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TBR News August 29, 2018

Aug 29 2018

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Isaiah 40:3-8 

Washington, D.C. August 29, 2018: “SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation), is an American technology applications company headquartered in the United States and who works for a number of U.S. federal, state, and private sector clients. It works extensively with the United States Department of Defense, the United States Department of Homeland Security, and the American domestic and foreign intelligence agencies, including the National Security Agency, as well as other U.S. Government civil agencies and selected commercial markets.From 2001 to 2005, SAIC was the primary contractor for the FBI’s unsuccessful Virtual Case File project. SAIC relocated its corporate headquarters to their existing facilities in Tysons Corner in unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, near McLean, in September 2009. As part of its outsourcing solution, SAIC has development centers in Noida and Bangalore, India. Scicom Technologies Noida was acquired by SAIC in September 2007.

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) transitioned a Remote Viewing Program to SAIC in 1991 and it was renamed Stargate Project. STARGATE was one of a number of “remote viewing programs” conducted under a variety of code names, including SUN STREAK, GRILL FLAME, and CENTER LANE by DIA and INSCOM, and SCANATE by the eccentrics at the CIA. These efforts were initiated to assess foreign programs in the field; contract for basic research into the phenomenon; and to evaluate controlled remote viewing as an intelligence tool.

The program consisted of two separate activities. An operational unit employed remote viewers to train and perform remote viewing intelligence-gathering. The research program was maintained separately from the operational unit.

This effort was initiated in response to CIA concerns about highly unreliable reports of Soviet investigations of ‘psychic phenomena.’ Between 1969 and 1971, US intelligence sources erroneously concluded that the Soviet Union was engaged in “psychotronic” research. By 1970, it was suggested that the Soviets were spending approximately 60 million rubles per year on it, and over 300 million by 1975. The money and personnel devoted to Soviet psychotronics suggested that they had achieved breakthroughs, even though the matter was considered speculative, controversial and “fringy.” Using a declared, but fictional ‘Soviet threat,’ the CIA and other agencies have successfully deluded Congress, and often the White House, into heavily funding project that the agencies consider to be ‘cash cows.’

The initial research program, called SCANATE [scan by coordinate] was funded by CIA beginning in 1970. Remote viewing research began in 1972 at the Stanford Research Institute [SRI] in Menlo Park, CA. This work was conducted by Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff, once with the NSA and a later-identified Scientologist. The effort initially focused on a few “gifted individuals” such as the very eccentric Ingo Swann, an OT Level VII Scientologist. Many of the SRI “empaths” were from the Church of Scientology. Individuals who appeared to show potential were trained and taught to use talents for “psychic warfare.” The minimum accuracy needed by the clients was said to be 65%, and proponents claim that in the later stages of the training effort, this accuracy level was “often consistently exceeded.”

Ingo Swann born in 1933 in Telluride, Colorado, had been heavily involved with the bizarre Scientology movement from its onset and was best known for his work as a co-creator (according to his frequent collaborators Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff) of what has been called ‘remote viewing,’ specifically the Stargate Project.

Swann described himself as a “consciousness researcher” who had sometimes experienced “altered states of consciousness.” In other words, Swann actually believed that “special” individuala can leave their body and travel through space..

Swann helped develop the process of remote viewing at the Stanford Research Institute in experiments that caught the attention of the Central Intelligence Agency. He proposed the idea of Coordinate Remote Viewing, a process in which ‘remote viewers’ would see a location given nothing but its geographical coordinates,. This bizarre project, was developed and tested by Puthoff and Targ with CIA funding.. Details and transcripts of the SRI remote viewing experiments themselves were found to be edited and even unobtainable.

A Dr. Silfen and Swann prepared an unofficial report of later out-of-body experiments and circulated it to 500 members of the ASPR, before the ASPR board was aware of it. According to Swann, Dr. Silfen has ‘disappeared’  (or like so many other Scientology stories, never existed) and ‘cannot be located.’ Swann claimed he searched diligently for her and begged help from all his Scientology friends. According to Swann, in April 1972 a move was made at the ASPR in New York to discredit him and throw him out because he was a scientologist.”

Ingo Swann died in New York, January 31, 2013.”

 

The Table of Contents

  • Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: Number 10
  • Trump told Japan’s Abe he ‘remembers Pearl Harbor,’ Washington Post says. Didn’t happen, Tokyo says
  • White House counsel McGahn to leave post: Trump
  • How the Department of Homeland Security Created a Deceptive Tale of Russia Hacking US Voter Sites
  • US, Russia engage in war of words as Syria attack looms
  • Turkish purchase of Russian anti-missile system concerns U.S. – Mattis
  • Germany creates DARPA-like cybersecurity agency
  • How Macedonia Could Push NATO into a War
  • When the inmates rule the asylum
  • Trump-backed candidate’s ‘monkey’ comment draws fire in Florida race

 

Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: Number 10

August 8, 2018

by Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau Chief

The Toronto Star, Canada

The Star is keeping track of every false claim U.S. President Donald Trump has made since his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017. Why? Historians say there has never been such a constant liar in the Oval Office. We think dishonesty should be challenged. We think inaccurate information should be corrected

If Trump is a serial liar, why call this a list of “false claims,” not lies? You can read our detailed explanation here. The short answer is that we can’t be sure that each and every one was intentional. In some cases, he may have been confused or ignorant. What we know, objectively, is that he was not teling the truth.

Last updated: Aug 8, 2018

 

  • Mar 23, 2017

“So you know the problems, and (Obamacare has) put a lot of the trucking businesses out of business, which is pretty tough.”

Source: Remarks at meeting with representatives of trucking industry

in fact: There is no evidence of this. Asked in a CNBC interview that day how Obamacare has impacted the industry, the chief executive of the American Trucking Association cited rising costs, “administrative burdens” and a lack of choice; even he did not mention companies going out of business.

 

  • Mar 24, 2017

“I was in Tennessee the other day, and they’ve lost half of their state in terms of an insurer; they have no insurer.”

Source: Remarks on failed Obamacare repeal and replacement

in fact: Every part of Tennessee is covered by a health insurer, the state told FactCheck.org; some areas have one insurer selling plans through the Obamacare “marketplace,” some have two.

Trump has repeated this claim 4 times

 

“And I never said — I guess I’m here, what, 64 days? I never said repeal and replace Obamacare — you’ve all heard my speeches — I never said repeal it and replace it within 64 days. I have a long time.”

Source: Remarks on failed Obamacare repeal and replacement

in fact: Again, Trump never specifically said the repeal and replacement would happen within precisely 61 days. But this claim is so misleading as to be false. He repeatedly promised that he would repeal and replace Obamacare “immediately” — sometimes adding that he would ask Congress to put a bill on his desk on the very first day of his presidency. (Also, he had been in office 64 days when he made this remark.)

Trump has repeated this claim 2 time

 

“I never said I was going to repeal and replace in the first 61 days.”

Source: Interview with the Washington Post’s Robert Costa

in fact: Sure, Trump never specifically said the repeal and replacement would happen within precisely 61 days. But this claim is so misleading as to be false. He repeatedly promised that he would repeal and replace Obamacare “immediately” — sometimes adding that he would ask Congress to put a bill on his desk on the very first day of his presidency. (Also, he had been in office 64 days when he made this remark.)

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

 

“Today I am thrilled to announce that Charter Communications has just committed to investing $25 billion — with a B, $25 billion — you’re sure that’s right, right? With a B, right — $25 billion here in the United States, and has committed further to hiring 20,000 American workers over the next four years.”

Source: Remarks at “Jobs announcement” with Charter Communications

in fact: Charter did not “just” make this commitment — the company had already announced these plans, industry experts told USA Today.

 

  • Mar 27, 2017

“Why isn’t the House Intelligence Committee looking into the Bill & Hillary deal that allowed big Uranium to go to Russia …”

Source: Twitter

in fact: It is inaccurate to describe this as a “Bill & Hillary deal.” The U.S. government approved a deal in which a Russian state-owned company bought a controlling stake in Toronto-based Uranium One, which controlled 20 per cent of America’s uranium production capacity. Hillary Clinton’s State Department was one of nine government entities that reviewed the purchase; there is no evidence Clinton was personally involved in the process in any way; only then-President Barack Obama could have made the decision to block the deal.

Trump has repeated this claim 4 times

 

“Why isn’t the House Intelligence Committee looking into … Podesta Russian Company.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: There is no “Podesta Russian Company.” Podesta sat on the board of an American company, Joule, which received Russian investment and had at least one Russian investor on the board as well.

 

Mar 29, 2017

“Remember when the failing @nytimes apologized to its subscribers, right after the election, because their coverage was so wrong.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Again: the Times never apologized for its Trump coverage. Trump was referring to a post-election letter, a kind of sales pitch, in which Times leaders thanked readers and said they planned to “rededicate ourselves to the fundamental mission of Times journalism.”

Trump has repeated this claim 9 times

 

Trump told Japan’s Abe he ‘remembers Pearl Harbor,’ Washington Post says. Didn’t happen, Tokyo says

August 29, 2018

Japan denies that US President Donald Trump launched a surprise attack against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe by bringing up Pearl Harbor during trade talks, contrary to a report by the Washington Post.

The episode described by the Washington Post allegedly happened during a Trump-Abe meeting in June to discuss trade. Trump is not happy with the trade deficit and wants Tokyo to consent to a deal more favorable to the US.

According to the newspaper, at one point during the meeting, the US president said: “I remember Pearl Harbor.” He then launched into a “blistering critique of Japan’s economic policies.” The piece is mostly based on the words of a number of anonymous sources in the US State Department, the White House, and the Japanese government. It details the personal relations between Trump and Abe, whether or not their personal chemistry mitigated the tensions over trade, and whether Japan would be less willing to turn a blind eye to American trade restrictions in the future.

The juicy detail about the remark on the surprise Japanese attack during World War II understandably received a lot of attention in the US. Some Trump critics felt yet again justified in their opinion that the president is an incompetent diplomat, or worse.

The accuracy of the account about the Pearl Harbor tirade is, however, questionable. A spokesman for the Japanese government on Wednesday said Trump didn’t say it. “There is no truth” to it, Yoshihide Suga told the media, as cited by Kyodo News.

But apparently, the Washington Post was correct when it said Japan held a secret meeting with North Korea in Vietnam in July without informing the US. The US newspaper claims the meeting, which was not previously made public, was a sign of Tokyo’s frustration with Washington. Japanese officials, however, would not comment on that part.

In addition to regional security concerns over North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and rocket technologies amid the decades-long conflict with the US and its allies, Japan has its own issues to settle with Pyongyang. Arguably, the main one is North Korea’s record of abducting Japanese citizens in the 1970s, which is a matter of bitter national sentiment in Japan.

Tokyo is reportedly concerned that Washington will not give this issue proper attention when negotiating with the North Koreans.

 

White House counsel McGahn to leave post: Trump

August 29, 2018

by Roberta Rampton and Jeff Mason

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House counsel Don McGahn, whose time serving President Donald Trump has been marked by tension related to the investigation of Russian election interference, will leave the job in the coming weeks.

“White House Counsel Don McGahn will be leaving his position in the fall, shortly after the confirmation (hopefully) of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. “I have worked with Don for a long time and truly appreciate his service!”

McGahn voluntarily cooperated with Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team in a continuing investigation that already has resulted in guilty pleas, indictments and cooperation deals and one conviction for several Trump insiders.

Trump has not settled on a replacement for McGahn, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters. There has been speculation the job would go to Emmett Flood, a veteran Washington lawyer who joined the White House in May to help with the Russia probe, but Sanders said he had not been offered the job.

“People like him (Flood). He’s super well-respected around the building, but there’s not a plan locked in place at this point,” Sanders said.

McGahn could not be reached for comment.

The relationship between Trump and McGahn, a Washington insider who was chief counsel for Trump’s presidential run, has become strained by the pressures of Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, sources familiar with their relationship have said.

As White House counsel, McGahn was charged with untangling a thicket of conflicts of interest between Trump’s international business interests and his presidency.

The New Jersey native, who played bass guitar in an 1980s cover band before joining the White House, will be the latest in a large number of high-ranking White House officials to leave Trump’s side in what has been an unprecedented level of senior staff turnover.

McGahn had been a partner at Jones Day, one of the world’s largest law firms, before joining Trump as counsel to his campaign. He specialized in campaign finance issues, having served on the Federal Election Commission from 2008 to 2013.

Trump named McGahn White House counsel in November 2016 shortly after winning the presidential election.

He led Trump’s nomination of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch through the Senate confirmation process in 2017, running “murder boards” in his office to bombard Gorsuch with questions he might face at his confirmation hearings.

In July, McGahn was chosen to reprise that role, overseeing Trump’s selection of Kavanaugh of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

McGahn’s departure had been widely expected but was met with dismay by Senate Judiciary chairman Chuck Grassley, who wrote in a tweet addressed to Trump: “I hope it’s not true McGahn is leaving WhiteHouse Counsel. U can’t let that happen.”

In one of the stormiest moments as White House lawyer, McGahn threatened to quit in June 2017 because he was “fed up” after Trump insisted he take steps to remove Mueller, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters earlier this year.

The source said Trump asked McGahn to raise what he said were Mueller’s conflicts with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein because the president thought they were serious enough to remove Mueller.

McGahn did not discuss the issue with Rosenstein and threatened to quit when Trump continued to insist that he do so, the person said.

McGahn also was involved in the controversy surrounding Trump’s firing of former national security advisor Michael Flynn.

In January 2017, then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates informed McGahn that Flynn had misled the FBI about discussions he had had with former Russian ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak. Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI.

Additional reporting by Steve Holland, Makini Brice, Anthony Lin and Lisa Lambert; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Bill Trott

 

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

August 29, 2018

by Gareth Porter

AntiWar

The narrative of Russian intelligence attacking state and local election boards and threatening the integrity of U.S. elections has achieved near-universal acceptance by media and political elites. And now it has been accepted by the Trump administration’s intelligence chief, Dan Coats, as well.

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

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

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

A Sensational Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DHS Reveals Its Self-Serving Methodology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

State Officials Force DHS to Tell the Truth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NSA Finds a GRU Election Plot

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Mueller Indictment’s Sleight of Hand

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

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

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

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

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

The Need for Critical Scrutiny of DHS Cyberattack Claims

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

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

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

 

US, Russia engage in war of words as Syria attack looms

Washington and Moscow trade chemical attack warnings as Russian naval buildup grows ahead of strike on Syria’s Idlib.

August 28, 2018

AlJazeera

Russia has deployed a dozen warships to the Mediterranean Sea in what a Russian newspaper on Tuesday called Moscow’s largest naval buildup since it entered the Syrian conflict in 2015.

The reinforcement comes as Russia’s ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is believed to be considering a major assault on the last rebel-held enclave in northern Idlib province.

Russia has accused the United States of building up its own forces in the Middle East in preparation for a possible strike on Syrian government forces.

On Saturday, the Admiral Grigorovich and Admiral Essen frigates sailed through Turkey’s Bosphorus towards the Mediterranean, Reuters news agency images showed.

The day before, the Pytlivy frigate and landing ship Nikolai Filchenkov were pictured sailing through the Turkish straits that connect the Black Sea with the Mediterranean. The Vishny Volochek missile corvette passed through earlier this month.

The Izvestia newspaper said Russia had gathered its largest naval presence in the Mediterranean since it intervened in Syria in 2015 and turned the war’s tide in Assad’s favour.

The force included 10 vessels, most of them armed with long-range Kalibr cruise missiles, Izvestia wrote, adding more ships were on the way. Two submarines had also been deployed.

The Syrian government is gearing up for an expected offensive in Idlib province, which is home to nearly three million people and has a large al-Qaeda presence in addition to several Syrian rebel groups.

It borders Turkey, which fears an offensive may trigger a humanitarian and security catastrophe.

Chemical attack?

The US on Tuesday warned the Russian and Syrian governments against chemical weapon use in Syria.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the US “will respond to any verified chemical weapons use in Idlib or elsewhere in Syria … in a swift and appropriate manner”.

The comments came as Russia again accused Syrian rebels of preparing a chemical attack that Moscow said will be used to justify a Western strike against Syrian troops.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Tuesday an al-Qaeda-linked group is preparing the attack in Idlib.

Western countries and independent analysts say Syrian government forces have conducted several chemical weapons attacks over the course of the seven-year civil war. Alleged chemical attacks in 2017 and earlier this year led the US to launch punitive strikes against Syrian forces.

The Syrian government denies ever using chemical weapons.

Damascus has been sending reinforcements towards Idlib for weeks in advance of an expected attack against the last major rebel stronghold in the country.

‘Russian propaganda’

Last week, Russian Major-General Alexei Tsygankov, who heads the centre for reconciliation of warring parties in Syria, claimed British special services were involved in plans for the alleged provocation.

That brought a heated denial from Britain’s United Nations Ambassador, Karen Pierce, during a Security Council session on the humanitarian situation in Syria held on Tuesday.

“Even by the egregious standards of Russian propaganda, this is an extraordinary allegation,” she said. “It is wholly untrue.”

She said the claim was either aimed at increasing “the amount of fake news in the system [or] as a smokescreen for a possible impending attack by the Syrian regime, once again against its own people, in Idlib”.

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said: “If the defence ministry says something, then it says that based on concrete facts”.

“The Syrian armed forces do not have chemical weapons and have no plans to use them. There is no military need for that. We have stated that more than once. People in their right minds will not use means that are useless from a military point of view in order to trigger reprisals by three major powers,” said Nebe

The UN director of humanitarian operations warned a major offensive in Idlib “has the potential to create a humanitarian emergency at a scale not yet seen” in the seven-year civil war.

John Ging called on members of the UN Security Council on Tuesday “to do all they can to ensure that we avoid this”.

 

Turkish purchase of Russian anti-missile system concerns U.S. – Mattis

August 28, 2018

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Defence Secretary James Mattis said on Tuesday the United States was concerned about Turkey’s purchase of a Russian missile defence system that cannot be integrated into NATO.

The United States has already warned Turkey that it would be subject to sanctions and its purchase of Lockheed Martin fighter jets would be jeopardized if Ankara does not drop plans to purchase the missile defence system.

“Clearly, Turkey bringing a Russian anti-aircraft, anti-missile system into a NATO country — we cannot integrate that into NATO. Yes, it does concern us and we do not recommend that,” Mattis told reporters.

Reporting by Phil Stewart; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Doina Chiacu

 

Germany creates DARPA-like cybersecurity agency

The German government has announced the creation of a federal agency tasked with creating cutting-edge defense technology. But some lawmakers are worried that it may develop state-of-the-art offensive capabilities.

August 29, 2018

by Lewis Sanders IV

DW

The German government on Wednesday agreed to create a new cybersecurity agency tasked with innovating technology for defense purposes.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said the agency allows Germany to invest in new technologies and the protection of critical digital infrastructure. She added that the agency would also partner with other EU countries on agency projects.

The federal agency will be managed by the defense and interior ministries, according to officials. Its main task will be to develop new technologies to defend Germany’s digital infrastructure from cyberattacks.

The agency is expected to resemble a defense body akin to the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is credited with developing the early internet and GPS, von der Leyen said.

‘Skeptical’

But the agency’s creation has raised concerns among German lawmakers.

Anke Domscheit-Berg, digital policy spokeswoman for the Left Party, told DW that while Germany needs to do more to protect digital infrastructure, she doubts the agency’s mandate is the best way to do it.

‘Counterproductive’

Green Party spokesman Konstantin von Notz took it further, arguing that such an agency works against the Foreign Ministry’s work.

“The agency would massively undermine the Foreign Ministry’s efforts at the UN to outlaw cyber weapons,” von Notz told DW. “Instead of promoting a spiraling escalation in the digital space, the government needs to make a U-turn on IT security.”

The question of military-led cyberwarfare has been a contentious subject for years. Some German lawmakers have questioned whether the Bundeswehr should be able to launch offensive cyberattacks.

But von der Leyen noted that the same rules that apply to Germany in the “analogue world will also apply to the virtual one.”

 

How Macedonia Could Push NATO into a War

Macedonia’s tenuous relationships with its neighbor states make it a liability for the alliance.

August 25, 2018

by Ted Galen Carpenter

The National Interest

When Fox News host Tucker Carlson asked Donald Trump last month why he should send his son to die defending Montenegro, NATO’s newest member, the president seemed to repudiate his own administration’s policy. He indicated that Americans shouldn’t be willing to sacrifice their lives for such a trivial ally. Furthermore, he warned  that Montenegro “has very aggressive people. They may get aggressive, and congratulations, you’re in World War III.” As Cato Institute senior fellow Doug Bandow pointed out, Trump’s comment was odd on two counts. First, the Senate approved the admission of Montenegro on his watch in March 2017. If he thought that latest episode of adding a useless microstate to the Alliance was unwise, he could have withdrawn the treaty from consideration before the Senate vote. Second, as Bandow notes archly, that while “it is theoretically possible that the vast, aggressive, powerful Montenegrin legions might launch themselves towards Moscow,” it isn’t too likely, because Montenegrin leaders “do not appear to have entirely lost their minds.”

Indeed, the scenario that a small Balkan NATO partner might trigger a war that entangles the United States is unlikely to entail a direct provocation of Russia. That reality has made it easy for Trump’s critics, here and abroad, to mock  his comment about Montenegro triggering a world war. A far greater risk is that the tripwire would be a conflict in which an alliance member became embroiled with one of its regional neighbors. Montenegro actually is less of a danger in that respect than NATO’s latest invitee, Macedonia. Montenegro seems on relatively good terms with neighboring states, although it has been involved in an extended border dispute with Kosovo that was resolved just recently when the Kosovo parliament passed bitterly resisted legislation approving a settlement of the controversy.

Macedonia is on much worse terms with Kosovo and that country’s ethnic brethren in Albania. Officials and the populations of both countries have long pursued a “Greater Albania” agenda that lays claim to swaths of territory in Serbia, Montenegro, and especially Macedonia. The NATO-assisted severing of Kosovo from Serbia in 1999 was the first major triumph for that agenda, and Greater Albanian expansionists wasted no time in trying to follow up on their victory. Within months, portions of Macedonia in which ethnic Albanians constituted a majority (or in some cases, just a plurality) of the population sought to  destabilize that country, demanding extensive autonomy for those provinces. Both the United States and its NATO allies put intense pressure on Macedonia’s government to grant the demanded concessions, and Skopje reluctantly complied.

Tensions then subsided for a while, but Albanian separatist sentiments continued to fester and grow. In the past few years, a new crisis has emerged, with Albanian activists  leading large anti-government demonstrations. Skopje’s relations with both Albania and Kosovo are deteriorating markedly. In April 2017, Macedonia’s foreign ministry formally  accused Albania of interfering in the country’s internal political affairs. A month earlier Macedonia’s president charged that the demands of the Albanian minority was the biggest threat to his nation’s sovereignty and unity.

Washington and other Western capitals continue to press the Macedonian government to make concessions to the country’s Albanian minority beyond those granted under outside pressure during the 2001 crisis. That pressure is creating major splits within the Macedonian ethnic majority. An especially ugly confrontation between Macedonian nationalists and more accommodating elements erupted in the spring of 2017. Pieter Feith, a former European Union envoy to Skopje, warned the nationalists that they were “playing with fire” if they continued to resist relinquishing power to a moderate successor government. Soon thereafter, the nationalists gave way.

Divisive issues continue to roil the country, however. The demands of the Albanian faction for ever-greater autonomy keep escalating, and that has caused the president and other officials to balk at making further concessions. President Gjorge Ivanov has dug in his heels on one key issue, repeatedly refusing to sign  a language law that would formally recognize Albanian as the primary language in certain regions of the country. He and his supporters fear that such a new concession would simply whet the appetite of Albanian secessionists

The drive for a Greater Albania is gaining new momentum, and that creates major problems for a prospective NATO member. The parallels to events leading up to Kosovo’s secessionist war against Serbia in the 1990s and NATO’s military intervention are more than a little unsettling. What happens once Macedonia joins NATO, if the Albanian secessionist drive does not ease but accelerates and Skopje takes action against Albania and/or Kosovo to prevent outside assistance to the rebellion, claiming that those countries have committed aggression? It is hardly a remote possibility that the United States as NATO’s leader could be drawn into such a nasty conflict.

That possibility underscores the folly of America pushing to add strategically and economically irrelevant microstates to the alliance. They are not strategic assets in any reasonable definition of the term. Instead, they are strategic liabilities and potential snares. Granted, members like Macedonia and Montenegro are not likely to involve the United States in a world war—unlike the three Baltic republics, which could certainly do so, given their frosty relations with Russia. The situation in the Balkans is not akin to the one that existed on the eve of World War I and plunged Europe (and ultimately America) into that catastrophe. But a needless entanglement even in a petty, limited armed conflict is one entanglement too many. President Trump should act on the instincts he displayed during his interview with Tucker Carlson and make it clear that the United States will not approve NATO membership for Macedonia or any other applicant.

 

When the inmates rule the asylum

August 29, 2018

by Christian Jürs

It is the belief of Pentecostals that when certain conditions are met, Jesus Christ will return to earth, take his elect (the Pentecostals) physically to Paradise in an event known as Rapture. Those not belonging to the Pentecostal elect will have to remain behind for Satan to deal with.

When Parousia happens, there will be a great battle fought at Armageddon between the forces of Jesus and the Devil and his antichrist and Jesus, quite naturally, will be triumphant.

All of this, the Pentecostals assure their membership, can be found in the book of Revelation.

Unfortunately for this interesting thesis, the struggle between good and evil at Armageddon is not found in the book of Revelations. Revelations 16:16 only mentions the name of the long-forgotten town but there is nothing about an epic struggle mentioned anywhere else other than twisted interpretations in cult literature.

This strange book was allegedly written by St. John the Devine, a disciple of Jesus when, in fact is believed by most reputable Biblical scholars to have been written by a certain John of Patmos who lived many years after the period ascribed to Christ’s ministry.

John of Patmos was a hermit/monk on the Greek island of Patmos and contemporary historical reference briefly dismisses him as a lunatic. No one has been able to understand a word of what he wrote, and his confused and mystic writings easily lends themselves to all manner of interpretations by various dimwitted and obsessed religious fanatics.

When Martin Luther prepared the Protestant Bible, he discarded Revelations, and other books then found in the Bible, as being ‘unworthy and filled with nonsense.’

The Second Coming has as one of its primary requirements that a Jewish nation must be reestablished in Palestine (which it was in 1948) and, even more important, that the great Jewish temple of Solomon must be rebuilt before Christ can return to earth and elevate his elect.

The first temple of Solomon was destroyed by the Babylonians and the more elegant second, by the Romans when they crushed the Jewish revolt in the first century.

Unfortunately for the Pentecostals, the former site of this temple is now occupied by the much-revered Muslim Dome of the Rock mosque.

The Jewish temple cannot be rebuilt, therefore, as long as the Muslim mosque occupies its space and therefore, it would be necessary to destroy this very holy building and replace it with a new edifice of another religion.

However, if this lunatic act were consummated, there would be an immediate and  terrible rising in the Muslim world and a savage religious war would burst forth on an already-ravaged Middle East.

The Pentecostals are, by their very nature, uncaring and fierce fanatics and such a war would, to them, be a fulfillment of the spurious prophecy of the manic Revelation’s non-existent Battle of Armageddon.

Already we can hear comments from prominent Pentecostals that the Muslims are the forces of the anti-Christ and must therefore be engaged by the forces of Jesus in a final hecatomb of blood and destruction. This pending bloodbath means nothing to Pentecostals because, according to their beliefs, they will be safe in Paradise and those left behind are of no consequence

These God-intoxicated fanatics have managed to capture the White House and place their people in high official positions within the Bush Administration.

In the face of all reason and logic, they are pushing a suicidal, hidden agenda that will have terrible consequences for everyone concerned.

In light of this, perhaps it is now far easier to understand what really stands behind the Administration’s apparent fierce determination to invade an Iran that is hated by both Israel and Saudi Arabia while studiously ignoring a very real danger from North Korea’s declared intentions of building nuclear weapons.

After all, North Korea is not mentioned in Pentecostal dogma and there would be no Parousia because of a terrible nuclear war launched by that country.

In spite of the large amount of learned dissertations on the underlying motives for the Trump Administration’s war hysteria, one should note that the simplest answer to a complex problem is always the correct one.

 

Trump-backed candidate’s ‘monkey’ comment draws fire in Florida race

August 29, 2018

by Letitia Stein

Reuters

TAMPA (Reuters) – Florida’s marquee governor’s race heated up on Wednesday, when the Trump-backed Republican candidate said the state should not “monkey this up” by electing his opponent, Democrat Andrew Gillum, who is African-American, in November.

U.S. Representative Ron DeSantis, a staunch supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump who won his party’s nomination on Tuesday, made the remarks on Fox News and immediately came under fire for their negative racial undertones.

“The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases,” DeSantis said, after calling Gillum “an articulate” spokesman for far-left views.

Gillum, the liberal mayor of state capital Tallahasee, won a surprising victory in the Democratic primary for Florida governor, and has said he hopes to motivate younger progressives and minority voters who normally sit out non-presidential elections.

If he wins the Nov. 6 election, he would be the first black governor in the country’s most populous swing state.

“It’s disgusting that Ron DeSantis is launching his general election campaign with racist dog whistles,” Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo wrote on Twitter.

Words like “monkey” or “ape” have been used to demean African-Americans and are considered racist in that context.

Gillum’s campaign referred Reuters to Rizzo’s remarks, and several other members of Florida’s congressional delegation also condemned the comment.

DeSantis spokesman Stephen Lawson said the candidate was referring to Gillum’s political positions, not his race.

“Ron DeSantis was obviously talking about Florida not making the wrong decision to embrace” Gillum’s policies, Lawson said in a statement. “To characterize it as anything else is absurd.”

However, Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, who is running for re-election against outgoing Republican Governor Rick Scott in November, wrote on Twitter that “Comments like DeSantis’s are unacceptable in civilized discourse.”

Fox News host Sandra Smith, who interviewed DeSantis, later said on air that the network does “not condone this language.”

Following Tuesday’s primary, the two parties are looking to their most fervent supporters – progressive Democrats and Republican conservatives – for victory in the Nov. 6 election. The race will be closely watched for clues about the mood of voters and messaging ahead of 2020, when Trump could be seeking re-election against a liberal Democrat.

More than 3.5 million people voted out of 13 million registered voters in the state for a turnout rate of 27 percent, the highest for a non-presidential Florida primary since 2002.

Gillum, 39, “is a kind of young Democrat that can actually, for a change, spike turnout,” said Susan MacManus, a political analyst and retired political science professor at the University of South Florida.

Three African-Americans have been nominated in gubernatorial races this year, all from the Democratic Party: Gillum, Stacey Abrams in Georgia and Ben Jealous in Maryland.

DeSantis won his primary by touting his closeness to Trump, who endorsed him a few months ago. Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to tout the congressman again, slamming Gillum as a “failed” mayor in Tallahassee, the state capital, without providing evidence.

DeSantis, 39, has been a staunch defender of the president against Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia in 2016. Trump denies there was any collusion.

Gillum won as an unabashed progressive who backed “Medicare for all,” impeaching Trump and standing up to the National Rifle Association. A victory by him would mark a change in fortunes for Florida Democrats, who have been out of the governor’s office for 20 years, and have lost close races after nominating moderates who failed to generate enough enthusiasm, particularly among minority voters key to the Democratic base.

“We certainly believe that for too long the aspirations and needs of communities of color have been pushed aside as the Democratic Party runs to the center. I think Andrew Gillum is another example of how people are motivated to vote for people with bold platforms,” said Andrea Mercado, executive director of New Florida Majority and the New Florida Vision PAC, which is focused on turning out infrequent minority voters and canvaased for Gillum.

Gillum ran up big margins in Jacksonville, Miami and other big metro areas. He trailed Graham in opinion polls for much of the race but surged late with the backing of liberal U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and high-profile wealthy liberal donors like George Soros and Tom Steyer.

The state, the third-most populous in the nation behind heavily progressive California and generally conservative Texas, is often closely contested in federal and state races.

Reporting by Letitia Stein in Florida; additional reporting by David Gaffen; Writing by David Gaffen; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jonathan Oatis

 

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