Category Archives: Governments

Rush to Judgment, by Justin Raimondo

The Russian intelligence “hacking” of the Democratic National Committee has been accepted as fact by all good Democrats. There are, however, a multitude of problems with the attribution. From Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com:

The allegation – now accepted as incontrovertible fact by the “mainstream” media – that the Russian intelligence services hacked the Democratic National Committee (and John Podesta’s emails) in an effort to help Donald Trump get elected recently suffered a blow from which it may not recover.

Crowdstrike is the cybersecurity company hired by the DNC to determine who hacked their accounts: it took them a single day to determine the identity of the culprits – it was, they said, two groups of hackers which they named “Fancy Bear” and “Cozy Bear,” affiliated respectively with the GRU, which is Russian military intelligence, and the FSB, the Russian security service.

How did they know this?

These alleged “hacker groups” are not associated with any known individuals in any way connected to Russian intelligence: instead, they are identified by the tools they use, the times they do their dirty work, the nature of the targets, and other characteristics based on the history of past intrusions.

Yet as Jeffrey Carr and other cyberwarfare experts have pointed out, this methodology is fatally flawed. “It’s important to know that the process of attributing an attack by a cybersecurity company has nothing to do with the scientific method,” writes Carr:

“Claims of attribution aren’t testable or repeatable because the hypothesis is never proven right or wrong. Neither are claims of attribution admissible in any criminal case, so those who make the claim don’t have to abide by any rules of evidence (i.e., hearsay, relevance, admissibility).”

Likening attribution claims of hacking incidents by cybersecurity companies to intelligence assessments, Carr notes that, unlike government agencies such the CIA, these companies are never held to account for their misses:

“When it comes to cybersecurity estimates of attribution, no one holds the company that makes the claim accountable because there’s no way to prove whether the assignment of attribution is true or false unless (1) there is a criminal conviction, (2) the hacker is caught in the act, or (3) a government employee leaked the evidence.”

This lack of accountability may be changing, however, because Crowdstrike’s case for attributing the hacking of the DNC to the Russians is falling apart at the seams like a cheap sweater.

To continue reading: Rush to Judgment

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Only a Fool Would Trust Rogue State USA, by Finian Cunningham

There is a long trail of roadkill, those who trusted the US government. From Finian Cunningham at sputniknews.com:

Only a fool would trust anything that comes out of Washington.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Chinese President Xi Jinping at the weekend, vowing greater cooperation to reduce tensions boiling up on the Korean Peninsula. Only a day before, however, Tillerson was threatening that the US would use pre-emptive military strikes against China’s ally North Korea if “we believe” it presented a threat “to us”.

So what’s it to be then? Cooperation or pre-emptive war?

At the same time that Tillerson was seemingly conveying a cordial tone to Beijing, President Trump was mouthing off at home that “North Korea was behaving badly” and that China had not done enough to contain it.
Trump’s comments angered China, with the latter responding it had in fact gone to great lengths over recent years to calm tensions on the Korean Peninsula between North Korea and the American ally in the South, by continually calling for dialogue, which the US has continually rebuffed, preferring to play hardball instead.

The weekend exchange is but one brief insight into why Washington cannot be trusted. The president and his top diplomat can’t even articulate a consistent policy for even a few hours. How could one possibly take them seriously?

But Trump and Tillerson’s mixed signals are a mere trifling matter. Why the US cannot be trusted has got much more to with decades of systematic misbehavior by Washington. North Korea “behaving badly,” says Trump. Typical American arrogance and ignorance do not admit the reality of the US behaving atrociously.

The whole specter of a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula was created in the first place by the United States. Its decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 was motivated by the Soviet Union’s imminent entry into the Pacific War. Washington did not want to see the Soviet Union taking Japanese or Korean territory.

To continue reading: Only a Fool Would Trust Rogue State USA

The Kagans Are Back; Wars to Follow, by Robert Parry

Scientists should delve into the question of whether a proclivity to advocate for senseless, costly, and ultimately counterproductive foreign intervention is genetically or environmentally based. The Kagan family would be evidence of the former. From Robert Parry at strategic-culture.org:

The Kagan family, America’s neoconservative aristocracy, has reemerged having recovered from the letdown over not gaining its expected influence from the election of Hillary Clinton and from its loss of official power at the start of the Trump presidency.

Former Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who pushed for the Ukraine coup and helped pick the post-coup leaders. (She is the wife of neocon theorist Robert Kagan.)

Back pontificating on prominent op-ed pages, the Family Kagan now is pushing for an expanded U.S. military invasion of Syria and baiting Republicans for not joining more enthusiastically in the anti-Russian witch hunt over Moscow’s alleged help in electing Donald Trump.

In a Washington Post op-ed on March 7, Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century and a key architect of the Iraq War, jabbed at Republicans for serving as “Russia’s accomplices after the fact” by not investigating more aggressively.

Then, Frederick Kagan, director of the Critical Threats Project at the neocon American Enterprise Institute, and his wife, Kimberly Kagan, president of her own think tank, Institute for the Study of War, touted the idea of a bigger U.S. invasion of Syria in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on March 15.

Yet, as much standing as the Kagans retain in Official Washington’s world of think tanks and op-ed placements, they remain mostly outside the new Trump-era power centers looking in, although they seem to have detected a door being forced open.

Still, a year ago, their prospects looked much brighter. They could pick from a large field of neocon-oriented Republican presidential contenders or – like Robert Kagan – they could support the establishment Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, whose “liberal interventionism” matched closely with neoconservatism, differing only slightly in the rationalizations used for justifying wars and more wars.

To continue reading: The Kagans Are Back; Wars to Follow

 

Prepare, Pursue, Prevail! Onward and Upward with U.S. Central Command, by Andrew J. Bacevich

Someone could write 10,000 pages and not run out of material for a black satire on the US military the past few decades. US Central Command would get several lengthy chapters. This article features vintage military bureaucrat-speak. From Andrew Bacevich at tomdispatch.com:

By way of explaining his eight failed marriages, the American bandleader Artie Shaw once remarked, “I am an incurable optimist.” In reality, Artie was an incurable narcissist. Utterly devoid of self-awareness, he never looked back, only forward.

So, too, with the incurable optimists who manage present-day American wars. What matters is not past mistakes but future opportunities. This describes the view of General Joseph Votel, current head of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM). Since its creation in 1983, CENTCOM has emerged as the ne plus ultra of the Pentagon’s several regional commands, the place where the action is always hot and heavy. Votel is the latest in a long train of four-star generals to preside over that action.

The title of this essay (exclamation point included) captures in a single phrase the “strategic approach” that Votel has devised for CENTCOM. That approach, according to the command’s website, is “proactive in nature and endeavors to set in motion tangible actions in a purposeful, consistent, and continuous manner.”

This strategic approach forms but one element in General Votel’s multifaceted (if murky) “command narrative,” which he promulgated last year upon taking the helm at CENTCOM headquarters in Tampa, Florida. Other components include a “culture,” a “vision,” a “mission,” and “priorities.” CENTCOM’s culture emphasizes “persistent excellence,” as the command “strives to understand and help others to comprehend, with granularity and clarity, the complexities of our region.” The vision, indistinguishable from the mission except perhaps for those possessing advanced degrees in hermeneutics, seeks to provide “a more stable and prosperous region with increasingly effective governance, improved security, and trans-regional cooperation.” Toward that estimable end, CENTCOM’s priorities include forging partnerships with other nations “based upon shared values,” “actively counter[ing] the malign influence” of hostile regimes, and “degrading and defeating violent extremist organizations and their networks.”

At present, CENTCOM is busily implementing the several components of Votel’s command narrative across an “area of responsibility” (AOR) consisting of 20 nations, among them Iran, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. As the CENTCOM website puts it, without batting a digital eyelash, that AOR “spans more than 4 million square miles and is populated by more than 550 million people from 22 ethnic groups, speaking 18 languages with hundreds of dialects and confessing multiple religions which transect national borders.”

To continue reading: Prepare, Pursue, Prevail! Onward and Upward with U.S. Central Command

800 Families File Lawsuit Against Saudi Arabia over 9/11, by Carey Wedler

The discovery and actual trial of this case could be explosive, and deeply embarrassing to both Saudi Arabian and American government officials. If in fact Saudi Arabia is found liable, let’s hope the plaintiffs receive proper monetary compensation and a measure of closure. From Carey Wedler at theantimedia.org:

Eight-hundred families of 9/11 victims and 1,500 first responders, along with others who suffered as a result of the attacks, have filed a lawsuit against Saudi Arabia over its alleged complicity in the 2001 terror attacks, according to an exclusive report by local New York outlet Pix 11.

The legal document, filed in a federal court in Manhattan, describes the Saudi role in the attacks. Pix 11 reports:

“The document details how officials from Saudi embassies supported hijackers Salem al-Hazmi and Khalid Al-Mihdhar 18 months before 9/11.

“The officials allegedly helped them find apartments, learn English and obtain credit cards and cash. The documents state that the officials helped them learn how to blend into the American landscape.”

For years, suspicions have swirled that some Saudi officials had ties to the gruesome attacks. The recent release of FBI reports produced shortly after the attacks provided details to justify growing skepticism against the Saudis. These details were further bolstered by the release of 28 pages originally withheld from the 9/11 commission report. Though the U.S. government downplayed the findings, even some lawmakers expressed concern.

Pix 11 further described the lawsuit, which reportedly relies on information from the FBI’s investigations:

“The suit also produces evidence that officials in the Saudi embassy in Germany supported lead hijacker Mohamed Atta. It claims that a Saudi official was in the same hotel in Virginia with several hijackers the night before the attacks.”

The suit also alleges “some of the hijackers had special markers in their passports, identifying them as al-Qaida sympathizers.”

According to the suit, filed by aviation law firm Kreindler & Kreindler, “Saudi royals, who for years had been trying to curry favor with fundamentalists to avoid losing power, were aware that funds from Saudi charities were being funneled to al-Qaida.”

“The charities were alter egos of the Saudi government,” Jim Kreindler told Pix 11.

According to Kreindler, “there was a direct link between all the charities and Osama bin Laden and…they operated with the full knowledge of Saudi officials.”

To continue reading: 800 Families File Lawsuit Against Saudi Arabia over 9/11

NYT’s ‘Tinfoil Hat’ Conspiracy Theory, by Robert Parry

How journalism is supposed to work versus how it works now. The version we have now should probably be called something other than journalism. From Robert Parry at consortiumnews.com:

Exclusive: There is a “tinfoil-hat” quality to The New York Times’ pushing its “Donald Trump Is Russia’s Manchurian Candidate” conspiracy theory as the newspaper sinks deeper into a New McCarthyism, reports Robert Parry.

The New York Times’ connect-the-dots graphic showing the Kremlin sitting atop the White House.

There are real reasons to worry about President Donald Trump’s foreign policy, including his casual belligerence toward Iran and North Korea and his failure to rethink U.S. alliances with Saudi Arabia and Israel, but The New York Times obsesses on Trump’s willingness to work with Russia.

On Saturday, the Times devoted most of its op-ed page to the Times’ favorite conspiracy theory, that Trump is Vladimir Putin’s “Manchurian candidate” though evidence continues to be lacking.

The op-ed package combined a “What to Ask About Russian Hacking” article by Louise Mensch, a former Conservative member of the British Parliament who now works for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, and a connect-the-dots graphic that when filled out shows the Kremlin sitting atop the White House. But the featured article actually revealed how flimsy and wacky the Times’ conspiracy theory is.

Usually, an investigation doesn’t begin until there is specific evidence of a crime. For instance, the investigative articles that I have written over the years have always had information from insiders about how the misconduct had occurred before a single word was published.

In the early 1990s, for the investigation that I conducted for PBS “Frontline” into the so-called “October Surprise” case – whether Ronald Reagan’s campaign colluded with Iranians and others to sabotage President Jimmy Carter’s negotiations to free 52 American hostages in 1980 – we had some two dozen people providing information about those contacts from multiple perspectives – including from the U.S., Iran, Israel and Europe – before we aired the allegations.

We didn’t base our documentary on the suspicious circumstance that the Iranians held back the hostages until after Ronald Reagan was inaugurated President on Jan. 20, 1981, or on the point that Iran and the Republicans had motives to sandbag Carter. We didn’t casually throw out the names of a bunch of people who might have committed treason.

To continue reading: NYT’s ‘Tinfoil Hat’ Conspiracy Theory

 

The Conspiracy Against President Trump, by Paul Craig Roberts

The party that gave us the word “McCarthyism” is now looking for evil Russians in every closet and under every bed in a nefarious bid to oust President Trump. From Paul Craig Roberts at paulcraigroberts.org:

March 20, 2017: Listening today to the broadcast of testimony by FBI Director Comey and National Security Agency Director Admiral Michael Rogers before the House Intelligence Committee (an oxymoron) made it clear that the Democrats, Comey, and Rogers intend conflict with Russia.

The Republicans, for the most part, were interested to know how security leaks targeted at Trump Republicans came from meetings at which only the CIA Director, NSA Director, and FBI director were present. Of course, they did not get an answer, which shows how powerless congressional oversight committees are. Comey repeatedly said that he could not tell the committee anything, because it would confirm that a press leak was true. But, he said, speaking generally and of no specific leak, most leaks come from “someone who heard something” and passes it on to the media, which also explains the inaccuracy of some leaks. In other words, don’t blame us.

The Democrats were out in force to demonize Russia, Putin, and everyone, especially Trump Republicans, who speaks to a Russian even if the person is still a private citizen, as was Gen. Flynn when he recommended to the Russian ambassador that Russia not respond in kind to President Obama’s expulsion of Russian diplomats over Christmas. The Democrats bestowed yet another demonic title on Putin. In addition to being “the new Hitler,” a “thug,” and a “Mafia don,” today Putin became a “tarantula in the center of the spy web.”

The Democrats’ position was that Flynn, by discouraging a Russian tit for tat, had interfered with the Obama regime’s policy of worsening relations between the US and Russia. Some Democrats saw this as treason. Others saw it as proof that Flynn and Trump are in Putin’s pocket, and still others see it as even worse.

To continue reading: The Conspiracy Against President Trump