From Snowden To Russia-gate – The CIA And The Media
MOON OF ALABAMA
The promotion of the alleged Russian election hacking in certain media may have grown from the successful attempts of U.S. intelligence services to limit the publication of the NSA files obtained by Edward Snowden.
In May 2013 Edward Snowden fled to Hongkong and handed internal documents from the National Security Agency (NSA) to four journalists, Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Ewen MacAskill (pictured) of the Guardian and separately to Barton Gellman who worked for the Washington Post. Some of those documents were published by Glenn Greenwald in the Guardian, others by Barton Gellman in the Washington Post. Several other international news sites published additional material, though the mass of NSA papers that Snowden allegedly acquired never saw public daylight.
In July 2013 the Guardian was forced by the British government to destroy its copy of the Snowden archive.
In August 2013 Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post for some $250 million. In 2012 Bezos, the founder, largest share holder and CEO of Amazon, had already a cooperation with the CIA. Together they invested in a Canadian quantum computing company. In March 2013 Amazon signed a $600 million deal to provide computing services for the CIA.
In October 2013 Pierre Omidyar, the owner of Ebay, founded First Look Media and hired Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras. The total planned investment was said to be $250 million. It took up to February 2014 until the new organization launched its first site, the Intercept. Only a few NSA stories appeared on it. The Intercept is a rather mediocre site. Its management is said to be chaotic. It publishes few stories of interests and one might ask if it ever was meant to be a serious outlet. Omidyar has worked, together with the U.S. government, to force regime change onto Ukraine. He had strong ties with the Obama administration.
Snowden had copies of some 20,000 to 58,000 NSA files. Only 1,182 have been published. Bezos and Omidyar obviously helped the NSA to keep more than 95% of the Snowden archive away from the public. The Snowden papers were practically privatized into trusted hands of Silicon Valley billionaires with ties to the various secret services and the Obama administration.
The motivation for the Bezos and Omidyar to do this is not clear. Bezos is estimated to own a shameful $90 billion. The Washington Post buy is chump-change for him. Omidyar has a net worth of some $9.3 billion. But the use of billionaires to mask what are in fact intelligence operations is not new. The Ford Foundation has for decades been a CIA front, George Soros’ Open Society foundation is one of the premier “regime change” operations, well versed in instigating “color revolutions”.
It would have been reasonable if the cooperation between those billionaires and the intelligence agencies had stopped after the NSA leaks were secured. But it seems that strong cooperation of the Bezos and Omidyar outlets with the CIA and others continue.
The Intercept burned an intelligence leaker, Realty Winner, who had trusted its journalists to keep her protected. It smeared the President of Syria as neo-nazi based on an (intentional?) mistranslation of one of his speeches. It additionally hired a Syrian supporter of the CIA’s “regime change by Jihadis” in Syria. Despite its pretense of “fearless, adversarial journalism” it hardly deviates from U.S. policies.
The Washington Post, which has a much bigger reach, is the prime outlet for “Russia-gate”, the false claims by parts of the U.S. intelligence community and the Clinton campaign, that Russia attempted to influence U.S. elections or even “colluded” with Trump.
Just today it provided two stories and one op-ed that lack any factual evidence for the anti-Russian claims made in them.
In ‘Kremlin trolls burned across the Internet as Washington debated options‘ the writers insinuate that some anonymous writer who published a few pieces on Counterpunch and elsewhere was part of a Russian operation. They provide zero evidence to back that claim up. Whatever that writer wrote (see list at end) was run of the mill stuff that had little to do with the U.S. election. The piece then dives into various cyber-operations against Russia that the Obama and Trump administration have discussed.
A second story in the paper today is based on “a classified GRU report obtained by The Washington Post.” It claims that the Russian military intelligence service GRU started a social media operation one day after the Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was illegally removed from his office in a U.S. regime change operation. What the story lists as alleged GRU puppet postings reads like normal internet talk of people opposed to the fascist regime change in Kiev. The Washington Post leaves completely unexplained who handed it an alleged GRU report from 2014, who classified it and how, if at all, it verified its veracity. To me the piece and the assertions therein have a strong odor of bovine excrement.
An op-ed in the very same Washington Post has a similar smell. It is written by the intelligence flunkies Michael Morell and Mike Rogers. Morell had hoped to become CIA boss under a President Hillary Clinton. The op-ed (which includes a serious misunderstanding of “deterrence”) asserts that Russia never stopped its cyberattacks on the United States:
Russia’s information operations tactics since the election are more numerous than can be listed here. But to get a sense of the breadth of Russian activity, consider the messaging spread by Kremlin-oriented accounts on Twitter, which cybersecurity and disinformation experts have tracked as part of the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy.
The author link to this page which claims to list Twitter hashtags that are currently used by Russian influence agents. Apparently the top issue Russia’s influence agents currently promote is “#merrychristmas”.
None of the Russia-gate stories so far has held up to scrutiny. There is no proof at all, nor reasonable evidence, that Russia interfered in elections in the U.S. or elsewhere. There is no evidence of “collusion” with the Trump campaign.
One of the most complete debunking of the false claims can be found in the recent London Review of Books: What We Don’t Talk about When We Talk about Russian Hacking. Consortium News has published many pieces on the issue, as well as analyses and warnings of what may follow from it. Many other writers have caught up and debunk the various false claims. The Nation lists various cases of journalistic malpractice with regard to Russia-gate.
The people who promote the “Russian influence” nonsense are political operatives or hacks. Take for example Luke Harding of the Guardian who just published a book titled Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win. He was taken apart in a Real News interview (vid) about the book. The interviewer pointed out that there is absolutely no evidence in the book to support its claims. When asked for any proof for his assertion, Harding defensively says that he is just “storytelling” – in other words: it’s fiction. Harding earlier wrote a book about Edward Snowden which was a similar sham. Julian Assange called it “a hack job in the purest sense of the term”. Harding is also known as plagiarizer. When he worked in Moscow, he copied stories and passages from the now defunct Exile, run by Matt Taibbi and Mark Ames. The Guardian had to publish an apology.
The Mexican government controls the media by buying an immense amount of advertisements. The media thus guarantees its income as long as the political line is followed. The U.S. government has its own ways of controlling the media. In the 1950s to 1970s, the CIA ran Operation Mockingbird which gave it control over much of the news and opinion output in U.S. media. During that time, up to 400 mainstream journalists were working for the CIA.
The method of control has likely changed. The handling of the Snowden affair lets one assume that the CIA induces billionaires to buy up media and to implement the CIA’s favored policies through them. We do not know what the billionaires get for their service. The CIA surely has many ways to let them gain information on their competition or to influence business regulations in foreign countries. One hand will wash the other.
James Clapper as Director of National Intelligence, John Brennan as CIA head and James Comey from the FBI “assessed” that Russia influenced the U.S. presidential election. Annex B of their report, which hardly any report bothered to mention, reads:
Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact. Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation and precedents.
That sentence is the core of Russia-gate. There are lots of claims, assertions and judgments but no proof at all that any of the alleged Russian influence really happened.
It is probably due to the undue influence of the intelligence services that media have adopted that Annex B standard for themselves. With regards to Russia (and other issues) assertions are now enough – there is no need to investigate, to find the truth or to verify claims.
How will that system work if an accident happens, some jet gets shot down and the issue escalates. Will there be any reporter left in the mainstream media who is allowed to ask real questions?
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Featured image courtesy of AP