10/13/15

The Cyberweapons Club: Easy, Cheap & Available… Spurs New Arms Race

By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton

Cyberwar

The Wall Street Journal has a great article out on cyber warfare and the weapons it entails. In recent years, countries across the globe have spent billions on facilities that house the means to wage war electronically. You can be a major player on the geopolitical scene even without nuclear weapons. Joining the cyberweapons club is easy, cheap and open to anyone with a computer and money.

Digital warfare was brought to life when numerous countries carried out successful computer raids… the US was one of those countries. Now, a digital arms race is in full swing with countries all over the globe amassing huge troves of malicious code and nasty methods of breaching networks. You’ve got everything from the simplest of programs that use emails that have a single word misspelled, that ask for a password or for you to open an attachment, to more advanced code that utilizes Twitter handles.

In what I consider to be a faux agreement that means about as much as the Iranian deal, the US and China just signed a limited agreement to not conduct various forms of cyber attacks against each other. These have to do with corporate raids and domestic companies. But government espionage is still on the table and fair game. What a joke.

We’ve already seen a great deal of movement in this arena. Take Pakistan and India for example. They are nuclear rivals and hack each other all the time. Estonia and Belarus fear Russia and are working feverishly to build some kind of defense against the Russians. Good luck with that. Denmark, the Netherlands, Argentina and France are all developing offensive computer weapons. Everyone is getting ready for a new frontier on the battlefield.

There are now over 29 nations who have units dedicated to hacking other countries. 50 countries or so have actually purchased canned hacking software that they use for domestic or international surveillance. The US is said to have one of the most advanced operations out there. I’m not so sure of that. I believe that Russia, China, Iran and North Korea all have us beat hands down. As do the Israelis.

Invasive digital attacks are used to mine data and steal information. Computers can be erased at will. Whole networks can be disabled. In one instance, nuclear centrifuges were destroyed. These techniques are used for good and bad reasons. But it’s like Pandora’s box… now that it is out there and growing, nations must not only be defensive, they have to be offensive on this front.

More worrisome attacks are coming our way. Cyberweapons that take down electrical grids, disable domestic airline networks, jam Internet connectivity, erase money from bank accounts and confuse radar systems are being developed. Instances of probing in these areas have already occurred in the US and it is only a matter of time before a major attack comes in these areas. Many of our enemies already have their software on systems throughout the US, quietly lurking until they are triggered for whatever reason. It’s a ticking time bomb.

Our military strategies and tactics will have to change with these new developments if we are to survive. Attacks like these are almost impossible to entirely stop or to trace. To face off against these new threats, we will have to have highly trained units that fight this battle 24 hours a day. Many are already in place and working the issue. I’m just not convinced they will be fast or good enough.

Dozens of countries are now armed to the teeth with cyberweapons. Some Defense Department officials compare the current moment to the lull between the World Wars when militaries realized the potential of armed planes. I believe we are already in World War III and just don’t seem to grasp it yet.

Speaking of war, Syrian hackers have been at it already in that country, looking into the doings of the rebel militias, stealing tactical information and then using that intelligence to attack them. It’s been effective and efficient. With the aid and advice of the Russians, the Syrian government is using high tech as well as on the ground military maneuvers to annihilate their enemies.

As for the US, we know what some countries are up to, but as for many of them, we have no clue. I would say we are in the dark as to a great deal that our enemies have accomplished in the cyber arena. That’s a deadly mistake. In fact, I don’t think anyone, other than the new Axis of Evil (Iran, Russia and China) know exactly how skilled our enemies are in cyber espionage and warfare. You would think that the NSA, CIA and FBI would have a better grasp on all of this, but they don’t.

The new battlefields out there will be comprised of hard military assets, intelligence services and cyber armies. You already see this in the big boys out there: the US, China, Russia, Iran, North Korea and Israel.

The Chinese are masters at hacking. They are infamous for low-tech phishing schemes that trick people into granting them access to their networks. That’s probably how they hacked the Office of Personnel Management. A contractor fell for an innocuous looking email and presto! The Chinese cracked the network and gained access to more than 21 million people’s information. China of course lied. That’s one thing about all these spying nation states… they all lie.

The Chinese army has whole divisions that are devoted to cyber warfare. They believe in unconventional warfare and have been very busy at pushing boundaries abroad. They are very good and very covert. In fact, they even fix what they break on the way in. You never even know they are among you.

China opposes the militarization of cyberspace or a cyber arms race, said Zhu Haiquan, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, adding China “firmly opposes and combats all forms of cyber attacks in accordance with law.” Yeah, well… it depends on what “law” means. And once again, they lie.

On to the Russians… they are very good as well and have just as many units dedicated to cyber warfare as the Chinese. The Russians love to go after diplomatic and political data. They are very good at tailored emails that ensnare their victims. They have dug into the networks at the Pentagon, State Department and White House, also using emails laced with malware, according to security researchers and US officials. The Russian’s have stolen Obama’s daily schedule and his diplomatic correspondence. The Russians say nyet, but of course, they lie.

“Russia has never waged cyber warfare against anyone,” Andrey Akulchev, a spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Washington, said in a written statement Friday. “Russia believes that the cybersphere should be used exclusively for peaceful purposes.” They always deny – lying is second nature to the Russkies.

US spies and security researchers say Russia is particularly adept at developing hacking tools. Some malicious software linked to Russia by security researchers has a feature meant to help it target computers on classified government networks usually not connected to the Internet. They have a virus that literally jumps onto USB thumb drives, just waiting for a user to plug it in on a classified network. It’s ingenious and evil.

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The Russians are subtle. They will hide stolen data in a whole host of ways. They’ll mix it into normal network traffic. They know just how to fool most cyber security defenses. For instance, they have a piece of malware that hides its communications in consumer web services. The code downloads its instructions from a set of Twitter accounts. It then exports the data to a commercial storage service. Since corporate cyber security systems don’t block traffic to and from these sites, this can be very effective.

But the Iranians go even further. They aren’t content with just stealing information… they use cyberweapons to destroy computers. They’ve done it at least twice. Government investigators believe Iranian hackers implanted the Shamoon virus on computers at Saudi Arabia’s Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest energy firm, in 2012. The Aramco attack erased 75% of the company’s computers and replaced screen images with burning American flags. The attack didn’t affect oil production, but it rattled the company as it gave away the extent of Iran’s cyber capabilities. Ostensibly, the move was in retaliation for the alleged US-Israeli attack on Iran’s centrifuges utilizing the Stuxnet computer worm.

Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper has said that the Iranians used malware to destroy computers last year at the Las Vegas Sands Corp. The owner, Sheldon Adelson, is a major critic of the Iranian government.

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The US also contends that Iranian hackers have taken down websites of numerous US banks in DOS attacks. This was in response to a YouTube video on the Prophet Mohammed supposedly. More likely, it had to do with economic sanctions and the Stuxnet attack.

In 2012, Iran announced the creation of the Supreme Council of Cyberspace charged to oversee the defense of Iran’s computer networks and develop “new ways of infiltrating or attacking the computer networks of its enemies.” Since Obama has inked the suicidal nuclear deal with Iran, cyber attacks have slowed somewhat, but that won’t last long. There are no illusions that Iran is in any way an ally to the US. They have aligned with Russia and China to eventually war with us. Tehran appears “fully committed” to using cyber attacks as part of its national strategy.

Let’s peek at the NoKos, shall we? Of course, their latest claim to fame is the Sony hack. It was in retaliation for the movie, “The Interview,” which portrayed their trollish leader in a less-than-favorable light. In it, Kim Jong Un gets offed. No big loss. The retaliatory hack was arguably one of the most successful nation-state breaches ever. Many suspect an inside job since the malware was implanted directly on Sony computers. This allowed the NoKos to steal and destroy data at will. South Korea has also said that the North Koreans have attempted to hack one of their nuclear reactors, as well as a television network and a major bank. The NoKos haven’t denied anything. They don’t care who knows or accuses them.

Looking for work? Defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. has advertised for a “cyber operations planner” to “facilitate” offensive computer attacks with the South Korean and US governments, according to a job posting listed online. The scope is undisclosed and probably above all of our pay grades.

I keep hearing the US has the most advanced operations. But as I said before, I highly doubt that. The NSA is touting itself as the “crown creator of cyberespionage.”

In a spectacularly treasonous move, former National Security Agency contractor, Edward Snowden. leaked documents that showed the NSA had implanted malware on tens of thousands of foreign computers. That allowed the US government secret access to data and potentially the industrial control systems behind power plants and pipelines. Color me skeptical, but who knows?

US Cyber Command now has nine “National Mission Teams” with plans to build four more. Each are comprised of 60 military personnel that will “conduct full-spectrum cyberspace operations to provide cyber options to senior policy makers in response to attacks against our nation,” a Pentagon spokesperson said. The Navy, Army, and Air Force will each build four teams, with the Marines building a single unit. Each will have a “separate mission with a specific focus area,” though these have so far remained secret.

In 2014, the Netherlands announced it would begin training its own Internet troops through a domestic cyber security company, called Fox-IT. The head of the Dutch armed forces, Major Gen. Tom Middendorp, said in a symposium the group should be prepared to carry out attacks, not just block them, according to a Dutch media report. The Netherlands’ military strategy, laid out in various documents, refers to hacking as a “force multiplier.”

In 2013, Denmark’s Defense Ministry began allocating about $10 million a year for “computer network operations,” which include “defensive and offensive military operations,” according to government budget documents. That amount is just 0.24% of the Danish defense budget.

There are a lot of software engineers out there producing canned systems for private parties. It’s a seller’s market out there and countries are paying top dollar for cyber warfare software. A document leak on the Italian firm Hacking Team revealed the company had sold its surveillance tools to dozens of countries, including Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia and Azerbaijan. Money is king and everyone has a price. Our own FBI is evidently a customer of the Hacking Team who promotes their product as “the hacking suite for governmental interception.” It’s the perfect tool for exploiting holes in software to gain access to computers and mobile devices.

States aren’t the only players. About 30 Arabic-fluent hackers in the Palestinian territories, Egypt and Turkey are building their own tools to hit targets in Egypt, Israel and the US, according to researchers.

In August, the US used a drone to kill Islamic State hacker Junaid Hussain in Raqqa, Syria, showing the extent to which digital warfare has upset the balance of power on the modern battlefield. The British citizen had used inexpensive tools to hack more than 1,000 US military personnel and published personal and financial details online for others to exploit. He helped sharpen the terror group’s defenses against Western surveillance and built hacking tools to penetrate computer systems as well.

All this cyber warfare and espionage is making national security and cyberweapons experts very nervous. A really big and debilitating attack could come at any time and we would pretty much be powerless to stop it. We just have no idea what the bad guys are capable of. “What we can do, we can expect done back to us,” said Howard Schmidt, who was the White House’s cyber security coordinator until 2012. The US is thinking, “Yeah, I don’t want to pull that trigger because it’s going to be more than a single shot that goes off.”

The jokes on us… that trigger has already been pulled. Let’s just hope the US isn’t home to the walking dead because of it. Because the cyberweapons club is so easy, cheap and available… we are watching a new arms race take off. The US is not in the forefront of this race and we had better hustle to catch up and overtake our enemies. Cyberspace is the new battlefront.

10/7/15

Putin’s “Moral Clarity” Disguises Evil Intent

By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media

We as a nation are discussing ways to isolate and treat mental illness in society. How do we identify those who are mentally ill and get them help? These questions are also relevant on the world stage, as Russian President Vladimir Putin poses as the savior of the world.

You know that moral confusion is taking hold in society when a conservative website hails Vladimir Putin for his “moral clarity” in the War on Terror, and compares him to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Yet, Dr. Robin McFee, who generally focuses on Weapons of Mass Destruction preparedness as well as medical matters, writes that Putin, who has invaded Ukraine and is now backing the Assad dictatorship in Syria with troops and weapons, “has emerged as the go to global statesmen [sic] on the world stage” because he gave a U.N. speech describing chaos in the Middle East resulting from President Obama’s policies.

Both Obama and Putin have created instability in the Middle East, but that doesn’t mean that one is a statesman and the other is not. It may mean that they are both working in tandem to reduce American influence in the region, just as they partnered on behalf of a nuclear deal with Iran.

Regarding their U.N. speeches, McFee wrote, “Both Netanyahu and Putin shared a refreshing moral clarity, presenting an unvarnished snapshot of the world as it is, the threats awaiting us, and gave an unfiltered insight into the challenges they face, as well as approaches each will take in the protection of their respective nation’s interests and sovereignty.”

The idea that Putin is a leader we should admire is a notion that is nonsensical on its face. He gave asylum to NSA defector Edward Snowden, who still lives in Russia. In a recent edition of The Intelligencer, the journal of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO), Peter Oleson writes about how Snowden’s disclosures have facilitated the activities of the Islamic State—a group that Putin claims he opposes—along with other American enemies and adversaries.

Oleson, a former assistant director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) who served as senior intelligence policy advisor to the Under Secretary of Defense Policy, writes, “The damage to US intelligence has been extensive. Snowden leaked the identities of over 1,000 targets of US intelligence and 31,000 files revealing what US policymakers want intelligence to provide (i.e., a list revealing what the US doesn’t know). His releases contain sufficient detail to identify US and allied intelligence officers. He revealed previously secret details of the US intelligence budget.”

He goes on, “Perhaps even more significant is the exposure of specific sources and methods and techniques US intelligence uses. Snowden has exposed how the US tracks terrorists via e-mails, social media, and cell phones.”

These are some of the same terrorists running wild in the Middle East that Putin says he opposes.

Indeed, Oleson notes that “The MI-5 head warned that the Snowden leaks undermined British security as concerns grow over British Islamists fighting in Syria. He also revealed the hacking techniques of NSA’s Tailored Access Office, the group that focuses on difficult electronic targets. Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s (ISIS) leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has altered his communications to avoid detection. Electronic eavesdropping techniques used against Al Qaeda in Iraq no longer work.”

Summarizing the damage Snowden has done, Oleson concludes that Snowden is a traitor to the United States and quite possibly a spy.

There are other reasons to categorically reject the notion that Putin is a statesman who sees the world like Israel’s Netanyahu. The Russians created the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to destroy Israel. Israel has been terrorized by Soviet/Russian trained terrorists for decades.

But Putin, a former KGB colonel, wanted the world to forget this record of backing international terrorism when he spoke to the U.N.

McFee approvingly quotes Putin as saying in his U.N. speech, “We believe that any attempts to play games with terrorists, let alone to arm them, are not just short-sighted. This may result in the global terrorist threat increasing dramatically and engulfing new regions, especially given that Islamic State camps train militants from many countries, including the European countries.”

She then adds, “Beyond a few glaringly obvious issues, like Russian influence in Iran, and criminal money laundering, nevertheless, Putin highlights important facts.”

“Russian influence in Iran?” Is that how Russian sponsorship of the Iranian regime and its nuclear weapons program is best described?

Relegating “Russian influence in Iran” to a throwaway line ignores the terrorism this alliance has meant for the Middle East and the world. It is the Iranian relationship with Syria and Russia that Putin is determined to support in the Middle East. Iranian-supported terrorist groups are just as lethal as the Islamic State, and Netanyahu knows it. That’s why he has pleaded with Putin, to no avail, to look the other way when Israel bombs Syrian and Iranian supply lines for Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The fact that Putin invaded Ukraine, and that his separatist forces brought down a civilian airliner over areas they control, should also disabuse us of any notion that he is a moral statesman on the world stage. Of course, Putin also kills journalists and opposition figures. But particularly gruesome ways of killing, such as the poisoning of former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko, are reserved for those who spill secrets about Putin and his KGB comrades. Litvinenko disclosed Russian training of al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

McFee’s praise for Putin’s “moral clarity on radical Islam at the U.N.” ignores the evidence that the Russians have their fingerprints all over the activities of the Islamic State, not only through facilitating Snowden’s disclosures but through the provision of actual manpower.

The Homeland Security Committee’s recent report on foreign fighters in the Islamic State lists Russia as number four among the top 10 countries of origin. Russia has supplied 1,700 fighters. The United States isn’t even in the top 10. Russia has done little to stop this flow of people to the Islamic State, suggesting that some are leaving under the watchful eye of Putin’s intelligence services. One Islamic State military commander is, in fact, considered a Russian plant.

Russia may not control every faction of the Islamic State, but it’s a sure bet that Putin’s intelligence operatives are in charge of at least some of them. It is significant that initial Russian airstrikes were determined to be hitting opponents of Assad, not Islamic State fighters.

As we have seen by the intervention in Syria, the Islamic State serves Russian interests by giving Putin the opportunity to act decisively on behalf of the Syrian regime, which also benefits Iran. Putin comes out on top no matter which side wins and looks like a statesman in the process. At least he looks that way to some.

It’s time to face reality: Putin is a bloodthirsty killer whose only concern is building up Russian power and damaging the interests of the United States. Disgust for Obama should not blind people to that fact.

It’s time to identify Putin as not only mentally unstable, but so bloodthirsty that he constitutes a threat to the Middle East, America and the world. Putin’s nuclear weapons buildup is so alarming that our top generals have called Russia an “existential threat” to the United States.

We’ve identified the problem. So who among the presidential candidates has a plan to rid the world of this lunatic before thousands, or even millions, of Americans die?

08/1/15

Donald Trump’s Greatest Hits

By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media

Donald Trump has gotten popular, in part, by challenging the media. But he has praised journalists on occasion. His 2011 book, Time to Get Tough, said David Gregory was “doing a fine job filling some awfully big shoes over at Meet the Press.” It was a reference to legendary and highly respected host Tim Russert, who had passed away.

So-called “Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd,” who replaced Gregory, is a favorite Trump target. “The thing I find most offensive about Chuck Todd is the fact that he pretends to be an objective journalist,” Trump writes, “when in reality the guy is a partisan hack.”

In many ways, as Trump said, David Gregory was doing a fine job. Some of the criticism of Gregory’s performance as “Meet the Press” host missed the mark, such as when he interviewed Edward Snowden collaborator Glenn Greenwald. As we noted at the time, some in the media were aghast that Gregory asked Greenwald a perfectly reasonable question on “Meet the Press:” “To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn’t you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?”

Snowden, the NSA leaker, has been charged with espionage and still resides in Russia.

In his book, Trump takes on Jon Stewart, the host of “The Daily Show” on the Comedy Central network who is quitting after years of service to President Obama and the liberal-left. Stewart’s strategy is spewing curse words and invective toward conservatives and Republicans.

Trump recognized Stewart as Obama’s tool before it was recently revealed that Stewart was secretly meeting with people in the Obama White House, including President Obama, in efforts “by the president and his communications team to tap into Mr. Stewart’s influence with younger voters,” as The New York Times put it.

“I actually enjoy the guy,” Trump’s book says of Stewart, “but when he did a segment mocking presidential candidate Herman Cain, and used a very racist and degrading tone that was insulting to the African American community, did he get booted off the air like Don Imus? No. Where was the Reverend Jesse Jackson? Where was the Reverend Al Sharpton? Where was Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd to provide hard-hitting journalistic ‘analysis?’  Nowhere. Stewart should have lost his job—at least temporarily. But he didn’t and he won’t because liberals in the media always get a free pass, no matter how bad their behavior.”

Cain himself had noted that Stewart had mocked him using the racially-charged “Amos & Andy” dialect. He concluded that Stewart has a problem with black conservatives.

In other comments in his book, Trump discussed the journalists “who are obsessed with protecting Obama,” noting that ABC’s George Stephanopoulos is among the “big Obama fans.”  He added that “it was incredible to see how overprotective reporters got toward Obama when I simply said what everyone in America was thinking: ‘Where’s the birth certificate?’”

While he praises Fox News and Roger Ailes, the executive behind the popular channel, Trump faults the “disappointing behavior by people in the press” which “occurs on both sides of the aisle,” and singles out Charles Krauthammer of Fox News for special criticism. Trump said Krauthammer had attacked him on the air as a joke candidate, and that he was not given any rebuttal time.

Discussing a speech he gave to Republicans, during which he had used “strong language,” Trump admits, “I’m not a big curser but it did take place” and the controversial remarks were reported by the media. But Trump counters: “Of course, Joe Biden dropped the f-word in front of the entire media on a stage with the president. But Biden gets a pass because he’s with Obama, and as we all know, Obama can do no wrong in the media’s eyes.”

Other quotable comments from his book include the observation that The New York Times is Obama’s “favorite newspaper,” and that “The press constantly maligns, ridicules, and mocks the Tea Party folks.”

During the current campaign, Trump has not shied away from putting reporters on the spot.

Asked a question by Telemundo anchor José Díaz-Balart, who distorted his position on illegal immigration, Trump fired back, “You know what, that’s a typical case. Wait. That’s a typical case of the press with misinterpretation. They take a half a sentence, then they take a quarter of a sentence, they put it all together. It’s a typical thing. And you’re with Telemundo, and Telemundo should be ashamed.”

In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, he said, “Anderson, you are not a baby, okay. You are not a baby.”

Asked by NBC’s Katy Tur if he had a gun and used it, he responded, “It is none of your business, it is really none of your business. I have a license to have a gun.”

After The Wall Street Journal attacked Trump and his conservative supporters in the media, the businessman responded by saying the paper had a “dwindling” readership and “is worth about one-tenth of what it was purchased for…”

After Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard said he was “finished” with Trump, he responded, “Bill, your small and slightly failing magazine will be a giant success when you finally back Trump.”

Fox News media reporter Howard Kurtz notes, “Look, Trump thrives on being attacked. He’s a great counterpuncher. He particularly relishes doing battle with the media. And this latest story hands him a big fat gift to do just that.”

That “latest story” was in The Daily Beast and concerned some allegations about alleged marital rape from Trump’s divorce proceedings. Trump’s ex-wife Ivana responded, “I have recently read some comments attributed to me from nearly 30 years ago at a time of very high tension during my divorce from Donald. The story is totally without merit.”

She added, “Donald and I are the best of friends and together have raised three children that we love and are very proud of. I have nothing but fondness for Donald and wish him the best of luck on his campaign.”

Since then, a story has surfaced about Trump criticizing an opposing attorney who wanted to breast-pump in front of him. Trump told CNN he may have said to her that it was “disgusting.” He added, “Bottom line. I beat her.” He said the judge had even awarded him legal fees.

For turning the tables on the media, Trump deserves the praise of those who are sick and tired of the liberal media setting the national agenda and demonizing conservatives.

I have a feeling that the Donald Trump hit parade will continue.

07/1/15

Walmart, Comcast Celebrate Gay Pride

By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media

“Homo is Healthy” was one of the signs on the official gay pride website for the big march celebrating the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage on Sunday, June 28, in New York City. It was brought to you, in part, by Walmart, a high-level Platinum sponsor that happens to be America’s largest private sector employer. The giant retailer was among a “Who’s Who” of corporate America that also included sponsors Coke, Netflix, Hilton, PBS, Macy’s and Comcast Universal (NBC).

Pete Leather Bar

Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth covered the event, publishing photos of nearly naked men and a “leather” contingent on a truck, among other scenes of debauchery. He said hundreds of children could be seen either marching in or watching the parade. “This is the evidence of why gay marriage and gay parenting are wrong,” LaBarbera told Accuracy in Media.

One photo showed a big rainbow flag being unfurled as the Walmart logo could be seen in the background.

LaBarbera said the scenes of nudity and vulgarity that he photographed at the pride march in New York City provided evidence of how the homosexual lifestyle is something America should not celebrate or make into protected status under law.

For its part, Comcast celebrated June as gay pride month with short films targeting “LGBTQ youth” and “LGBTQ teens.”

Comcast boasted, “In 2013, 2014, and 2015, the company earned a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index and was named a Best Place to Work for the LGBT community.”

Nowhere is homosexual influence more pronounced than Hollywood. However, a new film on homosexual influence in Hollywood, “An Open Secret,” is having a hard time getting distributed, with those involved with the film saying that financial interests in Hollywood have been trying to suppress it. This film, however, does not celebrate “gay pride.” Rather, it exposes victims of sexual abuse in the entertainment industry. The homosexual pedophiles exposed in the film include Marc Collins-Rector, a major figure in the entertainment business who is a convicted child abuser and now a registered sex offender. The film is directed by Amy Berg, who also directed the 2006 American documentary film about a pedophile Catholic priest, Oliver O’Grady, called “Deliver Us From Evil.”

The decision by Walmart to embrace the homosexual rights movement is a case study of how the powerful interests who run the movement have worked their will on corporate America.

Quartz, a digital native news outlet, noted that “When Sam Walton started the company [Walmart] in 1962 in Rogers, Arkansas, he imbued the chain with a certain small-town conservatism. For instance, it long drew ire for its reluctance to sell music with explicit lyrics.”

Although Walmart still portrays itself as family-friendly, LaBarbera points out that the company is now publicly pro-homosexual and has been giving major grants to homosexual/transgender events and organizations, including $25,000 – $50,000 in 2014 to the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, a group that helps elect “out” homosexuals to political office. (Most of them are Democrats.)

The group’s 2011 annual report reveals that openly gay Obama ally, Terry Bean, co-founder of the major homosexual lobby, the Human Rights Campaign, has been a major supporter of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund as well. Bean took a leave of absence from the Human Rights Campaign after he was arrested on sexual abuse charges involving sex with a minor.

Corporate supporters of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund in 2011 included Pacific Gas & Electric Company, Bank of America, Southwest Airlines, AT&T, Shell Oil Company, Microsoft, Wells Fargo and the Nuclear Energy Institute.

Wells Fargo achieved notoriety this year by becoming the nation’s first bank to run a national ad including a homosexual couple.

Labor union sponsors of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund included the Service Employees International Union, the National Education Association, and the AFL-CIO.

Meanwhile, open homosexuals in the media, such as Edward Snowden mouthpiece Glenn Greenwald, have opened fire on Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia for exposing the Court’s gay marriage ruling as a “judicial Putsch” that stole the democratic system away from the American people.

Writing on the website of First Look Media, financed by billionaire French-born Iranian-American Pierre Omidyar, Greenwald hailed the ruling and noted that “Harry Hay created the Mattachine Society,” the first homosexual rights organization in the U.S. However, Greenwald failed to point out Hay’s membership in the Communist Party and support for the North American Man-Boy Love Association. Greenwald is one of several media figures on Out Magazine’s list of “most influential LGBT people in American culture.” Others include Anderson Cooper of CNN, Shepard Smith of Fox News, Robin Roberts of ABC, Don Lemon of CNN, Harvey Levin of TMZ, Rachel Maddow and Thomas Roberts of MSNBC, and Kara Swisher of CNBC.

On the conservative side, support for homosexual marriage seems to be growing—or at least coming out of the closet. Mary Katharine Ham, a Fox News commentator and editor-at-large of HotAir.com, has declared herself in favor of same-sex marriage. She has written a book with homosexual political commentator Guy Benson, a Fox News contributor who serves as political editor of the TownHall.com website.

HotAir and TownHall are owned by Salem Media Group, a Christian firm. Salem has refused to respond to questions about its employees becoming advocates for or activists in the homosexual movement.

06/13/15

Russia China Pact with Snowden in the Middle

By: Denise Simon
FoundersCode.com

Going beyond the major hack by China into the Office of Personnel Management that cultivated at least 14 million personnel files of government, intelligence and military, China is building a database of individuals in America. Would they share it with Russia? The wake of destruction is yet to be known and future predictions are impossible to imagine.

Russia is turning to China and likewise China is delighted for the relationship as proven by the Silk Road Economic objectives.

Putin’s vision of a ‘greater Europe’ from Lisbon to Vladivostok, made up of the European Union and the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union, is being replaced by a ‘greater Asia’ from Shanghai to St. Petersburg.

China's silk road

In part:

The rupture between Russia and the West stemming from the 2014 crisis over Ukraine has wide-ranging geopolitical implications. Russia has reverted to its traditional position as a Eurasian power sitting between the East and the West, and it is tilting toward China in the face of political and economic pressure from the United States and Europe. This does not presage a new Sino-Russian bloc, but the epoch of post-communist Russia’s integration with the West is over. In the new epoch, Russia will seek to expand and deepen its relations with non-Western nations, focusing on Asia. Western leaders need to take this shift seriously.

Russia’s Pivot to Asia

Russia’s pivot to Asia predates the Ukraine crisis, but it has become more pronounced since then. This is in part because China is the largest economy outside of the coalition that has imposed sanctions on Russia as a result of the crisis.

What was originally Moscow’s “marriage of convenience” with Beijing has turned into a much closer partnership that includes cooperation on energy trade, infrastructure development, and defense.

Putin’s vision of a “greater Europe” from Lisbon to Vladivostok, made up of the European Union and the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union, is being replaced by a “greater Asia” from Shanghai to St. Petersburg.

Russia is now more likely to back China in the steadily growing competition between Beijing and Washington, which will strengthen China’s hand.

Takeaways for Western Leaders

Russia’s confrontation with the United States will help mitigate Sino-Russian rivalries, mostly to China’s advantage. But this doesn’t mean Russia will be dominated by China—Moscow is likely to find a way to craft a special relationship with its partner.

With China’s economic might and Russia’s great-power expertise, the BRICS group (of which Russia is a part, along with Brazil, India, China, and South Africa) will increasingly challenge the G7 as a parallel center of global governance.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, due to include India and Pakistan this year, is on its way to becoming the principal development and security forum for continental Asia.

Through its enhanced relations with non-Western countries, Russia will actively promote a concept of world order that seeks to reduce U.S. global dominance and replace it with a broader great-power consensus. Much more detail here.

Enter Snowden

Russia, China Decrypt Snowden Files

Russia and China have allegedly decrypted the top-secret cache of files stolen by whistleblower Edward Snowden, according to a report from The Sunday Times, to be published tomorrow.

The info has compelled British intelligence agency MI6 to withdraw some of its agents from active operations and other Western intelligence agencies are now actively involved in rescue operations. In a July 2013 email to a former U.S. Senator, Snowden stated that, “No intel­li­gence ser­vice—not even our own—has the capac­ity to com­pro­mise the secrets I con­tinue to pro­tect. While it has not been reported in the media, one of my spe­cial­iza­tions was to teach our peo­ple at DIA how to keep such infor­ma­tion from being com­pro­mised even in the high­est threat counter-intelligence envi­ron­ments (i.e. China).” Many in the intelligence agencies at the time greeted this claim with scepticism. Now, one senior British official said Snowden had “blood on his hands,” but another said there’s yet no evidence anyone was harmed. Snowden eventually fled to Russia via Hong Kong after downloading some 1.7 million documents from U.S. government computers and leaking them to journalists out of a desire to protect “privacy and basic liberties.” The revelations of mass spying outraged populations and governments around the world, at least temporarily damaged relations, and eventually led to changes in the mass surveillance policies of the NSA and British GCHQ.

06/9/15

The Secret Russian Role in Global Conflict

By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media

In an extraordinary judgment that throws U.S. policy in the Middle East into complete turmoil, strategic analyst Michael Ledeen has concluded, in regard to the activities of the Islamic State, “I think the Russians are involved, in tandem with the Iranians, who have had their own troops on the Syrian battlefield for years.”

This means that a U.S. congressional declaration of war on the Islamic State would miss the point, and that the Russians and the Iranians are the bigger threat.

“It’s part of the global war, of which Syria is only one killing field, and IS [Islamic State] is one of the band of killers,” says Ledeen.

The analysis of Ledeen, who previously served as a consultant to the National Security Council, the State Department, and the Defense Department, should serve as an opportunity to review what is really happening in the Middle East, and to examine whether the Islamic State is a Russian creation that is designed to pave the way for Iranian expansion.

Ledeen notes evidence that the top IS military commander, Abu Omar al-Shishani, is a Russian asset, and that “the Russians are exploiting their strategic position in Ukraine to set up transit facilities for IS.” He adds that Ukrainian security forces recently arrested five IS volunteers coming from Russia or the former Soviet republics.

Last September we reported on some of this evidence, noting, “We have heard repeatedly about Americans and Europeans fighting for ISIL [the Islamic state], but little attention is being devoted to the Russian-speaking foreign fighters that make up the group. Their numbers are estimated at 500 or more. Omar al-Shishani is usually described as a prominent Islamic State fighter who is Chechen. In fact, he was born in the former Soviet republic of Georgia and was trained there.”

Those who believe the Russians are incapable of such deception and misdirection have conveniently forgotten about the history of the old Soviet intelligence service, the KGB. It is represented in the Kremlin today by Russian President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer once based in East Germany.

In another area of global affairs that reveals a hidden Russian role, The New York Times has taken note in a June 7 story of evidence that the Russians under Putin are financing conservative movements and political parties around the world. The Times reports, “Not only is it [the Kremlin] aligning itself with the leftists traditionally affiliated with Moscow since the Cold War, but it is making common cause with far-right forces rebelling against the rise of the European Union that are sympathetic to Mr. Putin’s attack on what he calls the West’s moral decline.”

This is actually an old story. We have been reporting for more than a year about Putin acquiring agents of influence or dupes in the West, even in the United States. Perhaps the most prominent name associated with this pro-Moscow trend is veteran conservative columnist Patrick J. Buchanan. The World Congress of Families is the most prominent organization to embrace Moscow’s alleged devotion to Christian values.

It is quite natural for conservatives in favor of traditional values to abhor the Obama administration’s embrace of the so-called LGBT agenda, here and abroad. But to adore Putin in reaction to this trend is a major miscalculation that assumes Moscow is genuinely interested in preserving Western values.

It is a welcome development that The New York Times has finally taken note of Moscow’s hand in right-wing political movements.

But there’s more. The paper added, “American and European officials have accused Moscow of financing green movements in Europe to encourage protests against hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a move intended to defend Russia’s gas industry. And a shadowy ‘troll farm’ in St. Petersburg uses Twitter to plant fake stories about chemical spills or Ebola outbreaks in the West.”

Another example of how Putin is deceiving the world lies in his exploitation of Edward Snowden, the former NSA employee still being hailed as a whistleblower in the United States.

Buchanan’s magazine, The American Conservative, has written about how figures on the U.S. political right such as Ronald Reagan biographer Craig Shirley have rallied to Snowden’s defense. In a recent column, Shirley condemned “the senior GOP leadership’s embrace of the National Security Agency’s enveloping surveillance activities.”

What Shirley and other Snowden supporters ignore is the fact that the NSA’s surveillance activities rely mostly on a Ronald Reagan Executive Order (12333) and that funding and manpower for the NSA increased dramatically under Reagan.

In fact, President Reagan used the NSA to undermine America’s enemies, especially the old USSR.

National security reporter Bill Gertz wrote in 2013 about how a former “top-secret” document, “United States Cryptologic History, Series VI, Vol. 5: American Cryptology During the Cold War, 1945-89,” contained a section on how President Ronald Reagan realized the value of the NSA’s unique electronic intelligence collection capabilities.

The history notes that “the best known exposure of SIGINT [signals intelligence] since the Pearl Harbor hearings of 1945 had actually come in 1983, when the Reagan administration played the intercepted cockpit conversations of the Soviet pilot as he shot down KAL-007. The SIGINT gave the administration a tremendous foreign policy coup.”

On September 1, 1983, the Soviet Union shot down the civilian airliner KAL-007, killing 269 people.

In 1986, the document states, Reagan became the first American president to visit the NSA, as he gave the official dedication speech for the NSA’s two new buildings. He wanted to loosen “the legal reins governing intelligence,” the document says, giving rise to Reagan executive order 12333. It gave the NSA latitude in SIGINT collection that the agency had not had during the disastrous Carter years.

This executive order remains in effect. Not even Obama has tried to revoke it.

Based on this history, one would have to conclude that President Reagan would defend the NSA, just as the GOP leadership in the U.S. Senate has done. Leaders like Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) defended the NSA against the Obama administration, liberal Democrats and libertarian Republicans.

The tragedy is that, with Obama in office rather than a conservative like Reagan, some conservatives decided to join the campaign to undermine the agency that Reagan considered absolutely essential to America’s security and survival.

Could it be just a coincidence that the Islamic state, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and aggressive Chinese cyber-warfare against the U.S. have emerged as major problems in the wake of Snowden’s arrival in Moscow?

Those who blame Obama alone for all of our foreign policy setbacks should examine the evidence that Putin and the Russians may ultimately be pulling the strings. At the same time, the NSA can’t be blamed for Obama’s failure or unwillingness to use the agency effectively against our enemies.

When the next president takes office, he will need an NSA capable of gathering the intelligence information the nation needs to defend itself. The next administration will have to consider apprehending and then prosecuting Snowden for operating as a Russian/Chinese agent of influence and committing espionage against the United States.

Hopefully, those who defended or praised Snowden will one day have to answer for their foolishness.

06/3/15

ICYMI: KGB General: Of Course Snowden Is Working for Russian Intelligence

The Right Planet

The XX Committee

Edward-Snowden-FSB

May 23, 2014

As the Snowden Operation devolves into farce, with the inevitable falling-out between Wikileaks and the Greenwald axis happening online for the world to see, it seems that Edward Snowden isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. What contact, if any, he had with foreign intelligence services before he fled Hawaii for Hong Kong and then Russia, where he remains, is an important question that cannot be answered yet with publicly available information. Indeed, it may take years, perhaps decades for a reliable answer to emerge, given the nature of the espionage business. However, nobody familiar with spy games, particularly when Russians are involved, has any doubt the Ed is working for the Russians now. After all, what choice does he really have?

As if to deflect attention from this obvious truth, today President Vladimir Putin publicly denied that Ed is their guy: he “is not our agent, and gave up no secrets.” This should be taken about as seriously as any Kremlin utterance these days, such as claims that Jewish neo-Nazis are running things in Ukraine. For good measure, Putin added that the whole spectacle is really the fault of America’s “unprofessional” intelligence services, who failed to do their job and prevent this unprecedented disaster. Vlad sometimes can’t help himself, adding, “Russia is not a country that gives up champions of human rights,” meaning Ed.

More important is a new interview with Oleg Kalugin, who is a good deal more honest than Vladimir Putin. Titled “Snowden is cooperating with Russian intelligence,” this is an important development, given Kalugin’s position. He is something of a legend in espionage circles, since he was the youngest general in the KGB at the height of the Cold War, heading up the foreign counterintelligence office of the KGB’s elite First Chief Directorate, its overseas espionage arm. As such, Kalugin was responsible for overseeing the recruitment of foreigners working in the intelligence business…in other words, people just like Edward Snowden. Kalugin’s exploits working against U.S. intelligence are the stuff of exciting late-night spy stories, and you can read about some of them in his memoir, which I recommend (if you read Russian, that version is even better).

I don’t know of anybody in the West with better bona fides than Kalugin to discuss the modus operandi of Russia’s “special services,” particularly in their dealings with Western intelligence sources and defectors. Therefore I am including most of the article, since it merits reading:

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden probably never envisioned that he’d someday be working for the Russian federal security service, or FSB. 

But according to former KGB Major General Oleg Kalugin, he is now, albeit as a consultant or technical advisor.

“These days, the Russians are very pleased with the gifts Edward Snowden has given them. He’s busy doing something. He is not just idling his way through life.”

“The FSB are now his hosts, and they are taking care of him,” Kalugin boldly claimed in an interview with VentureBeat.

The 80 year-old retired Soviet intelligence officer is Russian spy royalty personified. At 34, he became the youngest KGB general in history, and Kalugin famously helped run Soviet spy operations in America during a career that spanned over three decades.

Kalugin and his wife relocated to Maryland after falling out of favor with the Russian regime in the 1990s. After becoming a vocal critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin (Kalugin called Putin a war criminal for his second invasion of Chechnya), a warrant was issued for his arrest. He’s been in the U.S. ever since.

Kalugin still has juice within Russian intelligence circles and maintains contacts with friends in Russia from his days as a Soviet spy. Kalugin teaches at the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies and also sits on the advisory board for the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.

Back in Russia, according to Kalugin, Snowden is being handled by the FSB, the KGB’s successor. Kalugin claims that Snowden has shared much of his vast trove of secrets about the NSA with his Russian hosts, and in the process, has allegedly handed the FSB one of their biggest intelligence hauls and propaganda coups since the end of the Cold War.

This claim echoes early warnings from congressman Michael McCaul, senator Dianne Feinstein, lieutenant generalMichael Flynn, and congressman Mike Rogers, yet no concrete evidence proves that such an exchange took place. Snowden has consistently denied claims that he took security documents with him to Russia.

“Whatever he had access to in his former days at NSA, I believe he shared all of it with the Russians, and they are very grateful,” Kalugin claims.

It has been over a year since Snowden downloaded thousands of top secret NSA documents from his stint as a NSA contractor and traveled first to Hong Kong from his home in Hawaii. He arrived in Moscow August 1 after he failed to gain asylum in 30 other countries.

Snowden’s leaks revealed the NSA’s efforts to turn Facebook into a surveillance machine, the agency’s close ties with Google, and the theft of private user data from firms like Yahoo and Apple. In the wake of these revelations, many of the tech industry’s most powerful firms have frantically adopted new security protocols at unprecedented speeds.

Snowden shared his haul with security journalist Glenn Greenwald and other media outlets, like the Washington Post and Germany’s Der Spiegel, shedding unprecedented light on the prodigious intelligence gathering programs of his former employer and sending shockwaves around the world.

Greenwald, who lives in Brazil but is currently traveling in the U.S., did not return emails for comment.

These days, exile in Russia means Snowden, 30, has lots of time on his hands. A source in Moscow with connections to Russian intelligence said the American is believed to be living, at least part time, in a dacha 70 miles south of Moscow in an FSB retirement community reserved for favored cadres.

“He has lots of free time. He doesn’t need to go into the office anymore,” Kalugin said.

Snowden’s location could not be independently confirmed.

While free to leave Russia, Kalugin claims Snowden’s whereabouts are monitored by his FSB handlers, who allegedly control his spending budget and watch over whom he talks with.

In Kalugin’s view, Snowden is guilty of treason.

“Of course he is, by American standards. Snowden is a traitor,” Kalugin said. “When someone changes sides and goes over to the other side, it’s a victory,” he said.

Snowden’s value to his Russian handlers has not totally run its course, claims Kalugin, and the FSB will allegedly use him as a technical consultant and advisor on topics that interest them. His travel in the country also may be coordinated by the FSB, Kalugin said.

But the former KGB general believes that if he wants to, Snowden will have little trouble integrating himself into Russian culture and digging in for the long haul.

“He is not being left alone obviously. The Russians are trying their best to be hospitable,” Kalugin said.

“At this point,” said Kalugin, who has written three books on his 34 years in Soviet intelligence, “the reception in Russia for him has been exceptionally friendly.”

“And I’m sure that Snowden is enjoying it.”

Read more at 20committee.com …

06/2/15

Who’s Behind the “Disinformation” Against the NSA?

By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media

Since Matt Drudge is a recluse who doesn’t respond to questions about his news judgment or political views, it’s hard to know for sure why he put a photograph of Edward Snowden on his website above the words, “Free to chat without NSA tracking! At least for now.” Was he recognizing enemy agent Snowden’s important role in Senator Rand Paul’s (R-KY) victory in the Senate in closing down National Security Agency (NSA) terrorist surveillance authority?

Despite the implication behind this misleading headline on Drudge’s influential website, people were always “free to chat.” That phrase contributes to the lingering misperception that the NSA is listening to ordinary Americans’ telephone conversations and gathering private and personal data about their lives.

Our media, under the influence of left-wing groups like the ACLU and libertarian organizations such as the Cato Institute, certainly have no desire to clear things up.

On Monday, these so-called “privacy advocates” and “surveillance experts” held a press call for the media, responding to the expiration of the Patriot Act and its various provisions. They are now desperate to prevent the Senate from adopting amendments to fix the flawed House bill known as the USA Freedom Act.

It’s fashionable to join this campaign and go with the flow, perpetuating false assumptions about what the NSA actually does.

But to his credit, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), also a presidential candidate, pointed out, “Internet search providers, Internet-based email accounts, credit card companies and membership discount cards used at the grocery store all collect far more personal information on Americans than the bulk metadata program” of the NSA.

As such, headlines like those on the Drudge Report are misleading to the point of paranoia and can only serve to make an enemy agent like Snowden, now living in Moscow and serving his Kremlin masters, into some kind of hero.

Yet, there can be no doubt that Snowden came out the big winner, thanks to Senator Paul.

If anything, this state of affairs should cause Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to rethink his support of Senator Paul’s presidential run.

In remarks on the Senate floor, McConnell said, “We shouldn’t be disarming unilaterally as our enemies grow more sophisticated and aggressive, and we certainly should not be doing so based on a campaign of demagoguery and disinformation launched in the wake of the unlawful actions of Edward Snowden.”

Those terms “demagoguery” and “disinformation” were directed at the junior senator from Kentucky. McConnell seemed to be suggesting that Paul was playing Snowden’s tune.

The term “disinformation” carries special weight, since it is an intelligence term that signifies a political influence campaign being waged by our enemies abroad, perhaps in Russia or China. Snowden, based in Moscow, has to be considered under the control of the Russian security services.

Was McConnell suggesting that Paul is acting on behalf of Russia or China?

As if this wasn’t bad enough, Paul acted on the Senate floor like President Obama was behind the NSA program and was trying to maintain it in its present form. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Obama has abandoned the NSA, something his progressive base had been demanding ever since Snowden went to Russia.

McConnell noted that Obama was pushing the House-passed USA Freedom Act, which Democrats admit has serious flaws and loopholes. McConnell said, “The administration’s inability to answer even the most basic questions about the alternate bulk-data system it would have to build under that legislation is, to say the least, troubling. And that’s not just my view. That’s the view of many in this body, including colleagues who’d been favorably predisposed to the House bill.”

McConnell went on: “In particular, I know senators from both parties have been disturbed by the administration’s continuing inability to guarantee whether the new system would work as well as the current one, or whether there would even be any data available to analyze. Because while the administration has let it be known that this non-existent system could only be built in time if telephone providers cooperate in building it, providers have made it abundantly clear that they will not commit to retaining the data for any period of time unless legally required to do so—and there is no such requirement in the House-passed bill.”

McConnell quoted one provider as saying, “[We are] not prepared to commit to voluntarily retain documents for any particular period of time pursuant to the proposed USA Freedom Act if not otherwise required by law.”

In other words, the USA Freedom Act effectively dismantles the terrorist surveillance powers of the NSA, while giving the impression of “reform.” It’s no wonder that Snowden-friendly media like the British Guardian are giving the measure favorable publicity.

It’s troubling that Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), another GOP presidential candidate, was backing the USA Freedom Act as well.

But Senator Paul stands to the left of even the House bill.

In another piece of disinformation, an outfit called America’s Liberty PAC released animated video showing Rand Paul vs. Barack Obama in a supposed showdown over the NSA, with the two of them depicted as the wrestlers “Rand Man,” and Obama as the head of the “Washington spy machine.”

Yet, Obama was mostly on the side of Rand Paul in this effort.

As noted, Obama had endorsed major changes in the NSA program that McConnell had described as unworkable. McConnell and those who wanted to maintain the system were Paul’s real enemies.

Let’s hope that Senator McConnell continues to set the record straight as the junior senator from Kentucky goes forward in the presidential campaign, attempting to portray himself as a friend of liberty and the Constitution against the odious Obama administration. Also odious is a presidential candidate who misrepresents the facts for political gain, and runs as a Republican when his position on the NSA makes him more comfortable in the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party.

It looks like Senator Paul is following in the footsteps of his father, who veered far-left on foreign policy matters and came to be associated with the “blame America first” mentality that the Democrats were once known for. Interestingly, America’s Liberty PAC, a Super PAC founded by former Ron Paul political operatives, is backing Rand Paul for president and has been endorsed by him.

In another example of pure disinformation, a video on a conservative website hailed Senator Paul’s actions under the headline, “Obama’s NSA Snoops Have Just Been Dealt A HUGE Setback That Could Shake Up The 2016 Race.”

Obama’s NSA Snoops? This is the same kind of nonsense that Senator Paul was spewing. The NSA is a professional intelligence agency whose main mission is to support America’s combat troops. It has also been assigned the job of maintaining a database of phone numbers possibly linked to foreign terrorist organizations. This information, after it is obtained legally, is provided to law enforcement agencies such as the FBI.

Largely because of the antics of Senator Paul, McConnell is now left with the option of bringing the House-passed bill to the Senate floor. “It’s not ideal but, along with votes on some modest amendments that attempt to ensure the program can actually work as promised, it’s now the only realistic way forward,” he said.

To his credit, Senator Rubio has backed McConnell’s effort to protect and preserve the NSA system. He noted, “Bulk metadata includes phone numbers, the time and duration of calls—nothing else. No content of any phone calls is collected. The government is not listening to your phone calls or recording them unless you are a terrorist or talking to a terrorist outside the United States.”

These basic facts have gotten lost in the “demagoguery and disinformation,” as Senator McConnell called the attacks on the NSA.

Even worse, the effort had a money-grubbing aspect to it. Paul posted a statement celebrating the end of the NSA program and urging his supporters to, “Click here to contribute and celebrate this tremendous victory for the Constitution.”

Edward Snowden was certainly celebrating. He had contributed to one of Ron Paul’s presidential campaigns and is probably tempted to support his son. But “clicking to contribute” rubles from Moscow might be going too far, even for the Pauls.

06/2/15

“Switch to Mitch” Better Than “Stand with Rand”

By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media

A new report on the damage done by Edward Snowden’s illegal leaks of classified information says terrorists now “better understand the scope and scale of Western intelligence capacity” and have altered the way they communicate about their plans to attack the United States and its allies. “By revealing information concerning intelligence-gathering techniques, Snowden has polluted ongoing operations” to catch terrorists, states the new report from the Henry Jackson Society.

At a time such as this, diminishing or dismantling the powers of the NSA seems like a suicidal course of action for the United States. Yet, acting at the instigation of Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), the Senate is close to voting for major changes to the NSA in the form of a so-called USA Freedom Act, which has already passed the House but which could risk a loss of critical intelligence information, thereby leading to future terrorist attacks. A Senate vote comes next Sunday, just hours before a vital NSA program authorized under Section 215 of the Patriot Act is scheduled to lapse.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who once endorsed Paul’s presidential run, seems to be having second thoughts as he scrambles to maintain the existing power of the NSA to obtain access to a databank of U.S. telephone numbers, known as metadata, which investigators could search for links to foreign terrorist organizations plotting attacks on the American homeland. Such information is obtained by the NSA and then provided to law enforcement agencies such as the FBI.

The Obama administration is backing Senate passage of the USA Freedom Act legislation that some experts describe as unworkable.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) says that the USA Freedom Act “undercuts the Intelligence Community’s capability to stop terrorist attacks here and abroad. Our intelligence personnel have responsibly and professionally used authorities granted them under Section 215 for years, and have helped keep Americans safe as a result….  Even the Administration has admitted that no intentional abuses of privacy and civil liberties have resulted from the use of the legal authorities provided by Section 215.”

Burr points out that the legislation “envisions an unknown technical solution based on uncertain access to data that may or may not exist.” He says the bill lacks “a mandatory data retention requirement for the telecommunications companies,” and therefore offers no real mechanism for investigators to obtain the information that could help thwart terrorist attacks.

“As terror groups such as the Islamic State and Al-Qaida grow in number, capability, and technical sophistication, now is not the time to turn to an untested, unproven proposal” such as the House-passed USA Freedom Act, he said. Burr supports McConnell’s proposed clean authorization of section 215 of the Patriot Act.

The “Stand with Rand” crowd points to a Breitbart “exclusive” article from Paul, who is opposing McConnell’s effort and insists that “FBI agents can’t point to any major terrorism cases they’ve cracked thanks to the key snooping powers [for the NSA] in the Patriot Act.” Paul insists that the agency’s powers must be scaled back through Senate adoption of the USA Freedom Act.

In fact, however, the Senator’s claim about the NSA providing no role in cracking major terrorism cases is flat-out wrong, as AIM has documented. Paul was referring to a Justice Department Inspector General’s report that in fact confirmed the usefulness of NSA information in providing investigative leads and corroborating other information for the FBI. Cases are actually “cracked” by law enforcement authorities working with information provided by the NSA and other sources.

In another major miscue, the Kentucky senator claimed in his Breitbart column that “a recent Pew Research Poll shows that a majority of Americans want the Patriot Act changed.” But the link is to an article about a poll commissioned by the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the senator’s left-wing allies in attempting to shut down the powers of the NSA.

The biased poll from Global Strategy Group and G² Public Strategies gets large margins against NSA surveillance powers by framing the issue in terms of the “privacy” of Americans’ “personal information” versus “government spying.” In fact, the NSA does not collect any “personal information,” except in cases where telephone numbers of terrorist contacts in the U.S. are matched with foreign terrorist organizations. That information is used by the FBI to conduct investigations of terrorist groups on U.S. soil.

Meanwhile, Paul has denied that his filibuster against the Patriot Act was a money-raising tactic linked to the release of his new book, Taking a Stand, and his presidential campaign.

If a political issue is what he’s seeking, New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie, a former prosecutor, is giving it to him. Christie, a possible GOP presidential candidate, told the “Fox & Friends” show that Paul and his Senate allies are taking the side of NSA defector Snowden, “a criminal” who is “hiding in Russia.” Christie noted the irony in Snowden “lecturing to us about the evils of authoritarian government while he lives under the protective umbrella of Vladimir Putin.”

As several news organizations have pointed out, Paul makes the erroneous claim in his new book that six Americans died in the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attacks. This basic error of fact (four died at Benghazi) is a serious lapse for a presidential candidate who is already facing questions over his expertise in national security matters.

But, as Christie suggests, the most serious questions facing the Senator concern his willingness to regard Snowden, now living in Moscow under the protection of the Russian secret services, as a legitimate whistleblower concerned about the privacy of the American people.

The new study from the Henry Jackson Society, written by Robin Simcox, says Snowden has had “contact” with the Russian security service, the FSB, “an obvious cause of concern” that has led the U.S. Government to fear that Russian and Chinese cyber warfare capabilities have increased as a result of getting access to Snowden’s stolen files.

Simcox documents how the following has occurred as a result of the Snowden disclosures:

  • At least three al-Qaeda affiliates are known to have changed their communication methods.
  • Online jihadist platforms released new encryption tools, and at a quicker pace.
  • A video released onto a jihadist platform outlined what they had learned from the Snowden disclosures, providing advice on how to avoid detection and listing software packages that protect against surveillance.
  • Foreign terror suspects realized that their communications potentially passed through the U.S. (even if the individuals themselves were not based there) and that Communication Service Providers (CSP) was allowing the NSA to access these communications. They subsequently stopped using these CSPs to send emails, or even stopped using electronic communications altogether.

As one example of “non-domestic surveillance” revealed by Snowden, this report cites another report that the NSA had received permission to spy on groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

This may explain why groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate, have joined Senator Paul in opposing NSA surveillance powers. On Sunday’s “This Week” program, Muslim Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) said he would “Stand with Rand” against the Patriot Act. “I’ve been proud to stand with him” on this and other issues, he said.

The Senate faces a choice this Sunday: “Switch to Mitch” or “Stand with Rand” and risk catastrophe.