as it would help the economy recover.

libezkova -> Fred C. Dobbs... , January 28, 2017 at 03:58 PM

Compare the coverage with

https://www.rt.com/news/375416-putin-trump-telephone-call/

== quote ==

In their first phone conversation that lasted nearly an hour, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the new US President Donald Trump have outlined their intent to cooperate on issues ranging from defeating Islamic State to mending bilateral economic ties.

"Both sides expressed their readiness to make active joint efforts to stabilize and develop Russia-US cooperation on a constructive, equitable and mutually beneficial basis," as well as "build up partner cooperation" on a wide range of international issues, according to a Kremlin statement following their discussion.

The White House said that the "positive" conversation was "a significant start to improving the relationship between the United States and Russia that is in need of repair."

"Both President Trump and President Putin are hopeful that after today's call the two sides can move quickly to tackle terrorism and other important issues of mutual concern," the White House statement added.

After speaking with Chancellor Merkel for 45 minutes @POTUS is now onto his 3rd of 5 head of government calls, speaking w Russian Pres Putin pic.twitter.com/RPAWIgcO2C
- Sean Spicer (@PressSec) January 28, 2017Q

"The Presidents have spoken in favor of establishing a real coordination between the US and Russian actions in order to defeat ISIS and other terrorist organizations in Syria," the Kremlin statement said.

The two leaders also discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as Iran's nuclear program. "Major aspects of the Ukrainian crisis have been also touched upon," the Kremlin announced.

The leaders of Russia and the US have noted a need to restore economic ties "to stimulate" further development of the relationship between the nations. Putin and Trump also agreed to initiate a process to "work out possible dates and venue of their personal meeting."

Telephone conversation with US President Donald Trump https://t.co/mjp9Tta1sE
- President of Russia (@KremlinRussia_E) 28 января 2017 г.Q
During the conversation the Presidents also expressed their desire to "maintain regular personal contacts," the Kremlin statement said.

The Kremlin said the US President asked his Russian counterpart "to wish the Russian people happiness and prosperity" on his behalf, adding Americans "have warm feelings towards Russia and its citizens." Putin said the feeling was "mutual," stressing that historically, the Russians and the Americans were close allies on more than one occasion.

Putin said "for over two centuries Russia has supported the United States, was its ally during the two world wars, and now sees the United States as a major partner in fighting international terrorism."

U.S. President Donald Trump © Mark MakelaTrump hopes to get along with Russia, 'knock the hell out of ISIS together'

On Friday, speaking at a joint briefing with British Prime Minister Theresa May, Trump said he hoped he would have a "fantastic relationship" with Russia's president, but understands that might not happen. Trump has said previously that he would welcome Moscow's involvement in a joint effort to battle Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

"I don't know Putin, but if we can get along with Russia that's a great thing. It's good for Russia; it's good for us; we go out together and knock the hell out of ISIS, because that's a real sickness," he said in an interview with Fox News.

Moscow, for its part, has repeatedly suggested fostering closer cooperation between the Russian and US Air Forces in Syria, but blamed the previous Obama administration for failing to adequately respond to its entreaties. Relations between the two countries have been marred in recent years over various issues, including divisions on the Syrian crisis and allegations of Russian meddling into the US elections in November of 2016. US sanctions against Russia - imposed over the crisis in Ukraine - was one of the issues expected to be on the agenda of the Trump-Putin exchange. However, the issue was not mentioned in the Kremlin's statement summarizing the conversation.

Citing an unnamed source in the White House, a researcher at the Atlantic Council analytical center, Fabrice Pothier, wrote in a Twitter post on Thursday that the Trump administration "has an executive order ready" to lift the restrictions on Moscow, but Trump said on Friday that it is "very early to be talking about that."

U.S. House of Representatives in Washington © Gary Cameron Top Dem to propose bill to hamstring Trump in relaxing sanctions on Russia with GOP wingmen

However, earlier in January, Trump said that he would consider lifting restrictions if Moscow cooperates with Washington on certain issues, such as nuclear arms reduction.

"They have sanctions on Russia - let's see if we can make some good deals with Russia. For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially, that's part of it," Trump was quoted as saying by the Times.

Trump also said in one of his Tweets that "having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing," warning only "fools" would think otherwise. However, several US Senators proposed a bill last week that would make it impossible for the US President to lift restrictions without congressional approval.

Russia has been cautious about the prospects for a potential "reset" with the US under the new administration. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said the country has no "naive expectations" and is under no "illusions."

[Jan 25, 2017] A Great Place to Have a War: America in Laos and the Birth of a Military CIA

Jan 25, 2017 | www.cfr.org

"A Great Place to Have a War: America in Laos and the Birth of a Military CIA" [ Council on Foreign Relations ]. "Joshua Kurlantzick, a Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow for Southeast Asia, mines extensive interviews and recently declassified Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) records to give a definitive account of the secret war in the tiny Southeast Asian nation of Laos, which lasted from 1961 to 1973, and was the largest covert operation in U.S. history. The conflict forever changed the CIA from a relatively small spying agency into an organization with vast paramilitary powers."

[Jan 23, 2017] I'm pretty sure, to discredit whatever protest they are parasitic upon. Undercover cops behaving badly for a paycheck.

Jan 23, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
NeoGeshel , January 23, 2017 at 3:21 pm

The point about surveillance cameras is silly. The purpose of such strategic violence is to draw attention to the protest in a way that peaceful demonstration doesn't. Producing footage of their actions is the whole point. And, obviously, they are wearing masks.

Kurt Sperry , January 23, 2017 at 3:35 pm

The idea is, I'm pretty sure, to discredit whatever protest they are parasitic upon. Undercover cops behaving badly for a paycheck.

ambrit , January 23, 2017 at 4:42 pm

Well, false flag or not, do notice how "high profile" the forces of the State are when the venue of the action is in upper class areas, such as trendy down towns, Government zones, and high rent suburbs. Contrast that with the almost hands off attitude when the burning people, places and things are lower class.
Feedback requested. I'm wondering if my thesis is sound or not.
ambrit

[Jan 23, 2017] January 23, 2017 at 2:48 pm

Notable quotes:
"... Is this feminist crone from time immemorial saying that young women aren't allowed to have fun? ..."
Jan 23, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Protest in the Era of Trump

The best way to control the opposition is to lead it.

I am of the strong belief that any administration which comes into power in the current environment of nearly unrestrained executive authority, a lawless and sprawling intelligence agency complex, and a debt-driven, rent-seeking rewarding fraud economy should be assumed to represent a serious threat to the civil liberties and remaining freedoms of the American public. This would've been true under Hillary, and it's also true under Trump.

Personally, I think Trump will be reacting to events outside of his control more than he will be controlling his own destiny given the extremely precarious point we are in during this geopolitical, cultural and economic cycle. This is a very dangerous period, and it will likely only get more dangerous as the years unfold. Not because of Trump, but because of the circumstances we have allowed ourselves to be boxed into as a people. As such, I fully understand and appreciate the role of non-violent protest and civil disobedience in the Trump era, just like I understood it and advocated for it during Obama's transgressions.

Trump's administration got off to a serious bang with the Women's March over the weekend, which were unquestionably large events. While I think protest is important, and I don't want to minimize the achievement of getting that many people out in the streets, there were many aspects of it that left a very foul taste in my mouth. Let's start off with some of the people actively involved.

From the LA Times:

The Women's March on Washington may have been filled with celebrities, singers and all sorts of Hollywood A-listers, but it was longtime feminist and writer Gloria Steinem who really revved up the crowd.

Upon exiting the Women's March after her keynote speech in which she emphasized that protest means more than hitting the "send" button, a crowd formed around Steinem. Mothers rushed up to introduce their daughters to her; protesters held out their signs for her autograph.

Gloria Steinem, feminist icon and CIA-operative in the 1950's and 60's. Oh, you didn't know that?

From The Chicago Tribune:

CIA agents are tight-lipped, but Steinem spoke openly about her relationship to "The Agency" in the 1950s and '60s after a magazine revealed her employment by a CIA front organization, the Independent Research Service.

While popularly pilloried because of her paymaster, Steinem defended the CIA relationship, saying: "In my experience The Agency was completely different from its image; it was liberal, nonviolent and honorable."

Wait, what? The CIA was headed up by one of America's most notorious psychopaths during that time, Allen Dulles. She must be aware of this fact. This is an interesting person for women to hold up as a role model, and to help lead the "resistance."

https://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2017/01/23/protest-in-the-era-of-trump/#more-41770

Quentin , January 23, 2017 at 3:23 pm

Right. And she also admonished young women who supported Bernie Sanders of doing so only to get close to the 'BernieBros' in their tree houses, presumably to get their share of the action, the implication being sexual. Is this feminist crone from time immemorial saying that young women aren't allowed to have fun? Maybe they then belong in that special circle of hell Madeleine Albright reserved for women who did not vote Hillary. That circle must be really full now. When these two women vented their venom the SS Clinton took on a whole lot of fatal ballast. The Women's March was very impressive and I hope all the participants had fun and enjoy nice memories. The midterms are in 22 months. Another major fail is in the offing if people don't now get organised and focused on matters outside identity politics, like poor and rich, sick and healthy, environment and so much more. Sorry to say I doubt this will happen. The Democratic Party will not allow it to happen.

Elizabeth Burton , January 23, 2017 at 3:43 pm

It's important to remember there are more than a few state elections coming up not in 22 months but in 11, including governorships. We have to be careful we don't get so focused on Congress we lose sight of the other upcoming opportunities.

Eureka Springs , January 23, 2017 at 5:16 pm

@ Quentin

Is this feminist crone from time immemorial saying that young women aren't allowed to have fun?

I think it's much worse than that. She's implying women have no ability to think for themselves, or even that they think at all. She's saying no woman is above their hormones. She's saying to diiffer with her and or Her–> is sub-deplorable.

Had any man said it . much less rapped about it. Treehouse! Really?

TheCatSaid , January 23, 2017 at 3:33 pm

Like Walter Cronkite, another person trusted by many who was a CIA asset.

Gary , January 23, 2017 at 4:17 pm

I don't think Cronkite was an agent or worked with the CIA. He made a big deal of confronting GHW Bush about it, but you can say of course he would. Cronkite worked for CBS, the ABC reporter that accused him of it was later found out to be a CIA informant/agent, what ever you want to call him.
I don't know that it would have made a lot of difference one way or another.

TheCatSaid , January 23, 2017 at 4:41 pm

Cronkite was already an intelligence asset at the time he was hired. That was how he started his career.

Carolinian , January 23, 2017 at 5:39 pm

Care to defend this bs with a link?

integer , January 23, 2017 at 5:53 pm

It's not confirmation, however this is worth a read imo and mentions Cronkite:

https://www.corbettreport.com/the-cia-and-the-news-media-eyeopener-preview/

Note that The Corbett Report is also on propornot's list, unless it's been removed since I last checked.

Waldenpond , January 23, 2017 at 4:18 pm

The part that stood out to me is the people labeling themselves organizers. Organizers are the supervisors. At different jobs, we were subjected to the organizers: the boss who would post flyers, send e-mails for their child's fundraiser and then call a meeting to see who was in. Ever been subject to the organizer of a corporate event to extract unpaid labor from you? Aren't you a team player? Don't you want to volunteer?

Personally, I have the term 'volunteer'. It's labor. Pay people and knock off the language of the elites to excuse theft.

[Jan 22, 2017] The policy of imperialism threatens to change the temper of our people, and to put us into a permanent attitude of arrogance, testiness, and defiance towards other nations

Notable quotes:
"... Alarmed by the spread of anti-imperialist ideas, Lodge invited his closest friend, Governor Theodore Roosevelt of New York, to join him in Boston to launch a counterattack. On Oct. 31, 1899, both spoke to the Republican Club of Massachusetts at the cavernous Music Hall on Winter Street. "We have got to put down the insurrection!" Roosevelt cried. "If we are men, we can't do otherwise!" Lodge portrayed anti-imperialists as not only defeatist, but complicit in the killing of American soldiers. ..."
"... Tides ran in favor of the expansionist idea. Prominent anti-imperialists lost elections. War in the Philippines slowly reached its bloody end. Americans began focusing on other problems. The United States had leaped from continental empire to overseas empire. ..."
"... That war - which is actually a war against war - has never ended. The debate over American intervention abroad, which began at Faneuil Hall in 1898, is still raging. It will shape the new administration in Washington and, through it, the world. ..."
Jan 22, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Fred C. Dobbs :

How (When?) Boston fought the empire
http://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2017/01/22/how-boston-fought-empire/mWNyIXXDIdogeh9guKDnzN/story.html?event=event25
via @BostonGlobe - Stephen Kinzer - January 22, 2017

Where better to launch a patriotic uprising than Faneuil Hall in Boston? It is a lodestone of American liberty, a cathedral for freedom fighters. That is why a handful of eminent Bostonians chose it as the place to begin a new rebellion on the sunny afternoon of June 15, 1898.

Like all Americans, they had been dizzied by the astonishing events of recent weeks. Their country had suddenly burst beyond its natural borders. American troops had landed in Cuba. American warships had bombarded Puerto Rico. An American expeditionary force was steaming toward the distant Philippine Islands. Hawaii seemed about to fall to American power. President William McKinley had called for 200,000 volunteers to fight in foreign wars. Fervor for the new idea of overseas expansion gripped the United States.

This prospect thrilled some Americans. It horrified others. Their debate gripped the nation. The country's best-known political and intellectual leaders took sides. In the history of US foreign policy, this is truly the mother of all debates.

When we argue over whether we should depose a government in Iraq or Syria or Libya, whether we should wage war in Afghanistan, whether we should encourage the bombing of Yemen, or whether we should seek to bend Russia to our will, we are arguing the same question that was at the center of this original debate. Every argument about foreign intervention that we make today - on both sides - was first made in the period around 1898. Today's debates are amazingly precise repetitions of that first one. The central question is the same: Should the United States project power into faraway lands? Yes, to guarantee our prosperity, save innocent lives, liberate the oppressed, and confront danger before it reaches our shores! No, intervention brings suffering and creates enemies!

Boston was the epicenter of that original debate. Bostonians played such a large role in the national debate that one California newspaper called anti-imperialists "the kicking Bostonese." Several hundred of them turned out for the Faneuil Hall meeting. One speaker, the Rev. Charles Ames, a theologian and Unitarian pastor, warned that the moment the United States seized a foreign land, it would "sacrifice the principles on which the Republic was founded."

The policy of imperialism threatens to change the temper of our people, and to put us into a permanent attitude of arrogance, testiness, and defiance towards other nations. ... Once we enter the field of international conflict as a great military and naval power, we shall be one more bully among bullies. We shall only add one more to the list of oppressors of mankind.

At the end of that afternoon, one of the meeting's organizers came to the podium and read a resolution. "Resolved, that the mission of the United States is to help the world by an example of successful self-government, and that to abandon the principles and the policy under which we have prospered, and embrace the doctrine and practices now called imperial, is to enter the path which, with other great republics, has ended in the downfall of free institutions," it declared. "Resolved, that our first duty is to cure the evils in our own country." The resolution was adopted by acclamation.

At the very moment these words were shaking Faneuil Hall, debate on the same question - overseas expansion - was reaching a climax in Congress. It is a marvelous coincidence: The first anti-imperialist rally in American history was held on the same day that Congress voted, also for the first time, on whether the United States should take an overseas colony. The colony in question was Hawaii, but all understood that the real question was immensely greater. It was nothing less than the future of the Republic: whether or not the United States should become a global military power and seek to shape the fate of faraway lands.

On that day, as expected, the House of Representatives voted to annex Hawaii. Yet the great debate had only begun. Working from offices in Boston, anti-imperialists spent the summer and fall of 1898 writing letters to potential sympathizers across the country.

Their work came to fruition on Nov. 18, when an eager crowd packed a law office on Milk Street to witness the founding of the Anti-Imperialist League. George Boutwell, who had been a passionate abolitionist as well as a congressman, US senator, and governor of Massachusetts, was chosen by acclimation as the league's first president. In his mind, every abolitionist was a natural anti-imperialist, since anyone who opposed keeping human beings as slaves must also oppose ruling other peoples against their will.

At the end of 1898, American negotiators forced the defeated Spanish to sign the Treaty of Paris, in which they surrendered Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines. On Jan. 4, 1899, President McKinley submitted the treaty for Senate ratification. That set off a monthlong debate over what one senator called "the greatest question that has ever been presented to the American people." The dominant figure on each side was a brilliantly articulate Republican senator from Massachusetts.

George Frisbie Hoar of Worcester led the anti-imperialist charge. The United States, he insisted, must not "rush madly upon this new career," lest it become "a cheap-jack country raking after the cart for the leavings of European tyranny." He ended his speech in a crescendo: "The poor Malay, the poor African, the downtrodden workman of Europe will exclaim, as he reads this new doctrine: 'Good God! Is there not one place left on earth where, in right of my manhood, I can stand up and be a man?' "

Hoar's sharpest opponent was Henry Cabot Lodge of Beacon Hill and Nahant. Lodge told the Senate that since many foreign peoples were unequipped to govern themselves wisely, they should submit to American guidance and trust "the American people, who have never failed in any great duty or feared to face any responsibility, to deal with them in that spirit of justice, humanity, and liberty which has made us all that we are today or can ever hope to be."

From their bustling office on Kilby Street, leaders of the Anti-Imperialist League fed information to friendly senators and heavily lobbied the handful who remained undecided. The league also published a stream of pamphlets, called Liberty Tracts, aimed at bringing its arguments to a larger audience. Often their titles were questions. "Which shall it be, nation or empire?" asked one. Another: "Is it right for this country to kill the natives of a foreign land because they wish to govern themselves?"

On Feb. 6, 1899, despite these intense efforts, senators ratified the Treaty of Paris - by just one vote more than the required two-thirds majority. Armed rebellion broke out immediately in the Philippines. Tens of thousands of American troops were sent to suppress it. President McKinley faced a difficult task: explain to a divided nation why taking foreign lands was no betrayal of the American idea. He decided to deliver a speech in Boston, home of the Anti-Imperialist League and thus the heart of enemy territory. To assure himself a friendly audience, however, he chose as his platform the Home Market Club, one of the country's most potent agglomerations of corporate power.

A crowd led by Mayor Josiah Quincy cheered as McKinley emerged from South Station around midday on Feb. 15, 1899. The next night, nearly two thousand guests packed Mechanics Hall for the largest banquet ever staged in the United States. In his speech, McKinley asserted that the essential goodness of the American people is the supreme and sole necessary justification of whatever the United States chooses to do in the world. This goodness, he acknowledged, might not be clear to the "misguided Filipino," but soon the islands would prosper under the rule "not of their American masters, but of their American emancipators."

"Did we need their consent to perform a great act for humanity?" he asked. "We had it in every aspiration of their minds, in every hope of their hearts."

These words disgusted the philosopher William James. In an anguished letter to Boston newspapers, he called McKinley's speech a "shamefully evasive" attempt to obscure the central truth of the age: "We are cold-bloodedly, wantonly, and abominably destroying the soul of a people who never did us an atom of harm in their lives. It is bald, brutal piracy."

Alarmed by the spread of anti-imperialist ideas, Lodge invited his closest friend, Governor Theodore Roosevelt of New York, to join him in Boston to launch a counterattack. On Oct. 31, 1899, both spoke to the Republican Club of Massachusetts at the cavernous Music Hall on Winter Street. "We have got to put down the insurrection!" Roosevelt cried. "If we are men, we can't do otherwise!" Lodge portrayed anti-imperialists as not only defeatist, but complicit in the killing of American soldiers.

"I vote with the army that wears the uniform and carries the flag of my country," he said. "When the enemy has yielded and the war is over, we can discuss other matters!"

Tides ran in favor of the expansionist idea. Prominent anti-imperialists lost elections. War in the Philippines slowly reached its bloody end. Americans began focusing on other problems. The United States had leaped from continental empire to overseas empire.

"Well, we are defeated for the time," admitted the Cambridge anti-imperialist Charles Eliot Norton. "But the war is not ended, and we are enlisted for the war."

That war - which is actually a war against war - has never ended. The debate over American intervention abroad, which began at Faneuil Hall in 1898, is still raging. It will shape the new administration in Washington and, through it, the world.

ilsm -> Fred C. Dobbs... , January 22, 2017 at 07:23 AM
Few want Manifest Destiny to stop short of an American world.
anne -> Fred C. Dobbs... , -1
Splendid essay.

[Jan 22, 2017] Jack Ma said the poor plight of American economy was due to the costly wars waged by Washington and has nothing to do with trade ties with Beijing

Notable quotes:
"... Jack Ma said the poor plight of American economy was due to the costly wars waged by Washington and has nothing to do with trade ties with Beijing. The US adopted a strategy to control intellectual property rights and select brands three decades ago, leaving lower-level works to the rest of the world.... Microsoft and IBM have created hundreds of millions in profits through globalisation. ..."
Jan 22, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
jonny bakho -> ilsm... , January 22, 2017 at 09:41 AM
FWIW from Jack Ma Aliba founder:

Jack Ma said the poor plight of American economy was due to the costly wars waged by Washington and has nothing to do with trade ties with Beijing. The US adopted a strategy to control intellectual property rights and select brands three decades ago, leaving lower-level works to the rest of the world.... Microsoft and IBM have created hundreds of millions in profits through globalisation.

This large sum could have been invested in infrastructure and employment, but was instead put towards 13 wars, he said. The US simply failed to allot the funds reasonably." , Ma said his meeting with Trump was much more productive than expected the discussions mainly focused on .... American enterprises selling in Asia through Alibaba's platform, which will provide about one million jobs for Americans in various ways.

http://www.livemint.com/Politics/JrmTPAOTPEFwXT2xGujjQN/Blame-costly-wars-not-China-for-poor-state-of-US-economy.html

ilsm -> jonny bakho... , January 22, 2017 at 10:34 AM
What have we got for $4.6T since 2001? Security from Taliban!

I agree, wars* are opportunity lost and should only be entered in to when society is in harm's way.

US since Pearl Harbor has used the fake excuse+ that any attack on Osan or Estonia is a threat to its existence.

+Unwarranted influence was paid at huge expense to the US at large.

*Eternal vigilance and preparedness for wars is hugely profitable and wasteful to those not profiting.

anne -> jonny bakho... , January 22, 2017 at 12:01 PM
http://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/files/cow/imce/papers/2016/Costs%20of%20War%20through%202016%20FINAL%20final%20v2.pdf

September, 2016

US Budgetary Costs of Wars through 2016: $4.79 Trillion and Counting
Summary of Costs of the US Wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan and Homeland Security

By Neta C. Crawford

Summary

Wars cost money before, during and after they occur - as governments prepare for, wage, and recover from them by replacing equipment, caring for the wounded and repairing the infrastructure destroyed in the fighting. Although it is rare to have a precise accounting of the costs of war - especially of long wars - one can get a sense of the rough scale of the costs by surveying the major categories of spending.

As of August 2016, the US has already appropriated, spent, or taken on obligations to spend more than $3.6 trillion in current dollars on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria and on Homeland Security (2001 through fiscal year 2016). To this total should be added the approximately $65 billion in dedicated war spending the Department of Defense and State Department have requested for the next fiscal year, 2017, along with an additional nearly $32 billion requested for the Department of Homeland Security in 2017, and estimated spending on veterans in future years. When those are included, the total US budgetary cost of the wars reaches $4.79 trillion....

[Jan 22, 2017] Tomgram: Engelhardt, A Living Nightmare of Intelligence Groupthink

Notable quotes:
"... The IC spends something like $70 billion of your taxpayer dollars annually, mostly in secret ..."
"... Since 9/11, expansion has been the name of its game, as the leading intelligence agencies gained ever more power, prestige, and the big bucks, while wrapping themselves in an unprecedented blanket of secrecy. ..."
"... Let me lay my own cards on the table here. Based on the relatively little we can know about the information the Intelligence Community has been delivering to the president and his people in these years, I've never been particularly impressed with its work. Again, given what's available to judge from, it seems as if, despite its size, reach, money, and power, the IC has been caught "off-guard" by developments in our world with startling regularity and might be thought of as something closer to an " un-intelligence machine ." ..."
Jan 22, 2017 | www.tomdispatch.com

They call themselves the U.S. " Intelligence Community ," or the IC. If you include the office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), which in 2005 began as a crew of 12 people , including its director, and by 2008 had already grown to a staff of 1,750 , there are 17 members (adding up to an alphabet soup of acronyms including the CIA, the NSA, and the DIA).

The IC spends something like $70 billion of your taxpayer dollars annually, mostly in secret , hires staggering numbers of private contractors from various warrior corporations to lend a hand, sucks up communications of every sort across the planet, runs a drone air force , monitors satellites galore, builds its agencies multi-billion-dollar headquarters and storage facilities , and does all of this, ostensibly, to provide the president and the rest of the government with the best information imaginable on what's happening in the world and what dangers the United States faces.

Since 9/11, expansion has been the name of its game, as the leading intelligence agencies gained ever more power, prestige, and the big bucks, while wrapping themselves in an unprecedented blanket of secrecy. Typically, in the final days of the Obama administration, the National Security Agency was given yet more leeway to share the warrantless data it scoops up worldwide (including from American citizens) with ever more members of the IC.

And oh yes, in the weeks leading up to the inauguration of Donald Trump, several of those intelligence outfits found themselves in a knock-down, drag-out barroom brawl with our new tweeter-in-chief (who has begun threatening to downsize parts of the IC) over the possible Russian hacking of an American election and his relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In the process, they have received regular media plaudits for their crucial importance to all of us, our security and safety, along with tweeted curses from the then-president-elect.

Let me lay my own cards on the table here. Based on the relatively little we can know about the information the Intelligence Community has been delivering to the president and his people in these years, I've never been particularly impressed with its work. Again, given what's available to judge from, it seems as if, despite its size, reach, money, and power, the IC has been caught "off-guard" by developments in our world with startling regularity and might be thought of as something closer to an " un-intelligence machine ."

It's always been my suspicion that, if a group of smart, out-of-the-box thinkers were let loose on purely open-source material, the U.S. government might actually end up with a far more accurate view of our world and how it works, not to speak of what dangers lie in store for us.

[Jan 22, 2017] CIA to be a single organization. It is more like a loose association, conglomerate of several feuding groups each with its own agenda and political goals, which drive the US foreign policy

Jan 22, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
A Boy Named Sue : , January 21, 2017 at 12:50 AM
>Under Obama the US has been at war for his entire presidency.

FFS, grow up. I take back my positive comments about you.

Do you think he asked for it?

Plus he tried normalize our relationships with Iran and Cuba.

ilsm -> A Boy Named Sue... , January 21, 2017 at 04:23 AM
Yes, the day he became CinC he should have given the order: "mobilize the transports, evacuate the forces".

That was too hard, it would have reduced the plunder his backers take. It was against his hidden neocon!

Obama is responsible for as much evil, fraud, waste and murder as W and immensely more than Bill Clinton.

The Old Testament warning: "Let them stand the judgement".

libezkova -> A Boy Named Sue... , January 21, 2017 at 09:43 PM
"Plus he tried normalize our relationships with Iran and Cuba."

You are trying to change the subject. While in relations with Iran and Cube Obama did achieve some progress, this not the whole story and this is not a major story. The major story is as following: in relations with Russia Obama was a very dangerous neocon warmonger, who actually put even more dangerous warmonger Hillary in charge of his foreign policy for a long four years period. And who has a track record in Ukraine and Syria which is the track record of a typical neocon.

Both Russia and the USA nuclear forces are now on high alert, while you typing your staff. That means that if something happens (and the sophistication of modern computers chances are higher then before) leaders of the country have less then 20 min to prevent nuclear war. Less for Russia as the USA got way too close and literally encircled Russia. Do you see the problem ? This Nobel Peace Price winner does not give Russia enough time for measured response. Is not his a warmonger with a typical neoconservative ambitions?

This is what recently Professor Steven Cohen told us. He think that this the current situation is close or even worse then the Cuban Nuclear Crisis.

He also told a very interesting thing: it is wrong to consider CIA to be a single organization. It is more like a loose association, conglomerate of several feuding groups each with its own agenda and political goals, which can be even in fight with each other and with Pentagon and FBI.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Op6Qr7uuMy8

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

And they are really ready to put the world on fire for their narrow goals (such as neocon goal of world dominance; or deposing Assad in Syria).

[Jan 21, 2017] The most dangerous moment in the US-Russia relations

Interesting thought: there is no intelligence community, there is not CIA, there are different groups within CIA unbrella with different, often conflicting interests and political agenda.
Notable quotes:
"... This business that, Russia is the number one existential threat has been unfolding this false drama at the expense of US national security, maybe for a decade, but it certainly intensified under the Obama administration. ..."
"... In the intelligence community, there are groups of different political impulses, different vested interest in these organizations, and often, they've been at war among themselves within, say the CIA. We're seeing that now with the hacking allegations. And, all likelihood, later we will discover, this was a war within the CIA itself. The FBI tried not to get involved. ..."
Jan 21, 2017 | failedevolution.blogspot.gr

The most dangerous moment in the US-Russia relations Leading scholar on US-Russia relations addresses the claim being trumpeted by politicians and media on both sides of the political spectrum that Russia is now the "number one" threat to the United States. Given the proxy wars in Syria and Ukraine, Dr. Stephen Cohen, Professor Emeritus at Princeton University and New York University, tells host of 'The Empire Files', Abby Martin, that the real alarming danger today is "a new, multi-front Cuban missile crisis."

This business that, Russia is the number one existential threat has been unfolding this false drama at the expense of US national security, maybe for a decade, but it certainly intensified under the Obama administration.

Meanwhile, Russia was of course in the person of Putin, repeatedly, almost begging the US to join it in an alliance against terrorism, not only in Syria, but in a kind of global war. I don't know if the global war against terrorism is possible as a separate issue, but Russia wanted to partner with the US. Obama was inclined very briefly in Sep. 2016, but that was killed by the US department of defence when they attacked those Syrian troops.

In the intelligence community, there are groups of different political impulses, different vested interest in these organizations, and often, they've been at war among themselves within, say the CIA. We're seeing that now with the hacking allegations. And, all likelihood, later we will discover, this was a war within the CIA itself. The FBI tried not to get involved.

There are very different views about Washington's policy toward Russia, inside the intelligence community. This may be the single most dangerous moment in American-Russian relations.

The Cuban missile crisis is always said to have been the turning point in our awareness of how dangerous the Cold War was. And that, after we avoided nuclear Armageddon, both sides became wise, and the Cold War continued, but there was a code of contact. Everybody understood where the danger lines were. There was a code of conduct between the Soviet Union and the United States. It doesn't exist today. After the Cuban missile crisis in '62, the two sides began to develop interactive cooperation, student exchanges, scientific exchanges, hot lines, constant talks about nuclear weapons, nuclear reductions, trade agreements. That has come to an end along with communication.

There are now three fronts in the new Cold War that are fought with the possibility of actual war. There's the Baltic region and Poland, where NATO unwisely building up its military presence. There is, of course, Ukraine which could exploded any moment, and, of course, there is Syria, where you got Russian and American aircraft. So, you got a multi-front potential Cuban missile crisis.

Meanwhile, in the United States, this hysterical reaction to alleged - because there is no proof been produced - that somehow Putin put Trump in the White House, this combination of demented public discourse, engrave danger abroad, at least comparable to the Cuban missile crisis.

It's been said that the European Union offered Ukraine a very benign economic relationship. That wasn't a benign agreement, about a thousand pages long. There is a section called 'military security issues' and it's very clear, that any country that signs this so-called eastern partnership agreement with the EU, is obliged to adhere to NATO security policies. By signing that, you become a de facto member of NATO. And this was just more of the attempt by Washington to get Ukraine in the NATO, if not openly, through the back door, and they're still at it.

The decision to expand NATO, all the way, including Ukraine and Georgia, has created a situation in which none of us is safe. And they call that 'national security'?

Full interview: watch-v=Op6Qr7uuMy8

[Jan 21, 2017] The most dangerous moment in the US-Russia relations

Interesting thought: there is no intelligence community, there is not CIA, there are different groups within CIA umbrella with different, often conflicting interests and political agenda.
Notable quotes:
"... This business that, Russia is the number one existential threat has been unfolding this false drama at the expense of US national security, maybe for a decade, but it certainly intensified under the Obama administration. ..."
"... In the intelligence community, there are groups of different political impulses, different vested interest in these organizations, and often, they've been at war among themselves within, say the CIA. We're seeing that now with the hacking allegations. And, all likelihood, later we will discover, this was a war within the CIA itself. The FBI tried not to get involved. ..."
Jan 21, 2017 | failedevolution.blogspot.gr

The most dangerous moment in the US-Russia relations Leading scholar on US-Russia relations addresses the claim being trumpeted by politicians and media on both sides of the political spectrum that Russia is now the "number one" threat to the United States. Given the proxy wars in Syria and Ukraine, Dr. Stephen Cohen, Professor Emeritus at Princeton University and New York University, tells host of 'The Empire Files', Abby Martin, that the real alarming danger today is "a new, multi-front Cuban missile crisis."

This business that, Russia is the number one existential threat has been unfolding this false drama at the expense of US national security, maybe for a decade, but it certainly intensified under the Obama administration.

Meanwhile, Russia was of course in the person of Putin, repeatedly, almost begging the US to join it in an alliance against terrorism, not only in Syria, but in a kind of global war. I don't know if the global war against terrorism is possible as a separate issue, but Russia wanted to partner with the US. Obama was inclined very briefly in Sep. 2016, but that was killed by the US department of defence when they attacked those Syrian troops.

In the intelligence community, there are groups of different political impulses, different vested interest in these organizations, and often, they've been at war among themselves within, say the CIA. We're seeing that now with the hacking allegations. And, all likelihood, later we will discover, this was a war within the CIA itself. The FBI tried not to get involved.

There are very different views about Washington's policy toward Russia, inside the intelligence community. This may be the single most dangerous moment in American-Russian relations.

The Cuban missile crisis is always said to have been the turning point in our awareness of how dangerous the Cold War was. And that, after we avoided nuclear Armageddon, both sides became wise, and the Cold War continued, but there was a code of contact. Everybody understood where the danger lines were. There was a code of conduct between the Soviet Union and the United States. It doesn't exist today. After the Cuban missile crisis in '62, the two sides began to develop interactive cooperation, student exchanges, scientific exchanges, hot lines, constant talks about nuclear weapons, nuclear reductions, trade agreements. That has come to an end along with communication.

There are now three fronts in the new Cold War that are fought with the possibility of actual war. There's the Baltic region and Poland, where NATO unwisely building up its military presence. There is, of course, Ukraine which could exploded any moment, and, of course, there is Syria, where you got Russian and American aircraft. So, you got a multi-front potential Cuban missile crisis.

Meanwhile, in the United States, this hysterical reaction to alleged - because there is no proof been produced - that somehow Putin put Trump in the White House, this combination of demented public discourse, engrave danger abroad, at least comparable to the Cuban missile crisis.

It's been said that the European Union offered Ukraine a very benign economic relationship. That wasn't a benign agreement, about a thousand pages long. There is a section called 'military security issues' and it's very clear, that any country that signs this so-called eastern partnership agreement with the EU, is obliged to adhere to NATO security policies. By signing that, you become a de facto member of NATO. And this was just more of the attempt by Washington to get Ukraine in the NATO, if not openly, through the back door, and they're still at it.

The decision to expand NATO, all the way, including Ukraine and Georgia, has created a situation in which none of us is safe. And they call that 'national security'?

Full interview: watch-v=Op6Qr7uuMy8

[Jan 21, 2017] NYT Says Davos Elite Are Concerned Because Public Doesn't Buy Their Lies Anymore

Jan 20, 2017 | cepr.net

The New York Times reported * that the people at the gathering of the super rich at Davos are concerned because the population of major democracies no longer buy the lies they tell to justify upward redistribution of income. It told readers:

"At cocktail parties where the Champagne flows, financiers have expressed bewilderment over the rise of populist groups that are feeding a backlash against globalization....

"The world order has been upended. As the United States retreats from the promise of free trade, China is taking up the mantle....

"The religion of the global elite - free trade and open markets - is under attack, and there has been a lot of hand-wringing over what Christine Lagarde of the International Monetary Fund has declared a 'middle-class crisis.' "

Of course the Davos elite do not have a religion of free trade. They are entirely happy with every longer and stronger patent and copyright protections, which is a main goal of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other recent trade pacts.

The Davos elite also have no objections to protectionist measures, like the U.S. ban on foreign doctors who have not completed a U.S. residency program. This protectionist barrier adds as much as $100 billion a year (@ $700 per family) to the country's health care bill.

Since these measures redistribute income upward to people like them, the Davos elite is perfectly happy with them. They only object to protectionist measures which are intended to help ordinary workers.

The concern in Davos is that the public in western democracies no longer buys the lie that they are committed to the public good rather than lining their pockets. It is nice that the NYT is apparently trying to assist the elite by asserting that they have an interest in "free trade," but it is not likely to help their case much.

Yeah, I am plugging my book, "Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer" ** (it's free).

* https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/19/business/dealbook/world-economic-forum-davos-finance.html

** http://deanbaker.net/images/stories/documents/Rigged.pdf

-- Dean Baker Reply Saturday, January 21, 2017 at 06:33 AM likezkova said in reply to anne... Not only the population of major democracies no longer buy the neoliberal lies they used to tell to justify upward redistribution of income.

They now have the right wing alternative to both "soft" (Clinton) neoliberal party (which used Clinton "they will vote for us anyway tactic since 90th) and "hard" neoliberal party, which treated conservatives with the same medicine.

And that what bother the neoliberal elite most, as those guys can easily get out of control and hand a couple of dozen "masters of the universe" on the lamp posts for all good they did for the country.

That's why intelligence agencies tries this "soft coup" against Trump recently. What they achieved remains to be seen, but probably not a capitulation on the Trump "party" side.

Wedge issues such as same sex marriage, which was used a smoke screen for a decade or so lost its effectiveness.

Neoliberal MSM are now viewed as professional liars and presstitutes, which they always were.

This is probably the very easy signs of the systemic crisis of neoliberalism, plain and simple.

Reply Saturday, January 21, 2017 at 07:54 AM

libezkova said in reply to anne...

http://www.unz.com/article/political-sciences-theory-of-everything-on-the-2016-us-election/

== quote ==

The invisible rulers of the US establishment were revealed by Professor C. Wright Mill in his article titled, The Structure of Power in American Society (The British Journal of Sociology, March 1958), in which he explains how, "the high military, the corporation executives, the political directorate have tended to come together to form the power elite of America."

He describes how the power elite can be best described as a "triangle of power," linking the corporate, executive government, and military factions: "There is a political economy numerously linked with military order and decision. This triangle of power is now a structural fact, and it is the key to any understanding of the higher circles in America today."

The 2016 US election, like all other US elections, featured a gallery of pre-selected candidates that represented the three factions and their interests within the power elite. The 2016 US election, however, was vastly different from previous elections. As the election dragged on the power elite became bitterly divided, with the majority supporting Hilary Clinton, the candidate pre-selected by the political and corporate factions, while the military faction rallied around their choice of Donald Trump.

During the election campaign the power elite's military faction under Trump confounded all political pundits by outflanking and decisively defeating the power elite's political faction. In fact by capturing the Republican nomination and overwhelmingly defeating the Democratic establishment, Trump and the military faction not just shattered the power elites' political faction, within both the Democratic and Republican parties, but simultaneously ended both the Clinton and Bush dynasties.

During the election campaign the power elite's corporate faction realised, far too late, that Trump was a direct threat to their power base, and turned the full force of their corporate media against Trump's military faction, while Trump using social media bypassed and eviscerated the corporate media causing them to lose all remaining credibility.

As the election reached a crescendo this battle between the power elite's factions became visible within the US establishment's entities. A schism developed between the Defense Department and the highly politicized CIA. This schism, which can be attributed to the corporate-deep-state's covert foreign policy, traces back to the CIA orchestrated "color revolutions" that had swept the Middle East and North Africa.

[Jan 21, 2017] Obama promised to reverse the growth of the surveillance state. He did the opposite.

Notable quotes:
"... President Obama will go down in history as the man who helped entrench history's largest and most powerful surveillance state ..."
"... Obama didn't just fall short of progressive hopes - he went in the opposite direction ..."
"... he broke a campaign promise and voted for a bill expanding government surveillance and granting immunity to telecommunications companies who helped Bush spy on Americans. ..."
"... Upon becoming president, the already vast surveillance powers of the United States have expanded . By 2010, the NSA was collecting 1.7 billion emails, phone calls, and other types of communications. By 2012, XKeyscore - which sweeps up "everything a user typically does on the internet" - was storing as much as forty-one billion records in thirty days. This gargantuan volume of data has the ironic effect of making it harder to detect security threats. ..."
"... The use of secret laws - hidden from public eyes and often related to surveillance activities - shot up under Obama. The administration tried (and failed) to force Apple to insert security flaws in its phones, to give law enforcement a potential "back door" around encryption. ..."
"... But this would not have happened - and the scope of US surveillance would have stayed secret - had it not been for the disclosures by Edward Snowden, whom Obama criticized and refused to pardon in the waning days of his administration, even as he claimed to " welcome " a debate on surveillance. ..."
Jan 21, 2017 | www.jacobinmag.com

President Obama will go down in history as the man who helped entrench history's largest and most powerful surveillance state, providing it with a liberal legitimacy that left it largely immune from criticism during his two terms. As President Trump takes the reins of that surveillance state's power in whatever terrifying ways he chooses, we should remember that it was Obama who paved the way for him.

Obama has often been painted as a disappointing president, one who reached for the stars but ultimately, whether due to Republican obstructionism or the disappointing realities of governing, fell short. In the area of state surveillance, however, Obama didn't just fall short of progressive hopes - he went in the opposite direction.

Obama built his career opposing the Patriot Act and Bush-era secrecy. He made this opposition a centerpiece of his presidential campaign, promising "no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime . . . No more ignoring the law when it is convenient."

The first sign of his waning commitment came three months after a glowing Times op-ed declared him potentially the first civil libertarian president, when he broke a campaign promise and voted for a bill expanding government surveillance and granting immunity to telecommunications companies who helped Bush spy on Americans.

Upon becoming president, the already vast surveillance powers of the United States have expanded . By 2010, the NSA was collecting 1.7 billion emails, phone calls, and other types of communications. By 2012, XKeyscore - which sweeps up "everything a user typically does on the internet" - was storing as much as forty-one billion records in thirty days. This gargantuan volume of data has the ironic effect of making it harder to detect security threats.

The use of secret laws - hidden from public eyes and often related to surveillance activities - shot up under Obama. The administration tried (and failed) to force Apple to insert security flaws in its phones, to give law enforcement a potential "back door" around encryption.

It extended controversial Patriot Act provisions year after year. Less than a week before Donald Trump, a man he has called "unfit" for office, took power, Obama expanded the NSA's power to share its data with other agencies. Meanwhile, the FBI is paying Best Buy employees to snoop through your computer.

Where there have been privacy wins on Obama's watch, they have largely been inadvertent. The NSA collects a much smaller proportion of Americans' phone records today than it did eleven years ago because cell phone use has exploded. Furthermore, the USA Freedom Act passed in 2015, ending bulk collection of US phone records ( only of phone records, it must be said), something Obama tried to claim as part of his legacy in his farewell speech.

But this would not have happened - and the scope of US surveillance would have stayed secret - had it not been for the disclosures by Edward Snowden, whom Obama criticized and refused to pardon in the waning days of his administration, even as he claimed to " welcome " a debate on surveillance.

All of this happened under a liberal former constitutional law professor. The question must be asked: What will follow under Trump?

-Branko Marcetic

[Jan 21, 2017] http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/nyt-says-davos-elite-are-concerned-because-public-doesn-t-buy-their-lies-anymore

Jan 21, 2017 | cepr.net

January 20, 2017

NYT Says Davos Elite Are Concerned Because Public Doesn't Buy Their Lies Anymore

The New York Times reported * that the people at the gathering of the super rich at Davos are concerned because the population of major democracies no longer buy the lies they tell to justify upward redistribution of income. It told readers:

"At cocktail parties where the Champagne flows, financiers have expressed bewilderment over the rise of populist groups that are feeding a backlash against globalization....

"The world order has been upended. As the United States retreats from the promise of free trade, China is taking up the mantle....

"The religion of the global elite - free trade and open markets - is under attack, and there has been a lot of hand-wringing over what Christine Lagarde of the International Monetary Fund has declared a 'middle-class crisis.' "

Of course the Davos elite do not have a religion of free trade. They are entirely happy with every longer and stronger patent and copyright protections, which is a main goal of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other recent trade pacts.

The Davos elite also have no objections to protectionist measures, like the U.S. ban on foreign doctors who have not completed a U.S. residency program. This protectionist barrier adds as much as $100 billion a year (@ $700 per family) to the country's health care bill.

Since these measures redistribute income upward to people like them, the Davos elite is perfectly happy with them. They only object to protectionist measures which are intended to help ordinary workers.

The concern in Davos is that the public in western democracies no longer buys the lie that they are committed to the public good rather than lining their pockets. It is nice that the NYT is apparently trying to assist the elite by asserting that they have an interest in "free trade," but it is not likely to help their case much.

Yeah, I am plugging my book, "Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer" ** (it's free).

* https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/19/business/dealbook/world-economic-forum-davos-finance.html

** http://deanbaker.net/images/stories/documents/Rigged.pdf

-- Dean Baker Reply Saturday, January 21, 2017 at 06:33 AM likezkova said in reply to anne... Not only the population of major democracies no longer buy the neoliberal lies they used to tell to justify upward redistribution of income.

They now have the right wing alternative to both "soft" (Clinton) neoliberal party (which used Clinton "they will vote for us anyway tactic since 90th) and "hard" neoliberal party, which treated conservatives with the same medicine.

And that what bother the neoliberal elite most, as those guys can easily get out of control and hand a couple of dozen "masters of the universe" on the lamp posts for all good they did for the country.

That's why intelligence agencies tries this "soft coup" against Trump recently. What they achieved remains to be seen, but probably not a capitulation on the Trump "party" side.

Wedge issues such as same sex marriage, which was used a smoke screen for a decade or so lost its effectiveness.

Neoliberal MSM are now viewed as professional liars and presstitutes, which they always were.

This is probably the very easy signs of the systemic crisis of neoliberalism, plain and simple.

Reply Saturday, January 21, 2017 at 07:54 AM

libezkova said in reply to anne...

The invisible rulers of the US establishment were revealed by Professor C. Wright Mill in his article titled, The Structure of Power in American Society (The British Journal of Sociology, March 1958), in which he explains how, "the high military, the corporation executives, the political directorate have tended to come together to form the power elite of America."

He describes how the power elite can be best described as a "triangle of power," linking the corporate, executive government, and military factions: "There is a political economy numerously linked with military order and decision. This triangle of power is now a structural fact, and it is the key to any understanding of the higher circles in America today."

The 2016 US election, like all other US elections, featured a gallery of pre-selected candidates that represented the three factions and their interests within the power elite. The 2016 US election, however, was vastly different from previous elections. As the election dragged on the power elite became bitterly divided, with the majority supporting Hilary Clinton, the candidate pre-selected by the political and corporate factions, while the military faction rallied around their choice of Donald Trump.

During the election campaign the power elite's military faction under Trump confounded all political pundits by outflanking and decisively defeating the power elite's political faction. In fact by capturing the Republican nomination and overwhelmingly defeating the Democratic establishment, Trump and the military faction not just shattered the power elites' political faction, within both the Democratic and Republican parties, but simultaneously ended both the Clinton and Bush dynasties.

During the election campaign the power elite's corporate faction realised, far too late, that Trump was a direct threat to their power base, and turned the full force of their corporate media against Trump's military faction, while Trump using social media bypassed and eviscerated the corporate media causing them to lose all remaining credibility.

As the election reached a crescendo this battle between the power elite's factions became visible within the US establishment's entities. A schism developed between the Defense Department and the highly politicized CIA. This schism, which can be attributed to the corporate-deep-state's covert foreign policy, traces back to the CIA orchestrated "color revolutions" that had swept the Middle East and North Africa.

[Jan 21, 2017] For the first time in the lives of just about all of you we are all less likely to see the most powerful nation on earth overthrow another government in the Middle East.

Notable quotes:
"... A farce wherein a capitalist aristocracy is dressed in the torn and soiled fabric of democracy, proclaiming its will to represent the people. ..."
"... I don't like farce. It's pointlessly cruel to the characters; that's not stuff I usually find amusing. ..."
"... For the first time in the lives of just about all of you we are all less likely to see the most powerful nation on earth overthrow another government in the Middle East. From 1991 to 2016 the United States has been bombing nations in the Middle East as part of US foreign policy. Americans love bombing other countries – dropping bombs on people in the Middle East is one of America's favorite methods of bringing peace to the world. ..."
"... I reject all war. We are all extremely fortunate that Hillary Clinton will not be taking office this weekend. Had Hillary been elected we would be facing a crisis over Syria. Hillary wants to overthrow the Assad government by threatening to shoot down airplanes over Syria. Putin supports Assad. The only airplanes flying over Syria are Russian, or Syrian. Do any of you want a war with Russia? Does shooting down Russian airplanes sound like a good plan to you? ..."
"... Americans helped overthrow the elected government of the Ukraine. Americans have been bombing countries in the Middle East for decades. Under Obama the US has been at war for his entire presidency. We don't know what will happen, but for the first time in a very long time Americans elected a president who wants to trade with everyone. He wants to do deals with Kim, with Putin, with China. ..."
Jan 21, 2017 | crookedtimber.org

b9n10nt 01.20.17 at 8:47 pm

Nah, Reagan was tragedy, this one is farce. A farce wherein a capitalist aristocracy is dressed in the torn and soiled fabric of democracy, proclaiming its will to represent the people.
Layman 01.20.17 at 9:24 pm ( 17 )

Has anyone noticed the creepy banner CNN is using for their coverage? Two general's stars on a red ribbon? I was struck by it, so I went to CNN's archive to see what they did for the last two inaugurations. I couldn't find anything like it.

And of course there is the story that his team wanted a military vehicle parade, e.g. Tanks, mobile missile launchers, etc. How long before the Don dons a uniform?

Collin Street 01.20.17 at 11:51 pm ( 20 )
Actually, second time as farce.

I don't like farce. It's pointlessly cruel to the characters; that's not stuff I usually find amusing.

kidneystones 01.21.17 at 12:23 am
What I told my own first-year students yesterday:

For the first time in the lives of just about all of you we are all less likely to see the most powerful nation on earth overthrow another government in the Middle East. From 1991 to 2016 the United States has been bombing nations in the Middle East as part of US foreign policy. Americans love bombing other countries – dropping bombs on people in the Middle East is one of America's favorite methods of bringing peace to the world.

I reject all war. We are all extremely fortunate that Hillary Clinton will not be taking office this weekend. Had Hillary been elected we would be facing a crisis over Syria. Hillary wants to overthrow the Assad government by threatening to shoot down airplanes over Syria. Putin supports Assad. The only airplanes flying over Syria are Russian, or Syrian. Do any of you want a war with Russia? Does shooting down Russian airplanes sound like a good plan to you?

Americans helped overthrow the elected government of the Ukraine. Americans have been bombing countries in the Middle East for decades. Under Obama the US has been at war for his entire presidency. We don't know what will happen, but for the first time in a very long time Americans elected a president who wants to trade with everyone. He wants to do deals with Kim, with Putin, with China.

He's not interested in what goes on in other people's countries. He wants to mind his own business. He wants to get rich and become as famous as possible. We don't know what will happen, but for the first time in a very long time Americans have elected a president who does not want to attack other countries.

We are not looking at a new US war in the Middle East for the first time in a very long time. That doesn't mean the war won't happen. Americans love bombing people. But I'm immensely pleased Hillary Clinton is not fighting more wars in the Middle East, and that for the first time in a very long time Americans seem to have decided to leave the rest of us live our lives in peace.

God bless everyone.

[Jan 19, 2017] Davos without Donald Trump is like Hamlet without the prince

From comments: "Saying Davos without Trump is like Hamlet without the prince implies a dignity about the event which is rather far fetched. More like the Dark Side without Darth Vader ... trouble is, Davos ain't fiction." "The biggest cabal of sociopathic criminals the world has ever known."
Notable quotes:
"... This is not new. Klaus Schwab, the man who founded the World Economic Forum in the early 1970s, warned as long ago as 1996 that globalisation had entered a critical phase. "A mounting backlash against its effects, especially in the industrial democracies, is threatening a very disruptive impact on economic activity and social stability in many countries," he said. ..."
"... Schwab's warning was not heeded. There was no real attempt to make globalisation work for everyone. Communities affected by the export of jobs to countries where labour was cheaper were left to rot. The rewards of growth went disproportionately to a privileged few. Resentment quietly festered until there was a backlash. For Schwab, Brexit and Trump are a bitter blow, a repudiation of what he likes to call the spirit of Davos. ..."
"... It would be wrong, however, to imagine that business is terrified at the prospect of a Trump presidency. Boardrooms rather like the idea of a big cut in US corporation tax. They favour deregulation. They purr at plans to spend more on infrastructure. Wall Street is happy because it thinks the new president will mean stronger growth and higher corporate earnings. ..."
"... 'Policy decisions-not God, nature, or the invisible hand-exposed American manufacturing workers to direct competition with low-paid workers in the developing world. Policymakers could have exposed more highly paid workers such as doctors and lawyers to this same competition, but a bipartisan congressional consensus, and presidents of both parties, instead chose to keep them largely protected.' ..."
"... Good article by the way. Recommend others to read. Thanks. ..."
"... Stop trying to shackle every conservative to the desperate and ugly views of the few. Deplorables and their alt-right kin, are so small in number. We ought keep an eye on the Deplorables but little else ... they're politically insignificant. I wish you'd stop trying to throw the average Republican voter into the basket of bigoted, racist rednecks. It's deplorable! ..."
"... Saying Davos without Trump is like Hamlet without the prince implies a dignity about the event which is rather far fetched. More like the Dark Side without Darth Vader ... trouble is, Davos ain't fiction. ..."
"... Why would Daniel go into the lion's den? Trump is committed to stopping the excesses of the "swamp rats" most of whom are at Davos. The world will be turned on its head in 2017; it is going to be interesting to watch the demise of those at the top of the pyramid. ..."
"... What exactly is the "Spirit of Davos" then? A bunch of fat, rich elderly men and their hangers-on troughing themselves to the point of bursting on fine wines and gourmet food, while paying lip-service to the poor? ..."
"... One question for Davos might be: how are you going to resolve differences between the vast majority of people who exist as national citizens, and the multinational elite? It's not a new question. ..."
"... Multinationals, corporate and individuals, can dodge the taxes which pay for services we all rely on but especially citizens. ..."
"... Davos is not restricting attendance to high office bearers. Trump could have gone, had he wanted to, or he could have sent one of his family/staff - that's how Davos works. ..."
"... Bilderberg is by invitation, as far as I know, Davos by application and paying a high membership, plus fee. But the fact he is not represented could be a good sign if it means that the focus is on solving domestic issues as opposed to spending so much time and resources on international ones. ..."
"... My own take on the annual Davos circus is as follows:. It is a totally useless conclave and has never achieved anything tangible since its inception. ..."
"... This gives an excellent opportunity for those who hold so-called "numbered" or other secret bank accounts in the proverbially secretive Swiss banks to have their annual tete-a-tete with their bankers and carry out whatever maintenance has to be done to their bank accounts. After all, in tiny Switzerland, it is only a hop from one town to another. No one will miss you if you are not visible for a day or two. If any nosy taxman back home asks: "What was the purpose of your visit to Switzerland?", one can say with a straight face: "Oh, I was invited to be a keynote speaker at Davos to talk about the increasing income disparity in the world and on what steps to take to mitigate it."! ..."
"... I think globalisation is inhumane. Someone calculated that if labour were to follow capital flows we would see one third of the globe move around on a constant basis. One son in Cape Town a daughter in New York and a brother in Tokyo. It's not how human societies operate we are group animals like herds of cows. We need to be firmly rooted in order to build functioning and humane societies. That is the migration aspect of globalization the other aspect is the complete destruction of diverse cultures. ..."
Jan 19, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

Trump's influence can also be felt in other ways. The manner in which he won the US election, tapping in to deep-seated anger about the unfair distribution of the spoils of economic growth, has been noted. There is talk in Davos of the need to ensure that globalisation works for everyone.

This is not new. Klaus Schwab, the man who founded the World Economic Forum in the early 1970s, warned as long ago as 1996 that globalisation had entered a critical phase. "A mounting backlash against its effects, especially in the industrial democracies, is threatening a very disruptive impact on economic activity and social stability in many countries," he said.

Schwab's warning was not heeded. There was no real attempt to make globalisation work for everyone. Communities affected by the export of jobs to countries where labour was cheaper were left to rot. The rewards of growth went disproportionately to a privileged few. Resentment quietly festered until there was a backlash. For Schwab, Brexit and Trump are a bitter blow, a repudiation of what he likes to call the spirit of Davos.

It would be wrong, however, to imagine that business is terrified at the prospect of a Trump presidency. Boardrooms rather like the idea of a big cut in US corporation tax. They favour deregulation. They purr at plans to spend more on infrastructure. Wall Street is happy because it thinks the new president will mean stronger growth and higher corporate earnings.

In Trump's absence, it has been left to two senior members of the outgoing Obama administration – his vice-president, Joe Biden, and secretary of state John Kerry – to fly the US flag.

Just as significantly, Xi Jinping is the first Chinese premier to attend Davos and has made it clear that, unlike Trump, he has no plans to resile from international obligations. The sense of a changing of the guard is palpable.

missuswatanabe

It's the way globalisation has been managed for the benefit of the richest in the developed world that has been bad for the masses rather than globalisation itself.

I thought this was an interesting, if US-centric, perspective on things:

'Policy decisions-not God, nature, or the invisible hand-exposed American manufacturing workers to direct competition with low-paid workers in the developing world. Policymakers could have exposed more highly paid workers such as doctors and lawyers to this same competition, but a bipartisan congressional consensus, and presidents of both parties, instead chose to keep them largely protected.'

http://bostonreview.net/forum/dean-baker-globalization-blame

Sunny Reneick -> missuswatanabe

Good article by the way. Recommend others to read. Thanks.

Paul Paterson -> ConBrio

Decent, hardworking Americans facing social and economic insecurity, whether on the right or left, ought to be the focus. We need to deal with the concerns of the average citizen, however it is they vote. Fringe groups don't serve our attention given tbe very real problems the country faces.

Stop trying to shackle every conservative to the desperate and ugly views of the few. Deplorables and their alt-right kin, are so small in number. We ought keep an eye on the Deplorables but little else ... they're politically insignificant. I wish you'd stop trying to throw the average Republican voter into the basket of bigoted, racist rednecks. It's deplorable!

What we should concern ourselves with is the very real social and economic insecurity felt by many in red states and blue states alike. Those decent and hardworking Americans, regardless of party, are joined in much. Deplorables aren't the average Republican voter and didn't win Trump an election - they are too few to win much of anything.

What you keep referring to as Deplorables are decent Americans seeking change and socioeconomic justice. You are mixing up citizens who happen to vote for the GOP withbwhite nationalist scum. How dare you tar all conservatives with the hate monger brush!

Spunky325 -> Paul Paterson

Actually, before taking office, Trump strong-armed Ford and GM into putting more money in their American plants, instead of moving more production to Mexico. He's also questioned cost-overruns on Air Force One and several military projects which is causing companies to back off. I can't think of another American president who has felt it was important to keep jobs in America or who has questioned military spending. Good for him!

Paul Paterson -> Spunky325

You've made it quite clear "you can't think" as you've bought into the ruse. The question is why are you so boastful about it? Trump's policies are even seen by economists on the right as creating staggering levels of debt, creating more economic inequality and unlikely to increase jobs.

Among many flaws, they point out tax proposals that hurt the poor and middle class to such a degree it almost seems targeted. This is the same economic plot that has failed working Americans repeatedly. You folks are getting caught up in a time share pitch and embracing policy that has little chance to help the average American - however it is they vote. It isn't supposed to but y'all are asleep at the wheel.

DrBlamm0

Saying Davos without Trump is like Hamlet without the prince implies a dignity about the event which is rather far fetched. More like the Dark Side without Darth Vader ... trouble is, Davos ain't fiction.

johhnybgood

Why would Daniel go into the lion's den? Trump is committed to stopping the excesses of the "swamp rats" most of whom are at Davos. The world will be turned on its head in 2017; it is going to be interesting to watch the demise of those at the top of the pyramid.

bilyou

What exactly is the "Spirit of Davos" then? A bunch of fat, rich elderly men and their hangers-on troughing themselves to the point of bursting on fine wines and gourmet food, while paying lip-service to the poor?

Maybe Trump just decided to trough it at his tower and avoid hanging out with a grotesque bunch of insufferable see you next Tuesdays.

Ricardo_K

One question for Davos might be: how are you going to resolve differences between the vast majority of people who exist as national citizens, and the multinational elite? It's not a new question.

Multinationals, corporate and individuals, can dodge the taxes which pay for services we all rely on but especially citizens.

James Patterson

Xi's statements on a trade war are completely self serving. But his assertions that he is against protectionism and unfair trading practices is laughably hypocritical. China refuses to let any Silicon Valley Internet company one inch past the Great Firewall. Under his direction the CCP has imposed draconian regulations, which change by the week, on American Companies operating in China making fair competition with local Chinese companies impossible.

The business climate in China is reprehensible. The CCP has resorted to extortion, requiring that U.S. tech companies share their most sensitive trade secrets and IP with Chinese state enterprises or get barred from conducting business there. Sadly, U.S. companies entered China with high expectations and invested hundreds of millions of dollars in factories, labs and equipment. This threat has caused many CEO's to sacrifice their company's long term viability by transferring their most closely guarded technological advances to China or face the loss their entire investment in China. Even so, multinationals are beginning the Chinese exodus led by those with less financial exposure soon to be followed by companies like Apple despite significant economic ties.

True, most people believe a 'trade war' with China means America is the defacto loser because of dishonest reporting. The truth is that America's economic exposure to China is extremely limited. U.S. exports to China represent only 7% of America's total exports worldwide; which in turn accounts for less than 1% of total U.S. GDP (Wells Fargo Economics Group 2015). Most of America's exports to China are raw materials, which can be redirected to other markets with some effort. So even if China blocked all U.S. exports tomorrow, America's economy could absorb the blow with minimal damage. This presents the U.S. government with a wide range of options to deal with China's many trade infractions and unfair practices as aggressively or punitively as it wishes.

europeangrayling

Poor Davos attendees. You feel for them at their fancy alpine Bilderberg. It's like the meeting of the mafia organizations, if the mafia became legal and respected now and ran the world economy. And I don't think those economic royalists at Davos miss Trump, Trump was a small fish compared to the Davos people. They make Trump look like a dishwasher.

They are just pissed Trump came out against the TPP and those globalist 'free trade' deals, and doesn't want more regime change maybe. They like everything else about Trump's policies, the big tax cuts, environmental and banking deregulations galore, it's like Reagan 2.0, without the 'free trade'. But they really want that 'free trade' though, those guys are used to getting everything. Imagine if Bernie won, they would really hate that guy, he is also against the TPPs and trade, and for less war, and against everything else they are used to. And that's good, if those honorable brilliant Davos gentleman don't like you, that's not a bad thing.

soundofthesuburbs -> soundofthesuburbs

With secular stagnation we should all be asking why is economics so bad?

Keynesian redistributive capitalism went out with Margaret Thatcher and inequality has been rising ever since (there is a clue there for the economists amongst us).

How did these new ideas rise to prominence?

"There Is No Nobel Prize in Economics

It's awarded by Sweden's central bank, foisted among the five real prizewinners, often to economists for the 1% -- and the surviving Nobel family is strongly against it."

"The award for economics came almost 70 years later-bootstrapped to the Nobel in 1968 as a bit of a marketing ploy to celebrate the Bank of Sweden's 300th anniversary." Yes, you read that right: "a marketing ploy."

Today's economics rose to prominence by awarding its economists Nobel Prizes that weren't Nobel Prizes.

No wonder it's so bad.

Global elites can use all sorts of trickery to put their ideas in place, but economics is economics and if doesn't reflect how the economy operates it won't work.

Secular stagnation – what more evidence do we need?

HauptmannGurski -> bcarey

Davos is not restricting attendance to high office bearers. Trump could have gone, had he wanted to, or he could have sent one of his family/staff - that's how Davos works.

Bilderberg is by invitation, as far as I know, Davos by application and paying a high membership, plus fee. But the fact he is not represented could be a good sign if it means that the focus is on solving domestic issues as opposed to spending so much time and resources on international ones.

Meanwhile, alibaba's Jack Ma said in Davos that the US had spent many trillions on wars in the last 30 years and neglected their own infrastructure. Money is for people, or some such like, he said. Just mentioning it here, because the MSM tend to dislike running this kind of remark.

Rajanvn -> HauptmannGurski

My own take on the annual Davos circus is as follows:. It is a totally useless conclave and has never achieved anything tangible since its inception.

Did it, in any way, with all the stars in the financial galaxy gathered in one place, warn against the 2008 global financial meltdown? The real reason why so many moneybags congregate at a place which would be shunned by all who have no affinity for snow sports may be, according to my own reckoning, may not be that innocent and may even be quite sinister.

This gives an excellent opportunity for those who hold so-called "numbered" or other secret bank accounts in the proverbially secretive Swiss banks to have their annual tete-a-tete with their bankers and carry out whatever maintenance has to be done to their bank accounts. After all, in tiny Switzerland, it is only a hop from one town to another. No one will miss you if you are not visible for a day or two. If any nosy taxman back home asks: "What was the purpose of your visit to Switzerland?", one can say with a straight face: "Oh, I was invited to be a keynote speaker at Davos to talk about the increasing income disparity in the world and on what steps to take to mitigate it."!

Roland33

I think globalisation is inhumane. Someone calculated that if labour were to follow capital flows we would see one third of the globe move around on a constant basis. One son in Cape Town a daughter in New York and a brother in Tokyo. It's not how human societies operate we are group animals like herds of cows. We need to be firmly rooted in order to build functioning and humane societies. That is the migration aspect of globalization the other aspect is the complete destruction of diverse cultures.

If everyone drives Toyota and everyone drinks Starbucks we lose the diversity of culture that people claim they find so valuable. And replaces it with a mono-culture of Levi jeans and McDonalds. Wealth inequality is really something that can be reduced if you look various countries score higher in this regard than others while still being highly successful market economies but I think money is secondary to the displacement and alienation that come with the first two aspects of globalisation. I find it strange that it is now the right that advocates reversing these neoliberal trends and the left that seems to champion it. I was conscious during the 90's and anti-globalisation was clearly a left wing issue. For whatever reason the left just leaves room for the right to harvest the grapes of wrath they warned about many years ago. Don't blame the "populist" right ask why the left left them the space.

[Jan 19, 2017] WikiLeaks' impact: an unfiltered look into the world's elite and powerful

Jan 19, 2017 | www.theguardian.com
The leaks also revealed that US diplomats had been ordered to take part in an intelligence-collection operation at the United Nations targeted at the secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, and the permanent security council representatives from China, Russia, France and the UK.

Washington wanted diplomats as well as the intelligence agencies to pick up details such as credit card numbers, email addresses, phone, fax and pager numbers and even frequent-flyer account numbers of UN figures as well as "biographic and biometric information on UN security council permanent representatives".

The secret "national human intelligence collection directive" was sent to US missions at the UN in New York, Vienna and Rome; 33 embassies and consulates, including those in London, Paris and Moscow.

The cable raised questions about the dividing line between diplomats and spies in Washington's eyes, and without doubt made UN and other foreign officials think very carefully about subsequent meetings with US diplomats.

US officials have asserted that the release of the material endangered the lives of US diplomats' foreign sources. The state department legal adviser at the time, Harold Koh argued the document dump "could place at risk the lives of countless innocent individuals" as well as "ongoing military operations".

He accused WikiLeaks of endangerment "without regard to the security and the sanctity of the lives your actions endanger".

There are no proven cases of deaths directly attributable to the release of the cables. But there was no doubt about the breadth and depth of the embarrassment.

[Jan 18, 2017] McCain's ties to the Kremlin via Rick Davis

Jan 18, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
3.14e-9 , January 15, 2017 at 6:57 pm

Scott Ritter offers no new information or original arguments in his HuffPo piece, but he distills what we know into a concise, well-supported analysis.

The article leads with McCain telling reporters during a recent trip to Ukraine that Russian hacking of the election was an "act of war." Coincidentally, a link came into my Twitter feed yesterday to a podcast with Mark Ames about Trump's ties to Russia via his ex-campaign manager Paul Manafort. It was recorded last August, but I hadn't listened to it until last night.

Ames mentioned an article he'd written for The Nation in 2008, which jarred my memory. In fact, I had read that article, which was about McCain's ties to the Kremlin via Rick Davis, Manafort's partner in the lobbying firm Davis Manafort. Davis was McCain's campaign manager in his 2008 race against Obama.

This story is getting stinkier by the day. Unfortunately. Ritter's controversial background will make it easy for those who don't want to hear his message to attack the messenger.

For anyone who's interested, here's a link to the podcast (actually YouTube audio):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bRZkHQyQgM

[Jan 18, 2017] Mainstream Media's Russian Bogeymen

Jan 18, 2017 | original.antiwar.com

The mainstream hysteria over Russia has led to dubious or downright false stories that have deepened the New Cold War

by Gareth Porter , January 16, 2017 Print This | Share This In the middle of a major domestic crisis over the U.S. charge that Russia had interfered with the US election, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) triggered a brief national media hysteria by creating and spreading a bogus story of Russian hacking into US power infrastructure.

DHS had initiated the now-discredited tale of a hacked computer at the Burlington, Vermont Electricity Department by sending the utility's managers misleading and alarming information, then leaked a story they certainly knew to be false and continued to put out a misleading line to the media.

Even more shocking, however, DHS had previously circulated a similar bogus story of Russian hacking of a Springfield, Illinois water pump in November 2011.

The story of how DHS twice circulated false stories of Russian efforts to sabotage US "critical infrastructure" is a cautionary tale of how senior leaders in a bureaucracy-on-the-make take advantage of every major political development to advance its own interests, with scant regard for the truth.

The DHS had carried out a major public campaign to focus on an alleged Russian threat to US power infrastructure in early 2016. The campaign took advantage of a US accusation of a Russian cyber-attack against the Ukrainian power infrastructure in December 2015 to promote one of the agency's major functions - guarding against cyber-attacks on America's infrastructure.

Beginning in late March 2016, DHS and FBI conducted a series of 12 unclassified briefings for electric power infrastructure companies in eight cities titled, "Ukraine Cyber Attack: implications for US stakeholders." The DHS declared publicly, "These events represent one of the first known physical impacts to critical infrastructure which resulted from cyber-attack."

That statement conveniently avoided mentioning that the first cases of such destruction of national infrastructure from cyber-attacks were not against the United States, but were inflicted on Iran by the Obama administration and Israel in 2009 and 2012.

Beginning in October 2016, the DHS emerged as one of the two most important players – along with the CIA-in the political drama over the alleged Russian effort to tilt the 2016 election toward Donald Trump. Then on Dec. 29, DHS and FBI distributed a "Joint Analysis Report" to US power utilities across the country with what it claimed were "indicators" of a Russian intelligence effort to penetrate and compromise US computer networks, including networks related to the presidential election, that it called "GRIZZLY STEPPE."

The report clearly conveyed to the utilities that the "tools and infrastructure" it said had been used by Russian intelligence agencies to affect the election were a direct threat to them as well. However, according to Robert M. Lee, the founder and CEO of the cyber-security company Dragos, who had developed one of the earliest US government programs for defense against cyber-attacks on US infrastructure systems, the report was certain to mislead the recipients.

"Anyone who uses it would think they were being impacted by Russian operations," said Lee. "We ran through the indicators in the report and found that a high percentage were false positives."

Lee and his staff found only two of a long list of malware files that could be linked to Russian hackers without more specific data about timing. Similarly a large proportion of IP addresses listed could be linked to "GRIZZLY STEPPE" only for certain specific dates, which were not provided.

The Intercept discovered, in fact, that 42 percent of the 876 IP addresses listed in the report as having been used by Russian hackers were exit nodes for the Tor Project, a system that allows bloggers, journalists and others – including some military entities – to keep their Internet communications private.

Lee said the DHS staff that worked on the technical information in the report is highly competent, but the document was rendered useless when officials classified and deleted some key parts of the report and added other material that shouldn't have been in it. He believes the DHS issued the report "for a political purpose," which was to "show that the DHS is protecting you."

Planting the Story, Keeping it Alive

Upon receiving the DHS-FBI report the Burlington Electric Company network security team immediately ran searches of its computer logs using the lists of IP addresses it had been provided. When one of IP addresses cited in the report as an indicator of Russian hacking was found on the logs, the utility immediately called DHS to inform it as it had been instructed to do by DHS.

In fact, the IP address on the Burlington Electric Company's computer was simply the Yahoo e-mail server, according to Lee, so it could not have been a legitimate indicator of an attempted cyber-intrusion. That should have been the end of the story. But the utility did not track down the IP address before reporting it to DHS. It did, however, expect DHS to treat the matter confidentially until it had thoroughly investigated and resolved the issue.

"DHS wasn't supposed to release the details," said Lee. "Everybody was supposed to keep their mouth shut."

Instead, a DHS official called The Washington Post and passed on word that one of the indicators of Russian hacking of the DNC had been found on the Burlington utility's computer network. The Post failed to follow the most basic rule of journalism, relying on its DHS source instead of checking with the Burlington Electric Department first. The result was the Post's sensational Dec. 30 story under the headline "Russian hackers penetrated US electricity grid through a utility in Vermont, US officials say."

DHS official evidently had allowed the Post to infer that the Russians hack had penetrated the grid without actually saying so. The Post story said the Russians "had not actively used the code to disrupt operations of the utility, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss a security matter," but then added, and that "the penetration of the nation's electrical grid is significant because it represents a potentially serious vulnerability."

The electric company quickly issued a firm denial that the computer in question was connected to the power grid. The Post was forced to retract, in effect, its claim that the electricity grid had been hacked by the Russians. But it stuck by its story that the utility had been the victim of a Russian hack for another three days before admitting that no such evidence of a hack existed.

The day after the story was published, the DHS leadership continued to imply, without saying so explicitly, that the Burlington utility had been hacked by Russians. Assistant Secretary for Pubic Affairs J. Todd Breasseale gave CNN a statement that the "indicators" from the malicious software found on the computer at Burlington Electric were a "match" for those on the DNC computers.

As soon as DHS checked the IP address, however, it knew that it was a Yahoo cloud server and therefore not an indicator that the same team that allegedly hacked the DNC had gotten into the Burlington utility's laptop. DHS also learned from the utility that the laptop in question had been infected by malware called "neutrino," which had never been used in "GRIZZLY STEPPE."

Only days later did the DHS reveal those crucial facts to the Post. And the DHS was still defending its joint report to the Post, according to Lee, who got part of the story from Post sources. The DHS official was arguing that it had "led to a discovery," he said. "The second is, 'See, this is encouraging people to run indicators.'"

Original DHS False Hacking Story

The false Burlington Electric hack scare is reminiscent of an earlier story of Russian hacking of a utility for which the DHS was responsible as well. In November 2011, it reported an "intrusion" into a Springfield, Illinois water district computer that similarly turned out to be a fabrication.

Like the Burlington fiasco, the false report was preceded by a DHS claim that US infrastructure systems were already under attack. In October 2011, acting DHS deputy undersecretary Greg Schaffer was quoted by The Washington Post as warning that "our adversaries" are "knocking on the doors of these systems." And Schaffer added, "In some cases, there have been intrusions." He did not specify when, where or by whom, and no such prior intrusions have ever been documented.

On Nov. 8, 2011, a water pump belonging to the Curran-Gardner township water district near Springfield, Illinois, burned out after sputtering several times in previous months. The repair team brought in to fix it found a Russian IP address on its log from five months earlier. That IP address was actually from a cell phone call from the contractor who had set up the control system for the pump and who was vacationing in Russia with his family, so his name was in the log by the address.

Without investigating the IP address itself, the utility reported the IP address and the breakdown of the water pump to the Environmental Protection Agency, which in turn passed it on to the Illinois Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center, also called a fusion center composed of Illinois State Police and representatives from the FBI, DHS and other government agencies.

On Nov. 10 – just two days after the initial report to EPA – the fusion center produced a report titled "Public Water District Cyber Intrusion" suggesting a Russian hacker had stolen the identity of someone authorized to use the computer and had hacked into the control system causing the water pump to fail.

The contractor whose name was on the log next to the IP address later told Wired magazine that one phone call to him would have laid the matter to rest. But the DHS, which was the lead in putting the report out, had not bothered to make even that one obvious phone call before opining that it must have been a Russian hack.

The fusion center "intelligence report," circulated by DHS Office of Intelligence and Research, was picked up by a cyber-security blogger, who called The Washington Post and read the item to a reporter. Thus the Post published the first sensational story of a Russian hack into a US infrastructure on Nov. 18, 2011.

After the real story came out, DHS disclaimed responsibility for the report, saying that it was the fusion center's responsibility. But a Senate subcommittee investigation revealed in a report a year later that even after the initial report had been discredited, DHS had not issued any retraction or correction to the report, nor had it notified the recipients about the truth.

DHS officials responsible for the false report told Senate investigators such reports weren't intended to be "finished intelligence," implying that the bar for accuracy of the information didn't have to be very high. They even claimed that report was a "success" because it had done what "what it's supposed to do – generate interest."

Both the Burlington and Curran-Gardner episodes underline a central reality of the political game of national security in the New Cold War era: major bureaucratic players like DHS have a huge political stake in public perceptions of a Russian threat, and whenever the opportunity arises to do so, they will exploit it.

Gareth Porter, an investigative historian and journalist specializing in US national security policy, received the UK-based Gellhorn Prize for journalism for 2011 for articles on the U.S. war in Afghanistan. His new book is Manufactured Crisis: the Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare . He can be contacted at porter.gareth50@gmail.com .

Reprinted from Consortium News with the author's permission.

Read more by Gareth Porter

[Jan 17, 2017] Obama Commutes Remaining Prison Sentence Of Chelsea Manning

Jan 17, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
Jan 17, 2017 4:25 PM Following urges by Edward Snowden and Julian Assange (who offered his own extradition in exchange) , President Obama has largely commuted the remaining prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the army intelligence analyst convicted of an enormous 2010 leak that revealed American military and diplomatic activities across the world, disrupted the administration, and made WikiLeaks, the recipient of those disclosures, famous.

Manning will be released in May 2017 according to the White House. The move is part of a final push of pardons and commutations in the closing days of the administration, and Obama has now shortened the sentences of more federal inmates than any other president, bringing the total to 1,385 as of today.

Previously both Julian Assange and Edward Snowden who leaked his cache of documents detailing U.S. intelligence efforts around the same time as Manning's crime, advocated for her clemency. "Mr. President, if you grant only one act of clemency as you exit the White House, please: free Chelsea Manning," Snowden tweeted. "You alone can save her life."

Manning was arrested in 2010 after leaking 700,000 military files and diplomatic cables to Wikileaks, and her sentence exceeded that received by other individuals recently convicted of releasing classified material. She has twice attempted to commit suicide while incarcerated, and went on a hunger strike in an effort to get the Army to allow her to undertake gender reassignment surgery.

As The New York Times reports, the decision by Obama rescued Manning from an uncertain future as a transgender woman incarcerated at the male military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

She has been jailed for nearly seven years, and her 35-year sentence was by far the longest punishment ever imposed in the United States for a leak conviction.

Now, under the terms of Mr. Obama's commutation announced by the White House on Tuesday, Ms. Manning is set to be freed in five months, on May 17 of this year, rather than in 2045.

The commutation also relieved the Department of Defense of the difficult responsibility of her incarceration as she pushes for treatment for her gender dysphoria - including sex reassignment surgery - that the military has no experience providing.

As The New York Times describes, Manning was still known as Bradley Manning when she deployed with her unit to Iraq in late 2009. There, she worked as a low-level intelligence analyst helping her unit assess insurgent activity in the area it was patrolling, a role that gave her access to a classified computer network.

She copied hundreds of thousands of military incident logs from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, which, among other things, exposed abuses of detainees by Iraqi military officers working with American forces and showed that civilian deaths in the Iraq war were likely much higher than official estimates.

The files she copied also included about 250,000 diplomatic cables from American embassies around the world showing sensitive deals and conversations, dossiers detailing intelligence assessments of Guantánamo detainees held without trial, and a video of an American helicopter attack in Baghdad in two Reuters journalists were killed, among others.

She decided to make all these files public, as she wrote at the time, in the hope that they would incite "worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms." WikiLeaks' disclosed them - working with traditional news organizations including The New York Times - bringing notoriety to the group and its founder, Julian Assange.

The disclosures set off a frantic scramble as Obama administration officials sought to minimize any potential harm, including getting to safety some foreigners in dangerous countries who were identified as having helped American troops or diplomats. Prosecutors, however, presented no evidence that anyone was killed because of the leaks.

In her commutation application, Ms. Manning said she had not imagined that she would be sentenced to the "extreme" term of 35 years, a term for which there was "no historical precedent." (There have only been a handful of leak cases, and most sentence are in the range of one to three years.)

"I take full and complete responsibility for my decision to disclose these materials to the public," she wrote.

"I have never made any excuses for what I did. I pleaded guilty without the protection of a plea agreement because I believed the military justice system would understand my motivation for the disclosure and sentence me fairly. I was wrong."

The US Constitution allows a president to pardon "offenses against the United States" and commute -- either shorten or end -- federal sentences. Obama has so far granted 148 pardons since taking office in 2009 -- fewer than his predecessors, who also served two terms, George W. Bush (189) and Bill Clinton (396). But he has surpassed any other president in the number of granted, commutations, 1,385, more than the total number given by the past 12 presidents combined.

The White House is expected to announce another round of clemency grants on Thursday, officials said. Most of Obama's clemency grants have gone to relatively unknown individuals but Tuesday's batch contained some who are famous, as is typical for presidents in their final days.

[Jan 17, 2017] Is Politically Correct or Jingoistic Reporting Fake News - The Unz Review

Jan 17, 2017 | www.unz.com
What Russia's crime consisted of, by the most damaging interpretation, was hacking into a private server belonging to a political party and possibly allowing the admittedly factual but embarrassing material obtained to make its way into the media. Excuse me, but that is what intelligence agencies do routinely to justify their multiple billion dollar budgets. The United States is the world leader in such activity as revealed by Jim Bamford's books on the subject and also through the revelations obtained in the Snowden papers. Now Russia is being condemned for possibly doing some of the same, though no evidence is being provided, and the story is being framed as if we are by definition the good guys and Vladimir Putin is the devil incarnate.

What I am saying is that the United States mainstream media is the primary source of fake news due to its inbuilt biases on what is acceptable and what is not. It actually hurts black people by its attempts to be protective and its unwillingness to consider a news story through the eyes of the other party for chauvinistic reasons means that Americans are particularly uninformed about what is going on in the world. To suggest that all of this is particularly dangerous, both in terms of domestic tranquility and possible foreign threats, would be an understatement.

[Jan 16, 2017] Blocking Donald Trumps Inauguration

Jan 16, 2017 | viableopposition.blogspot.ca
Here is what the group is about:

" 1. Trump won the Electoral College vote – a legacy of slavery, and used to embed inequality in voting rights since. He lost the popular vote, by well over 2 and a half million votes. Trump has no "mandate", and his victory is illegitimate.
2. More fundamental: the illegitimacy of the entire fascist regime Trump is moving to install. Trump promises to inflict repression and suffering on people in this country, to deport millions, to increase violence up to the use of nuclear weapons on people across the globe, and to inflict catastrophes upon the planet itself.
3. He is assembling a "Legion of Doom" cabinet of white supremacists, woman haters, science deniers, religious fundamentalist zealots, and war mongers. NO! His regime must not be allowed to consolidate. We REFUSE to accept a Fascist America !"
Since the organization regularly refers to "fascism", let's look at the Dictionary.com definition of fascism :
1. (sometimes initial capital letter) a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.
2. (sometimes initial capital letter) the philosophy, principles, or methods of fascism.
3. (initial capital letter) a political movement that employs the principles and methods of fascism, especially the one established by Mussolini in Italy 1922–43."

There are three main aspects of fascism ;

1.) authoritarianism or the rule of a strong central government.
2.) nationalism or the pride in one's country.
3.) xenophobia - the fear of unknown peoples or entities.

As we all know, the 20th century saw the rise of fascism in both Germany under Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist movement and Italy under Benito Mussolini prior to and during the Second World War, both in circumstance where their homelands had experienced a long period of economic hopelessness. It is actually Benito Mussolini who coined the term "fascism" after the Latin word "fasces" which was the symbol of bound sticks used as a symbol of power in ancient Rome. Here's what Mussolini had to say about fascism:

" Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace. It thus repudiates the doctrine of Pacifism -- born of a renunciation of the struggle and an act of cowardice in the face of sacrifice. War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have courage to meet it. All other trials are substitutes, which never really put men into the position where they have to make the great decision -- the alternative of life or death....

... Fascism [is] the complete opposite of Marxian Socialism , the materialist conception of history of human civilization can be explained simply through the conflict of interests among the various social groups and by the change and development in the means and instruments of production.... Fascism, now and always, believes in holiness and in heroism; that is to say, in actions influenced by no economic motive, direct or indirect....And above all Fascism denies that class-war can be the preponderant force in the transformation of society....

After Socialism, Fascism combats the whole complex system of democratic ideology, and repudiates it, whether in its theoretical premises or in its practical application.

Fascism denies that the majority, by the simple fact that it is a majority, can direct human society; it denies that numbers alone can govern by means of a periodical consultation, and it affirms the immutable, beneficial, and fruitful inequality of mankind, which can never be permanently leveled through the mere operation of a mechanical process such as universal suffrage " (i.e. the vote).... (my bold and comment in brackets)

By using the term "fascism" in association with Donald Trump and his chosen insiders, the group behind Refuse Fascism has used our innate fears of another Adolf Hitler to raise opposition to the Trump Administration.

The media has played right into this with banners like these:

  1. Slate which found Donald Trump not completely guilty of fascism:
  2. Newsweek :
  3. The Washington Post which actually graded Donald Trump as a 26 out of a possible 44 Benitos (i.e. he doesn't completely fit the profile):
  4. Vox which actually found Donald Trump "not guilty" of fascism:
Given that the term "fascist" is one of the strongest political epithets that one can use, the very mention of the word in conjunction with the Trump name is a rather convenient way of getting readers to associate the two, particularly given that most readers don't read much past the first few paragraphs of any news item.

The one key point missing in the Trump as a fascist claim is that fascism is deeply suspicious of capitalism because it divided nations and destroyed national traditions. It advocates strong state intervention in the economy to maintain control of the "fatherland". One definitely cannot term Donald Trump as an anti-capitalist.


Bruce Wilds January 15, 2017 at 10:05 AM

The new year rolled in with several Sunday morning talk shows that discuss the Washington beltway and current events piling on America's new president-elect. The panel of supposed experts who impart their deep knowledge in an attempt to enlighten us more ignorant folks made it clear America may not survive as a result of Trump being elected.

It is difficult not to notice the stark contrast between how Trump is being treated by the press and how they heap praise upon Obama as he takes a "victory tour" lauding his accomplishments as president. More on the ramifications of this bashing of Trump in the article below.

http://brucewilds.blogspot.com/2017/01/sunday-morning-talk-shows-excel-in.html

[Jan 16, 2017] If DNI Clapper is telling the truth, then the ICA was prepared in a manner that violated the very tradecraft regarding the preparation of intelligence community analytical products

Notable quotes:
"... The implication inherent in DNI Clapper's revelation is that the classified information relied upon by the Intelligence Community was so specific as to its nature, and so critical and central to the judgments made in the ICA, that it could not be worked around to the extent necessary to shield its specific source from the analysts in the INR. ..."
"... If DNI Clapper is telling the truth, then the ICA was prepared in a manner that violated the very tradecraft regarding the preparation of intelligence community analytical products he proudly cited to underpin the credibility of the ICA. It also implies that the intelligence community was comfortable with excluding from one of the most important assessments of Russian intent in modern times the very agency, the Department of State, that deals with the Russians on a broad spectrum of issues on a daily basis, and as such would be ideally positioned to weigh in on issues such as Russian intent – especially that of its leader, Vladimir Putin. ..."
Jan 16, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
fresno dan , January 15, 2017 at 8:29 am

Exposing The Man Behind The Curtain Scott Ritter, Huffington Post (Fiver). Important.

"We have 17 intelligence agencies, civilian and military, who have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyberattacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin, and they are designed to influence our election." This statement was false when it was made by Hillary Clinton, on October 9, 2016, referring to the aforementioned October 7 joint statement by DHS and the ODNI; as was the case for the Russian ICA, the joint statement drew upon only three of the 16 agencies (the 17th is the ODNI, which is a coordinating body, not a separate intelligence agency), the only intelligence agencies involved in crafting the underlying assessments and judgments were the FBI, CIA and NSA.

When one dissects the nuts and bolts that hold the Russian ICA together, the framework is actually quite weak. The FBI, the sole agency responsible for intelligence derived from a domestic source (i.e., the DNC server and John Podesta) has acknowledged that it has had no direct access to the servers involved, and was compelled to carry out its investigation based upon the technical report of a private cyber security company, Crowdstrike, brought in by the DNC in April 2016***.
..
It was interesting to note that DNI Clapper told the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, in open session on January 10, 2016, that the State Department, in particular its Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) was excluded from participating in the preparation of the classified ICA because of "sensitivity of sources." This seems to be a unique circumstance, as the Senator who asked the question noted; INR analysts possess the highest level of security clearances that grant them access to a broad range of highly classified sources of intelligence.

The implication inherent in DNI Clapper's revelation is that the classified information relied upon by the Intelligence Community was so specific as to its nature, and so critical and central to the judgments made in the ICA, that it could not be worked around to the extent necessary to shield its specific source from the analysts in the INR.

This exclusion, however, would cut across the entire intelligence community, given the "need to know" caveats attached to most, if not all, sensitive information of this nature. If this was, indeed, the standard applied, then it would also exclude from participation in preparation of the ICA many of the CIA's own analysts, and most, if not all, of the academics recruited to fill positions within the National Intelligence Council, the arm of the ODNI responsible for overseeing the production of multi-agency assessments like the ICA on Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election.

If DNI Clapper is telling the truth, then the ICA was prepared in a manner that violated the very tradecraft regarding the preparation of intelligence community analytical products he proudly cited to underpin the credibility of the ICA. It also implies that the intelligence community was comfortable with excluding from one of the most important assessments of Russian intent in modern times the very agency, the Department of State, that deals with the Russians on a broad spectrum of issues on a daily basis, and as such would be ideally positioned to weigh in on issues such as Russian intent – especially that of its leader, Vladimir Putin.

==================================================================
It may seem like a small lie, 3 bureaucracies instead of 17, but it is is an innate characteristic of these institutions and individuals. They spread a lot of disinformation. And than of course, the lying by omission.

Its a complete and thorough "assessment" .except for the fact that all those cynics, skeptics, and anyone with the expertise to refute the dubious assumptions and obvious biases of the CIA were excluded.

So, the CIA says "WE ALL AGREE" – does anyone know of a MSM that has pointed out that the "intelligence report" is a consensus ONLY because anybody who disagreed was left off???

***
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/russian-government-hackers-penetrated-dnc-stole-opposition-research-on-trump/2016/06/14/cf006cb4-316e-11e6-8ff7-7b6c1998b7a0_story.html?utm_term=.c9e570cc61fc

One group, which CrowdStrike had dubbed Cozy Bear, had gained access last summer and was monitoring the DNC's email and chat communications, Alperovitch said.

The other, which the firm had named Fancy Bear, broke into the network in late April and targeted the opposition research files. It was this breach that set off the alarm. The hackers stole two files, Henry said. And they had access to the computers of the entire research staff - an average of about several dozen on any given day.

The computers contained research going back years on TRUMP. "It's a huge job" to dig into the dealings of somebody who has never run for office before, Dacey said.

CrowdStrike is not sure how the hackers got in. The firm suspects they may have targeted DNC employees with "spearphishing" emails. These are communications that appear legitimate - often made to look like they came from a colleague or someone trusted - but that contain links or attachments that when clicked on deploy malicious software that enables a hacker to gain access to a computer. "But WE DON'T HAVE HARD EVIDENCE," Alperovitch said.

===================================
Soooo .the DNC is mad that Russia got all their Trump Opo dirt for free?

HBE , January 15, 2017 at 10:42 am

Great detailed piece, and on huffpo no less.

Then I checked the comments (only 12 in 3 days), of which all were of the "OMG Russians" or "the IC must be trusted" variety.

It appears huffpo buried this affront to it's general narrative somewhere deep, so as not risk a distortion to it's well manicured bubble.

Not that they needed to, as the few comments on the buried piece illustrate the bubble has become self sustaining.

WJ , January 15, 2017 at 10:59 am

Ritter's piece is unfortunately too detailed and informative–too accurate, in a word–for the vast majority of the screen-reading populace, the credentialed among whom are much dumber and less cultured than their working-class forebears. It's much less taxing to read Jeff Bezos's Blog while ordering your no-whip vanilla latte than trying to work through the far-reaching implications of Ritter's analysis.

fresno dan , January 15, 2017 at 11:51 am

WJ
January 15, 2017 at 10:59 am

Poor Ritter – doomed to be this era's Cassandra. Or maybe poor us (poor "US" as in USA) – doomed to ignore the truthful and listen to the liars ..

and the population all composed of Hamilton Burgers*

*Hamilton Burger was the rather obtuse District Attorney who charged the clients of Perry Mason with crimes, when week after ween, month after month, year after year the clients would be exonerated*** Most people would have long ago figured out not to charge people Perry Mason was defending, but this DA never learned .

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perry_Mason_(TV_series)
***When asked by a fan why Perry Mason won every case, Burr told her, "But madam, you see only the cases I try on Saturday."[61]:590
Mason is known to have lost, in some form or manner, three cases-"The Case of the Terrified Typist", "The Case of the Witless Witness", and "The Case of the Deadly Verdict".[72]

polecat , January 15, 2017 at 12:32 pm

Why read Ritter . when you can just 'turn on' to Mara liasson ,or lachml Singh, or any of the assorted stenographic heathers on N P R ..,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

I don't see Scott tossing out tote bags to the rabble

Montanamaven , January 15, 2017 at 5:07 pm

Yeh, but Ritter also inserts this into the piece.

These failures are furthered when one incorporates the shortcomings of American intelligence analysis behind the failure to accurately predict the Russian actions against Georgia in 2008, the annexation of the Crimea in 2014, and the intervention in Syria in 2015 – in short, the track record of the very intelligence community that produced the ICA addressing allegations of a Russian influence campaign targeting the 2016 US Presidential election is not impressive.

lyman alpha blob , January 15, 2017 at 8:23 pm

I took that to mean that the IC was too stupid to figure out that Russia would not just sit back and do nothing while the US interfered in their sphere of influence, not necessarily that Russia was the instigator.

susan the other , January 15, 2017 at 10:56 am

Why hasn't anybody demanded to see CrowdStrike's pedigree beyond its vague vetting (?) by the DNC? A private company that has remained anonymous except for its name – well that makes no sense. Or rather, it makes the DNC look even worse.

Pat , January 15, 2017 at 11:13 am

Not to mention that one thing that no one seems to be disputing is that DNC cyber security was terrible to non-existent, so their judgment in this area can be considered weak at best.

Katniss Everdeen , January 15, 2017 at 11:30 am

That would be the function of a "principled press," the position of which can be summarized as "Trump and Putin sittin' in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G."

Still, I can't help but wonder if the "principled" press and the "intelligence" community have not painted themselves into a corner. With Trump and Putin portrayed as locked in a loving embrace and isis seemingly dropped off the face of the earth, should Trump meet with a tragic "accident," whom will the public blame?

craazyboy , January 15, 2017 at 11:32 am

Because Alperovitch is also on the Atlantic Council(neocons-NATO) and also has very close ties to Ukraine Nationals? Reaching across the aisle and bi-partisian support, methinks.

craazyboy , January 15, 2017 at 11:18 am

CrowdStrike is fullokrap

"spearphishing" – See Podesta dump for screenshots of phishing site asking for Podesta to enter his id and password.

The so called "unique" Russian exploit techniques are old, and can be done by many other reasonably competent hackers.

Surprising to me is that no one yet has mentioned that a real state hacker would hide her IP behind probably multiple large VPN networks. There might be some way of setting up "spoof servers" too, but I'm nowhere competent enough in this subject to say anything with much certainty. Other than CrowdStrike is full of crap.

Katniss Everdeen , January 15, 2017 at 11:33 am

Maybe "crowdstrike" is the hacking version of "correct" the record.

Arizona Slim , January 15, 2017 at 12:41 pm

Spearphishing? Welcome to my e-mail in box!

If I'm not getting e-mails urging me to update some password or the other, I'm getting tales of woe regarding package delivery or something going wrong with an account of a bank I've never used.

Do I respond? Nope. Do I click on the links or open the attachments in these e-mails? Uh-uh.

So, am I now in the running for a position at the DNC?

craazyboy , January 15, 2017 at 1:26 pm

Possibly a DNC IT guru?

Oregoncharles , January 15, 2017 at 4:57 pm

No, you're specifically disqualified.

How else are they going to lose to Trump, of all people, next time?

cnchal , January 15, 2017 at 12:48 pm

Here is the damning part, economics unwise.

Errors have been made by the Intelligence Community in the past and, given the punishing reality of a fair and open society, and the scrutiny of a free press contained within, these failures have been exposed – sometimes ruthlessly so – for all the world to see. From the reversal of the Intelligence Community's stance on the possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program, underestimating the scope and reach of the threat of the Islamic State, and the exaggeration of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, the shortcomings of the intelligence assessments and estimates conducted by the IC over the past two decades – the period spanning the careers of those who continue to provide the analysis that underpinned these highlighted erroneous conclusions and findings – the public history of the failures of the judgment of the American intelligence community is extensive and uncomplimentary.

This represents massive overhead that can't even be ditched as sunk costs. Keeping this "intelligence" enterprise going is embedded in the government's budget, and the results of these massive errors have caused thousands of untold lives to be destroyed, even the ones still alive, and wasted trillions of dollars, which is ongoing. Meanwhile the rest of the country crumbles.

"You're fired", directed at upper management of the "intelligence" community can't come fast enough from President Trump's mouth.

John Parks , January 15, 2017 at 2:46 pm

"the shortcomings of the intelligence assessments and estimates conducted by the IC over the past two decades"

This article comes awfully close to equating "assessment" with "wild ass guess" but doesn't quite go that far. (probably deemed unprofessional)
The misplaced dedication shown by our IC goes further back ..probably even further back than when the FBI spent two years studying the lyrics of "Louie, Louie"

Goyo Marquez , January 15, 2017 at 2:03 pm

So the chain of evidence for Trump oppo is:
DNC>Russians>MI6>John McCain>CIA>Buzzfeed?
Wow well played.

LT , January 15, 2017 at 2:33 pm

Thinking back, the Democrats and Beltway insiders were still believing their computers' predictions of a Hillary at the time the "Russians are coming" mantra began.
Something tells me this was expected to be the pretext for a Clinton administration led conflict with Russia they just didn't want to let Trump winning stop their plans.
So it's coming off very clumsily. Lots lost in the improvisation.

NotTimothyGeithner , January 15, 2017 at 7:21 pm

Campaign internals. The appearance schedule, reports of polls asking about opinions of Michelle, and Obama hitting the campaign trail when he would ideally like to make a grand gesture such as fraudulent peace talks was a sign the campaign was in trouble.

There is a good chance the vaunted "data" people noticed the Republicans they expected to win weren't abandoning Trump and registration efforts over the Summer didn't pan out due to lack of effort.

Russia is the new Nader, war President, and how Bush out spent Kerry on ads excuses from previous campaigns to excuse the same old Clinton ideas and people leading to the usual disaster. I believe the Green Party moved to recount mode so swiftly to blunt being turned into the villain.

allan , January 15, 2017 at 8:31 am

To ruin your Sunday morning, listen (if you have the stomach) to Council on Foreign Relations head Richard Haas
on the Tavis Smiley show
. Doubling down on the Washington consensus, and clearly trying to talk up
an intervention in Venezuela. Because R2P can not fail – it can only be failed.

Pat , January 15, 2017 at 9:50 am

True believer, or cynic who knows it is hard to sell a book to people telling them their ideas and goals are bull, you decide.

I realoy don't know anymore who is just delusional, and who wants their slice of other people's pie regardless of who they have to damage.

fresno dan , January 15, 2017 at 8:42 am

The Russian Dossier Reminds Me of the Row Over Saddam's WMDs Counterpunch

"Speaking to a trusted compatriot in June 2016 sources A and B, a senior Russian Foreign Ministry and a former top level Russian intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin respectively, [said that] the Russian authorities had been cultivating and supporting US Republican presidential candidate, Donald TRUMP, for at least FIVE YEARS."

==========================================================
Dang those guys are prescience .I wanna ask them what stocks to buy (Hot Octopuss? are masturbatoriums the coming thing???), or better yet, what lottery numbers to pick ..

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , January 15, 2017 at 11:22 am

FIVE YEARS?

Those Euro-Asians are patience and they think long term.

In the 1963 movie, Bye Bye Birdie, Dick Van Dyke played Al Peterson, whose song, The Last Kiss, to by sung by the just-drafted Conrad (or was it Comrade) Birdie, on the Ed Sullivan Show, was going to make him rich enough to take care of his mother and marry his girl friend. The plan was spoiled by those scheming Russian ballet dancers whose number was going to run too long that Ed Sullivan had to eliminate the song. So, the attack on American freedom went way, way back.

Moreover, Van Dyke, being a Ph.D. in biochemistry, had invented a pill to 'speed up' animals and humans as well. The girl friend, posing as a photo-journalist, was able to slip a speed-up pill into the conductor Borov's milk, in order to 'speed up' their show, and restore Birde's lost minutes. While this successful patriotic plan was unfolding, you can see a mad Russkie official clutching a shoe, as if he was ready to hit something with it.

That, there, was the subliminal message to all future shoe-throwers who are now plaguing our world these days.

And, comrades, that's long-range planning five years is nothing.

craazyboy , January 15, 2017 at 12:37 pm

Initially, the devious rooskies were grooming Trump to take down Vince McMahon and totally flatten the Rosie Threat. When they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams is when things went to their heads and they got too big for their britches.

Now they're coming after our super stars. Those rooskies need to be taken down a notch or two.

integer , January 15, 2017 at 8:59 am

Although I was aware of Schumer's recent comment to Maddow ("You take on the intelligence community? They have six ways from Sunday of getting back at you") I did not get around to watching the exchange until today.

What struck me when watching it was that Schumer is saying, on the record, that establshment politicians are subservient to the intelligence agencies because it is considered an accepted fact that their careers will be at risk if they do not give these agencies the freedom to act however they see fit. That is an incredibly dangerous dynamic, and what's worse is that it has been normalized and accepted by cowardly and/or corrupt politicians who purport to serve their constituents.

I for one am grateful that Trump has enough spine to stand firm wrt putting these agencies back in their place (especially the CIA ), which is, after all, to serve and protect the citizens of the US.

fresno dan , January 15, 2017 at 12:54 pm

integer
January 15, 2017 at 8:59 am

the fact that it did not elicit a firestorm tells you all you need to know about how the US government is really run .

Nechaev , January 15, 2017 at 1:24 pm

"their careers" – or given not-so-recent-yet-not-so-ancient USian history – indeed even their lives could/ would be at risk
the schumer-maddow exchange can certainly be –chillingly– interpreted in a number of ways.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , January 15, 2017 at 2:05 pm

That's Schumer's "My Struggle" moment – foretelling what is and what will be happening.

It's all there, years before it becomes reality.

"It's impossible. All of them? Too big to imagine. Too big to fail, check that, too big to apprehend. They don't dare."

alex morfesis , January 15, 2017 at 2:55 pm

The blob is all powerful ?? or people like Schumer are afraid of their own shadow sadly methinx it is the later The blob is able to function since characters sit in the seats of power instead of real men ( & not enough women).

In much like how the mafia slowly brings someone to the dark side by having them do small indiscretions and crimes over a period of time until the victim becomes the victimizer, the blob will attempt to reel one in by burping out national security or just dumping natsec "non disclosures" or luring in someone close to you or finding someone close to you who they already have in their pockets

If one resists too much, then the existing wimps in charge make sure you get stuck in some subcommittees handling bipartisan egg rolls on the whitehouse lawn

Get along or get along now(scoot)

It is getting near the end of the movie and toto has pulled back the curtain .

shall we ignore the little men behind the curtain

polecat , January 15, 2017 at 4:05 pm

I guess this means Chucky won't be calling any .. uh .. 'plumbing contractors' .. to his house anytime soon, unless they're members of Conniving .. Instigators .. Associates !

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , January 15, 2017 at 3:04 pm

Schumer is no lightweight, if he says/believes this then we have a whole lot to be worried about. Thank goodness for Trump.
(For the record, I voted McGovern, Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton, Gore, Kerry, and Obama)

EndOfTheWorld , January 15, 2017 at 3:25 pm

Schumer has never been accused of being overly intelligent. He is still miffed because HRC went down in flames. She was supposed to be his partner in crime for eight years.

NotTimothyGeithner , January 15, 2017 at 7:13 pm

And he was supposed to be Senate Majority Leader and get a really cool office instead of the crummy basement one. Given the seats up for reelection in 2018, he will have to wait until January 2021.

Susan C , January 15, 2017 at 7:47 pm

When I watched that exchange the other evening in real time, it seemed ominous to me, very dark. I think he was trying to instill real fear into the heart of Trump. I wonder if someone like a Trump has ever felt fear. It makes you wonder. Or if Trump has ever dealt with anyone more powerful than he believes himself to be.

neo-realist , January 15, 2017 at 3:52 pm

What struck me when watching it was that Schumer is saying, on the record, that establshment politicians are subservient to the intelligence agencies because it is considered an accepted fact that their careers will be at risk if they do not give these agencies the freedom to act however they see fit. That is an incredibly dangerous dynamic, and what's worse is that it has been normalized and accepted by cowardly and/or corrupt politicians who purport to serve their constituents

Well hasn't this been pretty much the case since the incident in Dallas 50 plus years ago?

mad as hell. , January 15, 2017 at 9:38 am

I hope Booker wears that pharmaceutical vote around his neck for the rest of his life or at least until 2020.

Annotherone , January 15, 2017 at 10:29 am

Yes, indeed! It'll go well with the mantle he appears to be taking over as the "more effective evil".

craazyboy , January 15, 2017 at 12:55 pm

Leaked tapes from DNC Strategy Room meeting.

DNC Chair – But Black worked?

DNC Political Strategist – Yes

DCN Chair – But Women failed

DNC Political Strategist – As a strategy, Yes

DCN Chair – So Black then?

DNC Political Strategist – We could conclude that, yes

Haiku politics

John Wright , January 15, 2017 at 11:08 am

I'm somewhat surprised Booker did not pull a Nancy Pelosi type vote on this bill.

From what I remember, on the TPP Fast Track, Pelosi worked behind the scenes to get Fast Track through, and then, with enough votes to assure it would pass without her vote, voted against the very action she had promoted.

Of course, Pelosi's constituents were opposed to the TPP and she "supported" them.

Booker could have quietly, privately, assured his big Pharma funders he was in the tank for them while still voting in support of the drug importation bill, because if his vote had moved to the supporting side, the count would have been 47-51 and the bill would still fall the way the big Pharma wanted.

Maybe other senators in the 46 "supporters" were playing the cynical Pelosi optics type of game and Booker had to fall on his sword to show both his loyalty to big Pharma and give them cover?

Possibly Booker also priced in that there are about 4 years before the next presidential election and this vote could fall into the dustbin of history.

NotTimothyGeithner , January 15, 2017 at 11:19 am

Dems have gotten away with a lot, hiding behind Obama or Hillary and using the rotating villain strategy, and now they don't have a leader to protect them. Booker doesn't have the cult of personality Obama had, and there won't be an echo chamber to shut down dissent. I don't believe Democrats have a handle on their status.

mad as hell. , January 15, 2017 at 12:31 pm

No it was Russia's fault. Now we must circle the wagons and destroy Russia. Ya better be with me cause we are soon going to war to protect democracy and if you ain't with me you are a ( fill in the blank). The Democratic party does not make mistakes. The rag tag voters make mistakes! Now send us some money so we can stop Trump!

Will this b******t ever end. It is driving me nuts.

uncle tungsten , January 15, 2017 at 5:20 pm

Me too MaH. The imitation democracy that is the USA is just a pathetic sideshow and brutally overpriced.

The only interesting aspect right now is how Trump responds to the unintelligence community for their transparent insubordination and abuse of power. Time will tell.

Pat , January 15, 2017 at 12:31 pm

Dems have had the delusional idea since they caught the car bumper and had both Houses of Congress and the Presidency that just one of those is good, and preferably the Presidency. Hence their lack of panic as they lost the House, the Senate and most of the state legislatures and Governorships in the nation.

Having now lost the one thing they were determined to win, they are going to slowly find out that there is no place to hide when their constituents are going to expect them to use all the same levers the Republicans did to obstruct all that stuff Obama wanted to do. They can't do the rotating villain thing, they can't NOT block things AND when that doesn't work the myth that Obama was hamstrung by Republicans is going to fall apart. Oops.

Mind you the Republicans are going to have the problem of needing to pass the things they promised and living with those consequences.

It is going to be interesting. And terrifying especially with the IC and MIC having tantrums that would do two year olds proud.

John Wright , January 15, 2017 at 2:57 pm

One fear of the Democrats might be they could be now be viewed as a useless appendage to the political process and unworthy of financial support by TPTB.

That could hit them hard as Democratic think tanks lose funding and the NPV of the future lobbying potential of a current Democratic politician drops off dramatically.

The Dems might actually feel a personal recession as they lose the ability to place their friends and relatives in well-paid politically related jobs.

TPTB can simply support a handful of Blue-dog Democrats to buy a voting cushion on legislation that matters to them.

Why pay more than necessary for Democratic support when it is largely irrelevant?

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , January 15, 2017 at 3:32 pm

And the Dem reaction, of course, will be to suck up even harder to their money masters they've already concluded from the election that they weren't far enough to the right, this should mesh quite nicely. We've had one party in the country for decades, Obama's populist words (while pushing neo-con corporo-fascist actions) bamboozled for two terms, now we will get absolute unity in pushing the 1% agenda. Then we can do 1776 redux and take back our country.

Pat , January 15, 2017 at 3:44 pm

People really are loathe to admit that Obama has been an utter freakin' disaster. I was telling someone about how close the ALEC owned state houses were to getting their Constitutional convention and blamed Obama. I was lectured about how he came into a mess and that he was obviously not the problem it was people like Wasserman Schultz. I had to explain about the President and the DNC and that both Kaine and DWS were Obama's hand picked heads, that he moved grass roots organizing to OFA AND that over the course of his leadership of the party they had gone from having the Presidency, the House, the Senate, a majority of Governorships and an almost equal number of state legislative houses to exactly the opposite. Suffice it to say I left them speechless.

And none of that should have been all that revelatory to a supposed political junkie. But to recognize that he wasn't interested in Democrats winning who were not named Obama is to understand he didn't care that he would not be in a position to get anything Democratic voters want

NotTimothyGeithner , January 15, 2017 at 7:09 pm

In one sense, Obama's failure was not in our stars but in ourselves, not me personally. If the Obots who cared so much for Obama and politics had torn themselves away from the latest insipid episode of X and called their Congressman or Senator instead of "liking" a cool meme about Obama, he might have been under enough pressure to not be completely terrible. Obama's evolution on gay rights only came after public outrage.

The Obama followers have to understand this and simply don't want to admit their own complicity preferring to blame their plumber who may or may not have voted.

HotFlash , January 15, 2017 at 7:21 pm

Obama's evolution on gay rights only came after public outrage gay big-dollar donors slammed their wallets shut.

Fixed it for ya.

NotTimothyGeithner , January 15, 2017 at 3:37 pm

Example 1: Krugthullu's recent craziness.
Example 2: Greta Van Susteren and noted racist, Megan Kelly both scored gigs at NBC. Were no Dems available? Or at least someone who didn't have a meltdown over a black Santa?
Example 3: the CGI shutting down despite all the good they do (snark)

Pat , January 15, 2017 at 3:47 pm

Well that may be their strategy going ahead, but if you looked at the last couple of elections, they just were not interested in winning elections. Money was thrown at people who didn't really need it, token amounts to others. People were chosen to run who had lost in the past, or the usual suspects owed. There was little or no recruitment, the former Republicans they supported pretty much fell in their laps.
No they are going to have to seriously attempt to win even on a limited manner, and I don't think they have clue how anymore.

Pat , January 15, 2017 at 12:24 pm

Both Schumer and Gillibrand voted against this the first two times it came up. They voted for it this time. Works for the rotating villain theory

marym , January 15, 2017 at 12:35 pm

Same for Durbin 2009 (N) 2012 (N) 2017 (Y)

polecat , January 15, 2017 at 12:57 pm

Who knows .. Maybe the Donald with bring about a presidential decree, thereby forcing our reps & senators to don 'advertizing' as per Nascar race cars !

Then it would be apparent to all as to whose loyalties they actually cater to .

Carla , January 15, 2017 at 10:58 am

Don't hold your breath. They're Democrats.

Arizona Slim , January 15, 2017 at 12:46 pm

This Zonie was amazed to learn that Senators McCain and Flake voted FOR this bill.

NotTimothyGeithner , January 15, 2017 at 1:29 pm

Flake's on the ballot in November, and McCain does do his rotating hero strategy, he's on the side of good when it doesn't matter. He does have a huge senior population who like that desert air.

Vatch , January 15, 2017 at 12:04 pm

There are two Senators scheduled to be at this event: Booker and Menendez, and they both voted against the Klobuchar/Sanders amendment to allow Americans to buy medicine from Canada! Clearly this event was scheduled before the vote occurred. I wonder what kinds of discussions about this have been occurring behind the scenes?

Rhondda , January 15, 2017 at 4:08 pm

Speaking of Amy Klobuchar - I saw in the noooze that she was one of McCain's compatriots on that holiday jaunt to Ukraine

Klobuchar, McCain, Graham in Ukraine, Baltic States, and Georgia to
http://www.klobuchar.senate.gov/ /klobuchar-mccain-graham-in-ukraine-baltic-states-and-.. .
Dec 28, 2016 – WASHINGTON, DC – This week, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar is in Ukraine, the Baltic states, and Georgia to reinforce support for the North
Minnesota Sen. Klobuchar Spends New Year's Eve in Ukraine – Amy
http://www.klobuchar.senate.gov/ /minnesota-sen-klobuchar-spends-new-year-s-eve-in-uk.. .
Dec 31, 2016 – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar spent New Year's Eve day with the president of Ukraine and marines fighting Russian aggression in that country.

Did you know that there is a Senate Ukraine Caucus? News to me.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senate_Ukraine_Caucus
The Senate Ukraine Caucus is a bipartisan caucus of the United States Senate that was Ron Johnson (R-WI); Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); Mark Kirk (R-IL); James Inhofe (R-OK); Chris Murphy (D-CT). Gary Peters (D-MI); Rob Portman (R-OH)

OIFVet , January 15, 2017 at 4:23 pm

It's OK when Ukraine manipulates US politics. The US has always found nazis to be useful in its anti-Russian efforts, from Reinhard Behlen to Wernher von Braun, with a few Ukie Banderites thrown in for the truly dirty work.

UserFriendly , January 15, 2017 at 7:44 pm

She's always been about as far right as she can get away with in this state.

[Jan 16, 2017] Mainstream Medias Russian Bogeymen

DHS security honchos want to justify their existence. There is not greater danger to national security then careerists in position of security professionals. Lying and exaggerating the treats to get this dollars is is what many security professionals do for living. They are essentially charlatans.
Notable quotes:
"... In the middle of a major domestic crisis over the U.S. charge that Russia had interfered with the US election, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) triggered a brief national media hysteria by creating and spreading a bogus story of Russian hacking into US power infrastructure. ..."
"... Even more shocking, however, DHS had previously circulated a similar bogus story of Russian hacking of a Springfield, Illinois water pump in November 2011. ..."
"... Beginning in late March 2016, DHS and FBI conducted a series of 12 unclassified briefings for electric power infrastructure companies in eight cities titled, "Ukraine Cyber Attack: implications for US stakeholders." The DHS declared publicly, "These events represent one of the first known physical impacts to critical infrastructure which resulted from cyber-attack." ..."
"... That statement conveniently avoided mentioning that the first cases of such destruction of national infrastructure from cyber-attacks were not against the United States, but were inflicted on Iran by the Obama administration and Israel in 2009 and 2012. ..."
"... Beginning in October 2016, the DHS emerged as one of the two most important players – along with the CIA-in the political drama over the alleged Russian effort to tilt the 2016 election toward Donald Trump. Then on Dec. 29, DHS and FBI distributed a "Joint Analysis Report" to US power utilities across the country with what it claimed were "indicators" of a Russian intelligence effort to penetrate and compromise US computer networks, including networks related to the presidential election, that it called "GRIZZLY STEPPE." ..."
"... according to Robert M. Lee, the founder and CEO of the cyber-security company Dragos, who had developed one of the earliest US government programs for defense against cyber-attacks on US infrastructure systems, the report was certain to mislead the recipients. ..."
"... "Anyone who uses it would think they were being impacted by Russian operations," said Lee. "We ran through the indicators in the report and found that a high percentage were false positives." ..."
"... The Intercept discovered, in fact, that 42 percent of the 876 IP addresses listed in the report as having been used by Russian hackers were exit nodes for the Tor Project, a system that allows bloggers, journalists and others – including some military entities – to keep their Internet communications private. ..."
"... Instead, a DHS official called The Washington Post and passed on word that one of the indicators of Russian hacking of the DNC had been found on the Burlington utility's computer network. The Post failed to follow the most basic rule of journalism, relying on its DHS source instead of checking with the Burlington Electric Department first. The result was the Post's sensational Dec. 30 story under the headline "Russian hackers penetrated US electricity grid through a utility in Vermont, US officials say." ..."
"... DHS official evidently had allowed the Post to infer that the Russians hack had penetrated the grid without actually saying so. The Post story said the Russians "had not actively used the code to disrupt operations of the utility, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss a security matter," but then added, and that "the penetration of the nation's electrical grid is significant because it represents a potentially serious vulnerability." ..."
"... The electric company quickly issued a firm denial that the computer in question was connected to the power grid. The Post was forced to retract, in effect, its claim that the electricity grid had been hacked by the Russians. But it stuck by its story that the utility had been the victim of a Russian hack for another three days before admitting that no such evidence of a hack existed. ..."
"... Only days later did the DHS reveal those crucial facts to the Post. And the DHS was still defending its joint report to the Post, according to Lee, who got part of the story from Post sources. The DHS official was arguing that it had "led to a discovery," he said. "The second is, 'See, this is encouraging people to run indicators.'" ..."
"... The false Burlington Electric hack scare is reminiscent of an earlier story of Russian hacking of a utility for which the DHS was responsible as well. In November 2011, it reported an "intrusion" into a Springfield, Illinois water district computer that similarly turned out to be a fabrication. ..."
"... The contractor whose name was on the log next to the IP address later told Wired magazine that one phone call to him would have laid the matter to rest. But the DHS, which was the lead in putting the report out, had not bothered to make even that one obvious phone call before opining that it must have been a Russian hack. ..."
Jan 16, 2017 | original.antiwar.com

The mainstream hysteria over Russia has led to dubious or downright false stories that have deepened the New Cold War

In the middle of a major domestic crisis over the U.S. charge that Russia had interfered with the US election, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) triggered a brief national media hysteria by creating and spreading a bogus story of Russian hacking into US power infrastructure.

DHS had initiated the now-discredited tale of a hacked computer at the Burlington, Vermont Electricity Department by sending the utility's managers misleading and alarming information, then leaked a story they certainly knew to be false and continued to put out a misleading line to the media.

Even more shocking, however, DHS had previously circulated a similar bogus story of Russian hacking of a Springfield, Illinois water pump in November 2011.

The story of how DHS twice circulated false stories of Russian efforts to sabotage US "critical infrastructure" is a cautionary tale of how senior leaders in a bureaucracy-on-the-make take advantage of every major political development to advance its own interests, with scant regard for the truth.

The DHS had carried out a major public campaign to focus on an alleged Russian threat to US power infrastructure in early 2016. The campaign took advantage of a US accusation of a Russian cyber-attack against the Ukrainian power infrastructure in December 2015 to promote one of the agency's major functions - guarding against cyber-attacks on America's infrastructure.

Beginning in late March 2016, DHS and FBI conducted a series of 12 unclassified briefings for electric power infrastructure companies in eight cities titled, "Ukraine Cyber Attack: implications for US stakeholders." The DHS declared publicly, "These events represent one of the first known physical impacts to critical infrastructure which resulted from cyber-attack."

That statement conveniently avoided mentioning that the first cases of such destruction of national infrastructure from cyber-attacks were not against the United States, but were inflicted on Iran by the Obama administration and Israel in 2009 and 2012.

Beginning in October 2016, the DHS emerged as one of the two most important players – along with the CIA-in the political drama over the alleged Russian effort to tilt the 2016 election toward Donald Trump. Then on Dec. 29, DHS and FBI distributed a "Joint Analysis Report" to US power utilities across the country with what it claimed were "indicators" of a Russian intelligence effort to penetrate and compromise US computer networks, including networks related to the presidential election, that it called "GRIZZLY STEPPE."

The report clearly conveyed to the utilities that the "tools and infrastructure" it said had been used by Russian intelligence agencies to affect the election were a direct threat to them as well. However, according to Robert M. Lee, the founder and CEO of the cyber-security company Dragos, who had developed one of the earliest US government programs for defense against cyber-attacks on US infrastructure systems, the report was certain to mislead the recipients.

"Anyone who uses it would think they were being impacted by Russian operations," said Lee. "We ran through the indicators in the report and found that a high percentage were false positives."

Lee and his staff found only two of a long list of malware files that could be linked to Russian hackers without more specific data about timing. Similarly a large proportion of IP addresses listed could be linked to "GRIZZLY STEPPE" only for certain specific dates, which were not provided.

The Intercept discovered, in fact, that 42 percent of the 876 IP addresses listed in the report as having been used by Russian hackers were exit nodes for the Tor Project, a system that allows bloggers, journalists and others – including some military entities – to keep their Internet communications private.

Lee said the DHS staff that worked on the technical information in the report is highly competent, but the document was rendered useless when officials classified and deleted some key parts of the report and added other material that shouldn't have been in it. He believes the DHS issued the report "for a political purpose," which was to "show that the DHS is protecting you."

Planting the Story, Keeping it Alive

Upon receiving the DHS-FBI report the Burlington Electric Company network security team immediately ran searches of its computer logs using the lists of IP addresses it had been provided. When one of IP addresses cited in the report as an indicator of Russian hacking was found on the logs, the utility immediately called DHS to inform it as it had been instructed to do by DHS.

In fact, the IP address on the Burlington Electric Company's computer was simply the Yahoo e-mail server, according to Lee, so it could not have been a legitimate indicator of an attempted cyber-intrusion. That should have been the end of the story. But the utility did not track down the IP address before reporting it to DHS. It did, however, expect DHS to treat the matter confidentially until it had thoroughly investigated and resolved the issue.

"DHS wasn't supposed to release the details," said Lee. "Everybody was supposed to keep their mouth shut."

Instead, a DHS official called The Washington Post and passed on word that one of the indicators of Russian hacking of the DNC had been found on the Burlington utility's computer network. The Post failed to follow the most basic rule of journalism, relying on its DHS source instead of checking with the Burlington Electric Department first. The result was the Post's sensational Dec. 30 story under the headline "Russian hackers penetrated US electricity grid through a utility in Vermont, US officials say."

DHS official evidently had allowed the Post to infer that the Russians hack had penetrated the grid without actually saying so. The Post story said the Russians "had not actively used the code to disrupt operations of the utility, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss a security matter," but then added, and that "the penetration of the nation's electrical grid is significant because it represents a potentially serious vulnerability."

The electric company quickly issued a firm denial that the computer in question was connected to the power grid. The Post was forced to retract, in effect, its claim that the electricity grid had been hacked by the Russians. But it stuck by its story that the utility had been the victim of a Russian hack for another three days before admitting that no such evidence of a hack existed.

The day after the story was published, the DHS leadership continued to imply, without saying so explicitly, that the Burlington utility had been hacked by Russians. Assistant Secretary for Pubic Affairs J. Todd Breasseale gave CNN a statement that the "indicators" from the malicious software found on the computer at Burlington Electric were a "match" for those on the DNC computers.

As soon as DHS checked the IP address, however, it knew that it was a Yahoo cloud server and therefore not an indicator that the same team that allegedly hacked the DNC had gotten into the Burlington utility's laptop. DHS also learned from the utility that the laptop in question had been infected by malware called "neutrino," which had never been used in "GRIZZLY STEPPE."

Only days later did the DHS reveal those crucial facts to the Post. And the DHS was still defending its joint report to the Post, according to Lee, who got part of the story from Post sources. The DHS official was arguing that it had "led to a discovery," he said. "The second is, 'See, this is encouraging people to run indicators.'"

Original DHS False Hacking Story

The false Burlington Electric hack scare is reminiscent of an earlier story of Russian hacking of a utility for which the DHS was responsible as well. In November 2011, it reported an "intrusion" into a Springfield, Illinois water district computer that similarly turned out to be a fabrication.

Like the Burlington fiasco, the false report was preceded by a DHS claim that US infrastructure systems were already under attack. In October 2011, acting DHS deputy undersecretary Greg Schaffer was quoted by The Washington Post as warning that "our adversaries" are "knocking on the doors of these systems." And Schaffer added, "In some cases, there have been intrusions." He did not specify when, where or by whom, and no such prior intrusions have ever been documented.

On Nov. 8, 2011, a water pump belonging to the Curran-Gardner township water district near Springfield, Illinois, burned out after sputtering several times in previous months. The repair team brought in to fix it found a Russian IP address on its log from five months earlier. That IP address was actually from a cell phone call from the contractor who had set up the control system for the pump and who was vacationing in Russia with his family, so his name was in the log by the address.

Without investigating the IP address itself, the utility reported the IP address and the breakdown of the water pump to the Environmental Protection Agency, which in turn passed it on to the Illinois Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center, also called a fusion center composed of Illinois State Police and representatives from the FBI, DHS and other government agencies.

On Nov. 10 – just two days after the initial report to EPA – the fusion center produced a report titled "Public Water District Cyber Intrusion" suggesting a Russian hacker had stolen the identity of someone authorized to use the computer and had hacked into the control system causing the water pump to fail.

The contractor whose name was on the log next to the IP address later told Wired magazine that one phone call to him would have laid the matter to rest. But the DHS, which was the lead in putting the report out, had not bothered to make even that one obvious phone call before opining that it must have been a Russian hack.

The fusion center "intelligence report," circulated by DHS Office of Intelligence and Research, was picked up by a cyber-security blogger, who called The Washington Post and read the item to a reporter. Thus the Post published the first sensational story of a Russian hack into a US infrastructure on Nov. 18, 2011.

After the real story came out, DHS disclaimed responsibility for the report, saying that it was the fusion center's responsibility. But a Senate subcommittee investigation revealed in a report a year later that even after the initial report had been discredited, DHS had not issued any retraction or correction to the report, nor had it notified the recipients about the truth.

DHS officials responsible for the false report told Senate investigators such reports weren't intended to be "finished intelligence," implying that the bar for accuracy of the information didn't have to be very high. They even claimed that report was a "success" because it had done what "what it's supposed to do – generate interest."

Both the Burlington and Curran-Gardner episodes underline a central reality of the political game of national security in the New Cold War era: major bureaucratic players like DHS have a huge political stake in public perceptions of a Russian threat, and whenever the opportunity arises to do so, they will exploit it.

Gareth Porter, an investigative historian and journalist specializing in US national security policy, received the UK-based Gellhorn Prize for journalism for 2011 for articles on the U.S. war in Afghanistan. His new book is Manufactured Crisis: the Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare . He can be contacted at porter.gareth50@gmail.com .

Reprinted from Consortium News with the author's permission.

[Jan 16, 2017] Viable Opposition Blocking Donald Trumps Inauguration

Jan 16, 2017 | viableopposition.blogspot.ca
Here is what the group is about:

" 1. Trump won the Electoral College vote – a legacy of slavery, and used to embed inequality in voting rights since. He lost the popular vote, by well over 2 and a half million votes. Trump has no "mandate", and his victory is illegitimate.
2. More fundamental: the illegitimacy of the entire fascist regime Trump is moving to install. Trump promises to inflict repression and suffering on people in this country, to deport millions, to increase violence up to the use of nuclear weapons on people across the globe, and to inflict catastrophes upon the planet itself.
3. He is assembling a "Legion of Doom" cabinet of white supremacists, woman haters, science deniers, religious fundamentalist zealots, and war mongers. NO! His regime must not be allowed to consolidate. We REFUSE to accept a Fascist America !"
Since the organization regularly refers to "fascism", let's look at the Dictionary.com definition of fascism :
1. (sometimes initial capital letter) a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.
2. (sometimes initial capital letter) the philosophy, principles, or methods of fascism.
3. (initial capital letter) a political movement that employs the principles and methods of fascism, especially the one established by Mussolini in Italy 1922–43."

There are three main aspects of fascism ;

1.) authoritarianism or the rule of a strong central government.
2.) nationalism or the pride in one's country.
3.) xenophobia - the fear of unknown peoples or entities.

As we all know, the 20th century saw the rise of fascism in both Germany under Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist movement and Italy under Benito Mussolini prior to and during the Second World War, both in circumstance where their homelands had experienced a long period of economic hopelessness. It is actually Benito Mussolini who coined the term "fascism" after the Latin word "fasces" which was the symbol of bound sticks used as a symbol of power in ancient Rome. Here's what Mussolini had to say about fascism:

" Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace. It thus repudiates the doctrine of Pacifism -- born of a renunciation of the struggle and an act of cowardice in the face of sacrifice. War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have courage to meet it. All other trials are substitutes, which never really put men into the position where they have to make the great decision -- the alternative of life or death....

... Fascism [is] the complete opposite of Marxian Socialism , the materialist conception of history of human civilization can be explained simply through the conflict of interests among the various social groups and by the change and development in the means and instruments of production.... Fascism, now and always, believes in holiness and in heroism; that is to say, in actions influenced by no economic motive, direct or indirect....And above all Fascism denies that class-war can be the preponderant force in the transformation of society....

After Socialism, Fascism combats the whole complex system of democratic ideology, and repudiates it, whether in its theoretical premises or in its practical application.

Fascism denies that the majority, by the simple fact that it is a majority, can direct human society; it denies that numbers alone can govern by means of a periodical consultation, and it affirms the immutable, beneficial, and fruitful inequality of mankind, which can never be permanently leveled through the mere operation of a mechanical process such as universal suffrage " (i.e. the vote).... (my bold and comment in brackets)

By using the term "fascism" in association with Donald Trump and his chosen insiders, the group behind Refuse Fascism has used our innate fears of another Adolf Hitler to raise opposition to the Trump Administration.

The media has played right into this with banners like these:

  1. Slate which found Donald Trump not completely guilty of fascism:
  2. Newsweek :
  3. The Washington Post which actually graded Donald Trump as a 26 out of a possible 44 Benitos (i.e. he doesn't completely fit the profile):
  4. Vox which actually found Donald Trump "not guilty" of fascism:
Given that the term "fascist" is one of the strongest political epithets that one can use, the very mention of the word in conjunction with the Trump name is a rather convenient way of getting readers to associate the two, particularly given that most readers don't read much past the first few paragraphs of any news item.

The one key point missing in the Trump as a fascist claim is that fascism is deeply suspicious of capitalism because it divided nations and destroyed national traditions. It advocates strong state intervention in the economy to maintain control of the "fatherland". One definitely cannot term Donald Trump as an anti-capitalist.


Bruce Wilds January 15, 2017 at 10:05 AM

The new year rolled in with several Sunday morning talk shows that discuss the Washington beltway and current events piling on America's new president-elect. The panel of supposed experts who impart their deep knowledge in an attempt to enlighten us more ignorant folks made it clear America may not survive as a result of Trump being elected.

It is difficult not to notice the stark contrast between how Trump is being treated by the press and how they heap praise upon Obama as he takes a "victory tour" lauding his accomplishments as president. More on the ramifications of this bashing of Trump in the article below.

http://brucewilds.blogspot.com/2017/01/sunday-morning-talk-shows-excel-in.html

[Jan 15, 2017] Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam

Jan 15, 2017 | lib.berkeley.edu

The Pacifica Radio/UC Berkeley
Social Activism Sound Recording Project

Martin Luther King,
"Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam"
April 30, 1967, Riverside Church, New York

The sermon which I am preaching this morning in a sense is not the usual kind of sermon, but it is a sermon and an important subject, nevertheless, because the issue that I will be discussing today is one of the most controversial issues confronting our nation. I'm using as a subject from which to preach, "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam."
Now, let me make it clear in the beginning, that I see this war as an unjust, evil, and futile war. I preach to you today on the war in Vietnam because my conscience leaves me with no other choice. The time has come for America to hear the truth about this tragic war. In international conflicts, the truth is hard to come by because most nations are deceived about themselves. Rationalizations and the incessant search for scapegoats are the psychological cataracts that blind us to our sins. But the day has passed for superficial patriotism. He who lives with untruth lives in spiritual slavery. Freedom is still the bonus we receive for knowing the truth. "Ye shall know the truth," says Jesus, "and the truth shall set you free." Now, I've chosen to preach about the war in Vietnam because I agree with Dante, that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal.

The truth of these words is beyond doubt, but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover, when the issues at hand seem as perplexing, as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict, we're always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty. But we must move on. Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony. But we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for in all our history there has never been such a monumental dissent during a war, by the American people.

Polls reveal that almost fifteen million Americans explicitly oppose the war in Vietnam. Additional millions cannot bring themselves around to support it. And even those millions who do support the war [are] half-hearted, confused, and doubt-ridden. This reveals that millions have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism, to the high grounds of firm dissent, based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Now, of course, one of the difficulties in speaking out today grows the fact that there are those who are seeking to equate dissent with disloyalty. It's a dark day in our nation when high-level authorities will seek to use every method to silence dissent. But something is happening, and people are not going to be silenced. The truth must be told, and I say that those who are seeking to make it appear that anyone who opposes the war in Vietnam is a fool or a traitor or an enemy of our soldiers is a person that has taken a stand against the best in our tradition.

Yes, we must stand, and we must speak. [tape skip]...have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam. Many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns, this query has often loomed large and loud: "Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent?" Peace and civil rights don't mix, they say. And so this morning, I speak to you on this issue, because I am determined to take the Gospel seriously. And I come this morning to my pulpit to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation.

This sermon is not addressed to Hanoi, or to the National Liberation Front. It is not addressed to China or to Russia. Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietnam. Nor is it an attempt to make North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front paragons of virtue, nor to overlook the role they must play in a successful resolution of the problem. This morning, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the National Liberation Front, but rather to my fellow Americans, who bear the greatest responsibility, and entered a conflict that has exacted a heavy price on both continents.

Now, since I am a preacher by calling, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is...a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I and others have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed that there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the Poverty Program. There were experiments, hopes, and new beginnings. Then came the build-up in Vietnam. And I watched the program broken as if it was some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war. And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money, like some demonic, destructive suction tube. And you may not know it, my friends, but it is estimated that we spend $500,000 to kill each enemy soldier, while we spend only fifty-three dollars for each person classified as poor, and much of that fifty-three dollars goes for salaries to people that are not poor. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor, and attack it as such.

Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hope of the poor at home. It was sending their sons, and their brothers, and their husbands to fight and die in extraordinarily high proportion relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in Southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with a cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same school room. So we watch them in brutal solidarity, burning the huts of a poor village. But we realize that they would hardly live on the same block in Chicago or Atlanta. Now, I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.

My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettos of the North over the last three years--especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through non-violent action; for they ask and write me, "So what about Vietnam?" They ask if our nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without first having spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence I cannot be silent. Been a lot of applauding over the last few years. They applauded our total movement; they've applauded me. America and most of its newspapers applauded me in Montgomery. And I stood before thousands of Negroes getting ready to riot when my home was bombed and said, we can't do it this way. They applauded us in the sit-in movement--we non-violently decided to sit in at lunch counters. The applauded us on the Freedom Rides when we accepted blows without retaliation. They praised us in Albany and Birmingham and Selma, Alabama. Oh, the press was so noble in its applause, and so noble in its praise when I was saying, Be non-violent toward Bull Connor;when I was saying, Be non-violent toward [Selma, Alabama segregationist sheriff] Jim Clark. There's something strangely inconsistent about a nation and a press that will praise you when you say, Be non-violent toward Jim Clark, but will curse and damn you when you say, "Be non-violent toward little brown Vietnamese children. There's something wrong with that press!

As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1964. And I cannot forget that the Nobel Peace Prize was not just something taking place, but it was a commission--a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for the brotherhood of Man. This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances. But even if it were not present, I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me, the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the Good News was meant for all men, for communists and capitalists, for their children and ours, for black and white, for revolutionary and conservative. Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the One who loved His enemies so fully that he died for them? What, then, can I say to the Vietcong, or to Castro, or to Mao, as a faithful minister to Jesus Christ? Can I threaten them with death, or must I not share with them my life? Finally, I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be the son of the Living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood. And because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned, especially for His suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come today to speak for them. And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond in compassion, my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak not now of the soldiers of each side, not of the military government of Saigon, but simply of the people who have been under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them, too, because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution until some attempt is made to know these people and hear their broken cries.

Now, let me tell you the truth about it. They must see Americans as strange liberators. Do you realize that the Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1945 after a combined French and Japanese occupation. And incidentally, this was before the Communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. And this is a little-known fact, and these people declared themselves independent in 1945. They quoted our Declaration of Independence in their document of freedom, and yet our government refused to recognize them. President Truman said they were not ready for independence. So we fell victim as a nation at that time of the same deadly arrogance that has poisoned the international situation for all of these years. France then set out to reconquer its former colony. And they fought eight long, hard, brutal years trying to re-conquer Vietnam. You know who helped France? It was the United States of America. It came to the point that we were meeting more than eighty percent of the war costs. And even when France started despairing of its reckless action, we did not. And in 1954, a conference was called at Geneva, and an agreement was reached, because France had been defeated at Dien Bien Phu. But even after that, and after the Geneva Accord, we did not stop. We must face the sad fact that our government sought, in a real sense, to sabotage the Geneva Accord. Well, after the French were defeated, it looked as if independence and land reform would come through the Geneva agreement. But instead the United States came and started supporting a man named Diem who turned out to be one of the most ruthless dictators in the history of the world. He set out to silence all opposition. People were brutally murdered because they raised their voices against the brutal policies of Diem. And the peasants watched and cringed as Diem ruthlessly rooted out all opposition. The peasants watched as all this was presided over by United States influence and by increasing numbers of United States troops who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem's methods had aroused. When Diem was overthrown, they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictatorships seemed to offer no real change, especially in terms of their need for land and peace. And who are we supporting in Vietnam today? It's a man by the name of general Ky [Air Vice Marshal Nguyen Cao Ky] who fought with the French against his own people, and who said on one occasion that the greatest hero of his life is Hitler. This is who we are supporting in Vietnam today. Oh, our government and the press generally won't tell us these things, but God told me to tell you this morning. The truth must be told.

The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept, and without popular support and all the while the people read our leaflets and received regular promises of peace and democracy and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us, not their fellow Vietnamese, the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps, where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move or be destroyed by our bombs. So they go, primarily women, and children and the aged. They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the towns and see thousands of thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers. We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation's only noncommunist revolutionary political force, the United Buddhist Church. This is a role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolutions impossible but refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that comes from the immense profits of overseas investments. I'm convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, militarism and economic exploitation are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life's roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be changed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth with righteous indignation. It will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, "This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say, "This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war, "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

Oh, my friends, if there is any one thing that we must see today is that these are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression, and out of the wounds of a frail world, new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. They are saying, unconsciously, as we say in one of our freedom songs, "Ain't gonna let nobody turn me around!" It is a sad fact that because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has a revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgment against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions that we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo, we shall boldly challenge unjust mores, and thereby speed up the day when "every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the rough places shall be made plain, and the crooked places straight. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together."

A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies. This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing, unconditional love for all men. This oft misunderstood and misinterpreted concept, so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force, has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of mankind. And when I speak of love I'm not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of John: "Let us love one another, for God is love. And every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us and his love is perfected in us."

Let me say finally that I oppose the war in Vietnam because I love America. I speak out against this war, not in anger, but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and, above all, with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as the moral example of the world. I speak out against this war because I am disappointed with America. And there can be no great disappointment where there is not great love. I am disappointed with our failure to deal positively and forthrightly with the triple evils of racism, economic exploitation, and militarism. We are presently moving down a dead-end road that can lead to national disaster. America has strayed to the far country of racism and militarism. The home that all too many Americans left was solidly structured idealistically; its pillars were solidly grounded in the insights of our Judeo-Christian heritage. All men are made in the image of God. All men are bothers. All men are created equal. Every man is an heir to a legacy of dignity and worth. Every man has rights that are neither conferred by, nor derived from the State--they are God-given. Out of one blood, God made all men to dwell upon the face of the earth. What a marvelous foundation for any home! What a glorious and healthy place to inhabit. But America's strayed away, and this unnatural excursion has brought only confusion and bewilderment. It has left hearts aching with guilt and minds distorted with irrationality.

It is time for all people of conscience to call upon America to come back home. Come home, America. Omar Khayyam is right: "The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on." I call on Washington today. I call on every man and woman of good will all over America today. I call on the young men of America who must make a choice today to take a stand on this issue. Tomorrow may be too late. The book may close. And don't let anybody make you think that God chose America as his divine, messianic force to be a sort of policeman of the whole world. God has a way of standing before the nations with judgment, and it seems that I can hear God saying to America, "You're too arrogant! And if you don't change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power, and I'll place it in the hands of a nation that doesn't even know my name. Be still and know that I'm God."

Now it isn't easy to stand up for truth and for justice. Sometimes it means being frustrated. When you tell the truth and take a stand, sometimes it means that you will walk the streets with a burdened heart. Sometimes it means losing a job...means being abused and scorned. It may mean having a seven, eight year old child asking a daddy, "Why do you have to go to jail so much?" And I've long since learned that to be a follower to the Jesus Christ means taking up the cross. And my bible tells me that Good Friday comes before Easter. Before the crown we wear, there is the cross that we must bear. Let us bear it--bear it for truth, bear it for justice, and bear it for peace. Let us go out this morning with that determination. And I have not lost faith. I'm not in despair, because I know that there is a moral order. I haven't lost faith, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. I can still sing "We Shall Overcome" because Carlyle was right: "No lie can live forever." We shall overcome because William Cullen Bryant was right: "Truth pressed to earth will rise again." We shall overcome because James Russell Lowell was right: "Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne." Yet, that scaffold sways the future. We shall overcome because the bible is right: "You shall reap what you sow." With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when the lion and the lamb will lie down together, and every man will sit under his own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid because the words of the Lord have spoken it. With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when all over the world we will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we're free at last!" With this faith, we'll sing it as we're getting ready to sing it now. Men will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. And nations will not rise up against nations, neither shall they study war anymore. And I don't know about you, I ain't gonna study war no more.

Transcript by Gary Handman, UC Berkeley Media Resources Center, 2006

[Jan 15, 2017] Gaius Publius Who's Blackmailing the President Why Arent Democrats Upset About It

Notable quotes:
"... William Binney,another NSA whistleblower and hero, stated on his Truthdig interview with Sheer (who talked and repeated himself way too much, not leaving much time for Binney to talk) that Snowden knew from watching what happened to the five of them (among them,Thomas Drake/currently pensionless and an apple store worker ) and that Snowden did it the only way it could be done and did the leak well by gathering so much information up there was no chance of plausible deniability. ..."
"... First they gaslight you. "There is no surveillance. You have no evidence." ..."
"... As soon as there's evidence, they downplay it. "Everyone knew there was surveillance. This is nothing new!" ..."
"... Snowden's leaks were crucial and necessary. State surveillance had been normalized long before him. He only told us it had happened. What happens next is a battle that is still being fought, despite the best efforts of people who weasel about "ambivalence". ..."
"... Exposing the workings of the deep state is necessary if we are to ever reclaim democracy, if in fact we ever had it. ..."
"... Greenwald isn't defending the Russians– he is asking for evidence so we don't have to rely on the intelligence community. ..."
Jan 15, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
HopeLB , January 14, 2017 at 5:22 pm

William Binney,another NSA whistleblower and hero, stated on his Truthdig interview with Sheer (who talked and repeated himself way too much, not leaving much time for Binney to talk) that Snowden knew from watching what happened to the five of them (among them,Thomas Drake/currently pensionless and an apple store worker ) and that Snowden did it the only way it could be done and did the leak well by gathering so much information up there was no chance of plausible deniability.

reslez , January 14, 2017 at 6:28 pm

Your "ambivalence" is one of the favorite tactics of people in CTR, who start off all their comments with "I love Bernie, but ". Here's how it works:

1. First they gaslight you. "There is no surveillance. You have no evidence."
2. As soon as there's evidence, they downplay it. "Everyone knew there was surveillance. This is nothing new!"

Snowden's leaks were crucial and necessary. State surveillance had been normalized long before him. He only told us it had happened. What happens next is a battle that is still being fought, despite the best efforts of people who weasel about "ambivalence".

Jack , January 14, 2017 at 9:29 am

SantaFe you said "his career was literally made by a document dump from guy who increasungly appears to be much more nefarious". Glenn Greenwald's "career" was made long before Snowden appeared on the scene. That's why Snowden chose him to release the documents to. He has long been known as a journalist who speaks truth to power. And what do you mean by this; " He is quickly losing credibility among many who admired him." ? Yourself? I see no reason why Greenwald should be losing credibility. Primarily what he is doing is in this particular instance is questioning the veracity of the documents being used against Trump and the means by which they are being "released". That is one of Greenwald's greatest strengths. He plays no favorites. As far as the WSJ article on Snowden, I assume you are referring to the now discredited op-ed (not an article) piece by Epstein? This self serving op-ed was clearly written by Epstein to promote his recent book and the "points" he made about Snowden have been discredited by many sources.

Michael C. , January 14, 2017 at 10:39 am

I agree with you wholeheartedly. Exposing the workings of the deep state is necessary if we are to ever reclaim democracy, if in fact we ever had it.

DJG , January 14, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Agreed: Further, the recent article in the New Yorker, in which Malcolm Gladwell (who isn't glib, of course) decides that Snowden isn't classy enough is more of the same.

Santa Fe: Greenwald losing credibility? Sorry. You just lost credibility, if you ever had any.

Donald , January 14, 2017 at 10:05 am

Speak for yourself. Greenwald isn't defending the Russians– he is asking for evidence so we don't have to rely on the intelligence community. And while Assange appears motivated by animus against Clinton, I have yet to see anything about Snowden that would make me distrust him more than the press. What I do see are a lot of centrist liberals acting like Joseph McCarthy.

And even with Assange, wikileaks has been invaluable. The mainstream press largely gored its most interesting revelations - for instance, the Clinton camp privately acknowledged that the Saudi government supports ISIS. We hear much more shooting the messenger stories about dissenters than we hear stories about the message.

Donald , January 14, 2017 at 10:14 am

Here is a link about the Isis, Saudi, Clinton story.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/hillary-clinton-wikileaks-email-isis-saudi-arabia-qatar-us-allies-funding-barack-obama-knew-all-a7362071.html

I didn't see anything about this in the US mainstream press, though I won't swear it didn't appear somewhere. But I have heard much more about how the wikileaks releases contained little of substance.

[Jan 15, 2017] Days before far-right President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in, President Barack Obama has expanded all intelligence agencies access to private communications obtained via warrentless spying

economistsview.typepad.com

JohnH -> Peter K.... , January 14, 2017 at 12:28 PM

Obama continues to set the table for Trump:

"Days before far-right President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in, President Barack Obama has expanded all intelligence agencies' access to private communications obtained via warrentless spying.

An executive order allows the National Security Agency (NSA) to share data collected via its global surveillance dragnet with all other U.S. intelligence agencies, without redacting untargeted American citizens' private information.

"The change means that far more officials will be searching through raw data," explained the New York Times, which broke the story late Thursday. The Times also shared the 23-page declassified version of the president's order."
http://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/01/13/obama-expands-spy-agencies-access-private-data-just-time-trump

Not that Democrats like Pelosi/Schumer/Feinstein care...they're apparently quite happy to give Trump's people access to all Americans' most private data.

[Jan 14, 2017] John McCain is serving the interests of a fascist regime in Ukraine

Jan 14, 2017 | theduran.com
From theduran .com - January 12, 7:35 PM
Increasingly, the American public who declared McCain a 'loser' in his attempts to become President, see the world through the eyes of Trump. However, many in the deep state remain sympathetic to McCain style fanaticism. It is why as Donald Trump alleged, the intelligence agencies were irresponsible in leaking the bogus dossier that McCain handed to them with glee.
Enrique Ferro's insight: Donald Trump has few significant connections to Russia, whilst McCain has many profound connections with the fascist regime in Kiev. He helped them get into power, he was there cheering on the coup. Therefore, why has no one accused McCain of being a Ukrainian agent, working to destabilise American democracy in the name of a corrupt foreign power?

[Jan 14, 2017] Position Statement in support of a new investigation into the total collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 on September 11, 2001

Sponsors: Daniel Barnum, FAIA and Fifty Members of the Institute

Intent: To adopt a Position Statement in support of a new investigation into the total collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 on September 11, 2001.

Text of Resolution

WHEREAS, according to the AIA Public Policies and Position Statements, architects are professionally obligated to use their knowledge, skill, and experience to engage in civic life; and

WHEREAS, World Trade Center Building 7 (WTC 7), a 47-story, steel-framed high-rise building, suffered a total collapse at 5:20 PM on the afternoon of September 11, 2001; and

WHEREAS, the cause of the collapse of WTC 7 has become the subject of vigorous public debate, such that establishing the true cause of the collapse
of WTC 7 is of great civic importance; and|

WHEREAS, the cause of the collapse of WTC 7 has become the subject of vigorous public debate, such that establishing the true cause of the collapse of WTC 7 is of great civic importance; and

WHEREAS, prior to and since September 11, 2001, no steel-framed high-rise building has ever suffered a total collapse, except buildings demolished through the procedure known as controlled demolition; and

WHEREAS, the collapse of WTC 7 exemplified many of the signature features of controlled demolition, including:

WHEREAS, first responders and bystanders reported explosions and other phenomena suggestive of controlled demolition immediately prior to and during the collapse of WTC 7, as exemplified in the following account by a first-year NYU medical student identified as "Darryl" on 1010 Wins Radio: "[W]e heard this sound that sounded like a clap of thunder. Turned around. We were shocked to see that the building was, uh Well, it looked like there was a shockwave ripping through the building and the windows all busted out. It was horrifying. And then about a second later the bottom floor caved out and the building followed after that"; and

WHEREAS, a CNN video captured both the sound of an explosion coming from WTC 7 and the following statements prior to the onset of the collapse:

Unidentified voice: "You hear that?"

Voice of emergency worker #1: "Keep your eye on that building. It'll be coming down soon."

Voice of emergency worker #2: "Building is about to blow up, move it back . We are walking back, there's a building about to blow up. Flame and debris coming down"; and

WHEREAS, numerous experts in controlled demolition and structural engineering have attested that the collapse of WTC 7 could have only been caused by controlled demolition, as exemplified in the following statement made by Dutch demolition expert Danny Jowenko after viewing video of the collapse: "This is controlled demolition . It's been imploded. It's a hired job, done by a team of experts"; and

WHEREAS, in spite of the fact that WTC 7 had only few, small, and scattered fires and modest structural damage, the NYC Office of Emergency Management and the New York Fire Department predicted the collapse of WTC 7 with extraordinary confidence and precision, deciding to establish a safety zone around WTC 7 early in the afternoon and waiting several hours in anticipation of the building's collapse; and

WHEREAS, local authorities were so certain of WTC 7's eventual collapse that anticipation of the collapse was widely reported in the media, as exemplified by MSNBC's Ashleigh Banfield, who reported, "I've heard several reports from several different officers now that that is the building that is gonna go down next. In fact, one officer told me they're just waiting for that to come down at this point" - and by the BBC, who erroneously began reporting the collapse 23 minutes before it actually occurred; and

WHEREAS, in spite of the fact that local authorities predicted the collapse of WTC 7 with extraordinary confidence and precision, investigators for the Building Performance Study, conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), were "stunned" by the collapse of WTC 7 and concluded in May 2002: "The specifics of the fires in WTC 7 and how they caused the building to collapse remain unknown at this time. Although the total diesel fuel on the premises contained massive potential energy, the best hypothesis has only a low probability of occurrence"; and

WHEREAS, three and a half years after the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) began its investigation into the World Trade Center disaster, NIST's lead investigator, Dr. Shyam Sunder, stated that NIST had some "preliminary hypotheses," but conceded, "[T]ruthfully, I don't really know. We've had trouble getting a handle on building No. 7"; and

WHEREAS, NIST finally concluded in its 2008 report that the collapse of WTC 7 was caused by "normal office fires," thus abandoning earlier hypotheses that diesel fuel fires or structural damage caused the collapse; and

WHEREAS, according to NIST, the fires that it alleges triggered the total collapse of WTC 7 burned at temperatures "hundreds of degrees below those typically considered in design practice for establishing structural fire resistance ratings"; and

WHEREAS, NIST neglected to examine steel from WTC 7 with a "Swiss cheese appearance" that had been attacked by molten iron - as documented in Appendix C of the FEMA/ASCE Building Performance Study - and instead falsely alleged that no identifiable steel was recovered from WTC 7; and

WHEREAS, in its draft report for public comment, NIST falsely denied that WTC 7 entered free fall, and then acknowledged the occurrence of free fall in its final report, but falsely alleged that the occurrence of free fall was consistent with its computer model, which, in fact, does not show a period of free fall, nor does it come close to replicating the observed collapse; and

WHEREAS, NIST's computer model omitted critical structural features of WTC 7, which, in the opinion of independent engineers, had they been included, the computer model would have shown that NIST's alleged collapse initiation mechanism had zero probability of occurring; and

WHEREAS, NIST has refused to release key portions of its modeling data to engineers studying the collapse of WTC 7, claiming that to do so "might jeopardize public safety"; and

WHEREAS, thousands of members of the architecture and engineering professions, including the 97 sponsors of this resolution, believe there is sufficient evidence contradicting NIST's explanation of the collapse of WTC 7 to warrant a new investigation.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the AIA Board of Directors shall commence the process to adopt a Position Statement, to be published in the AIA Directory of Public Policies and Position Statements, stating both:

 The AIA's belief that incidents involving the catastrophic failure of buildings and other structures must be investigated using the highest standards of science-based investigation and analysis; and

 The AIA's support for a new investigation into the total collapse of WTC 7.

[Jan 13, 2017] Mystery Hackers Blow Up Secret NSA Hacking Tools in 'Final F--k You'

Notable quotes:
"... The message was accompanied by a parting gift...an apparently complete NSA backdoor kit targeting the Windows operating system. The kit is comprised of 61 malicious Windows executables, only one of which was previously known to antivirus vendors... ..."
Jan 13, 2017 | www.thedailybeast.com
by Kevin Poulsen

"A mysterious hacking group has been bedeviling the U.S. intelligence community for months, releasing a tranche of secret National Security Agency hacking tools to the public while offering to sell even more for the right price. Now with barely a week to go before Donald Trump's inauguration, the self-styled "Shadow Brokers" on Thursday announced that they were packing it in.

"So long, farewell peoples. TheShadowBrokers is going dark, making exit," the group wrote on its darknet site... The message was accompanied by a parting gift...an apparently complete NSA backdoor kit targeting the Windows operating system. The kit is comprised of 61 malicious Windows executables, only one of which was previously known to antivirus vendors...

... ... ...

The Shadow Brokers emerged in August with the announcement that they'd stolen the hacking tools used by a sophisticated computer-intrusion operation known as the Equation Group, and were putting them up for sale to the highest bidder. It was a remarkable claim, because the Equation Group is generally understood to be part of the NSA's elite Tailored Access Operations program and is virtually never detected, much less penetrated.

... ... ...

Released along with the announcement was a huge cache of specialized malware, including dozens of backdoor programs and 10 exploits, two of them targeting previously unknown security holes in Cisco routers-a basic building block of the internet. While Cisco and other companies scrambled for a fix, security experts pored over the Shadow Brokers tranche like it was the Rosetta Stone. "It was the first time, as threat-intelligence professionals, that we've had access to what appears to be a relatively complete toolkit of a nation-state attacker," says Jake Williams, founder of Rendition Infosec. "It was excitement in some circles, dismay in other circles, and panic and a rush to patch if you're running vulnerable hardware."

[Jan 13, 2017] Former Employee Sues Google, Claims It Maintained an Internal Spy Network That Encouraged Workers to Snitch on Each Other

Notable quotes:
"... By Michael Arria, an associate editor at AlterNet and AlterNet's labor editor. Follow @MichaelArria on Twitter. Originally published at Alternet ..."
"... The lawsuit was filed by a former product manager who claims that the alleged program violates California labor law. The same person filed a National Labor Relations Board complaint against Google and its sister firm Nest this June. The NLRB complaint alleged that the employee was terminated after making a social media post that was critical of the company. The allegation also contends that the companies illegally monitored workers' electronic devices to prevent them from airing criticisms of Google. ..."
"... Google could be fined up to $100 for each of the 12 alleged violations in the suit, multiplied by 65,000 employees. If an allegedly unlawful policy lasted for more than one pay period, the fine doubles to $200 per pay period, per employee, for up to a year. If 'Doe' prevails on every allegation in the lawsuit, the maximum fine would be $3.8 billion, with about $14,600 going to each Google employee. ..."
"... Company with business model based entirely around mass surveillance enforces a "transparency" (just another word for it) culture among its employees? Who could've knew I'm really interested how the lawsuit works out. ..."
Jan 03, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
From a legal standpoint, the arguments that Google is making in its defense in an employee lawsuit are lame. Of course, it could be saving its real case for the court. Oddly, the summary below omits a key issue as to why Google's surveillance and secrecy policies are problematic. From the underlying story at Information:

The lawsuit alleges that Google warns employees to not put into writing concerns about potential illegal activity within Google, even to the company's own attorneys, because the disclosures could fall into the hands of regulators and law enforcement. It also alleges that confidentiality provisions include a prohibition on employees writing "a novel about someone working at a tech company in Silicon Valley," without Google signing off on the final draft.

Among other things, this makes it impossible for Google to have any sort of internal whistleblower program, even when most are strictly cosmetic. Most corporate governance experts deem them to be necessary as a liability shield for management. Moreover, these agreements also violate the SEC's whistleblower rules, which bar companies from hindering employees contacting agency officials regarding suspected abuses. Google's top brass appear convinced that their internal code of omerta plus their connections means that they can dispense with that sort of thing.

Google's internal non-disclosure agreements apparently didn't contain standard "outs," the most important being that the signer can disclose information when compelled to by judicial decree, as long as they inform the company first and give them the opportunity to contest the order.

I hope California readers will tell me about the reputation of the firm suing Google. The claim looks to be spare (a good sign) and well argued. Even though the usual rule of thumb with employee suits is that the big companies have a huge advantage by being able to hire better counsel, Google looks to have overreached to such a remarkable degree that the employee may well prevail. It would also help if outside parties take interest and provide amicus briefs on behalf of the plaintiff.

By Michael Arria, an associate editor at AlterNet and AlterNet's labor editor. Follow @MichaelArria on Twitter. Originally published at Alternet

Tech news site the Information reports that a former Google employee is suing the company, claiming it maintained an internal spying program that encouraged workers to rat each other out.

The lawsuit was filed by a former product manager who claims that the alleged program violates California labor law. The same person filed a National Labor Relations Board complaint against Google and its sister firm Nest this June. The NLRB complaint alleged that the employee was terminated after making a social media post that was critical of the company. The allegation also contends that the companies illegally monitored workers' electronic devices to prevent them from airing criticisms of Google.

The lawsuit points out that employees should be able to discuss workplace conditions without fearing retaliatory action.

Google has called the lawsuit "baseless." The Information piece quotes a statement from the company:

We're very committed to an open internal culture, which means we frequently share with employees details of product launches and confidential business information. Transparency is a huge part of our culture. Our employee confidentiality requirements are designed to protect proprietary business information, while not preventing employees from disclosing information about terms and conditions of employment, or workplace concerns.

If the lawsuit ends up being successful, it could be extremely expensive for Google. The Information report breaks down the math:

Google could be fined up to $100 for each of the 12 alleged violations in the suit, multiplied by 65,000 employees. If an allegedly unlawful policy lasted for more than one pay period, the fine doubles to $200 per pay period, per employee, for up to a year. If 'Doe' prevails on every allegation in the lawsuit, the maximum fine would be $3.8 billion, with about $14,600 going to each Google employee.

Read the entire article at the Information's website .

Teddy , January 3, 2017 at 12:44 pm

Company with business model based entirely around mass surveillance enforces a "transparency" (just another word for it) culture among its employees? Who could've knew I'm really interested how the lawsuit works out.

Tom Stone , January 3, 2017 at 1:15 pm

They ain't MoFo, but that's not a lightweight law firm.

[Jan 12, 2017] I know a lot of people who dislike Trump, and none of them seem to believe the buzzfeed story

The document reads like "the gang that couldn't shoot straight." It's a joke.
Notable quotes:
"... People who already dislike Trump will believe the allegations while people who like Trump will hate the press and intelligence agencies (?) even more for attacking him unfairly in their minds. ..."
"... People are making jokes about it, the puns are just too easy, but nobody seems to actually believe it. ..."
"... People don't talk about it like "did you hear trump did X" "oh yea" "yea there was a story". Its like "there was a very dubious story that trump did x" "". The way people talk about a Saturday Night Live sketch about Trump. ..."
"... "This is a huge embarrassment to Democrats, the mainstream media and those intelligence officials who have all been piling on Trump. It hurts their credibility, which can ill afford to take yet another hit." ..."
"... It's just partisan warfare. ..."
"... "Today Clapper denounced media leaks..." Is that the same Clapper who lied to Congress about how the NSA was spying on law-abiding citizens en mass? Yeah he's trustworthy. ..."
"... CNN was the first to report what Buzzfeed revealed. Trump was mad at them. Who else? ..."
"... Glenn Greenwald explains the whole vendetta against Trump based on sham data. https://theintercept.com/2017/01/11/the-deep-state-goes-to-war-with-president-elect-using-unverified-claims-as-dems-cheer/ ..."
"... With release of the buzz feed data, they overplayed their hand, destroyed their narrative, embarrassed themselves, and ultimately strengthened Trump. ..."
"... "they damn well better have the goods...and the goods need to PO the deplorables." nothing will change their minds. They just see it as cynical attacks on their man. ..."
"... The long knives will come out during the next recession ..."
"... This reminds me of how the Bush campaign got Dan Rather to release some bogus information about Bush43 as a draft dodger. ..."
"... In that case, I think the narrative of Bush as a draft dodger was correct, but its usefulness for Democrats got destroyed the moment Rather's source was revealed as bogus. ..."
"... In this case, Hillary's assertions of Trump as a Putin stooge have been highly suspect, though she made a big deal of them in her campaign. Now that narrative has been crippled by the buzz feed overreach. ..."
"... Exactly! "Democrats don't want to do a post-mortem about why they lost. It may prove that Bernie Sanders was right. They'd rather change the subject," which is where the 'everything is Putin's fault' narrative comes in. ..."
"... Reminds me of the 'everything is Republicans fault' narrative that Democrats used to justify Obama's failure to jail bankers, his austerity, and his proposals to cut Social Security. ..."
"... Democrats are masters of denial and victimization...just like Republicans. It's all very sick. ..."
"... There is, and always was, a better Putin narrative. Trump is an FSB mole is both too far and too specific. ..."
"... the election should never been about Putin. It should have been about swing state voters' economic anxieties, something that Hillary could never wrap here head around. ..."
"... Now it looks like the Trump-Putin narrative is blowing up in their faces---purveyors of fake news should not accuse others of purveying fake news. ..."
Jan 12, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Peter K. -> JohnH... , January 12, 2017 at 06:57 AM
The thing about Trump is that people can imagine he's the kind of guy who would enjoy being urinated on by Russian prostitutes, even if the allegations are untrue. He is so into gold and into women.

People who already dislike Trump will believe the allegations while people who like Trump will hate the press and intelligence agencies (?) even more for attacking him unfairly in their minds.

jeff fisher -> Peter K.... , January 12, 2017 at 10:10 AM
I know a lot of people who dislike Trump, and none of them seem to believe the buzzfeed story. People are making jokes about it, the puns are just too easy, but nobody seems to actually believe it.

People don't talk about it like "did you hear trump did X" "oh yea" "yea there was a story". Its like "there was a very dubious story that trump did x" "". The way people talk about a Saturday Night Live sketch about Trump.

Peter K. -> JohnH... , January 12, 2017 at 06:59 AM
"This is a huge embarrassment to Democrats, the mainstream media and those intelligence officials who have all been piling on Trump. It hurts their credibility, which can ill afford to take yet another hit."

Kind of like Comey was a huge embarrassment to Republicans? I don't think so. It's just partisan warfare.

Peter K. -> JohnH... , January 12, 2017 at 07:01 AM
So leaks are good when Wikileaks do them but bad when intelligence officials do them?

We know Trump will never be consistent, but you can try to have single standards.

Peter K. -> JohnH... , January 12, 2017 at 07:06 AM
"Today Clapper denounced media leaks..." Is that the same Clapper who lied to Congress about how the NSA was spying on law-abiding citizens en mass? Yeah he's trustworthy.
Peter K. -> JohnH... , January 12, 2017 at 07:28 AM
"This is a huge embarrassment to Democrats, the mainstream media and those intelligence officials who have all been piling on Trump. It hurts their credibility, which can ill afford to take yet another hit."

CNN was the first to report what Buzzfeed revealed. Trump was mad at them. Who else?

JohnH -> Peter K.... , January 12, 2017 at 07:44 AM
Glenn Greenwald explains the whole vendetta against Trump based on sham data.
https://theintercept.com/2017/01/11/the-deep-state-goes-to-war-with-president-elect-using-unverified-claims-as-dems-cheer/

With release of the buzz feed data, they overplayed their hand, destroyed their narrative, embarrassed themselves, and ultimately strengthened Trump.

Peter K. -> JohnH... , January 12, 2017 at 07:50 AM
Like Trump doesn't use "sham data" and innuendo. Who cares? Poetic justice. Trump is just going to waste his time pursuing vendettas against those who sullied his good name.

Maybe that drama will "crowd out" some of his plans to enact Paul Ryan's agenda. Maybe it will cause a backlash among those Americans interested in a free press and democratic norms.

Like I said some of your ideas are good, but they are tarnished by some of the really stupid things you say by association.

JohnH -> Peter K.... , January 12, 2017 at 08:21 AM
We already know that Trump has a Teflon shield. If the establishment is going to get him, they damn well better have the goods...and the goods need to PO the deplorables. Trumped up charges won't cut it.
Peter K. -> JohnH... , January 12, 2017 at 08:32 AM
"We already know that Trump has a Teflon shield."

via DeLong:

http://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/01/should-read-josh-marshall-_what-you-didnt-see_-what-may-be-the-most-significant-news-of-the-day-barely-made-a-ri.html#more

Should-Read: Josh Marshall: What You Didn't See: "What may be the most significant news of the day barely made a ripple...

...Donald Trump, ten days from becoming President, has an approval rating of 37%. Most presidents seldom get so low. Some never do. For ten days away from inauguration it's totally unprecedented.... Each of the last three presidents had approval ratings of at least 65% during their presidential transitions.... Curiously absent from press coverage [has been that] Trump, his agenda and his party are deeply unpopular... [and have] gotten steadily more unpopular over the last four weeks..."

Peter K. -> JohnH... , January 12, 2017 at 08:34 AM
"they damn well better have the goods...and the goods need to PO the deplorables." nothing will change their minds. They just see it as cynical attacks on their man.
JohnH -> Peter K.... , January 12, 2017 at 09:39 AM
The long knives will come out during the next recession, when Trump will have proven his incompetence. Pretense for impeachment is unknowable, but it better be good!
JohnH -> Peter K.... , January 12, 2017 at 07:56 AM
This reminds me of how the Bush campaign got Dan Rather to release some bogus information about Bush43 as a draft dodger.

In that case, I think the narrative of Bush as a draft dodger was correct, but its usefulness for Democrats got destroyed the moment Rather's source was revealed as bogus.

In this case, Hillary's assertions of Trump as a Putin stooge have been highly suspect, though she made a big deal of them in her campaign. Now that narrative has been crippled by the buzz feed overreach.

Democrats should have focused on voters' economic concerns, not the Trump-Putin narrative.

Peter K. -> JohnH... , January 12, 2017 at 08:08 AM
There was an interesting movie about the Rather case staring Robert Redford and Cate Blanchette. Trump is engaging in the same thuggish behavior as Republicans used against Rather and his producer in that case. Or course CBS folded because they had regulatory changes about affiliate ownership before the Bush administration.

We can expect the same cowardice from our corporate media regarding the Trump administration.

JohnH -> Peter K.... , January 12, 2017 at 08:19 AM
It would be interesting to know if Trump had something to do with release of the buzz feed report. It would make Trump smarter than I think he really is. My understanding is that John McCain, who hates Trump, was behind circulation of the report before buzz feed released it.
Peter K. -> JohnH... , January 12, 2017 at 08:40 AM
"My understanding is that John McCain, who hates Trump, was behind circulation of the report before buzz feed released it." A lot of people knew about it. The eight leading congress people on the intelligence committees knew about it. David Corn reported about it in October in Mother Jones.
Peter K. -> JohnH... , January 12, 2017 at 08:27 AM
"Democrats should have focused on voters' economic concerns, not the Trump-Putin narrative."

I'll agree with you on this. Obama went more positive in 2008 and 2012 than Hillary did in 2016 and was successful at the polls. Negative campaigning works but seems like too much of it depresses turnout.

Part of it is that establishment Democrats don't want to do a post-mortem about why they lost. It may prove that Bernie Sanders was right. They'd rather change the subject.

JohnH -> Peter K.... , January 12, 2017 at 09:06 AM
Exactly! "Democrats don't want to do a post-mortem about why they lost. It may prove that Bernie Sanders was right. They'd rather change the subject," which is where the 'everything is Putin's fault' narrative comes in.

Reminds me of the 'everything is Republicans fault' narrative that Democrats used to justify Obama's failure to jail bankers, his austerity, and his proposals to cut Social Security.

Democrats are masters of denial and victimization...just like Republicans. It's all very sick.

jeff fisher -> JohnH... , January 12, 2017 at 10:35 AM
There is, and always was, a better Putin narrative. Trump is an FSB mole is both too far and too specific.

The Republican's policy ideas are awful. Trump will be a terrible president. Putin wants us weak, and the Republican party will deliver just as it did during the Bush presidency.

We will make little progress on our important problems, and make massive blunders that cost us for decades.

Global warming will continue to improve the Russian Climate. Progress on renewable energy will be slowed, improving the market for Russian oil and gas. The US will worsen its healthcare problems. The US will exacerbate its inequality. The toxic republican attitude toward the institutions of democracy will come from all three branches of the federal government, and most state governments.

Peter K. -> jeff fisher... , January 12, 2017 at 10:42 AM
Putin doesn't like Hillary. At the time, she said Putin's election was rigged. And they were pushing Russia on all fronts. Trump is an isolationist who doesn't care about human rights or freedom of the press.

Simple as that.

jeff fisher -> Peter K.... , January 12, 2017 at 11:02 AM
That's too specific. Not a good campaign narrative. It is reasonably true.

But remember, Putin is supporting awful right wing parties in various nations. It wasn't just Clinton.

JohnH -> jeff fisher... , January 12, 2017 at 12:08 PM
Agreed. There were probably better Putin narratives, and the election should never been about Putin. It should have been about swing state voters' economic anxieties, something that Hillary could never wrap here head around.

Now it looks like the Trump-Putin narrative is blowing up in their faces---purveyors of fake news should not accuse others of purveying fake news.

[Jan 12, 2017] And now bottom feeders from BBC join the chorus

This Paul Wood. is very funny "I understand the CIA believes it is credible..." The document reads like "the gang that couldn't shoot straight." It's a joke. But despite this Paul wood provided a good (albeit very dirty) hatchet job. Looks like neocons declared the open war on Trump. And as they are just a flavor of Trotskyites they are are capable of everything as they preach " the end justifies the means"... with their global neoliberal revolution under threat they can do as low as gangsters. Fake evidence is OK form in the best the "end justified the means" way.
Notable quotes:
"... Claims about a Russian blackmail tape were made in one of a series of reports written by a former British intelligence agent, understood to be Christopher Steele ..."
"... As a member of MI6, he had been posted to the UK's embassy in Moscow and now runs a consultancy giving advice on doing business in Russia. He spoke to a number of his old contacts in the FSB, the successor to the KGB, paying some of them for information. ..."
"... Mr Trump's supporters say this is a politically motivated attack. The president-elect himself, outraged, tweeted this morning: "Are we living in Nazi Germany?" ..."
"... He said the memo was written by "sick people [who] put that crap together". ..."
"... The opposition research firm that commissioned the report had worked first for an anti-Trump superpac - political action committee - during the Republican primaries. ..."
"... Then during the general election, it was funded by an anonymous Democratic Party supporter. ..."
"... At his news conference, Mr Trump said he warned his staff when they travelled: "Be very careful, because in your hotel rooms and no matter where you go you're going to probably have cameras." ..."
Jan 12, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
im1dc : January 12, 2017 at 09:06 AM , 2017 at 09:06 AM
Adding the BBC's reporting on the compromising of Donald Trump to the above posts that got off-track, imo, from the issue

"Theatre of the absurd"

Took my breath away...

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38589427

"Trump 'compromising' claims: How and why did we get here?"

By Paul Wood...BBC News...Washington...1-12-2017...47 minutes ago

"Donald Trump has described as "fake news" allegations published in some media that his election team colluded with Russia - and that Russia held compromising material about his private life. The BBC's Paul Wood saw the allegations before the election, and reports on the fallout now they have come to light.

The significance of these allegations is that, if true, the president-elect of the United States would be vulnerable to blackmail by the Russians.

I understand the CIA believes it is credible that the Kremlin has such kompromat - or compromising material - on the next US commander in chief. At the same time a joint taskforce, which includes the CIA and the FBI, has been investigating allegations that the Russians may have sent money to Mr Trump's organisation or his election campaign.

Claims about a Russian blackmail tape were made in one of a series of reports written by a former British intelligence agent, understood to be Christopher Steele.

As a member of MI6, he had been posted to the UK's embassy in Moscow and now runs a consultancy giving advice on doing business in Russia. He spoke to a number of his old contacts in the FSB, the successor to the KGB, paying some of them for information.

They told him that Mr Trump had been filmed with a group of prostitutes in the presidential suite of Moscow's Ritz-Carlton hotel. I know this because the Washington political research company that commissioned his report showed it to me during the final week of the election campaign.

The BBC decided not to use it then, for the very good reason that without seeing the tape - if it exists - we could not know if the claims were true. The detail of the allegations were certainly lurid. The entire series of reports has now been posted by BuzzFeed.

[Image of Trump's Tweet]

Mr Trump's supporters say this is a politically motivated attack. The president-elect himself, outraged, tweeted this morning: "Are we living in Nazi Germany?" Later, at his much-awaited news conference, he was unrestrained. "A thing like that should have never been written," he said, "and certainly should never have been released."

He said the memo was written by "sick people [who] put that crap together".

The opposition research firm that commissioned the report had worked first for an anti-Trump superpac - political action committee - during the Republican primaries.

Then during the general election, it was funded by an anonymous Democratic Party supporter. But these are not political hacks - their usual line of work is country analysis and commercial risk assessment, similar to the former MI6 agent's consultancy. He, apparently, gave his dossier to the FBI against the firm's advice.

[Photo of Trump in Moscow, 2013 w/beauty contestants]

And the former MI6 agent is not the only source for the claim about Russian kompromat on the president-elect. Back in August, a retired spy told me he had been informed of its existence by "the head of an East European intelligence agency".

Later, I used an intermediary to pass some questions to active duty CIA officers dealing with the case file - they would not speak to me directly. I got a message back that there was "more than one tape", "audio and video", on "more than one date", in "more than one place" - in the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow and also in St Petersburg - and that the material was "of a sexual nature".

'Be very careful'

The claims of Russian kompromat on Mr Trump were "credible", the CIA believed. That is why - according to the New York Times and Washington Post - these claims ended up on President Barack Obama's desk last week, a briefing document also given to Congressional leaders and to Mr Trump himself.

Mr Trump did visit Moscow in November 2013, the date the main tape is supposed to have been made. There is TV footage of him at the Miss Universe contest. Any visitor to a grand hotel in Moscow would be wise to assume that their room comes equipped with hidden cameras and microphones as well as a mini-bar.

At his news conference, Mr Trump said he warned his staff when they travelled: "Be very careful, because in your hotel rooms and no matter where you go you're going to probably have cameras." So the Russian security services have made obtaining kompromat an art form.

One Russian specialist told me that Vladimir Putin himself sometimes says there is kompromat on him - though perhaps he is joking. The specialist went on to tell me that FSB officers are prone to boasting about having tapes on public figures, and to be careful of any statements they might make.

A former CIA officer told me he had spoken by phone to a serving FSB officer who talked about the tapes. He concluded: "It's hokey as hell."

Mr Trump and his supporters are right to point out that these are unsubstantiated allegations.

But it is not just sex, it is money too. The former MI6 agent's report detailed alleged attempts by the Kremlin to offer Mr Trump lucrative "sweetheart deals" in Russia that would buy his loyalty.

Mr Trump turned these down, and indeed has done little real business in Russia. But a joint intelligence and law enforcement taskforce has been looking at allegations that the Kremlin paid money to his campaign through his associates.

Legal applications

On 15 October, the US secret intelligence court issued a warrant to investigate two Russian banks. This news was given to me by several sources and corroborated by someone I will identify only as a senior member of the US intelligence community. He would never volunteer anything - giving up classified information would be illegal - but he would confirm or deny what I had heard from other sources.

"I'm going to write a story that says " I would say. "I don't have a problem with that," he would reply, if my information was accurate. He confirmed the sequence of events below.

Last April, the CIA director was shown intelligence that worried him. It was - allegedly - a tape recording of a conversation about money from the Kremlin going into the US presidential campaign.

It was passed to the US by an intelligence agency of one of the Baltic States. The CIA cannot act domestically against American citizens so a joint counter-intelligence taskforce was created.

The taskforce included six agencies or departments of government. Dealing with the domestic, US, side of the inquiry, were the FBI, the Department of the Treasury, and the Department of Justice. For the foreign and intelligence aspects of the investigation, there were another three agencies: the CIA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Security Agency, responsible for electronic spying.

Lawyers from the National Security Division in the Department of Justice then drew up an application. They took it to the secret US court that deals with intelligence, the Fisa court, named after the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. They wanted permission to intercept the electronic records from two Russian banks.

Their first application, in June, was rejected outright by the judge. They returned with a more narrowly drawn order in July and were rejected again. Finally, before a new judge, the order was granted, on 15 October, three weeks before election day.

Neither Mr Trump nor his associates are named in the Fisa order, which would only cover foreign citizens or foreign entities - in this case the Russian banks. But ultimately, the investigation is looking for transfers of money from Russia to the United States, each one, if proved, a felony offence.

A lawyer- outside the Department of Justice but familiar with the case - told me that three of Mr Trump's associates were the subject of the inquiry. "But it's clear this is about Trump," he said.

I spoke to all three of those identified by this source. All of them emphatically denied any wrongdoing. "Hogwash," said one. "Bullshit," said another. Of the two Russian banks, one denied any wrongdoing, while the other did not respond to a request for comment.

The investigation was active going into the election. During that period, the leader of the Democrats in the Senate, Harry Reid, wrote to the director of the FBI, accusing him of holding back "explosive information" about Mr Trump.

Mr Reid sent his letter after getting an intelligence briefing, along with other senior figures in Congress. Only eight people were present: the chairs and ranking minority members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, and the leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties in Congress, the "gang of eight" as they are sometimes called. Normally, senior staff attend "gang of eight" intelligence briefings, but not this time. The Congressional leaders were not even allowed to take notes.

'Puppet'

In the letter to the FBI director, James Comey, Mr Reid said: "In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and co-ordination between Donald Trump, his top advisers, and the Russian government - a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Mr Trump praises at every opportunity.

"The public has a right to know this information. I wrote to you months ago calling for this information to be released to the public. There is no danger to American interests from releasing it. And yet, you continue to resist calls to inform the public of this critical information."

The CIA, FBI, Justice and Treasury all refused to comment when I approached them after hearing about the Fisa warrant.

It is not clear what will happen to the inter-agency investigation under President Trump - or even if the taskforce is continuing its work now. The Russians have denied any attempt to influence the president-elect - with either money or a blackmail tape.

If a tape exists, the Russians would hardly give it up, though some hope to encourage a disloyal FSB officer who might want to make some serious money. Before the election, Larry Flynt, publisher of the pornographic magazine Hustler, put up a million dollars for incriminating tape of Mr Trump. Penthouse has now followed with its own offer of a million dollars for the Ritz-Carlton tape (if it exists).

It is an extraordinary situation, 10 days before Mr Trump is sworn into office, but it was foreshadowed during the campaign.

During the final presidential debate, Hillary Clinton called Donald Trump a "puppet" of Russia's leader, Vladimir Putin. "No puppet. No puppet," Mr Trump interjected, talking over Mrs Clinton. "You're the puppet. No, you're the puppet."

In a New York Times op-ed in August, the former director of the CIA, Michael Morell, wrote: "In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr Putin had recruited Mr Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation."

Agent; puppet - both terms imply some measure of influence or control by Moscow.

Michael Hayden, former head of both the CIA and the NSA, simply called Mr Trump a "polezni durak" - a useful fool.

The background to those statements was information held - at the time - within the intelligence community. Now all Americans have heard the claims. Little more than a week before his inauguration, they will have to decide if their president-elect really was being blackmailed by Moscow."

[Jan 12, 2017] Be very careful, because in your hotel rooms and no matter where you go, you're gonna probably have cameras

Jan 12, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Fred C. Dobbs : Thursday, January 12, 2017 at 06:05 AM , January 12, 2017 at 06:05 AM
Trump, Sex and Lots of Whining
https://nyti.ms/2jxbsl0
NYT - Gail Collins - Jan 11

... About that press conference. Here are some of the things we learned:

■ The reason he hasn't shown up to answer questions from reporters since July is "inaccurate news."

■ The Russians don't have any secret tapes of him behaving badly in a hotel room because every time he goes to hotels abroad, he warns everybody: "Be very careful, because in your hotel rooms and no matter where you go, you're gonna probably have cameras." Of everything Trump said during the press conference, this was perhaps the most convincing.

[Jan 12, 2017] We surveilled some folks

Notable quotes:
"... "We surveilled some folks." ..."
Jan 12, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
allan , January 12, 2017 at 2:34 pm

The Obama administration opens the raw, unminimized NSA spigot for domestic law enforcement
just in time to hand over to the incoming regime.


N.S.A. Gets More Latitude to Share Intercepted Communications
[NYT]

Time to lace up those walking shoes and do some organizing.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , January 12, 2017 at 2:56 pm

Never give up the fight, though, like a lot of things in life, it would have been easier to oppose it in the beginning.

"Because Obama, we did little until."

Ivy , January 12, 2017 at 3:35 pm

"We surveilled some folks."

[Jan 11, 2017] Gaius Publius: Best Buy National Repair Techs Routinely Search Customer Devices, Act as "Paid Informers" for FBI

Jan 11, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

What can to prevent a Geek Squad employee from planting compromising material on one's computer out of pure greed, or if the FBI wants is out to get someone? How do you prove that the image or file or whatever wasn't planted?

Posted on January 10, 2017 by Yves Smith Yves here. There is an additional layer to this ugly picture. I have whistleblowers as contacts, and one is particularly technology savvy. He has long been above-board in how he conducts his personal and business affairs. His big worry has been that it is not hard to plant information on devices.

By Gaius Publius , a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius , Tumblr and Facebook . GP article archive here . Originally published at DownWithTyranny

Did you know that Best Buy's central computer repair facility - their so-called "Geek Squad" - contains at least three employees who are also regular informers for the FBI? And that these employees routinely search through computers and other devices that Best Buy customers send in for repair? And when they find something they think the FBI would be interested in, they turn over the information for rewards of up to $500?

That's a sideline business you probably didn't imagine existed - outside of the old Soviet Union or communist East Germany.

I want to look briefly at two aspects of this - first, the story itself (it's chilling) and second, its implications .

The Story - Best Buy Repair Techs Routinely Inform on Their Computer Repair Customers to the FBI

Let's look first at the story via the OC Weekly in Orange County, California. Note, as you read, the use of phrases like "FBI informant" and "paid FBI informant." We'll also look at other versions of this story. In all versions, Best Buy repair employees routinely search customers' computers for information they can sell to the FBI, and get paid if the FBI wants the info.

In the FBI-centered versions, the Best Buy employees act on their own and get paid as "honest citizens," as it were, merely offering tips, even though this practice seems to be routine. For the FBI, the fact that the same employees frequently offer tips for which they get paid doesn't make them "paid informers" in the sense that a regular street snitch regularly sells tips to cops.

For the Best Buy customer in question, that's a distinction without a difference. But you'll see that distinction made in articles about this incident, depending on whose side the writer seems to favor.

Now to the OC Weekly 's write-up by R. Scott Moxley (h/t reddit user Spacewoman3 , posting in the valuable link source r/WayOfTheBern ; emphasis mine):

[Dr. Mark A.] Rettenmaier is a prominent Orange County physician and surgeon who had no idea that a Nov. 1, 2011, trip to a Mission Viejo Best Buy would jeopardize his freedom and eventually raise concerns about, at a minimum, FBI competency or, at worst, corruption. Unable to boot his HP Pavilion desktop computer, he sought the assistance of the store's Geek Squad. At the time, nobody knew the company's repair technicians routinely searched customers' devices for files that could earn them $500 windfalls as FBI informants . This case produced that national revelation.

According to court records, Geek Squad technician John "Trey" Westphal, an FBI informant , reported he accidentally [sic] located on Rettenmaier's computer an image of "a fully nude, white prepubescent female on her hands and knees on a bed, with a brown choker-type collar around her neck." Westphal notified his boss, Justin Meade, also an FBI informant , who alerted colleague Randall Ratliff, another FBI informant at Best Buy, as well as the FBI. Claiming the image met the definition of child pornography and was tied to a series of illicit pictures known as the "Jenny" shots, agent Tracey Riley seized the hard drive.

The story goes on to detail rights violations committed by the FBI on its own, such as these:

Setting aside the issue of whether the search of Rettenmaier's computer constituted an illegal search by private individuals acting as government agents , the FBI undertook a series of dishonest measures in hopes of building a case, according to James D. Riddet, Rettenmaier's San Clemente-based defense attorney. Riddet says agents conducted two additional searches of the computer without obtaining necessary warrants , lied to trick a federal magistrate judge into authorizing a search warrant , then tried to cover up their misdeeds by initially hiding records .

To convict someone of child-pornography charges, the government must prove the suspect knowingly possessed the image. But in Rettenmaier's case, the alleged "Jenny" image was found on unallocated "trash" space, meaning it could only be retrieved by "carving" with costly, highly sophisticated forensics tools. In other words, it's arguable a computer's owner wouldn't know of its existence. (For example, malware can secretly implant files.) Worse for the FBI, a federal appellate court unequivocally declared in February 2011 ( USA v. Andrew Flyer ) that pictures found on unallocated space did not constitute knowing possession because it is impossible to determine when, why or who downloaded them.

The doctor's lawyer, of course, is contesting all of this, and the article's main point is that these discoveries have the FBI on the defensive. From the article's lead paragraph:

[A]n unusual child-pornography-possession case has placed officials on the defensive for nearly 26 months. Questions linger about law-enforcement honesty, unconstitutional searches, underhanded use of informants and twisted logic. Given that a judge recently ruled against government demands to derail a defense lawyer's dogged inquiry into the mess, United States of America v. Mark A. Rettenmaier is likely to produce additional courthouse embarrassments in 2017.

I want to ignore the wrangling between the court, the FBI and the attorneys for this piece and focus on the practices of Best Buy's employees and the government's defense of those practices. After discussing attempts to manipulate the court by withholding information in order to get authorization for a raid, the author notes:

Assistant U.S. Attorney M. Anthony Brown believes the "Jenny" image shouldn't be suppressed because it's only "wild speculation" that the Geek Squad performed searches at FBI instigation . To him, the defense is pushing a "flawed" theory slyly shifting focus to innocent FBI agents ; he maintains that Rettenmaier-who is smart enough to have taught medicine at USC and UCLA-was dumb enough to seek Best Buy recovery of all of his computer files after knowingly storing child porn there.

Reading this, it's easy to see that the issue of what constitutes a "paid informant" is being obscured. After all, what counts as "FBI instigation"? If someone pays you regularly for something that she never directly asks for, is that "innocent" behavior or caused behavior ("instigation")?

Yes, Best Buy Did This Regularly

The article answers the questions above:

But the biggest issue remains whether Geek Squad technicians acted as secret law-enforcement agents and, thus, violated Fourth Amendment prohibitions against warrantless government searches. Riddet [the defendant's lawyer] claims records show "FBI and Best Buy made sure that during the period from 2007 to the present, there was always at least one supervisor who was an active informant." He also said, " The FBI appears to be able to access data at [Best Buy's main repair facility in Brooks, Kentucky] whenever they want ." Calling the relationship between the agency and the Geek Squad relevant to pretrial motions, [Judge] Carney approved Riddet's request to question agents under oath.

The writer goes on to discuss the ins and outs of this particular case. But consider just what's above:

And finally, from the article's lead:

The LA Times handles this question similarly in a piece when the case first broke (my emphasis):

An employee at Best Buy's nationwide computer repair center served as a paid FBI informant who for years tipped off agents to illicit material found on customers' hard drives, according to the lawyer for a Newport Beach doctor facing child pornography charges as a result of information from the employee.

Federal authorities deny they directed the man to actively look for illegal activity. But the attorney alleges the FBI essentially used the employee to perform warrantless searches on electronics that passed through the massive maintenance facility outside Louisville, Ky., where technicians known as Geek Squad agents work on devices from across the country.

And note:

The Geek Squad had to use specialized technical tools to recover the photos because they were either damaged or had been deleted, according to court papers.

This contrasts with the Best Buy assertion that "Geek Squad technician John "Trey" Westphal, an FBI informant, reported he accidentally located [the image] on Rettenmaier's computer".

The Times thinks this case could turn into a constitutional issue, regardless of whether the doctor is guilty or innocent. (For the record, I'll note that the later (perhaps illegal as well) search of the doctor's other devices turned up what is asserted to be more incriminating pictures, mere possession of which is a "sex crime" in the U.S.)

The Implications

First point - This is an eager prosecutorial society; we really are a punishing bunch, we Americans. We've never left the world of Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter . So we give our police great latitude, allowing them to shoot and kill almost anyone for almost any reason, so long as the stated reason is in the form "I was afraid for my safety." Our prosecutors have great latitude in putting as many of our fellows in prison as possible. Our judges routinely clear their court calendars using plea-bargained guilty verdicts sans trial. This is the American judicial system, and it looks nothing like Law and Order , which is mainly propaganda.

And we, the spectators, are happy as clams to see the guilty (and the innocent) tortured and punished - witness our entertainment and the many popular programs that vilify the unworthy, from Judge Judy and her ilk, to Jerry Springer knockoffs, to all of those Lockup -type programs (extremely popular, by the way) on MSNBC. We love to see the "wicked" get it, in media and in life, much more so than people in many other first-world countries do. Witness our incarceration rate, the highest in the world .

Thus we give our "law enforcement" personnel - cops of all stripes, prosecutors, courts of all stripes (including the secret ones) - great latitude in finding people to punish and then making them truly miserable for as long as possible. We have been like this as a society for some time, all done with most people's permission.

Second point - With a Democrat in the White House, we're inclined to think this setup is mainly well-managed (even when it obviously isn't). Thus it has our blessing, more or less - or at least it has the blessing of middle class and working class white people - the bulk of people who vote.

Third point - We therefore fail to ask the most obvious questions. For example, about this Best Buy case, we ought to be asking this:

How common is the practice of paid FBI informants spying on fellow citizens in the ordinary performance of their jobs?

Are other computer repair companies and facilities similarly infected (infiltrated) by government agents?

Are other businesses also infiltrated to this degree?

Are "sex crimes" the only activity paid FBI informers watch for?

Is political activity subject to this kind of spying?

How much will this practice widen under AG Beauregard Sessions and President Trump?

Much to think about. I don't see the practice ending soon. I do see this as the tip of what could be a very large iceberg. Disturbed Voter , January 10, 2017 at 5:44 am

Some professionals are required by law or professional ethics to report wrong doing by others. So this isn't new. You should expect, at least in some cases, that anything you do online or offline is public knowledge and can be used against you in a court of law (or by a blackmailer) by both good and bad actors. You may or may not have a right to privacy, but in actual practice, it is primarily the needle in the haystack that protects you it isn't easy to uncover bad behavior in the midst of countless pointless information.

I know a private businessman who repairs computers. Even he has formal paperwork to cover both himself (while working on your computer) and to cover his customer, in regards to what junk you have on your hard drive. He doesn't want to be an accessory to a crime by a customer. And the customer needs reassurance that he isn't trolling the customers data (more profitable to borrow financial info, not porn).

reslez , January 10, 2017 at 12:24 pm

Sorry, but computer repair techs who are secretly on the payroll of the FBI and this apparently being normal and routine (ensuring that at least one supervisor was always an informant) is absolutely shocking and extreme. As are routine computer searches by personnel acting on behalf of the FBI without a warrant - searches that extend into unallocated areas of the hard drive requiring special software - this was not an accidental or inadvertent discovery, it was a purposeful fishing expedition.

To pooh pooh the severity of the surveillance does no one any favors. We may not have privacy in practice but de jure we have something called the Fourth Amendment. Behavior like this from our institutions does nothing but confirm RT's line that the United States is a surveillance state of historically unprecedented levels. Sadly the same people who pretend to champion the Bill of Rights in other contexts (such as gun rights) don't care a snapped twig about all our other rights that are routinely and with malice dismantled by the government acting under the cover of private business.

Disturbed Voter , January 10, 2017 at 1:01 pm

While I sympathize with your quaint notion of civil rights that was pretty much cancelled by the NDAA of 2012, and the carte blanche given by the secret court of warrants. A legal fig leaf perhaps. If you want better civil rights, you have to abolish the secret court of warrants, and any other Star Chamber. Also get rid of the NDAA and the Patriot Act of 2001.

The FBI and CIA are, and have always been, in competition and that leads to an always expanding need to tabulate everything and examine anything. Ultimately those who seek safety, lose liberty. RT is completely correct (when they want to be) about the US. Of course, even France 24 has its own agenda too.

bob , January 10, 2017 at 6:10 pm

"searches that extend into unallocated areas of the hard drive requiring special software"

This is BS. Stop repeating it. It's a very weak case, and only serves to make people feel secure in their insecurity.

When you are looking at a hard drive you look at the whole hard drive. You have to. Just because windoze and apple don't let you see this, doesn't mean it doesn't happen every second of everyday in the background.

If you are going to try to legislate that *anyone* can only look at "allocated" data, then, well, you can't turn a computer on. The entire boot sector isn't "allocated" (in the way that you are using the term), and you'd need *special software* to read it (an OS, or a disk utility)

Any boot issue should be made illegal to fix?

Jeff , January 10, 2017 at 5:51 am

quick one: M. Publius has Gaius as his first name. You have put "Gauis" in the last few articles that you reposted.

Yves Smith Post author , January 10, 2017 at 3:24 pm

Sorry, fixing.

bob , January 10, 2017 at 6:15 am

I'm not in favor of what BB is doing, but this is completely believable. He sent the drive to be analyzed (recovery of lost files). They analyzed it and found his deleted files.

This is pretty basic computer stuff.

"And note:

The Geek Squad had to use specialized technical tools to recover the photos because they were either damaged or had been deleted, according to court papers.

This contrasts with the Best Buy assertion that "Geek Squad technician John "Trey" Westphal, an FBI informant, reported he accidentallylocated [the image] on Rettenmaier's computer"."

I've done it before with my own drives that have failed. You find all of the files that were "deleted" but not overwritten.

This is why you NEVER, EVER get rid of a hard drive without physically destroying it first. You might not be able to access the failed drive to write over the old data anymore (drive failure). Lots of times, you can still access the drive to READ it.

c , January 10, 2017 at 7:08 am

where did you read: "He sent the drive to be analyzed (recovery of lost files). They analyzed it"?

Unable to boot his HP Pavilion desktop computer
battery, clock battery, any other hardware failure nothing would affect the integrity of your hard disc

bob , January 10, 2017 at 7:57 am

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/if-a-best-buy-technician-is-a-paid-fbi-informant-are-his-computer-searches-legal/2017/01/09/f56028b4-d442-11e6-9cb0-54ab630851e8_story.html

"Rettenmaier's hard drive was shipped to Geek Squad City in Brooks, Ky., a suburb of Louisville.

"Prosecutors said that the Geek Squad technician who searched the unallocated space was merely trying to recover all the data Rettenmaier had asked to be restored. Riddet argued that the technician was going beyond the regular search to deleted material to find evidence the FBI might want."

It seems as if the people working for BB in Louiville were data recovery people. You can't really be surprised that A) they recovered data or B) that the FBI might be interested in knowing people who work there - they were paying them.

Dave , January 10, 2017 at 4:22 pm

Bob,

Speaking of privacy, I believe that all those numbers appended to the end of the WAPO link you posted lead straight back to your computer and the chain of links you used to find it.
Sometimes you can strip them out and get to the link without them. Other times you cannot. Anyone savvy enough to explain an easy formula anonymize the link by removing all or part of those numbers?

bob , January 10, 2017 at 4:45 pm

Yeah, I posted that link quickly this morning without looking.

Dave , January 10, 2017 at 12:56 pm

H.P.? Serves him right for buying Hewlett Packard shit and for trusting Best Buy.
Thanks to Carly Fiorina, ALL H.P. products have become absolute unreliable garbage.
The way to get back at Best Buy is to use them as a free rental service; i.e. Buy a product you want to use for a little while, keep the receipt and then return it within the allowed period and get your money back.

Any corporation that allows the nonsense profiled in this article deserves the corporate death penalty.

If you have an old hard drive you can do the following to disable it at home:
Drill multiple holes, at least half an inch in diameter, all the way through the casing and the disk of the hard drive so you can look through the holes. You will need a vice and high quality drill bits. Don't do this unless you are familiar with tools and take safety precautions. Your hand is worth more than your privacy.

Make as least several holes, and make sure they are not opposite each other on the disc. This will cause it to blow up when it's spinning at x thousand RPM.
Pour glue into the holes and tip the casing on its edge so the glue flows inside the hard drive casing.

bob , January 10, 2017 at 5:46 pm

Drilling holes through the platters is probably the quickest, easiest way to render the drive useless to most.

It's not about having the drive blow up, it's about how much time and effort they are going to have to expend trying to get that data back.

If you're worried about state level actors, you're not going to be able to do much. They have unlimited time and money. You have to assume they will get it.

-they don't have to spin the drive at 5,400 rpm. In fact, at that level, they can't. The analyze it, very slowly, with an electron microscope.

fajensen , January 10, 2017 at 7:28 am

Not only that there can be stuff hiding in un-allocated space – it can be sucked into allocated space when new stuff is created when sloppy – or performance fetishistic – programmers do not zero out memory on allocation.

So, you create a new file / document / image and now inside the binary blob that contains your data, other stuff now lurks.

Tuff Titties if you send a picture of your dog in Christmas Dress to Granny and the "padding" added to align the image data with physical sectors on the hard disk suck in a "Jenny thumbnail" that Firefox cached for you when some pr0n site did a popup.

Once on the net, STASI's robots will sniff that out because "padding space" is EXACTLY one of the channels that "Evul Terrierists" would use to hide nefarious plots – Prosecutions will follow, because they have blown billions on this surveillance machine so they always need cases to prove the worth of the "investment".

In the US, "Progress" is commonly measured in "Effort Spent" so it does not matter that the charges will eventually be dismissed.

PS:
I often buy used business computers through vendors like Arrow Value Recovery. I do this to save money, because nothing radically good has come up for some years now making a 2 year old computer perfectly good especially at 1/3 of the new-price and also for environmental reasons.

I never keep the original hard drive that come with the computer, I replace it with a new SSD and reinstall from original media. Why?

Because even though the drive has been initialized by the vendor of the used PC, there may be stuff lurking in there that I don't want to maybe take through customs or airport security! Or maybe known things I don't want running on the inside of my firewall. Lenovo is kinda in-famous for that, others haven't been outed yet, one must assume.

Katharine , January 10, 2017 at 11:02 am

You seem to discount what the article says when you say:
> They analyzed it and found his deleted files.

It is quite a jump to identify this as his or even necessarily as a deleted file given this:

But in Rettenmaier's case, the alleged "Jenny" image was found on unallocated "trash" space, meaning it could only be retrieved by "carving" with costly, highly sophisticated forensics tools. In other words, it's arguable a computer's owner wouldn't know of its existence. (For example, malware can secretly implant files.)

To the best of my limited understanding deleted files go to Windows "Trash" in Windows space, not to unallocated space. If someone could explain how lost files could move out of the Windows partition to unallocated space, or clarify how else the term "unallocated" might be interpreted here I would appreciate it.

Knifecatcher , January 10, 2017 at 12:23 pm

Files in "Trash" aren't really deleted until the trash (or Recycling Bin, or whatever) is emptied. But even then the data isn't really gone. The 1s and 0s that make up the "Jenny" image or your 1040 or the torrid letter to your mistress are still there.

The operating system just erases the pointer or bookmark that tells it "this is a file" and marks the space as unallocated, meaning it can now store other stuff there. But until it does so any program that can read the data directly – not through the operating system – can still find and view the contents of those files.

Katharine , January 10, 2017 at 1:11 pm

So they're only referring to space temporarily unallocated on that partition, not another partition that is unallocated? Okay, thanks!

bob , January 10, 2017 at 4:26 pm

When you look at hard drive, especially with the intent to "recover data" there is no way to look at just want you want to see,

You have to look at everything on the hard drive. You take an image of the hard drive, then try to piece the files back together.

That there were "deleted" files on that hard drive, and that the tech recovered them, is not nefarious. It's his job.

I'm more than willing to admit that this is very shady business. He was also working for the FBI? That ain't cool.

Once you let that hard drive out of your sight, and let someone else poke at it, you can't be surprised that they find things.

"But I didn't want them to find THAT!" is not a legal excuse.

I'm pretty amazed at how this story is taking off. It really demonstrates how little people understand the tech that they use everyday.

This is a very bad case to try to make some sort of example out of. But, he's a rich doctor from Cali. It's not that surprising.

reslez , January 10, 2017 at 12:39 pm

At $500 a pop, an hourly Geek Squad worker has plenty of incentive to make up whatever is needed to keep the FBI happy. Think they have too much integrity or there's too much oversight of their actions? What about the multiple incidents where these same technicians charge for services that aren't warranted or weren't performed or save off copies of their customers' nude photos and share them with the entire internet?

Geek Squad Accused Of Stealing, Distributing Customer's Naked Photos. Yes, Again (2013)

bob , January 10, 2017 at 4:30 pm

"Think they have too much integrity or there's too much oversight of their actions?"

Who said that?

If you don't want your nude photos to be shared, DON'T SHARE THEM.

I'd recommend never getting them near the internet if you are that worried.

crittermom , January 10, 2017 at 6:27 am

Great article. Thanks, Yves.
Perhaps it was a little too early in the morn for me to read it, however. I remain stunned (which is rare following this past election season).
At $500 a pop, it seems the temptation would be huge for the Geeks to plant things on your computer to get a 'reward' from the FBI.
This 'private spy' practice is wrong on so many levels.
I've never used the Geek Squad & now I certainly never would.
Apparently, they are just one more enemy to avoid. Wowsers. I'll be forwarding this article to friends. Best Buy is now Big Brother.

River , January 10, 2017 at 12:18 pm

You'd have more incentive since your hourly wage, from what is probably a part time job or "part time" i.e. just few enough hours to deny you full time is pretty meager. At $500 a tip, you can be sure that at least the temptation is there to give the Feds what they want.

Roger Smith , January 10, 2017 at 6:48 am

Great article. I would love to know whether or not the Apple Stores do this, especially since Macs are largely not self repairable, even at the most basic level. i.e. Went into get a cracked screen/battery fixed, ended up with a federal investigation!

Eureka Springs , January 10, 2017 at 8:43 am

I took a friend into an apple store a couple days ago because she was having problems getting in/passed her own password. Within minutes they literally put her entire hd in the cloud and then told her after the fact. I lost it when they asked if I wanted the same.

A family member of mine frequently has problems with a windows based laptop and best buy geeks just accesses her entire computer remotely. I've never understood why someone would allow such a thing. Can't wait to send her this article/link.

katiebird , January 10, 2017 at 8:54 am

Can those files be deleted from iCloud or are the there forever?

Eureka Springs , January 10, 2017 at 9:18 am

I don't know but assume the worst considering the value to so many and the difficulty of truly erasing files from ones own hd. The apple store "cloud" was a room full of large servers just behind the counter. They don't ask, or charge for that 'service' so once again, we must be the product.

And as for the police state and the courts . could we find a mafia more intrusive, less trustworthy? As I keep thinking, why oh why aren't computers and phones the very expanded definition of papers and effects?

ambrit , January 10, 2017 at 11:11 am

I'm wondering just how big the data file capacity of the Utah federal server farm really is. It is "common knowledge" that the, say, military regularly hides the true capabilities of it's machinery on the basis of combat efficiency. "Keep 'em guessing" is the idea. This gives one a potential edge if real conflict should occur. Logically, the same should apply to federal cyber capabilities. So, how much of the nation's cyber traffic can be stored and analyzed? All of it? The mind boggles.
Here, the quality of algorithmic sorting functions is key. Sloppy searches will yield excesses of false positive prosecutions. It would be easy for "revenge" prosecutions and "silencing" actions to be inserted and hidden this way. Thus, the "powers" actually have a disincentive to perfect their sorting algorithms. Bad days ahead.

Knifecatcher , January 10, 2017 at 12:28 pm

My brother used to live a few minutes away from that facility so I've driven past it. It's hard to get a scale for the place from photos but in person it's absolutely massive.

Old Jake , January 10, 2017 at 5:11 pm

Once data is out of your hands you have to assume it's public.

For example: you tell Apple to delete your data. How do they do it? The same way your computer does it, their system deletes the pointer to that data (file) from an "index" of the data (files) disk. In other words it does not delete the data from the disk, it only tells itself to ignore it in the future. If someone comes along later, and wants to scan the disk and recover deleted files they can do just what the Geek guy did.

Quick answer: No, once files are in the iCloud they are effectively there forever.

bob , January 10, 2017 at 5:24 pm

Agreed.

Roger Smith , January 10, 2017 at 11:19 am

Yikes! "Just in case" no doubt, or "standard protocol".

bob , January 10, 2017 at 5:09 pm

It's "standard protocol" for any professional level computer tech to image the drive before they do anything else. In case they do something that wipes out the rest of the data while working on it.

What they do with that image, and how they store it, is the tricky part.

It's much easier and quicker to "image" a hard drive, than to securely delete a hard drive.

How long does it take to fill up a 500 GB hard drive? It's going to take at least that long, and probably several multiples of that time, to securely delete that drive by OVERWRITING the drives.

I think DOD level "wiping" calls for 20 overwrites.

Drives do 2 things- Read or write. There is no "delete".

Even the spooks in the plane over China a few years ago were forced to use axes to "delete" the data, before the Chinese got to it. It's WAY quicker.

They also, on that level, weren't deleting the data. When trying to defend against a state level attack, all you're doing is increasing the time that it will take them to recover the data, or most of the data.

oho , January 10, 2017 at 9:01 am

anyone w/a cable and access to your device can clone, sniff around or modify your drive.

.unless you encrypt.

"The Courier-Mail said customers had also had photos stolen from their phones."

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/oct/13/staff-at-brisbane-apple-store-fired-for-stealing-pictures-from-customer-phones

bob , January 10, 2017 at 5:17 pm

It depends on how you encrypt. It's not a panacea, and much harder to achieve in practice than certain iHoles will make you believe

The techs at the genus bar can see your files? You ain't encrypting right..

Ivy , January 10, 2017 at 11:59 am

What do people recommend on how to secure or scrub a MacBook or similar Apple product after Genius Bar service?

Old Jake , January 10, 2017 at 5:04 pm

After? Isn't that a bit late?

Ivy , January 10, 2017 at 9:02 pm

Old Jake, other NC readers may have similar concerns about data security, and your other comments seem to indicate some familiarity with computers. What would you advise people to do post-Apple or post-Best Buy?

bob , January 10, 2017 at 9:57 pm

The best way to help is to-

Back things up on a dedicated, local drive. A true backup is not kept in the same physical location as the computer is. Keep it in a different building, in case of fire, or disaster.

If you're not backing your files up, don't have that drive plugged in. Don't have it in the same place.

Don't ever "throw out" any computer, or anything with a hard drive or storage. Don't assume that because you can't access it, no one can.

Destroy it, or keep it forever. Those are the only two "safe" choices.

"but i know someone who recycles computer equipment"

You mean they sell it? That's what "recycling" is in the tech industry. I'd be very wary of anyone willing to "take a drive" off my hands for me. They aren't going to securely delete it, they're going to sell it for a few bucks to someone else. They certainly aren't going to take the time to securely "wipe" the drive. That takes hours, and lots of power. For a few dollars they are going to get on the sale?

There are people who offer "shredding" (grinding the drive into pieces with a big machine) or secure disk disposal. This costs money. Yes, you will have to pay to get rid of it safely, and then trust that whomever you pay actually does what they say they are going to do.

"why do I have to pay to get rid of it? I have very good taste, and spent a ton of money on that computer. It's worth something"

No, it's not. It's a liability.

bob , January 10, 2017 at 10:16 pm

Along those lines-

Never use "cloud based" backups, unless you are OK with the files being up on the internet. YOU ARE PUTTING THEM ON THE INTERNET. Cloud based backups are a great place for hackers to target, lots of stuff there.

if you keep backups, you shouldn't have to ever bring your computer in with anything on it. If you are in a situation where you MUST leave the hard drive in the machine to get it serviced, securely delete (overwrite the drive) and then restore the computer to the zero day state of when you took it out of the box. This may require another computer.

If you are in a situation where the drive is cooked(drive failure), keep the drive, buy a new one, and restore from backups to the new drive.

This is getting much harder. Getting install disks is very tough these days. Disk imaging programs are better, but they are also prone to hardware compatibility issues.

Before you use the computer, make sure you have a good backup first. This means actually deleting and re-writing the disk from backups. You don't know if it will work until you try. You don't want to find out it doesn't work when you are scrambling to get things fixed.

90% of "computer problems" are disk and/or OS related issues.

Done right, this can save a ton of time, and risk.

bob , January 10, 2017 at 10:18 pm

LSS-

There's no "solution". Just best practices.

If anyone tries to sell you a box that "will do everything", walk away.

Security is a process, not a product.

bob , January 10, 2017 at 4:35 pm

I'm 99% positive that apple is probably worse. Apple and time machine are "cloud" based. No need for the FBI, or paid agents of the FBI, to look at the physical drive to see your files. All they have to do is look at the cloud, which may be done with or without apple's help or permission.

Not that apple has any problem cooperating with authoritarian govs-

http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/04/business/media/new-york-times-apps-apple-china.html

Octopii , January 10, 2017 at 9:35 am

All of us who work or have worked in consumer-oriented technical service are well aware that it's an unscalable business. Unless something else is going on that favors an organization. This doesn't surprise me one bit.

bob , January 10, 2017 at 4:37 pm

It's a tempest in a teapot.

I'm very surprised this story is getting anywhere.

Where have you people been living for the past decade?

different clue , January 10, 2017 at 8:21 pm

Computerologists and digitologists and coderologists assume that every American is ( or should be) a computerologist or a digitologist or a coderologist. Most of us are no such thing. Most of us are various levels of analog holdovers, helpless and afraid . . . victims of a world we never made.

So what looks like a tempest in a teapot to you might look like botulism in the beans to many.

bob , January 10, 2017 at 9:40 pm

I'm sorry, it's difficult to deal with all the BS that the tech industry has fed people.

I used to do tech support, and got out of it for this reason "but apple makes it a lot easier!"

Then, go get an apple.

"I want my files secure. I want to be able to access them anywhere"

Those are mutually exclusive terms. You can't have both. You can pay for both. There are more than a few companies who will sell this idea to you, but since when do you get what you pay for?

"But apple lets me do that, and they don't talk to me like this"

Go find a genie. They'll tell you whatever you want as long as you keep feeding the vending machine money.

"you're a jerk"

PNW_WarriorWoman , January 10, 2017 at 10:36 am

KIRO TV's (Seattle) Jesse Jones did a story in November 2016 on Office Depot selling fixes for computer problems that don't exist and pushing customers to purchase costly repairs. As a result, Senator Maria Cantwell called for the Federal Trade Commission to investigate.

Furzymouse , January 10, 2017 at 10:36 am

​In the aughts, the Geek Squad in CA ​copied our credit card, which we had used to charge a repair to a laptop, to purchase a trip for two to Italy​ ​​​took months to get the charge reversed, as they also hacked all our personal info as well, making it appear that we had indeed booked the trip ..​

Praedor , January 10, 2017 at 12:31 pm

Well, I'll NEVER use those turds. I haven't actually bought a computer since 1998. Since that time I buy parts and construct my own PC, buy software and install (or re-install) that, and if there's any problems I do the fixing/replacing. Now I know to NEVER get lazy and let those asshats do the work for me.

craazyboy , January 10, 2017 at 2:17 pm

I'm migrating to wrinkle porn, just to be on the safe side. I've also searched for and scrubbed any pizza images off my hard disk.

JTMcPhee , January 10, 2017 at 2:40 pm

Would it be silly to refer to this set of "geeks" as "iPaid iInformants?"

Nothing is ever what it seems. Corruption is everywhere. Murphy and the Second Law and the Ruling Principles of the Universe, accident and error are ascendant and triumphant

bob , January 10, 2017 at 5:58 pm

one more bit-

SDD's. They are harder to delete, in some respects. Some very knowledgeable people have claimed that it's 1) impossible to wipe an SSD, and 2) it's impossible to truly encrypt them because of the way the that the flash controllers interface with the computer. I'm not so sure that it's a flaw.

bob , January 10, 2017 at 6:01 pm

Link to some discussion on this subject-

http://arstechnica.com/civis/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1243475

Elizabeth , January 10, 2017 at 6:16 pm

Yves, thanks for posting this – I thought I couldn't be shocked anymore, but I had no idea this was happening. What's to prevent a Geek Squad employee from planting compromising material on one's computer, if the FBI wants is out to get someone? Nothing is ever really deleted, but how do you prove something wasn't planted? I'm sending this around to my relatives, because they use GS frequently.

I never thought BB/GS would be the new Stasi.

aab , January 10, 2017 at 7:44 pm

Actually, doesn't it make PERFECT SENSE that a large chain retail appliance store with an in-house repair team branded as "geeks" would be EXACTLY the new Stasi? It's sort of perfect.

It's literally the TV show Chuck , only in the real world, the CIA is bad, so Chuck is bad, and Buy More is bad. Which really shouldn't be surprising, if you think about it for two seconds.

On a somewhat related note, the CIA really wants its Russian War, doesn't it? I can't believe mainstream publications are publishing "golden showers" allegations about the incoming President. This can't work, can it? And if it doesn't, won't Trump shut them down the second his hand lifts off the Bible on Inauguration Day? I'm starting to have a lot of respect for Donald Trump on a personal level. I mean, I guess he never anticipated facing this degree of meretricious, toxic nonsense when he got into the race, but he seems to have been forewarned about today's attack.

oho , January 10, 2017 at 10:04 pm

' can't believe mainstream publications are publishing "golden showers" allegations about the incoming President.'

CIA/MI6 + MSM got trolled by 4chan. "Curveball" + yellowcake all over again. except this time it's funny and doesn't involve death and decades of geopolitical fallout.

Please Kek, give Trump the power to clean house at Langley. Praise Kek. Amen.

[Jan 11, 2017] Andrew Bacevich How the US Blew the Post-Cold-War Era naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... By Andrew J. Bacevich, professor emeritus of history and international relations at Boston University. His most recent book is ..."
"... American elites might, of course, have assigned a far different, less celebratory meaning to the passing of the Cold War. They might have seen the outcome as a moment that called for regret, repentance, and making amends. ..."
"... annus mirabilis ..."
"... Wall Street Journal, ..."
"... Washington Post, ..."
"... Weekly Standard, ..."
"... ne plus ultra ..."
"... Putin's no saint, but Jeebus, Kissinger and Brxzyzeniski and Nuland and all the rest? The Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight? Do they get to run us all into the grave, because we Policy Addicts go along with the insane "logic" of whatever the hell it is that "NATO" in all its idiotic parts is doing? Was the Crimea a casus belli? though it seems to people who are deep in the Think Tanks think EVERYTHING is a casus belli, and never ask any questions of the sorts that Sun Tzu counseled ought to be asked, long before and at every point in any "war" action ..."
"... This disabled Vietnam vet offers a big FU, to all the Fokkers, armchair or ergonomic Battlespace Manager or Foggy Bottom delicate or Langley overstuffed chairs, who are driving the vast bus we all have to ride in off the cliff, all happy with their impunity and immunity and faux self-created, self-p[rolonged, terminal Grand Responsibilities. ..."
"... Show how smart you are, send another 300 Marines to Iraq, and another 300 to Notagainistan, for "we won't say combat" involvement in the futility and corruption and destabilization and destruction there Who will be the last Troop, and the last "noncombatant," to die in this old-as-civilization idiocy? Who Fokking cares, really, as long as it is one of those "Enemies " ..."
"... Gorbachev must have been either stupid or traitor to accept such promises in lieu of real and tangible concessions. ..."
"... In my view, the biggest mistake was not NATO expansion but rather the looting of the Soviet Union. If the major soviet republics was to be integrated within the western alliance more or less in the same manner as Germany, the situation today would have been very different. Instead of sucking soviet resources over a longer term like Germany does to the EU, west was salivating on the prospects of literally new loots thus awaken the pray. ..."
"... That made the people of Russia and many others feel disgust, and they resisted at the first opportunity they got. Now, there is no way Russia can be put under the American influence. This is all more remarkable because most Russians had admired the empire so much thus putting them under American umbrella would have been so easy. Putin, for example, was ready to play ball with the west but their insistence on total dominance disgusted even him. I am sure the global elite recognizes this but some still cannot get over how they let this pass. ..."
"... Putin still supports neoliberalism but this too will pass as neoliberal order is controlled by New York bankers and only way out is another world order, which is exactly what Russia and China started building. Departure of Russia from neoliberal order, I believe, will seal the fate of neoliberalism as it just did it exactly 100 years ago. ..."
"... I think Lasch's The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy ..."
"... Lasch was notable for other trenchant social criticism, including identifying narcissism as the dominant trait of the postwar American psyche and challenging some tenets of second wave feminism. As befits a fearless and original thinker he didn't fit neatly into any established intellectual paradigm. ..."
"... Globalisation was accompanied by an ideology, neoliberalism, that was guaranteed to fail. The problems were there at the start but were ignored, it was always going to go wrong in exactly the way it has. ..."
"... Liberal democracy was the bringing together of two mutually exclusive ideas. Economic liberalism – that enriches the few and impoverishes the many. Democracy – that requires the support of the majority. ..."
Jan 11, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Andrew Bacevich: How the US Blew the Post-Cold-War Era Posted on January 9, 2017 by Yves Smith Yves here. While this account is useful, it omits two events I regard as key. One is how the US was singularly responsible for the plutocratic land grab in post-Soviet Russia (see How Harvard Lost Russia ), which led to a stunning fall in male lifespans, a rise of a class of oligarchs, which in turn led to the rise of Putin, whose success resulted from reining in the oligarchs to a degree and delivering a sustained improvement in economic conditions for ordinary people. The US fondness for neoliberal projects all over the world has not done much for international stability. But that is a feature, not a bug, for members of the industrial/surveillance complex.

Second is the fact that under Clinton, the US began to move NATO into former Warsaw Pact countries, contrary to a promise made by James Baker to Gorbachev. The Russians apparently regarded this as binding, while the legalistic US took the position that unless it was in writing, it didn't count. George Kennan, hardly a slouch in the Cold Warrior department, said it would prove to be the worst geopolitical mistake the US had ever made in the modern era .

By Andrew J. Bacevich, professor emeritus of history and international relations at Boston University. His most recent book is America's War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History . Originally published at TomDispatch

The fall of the Berlin Wall in October 1989 abruptly ended one historical era and inaugurated another. So, too, did the outcome of last year's U.S. presidential election. What are we to make of the interval between those two watershed moments? Answering that question is essential to understanding how Donald Trump became president and where his ascendency leaves us.

Hardly had this period commenced before observers fell into the habit of referring to it as the "post-Cold War" era. Now that it's over, a more descriptive name might be in order. My suggestion: America's Age of Great Expectations.

Forgive and Forget

The end of the Cold War caught the United States completely by surprise. During the 1980s, even with Mikhail Gorbachev running the Kremlin, few in Washington questioned the prevailing conviction that the Soviet-American rivalry was and would remain a defining feature of international politics more or less in perpetuity. Indeed, endorsing such an assumption was among the prerequisites for gaining entrée to official circles. Virtually no one in the American establishment gave serious thought to the here-today, gone-tomorrow possibility that the Soviet threat, the Soviet empire, and the Soviet Union itself might someday vanish. Washington had plans aplenty for what to do should a Third World War erupt, but none for what to do if the prospect of such a climactic conflict simply disappeared.

Still, without missing a beat, when the Berlin Wall fell and two years later the Soviet Union imploded, leading members of that establishment wasted no time in explaining the implications of developments they had totally failed to anticipate. With something close to unanimity, politicians and policy-oriented intellectuals interpreted the unification of Berlin and the ensuing collapse of communism as an all-American victory of cosmic proportions. "We" had won, "they" had lost - with that outcome vindicating everything the United States represented as the archetype of freedom.

From within the confines of that establishment, one rising young intellectual audaciously suggested that the "end of history" itself might be at hand, with the "sole superpower" left standing now perfectly positioned to determine the future of all humankind. In Washington, various powers-that-be considered this hypothesis and concluded that it sounded just about right. The future took on the appearance of a blank slate upon which Destiny itself was inviting Americans to inscribe their intentions.

American elites might, of course, have assigned a far different, less celebratory meaning to the passing of the Cold War. They might have seen the outcome as a moment that called for regret, repentance, and making amends.

After all, the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union, or more broadly between what was then called the Free World and the Communist bloc, had yielded a host of baleful effects. An arms race between two superpowers had created monstrous nuclear arsenals and, on multiple occasions , brought the planet precariously close to Armageddon. Two singularly inglorious wars had claimed the lives of many tens of thousands of American soldiers and literally millions of Asians. One, on the Korean peninsula, had ended in an unsatisfactory draw; the other, in Southeast Asia, in catastrophic defeat. Proxy fights in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East killed so many more and laid waste to whole countries. Cold War obsessions led Washington to overthrow democratic governments, connive in assassination, make common cause with corrupt dictators, and turn a blind eye to genocidal violence . On the home front, hysteria compromised civil liberties and fostered a sprawling, intrusive, and unaccountable national security apparatus. Meanwhile, the military-industrial complex and its beneficiaries conspired to spend vast sums on weapons purchases that somehow never seemed adequate to the putative dangers at hand.

Rather than reflecting on such somber and sordid matters, however, the American political establishment together with ambitious members of the country's intelligentsia found it so much more expedient simply to move on. As they saw it, the annus mirabilis of 1989 wiped away the sins of former years. Eager to make a fresh start, Washington granted itself a plenary indulgence. After all, why contemplate past unpleasantness when a future so stunningly rich in promise now beckoned?

Three Big Ideas and a Dubious Corollary

Soon enough, that promise found concrete expression. In remarkably short order, three themes emerged to define the new American age. Informing each of them was a sense of exuberant anticipation toward an era of almost unimaginable expectations. The twentieth century was ending on a high note. For the planet as a whole but especially for the United States, great things lay ahead.

Focused on the world economy, the first of those themes emphasized the transformative potential of turbocharged globalization led by U.S.-based financial institutions and transnational corporations. An "open world" would facilitate the movement of goods, capital, ideas, and people and thereby create wealth on an unprecedented scale. In the process, the rules governing American-style corporate capitalism would come to prevail everywhere on the planet. Everyone would benefit, but especially Americans who would continue to enjoy more than their fair share of material abundance.

Focused on statecraft, the second theme spelled out the implications of an international order dominated as never before - not even in the heydays of the Roman and British Empires - by a single nation. With the passing of the Cold War, the United States now stood apart as both supreme power and irreplaceable global leader, its status guaranteed by its unstoppable military might.

In the editorial offices of the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the New Republic, and the Weekly Standard, such "truths" achieved a self-evident status. Although more muted in their public pronouncements than Washington's reigning pundits, officials enjoying access to the Oval Office, the State Department's 7th floor, and the E-ring of the Pentagon generally agreed. The assertive exercise of (benign!) global hegemony seemingly held the key to ensuring that Americans would enjoy safety and security, both at home and abroad, now and in perpetuity.

The third theme was all about rethinking the concept of personal freedom as commonly understood and pursued by most Americans. During the protracted emergency of the Cold War, reaching an accommodation between freedom and the putative imperatives of national security had not come easily. Cold War-style patriotism seemingly prioritized the interests of the state at the expense of the individual. Yet even as thrillingly expressed by John F. Kennedy - "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" - this was never an easy sell, especially if it meant wading through rice paddies and getting shot at.

Once the Cold War ended, however, the tension between individual freedom and national security momentarily dissipated. Reigning conceptions of what freedom could or should entail underwent a radical transformation. Emphasizing the removal of restraints and inhibitions, the shift made itself felt everywhere, from patterns of consumption and modes of cultural expression to sexuality and the definition of the family. Norms that had prevailed for decades if not generations - marriage as a union between a man and a woman, gender identity as fixed at birth - became passé. The concept of a transcendent common good, which during the Cold War had taken a backseat to national security, now took a backseat to maximizing individual choice and autonomy.

Finally, as a complement to these themes, in the realm of governance, the end of the Cold War cemented the status of the president as quasi-deity. In the Age of Great Expectations, the myth of the president as a deliverer from (or, in the eyes of critics, the ultimate perpetrator of) evil flourished. In the solar system of American politics, the man in the White House increasingly became the sun around which everything seemed to orbit. By comparison, nothing else much mattered.

From one administration to the next, of course, presidential efforts to deliver Americans to the Promised Land regularly came up short. Even so, the political establishment and the establishment media collaborated in sustaining the pretense that out of the next endlessly hyped "race for the White House," another Roosevelt or Kennedy or Reagan would magically emerge to save the nation. From one election cycle to the next, these campaigns became longer and more expensive, drearier and yet ever more circus-like. No matter. During the Age of Great Expectations, the reflexive tendency to see the president as the ultimate guarantor of American abundance, security, and freedom remained sacrosanct.

Blindsided

Meanwhile, between promise and reality, a yawning gap began to appear. During the concluding decade of the twentieth century and the first decade-and-a-half of the twenty-first, Americans endured a seemingly endless series of crises. Individually, none of these merit comparison with, say, the Civil War or World War II. Yet never in U.S. history has a sequence of events occurring in such close proximity subjected American institutions and the American people to greater stress.

During the decade between 1998 and 2008, they came on with startling regularity: one president impeached and his successor chosen by the direct intervention of the Supreme Court; a massive terrorist attack on American soil that killed thousands, traumatized the nation, and left senior officials bereft of their senses; a mindless, needless, and unsuccessful war of choice launched on the basis of false claims and outright lies; a natural disaster (exacerbated by engineering folly) that all but destroyed a major American city, after which government agencies mounted a belated and half-hearted response; and finally, the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, bringing ruin to millions of families.

For the sake of completeness, we should append to this roster of seismic occurrences one additional event: Barack Obama's election as the nation's first black president. He arrived at the zenith of American political life as a seemingly messianic figure called upon not only to undo the damage wrought by his predecessor, George W. Bush, but somehow to absolve the nation of its original sins of slavery and racism.

Yet during the Obama presidency race relations, in fact, deteriorated. Whether prompted by cynical political calculations or a crass desire to boost ratings , race baiters came out of the woodwork - one of them, of course, infamously birthered in Trump Tower in mid-Manhattan - and poured their poisons into the body politic. Even so, as the end of Obama's term approached, the cult of the presidency itself remained remarkably intact.

Individually, the impact of these various crises ranged from disconcerting to debilitating to horrifying. Yet to treat them separately is to overlook their collective implications, which the election of Donald Trump only now enables us to appreciate. It was not one president's dalliance with an intern or " hanging chads " or 9/11 or " Mission Accomplished " or the inundation of the Lower Ninth Ward or the collapse of Lehman Brothers or the absurd birther movement that undermined the Age of Great Expectations. It was the way all these events together exposed those expectations as radically suspect.

In effect, the various crises that punctuated the post-Cold War era called into question key themes to which a fevered American triumphalism had given rise. Globalization, militarized hegemony, and a more expansive definition of freedom, guided by enlightened presidents in tune with the times, should have provided Americans with all the blessings that were rightly theirs as a consequence of having prevailed in the Cold War. Instead, between 1989 and 2016, things kept happening that weren't supposed to happen. A future marketed as all but foreordained proved elusive, if not illusory. As actually experienced, the Age of Great Expectations became an Age of Unwelcome Surprises.

A Candidate for Decline

True, globalization created wealth on a vast scale, just not for ordinary Americans. The already well-to-do did splendidly, in some cases unbelievably so . But middle-class incomes stagnated and good jobs became increasingly hard to find or keep. By the election of 2016, the United States looked increasingly like a society divided between haves and have-nots, the affluent and the left-behind, the 1% and everyone else. Prospective voters were noticing.

Meanwhile, policies inspired by Washington's soaring hegemonic ambitions produced remarkably few happy outcomes. With U.S. forces continuously engaged in combat operations, peace all but vanished as a policy objective (or even a word in Washington's political lexicon). The acknowledged standing of the country's military as the world's best-trained, best-equipped, and best-led force coexisted uneasily with the fact that it proved unable to win . Instead, the national security establishment became conditioned to the idea of permanent war, high-ranking officials taking it for granted that ordinary citizens would simply accommodate themselves to this new reality. Yet it soon became apparent that, instead of giving ordinary Americans a sense of security, this new paradigm induced an acute sense of vulnerability, which left many susceptible to demagogic fear mongering .

As for the revised definition of freedom, with autonomy emerging as the national summum bonum, it left some satisfied but others adrift. During the Age of Great Expectations, distinctions between citizen and consumer blurred. Shopping became tantamount to a civic obligation, essential to keeping the economy afloat. Yet if all the hoopla surrounding Black Friday and Cyber Monday represented a celebration of American freedom, its satisfactions were transitory at best, rarely extending beyond the due date printed on a credit card statement. Meanwhile, as digital connections displaced personal ones, relationships, like jobs, became more contingent and temporary. Loneliness emerged as an abiding affliction. Meanwhile, for all the talk of empowering the marginalized - people of color, women, gays - elites reaped the lion's share of the benefits while ordinary people were left to make do. The atmosphere was rife with hypocrisy and even a whiff of nihilism.

To these various contradictions, the establishment itself remained stubbornly oblivious, with the 2016 presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton offering a case in point. As her long record in public life made abundantly clear, Clinton embodied the establishment in the Age of Great Expectations. She believed in globalization, in the indispensability of American leadership backed by military power, and in the post-Cold War cultural project. And she certainly believed in the presidency as the mechanism to translate aspirations into outcomes.

Such commonplace convictions of the era, along with her vanguard role in pressing for the empowerment of women, imparted to her run an air of inevitability. That she deserved to win appeared self-evident. It was, after all, her turn. Largely overlooked were signs that the abiding themes of the Age of Great Expectations no longer commanded automatic allegiance.

Gasping for Air

Senator Bernie Sanders offered one of those signs. That a past-his-prime, self-professed socialist from Vermont with a negligible record of legislative achievement and tenuous links to the Democratic Party might mount a serious challenge to Clinton seemed, on the face of it, absurd. Yet by zeroing in on unfairness and inequality as inevitable byproducts of globalization, Sanders struck a chord.

Knocked briefly off balance, Clinton responded by modifying certain of her longstanding positions. By backing away from free trade, the ne plus ultra of globalization, she managed, though not without difficulty, to defeat the Sanders insurgency. Even so, he, in effect, served as the canary in the establishment coal mine, signaling that the Age of Great Expectations might be running out of oxygen.

A parallel and far stranger insurgency was simultaneously wreaking havoc in the Republican Party. That a narcissistic political neophyte stood the slightest chance of capturing the GOP seemed even more improbable than Sanders taking a nomination that appeared Clinton's by right.

Coarse, vulgar, unprincipled, uninformed, erratic, and with little regard for truth, Trump was sui generis among presidential candidates . Yet he possessed a singular gift: a knack for riling up those who nurse gripes and are keen to pin the blame on someone or something. In post-Cold War America, among the millions that Hillary Clinton was famously dismissing as "deplorables," gripes had been ripening like cheese in a hothouse.

Through whatever combination of intuition and malice aforethought, Trump demonstrated a genius for motivating those deplorables. He pushed their buttons. They responded by turning out in droves to attend his rallies. There they listened to a message that they found compelling.

In Trump's pledge to "make America great again" his followers heard a promise to restore everything they believed had been taken from them in the Age of Great Expectations. Globalization was neither beneficial nor inevitable, the candidate insisted, and vowed, once elected, to curb its effects along with the excesses of corporate capitalism, thereby bringing back millions of lost jobs from overseas. He would, he swore, fund a massive infrastructure program, cut taxes , keep a lid on the national debt, and generally champion the cause of working stiffs. The many complications and contradictions inherent in these various prescriptions would, he assured his fans, give way to his business savvy.

In considering America's role in the post-Cold War world, Trump exhibited a similar impatience with the status quo. Rather than allowing armed conflicts to drag on forever, he promised to win them (putting to work his mastery of military affairs) or, if not, to quit and get out, pausing just long enough to claim as a sort of consolation prize whatever spoils might be lying loose on the battlefield. At the very least, he would prevent so-called allies from treating the United States like some patsy. Henceforth, nations benefitting from American protection were going to foot their share of the bill. What all of this added up to may not have been clear, but it did suggest a sharp departure from the usual post-1989 formula for exercising global leadership.

No less important than Trump's semi-coherent critique of globalization and American globalism, however, was his success in channeling the discontent of all those who nursed an inchoate sense that post-Cold War freedoms might be working for some, but not for them.

Not that Trump had anything to say about whether freedom confers obligations, or whether conspicuous consumption might not actually hold the key to human happiness, or any of the various controversies related to gender, sexuality, and family. He was indifferent to all such matters. He was, however, distinctly able to offer his followers a grimly persuasive explanation for how America had gone off course and how the blessings of liberties to which they were entitled had been stolen. He did that by fingering as scapegoats Muslims , Mexicans , and others "not-like-me."

Trump's political strategy reduced to this: as president, he would overturn the conventions that had governed right thinking since the end of the Cold War. To the amazement of an establishment grown smug and lazy, his approach worked. Even while disregarding all received wisdom when it came to organizing and conducting a presidential campaign in the Age of Great Expectations, Trump won. He did so by enchanting the disenchanted, all those who had lost faith in the promises that had sprung from the bosom of the elites that the end of the Cold War had taken by surprise.

Adrift Without a Compass

Within hours of Trump's election, among progressives, expressing fear and trepidation at the prospect of what he might actually do on assuming office became de rigueur . Yet those who had actually voted for Trump were also left wondering what to expect. Both camps assign him the status of a transformative historical figure. However, premonitions of incipient fascism and hopes that he will engineer a new American Golden Age are likely to prove similarly misplaced. To focus on the man himself rather than on the circumstances that produced him is to miss the significance of what has occurred.

Note, for example, that his mandate is almost entirely negative. It centers on rejection: of globalization, of counterproductive military meddling, and of the post-Cold War cultural project. Yet neither Trump nor any of his surrogates has offered a coherent alternative to the triad of themes providing the through line for the last quarter-century of American history. Apart a lingering conviction that forceful - in The Donald's case, blustering - presidential leadership can somehow turn things around, "Trumpism" is a dog's breakfast.

In all likelihood, his presidency will prove less transformative than transitional. As a result, concerns about what he may do, however worrisome, matter less than the larger question of where we go from here. The principles that enjoyed favor following the Cold War have been found wanting. What should replace them?

Efforts to identify those principles should begin with an honest accounting of the age we are now leaving behind, the history that happened after "the end of history." That accounting should, in turn, allow room for regret, repentance, and making amends - the very critical appraisal that ought to have occurred at the end of the Cold War but was preempted when American elites succumbed to their bout of victory disease.

Don't expect Donald Trump to undertake any such appraisal. Nor will the establishment that candidate Trump so roundly denounced, but which President-elect Trump, at least in his senior national security appointments, now shows sign of accommodating. Those expecting Trump's election to inject courage into members of the political class or imagination into inside-the-Beltway "thought leaders" are in for a disappointment. So the principles we need - an approach to political economy providing sustainable and equitable prosperity; a foreign policy that discards militarism in favor of prudence and pragmatism; and an enriched, inclusive concept of freedom - will have to come from somewhere else.

"Where there is no vision," the Book of Proverbs tells us, "the people perish." In the present day, there is no vision to which Americans collectively adhere. For proof, we need look no further than the election of Donald Trump.

The Age of Great Expectations has ended, leaving behind an ominous void. Yet Trump's own inability to explain what should fill that great void provides neither excuse for inaction nor cause for despair. Instead, Trump himself makes manifest the need to reflect on the nation's recent past and to think deeply about its future.

A decade before the Cold War ended, writing in democracy , a short-lived journal devoted to "political renewal and radical change," the historian and social critic Christopher Lasch sketched out a set of principles that might lead us out of our current crisis. Lasch called for a politics based on "the nurture of the soil against the exploitation of resources, the family against the factory, the romantic vision of the individual against the technological vision, [and] localism over democratic centralism." Nearly a half-century later, as a place to begin, his prescription remains apt. vlade , January 9, 2017 at 4:49 am

I'm sorry Yves, but I don't buy your narrative "NATO broke the promise" . NATO's promise to Gorbatchev was not to deploy non-GERMAN troops in what used to be GDR. That was 1990s promise that Baker gave to Gorbatchev (and this is confirmed by Gorbatchev, see https://rbth.com/international/2014/10/16/mikhail_gorbachev_i_am_against_all_walls_40673.html ). Baker did say "no inch east" in the opening stages of the discussion with Gorbatchev, but the ultimate agreement was only German troops in GDR (and that was enshrined in law, both German and international). I'd point out that one of the ideas Gorbatchev discussed there was to include Russia in NATO as well, as part of the supra-European security structure.

Now, Gorbatchev also now says NATO expansion in 1993 was a mistake, and that it was against the spirit of what was discussed in 1990. But then you have to also look at the countries themselves, who were all pushing VERY hard to get into NATO, as they saw it (rightly or wrongly) as the only way how to get out of the Russian sphere of influence (much more so than EU accession). Especially Poland in its history was overrun by Russians at least once a century since about 1600s, and twice (or three times, depends on whether you count M-R pact in the post WW2 spoils division or not) in the 20th alone.

I actually spoke to some people on the Czech side who were involved in the talks at the highest level (close to then Czech president Vaclav Havel), and US, including the US military, was very much against the expansion, and the Visegrad Four had to lobby with Clinton very very hard to get it.

So the agency wasn't NATOs, or even US military – that's a very US centric view of the world that denies the people of anyone who isn't US a say in their future – and I'd point out that regimes in those countries at the time were entirely legitimate, and NATO membership was (and still is) is supported by most of the populace there – seen exactly as about the only shield from Russian expansionist (which taking over Crimea did little to soothe).

The problem wasn't NATO expansion per se (in the 1990s). The problem was that US saw themselves as the victors in the Cold War, and showed (as per usual) little manganimity and understanding for the former foe. Almost as little as the Allies showed to Central Powers after WW1 and the disaster that casued later on, except now we have nukes.

PlutoniumKun , January 9, 2017 at 5:32 am

Yes, I think the history is very tangled. Certainly there was a very determined push by east European countries to get NATO and EU membership – probably even more for the former than the latter. From the 20th Century perspective of living anywhere east of Berlin or Vienna, the USSR/Russia always seemed the biggest threat to freedom and independence for the majority. Much of this I think arose from the perception of Germany (also of course an historic aggressor) as having been completely tamed and defeated post 1945. Its notable of course that even the new wave of anti-EU politician in eastern Europe tend to be quite pro-Nato (with some exceptions).

But I think there was a lot of muddled thinking and bad faith on the part of both western Europeans and the US in the 1990's. There was certainly open contempt for Russia in the 1990's and a feeling they could be made do what they wanted. A policy which showed more consideration of Russian sensibilities would have been to focus on EU membership first, and perhaps a sort of softer NATO membership that would have specifically excluded foreign bases on those countries soil, but would have given more reassurances of protection in the event of Russian hostility would have been more appropriate.

I think there are lots of echoes of pre-WWI in having what was originally a tight set of agreements between major powers aimed at a specific threat being extended much wider over small unstable countries.

Tigerlily , January 9, 2017 at 9:34 am

A policy which showed more consideration of Russian sensibilities would have been to focus on EU membership first, and perhaps a sort of softer NATO membership that would have specifically excluded foreign bases on those countries soil, but would have given more reassurances of protection in the event of Russian hostility would have been more appropriate.

If NATO had in fact promised not to deploy any forces in Eastern Europe in perpetuity any "reassurances of protection" it gave would rightly have been regarded as worthless -- not to mention invite obvious and grievous comparisons to the worthless security guarantee Britain and France extended to Poland in 1939 – because such reassurances would be made in the full knowledge of all concerned that NATO had already surrendered the means to give them effect.

I also want to point out that until the annexation of the Crimea there were no NATO forces permanently stationed in either Poland or the Baltic republics. Poland requested 10 000 NATO troops two weeks after the annexation of the Crimea, and even now NATO is scrambling to find 600-800 troops to deploy on a "semi-permanent" basis to each of the Baltic republics.

Praedor , January 9, 2017 at 11:14 am

By "annexation of Crimea" you mean "reuniting Crimea with Russia". The Ukraine is 100% a 20th century creation and Crimea was ALWAYS Russian until Kruschev, by fiat (and he a Ukrainian) simply gave Crimea to Ukraine without asking, without concern, for what the people of Crimea wanted.

Russia didn't "take" Crimea from Ukraine. Russia took back what was historically (and ethnically and culturally) theirs by long history.

JTMcPhee , January 9, 2017 at 11:18 am

And gee, why is NATO "Scrambling" to find troops to garrison in another set of countries? What geopolitical conditions are real, and which BS are us mopes supposed to believe and feed into our fear generators "going forward (sic)?" What are our rulers and great patently incompetent but very well compensated and demonstrably corrupt military, security (sic) and "statecraft" sh!tes doing to cool down, stand down, stop wasting huge amounts of time, talent and money ginning up more threats and counter threats and Grand Strategies? What's the End of the Great Game, or does it just go on until all the resources are exhausted, or the cheating officers that "man" and "woman" the Land Based Leg of the Service-Competition-Everyone-Has-The-"Right"-To-A-Share-Of-The-Carcass-Absolutely-Must-Have Triad, or some glitch, as there have been many of, in all the circuitry and mechanisms and algorithms does an "Oopsie" and we all and a lot of other species get to die? Not to mention the bugs and nanodevices and autonomous killing machines that the grim enthusiasts of the Geopolitical Masterbatorium just can't wait to get on line?

Putin's no saint, but Jeebus, Kissinger and Brxzyzeniski and Nuland and all the rest? The Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight? Do they get to run us all into the grave, because we Policy Addicts go along with the insane "logic" of whatever the hell it is that "NATO" in all its idiotic parts is doing? Was the Crimea a casus belli? though it seems to people who are deep in the Think Tanks think EVERYTHING is a casus belli, and never ask any questions of the sorts that Sun Tzu counseled ought to be asked, long before and at every point in any "war" action

I know, money rules, Empire is inevitable and so very seductive to have all that Power ("and not use it") especially if one is paid in gelt or psycho-satisfaction to go all grim-visages warrior in a Game of RISK! that for some reason never ends up with one Player owning the entire world

This disabled Vietnam vet offers a big FU, to all the Fokkers, armchair or ergonomic Battlespace Manager or Foggy Bottom delicate or Langley overstuffed chairs, who are driving the vast bus we all have to ride in off the cliff, all happy with their impunity and immunity and faux self-created, self-p[rolonged, terminal Grand Responsibilities.

Show how smart you are, send another 300 Marines to Iraq, and another 300 to Notagainistan, for "we won't say combat" involvement in the futility and corruption and destabilization and destruction there Who will be the last Troop, and the last "noncombatant," to die in this old-as-civilization idiocy? Who Fokking cares, really, as long as it is one of those "Enemies "

Kemal Erdogan , January 9, 2017 at 8:43 am

No, that was precisely what was promised; But promises means nothing, and frankly, Gorbachev must have been either stupid or traitor to accept such promises in lieu of real and tangible concessions.

In my view, the biggest mistake was not NATO expansion but rather the looting of the Soviet Union. If the major soviet republics was to be integrated within the western alliance more or less in the same manner as Germany, the situation today would have been very different. Instead of sucking soviet resources over a longer term like Germany does to the EU, west was salivating on the prospects of literally new loots thus awaken the pray.

That made the people of Russia and many others feel disgust, and they resisted at the first opportunity they got. Now, there is no way Russia can be put under the American influence. This is all more remarkable because most Russians had admired the empire so much thus putting them under American umbrella would have been so easy. Putin, for example, was ready to play ball with the west but their insistence on total dominance disgusted even him. I am sure the global elite recognizes this but some still cannot get over how they let this pass.

Putin still supports neoliberalism but this too will pass as neoliberal order is controlled by New York bankers and only way out is another world order, which is exactly what Russia and China started building. Departure of Russia from neoliberal order, I believe, will seal the fate of neoliberalism as it just did it exactly 100 years ago.

fresno dan , January 9, 2017 at 8:59 am

vlade
January 9, 2017 at 4:49 am

Thank you for your perspective – it adds to my understanding.

olga , January 9, 2017 at 9:52 am

You are plain wrong. Just read what Gorbachev has to say on the subject – and he was there. NATO expansion was not expected by the Russians, is considered a betrayal of promises, and is to a large extent responsible for the renewed sense of paranoia in Europe and Russia. Whether US military was against it is irrelevant (or whether Vysehrad four lobbied for it) – it was done and it damaged relations. And it continues to do damage – as the buildup of troops and equipment has escalated.

Patrick Reilly , January 9, 2017 at 7:45 am

Thanks for the link to the Christopher Lasch article. Please note that page 35 thereof is missing.

Tigerlily , January 9, 2017 at 10:47 am

I think Lasch's The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy , first published in 1994 shortly after his death, is a forgotten classic. Lasch was well ahead of his time in foreseeing how the rise of technocratic, transnational elites would dissolve the social contract that in the postwar era had kept the interests of haves and have nots at least loosely aligned and lubricated a considerable degree of wealth transfer from the former to the latter, which in turn would lead to socio-economic polarization.

If he were alive today I'm sure he would be appalled by a President Trump even as he recognized that this was the logical culmination of the trends he himself had identified all those years ago.

Lasch was notable for other trenchant social criticism, including identifying narcissism as the dominant trait of the postwar American psyche and challenging some tenets of second wave feminism. As befits a fearless and original thinker he didn't fit neatly into any established intellectual paradigm.

He died on February 14 1994 and now I think of him every Valentine's Day. I guess I'm something of an admirer.

Sound of the Suburbs , January 9, 2017 at 8:06 am

Globalisation was accompanied by an ideology, neoliberalism, that was guaranteed to fail. The problems were there at the start but were ignored, it was always going to go wrong in exactly the way it has.

Francis Fukuyama talked of the "end of history" and "liberal democracy".

Liberal democracy was the bringing together of two mutually exclusive ideas. Economic liberalism – that enriches the few and impoverishes the many. Democracy – that requires the support of the majority.

Trying to bring two mutually exclusive ideas together just doesn't work.

The ideas of "Economic Liberalism" came from Milton Freidman and the University of Chicago. It was so radical they first tried it in a military dictatorship in Chile, it wouldn't be compatible with democracy. It took death squads, torture and terror to keep it in place, there was an ethnic cleansing of anyone who still showed signs of any left wing thinking.

It was tried in a few other places in South America using similar techniques. It then did succeed in a democracy but only by tricking the people into thinking they were voting for something else, severe oppression was needed when they found out what they were getting.

Margaret Thatcher bought these ideas to the West and the plan to eliminate the welfare state has only recently been revealed. Things had to be done slowly in the West due to that bothersome democracy. The West has now seen enough.

It was implemented far more brutally in the developing world where Milton Freidman's "Chicago Boys" were the henchmen of "The Washington Consensus". The IMF and World Bank acted as enforcers insisting on neoliberal conditionalities for loans.

Global markets punished those not towing the neoliberal line and kept nations in their place. As Nelson Mandela was released from prison the South African Rand fell 10%, someone like this was going to be pushing up wage costs and would be bad for the economy.

Looking back it was a grand folly of an international elite whose greed overcame even a modicum of common sense.

Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine" will take you through all the gory details.

Underlying neo-liberalism is a different economics, neoclassical economics, which is heavily biased towards the wealthy. Inequality and a lack of demand in the global economy were also guaranteed from the start.

Sound of the Suburbs , January 9, 2017 at 8:08 am

The world is saturated in debt and if rates rise this is going to blow the neo-liberal experiment sky high.

Neo-liberalism is a system that uses debt to keep going and the world has nearly maxed out. It's underlying neoclassical economics uses spurious assumptions about money and debt and so no one sees the problems coming.

2008 – "How did that happen?"

Twelve people were officially recognised by Bezemer in 2009 as having seen 2008 coming, announcing it publicly beforehand and having good reasoning behind their predictions. They all thought the problem came from excessive debt levels.

Having all our mainstream experts using spurious assumptions about money and debt, doesn't actually stop the whole thing blowing up.

Attributing 2008 to a "black swan" has allowed us to think more debt can be used to solve a debt crisis, needless to say the debt levels are much higher than 2008 and excessive debt has now spread through emerging markets. China and emerging markets are not going to provide an engine of growth next time.

The other day I was watching a particularly apocalyptic video from Peter Schiff, he is no fool, he was one of the twelve that saw 2008 coming. Steve Keen is another one of the twelve and he is of the same opinion.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrz76_j9MRs
(Ignore first 50 secs. just intro).

Most people don't realise money = debt, all the money in existence has a corresponding amount of debt.
We can see what Steve Keen saw by looking at the US money supply.

http://www.whichwayhome.com/skin/frontend/default/wwgcomcatalogarticles/images/articles/whichwayhomes/US-money-supply.jpg

No, it wasn't a black swan and if the FED could have understood what the money supply was telling them they could have nipped it in the bud.

M3 was going exponential and a credit bubble was forming, Steve Keen saw it in 2005.

The spurious assumptions on money and debt in neoclassical economics leave you blind.

Praedor , January 9, 2017 at 11:21 am

Aha, but the bubble is beside the point. The entire US economy from Clinton onward is BASED on bubbles of one type or another to create the feeling of (false) wealth. Bubbles are INTENDED because it fools many into thinking, as they ride upon the inflation of the bubble, that they are making bank. Clinton's economy "boom" was based on telling people that their homes are "investments" that they need to borrow against to buy "stuff". Lots of stuff. FEEL rich while you actually go deeply into debt on a bubble-inflated home equity loan.

Can't repeat the real estate bubble again and again so the Fed feeds a different bubble each cycle. Real estate this cycle, stocks the next, etc.

Webstir , January 9, 2017 at 11:47 am

Liberal democracy was the bringing together of two mutually exclusive ideas.
Economic liberalism – that enriches the few and impoverishes the many.
Democracy – that requires the support of the majority.

Trying to bring two mutually exclusive ideas together just doesn't work.

This statement depends on who the mutually exclusive ideas are intended to work for. They worked spectacularly for the Davos Class. Which I might add, was the class that came up with the idea. They sold a lie that the media - who is wholly controlled by them - took hook line and sinker. That the establishment media are peddling the fake news angle so vociferously is telling. But the problem in my mind isn't "fake news" per se. It is the uncritical peddling of fake ideologies.

I think a quote from the 2016 Mann Booker Prizewinner's "The Sellout" by Paul Beatty is instructive on this point: "People eat the shit you shovel them." And man alive, have the 99% ever been shoveled some shit in the "Age of Great Expectations."

And btw - thanks for the link Yves. That was instructive.

toshiro_mifune , January 9, 2017 at 9:17 am

Reading this reminded me of the Peace Dividend we were supposed to get in the wake of the collapsing Soviet Union. Alas, we never got it.
We squandered a perfectly good empire on McMansions and Ford Explorers. At least Rome got coliseums and orgies.

Enquiring Mind , January 9, 2017 at 9:47 am

Age of Great Expectations brings to mind a recursive acronym, indicative of a type of tunnel vision and failure to learn from the past, tempered by a preternatural optimism that is thought to be in the Tocquevillian American DNA.

DJG , January 9, 2017 at 9:59 am

Excellent article. Christopher Lasch's prescription is food for thought, although I agree with vidimi that we have to get beyond a romantic conception of the individual. In fact, I submit that we are in a new baroque, dominated by religious insanity (like the first baroque with its Spanish Inquisition and tortuous Calvinist theology), economic excesses (just as Spain looted the Indian nations of the New World of their gold in the first one), and individual fear.

I would caution Bacevich, who is usually better than this, and in general: Psychobabble isn't going to get us anywhere. And I'm seeing so much of it.

From the article:
"Coarse, vulgar, unprincipled, uninformed, erratic, and with little regard for truth, Trump was sui generis among presidential candidates."

Bacevich has never read about Andrew Jackson, who sponsored the Trail of Tears forced on the Cherokee and the Choctaw nations? Bacevich has never heard of Strom Thurmond's presidential run? George Wallace's presidential run? (And let us not forget the laughable claim that Hillary Clinton was the most qualified presidential candidate in U.S. history, except for, ohhhh, Jefferson, Washington, and Madison.)

One problem in the analysis of U.S. history is to think of the U S of A and of U.S. individuals as sui generis. They aren't. Vlade points out above that the Visegrad Four (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary) were actors in NATO expansion. Considering that Romania was an economic and social basketcase when it acceded to the EU, I'd venture that the EU made a mistake or three, also.

So we require more hard-headedness in analyzing our context and how events arise. As always Bacevich is good as an analyst, and some details may not matter in understanding the rise of Trump, but the solution also is not yet discernible. What I would say is that the democratic mindset, which is skeptical yet still inclined toward participation in public events is a serious way, is in disrepair. Class warfare and endless war for empire have caused damage.

JTMcPhee , January 9, 2017 at 11:25 am

Maybe some day people will start asking seriously what outcomes they want from the political economy they perforce must live in. "Are you better off today than you were XX years ago?" And maybe (not at all likely) come up with an organizing principle (like, maybe, some iteration of the Golden Rule?) that if at all adhered to, might lead to something other than climate collapse or some Soylent Green or other apocalyptic future

I know, no chance to amass a huge pile of wealth and rents and vain attempts to overwhelm the personal pleasure centers in that kind of future So "No Sale "

Webstir , January 9, 2017 at 11:53 am

I like your golden rule idea. But I think more apt would be the golden rule of physics: The Second Law of Thermodynamics. If economics were truly a science, the study could not but adhere to this rule.

See: http://steadystate.org/economics-as-if-the-laws-of-thermodynamics-mattered/

Arizona Slim , January 9, 2017 at 11:58 am

What's conspicuously absent from many of these "collapse of the Soviet Union" narratives? Chernobyl.

That 1986 explosion - and the bungled disaster response - probably did more to bring down the Soviet Union than Reagan's military buildup or Gorbachev's moves toward reform.

juliania , January 9, 2017 at 1:11 pm

Yves's two caveats are extremely important in assessing this article. I have a couple more. The first is the omission of the glaringly obvious theft of candidacy which occurred during the Democratic primary and did not occur in the Republican one. And the second is the article's description of Trump voters as " those who nurse gripes and are keen to pin the blame on someone or something."

Then too, I will just say that the mandate so far is not a negative one because Trump hasn't taken office yet, and in fact some positive occurrences have seemed to be happening in the Middle East to restore several nations there to what they had been before 'great expectations' got into the mix.

Just my two cents. Some people's great expectations are not other people's great expectations. Mine are for a peaceful world and a restoration of sanity between nations.

[Jan 09, 2017] Russian Interference in the Election is A Media Hoax

Notable quotes:
"... Referring to Putin and the Russian hackers, Washington Post columnist Robert J. Samuelson contends: "Their hacking - as interpreted by both the CIA and the FBI - qualifies as state-sponsored aggression. It does jeopardize our way of life. It undermines the integrity of our political institutions and popular faith in them. More than this, it warns us that our physical safety and security are at risk. Hostile hackers can hijack power grids, communication networks, transportation systems and much more." [17] Even criticizing the position of the CIA-an institution American liberals, not too long ago, looked upon as a force for evil–is now considered a threat to American democracy. As establishment liberal E. J. Dionne of the Washington Post pontificates: "That Trump would happily trash our own CIA to get Putin off the hook is disturbing enough . . . . That he would ignore the risks our intelligence agents take on so many fronts to protect us is outrageous ..."
"... The Washington Post was enraged when, in 2015, Russia shut down the U.S. government-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED), relying on a law that "bans groups from abroad who are deemed a 'threat to the foundations of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation, its defense capabilities and its national security.'" The Washington Post wrote: "The charge against the NED is patently ridiculous. The NED's grantees in Russia last year ran the gamut of civil society. They advocated transparency in public affairs, fought corruption and promoted human rights, freedom of information and freedom of association, among other things. All these activities make for a healthy democracy but are seen as threatening from the Kremlin's ramparts." [20] Presumably, such things as "transparency in public affairs," fighting corruption, and "freedom of information," are vital for creating a "healthy democracy" in Russia when promoted by a foreign organization but are a grave danger to democracy if a foreign entity should try to do the same thing in the United States. ..."
"... The mainstream media has acted as if Russian efforts to influence American policy are something novel, that this had never happened to the U.S. before. And "policy" is used here rather than "election" because affecting policy is apparently Putin's motive, not simply putting Trump in the White House with U.S. policy toward Russian unchanged. It is quite understandable that Putin would view Trump as a better President from the standpoint of Russian interests than Hillary Clinton since Trump advocated improving relations with Russia while Clinton was oriented toward exacerbating them. ..."
"... In making major foreign policy decisions, Obama's modus operandi has often been one of reacting to pressure-usually, but not always, from elite opinion-which has caused him to take positions contrary to his own, often more non-interventionist and pacific, inclination. This seems to have been the case regarding Obama's policy toward Libya, Syria, Israel (his obeisance to the Israel Lobby until the very end of his presidency), and even Russia, where he initially sought a "reset" to achieve friendlier relations. ..."
"... By penalizing Russia, Obama makes it difficult for President Trump to establish a more cordial relationship with Russia. There is extensive support in Congress from both Democrats and Republicans for taking strong action against Russia. As the title of an article in Roll Call, which focuses on the activities of the U.S. Congress , puts it: "Obama's Russia Sanctions Put Trump, Hill GOP on Collision Course." The author of this article, John T. Bennett, opines that Trump's opposition to Obama's retaliation against Russia "will immediately pit him against the hawkish wing of the Republican party." [29] ..."
"... While Trump could overturn Obama's anti-Russian measures, which are based on an executive order, his doing so would almost certainly be countered by legislation put forth by Democrats and some Republicans-the latter led by McCain and Graham, who have already said that they will introduce Russian sanction legislation. ..."
"... To conclude, the Russian interference narrative did not serve to prevent Trump from becoming president but it does seem that it will cause serious problems for his presidency and for American foreign relations as well, as America will drift further into Cold War II, which is something that Trump, if not facing obstruction, could have possibly prevented. ..."
"... CNN Caught Using Video Game Image In Fake Russian Hacking Story ..."
"... It looks like CNN Has tried to pull the wool over our eyes once again. This time, they used a screenshot from the Fallout 4 Video game to paint the picture of Russian Hacking. To bad that's not what a real hacking screen looks like. And an image you will only find in the video game! Nice Try Clinton News Network! ..."
"... Obama's petty and stupid response to the current unproven allegations against Russia will haunt his legacy and Hillary's bizarre contention that Putin personally "had it in for her" is yet another sign of her mental instability. ..."
Jan 09, 2017 | www.unz.com
The mainstream media's narrative that the Russian government interfered with the United States election, and that this interference invalidated, or at least tainted, Trump's election has culminated in President Obama taking a series of measures against Russia, which consist of: imposing sanctions on the GRU and the FSB (the two major Russian intelligence organizations), four officers of the GRU, and two Russian individuals who allegedly used "cyber-enabled means to cause misappropriation of funds and personal identifying information;" expelling 35 diplomats and intelligence officials; and closing two Russian compounds in Maryland's Eastern Shore and Long Island, New York. These actions were said to have been taken not only because of Russian interference in the election but for a number of other instances of Russian malfeasance that go back in time and are unrelated to alleged election interference. And there was no evidence provided that showed, or even claimed to show, that the particular individuals and entities covered by these measures had anything to do with the alleged election interference. [1]

Like other common memes-such as anti-Semitism, racism, and sexism-used to silence debate, the exact meaning of Russian interference in the election is unclear-and Obama's inclusion of a number of extraneous issues in his explanation for taking retaliatory action against Russia muddles the issue even more. The reference to Russian interference in the election includes a composite of alleged Russian misdeeds-"fake news," computer hacking, and manipulating voting machines [2] –which are usually lumped together but are actually quite different and should be analyzed separately since the combination approach only serves to obfuscate the issue. Of course-and this probably would not be shocking to most readers of this essay-many of those who promote the idea of Russian culpability are not really concerned about pursuing a Socratic search for truth but instead want to anathematize Putin's Russia and/or delegitimize Trump's election victory.

First, let me take care of the most extreme claim-that Russian hackers manipulated election results to make Trump president. This would be a nearly impossible task since voting machines are not attached to the Internet, and it was never pointed out how the Russians could do this on any significant scale. [3] Nonetheless, Hillary Clinton was urged by "a group of prominent computer scientists and election lawyers" to demand a recount in three states-Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania-in which Clinton seemed to be slightly ahead in pre-election polls but which were won by Trump by narrow margins. The group claimed to have statistical evidence that the vote had been altered. [4] The basis of this claim, however, was quite flimsy since it simply rested on an analysis that showed that in Wisconsin counties with electronic voting machines, Clinton received 7 percent fewer votes than in counties with paper ballots or optical scanners. It was then assumed that the same thing could have occurred in Michigan and Pennsylvania.

There was a recount in Wisconsin in which Trump increased his victory margin by 131 votes; a total of 2.976 million ballots were cast. The recount was requested by Green Party candidate Jill Stein who covered the estimated $3.5 million cost of the endeavor. [5] Similar efforts by Stein to get recounts in Michigan and Pennsylvania were blocked in the state courts because of her lack of standing by the laws of those states-not having any chance of winning herself, she could not be considered an "aggrieved party." Hillary Clinton's campaign did not make official efforts to get recounts in any states. With Trump's victory in Wisconsin surviving the recount, he had garnered a majority of the electoral votes, which would make him President unless there were a far higher number of faithless electors than turned out to be the case. Nonetheless, half of Clinton's voters still think Russia hacked the election day voting. [6]

Now to consider the ramifications of Russia's hacking the emails of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and of Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta, and the reception and release to the public of this Russian-hacked information by WikiLeaks. While this is assumed to be incontestably true by the mainstream media, neither one of these allegations is rock solid at the moment. The alleged consensus of U.S. intelligence agencies is that there is sufficient evidence that Russia hacked the aforementioned emails, but the evidence for this has not been made available to the public nor is there proof that WikiLeaks relied on emails derived from Russian hacks. Given the fact that America's intelligence agencies are not noted for being honest with the public, one would think that the mainstream media would give some attention to the critics of the dominant narrative.

Reacting to these allegations, WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, claims that his organization did not release any information provided to it by Russia or a Russian proxy. And Assange does have a vested interest in being truthful in order to maintain WikiLeaks' credibility, which has so far been impeccable. Confirming Assange's contention is Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and a close associate of Assange, though not an official member of the WikiLeaks staff. Murray stated: "As Julian Assange has made crystal clear, the leaks did not come from the Russians. As I have explained countless times, they are not hacks, they are insider leaks." He goes on to claim: "Now both Julian Assange and I have stated definitively the leak does not come from Russia. Do we credibly have access? Yes, very obviously. Very, very few people can be said to definitely have access to the source of the leak. The people saying it is not Russia are those who do have access. After access, you consider truthfulness. Do Julian Assange and I have a reputation for truthfulness? Well in 10 years not one of the tens of thousands of documents WikiLeaks has released has had its authenticity successfully challenged. As for me, I have a reputation for inconvenient truth telling." Murray alleges that the two sets of emails-from the DNC and from Podesta–came from American insiders but from different sources. [7]

Obviously, the security agencies should provide the public with detailed evidence and describe the actual sources. As Pat Buchanan suggests: "The CIA director and his deputies should be made to testify under oath, not only as to what they know about Russia's role in the WikiLeaks email dumps but also about who inside the agency is behind the leaks to The Washington Post designed to put a cloud over the Trump presidency before it begins." [8]

Now it should be pointed out that the actual content of the emails released by WikiLeaks, which the U.S. claims to have been obtained by Russian hacking, has not been falsified. The information harmful to Hillary Clinton included the DNC's behind-the-scenes support for her over Bernie Sanders (which included then DNC chair Donna Brazile's feeding answers to Clinton before the latter's debate with Bernie Sanders); Clinton's unpublicized paid speeches-on foreign policy and the economy– to wealthy business executives and bankers revealing views diametrically opposed to her campaign positions; the collusion of mainstream media reporters with the DNC. For example, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank requested and got the DNC to do the research for a negative column he wrote about Trump.

ORDER IT NOW

If the WikiLeaks information were completely fallacious, it would not have been derived from hacking or even from leaks, but simply fabricated. Nonetheless, this defense is being made. The logical form of this argument is that hacking took place but that the released emails were doctored to make them damaging. But this is based on the fact that it is possible to doctor emails, rather than any evidence that the WikiLeaks' emails were altered. The assumption being made was that Russia was capable of doctoring the emails, therefore, the emails must be doctored. For example, Jamie Winterton, director of strategy for Arizona State University's Global Security Initiative, was quoted as saying: "I would be shocked if the emails weren't altered," and went on to say that Russia was well-known to have used this technique in the past. ix Similarly, Clinton spokesman Glen Caplin asserted: "We are not going to confirm the authenticity of stolen documents released by Julian Assange, who has made no secret of his desire to damage Hillary Clinton." He referred to doctored emails that supposedly appeared on websites linked to Russian intelligence as proof that "documents can be faked as part of a sophisticated Russian misinformation campaign," although Caplin did not say that the emails concerning Clinton's speeches had been faked. x According to James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the spreading of false information by intelligence services "is a technique that goes back to Tsarist times." Among his examples, he referred to the Soviet-spread rumor that the U.S. government developed the AIDS virus. Needless to say, this, too, had nothing to do with WikiLeaks much less the emails it released on Clinton and the DNC. [11]

MSNBC's terrorist analyst and a former intelligence officer, Malcolm Nance, tweeted a message, shortly after WikiLeaks' October release of some of Podesta's emails, that these emails were "riddled with obvious forgeries," without ever providing evidence. [12] If any emails released by WikiLeaks were "obvious forgeries," it would seem quite easy for U.S. intelligence agencies to point this out without using any secret, super-high tech methods, and thus substantiate the case being made.

Interestingly, Nance was also quoted as taking the opposite position: "We have no way of knowing whether this is real or not unless Hillary Clinton goes through everything they've said and comes out and says it cross-correlates and this is true." [13] Here, Nance seems to be saying that WikiLeaks' could only be considered accurate if Hillary would show this to be the case. Since Hillary is not going to indict herself, this is not going to happen. However, the burden of proof should be on those who claim that the emails were altered to point out the discrepancies between the emails released by WikiLeaks and the DNC's and Podesta's actual emails. It would not be necessary to go through the whole tranche but simply focus on the detrimental emails. If this is not done, then claims that the WikiLeaks provides specious information should be dropped. So far, however, there seems to be little effort to show that the damaging information was untrue. [14]

Actually, it seems that much of the hostility to the WikiLeaks' information has little to do with it being false but rather that the emails were pilfered and made public. Adam Schiff, a Democratic congressman from California, who serves as the ranking member on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Jane Harman, who is currently the president of the Wilson Center and a former ranking Democratic member of the same House committee state: "Russia's theft and strategic leaking of emails and documents from the Democratic Party and other officials present a challenge to the U.S. political system unlike anything we've experienced." [15] Note that these writers charge Russia not only with illicitly obtaining the emails but also of "strategic leaking," which was obviously the work of WikiLeaks, and for which no evidence whatsoever exists that Russia determined when the materials would be leaked.

The New York Times Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman writes that "[t]he pro-Putin tilt of Mr. Trump and his advisers was obvious months before the election . . . . By midsummer the close relationship between WikiLeaks and Russian intelligence was also obvious, as was the site's growing alignment with white nationalists." Krugman goes on to blame the mainstream media for giving attention to WikiLeaks. "Leaked emails, which everyone knew were probably the product of Russian hacking, were breathlessly reported as shocking revelations, even when they mostly revealed nothing more than the fact that Democrats are people." [16] However, if nothing harmful was revealed, it is hard to maintain that Russian hacking had a significant effect on the election. If harm were done to the Democrats, it was presumably caused by the media, which falsely implied that serious revelations were being made by WikiLeaks.

Referring to Putin and the Russian hackers, Washington Post columnist Robert J. Samuelson contends: "Their hacking - as interpreted by both the CIA and the FBI - qualifies as state-sponsored aggression. It does jeopardize our way of life. It undermines the integrity of our political institutions and popular faith in them. More than this, it warns us that our physical safety and security are at risk. Hostile hackers can hijack power grids, communication networks, transportation systems and much more." [17] Even criticizing the position of the CIA-an institution American liberals, not too long ago, looked upon as a force for evil–is now considered a threat to American democracy. As establishment liberal E. J. Dionne of the Washington Post pontificates: "That Trump would happily trash our own CIA to get Putin off the hook is disturbing enough . . . . That he would ignore the risks our intelligence agents take on so many fronts to protect us is outrageous . [18]

Michael Daly of the liberal millennials–oriented "Daily Beast" writes: "Russians went from simply gathering our secrets to then making them public in such a way as to influence American public opinion and therefore the course of our democracy. Putin must marvel at the fervently patriotic, flag-waving Americans who shrug at the near certainty that a foreign power had subverted the electoral process that is at the heart of America's true greatness." [19]

It is not apparent how receiving accurate information regarding political issues-which is what WikiLeaks seems to have provided-could really have a negative impact on American democracy; rather it would seem that it would actually improve democracy. The purpose of Voice of America is supposed to be to provide such information to foreign countries and especially to those where the governments prevent the facts from reaching their inhabitants. The idea is that people in foreign countries should know the truth about their own government and about other governments, as well.

The Washington Post was enraged when, in 2015, Russia shut down the U.S. government-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED), relying on a law that "bans groups from abroad who are deemed a 'threat to the foundations of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation, its defense capabilities and its national security.'" The Washington Post wrote: "The charge against the NED is patently ridiculous. The NED's grantees in Russia last year ran the gamut of civil society. They advocated transparency in public affairs, fought corruption and promoted human rights, freedom of information and freedom of association, among other things. All these activities make for a healthy democracy but are seen as threatening from the Kremlin's ramparts." [20] Presumably, such things as "transparency in public affairs," fighting corruption, and "freedom of information," are vital for creating a "healthy democracy" in Russia when promoted by a foreign organization but are a grave danger to democracy if a foreign entity should try to do the same thing in the United States.

The mainstream media has acted as if Russian efforts to influence American policy are something novel, that this had never happened to the U.S. before. And "policy" is used here rather than "election" because affecting policy is apparently Putin's motive, not simply putting Trump in the White House with U.S. policy toward Russian unchanged. It is quite understandable that Putin would view Trump as a better President from the standpoint of Russian interests than Hillary Clinton since Trump advocated improving relations with Russia while Clinton was oriented toward exacerbating them.

While the mainstream media implies that what Russia was allegedly attempting to do had never happened before, foreign countries had actually tried to shape American policies since the George Washington administration [21] when the ambassador from revolutionary France, popularly known as Citizen Genet, came to the United States in 1793 and sought to generate popular support to get the United States to modify its strict neutrality policy to one that would be helpful to France in its war with Great Britain. Genet even commissioned privateers to attack British shipping. Ultimately, however, President Washington and his Cabinet, angered by Genet's activities that violated American sovereignty, demanded his recall. Genet simultaneously fell from favor in France as more radical Jacobins led by Robespierre took power and fearing he might face the guillotine if he returned to France, Genet requested and received asylum in the United States.

In 1867-1868, the Russian ambassador to the U.S. resorted to bribing lobbyists, newspapers, and members of Congress in order to make sure that the U.S. Congress would provide the funds for the treaty already signed by Secretary of State Seward (and approved by the Senate) to purchase Alaska.

In World War I both Germany and England were relying heavily on propaganda in the U.S.-the British goal to get the U.S. into the war on its side; the German goal to keep the U.S. out of the war. In 1917, Britain Illicitly intercepted and decoded what became known as the Zimmerman Telegram, which was a message from the German foreign ministry to its ambassador in Mexico instructing him to inform the Mexican government that Germany would, if the United States joined the war against it, support a Mexican effort to regain its former territory taken by the United States (though technically purchased) as a result of the Mexican-American War. [22] After Britain turned the information over to the U.S. government, the publication of the telegram in March 1917 may have played a supporting role in America's entrance into World War I in April 1917.

In World War II, British intelligence closely cooperated with the Roosevelt administration and the American interventionists-actually setting up pro-interventionist front groups–and engaged in efforts to destroy the non-interventionists. [23] Soviet agents were also trying to shape American foreign policy during World War II and its aftermath in order to advance the interests of Stalinist Russia. [24] And Israel (and the Zionist agency before Israel's founding) and its American supporters have played a role in shaping America's policy in the Middle East policy since World War I. [25]

Finally, let us explore the reasons for Obama's retaliation against the alleged Russian interference in the election, which included activities-mostly, but not only, involving spying-that had been going on for years. An obvious question is: why didn't Obama take action earlier?

It should be pointed out that it is commonplace for spies to pose as diplomats. And it is likewise commonplace that a host country does nothing to stop the spying unless it goes too far or if the host country wants to send a message that it is concerned about some other matter and does so by expelling officials for spying who were not necessarily involved in the issue of concern. Obama's expulsion edict fit the second category and was meant to show the U.S. government's ire regarding the alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election. [26] Therefore, Obama's retaliation against individuals and entities not involved in the matter of concern was not unconventional and if there had not been any alleged interference in the U.S. election, they likely would have been left alone.

Furthermore, it would appear that Obama chose to take action for political reasons: in order to appeal to the Democratic base and the mainstream media, afflicted as those two groups are by Trump Derangement Syndrome, [27] and also to hardline opponents of Russia who loom large in the Republican Party and have become a significant force among the Democratic elite (e.g. Brookings Institution).

In making major foreign policy decisions, Obama's modus operandi has often been one of reacting to pressure-usually, but not always, from elite opinion-which has caused him to take positions contrary to his own, often more non-interventionist and pacific, inclination. This seems to have been the case regarding Obama's policy toward Libya, Syria, Israel (his obeisance to the Israel Lobby until the very end of his presidency), and even Russia, where he initially sought a "reset" to achieve friendlier relations.

Although it has been claimed that Obama had entertained issuing punitive measures against Russia before the election, but opted against this to avoid possible Russian retaliation that could affect the voting, it is not apparent that Obama would have taken comparable retaliatory action if Clinton had won a clear-cut electoral victory. [28] While Republican hardliners, such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham, might have wanted such action, the Democrats would be satisfied with their victory, and Clinton and her foreign policy advisers, even though they might be anti-Putin, would not want their hands tied by such measures. While Obama is not a fan of Hillary Clinton, he did want her to be his successor, since that would have made him look good; there would have been no reason to antagonize her, her supporters, or the Democratic Party elite.

By penalizing Russia, Obama makes it difficult for President Trump to establish a more cordial relationship with Russia. There is extensive support in Congress from both Democrats and Republicans for taking strong action against Russia. As the title of an article in Roll Call, which focuses on the activities of the U.S. Congress , puts it: "Obama's Russia Sanctions Put Trump, Hill GOP on Collision Course." The author of this article, John T. Bennett, opines that Trump's opposition to Obama's retaliation against Russia "will immediately pit him against the hawkish wing of the Republican party." [29]

While Trump could overturn Obama's anti-Russian measures, which are based on an executive order, his doing so would almost certainly be countered by legislation put forth by Democrats and some Republicans-the latter led by McCain and Graham, who have already said that they will introduce Russian sanction legislation. In the past few years, an overwhelming majority in Congress has voted for sanctions legislation against Russia, which makes it likely that there would be a veto-proof majority to stymie Trump on this issue. [30]

To conclude, the Russian interference narrative did not serve to prevent Trump from becoming president but it does seem that it will cause serious problems for his presidency and for American foreign relations as well, as America will drift further into Cold War II, which is something that Trump, if not facing obstruction, could have possibly prevented.

Beckow , < > January 6, 2017 at 7:08 pm GMT • 200 Words

Great article, the key question remains: why is there an obsession for a large part of Washington bipartisan elite to have a horrible relationship with Russia?

It is on its face self-defeating: Russia poses no real threat as a peaceful neighbor, it has lots of resources and the largest consumer market in Europe. Russia is also generally secular, relative socially liberal, and shares many of the same policies as US, e,g. fighting Islamic terrorism, checking China's influence, etc

So why the hostility? It makes West weaker, not stronger. It hurts global economy, it increases risks of a nuclear confrontation. It also cannot really achieve much beyond continued hostility and shouting at each other.

Unless I am missing something, the hostility with Russia has no conceivable – and realistic – final outcome . Russia is not about to collapse, and it is not about to revert to a Western-run 90′s 'liberal' utopia. Any actual and realistic threat to Russia's existence could trigger a nuclear war – no winners there.

The disputes – from Crimea to Syria, from 'hacking' to Pussy Rioters – are oversimplified and intentionally misrepresented by the West. All of these issues are more complex, less clear-cut, and there is a valid and rational point of view on Russia's side.

So why this unrelenting drive for more and more hostility? Can anyone explain this? Are there some deep emotional issues among the Washington elite? What's the point?

@dearieme
"What's the point?" I don't know but the usual point of US foreign policy is to let US corporations win new markets. ,
@CK
Putin has reversed the Yeltsin era oligarchy that was bent on looting everything moveable in Russia. In doing so he pissed off some very connected Americans and Israelis. They want to get back to the loot trough. Sometimes it is as simple as evil men wanting to steal the wealth of others and hating those who stop them. ,
@Harry107
Are you kidding? Russia represents everything the Anglo-Zionist empire hates and fears:

- Russia is sovereign and not under the control of financial interests. It is not possible to financially strip-mine Russia. For example, the Russian central band keeps real interest rates above 3%, allowing savers to keep the benefit of their savings, unlike in the West.

- The Russian state under Putin has overthrown financial oligarch control, and the people know this. This accounts for his extraordinary popularity.

- Russia is a Christian country which has built or reopened an astounding 30,000 churches in the last three years. They do not allow gay marriage and are about as socially conservative as the US was in the 70's. Jews are not allowed to dominate the national conversation or have inordinate control.

- Russia manufactures their own armaments and is a strong arms export competitor. The Russian state gets much more bang for their armament buck than we do, being effectively equal to us with 1/10 the military spending. This is more evidence of the independence of the state from financial oligarchs. Currently, Russian jets and missiles are markedly superior to American ones. (Don't believe me? Google "F-15's in Syria" The Pentagon responded to Russia bringing advanced jets to Syria by transferring a squadron of F-15E's to Syria. The F-15 entered service in 1974. Each successive generation of US fighter jets since then has had inferior performance to its predecessor. This is disgraceful.)

- The very existence of Russian independence is a mortal threat to the evil Anglo-Zionist empire. Look at Snowden, still walking and breathing and calling bullshit on American retrogression. The existence of one free country holds out a dangerous example to all other nations. ,

@Cato
You ask the question I've been asking myself. I don't have an answer, but I've wondered if it could be any of these:

* inertia (the old guys running things might still be stuck in Cold War I)
* anti-homophobia (gays have a big influence on public opinion, and they hate Putin)
* profits (the Military-Industrial Complex has settled on Russia as the threat that will justify the weapons systems they want to sell)
* Europe (Russia is the only power that could draw away our European vassal states--the Germans were particularly cozy with Putin right before Ukraine blew up; the Gulenist coup happened just weeks after Erdogan got friendly with Russia)
* petroleum (can't quite see how that fits here, but oil and gas are usually involved in Deep State machinations)

But it could be all or none of these... ,

@Bill Jones
War, cold or hot, sells weapons
The warmongers own the politicians.
You've never figured this out? ,
@NoseytheDuke
The backers of HRC seek global domination and they know that time is against them. They have over-reached and now find themselves on the back foot. They are ruthless and desperate so this is why their actions make little sense if viewed through the lens of what is good for the ZUSA. ,
@Fran Macadam
Follow the money. ,
@Connecticut Famer
What's the point?

There is a deep-seated, visceral need for an Enemy, that's the point. Any kind of an enemy. At present the Flavor of The Month is Russia, with China waiting in the wings.

As a footnote--and I wish could remember his name-- but earlier this week O'Reilly had some guy on his show who was a retired USMC "intelligence expert" who said in one breath that the CIA had "proof" that the Rooshians hacked the emails then in the next breath said that the CIA can't release the information as it would compromise their operatives. Yeah, right! ,

@Je Suis Omar Mateen
"So why this unrelenting drive for more and more hostility? Can anyone explain this? Are there some deep emotional issues among the Washington elite? What's the point?"

Many or perhaps most Washington elites, including Congressmen, US Supreme Court justices (Kagan, Sotormayor, and Roberts), and the former president are sodomites and pederasts. President Putin's refusal to celebrate their alternative deathstyle INFURIATES them.

Period. ,

@DES
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the M-I complex faced a big problem: how to maintain huge defense budgets when the main enemy had suddenly disappeared. Saddam's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 provided them with a temporary solution, as did 9-11. What we are witnessing now is the latest chapter of this saga. Ross Perot was right: follow the money. ,
@jacques sheete
What's the point?
It depends on your point of view. From we schmucks who have to pay for it all, it's worse than pointless. From the rulers' point of view, there are many of them as shown by the other replies.

To understand their points, here are a few primers.

Why, my fellow citizens, is there any man here or any woman, let me say is there any child here, who does not know that the seed of war in the modern world is industrial and commercial rivalry? The real reason that the war that we have just finished took place was that Germany was afraid he