Category Archives: Whistleblowing

CIA Chief Declares War on Truth

“… the American people deserve a clear explanation of what their Central Intelligence Agency does on their behalf…. we are an organization committed to uncovering the truth and getting it right…. And sure—we also admit to making mistakes…. But it is always our intention—and duty—to get it right. And that is one of the many reasons why we at CIA find the celebration of entities like WikiLeaks to be both perplexing and deeply troubling.”

— CIA Director Mike Pompeo, April 13, 2017

While the snippets above provide a reasonable summary of the substance of Mike Pompeo’s first speech as head of the CIA, they don’t begin to capture the full demagoguery of the CIA head’s rambling 3700-word blather of ad hominem attacks, false claims, hyperbolic rhetoric, irrelevancies, straw man arguments, and political deflections. In other words, Pompeo made it clear that he has little regard for truth, for personal decency, or for the Constitutional protections for free speech or for the free exercise of religion. It was an altogether chilling debut for a spy agency head in a country that still imagines itself enjoying some basic freedoms.

Pompeo started with an anecdotal biography of former CIA agent Philip Agee, without mentioning that Agee resigned from the CIA in 1968 and died in 2008. Nor did Pompeo mention that Agee resigned, despite CIA entreaties to stay, because Agee could no longer countenance the Agency’s support for brutal dictatorships across Latin America. Instead of confronting the substance of Agee’s life and actions, Pompeo reiterated the official CIA demonization of the man who founded the anti-CIA magazine Counterspy and revealed many CIA secrets. As the CIA has done for decades, Pompeo blamed Agee for the assassination of CIA agent Richard Welch in Greece in 1975. Barbara Bush made this same claim in her 1994 memoir. After Agee sued her for libel, the claim was removed from the paperback edition.

As a lawyer who knows he can’t libel the dead, Pompeo is unmitigatedly dishonest in his portrait of Agee, concluding it with: “Meanwhile, Agee propped up his dwindling celebrity with an occasional stunt, including a Playboy interview. He eventually settled down as the privileged guest of an authoritarian regime.” That was a reference to Cuba, where Agee died, but until the very end of his life he also spent time in Germany, his wife’s home country. Pompeo utterly fails to meet his duty to get it right. He comes nowhere near the truth, that Agee’s life represents the struggle faced by a man of conscience when he realizes the agency he works for also commits horrendous crimes, not just mistakes. An honest historian would put this account of a man’s life within the context of the US Senate’s 1975 Church Committee, which documented a number of CIA crimes and led, for awhile at least, to significant CIA reform.

Having framed his talk with a false version of Philip Agee, Pompeo spent the rest of it mixing CIA boilerplate promotional material with his main purpose, attacking WikiLeaks on the basis of a big lie:

WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service. It has encouraged its followers to find jobs at CIA in order to obtain intelligence. It directed Chelsea Manning in her theft of specific secret information. And it overwhelmingly focuses on the United States, while seeking support from anti-democratic countries and organizations. It is time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is – a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.

Pompeo offers no analysis or evidentiary support for these assertions. There is no public evidence that WikiLeaks is anything like an intelligence service in purpose, structure, or functioning. According to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, WikiLeaks has the same mission as the Washington Post or New York Times: “to publish newsworthy content. Consistent with the U.S. Constitution, we publish material that we can confirm to be true irrespective of whether sources came by that truth legally or have the right to release it to the media.” The Times famously did that very thing in 1971 when it released the Pentagon Papers, which affirmed the disastrous dishonesty that produced the Vietnam War.

The record of WikiLeaks is the opposite of most any intelligence service, certainly of the CIA. WikiLeaks is available as a resource for people to publish government secrets. WikiLeaks vets the material it is offered and, so far, has never had to make a retraction. Everything WikiLeaks has offered is true. The CIA lies all the time, although not everything it says is false. What Pompeo says about Chelsea Manning looks like a bald-faced lie. But he needs that lie to undercut the reality that Manning was a soldier with a conscience who objected to US random slaughters of Iraqi civilians, men, women, children, journalists.

Pompeo’s reference to “state actors like Russia” is shamelessly hilarious. The best known WikiLeaks project allegedly involving Russia is the massive release of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails during the 2016 campaign. These were significantly damaging to Hillary Clinton, and Mike Pompeo at the time was saying things like this:

Well, it’s classic Clinton, right? When you find out you got a problem, you deflect, you deny, you create a contretemps where there really is none. Frankly, it’s pretty clear who invited the Russians to do damage to America, and it was Hillary Clinton. She put classified information on a private server, inviting the Chinese, the Iranians, the Russians, all to have access to it. I hope they didn’t get it, but even the former director of the CIA said he thinks they probably did. So, the person who’s put American national security risk isn’t Donald Trump, it’s Hillary Clinton.

So in July 2016, WikiLeaks was innocent, and Russia was irrelevant? Can you say find the truth and get it right? Can you say serial hypocrite? Or can you say, along with candidate Trump last October, “This just came out. Wikileaks. I love WikiLeaks”?

At the time of Pompeo’s speech, mainstream media paid more attention to the so-called “mother of all bombs” dropped on Afghanistan than they did to this much more powerful political bombshell dropped on the US. Recently some mainstream media have been taking another look, as in this headline from Newsweek: “CIA CHIEF POMPEO TAKES AIM AT THE FREE PRESS.”

What can and should CIA, the United States, and our allies do about the unprecedented challenge posed by these hostile non-state intelligence agencies?… First, it is high time we called out those who grant a platform to these leakers and so-called transparency activists…. We know the danger that Assange and his not-so-merry band of brothers pose to democracies around the world. Ignorance or misplaced idealism is no longer an acceptable excuse for lionizing these demons.

Once again the high hilarity of the deceitful surfaces in Pompeo’s calling Assange a threat to democracy. If that is in any sense true, then Mike Pompeo owes his CIA job to the success of Assange’s “threat.” The real threat is to those who “grant a platform” to WikiLeaks, and those would be all American media for starters. But the scarier part is that Pompeo is not only comfortable demonizing people like Agee or Assange, he literally calls them “demons,” and this is not standard political talk, this is fundamentalism Christian visualizing the devil’s work. When some of the highest officials in the US government are busy chasing “demons,” then US Constitutional government is at serious risk.

Mike Pompeo, 53, the present director of the Central Intelligence Agency, is a West Point trained military veteran, a Harvard trained lawyer, and a self-expressed, profound “Christian” bigot and hypocrite. He has no experience in intelligence. The radical former Tea Party congressman from Kansas was confirmed for his CIA role by a 66-32 Senate vote despite his lengthy, fact-free obsession with the Benghazi attack of 2012, or his avid denial of climate change, or his ardent support for keeping Guantanamo and other torture prisons open (he has called torturers “patriots”). He has advocated covert surveillance to collect “all metadata” on Americans, a program that is currently illegal. Pompeo not only magnifies the threat of terrorists like ISIS, he views that threat through a religious lens and apparently believes in the Manichaean formulation that there is currently “a conflict between the Christian west and the Islamic east.”

After his April 13 address, Pompeo took questions, one of which was about President Trump’s relationship with the CIA and the other 16 agencies in the intelligence community. The question apparently referred to such things as President Trump’s tweets earlier this year, blaming leaks on “the intelligence community (NSA and FBI?). Just like Russia” and later saying “Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?” The supposedly “fake news” had exposed multiple Russian contacts with Trump campaign agents as early as 2015, revelations that led directly to the resignation of Trump’s national security advisor Gen. Michael Flynn. The question of Russian involvement in electing President Trump remains unresolved.

Despite this context, Pompeo answered the question about the president’s relations with the intelligence community simply: “It’s fantastic.”

The audience laughed. Pompeo added: “Don’t laugh, I mean that.”

Good to know that the head of Central Intelligence believes in fantasy. Reassuring to know that the CIA head wants to “make sure that we know that Jesus Christ our savior is truly the only solution for our world.”

A nation formed by the ideas of the Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is now at least partly in the hands of a Christian Taliban.

Prosecution of Assange is Persecution of Free Speech

US authorities are reported to have prepared charges to seek the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. This overreach of US government toward a publisher, whose principle is aligned with the U.S. Constitution, is another sign of a crumbling façade of democracy. The Justice Department in the Obama administration could not prosecute WikiLeaks for publishing documents pertaining to the US government, because they struggled to determine whether the First Amendment protection applied in this case. Now, the torch of Obama’s war on whistleblowers seems to have been passed on to Trump, who had shown disdain toward free speech and even called the U.S. media as “enemies of the people”.

Earlier this month, CIA Director Mike Pompeo vowed to end WikiLeaks, accusing the whistleblowing site as being a “non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia”. He also once called Edward Snowden a traitor and claimed that he should be executed. This declaration of war against WikiLeaks may bring a reminiscence of George W. Bush’s speech in the aftermath of 9-11, where he said, ‘either you are with us or against us’, and urged the nation to side with the government in his call to fight global ‘war on terror’.

In a recent interview on DemocracyNow!, journalist at The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald put this persecution of WikiLeaks in the context of a government assault on basic freedom. He spelled out their tactics, noting how the government first chooses a target group that is hated and lacks popular support, for they know attacking an idea or a group that is popular would meet resistance. He explained:

…. they pick somebody who they know is hated in society or who expresses an idea that most people find repellent, and they try and abridge freedom of speech in that case, so that most people will let their hatred for the person being targeted override the principle involved, and they will sanction or at least acquiesce to the attack on freedom because they hate the person being attacked.

Demonizing and scapegoating of a particular group or organization is an alarming tendency toward an authoritarian state. At a news conference last Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions also chimed in to emphasize how Assange’s arrest is a priority. This targeting of WikiLeaks is a threat to press freedom and could be seen a slippery slope toward fascism.

History Repeats Itself

Recall the Weimer Republic just before the rise of Adolf Hitler. He was successfully able to install hatred in the minds of Germans and carry out massive crimes against humanity. Americans often wondered what made many ordinary Germans accept these horrendous acts that led to the holocaust. Now, in Trump’s America, it is not so far a stretch to say that Muslims, Mexicans and other immigrants are becoming like the new Jews, to be scapegoated under this right wing administration.

Once he gained power, Hitler made his word to be above the law. Trump, in his first 75 days in office, turned the rhetoric of hatred into action through passing executive order barring refuges and citizens from seven majority Muslim nations from entering into the United States and enacting mass deportation with the ICE agents acting like Nazi Gestapo to track immigrants. Draconian policies that were more under the radar during the Obama administration are now becoming overt. More and more, Americans might now be able to get under the skin of those ‘Good Germans’.

In Hitler’s Germany, persecution of Jews didn’t happen overnight. It was a gradual escalation. The first thing Hitler did was to control media and create an arm of propaganda. By using this weapon of mass deception, the Nazi Regime garnered popular support on a platform of racial identity and nationalism and managed to brainwash citizens with the Nazi-Auschwitz ideology of anti-Semitism. Under the guise of fighting communism, the Party suppressed civil liberties, free speech and association and expanded its power by demonizing whoever stood in their way.

Identity Politics and Machination of Power

The Trump campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” spoke to middle class America and disfranchised populations who were fed up with corporate plunder enacted under Democrats. His message of putting America first also struck a chord with white nationalists. By channeling their frustration and desires, Trump successfully created a fertile soil to harvest identity politics that is now coming to resemble Nazi’s emphasis of nationalism and racial supremacy.

No one can deny how the Trump victory empowered white supremacist groups that until now were more on the fringe. These identity politics that seem to be spreading around the world tend to contract one’s heart. Whatever the ideology is, progressive or conservative, anyone gripped with it falls into a narrow vision of humanity and loses perspective. This identity, fixed by ideology, becomes a point of manipulation, to be exploited by those in power and used to divide everyone into ‘Us vs. Them’.

When people lose capacity for dialogue, they become deaf to their own humanity. Then, the state can easily exert control over the masses and seize power through manufacturing wars of all against all. We are now seeing a new civil war unfolding in America. The city of Berkeley is becoming a battleground. In February, riots erupted on the UC Berkeley campus when protesters shut down an event scheduled for right wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos. Also, at the recent free speech rally on Patriot Day, Trump supporters, along with members of far-right nationalists clashed with local activists and anti-fascist groups. Ironically, the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement in the 60’s turned into a bloody fight, devolving into violence, with each camp acting totally contrary to the principles of free speech.

Height of McCarthy Era Hysteria

This attack against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks is not something new. Consorted efforts to delegitimatize the organization through character assassination and smearing of Assange have been persistent, ever since the site came to public prominence. Assange was called a high tech terrorist by former vice President Joe Biden and incitement for his murder came from high US officials.

Assange has been holed up in asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy for 5 years, despite a UN ruling clearly stating his detention is unlawful. This is not the first time he and his organization were declared to be enemies of the State. In 2012, the US military had designated them as such enemies.

So what is different now? The head of the CIA and the Department of Justice’s declaration of war against WikiLeaks comes in a particular political climate. These efforts to arrest Assange, now backed by President Trump are taking place at the height of a kind of McCarthy era style hysteria.

Just like the recent US government cruise missile attacks on Syria, carried out without any investigation or evidence that Assad was the one using chemical weapons, the echo-chamber of the liberal media has been amplifying their own speculation of WikiLeaks alleged source of DNC leaks and Podesta emails. With the narrative that Russia meddled in the US election, they branded Assange as a Putin sympathizer and/or Russian agent without backing it up. The Left’s seeming irrational obsession with Russia is also rooted in these identity politics, namely their allegiance to the Democratic Party and America’s post-cold war national identity, defined by a hysteric red scare and its mission of defeating communism.

Whistleblowers as Democracy’s Last Line of Defense

In the wake of the possible arrest of Assange, the ACLU noted that, “prosecuting Wikileaks would set a dangerous precedent that the Trump administration would surely use to target other news organizations.” We must never forget where hatred-driven identity politics led Nazi Germany. Martin Niemöller, the famous Protestant pastor who spoke against the rise of Hitler and spent years in concentration camps, reminds us of this:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out –Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out –Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out –Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.

Fascism begins in the mind. Its seed grows whenever we accept hatred toward someone who has different or opposing views. Enclosure happens when we suspend critical thinking in the hype of fear and turn the other into an enemy. It happens every time we close our hearts, shunning those who have been made into our enemies. Democracy dies whenever we choose to pick up the sword of ideology, rather than choosing to uphold our common humanity and instead engage in a self-righteous crusade of defeating the enemy.

When Trump signed a Muslim ban into law, outrage spread nationwide and people rallied at airports. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit refused to reinstate Trump’s travel ban and so the solidarity of the people won. As Trump pressured to cut funds in sanctuary cities, these cities defied the order, assuring to maintain their immigrant policy. Now, the US government is coming after WikiLeaks, a transnational journalistic organization, who has no allegiance to any nation, governments or corporations, only to the conscience of ordinary people around the world.

In the darkness that hovers in the veil of ideology, whistleblowers shine a light through which we are able to recover perspectives that were lost. WikiLeaks, through their act of publishing, lets everyone see views that are forbidden, marginalized or shunned. They are last line of defense and are on the front line in this battle for democracy. One may dislike WikiLeaks and disagree with Assange, but whatever one’s opinion is, we all need to stand up against this erosion of our civil liberties. Prosecution of WikiLeaks is persecution of free speech. Setting this precedent moves us down a dangerous path.

• First published in Common Dreams

WikiLeaks Vault 7 Reveals CIA Cyberwar and the Battleground of Democracy

WikiLeaks dropped a bombshell on the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Code-named “Vault 7”, the whistleblowing site began releasing the largest publication of confidential documents that have come from the top secret security network at the Cyber Intelligence Center. Long before the Edward Snowden revelations, Julian Assange noted how “The Internet, our greatest tool of emancipation, has been transformed into the most dangerous facilitator of totalitarianism we have ever seen.” He decried the militarization of the Internet with the penetration by the intelligence agencies like NSA and GCHQ, which created “a military occupation of civilian space”. Now, WikiLeaks’ latest disclosures shed further light on this cyber-warfare, exposing the role of the CIA.

At a recent press conference from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Assange explained how the CIA developed its own cyber-weapons arsenal and lost it after storing it all in one place. What is alarming is that the CIA became aware of this loss and didn’t warn the public about it. As a result, this pervasive technology that was designed to hide all traces, can now be used by cyber-mafias, foreign agents, hackers and by anyone for malicious purposes.

Part one of this WikiLeaks publication dubbed “Year Zero”, revealed the CIA’s global hacking force from 2013 to 2016. The thousands of documents released contain visceral revelations of the CIA’s own version of an NSA. With an ability to hack any Android or iPhone, as well as Samsung TVs and even cars, they spy on citizens, bypassing encrypted messaging apps like Signal and Telegram. The Vault 7 leaks that exposed the CIA’s excessive power is of great importance from a point of view of security for individual privacy. But it has larger significance tied to the mission of WikiLeaks.

Opening Government into the Deep State

Describing itself on its site as “a multi-national media organization and associated library”, WikiLeaks aims to open governments in order to bring justice. In the speech at the SWSX conference in Texas, delivered via Skype in 2014, Assange described the particular environment that spawned the culture of disclosure this organization helped to create. He noted how “we were living in some fictitious representation of what we thought was the world” and that the “true history of the world” is “all obscured by some kind of fog”. This founder and editor-in-chief of innovative journalism explained how disclosures made through their publications break this fog. The magnitude of this Vault 7 cache, which some say may be bigger than the Snowden revelations, perhaps lies in its effect of clearing the fog to let people around the world see the ground upon which the narratives of true history are written.

Since coming online in 2007, WikiLeaks has published more than 10 million documents. Each groundbreaking disclosure got us closer to where the real power of the world resides. In 2010, WikiLeaks rose to prominence with the publication of the Collateral Murder video. With the release of documents concerning U.S. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they hit on the nerves of the Pentagon —the central nervous system of the Military Industrial Complex. With the release of the U.S. Diplomatic Cables, they angered the State Department and came head to head with this global superpower.

Last year, this unprecedented publisher with its perfect record of document authentication, began to blow the cover off American democracy a step further to clear the fog. WikiLeaks played an important role in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. The DNC leaks disrupted the prescribed script of corporate sponsored lesser of two evils charade politics. The publication of the Podesta emails that revealed internal workings of the Clinton campaign, gave the American people an opportunity to learn in real time about the function of the electoral arena as a mechanism of control.

With the demise of the Democratic Party, led by its own internal corruption, the cracks in this façade widened, unveiling the existence of a government within a government. People are beginning to glimpse those who seek to control behind the scenes – anonymous unelected actors who exercise enduring power in Washington by manipulating public perception. This unraveling that has been slowly unfolding, appeared to have reached a peak last month when Trump’s former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn resigned. He was forced to do this on the grounds that leaked classified information revealed he was lying about his phone conversation discussing sanctions with the Russian Ambassador.

WikiLeaks has now entered its 10th year. The momentum continues, bringing us to a new pinnacle of disclosure. At the end of last year, in anticipation of this new release, WikiLeaks tweeted, “If you thought 2016 was a big WikiLeaks year, 2017 will blow you away.” During the dramatic takedown of General Flynn, the media created a frenzy around unconfirmed claims that Russia was meddling with the U.S. election and Putin’s alleged ties with Trump, creating another fog of obfuscation. It was in this climate that WikiLeaks published documents showing CIA espionage in the last French presidential election.

History Awakening

The idea of a shadow government has been the focus of political activists, while it has also been a subject of ridicule as conspiracy theories. Now, WikiLeaks’ pristine documents provide irrefutable evidence about this hidden sector of society. The term ‘deep state’ that is referenced in the mainstream media, first hit the major airwaves in 2014, in Bill Moyers’ interview with Mike Lofgren. This former congressional staff member discussed his essay titled “Anatomy of the Deep State” and explained it as the congruence of power emerging as a “hybrid of corporate America and national security state”.

We are now watching a deep state sword-fight against the elected Caesar of American plutocracy in this gladiator ring, surrounded by the cheers of liberal intelligentsia, who are maddened with McCarthy era hysteria. As the Republic is falling with its crumbling infrastructure and anemic debt economy, far away from the coliseum, crazed with the out-of-tune national anthem, the silent pulse of hope begins to whisper. WikiLeaks unlocked the vaults that had swallowed the stolen past. As the doors open into this hidden America, history awakens with dripping blood that runs deep inside the castle. As part of the release of this encrypted treasure-trove of documents, WikiLeaks posted on Twitter the following passphrase; “SplinterItIntoAThousandPiecesAndScatterItIntoTheWinds.”

These were actually words spoken by President John F. Kennedy, a month before his assassination. His exact words were “I will splinter the CIA into a thousands pieces and scatter it into the wind” – which shows his attitude toward the CIA as an arm of the deep state and what many believe to be the real reason for his assassination.

The secret stream of history continues, taking control over every aspect of civil life and infecting the heart of democracy. The U.S. has long since lost its way. We have been living in a fictitious representation of the flag and the White House. It is not judicial boundaries drawn by the Constitution or even the enlightenment ideals that once inspired the founders of this country that now guide the course of our lives. Tyranny of the old world casts its shadow, binding Congress, the Supreme Court and the President into a rule of oligarchy. CIA documents revealed that the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt was used as a covert hacking base, while CIA officers work under the cover of the State Department to penetrate with these intelligence operations. The Wall Street Journal now reports that President Trump has given the CIA expanded authority to carry out drone attacks, which was power that prior to that had only been given to the Pentagon.

Decisions that radically alter the direction of our society are not made in a fair democratic election, a public hearing or the senate floor. They are made in the FISA Court and secret grand juries, bypassing judicial warrants and democratic accountability. This hidden network of power that exists above the law entangles legislators, judges and the press into a web of deception through dirty money and corrupt influence. It controls perception of the past, present and future.

The Internet Generation

As the deep state comes to the surface, we are able to see the real battle on the horizon. What is revealed here is a clash of values and two radically different visions of a future civilization. In his response to the Vault 7 publication, Michael Hayden, the former CIA director, was quick to lay blame on the millennials. He said, “This group of millennials and related groups simply have different understandings of the words loyalty, secrecy and transparency than certainly my generation did”. To him, these young people are the problem, as if their different cultural approach and instincts must be tempered and indoctrinated into this hierarchical system, so they know who their masters are.

Who are these people that are treated as a plague on society? This is the Internet generation, immersed with the culture of the free-net, freedom of speech and association. They believe in privacy for individuals, while demanding transparency for those in power. Peter Ludlow, a philosopher who writes under the pseudonym Urizenus Sklar, shared his observation of a cultural shift that happened in 2011. He noted that WikiLeaks had become a catalyst for an underground subculture of hackers that burst into the mainstream as a vital political force. Assange recognized this development in recent years as a “politicization of the youth connected to Internet” and acknowledged it as “the most significant thing that happened in the world since the 1960s”.

This new generation ran into the deep state and those who confront it are met with intense hostility. Despite his promise of becoming the most transparent government, Obama engaged in unprecedented persecution of whistleblowers. Now this dark legacy seems to be continuing with the present administration. Vice president Mike Pence vowed to “use the full force of the law” to hunt down those who released the Intelligence Agency’s secret material.

As these conflicts heat up, resistance continues in the Internet that has now become a battleground. Despite crackdowns on truthtellers, these whistleblowers won’t go away. From Manning to Snowden, people inside institutions who have come to see subversion of government toward insidious control and want change, have shown extraordinary courage. According to a statement given to WikiLeaks, the source behind the CIA documents is following the steps of these predecessors. They want this information to be publicly debated and for people to understand the fact that the CIA created its own NSA without any oversight. The CIA claims its mission is to “aggressively collect foreign intelligence overseas to protect America from terrorists, hostile nation states and other adversaries”. With these documents that have now been brought back to the historical archive, the public can examine whether this agency has itself lost control and whose interests they truly serve.

The Future of Civilization

As the world’s first stateless 4th estate, WikiLeaks has opened up new territory where people can touch the ground of uncensored reality and claim creative power to participate in the history that is happening. In a press conference on Periscope, Assange made reference to a statement by the President of Microsoft, who called for the creation of a digital Geneva Convention to provide protection against nation-states and cyber-attacks. He then affirmed WikiLeaks’s role as a neutral digital Switzerland for people all over the world.

WikiLeaks is taking the first step toward this vision. After they carefully redacted the actual codes of CIA hacking tools, anonymised names and email addresses that were targeted, they announced that they will work with tech companies by giving them some exclusive access to the material. Assange explained that this could help them understand vulnerabilities and produce security fixes, to create a possible antidote to the CIA’s breach of security and offer countermeasures. WikiLeaks tweeted notifying the public that they now have contacted Apple, Microsoft, Google, Mozilla and MicroTik to help protect users against CIA malware.

The Internet unleashed the beast that grows its force in the dark. Unaccounted power is dragging global society down into an Orwellian dystopia. Yet, from this same Internet, a new force is arising. Courage of the common people is breaking through the firewall of secrecy, creating a fortress that becomes ever more resilient, as the network of people around the world fighting for freedom expands. When democracy dies in darkness, it can be reborn in the light of transparency. The deep state stretches across borders, sucking people into an abyss of totalitarian control. At the same time, the epic publication of Vault 7 that has just begun, reminds us that the greatness in each of us can awaken to take back the power of emancipation and participate in this battle for democracy, the outcome of which could not only determine the future of the Internet, but of our civilization.

• First published in Antiwar.com

Leaks Can be for Good or Evil

Hacking and “leaking” have become major news items. Are the leaks good or bad?  The answer depends on the nature of the leak. Are the leaks exposing crimes or covering them up? Are they for or against the public good?

Following are some famous leaks or disclosures that have done good.

Beginning in 1969, Daniel Ellsberg started xeroxing the Vietnam war analysis known as the Pentagon Papers. Two years later the secret documents were finally ready and published for the first time. This disclosure of classified information allowed the public to learn about the reality of what was going on in Vietnam in contrast to the rosy government and military assessments. It was revealed that four U.S. administrations starting with Truman had misled the public and lied about their real intentions and military actions from undermining the 1954 Geneva settlement to secretly bombing Cambodia. The Pentagon Papers led many more Americans to oppose the war and hastened its end.

In 1975 former CIA agent Philip Agee published his book Inside the Company: CIA Diary. Patrick Breslin of the Washington Post described the book this way: “In this book Agee has provided the most complete description yet of what the CIA does abroad. In entry after numbing entry, U.S. foreign policy in Latin America is pictured as a web of deceit, hypocrisy and corruption.” Agee identified corrupt politicians plus American and foreign CIA operatives throughout Latin America. His expose greatly reduced CIA powers of influence and probably saved many thousands of lives.

In 1984 former CIA Director of the Angola Task Force, John Stockwell, published his book In Search of Enemies.  He documented how the CIA had trained, armed and otherwise funded a ‘rebel’ group to wage war in Angola ultimately leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths. Stockwell described how the CIA spread disinformation as part of the ‘information war’. Stockwell’s expose made it more difficult for the CIA to continue this kind of deceit, at least for some years.

In 2010 Chelsea Manning leaked files revealing more war crimes and government deception. He copied the Afghanistan and Iraq war logs as well as video, then passed on these files to Wikileaks.  One of the videos, named Collateral Murder, shows US soldiers in an Apache helicopter attacking and killing two Reuters cameramen along with ten other civilians in Iraq. Manning went to prison while the soldiers who carried out the murder have never been tried let alone convicted. The war logs and videos confirmed what many had suspected: in its war against Iraqi insurgents, the US was indiscriminately killing civilians.

Edward Snowden is perhaps the most well known modern “leaker”.  He copied files from the NSA computer system onto flash drives then made that public. The files confirmed that NSA was spying on foreign leaders including allies like Germany’s Angela Merkel. They showed how the NSA was collecting data on the computer and phone communications of nearly all American citizens. The revelations exposed that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had lied under oath to Congress when he testified before Congress two months earlier. The leaks by Snowden exposed NSA violations of the US Constitution regarding right to privacy. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said that Snowden performed a “public service”.

Finally, in July 2016, emails from the Democratic National Committee were leaked to the public. They revealed that DNC leadership was deeply biased in favor of Hillary Clinton, providing her with advantages and preventing a fair primary election race. The emails substantiated the criticisms which the Sanders campaign had been making for some time.

From a progressive perspective, all the above “leaks” and disclosures were good. They exposed lies, crimes and corruption.

But leaks can also be used for evil purposes. One example is how the CIA agent Valerie Plame was “outed” in 2003. Her identity as a clandestine CIA officer was leaked to Robert Novak who published the information in the Washington Post. The disclosure came from Scooter Libby who worked closely with Vice President Dick Cheney. Plame’s career at the CIA was publicly exposed to punish her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, after he went to Central Africa and disproved the Bush Administration’s claims about yellow cake uranium going to Iraq to make weapons of mass destruction. The administration leaked the information about Wilson’s wife to retaliate and send a warning to others: If you cross us, you will pay a price. In this case the “leak” came from the Vice President’s office with the intention of stopping those who might expose the Administration’s lies to justify the war on Iraq.

In the past 8 months, leaks of the DNC and John Podesta emails have been used to foster an anti-Russia hysteria. Despite the fact that Wikileaks claims they did not receive the emails from Russian sources, the Democratic leadership and their acolytes have amplified this accusation to the point that it has become one of their main themes. This has served multiple goals: deflecting attention from the content of the leaks, blaming the subsequent election loss on a foreign power and reinforcing the neoconservative goal of demonizing Russia and blocking attempts to de-escalate the Cold War or give up on U.S. unilateral supremacy.

Currently there are many leaks occurring in the Trump administration.  The leaks appear to be coming from the Security Services themselves.  President Trump’s private phone conversations with other foreign leaders quickly became public. Then, a December phone conversation between incoming National Security Director Mike Flynn and the Russian ambassador was revealed …though not the actual content. This led to a storm of insinuations that ultimately led to Flynn’s resignation.  There is nothing unusual or wrong with an incoming top official meeting with the ambassador from any country to gauge the relationship and challenges. But it led to Flynn’s departure when it was revealed that he had not accurately informed the Vice President. What is going on? It’s unclear what the offense was. James Clapper lied under oath to Congress and continued without pause. The Flynn case was treated very differently.  Some believe there is a concerted effort by the CIA and other security services to undermine Trump’s goal of reducing tensions with Russia.

Former candidate for President and Ohio Congressman Denis Kucinich has said:

General Flynn has admitted misleading the Vice President but I think we need to look at this a little bit deeper. A phone call from the incoming national security director was intercepted and the contents given to the media …. at the core of this is an effort by some in the intelligence community to upend a positive relationship between the U.S. and Russia…. There are people trying to separate the U.S. and Russia so that the military industrial and intelligence axis can cash in…. The American people need to know that there’s a game going on inside the intelligence community there are those who …want to reignite the cold war. That’s what’s at the bottom of all this …Wake Up America!

Trump’s policies on education, health care, environmental protection, immigration and law enforcement are horrible from a progressive perspective.  But Trump campaigned for stopping the “regime change” foreign policy championed by neoconservatives and the CIA. He called for reducing conflict with Russia and working together to combat terrorists trying to overthrow Syrian government. This policy in favor of peace is apparently being undermined from within by elements in the secret services. They seem to be the ones doing the leaking and it’s not for the public good.