MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘Julian Assange’

Rough Ridin’ with Biden | Kunstler

Posted by M. C. on January 23, 2021

The threatened impeachment trial will be a marvel of casuistry — a procedure for removing someone from office who is no longer in office — and also for the transparently flimsy charge of “inciting the insurrection” at the capitol. As if to underscore the absurdity of that, Antifa squads rioted in Portland and Seattle on inauguration night. Their banners expressed less-than-jubilant sentiment for the new regime.

https://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/rough-ridin-with-biden/

James Howard Kunstler

Speaking of the inauguration, I don’t know what was more peculiar: Lady Gaga sweeping out onto the capitol dais in Hunger Games drag —and I mean but exactly, down to the golden mockingjay pinned above her left breast — or Garth Brooks’s post-hymn dash to the exit as though he just heard the repo man was coming for his Gulfstream jet parked across the Potomac at Reagan National Airport.

The immense ranked American flags deployed silently down the mall in place of annoying US citizens lent a funereal vibe to the proceedings (as in the death of your country), while the thousands of massed national guard troops signaled the paranoia crackling under the surface as Ol’ White Joe Biden stepped forward to commence his party’s punishments against the unWoke (disguised as a call for “unity”). He was surrounded by a virtual wax museum of Deep Staters salivating for the upcoming blood-feast: The Obamas, Hillary and Bill (nodding off), Nancy, Chuck, Mitch… but just who was the Asian chap sitting behind the man-of-the-hour? Secret Service? Or his new minder (courtesy of Uncle Xi)?

As for Mr. Trump, he departed as he had arrived in 2016: stridently contemptuous toward the parasitical oligarchy that finally expelled him like a bladder-stone. The threatened impeachment trial will be a marvel of casuistry — a procedure for removing someone from office who is no longer in office — and also for the transparently flimsy charge of “inciting the insurrection” at the capitol. As if to underscore the absurdity of that, Antifa squads rioted in Portland and Seattle on inauguration night. Their banners expressed less-than-jubilant sentiment for the new regime. The Portland outfit broke windows and spray-painted the city’s Democratic headquarters, faking-out pols who had warned against an uprising of “white supremacists.” Of course, all those arrested would be promptly released without charges — demonstrating just how serious the Wokester officials running those cities really are about criminal anarchy. The grannies swept into the capitol rotunda by Antifa incursionists January 6th won’t be so lucky.

Neither did a much chattered-about military takeover happen during the tension-filled transition hours, though kibitzers on the web insist days later that it remains secretly underway. On his way out, Mr. Trump failed to pardon either Julian Assange or Edward Snowden, a disturbing failure, while he commuted the sentences of a couple of two-bit rap-stars, based on their contributions to advancing human dignity. And whatever Mr. Trump finally rooted out in the way of declassified FBI documents has already disappeared into the DC quicksand.

Much adored as he is for valiantly opposing everything swampish, it might be best now for Mr. Trump to just retire from the political scene and leave the battle to others. He made his point, colorfully and often bravely, considering the astounding bad faith of his adversaries, though he certainly could have articulated the stakes better and with more decorum. He leaves not merely a vacuum but a sucking chest wound of leadership opposing hysterical and tyrannical Wokery. Who will step forward in his absence? Probably someone we haven’t heard from yet. That’s how these things work.

The narrative instructs us that the election is resolved — so shut up about it already. But the election is not resolved. Enterprising gumshoes will be sifting through the evidence, interviewing witnesses, and combing through the thickets of fraud for a long time to come. Crime will be outed, if not prosecuted. Mr. Biden moves under a cloud of illegitimacy. Beyond the lingering election dispute lies all that evidence about the Biden family’s money-grubbing operations in foreign lands, clear down to the money-laundering records. Think that won’t bite eventually?

Nothing else is resolved about the national drift toward the Niagara of woe just downstream of here. Mr. Biden couldn’t have asked for trouble more loudly on Day One than by shutting down deportations of foreign nationals here illegally and signaling an open borders policy. The legions of newly unemployed and financially ruined US small business owners and workers may take a dim view of that. Rent and mortgage moratoria are extended as far ahead as June, as if landlords and mortgage-lenders don’t need to be paid to keep the banking system running. The new president has promised further, and even more severe, Covid-19 lockdowns. The Democratic Party apparently wants to utterly destroy what’s left of the real on-the-ground economy. No incoming US president has gotten off to a more feckless and ill-fated start.

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Julian Assange – Google Is Not What It Seems

Posted by M. C. on January 18, 2021

Caught red-handed last year making petabytes of personal data available to the US intelligence community through the PRISM program, Google nevertheless continues to coast on the goodwill generated by its “don’t be evil” doublespeak. 

https://wikileaks.org/google-is-not-what-it-seems/

by Julian Assange

In this extract from his new book When Google Met Wikileaks, WikiLeaks’ publisher Julian Assange describes the special relationship between Google, Hillary Clinton and the State Department — and what that means for the future of the internet. WikiLeaks readers can obtain a 20 percent discount on the cover price when ordering from the OR Books website by using the coupon code “WIKILEAKS”.

* * * Eric Schmidt is an influential figure, even among the parade of powerful characters with whom I have had to cross paths since I founded WikiLeaks. In mid-May 2011 I was under house arrest in rural Norfolk, about three hours’ drive northeast of London. The crackdown against our work was in full swing and every wasted moment seemed like an eternity. It was hard to get my attention. But when my colleague Joseph Farrell told me the executive chairman of Google wanted to make an appointment with me, I was listening.         In some ways the higher echelons of Google seemed more distant and obscure to me than the halls of Washington. We had been locking horns with senior US officials for years by that point. The mystique had worn off. But the power centers growing up in Silicon Valley were still opaque and I was suddenly conscious of an opportunity to understand and influence what was becoming the most influential company on earth. Schmidt had taken over as CEO of Google in 2001 and built it into an empire.1

        I was intrigued that the mountain would come to Muhammad. But it was not until well after Schmidt and his companions had been and gone that I came to understand who had really visited me.

* * *
        The stated reason for the visit was a book. Schmidt was penning a treatise with Jared Cohen, the director of Google Ideas, an outfit that describes itself as Google’s in-house “think/do tank.” I knew little else about Cohen at the time. In fact, Cohen had moved to Google from the US State Department in 2010. He had been a fast-talking “Generation Y” ideas man at State under two US administrations, a courtier from the world of policy think tanks and institutes, poached in his early twenties. He became a senior advisor for Secretaries of State Rice and Clinton. At State, on the Policy Planning Staff, Cohen was soon christened “Condi’s party-starter,” channeling buzzwords from Silicon Valley into US policy circles and producing delightful rhetorical concoctions such as “Public Diplomacy 2.0.”2 On his Council on Foreign Relations adjunct staff page he listed his expertise as “terrorism; radicalization; impact of connection technologies on 21st century statecraft; Iran.”3 Director of Google Ideas, and “geopolitical visionary” Jared Cohen shares his vision with US Army recruits in a lecture theatre at West Point Military Academy on 26 Feb 2014 (Instagram by Eric Schmidt)         It was Cohen who, while he was still at the Department of State, was said to have emailed Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to delay scheduled maintenance in order to assist the aborted 2009 uprising in Iran.4 His documented love affair with Google began the same year, when he befriended Eric Schmidt as they together surveyed the post-occupation wreckage of Baghdad. Just months later, Schmidt re-created Cohen’s natural habitat within Google itself by engineering a “think/do tank” based in New York and appointing Cohen as its head. Google Ideas was born.        Later that year the two co-wrote a policy piece for the Council on Foreign Relations’ journal Foreign Affairs, praising the reformative potential of Silicon Valley technologies as an instrument of US foreign policy.5 Describing what they called “coalitions of the connected,”6 Schmidt and Cohen claimed that Democratic states that have built coalitions of their militaries have the capacity to do the same with their connection technologies. . . . They offer a new way to exercise the duty to protect citizens around the world [emphasis added].7

        In the same piece they argued that “this technology is overwhelmingly provided by the private sector.” Shortly afterwards, Tunisia. then Egypt, and then the rest of the Middle East, erupted in revolution. The echoes of these events on online social media became a spectacle for Western internet users. The professional commentariat, keen to rationalize uprisings against US-backed dictatorships, branded them “Twitter revolutions.” Suddenly everyone wanted to be at the intersection point between US global power and social media, and Schmidt and Cohen had already staked out the territory. With the working title “The Empire of the Mind,” they began expanding their article to book length, and sought audiences with the big names of global tech and global power as part of their research.

        They said they wanted to interview me. I agreed. A date was set for June. Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Google, at the “Pulse of Today’s Global Economy” panel talk at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting, 26 Sept. 2013 in New York. Eric Schmidt first attended the CGI annual meeting at its opening plenary in 2010. (Photo: Mark Lennihan)

        By the time June came around there was already a lot to talk about. That summer WikiLeaks was still grinding through the release of US diplomatic cables, publishing thousands of them every week. When, seven months earlier, we had first started releasing the cables, Hillary Clinton had denounced the publication as “an attack on the international community” that would “tear at the fabric” of government.

        It was into this ferment that Google projected itself that June, touching down in a London airport and making the long drive up into East Anglia to Norfolk and Beccles. Schmidt arrived first, accompanied by his then partner, Lisa Shields. When he introduced her as a vice president of the Council on Foreign Relations—a US foreign-policy think tank with close ties to the State Department—I thought little more of it. Shields herself was straight out of Camelot, having been spotted by John Kennedy Jr.’s side back in the early 1990s. They sat with me and we exchanged pleasantries. They said they had forgotten their dictaphone, so we used mine. We made an agreement that I would forward them the recording and in exchange they would forward me the transcript, to be corrected for accuracy and clarity. We began. Schmidt plunged in at the deep end, straightaway quizzing me on the organizational and technological underpinnings of WikiLeaks.         Some time later Jared Cohen arrived. With him was Scott Malcomson, introduced as the book’s editor. Three months after the meeting Malcomson would enter the State Department as the lead speechwriter and principal advisor to Susan Rice (then US ambassador to the United Nations, now national security advisor). He had previously served as a senior advisor at the United Nations, and is a longtime member of the Council on Foreign Relations. At the time of writing, he is the director of communications at the International Crisis Group.8

        At this point, the delegation was one part Google, three parts US foreign-policy establishment, but I was still none the wiser. Handshakes out of the way, we got down to business. Google’s Chairman, Eric Schmidt, photographed in a New York elevator, carrying Henry Kissinger’s new book, “World Order”, 25 Sep 2014

        Schmidt was a good foil. A late-fiftysomething, squint-eyed behind owlish spectacles, managerially dressed—Schmidt’s dour appearance concealed a machinelike analyticity. His questions often skipped to the heart of the matter, betraying a powerful nonverbal structural intelligence. It was the same intellect that had abstracted software-engineering principles to scale Google into a megacorp, ensuring that the corporate infrastructure always met the rate of growth. This was a person who understood how to build and maintain systems: systems of information and systems of people. My world was new to him, but it was also a world of unfolding human processes, scale, and information flows.         For a man of systematic intelligence, Schmidt’s politics—such as I could hear from our discussion—were surprisingly conventional, even banal. He grasped structural relationships quickly, but struggled to verbalize many of them, often shoehorning geopolitical subtleties into Silicon Valley marketese or the ossified State Department microlanguage of his companions.9 He was at his best when he was speaking (perhaps without realizing it) as an engineer, breaking down complexities into their orthogonal components.

        I found Cohen a good listener, but a less interesting thinker, possessed of that relentless conviviality that routinely afflicts career generalists and Rhodes scholars. As you would expect from his foreign-policy background, Cohen had a knowledge of international flash points and conflicts and moved rapidly between them, detailing different scenarios to test my assertions. But it sometimes felt as if he was riffing on orthodoxies in a way that was designed to impress his former colleagues in official Washington. Malcomson, older, was more pensive, his input thoughtful and generous. Shields was quiet for much of the conversation, taking notes, humoring the bigger egos around the table while she got on with the real work.

        As the interviewee I was expected to do most of the talking. I sought to guide them into my worldview. To their credit, I consider the interview perhaps the best I have given. I was out of my comfort zone and I liked it. We ate and then took a walk in the grounds, all the while on the record. I asked Eric Schmidt to leak US government information requests to WikiLeaks, and he refused, suddenly nervous, citing the illegality of disclosing Patriot Act requests. And then as the evening came on it was done and they were gone, back to the unreal, remote halls of information empire, and I was left to get back to my work. That was the end of it, or so I thought.

* * *

        Two months later, WikiLeaks’ release of State Department cables was coming to an abrupt end. For three-quarters of a year we had painstakingly managed the publication, pulling in over a hundred global media partners, distributing documents in their regions of influence, and overseeing a worldwide, systematic publication and redaction system, fighting for maximum impact for our sources.         But in an act of gross negligence the Guardian newspaper—our former partner—had published the confidential decryption password to all 251,000 cables in a chapter heading in its book, rushed out hastily in February 2011.10 By mid-August we discovered that a former German employee—whom I had suspended in 2010—was cultivating business relationships with a variety of organizations and individuals by shopping around the location of the encrypted file, paired with the password’s whereabouts in the book. At the rate the information was spreading, we estimated that within two weeks most intelligence agencies, contractors, and middlemen would have all the cables, but the public would not.

I decided it was necessary to bring forward our publication schedule by four months and contact the State Department to get it on record that we had given them advance warning. The situation would then be harder to spin into another legal or political assault. Unable to raise Louis Susman, then US ambassador to the UK, we tried the front door. WikiLeaks investigations editor Sarah Harrison called the State Department front desk and informed the operator that “Julian Assange” wanted to have a conversation with Hillary Clinton. Predictably, this statement was initially greeted with bureaucratic disbelief. We soon found ourselves in a reenactment of that scene in Dr. Strangelove, where Peter Sellers cold-calls the White House to warn of an impending nuclear war and is immediately put on hold. As in the film, we climbed the hierarchy, speaking to incrementally more superior officials until we reached Clinton’s senior legal advisor. He told us he would call us back. We hung up, and waited. Sarah Harrison and Julian Assange call the U.S. State Department in September 2011.

          When the phone rang half an hour later, it was not the State Department on the other end of the line. Instead, it was Joseph Farrell, the WikiLeaks staffer who had set up the meeting with Google. He had just received an email from Lisa Shields seeking to confirm that it was indeed WikiLeaks calling the State Department.         It was at this point that I realized Eric Schmidt might not have been an emissary of Google alone. Whether officially or not, he had been keeping some company that placed him very close to Washington, DC, including a well-documented relationship with President Obama. Not only had Hillary Clinton’s people known that Eric Schmidt’s partner had visited me, but they had also elected to use her as a back channel. While WikiLeaks had been deeply involved in publishing the inner archive of the US State Department, the US State Department had, in effect, snuck into the WikiLeaks command center and hit me up for a free lunch. Two years later, in the wake of his early 2013 visits to China, North Korea, and Burma, it would come to be appreciated that the chairman of Google might be conducting, in one way or another, “back-channel diplomacy” for Washington. But at the time it was a novel thought.11 Eric Schmidt’s Instagram of Hillary Clinton and David Rubinstein, taken at the Holbrooke Forum Gala, 5 Dec 2013. Richard Holbrooke (who died in 2010) was a high-profile US diplomat, managing director of Lehman brothers, a board member of NED, CFR, the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg steering group and an advisor to Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. Schmidt donated over $100k to the the Holbrooke Forum

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Opinion: – Assange wins. The cost: Press freedom is crushed, and dissent labeled mental illness

Posted by M. C. on January 6, 2021

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/56130.htm

By Jonathan Cook

January 04, 2020 “Information Clearing House” – The unexpected decision by Judge Vanessa Baraitser to deny a US demand to extradite Julian Assange, foiling efforts to send him to a US super-max jail for the rest of his life, is a welcome legal victory, but one swamped by larger lessons that should disturb us deeply.

Those who campaigned so vigorously to keep Assange’s case in the spotlight, even as the US and UK corporate media worked so strenuously to keep it in darkness, are the heroes of the day. They made the price too steep for Baraitser or the British establishment to agree to lock Assange away indefinitely in the US for exposing its war crimes and its crimes against humanity in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But we must not downplay the price being demanded of us for this victory. https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1346059260539637760&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.jonathan-cook.net%2Fblog%2F2021-01-04%2Fassange-wins-the-cost-press-freedom-is-crushed-and-dissent-labelled-mental-illness%2F&siteScreenName=Jonathan_K_Cook&theme=light&widgetsVersion=ed20a2b%3A1601588405575&width=500px

A moment of celebration

We have contributed collectively in our various small ways to win back for Assange some degree of freedom, and hopefully a reprieve from what could be a death sentence as his health continues to deteriorate in an overcrowded Belmarsh high-security prison in London that has become a breeding ground for Covid-19.

For this we should allow ourselves a moment of celebration. But Assange is not out of the woods yet. The US has said it will appeal the decision. And it is not yet clear whether Assange will remain jailed in the UK – possibly in Belmarsh – while many months of further legal argument about his future take place.

The US and British establishments do not care where Assange is imprisoned – be it Sweden, the UK or the US. What has been most important to them is that he continues to be locked out of sight in a cell somewhere, where his physical and mental fortitude can be destroyed and where he is effectively silenced, encouraging others to draw the lesson that there is too high a price to pay for dissent.

The personal battle for Assange won’t be over till he is properly free. And even then he will be lucky if the last decade of various forms of incarceration and torture he has been subjected to do not leave him permanently traumatised, emotionally and mentally damaged, a pale shadow of the unapologetic, vigorous transparency champion he was before his ordeal began.

That alone will be a victory for the British and US establishments who were so embarrassed by, and fearful of, Wikileaks’ revelations of their crimes.

Rejected on a technicality

But aside from what is a potential personal victory for Assange, assuming he doesn’t lose on appeal, we should be deeply worried by the legal arguments Baraitser advanced in denying extradition.

The US demand for extradition was rejected on what was effectively a technicality. The US mass incarceration system is so obviously barbaric and depraved that, it was shown conclusively by experts at the hearings back in September, Assange would be at grave risk of committing suicide should he become another victim of its super-max jails.

One should not also discard another of the British establishment’s likely considerations: that in a few days Donald Trump will be gone from the White House and a new US administration will take his place.

There is no reason to be sentimental about president-elect Joe Biden. He is a big fan of mass incarceration too, and he will be no more of a friend to dissident media, whistleblowers and journalism that challenges the national security state than was his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama. Which is no friend at all.

But Biden probably doesn’t need the Assange case hanging over his head, becoming a rallying cry against him, an uncomfortable residue of the Trump administration’s authoritarian instincts that his own officials would be forced to defend.

It would be nice to imagine that the British legal, judicial and political establishments grew a backbone in ruling against extradition. The far more likely truth is that they sounded out the incoming Biden team and received permission to forgo an immediate ruling in favour of extradition – on a technicality.

Keep an eye on whether the new Biden administration decides to drop the appeal case. More likely his officials will let it rumble on, largely below the media’s radar, for many months more.

Journalism as espionage

Significantly, Judge Baraitser backed all the Trump administration’s main legal arguments for extradition, even though they were comprehensively demolished by Assange’s lawyers.

Baraitser accepted the US government’s dangerous new definition of investigative journalism as “espionage”, and implied that Assange had also broken Britain’s draconian Official Secrets Act in exposing government war crimes.

She agreed that the 2007 Extradition Treaty applies in Assange’s case, ignoring the treaty’s actual words that exempt political cases like his. She has thereby opened the door for other journalists to be seized in their home countries and renditioned to the US for embarrassing Washington.

Baraitser accepted that protecting sources in the digital age – as Assange did for whistleblower Chelsea Manning, an essential obligation on journalists in a free society – now amounts to criminal “hacking”. She trashed free speech and press freedom rights, saying they did not provide “unfettered discretion by Mr Assange to decide what he’s going to publish”.

She appeared to approve of the ample evidence showing that the US spied on Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy, both in violation of international law and his client-lawyer privilege – a breach of his most fundamental legal rights that alone should have halted proceedings.

Baraitser argued that Assange would receive a fair trial in the US, even though it was almost certain to take place in the eastern district of Virginia, where the major US security and intelligence services are headquartered. Any jury there would be dominated by US security personnel and their families, who would have no sympathy for Assange.

So as we celebrate this ruling for Assange, we must also loudly denounce it as an attack on press freedom, as an attack on our hard-won collective freedoms, and as an attack on our efforts to hold the US and UK establishments accountable for riding roughshod over the values, principles and laws they themselves profess to uphold.

Even as we are offered with one hand a small prize in Assange’s current legal victory, the establishment’s other hand seizes much more from us.

Vilification continues

There is a final lesson from the Assange ruling. The last decade has been about discrediting, disgracing and demonising Assange. This ruling should very much be seen as a continuation of that process.

Baraitser has denied extradition only on the grounds of Assange’s mental health and his autism, and the fact that he is a suicide risk. In other words, the principled arguments for freeing Assange have been decisively rejected.

If he regains his freedom, it will be solely because he has been characterised as mentally unsound. That will be used to discredit not just Assange, but the cause for which he fought, the Wikileaks organisation he helped to found, and all wider dissidence from establishment narratives. This idea will settle into popular public discourse unless we challenge such a presentation at every turn.

Assange’s battle to defend our freedoms, to defend those in far-off lands whom we bomb at will in the promotion of the selfish interests of a western elite, was not autistic or evidence of mental illness. His struggle to make our societies fairer, to hold the powerful to account for their actions, was not evidence of dysfunction. It is a duty we all share to make our politics less corrupt, our legal systems more transparent, our media less dishonest.

Unless far more of us fight for these values – for real sanity, not the perverse, unsustainable, suicidal interests of our leaders – we are doomed. Assange showed us how we can free ourselves and our societies. It is incumbent on the rest of us to continue his fight.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His books include “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jonathan-cook.net. If you appreciate his articles, please consider making a donation

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Let’s Be Absolutely Clear What’s At Stake In The Assange Case – Caitlin Johnstone

Posted by M. C. on January 4, 2021

Are we going to allow the most powerful government on the planet to set a legal precedent which allows it to obstruct truth around the entire world? Or are we going to oppose this tooth and claw?

Are we going to allow power to remain corrupt and unaccountable? Or are we going to insist on our right to know what’s going on?

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2021/01/02/lets-be-absolutely-clear-whats-at-stake-in-the-assange-case/

author: Caitlin Johnstone

When it comes to human behavior, things only change for the better when there is a lucid and unobstructed perception of what’s going on.

Self-destructive behavior patterns only go away when there’s a lucid and unobstructed perception of the previously unconscious psychological dynamics which were driving them.

Victims of abuse only end their abusive relationships when they obtain a lucid and unobstructed perception of the abusive dynamics as they truly are.

Toxic social dynamics like racism, sexism and homophobia only begin moving toward health when society collectively begins gaining a lucid and unobstructed understanding of how disordered and damaging those dynamics really are.

It only becomes unacceptable to have a totalitarian monarch who tortures and executes people without trial, murders anyone who speaks ill of him, and rules by divine right when society begins collectively gaining a lucid and unobstructed awareness of how ridiculous, unjust and unacceptable such models of government are.

Whether you’re talking about individuals or humanity in its entirety, the story of human progress has always been a story of moving from blindness to seeing. From unawareness to awareness. From the lights in the room being off to the lights being switched on.

There is no progress without clear seeing. We cannot move in the direction of health and harmony if we cannot lucidly perceive the ways in which we are still sick and dysfunctional. We can’t move forward if we’re unaware of the specific ways in which we are stuck in place.

Most of us, on some level, want things in our world to change for the better. Some few others want things to stay the same, because the status quo happens to be treating them quite well thank you very much. The struggle between the deep desire of the many for healthy change and the corrupt desire of the few to maintain the status quo is the struggle between turning the lights on and keeping them off. Between wanting to become aware of the various ways we are stuck so that we can move forward, and wanting the light of awareness as far away from our stuck points as possible.

The struggle for our species, which is really the struggle for our very survival, is therefore between the many who desire truth and the few who desire confusion. We’ve got numbers and truth on our side, but they have power, wealth, and a remarkable knack for psychological manipulation.

We see this struggle playing out in many ways in our world right now. Between propaganda and those trying to learn and share the truth. Between the push for internet censorship and the fight against it. Between government secrecy and freedom of information. Between the campaign to imprison WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for exposing US war crimes, and the campaign to free him.

On Monday January 4th a UK judge will be ruling on whether or not to allow the process of Assange’s extradition to the United States to move forward. It’s important for opponents of this extradition to be aware that the fight will not end at this time; there’s still a gruelling appeals process to go through which could take 18 to 24 months or longer in the likely event that the incredibly biased judge overseeing the case rules against Assange.

So as we prepare for the next stage in this fight, it’s important for us to be perfectly clear what’s at stake here.

It is absolutely true that this case will have far-reaching implications for press freedoms around the world. The imperial narrative managers have been toiling for years to frame the persecution of Julian Assange as something other than what it is, but in reality this case is about whether the most powerful government in the world is allowed to extradite journalists anywhere on earth who expose its malfeasance. Whether or not the United States should be allowed to imprison journalists for exposing its war crimes.

If the US succeeds in normalizing the legality of extraditing any journalist anywhere in the world who exposes its wrongdoing, there will be a worldwide cooling effect on national security journalism which will greatly impede humanity’s ability to form a lucid and unobstructed understanding of what’s going on in the world. The largest power structure on earth will have succeeded in not just turning the lights off in the room, but in uninstalling the light switch.

There is no legal case in the world right now where the struggle for lucid and unobstructed seeing has so much on the line. For this reason, this isn’t just about journalism: we really are collectively deciding the fate of our species with our response to the prospect of Assange’s extradition.

Are we going to allow the most powerful government on the planet to set a legal precedent which allows it to obstruct truth around the entire world? Or are we going to oppose this tooth and claw?

Are we going to allow power to remain corrupt and unaccountable? Or are we going to insist on our right to know what’s going on?

Are we going to let them keep the lights off? Or are we going to turn them on?

Are we going to let the bastards lock us into an omnicidal, ecocidal status quo while they drive us at a rapidly accelerating pace toward extinction and dystopia? Or are we going to move toward the kind of lucid and unobstructed perception of our situation which will allow us to progress into a healthy world?

These are the questions that we are in the process of answering together. I hope we can get everyone to very seriously consider what they want their own answer to be.

______________________

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, throwing some money into my tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my new book Poems For Rebels or my old bookWoke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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Julian Assange’s Fiancée Sits Down With Revolver to Reveal Deep State’s Plot to Erase Our First Amendment – Revolver

Posted by M. C. on December 23, 2020

https://www.revolver.news/2020/12/revolver-exclusive-interview-julian-assange-fiancee-stella-moris-smith-robinson/

For years, America’s oligarch class has grown fat by betraying the country they rule over. They’ve outsourced the country’s wealth and well-being to China. They’ve embroiled the country in one disastrous war after another — wars that did nothing to make America safer but did a great deal to enrich the defense contractors who supplied them. They’ve colluded with Big Tech and Big Finance to gradually chip away at the basic rights that Americans once took for granted.

To the badly misnamed, oligarch-captured “intelligence community,” the imprisoned Wikileaks Editor and free speech activist Julian Assange remains Public Enemy Number One.

As head of Wikileaks, Assange published leaked documents from former Army soldier Chelsea Manning (born Bradley Manning). Manning has already gone free, but Assange has been a hunted man ever since. For seven years, Assange holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid an unjust extradition on trumped-up charges.

In 2016, Wikileaks released emails from the DNC and John Podesta. These emails exposed how the Democrat Party rigged the primary race for Hillary Clinton. After an informed public unexpectedly rejected Hillary Clinton for president, Washington, D.C.’s rage against Assange boiled over. Assange was assigned a key role in the Russiagate conspiracy theory that charged Russia with handing Trump the 2016 election. In spring 2019, Ecuador revoked Assange’s asylum, and he was dragged out of the embassy to face extradition on more than a dozen espionage charges in the U.S. 

But another possibility exists. President Trump could thumb his nose at the Deep State’s decade-long obsession with persecuting Assange, and give him the pardon he deserves. Revolver has advocated just such a course.

Remarkably, a steadily-growing group of fair-minded patriots around the world have come together to ask for Assange’s freedom. Former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin had her emails published by Wikileaks in 2008, but on Saturday she called her prior attacks on Assange a ‘mistake’ and called on President Trump to pardon the Wikileaks publisher. Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz and Democrat Tulsi Gabbard have joined forces to endorse clemency for Assange as well. Actress Pamela Anderson wants clemency as well, as does Iranian dissident and Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi.

A recent tweet by Pastor Mark Burns mistakenly announcing an imminent pardon for Assange has racked up nearly 200,000 likes on Twitter.

Stella Moris-Smith Robinson is a human rights lawyer who was born in South Africa. She was a member of Assange’s legal team during his stay at the Ecuadorian embassy. Now, she is his fiancée. The pair have two children together. Moris has spent years fighting relentlessly for Assange’s freedom, and she graciously agreed to join Revolver for an exclusive interview.

First off, many thanks for agreeing to do this interview and for your bravery in defense of Julian and his mission. Your appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight was powerful and remains a must see for patriots all over the world. Let’s start with the crime with which Julian is actually charged, a violation of the Espionage Act of 1917. Is there any evidence at all that Julian committed espionage? From what I’ve seen he published classified information, which is something that all major newspapers have done, such as the New York Times. Also there are claims that he assisted his source Chelsea in hiding her identity — which is also a standard journalistic practice. So where’s the actual crime here?

There isn’t one. This is an unconstitutional, political case that has bent the law to suit its political objective. It turns necessary journalistic practices — communicating with a source and having and publishing true information — into crimes.

Saying that it is a crime for Julian to have published this material is as absurd as saying that US journalists are legally bound not to violate China’s, Turkey’s, or France’s secrecy or censorship laws, even though they are publishing in the U.S. Whatever those countries’ legislations have to say about that, I think we can all agree — that proposition cannot be correct. 

I sometimes hear Julian mentioned in the same breath as famous American whistleblowers. But their cases are different. They are American citizens. They worked for the US government. That does not apply to Julian. Julian is a publisher. He wasn’t in the United States. He wasn’t a government employee or a contractor. He never signed a confidentiality agreement. The only promise he made was to the public, to publish the truth about governments and corporations. Everyone has their role in a free society and Julian’s role is to publish.

The strength of the First Amendment is that it is simple, clear, absolute. It is truly exceptional when you compare it to equivalent rights in Europe, and that comes from the fact that it isn’t what people think it is. It doesn’t grant people rights that can be taken away. It bans lawmakers and the executive from interfering with speech and publishing. So what is unlawful is passing laws attempting to criminalize speech and the press. 

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The source of news bias

Posted by M. C. on November 23, 2020

https://mailchi.mp/1b96b1f772bb/are-we-watching-the-jfk-assassination-in-slow-motion-4133893?e=de2d0eded6

The worst thing to happen to journalism, with Ray McGovern
Ray McGovern, former chief of the CIA’s Soviet analysts division, holding a copy of the Declarion of Independence Did the CIA kill JFK? Are they meddling again in American politics?

Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst, thinks it’s possible.

How are the FBI and CIA able to get away with torturing people to death? Or spending millions on bogus investigations? Or attempting coups? 

The corporate media covers for them.  “If you don’t have full control of the media, which the military-industrial complex does have, then you can’t make this work, because then you can’t fool all of the American people out of spending 60% of their tax money on unnecessary military expenditures.”
—Ray McGovern If a real journalist like Julian Assange publishes something that is true but damning about the CIA, the corporate media scolds him. And the CIA fabricates fraudulent charges to destroy him, as was uncovered by the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer. “It’s the worst thing to happen to journalism in my lifetime, the unadulterated persecution of this fellow [Assange], and the fact that he was set up.”
—Ray McGovern The unelected bureaucracy is out of control. Can anyone put them in check? Will Trump, who was a direct victim of illegal spying, attempted blackmail, and false accusations, release the classified documents that hide their crimes? Probably not.

So it’s up to us. You can help expose their crimes. Share this email, and get informed by clicking on the link below. Listen to Interview “There has to be a way to make sure the people have access to the truth.”
—Ray McGovern Innoculate others against war propaganda. Share this email.

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THE REVELATIONS OF WIKILEAKS: No. 9—Opening the CIA’s Vault – Consortiumnews

Posted by M. C. on October 28, 2020

https://consortiumnews.com/2020/10/26/the-revelations-of-wikileaks-no-9-opening-the-cias-vault/

By Patrick LawrenceSpecial to Consortium News

On Feb. 6, 2017, WikiLeaks released documents detailing the Central Intelligence Agency’s espionage program in the months leading up to and following France’s presidential election in 2012. 

The agency used spies and cyberweapons to infiltrate and hack into the major political parties with competing candidates — the Socialists, the National Front and the Union for a Popular Movement. Their candidates — respectively François Hollande, Marine Le Pen and incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy — were also spied upon individually, as were many other prominent political figures.

The objectives of the program included ascertaining the contending parties’ political strategies and platforms, their views of the U.S., and their relations with the European Union, with other European nations (Germany, Britain) as well as Israel, Palestine, Libya, Syria, and others. The CIA’s French operation lasted 10 months, beginning in November 2011 and enduring until September 2012, several months after Hollande won the election and formed a Socialist government.

WikiLeaks’ disclosure of the agency’s project bears a special irony: It was just as WikiLeaks published this material in 2017 that the CIA helped propagate unsubstantiated (and later discounted) “intelligence” that Russian hackers and propagandists were interfering with France’s presidential election that year. Similar allegations (similarly lacking in evidence) were floated as the European Union held parliamentary elections in May 2019.

As WikiLeaks reported at the time of the releases on the CIA’s covert activities in France, those revelations were to serve “as context for its forthcoming CIA Vault 7 series.” WikiLeaks’ apparent intent was to display a CIA’s hacking operation in action.

Vault 7, the subject of this latest report on the history of WikiLeaks disclosures, stands as the most extensive publication on record of classified and confidential CIA documents. Never before and not since have the agency’s innumerable programs and capabilities been so thoroughly exposed to public scrutiny.

Biggest Since Snowden

Rally in Germany in support of Edward Snowden, Aug. 30, 2014. (Markus Winkler, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder and publisher, described the Vault 7 publications as the most significant since Edward Snowden, the former CIA data analyst, released an unprecedented trove of National Security Agency documents in the summer of 2013. 

The Vault 7 series concerns the extraordinarily sophisticated inventory of cyber weapons the CIA has developed to spy on or hack into the communications of any person or entity it targets. Apart from the espionage function, certain of the programs in Vault 7 — this designation is WikiLeaks’, not the CIA’s — can also plant documents and data without being detected as the source — when, for example, the agency wishes to compromise an adversary via a false-flag operation.

The program wherein this capability was developed, called Marble, may have been crucial to creating the orthodox “narrative” that Russia was responsible for the theft of Democratic Party email in 2016 — the cornerstone allegation in the construct we now call Russiagate.

The Vault 7 releases expose the CIA’s hacking activities from 2013 to 2016. The series began on March 7, 2017, with the publication of “Year Zero,” an introductory survey and analysis of the agency’s globally deployed hacking programs. The Vault 7 series ran for six months, concluding on Sept. 7, 2017.

Complete as of that date, the series is comprised of 23 publications, each of which focuses on an individual hacking or cyber-espionage program. Marble is one of these. 

The CIA’s development of its hacking capabilities began as a joint effort with the National Security Agency. But the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, begun in 2001 and 2003 respectively, proved a turning point for the agency. It was during this time that the CIA, as WikiLeaks puts it in its introduction to the Vault 7 series, “gained political and budgetary preeminence over the NSA.”

According to former U.S. intelligence sources, the CIA has invested some $175 billion in its vast variety of cyber programs in the post–2001 years. “The agency’s hacking division, WikiLeaks notes, “freed it from having to disclose its often controversial operations to the NSA (its primary bureaucratic rival) in order to draw on the NSA’s hacking capacities.”

A Near Deal to Free Assange

Assange in 2014, while in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. (Cancillería del Ecuador, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

WikiLeaks launched the Vault 7 series at a delicate moment for Assange, who was at the time taking asylum at the Ecuadoran embassy in London.

Shortly after Donald Trump took office in January 2017, Assange’s attorneys approached a lawyer named Adam Waldman, who was noted for his Washington connections.

Assange’s team proposed negotiations that would commit the U.S. to granting Assange limited immunity and safe passage from the Ecuadoran embassy in exchange for his agreement to limit publication of classified CIA documents. The agency knew by this time that WikiLeaks had an extensive inventory of CIA documents it was prepared to publish. These included what WikiLeaks soon named Vault 7.

Crucially, Assange signaled that he was also willing to reveal technical evidence that would shed light on who was not responsible for the theft of email from the Democratic National Committee in mid–2016. This was key: By this time the “narrative” that Russia had hacked the DNC’s computer servers was well-established; the Democratic Party, the intelligence agencies, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the media were heavily invested in it. Assange, while observing the WikiLeaks principle of not revealing sources, had by this time asserted that Russia had nothing to do with the intrusion.  

The Justice Department and Assange’s attorneys drafted an immunity deal in the course of the negotiations that both sides agreed to pursue. The attorneys’ initial contact, through Waldman, was a DoJ official named Bruce Ohr. The lead DoJ negotiator was named David Laufman. When WikiLeaks released “Year Zero” on March 7, 2017, these negotiations were still in progress; the release had no apparent impact on the talks.

But at this point the contacts between Assange and the U.S. government took a fateful turn. The only full account of the events summarized below was written by John Solomon, who has followed the Russiagate phenomenon from the first, and was published in The Hill on June 25, 2018.

Shortly after negotiations began, Waldman, the go-between, contacted Mark Warner, the Democratic senator from Virginia, to see if the Senate Intelligence Committee, of which Warner was vice-chairman, wished to contact Assange on its own in connection to matters related to Russia. This proved a miscalculation.

Sen. Mark Warner giving keynote address during 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. (Qqqqqq, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Warner, who had vigorously pressed the Russiagate narrative from the first, soon contacted James Comey, then the FBI director. Comey was also an aggressive Russiagate advocate and had a direct interest in sustaining the official account of events: It was while he ran the FBI that the bureau worked with CrowdStrike, the infamous cybersecurity firm hired by the DNC, to build what is now demonstrated to be an entirely false case to support the Democrats’ assertions of Russian responsibility for the mail intrusion.

Any proof that Russia had no role in the DNC mail theft would have discredited the FBI and Comey and very likely destroyed the career of Comey and numerous others. 

Comey, working through Sen. Warner, immediately ordered Waldman to cut off the Assange–DoJ talks. Although negotiations continued a brief while longer, Comey had effectively dealt them a soon-to-be-fatal blow. By this time WikiLeaks had released two other Vault 7 document collections, including what it called the Marble Framework.

The DoJ finally broke off the negotiations on April 7, when WikiLeaks released a fourth set of documents, this one called Grasshopper. Six days later Mike Pompeo, then CIA director, gave a notably aggressive speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Washington think tank, in which he called WikiLeaks “a nonstate hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.” https://www.youtube.com/embed/pe3ApagvwNM?enablejsapi=1&autoplay=0&cc_load_policy=0&iv_load_policy=1&loop=0&modestbranding=1&fs=1&playsinline=0&controls=1&color=red&rel=0&autohide=2&theme=dark&

With the CSIS speech, Pompeo effectively opened the Trump administration’s rigorously pressed campaign to have Assange extradited from Britain. The WikiLeaks founder appears never to have had another chance to negotiate an agreement providing for his freedom.

Run Amok

The Vault 7 releases continued at a steady pace, roughly four a month, for the next five months. The documents WikiLeaks made public, along with descriptions of the programs WikiLeaks deemed significant, can be found via its “Vault 7: Projects” report. Taken together they describe an expensively funded U.S. government organization that has run frighteningly amok, operates with no regard for U.S. or international law, and stands entirely beyond civilian control. Many of the projects exposed in the Vault 7 releases, and very likely most or all, violate Fourth Amendment rights to privacy and the CIA’s charter, which bars the agency from activity on U.S. soil.

Former CIA Director Allen Dulles. (CIA)

The history of the CIA, reaching back to Allen Dulles’ tenure as director (1953 to 1961), indicates that from its earliest days it entertained a diabolic desire to accumulate the power to operate with no reference to constraints of any kind, including those imposed by ordinary standards of decency. In this way it was effectively the id of America’s exceptionalist consciousness. What we see in the Vault 7 series is the perversely logical outcome of this culture of limitless impunity and immunity.

By the end of 2016, the hacking division of the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence had more than 1,000 hacking, malware, virus-implanting, remote-control and Trojan-horse programs in its inventory. These comprised more than 700 million lines of computer code.

Former CIA and NSA officials told Consortium News that a line of code costs roughly $25 to produce, putting the cost of the agency’s hacking tools over the years these programs were developed at $175 billion. “The CIA had created its ‘own NSA,’” WikiLeaks noted when it began releasing the Vault 7 publications, “with even less accountability and without publicly answering the question as to whether such a massive budgetary spend on duplicating the capacities of a rival agency could be justified.”

What follows are accounts and summaries of the most significant of the 23 Vault 7 releases. We present these chronologically, the earliest first, to give readers a clear idea of how WikiLeaks organized and presented the Vault 7 project. 

Year Zero

March 7, 2017

With the publication of “Year Zero,” it was immediately clear that WikiLeaks had penetrated into or very near the core of the CIA’s cyberoperations. This first Vault 7 release is comprised of 8,761 documents and files obtained from what WikiLeaks describes as “an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virginia, the agency’s headquarters.

Aerial view of CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. (Carol M. Highsmith, Wikimedia Commons)

As WikiLeaks notes, the agency had “lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal” shortly before it published “Year Zero.” There had been a massive leak, to put this point in simple terms. “The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner,” WikiLeaks reported, “one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.” This occurred at some point in 2016.

“Year Zero” serves as an overview of “the scope and direction of the CIA’s global hacking program” and an introduction to material included in the Vault 7 releases to follow. The agency’s inventory of tools was the purview — and we can assume continues to be so — of the Engineering Development Group (EDG), a technology department under the authority of the Center for Cyber Intelligence.

The EDG also tests and operates its products once they are perfected and added to the agency’s arsenal. The engineering group, Wikileaks reported, has developed some 500 projects, each with its own malware and hacking tools. The EDG’s focus is on penetration, implanting, control and exfiltration. “Year Zero” analyzes the most important of these. 

High among the objectives of Vault 7 programs was to achieve the capability of penetrating the manufacturers of cellular telephones and other electronic devices for a variety of operations. Among the products targeted for this purpose were Apple’s iPhone and iPad, Google’s Android operating system, Microsoft Windows and Samsung televisions.

Programs included in the Vault 7 collection were designed to hack these and other commonly used devices and systems remotely so they can corrupt the targets and also send the CIA the owner’s geographic location and all audio and text communications. Other programs were capable of turning on a device’s microphone and camera without the owner’s knowledge. Other attack-and-control programs targeted MAC OS X, Solaris and Linux operating systems.

A number of the CIA’s programs revealed in the Vault 7 releases focus exclusively on one or another of these companies, most commonly Microsoft.

Building 92 at Microsoft Corporation headquarters in Redmond, Washington. (Coolcaesar, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

“Grasshopper” (April 7, 2017) is a platform for the development of malware designed for attacks on Windows operating systems. “AfterMidnight” (May 12, 2017) and “Brutal Kangaroo” (June 22, 2017) also target the Microsoft Windows platform, while “Weeping Angels” (April 21, 2017) infiltrated Samsung televisions. “Outlaw Country” (June 30, 2017) is designed for attack on computers that use the Linux OS. 

“Year Zero” also details the CIA’s use of what the agency calls “zero days.” These are commonly occurring software code imperfections and vulnerabilities in electronic devices that the CIA knows and makes use of but does not disclose to manufacturers or the public.

In some respects, zero days are treated as commodities. While the CIA discovered some zero days on its own, it obtained others from the NSA, GCHQ (the NSA’s British counterpart), or the FBI. It also purchased zero days from private cyber-weapons manufacturers much as the Pentagon would buy a weapons system from a defense contractor.

The CIA’s stockpile of zero days enables it to bypass encryption systems installed in such communications applications as WhatsApp, the widely used long-distance telephone and text service. This makes zero days, which can be used either locally or remotely, especially significant in extending the reach of the agency’s hacking operations. The CIA’s practice of keeping zero days secret — effectively hoarding them, as WikiLeaks notes — is especially cynical and dangerous.

As WikiLeaks explains:

“If the CIA can hack these phones then so can everyone else who has obtained or discovered the vulnerability. As long as the CIA keeps these vulnerabilities concealed from Apple and Google (who make the phones) they will not be fixed, and the phones will remain hackable. The same vulnerabilities exist for the population at large, including the U.S. Cabinet, Congress, top CEOs, system administrators, security officers and engineers. By hiding these security flaws from manufacturers like Apple and Google, the CIA ensures that it can hack everyone– at the expense of leaving everyone hackable.”

Most malware developed by the EDG and related units in the CIA’s organizational structure is designed to remain in implanted devices for considerable lengths of time — in some cases years — after it is installed. So long as it is present it communicates regularly and in two-way fashion with the CIA’s Command and Control systems.

While many programs are implanted remotely, some require a physical presence. This typically means an agent infests a targeted device on site. But in some cases, the CIA covertly intervened into supply chains and delivery services, including postal services, by opening, infecting, and on-sending products without the knowledge of either the manufacturer or the purchaser.

As it began its Vault 7 series with “Year Zero,” WikiLeaks took the occasion to note “an extreme proliferation risk in the development of cyber ‘weapons,’” as Assange put it at the time. He drew a comparison between these weapons and the global arms trade, noting “the inability to contain them, combined with their high market value.”

The source of the Vault 7 trove, who was among the former government hackers and contractors circulating the Vault programs among themselves, shared these and other concerns:

“In a statement to WikiLeaks the source details policy questions that they say urgently need to be debated in public, including whether the CIA’s hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of oversight of the agency. The source wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation, and democratic control of cyber-weapons.”

This is Consortium News’s intent in publishing its report on Vault 7.

Mindful of the risks attached to proliferation, and perhaps of past (and unfounded) charges that its publications compromised U.S. national security and American personnel, WikiLeaks notes that it was careful to avoid distributing what it termed “‘armed’ cyber-weapons” as it published the Vault 7 series.

It also said it redacted “tens of thousands of CIA targets and attack machines throughout Latin America, Europe, and the United States.” In a note in an FAQ section appended to “Year Zero,” WikiLeaks states, “Names, email addresses, and external IP addresses have been redacted in the released pages (70,875 redactions in total) until further analysis is complete.”

Dark Matter
March 23, 2017

Projects developed in the “Dark Matter” program were designed to penetrate Apple Macs and iPhones with what is called firmware — that is, malware that continues to infect the units attacked even if the OS is reinstalled. “Sonic Screwdriver,” a sub-project in this group, allowed attackers to install and activate computer code while users booted up these Apple devices.

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Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for theInternational Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, author and lecturer. His most recent book is Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century (Yale). Follow him on Twitter @thefloutist. His web site is Patrick Lawrence. Support his work via his Patreon site.

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The Powerful and Obnoxious Odor of Mendacity – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on October 3, 2020

I read Jonathan’s Cook’s piece, “The Guardian’s deceit-riddled new statement betrays both Julian Assange and journalism.”  Cook rightly excoriates The Guardian  for lying about Assange and betraying him to the British and American governments, long-standing lies [my emphasis] that continue to today as Julian sits in a British kangaroo court where injustice is being served to extradite him to the USA.  Here is one point he makes;

Nauseatingly, however, the Guardian not only seeks to blame Assange for its own mistake but tells a glaring lie about the circumstances. Its statement says: ‘No concerns were expressed by Assange or WikiLeaks about security being compromised when the book was published in February 2011. WikiLeaks published the unredacted files in September 2011.’

Then I read another fine article at Asia Times, by MK Bhadrakumar

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/10/edward-curtin/the-powerful-and-obnoxious-odor-of-mendacity/

By Edward Curtin

“Mendacity is a system we live in.”

– Paul Newman, playing Brick in Tennessee Williams’, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

A profusion of philosophical, psychological, and political ink has been spent on the subject of lying and liars.  The toll in loves lost and relationships destroyed from lying is incalculable. All the war dead are victims of government lies; what Marine Major General Smedley Butler called a “racket.” Lies are poison, slow or quick working, and they kill both body and soul.

We are living in a country of lies.  A country where propaganda is disseminated around the clock and lies are the air we breathe.  Is it any wonder that most people are confused as to what to believe and whom to trust?  But it goes much deeper.

I have recently read a number of perceptive, truthful articles that have gotten me thinking further about this subject, although I must add that I have been preoccupied with the issue since I was very young and my father took me to see Pinocchio in the movie theater and subsequently told me improvised Pinocchio stories before bedtime.  Whether he knew it or not – and I think he knew – he set me on a lifetime’s quest to try to distinguish truth from lies and embrace the former.  Then as a teenager, I appeared on a very popular television show, To Tell the Truth.  I was recruited to lie, to play the part of an impostor, which I did quite well. I lied for the money and probably would have made a good lying politician if fate hadn’t interceded. It was only later that my actions and the show’s title kept reverberating through my mind, echoing down my days to the present and my interest in truth, lies, and propaganda.  From my father came a love for the redeeming nature of stories.

***

“More and more often there is embarrassment all around,” wrote Walter Benjamin in The Storyteller, “when the wish to hear a story is expressed.  It is as if something that seemed inalienable to us, the securest among our possessions, were taken from us: the ability to exchange experiences.”

***

It was getting dark on the street as the young man emerged from his high school on New York’s Upper East Side after basketball practice.  He had lost track of time as he dreamed his basketball dreams and headed to the subway for the long ride home.  It was December, 1961. A man, dressed in a cashmere overcoat and carrying a silver bowl, was walking his dog on the street.  The boy asked him for the time.  The man told him, adding with a grin that his watch always ran fast.  The boy recognized the grin from what seemed like a dream.  He pet the man’s dog, and the man asked him about the imposing school next to them.  He asked the boy his name and the boy said “Eddie.”  While the dog did its business in the street, they chatted for a few minutes.  The man wished him luck with his basketball and said his name was Paul. As the boy hustled toward the subway, Paul Newman shouted after him, “See you later, Fast Eddie.”

The next week the boy went to see Paul Newman playing Fast Eddie Felson in The Hustler. He always remembered Paul’s words about mendacity and his words from The Hustler:

Fast Eddie: How should I play that one, Bert? Play it safe? That’s the way you always told me to play it: safe… play the percentage. Well, here we go: fast and loose. One ball, corner pocket. Yeah, percentage players die broke, too, don’t they, Bert?

Lies are a common way of playing it safe.  Except they kill the liar.

***

In an article by Mike Whitney, “Betrayal, Infuriating Betrayal,” in which he writes about the Democrats’ ongoing efforts – Russia-gate, etc. – to remove Trump from the presidency, efforts based on a string of lies they know to be lies [ my emphasis] and have been proven to be so, he wonders thus toward the end:

It’s surprising that this doesn’t piss-off more Democrats, after all, it’s the ultimate expression of contempt and condescension. When someone lies to your face relentlessly, repeatedly and shamelessly, they are expressing their loathing for you. Can’t they see that?

Of course, that’s a very good question.

I read Jonathan’s Cook’s piece, “The Guardian’s deceit-riddled new statement betrays both Julian Assange and journalism.”  Cook rightly excoriates The Guardian  for lying about Assange and betraying him to the British and American governments, long-standing lies [my emphasis] that continue to today as Julian sits in a British kangaroo court where injustice is being served to extradite him to the USA.  Here is one point he makes;

Nauseatingly, however, the Guardian not only seeks to blame Assange for its own mistake but tells a glaring lie about the circumstances. Its statement says: ‘No concerns were expressed by Assange or WikiLeaks about security being compromised when the book was published in February 2011. WikiLeaks published the unredacted files in September 2011.’

Then I read another fine article at Asia Times, by MK Bhadrakumar, “Permafrost descends on US-Russia ties,”  about a bipartisan Senate bill aimed at demonizing Russia.  The bill is led by Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware.  Bhadrakumar writes:

The fallout of all this is going to be profound for the Sino-Russian alliance. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov hit out last week: ‘It is time to stop applying Western metrics to our actions and stop trying to be liked by the West at any cost … the West is wittingly or unwittingly pushing us towards this analysis.

It is likely to be done unwittingly [my emphasis]. However, it is a big mistake to think that Russia will play by Western rules in any case, just like thinking this in terms of China.’

I was struck by Lavrov’s word “wittingly or unwittingly” – diplomatic speech – since he knows the Senator’s bill is filled with lies but suggests otherwise – “It is likely to be done unwittingly.”

Finally, I read an article by Philip Roddis, “Julian, Guardian, and the Law of Volitionality.”  As a lead-in to his announced topic, he tells a little tale about his step-mother that struck me.  It is worth quoting in full:

Indulge me a moment, will you? At fifteen I acquired a stepmother. We never got on. Her and dad’s insistence that she be called “mum” didn’t help. For the two years we spent in the same house – I left home weeks before turning seventeen – I never addressed her by name or title.

She had dad round her little finger. One ploy was to badger him into making a ruling against me. Once she’d done so, she’d beg him to relent. “Oh it’s alright, Frank. Let him … ” [do/have whatever it was she’d got him to forbid]. But no way was he going to u-turn at this point. A matter of pride, you see. I saw this little comedy for what it was but dad fell for it every time.

And here’s the thing. Maybe she did too. She got her way, but I don’t rule out her motives for that post victory appeal being hidden to – and by her. My flawed but brilliant teacher said that everybody knows what they’re doing. Indeed, it was so fundamental a tenet he gave it a name: The Law of Volitionality. Yes, he took it to absurd and at times cruel lengths but for all that he was onto something. To manage cognitive dissonance – to maintain a sense of being fundamentally good – we play games with ourselves. Stepmother was likely fooling herself almost as much as dad with her tiresome shenanigans.

It’s not that she wasn’t being manipulative. Just that an essential ingredient of the manipulation, vital to maintaining self-esteem, was a decision – volitionally squirrelled away, out of sight from everyday awarenessto hoodwink herself. [my emphasis]

You can find such examples every day.  Articles about lies tossed about by all sides of the political spectrum are commonplace.

I think it fair to say that everyone has lied at some point, but only the most manipulative are proud of it.  “The essence of the lie implies in fact that the liar actually is in complete possession of the truth which he is hiding,” wrote Jean-Paul Sartre.  This cynical consciousness that knows the truth but denies it to others is a perfect description of  politicians, propagandists, intelligence services, and their media mouthpieces. They know they are lying and are proud of it, but of course they will never admit it.

Most people are not that manipulative.  Sartre says there is another type of liar who suffers from bad faith.  While they lie to others, they also try to lie to themselves and hide the truth from themselves.  People often say that this person and that one really believe their own lies, that they are deluded, but this is not possible.  For “the one to whom the lie is told and the one who lies are one and the same person, which means that I must know in my capacity as a deceiver the truth which is hidden from me in my capacity as the one deceived.”

I have recently been thinking that many people who are adamantly insistent on the efficacy of mask-wearing against SARS-CoV-2, the virus associated with COVID-19, and  those who are always quoting the official statistics, are of this sort.  They either know there is good evidence against mask-wearing and the official statistical game, but try to convince themselves this isn’t so, or they avoid reading about the possibility to save face and live with themselves  – both acts of bad faith.  Such people are like Philip Roddis’s step-mother.  But in this case, the bad faith is about a Big Lie, just as the fake fight between Trump and Biden has induced many people to take bad faith sides in a scene from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass:

“Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Agreed to have a battle;
For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
Had spoiled his nice new rattle”
So Tweedledee and Tweedledum
Had their scrum
All about the rattle.
When it was done
Only the dumb
Gave a shit about their battle

***

Anthrax 9/11: The US C… Webb, George Buy New $1.99 (as of 05:26 EDT – Details) Last year, I was at a large library book sale and came upon an odd box of typed manuscripts of stories that lacked the author’s name.  They were free and so I took a few.  There was one very short story, entitled “Fear,” that struck me for its haunting connection to the issue of lies. “Death is the sanction of everything the storyteller can tell,” wrote Benjamin, which seems so true with this anonymous story. Here it is:

Listen, that’s what I want to say to them.  Listen, this is one of those stories hard to believe.  When I first heard it, I doubted it completely.  Of course I was telling it and that might have been a factor.  It’s hard, once you hear your own voice, to believe it’s you.  After a while, however, I became convinced it had to be true.  I couldn’t make up anything so odd, so sick if you prefer.  At first the voice sounded strange, but once I realized it was really mine, I understood I was revealing this pathetic tale under great duress and it was understandable that my voice sounded foreign.

You should take that into account.  I am a very sick man.  I realize that now.  In the beginning, I thought I was surely dying, until, that is, I saw that I was already dead.  Dying was beside the point.  I was dead.  Naturally this came as a great surprise to me.  Now you might reasonably ask, how did this absurd situation come about, and how can a dead man write words?  Let me tell you.

It began when I was born while the world was engaged in one of its periodic slaughters. No, periodic is not true.  Those slaughters are constant.

So you wonder what my astrological sign is?  The mushroom cloud of course.  A cancer born under the sign of the mushroom.

Anyway, I have been living for decades now and you’d think I would have seen the obvious.  I didn’t, or that’s what I told myself.  Not for the life of me.  I kept going on as if I were alive when I was dead.  It’s obvious now: the dead never know they’re dead until… But I didn’t know it, and you can imagine, I hope, how this caused me many problems.

Don’t laugh.

That was the year I disappeared.

She asked me: “But are you content?”

– No, I wouldn’t say that.

– So you’re not?  It’s hard to tell?  Tell me.

– No, not really.

– Not really what?

– Not really content.

– What would give you contentment?

– I’m not sure.

– You mean to say you have no idea?

– No, not that.  I guess if I thought about it …

– Do that, that’s what I’m asking you.  You must have thought about it before.

– Sure I have but… Bottle of Lies: The In… Eban, Katherine Best Price: $18.69 Buy New $16.94 (as of 02:25 EDT – Details)

– Why the but?  You’re so hesitant about everything.  You don’t know, you doubt, maybe, but, perhaps.  Why are you so unsure?

I had no satisfactory answer.  I could only stumble over my words.  I was afraid they would trip me up, especially if I spoke without premeditation. I was used to hesitating so I could control things.  That’s not exactly true.  When I realized I was dead, I also realized it was because I had always been a liar, to myself and others.

It was then I disappeared.

Since coming here, I have been resolved to change.  Yes, the outside world was making me sick with all its lies and deceptions.  Mendacity, mendacity, mendacity – I heard someone in a play scream that out once. I never forgot it, and I felt I was going mad because of it.  But I too was a liar, so I resolved to change.

No more bullshit.  That was my number one resolution.  It sounded crude but was true. Next to it, I listed euphemisms for bullshit: exaggeration, manners, civility, tolerance, modesty , mental reservations, kindness, and of course lies.  Bullshit was lies and self-deception.  Simple as that. I couldn’t admit that I was dead; that was bullshit, and I was dead because I was a bullshit artist and just wanted to be an artist and write stories that were true.  I have always lied so much because, like everyone else, I was afraid of the truth. Saying it, hearing it, or seeing it.  I much preferred ideas of what should be true rather than what was true, or what I really thought was true.  I was afraid if I gave up lying I would feel lonelier than I did before.  Where did it get me anyway?  Where does it get anyone?  I have always hated myself for it.  This all seemed so weird to me; how everyone nodded at truth, just as they nodded to each other, and then went on lying their ways through life.  And if you asked them if they were lying, they would invariably deny it.  Oh, it’s so twisted.  I am sick. I don’t know where I’m going with this story.  It seems to have a life of its own, unlike me.

I didn’t really disappear.  They took me here.  I am so afraid.

That was it.  Short and eerie.   It reminded me of Kafka, who wrote in his diary: “The strange, mysterious, perhaps dangerous, perhaps redeeming comfort that there is in writing.”

***

“And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”

That’s what the CIA has inscribed on the wall of its headquarters: The George Bush Center for Intelligence.

More appropriately, as a description of not only the CIA but American society as a whole, are Ken Kesey’s words from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: “You seem to forget, Miss Flinn, that this is an institution for the insane.”

That’s not a lie.

Yes, “Mendacity is the system we live in.”

And the odor here is really loathsome.

The Best of Edward Curtin Edward Curtin [send him mail] is a writer whose work has appeared widely. His website is edwardcurtin.com. He is the author of the new book Seekinging Truth in the Country of Lies Seekinging Truth in the Country of Lies.

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Mainstream US reporters silent about being spied on by apparent CIA contractor that targeted Assange | The Grayzone

Posted by M. C. on September 24, 2020

https://thegrayzone.com/2020/09/18/mainstream-us-reporters-silent-spied-cia-contractor-assange/

 

Despite being spied on and having their privacy invaded by the UC Global firm that targeted Assange, reporters from major US news outlets have said nothing in protest. Meanwhile, new evidence of that firm’s CIA links has emerged.

A Spanish security firm apparently contracted by US intelligence to carry out a campaign of black operations against Julian Assange and his associates spied on several US reporters including Ellen Nakashima, the top national security reporter of the Washington Post, and Lowell Bergman, a New York Times and PBS veteran.

To date, Nakashima and her employers at the Washington Post have said nothing about the flagrant assault on their constitutional rights by UC Global, the security company in charge of Ecuadorian embassy in London, which seemingly operated under the watch of the CIA’s then-director, Mike Pompeo. PBS, the New York Times, and other mainstream US outlets have also remained silent about the US government intrusion into reporters’ personal devices and private records.

The Grayzone has learned that several correspondents from a major US newspaper rebuffed appeals by Wikileaks to report on the illegal spying campaign by UC Global, privately justifying the contractor’s actions on national security grounds.

UC Global spied on numerous journalists with the aim of sending their information to US intelligence through an FTP server placed at the company headquarters and through hand-delivered hard drives.

Nearly all of those reporters have so far ignored or refused invitations to join a criminal complaint to be filed in Spanish court by Stefania Maurizi, an Italian journalist whose devices were invaded and compromised during a visit to Assange.

Proof of UC Global’s illegal spying campaign and the firm’s relationship with the CIA emerged following the September 2019 arrest of the company’s CEO, David Morales. Spanish police had enacted a secret operation called “Operation Tabanco” under a criminal case managed by the same National Court that orchestrated the arrest of former Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet years before.

Morales was charged in October 2019 by the Spanish court with violating the privacy of Assange and abusing his attorney-client privileges, as well as money laundering and bribery. A mercenary former Spanish special forces officer, Morales also stood accused of illegal weapons possession after two guns with the serial numbers filed off were found during a search of his property.

The documents and testimony revealed in court have exposed shocking details of UC Global’s campaign against Assange, his lawyers, friends, and reporters. Evidence of crimes ranging from spying to robberies to kidnapping and even a proposed plot to eliminate Assange by poisoning has emerged from the ongoing trial.

In an investigation for The Grayzone this May, this reporter detailed how the Las Vegas Sands corporation of Trump mega-donor Sheldon Adelson functioned as an apparent liaison between UC Global and Pompeo’s CIA, presumably contracting the former on behalf of the latter. It was the second time Adelson’s company had been identified as a CIA asset. (The first was in 2010, when a private intelligence report sponsored by gambling competitors alleged that his casino in Macau was sending footage of Chinese officials gambling so they could be blackmailed into serving as CIA informants).

The story placed the Trump organization at the center of a global campaign of surveillance and sabotage that ruthlessly targeted journalists, including Assange and virtually every reporter he came into contact with since 2017.

For the past four years, the Washington press corps has howled about Trump’s angry browbeating of the White House press pool, treating his resentful outbursts as a grave threat to press freedom. At the same time, it has reacted with a collective shrug to revelations that a firm that was, by all indications, contracted by the Trump administration’s CIA to destroy Assange had spied on prominent American national security reporters.

More revealingly, some of the reporters who had their personal information and notes stolen by UC Global, the apparent CIA contractor, have not said a word about it.

Maurizi, the Italian reporter who is filing a lawsuit against UC Global and serving as a witness in the current case before the Spanish judge, told this reporter she was stunned by the mainstream US media’s passive attitude. “Imagine if Putin had done anything like this. Just imagine what a scandal this would be,” she remarked to the Grayzone. “It would be a giant scandal all around the world. But instead, [US media] is saying nothing.”

Randy Credico, a comedian, social justice activist, and longtime advocate for Assange’s freedom, also attempted to generate media interest in the spying scandal when he learned that UC Global had snooped on him in the embassy. “I went to everybody, I went to MSNBC, to the Wall Street Journal, CNN, to journalists I knew, and I couldn’t get anyone interested,” Credico complained to The Grayzone.

“The agency of the stars and stripes wants to see us”

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‘The War on Assange is a War on Truth’ – Ron Paul’s 21 September Column

Posted by M. C. on September 22, 2020

Why would they do such a thing? Partisan politics. Journalists – with a few important exceptions like Greenwald himself – are no longer interested in digging and reporting the truth. These days they believe they have a “higher calling.”

We cannot have a self-governing society as was intended for our Republic if the government, with the complicity of the mainstream media, decides that there are things we are not allowed to know about it. President Trump should end the US government’s war on Assange…and on all whistleblowers and their publishers.

https://mailchi.mp/ronpaulinstitute/assangetrial?e=4e0de347c8

Sept 21 – It is dangerous to reveal the truth about the illegal and immoral things our government does with our money and in our name, and the war on journalists who dare reveal such truths is very much a bipartisan affair. Just ask Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who was relentlessly pursued first by the Obama Administration and now by the Trump Administration for the “crime” of reporting on the crimes perpetrated by the United States government.

Assange is now literally fighting for his life, as he tries to avoid being extradited to the United States where he faces 175 years in prison for violating the “Espionage Act.” While it makes no sense to be prosecuted as a traitor to a country of which you are not a citizen, the idea that journalists who do their job and expose criminality in high places are treated like traitors is deeply dangerous in a free society.

To get around the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of the press, Assange’s tormentors simply claim that he is not a journalist. Then-CIA director Mike Pompeo declared that Wikileaks was a “hostile intelligence service” aided by Russia. Ironically, that’s pretty much what the Democrats say about Assange.

Earlier this month, a US Federal appeals court judge ruled that the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records was illegal. That bulk collection program, born out of the anti-American PATRIOT Act, was first revealed to us by whistleblower Edward Snowden just over seven years ago.

That is why whistleblowers and those who publish their information are so important. Were it not for Snowden and Assange, we would never know about this government criminality. And if we never know about government malfeasance it can neve be found to be criminal in the first place. That is convenient for governments, but it is also a recipe for tyranny.



While we might expect the US media to aggressively come to the aid of a fellow journalist being persecuted by the government for doing his job, the opposite is happening. As journalist Glen Greenwald wrote last week, the US mainstream media is completely ignoring the Assange extradition trial.

Why would they do such a thing? Partisan politics. Journalists – with a few important exceptions like Greenwald himself – are no longer interested in digging and reporting the truth. These days they believe they have a “higher calling.”

As Greenwald puts it, “If you start from the premise that Trump is a fascist dictator who has brought Nazi tyranny to the US, then it isn’t that irrational to believe that anyone who helped empower Trump (which is how they see Assange) deserves to be imprisoned, hence the lack of concern about it.”

That may seem like a good idea to these journalists in the short term, but for journalism itself to become an extension of government power rather than a check on that power would be deeply harmful.

We cannot have a self-governing society as was intended for our Republic if the government, with the complicity of the mainstream media, decides that there are things we are not allowed to know about it. President Trump should end the US government’s war on Assange…and on all whistleblowers and their publishers.

Copyright © 2020 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

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