US Launches Cyber War Against the World

“It is lack of confidence, more than anything else, that kills a civilization. We can destroy ourselves by cynicism and disillusion, just as effectively as by bombs”. - British historian and aesthetician Sir Kenneth Clark
“A Two-Wave Experiment found that the way the news media presents the news can cause political cynicism" - Dutch study called, The Effects of Strategic News on Political Cynicism, Issue Evaluations, and Policy Support
“[The Dulles brothers] were able to succeed [at regime change] in Iran and Guatemala because those were democratic societies, they were open societies. They had free press; there were all kinds of independent organizations; there were professional groups; there were labor unions; there were student groups; there were religious organizations. When you have an open society, it’s very easy for covert operatives to penetrate that society and corrupt it”. - Author Stephen Kinzer
"A spirit of instability in government will cause [citizens] to lose confidence in public institutions. When citizens lose basic faith in their government, it leads to corrosive cynicism and the acceptance of conspiracy theories. Movements and individuals once considered fringe become mainstream, while previously responsible figures decamp to fever swamps. One result is  that the informal and unwritten rules of political and human interaction, which are at the  core of civilization, are undone. There is such a thing as democratic etiquette; when it is lost, the common assumptions that allow for compromise and progress erode. In short, chaotic leadership can inflict real trauma on political and civic culture". - Senior Fellow at Ethics and Public Policy center and served in three Republican administrations, Peter Wehner  
They have the tools to chase chaos. They have the tools to inflict trauma on political and civic culture. They have the tools to set the political mood of a society. They have the tools to sow political unrest around the world. They first destroy the spirit through an information war, after which they can easily destroy the body either through economic/financial blackmail or war. Using information as a tool to weaken political opposition around the world is essentially what propaganda and psy-ops is all about. Therefore, it can be said that for Western powers the notion of “free media” simply means: Information controlled by Western interests. This is not a theory of mine. More and more people around the world are beginning to talk about this serious problem. Please research the following to put it all in context -
NGOs, an extension of US foreign policy:
US NGO uncovered in Ukraine protest:
How foreign NGOs destroy Russia:
Do Certain NGOs Play the Role of a ‘Trojan Horse’ in Armenia?:
Money Talks Through NGOs:
Council on Foreign Relations: Democracy-Promotion and U.S. NGOs:
US spent $585 million on ‘promoting democracy’ worldwide in past year:
The National Endowment for Democracy, NGOs and the Imperial Uses:
A Distorted Media Mirror:
Methods and goals of anti-Russian media in Armenia:
Washington on the War Path: Civil Society as Battering-Ram:
Czechs open center for civil society activists from ex-Soviet countries:
Does the US engineering revolutions?:
Revolution Engineering: US know-how and 'colourful' technology:

Documents Leaked by WikiLeaks Show an Organization Training Opposition Around the World:

How to Start a Revolution:
George Soros and his open society:
US spy operation that manipulates social media:
US launches cyber spy operation:
Pentagon spent millions studying how to influence social media:
How British spies covertly shape the flow of information online to ‘discredit’ their targets:
New Snowden Docs Reveal British Spy Agency Tactic To Manipulate Social Media:
Spy Agencies Manipulate and Disrupt Web Discussions to Promote Propaganda and Discredit Government Critics:
The Globalization of Politics: American Foreign Policy for a New Century:
Are We Witnessing the Start of a Global Revolution?:
Former CIA agent tells: How US infiltrates "civil society" to overthrow governments:
Moscow Details Subversive NGO Activities in Russia and Around the World:
Therefore, keep this in mind next time you read news articles produced by Armenian news outlets based in the US or come across news reports put out by Armenia’s Western-financed political opposition. Most of the news reports and political commentaries put out by such sources are specifically designed to convey outrage against the Armenian state and sow hopelessness among Armenians. They are therefore meant to breakdown the spirit and sow the seeds of sociopolitical unrest. 

Now you know why Western powers have been encouraging Armenian opposition officials, "independent" journalists and political activists to disseminate negative news about Armenia on a persistent basis. Their constant “the sky is falling" rhetoric is how they have wounded the Armenian spirit and why growing numbers of Armenians want out of Armenia.

I reiterate: Much of the reason behind why Armenians have been demoralized in recent years and why there is political instability and a powerful sense of hopelessness in Armenia today is precisely due to the mass hysteria fomented by the Western-led forces in the country. Armenia is suffering from a persistent campaign of doom and gloom and every single growing pain in the country is getting co-opted and turned into a sociopolitical fiasco.

US Launches Cyber War Against the World

After geopolitics, the power of state-sponsored propaganda and psychological warfare operations (psy-op) is perhaps the least appreciated and least understood topic in political affairs. Even less understood is the government's exploitation of cyber technology in recent years. When people look at their computer screens they do not normally see a powerful tool for warfare. That, I'm afraid, is not the case when it comes to governments. With growing numbers of people getting "on-line" around the world in recent years, cyber technology is providing those in powers with historic new opportunities. What we have been experiencing in the Middle East lately is the sophisticated fusion of armed intervention, propaganda (psy-op) and cyber technology into one effective/lethal political tool.

With tens of millions of undereducated and underemployed and increasingly restless youth coming of age throughout the world, strategic planners of the Western alliance are exploiting this historic opportunity. Cyber-based psy-op and military might is being used to attain geopolitical goals - namely the remaking of the Middle East. The Anglo-American-Zionist alliance in conjunction with client states in the Arabian peninsula are currently working on the region's loose ends in preparation for their future attack on Iran. This is a long-term agenda and it will not simply end with Iran. They have bigger obstacles on the horizon such as Russia and China that they will have to negotiate as well. But all in due time.

Keep the following information in mind next time you hear talk about "Twitter" or "Facebook" in the context of revolutions taking place in the Middle East. These "online revolutions" are not as "spontaneous" or as "grassroots" as they are being portrayed - because they are being managed/coordinated by special units of Western intelligence services. As much as they would have liked to have kept it a secret, information is now beginning to leak out about Washington's involvement in some of the bloody revolutions currently plaguing the Middle East (there seem to be one or two counter revolts instigated by Iran as well). When truly confidential information is "leaked", it is primarily done for political purposes and it is usually done by opposing intelligence services and sometimes by disgruntled employees. Regardless of who released such information and why, what's clear here is that Washington is playing a major role in the unrest the Middle East is currently suffering. Therefore, as suspected (I didn't need to see to this information to know that it's occurring), the long tentacles of the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance has been exploiting wide-spread public despair and the popularity of modern technology to do its dirty work overseas. The following are some reports on the topic by Russia's RT:

CIA on Facebook and Twitter: Wayne Madsen on info warfare:

NGOs, an extension of US foreign policy:

Assange: Facebook, Google, Yahoo spying tools for US intelligence:
When it comes to the manipulation of people's mindsets and carrying out politically driven propaganda, Washington has a great number of very powerful and highly sophisticated tools at its disposal, both conventional (a large army of activists, mainstream media, government funded NGOs, school curriculum and Hollywood) and unconventional (cyberspace technology, psychological warfare operations and internet activists). According to released information, the US government is apparently using Information Technology to spread pro-United States propaganda within nations where Washington is currently raping and pillaging the natives. In other words, they are putting on a "America is your friend" happy face as they molest vulnerable Third World nations with abundant natural wealth. And when the governments of nations being targeted resort to curbing internet usage in their countries as a countermeasure, they are quickly accused of being dictatorial and/or tyrannical. Thus, it's a no win situation for those targeted.
We must also take into consideration that what is known about what the US government does (even against its own citizens in the US) is merely the tip of the iceberg. If the US government can use the internet to covertly spread "America is your friend" propaganda throughout the world, don't you think it can also use the same medium to instigating violence in targeted nations such as Russia, Libya, Armenia, Iran, Syria, China, Serbia, Venezuela, Lebanon, [fill-in-the-blank]? Of course it can, and it does! And there is plenty of evidence at hand. All one needs to do is open their eyes. I have posted a number of relevant articles below this commentary.

As a matter of fact, the cyber-based psy-op against Libya and Syria have been frighteningly well organized and quite public in its implementation. As if over night, dozens of US-based Libyan and Syrian blogs and virtual organizations have mushroomed and they are all calling for regime change and revolution. Although they are naturally giving the Middle East all the priority currently, there are other targets as well.

Not a week goes these days by without a nasty report appearing in the controlled press about Russia. Virtually every single US news article or report that appears about the Russian Federation is either negative or down right hostile. Even the western world's blogosphere today is saturated by Russia-haters. Specially after the 2008 war in Georgia, Western Russophobia has been very intense and very organized. This is not merely a result of ignorance or chance. It is all government sanctioned. The long-term strategic goal of this agenda is to condition and manage the emotions of the general public. When a major nation that is viewed as a competitor is vilified and belittled in the minds of the masses, it becomes much easier for their politicians to carry out their dirty work.

Closer to home, there is a whole range of US-based blogs and organizations that primarily concern themselves with disseminating anti-Armenia propaganda. The following "online revolution", for instance, was attempted in Armenia during last February when the West was maintaining hope that Levon Petrosian would be able to stir trouble again. This particular program was being managed by Onnik Krikorian, a British-Armenian agent posing as an "independent journalist" and a "human-rights" activist. [During the 1960s, special operatives often posed as backpackers and aid workers. These days, they like to pose as journalists and social activists] A brief look at the following two websites is all that is needed to fully understand who Onnik Krikorian is working for and for what purpose:

Washington's large army of cyberspace activists (human and electronic) are saturating different Armenian blogs, news websites and chat-rooms (discussion forums) with Washingtonian inspired political rhetoric and poisonous commentaries concerning the Armenian republic. It's obvious that Armenia has recently become one of the main targets of Washington's sophisticated psyop campaign. Monitor any one of the major Armenian news websites and blogs and read the posted commentary at the bottom of the features news articles. The spirit of many of the commentaries in question range from the absurd to the surreal. The following blog entry is related to this topic. When visiting the sources from which the articles came, please pay attention to some of the commentaries posted at the bottom of the pages:

Washington's Media Blitz Against Armenia - February, 2011:
But much to the dismay of the Raffi Hovannisians, Paruyr Hayrikian, Richard Giragosians and Vartan Oskanians, officials in Washington are finding Armenians to be a bit more difficult to manipulate and coax than Third World natives they have been so accustomed to dealing with all these years. Armenians may be politically illiterate, but they see right through bullshit. Having Moscow constantly watching our back hasn't hurt either. In tandem with Armenia's interior ministry, the Russian FSB is most probably busying itself placing various countermeasures in Armenia. Naturally, Russian intelligence has had very deep roots in Armenia. This may ultimately save Armenia from a bloody revolution. Washington isn't the only political entity involved in this high-tech game of manipulation. Israel's intelligence services also carries out sophisticated operations aimed at conditioning the political sentiments of non-Jews. During the 2006 war in south Lebanon, the following curious piece of leaked information was being disseminated throughout the internet:

Israel's Government has thrown its weight behind efforts by supporters to counter what it believes to be negative bias and a tide of pro-Arab propaganda. The Foreign Ministry has ordered trainee diplomats to track websites and chatrooms so that networks of US and European groups with hundreds of thousands of Jewish activists can place supportive messages. In the past week nearly 5,000 members of the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS) have downloaded special “megaphone†software that alerts them to anti-Israeli chatrooms or internet polls to enable them to post contrary viewpoints. A student team in Jerusalem combs the web in a host of different languages to flag the sites so that those who have signed up can influence an opinion survey or the course of a debate.

Next time you find yourself on an online discussion forum and the topic of conversation is not to the Mossad's liking, expect some friendly Jew to show up and start claiming that Armenians and Jews brothers and that the real enemy of the world is Islam or Iranians or Hezbollah or Palestinians, etc. During the 2006, when the world community was basically cheering the heroic actions of Lebanon's Hezbollah, I personally observed this happen on several different occasions.

Nevertheless, what's obvious here is that Washington and friends are pulling the strings of the rebellions and revolutions we are currently seeing take place all across the Arab world. This, in a sense, reveals just how deeply compromised that region of the world has become. With the exception of Libya, Iran, Syria, segments of Lebanon and formerly Iraq, rest of the region's dictatorships/kingdoms (particularly Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan) are client states of the Western alliance. Thus, looking at the playing field as it currently exists, it is quite easy to see what nations will be violated and what nations will be supported - regardless of silly little things like democracy and freedom. The sheeple in this region of the world may be rebelling/protesting/demonstrating for legitimate reasons, their shepherds, however, are carrying out the orders of the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance. In fact, as many of us already know, wars that are raging in the Middle East and Central Asia today were planned by Western military planners many years ago. The following Democracy Now video clip of a 2007 interview by the soft-spoken war-criminal Wesley Clark is a very troubling revelation: 

The Plan - according to U.S. General Wesley Clark:
The geopolitical agenda of the Western alliance is commencing in full force throughout the Middle East, Central Asia and parts of Africa. This 21th century project to remake certain parts of the world was planned during the 1990s, when the Anglo-American-Zionist global order was 'the' hyperpower, at a time when Russia and China were no where to be seen. And the grandiose plan in question was fully commenced in late 2001 - in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 terror attacks against the United States by unknown assailants. The following is a video clip of a speech neoconservative war criminal (and one of the masterminds of the wars we have raging today) Paul Wolfowitz gave West Point graduates shortly before the events of September 11, 2001. In hindsight, the tone of his "get ready to be surprised" speech is very curious: 
Wolfowitz chilling speech:
What's clear is that we are truly living in very troubling times. This is one of the pivotal points in human history. How humanity will come out of this period is anyone's guess. Never before had the global population been this large. Never before had food and energy production been this strained. Never before had so many regions of the world been simultaneously this explosive. Never before had a single political force held this much global power and this much sway over the global community. Only the rise of Russia and China and the political awakening of humanity can save the world from the next dark age. The words you will hear and read with the following posts are that of Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of the main masterminds of the Western alliance. The first link is to a 2010 speech he gave in Montreal at a Council on Foreign Relations meeting. The text at the bottom of the video link are excepts from "The global political awakening", an article by Brzezinski that appeared in the New York Times in 2008. Please pay close attention to Brzezinski's choice of words:
CFR Meeting: Zbigniew Brzezinski Speech (2010):


The Global Political Awakening
For the first time in human history almost all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive... The resulting global political activism is generating a surge in the quest for personal dignity, cultural respect and economic opportunity in a world painfully scarred by memories of centuries-long alien colonial or imperial domination... The worldwide yearning for human dignity is the central challenge inherent in the phenomenon of global political awakening... That awakening is socially massive and politically radicalizing... The nearly universal access to radio, television and increasingly the Internet is creating a community of shared perceptions and envy that can be galvanized and channeled by demagogic political or religious passions. These energies transcend sovereign borders and pose a challenge both to existing states as well as to the existing global hierarchy, on top of which America still perches... The youth of the Third World are particularly restless and resentful. The demographic revolution they embody is thus a political time-bomb, as well...

Their potential revolutionary spearhead is likely to emerge from among the scores of millions of students concentrated in the often intellectually dubious "tertiary level" educational institutions of developing countries. Depending on the definition of the tertiary educational level, there are currently worldwide between 80 and 130 million "college" students. Typically originating from the socially insecure lower middle class and inflamed by a sense of social outrage, these millions of students are revolutionaries-in-waiting, already semi-mobilized in large congregations, connected by the Internet and pre-positioned for a replay on a larger scale of what transpired years earlier in Mexico City or in Tiananmen Square. Their physical energy and emotional frustration is just waiting to be triggered by a cause, or a faith, or a hatred...

[The] major world powers, new and old, also face a novel reality: while the lethality of their military might is greater than ever, their capacity to impose control over the politically awakened masses of the world is at a historic low. To put it bluntly: in earlier times, it was easier to control one million people than to physically kill one million people; today, it is infinitely easier to kill one million people than to control one million people.

Zbigniew Brzezinski
Former U.S. National Security Advisor
Member of Council on Foreign Relations
Co-Founder of the Trilateral Commission
Member, Board of Trustees, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Well folks, there you have it; right from the source. But is anybody listening? Looking at the masses of undereducated, underfed and underemployed, Brzezinski said - "[the sheeple's] physical energy and emotional frustration is just waiting to be triggered by a cause, or a faith, or a hatred". Isn't this exactly what's going on overseas today? It's also interesting to note that these people look at their native activists as coming from "often intellectually dubious tertiary level educational institutions of developing countries". In other words, the army of Armenian human rights activists and independent journalists that are enthusiastically serving Satan these days in the name of Truth, Justice, and the American Way (as well as a few dollars and round trip tickets to Armenia), are in reality looked at by their masters as nothing more than cannon-fodder.

We Armenians simply must not allow these demons to comfortably settle in Armenia like they have done elsewhere. We must not show Armenia's many Western operatives and activists any tolerance. As a matter of fact, all those in Armenia that maintain ties with the Western alliance, in any capacity, regardless of who they may be, should be placed under state surveillance - or simply exiled. Armenia does not have the resources, the strength, the expertise or the experience to effectively counter the machinations of the West. The only cure against the corrosive/destructive power of the political West in Armenia is better and closer relations with the East. Some foolishly think Armenia would be able to ward-off Western designs with higher standards of living. These people utterly fail to realize that despite our best efforts, due to Armenia's less-than ideal geographic location and geopolitical circumstances, attaining higher standards of living for the population will remain some years away. Libya had the highest standard of living in all of Africa, did that stop its mutilation by the Western alliance? At the end of the day, Russia and to some degree the Islamic Republic of Iran and China are Armenia's last hope for survival in what may yet become the bloodiest century we have had.

During the seconds half of the 20th century, the Soviet Union was an easy thing to hate and fear. Moscow's threatening posture at the time as well as the prospects of communism coming to a nation nearby helped conceal the true face of the political West. Since the Soviet collapse, the mask has come off. The modern version of Bolshevism, the Globalism that is being imposed upon us by the Anglo-American Zionist world - is the single most dangerous thing the global community faces. Being stupid during the Cold War was one thing... being stupid now, in this information age, after what we experienced during the past twenty years is totally inexcusable.

August, 2011
(Articles amended 2018)


US spy operation that manipulates social media

The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda. A Californian corporation has been awarded a contract with United States Central Command (Centcom), which oversees US armed operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, to develop what is described as an "online persona management service" that will allow one US serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities based all over the world.

The project has been likened by web experts to China's attempts to control and restrict free speech on the internet. Critics are likely to complain that it will allow the US military to create a false consensus in online conversations, crowd out unwelcome opinions and smother commentaries or reports that do not correspond with its own objectives. The discovery that the US military is developing false online personalities – known to users of social media as "sock puppets" – could also encourage other governments, private companies and non-government organisations to do the same.

The Centcom contract stipulates that each fake online persona must have a convincing background, history and supporting details, and that up to 50 US-based controllers should be able to operate false identities from their workstations "without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries". Centcom spokesman Commander Bill Speaks said: "The technology supports classified blogging activities on foreign-language websites to enable Centcom to counter violent extremist and enemy propaganda outside the US."

He said none of the interventions would be in English, as it would be unlawful to "address US audiences" with such technology, and any English-language use of social media by Centcom was always clearly attributed. The languages in which the interventions are conducted include Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and Pashto. Centcom said it was not targeting any US-based web sites, in English or any other language, and specifically said it was not targeting Facebook or Twitter.

Once developed, the software could allow US service personnel, working around the clock in one location, to respond to emerging online conversations with any number of co-ordinated messages, blogposts, chatroom posts and other interventions. Details of the contract suggest this location would be MacDill air force base near Tampa, Florida, home of US Special Operations Command. Centcom's contract requires for each controller the provision of one "virtual private server" located in the United States and others appearing to be outside the US to give the impression the fake personas are real people located in different parts of the world.

It also calls for "traffic mixing", blending the persona controllers' internet usage with the usage of people outside Centcom in a manner that must offer "excellent cover and powerful deniability". The multiple persona contract is thought to have been awarded as part of a programme called Operation Earnest Voice (OEV), which was first developed in Iraq as a psychological warfare weapon against the online presence of al-Qaida supporters and others ranged against coalition forces. Since then, OEV is reported to have expanded into a $200m programme and is thought to have been used against jihadists across Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Middle East.

OEV is seen by senior US commanders as a vital counter-terrorism and counter-radicalisation programme. In evidence to the US Senate's armed services committee last year, General David Petraeus, then commander of Centcom, described the operation as an effort to "counter extremist ideology and propaganda and to ensure that credible voices in the region are heard". He said the US military's objective was to be "first with the truth". This month Petraeus's successor, General James Mattis, told the same committee that OEV "supports all activities associated with degrading the enemy narrative, including web engagement and web-based product distribution capabilities".

Centcom confirmed that the $2.76m contract was awarded to Ntrepid, a newly formed corporation registered in Los Angeles. It would not disclose whether the multiple persona project is already in operation or discuss any related contracts. Nobody was available for comment at Ntrepid. In his evidence to the Senate committee, Gen Mattis said: "OEV seeks to disrupt recruitment and training of suicide bombers; deny safe havens for our adversaries; and counter extremist ideology and propaganda." He added that Centcom was working with "our coalition partners" to develop new techniques and tactics the US could use "to counter the adversary in the cyber domain".

According to a report by the inspector general of the US defence department in Iraq, OEV was managed by the multinational forces rather than Centcom. Asked whether any UK military personnel had been involved in OEV, Britain's Ministry of Defence said it could find "no evidence". The MoD refused to say whether it had been involved in the development of persona management programmes, saying: "We don't comment on cyber capability."

OEV was discussed last year at a gathering of electronic warfare specialists in Washington DC, where a senior Centcom officer told delegates that its purpose was to "communicate critical messages and to counter the propaganda of our adversaries". Persona management by the US military would face legal challenges if it were turned against citizens of the US, where a number of people engaged in sock puppetry have faced prosecution. Last year a New York lawyer who impersonated a scholar was sentenced to jail after being convicted of "criminal impersonation" and identity theft.

It is unclear whether a persona management programme would contravene UK law. Legal experts say it could fall foul of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981, which states that "a person is guilty of forgery if he makes a false instrument, with the intention that he or another shall use it to induce somebody to accept it as genuine, and by reason of so accepting it to do or not to do some act to his own or any other person's prejudice". However, this would apply only if a website or social network could be shown to have suffered "prejudice" as a result.

• This article was amended on 18 March 2011 to remove references to Facebook and Twitter and add a comment from Centcom, received after publication, that it is not targeting those sites.


US launches cyber spy operation

In order to undertake the massive operation in cyberspace, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) has purchased software designed to create and control false online personas from California-based company Ntrepid, The Huffington Post reported on Thursday. The software would allow each user to be in command of 10 personas. Each persona is "replete with background, history, supporting details, and cyber presences that are technically, culturally and geographically consistent.”

The users controlling the false personas would be hidden in a variety of ways, including randomizing the IP addresses they accessed the software with, traffic mixing or blending web traffic with that outside of CENTCOM. The US cyber espionage operation will enable false online personas, also known as sock puppets, to seem like real people when they monitor online discussion blogs, message boards and more. The online persona project is thought to be completely under the sway of Operation Earnest Voice, which watches over CENTCOM's Information Operations.

According to CENTCOM commander James N. Mattis, the project "seeks to disrupt recruitment and training of bombers; deny safe havens for our adversaries; and counter extremist ideology and propaganda." Meanwhile, the spyware would not be used in America, or by American owned companies or major social network services such as Facebook and Twitter, the CENTCOM said. "We do not target US audiences, and we do not conduct these activities on sites owned by US companies," CENTCOM spokesman Commander Bill Speaks said.


How the US Establishment Lies Through Its Teeth, for War Against Russia

The same people, Republicans and Democrats, who lied through their teeth for an invasion of Iraq in 2003, are doing it again for an invasion of Russia, sometime soon, so as to ‘defend’ ‘democracy’. The US has by now swallowed up virtually all lands surrounding Russia, at least in Europe, the latest being Ukraine, and is placing its missiles now on and near Russia’s borders, which is to Russians like would be to Americans if Russia had swallowed up Canada and were placing its missiles there. But the lying holier-than-thou US Establishment accuses Russia of being ‘aggressive’ when Russia holds war-games on and near its borders in order to prepare for a US-NATO invasion, which actually looks increasingly likely to them every day — and not because of ‘Russian propaganda’, but because of the US Government’s actions.

Hillary Clinton clearly hated Russians and wanted to start a war against Russia by establishing a no-fly zone in Russia’s ally Syria (which Russia defends while the US invades and occupies Syria) so as to shoot down Russia's planes there, and then, when Russia shoots down US planes in retaliation, America would have its pretext for invading Russia itself ‘so as to defend democracy against Russian aggression’ — but instead, Donald Trump became elected, and he has now turned out to be almost as much of a neoconservative as she was. This displays how extreme the grip is that the neocons, the Establishment and its many minions who dominate both of the two Parties and the press, now have.

An example of the Establishment’s holier-than-thou lies, is an article that appeared on February 22nd at the magazine, The National Interest, whose article-title is itself a marvelous deception, “Averting the US-Russia Warpath” (while the subliminal message there is: reasons why we’ll probably have to invade Russia), and whose authors are three ‘defense’ hawks, including James Northey Miller, of Harvard. He had been an Under Secretary of Defense during the Administration of the merely moderately neoconservative President Barack Obama — the President who in 2014 grabbed Ukraine, and who used Al Qaeda in Syria to lead ’the rebels’ there in order to try to grab Syria. (Ukraine had been friendly toward Russia and is now rabid against Russia; and Syria was and is allied with Russia; so, both of these two lands were American grabs, and the neocon Trump continues both.) Anyone who trusts the US Government to represent in international affairs the interests of America’s public, instead of the interests of America's billionaires, has been deceived by the Establishment’s (the billionaires' and their agents') virtually all-pervasive propaganda in America, and therefore needs a lot of re-learning about US history before understanding anything about US foreign policies. There is very good and sound reason why around the world the United States is considered, by far, to be “the biggest threat to peace” — because it is. (The Peter Kuznick book and Oliver Stone documentary Untold History of the United States, are the best cleaner-away of ‘historical’ lies about US history from 1912 to 2012 that I know of — and the seeing or reading of that, will expose to anyone the mockery of historical truth which is represented in articles such as “Averting the US-Russia Warpath.”)

This ordinary, and profoundly deceptive, article starts:

FOR NEARLY twenty years following the end of the Cold War, military confrontation between the United States and the Russian Federation seemed implausible. Even during periods of tension, as during the Kosovo crisis in the late 1990s, few believed that disagreement between Washington and Moscow could lead to a serious crisis, no less war. Before the first decade of the new century had passed, however, Russian officials were accusing the United States of working to isolate Russia. Such apprehensions have mounted steadily in Russia in the years since. At the same time, Russian behavior, including interventions in Ukraine and Syria, military posturing and harassment in Europe, and interference in Western elections, has led many in the United States to conclude that, while a US-Russian conflict is by no means inevitable, the risk of such a confrontation is growing.

The “Russian officials were accusing the United States,” while there was supposedly actual “Russian behavior, including interventions in Ukraine and Syria, military posturing and harassment in Europe, and interference in Western elections,” which pretexts the Establishment is now debating with itself whether that will be sufficient to ‘justify’ an American and NATO invasion, as response. This holier-than-thou and upside-down presumption, of Russian-government guilt and American-government innocence, is reeking throughout that pompous article; but what’s even worse is that the reality is exactly the opposite of the story-line that’s portrayed in it. The actual reality is: Ever since 24 February 1990, the US and its NATO allies have been pursuing secretly a continuation of the Cold War after the termination in 1991 of the Soviet Union, and of its communism, and of its counter-NATO military alliance, the Warsaw Pact; and the US plan has been to swallow up, first the former Warsaw Pact nations, and then the former nations (such as Ukraine itself) that were inside the Soviet Union itself, and then, any other foreign allies that Russia might still have (such as Syria); and, then, finally, to invade and conquer Russia itself. And, instead of helping those countries, the US Government has been destroying them.

Neoconservative, holier-than-thou, lying is so widespread in America’s ‘news’media, there’s practically nothing else than such deceptions about Russia, that’s “Fit to Print” (or broadcast) in today’s United States, and this is true in the media of both Parties, not merely the Republican media, or the Democratic media. This neoconservative consensus — the bipartisan ceaseless warmongering — is driven by the military-industrial complex (MIC) profiteers, whose companies’ main market is the American and allied governments (so that in order to increase their sales, more and costlier weapons must be purchased by those governments). It’s the MIC-sick current style of capitalism: capitalism that’s of, by, and for, the billionaires: a fascism that’s merely called ‘democracy’. (By contrast, one area of commerce that Russia refused to privatize was its weapons-manufacturers — there aren’t any stockholders who pay politicians to increase the ‘defense’ budget: instead, the Government itself is in control over that.) America’s billionaires, and their many agents, are giving hypocrisy a bad name.

How And Why U.S. Media Do Propaganda Against Russia

How & Why U.S. Media Do Propaganda Against Russia

The owners of U.S. newsmedia know that in order to serve their fellow U.S. aristocrats who want to kick out Russia’s current leader, Vladimir Putin, so as to enable them to buy Russia’s natural resources (and highly educated work-forces) cheap via “privatizations,” their PR campaign for their fellow aristocrats (their major advertisers) must be led by ‘respectable’ newsmedia, such as Foreign Policy magazine, and not by blatantly right-wing, obviously trashy, ones, such as Fox News. Overtly conservative, nationalistic, ‘news’ media wouldn’t be able to sell to anyone who isn’t already on-board with privatizations of government assets as being a fundamental “free market” principle (i.e, equating fascism — the actual originator of privatizations — with constituting ‘capitalism,’ confusing the two systems as being one-and-the-same). So: not only the fascist media are anti-Putin, but media that pretend not to be are also.

Also important, however, is to black out entirely from all U.S. reporting, the U.S. Government’s now very active campaign to conquer Russia by installing next door to Russia, in its former buffer states (the Warsaw Pact nations), new NATO nations, such as Obama hopes to achieve in Ukraine by his February 2014 coup e’etat, which violently overthrew that nation’s then-neutralist democratically elected President, whom U.S. newsmedia very prominently reported was corrupt (in order to fool Americans into thinking that this was somehow a justified overthrow), while they didn’t report that all previous leaders of Ukraine had also been corrupt, so that this U.S. excuse for overthrowing Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych was entirely fake — not just illegitimate, but fake. Furthermore, they didn’t report that the reason why Yanukovych had turned down the EU’s offer (which the U.S. had backed, and which turndown by him was America’s other main excuse for overthrowing him) was that it would have cost Ukraine $160 billion. In fact, U.S. newsmedia didn’t even report that the coup was a coup, even though the head of Stratfor, the private-CIA firm, has acknowledged that it was “the most blatant coup in history,” and the President of the Czech Republic has said that “only poorly informed people” don’t know that it was a coup. He said of these “poorly informed people,” that, “They believe that there was something similar, to our Velvet Revolution ... Majdan was no democratic revolution.” And, on 20 June 2015, an obscure news-release from the Ukrainian Government itself headlined “Poroshenko asking Constitutional Court to recognize law stripping Yanukovych of presidential title as unconstitutional,” and reported, as I explained two days later:

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko requests the supreme court of Ukraine to declare that his predecessor, Viktor Yanukovych, was overthrown by an illegal operation; in other words, that the post-Yanukovych government, including Poroshenko’s own Presidency, came into power from a coup, not from something democratic, not from any authentic constitutional process at all. In a remarkable document, which is not posted at the English version of the website of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, but which is widely reported outside the United States, including Russia, Poroshenko, in Ukrainian (not in English), has petitioned the Constitutional Court of Ukraine (as it is being widely quoted in English): “I ask the court to acknowledge that the law ‘on the removal of the presidential title from Viktor Yanukovych’ as [being] unconstitutional.”

It’s also interesting that when Stratfor’s founder admitted that it was “the most blatant coup in history,” he was saying this to a Russian publication, which published it only in Russian, whereas when his employee recently referred to it, in a video for an American audience, she said (at 4:43 on the video) “the United States helped support the revolution [though it was no revolution, just a coup] that took place in Ukraine this past year.” Stratfor doesn’t want to go overboard to the extent of losing its big-bucks clients, some of which are the people that Obama’s foreign policies represent, but even this employee was so bold as to admit that the United States and not Russia is the aggressor between the two — something the U.S. media won’t allow to be said.

(She expressed puzzlement there at why the U.S. public have come to believe the demonization of Putin, but she’s not so dumb as not to know the answer to that, and she later even said it on the video, at 4:43: “The way that the American media has put it out there is that Russia is being the aggressor.” The video itself was even posted to youtube as, “Conversation: The U.S. Media’s Misleading Portrayal of Russia.” But the video portrayed the newsmedia as merely reflecting American public opinion, instead of as shaping it and being paid by their sponsors to shape it their way, which everyone at Stratfor knows is the reality. The deception is all paid-for. America’s aristocrats are running both the U.S. Government, and the way it and the world-at-large are being portrayed to the public. They control the public, both coming and going.)

America’s aggression against Russia first became overt when the U.S. aristocracy’s President, Bill Clinton (who killed FDR’s Glass Steagall Act and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society AFDC program, and so was one of the best fake ‘Democrats’ until Obama came along and turned Heritage Foundation ideas into U.S. national policies), rejected Russia’s request to join NATO, and he instead invited into NATO three former members of the Warsaw Pact: Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland. Clinton used the cooked-up excuse against Russia that Russia was then trying to retain Chechnya, though that’s a part of Russia which serves as an essential buffer against possible invasion by Islamic tribes to the south, from Georgia, Dagestan, and Azerbaijan; and so Chechnya’s breakaway movement actually did constitute a national security threat to the rest of Russia. Chechnya was none of the United States’s business, but Clinton needed an excuse, and it served that function for him. The Toledo Blade’s Mike Sigov even headlined on 7 November 1999, “Clinton’s Appeal to Halt fighting in Chechnya Falls on Deaf Ears,” and he wrote: “‘Why does the United States keep humiliating us?’ they often ask. My friends in Russia,… periodically ask me this question. It happened when the United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies denied Russia’s request to join NATO and instead admitted Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.” The U.S. aristocracy had wanted, actually, to conquer Russia; they didn’t want merely for the Cold War to end — this was now clear. They want to keep it going until Russia itself is conquered. Obama is doing the same thing at the end of his Presidency that Clinton had done at the end of his, but maybe even worse, because Obama has placed Ukraine into control by rabidly anti-Russian nazis, who are also now teaching the children.

Despite the general blockade against truth, a few American newsmedia have reported, throughout this summer, that Ukraine’s far-right leaders (such as Dmitriy Yarosh) are threatening another “Maidan,” to overthrow the present President of Ukraine, but they don’t report that those same leaders (including Yarosh himself) were instrumental in Barack Obama’s coup in February 2014: the CIA had arranged payments for Yarosh and his people, and, without this U.S. organization and financial backing (including even the establishment of a major TV station to propagandize for overthrowing Yanukovych and for mass-murdering the people who had voted for him), there would have been no coup. None of this information appears in U.S. newsmedia. The American public are widely ignorant of the reality about Ukraine. There are plenty of reports that stenographically transcribe and transmit to the American public the official ‘facts’ about Ukraine, but nothing that exposes the reality, which would be to expose the U.S. aristocracy itself (and this extends all the way from George Soros on the left, to the Koch brothers on the right: virtually the entire aristocracy are committed to defeating the public, not only at home, but abroad).

Therefore, Poroshenko is, in effect, telling Yarosh and his supporters: If you do this again, this time to me, then there will already be a decision from our highest court saying that what you did last time was illegal. And, Poroshenko had already acknowledged, just as the coup was ending, when the EU’s investigator asked him how the overthrow had occurred: We did it, the snipers who shot both the demonstrators and the police were ours; it was a set-up job so as to appear that the violence had been initiated or perpetrated by Yanukovych’s forces, which were actually performing a defensive function, not offensive at all. So: he was already privately on record as having acknowledged this. But that, too, was not published in the American press, even though the evidence for it was first posted online on 5 March 2014, just a week after the coup. Basically, it has all been kept secret from the American people, just as the coup itself has been, and just as the ethnic cleansing to get rid of Yanukovych’s voters has been.

And this has been a thoroughly bipartisan operation of the U.S. Government, not merely Democrats, and not merely Republicans. Both Parties are in the aristocrats’ pockets. (The man whom Congress applauded there was then overseeing the nazi operation.) This has not always been the case; it certainly wasn’t so when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was America’s President; but it is today. So, some typical examples of their propaganda-operation are:

Bruce Stokes headlines in Foreign Policy on 6 August 2015, “NATO’s Rot from Within,” and concludes his analysis of polling in the 9 major NATO countries by noting a lack of public support for NATO in all countries except “the Americans (56 percent) and the Canadians (53 percent) stand ready to go to the defense of a NATO partner against Russia.” His implicit viewpoint is that all NATO countries need to tool-up for a war against Russia; Russia is surrounding NATO, NATO isn’t surrounding Russia.

The mainstream The Daily Beast headlines on 14 August 2015, “Pentagon Fears It’s Not Ready for a War With Putin,” and Nancy A. Youssef opens: “The U.S. military has run the numbers on a sustained fight with Moscow, and they do not look good for the American side. A series of classified exercises over the summer has raised concerns inside the Defense Department that its forces are not prepared for a sustained military campaign against Russia, two defense officials told The Daily Beast.” Again, the underlying assumption is that Russia is the biggest national security threat to the United States, and so there need to be increases in U.S. ‘defense’ spending, to counter Russia’s ‘aggression.’

U.S. News headlined on 23 June 2015, “Top GOP Lawmaker: US Must Consider Building New Nukes,” and Paul D. Shinkman opened: “America needs to replace a rotting arsenal of nuclear weapons and counteract an increasingly boisterous Russia, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said Tuesday. For these reasons, it must consider the long-taboo prospect of building new nukes.”

The U.S. already spent 55.2% of its discretionary federal spending on its military. More money than that would transform the national economy into national impoverishment, because one can’t eat, nor live in, bombs and tanks, nor in any of the other machinery of destruction. Why even watch ‘the news’ on television, or read about it in magazines or newspapers?

But there are a few honest news reports even in the U.S. major newsmedia: On 24 February 2014, just as the U.S. coup in Ukraine was ending, NBC News bannered, “U.S. Military Spending Dwarfs Rest of World,” and they showed that “The U.S. spent more on defense in 2012 than the countries with the next 10 highest budgets combined.” It was about 8 times what Russia had spent, and this amount didn’t even include the additional spending by other NATO countries, all of which have mutual-defense treaties with the U.S. When the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, the Warsaw Pact, which was to Russia what NATO was to the U.S., simply terminated; Russia has since been all alone; and it should have been brought into NATO if NATO weren’t to disband as the Warsaw Pact had done. But the U.S. didn’t do likewise; instead, it rejected Russia. Instead, to the exact contrary, the U.S. invited and brought into NATO seven of the eight former Warsaw Pact countries. That’s aggression. But the U.S. calls “aggression” anything that Russia does to protect itself. Only suckers would believe that, but there’s a sucker born every minute — no, every second! (How could the aristocracy even survive, otherwise?)

In February, President Obama issued his “National Security Strategy 2015” and it used the word “aggression” 18 times, of which 17 referred to Russia as the alleged “aggressor.” If this is merely a mental illness that Obama has, then why are the U.S. ‘news’ media in lockstep behind it? But this strategy isn’t directed only against Russia, it’s directed also against the rest of Europe, even against other NATO countries.

A 2013 Gallup poll of 65 countries that was co-sponsored by the U.S. Government and thus never fully published, reportedly found that among people worldwide, “The US was the overwhelming choice (24% of respondents) for the country that represents the greatest threat to peace in the world today. This was followed by Pakistan (8%), China (6%), North Korea, Israel and Iran (5%).” (Russia wasn’t even there, in the top 5; and nothing below the top 5 was mentioned.) And Obama hadn’t yet perpetrated his coup and ethnic cleansing in Ukraine.

But there was no report of any such poll made afterwards, none at all. Perhaps the U.S. Government didn’t want another, because they now knew that they and their press would need to do a lot more work in order to get Russia to be #1 on that list. Maybe this is what they’ve been working on. However, it’s already clear that the Nobel Committee should abolish their ‘Peace Prize,’ after their having given it to Kissinger, and then to Obama. Maybe they should replace it with a Hypocrisy Prize. Obama would certainly qualify for that. Maybe they could get him to trade in his old prize for that new one, so as to reduce their embarrassment (if they’re not just psychopaths, anyway, like Kissinger and Obama).

Moscow Details Subversive NGO Activities in Russia and Around the World

It’s no secret that the CIA and some wealthy business magnates have been funding and using Non Governmental Organizations to alter the political landscapes inside nations all around the world, whether through meddling in elections or through plotting coups. A detailed report has come out the Russian Parliament about how these NGOs attempted to meddle in recent elections in Russia.

RT reports:

A special commission report on foreign meddling in the 2018 presidential election has been unveiled in Russia’s Upper House. The document highlighted the main methods of the elaborate campaign, spearheaded by the US.

The report, presented on Wednesday in Russia’s Upper House (the Senate), was prepared by the Commission for State Sovereignty Protection in cooperation with leading experts and analysts. The publicly available document was presented by the head of the commission, Senator Andrey Klimov.

The document pinned the blame for the meddling in Russia’s election directly on Washington, linking the ongoing surge in hostile activities with the domestic political struggle in the US. Attempts to interfere in internal Russian affairs, however, are not new, as they have been going on since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The US has been the “main violator of international law” since the founding of the United Nations, and has “interfered more than 120 times in the affairs of 60 countries on all continents.” Washington’s closest allies – the UK, Germany, France, NATO, and European countries – are also to blame, since they either participate directly or support US activities, according to the document.

“We tried to show… the areas in which the subversive work took place. We’ve named 10 such areas. We have concrete examples for all of them based on absolutely reliable facts. It’s not someone’s guess, it’s not ‘highly likely,’ it’s something we can prove anywhere, it is backed up by testimonies, documents and it is, by great margin, not disputed by the other side [the US],” Klimov said at a press conference, which followed the hearings in the Upper House.

The main purpose of the commission’s report, according to Klimov, is to show the public – both Russian, and international – the scale and systematic nature of the efforts to undermine Russia’s “electoral sovereignty.” The ultimate goal of these activities is to force changes of Russia’s political course, destroy its territorial and economic integrity, he said.

Direct election meddling & stirring dissent

The West has been trying to de-legitimize each and every election in Russia, routinely dismissing them as “undemocratic.” Ahead of the 2018 presidential election, both the US and EU condemned the barring of opposition figure Aleksey Navalny from the election. Ignoring his criminal conviction that bars Navalny from running for president, a US State Department representative called it a move to “suppress independent voices.”

The EU foreign office went even further and stated that barring the politician from the election due to “an alleged past conviction” casted “serious doubt on political pluralism in Russia and the prospect of democratic elections.” Such calls for “democracy” completely disregard Russian law and constitute a blatant attempt at election interference. While one may view Navalny’s conviction as they please, it is certainly not an “alleged” but a very real one, Klimov noted.

The election meddling also included wide-scale cyberattacks on government electronic resources, primarily the Central Election Commission. All in all, roughly one-third of such attacks are conducted from US territory, according to the report.

More discreet methods include stirring dissent by intensifying the activities of foreign-based Russian-language media outlets and “independent” bloggers. The use of modern technology and communication methods apparently yielded some results, since the latest protests, while much smaller than those of 2011-13, increasingly attracted younger and even underage activists into the streets.

Generous NGO funding

NGOs operating in Russia have enjoyed a steady flow of funding from abroad, which spiked following the failure to discredit the 2012 presidential election. In 2015, for instance, politically active NGOs received 80 billion rubles (around $1.3 billion) from the US alone, the report says.

Although Russia limited the activities of foreign NGOs within the country, requiring them to openly register as ‘foreign agents,’ the flow of funds did not stop. Various ‘grey’ schemes came into use, such as providing large sums in cash or transferring funds to private individuals. In the meantime, Russia-based subsidiaries of foreign NGOs flourished – their funding in 2017 almost doubled compared to 2016.

The total amount of NGO funding greatly surpasses the upper limit for a presidential candidate’s campaign in Russia. The scale is comparable to the entire budget for holding elections in the entire country, according to the report.

Apart from directly financing “civil activists” in Russia, the US and its allies spent money on more covert activities. Ahead of the election, several unsanctioned socio-political surveys were conducted in Russia, which were sponsored by foreign government structures – including the Pentagon – the report stated.

Targeting top Russian leadership, and Putin personally

A large part of the foreign efforts to interfere in domestic affairs targeted Russian President Vladimir Putin directly. This was observed as early as 2004, but spiked ahead of the 2012 election, according to the report. Then-US Vice President Joe Biden visited Russia and met with opposition figures, and told Putin that he should not run for a new term, since “Russia was tired” of him, the report says.

A similar pattern was seen in the following years, with Putin being portrayed as the only obstacle to the growth and prosperity of the Russian economy, and the man who “deprives the people of the democratic achievements of the 1980-90s.” Apart from smear campaigns, the report said some media also tried to demonize the Russian president in the eyes of the public by exaggerating certain problems to provoke Putin into making “unacceptable mistakes.”

Proposed countermeasures

The foreign activities outlined, however, failed to yield any tangible effect on the election, proving not their ineffectiveness, but the strength and stability of Russia’s socio-political system, the report concludes.

The commission prepared a set of recommendations on countermeasures against future foreign meddling, primarily by tightening up the laws. The proposed measures include prohibiting foreign-printed election campaign handouts, banning the participation of non-Russian citizens in the campaigns in any form, and barring dual-citizenship individuals from becoming trustees of candidates.

Other recommended measures include introducing a “special relationship” format with countries that impose sanctions or meddle in Russian affairs.

The recommended measures are not limited to restrictions. The report called for other countries and international organizations to become united in jointly opposing US meddling practices. On the home front, special attention will be given to education work, aimed primarily at young people, who are deliberately targeted with foreign propaganda, Senator Lyudmila Bokova told the press conference. The classified version of the report, according to Klimov, contains additional recommendations for countering foreign meddling.
Russia isn’t the only country to recognize the ways in which Western funded NGOs meddle in the affairs of other sovereign nations. Hungary has recently begun taking up legislation to crack down on NGOs funded by George Soros and those which relocate migrants into and within Hungary, potentially altering its demographic makeup, religious traditions, social homogeneity, and political environment.


Methods and goals of anti-Russian media in Armenia

It's no secret that the Armenian media space contains pro-Western, anti-Russian mass media. There are two ways to spread anti-Russian information, and the aforementioned media are divided into two categories. The first category includes the mass media which openly, strictly and even thoughtlessly criticize all things connected with Russia. That is why they are not taken seriously even in Armenia, and their work is like a proverb – the dog’s barking is for the wind to carry. The second category of the mass media treats its mission more seriously and is very dangerous. In such media projects, criticism of Russia is added to criticism of the native government, criminal stories and the gutter press. If we exclude the gutter press aspect, the Armenian radio “Freedom” belongs to the second category.

The Armenian media – Azatutyun – is financed directly, but unofficially, by the American embassy in Armenia. And the consequences are clear. The edition works solidly, steps are highly coordinated, and information is well-thought through. Almost all the correspondents of “Freedom” go to various conferences on one and the same day and ask one and the same question. Usually the question touches on Russia’s activities or reaction to a certain problem which often has nothing in common with Armenia. It means the edition fulfills a clear plan which hasn’t been developed by it. “Freedom” floods the Armenian media space with false information to promote an atmosphere of mistrust of Russia and all its projects in the region.

After Serge Sargsyan’s statement on intention to join the Eurasian projects of Moscow, the activity of the aforementioned media had improved. Most of the anti-Russian articles and reports are absurd. For example, the authors state that a possible Armenian-Azerbaijani military conflict will be beneficial for Russia. Information on Moscow’s plans to “give away Karabakh” can be seen in publications of the mass media in the last 20 years. In January 2014 there was information that a group came from Russia and jabbed residents of Yerevan with HIV-contaminated syringes. “We don’t comment on rubbish,” the police of Armenia told Vestnik Kavkaza.

Now the radio is very concerned about the situation surrounding the status of the Armenian language and violations of the country's Language Law. Among such violations, according to Freedom radio, is the fact that a number of Russian-language international conferences are being held in Armenia. According to the law, all public events should be held with simultaneous translation into Armenian. The radio station's official website is now full of anti-Russian comments concerning this topic provided by various experts. The same is happening on air.

The radio has also paid special attention to the Rossiya Segodnya's chief executive Dmitry Kiselyov's remarks made in the Armenian parliament. Kiselyov and Armenian lawmakers who were taking part in the event, are still being stigmatized and accused of all possible and impossible transgressions. This also promotes an atmosphere of distrust and fear.

The last event, which caused an immediate reaction in the pro-Western media, was the Armenian president's visit to Georgia. It's quite clear that the massive Russian Railways' project launched in the region is unfavorable to the United States. That is why such media could not hide their delight when the president failed to reach an agreement with the Georgian authorities. According to such authors, there is now no chance that the railway connection between Georgia and Abkhazia can be resumed since Georgia agreed to join the European customs space. It seems like no comment is necessary.


Hackers trace ISIS Twitter accounts back to internet addresses linked to Britain's Department of Work and Pensions

Hackers have claimed that a number of Islamic State supporters' social media accounts are being run from internet addresses linked to the Department of Work and Pensions. A group of four young computer experts who call themselves VandaSec have unearthed evidence indicating that at least three ISIS-supporting accounts can be traced back to the DWP's London offices. Every computer and mobile phone logs onto the internet using an IP address, which is a type of identification number. The hacking collective showed Mirror Online details of the IP addresses used by a trio of separate digital jihadis to access Twitter accounts, which were then used to carry out online recruitment and propaganda campaigns. At first glance, the IP addresses seem to be based in Saudi Arabia, but upon further inspection using specialist tools they appeared to link back to the DWP.

"Don't you think that's strange?" one of the hackers asked Mirror Online. "We traced these accounts back to London, the home of the British intelligence services."

VandaSec's work has sparked wild rumours suggesting someone inside the DWP is running ISIS-supporting accounts, or they were created by intelligence services as a honeypot to trap wannabe jihadis. However, when Mirror Online traced the IP addresses obtained by VandaSec, we found they actually pointed to a series of unpublicised transactions between Britain and Saudi Arabia.

We learned that the British government sold on a large number of IP addresses to two Saudi Arabian firms. After the sale completed in October of this year, they were used by extremists to spread their message of hate. Jamie Turner, an expert from a firm called PCA Predict, discovered a record of the sale of IP addresses, and found a large number were transferred to Saudi Arabia in October of this year.

He told us it was likely the IP addresses could still be traced back to the DWP because records of the addresses had not yet been fully updated. The Cabinet Office has now admitted to selling the IP addresses on to Saudi Telecom and the Saudi-based Mobile Telecommunications Company earlier this year as part of a wider drive to get rid of a large number of the DWP's IP addresses. It said the British government can have no control over how these addresses are used after the sale.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: "The government owns millions of unused IP addresses which we are selling to get a good return for hardworking taxpayers. "We have sold a number of these addresses to telecoms companies both in the UK and internationally to allow their customers to connect to the internet. "We think carefully about which companies we sell addresses to, but how their customers use this internet connection is beyond our control." The government did not reveal how much money was made from selling the IP addresses to the pair of Saudi firms, because it regards this information as commercially sensitive.

Julian Assange: Facebook Is 'Appalling Spy Machine'

In an interview with Russia Today (RT), Julian Assange called Facebook the "most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented." He told RT's Laura Emmett,
Here we have the world's most comprehensive database about people, their relationships, their names, their addresses, their locations, their communications with each other, their relatives, all sitting within the United States, all accessible to U.S. intelligence.
It's not new ground for the Wikileaks founder. In March, Assange told Cambridge University students that the Internet is "the greatest spying machine the world has ever seen." During the Russia Today interview, Assange explained that Facebook, Google and Yahoo all provide automated interfaces for the U.S. intelligence (starts around 2:00 in the video below). "When they add their friends to Facebook," Assange said, "they are doing free work for United States intelligence agencies." Unlike The Onion's prescient fake news piece that poked fun at Facebook's success as a CIA program earlier this year, Assange says that these Web sites aren't being run by the government. Instead, the intelligence community is able to "bring to bear legal and political pressure to them."

Rebels Hijack Gadhafi's Phone Network

A Group of Expatriate Executives and Engineers Furtively Restore Telecommunications for the Libyan Opposition

A team led by a Libyan-American telecom executive has helped rebels hijack Col. Moammar Gadhafi's cellphone network and re-establish their own communications. The new network, first plotted on an airplane napkin and assembled with the help of oil-rich Arab nations, is giving more than two million Libyans their first connections to each other and the outside world after Col. Gadhafi cut off their telephone and Internet service about a month ago. That March cutoff had rebels waving flags to communicate on the battlefield. The new cellphone network, opened on April 2, has become the opposition's main tool for communicating from the front lines in the east and up the chain of command to rebel brass hundreds of miles away.

While cellphones haven't given rebel fighters the military strength to decisively drive Col. Gadhafi from power, the network has enabled rebel leaders to more easily make the calls needed to rally international backing, source weapons and strategize with their envoys abroad. To make that possible, engineeers hived off part of the Libyana cellphone network—owned and operated by the Tripoli-based Libyan General Telecommunications Authority, which is run by Col. Gadhafi's eldest son—and rewired it to run independently of the regime's control. Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim, asked about the rebel cellphone network, said he hadn't heard of it.

Ousama Abushagur, a 31-year-old Libyan telecom executive raised in Huntsville, Ala., masterminded the operation from his home in Abu Dhabi. Mr. Abushagur and two childhood friends working as corporate managers in Dubai and Doha started fund-raising on Feb. 17 to support the political protests that were emerging in Libya. By Feb. 23, when fighting had erupted, his team delivered the first of multiple humanitarian aid convoys to eastern Libya. But while in Libya, they found their cellphones and Thuraya satellite phones jammed or out of commission, making planning and logistics challenging. Security was also an issue. Col. Gadhafi had built his telecommunications infrastructure to fan out from Tripoli—routing all calls through the capital and giving him and his intelligence agents full control over phones and Internet.

On March 6, during a flight back to the United Arab Emirates after organizing a naval convoy to the embattled city of Misrata, Mr. Abushagur says he drew up a diagram on the back of a napkin for a plan to infiltrate Libyana, pirate the signal and carve out a network free of Tripoli's control. What followed was a race against time to solve the technical, engineering and legal challenges before the nascent rebel-led governing authority was crushed under the weight of Col. Gadhafi's better-equipped forces. After a week of victories in which the rebels swept westward from Benghazi toward Col. Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte, the rebel advance stalled and reversed on March 17, when the United Nations approved a no-fly zone and government forces kicked off a fierce counterattack.

In a sign of deepening ties between Arab governments and the Benghazi-based administration, the U.A.E. and Qatar provided diplomatic support and helped buy the several million dollars of telecommunications equipment needed in Benghazi, according to members of the Libyan transitional authority and people familiar with the situation. Meanwhile, rebel military commanders were using flags to signal with their troops, a throw-back that proved disastrous to their attempts at holding their front lines. "We went to fight with flags: Yellow meant retreat, green meant advance," said Gen. Ahmed al-Ghatrani, a rebel commander in Benghazi. "Gadhafi forced us back to the stone age."

Renewed signal jamming also meant that rebel leaders and residents in Benghazi had little warning of the government forces' offensive across east Libya and the March 19 attempted invasion of Benghazi, which sparked panicked civilian evacuations of the city. Mr. Abushagur watched the government advances with alarm. His secret cellphone operation had also run into steep problems. The Chinese company Huawei Technologies Ltd., one of the original contractors for Libyana's cellular network backbone, refused to sell equipment for the rebel project, causing Mr. Abushagur and his engineer buddies to scramble to find a hybrid technical solution to match other companies' hardware with the existing Libyan network. Huawei declined to comment on its customers or work in Libya. The Libyan expats in the project asked that their corporate affiliations be kept confidential so that their political activities don't interfere with their work responsibilities.

Without Huawei, the backing from the Persian Gulf nations became essential—otherwise it is unlikely that international telecom vendors would have sold the sophisticated machinery to an unrecognized rebel government or individual businessmen, according to people familiar with the situation. "The Emirates government and [its telecommunications company] Etisalat helped us by providing the equipment we needed to operate Libyana at full capacity," said Faisal al-Safi, a Benghazi official who oversees transportation and communications issues. U.A.E. and Qatari officials didn't respond to requests for comment. Emirates Telecommunications Corp., known as Etisalat, declined to comment.

By March 21, most of the main pieces of equipment had arrived in the U.A.E. and Mr. Abushagur was ready to ship them to Benghazi with three Libyan telecom engineers, four Western engineers and a team of bodyguards. But Col. Gadhafi's forces were still threatening to overrun the rebel capital and trying to bomb its airport. Mr. Abushagur diverted the team and their equipment to an Egyptian air base on the Libyan border. Customs bureaucracy cost them a week, though Egypt's eventual approval was another show of Arab support for rebels. Egypt's governing military council couldn't be reached for comment. Once in Libya, the team paired with Libyana engineers and executives based in Benghazi. Together, they fused the new equipment into the existing cellphone network, creating an independent data and routing system free from Tripoli's command.

The team also captured the Tripoli-based database of phone numbers, giving them information necessary to patch existing Libyana customers and phone numbers into their new system—which they dubbed "Free Libyana." The last piece of the puzzle was securing a satellite feed through which the Free Libyana calls could be routed—a solution provided by Etisalat, according to Benghazi officials.

On April 2, Mr. Abushagur placed a test call on the system to his wife back in Abu Dhabi. "She's the one who told me to go for it in the first place," he said. International calling from Libya is still limited to the few individuals and officials in eastern Libya who most need it. Incoming calls have to be paid for by prepaid calling cards, except for Jordan, Egypt and Qatar. Domestic calling works throughout eastern Libya up until the Ajdabiya, the last rebel-held town in the east. An added bonus of the new network: It is free for domestic calls, at least until Free Libyana gets a billing system up and running.

Syria's Twitter spambots

As demonstrations rage on Arab streets, a different battle is happening on Twitter. In Morocco, Syria, Bahrain and Iran, pro-revolution users of the site have found themselves locked in a battle of the hashtags as Twitter accounts with a pro-government message are quickly created to counter the prevailing narrative. Deemed a revolutionary tool in many of the region's uprisings, Twitter has been used to great acclaim for disseminating news and images, often from the ground. In Egypt, where Twitter users number in the tens of thousands, tweets using the hashtag #Jan25 from Tahrir Square helped paint a picture through weeks of demonstrations. Elsewhere across the region and beyond, observers and even journalists turn to Twitter to get a handle on what's happening in the streets.

Though often a tool for good, Twitter can be used by anyone for virtually any purpose. Journalist Nick Kristof incurred the wrath of the Twitter masses after covering stories of protesters in Bahrain being attacked by police forces. During Morocco's 20 February protests, pro-monarchy tweets targeted anyone using the #Feb20 hashtag. And back in 2009, reports abounded of Twitter being used to throw off supporters of Iran's green movement.

The latest news comes from Syria, where Twitter use remains low despite – until recently – a ban on certain other social networks, including Facebook. Nevertheless, Syria's dedicated Twitter users have taken to the microblogging site to post news, images and photos of the demonstrations taking place across the country. Using the hashtags #Syria, #Daraa and #Mar15, they've managed to bring attention to a movement – and ensuing crackdowns from security forces – that hasn't seen much global media attention.

Twitter users have to contend with competing interests as protests continue elsewhere in the region, but also with a cabal of pro-regime accounts, set up recently for the sole purpose of flooding the #Syria hashtag and overwhelming the pro-revolution narrative. As the Syrian blogger Anas Qtiesh writes, "These accounts were believed to be manned by Syrian mokhabarat (intelligence) agents with poor command of both written Arabic and English, and an endless arsenal of bite and insults." These accounts, run by individuals, harassed users but had little effect on the hashtag search. Another set of accounts, however, managed to inundate the #Syria tag. Using a Bahraini company, EGHNA, bots are sending messages – sometimes several a minute – using various Syria-related search terms. Under the heading "Success stories", the EGNHA website says:
"LovelySyria is using EGHNA Media Server to promote interesting photography about Syria using their Twitter accounts. EGHNA Media Server helped LovelySyria get attention to the beauty of Syria, and build a community of people who love the country and admire its beauty. Some of their network members started translating photo descriptions and rebroadcasting them to give the Syrian beauty more exposure. LovelySyria is using their own installation of EGHNA Ad Center to generate the Twitter messages, their current schedule is two messages every five minutes."
Other accounts, such as @SyriaBeauty, @DNNUpdates and @SyLeague, perform similar functions. Their messages are sometimes political, sometimes not, but all were created recently and all serve the purpose of diverting attention from the Syrian protests. While often annoying to users, accounts set up to tweet links across a hashtag are not in violation of Twitter's terms of use. Twitter's help centre suggests blocking users to prevent seeing their content. But without third-party software, blocking doesn't remove a user from a search. Nevertheless, although Twitter shies away from moderating content and removing users, the search functionality favours users with a complete username, profile and photograph, and users who automate their tweets can be removed from search.

After numerous complaints, that's exactly what has happened to the #Syria bots. Though they can still be viewed by their followers and those who input the URL directly, Syrian hashtag searches – vital to many hoping to gain firsthand news from the country – are no longer flooded with links to photographs and football stats. Syrians still face numerous obstacles online – from the fear of security forces infiltrating their accounts, to the red lines placed on free speech – but this one small victory means that, in the battle for narrative at least, they've won.

How British spies covertly shape the flow of information online to 'discredit' their targets

UK police officer laughing with helmet

British spies build fake websites, impersonate people, and create "persuasive" YouTube videos to disrupt their targets' activities, according to documents obtained by The Intercept. JTRIG, or the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group, is part of British spy agency GCHQ, and was first revealed publicly in documents leaked by exiled NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. A newly published document dating from 2011, which Business Insider has been unable to independently verify, appears to shed more light on the secretive group's activities. In one section, the document lists a number of the tactics that JTRIG staff have employed. These include:

  • Uploading YouTube videos containing “persuasive” communications (to discredit, promote distrust, dissuade, deter, delay or disrupt)
  • Setting up Facebook groups, forums, blogs and Twitter accounts that encourage and monitor discussion on a topic (to discredit, promote distrust, dissuade, deter, delay or disrupt)
  • Establishing online aliases/personalities who support the communications or messages in YouTube videos, Facebook groups, forums, blogs etc
  • Establishing online aliases/personalities who support other aliases
  • Sending spoof e-mails and text messages from a fake person or mimicking a real person (to discredit, promote distrust, dissuade, deceive, deter, delay or disrupt)
  • Providing spoof online resources such as magazines and books that provide inaccurate information (to disrupt, delay, deceive, discredit, promote distrust, dissuade, deter or denigrate/degrade)
  • Providing online access to uncensored material (to disrupt)
  • Sending instant messages to specific individuals giving them instructions for accessing uncensored websites
  • Setting up spoof trade sites (or sellers) that may take a customer’s money and/or send customers degraded or spoof products (to deny, disrupt, degrade/denigrate, delay, deceive, discredit, dissuade or deter)
  • Interrupting (i.e., filtering, deleting, creating or modifying) communications between real customers and traders (to deny, disrupt, delay, deceive, dissuade or deter)
  • Taking over control of online websites (to deny, disrupt, discredit or delay)
  • Denial of telephone and computer service (to deny, delay or disrupt)
  • Hosting targets’ online communications/websites for collecting SIGINT (to ;disrupt, delay, deter or deny)
  • Contacting host websites asking them to remove material (to deny, disrupt, delay, dissuade or deter)

These techniques are deployed against a number of law enforcement targets, including suspects believed to be engaged in "online credit card fraud and child exploitation." It also co-operates with other domestic British law enforcement agencies, and helps "[provide] evidence for judicial outcomes" and monitoring domestic terrorist groups. The documents also go into detail about psychological research that could be used to help promote JTRIG's goals. "Theories and research in the field of social psychology may prove particularly useful for informing JTRIG's effects and online HUMINT operations," one document says, identifying topics including "conformity," "obedience," and "psychological profiling" as "particularly relevant for social influence."

In short: The documents — if accurate — demonstrate how the British spy agency uses sophisticated psychological techniques to try and shape the flow of information online to achieve its strategic goals. When reached for comment, a GCHQ spokesperson provided Business Insider with the following statement:

It is longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters. Furthermore, all of GCHQ's work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework, which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the Secretary of State, the Interception and Intelligence Services Commissioners and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee. All our operational processes rigorously support this position. In addition, the UK's interception regime is entirely compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.


Pentagon spent millions studying how to influence social media

The Pentagon’s research lab has funded dozens of studies concerning the use of social media, the Guardian reported on Tuesday, raising further questions about what kind of data is of interest to governments around the globe. Just days after a report published by researchers at Facebook revealed that users of the social media site had been manipulated for science, Ben Quinn and James Ball at the Guardian wrote this week that DARPA — the Pentagon-run Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — has in one way or another funded several studies recently that set out to explore that social networking site, as well as users of Twitter, Pinterest, Kickstarter and others. The journalists’ report stems from a list of publications that went live on DARPA’s site late last month concerning its Social Media in Strategic Communications, or SMISC, program.

“The general goal of the Social Media in Strategic Communication (SMISC) program is to develop a new science of social networks built on an emerging technology base,” a statement there reads. “Through the program, DARPA seeks to develop tools to support the efforts of human operators to counter misinformation or deception campaigns with truthful information.”

From there, visitors to the site can view any of dozens of studies from researchers at the likes of the University of Southern California, IBM or Georgia Tech Research Institute who have relied either fully or partially on Pentagon money to conduct social media studies. According to the journalists, the projects funded by the federal agency run the gamut of social media and include a number of studies sure to raise a few eyebrows. Formed in 1958, DARPA has been instrumental in the Pentagon's development of drones, robotics and even the internet.

“While some elements of the multi-million dollar project might raise a wry smile – research has included analysis of the tweets of celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, in an attempt to understand influence on Twitter – others have resulted in the buildup of massive datasets of tweets and additional types social media posts,” the Guardian reported.

“The project list includes a study of how activists with the Occupy movement used Twitter as well as a range of research on tracking internet memes and some about understanding how influence behavior (liking, following, retweeting) happens on a range of popular social media platforms like Pinterest, Twitter, Kickstarter, Digg and Reddit.”

Responding to the Guardian’s request for comment, DARPA defended the lengthy list of social media studies.

“Social media is changing the way people inform themselves, share ideas, and organize themselves into interest groups, including some that aim to harm the United States,” the Guardian quotes an agency spokesperson as saying. “DARPA supports academic research that seeks to understand some of these dynamics through analyses of publicly available discussions conducted on social media platforms.”

Revelations concerning DARPA’s role in these studies comes only days after the researchers involved in the controversial Facebook report publically apologized for manipulating the posts that appeared on users’ news feeds to see how emotions can carry across the web. “The goal of all of our research at Facebook is to learn how to provide a better service,” Facebook staffer and researcher Adam Kramer wrote. On the Pentagon’s part, DARPA told the Guardian that the studies it has funded are essential to US defense interests.

Source: Revealed: Pentagon spent millions studying how to influence social media

How Western media largely ignored State Dept-Google-Al Jazeera plot against Assad

The Western media has quietly ignored an unexpected collaboration between Washington, Google, and “independent” Al Jazeera aimed at helping to overthrow Syria’s Bashar Assad. Would they be as oblivious to a similar cozy “partnership” involving Russia? Last Monday, WikiLeaks lifted the lid on a correspondence between Jared Cohen, the President of ‘Google Ideas,’ and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s staff in the summer of 2012. In his July 25, 2012 email to top State Department’s officials, Cohen pitched his about-to-be-launched “tool” to Clinton’s inner circle, asking it to “keep close hold” of it. The leak revealing the project, which would seem to be an outrageous scandal to some, has actually been quite difficult to spot in the news. Since WikiLeaks released the latest batch of Clinton’s emails on March 21, a Google news search spits back about 30 web sources related to the story.

Of those, only two – The Independent and Daily Mail – could arguably be considered major mainstream media outlets. That means there were slim chances that the eye of an average newsreader would catch wind of the State Department’s teamwork with the US’ biggest tech giant, Google, and Arab media outlet Al Jazeera. According to what Cohen wrote, it appears that Google’s innovative visualizer worked to “publicly track and map the defections in Syria and which parts of the government they are coming from.”

“Our logic behind this is that while many people are tracking the atrocities, nobody is visually representing and mapping the defections, which we believe are important in encouraging more to defect and giving confidence to the opposition,” he said.

Google also collaborated with Al Jazeera, which took primary ownership over the tool, because of “how hard” it was to get information out of Syria. At the State Department, the idea was lauded and passed on to Clinton via her private email by deputy chief of staff Jake Sullivan as “a pretty cool idea.” RT asked media expert Lionel why the revelations failed to receive much attention in the Western media.

“I don’t expect a reaction from Western media because Western media hasn’t even read this, has no idea about this,” Lionel told RT. “But can you imagine if the same set of facts were involved with the different countries, different corporations around the world depending upon your frame of reference. This would either be an outrage or ‘well, maybe this is a delightful and benign cooperation, an independent tech giant…and all for the common good of liberty’ and whatever. It depends upon your perspective.”

Another curious aspect is the fact that the WikiLeaks release directly involved Clinton’s email, which has been a hot topic tainting her presidential campaign for a year now. Clinton’s opponents as well as the US media have been taking nearly every opportunity to poke her for her “careless” misdeed – with the notable exception of this story. The three parties in this collaboration did not end up together by chance, either. Funded by the Qatari government, Al Jazeera portrays itself as “the first independent news channel in the Arab world” and “one of the world’s most influential news networks,” whose main goal is it to give “a global audience an alternative voice.” Qatar has been largely supporting the rebels in the Syrian conflict, along with Washington and other anti-Assad powers that even mulled launching a direct military intervention on Syrian soil last October. It turned out that Google’s Syrian Defector Tracking was a good fit for Al Jazeera. It even ended up winning the channel a prestigious Online Media Award for “Best technical innovation.”

“This is going to show you very fascinating aspects of the new warfare – how media, and corporations and various platforms are merging together. We are not sure who the military is, who is the government,” Lionel said. He suggested that the State Department’s reluctance to release Clinton’s emails could be explained by the intention to hide “the conflation of allegedly private industry with the government.”

“We have this new world here. We have the government and we have the Pentagon, DAPRA and defense advanced research program agency, we have private industry, we have these various platforms. We have this new introduction of mercenary groups and private contacting teams. [But] our country [the US] has had a very strict barrier, Posse Comitatus, that separates private law enforcement from military," Lionel said. "There have always been distinctions and barriers and jurisdiction alliance. In this new world, these barriers are being eliminated, dissolved.”

As Lionel says, the collaboration between Google and the US government only seems to be “innocent” if there is a bias towards “who you like… and the information that’s being propagated.” When contacted by RT, Google declined to comment on the situation, yet did not hesitate to proudly stress Al Jazeera’s achievement. “No comment, but pointing out that this data visualization project was very public, Al Jazeera won a journalism award for it,” the tech giant said in an email. Given these circumstances, it would not hurt to wonder what the Western media’s reaction might have been if the same collaboration had occurred across the ocean and involved, let’s say, the Russian government, a well-known media outlet, and a Russian internet giant.

Since its inception in 2005, RT has often been labeled as anything ranging from a “Russian propaganda machine” to a “propaganda bullhorn” by high-profile Western officials and politicians. “If RT wanted PR in American media, this is exactly the move it should make. You would never hear the end of that on American media,” Ted Rall, a political cartoonist and author, told RT. “You really don’t have a right to call anyone a propaganda if you yourself is doing the same thing.” As for Al Jazeera’s prize winning tool, it appears to be currently defunct for unspecified reasons.


Social Media and the Destabilization of Cuba: USAID’s Secret “Cuban Twitter” Intended to Stir Unrest

Reported by the Associated Press, Washington has created a “Cuban Twitter” with a view to creating social unrest. The ultimate objective of this and other initiatives is to demonize and weaken the Cuban Communist government. This program should be seen as part of Washington’s Worldwide actions to implement regime change in countries which do not abide by U.S. diktats. The social media program entitled ZunZuneo was part of a secret plan under the auspices of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID):
In July 2010, Joe McSpedon, a U.S. government official, flew to Barcelona to put the final touches on a secret plan to build a social media project aimed at undermining Cuba’s communist government. McSpedon and his team of high-tech contractors had come in from Costa Rica and Nicaragua, Washington and Denver. Their mission: to launch a messaging network that could reach hundreds of thousands of Cubans. To hide the network from the Cuban government, they would set up a byzantine system of front companies using a Cayman Islands bank account, and recruit unsuspecting executives who would not be told of the company’s ties to the U.S. government.
The project was financed by USAID as part of a “democracy” building agenda. USAID is known to have routine contacts with the CIA. The U.S. Agency for International Development was essentially a front for a carefully planned intelligence operation:

Documents show the U.S. government planned to build a subscriber base through “non-controversial content”: news messages on soccer, music, and hurricane updates. Later when the network reached a critical mass of subscribers, perhaps hundreds of thousands, operators would introduce political content aimed at inspiring Cubans to organize “smart mobs” — mass gatherings called at a moment’s notice that might trigger a Cuban Spring, or, as one USAID document put it, “renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society.” At its peak, the project drew in more than 40,000 Cubans to share news and exchange opinions. But its subscribers were never aware it was created by the U.S. government, or that American contractors were gathering their private data in the hope that it might be used for political purposes.

The Cuban media reacted to the ZunZuneo twitter project by pointing to a continuous process of covert operations directed against Cuba since the 1961 Bay of Pigs failed invasion. It is worth noting that Cuba has been under a US sanctions regime since 1962. The ZunZuneo initiative is viewed by the Cuba government as part of a process of non-conventional warfare (including cyber warfare) waged against countries (e.g. Venezuela, Ukraine) which do not abide by Washington’s demands. The destabilization of Cuba has been on drawing board of the US State Department and the CIA since the 1960s. Actions directed against Cuba are undertaken through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the Economic Support Fund (ESF) of the US State Department. Other organizations providing funding and operating in tandem with USAID and the NED are Freedom House, The Center for a Free Cuba, The Institute for Democracy in Cuba, the Cuban Dissidence Task Group, the International Republican Institute (IRI). Documented by Eva Golinger, USAID channels these destabilizing programs through an “Office for Transition Initiatives (OTI) for Cuba with a view to engaging “in work with youths” and in the “independent initiatives of the mass media,” According to Golinger:

The OTI handles liquid funds in dollars “in very large quantities, without having to go through a lot of review or accountability at the US Congress.” There are two major points of difference between traditional warfare and irregular warfare: objectives and tactics, she pointed out. Irregular warfare is aimed at controlling the civilian population and neutralizing the State, and its main tactic is ‘counterinsurgency,’ which is the use of indirect and asymmetric techniques, such as subversion, infiltration, psychological operations, cultural penetration and military deceit.” (Voltaire Net, August 9, 2009)
According to Prensa Latina, “Zun Zuneo joins an extensive list of secret anti-Cuban operations” as well as numerous plots to assassinate Fidel Castro. The Cuban government of Raul Castro has requested the US to cease these actions:
Prensa Latina recalled a 1 January speech in which President Raúl Castro warned of “attempts to subtly introduce platforms for neoliberal thought and for the restoration of neocolonial capitalism”. “Castro’s denunciations of the US government’s destabilizing attempts against Cuba were corroborated by today’s revelation of a plan to push Cuban youth toward the counterrevolution, with the participation of a US agency,” Prensa Latina said. (Guardian, April 4, 2014)
The existence of this program was known to the Cuban authorities prior to the publication of the AP report. According to Josefina Vidal, director of U.S. affairs at Cuba’s Foreign Ministry, in a official statement, the ZunZuneo program:
“shows once again that the United States government has not renounced its plans of subversion against Cuba, which have as their aim the creation of situations of destabilization in our country to create changes in the public order and toward which it continues to devote multimillion-dollar budgets each year. The government of the United States must respect international law and the goals and principles of the United Nations charter and, therefore, cease its illegal and clandestine actions against Cuba, which are rejected by the Cuban people and international public opinion”
The secret Cuba twitter will be the object of debate at the US Congress in a session of the House Oversight Subcommittee.

Western Spy Agencies Manipulate Web Discussions to Promote Government Propaganda
The alternative media has documented for 5 years that the government uses disinformation and disruption (and here) on the web to discredit activists and manipulate public opinion, just like it smears traditional television and print reporters who question the government too acutely. We’ve long reported that the government censors and manipulates social media. More proof here. New Edward Snowden documents confirm that Britain’s spy agency is doing so. As Glenn Greenwald writes today:

One of the many pressing stories that remains to be told from the Snowden archive is how western intelligence agencies are attempting to manipulate and control online discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction.


These agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself. Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations” (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting “negative information” on various forums.


Critically, the “targets” for this deceit and reputation-destruction extend far beyond the customary roster of normal spycraft: hostile nations and their leaders, military agencies, and intelligence services. In fact, the discussion of many of these techniques occurs in the context of using them in lieu of “traditional law enforcement” against people suspected (but not charged or convicted) of ordinary crimes or, more broadly still, “hacktivism”, meaning those who use online protest activity for political ends. The title page of one of these documents reflects the agency’s own awareness that it is “pushing the boundaries” by using “cyber offensive” techniques against people who have nothing to do with terrorism or national security threats, and indeed, centrally involves law enforcement agents who investigate ordinary crimes….


It is not difficult to see how dangerous it is to have secret government agencies being able to target any individuals they want – who have never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crimes – with these sorts of online, deception-based tactics of reputation destruction and disruption. There is a strong argument to make, as Jay Leiderman demonstrated in the Guardian in the context of the Paypal 14 hacktivist persecution, that the “denial of service” tactics used by hacktivists result in (at most) trivial damage (far less than the cyber-warfare tactics favored by the US and UK) and are far more akin to the type of political protest protected by the First Amendment.

The broader point is that, far beyond hacktivists, these surveillance agencies have vested themselves with the power to deliberately ruin people’s reputations and disrupt their online political activity even though they’ve been charged with no crimes, and even though their actions have no conceivable connection to terrorism or even national security threats. As Anonymous expert Gabriella Coleman of McGill University told me, “targeting Anonymous and hacktivists amounts to targeting citizens for expressing their political beliefs, resulting in the stifling of legitimate dissent.” Pointing to this study she published, Professor Coleman vehemently contested the assertion that “there is anything terrorist/violent in their actions.”

Government plans to monitor and influence internet communications, and covertly infiltrate online communities in order to sow dissension and disseminate false information, have long been the source of speculation. Harvard Law Professor Cass Sunstein, a close Obama adviser and the White House’s former head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, wrote a controversial paper in 2008 proposing that the US government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-”independent” advocates to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and websites, as well as other activist groups. [Background on Sunstein here and here.] Sunstein also proposed sending covert agents into “chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups” which spread what he views as false and damaging “conspiracy theories” about the government.


Former Newspaper Editor Who Exposed CIA Found Dead

Dr Udo Ulfkotte, the former German newspaper editor whose bestselling book exposed how the CIA controls German media, has been found dead.

Former editor of largest newspaper in Germany revealed the CIA pays journalists in Germany, France, Britain, Australia and New Zealand to plant fake stories - and the CIA is trying to bring war to Russia

Dr Udo Ulfkotte, the former German newspaper editor whose bestselling book exposed how the CIA controls German media, has been found dead. He was 56. Ulfkotte was an editor at Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of the largest newspapers in Germany, when he published Bought Journalists, the bestselling book that cost him his job and perhaps his life.

German media, who were banned from reporting on his work in recent years, are reporting he died of “heart failure”. Acknowledging that his life was under threat, Ulfkotte explained that he was in a better position than most journalists to expose the truth because he didn’t have any children who could be threatened.

Speaking to the Russian newspaper Russian Insider, Ulkfotte said: “When I told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Ulfkotte’s newspaper) that I would publish the book, their lawyers sent me a letter threatening with all legal consequences if I would publish any names or secrets – but I don’t mind. You see, I don’t have children to take care of.“

His fears for a war in Europe, lead him to his decision to tell the truth about corporate media being controlled by intelligence services on behalf of the financial class.

“I’ve been a journalist for about 25 years, and I’ve been educated to lie, to betray, and not to tell the truth to the public,” Ulfkotte told Russia Today. “I was supported by the Central Intelligence Agency, the CIA. Why? Because I am pro-American.”

“The German and American media tries to bring war to the people in Europe, to bring war to Russia. This is a point of no return, and I am going to stand up and say… it is not right what I have done in the past, to manipulate people, to make propaganda against Russia.”

Ulfkotte said most corporate media journalists in the United States and Europe are “so-called non-official cover,” meaning that they work for an intelligence agency. “I think it is especially the case with British journalists, because they have a much closer relationship. It is especially the case with Israeli journalists. Of course with French journalists. … It is the case for Australians, [with] journalists from New Zealand, from Taiwan, well, there is many countries,” he said.

Ulfkotte’s book Bought Journalists became a bestseller in Germany but, in a bizarre twist which Ulfkotte says characterizes the disconnect caused by CIA control of the western media, the book cannot be reported on by the German press.

Ulfkotte said: “No German mainstream journalist is allowed to report about [my] book. Otherwise he or she will be sacked. So we have a bestseller now that no German journalist is allowed to write or talk about.”

Among the stories Ulfkotte says he was ordered by the CIA to plant in his newspaper was a fake story that Libyan President Moammar Gaddafi was building poison gas factories in 2011. “The German and American media tries to bring war to the people in Europe, to bring war to Russia,” he told RT.

“This is a point of no return, and I am going to stand up and say … it is not right what I have done in the past, to manipulate people, to make propaganda against Russia, and it is not right what my colleagues do, and have done in the past, because they are bribed to betray the people not only in Germany, all over Europe. … I am very fearful of a new war in Europe, and I don’t like to have this situation again, because war is never coming from itself, there is always people who push for war, and this is not only politicians, it is journalists too. … We have betrayed our readers, just to push for war. … I don’t want this anymore; I’m fed up with this propaganda. We live in a banana republic, and not in a democratic country where we have press freedom.”



Do We Live in a Police State? The latest WikiLeaks revelations tell us the answer is yes

WikiLeaks and Julian Assange would have gone down in history as the greatest enemies of government oppression of all kinds in any case, but their latest release – a comprehensive exposé of the US intelligence community’s cyberwar tools and techniques – is truly the capstone of their career. And given that this release – dubbed “Vault 7” – amounts to just one percent of the documents they intend to publish, one can only look forward to the coming days with a mixture of joyful anticipation and ominous fear.

Fear because the power of the Deep State is even more forbidding – and seemingly invincible – than anyone knew. Joyful anticipation because, for the first time, it is dawning on the most unlikely people that we are, for all intents and purposes, living in a police state. I was struck by this while watching Sean Hannity’s show last [Wednesday] night – yes, Fox is my go-to news channel – and listening to both Hannity and his guests, including the ultra-conservative Laura Ingraham, inveigh against the “Deep State.” For people like Hannity, Ingraham, and Newt Gingrich (of all people!) to be talking about the Surveillance State with fear – and outrage – in their voices says two things about our current predicament: 1) Due to the heroic efforts of Julian Assange in exposing the power and ruthlessness of the Deep State, the political landscape in this country is undergoing a major realignment, with conservatives returning to their historic role as the greatest defenders of civil liberties, and 2) American “liberalism” – which now champions the Deep State as the savior of the country – has become a toxic brew that is fundamentally totalitarian.

On the first point: yes, there are more than a few holdouts, like Bill O’Reilly and the neocons, but the latter are increasingly isolated, and the former is increasingly irrelevant. What we are seeing, as the role of the “intelligence community” in basically leading a seditious conspiracy against a sitting President is revealed, is a complete switch in the political polarities in this country: what passes for the “left” has become the biggest advocate of the Surveillance State, and the rising populist right is coming to the hard-won conclusion that we are rapidly becoming a police state.

Ah, but wait! That’s not the whole story: bear with me for a while.

The material in “Vault 7” is extensive: it ranges from examining the ways in which a Samsung television set that is seemingly turned off can be– and no doubt has been – used to spy on the conversations and activities of a room’s occupants, to the various ways in which our spooks infiltrate and subvert common electronic devices, such as the I-Phone, in order to gather information. “Infected phones,” we are told in the introduction to the material, “can be instructed to send the CIA the user’s geolocation, audio and text communications as well as covertly activate the phone’s camera and microphone.” The CIA is even working on remotely controlling the electronic steering systems installed in cars – a perfect route to pulling off an assassination that looks like an “accident.” Not that the intelligence services of the “leader of the Free World” would ever consider such an act.

The massive infection of commonly used software and electronic devices leads to a major problem: proliferation. As these viruses and other invasive programs are unleashed on an unsuspecting public, they fall into the hands of a variety of bad actors: foreign governments, criminals, and teenagers on a lark (not necessarily in descending order of malevolence). This plague is being spread over the Internet by a veritable army of CIA hackers: “By the end of 2016,” WikiLeaks tells us, “the CIA’s hacking division, which formally falls under the agency’s Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI), had over 5000 registered users and had produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other ‘weaponized’ malware.” The inevitable end result: a world infected with so much malware that computers become almost useless – and this parlous condition is paid for by you, the American taxpayer.

This is, in effect, the cybernetic equivalent of the Iraq war – an invasion that led to such unintended consequences as the rise of ISIS, the devastation of Syria, and the empowerment of Iran. In short, a war that made us less safe.

One aspect of the Vault 7 data dump that’s drawing particular attention is the CIA’s Remote Devices Branch’s “Umbrage group,” which, we are told, “collects and maintains a substantial library of attack techniques ‘stolen’ from malware produced in other states including the Russian Federation.” The idea is to mask the Agency’s cyberwar operations by attempting to hide the unique forensic attributes of its techniques. The process of attribution, WikiLeaks explains, is “analogous to finding the same distinctive knife wound on multiple separate murder victims. The unique wounding style creates suspicion that a single murderer is responsible. As soon one murder in the set is solved then the other murders also find likely attribution.”

So how does the CIA hide its “fingerprints”?

It simply draws on computer code used by its adversaries – and not only Russia – and inserts it into its own handcrafted malware and other invasive programs, thus leaving Russian (or Chinese, or North Korean) fingerprints on the handiwork of CIA hackers.

Now you’ll recall that the attribution of the DNC/Podesta email hacks was “proved” by the DNC’s hired hands on the basis of the supposedlyunique characteristics of the programs used by the supposed Russian hackers. One of these alleged Russians even left behind the name of Felix Dzerzhinsky – founder of the Soviet KGB – embedded in the code, hardly the height of subtlety. So now we learn that the CIA has perfected the art of imitating its rivals, mimicking the Russians – or whomever – in a perfect setup for a “false flag” scenario.

After months of the nonstop campaign to demonize the Russians as “subverting our democracy” and supposedly throwing the election to Donald Trump by hacking the DNC and Podesta, a new possibility begins to emerge. I say “possibility” because, despite the craziness that is fast becoming the norm, there has got to be a limit to it – or does there? No, I’m not suggesting the CIA hacked the DNC and poor hapless John Podesta. Yet others are suggesting something even more explosive.

In an appearance on Sean Hannity’s Fox News television program, retired Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, a former senior intelligence officer, told the audience that he had heard from his intelligence contacts that retired NSA officials were responsible for hacking the DNC and Podesta, and then releasing the materials to WikiLeaks His co-guest, William Binney, a former NSA insider who was among the first to expose the extent of that agency’s surveillance of American citizens, agreed. This is nothing new: Judge Andrew Napolitano said the same thing months ago. The alleged motivation was animus toward Mrs. Clinton.

Although “the Russians did it” is now the accepted conventional wisdom, which hardly anyone bothers to question anymore, the level of evidence proffered to support this conclusion has been laughably inadequate. And you’ll note that, although the CIA and the FBI, along with other intelligence agencies, advanced this hypothesis with “high confidence,” the NSA demurred, awarding it with only “moderate” confidence.

And one more thing: I found it extremely odd that, when the hacking of the DNC and John Podesta’s email was discovered, party officials refused to let the FBI and other law enforcement agencies examine either their server or Podesta’s devices. Instead, they gave it over to CrowdStrike, a private firm that regularly does business with the DNC. CrowdStrike then came out with the now-accepted analysis that it was a Russian job. Could it be that the “explanation” for the hacking was determined in advance? I don’t know the answer to that question. Nor do I necessarily buy Col. Shaffer’s thesis. What I’m saying is that it’s entirely possible – indeed, it is just as likely, given what we know now, as pinning the blame Vladimir Putin.


This is everything Edward Snowden revealed in one year of unprecedented top-secret leaks

nsa computer spying

In June 2013, The Guardian reported the first leak based on top-secret documents that then 29-year-old Edward Snowden stole from the National Security Agency. At the time, Snowden worked as an intelligence contractor for Booz Allen Hamilton in Hawaii. That leak would certainly not be the last. In the years since, journalists have released more than 7,000 top-secret documents that Snowden entrusted them with, which some believe is less than 1% of the entire archive. Now, with the film "Snowden" premiering Friday, it's worth taking a look back at what secrets Snowden actually revealed. We've compiled every single leak that came out in the first year of the Snowden saga, though there were many more that came later. Snowden downloaded up to 1.5 million files, according to national intelligence officials, before jetting from Hawaii to Hong Kong to meet with journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras. After he handed off his treasure trove of documents, he flew from Hong Kong and later became stranded in Moscow. His future was far from certain, as the journalists he trusted started revealing his secrets. Here is everything that Snowden's leaks revealed between 2013 and 2014:

• With a top-secret court order, the NSA collected the telephone records from millions of Verizon customers. — June 6, 2013

• The NSA accessed and collected data through back doors into US internet companies such as Google and Facebook with a program called Prism. — June 7, 2013

• An 18-page presidential memo shows Obama ordering intelligence officials to draw up a list of overseas targets for cyberattacks. — June 7, 2013

• Documents reveal the NSA's Boundless Informant program, which gives the agency near real-time ability to understand how much intelligence coverage there is on certain areas through use of a "heat map." — June 8, 2013

• The NSA was hacking computers in Hong Kong and mainland China, few of which were military systems. — June 13, 2013

• Britain's GCHQ (its intelligence agency) intercepted phone and internet communications of foreign politicians attending two G-20 meetings in London in 2009. — June 16, 2013

• Top-secret procedures show steps the NSA must take to target and collect data from "non-US persons" and how it must minimize data collected on US citizens. — June 20, 2013

• Britain's GCHQ taps fiber-optic cables to collect and store global email messages, Facebook posts, internet histories, and calls, and then shares the data with the NSA. — June 21, 2013

• The NSA has a program codenamed EvilOlive that collects and stores large quantities of Americans' internet metadata, which contains only certain information about online content. Email metadata, for example, reveals the sender and recipient addresses and time but not content or subject. — June 27, 2013

• Until 2011, the Obama administration permitted the NSA's continued collection of vast amounts of Americans' email and internet metadata under a Bush-era program called Stellar Wind. — June 27, 2013

• The US government bugged the offices of the European Union in New York, Washington, and Brussels. — June 29, 2013

• The US government spies on at least 38 foreign embassies and missions, using a variety of electronic surveillance methods. — June 30, 2013

• The NSA spies on millions of phone calls, emails, and text messages of ordinary German citizens. — June 30, 2013

• Using a program called Fairview, the NSA intercepts internet and phone-call data of Brazilian citizens. — July 6, 2013

• Monitoring stations set up in Australia and New Zealand help feed data back to NSA's XKeyscore program. — July 6, 2013

• The NSA conducts surveillance on citizens in a number of Latin American countries, including Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina, Panama, Ecuador, Peru, and others. The agency also sought information on oil, energy, and trade. — July 9, 2013

• The Washington Post publishes a new slide detailing NSA's "Upstream" program of collecting communications from tech companies through fiber-optic cables to then feed into its Prism database. — July 10, 2013

• Germany's Federal Intelligence Service, BND, helps contribute data to the NSA's XKeyscore program. — July 20, 2013

• NSA analysts, using the XKeyscore program, can search through enormous databases of emails, online chats, and browsing histories of targets. — July 31, 2013

• The US government paid Britain's GCHQ roughly $155 million over three years to gain access and influence over its spying programs. — August 1, 2013

• Seven of the world's leading telecommunications companies provide GCHQ with secret, unlimited access to their network of undersea cables. — August 2, 2013

• The NSA provided surveillance to US diplomats in order to give them the upper hand in negotiations at the UN Summit of the Americas. — August 2, 2013

• The NSA sifts through vast amounts of Americans' email and text communications going in and out of the country. — August 8, 2013

• Internal NSA document reveals an agency "loophole" that allows a secret backdoor for the agency to search its databases for US citizens' emails and phone calls without a warrant. — August 9, 2013

• NSA collection on Japan is reportedly maintained at the same priority as France and Germany. — August 12, 2013

• The NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times per year, according to an internal audit. — August 15, 2013

• NSA analysts revealed to have sometimes spied on love interests, with the practice common enough to have coined the term LOVEINT, or love intercepts. (It was unclear whether this report came from Snowden docs.) — August 23, 2013

• Britain runs a secret internet-monitoring station in the Middle East to intercept emails, phone calls, and web traffic, The Independent reports, citing Snowden documents. Snowden denies giving The Independent any documents, alleging the UK government leaked them in an attempt to discredit him. — August 23, 2013

• The top-secret US intelligence "black budget" is revealed for 2013, with 16 spy agencies having a budget of $52.6 billion. — August 29, 2013

• Expanding upon data gleaned from the "black budget," the NSA is found to be paying hundreds of millions of dollars each year to US companies for access to their networks. — August 29, 2013

• The US carried out 231 offensive cyberattacks in 2011. — August 30, 2013

• The NSA hacked into Qatar-based media network Al Jazeera's internal communications system. — August 31, 2013

• The NSA spied on former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto (then a candidate). — September 1, 2013

• Using a "man in the middle" attack, NSA spied on Google, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, and the Brazilian oil company Petrobras. — September 2, 2013

• A US intelligence "black budget" reveals Al Qaeda's effort to jam, hack, and/or shoot down US surveillance drones. — September 3, 2013

• A joint investigation by ProPublica, The New York Times, and The Guardian finds the NSA is winning its war against internet encryption with supercomputers, technical know-how, and court orders. — September 5, 2013

• The NSA has the ability to access user data for most major smartphones on the market, including Apple iPhones, BlackBerrys, and Google Android phones. — September 7, 2013

• The NSA shares raw intelligence data (with information about American citizens) to Israel with an information-sharing agreement. — September 11, 2013

• The NSA monitors banks and credit institutions for a comprehensive database that can track the global flow of money. — September 16, 2013

• Britain's GCHQ launched a cyberattack against Belgacom, a partly state-owned Belgian telecommunications company. — September 20, 2013

• The NSA spies on Indian diplomats and other officials in an effort to gain insight into the country's nuclear and space programs. — September 23, 2013

• The NSA's internal "wiki" website characterizes political and legal opposition to drone attacks as part of "propaganda campaigns" from America's "adversaries." — September 25, 2013

• Since 2010, the NSA has used metadata augmented with other data from public, commercial, and other sources to create sophisticated graphs that map Americans' social connections. — September 28, 2013

• The NSA stores a massive amount of internet metadata from internet users, regardless of whether they are being targeted, for up to one year in a database called Marina. — September 30, 2013

• The NSA and GCHQ worked together to compromise the anonymous web-browsing Tor network. — October 4, 2013

• Canada's signals intelligence agency, CSEC, spied on phone and computer networks of Brazil's Ministry of Mines and Energy and shared the information with the "Five Eyes" intelligence services of the US, Canada, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. — October 7, 2013

• The NSA collected more than 250 million email contact lists from services such as Yahoo and Gmail. — October 14, 2013

• NSA surveillance was revealed to play a key role in targeting for overseas drone strikes. — October 16, 2013

• The NSA spied on French citizens, companies, and diplomats, and monitored communications at France's embassy in Washington and its UN office in New York. — October 21, 2013

• The NSA tapped the mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. — October 23, 2013

• The NSA spied on Italian citizens, companies, and government officials. — October 24, 2013

• The NSA monitored the phone calls of 35 world leaders and encouraged other government agencies to share their "Rolodexes" of foreign politicians so it could monitor them. — October 25, 2013

• The NSA spied on Spanish leaders and citizens. — October 25, 2013

• The NSA stations surveillance teams at 80 locations around the world. — October 27, 2013

• A joint program between the NSA and Britain's GCHQ called Muscular infiltrates and copies data flowing out of Yahoo and Google's overseas data centers. One slide boasted of "SSL added and removed here!" with a smiley face. — October 30, 2013

• The NSA spied on the Vatican. (The Panorama website did not cite Snowden as the source.) — October 30, 2013
One slide boasted of "SSL added and removed here!" with a smiley face.

• Australia's intelligence service has surveillance teams stationed in Australian embassies around Asia and the Pacific. — October 31, 2013

• One document reveals tech companies play a key role in NSA intelligence reports and data collection. — November 1, 2013

• Britain's GCHQ and other European spy agencies work together to conduct mass surveillance. — November 1, 2013

• Strategic missions of the NSA are revealed, which include combatting terrorism and nuclear proliferation, as well as pursuing US diplomatic and economic advantage. — November 2, 2013

• Australia's Defense Signals Directorate and the NSA worked together to spy on Indonesia during a UN climate change conference in 2007. — November 2, 2013

• The NSA spied on OPEC. — November 11, 2013

• GCHQ monitored the booking systems of 350 high-end hotels with a program called Royal Concierge, which sniffed for booking confirmations sent to diplomatic email addresses that would be flagged for further surveillance. — November 17, 2013

• Australia's DSD spied on the cellphones of top Indonesian officials, including the president, first lady, and several cabinet ministers. — November 18, 2013

• The NSA spied on millions of cellphone calls in Norway in one 30-day period. — November 19, 2013

• The British government struck a secret deal with the NSA to share phone, internet, and email records of UK citizens. — November 20, 2013

• A NSA strategy document reveals the agency's goal to acquire data from "anyone, anytime, anywhere" and expand its already broad legal powers. — November 22, 2013

• The NSA infected more than 50,000 computer networks worldwide with malware designed to steal sensitive information. — November 23, 2013

• The NSA gathers evidence of visits to pornographic websites as part of a plan to discredit Muslim jihadists. — November 26, 2013

• Working with Canadian intelligence, the NSA spied on foreign diplomats at the G-8 and G-20 summits in Toronto in 2010. — November 28, 2013

• The Netherlands' intelligence service gathers data on web-forum users and shares it with the NSA. — November 30, 2013

• A draft document reveals Australia offered to share information collected on ordinary Australian citizens with the NSA and other "Five Eyes" partners. — December 1, 2013

• The NSA siphons billions of foreign cellphone location records into its database. — December 4, 2013

• Widespread spying is revealed in Italy, with the NSA spying on ordinary Italians as well as diplomats and political leaders. — December 5, 2013

• Swedish intelligence was revealed to be spying on Russian leaders, then passing it on to the NSA. — December 5, 2013

• A document reveals the extent of the relationship between NSA and Canadian counterparts, which includes information-sharing and Canada allowing NSA analysts access to covert sites it sets up. — December 9, 2013

• Intelligence operatives with NSA and GCHQ infiltrate online video games such as "World of Warcraft" in an effort to catch and stop terrorist plots. — December 9, 2013

• Piggybacking on online "cookies" acquired by Google that advertisers use to track consumer preferences, the NSA is able to locate new targets for hacking. — December 10, 2013

• The NSA has the ability to decrypt the common A5/1 cellphone encryption cipher. — December 13, 2013

• The NSA secretly paid the computer security firm RSA $10 million to implement a "back door" into its encryption. — December 20, 2013

• A document reveals how Britain's GCHQ spied on Germany, Israel, the European Union, and several nongovernmental organizations. — December 20, 2013

• With a $79.7 million research program, the NSA is working on a quantum computer that would be able to crack most types of encryption. — January 2, 2014

• Using radio transmitters on tiny circuit boards or USB drives, the NSA can gain access to computers not connected to the internet. — January 14, 2014

• The NSA scoops "pretty much everything it can" in untargeted collection of foreign text messages for its Dishfire database. — January 16, 2014

• The NSA scoops up personal data mined from smartphone apps such as Angry Birds. — January 27, 2014

• A GCHQ program called Squeaky Dolphin monitors YouTube, Facebook, and Blogger for "broad real-time monitoring of online activity." — January 27, 2014
The NSA scoops "pretty much everything it can" in untargeted collection of foreign text messages.

• The NSA spied on negotiators during the 2009 UN climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. — January 29, 2014

• CSEC, Canada's national cryptologic agency, tested a pilot program with the NSA that captured metadata from users who had logged into free airport Wi-Fi. — January 30, 2014

• Britain's GCHQ waged war on hacker groups such as Anonymous and Lulzsec, mounting Distributed Denial-of-Service attacks and infiltrating their chat rooms. — February 5, 2014

• The NSA reportedly monitored former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in the run-up to the Iraq war. — February 5, 2014

• Britain's GCHQ used "dirty tricks" such as computer viruses and sexual "honey traps" to target adversaries. — February 7, 2014

• The US's "targeted killing" program of drone strikes relies mostly on cellphone metadata and geolocation, rather than on-the-ground human intelligence. — February 10, 2014

• An American law firm was monitored by the Australian Signals Directorate while representing the government of Indonesia during a trade dispute. — February 15, 2014

• The NSA and Britain's GCHQ reportedly monitored traffic to the WikiLeaks website and considered a move to monitor communications going to or from WikiLeaks and the Pirate Bay. — February 18, 2014

• Britain's GCHQ conducts covert operations to disrupt and shape online discourse. — February 24, 2014

• Britain's GCHQ, using a program called Optic Nerve, intercepted and stored webcam images from millions of Yahoo users, then passed them on to the NSA's XKeyscore database. — February 28, 2014

• The NSA shared intelligence that helped the Dutch navy capture a ship hijacked by pirates off Somalia, and the Netherlands regularly shares information with the NSA regarding Somalia and Afghanistan. — March 5, 2014

• The NSA has an advice columnist similar to "Dear Abby" who writes an "Ask Zelda" column distributed on the agency's internal network. — March 7, 2014

• NSA developed sophisticated malware "implants" to infect millions of computers worldwide. In one example, the NSA posed as a fake Facebook server to infect a target's computer and steal files. — March 12, 2014

• Document reveals that, while many foreign governments share information with NSA, few senior officials outside of the intelligence or defense sphere have any knowledge of it. — March 13, 2014

• The NSA built a system capable of recording "100%" of a foreign country's phone calls with a voice intercept program called Mystic. The Washington Post did not name the countries where the program was used. — March 18, 2014

• The NSA specifically targets foreign systems administrators to gain access to their networks. — March 20, 2014

• The NSA closely monitored the Chinese technology firm Huawei in attempt to reveal ties between the company and the Chinese military. The agency also spied on Chinese banks and other companies, as well as former President Hu Jintao. — March 22, 2014

• Malaysia's political leadership is a high-priority intelligence target for the US and Australia — March 30, 2014

• NSA and Britain's GCHQ discussed various methods of deception, use of propaganda, mass messaging, and pushing stories on social media sites — April 4, 2014

• The Norwegian Intelligence Service is developing a supercomputer, called Steel Winter, to decrypt and analyze data from Afghanistan, Russia, and elsewhere. — April 26, 2013

• Britain's GCHQ asked the NSA for "unsupervised access" to the NSA's vast databases. It was unclear whether the request was granted. — April 30, 2014

• The NSA physically intercepts routers, servers, and other computer networking equipment before it's exported outside the US, implants "back door" surveillance tools, then repackages them with a factory seal and ships them out. — May 12, 2014

• The NSA is intercepting, recording, and archiving virtually every cellphone call in the Bahamas and one other country, which The Intercept redacted. It also reveals metadata collection on Mexico, Kenya, and the Philippines. — May 19, 2014

• After giving journalist Glenn Greenwald a 72-hour warning to reveal the nation redacted from his previous report on mass surveillance of an entire country, WikLeaks reveals the country in question is Afghanistan. — May 23, 2014

• The NSA harvests millions of faces from web images for use in a previously undisclosed facial recognition database. — May 31, 2014

New study: Snowden’s disclosures about NSA spying had a scary effect on free speech

In June 2013, reporters at The Washington Post and the Guardian ran a series of stories about the U.S. government’s surveillance programs. According to documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency was harvesting huge swaths of online traffic — far beyond what had been disclosed — and was working directly with top Internet companies to spy on certain people. Glenn Greenwald, one of the Guardian journalists who reported the disclosures and a surveillance skeptic, argued in a 2014 TED talk that privacy is a critical feature of open society. People act differently when they know they're being watched. “Essential to what it means to be a free and fulfilled human being is to have a place that we can go and be free of the judgmental eyes of other people,” he said.

Privacy advocates have argued that widespread government surveillance has had a “chilling effect” — it encourages meekness and conformity. If we think that authorities are watching our online actions, we might stop visiting certain websites or not say certain things just to avoid seeming suspicious. The problem, though, is that it's difficult to judge the effect of government-spying programs. How do you collect all the utterances that people stopped themselves from saying? How do you count all the conversations that weren’t had?
A new study provides some insight into the repercussions of the Snowden revelations, arguing that they happened so swiftly and were so high-profile that they triggered a measurable shift in the way people used the Internet. Jonathon Penney, a PhD candidate at Oxford, analyzed Wikipedia traffic in the months before and after the NSA’s spying became big news in 2013. Penney found a 20 percent decline in page views on Wikipedia articles related to terrorism, including those that mentioned “al-Qaeda,” “car bomb” or “Taliban.”

"You want to have informed citizens," Penney said. "If people are spooked or deterred from learning about important policy matters like terrorism and national security, this is a real threat to proper democratic debate."

Even though the NSA was supposed to target only foreigners, the immense scale of its operations caused many to worry that innocent Americans were getting caught in the dragnet. A Pew survey in 2015 showed that about 40 percent of Americans were “very” or “somewhat” concerned that the government was spying on their online activities. The same survey showed that about 87 percent of American adults were aware of the Snowden news stories. Of those people, about a third said they had changed their Internet or phone habits as a result. For instance, 13 percent said they “avoided using certain terms” online; and 14 percent said they were having more conversations face to face instead of over the phone. The sudden, new knowledge about the surveillance programs had increased their concerns about their privacy.

Penney’s research, which is forthcoming in the Berkeley Technology Law Journal, echoes the results of a similar study conducted last year on Google Search data. Alex Marthews, a privacy activist, and Catherine Tucker, a professor at MIT’s business school, found that Google activity for certain keywords fell after the Snowden stories were splashed on every front page. Both in the United States and in other countries, people became reluctant to search for terrorism-related words such as “dirty bomb” or “pandemic.”

Penney focused on Wikipedia pages related to sensitive topics specifically flagged by the Department of Homeland Security. In a document provided to its analysts in 2011, the DHS listed 48 terrorism terms that they should use when “monitoring social media sites.” Penney collected traffic data on the English Wikipedia pages most closely related to those terms. This chart from the paper shows how the number of views dropped after the June 2013 news articles. The amount of traffic immediately dropped and stayed low for the subsequent 14 months.



 Facespook! Social media giant becomes arm of US intel

Facespook! Social media giant becomes arm of US intel

Facebook, the world’s top social media platform, is reportedly seeking to hire hundreds of employees with US national security clearance licenses. Purportedly with the aim of weeding out “fake news” and “foreign meddling” in elections. If that plan, reported by Bloomberg, sounds sinister, that’s because it is. For what it means is that people who share the same worldview as US intelligence agencies, the agencies who formulate classified information, will have a direct bearing on what millions of consumers on Facebook are permitted to access. It’s as close to outright US government censorship on the internet as one can dare to imagine, and this on a nominally independent global communication network. Your fun-loving place “where friends meet.”

Welcome to Facespook!

As Bloomberg reports: “Workers with such [national security] clearances can access information classified by the US government. Facebook plans to use these people – and their ability to receive government information about potential threats – in the company’s attempt to search more proactively for questionable social media campaigns ahead of elections.” A Facebook spokesman declined to comment, but the report sounds credible, especially given the context of anti-Russia hysteria. Over the past year, since the election of Donald Trump as US president, the political discourse has been dominated by “Russia-gate” – the notion that somehow Kremlin-controlled hackers and news media meddled in the election. The media angst in the US is comparable to the Red Scare paranoia of the 1950s during the Cold War.

Facebook and other US internet companies have been hauled in front of Congressional committees to declare what they know about alleged “Russian influence campaigns.” Chief executives of Facebook, Google, and Twitter, are due to be questioned again next month by the same panels. Mark Zuckerberg, the 33-year-old CEO of Facebook, initially rebuffed claims his company had unwittingly assisted Russian interference in the last US in November. But after months of non-stop allegations by politicians and prominent news media outlets vilifying Russia, Zuckerberg and the other social media giants are buckling. Led, perhaps unwittingly, by US intelligence fingering of Russian meddling, Facebook, Google, and Twitter are now saying they have discovered postings and advertisements “linked to the Russian government.” Notably, the sources impugning the “offending ads” are the intelligence agencies and members of Congress who are hawkish on the Russia-gate narrative.

One glaring weakness in this narrative is that the alleged “Russian ads” involved a spend of $100,000 on Facebook. Twitter identified $274,000 worth of “Russian-linked ads.” Some of the information being promoted appears to be entirely innocuous, such as pet-lovers sharing cute photos of puppies. It is far from clear how these ads are connected to Russian state agencies allegedly attempting to subvert the US elections. Moscow has dismissed the allegations. Much of it is assumed and taken on face value from claims made by American intelligence and their political and media associates. But what is clear – albeit overlooked in much US media coverage – is the sheer implausibility that the Russian government intended to warp the US presidential election with a few hundred thousand dollars. Facebook alone earns billions of dollars from advertising. The alleged Russian ads represent a drop in the bucket. The expenditure and presumed impact on public opinion is also negligible compared to the billions of dollars American corporations donated to the election campaigns of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Alphabet (Google’s parent company) and Facebook are among the top 50 biggest US corporate donors in lobbying the Federal government and Congress. Last year, the top 50 corporations reportedly spent over $700 million, of which Alphabet and Facebook contributed $15 million and $8.7 million, respectively. This expenditure is explicitly intended to influence policy and legislation. So, what’s that about Russia allegedly swaying the presidential election with a fraction of the financial muscle? Despite the irrational focus on Russian meddling, internet companies like Facebook have become willing participants in the official efforts to clamp down on this illusory “enemy of democracy.” What’s more is the complete oversight on how the US media environment is increasingly dominated and controlled by vested powerful corporate interests.

While the mainstream media and politicians fret over alleged Russian influence on American citizens, there is an absurd absence in the public debate about the disproportionate power of just six US media conglomerates dominating all major American news services. Social media and internet companies are vying with the traditional news channels. In a recent article, New York Times technology columnist Farhad Manjoo wrote about the “Frightful Five” – Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Alphabet (Google). He writes: “The Five elicit worries of total social control.” The influence these US-owned media giants exert cuts across all cultural sectors, from the news received, to books, film and other entertainment. In effect, these companies are molding citizens into the consumers that they want to maximize their profits.

Facebook’s reported plans to employ US government-validated people who can use their intelligence contacts and prejudices to control what millions of ordinary people will read, watch or listen to is another manifestation of the larger drift into a corporate matrix. Under the preposterous guise of “protecting” from “fake news” and “foreign meddling in elections,” Facebook is turning into a government censor. This disturbing trend has accelerated over the last year. Far from Russia or some other foreign impostor tampering with freedom of information and free speech – supposed bedrocks of democracy – it is increasingly American companies that are the very real and formidable constraint. Robert Bridge, a fellow Op-Edge contributor, said Facebook appears to be deliberately blocking links disseminating particular news stories carried by the channel. Bridge concurs with the experience of many other ordinary people around the world who also have noticed how US internet companies have substantially curbed the search freedom previously enjoyed on the internet.

“It's really incredible how Google and YouTube have earnestly started manipulating their algorithms and censoring news, ” says Bridge. “I was researching a story recently, and it was so difficult to pull up any relevant information that was not critical of Putin or Russia.”

A similar finding was reported by the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS), which carried out a study on how search traffic to that site and other left-wing, anti-war online journals has plummeted by over 50 percent since Google announced new search engines to curtail “fake news” back in April. Facebook and the other big US internet companies are instead directing users to what they call “authoritative” news organizations, which by and large are corporate-controlled entities aligned with government interests. Ironically, these news outlets have peddled some of the biggest fake news stories, such as the non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq which launched a decade-long US war killing over a million Iraqis. “Russia-gate” is another fabricated narrative which is being used to crush critical alternative sources. The infernal paradox is that genuinely alternative, critical news sources are now at risk of being censored by internet companies working in league with nefarious US government intelligence.


Nonstop media lies in drive to war against Syria

Popular opposition to the Obama administration’s drive to war against Syria is mounting, with a recent Pew Research poll showing only 29 percent of Americans favoring air strikes “in response to reports that the Syrian government used chemical weapons.” This figure would be even smaller if the government’s unsubstantiated claims of chemical weapons use by the Bashar al-Assad regime were not taken as the starting point.
The outrage felt by millions in the US and internationally over the prospect of dragging the American people into another war of aggression has been met by a mounting drumbeat for war by the Obama administration, accompanied by a non-stop media barrage of pro-war propaganda and lies.
Nowhere is this propaganda more crude than on US network and cable television. For the talking heads, former government officials, retired military officers and other hacks who populate these TV newsrooms, no lie is too big, whether told with a straight face or a smirk. Not since the Nazis has a war propaganda machine been ramped up to such heights of intensity and depths of dishonesty.
Having spent much of the previous week flicking through the news channels, this reporter can relay to the reader only a fraction of the misinformation that is presented as “fact” on US television. If one over-arching characteristic of this coverage is to be singled out, it is the degree to which the media uncritically accepts the government lies used to fan the flames of war—lies that the media personalities dutifully seek to shove down the throats of an increasingly distrustful public.
Chief among these lies is the Obama administration’s unsubstantiated claim that the Assad regime has “gassed its own people,” accompanied by footage of dead children, which, we are at times reminded, “cannot be independently verified.” Reports that the US-backed “rebel” forces may be responsible are dismissed out of hand. TV correspondents, who pass over in silence US war crimes and the mass repression carried out by Washington’s Middle East allies (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt) join in with the government’s professed moral outrage over the alleged atrocities committed by the “enemy.”
Last Tuesday afternoon (September 3), CNN’s chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour attacked Bashar Jaafari, Syrian United Nations ambassador, during an interview. “Nobody believes what your regime has said over the last two-and-a-half years,” she declared, “because everything has been swatted away by the facts. You’ve simply escalated the war using conventional and now unconventional weapons.”
She continued her rant: “How do you sleep at night, Mr. Jaafari, defending a government that is responsible for so much bloodshed, and has really crossed the line from any kind of civil war into weapons of mass destruction? The greatest crime under international law?”
The media trundles out various military “experts” with advice on the best weapons and strategies to be employed in the US government’s military pursuits. Later in the afternoon last Tuesday, CNN reporter Tom Foreman joined Lt. Col. Rick Francona atop a giant map of Syria to discuss options for an effective “limited” military action against Syria.

Foreman: This notion of Senator [John] McCain’s that attacking the air assets of Syria could really make a difference.
Francona: Although they have 20 airfields, these six air bases constitute the bulk of the combat power of the Syrian air force. You want to go after things that would make a difference. You want to go after the fuel supplies and the fueling points. You also want to hit their maintenance points; limit their ability to generate sorties. You also want to go after any command control resident on the base. And of course, if you can, take out their runways.
Foreman: This sort of attack would allow the White House to say, yes, it punished the chemical weapons capability in a limited way. It would allow opponents of it to say at least it was a limited attack on truly military targets. And it would allow people like John McCain to say, yes, it was a diminishing of the basic capacity of the Assad government. (Addressing anchor Wolf Blitzer), Whether it will overcome the public’s doubts, Wolf, we’ll have to see.
One of the more despicable media practices is to exploit the conditions of the Syrian refugees to boost the war drive. The devastation of Syria, which is forcing thousands of people to flee the country on a daily basis, is the responsibility of the imperialist powers that have plunged the country into sectarian warfare. But the media obscenely twists this reality to obtain isolated sound bites from desperate refugees calling for a US intervention that would rain bombs on Syria and increase the misery of the civilian population.
On Tuesday evening’s “NBC Nightly News,” NBC chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel reported from Turkey, not far from the CIA station that coordinates the flow of billions of dollars in money and arms provided by Qatar and Saudi Arabia to fuel the slaughter across the Syrian border. Engel interviewed a 17-year-old girl, a refugee from Syria who hadn’t been to school in a year. “We are waiting for help from the United States,” she said, “from any country.”
Engel then spoke with refugee Abdullah Hamadi, a cotton farmer who is now homeless. “We want America to attack,” Abdullah said. “Today, not tomorrow.” He spoke of his three-year-old daughter, suffering from dysentery. “Nobody is helping. We have no hope left, but for America.” Engel ended his segment, telling NBC Anchor Brian Williams: “These people are putting so much hope in the United States, not because it is the country that can help, but they see Russia against them, the Syrian government bombing them and Europe and the Arab world just talking.”
The taking heads also interview the war criminals of present and past administrations, seeking their insight into diplomatic and military policy and promoting their books and other endeavors. These individuals are presented as reasonable and legitimate sources of the truth, as TV anchors engage in repartee over the plusses and minuses of military engagement. On Thursday morning’s “Today Show” on NBC, co-host Savannah Guthrie interviewed Donald Rumsfeld, defense secretary in both the George W. Bush and Gerald Ford administrations, and one of the chief architects of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Guthrie: You had some tough words for President Obama at an event yesterday. You said this plan for sort of a shot across the bow, limited strikes, would be ineffective and an embarrassment for the United States. My question to you is, would it be better to do something limited or do nothing at all?
Rumsfeld: Well, it seems to me that’s a false choice. I think either you do something that’s worth doing or you do nothing at all. The danger of doing something that’s not worth anything, that results in nothing, that leaves Assad standing, it seems to me, is that it makes the United States look like that’s what we prefer…
Guthrie: Do you think it was a mistake for the president to consult Congress? Do you think it gave Assad the gift of time?
Rumsfeld: Oh, I think that if he gets support of Congress that’s probably a useful thing. On the other hand, he did not need to go to Congress. President after president has recognized that the authorities they have as commander-in-chief enable them to use force, within reason, and then at some point go to the Congress. More often than not, the various television presenters do not even make a pretense of being objective, and cannot restrain themselves from expressing their ignorant, anti-democratic views. The following exchange took place last Wednesday morning between CNN’s Carol Costello and Rep. Matt Salmon, Republican of Arizona, who is planning to vote against authorization for a Syrian strike.

Costello: The president said there’s no immediate threat to the United States, but if you let people like Assad get away with this kind of thing, in the future what’s to stop Assad and other dictators who have chemical weapons from unleashing them on the United States? What could convince you to open your mind to the thought of a military strike against Syria?
Salmon: It’s going to be very difficult to convince me that this is one that the United States should be involved in.
Costello: What if the president goes ahead with a military strike no matter what Congress does… Sometimes we have to disregard public opinion and do what’s right for the country.
Another role of the television news personalities is to advise Obama on the best way to sell the war against Syria to the American people. Several days ago, the call went out from various news sources for the president to “take it to the American people” in a prime time television address. On Friday morning’s “Today Show,” co-anchor Willie Geist spoke with David Gregory, moderator of the “Meet the Press” Sunday talk show. Geist asked, “How can [Obama] change the opinions of Americans? Does he have to do an Oval Office address, as some have reported he might consider?”
Gregory responded, “Yes, and Secretary of State John Kerry has said that he will address the American people in a few days. So I think the White House has had to shift their strategy here. Nothing to announce officially, but clearly they’ve got to make the case. The president has been told internally by advisers and by outside advisers that he’s got to take the public to school a little bit here—explain what’s at stake in Syria and make a broader case.
“Initially, they wanted to do this quickly. They wanted to not make as big of a deal out of this. They didn’t want to raise the specter that they were going to war like the United States was in Iraq. I think he’s got to shift gears here and really make the case that this is do or die here for the United States, that there is something really serious at risk.”
Gregory added, “The irony, Willie, is that the president has created a situation where you have to ask, how does he not strike Syria—making comparisons to Adolf Hitler, talking about US credibility on the line—even if Congress doesn’t give him the authority.” Gregory’s reference to Adolf Hitler was not in relation to the war policy of the Obama administration, but rather to Assad. And he suggested that the president should proceed with an illegal attack on Syria, in contravention of international law, with or without the authorization of Congress.


Syria Detains Egyptian-American Blogger

An image of Muhammed Radwan, an Egyptian-American who was detained in Syria on Friday, on Syrian television on Saturday.<br />“/><span class=

In an apparent attempt to bolster the Syrian government’s claim that this week’s protests were the result of a foreign plot, Syrian state television has broadcast what it called a “confession” by an Egyptian-American who was detained in Damascus on Friday. The official Syrian state news agency reported that Muhammed Radwan, an Egyptian-America engineer who has worked in Syria for about a year, “said that he visited Israel in secret and confessed to receiving money from abroad in exchange for sending photos and videos about Syria.” The report also claimed that “a Spanish-speaking person from Columbia” had contacted Mr. Radwan “because he lived in Syria and carries a camera-equipped mobile phone” and offered to pay him 100 Egyptian pounds (about $16) in return for photographs and video. One of Mr. Radwan’s cousins in Egypt, Nora Shalaby, told The Lede by e-mail on Saturday that the Syrian report is “all lies. He has never been to Israel, and he does not speak Spanish.” Ms. Shalaby added that Mr. Radwan, who was educated in the United States and took part in protests in Cairo last month, posted an update on his @battutta Twitter feed from his phone on Friday suggesting that he was observing a protest at the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus. As The Lede reported on Friday, another American, Tik Root, a college student from Vermont studying Arabic in Damascus, was arrested by the Syrian government during a previous protest on March 18 in the Umayyad Mosque. The State Department told The Associated Press on Saturday that it was looking into the reported arrests. In recent weeks, Mr. Radwan had posted a small number of updates on Twitter about the growing unrest in Syria.

Exiles Shaping World’s Image of Syria Revolt

On the bloodiest day of Syria’s uprising, Rami Nakhle’s fingers drifted over the keyboard in a room silent but for the news bulletins of Al Jazeera, yet filled with the commotion on his computer screen. As the events unfolded Friday, user names flashed and faded. Twitter flickered with agitprop and trash talk. And Facebook glided past Gmail and Skype as Mr. Nakhle joined a coterie of exiled Syrians fomenting, reporting and, most remarkably, shaping the greatest challenge to four decades of the Assad family’s rule in Syria. “Can you hear it?” Mr. Nakhle cried, showing a video of chants for the government’s fall. “This is Syria, man! Unbelievable.” 

Unlike the revolts in Egypt, Tunisia and even Libya, which were televised to the world, Syria’s revolt is distinguished by the power of a self-styled vanguard abroad to ferry out images and news that are anarchic and illuminating, if incomplete. For weeks now, the small number of activists, spanning the Middle East, Europe and the United States, have coordinated across almost every time zone and managed to smuggle hundreds of satellite and mobile phones, modems, laptops and cameras into Syria. There, compatriots elude surveillance with e-mailed software and upload videos on dial-up connections. Their work has ensured what was once impossible. 

In 1982, Syria’s government managed to hide, for a time, its massacre of at least 10,000 people in Hama in a brutal crackdown of an Islamist revolt. But Saturday, the world could witness, in almost real time, the chants of anger and cries for the fallen as security forces fired on the funerals for Friday’s dead. The activists have staggered the government of President Bashar al-Assad, forcing it to face the reality that it has almost entirely ceded the narrative of the revolt to its opponents at home and abroad. “The government’s paranoid style has become obvious,” said Joshua Landis, a professor of Middle East studies at the University of Oklahoma. “These activists have completely flipped the balance of power on the regime, and that’s all due to social media.”

Still, though few question the breadth of the uprising, there are differences on its depth in towns and cities. Cyberactivists outside of Syria fashion slogans of unity for a revolt that the government insists is inspired by militant Islamists. The voices of protesters smuggled abroad have drowned out the sentiments of the president’s supporters, who include the prosperous elite and frightened minorities of Christians and heterodox Muslim sects. 

Mr. Nakhle, 28, finds himself in an unlikely locale to wage that contest. Imbued with youthful idealism, he left his hometown in 2006 for Damascus, where he discovered the Internet. “A completely new world for me,” he called it, and he soon broadened his activism with Internet campaigns to free political prisoners and, more dramatically, end Syria’s equivalent of martial law. He came up with a pseudonym, Malath Aumran — an inside joke based on family nicknames — and came up with a portrait for Twitter and Facebook that was a composite photograph of 32 men.

By last December, the secret police were pursuing him. “That’s all they need — suspicions,” he said. In a harrowing journey the next month, smugglers on motorcycles carried him to the border, where he narrowly escaped the police and spent the night in a rocky valley before making his way to a working-class neighborhood here. Frills are few; in a sparse apartment, cigarettes, tea, Nescafé, sugar and a drink from boiled leaves of yerba maté crowd his coffee table. “I’m a cyberactivist,” he said. “As long as I have the Internet, that’s it.”

Gaunt and with bloodshot blue-green eyes, Mr. Nakhle navigated a cascade of information Friday — a frenetic conversation on Skype with 15 people in Syria, a snippet of video from Tartus, a phone call from a friend in Damascus, and queries from journalists for contacts in remote towns. Someone he believed to be a secret police officer flashed him a taunting message: “There is news that a member of your family has been taken by security services.” Mr. Nakhle changed the sim card on his phone and called home, without taking his eyes off his computer screen. The news proved false. A message came in via Skype that a protest was dispersed in Aleppo. “I won’t publish this one,” he said knowingly. 

Mr. Nakhle is part of a network that literally spans the globe, whose members include a Syrian-American woman in Chicago who said she grew tired of simply watching Al Jazeera and Ausama Monajed, a Damascus-born activist in London who drives with his Internet-enabled laptop open in the passenger seat, running speech-to-text software. Mr. Monajed estimates that 18 to 20 people are engaged in helping coordinate and cover the protests full time, though he boasts that he can find someone in his broader community to translate English to French at 4 a.m. He has a contact in every Syrian province, who in turn have their networks of 10 people. “And the regime can’t do anything about it,” he said. 

Several say they relied on Syrian businessmen — abroad or in Syria — to finance one of their most impressive feats. After witnessing the Egyptian government’s success in shutting down the Internet and mobile phone networks in January, they made a concerted attempt to circumvent a similar move by delivering satellite phones and modems across Syria. Ammar Abdulhamid, an activist in Maryland, estimated that they delivered 100 satellite phones, along with hundreds of cameras and laptops. 

The impromptu network has been allowed to guide events against a government that hews to the Soviet-era notion of Information Ministries and communiqués. A Facebook page called Syria Revolution, administered from abroad, has become the pulpit for the revolt — its statements de facto policy of the uprising. Mr. Nakhle said he had urged people to use slogans that are free of the sectarian or religious bent popular with Islamic activists. “We have to worry about these people,” he admitted. 

The unprecedented power of the long-distance activists to shape the message troubled Camille Otrakji, a Damascus-born political blogger who lives in Montreal. Where others see coordination, he sees manipulation, arguing that the activists’ mastery of image belies a revolt more sectarian than national, and deaf to the fears of minorities. “I call it deception,” said Mr. Otrakji, a somewhat lonely voice in the Internet tumult. “It’s like putting something on the wrapping of a product which has nothing to do with what’s inside. This is all being manipulated.”

Katherine Zoepf contributed reporting from New York, and an employee of The New York Times from Damascus, Syria.

Cyber activist: Syria still needs regime change

A presidential decree on Thursday ending emergency rule will "change nothing" in Syria, prominent cyber activist Malath Omran said, insisting the people want the fall of the regime. "Lifting emergency rule will change nothing because the security services are not bound by any law," Omran told AFP in a telephone interview from Beirut. "The Syrian people has no faith whatsoever in the regime," said Omran, who under the Internet identity of Rami Nakhleh has been a key player behind the unprecedented protests which have shaken Syria since March 15.

Omran, 28, fled to Lebanon a few months ago, after learning that orders for his arrest had been issued by the Syrian security services which had questioned him on several occasions over his Internet activities. "From the first day people took to the streets with one goal in mind, the fall of the regime... but because there were few protesters at first they were afraid of announcing it openly," he told AFP. "But as the numbers grew the fear factor was broken and the fall of the regime became the slogan and the demand" of demonstrators, according to the activist. His comments came just hours after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad signed decrees ending nearly five decades of emergency law, abolishing state security courts and allowing citizens to hold peaceful demonstrations.

The moves are aimed at placating more than a month of unprecedented protests across Syria. Amnesty International says about 220 people have been killed in a crackdown on the protests, which first broke out in the capital on March 15. But for Omran, 28, who has more than 2,800 friends on the social network Facebook and more than 3,000 followers on Twitter, Assad's decrees and the unveiling of a new government tasked with promoting reforms are "useless." "How will the new government be of any use, when we all know that governments in Syria only implement the orders of the intelligence services?" he asked.

Omran, who studied political sciences at Damascus University, said the intelligence services had linked him to his cyber identity of Rami Nakhleh after he was interviewed by phone on an Arab television. "They discovered that I (Omran) am Rami Nakhleh and they threatened to arrest my sister (in Syria) if I don't pull out of the revolution," the activist said. Two prominent human rights activists said earlier in Damascus that Assad's decrees were good steps forward but did not go far enough.
Iranian blogger: 'Hell' and 'hopelessness' in his country


Recent protests in Iran have failed to gain traction -- despite growing demonstrations in neighboring countries and Iran's own 2009 massive protest movement. What's the status of the Iranian opposition movement, what challenges does it face and could a regime change ever happen peacefully? A blogger from Iran weighs in. Peyman Bagheri is a blogger whose articles against the Iranian government have prompted him to flee his native land for fear of being arrested and imprisoned. He recently spoke via phone from Europe with CNN's Asieh Namdar.

Are you surprised the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt failed to galvanize Iranian activists to take to the streets on levels similar to what we saw in 2009? What's the status of the opposition movement in Iran?

The bitter reality is Iranians are more worried about the economy, jobs and putting food on the table for their families. The economy is in shambles. It's difficult for Iranians to think about protesting and putting their lives at risk, when they are just trying to survive. Many are barely making it. Simply put, the events seen around the world are taking a back burner to real issues at home. The opposition movement is alive but underground. People are afraid of violence, of getting thrown in jail. Activists are spreading their messages through social networks. Lately, they've started writing anti-government slogans on the walls. So to answer your question, the opposition movement is there, just not visible to your eyes.

What's the biggest problem with Iran's opposition movement?

The biggest problem is that there is no clear leader who can unite and please everyone. Even among activists, there's no consensus on how to move forward. No unity, no organization. But the movement has been successful in some ways. The regime has weakened, and facing political, social and economic crisis. I think it's just a matter of time that this regime will collapse.

When do you think that could happen?

Nobody knows for sure. Right now it's going downhill. Internally, there's a lot of division and infighting among high-ranking leaders. The system is starting to fall apart from within. In my opinion, when it happens, regime change in Iran will not happen peacefully. In most cases, autocratic regimes and dictators can't share power with anyone. They are paranoid, and paranoia leads to more repression.

Why did you flee from Iran this year?

I've written more than 50 articles against the government in the past two years. Somebody didn't like my blogs. I was threatened on the phone. The person who called said he'd report me to the government if I continued my writing. I don't know who it was. My home was under surveillance, I felt I was a target. I said to myself, "It's time to go."

Tell us about the open letter you wrote on one of your blogs to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

It was one of the most visited blog posts I've ever written. I questioned the legitimacy of his leadership, and the human rights abuses. I asked him "what kind of leader are you?" I wrote about how, while he might be able to rule with terror and fear, that won't last forever because he doesn't have people's hearts on his side.

Do you know any bloggers who are in jail now?

I know of two. [One] was sentenced to 15 years in jail in 2009. [Another] vanished a month ago; no one has heard of him. He's probably in jail. Bloggers, if caught, normally get up to 20 years. Between 60 and 70 bloggers are currently in jail awaiting trials.

Iranian media covered events in Egypt with praise -- but no mention of the protests in Syria why?

Iran and Syria are powerful allies. Iran will not condemn the crackdown, and in this case even acknowledge them. The two countries have deep roots, are very close. You won't find news about Syria on state-run TV, since it's all filtered. Egypt had very close ties with the U.S. so no surprise for Iran to call government critics and protesters there "heroes."

What needs to happen for us to see a peaceful change towards secular democracy in Iran?

In my opinion, change in Iran can't happen peacefully. Dictators fight till the end. The only peaceful option is reform within the system. But real reform could mean the beginning of the end for this regime. This is why the government can't accept any kind of genuine reform. It would open the door to bigger things, maybe another revolt.

Do you want to return to Iran someday?

Yes, but not now. They'll arrest and throw me in jail. The regime is threatened by bloggers like me, who're spreading the message through words and blogs. They are afraid of their intellectual influence on people. They see us as a huge threat. ... As long as this government is in power, I will not see my homeland. I should add four of my blogs are completely shutdown --- I can't access any of them. For the government, this is absolute proof of my guilt.

In one sentence, can you give us a glimpse of life in Iran for the younger generation?

I can describe it in two words: "hell" and "hopelessness."

The First Twitter Revolution?

Friday evening, Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali boarded a jet for Malta, leaving his prime minister to face streets filled with protesters demanding a change of government in the North African country. The protests began weeks earlier in the central city of Sidi Bouzid, sparked by the suicide of Mohamed Bouazizi, an unemployed university graduate whose informal vegetable stall was shuttered by the police. His despair exemplified the frustration that many Tunisians felt with their contracting economy, high levels of unemployment and inequality, censored media and Internet, and widespread corruption. Protests spread from city to city, with trade unions, lawyers, and countless unemployed Tunisian youth demanding a change to an economic system that appeared to benefit a small number of families close to power and leave ordinary citizens behind.

As the protests intensified, Ben Ali offered concessions to his people: 23 years into his reign, he agreed to step down in 2014. He ordered the security police to stop using live ammunition on protesters after nearly 70 had been killed, cut the price of basic foodstuffs, and promised to allow a freer media and end Internet censorship. This morning, as pressures increased, he offered new elections within six months. But all that failed to placate the crowds, who finally got what they wanted later in the day: a Tunisia sans Ben Ali.

While the future of Tunisia's governance is extremely uncertain at present, it seems we've witnessed the rarest of phenomena, a popular revolt toppling an Arab dictator. Audiences in the Arab world have been glued to Al Jazeera, which has covered the protests closely. Many states in the region suffer from the same problems -- unemployment, slow growth, corrupt government, aging dictators -- that brought Tunisians into the streets. Protesters have taken to the streets in Algeria and Jordan, demanding jobs and affordable food. Whether these protests erupt into the revolution Tunisia is experiencing is impossible to know. What's clear is that the actions taken by Tunisians are reverberating around the region.

Outside the Middle East and the Francophone media sphere, the events in Tunisia have gotten little attention, certainly not the breathless, 24-hour coverage devoted to 2009's Iranian election protests. When the protests began in Sidi Bouzid, much of the English-speaking world was focused on the Christmas and New Year's holidays. As protests in Tunis heated up, U.S. eyeballs were focused on the tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona. Had the Tunisian protests hit during a slow news month, it's still unlikely they would have been followed as closely as events in Iran, which is larger, of greater international security concern, and has a large, media-savvy diaspora who helped promote the 2009 protests to an international audience.

Iran's diaspora was especially effective at promoting the Green Movement to an online audience that followed tweets, Facebook posts, and web videos avidly, hungry for news from the front lines of the struggle. Tens of thousands of Twitter users turned their profile pictures green in solidarity with the activists, and hundreds set up proxy servers to help Iranians evade Internet filters. For users of social media, the protests in Iran were an inescapable, global story. Tunisia, by contrast, hasn't seen nearly the attention or support from the online community.

The irony is that social media likely played a significant role in the events that have unfolded in the past month in Tunisia, and that the revolution appears far more likely to lead to lasting political change. Ben Ali's government tightly controlled all forms of media, on and offline. Reporters were prevented from traveling to cover protests in Sidi Bouzid, and the reports from official media characterized events as either vandalism or terrorism. Tunisians got an alternative picture from Facebook, which remained uncensored through the protests, and they communicated events to the rest of the world by posting videos to YouTube and Dailymotion. As unrest spread from Sidi Bouzid to Sfax, from Hammamet and ultimately to Tunis, Tunisians documented events on Facebook. As others followed their updates, it's likely that news of demonstrations in other parts of the country disseminated online helped others conclude that it was time to take to the streets. And the videos and accounts published to social media sites offered an ongoing picture of the protests to those around the world savvy enough to be paying attention.

One way to understand the significance of social media in Tunisia is to examine the government's attempts to control and silence it. Tunisia has aggressively censored the Internet since 2005, blocking not just explicitly political sites, but social media sites like video-sharing service Dailymotion. Video-sharing sites were a special target of government censors because Tunisian activists are extremely tech-savvy and had released provocative videos online, including one that documented the first lady's frequent shopping trips to Europe using the presidential jet.

Not content just to filter content, last summer Tunisian authorities began "phishing" attacks on activists' Gmail and Facebook accounts. By injecting malicious computer code into the login page of those services through the government-controlled Internet service provider, Ben Ali's monitors were able to obtain passwords to these accounts, locking out the activists and harvesting email lists of presumed activists. When the riots intensified last week, the government began arresting prominent Internet activists, including my Global Voices colleague Slim Amamou, who had broken the story of the government's password phishing. (Amamou was released, apparently unharmed, Thursday night.)

But if the web was such a threat to the government's authority, why did the regime not block Facebook or shut down the Internet entirely? It's critical to understand that Ben Ali was, first and foremost, a pragmatist. As late as Friday morning, he was looking for a solution that would allow him to remain in power, offering concessions in the hope of placating protesters. Internet censorship was already one of the grievances protesters had aired -- when Ben Ali offered concessions to protesters Thursday, loosening the reins was one of the promises that were warmly, if skeptically received.

Pundits will likely start celebrating a "Twitter revolution" in Tunisia, even if they missed watching it unfold; the Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan already revived the dreaded phrase Thursday. Others are seeking connections between unfolding events and a WikiLeaks cable that showed U.S. diplomats' frustration with Ben Ali, and with denial-of-service attacks by online activist group Anonymous, which has been targeting entities that have tried to stop the dissemination of WikiLeaks cables, like the Tunisian government. But any attempt to credit a massive political shift to a single factor -- technological, economic, or otherwise -- is simply untrue. Tunisians took to the streets due to decades of frustration, not in reaction to a WikiLeaks cable, a denial-of-service attack, or a Facebook update.


Egypt's Facebook Revolution: Wael Ghonim Thanks The Social Network

Egypt Facebook Revolution

Shortly after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down from power on Friday, activist Wael Ghonim spoke with CNN's Wolf Blitzer and credited Facebook with the success of the Egyptian people's uprising. Ghonim, a marketing manager for Google, played a key role in organizing the January 25 protest by reaching out to Egyptian youths on Facebook. Shortly after that first protest, Ghonim was arrested in Cairo and imprisoned for 12 days. Since his release, Ghonim has become a symbol for the Egyptian movement, although he has rejected this notion. "I'm not a hero. I was writing on a keyboard on the Internet and I wasn't exposing my life to danger," he said in an interview immediately after his release. "The heroes are the one who are in the street." On Friday, Ghonim told CNN that Facebook and the Internet were responsible for the uprising in Egypt. From the interview:
I want to meet Mark Zuckerberg one day and thank him [...] I'm talking on behalf of Egypt. [...] This revolution started online. This revolution started on Facebook. This revolution started [...] in June 2010 when hundreds of thousands of Egyptians started collaborating content. We would post a video on Facebook that would be shared by 60,000 people on their walls within a few hours. I've always said that if you want to liberate a society just give them the Internet. [...]
Listen to the rest of the interview (below), which is played over video of rejoicing in Tahrir Square. For the latest updates from Egypt, visit our live blog. WATCH: [via All Facebook]


Media Lies Used to Provide a Pretext for Another “Humanitarian War”: Protest in Syria: Who Counts the Dead?

According to numerous reports from the Western media, human rights organisations, as well as the UN, countless peaceful civilians have been killed by the Syrian forces since the beginning of the unrest in the country in mid March. But where do the numbers come from? Many media reports on the alleged deadly repression by the Syrian government fail to mention the sources of their information, which are very often referred to solely as “human rights groups” or “activists”:

“Rights groups said Sunday that troops cracking down on pro-democracy protesters killed eight people in northern Idlib province and four more in central areas near Hama. (Syrian Forces Kill 12 as ICRC Head Visits Damascus, Voice of America, September 4, 2011.)

These protests are an unprecedented challenge to President Bashar al-Assad — and his family, which has ruled the country for more than 40 years. The cost has been high: at least 200 dead, according to human rights groups, and many cyber activists have been jailed. (Deborah Amos, Syrian Activist In Hiding Presses Mission From Abroad, NPR, April 22, 2011.)

At least 75 people have been killed today in Syria during mass protests, local human rights activists told Amnesty International […] 

Thirty were killed in the southern town of Izzra’, 22 in Damascus, 18 in the Homs area and the rest in other towns and villages, activists said […] (Scores killed in Syria as ‘Great Friday’ protests are attacked, Amnesty International, April 22, 2011.)

Although the necessity to remain “anonymous” where dissent is said to be life threatening may under certain circumnstances be understandable, this stance inevitably raises suspicions: The “‘numbers” can be used to demonize the government, as part of  covert operations by any state or organisation looking for regime change in Damascus. It is no secret that the overthrow of the Syrian regime has been a long-sought goal by several foreign powers, including the U.S. and Israel. The reliance of the mainstream media on information emanating from anonymous groups provides a biased understanding of the Syrian protests, which in turn supports the broader objective of destabilizing the Syrian regime.

When information from unknown sources pertaining to the death toll is published either by a mainstream media or a recognized human rights group, it is invariably picked up and considered as “factual evidence” by other news sources or think tanks, without further verification. Moreover, in the process the information is subject to further distortion. Here is an example of this phenomenon:

Rights group Amnesty International said on Friday that it has recorded the names of 171 people killed since the first protesters died in Daraa on March 18. The group based its tally on information received from rights activists, lawyers and other sources and said the majority appeared to have been killed by live ammunition fired by the security forces. (Protesters killed in southern Syria, Al Jazeera, April 9, 2011.)The above news article is based on the following statement by Amnesty International: 

At least 171 people are believed to have been killed during three weeks of unrest in Syria, Amnesty International said today after at least eight more fatalities during protests. The death toll from today’s clashes could rise significantly, according to reports from human rights activists in the country. Amnesty International has recorded the names, via information received from sources including human rights activists and lawyers, of 171 people killed. (Death toll rises amid fresh Syrian protests, Amnesty International, April 8, 2011.)

The original information from Amnesty international (AI) is that “171 people are believed to have been killed”, a statement showing that although “it has recorded the names of 171 people killed”, this information could not be confirmed. Al Jazeera fails to report this “uncertainty” and by doing so makes it a fact rather than an assumption, that 171 people were killed. Here is another example of blatant distortion:

Despite a pledge to end its crackdown, Syrian security forces continued to suppress anti-regime protestors, killing at least eighteen on Thursday in the city of Homs (al-Jazeera). (Jonathan Masters, Assad’s Broken Promises, Council on Foreign Relations, November 3, 2011.) This is an analysis from the Council on Foreign Relations, the famous and extremely powerful U.S. foreign policy think tank. It is based on the following article from Al Jazeera where the information related to the killing is markedly different:

“Dozens of people have reportedly been killed in the flashpoint city of Homs, as Syrian security forces bombarded residential areas with tanks.
The reported deaths occurred in the Bab Amro district of Homs on Thursday, the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, an activist group monitoring the country’s uprising, said. (Syria “violence defies peace deal”,” Al Jazeera, November 4, 2011.)

Al Jazeera’s wording “reportedly been killed” and “reported deaths” shows the deaths have not been confirmed. The Qatari media also mentions that these claims come from one source only, namely from an activist group called Local Coordination Committees of Syria (LCC). The article from the CFR changed Al Jazeera’s allegations into concrete facts. When it comes to counting the dead, the LCC is very often cited in the mainstream media as a source for reports on killings committed by the Syrian authorities, as we can see in the examples below:

Another opposition group, the Local Coordination Committees, said it could not corroborate the Syrian Observatory’s account of the military casualties, though it also called Monday one of the uprising’s bloodier days, with at least 51 civilians killed. “We don’t have any confirmation of what they’re claiming,” said Omar Idlibi, a spokesman for the Local Coordination Committees. (Nada Bakri and Rick Gladstone, Syria Faces New Threats as Opposition Seeks Allies, The New York Times, November 15, 2011.)

According to the opposition network, the Local Coordination Committees, at least five people were killed during the military offensives — three in the central province of Homs, one in the eastern border town of Tal Kalakh and one in Idleb along the Syrian-Turkish border. (Roula Hajjar, Syria: Activists report manhunt for defectors and protesters, Los Angeles Times, September 5, 2011.)

Secret police opened fire and shot teargas to disperse more than 10,000 protesters in Deir Ezzour, in Syria’s tribal east, an activist from the Syrian Revolution Coordinators Union (SRCU) told Al Jazeera. Ten protesters were wounded and around 40 were arrested, he said. The SRCU is the name given this week to one of Syria’s grassroots opposition networks. The SRCU works alongside the Local Coordinating Committees (LCC), another grassroots opposition network. (Al Jazeera Live Blog – Syria, June 3, 2011.)

At least 2,200 people have been killed in Syria since the beginning of the unrest, by the United Nations’ count. An activist group, the Syrian Revolution Coordinating Union, said on Tuesday that 551 people were killed during Ramadan alone. The group said 130 others were killed on July 31, the eve of Ramadan, in an attack on the city of Hama, which was also the scene of a ferocious crackdown in 1982. On Tuesday, four people were killed in Hara and two others in Inkil, two towns in Dara’a Province, according to the Local Coordination Committees, another group of activists who document demonstrations. (Nada Bakri, Syrian Security Forces Fire on Worshipers as Ramadan Ends, The New York Times, August 30, 2011.)

The above article mentions a “UN count” as if it were an independent source of information. However, according to one of its reports, the UN also relies on the same sources of information, the LCC, and it mentions in a note that it is unable to confirm if the information given by the LCC is true:

“At the time of writing, the mission had received more than 1,900 names and details of persons killed in the Syrian Arab Republic since mid-March 2011; all are said to be civilians [26]

26. This information is compiled by local coordinating committees active within the Syrian Arab Republic in documenting the names and details of victims. The mission is unable to verify independently this information.” (United Nations, Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic – A/HRC/18/53, September 15, 2011.)

What are the Local Coordination Committees (LCC)?

According to the Christian Science Monitor, the LCC is part of the non-elected Syrian National Council (SNC). Even though most of its members are in exile and its members in Syria are unknown, the SNC is presented as the legitimate Syrian authority, and has been recognized by the National Transitional Council of Libya, another non-elected body recognized by Western powers as a “pro-democracy” representative of the Libyan people.

“Syrian opposition leaders meeting Sunday in Turkey formally created the Syrian National Council, bringing together most of the disparate groups seeking to unseat Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The council includes the Local Coordination Committees, which has organized most of the protests across the country; the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood; and Kurdish groups; among others, the Associated Press reports. Almost half the members are from inside the country, according to the Washington Post, overcoming a key concern that the council would rely to (sic) heavily on exiles. (Ariel Zirulnick, Syrian oppositon groups formally unify, overcoming key hurdle, October 3, 2011.)

The LCC are somewhat “anonymous”. They refused a telephone interview, but agreed to answer some questions by email. They stated that for security reasons they could not reveal how many members the LCC includes, but claim 13 members of the LCC are in the SNC. “We have enough people to run demonstrations on ground, for media and relief action.” The members allegedly come from different backgrounds and are from all age groups; some are active inside Syria, the others outside the country. The LCC says that their members, in and outside Syria, have been threatened, arrested and tortured by the Syrian authorities. When asked how they became a source of information for the foreign media, the LCC says it is because they provide credible facts. 

And what is the ultimate goal of the LCC? “Our goal is to change the regime in Syria, and as the first step, to end the mandate of the current President, who is now politically and legally responsible for the crimes committed by his regime against the Syrian people and a safe transfer of power in the country.”

Basically, the LCC wants regime change in Syria and it seems to be the major source of information for the western mainstream media and human rights organizations. This opposition group claims to provide “credible facts”, however there is no way to verify these facts. The so-called facts could well be propaganda intended to discredit the actual regime and galvanize public opinion in favour of the regime change the group aspires to implement. Although the LCC spokesperson refused to disclose the names of its members, some have appeared in the mainstream media. One of their members, or collaborator, is Rami Nakhle, a cyberactivist living in exile in Beirut, Lebanon.

“Today, after 98 days of protests, he is living in denial,” says Rami Nakhle, a Syrian working in Beirut with the Local Coordination Committees, a clearinghouse for Syrian opposition protests and activities “It has become clear to everybody that Bashar al-Assad cannot change. He doesn’t realize that Syria has changed forever but he’s still the same president we heard last time, in April.” (Nicholas Blanford, Assad’s speech may buy time, but not survival, The Christian Science Monitor, June 20, 2011)

The activist has a privileged relationship with Al Jazeera, according to NPR:

When the Arabic channel Al-Jazeera broadcasts the latest news, the images come from Nakhle’s network. (Deborah Amos, Syrian Activist In Hiding Presses Mission From Abroad, April 22, 2011.)

It should be noted that Al Jazeera played a key role in promoting the regime change in Libya., a website presented by the Bush Center as a “Voice of Freedom Online”, offers a brief portrait of Nakhle, which is not unlike the other portraits found in the mainstream press, which describe him solely as a cyber-dissident, as if he never had any other occupation: 
“Rami Nakhle is a 27 year cyber-dissident. His use of social media to spread information about the Syrian Revolution caught the attention of Syrian authorities, causing him to flee to Lebanon in January 2011. For the past three years, he has been working under the pseudonym Malath Aumran. Although the Syrian secret police have discovered his real identity, he continues to use this pseudonym to retain recognition from his online followers.

Despite these threats from the Syrian government, Nakhle continues to work in hiding, continuing his campaign for freedom through Facebook, Twitter, and full-access interviews with prominent news sources like BBC and The New York Times. (CyberDissident Database)
The U.S. government and NGOs doing CIA work, such as Freedom House, are major sponsors of cyber-dissidence:

“Political dissidents from China, Iran, Russia, Egypt, Syria, Venezuela and Cuba will travel to Dallas to join with Fellows of the George W. Bush Institute, experts from Freedom House, Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, the U.S. Government and other leaders in the field to discuss the successes and challenges of Internet-based political dissident movements around the world.

The George W. Bush Institute today [March 30, 2010] announced it will co-host a conference on cyber dissidents with the human rights organization Freedom House on April 19, 2010. (George W. Bush Institute and Freedom House to Convene Freedom Activists, Human Rights and Internet Experts to Assess Global Cyber Dissident Movement,” Business Wire, March 30, 2011)

Rami Nakhle doesn’t hide his interests in American organisations. On his Facebook page, he lists the following as “interests”: National Democratic Institute (NDI), chaired by Madeleine Albright, Human Rights Watch and the U.S. Embassy Damascus. Nakhle’s interest in these organisations clearly shows which side he’s on, just like SCN member Radwan Ziadeh, former fellow of the National Endowment for Democracy, another organization well-known for its links with the CIA.

In an interview with the Guardian, the cyberactivist claims to be harassed by the Syrian secret police, on his Facebook wall. It might be true, but it would be a rather unusual tactic for a secret police, which usually, as its name says, acts secretly. Such harassment is more likely to be black propaganda — people opposed to the regime trying to make the Syrian authorities look bad. A kind of “cyber false flag” on Facebook, for everyone to see.

The “Syrian uprising” seems to be a copy and paste of the “protest movement” in Libya, which was conducive to a NATO invasion and regime change. The mainstream press has once again one principal source of information – the opposition groups. The media neglects military casualties and fails to report that armed gunmen, 17 000 according to a report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies, are among the protesters. A non-elected body, the SNC, ironically is upheld as a democratic movement and is offered “credibility” as well as extensive mainstream media coverage.