It seems the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) could, at least in theory, murder you by hacking into your car’s computer, according to the pro-transparency group Wikileaks. And now, with some of the rogue agency’s hacking tools and methods available on cyberspace, any common criminal with some computer knowledge might be able to do so as well. It remains unclear whether the CIA, which brags about its mass murder, has actually murdered anyone by hacking their car. But reasonable suspicions about the possibility have been floating around for years — especially since the suspicious “car crash” death of journalist Michael Hastings, who was involved in exposing CIA and NSA crimes. Keep Reading
There is growing evidence that, prior to his tragic death in June 2013, award-winning investigative journalist Michael Hastings had been looking into material that formed part of what WikiLeaks would eventually publish as the CIA ‘Vault 7’ documents. Other evidence indicates that Hastings may have come upon a secret hacking organization set up by the CIA, that is also referenced in ‘Vault 7′. Fellow journalist Barrett Brown, meanwhile, continues to raise serious questions about Hastings’ death.
This week in an open door Senate hearing, the nation’s top intelligence director James Clapper, told lawmakers that the Russian government used a multi-faceted campaign of hacking, fake news and propaganda to sway US voters before they went to the ballot box for the 2016 presidential election.
“I don’t think we’ve ever encountered a more aggressive or direct campaign to interfere with our election process,” said James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence a political appointee of President Obama.
On Friday, intelligence officers made their way to Trump Tower to brief the incoming president. Three agencies of the 17- member Intel community claimed their unclassified Russian hacking report would provide ironclad evidence the Ruskies have been up to no good when it comes to America’s elections.
Nevertheless, the lackluster details of the report were leaked to NBC News and that prompted a famous President-elect Donald Trump Tweet that read: “I am asking the chairs of the House and Senate committees to investigate top secret intelligence shared with NBC prior to me seeing it.”
Not only does the report lack a smoking gun, the Intel report found only two (CIA & FBI) of the three agencies reported high confidence, while the NSA said it was moderately confident that Russia interfered in the elections. Hardly the blockbuster Americans were expecting. However, the 25-page report (including lots of empty pages) was littered with so-called fake news that “apparently” swayed voters, even though the Director of National Intelligence Clapper repeatedly told Capitol Hill lawmakers they found no evidence Russia hacked voting machines nor could they confirm Vladimir Putin swayed voters.
Clapper did say there were ample examples of Russian-run media outlets providing plenty of stories that were unkind to Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton. The funny thing about the “fake news” is that the root of the stories was anchored in fact. The Democrat National Committee, Hillary Clinton, and John Podesta all had their email accounts hacked and the information was released to WikiLeaks who found ample readers wanting to know what was really going on behind the scenes at the DNC. Despite the Democrats complaints, WikiLeaks has a bi-partisan history and has hit both political parties as well as receiving scorn from both parties. For example, WikiLeaks released all of GOP Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s emails, unsavory details about the unpopular war in Iraq that Army Private Bradley/Chelsea Manning removed from government computers as well as the massive surveillance state the US maintains.
Regarding election enthusiasm, there is no question the Russian’s exploited the 2016 election. They aggressively took information that was somewhat known within the journalistic world but wasn’t really being widely reported. Once the information made it to WikiLeaks a lot of journalists were able to confirm the damning information. As a result of the fact that the Obama administration has consistently slowed the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) process, leaving many journalists unable to correctly report the news.
Another point, when the Russian government saw the released hacked emails, it was easy to write the slant based on “true email facts.” The IC report relies on Russian TV “RT” that is a Russian state-run outlet as the main boogieman. Of course, the various Intel talking heads tried to debunk WikiLeaks, but so far, they have yet to get a story wrong.
As for the so-called “fake news,” it’s based on “facts.” Unless the Main Stream Media (MSM) forgot to report the story, Putin didn’t tell Mrs. Clinton to use a “home-brewed” unencrypted, private email server that was separate from the State Department. Nor did he counsel Clinton to mix State Department business with Clinton Foundation business and he certainly did not tell Clinton to fundraise rather than campaign, the fault rests with the former Secretary of State. On the other hand, Podesta allegedly fell for a phishing campaign that convinced him to reveal his email password opening all of his emails to hackers, although WikiLeaks reported the leaks were from an insider.
Nobody knows for certain how the oodles of scandals that followed Clinton around like the plague changed the minds of voters; America has become a very polarized country. If anything the Russian influence highlighted and exploited the glaring facts that the journalistic world may not be a fair broker. The leaked emails demonstrated that the MSM might not be reporting all the information that comes their way.
The voters spoke loud and clear. A Rasmussen poll found last week that 48 to 31 percent of the American electorate believe the MSM media is still reporting Trump unfairly and are turning the channel.
Chances are if the majority of Americans read the IC report, “Key Judgments Russian efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election” they would see the politicized Intel community highlights “Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the US- led liberal democratic order, but these activities demonstrated a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations.”
The declassified IC report claims the conclusions reached, mirror the highly classified assessment but “does not include the full supporting information on key elements of the influence campaign.”
- Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him. All three agencies agree with this judgment. CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment. NSA has moderate confidence.
- Moscow’s approach evolved over the course of the campaign…When it appeared that Secretary Clinton was likely to win the election, the Russian influence campaign began to focus more on undermining her future presidency.
- Moscow’s influence campaign followed a Russian messaging strategy that blends covert intelligence operations—such as cyber activity—with overt efforts by Russian Government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or “trolls.”
- Russia’s intelligence services conducted cyber-operations against targets associated with the 2016 US presidential election, including targets associated with both major US political parties.
- Russian military intelligence (General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate or GRU) used the Guccifer 2.0 persona and DCLeaks.com to release US victim data.
- Russian intelligence obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple US state or local electoral boards.
- Russia’s state-run propaganda machine contributed to the influence campaign by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences. We assess Moscow will apply lessons learned from its Putin-ordered campaign aimed at the US presidential election to future influence efforts worldwide, including against US allies and their election process.
Incoming National Security Advisor for President-elect Trump, Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn has been worried about the intelligence communities’ increasing politicization and leadership’s new trend of telling the Commander in Chief what he wants to hear rather than the cold hard facts. In 2010, he penned a position paper titled “Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan” The tough-talking general believes the IC needs to refocus its energy on human intelligence and “in the field” operations to better access what the enemy is feeling and doing. “Because the United States has focused the overwhelming majority of collection efforts and analytical brainpower on insurgent groups, our intelligence apparatus still finds itself unable to answer fundamental questions about the environment in which we operate and the people we are trying to protect and persuade,” Gen Flynn wrote. “I felt the Intel system was way too politicized, especially in the Defense Department.”
In closing, there can be little doubt that Russia has engaged in both and cyber-sabotage and cyber-espionage against America and its allies. But America’s flirtation with coining news you don’t agree with, as “fake news” doesn’t mean it is true or not.
The US should heed the warning from Adolf Hitler’s chief propagandist, Joseph Goebel’s slogan, “If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.”
As the 2016 election post-mortem results rolled in, Americans learned the Main Stream Media (MSM) is largely in the tank for the left. For example, CNN/ABC’s Donna Brazile and fellow Democrats were caught red-handed with emails released by WikiLeaks that showed they were providing Hillary Clinton with pre-debate questions and/or a healthy dose of negative news for Mr. Trump.
However, the fallout from the media bias may not be what the voters think, as Ms. Brazile’s and the media’s outing produced no firings, instead, Congress rewarded their behavior by creating America’s first “Ministry of Propaganda.”
If voters prefer Russia’s or Turkey’s state-run media, they will be pleased with the new law enacted by Congress, and signed into law by President Obama as an add-on buried in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The Friday night before Christmas, President Obama quietly signed into law the $611 billion, 1,576-page 2017 NDAA that included the controversial assault on America’s media status guaranteed by the First Amendment.
During the brutal 2016 presidential campaign, many Clinton supporters argued or tried to sell the American population on the postulation that Hillary Clinton was the prohibitive front-runner, but once the results were in, they claimed it was the so-called “fake news” that undermined the election process and gave Mr. Trump the win.
Dubiously dubbed the “Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act,” the bipartisan amendment demands through a new government tax that the new federal program will “educate” journalists, media outfits, and other so-called propaganda outlets what exactly the news is and relinquish media’s control to the US government’s interpretations of facts or fiction.
The sponsors insist the new program will only promote the beltway’s “foreign policy goals,” whatever that means. The potential for government cover-ups of embarrassing actions under the guise of national security will force all journalists to tow the proverbial line and destroy an adversarial media.
According to the new law, the Global Engagement Center should “develop, plan, and synchronize … whole-of-government initiatives to expose and counter foreign propaganda and disinformation directed against United States national security interests and proactively advance fact-based narratives that support United States allies and interests. It should also work to establish cooperative or liaison relationships with foreign partners and allies … and other entities, such as academia, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector.”
Many critics argue that non-profits, businesses, universities, K-12 schools, could be reigned into the campaign and forced to promote any presidential administration propaganda.
This latest hoopla centers on Russia. The Ruskies are the easiest boogieman, as America’s old Cold War foe has become a reliable enemy to keep the US military machine cranking out billions in weaponry contracts.
“I’ll be the first one to come out and point at Russia if there’s clear evidence, but there is no clear evidence — even now,” Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said. “There’s a lot of innuendo, lots of circumstantial evidence, that’s it.”
But as the post-election autopsy highlights, it was the Washington Post and the New York Times that the voters thought were disseminating “fake news.” WikiLeaks provided ample evidence the traditional media were trying to protect their access and secrets.
In an attempt to protect those potential career-ending mistakes, Congressmen Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Ted Lieu (D-CA) introduced controversial legislation, H.R. 5181 and they say is a “whole-government approach without the bureaucratic restrictions to counter foreign disinformation and manipulation, which they believe threaten the world’s security and stability. As Russia continues to spew its disinformation and false narratives, they undermine the United States and its interests in places like Ukraine, while also breeding further instability in these countries,” Kinzinger explained in a statement. “The United States has a role in countering these destabilizing acts of propaganda, which is why I’m proud to introduce [the aforementioned bill]. This important legislation develops a comprehensive U.S. strategy to counter disinformation campaigns through interagency cooperation and on-the-ground partnerships with outside organizations that have experience in countering foreign propaganda. From Ukraine to the South China Sea, foreign disinformation campaigns do more than spread anti-Western sentiments — they manipulate public perception to change the facts on the ground, subvert democracy and undermine U.S. interests,” Congressman Lieu said. “In short, they make the world less safe.”
The Bill charges the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, the Director of National Intelligence, and a Broadcasting Board of Governors to “establish a Center for Information Analysis and Response, to rid their idea of disinformation, in an effort to “develop and disseminate fact-based narratives.”
According to the bill’s text, the goal will identify “current and emerging trends in foreign propaganda and disinformation, including the use of print, broadcast, online and social media, support for third-party outlets such as think tanks, political parties, and nongovernmental organizations, and the use of covert or clandestine special operators and agents to influence targeted populations and governments in order to coordinate and shape the development of tactics, techniques, and procedures to expose and refute foreign misinformation and disinformation.”
A companion bill, also named the Countering Information Warfare Act of 2016 (S. 2692), was introduced by Senator Rob Portman (R-OHIO). “These countries spend vast sums of money on advanced broadcast and digital media capabilities, targeted campaigns, funding of foreign political movements, and other efforts to influence key audiences and populations,” Portman explained, adding that while the US spends a relatively small amount on its Voice of America, the Kremlin provides enormous funding for its news organization, RT. Surprisingly, there is currently no single US governmental agency or department charged with the national level development, integration and synchronization of whole-of-government strategies to counter foreign propaganda and disinformation.”
If these reports are true, Americans should worry that free speech may be regulated by the Broadcasting Board and therefore, not the arbiter of watchdog journalism the founding fathers promised.
According to a New American article, the founders insisted, “Journalists and pamphleteers were certainly vital to spreading the ideas of American rebellion against the English—names like Thomas Paine and Samuel Adams were nearly synonymous with the American Revolution, and they certainly weren’t alone. Though propaganda and distortion of the news were common as well. When the framers of the Constitution met to discuss the construction of the new government at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, freedom of the press and what it would mean for the future of the country was certainly on their minds.”
Even an observer of American values, Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville concluded the importance of free speech. “When the right of every citizen to a share in the government of society is acknowledged, everyone must be presumed to be able to choose between the various opinions of his contemporaries and to appreciate the different facts from which inferences may be drawn. The sovereignty of the people and the liberty of the press may therefore, be regarded as correlative, just as the censorship of the press and universal suffrage are two things which are irreconcilably opposed and which cannot long be retained among the institutions of the same people.”
The cornerstone of America’s free spirit and perpetual growth rests with the freedom of all media. In fact, it’s enshrined in the First Amendment to emphasize governmental misdoings no matter the political party in charge.
As of late, the MSM is happy to propagate that it is President-elect Donald Trump who will violate and punish journalists he does not agree with, but ultimately, the MSM journos can blame President Obama as he signed the new program into law. The same new government program will have the power to decide whether or not to throw a whistleblower in jail for disclosing embarrassing facts to the media or if the government chooses to spy on reporters seeking to uncover corrupt politicians.
Nonetheless, President Obama has pushed back on his critical actions against members of the media. “I am a strong believer in the First Amendment and the need for journalists to pursue every lead and every angle,” he told a Rutgers University paper. “I think that when you hear stories about us cracking down on whistleblowers or whatnot, we’re talking about a really small sample. Some of them are serious. Where you had purposeful leaks of information that could harm or threaten operations or individuals who were in the field involved with really sensitive national security issues.”
However, the new freedom of press law could prevent the information from ever being disseminated to the general public in the first place.
This week the GOP House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes wrote a letter to the country’s 17 intelligence directors asking them for a closed-door Congressional briefing to find out if Russia tampered with the presidential elections. They declined.
The California lawmaker expressed concern with conflicting media reports and wrote in his letter: “The Committee has an urgent need to accurately understand the current IC[Intelligence Community] assessment of alleged Russian cyber-activities relating to the election and any disagreements among IC components.”
However, Maryland Senator Ben Cardin disagreed and told CNN’s WBAL: “What has been publicly released by our Intelligence Community is that the United States was attacked by cyber and that Russia, at the highest levels, signed off on that type of attack and their purpose was to interfere with our free elections.”
So there you have it, another he said, she said inside the beltway. A more likely explanation lies within the story being politically based but not empirically supported.
Proof comes from average Americans. Only one-third of US voters say they believe Russia influenced the 2016 presidential election, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.
And when it comes to interfering with elections, it’s the Central Intelligence Agency who has plenty of experience. “The CIA got its start trying to influence the outcome of Italy’s elections in 1948, as author Tim Weiner documented in his book “Legacy of Ashes,” in an effort to keep Communists from taking power. Five years later, the CIA engineered a coup against Mohammad Mossadeq, Iran’s democratically elected leader, when the United States and Britain installed the Shah. The military coup that overthrew Mosaddeq and his National Front cabinet was carried out under CIA direction as an act of U.S. foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of government, the agency concluded in one of its own reports, declassified around the 60th anniversary of those events, which were engineered in large part by Kermit Roosevelt Jr., a grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt.”
Nevertheless, the usual suspects in Washington DC continue to push the latest “conspiracy theory” in an effort to remain relevant and to reject reality as the new Trump administration blows into town next month.
Senators John McCain, Chuck Schumer and an unnamed group of bipartisan lawmakers will try to form a Senate select committee to explore the idea that Russia influenced the 2016 election cycle. However, GOP Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said he would employ existing committees to investigate what exactly Russia did or didn’t do.
President-elect Donald Trump continues to push back, via Twitter, that it was Russia who gave him the Oval Office, nor has he included the “hack” within his 100 days agenda.
Mr. Trump’s incoming chief of staff, Reince Priebus, told Fox News Sunday that the president-elect “would accept the conclusion if these intelligence professionals would get together, put out a report, show the American people that they are actually on the same page.”
Conversely, on Sunday CNN’s State of the Union, McCain said Russia did interfere with the 2016 election. “We need to get to the bottom of this. The question is now, how much and what damage? And what should the United States of America do?”
On a rare occasion, President Obama agreed with McCain and has ordered a full study to be put on his desk before he leaves on January 20th.
Meanwhile, Obama acknowledged that he learned about the DNC cyber attacks “early last summer.”
That information came last Wednesday via The New York Times when they disclosed the “Democrat National Committee had virtually no protections for its electronic systems, and Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman, John D. Podesta, had failed to sign up for the ‘two-factor authentication’ on his Gmail account. Doing so probably would have foiled what Mr. Obama called a fairly primitive attack.”
California Democrat Adam Schiff, a ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee said, “The response should mix additional economic sanctions along with our allies, and clandestine means of exacting a cost on the Russians for their flagrant meddling in our election. I have little confidence that the incoming president will take the actions necessary to make the Russians pay any price for the most consequential ‘active measures’ campaign against us in history.”
Nonetheless, it was WikiLeaks that published 30,000 emails for the world to read and there is little doubt that the government investigation into the alleged hacking will decide if WikiLeaks is an arm of the Russian government or an honest broker for whistleblowers.
Perhaps, President-elect Trump can send a strong message in his bid to “drain the swamp” by pardoning NSA’s Edward Snowden, WikiLeak’s Julian Assange, as well as other whistleblowers currently serving prison terms for disclosing illegal or inappropriate conduct by the US government and its officials. Assange and Snowden are currently serving self-imposed prison terms without ever having been charged with a crime based solely on their publication of illegal or embarrassing US government activities.
By pardoning these whistleblowers, the President-elect will send a strong message to government officials that illegal and inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated in his administration and whistleblowers will be treated appropriately under US laws.
It’s also important to keep in mind the press serves, as an integral part of our Constitutional First Amendment “checks and balances.” The media should not operate under fear of arrest and incarceration for publishing alleged illegal and inappropriate activities. If Mr. Trump truly intends to “drain the swamp,” he needs an inquisitive press and conscience-based whistleblowers to step forward without fear of recrimination.
It’s been more than a month since the contentious presidential election cycle ended with a Donald Trump victory. But that hasn’t stopped navy-blue California state politicians from ramping up rhetoric telling any newscaster that will listen Trump will be met with condemnation in the Golden State.
“It is up to us to pass policies that would firewall Californians and what we believe from the cynical, short-sighted, and reactionary agenda that is rising in the wake of the election,” State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D) bloviated. He continued to say, “unity must be separated from complicity…Californians do not need healing. We need to fight.”
The fiery talk isn’t new in California, Trump only received 31-percent of the vote in the limousine liberal state.
“If any year could be said to be the ‘year zero’ of our modern era, 1979 is it,” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said in a press release.
“In the Middle East, the Iranian revolution, the Saudi Islamic uprising and the Egypt-Israel Camp David Accords led not only to the present regional power dynamic but decisively changed the relationship between oil, militant Islam and the world,” Assange added.
John Kelly shares many Republicans’ position on the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. For three years prior to his retirement last winter, the Marine Corps general oversaw operations at the controversial detention facility where, despite President Barack Obama’s determination to close it, dozens of alleged wartime combatants and notable terror suspects remain incarcerated.
As the head of U.S. Southern Command, Kelly’s first and only four-star assignment, he was prepared to carry out a directive to shut down the prison complex.
This could be President Trump’s first chance to broker a deal to really free the Cuban people…
HAVANA (Reuters) – Fidel Castro, the Cuban revolutionary leader who built a communist state on the doorstep of the United States and for five decades defied U.S. efforts to topple him, died on Friday. He was 90.
A towering figure of the 20th century and Cold War icon, Castro stuck to his ideology beyond the collapse of Soviet communism and remained widely respected in parts of the world that struggled against colonial rule.
A U.S. service member was killed by an improvised explosive device in northern Syria on Thursday, the Pentagon announced in a statement.
The service member was killed near Ain Issa, a town roughly 35 miles northwest of the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa. The death marks the first time a U.S. service member has been killed in the country since a contingent of Special Operations forces were deployed there in October 2015 to go after the extremist group.