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U.S. Spying on ‘Allies’ Spoils Biden’s Set-Piece Visit to Europe — Strategic Culture

Posted by M. C. on June 5, 2021

The White House and several U.S. lawmakers, as well as anti-Russian European lawmakers, were huffing and puffing that Biden would reproach Putin over allegations of the Kremlin’s malign conduct. Those allegations include Russian intelligence agencies and hackers interfering in Western democracies. How richly ironic! And for people willing to see the truth, how powerfully self-indicting of American and European actual malign conduct, as opposed to the baseless claims made against Moscow.

Biden is to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva only days after his embarrassing encounter with European vassals, er, “allies”.

American President Joe Biden flies to Europe next week for a series of major summits in what was being billed as a happy revival for the transatlantic alliance. Four years of bitter and divisive chaos under Trump were supposed to be sutured by the new president declaring the importance of a strong U.S.-European partnership and “shared values”.

Unfortunately for Biden, the scandal over U.S. spying on European governments looks like casting a shadow on the “happy family reunion”. What’s more, this American president is fully implicated in the illicit snooping.

The timing also upsets Biden’s attempt to burnish America’s image as a defender of “rules-based order” and “shared Western values” when he meets Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Geneva for their first face-to-face presidential summit.

Several European media outlets published reports last week on how Denmark’s intelligence services were spying on European neighbors on behalf of the American National Security Agency. The illegal surveillance is said to date back to 2013 when Barack Obama was in the White House and Joe Biden was his vice president. Whistleblower Edward Snowden, who formerly worked as a contractor for the NSA and who is now in exile in Russia to avoid persecution in the United States, claims that Biden was closely involved in the surveillance operations.

There was stunned silence among the European governments last week when the reports emerged. However, this week several leaders, including Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, have become more vocal in denouncing the reports of American spying as “outrageous” and “unacceptable”.

When Biden attends the G7 summit in England on June 11-13 and the NATO meeting in Brussels on June 14, his first in-person encounter with allies since becoming president will be strained by awkward questions about the reported U.S. tapping of private communications.

As Danish defense analyst Peter Viggo Jakobsen drily observed: “This is an embarrassing matter for the Americans. Joe Biden must try to find a grimace useful for sweeping this under the carpet.”

The Europeans bear some of the shame too. For their embarrassment stems from them being seen in the eyes of their own citizens as pathetic vassals under American domination.

Indeed, the latest reports of illicit spying on allies are hardly new. Snowden revealed as far back as 2013 that the Obama administration was tapping Merkel’s private phone conversations. Snowden also revealed that the British intelligence agency, GCHQ, has been acting as Washington’s ears and eyes over Europe for many years.

And as our columnist Ron Ridenour commented in Strategic Culture Foundation this week, the Danish intelligence services have been colluding with the American NSA for decades to spy on Danish citizens and European governments. In an article we published back in January 2021 – five months before the latest media furore – Ridenour explained how Denmark has been “serving U.S. wars for three decades”, including by facilitating illegal surveillance across Europe.

See also his investigative report published in December 2020 in which he commented: “Denmark’s military allows the United States National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on the nation’s Finance Ministry, Foreign Ministry, private weapons company Terma, the entire Danish population, and Denmark’s closest neighbors: Sweden, Norway, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Information that the NSA acquired, with the aid of Denmark’s Defense Intelligence Service (FE) under the command of the Defense Department, was used to convince the government to buy Lockheed Martin’s Joint Strike Fighter F-35 capable of carrying nuclear weapons, albeit Denmark forbids the possession of nuclear weapons on its territory.”

So, the latest scandal is actually an old – if under-reported – story of malign conduct by the Americans towards their European allies, and often with European assistance against their own citizens and neighbors. In this context, European leaders will scarcely be surprised by the supposed latest revelations. There is good reason to believe that all European intelligence agencies are in bed with their American counterpart.

What the Europeans are obliged to do at the forthcoming summits with Biden is to put on a public show of indignation and protest. Not so much to actually challenge the American leader but to try to appear as less than mere vassals in the eyes of their own citizens.

In other words, the U.S. spying and European collusion will continue into the future. There will be no stopping the intrusion any time soon. Because European governments and their political establishments are not independent of American power. That is reflected in the way the European Union abjectly acquiesces to a reckless and criminal U.S. policy of hostility towards Russia, China, Iran, and other nations.

The political benefit from the reports of U.S. mass espionage and European collusion is the empowering perspective it gives to European citizens and others around the world.

Almost with comic timing, Biden is to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 16 in Geneva only days after his embarrassing encounter with European vassals, er sorry, “allies”.

The White House and several U.S. lawmakers, as well as anti-Russian European lawmakers, were huffing and puffing that Biden would reproach Putin over allegations of the Kremlin’s malign conduct. Those allegations include Russian intelligence agencies and hackers interfering in Western democracies. How richly ironic! And for people willing to see the truth, how powerfully self-indicting of American and European actual malign conduct, as opposed to the baseless claims made against Moscow.

Strategic Culture Foundation | Republishing is welcomed with reference to Strategic Culture online journal

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Edward Snowden Warns Joe Biden Is Illegally Spying on European Leaders | Neon Nettle

Posted by M. C. on June 2, 2021

By using politicians’ and officials’ phone numbers, authorities were able to pull texts and phone calls, while those being spied on were none the wiser. 

Do you have a phone number?

By: Jay Greenberg

edward snowden says joe biden is  deeply involved  in spying on foreign leaders
Edward Snowden says Joe Biden is ‘deeply involved’ in spying on foreign leaders

Former CIA contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden has warned that Democrat Joe Biden is “deeply involved” in a National Security Agency (NSA) operation to illegally spy on European leaders.

According to Snowden, who now lives in exile in Russia after fleeing the United States, says Biden has been working with intelligence officials in Denmark to spy on foreign leaders part of an NSA program.

The most notable targets of the alleged operation are German leaders Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Frank Walter-Steinmeier.

Snowden claims Merkel and Walter-Steinmeier are among several high-profile officials who were illegally spied on by the NSA.

The NSA reportedly acted with the cooperation and help of the Danish Defense Intelligence Service (FE), according to a European media investigation. 

The spying allegations first came to light in 2013, thanks to NSA documents leaked by Snowden.

german leaders chancellor angela merkel and president frank walter steinmeier were targeted by the operation
German leaders Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Frank Walter-Steinmeier were targeted by the operation

Snowden’s leaks specifically revealed Merkel’s private cell phone had been monitored by the Obama administration.

The new revelations come as a result of multiple European news outlets – including Danish state broadcaster DR, German NDR, Swedish SVT, Norwegian NRK, and French Le Monde among others – obtaining access to internal reports and information from Danish Secret Service sources.

According to the investigation, politicians in Germany, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, France, and even Danish finance industries were also targeted by the NSA with the help of Danish spies.

The Danish government has reportedly known about the cooperation for years and forced FE leadership to step down in 2020 after discovering the full extent of the relationship following an internal investigation.

They did not, however, report the findings to any European Union allies.

The spying was primarily done through hijacking Danish electronic communications systems as the country has landing stations for subsea internet cables between numerous countries, such as Germany and Sweden.

By using politicians’ and officials’ phone numbers, authorities were able to pull texts and phone calls, while those being spied on were none the wiser. 

 biden is well prepared to answer for this when he soon visits europe   snowden said
‘Biden is well-prepared to answer for this when he soon visits Europe,’ Snowden said

Snowden, who first made his revelations about the NSA while Biden was vice president, says the current president is “well-prepared” to answer the accusations and that there should be a requirement of “full disclosure” from both Denmark and the US.

“Biden is well-prepared to answer for this when he soon visits Europe since, of course, he was deeply involved in this scandal the first time around,” he tweeted. 

“There should be an explicit requirement for full public disclosure not only from Denmark but their senior partner as well.”

Biden is well-prepared to answer for this when he soon visits Europe since, of course, he was deeply involved in this scandal the first time around.

There should be an explicit requirement for full public disclosure not only from Denmark, but their senior partner as well. — Edward Snowden (@Snowden) May 30, 2021

In response to explosive reports, Norway’s Defence Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen said they were “taking the allegations seriously,” while Sweden’s Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist said he “demanded full information on these things.” 

Neither the NSA nor the Danish Defence Intelligence Service has issued a comment yet.

Former German opposition leader and Merkel rival, Peer Steinbrück, who also reportedly had his communications monitored, told German broadcaster ARD that he considers the situation to be a “scandal.” 

“It is grotesque that friendly intelligence services are indeed intercepting and spying on top representatives of other countries,” he said.

[RELATED] Ex-NYPD Commissioner: I’ve Seen Hunter’s Hard Drive; the Bidens ‘Belong in Handcuffs’

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Pentagon uses world’s largest ‘secret army’ of 60,000 undercover operatives to carry out ‘domestic & foreign’ operations – media — RT USA News

Posted by M. C. on May 19, 2021

However, the fastest-growing group within the Pentagon’s clandestine force operates exclusively online. These “cyber fighters” assume fake identities to gather intelligence and search for “publicly accessible information” on the internet. They even reportedly take part in “campaigns to influence and manipulate social media.” Hundreds of these shadowy keyboard warriors are employees of the National Security Agency, Newsweek reported.

According to the outlet, the network relies on 130 private companies and dozens of little-known and secret government agencies to support its operations. The businesses, which do everything from forging documents to creating disguises, collectively make over $900 million annually to help fund the secret army.


The US military operates a vast network of soldiers, civilians, and contractors that it uses for clandestine missions both at home and abroad, Newsweek has claimed, adding that the force also manipulates social media.

After a two-year investigation, the outlet reported that the undercover army consists of around 60,000 people, many of whom use fake identities to carry out their assignments. The Pentagon’s agents operate in real life and online, with some even embedded in private businesses and well-known companies. 

The massive program, unofficially known as “signature reduction,” is reportedly 10 times the size of the CIA’s clandestine service, making it the “largest undercover force the world has ever known,” Newsweek claimed. But the true scale and scope of the shadow army remains a closely guarded secret. No one knows the program’s total size, and Congress has never held a hearing on the military’s increasing reliance on signature reduction. There appears to be very little or no transparency regarding the massive clandestine military force, even as its continued development “challenges US laws, the Geneva Conventions, the code of military conduct, and basic accountability,” the outlet said. 

Around half of the signature reduction force is said to consist of special operations personnel who hunt down terrorists in war zones and work in “unacknowledged hot spots” such as North Korea and Iran. Military intelligence specialists reportedly make up the second-largest part of the secret army. 

However, the fastest-growing group within the Pentagon’s clandestine force operates exclusively online. These “cyber fighters” assume fake identities to gather intelligence and search for “publicly accessible information” on the internet. They even reportedly take part in “campaigns to influence and manipulate social media.” Hundreds of these shadowy keyboard warriors are employees of the National Security Agency, Newsweek reported.

According to the outlet, the network relies on 130 private companies and dozens of little-known and secret government agencies to support its operations. The businesses, which do everything from forging documents to creating disguises, collectively make over $900 million annually to help fund the secret army. 

While the Pentagon’s agents typically remain under the radar, Newsweek claims there are several cases in which their covers have been blown. One such incident in 2013 involved American “diplomat” Ryan Fogle, who was arrested in Russia while allegedly trying to recruit a double agent. The case received wide media coverage and prompted considerable mockery, due to the seemingly outdated spying paraphilia that Fogle was in possession of, including wigs, sunglasses, a Moscow street map, a compass, as well as an old Nokia phone. However, an expert who spoke with Newsweek said the phone was likely concealing a highly sophisticated communications device. 

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

Posted by M. C. on October 28, 2020

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.”

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.

See the rest here

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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NSA Ruling Reminds Us That Sacrificing Civil Liberties in the Name of National Security Is a Bipartisan Impulse –

Posted by M. C. on September 5, 2020

James Clapper, the Air Force general whom Obama appointed as director of national intelligence, epitomized the administration’s dishonesty by blatantly lying to a Senate committee about the NSA’s data collection practices three months before the phone record database was revealed, then repeatedly lying about lying.

Nowadays, Gorsuch noted, people routinely store sensitive information—including “private documents” that, “in other eras, we would have locked safely in a desk drawer or destroyed”—on third-party servers. According to the reasoning of Miller and Smith, he said, “police can review all of this material, on the theory that no one reasonably expects any of it will be kept private. But no one believes that, if they ever did.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit yesterday ruled that the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records was illegal and probably unconstitutional. For Democrats who see Donald Trump as an unprecedented threat because of his disregard for the Constitution, the decision is a useful reminder that sacrificing civil liberties on the altar of national security is a bipartisan rite.

The NSA program, which was revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in 2013, indiscriminately collected telephone “metadata”—indicating who was calling whom and how long they talked—about millions of Americans for years. The program, which the USA FREEDOM Act ended in 2015, began under George W. Bush but continued during Barack Obama’s administration, which concealed its existence, then speciously defended its legality and usefulness.

“The administration has now lost all credibility,” The New York Times editorialized after Snowden’s revelations. “Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it.”

James Clapper, the Air Force general whom Obama appointed as director of national intelligence, epitomized the administration’s dishonesty by blatantly lying to a Senate committee about the NSA’s data collection practices three months before the phone record database was revealed, then repeatedly lying about lying. In his latest incarnation, Clapper is a vociferous Trump critic who blames Russia for the election of a president he despises as a man “whose first instincts are to twist and distort truth to his advantage.”

Further scrambling the conventional understanding of which major party is more concerned about civil liberties, Obama tried to prosecute Snowden, while Trump, who in 2013 called Snowden “a traitor” who “should be executed,” last month suggested he might pardon the NSA whistleblower. Another interesting point Democrats might prefer to overlook: While questioning the constitutionality of the NSA’s metadata dragnet, the 9th Circuit cites Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, a Trump nominee who is a more reliable defender of the Fourth Amendment than the judge Obama wanted to appoint.

I am not for a moment suggesting that Trump’s new respect for Snowden, which is probably driven by his pique at “deep state” foes like Clapper, or his choice of Gorsuch, which was based on what he thought conservatives wanted, reflects civil libertarian principles (or any principles at all). But as this case shows, Trump’s polarizing personality tends to obscure the deeper problem of powers that tempt presidents to violate our rights, regardless of their personal traits, avowed principles, or party affiliation.

The prosecution that led to the 2nd Circuit’s decision involved four Somali immigrants who were convicted in 2013 of sending money to the terrorist group al-Shabab. While the ruling does not affect those convictions, it addresses the legality of the NSA’s phone record database, which supposedly played a crucial role in the case.

I say “supposedly” because that is what federal officials claimed while defending the NSA’s program. Then-FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce, for example, told a congressional committee the database generated a tip that allowed the bureau to reopen its investigation of the suspected al-Shabab supporters. The 2nd Circuit rightly discounts such statements, which were part of a fact-deficient attempt to portray the program as an essential weapon against terrorism.

“The metadata collection, even if unconstitutional, did not taint the evidence introduced by the government at trial,” the appeals court says. “To the extent the public statements of government officials created a contrary impression, that impression is inconsistent with the contents of the classified record.” That’s a polite way of saying that Obama administration officials misled the public about the program’s value.

What about its legality? As the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit did in 2015, the 9th Circuit makes short work of the government’s argument that the program was authorized by Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, which allowed secret court orders “requiring the production of any tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items) for an investigation…to protect against international terrorism.” Such orders were supposed to be based on “a statement of facts showing that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the tangible things sought are relevant to an authorized investigation.”

Using the same needle-in-a-haystack argument that was deployed by the Obama administration, the government’s lawyers maintained that everyone’s phone records are “relevant to an authorized investigation” because searching them might reveal useful clues. “Although admittedly a substantial portion of the telephony metadata that is collected would not relate to [terrorism suspects],” they said, “the intelligence tool that the Government hopes to use to find [investigation-related] communications—metadata analysis—requires collecting and storing large volumes of the metadata to enable later analysis.” According to the government, “all of the metadata collected is thus relevant, because the success of this investigative tool depends on bulk collection.”

The 2nd Circuit said “such an expansive concept of ‘relevance’ is unprecedented and unwarranted,” and the 9th Circuit concurs. The government’s interpretation “essentially reads the ‘authorized investigation’ language out of the statute,” it says. “We hold that the telephony metadata collection program exceeded the scope of Congress’s authorization.”

As for the program’s constitutionality, the government argued that it was covered by the third-party doctrine, which says people do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy regarding information they voluntarily divulge to others (in this case, the phone companies from which the NSA collected its metadata). The Supreme Court invented that doctrine in United States v. Miller, a 1976 case involving bank records. Three years later, the Court invoked the doctrine in Smith v. Maryland, which involved a warrantless “pen register” that police used to record the numbers dialed by a robbery suspect over the course of a few days. Although that situation is rather different from the collection of personal information about millions of people for years, the government argued that Smith shows the NSA’s program was consistent with the Fourth Amendment.

“There are strong reasons to doubt that Smith applies here,” the 9th Circuit says. “The distinctions between Smith and this case are legion and most probably constitutionally significant….Society may not have recognized as reasonable Smith’s expectation of privacy in a few days’ worth of dialed numbers but is much more likely to perceive as private several years’ worth of telephony metadata collected on an ongoing, daily basis—as demonstrated by the public outcry following the revelation of the metadata collection program.”

The Supreme Court in Smith drew a distinction between the “contents” of a phone call and information about numbers dialed, deeming the latter much less sensitive. But “in recent years the distinction between content and metadata ‘has become increasingly untenable,'” the appeals court notes. “The amount of metadata created and collected has increased exponentially, along with the government’s ability to analyze it.”

The 9th Circuit emphasizes how revealing this information can be, quoting former NSA General Counsel Stewart Baker. “Metadata absolutely tells you everything about somebody’s life,” Baker said. “If you have enough metadata you don’t really need content.”

The appeals court illustrates that point with a couple of examples: “A woman calls her sister at 2:00 a.m. and talks for an hour. The record of that call reveals some of the woman’s personal information, but more is revealed by access to the sister’s call records, which show that the sister called the woman’s husband immediately afterward. Or, a police officer calls his college roommate for the first time in years. Afterward, the roommate calls a suicide hotline.”

And that’s just for a start. “Metadata can be combined and analyzed to reveal far more sophisticated information than one or two individuals’ phone records convey,” the 9th Circuit notes before quoting a brief filed by the Brennan Center for Justice: “It is relatively simple to superimpose our metadata trails onto the trails of everyone within our social group and those of everyone within our contacts’ social groups and quickly paint a picture that can be startlingly detailed.”

The 9th Circuit notes that the Supreme Court expressed similar concerns in Carpenter v. United States, the 2018 case in which the justices said the third-party doctrine does not apply to cellphone location data. Furthermore, the appeals court says, “numerous commentators and two Supreme Court Justices have questioned the continuing viability of the third-party doctrine under current societal realities.”

Here is where Gorsuch comes in. He dissented in Carpenter, not because he thought cops should be allowed to collect cellphone location data without a warrant but because he thought the third-party doctrine should be scrapped entirely, along with the malleable “reasonable expectation” test. Nowadays, Gorsuch noted, people routinely store sensitive information—including “private documents” that, “in other eras, we would have locked safely in a desk drawer or destroyed”—on third-party servers. According to the reasoning of Miller and Smith, he said, “police can review all of this material, on the theory that no one reasonably expects any of it will be kept private. But no one believes that, if they ever did.”

The 9th Circuit did not reach a firm conclusion about the constitutionality of the NSA’s program, because it was not necessary to decide whether the convictions should stand. But its observations show how readily the government invades our privacy on the flimsiest pretext, blithely dismissing constitutional concerns when they prove inconvenient. That alarming tendency cannot be corrected by switching out one politician for another.

Be seeing you

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The Rutherford Institute :: John Lennon vs. the Deep State: One Man Against the ‘Monster’ | By John W. Whitehead |

Posted by M. C. on October 9, 2019

By John W. Whitehead

“You gotta remember, establishment, it’s just a name for evil. The monster doesn’t care whether it kills all the students or whether there’s a revolution. It’s not thinking logically, it’s out of control.”—John Lennon (1969)

John Lennon, born 79 years ago on October 9, 1940, was a musical genius and pop cultural icon.

He was also a vocal peace protester and anti-war activist and a high-profile example of the lengths to which the Deep State will go to persecute those who dare to challenge its authority.

Long before Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning were being castigated for blowing the whistle on the government’s war crimes and the National Security Agency’s abuse of its surveillance powers, it was Lennon who was being singled out for daring to speak truth to power about the government’s warmongering, his phone calls monitored and data files illegally collected on his activities and associations.

For a while, at least, Lennon became enemy number one in the eyes of the U.S. government.

Years after Lennon’s assassination it would be revealed that the FBI had collected 281 pages of files on him, including song lyrics. J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI at the time, directed the agency to spy on the musician. There were also various written orders calling on government agents to frame Lennon for a drug bust. “The FBI’s files on Lennon … read like the writings of a paranoid goody-two-shoes,” observed reporter Jonathan Curiel.

As the New York Times notes, “Critics of today’s domestic surveillance object largely on privacy grounds. They have focused far less on how easily government surveillance can become an instrument for the people in power to try to hold on to power. ‘The U.S. vs. John Lennon’ … is the story not only of one man being harassed, but of a democracy being undermined.”

Indeed, all of the many complaints we have about government today—surveillance, militarism, corruption, harassment, SWAT team raids, political persecution, spying, overcriminalization, etc.—were present in Lennon’s day and formed the basis of his call for social justice, peace and a populist revolution.

For all of these reasons, the U.S. government was obsessed with Lennon, who had learned early on that rock music could serve a political end by proclaiming a radical message. More importantly, Lennon saw that his music could mobilize the public and help to bring about change. Lennon believed in the power of the people. Unfortunately, as Lennon recognized: “The trouble with government as it is, is that it doesn’t represent the people. It controls them.”

However, as Martin Lewis writing for Time notes: “John Lennon was not God. But he earned the love and admiration of his generation by creating a huge body of work that inspired and led. The appreciation for him deepened because he then instinctively decided to use his celebrity as a bully pulpit for causes greater than his own enrichment or self-aggrandizement.”

For instance, in December 1971 at a concert in Ann Arbor, Mich., Lennon took to the stage and in his usual confrontational style belted out “John Sinclair,” a song he had written about a man sentenced to 10 years in prison for possessing two marijuana cigarettes. Within days of Lennon’s call for action, the Michigan Supreme Court ordered Sinclair released.

What Lennon did not know at the time was that government officials had been keeping strict tabs on the ex-Beatle they referred to as “Mr. Lennon.” Incredibly, FBI agents were in the audience at the Ann Arbor concert, “taking notes on everything from the attendance (15,000) to the artistic merits of his new song.”

The U.S. government, steeped in paranoia, was spying on Lennon…

Among those most closely watched by the FBI was Martin Luther King Jr., a man labeled by the FBI as “the most dangerous and effective Negro leader in the country.” With wiretaps and electronic bugs planted in his home and office, King was kept under constant surveillance by the FBI with the aim of “neutralizing” him. He even received letters written by FBI agents suggesting that he either commit suicide or the details of his private life would be revealed to the public. The FBI kept up its pursuit of King until he was felled by a hollow-point bullet to the head in 1968…

So what’s the answer?

Lennon had a multitude of suggestions.

“If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace.”

“War is over if you want it.”

“Produce your own dream…. It’s quite possible to do anything, but not to put it on the leaders…. You have to do it yourself. That’s what the great masters and mistresses have been saying ever since time began. They can point the way, leave signposts and little instructions in various books that are now called holy and worshipped for the cover of the book and not for what it says, but the instructions are all there for all to see, have always been and always will be. There’s nothing new under the sun. All the roads lead to Rome. And people cannot provide it for you. I can’t wake you up. You can wake you up. I can’t cure you. You can cure you.”

“Peace is not something you wish for; It’s something you make, Something you do, Something you are, And something you give away.”

“If you want peace, you won’t get it with violence.”

And my favorite advice of all: “Say you want a revolution / We better get on right away / Well you get on your feet / And out on the street / Singing power to the people.”

Be seeing you


Yes son, you too can grow up to be lying scum and hate black people.


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A New Film Blows the Whistle on War –

Posted by M. C. on September 3, 2019


Official Secrets, co-written and directed by Gavin Hood,  is one of the best movies ever made about investigative reporting and whistle-blowing—a film in a league with All the President’s Men and Snowden.

Like the 1976 Watergate classic starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, and Oliver Stone’s 2016 drama about exposure of the National Security Agency’s clandestine mass warrantless surveillance program, the U.K.-set Secrets is based on a true story.

The film is about Martin Bright, a reporter with The Observer (played by Matt Smith), and Katharine Gun, a translator for the British government (played by Keira Knightley). Gun is responsible for what Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg called “the most important and courageous leak I have ever seen. No one else – including myself – has ever done what Gun did: tell secret truths at personal risk, before an imminent war, in time, possibly, to avert it.”

In early 2003, during the lead-up to the U.S. attack on Iraq, Gun came across an email from a shadowy National Security Agency official named Frank Koza. It revealed U.S. plans to spy on U.N. Security Council members in order to blackmail them into voting for a resolution approving a military offensive against Baghdad. The resolution was seen as key to providing the strike with a fig leaf of legitimacy from the international community for a war based largely on the dubious proposition that Saddam Hussein possessed “Weapons of Mass Destruction.”

In the movie, Gun had already begun doubting President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair’s pretext for assaulting Iraq. She is shown yelling at the television, such as when David Frost interviews Blair and she shouts “bloody liar!” at the screen. (Secrets enhances its verisimilitude by intercutting news clips with the actors’ dramatizations.)

To further complicate matters, Gun’s presumably Muslim husband Yasar (Palestinian actor Adam Bakri) is a Turk with a sketchy immigration status. The troubled translator surreptitiously prints out Koza’s message, and wrestles with her conscience as she tries, Hamlet-like, to decide what to do.

When the hard copy of Koza’s email is leaked to the The Observer, it ignites an internal fight. The British Sunday newspaper has been co-opted by the Blair government: In exchange for preferential treatment, including high level access, the liberal-leaning Observer has favored war, giving Blair “left cover” for attacking Iraq.

But journalists Bright and Ed Vulliamy (Rhys Ifans) of The Observer’s sister newspaper, The Guardian, a daily, argue for publishing the nefarious scheme. “You’re the press, not a PR agency for Blair,” Vulliamy insists to cautious editors.

After Vulliamy tracks Koza down, The Observer’s management relents and publishes Bright’s report in a March 2, 2003, front-page article headlined, “Revealed: U.S. Dirty Tricks to Win Vote on Iraq War.” All hell breaks loose: Gun is charged with violating the Official Secrets Act, which prohibits disclosure of confidential state information. She becomes a cause célèbre and is defended by Ben Emmerson (Ralph Fiennes), a human rights attorney in the William Kunstler/Michael Ratner tradition.

At nearly two hours long, Official Secrets raises a number of philosophical and political issues.  Following a private screening, Hood agreed with my observation that the film is of a piece with his 2007 Rendition and 2015 Eye in the Sky. The South African filmmaker referred to these features as his “trilogy,” as all three focus on different disturbing aspects of the post-9/11 “war on terror.”

Rendition dramatized the U.S. intelligence community’s pernicious policy of shipping terrorism suspects off to overseas black op sites to be tortured and imprisoned, absent being found guilty of any crimes. Eye challenged the ethics, accuracy, and efficiency of drone warfare…

If the press is the “fourth estate,” the cinema is arguably the “fifth estate.” By combining mass entertainment, drama, and first-rate acting with a true tale of an ordinary woman who stood up to the powers-that-be, Official Secrets indicts Blair, Bush, and other mass murderers in the court of public opinion—at a theater near you.

Official Secrets opens nationwide August 30.

Be seeing you



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US ‘Regime Change’ in Venezuela: Fake, Fake, Fake! – Original

Posted by M. C. on February 8, 2019

It’s the smartest political maneuver I’ve seen in quite a while, a set up job to beat all set up jobs – a dirty trick by a master trickster and it’s being played out right out there in public, not in the shadows as is usually the case.

I’m talking about the fake invasion of Venezuela, a project assigned by the President to the neocon faction in the administration.

Hey wait a minute – the neocon faction? There isn’t supposed to be any such thing! If you recall Trump explicitly attacked the neocons in his first foreign policy speech. Why is he appointing his mortal enemies?

And they are indeed his enemies: Elliott Abrams denounced him as unfit to be President and compared him to George McGovern – a dangerous isolationist whose followers must be driven out of the Republican Party.

Trump has a Neocon Problem. How to solve it?

If the neocons have a failing, a vice, it is their love of power. Their method is to whisper in the ear of the king. That means getting close to the throne. It was almost funny to read their articles agonizing over whether it’s moral to accept a job in this administration.

Ensconced in the National Security Agency, they’ve been given a special project all their own in a venue that has always been one of their favorites: South America. The target this time: the socialist regime of Nicolás Maduro, which has been besieged by his rightist enemies for years – while inflation is over 1000 percent, starvation looms, and a civil war is in progress.

The stage is set – but for what? Will they greet us as liberators just like they didn’t in Iraq?

It might make a real joke if human lives and the destiny of a nation weren’t involved. Because there will be no invasion of Venezuela by the US: the Pentagon would never allow it. Furthermore, the one institution that is still working is the Venezuelan Army, which is fiercely loyal to Maduro. If, after all this time, the generals have stood behind the regime, they are not about to defect now.

Another problem: the opposition. Split ten ways Tuesday, beset by feuds, jealousy, and a record of failure, they are an insult to the healthy nationalist instincts of ordinary Venezuelans. The pretentious tactic of proclaiming the appointment of “President” Guaido is so stupid that it seems designed to fail.

An outcome which the President is undoubtedly hoping for.

Oh, don’t get me wrong: Trump would surely like to see Maduro overthrown and the country opened up to American development (“Have you seen their beaches? And the condos you could build!”)

But that’s a side issue. All told, success is highly unlikely – and the neocons will be the ones to take the “credit.” John Bolton will own this 21st century version of the Bay of Pigs. And the America First nationalists in the administration can turn to their adversaries and say “See guys, we tried it your way and look what happened – the same thing that happened in Syria.”

Instead of taking on the neocons directly, Trump embraces them – and we can see the knife go in as this whole scenario plays out.

How did someone with no political experience, no party, and no real chance to win – under normal circumstances – become President of the United States? Watching Trump defy, outwit, and ultimately destroy his enemies is quite a sight to see, and surely the most entertainment we’ve had in a long time.

Be seeing you




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It Can Happen Here – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on February 8, 2018

We remain embroiled in a debate over the nature and extent of our own government’s spying on us. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was enacted in 1978 as a response to the unlawful government spying of the Watergate era, was a lawful means for the government to engage in foreign surveillance on U.S. soil, but it has morphed into unchecked government spying on ordinary Americans.

The surveillance state is now here…

Read the rest of this entry »

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Lying, Spying, and Hiding – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on February 1, 2018

personal courage (in congress?), patriotism (in -Israel first- Washington?), fidelity to the Constitution (considered a hindrance in Washington).  How many take it meaningfully and seriously? (seriously?)

…Where is the personal courage on the House Intelligence Committee? Where is the patriotism? Where is the fidelity to the Constitution? The government exists by our consent. It derives its powers from us. We have a right to know what it has done in our names, who broke our trust, who knew about it, who looked the other way and why and by whom all this was intentionally hidden until after Congress voted to expand FISA.

Everyone in government takes an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. How many take it meaningfully and seriously?

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