Exclusive: The mainstream hysteria over Russia has led to dubious or downright false stories that have deepened the New Cold War, as Gareth Porter notes regarding last month’s bogus tale of a hack into the U.S. electric grid.
By Gareth Porter
In the middle of a major domestic crisis over the U.S. charge that Russia had interfered with the U.S. election, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) triggered a brief national media hysteria by creating and spreading a bogus story of Russian hacking into U.S. power infrastructure.
DHS had initiated the now-discredited tale of a hacked computer at the Burlington, Vermont Electricity Department by sending the utility’s managers misleading and alarming information, then leaked a story they certainly knew to be false and continued to put out a misleading line to the media.
Even more shocking, however, DHS had previously circulated a similar bogus story of Russian hacking of a Springfield, Illinois water pump in November 2011.
The story of how DHS twice circulated false stories of Russian efforts to sabotage U.S. “critical infrastructure” is a cautionary tale of how senior leaders in a bureaucracy-on-the-make take advantage of every major political development to advance its own interests, with scant regard for the truth.
The DHS had carried out a major public campaign to focus on an alleged Russian threat to U.S. power infrastructure in early 2016. The campaign took advantage of a U.S. accusation of a Russian cyber-attack against the Ukrainian power infrastructure in December 2015 to promote one of the agency’s major functions — guarding against cyber-attacks on America’s infrastructure.
Beginning in late March 2016, DHS and FBI conducted a series of 12 unclassified briefings for electric power infrastructure companies in eight cities titled, “Ukraine Cyber Attack: implications for U.S. stakeholders.” The DHS declared publicly, “These events represent one of the first known physical impacts to critical infrastructure which resulted from cyber-attack.”
That statement conveniently avoided mentioning that the first cases of such destruction of national infrastructure from cyber-attacks were not against the United States, but were inflicted on Iran by the Obama administration and Israel in 2009 and 2012.
Beginning in October 2016, the DHS emerged as one of the two most important players – along with the CIA—in the political drama over the alleged Russian effort to tilt the 2016 election toward Donald Trump. Then on Dec. 29, DHS and FBI distributed a “Joint Analysis Report” to U.S. power utilities across the country with what it claimed were “indicators” of a Russian intelligence effort to penetrate and compromise U.S. computer networks, including networks related to the presidential election, that it called “GRIZZLY STEPPE.”
The report clearly conveyed to the utilities that the “tools and infrastructure” it said had been used by Russian intelligence agencies to affect the election were a direct threat to them as well. However, according to Robert M. Lee, the founder and CEO of the cyber-security company Dragos, who had developed one of the earliest U.S. government programs for defense against cyber-attacks on U.S. infrastructure systems, the report was certain to mislead the recipients.
“Anyone who uses it would think they were being impacted by Russian operations,” said Lee. “We ran through the indicators in the report and found that a high percentage were false positives.”
Lee and his staff found only two of a long list of malware files that could be linked to Russian hackers without more specific data about timing. Similarly a large proportion of IP addresses listed could be linked to “GRIZZLY STEPPE” only for certain specific dates, which were not provided.
The Intercept discovered, in fact, that 42 percent of the 876 IP addresses listed in the report as having been used by Russian hackers were exit nodes for the Tor Project, a system that allows bloggers, journalists and others – including some military entities – to keep their Internet communications private.
Lee said the DHS staff that worked on the technical information in the report is highly competent, but the document was rendered useless when officials classified and deleted some key parts of the report and added other material that shouldn’t have been in it. He believes the DHS issued the report “for a political purpose,” which was to “show that the DHS is protecting you.”
Planting the Story, Keeping it Alive
Upon receiving the DHS-FBI report the Burlington Electric Company network security team immediately ran searches of its computer logs using the lists of IP addresses it had been provided. When one of IP addresses cited in the report as an indicator of Russian hacking was found on the logs, the utility immediately called DHS to inform it as it had been instructed to do by DHS.
In fact, the IP address on the Burlington Electric Company’s computer was simply the Yahoo e-mail server, according to Lee, so it could not have been a legitimate indicator of an attempted cyber-intrusion. That should have been the end of the story. But the utility did not track down the IP address before reporting it to DHS. It did, however, expect DHS to treat the matter confidentially until it had thoroughly investigated and resolved the issue.
“DHS wasn’t supposed to release the details,” said Lee. “Everybody was supposed to keep their mouth shut.”
Instead, a DHS official called The Washington Post and passed on word that one of the indicators of Russian hacking of the DNC had been found on the Burlington utility’s computer network. The Post failed to follow the most basic rule of journalism, relying on its DHS source instead of checking with the Burlington Electric Department first. The result was the Post’s sensational Dec. 30 story under the headline “Russian hackers penetrated U.S. electricity grid through a utility in Vermont, U.S. officials say.”
DHS official evidently had allowed the Post to infer that the Russians hack had penetrated the grid without actually saying so. The Post story said the Russians “had not actively used the code to disrupt operations of the utility, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss a security matter,” but then added, and that “the penetration of the nation’s electrical grid is significant because it represents a potentially serious vulnerability.”
The electric company quickly issued a firm denial that the computer in question was connected to the power grid. The Post was forced to retract, in effect, its claim that the electricity grid had been hacked by the Russians. But it stuck by its story that the utility had been the victim of a Russian hack for another three days before admitting that no such evidence of a hack existed.
The day after the story was published, the DHS leadership continued to imply, without saying so explicitly, that the Burlington utility had been hacked by Russians. Assistant Secretary for Pubic Affairs J. Todd Breasseale gave CNN a statement that the “indicators” from the malicious software found on the computer at Burlington Electric were a “match” for those on the DNC computers.
As soon as DHS checked the IP address, however, it knew that it was a Yahoo cloud server and therefore not an indicator that the same team that allegedly hacked the DNC had gotten into the Burlington utility’s laptop. DHS also learned from the utility that the laptop in question had been infected by malware called “neutrino,” which had never been used in “GRIZZLY STEPPE.”
Only days later did the DHS reveal those crucial facts to the Post. And the DHS was still defending its joint report to the Post, according to Lee, who got part of the story from Post sources. The DHS official was arguing that it had “led to a discovery,” he said. “The second is, ‘See, this is encouraging people to run indicators.’”
Original DHS False Hacking Story
The false Burlington Electric hack scare is reminiscent of an earlier story of Russian hacking of a utility for which the DHS was responsible as well. In November 2011, it reported an “intrusion” into a Springfield, Illinois water district computer that similarly turned out to be a fabrication.
Like the Burlington fiasco, the false report was preceded by a DHS claim that U.S. infrastructure systems were already under attack. In October 2011, acting DHS deputy undersecretary Greg Schaffer was quoted by The Washington Post as warning that “our adversaries” are “knocking on the doors of these systems.” And Schaffer added, “In some cases, there have been intrusions.” He did not specify when, where or by whom, and no such prior intrusions have ever been documented.
On Nov. 8, 2011, a water pump belonging to the Curran-Gardner township water district near Springfield, Illinois, burned out after sputtering several times in previous months. The repair team brought in to fix it found a Russian IP address on its log from five months earlier. That IP address was actually from a cell phone call from the contractor who had set up the control system for the pump and who was vacationing in Russia with his family, so his name was in the log by the address.
Without investigating the IP address itself, the utility reported the IP address and the breakdown of the water pump to the Environmental Protection Agency, which in turn passed it on to the Illinois Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center, also called a fusion center composed of Illinois State Police and representatives from the FBI, DHS and other government agencies.
On Nov. 10 – just two days after the initial report to EPA – the fusion center produced a report titled “Public Water District Cyber Intrusion” suggesting a Russian hacker had stolen the identity of someone authorized to use the computer and had hacked into the control system causing the water pump to fail.
The contractor whose name was on the log next to the IP address later told Wired magazine that one phone call to him would have laid the matter to rest. But the DHS, which was the lead in putting the report out, had not bothered to make even that one obvious phone call before opining that it must have been a Russian hack.
The fusion center “intelligence report,” circulated by DHS Office of Intelligence and Research, was picked up by a cyber-security blogger, who called The Washington Post and read the item to a reporter. Thus the Post published the first sensational story of a Russian hack into a U.S. infrastructure on Nov. 18, 2011.
After the real story came out, DHS disclaimed responsibility for the report, saying that it was the fusion center’s responsibility. But a Senate subcommittee investigation revealed in a report a year later that even after the initial report had been discredited, DHS had not issued any retraction or correction to the report, nor had it notified the recipients about the truth.
DHS officials responsible for the false report told Senate investigators such reports weren’t intended to be “finished intelligence,” implying that the bar for accuracy of the information didn’t have to be very high. They even claimed that report was a “success” because it had done what “what it’s supposed to do – generate interest.”
Both the Burlington and Curran-Gardner episodes underline a central reality of the political game of national security in the New Cold War era: major bureaucratic players like DHS have a huge political stake in public perceptions of a Russian threat, and whenever the opportunity arises to do so, they will exploit it.
Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. He is the author of the newly published Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.
The Georgia dept. in charge of running state elections says its the DHS that is doing the hacking there:
US PLAYS AN OLD SWEET SONG
For decades, the CIA has funded and trained terrorists in order to destabilize countries.
Part of he US policy of promoting regional separatism in the North Caucasus region, terrorist training bases were first set up by US intelligence in Georgia in the 1990s.
By 2001, the Georgian and international media were reporting the presence of Chechens and terrorist training programs supported by Western intelligence agencies.
The key areas of Western-backed terrorist organization in Georgia are the isolated Pankisi Gorge in the Tusheti region (bordered by the Russian republics of Chechnya), Adjara (bordered by Azerbaijan), and Kvemo Kartli (bordered by Turkey).
These three Georgian regions are current suppliers of terrorist manpower for Islamic State units operating in Syria and Iraq.
On March 11 2001, US President George W. Bush stated that “Terrorists working closely with Al Qaeda operate in the Pankisi Gorge.”
By that time, the multiple terrorist training operations in Georgia were functioning well, and serving too many political and financial interests, especially those of Turkish intelligence, to just be closed down.
TERRORIST TRAIN AND EQUIP I: GEORGIA
In the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, international media focused on Pankisi Gorge as a “terrorist haven”.
In February 2002, President Bush announced the dispatch of approximately two hundred United States Army Special Forces soldiers to train the Georgian armed forces.
President Vladimir Putin pledged his support for the American military initiative, citing Russia’s interest in promoting stability in the region. Russia long accused Georgia of allowing Chechen terrorists to operate on Georgian territory and permitting the flow of militants and materiel across the Georgian border with Russia.
The Georgia Train and Equip Program (GTEP) was an 18-month, $64-million program ostensibly aimed at enhancing Georgia’s counter-terrorism capabilities and addressing the situation in the Pankisi Gorge.
The GTEP program expedited funding for the Georgian military for Operation Enduring Freedom. Responsibility for training Georgian armed forces was eventually handed off to the US Marine Corps in conjunction with the British Army.
US-backed Mikheil Saakashvili came to power after Georgia’s “Rose Revolution” in 2004, which ousted president Eduard Shevardnadze. Restoring South Ossetia and Abkhazia to Georgian control was a top-priority of Saakashvili’s.
Georgia subsequently initiated the Russo-Georgian War in 2008.
TERRORIST TRAIN AND EQUIP II: SYRIA
The Syria Train and Equip Program officially is an ongoing $500 million United States-led operation to identify and train “moderate” Syrian anti-government forces inside Jordan, Turkey, and other allied states, who will then return to Syria to fight the Islamic State forces.
In late June 2015, a hundred men completed a 54-day training program in Jordan and returned to Syria in late June 2015.
In July 2015, the first class of 54 fighters of the New Syrian Forces trained in Turkey crossed the border back into Syria. Despite extensive US-air support, within the first 24 hours of their deployment the majority of the recruits were either dead or missing and their leader had been captured by the Al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front. Al-Nusra posted photos on social media the next day showing American weapons and equipment that they had captured from the group.
In September 2015, 75 additional fighters trained by the United States and its allies entered northern Syria from Turkey. Almost immediately, the group handed over their brand-new trucks, weapons and ammunition to Al-Nusra.
The Pentagon acknowledged that there were only “four or five” US-backed Train and Equip Program fighters left in Syria, all the rest having defected to Al-Qaeda.
TERRORIST TRAIN AND EQUIP III: WHO CREATED ISIS?
Fighters of Georgian and Chechen origin, many former members of the Georgian armed forces and veterans of the Russo-Georgian War of 2008, are prominent in Islamic State (Daesh) forces battling the governments of Syria and Iraq.
Local Islamic State units and networks in the Caucasus provide a further threat to the stability of Georgia and other countries.
Georgia continues to be used as a base for, and conduit of, terrorism in countries targeted for “regime change” by the United States.
The US, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan, and Israel all support terrorist forces in Syria.
The 17 September 2016 US Coalition air attack on Syrian Arab Army troops in Deir ez Zor province was coordinated in support of an Islamic State ground attack.
Despite limited financial resources and lack of passports, Georgian and Chechen fighters have managed to fly directly from Tbilisi to Istanbul, or cross Georgia’s land borders with Turkey, and enter territory controlled by Islamic State forces.
Despite increasingly hysterical Western government and media accusations that Syria and Russia are allied with ISIS, the Islamic State fighters appear to operate under the control of US intelligence as assets.
Putin has spoken frankly about the matter:
Meanwhile, terror continues in Syria and Iraq as the US sings that familiar refrain:
“Georgia, Georgia, no peace I find.
Just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind”
Putin says that “democratic, civilized opposition” should be supported (as opposed to armed terrorists). Sounds appropriate to me.
He also said “we do not want, or look for, any confrontation whatsoever. When you start to consider our national interests in your actions, any other disagreements we may have–they will self-regulate. This needs to be done not just talked about. You must consider the interests of others and you must respect other people.” Quite reasonably said.
Thank you Mr. Porter for writing an excellent report. My husband’s findings are along the same lines and in this 8 part report I think there is more stuff for all of us to chew on. His is a computer security expert.
Keep up the great work Mr. Porter and Consortium news!
Thank you Mr. Porter for writing an excellent report. My husband’s, (computer security expert) findings are along the same lines and in this 8 part report I think there is more stuff for all of us to chew on.
Keep up the great work Mr. Porter and Consortium news!
Many thanks for your words of appreciation, Elizabeth. I promise to keep on keepin’ on!
Thank you for a timely, informative, and well reasoned analysis of the facts.
Very kind of you to express your appreciation for the piece, Vincent. Many thanks!
Very confusing all of this…..
If you have time to read I suggest: Andrew Kreig, Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters, recently revised,
praised by John Perkins, Dick Russell, Ray McGovern, Roger Stone, Naomi Wolf and Cyril H. West, amongst others.
For more information on Kreig go to: Justice Integrity Project, Washington D.C.
Helen Thomas (1920-2013): “I came here in 1943 and I don’t think I’ve ever seen our country so bereft of ideals and ideas.
I don’t see anything on the horizon that can pull us out. I hope I’m wrong”, speaking at a Sarah McClendon Group dinner
in December 2012.
Here is a link to a pretty good summarization of the latest Trump Putin Puppet story….
I don’t know about you, but I’m sitting on needles and pins trying to prepare myself for what may happen between now and on Inauguration Day. U.S. Forces deployed on Russia’s borders, John Lewis deciding not to attend Trumps Inauguration saying Trump not ‘legitimate president’, Michael Moore amassing protesters to protest against Trump for his first 100 days in office, Senate Intelligence bipartisan investigation to see if Trump was installed into the White House by a clever Putin plot to end American democracy as we know it, Trump cabinet nominees caving into Senators during confirmation hearings, head officer of DC National Guard being fired one week before inauguration, Israel bombing Syria’s Mezzeh air base, and Israel making the decision not to share Intel with incoming Trump Adminstration. If I left something out well sorry I’m getting writers cramp and having a mental memory breakdown while writing this comment…help me out if you can.
These next seven days are shaping up to look like one hell of a historical moment in our planets history, and that’s saying something considering all that has happened prior to this moment in time. Seriously will we soon be at war with Iran, China, and Russia? I mean listen to the likes of Rubio, McCain and Graham, and then listen to Trump’s cabinet nominees during their confirmation hearings, and then you tell me if war is off the table.
If the news is telling us anything at all, it is screaming out, that America’s Deep State is in complete denial of a Trump Presidency…and that’s that. Hold on to your reins and stirrups tightly buckaroos, because Trump’s time in office is ponying up to be one hell of a wicked ride.
Great overview, Joe! What a ride it will be! I mean, every single news program I listen to just takes it as a fact that Russia hacked the election. I can hardly believe what I’m hearing.
This is an unbelievable witch hunt. This is how the Democrats lose? Are they five, or are they all suffering from insanity? With this whole Russian backdrop, the nominees feel forced to back pedal. What a clown show. The U.S. is the laughing stock of the world right about now. A world leader? WTF?
Michael Moore, 100 days of protest? What is up with that guy? I’ll never watch him again, not because I think Trump is so great, but just because I wouldn’t go along with doing this to anyone. Imagine if this would have happened to Obama. I’ve heard a few people saying Trump should settle people down. Perhaps so, but where is Obama? He’s enjoying this, isn’t he? So is Hillary.
What goes around comes around, Democrats.
I too am appalled at the choice that so many (make that most) Democrats have made to stick strictly with partisan loyalty rather than to stand for truth and justice. They would rather have warmongering Hillary in office, no matter the consequences, just because she is a self-proclaimed phony “liberal” than to accept the judgement of the voters and stop trying to destroy the president-elect and our relationship with Russia. In the course of the last couple of months I have lost respect for dozens of officials whom I once admired, both in and out of office. All these people seem to think that the ends suddenly justify the means because their ox got gored. Lies, slander, innuendo, threatened violence, and warmongering are now allowable, but were (rightly) objected to when conservatives, Republicans and Tea baggers practiced them. That’s called hypocrisy, dear Democrats, dear distinguished “journalists,” dear celebrity big shots! Substitute the name “Glenn Beck” for your own, Michael Moore, and see if you would still admire the personality behind your headlined plans for raising hell at the inauguration.
If Trump survives to be sworn in, the first thing he should do is to conduct a Justice Department investigation of the intelligence agencies that, to all appearances, have played politics, perjured themselves, made up charges, passed off mere assertions as proven fact, and clearly attempted to either derail his inauguration or cripple him once in office with massive smears and innuendo. Fake intelligence is so much worse than even “fake news.” If the findings lead to indictments and convictions, so be it. So much the better. The media personalities and celebrities are still protected by free speech, at least until Obama’s “Ministry of Truth” legislation takes effect a few months from now. I hope Trump decides to ignore that law (or the Supreme Court strikes it down quickly when the blogs bring lawsuits against the government), as even the lying opposition should be protected by the 1st amendment.
Considering how the so-called “liberals” were suddenly all for wars of regime change based on lies after W left office, does the hypocrisy of such brand-loyalist low information types as still identify with the Democratic Party even remotely surprising to anyone?
Yes, the Democrats continue to surprise me. It was bad enough for the Dems to act so hypocritically when it came to the wars they hated under Dubya but either loved or didn’t care about under Obomber. It is really an order of magnitude worse for them to be attempting what appears to be an obstruction of the traditional peaceful transition of power that was not tried even when Al Gore had the presidency snatched away by an extraconstitutional court decision. What people like Michael Moore are proposing is a breakdown of civil order. I guarantee that there will be a subsequent reaction to the entirely predictable police response to whatever disruptions are planned or attempted. A vicious cycle will begin, leading to restricted rights and repression, and the instigators will plead patriotism and persecution. I do not approve.
Yes, the extent of the nonsense is somewhat surprising. As to the hypocrisy with regard to wars of regime change, I think it can partly be explained (not excused) by ignorance of what has and is happening in Libya, Yemen, and Syria. Iraq was an in-your-face invasion and occupation by the U.S. military. But Obama’s warmongering has been occluded by constant propaganda that has most people thinking the Syrians are in a civil war due to some kind of noble uprising against a “brutal dictator.”
Not making excuses….the ignorance is appalling, particularly since one might think “liberals” would be a bit more wary of the “brutal dictator” crap by now. (sorry, “occluded” is the wrong word…)
“clouded” makes better sense
Listening to Trump’s Cabinet nominees roll over at their Senate confirmation hearings, was a little to much for retaining any hope that Trump may ‘drain the swamp’. The one exception you may give the perspective Cabinet members, is if you believe that their singing to the choir, was all show in order for them to get Senate approval to their respective Cabinet posts. Seriously any congenital attitude, or mention of American Russian détente will get a person a formal DC crucifixion, for the way our political atmosphere is in our nation’s capital these days.
This much I will tell you, although at this moment the Democrate’s appear to be digging their own grave, it may turnout that the sitting Republicans in office may need to use the gravedigger shovel next, if they leave Trump without a political party for him to fall back on. Donald Trump ran as an ‘outsider’, and by the looks of it his ‘outsider’ title is becoming a well earned title to be worn.
Thanks for your always intelligent reply backwardsevolution.
Joe, I think somebody put something in the water or the air to make as many Americans as possible to think crazy and irrational thoughts. That the average citizen could swallow the contrived theatrics of the intelligence community is one thing–they have been conditioned to be fearful and compliant their entire lives. But for previously intelligent and logical people in positions of power, authority, or national prominence to begin to (how to put it) act nuts is just startling.
People such as you mentioned–John Lewis, Michael Moore, and others–have lost my respect overnight. They have become the mindless left wing counterparts to the Tea Baggers. Liberalism used to stand for sanity, deliberation, logic, the rule of law and the scientific method. Suddenly they have embraced pure vindictive partisanship, and for what? For who? That grasping, lying warmongering Hillary Clinton? Where’s the sense? You choose to die on this hill for her? She’s the one who swindled you fools out of a viable candidate who could have won the election in Bernie Sanders. All you jackasses have a bad case of the Stockholm Syndrome. She blew your cause out of the water and you will storm the barricades and start World War III in loyalty to her! You will go to war with Russia because she, and her powerful numerous backers, want you to? Without ever giving you a truthful reason? What idiots you have suddenly become.
Whatever DNC insider (and every analyst except the CIA knows it was NOT the Russians) actually leaked the emails to Wikileaks did you all a favor. They gave you true facts on which to base your vote. Don’t get angry at your fellow citizens who chose to vote on the basis of actual information rather than strict knee-jerk partisanship. Stop acting like self-destructive fools before you crash the system for everyone. Honestly, I think someone infected you idiots with a parasite like Toxoplasma which causes mental disorientation and impaired judgement. No, fighting the Russians will not cure it.
Please, stop referring to Democrats as “Left Wing” or “Leftists”. They are Capitalists, and thus very much in the right wing. Democratic Socialists (like Bernie claimed to be but was still far right of) are centrists, as they advocate a hybrid of Capitalism and Socialism.
The actual Left Wing are anticapitalist – socialists, communists, and anarchists (and others, resource based economy advocates, gift based economy advocates, mutualists, Libertarian Socialists, Municipal Libertarians, etc – which are all variations on the main 3.)
By calling Democrats “left”, you are not only misusing the term, but insulting the Left, and also giving the Democrats far more credibility than they deserve.
Oh, please, that’s been the usage in the United States since way before I was born, and I’m 70 years old. Yes, everyone knows that in the international arena both major American parties would be way to the right, but within our borders the Democrats have traditionally been more liberal than the Republicans. By your standards, go find me one elected “leftist” in our entire country. Besides, that was far from the point of my comment. Or were you just looking for an argument?
Yes, the merely partisan Dems are fools, but so are most of rest. So while one would prefer that they be rational, it is a positive thing that they hate Trump. The negative is that they will be easily captured when the Dems field another fake liberal to catch the backlash when Trump discredits himself.
If Trump avoids wars of choice, he will have done any good that he can do. He will betray his voter base, who will flock left. The task is to build a true progressive party based upon small donations that will marginalize the fake Dems. So the real problem with Russia bashing is that it distracts from the Dem corruption that was revealed. The Dems had anti-American deals with Israel, KSA, and the dark state, all rogue powers that are now defending them. That is the story.
Realist This pass presidential election has been brutal. A neighbor of mine chased me off his property screaming out I was a N-lover, all because my son stuck a Bernie sticker on his bumper. This same neighbor then convinced a masonry contractor to not do my driveway and wall, and this contractor passed up a 18k job all because I’m a N-loving liberal. Then I watched family and friends morph from being Bernie supporters to them becoming Hillary supporters, mostly due to Supreme Court picks that they wanted to remain liberal. It’s been a bad year, and I’ll be glad when it’s over…at least politically. Other than that I have, and continue to have satisfaction commenting with the many of you on this site, and for that I am grateful.
Israel’s attack on the Syrian air base gives me a real sense of foreboding. They are the wild card in an already stacked deck against sane hopes or prospects.
Should have seen it coming…
Gregory – yes, I too was alarmed when I heard what Israel did. They are goading Syria to fight back. This is where it can get dangerous.
I’m trying to figure out why Israel has decided not to share Intel with Trump. If the Donald is the man of revenge that he always appears to be, I’m hoping he will remember dear sweet Israel when he’s in a position to sway a vote at the UN.
As far as what you should have seen coming Gregory, don’t feel to bad, because everything of late is happening so fast, that it’s easy to overlook even the obvious.
People like you Joe help give the effort needed encouragement. Beyond the pace of events, the most daunting thing about developing and keeping perspective is dealing with the pervasiveness of dishonest and unjust “perspectives”. To read the thoughts of others on this site who demonstrate what to me constitutes fair judgement with contextual reasoning, knowledge, and humanitarian sensibility helps.
On the subject of “grasping” the play of events…I am intrigued by Lin Cleveland and Bob in Portland sharing (The Scheme to Take Down Trump) their respective mothers’ comprehension of the JFK assassination (in the moment) as a coup. I would be interested to know more about people who had that perspective in the moment…what they maybe put to paper (“underground” ?).
Gregory your contribution to this comment section is likewise appreciated. What has helped me out tremendously is the links and references which have been provided over the period of time I have come to frequent this site. It’s not so much that everyone should agree with each other, as much as it is very refreshing to hear what others have to say, regarding our complex world of media events, and all that that entails. Although the authors who contribute to this sites great article format are second to none, the comment section has always broken down the narrative to a form of people talk, which helps me gain knowledge to what is inside of a given story. I wish more of us would trash it out on comment sections, instead of our going on Facebook and Twitter and blasting each other out for God only knows what concerns us. Well, maybe even comment sections are used for that too, but for now and at least for now on this site people keep it intelligent based…and with that I’ll just leave my rambling end with that. Take care Mr Herr, I’m sure tomorrow’s news will bring lots more controversies for us to talk about. Joe
The Olbermann Obsession
“And still like a desperate child he has to keep bringing this subject up, keep shouting those key words that he should never speak again: ‘Russia’, ‘hacking’, ‘Assange’, ‘Putin’.”
Abe – I got through 1 minute and 12 seconds of that neanderthal. That’s all I could take. My ship almost broke up.
I cut out at the 48 seconds mark. KO certainly is a perfect fit for the GQ Fashionista Channel!
The way Olbermann twisted Trump’s wholly rational statement about relations with Russia shortly before the 9-minute mark is way over-the-top. Keith needs to “leave it alone” until he can step back from his own obsession. Who can’t leave what alone?
Manufacturing fake news is certainly not the original invention of Russia. It has been used for good and for bad for a very long time. The fake news that the USS Maine had been sunk by a Spanish mine in Havana harbor was used to convince Americans we needed to go to war with Spain. The echo chamber of the right wing press of the day controlled by William Randolph Hearst’s media empire and a champion of yellow journalism created the meme “Remember the Maine, to ‘heck’ with Spain” which became the rallying cry for war. Gunship diplomacy was our tactic for attacking nations fomenting war between nations and playing the game of invaders like aliens invading Earth. We had superior military technology and we used it without hesitation wherever we could.
It worked. America’s military might went on to face other challenges in major world wars which were justified wars to fight foreign aggression by other nations. WWi and WWII were examples of how fake news and manipulation in the media and actual fake staged events helped the USA to engage a citizenry reluctant to go to war.
There is little doubt that the cruise ship Lusitania was deliberately loaded with weapons. Not just a few weapons but tons of weapons in full sight of German spies as bait for German U-Boats. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RMS_Lusitania
There is also little doubt that the war in Vietnam was justified by the exaggerated claims about the Gulf of Tonkin attack. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_of_Tonkin_incident
There are also some claims that the Japanese Bombing of Pearl Harbor was “allowed” to happen to create a pretext for war with Japan. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearl_Harbor_advance-knowledge_conspiracy_theory
There are credible claims that the attack on the Twin Towers was deliberately allowed to happen in “Operation Ignore” and then was used as a pretext for war with Iraq. PNAC was conceived by neocons and had a military plan written by Dick Cheney which proposed war with Iraq which openly lamented that the American People would not go along with the scheme barring some event like “A New Pearl Harbor” to cause public consent for war. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_for_the_New_American_Century
One thing is for sure. A nation cannot be compelled to go to war by any other means than to convince the population that they are under attack.
Hermann Goring of the German High Command said in the Nuremberg trials, “The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country”.
It works for good and it works for evil. It is a methodology which willingly acknowledges human casualties as a requirement for enlisting citizens of a nation to sign up for war. In a Machiavellian sense it is a method to the madness which must be utilized to compel a nation to go to war. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Prince
Fast forward to today where the CIA is rattling sabers against Russia and trying to paint them into a fait accompli as provocateurs of war with the West. All they need is some provocation by Russia to convince us is we are under attack by Russians and we are off to the next arms race. Perhaps we are off to the next war.
Vladimir Putin might be the most rational person in this escalation of the New Cold War with Russia and Donald Trump might be our greatest ally to prevent all of the wars that have gone before. There is the very real possibility that we are the new sponsors of the next pretext for war.
This power to convince a nation it is under attack has ancient roots and has been used for thousands of years to justify military action both warranted and unwarranted.
It is perhaps the singular defining characteristic of nation’s leaders that they have that power to use for good of evil. To fight against evil or to use that power against good.
Right now we are facing our new challenge. Do we buy into the main stream press and vilify Russia as a Bogeyman which we risk war with Russia claiming they are attacking our democracy or do we collectively choose a leader who will resist false narratives and seek to gain cooperative partnerships with former enemies and secure some sense of balance of power.
I think the voters have spoken on the matter.
It remains to be seen whether or not the CIA prevails and paints Donald Trump as a dupe for Russia and we collectively vilify Russia or whether he can weather the CIA storm and the hail of regurgitated falsehoods sponsored by our main stream press and create some economic partnership with Russia which precludes war.
All it will take to tip the balance from peace to war is some event in which we see our Nation as under attack by a foreign enemy to determine which way the American People will go. It is as it always has been a matter for the heads of state to determine which way we will go.
Yes, the Lusitania was loaded with contraband mine fuses, and Germany actually advertised right next to the Lusitania ad for its last voyage, in an ad of the same size, that passenger ships carrying contraband were not protected against attack. So with that hint, the right thing would have been to put the fuses on another ship, such as a fishing boat out of Iceland..
The Gulf of Tonkin incident was completely staged, sending Seals to machine-gun coastal-defense radar stations by night, then sending the destroyer nearby within their territorial waters, which destroyed a mere patrol boat six miles away and pretended to have been attacked despite no damage. The US had carrier group(s) there in readiness with bombing targets selected months in advance, and carpet-bombed NV which had no air force or navy. As LBJ allegedly said to the JCS, “You can have your war if I can have the election.” No doubt it got him elected.
Gareth Porter – great article! Thank you. Just a comedy of errors, people opening their mouths before all facts are obtained, and politics. Scary actually. Good read.
Thanks for your kind words, backwardevolutiion. I’m happy that you found it scary..
DHS has always been a politicized entity. The color-coded alerts from the Bush 2 era were always ratcheted up ahead of elections and other events, always for political and not real threat reasons, as Tom Ridge admitted.
The “Internet of Things” has probably been carried a little too far. Mainly, these applications are a scam to benefit the tech sector, eliminate thinking human beings (which have to be paid), and create the illusion of technological progress. Come on – a computerized water pump with an ISP address? Years ago while serving in the Navy, they decided to computerize shipboard waste disposal systems. The ship on which I was serving routinely engaged in “underway replenishment”. That means other ships would pull alongside to receive fuel or supplies. During one such evolution, the ship we were refueling was a prestigious affair with some muckety mucks onboard for the show. Our Captain wanted to make a good impression. About halfway through the exercise, raw sewage began spewing from the side of our ship. In the brisk wind, it spattered all over the adjacent ship. The Captain called the Damage Control Assistant (DCA, or “Chief Turd-Herder” in Navy lingo) to the bridge. He was furious. He demanded to know what was happening. The DCA replied, “With all due respect, Sir, we spent millions of dollars to computerize the ship’s a**hole. I said it was a bad idea. You can’t blame me if it decides to take a sh*t.” The discourse became more colorful from there.
It would be a lot cheaper, safer and more secure to return major infrastructure and utility mechanisms to good old-fashioned mechanics and engineers. Cuban mechanics manage to keep 1949 Chevys running for nearly seventy years, but in the U.S., mechanics are bewildered by an exhaust gas recycling valve. And, the corporate vultures want to sell computerized dishwashers, refrigerators and washing machines? Good luck with that. The DHS will have a great excuse to do warrantless lint filter investigations. They’re probably already drafting “no-knock” protocols for inspecting tread wear on waffle irons. But hey, we’re an “exceptional” nation. Can’t ya just feel the freedom?
I agree that most internet devices do not need the connection at all. As a control systems engineer, I have been overruled on that many times, the advocates citing minor advantages (such as field service convenience for large systems) or marketing value. The result is vulnerability to hacking, whether private or government.
When I sued a county in federal court, the next day my electric meter there was replaced with a computerized one, probably of the known kind that pretends to be a cellphone station but spies on the phones. I covered all but the readable meter with tinfoil so that it could not receive or transmit radio signals. Although I put a polite note on it, not to remove the shielding, it is torn off every month by the meter reader. The federal court was utterly corrupt, completely ignoring the facts, the law, and its own prior decisions.
People should also be aware that Windows 10 is a spy system and has no advantages at all over even very old Windows versions. It automatically sends your entire disks, personal information, and even biometric information to undisclosed locations, describing these as “services.” The advertised versions of these features can with difficulty be “disabled” but presumably do not in fact stop spying. This is the purpose of “new” operating systems.
My approach was slightly different. My tinfoil covers only the part of the meter facing the living area of the house with the rest of the meter surface open. That was some years ago and nobody has complained.
I don’t have Windows 10 on a single machine, and for that I’m thankful. A nearby relative who thinks he has mastered the system gets an “update”, and he’s back at square one. The last time I was visiting I couldn’t get that computer do the simplest things involving file operations. When my Win7 machines die I’ll migrate to Linux for the internet. For my personal projects I have XP on the fastest single-core machines available. When not connected to the internet (and mine never will be) it remains the all-time best Windows Operating System so far as I’m concerned.
I had to laugh at your tinfoil-on-the-meter variation, although not certain it is sufficient. Maybe they are both useful to detect whether they want to spy that way. I’ll admit that if they want to merely read the meter from the street, they would want to remove the tinfoil. And they could put another fake cellphone base station anywhere nearby.
XP does work a lot better than Win10. The spying “updates” can be turned off.
I also discovered that for “metered” (pay by usage) connections, Verizon LGE systematically more than quintuples the actual usage. My 5 GB/month connection soared to 13GB under Win10, but when I switched to TMobile (14 GB/month) the same usage was reported as 2GB per month.
So racketeering flourishes in Verizon and Microsoft, and many others, by and with the consent of both houses of Congress.
You mentioned old cars. I’ve just about decided that mine will get tender loving care, and as much money for repairs as needed, even if those repairs aren’t “cost effective”. That anybody and everybody could “hack” my steering, brakes, and other engine functions of a new replacement vehicle has started to frighten me.
Gareth Porter’s excellent treatment of the “Russian hacking” fiasco tells us that the US powers-that-be wish us to perceive Russia as a threat. Perhaps in hopes that many of us might forget the truth which is that THEY are.
Here in Canada the same relentless Russophobic media bombardment is ongoing. Chrystia Freeland, a rabid Ukrainian ultranationalist has just been appointed Canada’s Foreign Minister, tasked with persuading the new US President, that Russia is a threat and Putin is Hitler.
We even had a ‘Russian hacking’ , supposedly targeting a major hydro facility that supplies power to Toronto and most of southern Ontario. This turned out to be ‘fake news’. The Western military industrial complex needs an enemy. It has decided that Russia will be that enemy. People need to be careful about confusing propaganda and fake news with the real thing like Gareth Porter, Robert Parry and Consortium News.
This is a reasonable article and largely I respect the author. But please, THERE IS NO COLD WAR CURRENTLY IN PROGRESS!!! The Cold War is over it has been over for decades. The tensions with Russia today have nothing what-so-ever to do with a Cold War. Why why why do commentators demand we all live in the 1950s?
The tension with Russia is about “global full spectrum domination” by the US. There is nothing cold about it.
Glenn Greenwald, definitely not a supporter of Trump, has said that the Deep State has in effect gone to war with Trump.
“The Democrats, still reeling from their unexpected and traumatic election loss, as well as systemic collapse of their party, seemingly divorced further and further from reason with each passing day, are willing – eager – to embrace any claim, cheer any tactic, align with any villain, regardless of how unsupported, tawdry and damaging those behaviors might be.”
He goes on to say:
“You see Democrats at this point, even liberals, more or less openly calling for and cheering for the intervention of the CIA, the intelligence community, the overall Deep State, hoping that – because they failed to do so – this UNELECTED faction in Washington will undermine and subvert and destroy the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s presidency before he’s even inaugurated.
I think what you’re seeing is actually quite dangerous. There really is at this point obvious open warfare between this UNELECTED, but very powerful faction that resides in Washington and sees presidents come and go on the one hand, and the person that the American democracy elected to be the President on the other, who is supposed to be its chief executive. There’s clearly extreme conflict and a lot of subversion taking place.”
He goes on to talk about what Eisenhower said before leaving office:
“He said the greatest danger we face in our democracy is this faction of military and industrial power, UNELECTED, but permanently exerting power in Washington, and they’re becoming more powerful than democratic leaders. It almost doesn’t matter what choices we as American citizens make. I think actually in the election what you saw was this kind of framework where there was a proxy war, where you had factions within the FBI very supportive of Donald Trump, undermining Hillary Clinton’s candidacy in several different ways, and then you had the CIA itself very strongly behind Hillary Clinton. I think it is quite dangerous if we start thinking about submitting to rule by these UNELECTED, dark, Deep State overlords. I think it’s the antithesis of democracy.”
The unelected running the show. The CIA is attempting to do in their own country what they’ve done all over the world: if they don’t like a leader, they destroy him.
Do you mean JFK?
Exactly; that is the immediate great threat, underlying which is the fact that we do not have a democracy anyway. The very tools of democracy, mass media and elections, are controlled by money, and this cannot be changed peacefully.
good journalism Gareth. You have totally shown the motivation of DHS leadership.
Thanks, Ray. Much appreciated.
Consortium has become a “one note johnny”…the same thing over and over and over to the point that you MAY be reduced to insignificance. We know, historically, that the covert intelligence agencies have been problematic over the years and need constant vigilance. Granted. Government heaping more “tools” on top of the myriad destructive and sometimes unconstitutional ( probably) programs in existence already is likely a disaster that needs to be abated and remedied. Granted.
However, there’s a “evil clown prince” we currently need to deal with seriously. If Robert Parry and his sychophants actually think this is some sort of CIA coup in the making..that is not warranted..and that Donald is some shining knight that will save us from armageddon then say it and be done with it.
Trump is going to get what he deserves and so far nothing is off the table as far as I’m concerned. He apparently has significant debt to Russian political and business interests. He’s a liar and a person without moral compass. He WILL start a war as a diversion if he feels its necessary.
We need all hands on board, and that certainly means the security forces in the US…military included.
Sorry to say this, but after all the havoc the US had spread throughout the world…with the stupid “regime change” frame of mind…it will soon be time to bring it on home. It does not feel good saying that.
So, Mr. Parry, et al…..with all due respect for your good work over the years…don’t completely lose all attention on covert operations in the US… but please try to get a bigger picture. Your audience deserves it.
Heh? Binary thinking….. Criticism of Red Scare 2.0 by establishment, “intel” agencies, and the corporate presstitutes is default “Donald is a shining knight” inference.
It’s quite important to continue to point out that the spook agencies and the fake scary stories being tossed around are helping to shape a dangerous narrative, whether you think you know what Trump is going to do or not. Especially since the establishment news is trying to monopolize what is to be considered “real”. Is it too much to ask for something other than a State/Media nexus that is in relentless propaganda mode?
We need all hands on board? You mean the CIA, a rogue agency that clears the path for western corporate plantations by interfering with other sovereigns (including their own) all over the globe, and who brought you the illegal “war” with Iraq by selling you a story about WMDs? That’s who you want on “your” side? Are you frightened we won’t have James “The Perjurer” Clapper helping to defend you from Trump’s secret army of Commies under the bed with his promises of “just looking for the bad guys” spying?
Please, what is this “bigger picture” you speak of? What is it we deserve?
A liar with no moral compass, you say, who might start a war just to create a diversion? And this differs from Clinton in what way? (Or, for that matter, Obama?)
(I voted for Stein, as I found both offerings of the ecocidal corporate war party to be unacceptable.)
By all means, resist the racism, bigotry, and climate denial that both Drumpf and Clinton represent, but there is no need to start world war 3 with Russia (especially as they own 20% of the US Uranium mines, which Clinton signed off on as Sec of State, after Russian oligarchs funnelled money into her foundation, which is far more documented than allegations of Drumpf’s debt to Russia, which are only speculation.)
Considering that less than 5% of Americans voted for someone who was not a liar with no moral compass, who was likely to start a war as a distraction, where do you think all these hands needed on deck will come from? Or is your problem just that the liar who has no moral compass, and who is likely to start a war as a diatraction who you prefer did not win?
Consortium News is covering a breaking & earth-shaking story and you disapprove? This paints you as one of the first “identifiable” Intelligence Community suck-ups to join in the effort to muddy the water even more.
I’ve not seen a single author here who was in any way a Trump fan. Nor have I seen any effort to paint over his warts.
What we’re looking at – in my opinion – is a variation of the 2000 removal of Albert Gore in favor of the sure-to-go-to-war Bush the Dumber.
If the ongoing coup succeeds, we’re also going to get Mike Pence as President. Have you given that little fact the slightest bit of thought?
“Sure does sound like” guy “Stiv” continues a “one note Johnny” slur campaign.
Consortium News provides evidence-based independent investigative journalism and analysis.
Consortium News contributors continue to examine clear evidence of deliberate disinformation operations by US intelligence and mainstream media.
“Stiv” insinuates that investigation and analysis of these deception operations is “not warranted”. Such suggestions speak for themselves.
Consortium News remains one of the most highly credible sources for news and information that truly examines the “bigger picture”.
There is no advocacy of Donald Trump or any other political figures on this site.
Consortium News provides skeptical examination and rational analysis of key figures and events in the United States and around the world.
What’s missing from Consortium News is the propaganda rhetoric that characterizes so much of mainstream media and online “new” media so-called “reporting”.
Perhaps that’s why, from time to time, a “Stiv” rolls in saying the same thing over and over and over.
I’m confused. What are the political and financial stakes for the DHS. Is someone getting rich or just swinging their dick?
By creating fear of nonexistent threats, DHS ensures its continued massive funding.
Gareth, I haven’t had time to read your article yet (I will, though), but I wanted to post this three-minute video of Tucker Carlson interviewing Dr. Stephen Cohen, Professor of Russian Studies at Princeton and NYU re what’s really going on.
This guy says he’s seen this stuff and could get similar “reports” any time he wants and then goes on to say he’s “never seen anything like it”. Right. So, FOX fished around to find someone who would tell them what they want to hear.
Granted again…this “dossier” is not a statement of fact. It is “food for thought and grounds for further research” only. Sure does sound like Trump though…fits the MO and this agent wouldn’t seem to have any axe to grind with Trump…maybe Putin. So, to dismiss it completely would be a mistake. There are other sources who have documented how Trump has worked Russian business contacts to keep afloat …as an agent for laundering money through real estate transactions. Not difficult to find folks.
I’ll need to look up this Cohen guy, but we know about FOX. Couldn’t find a credible source to make your point?
If you do not know the name Stephen Cohen, then you have not been paying attention. When it comes to anything dealing with Russia, there is hardly a more credible source. The man has written multiple books on the subject, and has been a frequent guest on Democracy Now, in its more credible moments, and other news shows as well.
That you refer to him as an “agent” indicates quite a lot about you, likely more than you intended to reveal.
Professor emeritus of Russian studies at Princeton University and New York University, Stephen F. Cohen is a highly credible source, providing factually accurate analysis and valuable perspective on Russian politics and US-Russian relations.
“Sure does sound like” guy “Stiv” merely mutters about anonymous “other sources”.
Thanks for the link to the video.
I believe the so-called “Mainstream Media” could be compared to Jackals.
The Jackals of Journalism
Journalism’s mangy dogs were in an attacking frenzy
Donald Trump is their “journalistic” enemy
These attack dogs of the corrupt corporate establishment
Are seeking to destroy Trump’s political accomplishments
A man that millions of people chose, and voted for
The media and its controllers are attempting to abhor
The “intelligence community” are supposedly part of the dirty plan
Are they determined to destroy this American business man?
The TV news was repulsive to observe and watch
Was the “reporters’ brains” all in their crotch?
Unsubstantiated and unproven filth was trotted out as facts
And on and on went “journalism’s” foul and sordid attacks
The word “treason” was used, by those not a fan
And by “media flunkeys” and others who plot and plan
“He’s too friendly with Putin” this obscene gang says
Perhaps, they would prefer a nuclear war someday?
Surely, it is better to negotiate and be peaceful?
Instead of proposing policies that are mad and lethal?
But no, the warmongers and their media hacks
Could start a hellish war with their lying attacks
They already started wars in a number of countries
Most of them started by the Trump hating political monkeys
Are they worried that their blood soaked profits
Will be exposed, and out of the atrocities closet?
There is information that the gang in power has vices
Evidence is available that they financed, and trained ISIS
Surely, their actions are treasonous and bloody
Yet, the media covers up their associations with terrorist buddies
“Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard Says The U.S. Government Is Directly Funding ISIS And Al Qaeda!”
Does this nefarious political gang have much to hide?
Is this why they don’t want Trump on the inside?
Will he expose much of their malfeasance?
Is this why they are seeking vengeance?
“Trump Pledges to Drain the Swamp”
These dogs of disinformation and hyenas of hypocrisy
Are two legged animals savaging and destroying democracy
This then is the sorry state of the “news” system
All brought about by the jackals of journalism
Stephen J. Gray
January 12, 2017.
[Much more info at link below]
Here is a link to something concerning DHS and our voting systems.
I always thought to how quick and convenient it was, that right after 911…bingo, we have a Department of Homeland Security. Granted I realize the government is always writing contingent plans, but still DHS popped up rather fast, and I might add without little debate.
Underlying all the lies told by government is the powerful, evil mission to dominate everything and everyone on Earth. This is the underlying dynamic that must be understood in order to make some kind of sense to all the proliferating lies that characterize the virtual blizzard of absurd propaganda the public is exposed to. Remove this prime motivation and the whole fabric of lies from brainless patriotism, capitalism worship, illusory exceptionalism, racism, white Christian religiosity, etc. becomes unnecessary and irrelevant. Simply, our rulers are mad with power. We will never have a world of peace, sharing, and happiness as long as this evil dynamic of world domination pollutes everything.
Another more mundane explanation from the administrative theory literature is “empire building” by which individuals and organizations in bureaucracies (public and private) try to expand their influence to the detriment of the organization or society as a whole. Good journalists and their organizations should be aware of this phenomenon when evaluating calls from “unnamed senior officials.” Both DHS and WaPo came out of this smelling bad.