Friday, April 19, 2019
From the Onion:
Saturday, April 13, 2019
I've been listening to National Public Radio's coverage this week on the arrest of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and the reporting has generally been abysmal. In other words, it has been par for the course.
At least four things have stood out to me in the NPR coverage I have heard. First, the NPR reporting on the withdrawn (but possibly soon-to-be resumed) Swedish sexual assault investigation has consistently failed to fully report Assange's position. As Wired noted nearly two years ago: "Assange has always maintained that extradition to Sweden was a thin ruse intended to make him vulnerable to further extradition to the United States, where it's widely believed that a secret grand jury for years was investigating him for WikiLeaks-related crimes." (I offer no judgment on the veracity of Assange's protestations that he was innocent of the Swedish allegations.)
Second, the range of guests NPR has hosted on the Assange segments has generally run the gamut from "I don't like Assange much" to "I really dislike the treacherous Assange". For instance, on the day Assange was arrested NPR interviewed Leon Panetta, secretary of defense and CIA director during Obama administration.
(NPR thought it not worth mentioning that Panetta was also Bill Clinton's OMB director and, later, chief of staff or that Panetta endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016. Less than three months before the election, Panetta also went to bat for her regarding alleged Clinton Foundation improprieties during her tenure as Secretary of State. In 2017, Clinton blamed Wikileaks, in part, for her 2016 loss to Donald Trump. And why mention that less than a year ago the DNC filed a lawsuit against Wikileaks?)
Predictably, Panetta is in favor of the extradition and prosecution of Assange: "So I think ... as a result of the impact of releasing this classified information that he ought to be subject to the laws of the United States and face our system of justice." He also raised the Clinton defeat: "Well, there's no question that there was a huge amount of attention, particularly to WikiLeaks and the impact of WikiLeaks on the 2016 election. There's no question that as a result of the information that he was able to release, it had a huge impact in terms of our politics ..." In response to a question about a recent Tweet by Edward Snowden on Assange's arrest, Panetta avoided commenting on the substance of Snowden's position and launched an ad hominem attack.
Third, NPR on-air personalities and guests have repeatedly made (or declined to challenge the accuracy or relevance of) the claim that Assange/Wikileaks are not covered by the 1st Amendment because they allegedly released classified material without redactions of sensitive material.
Just today, NPR hosted former CIA deputy director John McLaughlin, who asserted Assange is not a "legitimate journalist", in part, because Assange allegedly declined to redact material that "mainstream journalists" wanted him to remove and, further, that Assange wouldn't even listen "to that case [for redactions]". McLaughlin makes this claim twice in the segment and it is never challenged.
I am unaware of any "not enough redactions" exception to the freedom of the press. Moreover, in October 2010, CNN reported:
With the posting of 400,000 classified documents from the Iraq war, WikiLeaks has shown a much heavier hand redacting compared to its previous publication of documents.Assange's role in the alleged failure to redact names in the July leak is not discussed in the CNN article, which does go on to say concerning later releases: "An initial comparison of a few documents redacted by WikiLeaks to the same documents released by the Department of Defense shows that WikiLeaks removed more information from the documents than the Pentagon" (emphasis added). Yep, Wikileaks apparently withheld more information than the US military but you're not likely to learn that on NPR.
After the leak in July of more than 70,000 Afghanistan War documents, the website was heavily criticized by the U.S. government, the military and human rights groups for failing to redact names of civilians in the documents, putting them at risk of retaliation by the Taliban.
In the same piece CNN also reported: "Even with redaction, the Pentagon is critical of the documents' release, saying the site had no right to publish and is not equipped to understand what information is harmful." This seems to suggest that Wikileaks failure to redact what the military wanted redacted was due to incompetence or negligence, not malice. In any case, where does the 1st Amendment require journalists to keep secret what the government wants kept secret?
Finally, it is striking that NPR's coverage has featured very little discussion of the substance of the actual charges against Assange' let alone the substance of the material Chelsea Manning provided for Wikileaks to publish (see e.g. the video below). The unsealed federal grand jury indictment is only seven pages long and pretty straightforward but NPR has instead covered ancillary issues, such as Assange's cat, with the seeming goal of smearing and convicting Assange in the court of public opinion.
Assange's purported crime appears to be agreeing to help Manning crack a government password (Indictment, para. 7). However, the indictment also indicates that Assange's assistance did not extend to him actively accessing a restricted government computer system. Thus, paragraph 9 of the indictment speaks of "the portion of the password Manning gave to Assange". At first glance this seems analogous to asking Assange, from afar, for help opening a physical combination safe. It's akin to Assange saying "try this combination" while not turning the dial himself or even being in the same room.
If it's illegal for a journalist to help someone from afar break the password of a computer file or crack a safe then would it also be illegal to open/unseal a stolen envelope clearly marked "Top Secret" and containing classified material or turn the pages of a stolen document clearly marked "Top Secret"? What about helping to decipher an encrypted text? If not, why not? What's the substantive difference between these acts?
To be clear, if Assange sat at a keyboard and unlawfully attempted to access classified files while they were still stored on a government system then that would seem to be an overt, illegal act. However, that's not what Assange is accused of doing.
He is accused of conspiring to help Chelsea Manning do that and, under the particular circumstances, that seems a little fuzzier, especially when something as important as the 1st Amendment is in play. But as Glenn Greenwald puts it:
Neither the most authoritarian factions of the Trump administration behind this prosecution, nor their bizarre and equally tyrannical allies in the Democratic Party, care the slightest about press freedoms. They only care about one thing: putting Julian Assange behind bars, because (in the case of Trump officials) he revealed U.S. war crimes and because (in the case of Democrats) he revealed corruption at the highest levels of the DNC that forced the resignation of the top 5 officials of the Democratic Party and harmed the Democrats’ political reputation.
Collateral Murder - short version
Download the US indictment of Assange here (PDF): https://www.justice.gov/usao-edva/press-release/file/1153481/download
Here, in no particular order, are some alternative views on the Assange arrest that you're not likely to hear represented on NPR:
- "7 Years of Lies About Assange Won't Stop Now" Consortium News
- "Julian Assange's Arrest Should Worry Anyone Who Cares About Freedom of the Press" The Nation
- "EFF Statement on Assange Indictment and Arrest" The Electronic Frontier Foundation
- "Espionage? Computer Crimes? The DOJ's Cast Against Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange" MintPress News
- "10 Reasons Assange Should Walk Free" Foreign Policy Journal
- "Yes, You Should Fear the Arrest of Julian Assange" The American Conservative
- "How You Can Be Certain That The US Charge Against Assange Is Fraudulent" Caitlin Johnstone
- "The Washington Establishment Seems Pretty Happy About Julian Assange's Arrest" Reason
- "Julian Assange's life is in danger" World Socialist Web Site
Saturday, March 30, 2019
Enemies of freedom of thought and expression are hailing Facebook's recent reversal on banning "White nationalists" from its platform and from Instagram starting next week. Facebook's previous policy was as follows:
- Q: What is our stance on white supremacy, white nationalism and white separatism?
We don't allow praise, support and representation of white supremacy as an ideology. Eg. "White supremacy is the right thing"; "I am a white supremacist"; "Join the next White Supremacy rally!"
We allow praise, support and representation of white nationalism as an ideology. Eg. "White nationalism is the only way"; "I am a proud white nationalist"
We allow praise, support and representation of white separatism as an ideology. Eg. "White separatism is the perfect solution to America's problems"; "I am a white separatist". By the same token, we allow to call for the creation of white ethno-states (Eg. "The US should be a white-only nation")
Since then Facebook has been lobbied and attacked by the Humpty Dumpty brigade. Here's how the new policy arose according to Vice:
"We've had conversations with more than 20 members of civil society, academics, in some cases these were civil rights organizations, experts in race relations from around the world," Brian Fishman, policy director of counterterrorism at Facebook, told us in a phone call. "We decided that the overlap between white nationalism, [white] separatism, and white supremacy is so extensive we really can't make a meaningful distinction between them. And that's because the language and the rhetoric that is used and the ideology that it represents overlaps to a degree that it is not a meaningful distinction."Wow! "[M]ore than 20 members of civil society ..." That's surely representative of the full scope of views on the subjects of White nationalism and freedom of thought and expression. Of course, it is completely coincidental that Brian Fishman has been part of "regular consulting meetings" between Facebook execs and representatives of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's (SWC) Digital Terrorism and Hate Project, including Rabbi Abraham Cooper, SWC Associate Dean.
Also coincidental is that, apparently, only "White nationalism" will be banned by Facebook because no one ever died from violent Jewish nationalists (see here, here, and here) or violent Chinese nationalists or violent Black nationalists (see here, here, and here). On that subject The Deseret News reports:
As Motherboard [a Vice subdomain] reported, Facebook will still allow content relating to black separatist movements and the Basque separatist movement to be posted, due to experts' arguments that white separatism should be handled differently "because of the long history of white supremacism that has been used to subjugate and dehumanize people of color in the United States and around the world."To paraphrase Orwell, when it comes to Facebook Farm: All nationalisms are equal but some nationalisms are more equal than others. We'll see what happens when the new policy is implemented but as of today the Facebook page featured below was still live on Facebook:
However, Facebook does ban content centered on black nationalism, Motherboard reported. The Southern Poverty Law Center has characterized groups that espouse black nationalist ideology as hate groups, with the added proviso that "they should not be seen as equivalent to white supremacist groups — such as the Ku Klux Klan or neo-Nazis — in terms of their history of violence and terrorism."
This seems to contradict the claim made in The Deseret News. You see, Louis Farrakhan is profiled as an "extremist", "antisemite", and a "Black Nationalist" by the SPLC and he is the head of the Nation of Islam (NOI), which is an "SPLC Designated Hate Group". The pictured video sub-page is entitled "Minister Louis Farrakhan - The Raw Evil Nature of White People Exposed" and Farrakhan's main page prominently features a link to the NOI main web site.
To be clear, I am no proponent of the SPLC and I don't support banning Farrakhan or the NOI from Facebook. Nor do I support banning White nationalists or supremacists. I do support banning people and entities advocating violence and related criminal activity although I don't think mere criminal advocacy or activity should be the threshold for censorship on Facebook.
For example, it was once a crime for Black people to, among other things, ride at the front of the bus or to dine in certain restaurants. Today, it is illegal, under Israeli law, for anyone anywhere in the world to advocate for a boycott of Israel; sedition is still, arguably, a crime in the United States; apostasy from Islam is punishable by death in some countries; and, a man in China was fined this year for using a VPN to access foreign web sites. Should Facebook censor speech reporting, supporting, or enabling those crimes?
While I have some sympathy with those who support regulating Facebook as a utility, I'm not fully convinced it would be a good idea. Moreover, I doubt that it will happen because that might open the door to treating Facebook as a common carrier and therefore intolerably impinge on the Left's ability to successfully pressure Facebook to censor crimethink.
In any case, my preferred approach to controversial speech is Millian:
But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error ...
Complete liberty of contradicting and disproving our opinion, is the very condition which justifies us in assuming its truth for purposes of action; and on no other terms can a being with human faculties have any rational assurance of being right ...
He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side; if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion.
Sunday, March 24, 2019
So, the Mueller report is finished and the findings are starting to be released. Given their track record in covering the Mueller investigation it is likely that mainstream media outlets such as National Public Radio and the New York Times will be unable to adhere to the truth when discussing the report.
By this, I mean that, initially, they are likely to get the bare bones of the report correct then they will devolve into spins, distortions, and fabrications. I am not suggesting that the people who write, edit, and report the news will deliberately be dishonest—although there will likely be some of that—but rather that they will be overcome by their own bias.
Just about two weeks ago there was a striking example of this cognitive impairment in action. The Daily is a program produced by the New York Times that airs on National Public Radio stations. On March 11, The Daily aired "Part 2: What to Expect When You’re Expecting (the Mueller Report)". Host Michael Barbaro spoke with "Michael S. Schmidt, who has been covering the special counsel investigation for The New York Times."
Here's an excerpt from the transcript of the program (the highlights in bold below are mine):
Michael Schmidt: ... So if Mueller says, there's nothing here to be seen, then the Republicans — we know where they're going to be. They're going to be standing next to the president.
Michael Barbaro: So in that case, do you expect the Democrats would proceed with these [Congressional] investigations, but they would kind of limp along and there wouldn't be a ton of political support for anything approaching impeachment, no matter what is found? Or is it possible these investigations would literally just start to shut down?
Michael Schmidt: I don't think they shut down. I think that they limp along, because the Democrats will still have a base that thinks that Trump has done a lot of things that are terrible. And there will be pressure on them to continue to press. Democrats will say, Mueller may not have enough evidence to show the president broke the law, but we know that he has abused his power and done X and Y and Z. And they'll go on and on and on, and they'll say we can not ignore this.In the next segment Barbaro raises the possibility that Mueller's findings will do something other than fully exculpate or fully inculpate Trump.
Michael Barbaro: So Mike, what could possibly be the third option? Because in our legal system, when it comes to the special counsel, there only seems to be two options — charge the president with a crime or not charge the president.At this point Barbaro and Schmidt discuss former FBI Director Comey's July 2016 press conference. Their conversation is interspersed with recordings of Comey from the press conference. I'm going to skip most of that and get to my point.
Michael Schmidt: For lack of a better term or to make up a term, I would call it the Comey hybrid.
Michael Barbaro: What is — (CHUCKLES) what is the Comey hybrid?
Archived Recording of James Comey: There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton's position, or in the position of those with whom she was corresponding about those matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation.I have omitted about two minutes of the program here. The next part is the really striking bit.
Michael Schmidt: But that at the end of the day —
Archived Recording of James Comey: Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.
Michael Schmidt: It didn't meet the high bar of indicting her.
Archived Recording of James Comey: We cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts.
Michael Barbaro: So a Comey hybrid is to come out and say no charges are going to be filed against the subject of an investigation, but here are all the things we found. Here are all the implications — essentially not prosecution, but a kind of scolding.
Michael Schmidt: It's not even about scolding. It's — we're not going to charge, but I'm going to give you a rare look underneath the hood.
Archived Recording of James Comey: Our investigation looked at whether there is evidence that classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on that personal system in violation of a federal statute that makes it a felony to mishandle classified information, either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way.
Michael Barbaro: So the conclusion was that it [i.e. Comey's press conference] was an unnecessary, kind of gratuitous sullying of Hillary Clinton, even though there was no evidence she had committed a crime.In case you missed it, just moments earlier Barbaro and Schmidt had listened to a recording of Comey saying: "there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information". Comey also makes a case of sorts that Clinton was grossly negligent in her handling of classified material which he later points out is a violation of the federal statute.
Michael Schmidt: Correct. They're saying if the F.B.I. investigated the average American and found that that person had not committed a crime, we don't then stand up and say, hey, look at all the unsavory things they did — which we didn't think rose to something they should be charged with.
In other words, Comey clearly indicated there is evidence of a criminal violation. Yet less than three minutes later Barbaro is on to "there was no evidence she [Clinton] had committed a crime" and Schmidt is agreeing with him.
In coming days, we can expect the mainstream media and Democrats to do a sort of inversion of this. It will probably go kind of like this: 'Well, yes, Mueller found no evidence of collusion but he clearly failed to exonerate the President on obstruction of justice.' They will focus on the possible obstruction of the investigation of the non-existent crime of collusion. Then, in short order, they will omit or undermine the finding that Mueller found no evidence of collusion between Russians and the Trump campaign.
As somewhat of an aside, Dana Milbank, writing in The Washington Post last Monday, has given us more evidence of the extremes to which Trump Derangement Syndrome has driven liberals, Democrats, etc.
In "Trump is right. This is a witch hunt!" Milbank actually takes up the defense of witch hunts (Milbank is not alone). He asserts: "The treatment of Trump by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and other investigators does have characteristics of a witch hunt. This is because Trump has characteristics of a witch."
He continues, quoting a community college history professor: "if what is happening to Trump is a witch hunt, 'it is only in a good sense, that is, this is society policing the boundaries that they believe to be ethically and morally right.' " You see, "witch hunts weren't all bad, and their targets weren't always innocent."
- "Critical Analysis On Russiagate"
- "Cohen's Testimony Against Trump"
- "The Shoddy Legal Reasoning Used to Clear Clinton" on fee.org
Sunday, March 10, 2019
Okay, as it turns out, not only are the clowns or agents of "The Three Percenters - Original" (TTPO) communicating with their supporters and members through the privacy/communications security nightmare that is Facebook, they are also using a foreign company with deep links to the intelligence services of a foreign country for their web development and maintenance. As you can see from the screenshots below, TTPO web site was built using Wix, an Israeli company, and TTPO uses Wix domain name servers. TTPO also stores files, such as their bylaws, on Wix servers.
As reported by TechCrunch "technology companies, such as CheckPoint, Imperva, Nice, Gilat, Waze, Trusteer, and Wix all have their roots in" Unit 8200. Unit 8200 is "the cyberwarfare division of the Israeli Defense Forces." As TechCrunch reports Unit 8200's "technologists work directly with their 'customers' (the intelligence officers). All of the unit's technology systems, from analytics to data mining, intercept, and intelligence management, are designed and built in-house."
According to Forbes, quoting Yair Cohen, a 33-year Unit 8200 veteran, "90% of the intelligence material in Israel is coming from 8200" and "There isn't a major operation, from the Mossad or any intelligence security agency, that 8200 is not involved in."
Wix is known to have been used by BlackCube to carry out operations against US targets. And if you think that Wix has no ongoing relationship with Israeli intelligence then I have a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you.
As I pointed out previously, TTPO is a target of the pro-Israel Anti-Defamation League, which has been known to maintain extensive intelligence files on its target that it also shares. Israel has major espionage efforts directed at US government and American civilian targets.
So why doesn't TTPO take steps to harden its communications methods and platforms against known and potential risks and hostile actors? Why do they just hand over their internet comms and meta data on a silver platter? Perhaps, they don't really mean it when they say: "Our goal is to utilize the failsafes put in place by our founders to rein in an overreaching government and push back against tyranny." Perhaps they're just clowning. Perhaps they've been compromised.
- "Breaking the Taboo on Israel's Spying Efforts on the United States" AlterNet
- "The Latest Document From the Snowden Trove Highlights Israeli Spying" Newsweek
- "Wix gets caught 'stealing' GPL code from WordPress" Ars Technica
- "Wix.com security flaw places millions of websites at risk" ZDNet
- "How Social Media Led to the Arrest of Phoenix 'Three Percenter' Israel Torres" Phoenix New Times
- "These Ex-Spies Are Harvesting Facebook Photos For A Massive Facial Recognition Database" Forbes
- "Private Mossad for Hire" The New Yorker
Friday, March 08, 2019
Fair Game is about the bogus intelligence used to justify the US' 2003 invasion of Iraq and, more specifically, the exposure of CIA operative Valerie Plame. Unfortunately, the film soft pedals the crucial role of the Israel-firsters in the drive to illegally invade Iraq. In any case, this film still tells an important story.
In late 2018, Fair Game director Liman released a director's cut of the film. This coincided with President Trump's decision earlier in the year to pardon I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff and a protege of Paul Wolfowitz. Libby is a key figure in the film. He was convicted in 2007 of obstruction of justice, perjury, and making false statements in the Plame Affair.
See also (in chronological order):
- "Playing skittles with Saddam" in The Guardian
- "The Scooter Libby-Marc Rich Connection" on The Unz Review
- "The 'JINSA Crowd' and the Iraq War" on the Dissident Veteran for Peace blog
- "Scooter Libby Love Letters: Washington elite petition judge on behalf of convicted Cheney aide" on The Smoking Gun
- Fair Game reviewed by Roger Ebert
- Fair Game reviewed in The Guardian
- "Scooter Libby & Paul Wolfowitz to Teach Iraq 'Decision-Making' " in The American Conservative
- "Why Ariel Sharon Thanked Scooter Libby" in Mosaic
- "The Pardon of Marc Rich" in CounterPunch
- "When Trump Makes Your Largely Forgotten Movie Urgent Again" in The Atlantic
- "Former CIA Spy Valerie Plame: Trump Is 'Dangerous For Our National Security' " on The Daily Beast
- "Director Doug Liman Believes 'Fair Game' is More Relevant Than Ever" on FilmSchoolRejects
Thursday, March 07, 2019
In "Cohen's Testimony Against Trump" I mentioned that Aaron Maté and Glenn Greenwald have done some good reporting on the dubious Trump-Russia collusion story (see quote below). There are a few more people doing good work on this subject.
Gareth Porter, Ray McGovern, and others at Consortium News have written several pieces on the subject. Caitlin Johnstone has done extensive reporting and analysis at CN, Medium, and elsewhere that is worth consideration.
I recently learned about "Russiagate In Flames: No Evidence Of Collusion, New Findings Challenge DNC Hack Narrative" by Elizabeth Vos at Disobedient Media. There is also "Mueller's Investigation is Missing One Thing: A Crime" by Peter Van Buren at The American Conservative.
In addition to Maté's work, The Nation has also published "Russiagate or Intelgate?" and other on-point articles by Stephen F. Cohen and "Amid ‘Russiagate’ Hysteria, What Are the Facts?" by Jack F. Matlock Jr.
If you know of any critical reporting on the subject that I should read then feel free to leave a comment.
Now, I want to bring this back to the alleged Russian collusion and simply say that most while most of the reporting on the matter has been driven by Trump Derangement Syndrome there has been a tiny bit of worthy reporting on it from the Left. Most notably it has come from Aaron Maté, writing for the The Nation and The Intercept.* Maté has written: "Trump didn't get to the White House via Russia, but by falsely portraying himself as a populist champion. The only con he will be undone by is his own." ...
* Glenn Greenwald has also had a couple of decent pieces in The Intercept ("The FBI’s Investigation of Trump as a 'National Security Threat' is Itself a Serious Danger. But J. Edgar Hoover Pioneered the Tactic" and "Beyond BuzzFeed: The 10 Worst, Most Embarrassing U.S. Media Failures on the Trump-Russia Story")
Wednesday, March 06, 2019
... I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is ok for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country. And I want to ask, why is it ok for me to talk about the influence of the NRA, of fossil fuel industries, or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobby that is influencing policy?
Ilhan Omar was at it again last weekend uttering unutterable truths. If you think I'm exaggerating about unutterable then consider the Tweet below from Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA).
Yep, Vargas says it is "unacceptable" to question US support for Israel. Vargas is not alone. House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-NY) claims: "it's unacceptable and deeply offensive to call into question the loyalty of fellow American citizens because of their political views, including support for the US-Israel relationship."
Curiously, just about a year ago Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was addressing an American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference where he said:
Now, let me tell you why – my view, why we don't have peace. Because the fact of the matter is that too many Palestinians and too many Arabs do not want any Jewish state in the Middle East. The view of Palestinians is simple, the Europeans treated the Jews badly culminating in the Holocaust and they gave them our land as compensation.
Of course, we say it's our land, the Torah says it, but they don't believe in the Torah. So that's the reason there is not peace. They invent other reasons, but they do not believe in a Jewish state and that is why we, in America, must stand strong with Israel through thick and thin. We must, because that is the reason, not any of these other false shibboleths why there is not peace in the Middle East.If only those lying, thieving Arabs would "believe in the Torah" and "a Jewish state" then all would be well. I am unaware of any outcry from prominent Democratic politicians over this, presumably, acceptable speech about Israel. America must stand with Israel because ... Torah.
- "NPR Defends AIPAC Against Ilhan Omar"
- "Dual Loyalties: The Bush Neocons and Israel" in CounterPunch
Monday, March 04, 2019
bills itself as "a national organization made up of patriotic citizens who love their country, their freedoms, and their liberty [and] are committed to standing against and exposing corruption and injustice." They further claim "We are NOT a militia" and "We are NOT anti-government."
Nevertheless they have been branded by the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which works closely with US law enforcement, as part of the "sector of the radical right known as the 'Patriot' or antigovernment extremist movement". According to the "anti-hate activists" at the SPLC, the " 'Patriot' movement ... includes the militia movement, which comprises groups such as the Three Percenters and Oath Keepers, who actively engage in paramilitary activities."
TTPO has been similarly and negatively profiled by Political Research Associates and media outlets (see e.g. here and here and here). They have also been targeted by the Anti-Defamation League, another outfit with a history of legally-actionable defamation and of spying on constitutionally-protected activities.
As a result, TTPO has indicated that the SPLC is an example of an external threat "defined as 'those threats and forces that originate from an individual or organization that does not identify nor ever has identified themselves as belonging to the patriot movement and have aligned themselves in staunch opposition of The Three Percenters Original or our affiliates and allies and have through direct action and behavior sought to harm, damage and defame our members or this organization and allies or affiliates damaging than threats posed to us from an external source." Thus, the SPLC is subject to placement on TTPO's official "Blacklist".
TTPO has also adopted, in their national bylaws, communications standards that designate "the forum located at www.thethreepercenters.org" as "the primary method of communications between all levels". The national and all of their state chapters have Facebook pages. The bylaws also state: "The use of Facebook pages should only be used for non-sensitive postings or to alert members to a posting on the forum."
So, I suppose someone thinks TTPO has implemented some level of communications security. Here's what I don't get: If you know you are an active target why would you have any Facebook pages at all for your group at any all level unless you want to give Facebook ("the perfect mass surveillance tool"), the National Security Agency, and law enforcement a great means to collect data on your members and supporters?
The national TTPO Facebook page has 166,922 likes and 166,896 followers—an intel treasure trove giveaway by TTPO, a group that claims: "Our goal is to utilize the failsafes put in place by our founders to rein in an overreaching government and push back against tyranny." I'm neither a supporter nor an opponent of TTPO—I'm not making a judgment about their purposes or activities. I'm highlighting the striking disconnect between what they claim to stand for and what they've done with Facebook.
Update: The Clowns (or is it Agents?) of TTPO
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
This isn't going to be one of my more fully-developed posts—I may rework it later—but here goes. I didn't vote for Donald Trump (or the evil monster who got the Dem's 2016 presidential nomination). Trump has long struck me as dishonest, greedy, manipulative, opportunistic, and unguided by few, if any, principles except his own perceived self-interest.
As I wrote to some friends in April 2016, Trump: "strikes me as a clever businessman-showman who is adeptly exploiting the well-founded grievances and misplaced hopes of many Americans ..." Days after the 2016 election, I wrote: 'Trump, like Obama, embodies the worthy hopes and dreams of a lot of people. I just don't see a lot of reason to believe that those dreams will be realized."
I think it is no coincidence then that, for decades, he has surrounded himself in his business, family, and political life with a reprehensible collection of Jewish Israel partisans. One wit managed to turn even this against Trump, writing: "I noted recently that virtually all the lawyers working for Trump are Jews, which I consider to be part of his soft anti-Semitism ..."
It is no coincidence either that Trump's only real, known solid ties to Vladimir Putin are via the hardline Zionist Chabad Jewish orthodox movement. In 2017, Politico described the Chabad as "The Happy-Go-Lucky Jewish Group That Connects Trump and Putin". Slate reported on the Putin-Chabad connection in 2014. Chabad has proven influential inside and outside of the Jewish community.
First daughter Ivanka and her family attend a Chabad synagogue in DC. Not coincidentally, Sholom Rubashkin, a Chabad rabbi, was the first recipient of a presidential commutation from Donald Trump.
So, now Michael Cohen (who does not seem to be a member of Chabad himself)—Trump's "Political 'Pit Bull' "and "Jewish Wingman"—has turned against Trump after being convicted, by his own admission, of lying to Congress and committing tax evasion (but not being charged or convicted of anything involving alleged Trump campaign collusion with Russia). Now, this admitted liar is a credible witness to give Congressional testimony which, in truly shameless partisan form, KUOW and National Public Radio preempted regular programming to broadcast.
I read Cohen's written statement and listened to some of the Q & A during the hearings today. What a sad, sad state of affairs Democrats and their ilk have descended to. I generally have a low regard for politicians of all stripes but today I witnessed a new low in the ongoing destruction of the Republic and civil society. It also worthy of note that, again, Cohen's testimony today like his criminal convictions had little or nothing to support allegations about Trump collusion with Russia.
At one point, one of the Dems questioning Cohen today kept hammering on about Trump's association with a known Russian mafioso, Felix Sater (an Israeli citizen, according to Ha'aretz). That Dem was Rep. Harley Rouda, who twice referred to him as "Mobster Felix Sater".
Curiously, I did not hear it mentioned that Sater was a boyhood friend of Cohen's who maintained his relationship with Sater long after Sater's convictions in US courts for violence and fraud. Sater is also a Chabadnik and appears to be a key player in any connection between Trump and Russia. The Russian-Jewish-Israel nexus to Trump has been largely buried in the US media.
I don't claim to know if Trump illegally colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election. I very much doubt it but I don't completely deny the possibility. It does seem clear Trump has a lot of other skeletons in his closet he wants to hide, including his apparent relationship with Felix Sater.
In any case, I think what we saw with the election of Trump is a reflection of the well-earned distrust and contempt many Americans have for the Democratic and Republican elites who have continuously betrayed them and the country for decades. These elites have declared war on Trump (and the everyday people who naively elected him).
Democrats are especially incensed that Trump is in the White House for a whole host of reasons I won't belabor here except to say it's not because he's crooked. Many, if not most, establishment Republicans are anti-Trump, too, although, his role as the Republican POTUS constrains them more than the Dems. However, in all but a tiny handful of cases opposition to Trump is not driven by any loyalty to the people of this country and any high principles; rather, it is driven by pique and ambition and none of them oppose him for his pro-Israel policies (except tactically).
Now, I want to bring this back to the alleged Russian collusion and simply say that most while most of the reporting on the matter has been driven by Trump Derangement Syndrome there has been a tiny bit of worthy reporting on it from the Left. Most notably it has come from Aaron Maté, writing for the The Nation and The Intercept.* Maté has written: "Trump didn't get to the White House via Russia, but by falsely portraying himself as a populist champion. The only con he will be undone by is his own." Aside from the glaring omission of the role of Trump's pro-Israel Jewish associates in his rise, I think this is about right.
It bears saying that Trump is not unique among politicians in his alliance to the Jewish elite (and don't forget the $$$). Obama was beholden to and, after diligently comporting himself to them, was eventually lionized by Jews but he generally aligned himself with less openly reactionary elements of the Jewish elite. What makes Trump unique is his high-profile, undisguised, and tight association with the smaller (in the US) population of the most openly reactionary elements of the Jewish elite.
* Glenn Greenwald has also had a couple of decent pieces in The Intercept ("The FBI’s Investigation of Trump as a 'National Security Threat' is Itself a Serious Danger. But J. Edgar Hoover Pioneered the Tactic" and "Beyond BuzzFeed: The 10 Worst, Most Embarrassing U.S. Media Failures on the Trump-Russia Story")
What follows are links on Chabad, Russia, & Felix Sater and, below that, on Trump's Jewish/Israeli ties and positions. Links embedded in the text above are not generally also listed below (I have flagged the three that do appear in both places with a (☀)).
Chabad, Russia, & Felix Sater
- "Former Mafia-linked figure describes association with Trump" (May 2016; Washington Post)☀
- "The Original Russia Connection" (Aug. 2017: The New Yorker)☀
- "Who Is Felix Sater, and Why Is Donald Trump So Afraid of Him?" (Sep. 2017; The Nation)
- "The Odd Chabad Connection Between Putin and Trump" (Nov. 2017; Washington Monthly)
- "A Brief History of Michael Cohen's Criminal Ties" (Apr. 2018; Rolling Stone)
- "Michael Cohen Gets a Special Visit" (Apr. 2018; Washington Monthly)☀
- "The Countless Israeli Connections to Mueller's Probe of Trump and Russia" (May 2018; Ha'aretz)
- "Active Measures director says Trump's Russian mob ties are his biggest legal vulnerability" (May 2018; CBC)
- "Mueller Finally Starts to Target Trump's Israel Ties" (Jun. 2018; Observer)
- "Trump Has Strongest Jewish Ties of all GOP Candidates" (Aug. 2015; The Forward)
- "Donald Trump meets with billionaire Sheldon Adelson" (Dec. 2015: Business Insider)
- "Read Donald Trump's Full Speech to AIPAC" (Mar. 2016; Time)
- "In meeting with Orthodox, Trump reveals Israel advisers: His Jewish lawyers" (Apr. 2016; Jewish Telegraphic Agency)
- "Donald Trump insists Israel should keep building West Bank settlements" (May 2016; Daily Mail Online)
- "Trump Names Jewish Financier, Fixer to Major Campaign Positions" (May 2016; The Forward)
- "Trump vs. Clinton: Battle of the Jewish sons-in-law" (May 2016; Jewish Telegraphic Agency)
- "Trump's Jews" (Jul. 2016; Tablet Magazine)
- "Meet the Jews in Donald Trump's inner circle" (Nov. 2016; The Times of Israel)
- "Trump is headed to the White House. Did we just elect our first Jewish president?" (Nov. 2016; Fox News)
- "Trump's Jews and Obama's Jews" (Jan. 2017; Frontpage Mag)
- "Know your oligarch: A guide to the Jewish billionaires in the Trump-Russia probe" (May 2018: Ha'aretz)
- "Robert Mueller's Israel problem" (Jun. 2018; Conservative Review)
- "Trump's Jews" (Dec. 2018; Forward)