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Twitter’s discrediting of leaked docs that show UK’s covert activities against Russia is a shocking case of media manipulation — RT Op-ed

Posted by M. C. on February 25, 2021

Therefore, what might be described as ‘public interest journalism’, which involves the leaking of confidential documents, is only valid if it compliments one side of the argument as opposed to the other. Deception, censorship and state-led misinformation campaigns are never to be queried if the UK or the US or behind them, while the distinction between ‘criminal’ and ‘whistleblower’ is upheld completely according to preference.

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/516459-twitter-discrediting-leaked-docs/

Tom Fowdy

Tom Fowdy

is a British writer and analyst of politics and international relations with a primary focus on East Asia.

On some platforms, whistleblowing is only considered an acceptable form of journalism when it exposes enemies of the West. Twitter’s labelling of a Grayzone story that reflected badly on Britain shows the double standards at play.

Earlier this week, journalist Max Blumenthal published a series of leaked documents from the British Foreign Office on his news website the Grayzone, revealing that the BBC and the Reuters Foundation had participated in a covert programme targeting Russia and its neighbours, seeking to push political change within the country. 

Former Labour MP Chris Williamson commented on the findings, noting, “These revelations show that when MPs were railing about Russia, British agents were using the BBC and Reuters to deploy precisely the same tactics that politicians and media commentators were accusing Russia of using.”

For those familiar with the BBC and its history as an extension for British foreign policy goals, the leaks are not a surprise. However, that does not mean the news was met with a warm welcome. 

Shunned by the mainstream media, the Grayzone report was subsequently targeted by Twitter, with each link being tagged with a warning stating: “These materials may have been obtained through hacking.” 

RT

The warning led to an information page stating: “The use of hacks and hacking to exfiltrate information from private computer systems can be used to manipulate the public conversation.”

Although the warning was not carried on some subsequent retweets, at the time of publication it was still present on Grayzone’s original tweet.

Twitter’s accusation is a classic case of it jumping to conclusions, as there is nothing at all to suggest the leaks were a product of hacking. However, this attitude is a direct manifestation of the enormous double standards at play in response to this kind of journalism. 

Whistleblowing and leaks which reveal secrets from enemy states constitute a form of journalism and reporting which deserves to be praised. But to many governments in the West, especially those in the United States and the United Kingdom, leaking is considered out of bounds when they are on the receiving end. It is as if the standards they preach to other countries – in particular, transparency and freedom of information – suddenly don’t count.

In exploring this phenomenon, the cases of Julian Assange and Edward Snowden are good places to start. If these men were Chinese, Russian or Iranian, they would be widely celebrated and lauded by the mainstream media as heroes and martyrs who have been subjected to state oppression for simply daring to reveal the truth, as was the case with doctor Li Wenliang and ‘citizen journalist’ Zhang Zhan in Wuhan. 

Yet because Assange and Snowden are Western, and in turn directly challenged the US-led security establishment with their leaks on surveillance and various atrocities, they are treated differently, as criminals and fugitives. The mainstream media minimize the coverage accordingly, and make sure their cause or work cannot gain public sympathy. State action against them is not given scrutiny.

In the simplest terms, we see a scenario where whistleblowing against the US and its allies is bad, but whistleblowing against designated enemies is good. And so, Twitter is following suit with this logic in its decision to now target articles by the Grayzone as apparent ‘hacking’. 

It perfectly illustrates this very binary mode of thought that those who leak documents against the British government are not fuelled by a desire to advocate truth or transparency, but malicious motivations to spread misinformation and influence public opinion. 

Is Twitter saying that it is best the public don’t know how the BBC is essentially being weaponized as a front for British foreign policy? That the notion of public interest essentially does not matter if a given revelation has political ramifications that might be considered undesirable for the West? Or that other journalism is not designed to influence views on a particular subject? So, some secrets are better kept? 

Twitter itself is becoming an increasingly unreliable platform on this front. Donald Trump’s presidency has changed the game, from beginning to end. The enormous controversy of the so-called ‘Russiagate scandal’ and then the Capitol riot in January proved to be two enormous turning points which have tipped the platform towards growing regulation and outright censorship. 

This would be understandable, if it were not so one-sided. The site’s proliferation of ‘state affiliated media’ labels – which unfairly target certain countries, and not others – as well as its warning labels, are all directly consolidating a status quo advocated by Western powers that only they possess a ‘valid’ notion of truth. In turn, everyone who seeks to criticize their narratives is simply promoting falsehoods and is fuelled by bad intent. 

Therefore, what might be described as ‘public interest journalism’, which involves the leaking of confidential documents, is only valid if it compliments one side of the argument as opposed to the other. Deception, censorship and state-led misinformation campaigns are never to be queried if the UK or the US or behind them, while the distinction between ‘criminal’ and ‘whistleblower’ is upheld completely according to preference. 

These documents were a massive discovery. If China had been caught doing the same thing it would be front-page news, but instead we have Twitter trying to bury the truth. The Grayzone findings deserve to be shared as widely as possible.

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Dear US media, we don’t need Russia to attack our power grid, we’re perfectly capable of tanking it ourselves…just look at Texas — RT Op-ed

Posted by M. C. on February 18, 2021

Although the Post article is still freely available online without so much as a firewall, it comes with an editor’s note that reads, “An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. electric grid. Authorities say there is no indication of that so far. The computer at Burlington Electric that was hacked was not attached to the grid.”

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/515846-us-media-russia-texas/

Robert Bridge

Robert Bridge

Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist. He is the author of ‘Midnight in the American Empire,’ How Corporations and Their Political Servants are Destroying the American Dream. @Robert_Bridge

One of the wilder charges the US mainstream media has leveled against Russia is that it could “kill the power” in the US during a brutal cold snap. Can Russia expect an apology now the US energy grid failed the Lone Star State?

‘Never let a good snowstorm go to waste’ appears to be the mantra of the moment as Texas suffers through a state of emergency. Amid freak weather conditions that sent temperatures plummeting across the country, leaving some three million Texans without power, Democrats are lecturing the Republican-run state for not adequately protecting their “outdated” fossil-fuel-powered resources. The Republicans are responding by blaming the crisis on “frozen windmills,” one of the left’s sacred cows representing a pollution-free world of endless free energy. Notice anything out of place?

America installed Antarctic wind turbines in 2010, but Texas is freezing because their privatized public energy utilities were too cheap to winterize their windmills. https://t.co/Bclt78DrCZ— Grant Stern (@grantstern) February 17, 2021

Strangely missing from this latest descent into American madness is the global arch-villain, Russia. That is a rather surprising omission considering that the American people have been conditioned to believe that if they find themselves without heat in the dead of winter the most likely culprit is not an aging and dilapidated energy grid, or even an unpaid heating bill, but rather a ruthless gang of Russian hackers, most likely in the employ of Vladimir Putin.

By way of example, back in 2016, at the very same time that Barack Obama had just expelled 35 Russian diplomats for “undermining our election processes and institutions,” the Washington Post ran a sensational story entitled, ‘Russian operation hacked a Vermont utility, showing risk to U.S. electrical grid security, officials say’.

No less of a governmental authority than Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin (D) was quoted in the article as saying: “Vermonters and all Americans should be both alarmed and outraged that one of the world’s leading thugs, Vladimir Putin, has been attempting to hack our electric grid, which we rely upon to support our quality-of-life, economy, health, and safety…”

There was just one problem with that explosive accusation against faraway Russia: it was entirely predicated upon fake news and disinformation. Although the Post article is still freely available online without so much as a firewall, it comes with an editor’s note that reads, “An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. electric grid. Authorities say there is no indication of that so far. The computer at Burlington Electric that was hacked was not attached to the grid.”

One must wonder what would happen in the event that the US media, after publishing some similarly unsubstantiated piece of derangement, finds itself responsible for dragging the world to the precipice of World War III because some people lost their heat in Spokane. Would anyone bother to read the buried editor’s note that finally sets the record straight before the missiles start flying? But I digress.

Fast forward to 2019, and the US media was in full-blown anti-Russia manic mode. After all, US presidential elections were fast approaching. In February, amid a different cold spell that swept across the nation, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow didn’t miss an opportunity to ratchet up Russophobia by asking her millions of listeners: “What would happen if Russia killed the power in Fargo [North Dakota] today? What would you do if you lost heat indefinitely as the act of a foreign power on the same day the temperature in your backyard matched the temperature in Antarctica?”

Oh, I don’t know, Rachel, what should I do, aside from freeze? Sit down and write a letter to my congressman?

U.S. largest audience TV host, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow (Democratic party aligned) this evening: Russia will freeze you and your family to death. pic.twitter.com/2KL4STsQpg— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 31, 2019

Had Rachel Maddow been your average media hack, working for some obscure backwater publication, then perhaps such a bone-chilling rhetorical question could be excused as gross unprofessionalism and journalistic immaturity; the work of an amateur fresh out of journalism school. After all, Moscow has never – not even during the height of the Cold War – made the cold-blooded decision to turn off Europe or America’s energy supplies, not in the summer nor in the dead of winter. Yes, there have been arguments over energy payments, specifically with Ukraine, but that is not the same thing as deliberately freezing people to death in their homes. If Rachel Maddow was unfamiliar with that information, that makes her a lousy journalist; if she was familiar with it, yet didn’t feel the need to mention it, that makes her an irresponsible hack with a heavy political ax to grind.

As host of the eponymous The Rachel Maddow Show, the liberal television commentator is one of the most prominent media figures in the United States, with millions of people tuning in nightly to her program. Since Maddow must be aware of her profound influence, which has no small effect on the state of relations between the world’s two preeminent nuclear powers, one would expect to find a hint of objectivity, a modicum of journalistic integrity before she serves up her latest cold dish of Russophobia. Unfortunately, and potentially tragically, there is none of that much-needed balance. When it comes to reporting on Russia, all Western journalists operate with the understanding that they can take tremendous liberties as they please. 

Somehow in the world of US journalism and global geopolitics this loathsome treatment of an entire nation has become the accepted norm, to the point where a veritable hate campaign – shall we call it ‘racism’ – has been conjured up out of the blue against Russia. In fact, it’s almost worth pondering if even the Jews have historically suffered a more negative press than the Russians, especially in these modern times. I’m guessing at this point it’s about a toss-up.

In any case, since there is already a heated debate underway in the US over who or what is to blame for the rolling blackouts, perhaps it might also be a good time to reflect upon the unfair treatment that has been leveled against the Russian people. After all, Russians have some experience with intemperate weather conditions and they certainly appreciate the importance of staying warm in the winter. Dreaming up some fantastic scenario where Russia magically switches off America’s power grid is not based on precedent or historical experience or even plausibility; rather, it is based on propaganda and cheap lies which only serve to drive up the level of distrust between America and Russia by journalists who really should know better. Before global warming in geopolitics gets any worse, best to treat Russians with the same journalistic scrutiny and integrity that all people deserve.   

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MoA – More Cyber Crimes, Attributed To Russia, Are Shown To Have Come From Elsewhere

Posted by M. C. on January 29, 2021

It is far more likely, as Whitney Webb finds, that Israel was behind it:

https://www.moonofalabama.org/2021/01/more-cyber-crimes-attributed-to-russia-are-shown-to-have-come-from-elsewhere.html#more

Earlier today police in Europe took down the Emotet bot-network:

First discovered as a fairly run-of-the-mill banking trojan back in 2014, Emotet evolved over the years into one of the most professional and resilient cyber crime services in the world, and became a “go-to” solution for cyber criminals.

Its infrastructure acted as a mechanism to gain access to target systems, which was done via an automated spam email process that delivered Emotet malware to its victims via malicious attachments, often shipping notices, invoices and, since last spring, Covid-19 information or offers. If opened, victims would be promoted to enable macros that allowed malicious code to run and instal Emotet.

This done, Emotet’s operators then sold access on to other cyber criminal groups as a means to infiltrate their victims, steal data, and drop malware and ransomware. The operators of TrickBot and Ryuk were among the many users of Emotet.

Up to a quarter of all recent run of the mill cyber-crime was done through the Emotet network. Closing it down is a great success.

Wikipedia falsely claimed that Emotet was based in Russia:

Emotet is a malware strain and a cybercrime operation based in Russia.[1] The malware, also known as Geodo and Mealybug, was first detected in 2014[2] and remains active, deemed one of the most prevalent threats of 2019.[3]


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However the Hindu report linked as source to the Russia claim under [1] only says:

The malware is said to be operated from Russia, and its operator is nicknamed Ivan by cyber security researchers.

“Is said to be operated from Russia” is quite a weak formulation and should not be used as source for attribution claims. It is also definitely false.

The operating center of Emotet was found in the Ukraine. Today the Ukrainian national police took control of it during a raid (video). The police found dozens of computers, some hundred hard drives, about 50 kilogram of gold bars (current price ~$60,000/kg) and large amounts of money in multiple currencies.
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Since the 2016 publishing of internal emails of the DNC and the Clinton campaign attribution of computer intrusions to Russia has become a standard propaganda feature. But in no case was there shown evidence which proved that Russia was responsible for a hack.

The recently discovered deep intrusion into U.S. companies and government networks used a manipulated version of the SolarWinds Orion network management software. The Washington borg immediately attributed the hack to Russia. Then President Trump attributed it to China. But none of those claims were backed up by facts or known evidence.

The hack was extremely complex, well managed and resourced, and likely required insider knowledge. To this IT professional it ‘felt’ neither Russian nor Chinese. It is far more likely, as Whitney Webb finds, that Israel was behind it:

The implanted code used to execute the hack was directly injected into the source code of SolarWinds Orion. Then, the modified and bugged version of the software was “compiled, signed and delivered through the existing software patch release management system,” per reports. This has led US investigators and observers to conclude that the perpetrators had direct access to SolarWinds code as they had “a high degree of familiarity with the software.” While the way the attackers gained access to Orion’s code base has yet to be determined, one possibility being pursued by investigators is that the attackers were working with employee(s) of a SolarWinds contractor or subsidiary. 

Though some contractors and subsidiaries of SolarWinds are now being investigated, one that has yet to be investigated, but should be, is Samanage. Samanage, acquired by SolarWinds in 2019, not only gained automatic access to Orion just as the malicious code was first inserted, but it has deep ties to Israeli intelligence and a web of venture-capital firms associated with numerous Israeli espionage scandals that have targeted the US government.

Samanage offers what it describes as “an IT Service Desk solution.” It was acquired by SolarWinds so Samanage’s products could be added to SolarWinds’ IT Operations Management portfolio. Though US reporting and SolarWinds press releases state that Samanage is based in Cary, North Carolina, implying that it is an American company, Samanage is actually an Israeli firm. It was founded in 2007 by Doron Gordon, who previously worked for several years at MAMRAM, the Israeli military’s central computing unit.

Several months after the acquisition was announced, in November 2019, Samanage, renamed SolarWinds Service Desk, became listed as a standard feature of SolarWinds Orion software, whereas the integration of Samanage and Orion had previously been optional since the acquisition’s announcement in April of that year. This means that complete integration was likely made standard in either October or November. It has since been reported that the perpetrators of the recent hack gained access to the networks of US federal agencies and major corporations at around the same time. Samanage’s automatic integration into Orion was a major modification made to the now-compromised software during that period. 

The U.S. National Security Agency has ways and means to find out who was behind the SolarWinds hack. But if Israel is the real culprit no one will be allowed to say so publicly. Some high ranging U.-S. general or official will fly to Israel and read his counterpart the riot act. Israel will ignore it just as it has done every time when it was caught spying on the U.S. government.

With more then half of Washington’s politicians in its pockets it has no reason to fear any consequences.

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World Braces for New Round of ‘American Leadership’ – RPI 24 Jan Update

Posted by M. C. on January 25, 2021

But just as President Biden proclaimed that “America is back” at his inauguration, the rest of the world could see that “regime change is back” as the cornerstone of US foreign policy. Suddenly Assad faces the prospect of a new war against him and his secular leadership and the Russians see a direct threat of a jihadist resurgence masquerading as a “democracy movement” in Syria… and beyond.

But wait…there’s more! After re-igniting the totally failed “regime change” policy in Syria, the incoming Biden Administration reignited the also utterly failed – and perhaps far more dangerous – “regime change” policy in Russia!

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

Dear Friends of the Ron Paul Institute:

Say what you will about President Biden’s foreign policy team, they’re no slouches. Biden had not been president for one full day when a convoy full of military equipment and a reported hundreds of US troops rolled (illegally) into Syria from Iraq.

Readers will recall that it was the Obama/Biden Administration that came up with the brilliant idea that funding, arming, training, and equipping jihadists and terrorists in the Middle East would be a terrific way of bringing democracy to Syria.

As Syrian president Bashar al-Assad faced defeat at the hands of US-backed rebels (often, as with al-Nusra Front, affiliated with al-Qaeda) and ISIS, he in 2015 formally requested Russian assistance. Facing the prospect of al-Qaeda and ISIS on its doorstep if they succeeded in Syria, Russia accepted the request and Assad was able to slowly regain much of Syrian territory. 

The hysterical warnings that Assad would genocide his people if he re-took control of the major cities proved to be all hot air – or more likely just pure war propaganda.

The US retained military control of parts of Syria, predominantly Kurdish areas, and proceeded to help itself to the Syrian oil in those areas. Though President Trump did order two attacks on Syria in response to bogus charges that Assad gassed his own people, he more or less gave up on the Obama/Biden “Assad must go” policy. Or at the least he was less enthusiastic about it than the neocons he put in charge of Middle East policy.

But just as President Biden proclaimed that “America is back” at his inauguration, the rest of the world could see that “regime change is back” as the cornerstone of US foreign policy. Suddenly Assad faces the prospect of a new war against him and his secular leadership and the Russians see a direct threat of a jihadist resurgence masquerading as a “democracy movement” in Syria… and beyond.

But wait…there’s more! After re-igniting the totally failed “regime change” policy in Syria, the incoming Biden Administration reignited the also utterly failed – and perhaps far more dangerous – “regime change” policy in Russia!

Four years of the US mainstream media relentlessly parroting the bogus “Russiagate” narrative has resulted in many if not most Americans still believing the utterly shredded conspiracy theory that somehow former President Trump was an agent of Vladimir Putin and that the Russians were conspiring to impurify our precious bodily fluids

With the anti-Russia hysteria still – incredibly – at a fever pitch, imagine what would have happened if it came out that the Russian Embassy in Washington had posted information that made it easier for the perpetrators of the January 6th “melee at the Capitol” to launch their “insurrection” (or…as Schumer calls it), 

Anybody doubt the war drums would be at a fever pitch, particularly from the Democrat and mainstream media circles?

But that is just what the US Embassy in Moscow did for the violent anti-government protests in Russia yesterday. Though Washington has long wanted to crown the deeply unpopular Alexei Navalny the Juan Guaido of Russia, taking down the Russian government has unsurprisingly proven a bit more tricky than Hillary Clinton’s overthrow of the democratically-elected president of Honduras.

But the US Embassy, Moscow, is never discouraged by its failures. Under the guise of warning US citizens to avoid the planned demonstrations across Russia, the US Embassy published on its website all of the specific locations of the protests and the times they were to take place.

The US posting even included a strangely familiar helpful mention of a planned “march towards the Kremlin” – sounds like the “march on the Capitol” on the infamous 1/6 “insurrection day.”

Unsurprisingly, Russian officials were not amused over US officials encouraging an unauthorized protest in Moscow just a few days after those same US officials were calling for the identification and arrest of Americans participating in an unauthorized protest in the US Capitol.

Hypocrisy has always been the central organizing principle of US interventionist foreign policy. And boy it is back in vogue these days!

Oh, and the neocon buffoon Juan Guaido? The Biden Administration has announced that it will continue Trump’s boneheaded policy of recognizing the corrupt (and unelected) Venezuelan politician as that country’s legitimate president. 

Plus ça change

We hope you will continue to support the Ron Paul Institute and our efforts to push back against these attacks on our liberties. These are treacherous times, which call for more vigilance and for more dedication to peaceful discourse.  Please Donate Now!
Thank you for your support!
Sincerely yours,

Daniel McAdams
Executive Director
Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity

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When Deplorables Become Ungovernables — Strategic Culture

Posted by M. C. on December 17, 2020

A perverse form of blowback is already in effect as informed global citizens may now see, crystal clear, the astonishing depth and reach of Deep State power – the ultimate decider of what happens next in Dystopia Central.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2020/12/16/when-deplorables-become-ungovernables/

Pepe Escobar

China, Russia and Iran are the top three existential “threats” to the U.S., according to the National Security Strategy. Three features distinguish the top three. They are all sovereign powers. They are under varying degrees of sanctions. And they are the top three nodes of the 21st century’s most important, evolving geopolitical process: Eurasia integration.

What do the three sovereigns see when they examine the dystopia that took over Exceptionalistan?

They see, once again, three – discombobulated – nodes in conflict: the post-historic Pacific and Atlantic coasts; the South – a sort of expanded Dixieland; and the Midwest – what would be the American heartland.

The hyper-modern Pacific-Atlantic nodes congregate high-tech and finance, profit from Pentagon techno-breakthroughs and benefit from the “America rules the waves” ethos that guarantees the global primacy of the U.S. dollar.

The rest of America is largely considered by the Pacific-Atlantic as just a collection of flyover states: the South – which regards itself as the real, authentic America; and the Midwest, largely disciplined and quite practical-minded, squeezed ideologically between the littoral powerhouses and the South.

Superstructure, tough, is key: no matter what happens, whatever the fractures, this remains an Empire, where only a tiny elite, a de facto plutocratic oligarchy, rules.

It would be too schematic, even though essentially correct, to assert that in the presidential election, invisible campaigner Joe Biden represented the Pacific-Atlantic nodes, and Trump represented the whole South. Assuming the election was not fraudulent – and that remains a big “if” – the Midwest eventually swung based on three issues.

  1. Trump, as much as he relied on a sanctions juggernaut, could not bring back manufacturing jobs home. 2. He could not reduce the military footprint across the Greater Middle East. 3. And, before Covid-19, he could not bring down immigration.

Everything that lies ahead points to the irreconcilable – pitting the absolute majority that voted Dem in the Atlantic-Pacific nodes versus the South and a deeply divided Midwest. As much as Biden-Harris is bound to isolate the South even more, their prospects of “pacifying” the Midwest are less than zero.

Whose ground control?

Beyond the raucous altercations on whether the presidential election was fraudulent, these are the key factual points.

  1. A series of rules in mostly swing states were changed, through courts, bypassing state legislatures, without transparence, before the election, paving the way to facilitate fraud schemes.
  2. Biden was de facto coronated by AP, Google and Twitter even before the final, official result, and weeks before the electoral college vote this past Monday.
  3. Every serious, professional audit to determine whether all received and tabulated votes were valid was de facto squashed.

In any Global South latitude where the empire did “interfere” in local elections, color revolution-style, this set of facts would be regarded by scores of imperial officials, in a relentless propaganda blitz, as evidence of a coup.

On the recent Supreme Court ruling, a Deep State intel source told me, “the Supreme Court did not like to see half the country rioting against them, and preferred the decision be made by each state in the House of Representatives. That is the only way to handle this without jeopardizing the union. Even prominent Democrats I know realize that the fix took place. The error was to steal too many votes. This grand theft indicts the whole system, that has always been corrupt.”

Dangers abound. On the propaganda front, for instance, far right nationalists are absolutely convinced that U.S. media can be brought to heel only by occupying the six main offices of the top conglomerates, plus Facebook, Google and Twitter: then you’d have full control of the U.S. propaganda mill.

Another Deep State source, now retired, adds that, “the U.S. Army does not want to intervene as their soldiers may not obey orders.

Many of these far right nationalists were officers in the armed forces. They know where the nuclear missiles and bombers are. There are many in sympathy with them as the U.S. falls apart in lockdowns.”

Meanwhile, Hunter Biden’s dodgy dealings simply will not be made to vanish from public scrutiny. He’s under four different federal investigations. The recent subpoena amounts to a very serious case pointing to a putative crime family. It’s been conveniently forgotten that Joe Biden bragged to the Council on Foreign Relations

that he forced Ukraine’s chief prosecutor Viktor Shokin to be fired exactly when he was investigating corruption by Burisma’s founder.

Of course, a massive army of shills will always invoke another army of omniscient and oh so impartial “fact checkers” to hammer the same message: “This is Trump’s version. Courts have said clearly all the evidence is baseless.”

District Attorney William Barr is now out of the picture (see his letter of resignation). Barr is a notorious Daddy Bush asset since the old days – and that means classic Deep State. Barr knew about all federal investigations on Hunter Biden dating back to 2018, covering potential money laundering and bribery.

And still, as the Wall Street Journal delightfully put it, he “worked to avoid their public disclosure during the heated election campaign”.

A devastating report (Dems: a Republican attack report) has shown how the Biden family was connected to a vast financial network with multiple foreign ramifications.

Then there’s Barr not even daring to say there was enough reason for the Department of Justice to engage in a far-reaching investigation into voting fraud, finally putting to rest all “baseless” conspiracy theories.

Move on. Nothing to see here. Even if an evidence pile-up featured, among other instances, ballot stuffing, backdated ballots, statistical improbabilities, electronic machine tampering, software back doors, affidavits from poll workers, not to mention the by now legendary stopping the vote in the dead of night, with subsequent, huge batches of votes miraculously switching from Trump to Biden.

Once again an omniscient army of oh so impartial “fact checkers” will say everything is baseless.

A perverse blowback

A perverse form of blowback is already in effect as informed global citizens may now see, crystal clear, the astonishing depth and reach of Deep State power – the ultimate decider of what happens next in Dystopia Central.

Both options are dire.

  1. The election stands, even if considered fraudulent by nearly half of U.S. public opinion. To quote that peerless existentialist, The Dude, there’s no rug tying the room together anymore.
  2. Was the election to be somehow overturned before January 20, the Deep State would go Shock and Awe to finish the job.

In either case, The Deplorables will become The Ungovernables.

It gets worse. A possible implosion of the union – with internal convulsions leading to a paroxysm of violence – may even be coupled with an external explosion, as in a miscalculated imperial adventure.

For the Three Sovereigns – Russia, China and Iran – as well as the overwhelming majority of the Global South, the conclusion is inescapable: if the current, sorry spectacle is the best Western liberal “democracy” has to offer, it definitely does not need any enemies or “threats”.

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Erie Times E-Edition Article-US government agencies hacked

Posted by M. C. on December 14, 2020

It is pretty bad when the “cyber security” firm the government decides to use is itself hacked.

Where is the FIB, CIA and government accountability office in all of this? The blame is going to Russia without presenting proof as usual.

I suspect the reason Ruskys are blamed is the real culprit is too embarrassing to admit. A certain small Middle Eastern “friend” perhaps?

https://erietimes-pa-app.newsmemory.com/?publink=0ba3cc297

WASHINGTON — Hackers broke into the networks of federal agencies including the Treasury and Commerce departments in attacks revealed just days after U.S. officials warned that cyber actors linked to the Russian government were exploiting vulnerabilities to target sensitive data.

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity arm are investigating what experts and former officials said appeared to be a largescale penetration of U.S. government agencies.

“This can turn into one of the most impactful espionage campaigns on record,” said cybersecurity expert Dmitri Alperovitch.

The hacks were revealed just days after a major cybersecurity firm disclosed that foreign government hackers had broken into its network and stolen the company’s own hacking tools. Many experts suspect Russia is responsible for the attack against FireEye, a major cybersecurity player whose customers include federal, state and local governments and top global corporations.

The apparent conduit for the Treasury and Commerce Department hacks — and the FireEye compromise — is a hugely popular piece of server software called SolarWinds. It is used by hundreds of thousands of organizations globally, including most Fortune 500 companies and multiple U.S. government agencies who will now be scrambling to patch up their networks, said Alperovitch, the former chief technical officer of the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike.

The attacks were disclosed less than a week after a National Security Agency advisory warned that Russian government hackers were exploiting vulnerabilities in a system used by the federal government, “allowing the actors access to protected data.”

The U.S. government did not publicly identify Russia as the culprit behind the hacks, first reported by Reuters, and said little about who might be responsible.

National Security Council spokesperson John Ullyot said in a statement that the government was “taking all necessary steps to identify and remedy any possible issues related to this situation.”

The government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said separately that it has been working with other agencies “regarding recently discovered activity on government networks. CISA is providing technical assistance to affected entities as they work to identify and mitigate any potential compromises.”

President Donald Trump last month fired the director of CISA, Chris Krebs, after Krebs vouched for the integrity of the presidential election and disputed Trump’s claims of widespread electoral fraud.

In a tweet Sunday, Krebs said “hacks of this type take exceptional tradecraft and time” and raised the possibility that it had been underway for months.

“This thing is still early, I suspect,” Krebs wrote.

Federal government agencies have long been attractive targets for foreign hackers.

Hackers linked to Russia were able to break into the State Department’s email system in 2014, infecting it so thoroughly that it had to be cut off from the internet while experts worked to eliminate the infestation.

Reuters earlier reported that a group backed by a foreign government stole information from Treasury and a Commerce Department agency responsible for deciding internet and telecommunications policy.

The Treasury Department deferred comment to the National Security Council. A Commerce Department spokesperson confirmed a “breach in one of our bureaus” and said “we have asked CISA and the FBI to investigate.” The FBI had no immediate comment.

The Washington Post reported Sunday, citing three unnamed sources, that the two federal agencies and FireEye were all breached through the SolarWinds network management system.

Austin, Texas-based SolarWinds confirmed Sunday in an email to The Associated Press that it has a “potential vulnerability” related to updates released earlier this year to its Orion products, which help organizations monitor their online networks for problems or outages.

“We believe that this vulnerability is the result of a highly-sophisticated, targeted and manual supply chain attack by a nation state,” said SolarWinds CEO Kevin Thompson in a statement.

The comprise is critical because SolarWinds would give a hacker “God-mode” access to the network, making everything visible, said Alperovitch.

Last Tuesday, FireEye said that foreign government hackers with “world-class capabilities” broke into its network and stole offensive tools it uses to probe the defenses of its thousands of customers. Those customers include federal, state and local governments and top global corporations.

The hackers “primarily sought information related to certain government customers,” FireEye CEO Kevin Mandia said in a statement, without naming them. He said there was no indication they got customer information from the company’s consulting or breach-response businesses or threat-intelligence data it collects.

Former NSA hacker Jake Williams said it seemed clear that both the Treasury Department and FireEye were hacked using the same vulnerability.

“The timing of the release here is, I think, not at all a coincidence,” said Williams, the president of the cybersecurity firm Rendition Infosec.

He said FireEye surely told the FBI and other federal partners how it had been hacked and they determined that Treasury had been similarly compromised.

“I suspect that there’s a number of other (federal) agencies we’re going to hear from this week that have also been hit,” Williams added.

FireEye responded to the Sony and Equifax data breaches and helped Saudi Arabia thwart an oil industry cyberattack — and has played a key role in identifying Russia as the protagonist in numerous aggressions in the burgeoning netherworld of global digital conflict.

Neither Mandia nor a FireEye spokesperson said when the company detected the hack or who might be responsible. But many in the cybersecurity community suspect Russia.

The U.S. Treasury Department building viewed from the Washington Monument, Sept. 18, 2019, in Washington.

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How DHS and FBI officials spun a dubious Russian election threat days before voting | The Grayzone

Posted by M. C. on November 4, 2020

The new narrative was not consistent with information previously published by the the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security’s new Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), however. It was so incoherent, in fact, that it suggested a state of panic on the part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials worried about a possible transition to a Joe Biden administration.

https://thegrayzone.com/2020/11/02/how-panicked-dhs-and-fbi-officials-spun-a-dubious-russian-election-threat-days-before-voting/

Gareth Porter

A Department of Homeland Security election alert spawning new Russia fears was so incoherent and inconsistent with previous findings, it suggested a state of political panic inside the agency.

Just days before the 2020 election the bureaucratic forces behind the original claim of Russian hacking of state election-related websites in 2016 launched a new drive to spawn fears of Moscow-made political chaos in the wake of the voting.

The new narrative was not consistent with information previously published by the the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security’s new Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), however. It was so incoherent, in fact, that it suggested a state of panic on the part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials worried about a possible transition to a Joe Biden administration.

On October 20, Christopher Krebs, the head of CISA, issued a video statement expressing confidence that “it would be incredibly difficult for them to change the outcome of an election at the national level.”  Then he abruptly changed his tone, adding, “But that doesn’t mean various actors won’t try to introduce chaos in our elections and make sensational claims that overstate their capabilities. In fact, the days and weeks just before and after Election Day is the perfect time for our adversaries to launch efforts intended to undermine your confidence in the integrity of the electoral process.”

Krebs’ warning of a possible Russian announcement that hackers had succeeded in disrupting the result of the U.S. election was so removed from reality that it suggested internal panic DHS over the failure of Russian hackers to do anything that could be cited as interfering the election.

Two days after Krebs’ dubious warning, the FBI and the DHS’s new Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued an “alert” reporting that “a Russian state-sponsored APT [Advanced Persistent Threat] actor” known as “Berserk Bear” had “conducted a campaign against a wide variety of U.S. targets.”

Since “at least September,” according to the DHS alert, the DHS warning claimed that it had targeted “dozens” of “U.S. state, local, territorial and tribal government networks.”  It even claimed that the supposed Russian campaign had compromised the network infrastructure of several official organizations and “exfiltrated data from at least two victims servers”. At the same time, it acknowledged there was “no indication” that any government operations had been “intentionally disrupted.”

The report went on to suggest, “[T]here may be some risk to elections information housed on SLTT [state, local territorial and tribal] government networks.” And then it abruptly shifted tone and level of analysis to offer the speculation that the Russian government “may be seeking access to obtain future disruption options, to influence U.S. policies or actions”, or to “delegitimize” the “government entities”.

On October 28, Krebs elaborated on the latter theme in an interview with the PBS NewsHour.  Referring inaccurately to government warnings about “Russian interference, some of which targeted voter registration,” which the FBI-CISA alert had never mentioned, PBS interviewer William Brangham asked, “Do you worry at all that there might be infiltration that we are not aware of?”

Instead of correcting Brangham’s inaccurate suggestion, Krebs responded that “infiltration” into voter registration files was “certainly possible,” but that “[W]e have improved the ability to detect compromises or anomalous activity.”

Krebs then homed in on a scenario he obviously wanted the public to focus on: “[Y]ou might see various actors, foreign powers, claim that they were able to accomplish something, [that] they were able to hack a database or hack the vote count. And it’s simply not true.”

Although the October 22 alert did not assert any deliberate Russian government hack of election-related sites, Krebs sought to keep speculation about both Russian capabilities and intent alive.

The buried alert that undermined the frightening official assessment

Eleven daysbefore Krebs debuted his speculation about Russia claiming to have hacked U.S. elections, the FBI and CISA issued a separate alert that seriously undercut his questionable claims.

The earlier document was clearly referring to the very same efforts by hackers to break into various websites addressed in the October 22 alert.  It not only referred to the same state and local government networks and to the wider range of targets affected but also mentioned precisely the same technical vulnerabilities that were targeted in the series of hacks.

The alert further stated that, “[I]t does not appear these targets are being selected because of their proximity to elections information….” In other words, the two US agencies conceded they had no basis for attributing the hacks in question to any election interference plot.

The most striking difference between the two alerts, however, was that the October 9 alert did not refer to any “Russian state-sponsored APT actor” as the October 22 one did. Instead, it simply pointed to “APT actors” in the plural, indicating that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence indicating a single actor was at work, let alone one that was “Russian-state sponsored.” 

Contrary to the impression that U.S. officials may have conveyed in referencing an “Advance Persistent Threat,” or APT, it is now widely understood by cybersecurity specialists that this term no longer refers to a state-sponsored actor. That is because the sophisticated tools and techniques once associated with state-sponsored hacking have now become available to a much wider range of cyber actors. Indeed, the codes for such high-end tools have been identified in the Shadow Brokers and Vault 7 leaks, and the tools have been marketed widely at affordable prices on the dark web.

The October 9 alert firmly established the dearth of evidence on the part of CISA and FBI about a Russian state-sponsored hacking team planning elections-related operations in the U.S. The sudden pivot days later to an unqualified claim that a single state-sponsored APT had been responsible for the same very large range of operations should have been accompanied by claims of substantial new intelligence, or at least a reference to the evidence underlying the dramatic new reversal. But no such proof ever arrived.

Scott McConnell, the spokesman for CISA, promised the Grazyzone on October 29 that he would provide someone to answer questions about the October 22 alert by the close of business Friday. In the end, however, no one from CISA responded, and there was no answer on McConnell’s line.

The peculiar reversal by the DHS and CISA on the hacking claims raise questions about the institutional considerations taken by these agencies. Did indications that President Donald Trump’s campaign was faltering inform their decision to issue a more stridently anti-Russian assessment in hopes of surviving a political transition?

The US officials who drew up the initial pre-election alert seemed keenly aware that despite that drumbeat of over the past two years, no state-sponsored Russian hacking of election institutions was underway.  But as the Trump campaign sputtered, they had their own careers to consider. Days later, DHS and CISA declared the wily Russians guilty of yet another malign operations — one that would not require them to have slightest evidence to support, and that would be impossible for them to explain.

Gareth Porter

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist who has covered national security policy since 2005 and was the recipient of Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in 2012.  His most recent book is The CIA Insider’s Guide to the Iran Crisis co-authored with John Kiriakou, just published in February.

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So much for Russian disinformation: Hunter Biden’s signed receipts turn up – American Thinker

Posted by M. C. on October 21, 2020

https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2020/10/so_much_for_russian_disinformation_hunter_bidens_signed_receipts_turn_up.html

By Monica Showalter

As Andrea Widburg noted in her excellent post here, the left has pulled out all stops to create a miasma of confusing information about the frighteningly sharp and clear Hunter Biden emails found on an abandoned MacBook Pro computer, of a crack addict selling access to his father’s office for millions in public gain.

The computer itself is evidence, corroborated by additional emails from Biden’s associates, in jail or heading there, while the rapacious Hunter skates. There’s additional information the Senate investigative report.

Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, though, same as he did during impeachment, claims it’s Russian disinformation, assuming he can go to that well more than once. His New York Times media toadies are following.

Other members of the leftist press are, with JournoList-style echo-chamber talking points, calling it a “garbage fire.” See here and here.

Some leftists are claiming Photoshopping. Others are yelling partisan dirty tricks. Salon called it a “complete fabrication.”

Now it’s falling apart.

Signed receipts from the computer repair-shop owner where Hunter Biden abandoned his MacBook Pro have turned up, along with witnesses describing the drunken, drug-addled vice presidential son:

NEW: @MikeEmanuelFox obtains photo showing an alleged Hunter Biden signature on paperwork for the computer repair shop pic.twitter.com/LMBkiXmCer — Sean Langille (@SeanLangille) October 19, 2020

The truth keeps licking closer, which explains why Biden has remained silent, telling a reporter: “I have no response!” to the Hunter Biden influence-selling story, which very clearly involves him. He’s hoping to pull a Clinton, making the story of “the big guy” and his bagman son all go away.

Maybe that’s because, as Hunter’s emails say, he’s “the big guy,” taking his fifty percent cut. A recent IBD/TIPP poll is showing that it’s a scandal that’s taking off for real on his presidential bid, with rapidly falling public support. It is, after all, classic high-level, and very naked corruption that can be explained in a sentence or two — Hunter Biden sold access to Joe Biden’s office for millions of dollars, payable in advance. He wants that out of the news entirely.

Social media has made an unprecedented, and shark-jumping, effort to oblige, silencing and shutting down the whole story, as well as the New York Post which reported it. The receipt story is not searchable with Google.

Bottom line, though, is that it’s getting harder to refute — the statements and admissions made in the computer, and the proof of ownership. It’s not the Russians, it’s Hunter and Joe. 

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How the Media Has Whitewashed FBI Abuses in the Russia Probe | The National Interest

Posted by M. C. on October 15, 2020

It’s hard to decide which development is worse: the FBI’s lengthy pattern of arrogant misconduct, or the mainstream media’s willingness to be an accomplice in excusing such misconduct. Either behavior undermines government accountability and the protection of civil liberties. The entire episode is a sobering example of irresponsibility on the part of institutions that nevertheless insist on respect from the public.

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/politics/how-media-has-whitewashed-fbi-abuses-russia-probe-170709

by Ted Galen Carpenter

he mainstream media not only continues to parrot the narrative that President Donald Trump is a Russian asset who collaborated with Moscow to steal the 2016 presidential election, but journalists have also minimized or dismissed evidence about FBI abuses during the course of the investigation into those allegations. 

One point that emerged clearly when Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz issued his report in December 2019 was that the FBI had committed serious violations of its own procedures and basic requirements of due process. The scope and severity of that misconduct have become even more apparent with the passage of time.

Although Horowitz did not endorse the Trump White House’s core allegation that the FBI had initiated the “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation of the Trump campaign out of political bias, the IG report identified 17 major instances of improper behavior, including violations of standard procedures and safeguards for the rights of individuals targeted in an investigation. Most of the abuses occurred with respect to investigative warrants aimed at Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign. Especially disturbing violations included the withholding of exculpatory evidence in warrant applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court. Among the offenses was the repeated failure to disclose that Page was working for the CIA during the period he was making contact with Russian diplomatic and intelligence officials.  In one instance, FBI assistant general counsel Kevin Clinesmith even altered a document to make it state the opposite of its original language about Page’s role.

Despite the damaging revelations in the IG report, most of the initial accounts in the mainstream media echoed the arguments that former FBI director James Comey and other agency defenders made.  News stories emphasized the rejection of the political bias charge, with that aspect eclipsing all other conclusions that placed the FBI in a less favorable light. NBC News opted for the headline “Internal Justice watchdog finds that Russia probe was justified, not biased against Trump.” PBS NewHour’s headline was “DOJ inspector general finds no bias in FBI’s Russia probe.” Other outlets were at least as flagrant in their spin of the IG’s report.  New York Magazine’s headline blared that “Inspector General Finds Russia Investigation Wasn’t an FBI Witch Hunt,” “So much for the Deep State Plot against Donald Trump,” proclaimed an article in Wired.

Even when news stories acknowledged problems with the FBI’s behavior, writers and reporters attributed those actions to “errors” and “missteps,” not misconduct or abuses. But Horowitz himself pushed back on the notion that he had exonerated the FBI. A week later, he clarified that his investigation into the FBI’s FISA warrants “did not reach” the conclusion that the bureau was unaffected by political bias during its Russia investigation. In response to questioning from Senator Josh Hawley (R- MO.), Horowitz explained that his investigation did leave the door open to possible political bias, because his team could not accept the explanations FBI members gave about why there were “so many errors” in their investigation.  As reasons for caution, he specifically cited  “the alteration of the email, the text messages associated with the individual who did that, and our inability to explain or understand, to get good explanations so that we could understand why this all happened.” Such caveats indicated that the Horowitz report was far from being an exoneration of the FBI.

Since then, the media’s favorable spin on the FBI’s performance has become even more difficult to sustain. That was especially true once the FISA court forcefully rebuked the FBI for its actions, and then retroactively invalidated two of four warrants issued in the Page investigation. That move was virtually unprecedented.  So too was a subsequent move in March 2020, when the court barred any agents involved in the original warrant applications from submitting future surveillance applications.

Such measures were stunning since the FISA court was notorious over the years for rubber-stamping warrant requests from national security agencies. Sharp criticism from the FISA court of such an agency, much less the imposition of sanctions against that agency’s personnel, was only a little less startling than if the Chinese People’s Congress had criticized President Xi Jinping and curtailed his powers. 

Yet another blow to the media narrative came in early June 2020 when former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein stated in congressional testimony that he never would have signed the FISA warrant renewal application if he had known how unreliable was the Steele dossier and the other underlying evidence. On this occasion, his statement received a respectable amount of attention in the mainstream media, including the Washington Post, CBS News, and Yahoo News.  Most of them also acknowledged that the admission was the main thrust of Rosenstein’s testimony.  NBC News, though, went out of its way to put a different spin on that testimony, with the utterly misleading headline: “Rod Rosenstein defends Mueller appointment, approval of FISA applications in Russia probe.”

The prevailing, but increasingly strained, media narrative that any problems with the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation suffered another blow in August 2020 when former assistant general counsel Kevin Clinesmith pled guilty to the document alteration charge in the FISA warrant applications for the continuing surveillance of Carter Page. Mainstream press stories acknowledged the guilty plea, but they carefully avoided drawing any wider conclusions about Crossfire Hurricane abuses.

Indeed, some of the accounts went out of their way to assert that Clinesmith’s offense was nothing more than an isolated incident. CNN’s treatment was typical. The network’s analysis contended that “court documents laying out the single charge against Clinesmith don’t make any broader allegation of a conspiracy by FBI investigators against Trump, an accusation Trump has frequently made. Instead, it shows another FBI official who signed the fourth FISA warrant raising a concern about whether Page was a CIA source and seeking email proof when Clinesmith downplayed the CIA relationship with Page.”

Only a few analyses in conservative publications pointed out that the forgery episode was part of a larger pattern of FBI procedural violations during Crossfire Hurricane. Andrew McCarthy’s article in National Review explicitly concluded that Clinesmith’s plea was a “perfect snapshot of Crossfire Hurricane’s duplicity.” It was a valid point; Clinesmith’s conduct was merely the most egregious case among numerous episodes of FBI misconduct during that probe, as Horowitz’s report had already documented.

Subsequent Senate hearings in September and October 2020 have cast further doubt on the thesis that there was enough evidence to justify commencing the Russia collusion investigation in the first place. The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley A. Strassel provided a blunt assessment of the excesses. “Chairman Lindsey Graham hauled the former FBI director in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee ostensibly to answer for stunning new details in the bureau’s Trump-Russia probe.  But the hearing more broadly resurrected the breathtaking arrogance of the swamp. This was the crew that in 2016—based on the thinnest of tips—launched a counterintelligence investigation into a presidential campaign, complete with secret surveillance warrants and informants.”

Strassel added:  “FBI agent Peter Strzok in 2018 lectured Congress that the bureau had too many “safeguards” and “procedures” ever to allow “improper” behavior. Yet this past week provided evidence the FBI leaders blew through red light after red light.  We already knew they based the probe on a dossier that came from a rival campaign. We knew the bureau was warned early on that the dossier was potential Russian disinformation.  And now we know it discovered that the man who was the dossier’s primary source had been under FBI investigation as a suspected agent for Moscow. The bureau hid all of this from the surveillance court.”  

It’s hard to decide which development is worse: the FBI’s lengthy pattern of arrogant misconduct, or the mainstream media’s willingness to be an accomplice in excusing such misconduct. Either behavior undermines government accountability and the protection of civil liberties. The entire episode is a sobering example of irresponsibility on the part of institutions that nevertheless insist on respect from the public.

Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow in security studies at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor at the National Interest, is the author of 12 books and more than 850 articles.

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America’s Alliance with NATO Needs to Change | The National Interest

Posted by M. C. on September 11, 2020

“The first step in this process should be for the United States to transition from being the frontline defense of NATO countries to a supporting role. European democracies in the 1950s were poor and destitute. No more. Germany, for example, has the world’s fourth-largest economy. It is more than financially capable of providing the bulk of its own security. U.S. troops, meanwhile, should be redeployed to home bases where they can focus on defending America’s borders and global interests.”

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/skeptics/americas-alliance-nato-needs-change-168626

by Daniel L. Davis

Thirty years after the end of the Cold War, NATO is facing a threat of a potentially existential nature. No, it’s not a would-be Russian invasion of Western Europe. It’s the possibility of a fratricidal war between its own members, Greece and Turkey. Before the unthinkable happens, the United States should reassess the future of NATO and its role in it.

Turkey and Greece have long had an antagonistic relationship. Since becoming members of NATO in 1952, they have twice been at the brink of war against one another. The first was in 1974 when a Greek military junta threatened to join all of Cyprus to the Greek mainland and Turkish military forces invaded the northern part of the Island. A tense standoff occurred and the island has been split since.

The second was in 1996 over a dispute in the Aegean Sea. The seemingly trivial dispute that began over a salvage operation of a Greek ship that ran aground off the Turkish coast almost escalated into a full-blown war between the two over conflicting claims of sovereignty.

Conflict was averted, but tensions and emotions never fully cooled. With the discovery of large deposits of natural gas throughout the Eastern Mediterranean, however, the stakes of which country is sovereign over those rocks have taken on considerably greater urgency. Turkey is taking a far harder stance, elevating its national interests above the common interests of NATO.

Turkish vice president Fuat Oktay said in an interview that if Greece attempting “to expand its territorial waters isn’t a cause of war, then what is?’’ Ankara is butting heads with more than just Greece, however.

Relations between Turkey and France continue to fray over Paris’s displeasure regarding Ankara’s deepening involvement against French interests in Libya. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned that Greece and Turkey were moving “closer and closer to the abyss,” and that if the two don’t resolve their disputes, then at some point a “spark, however small, could lead to a disaster.”

Meanwhile, as Nick Squires wrote in the Christian Science Monitor, “France and the United Arab Emirates have sent aircraft and warships to back up Greece, while Cyprus, Israel, and Egypt also have a stake in prospecting for hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean.” If you’re thinking this doesn’t sound like the actions of closely aligned allies, then you are correct. What it does sound like, however, is increasing evidence of an alliance that has failed to adjust with the times.

The Cold War world that existed in 1952 when Turkey and Greece entered NATO was one in which a group of relatively free nations put aside their differences for the collective good of them all to balance the power of the Soviet Union. That world ended with the dissolution of the USSR.

Instead of acknowledging the changed global conditions and adjusting NATO accordingly, the West clung to the past and tried to ride the status quo into a static future. If we don’t take action quickly, then our unwillingness to acknowledge reality could cost us far more than merely the loss of an alliance structure.

Every president from Truman to Trump has understandably complained that European members of NATO have not been paying enough for their own security, forcing a major burden on America. But the issue is no longer about just making Europeans “pay more,” but as the potential for fratricidal war between Turkey and Greece is exposing, we need major reform and change.

The first step in this process should be for the United States to transition from being the frontline defense of NATO countries to a supporting role. European democracies in the 1950s were poor and destitute. No more. Germany, for example, has the world’s fourth-largest economy. It is more than financially capable of providing the bulk of its own security. U.S. troops, meanwhile, should be redeployed to home bases where they can focus on defending America’s borders and global interests.

Any military alliance system the United States enters into (or stays within) must include reciprocating benefits for both countries and result in a strengthening of U.S. defenses. It should not be a one-way street where America provides the majority of the benefits to other lands and shoulders the majority of the risks of a new war—especially one in which its interests would otherwise not be at risk.

U.S. policymakers have, for many decades, been unwilling to even consider adjusting the NATO structure. If the country fails to take the rational action to do so now, however, then the cost may be the self-destruction of the alliance when its members begin shooting at one another, forcing the rest to take sides. That would be the worst time to take the issue on and far worse for U.S. interests. Now is the time to act, while there is still time to avoid disaster.

Daniel L. Davis is a senior fellow for Defense Priorities and a former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army who retired in 2015 after twenty-one years, including four combat deployments. Follow him @DanielLDavis1.

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