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TBR News September 28, 2017

Sep 28 2017

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C., September 28, 2017: “The Internet has proven to be the greatest source of information since lunatic Christians burnt down the library of Alexandria. Anything being sought, be it an address or an in-depth analysis of Dead Sea scrolls, is there and is the main reason that the famous Encyclopedia Britannica has gone out of business.

At the same time, because it is open to one and all, the Internet is also a breeding ground for a legion of strange persons with a frantic desire to air their pet theses, themselves and their friends.

We see earnest discussions about the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy, the Sinister Truth about Hurricane Katrina, Tesla Death Rays used to bring down the buildings of the WTC, balanced with other information proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that Russian bombers were used.

We also discover the evil plottings of the Illuminiati, a group that has been long gone, or that the Rothschild banking house had taken over the whole world. And from one source, now long  vanished, we discover that Houston was destroyed by a nuclear bomb set off by Jewish radicals or that the Fukishima disaster was really caused by an Israeli submarine, using German-made nuclear torpedoes! And at the moment, we are entertained by the frantic official, and semi-official, attempts to prove that the Russians managed to defeat Hillary in the last election. Of course the fact that the private emails some currently unknown entity released are all true but truth has nothing to do with desired perception.

Yes, the Internet can entertain as well as inform.

But the fact that the Internet has many independent news sites means the diminution of the print media and the television news stations. Since these are the propaganda control for the oligarchy, there is great distress in board rooms and from them to the halls of Congress. They would like to shut off the Internet so that the stupid, and tax-paying public can only see what they are supposed to and not what might be the truth.

Obama and Cass Sunstein tried to shut down anyone who dared to interfere with the Internet machinery that they could not control, but they were not successful. Even a furious Hillary and her machinery can’t do it and if they continue to try, there will be very serious public reactions indeed.”



Table of Contents

  • German military leaves Turkey’s Incirlik airbase
  • Fake news writer who duped Trump campaign officials found dead
  • Propaganda and the Catalonia Referendum
  • More than 92% of voters in Iraqi Kurdistan back independence
  • Whores in print
  • ‘Neither a Plan A or a Plan B’: What Strategy is London Pursuing with Brexit Talks?
  • How to Use Signal Without Giving Out Your Phone Number

 German military leaves Turkey’s Incirlik airbase

Germany’s military has finished its withdrawal from Turkey’s airbase Incirlik, prompted by Ankara’s refusal to allow visits by German parliamentarians. Bundeswehr planes will instead be based in Jordan.

September 28, 2017


Germany’s transfer of reconnaissance and refueling aircraft from Incirlik to Jordan’s al-Asrak airbase had been an unprecedented, mammoth task, German contingent commander Stefan Kleinheyer said Wednesday.

Germany’s parliament, which ultimately decides on deployments, voted overwhelmingly in June to leave Incirlik amid a multifaceted dispute with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over his post-coup crackdown.

The Bundeswehr relocated a set of Tornado reconnaissance jets, a German refueling aircraft, logistical equipment and 260 personnel to Jordan. The troops are involved in oversight of the US-led aerial campaign against “Islamic State” (IS) militia in adjacent Syria.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said the unit was being redeployed to a Jordanian air base used by numerous NATO partners

In early September, seven German parliamentarians visited NATO’s Konya airbase in central Turkey under a compromise access arrangement via the military alliance.

Temporary compromise

At the time, Germany’s Foreign Ministry said that visit was only a temporary compromise, adding that Berlin would endeavor to arrange politically “smoother” parliamentary oversight in Turkey in the future.

As a “parliamentary army,” the Bundeswehr requires a vote of approval from Bundestag lawmakers for each foreign deployment and a parliamentary committee regularly evaluates Germany missions abroad.

Diplomatic low-point

Since July 2016, when a Turkish renegade army faction attempted a coup, Erdogan’s administration has detained more than 50,000 people, including journalists and rights campaigners with German links.

Turkish military officers who sought asylum in Germany were deemed by Erdogan to have been among plotters of the failed coup.

Amid high German-Turkish tension, several German municipalities barred rallies by pro-Erdogan politicians.


Fake news writer who duped Trump campaign officials found dead

Paul Horner, a prolific purveyor of fake news whose articles went viral during the 2016 presidential election, was found dead in his home outside of Phoenix, Arizona, last week. He was 38.

by David Martin


Prolific fake news writer Paul Horner is suspected to have died from an accidental prescription pill overdose, authorities in Phoenix, Arizona, revealed on Wednesday.

Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Mark Casey said that a coroner’s report showed no signs of foul play, although he revealed that Horner had a history of prescription drug abuse and that “evidence at the scene suggested this could be an accidental overdose

However, the case would remain open until the results from toxicology tests were known, Casey said.

Horner was discovered by authorities lifeless in his bed on September 18. His brother, JJ, posted on Facebook that he had died in his sleep.

‘Internet hoaxes’

Horner was known for writing fake news — or, as he often labelled them, “internet hoaxes” — that went viral on social media during last year’s US presidential election. One of his fake reports was even shared by officials on President Donald Trump’s campaign team last year.

His most widely shared fictional news story reported that anti-Trump protestors were being paid thousands of dollars to protest outside of the Republican candidate’s rallies. That story was shared thousands times across social media, including by two of Trump’s campaign managers, Corey Lewandowski and Kellyanne Conway, as well as his son Eric.

Horner said in an interview with the Washington Post newspaper that he thought he was largely responsible for Trump’s election victory. However, he repeatedly stated that he was not a supporter of Trump or the Republican Party, and that his articles were for comedy purposes. He would even lambast those who believed and shared his stories with serious intention.

JJ said that his brother had always considered his work to be satire, and that his propensity to think up hoaxes and point out hypocrisy from a young age translated into writing viral articles on the internet.

JJ Horner said: “I think that was a lot of the genius behind a lot of his work was pushing ideas that either people wanted to believe or thought was possible.”


Propaganda and the Catalonia Referendum

El Pais says I’m a Russian agent

September 28, 2017

by Justin Raimondo


The laziness of journalists is legendary. Especially these days, when the line between journalist and propagandist has been blurred, the many ways in which these scribblers take shortcuts and otherwise seek to make their jobs less strenuous have been greatly increased. While outright plagiarism used to be the favored method, with the advance of technology this has become much easier to detect, and so the self-indulgent scribe has moved on to other, less obvious shortcuts. The substitution of opinion for the reporting of facts is one way to fill up a page, and, in tandem with this, the adoption of a formula is now a mainstay of “mainstream” journalism. This is unashamedly borrowed from those writers of pure fiction who labor in the fields of various sub-literate genres – say, pornography – and must churn out large quantities of product in order to pay the rent. Saddled with a limited imagination, and pressed for time, these third-and –fourth-rate wordsmiths have only to latch on to the time-honored scripts which have been created by their more inventive predecessors: with the plot-lines mapped out in advance, all they have to do is fill in the blanks (background, character names) and – voila! – the job is done.

In our degenerated era, the rules for fiction and nonfiction are the same: one simply has to follow the formula. In its “journalistic” incarnation, the formulaic model has flourished in the era of the new cold war: one simply has to attribute any and all political phenomena that challenge the status quo to the supposedly all-pervasive and semi-omnipotent influence of the Russians.

As one of my Twitter followers put it: “How did they ever lose the cold war?”

From Brexit to the victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, everything the Establishment disapproves of is credited to – or, rather, blamed on – the Kremlin, and specifically the Machiavellian figure of Vladimir Putin, whose demonic genius bestrides the world. Add to this the advance of technology, and the “Putin did it” formula is ready to be deployed by the Powers That Be and their journalistic camarilla.

A classic example of the genre is a recent piece by one David Alandete, the managing editor of Spain’s “liberal” nationalist daily, El Pais, who writes:

“The network of fake-news producers that Russia has employed to weaken the United States and the European Union is now operating at full speed on Catalonia, according to detailed analyses of pro-Kremlin websites and social media profiles by this newspaper.

“After undercover campaigns in favor of Brexit and the leader of the French right-wing party National Front, Marine Le Pen, as well as the far-right in Germany, the Kremlin is using the Catalan crisis as a way to deepen divisions within Europe and consolidate its international influence. It appears in the form of websites that publish hoax stories, the activity of activists such as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and a legion of bots – millions of automated social media accounts that can turn lies into trending topics.”

Here is the “Putin-did-it” formula in its chemically pure form. Since there is no real substance in this kind of “reportage,” it’s all about style: the promiscuous use of words and phrases such as “hoax stories” (what stories?) and “lies” (which ones?). Making arbitrary assertions, uttered as if they’re uncontroversial facts, is the essence of this methodology. There is not the slightest effort to prove the premise behind the author’s contention that independence for Catalonia would “weaken the United States and the European Union.” How? What has this got to do with the United States? We are never told. The Catalans have indicated that they would enter the EU (indeed, their economic security would depend on it) – and so why would their independent status “weaken” the Union? Alandete doesn’t bother to ask, let alone answer, these questions.

Instead, the clichés gather like moths around a flame, whirling and fluttering in a veritable cloud of obfuscation. We are told that “it is no coincidence” that the Russian government web site, RT – which has a minuscule readership both in Spain and the US – “has published 42 articles on the crisis in Catalonia with inaccurate headlines such as ‘The European Union will respect the independence of Catalonia but it will have to pass through an adhesion process.’”

While I am not a regular reader of RT, and would not vouch for its reporting in every instance, in this case they are merely echoing mainstream Western media outlets. EU President Jean Claude Juncker has stated that the EU would “respect” the outcome of a “yes” vote in the Catalan referendum, but that the newly independent region would have to apply for EU membership just like any other aspiring member. While Juncker subsequently backtracked a bit by saying the referendum would have to be approved by the Spanish legislature, this hardly validates Alandete’s contention that the Catalan independence movement represents a threat to the EU’s cohesion: indeed, quite the opposite is the case. But then again, accuracy is not Alandete’s concern.

Taking his cues from his American handlers, Alandete has quite the hard-on for Julian Assange, who is described as an agent of the Kremlin as well as “the principal international agitator in the Catalan crisis,” whose agitation has caused pro-Catalan sentiment to “go viral.” We are treated to a tedious account of Assange’s many tweets promoting the Catalan cause, alongside the contention that a good many of Assange’s followers aren’t real people at all but merely Russian-controlled “bots”:

“Messages on social media usually go viral over the course of several days because the act of sharing a message depends on the decision of followers in several countries. But in the case of the tweet from Assange, as with many of his messages on the social media platform, it received 2,000 retweets in an hour and obtained its maximum reach – 12,000 retweets, in less than a day. The fact that the tweet went viral so quickly is evidence of the intervention of bots, or false social media profiles, programmed simply to automatically echo certain messages.”

So where’s the evidence of his bot-heavy following? Well, it looks like some web site called “Twitter Audit” that purports to detect bots claims that more than half of Assange’s followers are “fake” – i.e. bots, presumably personally controlled by Putin. Yet the same site claimed half of Donald Trump’s followers are bots, an assertion debunked by actual Internet experts.  As Philip Bump pointed out in the Washington Post: “That evaluation is both less rigorous than the one used by the researchers in the USC study – and a lot more variable. As of [this] writing, Trump’s Twitter following is estimated to be only 30 percent fake. That’s a lower percentage than, say, @barackobama – or The Washington Post.”

In short, Alandete’s “evidence” that Assange’s pro-Catalonia tweets are being popularized by Russian-controlled “bots” is pure b.s. The founder and voice of WikiLeaks is surely well-known enough to not require such assistance: but in the conspiracist world of Señor Alandete, acknowledging such obvious facts is impermissible. Everything is a Russian plot.

Edward Snowden, another pro-Catalonia tweeter, is another target of Alandete’s obsession with Russian conspiracies. We are told that Snowden “collaborates on a regular basis with Russia’s secret services,” a factoid that can doubtless be verified by Louise Mensch.  And I am also part of this Russian cabal:

“One of Assange’s tweets to have the greatest impact in the last seven days (2,200 retweets and 2,000 likes) included a screenshot and a link to article by a firm ally of the Russian view in the United States – Justin Raimondo, director of the website AntiWar, and an anti-globalization activist who has supported Trump. The article – headlined ‘In Catalonia: A Spanish Tiananmen Square?’ – compared the protests in Barcelona with the Chinese repression in 1989, which lead to the death of hundreds, if not thousands, of people.”

Yes, like myself, those Russians are notorious libertarians – why, I wouldn’t be surprised if, on the morrow, they erected a statue of Murray Rothbard next to Lenin’s tomb! As for being an “anti-globalization activist,” I’m pretty sure that requires dreadlocks, and more than a few tattoos, neither of which comports with my aesthetic model. As for my attitude toward Trump, it can best be described as anti-anti-Trump, but subtlety is apparently beyond Alandete’s purview – nuance and propaganda go together like pickles and ice cream – and so we’ll let that one go.

In any case, this litany of inaccuracies is followed by a quote from my piece, in which I point out the likelihood of the Spanish state using violence to suppress the Catalans – a prediction which, it seems, is already coming to pass even as I write. And while there is no telling what the scale of the violence will be, certainly the smallest incident has the potential to spiral into an outright insurrection. Fourteen Catalan officials have been arrested by the Spanish police, so far, for organizing the referendum: thousands of Spanish soldiers have poured into Catalonia, and they aren’t going there to direct traffic. Ballots have been seized: Internet sites have been closed down. The offices of newspapers and printers involved in the referendum have been raided.

And so the question is raised; what will happen on October 1, the date of the referendum? Is it really out of the question that we’ll see a Catalan Tiananmen Square? Of course it isn’t: indeed, it’s quite likely. Which is why Alandete doesn’t contest what I’ve written: he merely quotes me. And if my prediction comes true, you can bet Alandete will be among the first to justify the murderous actions of the neo-Francoist Spanish state.

Ah, but now we stumble on the dirty little secret of propagandist hacks, whose laziness is a qualification rather than a detriment to their jobs. Alandete writes:

“The definitive proof that those who mobilize the army of pro-Russian bots have chosen to focus on the Catalan independence movement can be seen in the fact that Catalonia has begun to appear in the list of regular topics on social media alongside Syria, Russia, Ukraine, Trump, Hillary Clinton and the so-called Islamic State (ISIS).

“This is reflected by the results of the Hamilton 68 tool developed by the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a project of the German Marshall Fund created in the wake of Russian meddling in the US elections. This tool permanently monitors 600 pro-Kremlin accounts, both real and false. In 48 hours from Wednesday to Friday last week, one of the most-used hashtags employed by these profiles was #Catalonia, behind others including #HerpesHillary and #Trump.

“According to this tool, one of the media outlets most widely shared by these pro-Russian profiles was Antiwar, home to the opinion article comparing Barcelona and Tiananmen.”

“The definitive proof”! Oh, there it is, as revealed by the Alliance for Securing Democracy – an alliance of warmongering neoconservatives, embittered Hillaryites, and a gaggle of European governments with separatist movements on their own soil to contend with.

To begin with, the “Hamilton68 tool” is an elaborate joke: they purport to measure “Russian influence” on the Internet, specifically on social media like Twitter, but refuse to reveal the 600 Twitter accounts they monitor. Not that they have anything to hide, mind you. May we presume that Assange, Snowden, and myself are included among the Seditious 600? Here again we see the utility of the propagandist style, which substitutes assertions for solid facts. One has only to look at the Hamilton “dashboard” to note that these alleged Russian agents are tweeting what the rest of the Twitterverse is tweeting about: the stories that dominate whatever news cycle we’re in.

The pretense of “science” is an essential part of the propaganda: The use of words like “tool,” and the conceit of precision implied by the measurement of arbitrary markers like hashtags, which are often merely topical, is supposed to give the arbitrary pronouncements of hacks like Alandete the gloss of objectivity. Yet to anyone with even a modicum of a critical faculty, this “dashboard” is laughable: right now it’s telling me that the Russians are pushing Trump’s criticism of the NFL knee-benders – because, after all, Putin wants to encourage American patriotism even as he plots to destroy the country.

Why bother with reporting reality when you can go to the “Hamilton68” “dashboard” and get prefabricated “facts” to fit your prejudices? It’s easy, convenient, and practically effortless. Who needs reality when you can invent your own? And that, my dear readers, is the definition of propaganda.

President Trump’s joint press conference with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, in which he called the cause of Catalan independence “foolish,” is being hailed by the Castilian supremacists as an “unambiguous” declaration of support for a unitary Spain, in the words of Radio Free Europe. However, close observers of Trumpisms will note that, while hailing Spain as a “great country,” and opining that “I’m just for a united Spain, I really think the people of Catalonia would stay with Spain, I think it would be foolish not to,” he did not come out against the holding of referendum. Indeed, he said the independence movement would lose if such were held:

“‘I think the people of Catalonia have been talking about this for a long time.’ Trump said. ‘I’m just for a united Spain,’ he said, adding that if accurate polling were done in the region ‘you’d find out people of Catalonia love their country, they love Spain.’”

Here, I think, Trump is talking to Rajoy, who is standing next to him, as much as to the rest of us. He’s telling him to relax, and maybe don’t call in the tanks on October 1. Can’t you just hear him? “Let them vote – you’re a sure winner! By Christmas you’ll be so sick of winning that you’ll say: ‘Trump, please make it stop!’”

Yeah, just like Luther Strange. So far as I know, Trump has yet to tweet about Catalonia, which means it’s not official, so I’m not sure how seriously to take his remarks. Be that as it may, of one thing we can be sure: if the Catalans do break free, Trump will be hailing Catalonia as “great” and embracing Catalan President Carles Puigdemont just like he’s embracing Roy Moore.

It’s slightly hilarious that Trump, supposedly the biggest Kremlin Tool of them all, is coming out on the other side of the barricades from his Russian puppetmasters. I’m not sure how the “Hamilton dashboard” is going to integrate this counterintuitive development into their “scientific” calculations, but I’m sure the combined genius of Bill Kristol, the Three Mikes (McFaul, Morell, and Rogers), and Jake Sullivan will come up with something.



More than 92% of voters in Iraqi Kurdistan back independence

Referendum results in overwhelming endorsement of split from Baghdad, after troops are sent into disputed areas

September 27, 2017

by Martin Chulov

The Guardian

More than 92% of voters in Iraqi Kurdistan have opted for independence, according to election monitors, in an overwhelming endorsement of a proposed split from Baghdad that has sparked increasing threats of air and land blockades that could be imposed as early as Friday.

The result came after Iraq’s parliament authorised the prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, to send troops into areas disputed between Arabs and Kurds that were contentiously included in the ballot.

Euphoria on the streets of Erbil in recent days has been met with sharply increasing tension in the region, which is likely to escalate in the wake of the result.

Baghdad has threatened to close Kurdish airspace at 6pm (1500 GMT) on Friday and Turkey says it is considering whether to shut its frontier with Kurdistan and impose a trade ban.

But in an attempt to calm ever more heated rhetoric, Abadi appeared to rule out the use of military force, saying on Wednesday: “We don’t want a fight between Iraqi citizens.”

Masoud Barzani, the de facto president of the region’s Kurds, had hoped to use strong support for the poll as political leverage that could eventually help negotiate independence from Iraq. His moves have been met with increasing hostility, raising the prospect of isolation and blockade.

Some Iraqi leaders have warned of military action, particularly over the fate of Kirkuk, and the national parliament approved the use of force as part of a 13-point resolution condemning the referendum.

Peshmerga fighters took control of the Kirkuk oilfields in 2014, when the Iraqi army fled in the wake of Islamic State’s advance on the city. Kirkuk is home to Kurds, Turkmens and Arabs. The latter appeared to boycott the ballot, while Kurds turned out in large numbers.

Iran has threatened to use Iraqi militias, with whom it has strong influence, to wrest back control of the city, which is essential to Kurdistan’s fragile economy. As revenue sharing and oil deals have collapsed over the past four years, the Kurdish north has completed construction of a pipeline to Turkey, which has helped the Kurds export oil using its Mediterranean port.

Trade between Erbil and Ankara is thought to be close to £7.5bn a year, meaning Turkey would face a significant financial blow if it chose to close its borders. Officials in Erbil believe the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, will pull back from his threats, but are less sure about the next moves in their standoff with Baghdad and Tehran.

Nationalistic fervour has been widespread in Erbil since Monday’s referendum, which large numbers of Kurds have hailed as a landmark moment in a centuries-old push for self-determination. Barzani has insisted the poll does not trigger immediate moves towards sovereignty. Rather, he says, it lays the groundwork for further discussions with Baghdad.

In the absence of a mechanism to advance independence, critics of the referendum say it is little more than an opinion poll, which could only be leveraged into statehood through broad international involvement.

With the exception of Russia and Israel, all regional states and most international allies and foes opposed the referendum, fearing it would destabilise an already volatile area.

The US and Britain, which strongly opposed the referendum and have since described it as “deeply disappointing”, have softened their rhetoric and have tried to broker a deal between Erbil and Baghdad. Washington has challenged the air blockade, which has led to many international carriers suspending flights to Erbil.

The Kurds are the region’s fourth largest ethnic group and have never obtained a nation state. The carve-up of the Middle East after the fall of the Ottoman empire left substantial Kurdish populations in what is now Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran, as well as a large diaspora abroad. Moves towards sovereignty have long been opposed by all four states, who fear knock-on effects within their Kurdish communities and potential threats to their borders.



From the FAS Project on Government Secrecy

Volume 2017, Issue No. 68

September 28, 2017


In an unusual assertion of congressional authority over national security classification policy, the Senate adopted a provision that would require the Secretary of Defense to declassify certain classified documents regarding military exposures to toxic releases.

The provision was authored by Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and was included in the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 18 (HR 2810, sect. 1089), which was passed in the Senate on September 18.

The measure directs that “The Secretary of Defense shall declassify documents related to any known incident in which not fewer than 100 members of the Armed Forces were exposed to a toxic substance that resulted in at least one case of a disability.”

Though limited in scope and application, the provision is noteworthy because it does not simply declare a “sense of Congress” in favor of declassification or call for a “review” of classified records. It actually requires declassification to be performed.

The Moran legislation, co-sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), does allow for the possibility of exemption of some material from declassification, but only if it would “materially and immediately threaten the security of the United States.”

That is a far more stringent standard than is provided by the executive order on classification, which vaguely permits withholding of information whenever it “could be expected to cause damage to the national security.”

In effect, the Senate bill overrides the executive order with respect to the specified documents on toxic exposures by mandating declassification with new, narrower criteria for withholding.

This is not the first time that Congress has enacted such a legislative override of classification policy. It did so, most notably, in the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992. Some other attempts to legislate a new standard for declassification were initiated but did not advance into law, as in the case of the Human Rights Information Act.

Though rare, successful legislative action of this kind demonstrates that Congress can be an effective participant in determining the scope and performance of the classification system. More than that, Congress has the power to help to correct errors and abuses in classification policy.

This is one of those cases where congressional intervention was necessary, according to Sen. Moran.

“Without declassification of these documents, many of our veterans are left without proof of the exposure they suffered, preventing them from being able to establish their service-connected conditions and secure a disability rating that makes them eligible to receive the care and benefits they deserve to help them cope with the residual health damage,” his office said in a news release.


For those who like to receive their government policy information and analysis in audio format (I don’t), the Congressional Research Service has launched a new series of podcasts.

The first ones, produced by the CRS Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division, are a little rusty, as if the CRS analysts were reading from prepared texts rather than engaging in live conversation. But the effort seems like a worthwhile experiment in outreach– even if it was only intended for a restricted congressional audience:

Human Trafficking

An Overview of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

Investment Provisions in U.S. Trade Agreements


Whores in print

September 28, 2017

by Christian Jürs

In 1996, the San Jose, California, Mercury-News published material alleging that elements of the CIA knowingly permitted and encouraged the sale of narcotics by Latino drug dealers to essentially black, inner city residents. The strong implication contained in this report is that the wave of dangerous, disruptive and fatal drug sales and use in the black communities stemmed, in large part, from CIA instigation, and an attempt on their part to finance the Contras of Nicaragua who were then engaged in guerrilla warfare with the Marxist Sandinistas. The CIA has long and often been accused of utilizing monies from the transportation and sale of illegal drugs, in the main heroin and cocaine, to fund many of its operations for which they were unable to obtain official Congressional monetary support.

In the case of the Mercury-News coverage, the resultant uproar from the outraged black communities brought responses from the CIA that were both predictable and instructional.

The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, long known as friendly resources for official Washington, rushed into print with rebukes of both the San Jose newspaper’s stories, editors and its reporter—a theme eagerly seized upon by other such media outlets. There is an old adage that “Once a newspaperman, always a whore.” This is an erroneous and insulting statement. Whores perform their acts solely for money and nothing else. A slut, on the other hand, conducts her sexual rampages merely because it feels good. In the interest of accuracy and in defense of the character of whores, it might be better said that with few exceptions, the media are sluts ready to work for free for the US intelligence community.

John Deutsch, embattled Director of the CIA, made a public relations trip to Los Angeles where he spoke at an open meeting of the black community. He was booed and insulted by them, disbelieving his pious denials and promises of a “thorough investigation” into the allegations.

A predictable Congressional hearing into the issue was regaled by testimony from former Contra leaders who denied any of the published allegations. Again, their testimony was greeted with vocal outbursts from the audience who claimed that the business was being officially covered up, not unlike the previous hearings on the massacre at Waco, which were full of official sound and fury, signifying nothing.

The statements contained in this chapter concerning the known use by the US intelligence community of identified war criminals are based solidly on fact and record. This will certainly not prevent those in government service, both official and unofficial, from following a parallel course to the countering of the Mercury-News coverage.

For some years it has been said that a controversial issue does not gain credibility in the eyes of the public until it has been officially denied in Washington. To this official denial must be added confirming attacks by the media, the official public relations outlet for the government.

No one believes them either.


‘Neither a Plan A or a Plan B’: What Strategy is London Pursuing with Brexit Talks?

For weeks, the Brits and the Europeans have been talking at cross purposes in the Brexit negotiations. Prime Minister Theresa May gave a major speech in Florence last week, but the mistrust is still deep.

September 28, 2017

by Peter Müller and Jörg Schindler


There’s a building in downtown London, adjacent to the prime minister’s office, which scoffers call the “Ministry of Magic.” It’s one of the most well-protected buildings in Britain, and very few people are given access. The person in charge at this building is a white-haired man with a high opinion of himself and a consistently smug smile. His job is to restore the country to its former greatness.David Davis moved into the newly established Ministry for Exiting the European Union a little over 14 months ago. To decorate his new residence on Downing Street, he ordered a map of Europe from the 18th century, the period when Britain was still a global power. He also chose illustrations from the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. One line of the famous poem reads: “Alone, alone, all, all alone / Alone on a wide wide sea! / And never a saint took pity on / My soul in agony.”

The Berlaymont building, one of the most massive structures in Europe, is located on Rue Archimède in downtown Brussels. The 240,000-square-meter complex houses thousands of officials with the EU executive, the European Commission, including a man who also has a high opinion of himself, but has been looking somewhat anxious lately. His job is to hold together a group of 27 nations.

About a year ago, Michel Barnier got appointed as the European Commission’s chief negotiator for exit talks with the United Kingdom. In Brussels, he has come to be known as the man with the tables. In his past position as European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, his aim was to use as few tables as possible. He believed that the greener the documents, the more he had achieved. He uses the green pen more rarely nowadays.

All Key Issues Unresolved

David Davis is 68, and Michel Barnier is 66. One could say that the hopes of an entire Continent and of an island off its coast are resting on the shoulders of these two men. But it can’t be said that they have fulfilled these hopes. The chief negotiators have met in Brussels three times, and in each case all key issues concerning Brexit remained unresolved, most notably the exit bill for Britain.

The British are behaving as if they had all the time in the world. And yet the opposite is true. Brexit is set to become reality in March 2019. Until then, EU projects on issues running the gamut from cod fishing quotas to nuclear waste, projects that have taken decades to develop, will have to be dismantled and reassembled to reflect that the British will no longer be part of them. Thousands of laws and guidelines must be revised or rewritten. Every paragraph has the potential to cost banks, companies and service providers vast sums of money. Every bullet point could upend the lives of the more than 3 million EU citizens living in Britain and the 1.2 million Brits residing elsewhere in the EU, changing the everyday lives of students, migrant workers and retirees.

Missed Opportunities

And those EU citizens are becoming increasingly impatient in demanding at least a rough timetable, so that they can make the necessary preparations. But the negotiators have been wrangling each other with bland niceties for months now. Last Friday, British Prime Minister Theresa May traveled to Florence to appear in a church, where she proclaimed her faith in an amicable solution. She called for more time and vaguely promised more money — a gesture of generosity, in her view. But from the European Union’s standpoint, it was just another missed opportunity.

There is little to suggest that European leaders will acknowledge, at the EU summit in mid-October that the British have made “adequate progress,” the prerequisite for talks on future relations to move forward. Each passing week is making a situation more likely that both sides allegedly want to avoid: a cold break.

If there is a clever strategy behind all this, then no one has comprehended it yet. It is more likely that David Davis and Michel Barnier have made no progress because they are puppets in a play in which, particularly on the British side, too many smug and fanatical people are pulling the strings.

Davis’ political career had already more or less ended when May appointed him as her Brexit enforcer in July 2016. He developed a reputation in the 1990s as an EU-skeptical minister of state for Europe, and he was only briefly acquainted with Barnier at the time. An extreme sports enthusiast, Davis appeared to be a reasonable choice for the job, at least until he misled May into making the most disastrous mistake of her time in office. It is alleged to have been the Brexit minister who convinced his prime minister in the spring to call for new elections. His expectation was that a landslide victory for May would flush away the opposition in parliament, silence the country’s Brexit opponents and give the government an extremely strong mandate for negotiations.

But he was mistaken.

In fact, May not only lost her absolute majority in June, but also any authority to gain the support of the country, or at least her party, for its most important future task. Since then, it seems, almost every member of the government has felt entitled to disseminate half-baked Brexit ideas to the people. Depending on one’s interpretation, the Conservatives want to pay Brussels zero, 20 billion euros ($24 billion) or 40 billion euros. Some government officials claim that little will change for EU citizens working in the United Kingdom, while others say that everything will change. Some say that there will be extensive concessions, and others insist there will be none.

‘Constructive Ambiguity’

May has allowed all this to happen because she is equally susceptible to blackmail from pro-EU and anti-EU members of her own party. When Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, her fiercest rival, wrote an article recently without consulting May, in which he idealized a hard break with Europe as a “glorious” Brexit, she did not remove him from his position. Instead, she merely said wearily: “Boris is Boris.” The fact that this administration has not imploded yet is solely the result of a unifying fear of the new Labour Party superstar, Jeremy Corbyn. A socialist heading the government? The mere thought triggers survival instincts among Conservatives.

If Davis is troubled by the mess the British have created for themselves, he doesn’t show it. It also doesn’t seem to trouble him that four senior officials have already left his ministry. He appears to be free of self-doubt, and even fellow party members say he is the only person they know who can strut while sitting down. Davis has summarily elevated the squabbling in Westminster to the level of “constructive ambiguity,” and claims the negotiations are going splendidly. So splendidly, apparently, that he sometimes leaves the office early.

“He is not a man for details,” says a long-standing associate.

Davis describes the 14 policy papers his ministry has published since mid-August, which outline future relations with the EU in everything from trade to exchanging data, as “creative and inventive” proposals.

An Attempt to Buy Time

On closer inspection, however, the policy papers all seem to rely on the same contradictory spirit. In almost magical fashion, they assume that everything will simultaneously change and remain the way it is today. A border between Northern Ireland and Ireland? Well, yes, but it would be an invisible one. Abolish the customs union? Of course, but replace it with a model that “mirrors” this customs union. The impression in Brussels is that the British want out of the EU, and yet somehow they want to stay in.

With the policy papers, Davis is trying to strike a balance among all opposing interests in Britain, says James Chapman, his former chief of staff. “They are intended for the homefront.” The truth, though, is that they are unable to paper over one fact: “There is neither a Plan A nor a Plan B.”

Even Theresa May was unable to erase this image with her  speech in the Basilica Santa Maria Novella in Florence. She did adopt a conciliatory tone, indicating that London would continue to live up to its financial obligations during a two-year “implementation period.” But what exactly does this mean? No details have been provided. Instead, it merely underscores her previous threat that “no deal is better than a bad deal.” Ultimately, the trip to Italy was little more than an attempt to buy time.

Serving Many Masters

On Friday afternoon, less than two hours after May’s speech, Michel Barnier sat in a white leather armchair in his spotless office. There’s a picture on the wall that Barnier has had since he was 14. It shows former French President Charles de Gaulle and former German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer shaking hands in front of the Élysée Palace in Paris.

Barnier’s telephone rang constantly Friday afternoon. Experts from European capitals and members of the European Parliament wanted to hear his assessment of May’s speech. “We will now have to see how the British concretely translate these messages, some of which were positive, into the upcoming negotiations,” he said diplomatically. “I need details.” May called for creativity in clarifying future relations. But it prompted Barnier to shake his head. “There is no creativity when it comes to the single market. We will not weaken the single market.”

In contrast to Davis, the tall Frenchman is viewed by many Europeans as the embodiment of reason. And Barnier, calm, thoughtful and impeccably dressed, knows just how to cultivate that image. He has held several cabinet posts in France and was a member of the European Commission, and he knew Angela Merkel at the time when both were the environment ministers of their respective countries. He operates on a level playing field with top politicians, but he also serves many masters.

The 27 European heads of state and government have tied him into a tight corset for the Brexit negotiations. For the time being, Barnier is only permitted to talk about three issues: the future rights of EU citizens in the UK, the amount of the exit bill and the border problem between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. His task force is required to report to the delegations of the 27 EU countries each week. Meanwhile, Barnier’s deputy, vigorous German trade expert Sabine Weyand, maintains contact with the other side of the street, the European Council, the powerful body representing the leaders of the EU member states.

This tedious process is frustrating to the British, but it builds trust in the rest of the EU. This is presumably one of the reasons why Britain’s hope that it could divide the EU has, at least so far, failed to materialize. Shortly after taking office, Brexit Secretary Davis apparently instructed his staff to create databases on the economic situation in the 27 other EU countries. His goal was to uncover weak points, so that he could sow discord and unrest in the EU. But the plan failed. One of the current ironies is that, from the British perspective, the chaos erupted on the wrong side of the English Channel.

Surprising Unity

In contrast, the EU countries on the mainland remain surprisingly united behind chief negotiator Barnier. This is because, to the chagrin of the British, a Brussels certainty has been suspended. For once, it isn’t possible to sow discord among the remaining EU countries in an area where there has always been trouble: the issue of money.

When it comes to Brexit, neither donor nor recipient countries in the EU want to give anything to the British. This is an unusual alliance. Countries that are net payers into the EU budget, like Germany and the Netherlands, fear that they will have to fill the hole left behind by the British in the budget.

On the other hand, countries that benefit particularly from agriculture assistance or subsidies for underdeveloped regions fear that the donor countries will not fill the budget gap. This is why they are insisting that the British pay their debt down to the last cent. “No member state should have to pay more because of Brexit,” says Barnier.

He takes great pains to maintain unity. He meets with the Irish foreign minister in Luxembourg and pays his respects to Italy’s prime minister. He knows how concerned the Polish government is about the many Polish nationals living in London. And he is familiar with Dublin’s fears that Brexit could pulverize the laborious Irish peace process.

Disentangling Decadeslong Relations

Barnier and his task force are meticulously planning the disentanglement of decadeslong relations with the British. In Barnier’s view, when the negotiations are this complex, there is no point in waiting until the last minute to resolve all the contentious issues.

The British, on the other hand, are approaching the talks the way they usually approach negotiations in Brussels, such as those surrounding the euro bailout programs for Greece: Nothing is decided until everything has been decided. All major issues remain unresolved until the leaders come together for one long night of negotiations. Many in London are now betting on Chancellor Merkel. They’re hoping that she will finally exercise her authority now that the German election is over, but this too could be another grandiose miscalculation.

So, even though both sides are negotiating, they are talking at cross purposes. It’s as if one side were playing cricket and the other soccer. This isn’t an approach conducive to achieving results, especially not on the critical question of how high the exit bill will end up being for the British.

The EU’s demands have been on the table for months. They range from 60-100 billion euros and also include future pension payments for British EU officials. During the last round of negotiations, the British showed their astonished EU counterparts a presentation with 23 charts. After three hours of discussion, it was clear that the British see no reason at all to continue paying anything after Brexit. To lighten the mood, Davis patronizingly referred to “moral obligations.”

Hardly able to contain his rage, Barnier held a press conference. He said the British were trying to squeeze out of their obligations relating to long-term loans for Ukraine, development aid for Africa and funding for a green infrastructure until 2020. Davis, for his part, said that the talks had gone relatively well.

It isn’t as if there were no movement at all. The talks on civil rights have at least thrived to the extent that Barnier’s task force has consulted with the EU member states on how to continue negotiations. A key issue is whether EU citizens in Britain will be able to depend on their rights in the future, and sue to defend them before the European Court of Justice. The Europeans had hoped that May would provide such a guarantee in Florence, but she did not, probably because there is little that Brexit hardliners back at home detest more than the court.

Constant Provocations

There is certainly latitude within the negotiations, officials in Brussels say. But May must constantly anticipate a revolt by enemies of the EU within her party. In fact, all it would take is four dozen votes in the British parliament to push through a vote of no confidence against her, and lists to this effect are already making the rounds. The EU negotiators are undecided over how solid compromises can be achieved under these circumstances.

Conversely, the British are also wondering whether the Europeans truly even want an agreement. They find the constant provocations from Jean-Claude Juncker difficult to stomach. For months, the European Commission president has vituperated against Britain, made fun of Davis and the English language and as such has made himself an ally of nationalist hardliners.

“Juncker isn’t helping us,” says Nicky Morgan, a pro-EU member of the British parliament with the Conservatives. “The Europeans need to be careful not to overdo it, or the mood will tip once and for all.”

At the moment, both sides are heading for the most extreme form of Brexit: A breakup with no deal at all.

“I believe the Conservatives are prepared to do that,” says political scientist Matthew Goodwin of the University of Kent. This is even understandable, from their perspective, because a soft Brexit would mean that Britain would have to continue abiding by EU rules without the right to participate in any decision-making in Brussels. This would be tantamount to treason for EU haters, with their exaggerated sense of patriotism. Right-wing populist Nigel Farage, one of the driving forces behind Brexit, has threatened to “return to the front” if that happens.

The other alternative, hard Brexit, would have a devastating impact on the British economy. “But we haven’t been talking about rational decisions here in a long time,” says Goodwin. “For the Tories, Brexit is far more important than economic data. It’s a matter of national consciousness.”

Given the circumstances, the European Commission is also beginning to address the question it has preferred to ignore until now, and not just because of the headlines: What happens if it goes wrong? The entire process threatens to come apart over the money issue, in particular, according to an internal document for the German parliament. It reads: “This issue still threatens to bring down the negotiations.”

Instructions have already been issued internally to prepare for a scenario of failure. The member states were asked to designate contacts to make preparations for a Brexit without an agreement.

“Brexit,” says a senior EU diplomat, “does not follow an economic, but rather a political logic.”

That is, if logic is even the right word anymore.


How to Use Signal Without Giving Out Your Phone Number

September 28 2017

by Micah Lee

The Intercept

Just a few years ago, sending encrypted messages was a challenge. Just to get started, you had to spend hours following along with jargon-filled tutorials, or be lucky enough to find a nerd friend to teach you. The few that survived this process quickly hit a second barrier: They could only encrypt with others who had already jumped through the same hoops. So even after someone finally set up encrypted email, they couldn’t use it with most of the people they wanted to send encrypted emails to.

The situation is much better today. A number of popular apps have come along that make encryption as easy as texting. Among the most secure is Signal, open-source software for iOS and Android that has caught on among activists, journalists, and others who do sensitive work. And probably the most popular is WhatsApp, a Facebook-owned platform with encryption setup derived from Signal. For me, the spread of encrypted chat apps means that, with very few exceptions, all of my text messages — with friends, family, or for work — are end-to-end encrypted, and no one even has to understand what a “public key” is.

But there is a major issue with both Signal and WhatsApp: Your account is tied to your phone number.

This makes these apps really easy to use, since there are no usernames or passwords to deal with. It also makes it easy to discover other app users; if someone is a contact in your phone and has the app installed, you can send them encrypted texts with no further effort.

But it also means that if you want people to be able to send you messages securely, you need to hand out your phone number. This puts people who interact with the public in an awkward bind: Is the ability for strangers to contact you securely worth publishing your private phone number?

In this article I explain how to create a second Signal number that is safe to publish on your Twitter bio and business cards, so strangers have an easy way to contact you securely, while your primary phone number remains private. I explain how to obtain a second phone number, how to register it with the Signal server, and how to configure it to use Signal Desktop — even if you’re already using Signal Desktop with your private phone number. I will focus on Signal rather than WhatsApp for reasons I’ll explain further down (basically, WhatsApp appears to block non-cellular phone numbers that make all this possible with Signal).

Why Wouldn’t You Want to Publish Your Phone Number?

When you give out your phone number, you risk opening yourself up to abuse. As freedom of expression activist Jillian York wrote on her personal blog, “As a woman, handing out my phone number to a stranger creates a moderate risk: What if he calls me in the middle of the night? What if he harasses me over SMS? What if I have to change my number to get away from him?”

If you’re a public figure, and especially if you’re a women or person of color, you’re probably used to sexist or racist jerks yelling slurs and threats at you on Twitter, Facebook, and in the comments section under the articles you write. Publishing your private phone number could make this problem worse and could make these people harder to mute.

It could also open up your online accounts to attack. Last year, someone hacked racial justice activist DeRay Mckesson’s Twitter and email accounts by taking over his phone number. The hacker called Verizon and, impersonating Mckesson, asked to change the SIM card associated with his phone number to a new one that they controlled, so they could receive SMS messages sent to his phone number.

Having a unique public number just for Signal could mitigate this sort of attack; it’s harder for a hacker to hijack the number that’s tied to your Twitter and email accounts if they don’t know it in the first place.

(If an attacker takes control of your phone number, like they did with Mckesson, they could also take over your Signal account. If someone did this to your friend, you’d see a “safety number changed” warning in Signal — the same message you see when a friend gets a new phone. If you ignore this warning and text them anyway, you’ll actually be texting the attacker. You can verify safety numbers to confirm that your Signal app is encrypting messages to your friend’s phone, and not to some attacker’s phone.)

How to Obtain a Second Phone Number

When you open the Signal app for the first time and type in your phone number, here’s what happens:

  • The Signal service tries sending an SMS message with a verification code to your phone number. If you can receive that message or the app can receive it directly, and the message contains the correct code, then the app successfully registers the account.
  • If you can’t receive the verification message, Signal gives you the option to try a voice call instead. In this case, the Signal service tries calling your phone number. When you answer, a robot voice tells you a verification code, and you can type it into the app. If you type the correct code, the app registers the account.

The initial step of verifying a phone number is the only step in which the phone network is involved. After this, Signal uses the internet for everything. Your phone number is only used as a way to identify your Signal account (basically, it’s your username), and your phone company doesn’t have access to any information about anything that goes on in Signal.

This means that, as long as you have access to a phone number where you can answer voice calls, like a landline or a VoIP number, you can use that phone number with Signal. (This isn’t true for all services. WhatsApp seems to only allow you to register using phone numbers distributed by cellphone carriers — but I’ve heard mixed reports, so it doesn’t hurt to try.)

In order to proceed, you need to obtain a second phone number that you’re OK with publishing. This can be:

  • The desk phone at your office.
  • A free Google Voice phone number, if you live in the United States (this is what I do).
  • Any phone number from any online calling service, like Skype.
  • A cheap pre-paid SIM card for a few dollars a month (and temporarily put it on your phone to register your second Signal number).
  • Twilio, a cloud service that allows developers to write software that makes and receives phone calls and SMS messages. If following these instructions isn’t too daunting, you can purchase phone numbers for $1/month from Twilio to use for Signal. See this similar guide, written by Martin Shelton, for more thorough instructions on using Twilio for your second phone number.

It’s important to maintain control of this phone number. For example, you could use a disposable SMS service to register with Signal — there are many such services if you search for them — but those phone numbers can be used by anyone. Similarly, you should avoid using a public payphone’s number, or a SIM card on which you do not intend to renew service. If someone else can receive SMS messages or phone calls to this phone number, they can take your Signal account away from you.

If you have tips for other ways to obtain permanent phone numbers, post them in the comments.

Picking a Device for Your Second Signal Number

In order to register your second phone number with Signal, you’re going to need a dedicated device for it — or at least a dedicated user account on a device. The device doesn’t need to have any phone service, and it doesn’t even technically need to be a phone. Here are your options.

If you’re an Android user, you’re in luck. You likely have never used this feature, but Android supports multiple user accounts on a single device. Each user account has its own set of apps and app data. You can create a second user account on your device specifically for your second Signal number.

Open the Settings app, select Users, and select “Add user or profile” to add a new user. After creating a new user, log in to it and install the Signal app. Don’t forget to set up screen lock for the new user — otherwise, anyone with physical access to your phone will be able to easily access the Signal messages in your second user, even if your main user account is locked.

To switch between users on your phone, drag the notification bar down and tap on the user icon.

If you’re an iPhone user, and you’re already using Signal with your private phone number, setting up your public Signal account is a bit more complicated. Unfortunately, there’s no way to set up two separate Signal phone numbers on the same iPhone.

The simplest way to proceed is to find a separate iOS or Android device and use that for the second number. This device doesn’t need phone service or a SIM card. It could be an old iPhone or Android phone you don’t use anymore, or an iPad, iPod Touch, or Android tablet.

You can also elect to use your new public phone number only with Signal Desktop. Doing this involves removing your private Signal account from your iPhone, setting up the public account and Signal Desktop, and then restoring the private account, which will generate a warning to your contacts that your safety number has changed. It also significantly limits the ways you can use Signal, as I outline below.

For the truly geeky, it’s also possible to use your computer to register the second Signal number, but only go this route if you’re the type of computer nerd who enjoys troubleshooting tricky problems. You can use a command-line tool called signal-cli to register your phone number with Signal service, or you can install android-x86 inside a virtual machine and use that as a virtual Android device for Signal. If that seems like a bit much, you’re better off tracking down an old smartphone instead.

Registering Your New Number With Signal

Now that you have a second phone number and a device picked out, it’s time to register it with Signal. I’m using an Android device in the following photos, but the process in iOS is similar.

On your second Signal device (or the second user of your Android phone), open the Signal app for the first time. Type in the phone number you’ve obtained to use as your public Signal number (don’t type in your private phone number!), and register the phone number.

The Signal service will then send this phone number an SMS message. But, since this device isn’t actually associated with this phone number, it will fail. At least on Android, you must wait the full two minutes for it to fail. (If you’re on iOS and able to receive your verification code over SMS, for example in the Google Voice app, enter the code into Signal, and skip down to the next section, “Setting up Signal Desktop.”)

Now that SMS verification has failed, you have the option to do voice verification. Make sure you’re in a position to answer your second phone number. If this is a landline, go stand next to the phone; if this is a Google Voice number, make sure you have Google Voice open in a browser tab, or the Google Voice correctly configured, etc.

Finally, tap “Call Me.” When your second phone number rings, answer it. You should hear a robot voice saying, “Your Signal verification code is” followed by a six-digit number. Type this number into the box in Signal and tap “Verify.”

If all goes well, the verification process will succeed, and your new phone number will be registered with the Signal service.

And that’s it! This device can now receive messages to your second Signal phone number. You can tell everyone they can contact you using Signal with this phone number, and the text messages will end up going to this device.

But now you also have to deal with checking two separate devices for your messages (or two separate users on one Android device). To make things a bit more usable, you might want to set up Signal Desktop.

Setting up Signal Desktop

The desktop version of Signal is a Google Chrome app, which means that you install it inside of your browser (this will be changing soon, more on that below). You can read more about Signal Desktop here, including some security considerations on whether you should use the desktop version.

If you’d like to use Signal Desktop with just one of your phone numbers, this is simple. For example, maybe you’ll only use Signal on your phone for your personal number, but you’ll use Signal Desktop for your second, public Signal number. In this case, just install Signal Desktop from the Chrome Web Store, and follow the instructions to configure it using the Signal device of your choice.

If you’d like to use Signal Desktop with both phone numbers, you need to set up separate Chrome profiles (or “People”). Most Chrome users only have their default profile — this stores browser history, bookmarks, Chrome apps, and other settings. But it’s possible to create new profiles and easily switch between them. You can set up Signal Desktop in your default profile for your private phone number and create a second Chrome profile specifically for your second Signal number.

Signal developers are currently switching up how Signal Desktop works. Soon it will be a standalone app, no longer through Chrome. This means that you won’t be able to run two copies at the same time by creating two different Chrome profiles. But, for the time being, the following instructions still work fine.

First, let’s set up Signal Desktop for your personal phone number in your default Chrome profile (if you already use Signal Desktop, skip the next few paragraphs). Open Chrome and go here to install Signal Desktop. After it’s installed, a welcome screen will pop up explaining that you need to install Signal on your phone first, and showing you a QR code to scan from your phone

Follow the instructions using Signal on your personal cellphone to link it to this Signal Desktop.

You probably also want to make sure that this Signal Desktop is easy to open. If you’re using a Mac, right-click on the dock icon, select Options, and check “Keep in Dock.” If you’re using Windows, right-click on the taskbar icon and select “Pin to taskbar.”

Now it’s time to create a new Chrome profile for your second Signal phone number. Start by opening the Chrome menu (the icon in the top-right of your browser with three dots) and choose Settings. Under People at the top, click “Manage other people.”In the bottom-right, click “Add person.” Come up with a name and an icon for this Chrome profile

After clicking the save button, a whole new Chrome window opens with “Signal for strangers” in the top-right corner. (Note that you can click the name of your profile in the top-right to switch to other profiles.)

Like you did with your other profile, go here and install Signal Desktop. Again, a fresh new welcome window will pop up giving you instructions to get started, again with a QR code.

Follow the instructions, but this time, use your device for your second Signal number (or the second Android user, if you’re doing it all on one Android phone). When you’re done, you’ll have successfully linked your second Signal phone number to your second Signal Desktop!

You should make sure that this Signal Desktop is easy to open as well. If you’re using Mac, right-click on the second Signal dock icon, select Options, and check “Keep in Dock.” If you’re using Windows, right-click on the second Signal taskbar icon and select “Pin to taskbar.”

Now you should have two separate Signal Desktop icons, one for your private phone number and the other for the second phone number you just set up. You can also hold the mouse over the different Signal icons to tell them apart.

Finally, here’s a tip for running multiple Signal Desktops on the same computer. Within Signal Desktop, click the three dots menu icon and choose Settings. This allows you to choose between three different themes. Make sure that your two different Signal Desktop windows have different themes to make them easier to tell apart.(For the few of you who run the Qubes operating system, this process is much simpler. Just install Signal Desktop in separate AppVMs for each phone number. This is what I do.)

Using Signal Desktop as Your Main Signal App

Now that your public Signal number is safe to publish, and encrypted texts go straight to your desktop, it might be tempting to only use the desktop app for this phone number. This is fine, but you should be aware of its limitations.

Signal Desktop app has fewer features than the mobile app. You can’t have encrypted voice or video calls in Signal Desktop, and you also can’t create or modify Signal groups — if you need to do these things, you have to do them on the mobile device. And while disappearing messages work fine, there’s no interface to delete individual messages from the desktop app.

Another Signal Desktop limitation is that there’s no way to assign names to Signal contacts from there; Signal relies on your phone’s contacts to translate phone numbers into names. So if you’d like to assign a name to a contact, you have to add them as a contact on the mobile device that you registered this Signal number with first.

Finally, messages that arrive to Signal Desktop, but not to the phone used to set up Signal Desktop, will accumulate on the server. Here’s why: When someone sends you a Signal message, their Signal app encrypts the message and sends it to the server. The server stores this encrypted message until it can be successfully delivered to your devices, and then the server deletes its copy after. But since your Signal account is associated with two devices, the mobile app and the desktop app, the server won’t delete its copy of the encrypted message until it successfully delivers the message to both devices. Therefore, it’s important to periodically power on your mobile device that you configured Signal on, even if you intend to primarily just use the desktop app.

Will Signal Ever Make This Simpler?

At the moment, you can only register a Signal account using a phone number, but a future version of Signal could support other identifiers as well, such as email addresses.

Just like with phone numbers, Signal could automatically verify email addresses. And like with phone numbers, people store email addresses in their phone’s contacts, so contact discovery could still be automatic. Unlike private phone numbers though, journalists and activists routinely publish their email addresses for strangers to contact them. And for those who wish to use Signal anonymously, like whistleblowers, it’s much simpler to obtain an anonymous email address than an anonymous phone number.

This feature has been widely requested by users, and the associated issue is still open on GitHub, where you can find Signal’s source code. But will Signal’s developers implement it? I asked, and they told me that they don’t comment on new features until they’ve shipped them.

If you have any feedback about this tutorial, please post it on the comments, or contact me on Signal at (415) 964-1601.




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