Saturday, September 01, 2018

Beating the Atomic Drum: World Nuclear Association Wants More Reactors

The Tip of the Radiation Disaster Iceberg 

by John Laforge - CounterPunch

August 31, 2018

The World Nuclear Association says its goal is “to increase global support for nuclear energy” and it repeatedly claims on its website:

“There have only been three major accidents across 16,000 cumulative reactor-years of operation in 32 countries.” 

The WNA and other nuclear power supporters acknowledge Three Mile Island in 1979 (US), Chernobyl (left) in 1986 (USSR), and Fukushima (below right) in 2011 (Japan) as “major” disasters.

But claiming that these radiation gushers were the worst ignores the frightening series of large-scale disasters that have been caused by uranium mining, reactors, nuclear weapons, and radioactive waste. Some of the world’s other major accidental radiation releases indicate that the Big Three are just the tip of the iceberg.

CHALK RIVER (Ontario), Dec. 2, 1952: The first major commercial reactor disaster occurred at this Canadian reactor on the Ottawa River when it caused a loss-of-coolant, a hydrogen explosion and a meltdown, releasing 100,000 curies of radioactivity to the air. In comparison, the official government position is that Three Mile Island released about 15 curies, although radiation monitors failed or went off-scale.

ROCKY FLATS (Colorado), Sept. 11, 1957: This Cold War factory produced plutonium triggers for nuclear weapons 16 miles from Denver. It caused 30 to 44 pounds of breathable plutonium-239 and plutonium-240 to catch fire in what would come to be known as the second largest industrial fire in US history. Filters used to trap the plutonium were destroyed and it escaped through chimneys, contaminating parts of Denver. Nothing was done to warn or protect downwind residents.

WINDSCALE/SELLAFIELD (Britain), Oct. 7, 1957: The worst of many fires burned through one reactor igniting three tons of uranium and dispersed radionuclides over parts of England and northern Europe. The site was hastily renamed Sellafield. Another large radiation leak occurs in 1981and leukemia rates soared to triple the national average.

(Russia), Sept. 29, 1957: A tank holding 70 to 80 metric tons of highly radioactive liquid waste exploded, contaminating an estimated 250,000 people, and permanently depopulating 30 towns which were leveled and removed from Russian maps.

Covered up by Moscow (and the CIA) until 1989, Russia finally revealed that 20 million curies of long-lived isotopes like cesium were released, and the release was later declared a Level 6 disaster on the International Nuclear Event Scale. The long covered-up explosion contaminated up to 10,000 square miles making it the third- or 4th-most serious radiation accident ever recorded.

SANTA SUSANA (Simi Valley, Calif.), July 12, 1959: The meltdown of the Sodium Reactor Experiment just outside Los Angeles caused “the third largest release of iodine-131 in the history of nuclear power,” according to Arjun Makhajani, President of the Institute for Energy & Environmental Research. Released radioactive materials were never authoritatively measured because “the monitors went clear off the scale,” according to an employee. The accident was kept secret for 20 years.

CHURCH ROCK (New Mexico), July 16, 1979: Ninety-three million gallons of liquid uranium mine wastes and 1,000 tons of solid wastes spilled onto the Navajo Nation and into Little Puerco River, and nuclear officials called it “the worst incident of radiation contamination in the history of the United States.”

The Little Puerco feeds the Little Colorado River, which drains to the Colorado River, which feeds Lake Mead—a source of drinking water for Los Angeles.

TOMSK-7 (Russia), April 7, 1993: In “the worst radiation disaster since Chernobyl,” Russian and foreign experts said a tank of radioactive waste exploded at the Tomsk nuclear weapons complex and that wind blew its plume of radiation toward the Yenisei River and 11 Siberian villages, none of which were evacuated.

MONJU (Japan), Dec. 8, 1995: This sodium-cooled “breeder reactor” caused a fire and a large leak of sodium coolant into the Pacific. Liquid sodium coolant catches fire on contact with air and explodes on contact with water. Costly efforts to engineer commercial models have failed. Japan’s Monju experiment was halted in 2018 after over 24 years of false starts, accidents and cover-ups.

TOKAI-MURA (Japan), Sept. 30, 1999: A uranium “criticality” which is an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction caused a “neutron burst” that killed three workers and dispersed neutron radiation throughout the densely populated urban area surrounding the factory.

Not to be slighted, deliberate contamination has also been enormous: Five metric tons of plutonium was dispersed over the earth by nuclear bomb testing, and other nuclear weapons processes; Over 210 billion gallons of radioactive liquids were poured into the ground at the Hanford reactor complex in Washington State; and 16 billion gallons of liquid waste holding 70,000 curies of radioactivity were injected directly into Idaho’s Snake River Aquifer at the Idaho National Lab.


Nuclear Roulette: The Truth About the Most Dangerous Energy Source on Earth, by Gar Smith (Chelsea Green, 2012)

Mad Science: The Nuclear Power Experiment, by Joseph Mangano (OR Books 2012)

In Mortal Hands: A Cautionary History of the Nuclear Age, by Stephanie Cooke (Bloomsbury, 2009)

Criticality Accident at Tokai-mura, by Jinzaburo Takagi (Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center, 2000)

Nuclear Wastelands: A Global Guide to Nuclear Weapons Production & Its Health & Environmental Effects, by Arjun Makhijani, et al (MIT Press, 1995)

The Nuclear Power Deception, by Arjun Makhijani & Scott Saleska (Apex Press, 1999)

Nuclear Madness, Revised, by Helen Caldicot (Norton, 1995).

Multiple Exposures: Chronicles of the Radiation Age, by Catherine Caufield (Harper & Row, 1989).

Greenpeace Book of the Nuclear Age, by John May (Pantheon, 1989).

Deadly Defense: Military Radioactive Landfills, edited by Dana Coyle, et al (Radioactive Waste Campaign 1988)

No Nukes, by Anna Gyorgy (South End Press, 1979).

John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.
More articles by:John Laforge

Friday, August 31, 2018

Trump Is Right: NAFTA Always Sucked

A Plague on Both Their Houses 

by Andrew Levine  - CounterPunch

August 31, 2018

Donald Trump is a miscreant, worse than any president in modern times. Nevertheless, he is sometimes more right than Democrats and their media flacks. His express views on the multi-lateral institutions that regulate global trade in capitalism’s current neoliberal phase are an obvious example. Trump thinks, or says that he thinks, that American workers have been getting a raw deal.

He is right.

The agreements in place are good for global capital and therefore for American corporate moguls and Wall Street financiers, but not for workers in the United States or anywhere else.
Photo Source pxl | CC BY 2.0 

There are a few comparatively progressive Democrats who do want to make existing arrangements less harmful to workers and the environment. But even they don’t want to change anything fundamental. Mainstream Democrats support the neoliberal status quo more or less as is.

The American labor movement has opposed NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, ever since its inception in 1994. The Clinton administration could have cared less. Neither could its successors, both Democratic and Republican. Democrats rely on organized labor for money, campaign workers, and votes, offering only malign neglect in return. The GOP’s hostility is more overt; Republicans don’t even pretend to care.

In 2016, Bernie Sanders opposed both NAFTA and the TPP, the Trans Pacific Partnership. Challenged from her left, even Hillary Clinton said that she would renegotiate the TPP.

However, there was hardly anyone who did not think that, just as soon as she could, she would weasel out of that commitment. Meanwhile, it was clear to everyone who was paying attention that the nomination process was rigged against Sanders.

It was far from clear, even so, that Sanders’ views placed him outside the neoliberal orbit. More likely, he represented its leftmost wing.

In any case, Trump won the election — and it was he, not a Democrat, who put the kybosh on American participation in the TPP. Now, at least cosmetically but probably also substantively, he is going after NAFTA.

And so, for much the same reason that Democrats learned to stop worrying and love the CIA, they now find themselves defending multi-lateral trade policies that harm American workers. Whatever Trump is against is good enough for them.

Needless to say, Trump could care less about workers’ rights or environmental protections. What he does care about is looking good to the “Make American Great Again” chauvinists in his base. He needs their votes. Also, as a profoundly insecure narcissist, he needs their love.

The man is pathetic, but in this case at least, he is against what any right thinking progressive ought to oppose.

Russophobic war mongering is another example.

Trump is against it, except when he finds it expedient not to be – which lately is most of the time. He is not against it for any of the many reasons that a reasonable person would be, but he is against it – and, in a time rife with newly revived Cold War hysteria, that is not to be despised.

It isn’t yet clear why Trump is, or was, against Clinton-style Cold War revivalism. Is it because Vladimir Putin has something on him? Or is it because he wants or needs something from Russian oligarchs?

The most benign explanation is that it’s all about the Clintons. It was the Clintons and their allies, working with the usual gaggle of neocon and liberal imperialist foreign policy “experts” that got the latest bout of hysteria going, and it was the Clintons who revved up its intensity in order to excuse Hillary’s lamentable performance in the 2016 elections.

The one sure thing is that when Trump is right – or less wrong than the Democratic Party and its propaganda machine — it is always for bad reasons. But then good reasons are in short supply all around. The reasons offered up by “respectable” liberal pundits are so bad that is becoming hard to tell which side to root for less.

* *

The death of Maverick John McCain has forced consumers of cable news to deal with the situation head on. Compare Trump’s disdain for McCain with the determination of leading Democrats and MSNBC and CNN pundits to fast track his case for sainthood.

This is, of course, a less weighty issue than trade policy or war and peace. But it is perhaps the most revealing of all.

Were it not for Trump and the myriad ways he makes everything worse, McCain’s passing would not be anything like the media event it has become; run-of-the mill rightwing politicians with blemished pasts die all the time. It is only in a Trump-debased political world, his death is a big deal.

It is unseemly to speak ill of the dead. Hypocrisy and false tears are unseemly too.

It is also true that sometimes the best course of action, when you have nothing good to say about somebody, is to say nothing at all.

In this case, however, silence is not an option – not in general, and certainly not for Trump.

Because he is essentially a distraught male adolescent in an old man’s body, Trump lacks the impulse control to keep quiet. Kudos to him for that — for not jumping onto the praise-McCain bandwagon.

That is precisely what he would now be doing but for the fact that, for him, narcissism trumps opportunism.

He would at least have kept the White House flags flying at half-staff for more than a day, and he would have tweeted a magnanimous statement of condolence. That, after all, is what presidents do.

Half a cheer to him, therefore, for being so grossly unpresidential. By acting out, in this case, the way he does in most others, he has effectively countered the surfeit of nauseatingly hagiographical McCain obituaries that are currently cropping up everywhere.

Half a cheer only, however, because when the Donald found that his petulance was drawing criticism even on Fox News (Trump TV), he caved. Could it be that cowardice, even more than narcissism, defines his relation to the world?

Still, even if only for a day, he did disrespect an “icon” of standard issue white bread “conservatism” whom “liberal” Democrats and “liberal” pundits on “liberal” cable channels are falling all over themselves to honor and respect.

And so, for at least a few days, “breaking news” about Trump’s mean-spirited, incoherent, and often inconsistent tweets, and about what law enforcement has in store for him, has given way, to some extent, to praise for an irascible Republican high on the Donald’s enemies list.

This is as good a way as any, at this point, to get Trump’s goat. And although it is hard to take all that praise for McCain without wanting to run amok, it does make for a welcome change of pace for those of us who turn to the liberal cable channels to monitor what the anti-Trump faction of the power structure is up to.

Dumping on Trump in the usual ways can be a useful and worthwhile pastime, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

Trump has nothing good to say about McCain, dead or alive, because McCain is an establishment type who refused to pay him obeisance, and because he has several times called the Donald out for what he is. Also, McCain foiled his attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

In truth, McCain cared no more than his Republican Senate colleagues or, for that matter, than Trump himself, about providing health care for the uninsured. Quite to the contrary, by supporting the Trump tax cut for the rich, he effectively let happen much of the harm that would have occurred had the ACA been repealed. McCain voted to keep Obama’s signature legislative achievement afloat for one reason only — because Trump wanted it to go down.

Thus Trump is not the only malevolent character in the story who knows how to hold a grudge.

The difference is that McCain could act graciously when conditions demanded it or when, for whatever reason, he wanted to. Trump cannot help but stay true to his nature; and there is not a gracious bone in his body.

Still, the fact remains: there really is nothing good to say about McCain – unless you think that being on the wrong side in the Vietnam War, and killing a lot of people in the process, was good.

Had he repented of the position he held, it would be different. But he never has. To his dying day, McCain thought that the Vietnam War was a good thing, and that it was a tragedy that the U.S. didn’t “win.”

Trump is morally and intellectually obtuse, but not wrong, when he says that McCain’s vaunted heroism in that war had less to do with anything he did than with what happened to him – after a plane he was flying was shot down. He was tortured and held prisoner for five years.

“Conspiracy theorists” sympathetic to Trump tell a different story, but it does seem that he behaved honorably, or at least correctly, while he was held as a prisoner of war.

When the Vietnamese found out that McCain was an admiral’s son, they offered to let him go. Instead he chose the militarily valorous path – to stay with his fellow prisoners until all of them were released.

Indications are that he did this because, as a scion of a military family, he felt that he had no choice. Even so, it does mark a difference, say, from Donald Trump who would have sold out his own mother had there been some percentage in it.

The sad fact is, though, that apart from his decision to abide by McCain family values, there is nothing that makes his case stand out from many others, and certainly nothing that countervails the stubborn fact that McCain was on the wrong side in Vietnam, and remained proud of it to his dying day.

As a Senator, he was on the wrong side of many other conflicts too – in Iraq and Syria and throughout the Greater Middle East, in the former Yugoslavia, in Libya, and in sub-Saharan Africa. And he was always on the ready for a war against Iran and North Korea. Remember the hot mike that picked up his singing: “bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb bomb Iran” to the tune of the Beachboy’s “Barbara Ann.”

Most of all, he had it in for Russia even before the Clintons and their co-thinkers took a notion to reviving the Cold War. He was, if anything, even more intent than Hillary Clinton to empower anti-Russian forces in Georgia and other former Soviet republics in order to bring NATO right up to Russia’s borders.

McCain was good on campaign finance reform, but not much else. Like his sidekick Lindsay Graham, and his buddy hapless Joe Lieberman, he was basically a dunce of a Senator, eager to support legislation pleasing to his party’s grandees, and indifferent to the interests of everyone else.

McCain’s liberal eulogists cannot help but concede that, by choosing Sarah Palin for a running mate in 2008, McCain accorded legitimacy to her know-nothing political style and therefore, in time, to the Tea Party and ultimately to the most retrograde sectors of the benighted Trump base.

Liberal apologists blame his choice of Palin on impulsiveness. Thus they grudgingly agree that his judgment was often less than spot on. But they claim, at the same time, that his decency was beyond reproach – mainly because he was willing to work with “both sides of the aisle.”

And so, the argument goes, he should be forgiven even for turning over the rock from beneath which, in due course, Trump slithered out.

According to them, McCain was perhaps the last of a vanishing species, a traditional Republican battling the barbarians at the gates.

For that Chuck Schumer wants to name the Senate Office Building after him. Better him than the segregationist Georgia Senator Richard Russell, but even so. Are liberals so morally and intellectually depleted that they cannot do better than venerate a war-mongering reactionary with bad judgment, a “maverick” streak, and an occasional inclination to go “bipartisan”? So it seems.

Those liberals would do well to recall that much publicized Minnesota town hall meeting during the 2008 presidential campaign when a daft elderly lady said to McCain, the candidate: “I can’t trust Obama… I have read about him and he’s uh…he’s an Arab.” In response, McCain shook his head sadly and said: “No, ma’am, Obama is a decent family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.”

There we have it: McCain vouching for Obama’s decency by calling him a “family man,” while letting that poor lady’s ethnic slur on more than 400 million Arab human beings pass unnoticed. Pathetic and, as the Donald often tweets of anything and everything that displeases him, SAD!
ANDREW LEVINE is the author most recently of THE AMERICAN IDEOLOGY (Routledge) and POLITICAL KEY WORDS (Blackwell) as well as of many other books and articles in political philosophy. His most recent book is In Bad Faith: What’s Wrong With the Opium of the People. He was a Professor (philosophy) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Research Professor (philosophy) at the University of Maryland-College Park. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).
More articles by:Andrew Levine

Counter Narratives on the Nicaraguan Coup Attempt

Camilo Mejia Analyzes the Soft Coup Attempt in Nicaragua 

by Rick Sterling - TeleSur

August 28, 2018

Camilo Mejía wrote an open letter condemning the Amnesty report for being biased and actually contributing to the chaos and violence.

Western media has described unrest and violence in Nicaragua as a 'campaign of terror' by government police and paramilitary. This has also been asserted by large NGOs. In May, for example, Amnesty International issued a report 'Shoot to Kill: Nicaragua’s Strategy to Repress Protest.'

A Miami Herald op-ed summarized: "It's not like there's any confusion over who's to blame for the recent killings amid Nicaragua's political violence. Virtually all human rights groups agree that Ortega's police-backed paramilitary goons are the culprits."

Much less publicized, other analysts have challenged these assertions. They claim the situation is being distorted and the reality is very different.

For example, Camilo Mejía wrote an open letter condemning the Amnesty report for being biased and actually contributing to the chaos and violence.

To learn more about the situation, Task Force on the Americas (TFA) invited Camilo Mejía to speak in the San Francisco Bay Area. TFA has a long history of work in Central and South America educating the public, lobbying around U.S. foreign policy and leading delegations to see the reality in Central and South America.

Veterans for Peace (VFP) quickly agreed to co-sponsor events with Camilo in San Francisco and Oakland. Veterans for Peace also has a long history with Nicaragua, having been founded partially in response to U.S. aggression in Central America. VFP members protested against U.S. shipments to the Nicaraguan Contras. VFP member Brian Willson had both legs cut off when a train carrying weapons destined for Central America ran over him. The current VFP president, Gerry Condon, was at that protest and helped stop the blood gushing from Willson's severed legs. Brian Willson lives in Nicaragua today.

Camilo Mejía

Camilo Mejía was born in Nicaragua, the son of famous musician Carlos Mejía Godoy. His mother was a staunch Sandinista activist but separated from the father soon after his birth. She brought Camilo to the United States as a single mother in 1994, four years after the Sandinista electoral defeat. Living in Florida, Camilo struggled to make ends meet and joined the U.S. Army to pay for college. Just a few months before completing his service, Camilo was ordered into the 2003 invasion of Iraq. After serving one tour of war duty, he refused to return and was imprisoned for nine months.

Camilo was honored as a 'Prisoner of Conscience' by Amnesty International. Thus Camilo's criticism of the Amnesty report on Nicaragua has special significance. Camilo is Nicaraguan, a member of Veterans for Peace, and a hero to both VFP and Amnesty. He is also the author of the compelling autobiography, 'Road From Ar Ramadi.'

As news of Camilo's upcoming visit to San Francisco spread, we started to feel a reaction. There is a large and diverse Nicaraguan exile community in San Francisco. While some support the Sandinista government, others are adamantly opposed and some even supported the Contras decades ago. Anti-Ortega Nicaraguan exiles in San Francisco began organizing a protest.

Camilo's visit to speak on Nicaragua also prompted a reaction from some Americans who had once supported the Sandinistas but now support the opposition. They campaigned to have their viewpoint presented at our events. TFA and VFP organizers thought there was no need to include the opposition voice, because their characterization of the conflict is widespread.

However, Camilo wanted to be transparent and not exclude the opposition. He thought that if we allowed an opposition supporter to speak briefly, they were more likely to listen to his analysis and he could directly address their concerns.

At the San Francisco event, protesters arrived early in front of the War Memorial Veterans Building. When the event started, protesters flooded into the venue. As promised, an opposition supporter was invited to speak briefly.The audience of about 120 was split between those who wanted to hear Camilo and those who came to protest. Camilo's talk was repeatedly interrupted and police arrived to prevent violence. Camilo asked what kind of "democracy" was this they claimed to want for Nicaragua when they would not listen or allow him to speak here in San Francisco?

Camilo showed two short video clips. The first video showed opposition activists torturing a Sandinista supporter under the oversight of a Catholic priest and the remains of a Sandinista burned alive.

A second video showed a statement from an American who has lived in Nicaragua for many years. He described how gangs had invaded his town, set up road blocks, intimidated and abused local civilians. He described the joy of the community when the roadblocks were removed and masked 'protesters' departed.

The audience got increasingly disruptive during the question period. A prominent Nicaraguan opposition supporter came forward, offering to quiet the disrupters. After receiving the microphone from Camilo, she did the opposite.The disruptions escalated and the event had to be ended early. The protesters had completed their mission: they had prevented Camilo from being able to present his perspective.

Organizers from TFA and Veterans for Peace decided the event in Oakland needed to be handled differently. Members of Veterans for Peace, including Chapter President Paul Cox and others, prevented the protesters from entering. Ultimately the venue was packed with interested listeners. The anti-Ortega crowd protested on the sidewalk and street but were not able to disrupt the event.

With the loud opposition outside, Camilo was introduced by VFP President Gerry Condon. He gave a clear and concise history of key events in Nicaraguan political history, including:

* Nicaragua was connected to the gold rush in California in the mid-1800s. That is when the idea of a trans-oceanic passage through Nicaragua was born.

* When Cesar Sandino launched guerrilla war in the 1920s and '30s, there were two priorities: advancing the working class and anti-imperialism.

* The Frente Sandinista which carried out the 1979 revolution had nine commanders: three from each of three factions.

* After the Sandinistas lost the 1990 election, splits emerged and ultimately Sergio Ramirez formed the Movimiento Renovador Sandinista (MRS). The more affluent members plus intellectuals, writers and musicians gravitated toward it. But though they were well connected to Western solidarity activists, they had no popular platform nor base. They did poorly in elections and moved toward neoliberal policies and the NGO world.

* Since taking power in 2007, Daniel Ortega and Sandinistas have improved living conditions for the poor with free healthcare, free education and better economic policies. Nicaragua now supplies 80 to 90 percent of its own food.

* Up until April, Nicaragua was vastly safer than neighboring countries. Their 'community policing' is considered a model.

* Support for Ortega and the Frente Sandinista has steadily increased. In 2006, they won 38 percent of the vote; in 2011, it increased to 62 percent; in 2016 support increased to 72 percent, with 68 percent turnout.

* There has been much misinformation about the proposed changes in social security which sparked the protests in April. To stabilize the social security funding, the IMF wanted to implement an austerity plan which would have doubled the work requirements and raised the qualification age from 60 to 65. The Sandinista proposal was much more progressive, requiring wealthy individuals and businesses to pay much more with minor changes for others.

* The death count has been manipulated. Some deaths are counted twice; people who were said to be dead have turned up alive; dead Sandinista supporters have been counted as protesters. The first deaths on April 19 were one student, one police officer and one bystander killed by sniper fire. Camilo asks: Was this done by the government or by outside forces?

* The National Endowment for Democracy and other U.S. agencies have trained students and others in using social media, video and symbols to stir up dissent and destabilize Nicaragua.

Goal Accomplished

At the Oakland event, Camilo showed a torture video which demonstrates opposition violence. He also showed video of the huge July 19 celebration of the Sandinista revolution anniversary. His talk was followed by many questions, including from opposition supporters.

At times during the event, there was tension and concern about violence from the protesters outside. Some Nicaraguan families were afraid for their safety. After the event, they had to be escorted with protection to their cars. The car of one Nicaraguan family was besieged by the anti-Ortega crowd. Camilo and his young daughter had to be quickly taken away amid shouts and waving placards.

Ultimately, Camilo's visit accomplished the goal. Media interviews in Spanish and English reached many thousands. In these and the public presentations, he brought information and analysis which has been largely censored or ignored in coverage of Nicaragua.

Camilo believes Nicaragua has temporarily defeated a 'soft coup' attempt but the danger is not over. The opposition forces internally and internationally are still there.

Rick Sterling is an investigative journalist and current board president of Task Force on the Americas.

Things Actually Said...CPC Leader Andrew Scheer on TMX Court Ruling

Thursday, August 30, 2018

"Well They Could've Done It" - How DHS Hypothetical Case Seeded "Russia Election Meddling" Hysteria

How the Department of Homeland Security Created a Deceptive Tale of Russia Hacking US Voter Sites

by Gareth Porter - Special to Consortium News 

August 28, 2018

The narrative about Russian cyberattacks on American election infrastructure is a self-interested abuse of power by DHS based on distortion of evidence, writes Gareth Porter.

The narrative of Russian intelligence attacking state and local election boards and threatening the integrity of U.S. elections has achieved near-universal acceptance by media and political elites.

And now it has been accepted by the Trump administration’s intelligence chief, Dan Coats, as well.
Photo: Erik Hersman/CC BY 2.0

But the real story behind that narrative, recounted here for the first time, reveals that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) created and nurtured an account that was grossly and deliberately deceptive.

DHS compiled an intelligence report suggesting hackers linked to the Russian government could have targeted voter-related websites in many states and then leaked a sensational story of Russian attacks on those sites without the qualifications that would have revealed a different story. When state election officials began asking questions, they discovered that the DHS claims were false and, in at least one case, laughable.

The National Security Agency and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigating team have also claimed evidence that Russian military intelligence was behind election infrastructure hacking, but on closer examination, those claims turn out to be speculative and misleading as well. Mueller’s indictment of 12 GRU military intelligence officers does not cite any violations of U.S. election laws though it claims Russia interfered with the 2016 election.

A Sensational Story

On Sept. 29, 2016, a few weeks after the hacking of election-related websites in Illinois and Arizona, ABC News carried a sensational headline: “Russian Hackers Targeted Nearly Half of States’ Voter Registration Systems, Successfully Infiltrated 4.” The story itself reported that “more than 20 state election systems” had been hacked, and four states had been “breached” by hackers suspected of working for the Russian government. The story cited only sources “knowledgeable” about the matter, indicating that those who were pushing the story were eager to hide the institutional origins of the information.

Behind that sensational story was a federal agency seeking to establish its leadership within the national security state apparatus on cybersecurity, despite its limited resources for such responsibility. In late summer and fall 2016, the Department of Homeland Security was maneuvering politically to designate state and local voter registration databases and voting systems as “critical infrastructure.” Such a designation would make voter-related networks and websites under the protection a “priority sub-sector” in the DHS “National Infrastructure Protection Plan, which already included 16 such sub-sectors.

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and other senior DHS officials consulted with many state election officials in the hope of getting their approval for such a designation. Meanwhile, the DHS was finishing an intelligence report that would both highlight the Russian threat to U.S. election infrastructure and the role DHS could play in protecting it, thus creating political impetus to the designation. But several secretaries of state—the officials in charge of the election infrastructure in their state—strongly opposed the designation that Johnson wanted.

On Jan. 6, 2017—the same day three intelligence agencies released a joint “assessment” on Russian interference in the election—Johnson announced the designation anyway.

Media stories continued to reflect the official assumption that cyber attacks on state election websites were Russian-sponsored. Stunningly, The Wall Street Journal reported in December 2016 that DHS was itself behind hacking attempts of Georgia’s election database.

The facts surrounding the two actual breaches of state websites in Illinois and Arizona, as well as the broader context of cyberattacks on state websites, didn’t support that premise at all.

In July, Illinois discovered an intrusion into its voter registration website and the theft of personal information on as many as 200,000 registered voters. (The 2018 Mueller indictments of GRU officers would unaccountably put the figure at 500,000.) Significantly, however, the hackers only had copied the information and had left it unchanged in the database.

That was a crucial clue to the motive behind the hack. DHS Assistant Secretary for Cyber Security and Communications Andy Ozment told a Congressional committee in late September 2016 that the fact hackers hadn’t tampered with the voter data indicated that the aim of the theft was not to influence the electoral process. Instead, it was “possibly for the purpose of selling personal information.” Ozment was contradicting the line that already was being taken on the Illinois and Arizona hacks by the National Protection and Programs Directorate and other senior DHS officials.

In an interview with me last year, Ken Menzel, the legal adviser to the Illinois secretary of state, confirmed what Ozment had testified. “Hackers have been trying constantly to get into it since 2006,” Menzel said, adding that they had been probing every other official Illinois database with such personal data for vulnerabilities as well.

“Every governmental database—driver’s licenses, health care, you name it—has people trying to get into it,” said Menzel.

In the other successful cyberattack on an electoral website, hackers had acquired the username and password for the voter database Arizona used during the summer, as Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan learned from the FBI. But the reason that it had become known, according to Reagan in an interview with Mother Jones, was that the login and password had shown up for sale on the dark web—the network of websites used by cyber criminals to sell stolen data and other illicit wares.

Furthermore, the FBI had told her that the effort to penetrate the database was the work of a “known hacker” whom the FBI had monitored “frequently” in the past. Thus, there were reasons to believe that both Illinois and Arizona hacking incidents were linked to criminal hackers seeking information they could sell for profit.

Meanwhile, the FBI was unable to come up with any theory about what Russia might have intended to do with voter registration data such as what was taken in the Illinois hack. When FBI Counterintelligence official Bill Priestap was asked in a June 2017 hearing how Moscow might use such data, his answer revealed that he had no clue: “They took the data to understand what it consisted of,” said the struggling Priestap, “so they can affect better understanding and plan accordingly in regards to possibly impacting future elections by knowing what is there and studying it.”

The inability to think of any plausible way for the Russian government to use such data explains why DHS and the intelligence community adopted the argument, as senior DHS officials Samuel Liles and Jeanette Manfra put it, that the hacks “could be intended or used to undermine public confidence in electoral processes and potentially the outcome.” But such a strategy could not have had any effect without a decision by DHS and the U.S. intelligence community to assert publicly that the intrusions and other scanning and probing were Russian operations, despite the absence of hard evidence. So DHS and other agencies were consciously sowing public doubts about U.S. elections that they were attributing to Russia.

DHS Reveals Its Self-Serving Methodology

In June 2017, Liles and Manfra testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee that an October 2016 DHS intelligence report had listed election systems in 21 states that were “potentially targeted by Russian government cyber actors.” They revealed that the sensational story leaked to the press in late September 2016 had been based on a draft of the DHS report. And more importantly, their use of the phrase “potentially targeted” showed that they were arguing only that the cyber incidents it listed were possible indications of a Russian attack on election infrastructure.

Furthermore, Liles and Manfra said the DHS report had “catalogued suspicious activity we observed on state government networks across the country,” which had been “largely based on suspected malicious tactics and infrastructure.” They were referring to a list of eight IP addresses an August 2016 FBI “flash alert” had obtained from the Illinois and Arizona intrusions, which DHS and FBI had not been able to attribute to the Russian government.

 Manfra: No doubt it was the Russians. (C-SPAN)

The DHS officials recalled that the DHS began to “receive reports of cyber-enabled scanning and probing of election-related infrastructure in some states, some of which appeared to originate from servers operated by a Russian company.” Six of the eight IP addresses in the FBI alert were indeed traced to King Servers, owned by a young Russian living in Siberia. But as DHS cyber specialists knew well, the country of ownership of the server doesn’t prove anything about who was responsible for hacking: As cybersecurity expert Jeffrey Carr pointed out, the Russian hackers who coordinated the Russian attack on Georgian government websites in 2008 used a Texas-based company as the hosting provider.

The cybersecurity firm ThreatConnect noted in 2016 that one of the other two IP addresses had hosted a Russian criminal market for five months in 2015. But that was not a serious indicator, either. Private IP addresses are reassigned frequently by server companies, so there is not a necessary connection between users of the same IP address at different times.

The DHS methodology of selecting reports of cyber incidents involving election-related websites as “potentially targeted” by Russian government-sponsored hackers was based on no objective evidence whatever. The resulting list appears to have included any one of the eight addresses as well as any attack or “scan” on a public website that could be linked in any way to elections.

This methodology conveniently ignored the fact that criminal hackers were constantly trying to get access to every database in those same state, country and municipal systems. Not only for Illinois and Arizona officials, but state electoral officials.

In fact, 14 of the 21 states on the list experienced nothing more than the routine scanning that occurs every day, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee. Only six involved what was referred to as a “malicious access attempt,” meaning an effort to penetrate the site. One of them was in Ohio, where the attempt to find a weakness lasted less than a second and was considered by DHS’s internet security contractor a “non-event” at the time.

State Officials Force DHS to Tell the Truth

For a year, DHS did not inform the 21 states on its list that their election boards or other election-related sites had been attacked in a presumed Russian-sponsored operation. The excuse DHS officials cited was that it could not reveal such sensitive intelligence to state officials without security clearances. But the reluctance to reveal the details about each case was certainly related to the reasonable expectation that states would publicly challenge their claims, creating a potential serious embarrassment.

On Sept. 22, 2017, DHS notified 21 states about the cyber incidents that had been included in the October 2016 report. The public announcement of the notifications said DHS had notified each chief election officer of “any potential targeting we were aware of in their state leading up to the 2016 election.” The phrase “potential targeting” again telegraphed the broad and vague criterion DHS had adopted, but it was ignored in media stories.

But the notifications, which took the form of phone calls lasting only a few minutes, provided a minimum of information and failed to convey the significant qualification that DHS was only suggesting targeting as a possibility. “It was a couple of guys from DHS reading from a script,” recalled one state election official who asked not to be identified. “They said [our state] was targeted by Russian government cyber actors.”

A number of state election officials recognized that this information conflicted with what they knew. And if they complained, they got a more accurate picture from DHS. After Wisconsin Secretary of State Michael Haas demanded further clarification, he got an email response from a DHS official with a different account. “[B]ased on our external analysis,” the official wrote, “the WI [Wisconsin] IP address affected belongs to the WI Department of Workforce Development, not the Elections Commission.”

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said DHS initially had notified his office “that Russian cyber actors ‘scanned’ California’s Internet-facing systems in 2016, including Secretary of State websites.” But under further questioning, DHS admitted to Padilla that what the hackers had targeted was the California Department of Technology’s network.

Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos and Oklahoma Election Board spokesman Byron Dean also denied that any state website with voter- or election-related information had been targeted, and Pablos demanded that DHS “correct its erroneous notification.”

Despite these embarrassing admissions, a statement issued by DHS spokesman Scott McConnell on Sept. 28, 2017 said the DHS “stood by” its assessment that 21 states “were the target of Russian government cyber actors seeking vulnerabilities and access to U.S. election infrastructure.” The statement retreated from the previous admission that the notifications involved “potential targeting,” but it also revealed for the first time that DHS had defined “targeting” very broadly indeed.

It said the category included “some cases” involving “direct scanning of targeted systems” but also cases in which “malicious actors scanned for vulnerabilities in networks that may be connected to those systems or have similar characteristics in order to gain information about how to later penetrate their target.”

It is true that hackers may scan one website in the hope of learning something that could be useful for penetrating another website, as cybersecurity expert Prof. Herbert S. Lin of Stanford University explained to me in an interview. But including any incident in which that motive was theoretical meant that any state website could be included on the DHS list, without any evidence it was related to a political motive.

Arizona’s further exchanges with DHS revealed just how far DHS had gone in exploiting that escape clause in order to add more states to its “targeted” list. Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan tweeted that DHS had informed her that “the Russian government targeted our voter registration systems in 2016.” After meeting with DHS officials in early October 2017, however, Reagan wrote in a blog post that DHS “could not confirm that any attempted Russian government hack occurred whatsoever to any election-related system in Arizona, much less the statewide voter registration database.”

What the DHS said in that meeting, as Reagan’s spokesman Matt Roberts recounted to me, is even more shocking. “When we pressed DHS on what exactly was actually targeted, they said it was the Phoenix public library’s computers system,” Roberts recalled.

 National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, Md. (Wikimedia)

In April 2018, a CBS News “60 Minutes” segment reported that the October 2016 DHS intelligence report had included the Russian government hacking of a “county database in Arizona.” Responding to that CBS report, an unidentified “senior Trump administration official” who was well-briefed on the DHS report told Reuters that “media reports” on the issue had sometimes “conflated criminal hacking with Russian government activity,” and that the cyberattack on the target in Arizona “was not perpetrated by the Russian government.”

NSA Finds a GRU Election Plot

NSA intelligence analysts claimed in a May 2017 analysis to have documented an effort by Russian military intelligence (GRU) to hack into U.S. electoral institutions. In an intelligence analysis obtained by The Intercept and reported in June 2017, NSA analysts wrote that the GRU had sent a spear-phishing email—one with an attachment designed to look exactly like one from a trusted institution but that contains malware design to get control of the computer—to a vendor of voting machine technology in Florida. The hackers then designed a fake web page that looked like that of the vendor. They sent it to a list of 122 email addresses NSA believed to be local government organizations that probably were “involved in the management of voter registration systems.” The objective of the new spear-phishing campaign, the NSA suggested, was to get control of their computers through malware to carry out the exfiltration of voter-related data.

But the authors of The Intercept story failed to notice crucial details in the NSA report that should have tipped them off that the attribution of the spear-phishing campaign to the GRU was based merely on the analysts’ own judgment—and that their judgment was faulty.

The Intercept article included a color-coded chart from the original NSA report that provides crucial information missing from the text of the NSA analysis itself as well as The Intercept’s account. The chart clearly distinguishes between the elements of the NSA’s account of the alleged Russian scheme that were based on “Confirmed Information” (shown in green) and those that were based on “Analyst Judgment” (shown in yellow). The connection between the “operator” of the spear-phishing campaign the report describes and an unidentified entity confirmed to be under the authority of the GRU is shown as a yellow line, meaning that it is based on “Analyst Judgment” and labeled “probably.”

A major criterion for any attribution of a hacking incident is whether there are strong similarities to previous hacks identified with a specific actor. But the chart concedes that “several characteristics” of the campaign depicted in the report distinguish it from “another major GRU spear-phishing program,” the identity of which has been redacted from the report.

The NSA chart refers to evidence that the same operator also had launched spear-phishing campaigns on other web-based mail applications, including the Russian company “” Those targets suggest that the actors were more likely Russian criminal hackers rather than Russian military intelligence.

Even more damaging to its case, the NSA reports that the same operator who had sent the spear-phishing emails also had sent a test email to the “American Samoa Election Office.” Criminal hackers could have been interested in personal information from the database associated with that office. But the idea that Russian military intelligence was planning to hack the voter rolls in American Samoa, an unincorporated U.S. territory with 56,000 inhabitants who can’t even vote in U.S. presidential elections, is plainly risible.

The Mueller Indictment’s Sleight of Hand

The Mueller indictment of GRU officers released on July 13 appeared at first reading to offer new evidence of Russian government responsibility for the hacking of Illinois and other state voter-related websites. A close analysis of the relevant paragraphs, however, confirms the lack of any real intelligence supporting that claim.

Mueller accused two GRU officers of working with unidentified “co-conspirators” on those hacks. But the only alleged evidence linking the GRU to the operators in the hacking incidents is the claim that a GRU official named Anatoly Kovalev and “co-conspirators” deleted search history related to the preparation for the hack after the FBI issued its alert on the hacking identifying the IP address associated with it in August 2016.

A careful reading of the relevant paragraphs shows that the claim is spurious. The first sentence in Paragraph 71 says that both Kovalev and his “co-conspirators” researched domains used by U.S. state boards of elections and other entities “for website vulnerabilities.” The second says Kovalev and “co-conspirators” had searched for “state political party email addresses, including filtered queries for email addresses listed on state Republican Party websites.”

Mueller: Don’t read the fine print. (The White House/Wikimedia)

Searching for website vulnerabilities would be evidence of intent to hack them, of course, but searching Republican Party websites for email addresses is hardly evidence of any hacking plan. And Paragraph 74 states that Kovalev “deleted his search history”—not the search histories of any “co-conspirator”—thus revealing that there were no joint searches and suggesting that the subject Kovalev had searched was Republican Party emails. So any deletion by Kovalev of his search history after the FBI alert would not be evidence of his involvement in the hacking of the Illinois election board website.

With this rhetorical misdirection unraveled, it becomes clear that the repetition in every paragraph of the section of the phrase “Kovalev and his co-conspirators” was aimed at giving the reader the impression the accusation is based on hard intelligence about possible collusion that doesn’t exist.

The Need for Critical Scrutiny of DHS Cyberattack Claims

The DHS campaign to establish its role as the protector of U.S. electoral institutions is not the only case in which that agency has used a devious means to sow fear of Russian cyberattacks. In December 2016, DHS and the FBI published a long list of IP addresses as indicators of possible Russian cyberattacks. But most of the addresses on the list had no connection with Russian intelligence, as former U.S. government cyber-warfare officer Rob Lee found on close examination.

When someone at the Burlington, Vt., Electric Company spotted one of those IP addresses on one of its computers, the company reported it to DHS. But instead of quietly investigating the address to verify that it was indeed an indicator of Russian intrusion, DHS immediately informed The Washington Post. The result was a sensational story that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. power grid. In fact, the IP address in question was merely Yahoo’s email server, as Rob Lee told me, and the computer had not even been connected to the power grid. The threat to the power grid was a tall tale created by a DHS official, which the Post had to embarrassingly retract.

Since May 2017, DHS, in partnership with the FBI, has begun an even more ambitious campaign to focus public attention on what it says are Russian “targeting” and “intrusions” into “major, high value assets that operate components of our Nation’s critical infrastructure”, including energy, nuclear, water, aviation and critical manufacturing sectors. Any evidence of such an intrusion must be taken seriously by the U.S. government and reported by news media. But in light of the DHS record on alleged threats to election infrastructure and the Burlington power grid, and its well-known ambition to assume leadership over cyber protection, the public interest demands that the news media examine DHS claims about Russian cyber threats far more critically than they have up to now.

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. His latest book is Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.

If you valued this original article, please consider making a donation to Consortium News so we can bring you more stories like this one.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

How the Israel Lobby Operates: Leaked Footage from Censored Film Reveals Guts of U.S. Smear Campaigns

Leak From Censored Israel Lobby Film Exposes Anti-Palestinian Operatives


August 28, 2018

The first leaked excerpt of Al Jazeera’s censored film on the Israel Lobby in the U.S. claims to identify the funder behind the Canary Mission, an anonymous website devoted to smearing and silencing vocal supporters of Palestinian rights.

Asa Winstanley of the Electronic Intifada, which exclusively revealed it.

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Dahr Jamail, Ingmar Lee, Janine Bandcroft August 30, 2018

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook -

August 30, 2018

Today, Canada's Federal Court of Appeals is to release its decision on a First Nations' suit against the National Energy Board's green-lighting of the pipeline formerly known as Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion.

They and their co-litigants argue, not only did the government of Canada fail to fulfill its mandated duty to provide 'meaningful consultation' before allowing a major project affecting First Nations lands and/or the Peoples' ability to pursue their treaty guaranteed way of life, but the project too threatens Pacific Salmon and the endangered Southern Resident Orca.

Listen. Hear.

It's an "important decision" that will be "watched very closely" says Will George, of the (Slay-wah-tuth) Tsleil-Waututh First Nation; but the fact the federal government bought out Kinder Morgan, and the Prime Minister has promised the pipeline will be completed leaves little drama as to which way the Federal Court's decision is likely to go; in case there ever was a doubt.

Dahr Jamail is a Truthout staff reporter and author of the books, 'The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan', 'Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq', and, with William Rivers Pitt, 'The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible'. Dahr's latest article at Truthout is, 'For Native Americans, History Continues to Repeat Itself'.

Dahr Jamail in the first half.

And; it's the Summer of Fire here in BC; just like last year, and the year before, and next year we can expect the same. Because of these fires, my second guest reminds, British Columbia has become a larger emitter of green house gases than our Mordor-like neighbour, Alberta. Think on that a moment.

Ingmar Lee is a long-time, BC-based environment defender. From the Nanaimo watershed and first-growth valley bottoms of Vancouver Island, to Cathedral Grove and the threatened Sandhill Crane nesting grounds of British Columbia’s mid-coast, Ingmar has advocated for and stood between an increasingly fragile ecosystem and big business and its government enablers.

He says, like in Alberta where "thou shalt not criticize, nor recognize the tar sands guest contribution to the global climate change emergency", here in BC the mantra is, "thou shalt not criticize, nor recognize the significant and direct responsibility of voracious industrial logging to rampant, cataclysmic forest fires."

Ingmar Lee and BC: Land of Smoke and Gases in the second half.

And; Victoria-based activist and CFUV Radio broadcaster at-large, Janine Bandcroft will be here at the bottom of the hour with the Left Coast Events Bulletin of some of the good things to be gotten up to in and around our town in the coming week. But first, Dahr Jamail and past as present and prologue for First Nations across Turtle Island.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Thursday between 11-Noon Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at:  He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, Check out the GR blog at:

Monday, August 27, 2018

Defending Damascus: Syria Air Defenses on 'Highest Alert'

BREAKING: Syrian Air Defenses Reportedly on ‘Highest Alert’, Possible Attack on Damascus

by 21wire

August 27, 2018

As we previously reported, a familiar pattern of staging a ‘chemical attack’ that provides the needed pretext for a missile strike on Syria appears to be in motion.

Al Masdar News reports…

BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:30 P.M.) – Syrian air defenses have been placed on highest alert across the country, pro-government reporters claimed this afternoon. These reports seem to have some truth behind them because a source at the Mezzeh Airbase said that they have been ordered to make preparations for a possible attack on Damascus.

The reason for placing the air defenses on the highest alert was not revealed; however, it is believed to be due to the potential threat of a U.S. strike on the capital or its surrounding area.

Earlier this week, the Russian Ministry of Defense accused the U.S. and its allies of making preparations to attack Syria.

The Russian Ministry of Defense said that the rebels in Idlib are preparing to launch a chemical weapons attack and blame it on the government.

They said the U.S. will use this chemical weapons attack to launch strikes against the government.

READ MORE SYRIA NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Syria Files

Fish Lake/Teẑtan Biny Legal Saga Continues

Tŝilhqot’in Nation Stands Strong Despite BC Supreme Court Setback 

by Tsilhqot’in National Government

August 27, 2018

Williams Lake, BC - The Tŝilhqot’in Nation is calling on the BC Government to step up in the wake of the B.C. Supreme Court’s ruling denying the Nation’s legal challenge seeking to overturn a mining exploration permit granted to Taseko Mines Ltd. (TML).

The permit approves an extensive drilling, road building and excavation program by TML that purports to advance its rejected New Prosperity Mine project. The permit authorizes TML to clear 76 kilometres of new or modified road and trail, 122 drill holes, 367 excavated test pits and 20 kilometres of seismic lines near Teẑtan Biny (Fish Lake) and Nabas, an area of cultural and spiritual significance for the Tŝilhqot’in.

The Government of Canada rejected TML’s New Prosperity mine proposal in 2014, and the mine cannot legally be built as matters stand. Two independent federal panels have confirmed the area is of unique and special importance to the Tŝilhqot’in, and this was a large factor in two unprecedented federal rejections of a mine in this location.

The Tŝilhqot’in are mounting a public campaign to call on the BC NDP to do the right thing. In 2017 a petition to the Premier had over 8,000 signatures. There is a new opportunity for the public to pledge their support for the Dasiqox Tribal Park, an initiative of Xeni Gwet’in and Yunesit’in to protect this critical area for future generations. The pledge can be found at

The Tŝilhqot’in Nation is extremely disappointed and concerned that TML now intends to carry out the drilling program as early as this week. The Nation will be reviewing all options to protect this critical cultural area.

The drilling work is in direct violation of the current BC NDP government’s mandate given by Premier Horgan in every Minister’s mandate letter issued in July 2017, the current Federal Government’s commitment to fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) at the UN General Assembly in August 2016, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Calls to Action.


Nits’ilʔin (Chief) Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chairman, Tŝilhqot’in National Government:

“The Tŝilhqot’in Nation will not stand by as Taseko Mines Ltd. moves forward with a drilling program for a mine that was rejected twice by the Federal Government and cannot be built. Drilling and exploration work at Teẑtan Biny stands to destroy centuries of sacred and protected sites that are integral to the preservation of Tŝilhqot’in culture.
We are disappointed that the courts did not see through the smokescreen, this decision isn’t about Prosperity Mine being a good project; it’s about continuing to line the pockets of the shareholders of Taseko Mines. There is more than one way to make money in mining and if there is a tiny glimmer of hope for a project to move forward, such as the possibility of this permit, in the long run it continues to make Taskeo shareholders profit.”
“From our perspective, the permit is like the Liberal party giving a welcoming present of infected small pox blankets to the junior incoming NDP government. The proper steps would be to pull the pin on this permit; the NDP government has the power to do so and should do the honourable thing – something that the former BC Liberal government wouldn’t do. We will be exhausting all options to ensure our cultural, spiritual and sacred lands are protected for the use of current and future generations.”

Nits’ilʔin (Chief) Russell Myers Ross, Vice-Chair, Tŝilhqot’in National Government:

“The BC Government made a commitment to implement the rights of Indigenous Peoples and we are calling on the BC Government to commit to honour those rights, as our Nation aspires to protect Teẑtan Biny.
It is unacceptable that our community has to endure this injustice and the continued trauma of colonization. To transition from conflict, our communities have provided an alternative in the Dasiqox Tribal Park. We no longer want to live with the threat of government and external industries deciding how our land should be managed.”

Nits’ilʔin (Chief) Jimmy Lulua, Xeni Gwet’in First Nations Government:

“The Tŝilhqot’in Nation, and in particular the people of Xeni Gwet’in, have not endured 25 years of Panel hearings and court cases to simply have our Proven Aboriginal rights run roughshod over. BC and TML need our consent; we’re past the stage of consultation.
The drilling program stands to displace our families, threaten our sacred sites, and interrupt our ceremonies and teaching opportunities to our youth. Teẑtan Biny and Nabas are a no go zone for Taseko Mines Ltd. It is about showing respect and demonstrating strong moral values. This is missing here, and BC needs to urgently step up to the plate and show real leadership in such a time of crisis.”

Media Release – August 27, 2018

Media Contact:
Myanna Desaulniers
Communication Manager
Negotiations and External Affaris
Tsilhqot’in National Government

Investigating Journalists: Prying the Facts from the BBC

Skripals – When the BBC Hide the Truth

by Craig Murray

27 Aug, 2018

On 8 July 2018 a lady named Kirsty Eccles asked what, in its enormous ramifications, historians may one day see as the most important Freedom of Information request ever made. The rest of this post requires extremely close and careful reading, and some thought, for you to understand that claim.

Dear British Broadcasting Corporation,

1: Why did BBC Newsnight correspondent Mark Urban keep secret from the licence payers that he had been having meetings with Sergei Skripal only last summer.

2: When did the BBC know this?

3: Please provide me with copies of all correspondence between yourselves and Mark Urban on the subject of Sergei Skripal.

Yours faithfully,

Kirsty Eccles

The ramifications of this little request are enormous as they cut right to the heart of the ramping up of the new Cold War, of the BBC’s propaganda collusion with the security services to that end, and of the concoction of fraudulent evidence in the Steele “dirty dossier”. This also of course casts a strong light on more plausible motives for an attack on the Skripals.

Which is why the BBC point blank refused to answer Kirsty’s request, stating that it was subject to the Freedom of Information exemption for “Journalism”.

10th July 2018
Dear Ms Eccles
Freedom of Information request – RFI20181319
Thank you for your request to the BBC of 8th July 2018, seeking the following information under the
Freedom of Information Act 2000:
1: Why did BBC Newsnight correspondent Mark Urban keep secret from the licence payers that he
had been having meetings with Sergei Skripal only last summer.
2: When did the BBC know this?
3: Please provide me with copies of all correspondence between yourselves and Mark Urban on the
subject of Sergei Skripal.
The information you have requested is excluded from the Act because it is held for the purposes of
‘journalism, art or literature.’ The BBC is therefore not obliged to provide this information to you. Part VI
of Schedule 1 to FOIA provides that information held by the BBC and the other public service broadcasters
is only covered by the Act if it is held for ‘purposes other than those of journalism, art or literature”. The
BBC is not required to supply information held for the purposes of creating the BBC’s output or
information that supports and is closely associated with these creative activities.

The BBC is of course being
entirely tendentious here – “journalism” does not include the deliberate suppression of vital information from the public, particularly in order to facilitate the propagation of fake news on behalf of the security services. That black propaganda is precisely what the BBC is knowingly engaged in, and here trying hard to hide.

I have today attempted to contact Mark Urban at Newsnight by phone, with no success, and sent him this email:


Dear Mark,

As you may know, I am a journalist working in alternative media, a member of the NUJ, as well as a former British Ambassador. I am researching the Skripal case.

I wish to ask you the following questions:

1) When the Skripals were first poisoned, it was the largest news story in the entire World and you were uniquely positioned having held several meetings with Sergei Skripal the previous year. Yet faced with what should have been a massive career break, you withheld that unique information on a major story from the public for four months. Why?
2) You were an officer in the Royal Tank Regiment together with Skripal’s MI6 handler, Pablo Miller, who also lived in Salisbury. Have you maintained friendship with Miller over the years and how often do you communicate?
3) When you met Skripal in Salisbury, was Miller present all or part of the time, or did you meet Miller separately?
4) Was the BBC aware of your meetings with Miller and/or Skripal at the time?
5) When, four months later, you told the world about your meetings with Skripal after the Rowley/Sturgess incident, you said you had met him to research a book. Yet the only forthcoming book by you advertised is on the Skripal attack. What was the subject of your discussions with Skripal?
6) Pablo Miller worked for Orbis Intelligence. Do you know if Miller contributed to the Christopher Steele dossier on Trump/Russia?
7) Did you discuss the Trump dossier with Skripal and/or Miller?
8) Do you know whether Skripal contributed to the Trump dossier?
9) In your Newsnight piece following the Rowley/Sturgess incident, you stated that security service sources had told you that Yulia Skripal’s telephone may have been bugged. Since January 2017, how many security service briefings or discussions have you had on any of the matter above.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Craig Murray

I should very much welcome others also sending emails to Mark Urban to emphasise the public demand for an answer from the BBC to these vital questions. If you have time, write your own email, or if not copy and paste from mine.

To quote that great Scot, John Paul Jones, “We have not yet begun to fight”.

US Marshals Fake News to Destabilize Cuba (and where else?)

US Government Admits It’s Making Fake Social Media Accounts to Spread Propaganda in Cuba

by Ben Norton - TRNN

August 27, 2018

The United States has repeatedly accused the Russian and Iranian governments of using social media to spread “disinformation” and foment chaos. Under US government pressure, Big Tech corporations have banned large numbers of accounts accused (in some cases falsely) of being Russian and Iranian “troll” accounts.

At the same time, however, the US government is doing exactly what it is accusing its enemies of: the US Office of Cuba Broadcasting is secretly creating fake social media accounts to inspire dissent and to spread right-wing pro-US, pro-capitalist propaganda in Cuba.

During the Cold War, the US government tried to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro more than 600 times. At the same time, Washington also waged an information war. For decades, the US has maintained an elaborate propaganda apparatus committed to toppling Cuba’s socialist government.

In its 2019 congressional budget justification report — which was first reported on by the Miami New Times — the US government’s Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) disclosed that it “is establishing on island digital teams to create non-branded local Facebook accounts to disseminate information.”

The US government body noted that these “native pages increase the chances of appearing on Cuban Facebook users newsfeeds.”

And it is not just Facebook where the US government will be creating these accounts.

“The same strategy will be replicated on other preferred social media networks,” the BBG added.

The propaganda office said it “will continue to engage audiences on the internet using Facebook Live and YouTube as distribution channels into Cuba as the Communist regime has been wary of blocking these popular channels.”

Put more directly, the US government is creating fake accounts on Facebook and YouTube inside Cuba and going out of its way to portray these profiles as “local,” to more effectively spread this propaganda among Cubans as if it were somehow organic.

“Working with Cuban independent journalists and encouraging citizens to create user generated content on the island for OCB’s platforms continues to be a top priority,” the US government body continued in its report. 
“As Wi-Fi service has expanded in Cuba and with substantial numbers of Cubans now using Facebook and other social networking sites, OCB’s social media presence has increased.”

Propaganda broadcast to 11 percent of Cubans on a weekly basis

The US Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) presently has 117 employees and an annual budget of $28.1 million. It estimates its audience at 1 million.

The OCB, which is headquartered in Miami, Florida, runs the broadcaster Radio y Televisión Martí, along with the website Martí These outlets publish extremely partisan reports that have a very clear conservative bias, and give large platforms to right-wing leaders in Latin America — not just from Cuba, but also from Venezuela and beyond.

The OCB also holds the annual Cuba Internet Freedom Conference in Miami.

The US government body claims that its propaganda broadcasts “currently reach 11.1% of Cubans on a weekly basis with audio, video, and digital content delivered by radio, satellite TV, online, and on distinctly Cuban digital ‘packages’ (paquetes).”

It also claims that 96 percent of its audience say the US government propaganda “helps them form opinions about current events and most users both share information they get from Martí and would recommend it to others.”

Distributing propaganda on DVDs and flash drives inside Cuba

The US Broadcasting Board of Governors furthermore reveals in its 2019 report that its Office of Cuba Broadcasting distributes propaganda on DVDs and flash drives inside Cuba, for those who do not have internet access.

“To circumvent the blockage of TV Marti signals, OCB is dramatically increasing the distribution of DVD’s and USB drives with Marti content, radically altering its distribution strategy to avoid dealing with bulk amounts of content entrance into the island,” the report noted.
“The content is now downloaded once inside the island, copied on the island and distributed immediately. Previously, the information was downloaded elsewhere and carried onto the island. Much of it was intercepted at the border before reaching its intended audience,” the OCB continued. 
“This optimization of OCB’s content supply chain will increase its availability on the island tenfold at the same cost level.”

A long history of US government propaganda campaigns worldwide

This is far from the first time the US government has been exposed for manipulating social media to spread propaganda. And these US propaganda operations are by no means limited to China.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors noted in its report that its propaganda efforts are targeting audiences “in Russia and its periphery, China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, and Cuba.”

The US government has long used social media to sow discord in Cuba in particular. In 2014, it was revealed that the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the government’s ostensibly “humanitarian” soft-power arm, had created a fake Twitter-like app called ZunZuneo to stir unrest inside Cuba.

In January 2018, the US State Department announced the creation of a Cuba Internet Task Force to try to undermine the socialist government in Havana.

Cuban state media condemned this new institution as an attempt “to subvert Cuba’s internal order.” The Cuban government’s newspaper Granma wrote,

“In the past, Washington has used phrases like ‘working for freedom of expression’ and ‘expanding access to internet in Cuba’ to cover up destabilizing plans.”

And back in 2011, The Guardian likewise revealed that the US government was creating fake “sock puppet” accounts on social media to spread propaganda and manipulate public opinion.

Ben Norton is a producer and reporter for The Real News. His work focuses primarily on U.S. foreign policy, the Middle East, media criticism, and movements for economic and social justice. Ben Norton was previously a staff writer at Salon and AlterNet. You can find him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton.