TBR News July 27, 2016

Jul 27 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. July 27, 2016: “The sharp increase in urban terrorism by Sunni Muslim fanatics against European targets is in direct response to the heavy losses IS is taking from aerial and ground attacks on their personnel.

As IS loses ground in its attempts to create a Saudi-backed Sunni empire, it now is trying to terrorize Europe into abandoning their efforts.

One of IS weapons is the massive Muslim population in Western countries, a population filled with potential assassins.

Someone asked why there are no firm reactions to this random murderous terrorism and the answer is that there are 17 million reasons why France, Germany and other targeted countries do not wish to crack down.

Germany has 4,800,000 Muslims;

France has 4,700,000 Muslims;

Sweden has 350,000 Muslims;

Italy has 970,000 Muslims;

Denmark has 270,000 Muslims;

The UK has 2,660,000 Muslims;

Austria has 500,000 Muslims;

Norway has 120,000 Muslims;

And the United States has 2,750,000 Muslims.

To even attempt to control these numbers would certainly result in more anger and more terrorist acts and the only solution would be surrender to the terrorists or the institution of savage counter measures. The latter, slow in building, will come when the threatened populations force their leader’s hands and we will see a reprise of the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution.

Perhaps slow in coming but coming it surely will.”

Hillary Clinton: Class President of A Failed Generation

July 25, 2016

by David Stockman

Hillary Clinton has always been at the head of her class. That includes being among the leading edge of the 80-million strong baby boom generation that first started arriving in 1946-1947.

She did everything they did: Got out for Barry Goldwater in high school; got upwardly mobile to Wellesley and social liberation during college; got “Clean for Gene” and manned the anti-war barricades in the late 1960s; got to Washington to uplift the world in the 1970s; got down to the pursuit of power and position in the 1980s; joined the ruling class in the 1990’s; and has helped make a stupendous mess of things ever since.

The baby boom generation which started with so much promise when it came of age in the 1960s has ended up a colossal failure. It has turned America into a bloody imperial hegemon aboard and a bankrupt Spy State at home where financialization and the 1% thrive, half the population lives off the state and real main street prosperity has virtually disappeared from the land.

Quite a deplorable legacy, that. And all the while Hillary has been our class president. God help the world if she becomes our nation’s President. She has betrayed all that was right about the baby boomers in the 1960s; and has embraced all the wrong they did during their subsequent years in power.

It starts during our defining moment when peace finally had a chance in the spring of 1968. We drove a sitting President from office, and, at that, one whose megalomaniacal will-to-power was terrifying.

We called bull on the cold war hysteria that had once put us under our desks at school and now claimed that peasants in far off rice paddies threatened our security. We stopped the Vietnam War cold, dented the Cold War deep and put the whole Warfare State apparatus on the run—–the Pentagon, CIA, the generals and admirals, the military-industrial complex. Within a few years the warfare state budget was down by 40% in constant dollars.

So it was an epochal chance to break the deadly cycle of war that had started a half-century earlier in the bloody trenches of northern France during the Great War; that had been rebooted for a future reprise in the vengeful folly of Versailles; that had been made inexorable by the rise of nationalism, statism, autarky and militarism during the 1930s; and that had been unnecessarily and dangerously extended by the clash of military machines that both victors refused to demobilize after they won the peace in 1945, supplanting the silence of the German and Japanese war guns with the nuclear nightmare of the Cold War.

True enough, the defeat and retreat of the American Imperium by the idealism and defiance of the baby boomers was interrupted by the Reagan defense and Cold War revival. But that historical error is what makes the Clintons all the more culpable…..

It was their job as the first baby boom co-Presidents to finish the work of 1968, and by the time they entered the White House it was a lay-up. The Soviet Union was no more and Mr. Deng had just declared that to get rich is glorious.

The Clintons’ job in 1993 was to have at least the vision of Warren G. Harding. After all, he did demobilize the US war machine completely, eschewed the imperial pretensions of Woodrow Wilson and actually launched a disarmament movement which resulted in the melting down of the world’s navies and the Kellogg-Briand treaty to outlaw war.

Yet the opportunity at the Cold War’s end was even more compelling. There was absolutely no military threat to American security anywhere in the world. The Clintons could have drastically reduced the defense budget by mothballing much of the navy and air force and demobilizing the army.

They should have cancelled all new weapons programs and dismantled the military-industrial complex. They could have declared “mission accomplished” with respect to NATO and made good on Bush’s pledge to Gorbachev to not expand it “by an inch” by actually disbanding it. And, as legatees of 1968, they were positioned to lead a global disarmament movement and to end the arms export trade once and for all.

That was their job—-the unfinished business of peace. But they blew it in the name of political opportunism and failure to recognize that the American public was ready to end the century of war, too.

And you can’t let Hillary off the hook on the grounds that she had the health care file and Bill the bombs and planes. On becoming Senator she did not miss a stride betraying the opening for peace that had first broken-through in 1968.

She embraced Bush’s “shock and awe” campaign in Iraq and was thereby complicit in destroying the artificial nation created by Sykes-Picot in 1916. So doing, Clinton helped unleash the furies of Islamic sectarian conflict that eventually led to the mayhem and brutality of the Shiite militias and the rise of the ISIS butchers on the backs of the dispossessed Sunni tribes and the demobilized officer corps of Saddam.

Tellingly, Hillary Clinton made a beeline for the Senate Armed Services Committee, the domain of the Jackson war democrats, not the Foreign Affairs Committee, where Frank Church had exposed the folly of Vietnam and the treacherous deeds of the CIA. Undoubtedly, this was to burnish her commander-in-chief credentials, but it spoke volumes.

By the time Hillary got to the seat of power, the idealism and defiance of the warfare state that had animated her and the baby boomers of 1968 had dissipated entirety. For her and most of them, it was now all and only about getting and keeping power. In that respect, Hillary’s term at the State Department was a downright betrayal.

Whether by accident or not, Obama had actually been elected as the “peace candidate” by echoing the rhetoric of 1968 that he had apparently read in a book but had been too young to actually hear. What this untutored and inexperienced idealist needed to hear from his Secretary of State was a way forward for peace and the dismantlement of a war machine that had rained havoc on the world, left behind 4 million damaged and disabled veterans who had sacrificed for no good reason and a multi-trillion dollar war tab that had bloated the national debt.

What he got was Hillary The Hawk. When Obama took Bush’s already bloated $650 billion war budget (2005$) to a level that was almost 2X the level Eisenhower thought adequate at the peak of the cold war and upon his parting speech warning of the military-industrial complex, Hillary was completely on board. When Obama was bamboozled into a “surge” of forces in the god forsaken expanse of the Hindu Kush, Hillary busied herself rounding up NATO support.

When her neocon and R2P (responsibility to protect) advisers and Administration compatriots urged making peace by starting wars in Syria, Libya and the Ukraine, Hillary lead the charge. All of them have been disasters for their citizens and a stain on America’s standing in the world.

When the Deep State began lining up the next enemy, Hillary joined the gumming brigade, warning about the China threat. My god, were the red capitalists of Beijing to actually bomb 4,000 Wal-Marts in America their system would collapse in six months and their heads would be hung from the rafters in the nearest empty Foxcon/Apple factory.

Here’s the thing. Hillary Clinton’s sell-out to the Warfare State is not just about war and peace—-even as it fosters the former and precludes the latter. It’s also about the nation’s busted fiscal accounts, its languishing main street economy and the runaway gambling den that has taken over Wall Street……

After all this time, however, Hillary doesn’t get any of this. She thinks war is peace; deficits don’t matter; the baby boom is entitled to the social insurance they didn’t earn; and that the Fed’s serial bubble machine is leading the nation back to prosperity.

Actually, its leading to the greatest financial bubble in human history. After 90 months of ZIRP and a decade of Wall Street coddling and subsidization by the Fed, the windfalls to the 1% have become unspeakable in their magnitude and illegitimacy.

Soon 10,000 people will own a preponderant share of the wealth; 10 million people will live grandly off the droppings; 150 million will live off the state; and the rest of America will be left high and dry waiting for the house of cards to collapse.

Hillary rose to fame delivering an idealistic commencement address at Wellesley at the beginning of her career. But like the generation she represents, she has betrayed those grand ideals over a lifetime of compromise, expediency, self-promotion and complacent acquisition of power, wealth and fame.

She doesn’t deserve another stint at the podium—-let alone the bully pulpit.

Germany deliberates anti-terror response

July 27, 2016 Following multiple terror strikes across Germany, Bavarian authorities plan to boost the police force and use the army to help secure borders. Soldiers, however, warn that the Bundeswehr is no “auxiliary police.”

July 27,2016


The Munich cabinet wants to have more experts “monitoring extremists,” and to recruit more people for “special police forces,” according to a strategy paper published on Wednesday.

Also, the state authorities want a bigger and better-equipped police force with electric Tasers, new weapons and batons, as well as “protective vests and titanium helmets that could withstand a shot from a Kalashnikov,” they said in the 18-page document called “Law and Security Offensive.”

Munich also expects “other states and the federal government” to boost their police forces.

Week of violence

The initiative comes after four separate violent incidents in Germany, all involving youngsters with Muslim backgrounds. Firstly, a 17-year old refugee believed to be from Afghanistan injured four people during a stabbing rampage aboard a Bavarian train last week. The “Islamic State” (IS) group claimed responsibility. Several days later, an 18-year old German-Iranian gunned down nine people and killed himself in a Munich shooting spree, although the authorities believe the killing was not politically motivated. On Sunday, a Syrian migrant killed a woman with a machete in Reutlingen, and only hours later, another Syrian blew himself up outside of a music festival in the Bavarian town of Ansbach, injuring twelve people.

All of these attacks closely followed the Nice truck massacre that killed 84 people in France. On Tuesday, France was once again targeted by jihadists.

Helping Germany ‘hold foreigners’

Bavaria’s state premier, Horst Seehofer, has repeatedly knocked heads with Chancellor Angela Merkel over national migration policy. He was also one of the loudest voices to call for the closure of Germany’s borders, with his state taking in many of the new arrivals via Austria last year.

In the new strategy paper, the Munich authorities argue that the army should be used to protect the borders if police forces are not enough for the task.

“Many thousands of refugees were able to enter Germany with no control and registration for several months, and this situation must not happen again,” they said. “German officials must be in the position to hold foreigners at the border and determine their identity.”

Amnesty opposes Seehofer’s idea

In response, the vice chair of Germany’s army union, Andreas Steinmetz, said that using the Bundeswehr within Germany’s borders should remain an exception.

“We support the separation of exterior and interior security, as defined by the constitution,” he told the German newspaper Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung. “The army is no auxiliary police.”

The Bundeswehr would act only in a major emergency that could not be managed any other way, he said.

Bavaria’s head of government Seehofer has also urged a different policy on refugees with criminal records coming from crisis areas. Germany currently cannot deport Syrians to their country even after rejecting their asylum claims, due to the war, a situation Seehofer wishes to alter.

The SPD party, however, which is also part of the ruling coalition in Berlin, rejected Seehofer’s idea. The human-rights watchdog Amnesty International said that deportations would contravene international law.

“Nobody can be deported to a country where his life or liberty would be jeopardized,” Amnesty representative Andrea Berg told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.

‘Stay reasonable’

The mass shooting in Munich also rekindled a debate about violent video games in Germany, after investigators announced that the attacker was a fan of first-person shooters. Family Minister Manuela Schwesig said she was not a fan of the games, but had no intention of banning them.

“Not everyone who play these games goes on killing sprees,” she told the Nordwest Zeitung.

The state premier of Germany’s most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Hannelore Kraft, said that the authorities would change their security policies after the terror strikes.

At the same time, she rejected the idea of using the army to do provide security within Germany’s borders.

“I don’t know how the Bundeswehr could help in the cases such as Munich or Ansbach,” Kraft told the Neue Westfälische paper.

She also spoke out against putting all refugees or all Muslims under blanket suspicion.

“It would good for us to stay reasonable,” she said. “The overwhelming majority of Muslims here live peacefully.”


‘Not medicine, but poison’: Hungarian PM says his country does not need ‘a single migrant’

July 27, 2016


Right-wing Hungarian leader Victor Orban said refugees are less than welcome in Hungary, calling them “a poison” and “terror risk” at a joint press conference with his Austrian counterpart. He also rejected the migration policy the EU is trying to impose.

Orban, who is known as a harsh critic of the mandatory migrant quota scheme that the EU proposed in February, argued that there is no reason for Hungary to take in any migrants, as its economy and demography would be better off without them.

“Hungary does not need a single migrant for the economy to work, or the population to sustain itself, or for the country to have a future,” he said, stressing, that, on the contrary, “every single migrant poses a public security and terror risk.”

“This is why there is no need for a common European migration policy,” he said, insisting that the right to decide migration issues should be reserved exclusively for national governments. Orban went on to say that “whoever needs migrants can take them, but don’t force them on us, we don’t need them.”

As far as Hungary is concerned, “migration is not a solution but a problem… not medicine but a poison, we don’t need it and won’t swallow it,” he argued.

Earlier this month, the Hungarian PM called a referendum on the mandatory quota system, which is to be held on October 2. Arguing that, if enacted, the reform would challenge Hungary’s sovereignty in internal matters, Orban has urged Hungarians to reject the EU’s proposal.

“We believe that only Hungarians, not Brussels, can decide who we want to live with in Hungary,” he said when announcing the date for the vote.

Hungary and three other central European states that constitute the Visegrad Four group, which includes Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland, have been opposing the mandatory quotas the EU wants to impose on each member state.

In December of last year, Hungary filed a lawsuit with the European Court of Justice to thwart the EU’s attempt to redistribute incoming arrivals across the European Union, of which some 2,300 would be resettled in Hungary, if the EU gets its way.

In a recent interview with RT, Orban also expressed his distaste for Europe’s current political leadership, blaming it for being unable to tackle the refugee crisis or terrorist threats.

“Europe… is a regional player, who can’t protect its borders and citizens as well as keep the people together,” he said, accusing Europe’s political elite of “failing the test” and lambasting it for not reaching “any single of its goals.”

The recent spate of terrorist attacks in Germany illustrate that even one of the block’s driving forces, which is often regarded as its “fulcrum,” is just as vulnerable as the rest of the countries in the EU, according to Orban.

“And this means that even in that country there’s no absolute guarantee [of security] anymore.”

Orban directly links the growing number of terrorist attacks on European soil to the unresolved migration crisis.

“It is clear as two and two makes four; it is plain as day. There is an obvious connection,” he said last week following a meeting of the Visegrad Four group in Warsaw.

“If somebody denies this connection then, in fact, this person harms the safety of European citizens,” Orban stressed.


Over half of Europeans link terrorism to refugee influx – PEW survey

July 12, 2016


Nearly 60 percent of Europeans believe the threat of terrorism increases as more refugees arrive in their countries, a PEW survey has found. Half of respondents also see them as an economic “burden” because “they take our jobs and social benefits.”

A Pew Research Center survey, published on Monday, showed that the majority of people polled in 10 European countries, which accounts for 80 percent of the EU population, seems to mistrust refugees.

In Germany, which took in over 1 million refugees last year and has seen a surge in support for right-wing parties, 61 percent of those polled connects an increase in the “likelihood of terrorism” to the refugee crisis, while in France, which has been in a state of emergency since the deadly November terror attacks, 46 percent see the parallels between the two.

Some Eastern European countries, namely Hungary and Poland, topped the list, with a staggering 76 percent of Hungarians and 71 percent of Poles linking increasing terror activity to uncontrollable refugee flows. The two are also among the countries most concerned with the economic repercussions of the refugee crisis, as 82 percent of Hungarians, 72 of Greeks, and 75 percent of Poles appear to hold the view that the incomers deprive them of jobs and social benefits. Over a half of French citizens sided with this view, while only 31 percent of Germans did so.

Moreover, “Sweden and Germany are the only countries where at least half say refugees make their nation stronger because of their work and talents,” the PEW report on the survey reads. While Germany has accommodated more refugees in sheer number, Sweden has taken in more refugees per capita than any other country in Europe.

However, even in seemingly refugee-friendly Germany and Sweden, the majority of respondents did not believe Muslims were capable of smoothly integrating into European society. Some 61 percent of Germans and half of Swedes believe that the majority of Muslims already living in their countries prefer to remain “distinct from the larger society” rather than adopt the customs of the nation they are living in. High in the rankings is also Greece, along with Spain and Italy, where “six-in-ten or more” held the same view.

While Hungarians and Poles are most likely to express concern over the security challenges posed to their countries by refugees, they also have a less favorable attitude towards the Muslims living in their own countries, along with Italy and Greece. A total of 72 percent of Hungarians, 69 percent of Italians, 66 and 65 percent of Poles and Greeks respectively held an unfavorable view of Muslim residents of their countries. However, less than one-third of French, Germans and Brits shared that attitude.

Researchers commented on the controversial results by saying they registered a deep division within the societies of all the countries surveyed.

“On nearly all of the questions analyzed in this report, people on the ideological right express more concerns about refugees, more negative attitudes toward minorities and less enthusiasm for a diverse society,” the report says.

The timing of the report coincides with the statement by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who admitted the terrorists had infiltrated Europe disguised as refugees. “In part, the refugee flow was even used to smuggle terrorists,” she said, addressing supporters of her Christian Democrat Union party on Monday.

Terror attacks in neighboring European countries and the influx of migrants have made Germans more fearful over the year, an annual study by insurer R+V shows. According to the survey of 2,400 Germans, which was released on Tuesday, the ‘fear index’ in the country increased by a “drastic” 10 percentage points, Reuters reported citing the poll organizers.

The top concern among Germans is terrorism, the survey shows, with 73 percent of respondents worried by it, compared to 52 percent last year. The fear that migration could cause tensions within the country has seen an 18 percent jump, with 67 percent now anxious about that issue.

Last week, Germany’s intelligence chief Hans Georg Maassen confirmed the intelligence had obtained data on 17 Islamic State militants sneaking into Europe via refugee routes.

France’s Hollande meets religious leaders amid row over attacks security

July 27, 2016

by Andrew Callus and Chine Labbé


PARIS/SAINT-ETIENNE-DU-ROUVRAY, France-President Francois Hollande demonstrated interfaith unity with France’s religious leaders on Wednesday after two Islamist militants killed a Roman Catholic priest in a church, igniting fierce political criticism of the government’s security record.

One of the assailants was a known would-be jihadist awaiting trial under supposedly tight surveillance, a revelation that raised pressure over the Socialist government’s response to a wave of attacks claimed by Islamic State since early in 2015.

“We cannot allow ourselves to be dragged into the politics of Daech (Islamic State), which wants to set the children of the same family against each other,” the Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, told journalists after the meeting at the Elysee presidential palace.

He was flanked by representatives of other Christian denominations as well as Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist leaders.

Hollande and his ministers were already under fire from conservative opponents over the policing of Bastille Day celebrations in the Riviera city of Nice in which 84 people died when a delivery man drove a heavy truck at revelers.

Former president Nicolas Sarkozy, who is expected to enter a conservative primary for next year’s presidential election, stepped up his attack on Hollande’s record since the first major attack against satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo last year.

“All this violence and barbarism has paralyzed the French left since January 2015,” Sarkozy told Le Monde newspaper. “It has lost its bearings and is clinging to a mindset that is out of touch with reality.”

Sarkozy has called for the detention or electronic tagging of all suspected Islamist militants, even if they have committed no offense. France’s internal security service has confidential “S files” on some 10,500 suspected or aspiring jihadists.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve rejected Sarkozy’s proposal, saying that to jail them would be unconstitutional and in any case could be counterproductive.

“What has enabled France to break up a large number of terrorist networks is keeping these people under ‘S file’ surveillance, which allows intelligence services to work without these individuals being aware,” he said on Europe 1 radio.

Cazeneuve later told reporters that summer festivals that do not meet tight security standards will be canceled, as the government assigned 23,500 police, soldiers and reservists to protect 56 major cultural and sports events.

In an acknowledgement that the last two attacks occurred outside Paris, the minister announced a shift in the balance of the 10,000 soldiers already on the streets. Some 6,000 will now be based in the provinces.


Tuesday’s attackers interrupted a church service, forced the 85-year-old priest to his knees at the altar and slit his throat. As they came out of the church hiding behind three hostages and shouting “Allahu akbar” (“God is Greatest”), they were shot and killed by police.

The knifemen arrived during morning mass in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, a working-class town near Rouen, northwest of Paris, where Father Jacques Hamel had been celebrating mass. One of the hostages was badly wounded during the attack.

Islamic State said on its news agency that its “soldiers” carried out the attack. It has prioritized targeting France, which has been bombing the group’s bases in Iraq and Syria as part of a U.S.-led international coalition.

Police said they arrested a 16-year-old local youth after the incident but Cazeneuve said on Wednesday he did not appear to be linked to the church attack.

One of the attackers, 19-year-old Adel Kermiche, was a local man who was known to intelligence services after his failed bids to reach Syria to wage jihad.

Kermiche first tried to travel to Syria in March 2015 but was arrested in Germany. Upon his return to France he was placed under surveillance and barred from leaving his local area.

Less than two months later, Kermiche slipped away and was intercepted in Turkey making his way toward Syria again.

He was sent back to France and detained until late March this year when he was released on bail pending trial for alleged membership of a terrorist organization. He had to wear an electronic tag, surrender his passport and was only allowed to leave his parents’ home for a few hours a day.

Kermiche’s tag did not send an alarm because the attack took place during the four hour period when he was allowed out.

According to the justice ministry, there are just 13 terrorism suspects and people convicted of terrorist links wearing such tags. Seven are on pre-trial bail. The other six have been convicted but wear the electronic bracelet instead of serving a full jail term.

France was already in a state of shock less than two weeks after the Nice truck attack. In November, 130 people died in shooting and suicide bombings in and around Paris.

In March, three Islamist militants linked to the Paris attackers killed 32 people in suicide attacks on Brussels airport and a metro station in the Belgian capital.

Since the Bastille Day killings in Nice, there has been a spate of attacks in Germany too.

(Reporting by Andrew Callus and Chine Labbe; Editing by Paul Taylor)

Merkel and the days of terror

July 27, 2016

by Gavin Hewitt

BBC News

The decision to accept more than a million refugees was Angela Merkel’s biggest political gamble.

At first, she was widely applauded for her moral courage and leadership.

She told the German people: “We can handle this,” and there was a certain pride in German hospitality, in seeing citizens chant at Frankfurt railway station: “Say it loud, and say it clear, ‘Refugees are welcome here.'”

For the German chancellor, the refugee crisis underlined that “the heart and soul of Europe is tolerance”.

Doubts about her policy surfaced earlier this year, particularly after young women in Cologne were allegedly assaulted by groups of largely foreign men on New Year’s Eve.

The alleged assaults strengthened anti-immigrant protests, but they have subsided as the numbers of new arrivals dwindled.

But the misgivings have surfaced again after four attacks in the space of a week.

Three of them were carried out by asylum seekers.

The attacks were not related and do not reflect any co-ordinated plot against Germany.

Two of them, including the attack at a wine bar in Ansbach, had a link to the so-called Islamic State. A video found by the police vowed that Germany’s people “won’t be able to sleep peacefully anymore”.

Earlier in the year, Angela Merkel had seen her poll ratings slide – but compared with most other leaders, they remained remarkably strong.

After the incidents in Cologne, she did lose support – but more recently, after the UK vote to leave the European Union and the attempted coup in Turkey, her ratings soared.

Voters still see her as an anchor, a rock in a dangerously unstable world.

However, these latest attacks fuel concerns as to whether Germany is coping with the numbers it has had to process.

Mohammad Daleel, the Syrian refugee who killed himself and injured others in Ansbach, should have been deported months ago.

There are many others who have been refused permission to stay but still remain in the country.

It was apparent in Munich at the weekend that many people feel insecure.

Several residents said that they had been expecting attacks.

They spoke openly about their fears.

“People in Germany are scared,” said Rainer Wendt, the chairman of the German Police Federation.

Yet there was a calmness, an unwillingness to turn a tragedy into a wider denunciation of foreigners or a demand for a state of emergency.

The anti-immigration party Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) said under “the current ideology of dangerous ‘multiculturalism’, the country’s domestic security and the order of Germany keeps getting destroyed”.

But AfD has recently fallen back in the polls and is struggling to lift its ratings above 12-13%.

Yet these recent attacks will once again put immigration policy under scrutiny.

“It is right to debate about who the people are who come here,” said Mr Wendt. There will be pressure to vet newcomers more closely.

Refugees will be a major issue when Germany goes to the polls next year, when Angela Merkel is likely to stand for a fourth term.

She is hugely dependent on Turkey and its increasingly authoritarian leader preventing further refugees crossing into Greece and the EU.

The strategy of the German government is to reassure, to refuse to adopt dramatic measures when the four attacks are not linked in any way.

Among the 1.2 million refugees who have entered Germany, there have been 59 investigations into links with terrorism.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said: “We think that we should not change our behaviour.

“We need to be more vigilant, but we cannot live in fear.”

There are, however, deeper concerns about integration.

There have been programmes to teach refugees about the values of their new country, including equality between men and women, and about freedom of opinion.

The degree to which refugees integrate into Germany will, in the long term, determine whether Angela Merkel’s open-door policy has worked.

Further attacks – particularly if they are linked to recently arrived refugees – will make her vulnerable at next year’s elections.

With the UK bent on leaving the EU and the French president deeply unpopular, the German chancellor, more than ever, is “Frau Europe”.

She remains a steady, unemotional leader who said recently: “Fear has never been a good adviser, neither in our personal lives nor in our society.”

There’s No Business Like the Arms Business

Weapons “R” Us (But You’d Never Know It)

by William D. Hartung


When American firms dominate a global market worth more than $70 billion a year, you’d expect to hear about it.  Not so with the global arms trade.  It’s good for one or two stories a year in the mainstream media, usually when the annual statistics on the state of the business come out.

It’s not that no one writes about aspects of the arms trade. There are occasional pieces that, for example, take note of the impact of U.S. weapons transfers, including cluster bombs, to Saudi Arabia, or of the disastrous dispensation of weaponry to U.S. allies in Syria, or of foreign sales of the costly, controversial F-35 combat aircraft.  And once in a while, if a foreign leader meets with the president, U.S. arms sales to his or her country might generate an article or two. But the sheer size of the American arms trade, the politics that drive it, the companies that profit from it, and its devastating global impacts are rarely discussed, much less analyzed in any depth.

So here’s a question that’s puzzled me for years (and I’m something of an arms wonk): Why do other major U.S. exports — from Hollywood movies to Midwestern grain shipments to Boeing airliners — garner regular coverage while trends in weapons exports remain in relative obscurity?  Are we ashamed of standing essentially alone as the world’s number one arms dealer, or is our Weapons “R” Us role such a commonplace that we take it for granted, like death or taxes?

The numbers should stagger anyone.  According to the latest figures available from the Congressional Research Service, the United States was credited with more than half the value of all global arms transfer agreements in 2014, the most recent year for which full statistics are available. At 14%, the world’s second largest supplier, Russia, lagged far behind.  Washington’s “leadership” in this field has never truly been challenged.  The U.S. share has fluctuated between one-third and one-half of the global market for the past two decades, peaking at an almost monopolistic 70% of all weapons sold in 2011.  And the gold rush continues. Vice Admiral Joe Rixey, who heads the Pentagon’s arms sales agency, euphemistically known as the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, estimates that arms deals facilitated by the Pentagon topped $46 billion in 2015, and are on track to hit $40 billion in 2016.

To be completely accurate, there is one group of people who pay remarkably close attention to these trends — executives of the defense contractors that are cashing in on this growth market.  With the Pentagon and related agencies taking in “only” about $600 billion a year — high by historical standards but tens of billions of dollars less than hoped for by the defense industry — companies like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and General Dynamics have been looking to global markets as their major source of new revenue.

In a January 2015 investor call, for example, Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson was asked whether the Iran nuclear deal brokered by the Obama administration and five other powers might reduce tensions in the Middle East, undermining the company’s strategy of increasing its arms exports to the region.  She responded that continuing “volatility” in both the Middle East and Asia would make them “growth areas” for the foreseeable future.  In other words, no worries.  As long as the world stays at war or on the verge of it, Lockheed Martin’s profits won’t suffer — and, of course, its products will help ensure that any such “volatility” will prove lethal indeed.

Under Hewson, Lockheed has set a goal of getting at least 25% of its revenues from weapons exports, and Boeing has done that company one better.  It’s seeking to make overseas arms sales 30% of its business.

Good News From the Middle East (If You’re an Arms Maker)

Arms deals are a way of life in Washington.  From the president on down, significant parts of the government are intent on ensuring that American arms will flood the global market and companies like Lockheed and Boeing will live the good life.  From the president on his trips abroad to visit allied world leaders to the secretaries of state and defense to the staffs of U.S. embassies, American officials regularly act as salespeople for the arms firms.  And the Pentagon is their enabler.  From brokering, facilitating, and literally banking the money from arms deals to transferring weapons to favored allies on the taxpayers’ dime, it is in essence the world’s largest arms dealer.

In a typical sale, the U.S. government is involved every step of the way.  The Pentagon often does assessments of an allied nation’s armed forces in order to tell them what they “need” — and of course what they always need is billions of dollars in new U.S.-supplied equipment.  Then the Pentagon helps negotiate the terms of the deal, notifies Congress of its details, and collects the funds from the foreign buyer, which it then gives to the U.S. supplier in the form of a defense contract.  In most deals, the Pentagon is also the point of contact for maintenance and spare parts for any U.S.-supplied system. The bureaucracy that helps make all of this happen, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, is funded from a 3.5% surcharge on the deals it negotiates. This gives it all the more incentive to sell, sell, sell.

And the pressure for yet more of the same is always intense, in part because the weapons makers are careful to spread their production facilities to as many states and localities as possible.  In this way, they ensure that endless support for government promotion of major arms sales becomes part and parcel of domestic politics.

General Dynamics, for instance, has managed to keep its tank plants in Ohio and Michigan running through a combination of add-ons to the Army budget — funds inserted into that budget by Congress even though the Pentagon didn’t request them — and exports to Saudi Arabia.  Boeing is banking on a proposed deal to sell 40 F-18s to Kuwait to keep its St. Louis production line open, and is currently jousting with the Obama administration to get it to move more quickly on the deal.  Not surprisingly, members of Congress and local business leaders in such states become strong supporters of weapons exports.

Though seldom thought of this way, the U.S. political system is also a global arms distribution system of the first order.  In this context, the Obama administration has proven itself a good friend to arms exporting firms.  During President Obama’s first six years in office, Washington entered into agreements to sell more than $190 billion in weaponry worldwide — more, that is, than any U.S. administration since World War II.  In addition, Team Obama has loosened restrictions on arms exports, making it possible to send abroad a whole new range of weapons and weapons components — including Black Hawk and Huey helicopters and engines for C-17 transport planes — with far less scrutiny than was previously required.

This has been good news for the industry, which had been pressing for such changes for decades with little success. But the weaker regulations also make it potentially easier for arms smugglers and human rights abusers to get their hands on U.S. arms. For example, 36 U.S. allies — from Argentina and Bulgaria to Romania and Turkey — will no longer need licenses from the State Department to import weapons and weapons parts from the United States.  This will make it far easier for smuggling networks to set up front companies in such countries and get U.S. arms and arms components that they can then pass on to third parties like Iran or China.  Already a common practice, it will only increase under the new regulations.

The degree to which the Obama administration has been willing to bend over backward to help weapons exporters was underscored at a 2013 hearing on those administration export “reforms.”  Tom Kelly, then the deputy assistant secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, caught the spirit of the era when asked whether the administration was doing enough to promote American arms exports.  He responded:

“[We are] advocating on behalf of our companies and doing everything we can to make sure that these sales go through… and that is something we are doing every day, basically [on] every continent in the world… and we’re constantly thinking of how we can do better.”

One place where, with a helping hand from the Obama administration and the Pentagon, the arms industry has been doing a lot better of late is the Middle East.  Washington has brokered deals for more than $50 billion in weapons sales to Saudi Arabia alone for everything from F-15 fighter aircraft and Apache attack helicopters to combat ships and missile defense systems.

The most damaging deals, if not the most lucrative, have been the sales of bombs and missiles to the Saudis for their brutal war in Yemen, where thousands of civilians have been killed and millions of people are going hungry.  Members of Congress like Michigan Representative John Conyers and Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy have pressed for legislation that would at least stem the flow of the most deadly of the weaponry being sent for use there, but they have yet to overcome the considerable clout of the Saudis in Washington (and, of course, that of the arms industry as well).

When it comes to the arms business, however, there’s no end to the good news from the Middle East.  Take the administration’s proposed new 10-year aid deal with Israel.  If enacted as currently planned, it would boost U.S. military assistance to that country by up to 25% — to roughly $4 billion per year. At the same time, it would phase out a provision that had allowed Israel to spend one-quarter of Washington’s aid developing its own defense industry.  In other words, all that money, the full $4 billion in taxpayer dollars, will now flow directly into the coffers of companies like Lockheed Martin, which is in the midst of completing a multi-billion-dollar deal to sell the Israelis F-35s.

“Volatility” in Asia and Europe

As Lockheed Martin’s Marillyn Hewson noted, however, the Middle East is hardly the only growth area for that firm or others like it.  The dispute between China and its neighbors over the control of the South China Sea (which is in many ways an incipient conflict over whether that country or the United States will control that part of the Pacific Ocean) has opened up new vistas when it comes to the sale of American warships and other military equipment to Washington’s East Asian allies.  The recent Hague court decision rejecting Chinese claims to those waters (and the Chinese rejection of it) is only likely to increase the pace of arms buying in the region.

At the same time, in the good-news-never-ends department, growing fears of North Korea’s nuclear program have stoked a demand for U.S.-supplied missile defense systems.  The South Koreans have, in fact, just agreed to deploy Lockheed Martin’s THAAD anti-missile system.  In addition, the Obama administration’s decision to end the longstanding embargo on U.S. arms sales to Vietnam is likely to open yet another significant market for U.S. firms. In the past two years alone, the U.S. has offered more than $15 billion worth of weaponry to allies in East Asia, with Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea accounting for the bulk of the sales.

In addition, the Obama administration has gone to great lengths to build a defense relationship with India, a development guaranteed to benefit U.S. arms exporters.  Last year, Washington and New Delhi signed a 10-year defense agreement that included pledges of future joint work on aircraft engines and aircraft carrier designs.  In these years, the U.S. has made significant inroads into the Indian arms market, which had traditionally been dominated by the Soviet Union and then Russia.  Recent deals include a $5.8 billion sale of Boeing C-17 transport aircraft and a $1.4 billion agreement to provide support services related to a planned purchase of Apache attack helicopters.

And don’t forget “volatile” Europe.  Great Britain’s recent Brexit vote introduced an uncertainty factor into American arms exports to that country. The United Kingdom has been by far the biggest purchaser of U.S. weapons in Europe of late, with more than $6 billion in deals struck over the past two years alone — more, that is, than the U.S. has sold to all other European countries combined.

The British defense behemoth BAE is Lockheed Martin’s principal foreign partner on the F-35 combat aircraft, which at a projected cost of $1.4 trillion over its lifetime already qualifies as the most expensive weapons program in history.  If Brexit-driven austerity were to lead to a delay in, or the cancellation of, the F-35 deal (or any other major weapons shipments), it would be a blow to American arms makers.  But count on one thing: were there to be even a hint that this might happen to the F-35, lobbyists for BAE will mobilize to get the deal privileged status, whatever other budget cuts may be in the works.

On the bright side (if you happen to be a weapons maker), any British reductions will certainly be more than offset by opportunities in Eastern and Central Europe, where a new Cold War seems to be gaining traction.  Between 2014 and 2015, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, military spending increased by 13% in the region in response to the Russian intervention in Ukraine. The rise in Poland’s outlays, at 22%, was particularly steep.

Under the circumstances, it should be obvious that trends in the global arms trade are a major news story and should be dealt with as such in the country most responsible for putting more weapons of a more powerful nature into the hands of those living in “volatile” regions.  It’s a monster business (in every sense of the word) and certainly has far more dangerous consequences than licensing a Hollywood blockbuster or selling another Boeing airliner.

Historically, there have been rare occasions of public protest against unbridled arms trafficking, as with the backlash against “the merchants of death” after World War I, or the controversy over who armed Saddam Hussein that followed the 1991 Persian Gulf War.  Even now, small numbers of congressional representatives, including John Conyers, Chris Murphy, and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, continue to try to halt the sale of cluster munitions, bombs, and missiles to Saudi Arabia.

There is, however, unlikely to be a genuine public debate about the value of the arms business and Washington’s place in it if it isn’t even considered a subject worthy of more than an occasional media storyIn the meantime, the United States continues to hold onto the number one role in the global arms trade, the White House does its part, the Pentagon greases the wheels, and the dollars roll in to profit-hungry U.S. weapons contractors.

If Russian Intelligence Did Hack the DNC, the NSA Would Know, Snowden Says

July 26 2016

by Robert Mackey

The Intercept

As my colleague Glenn Greenwald told WNYC on Monday, while there may never be conclusive evidence that the Democratic National Committee was hacked by Russian intelligence operatives to extract the trove of embarrassing emails published by WikiLeaks, it would hardly be shocking if that was what happened.

“Governments do spy on each other and do try to influence events in other countries,” Glenn noted. “Certainly the U.S. government has a very long and successful history of doing exactly that.”

Even so, he added, given the ease with which we were misled into war in Iraq by false claims about weapons of mass destruction — and the long history of Russophobia in American politics — it is vital to cast a skeptical eye over whatever evidence is presented to support the claim, made by Hillary Clinton’s aide Robby Mook, that this is all part of a Russian plot to sabotage the Democrats and help Donald Trump win the election.

The theory gained some traction, particularly among Trump’s detractors, in part because the candidate has seemed obsessed at times with reminding crowds that Russian President Vladimir Putin once said something sort of nice about him (though not, as Trump falsely claims, that the American is “a genius”). Then last week, Trump’s campaign staff watered down a pledge to help Ukraine defend its territory from Russian-backed rebels and the candidate told the New York Times he would not necessarily honor the NATO treaty commitment that requires the United States military to defend other member states from a direct attack by Russia.

Since Trump has refused to release his tax returns, there are also questions about whether or not his businesses might depend to some extent on Russian investors. “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” Trump’s son Donald Jr. told a real estate conference in 2008, the Washington Post reported last month. “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

Paul Manafort, who is directing Trump’s campaign and was for years a close adviser of a Putin ally, former President Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine, called the theory that Trump’s campaign had ties to the Russian government “absurd.” (On Monday, Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News reported that a DNC researcher looking into Manafort’s ties to pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine in May had been warned that her personal Yahoo email account was under attack. “We strongly suspect that your account has been the target of state-sponsored actors,” the warning from the email service security team read.)

Unhelpfully for Trump, his most senior adviser with knowledge of the world of hacking, retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told Bloomberg View that he “would not be surprised at all” to learn that Russia was behind the breach of the DNC network. “Both China and Russia have the full capability to do this,” he said.

Later on Monday, Trump himself then attributed the attack on the DNC to “China, Russia, one of our many, many ‘friends,’” who “came in and hacked the hell out of us.”

Since very few of us are cybersecurity experts, and the Iraq debacle is a reminder of how dangerous it can be to put blind faith in experts whose claims might reinforce our own political positions, there is also the question of who we can trust to provide reliable evidence.

One expert in the field, who is well aware of the evidence-gathering capabilities of the U.S. government, is Edward Snowden, the former Central Intelligence Agency technician and National Security Agency whistleblower who exposed the extent of mass surveillance and has been given temporary asylum in Russia.

“If Russia hacked the #DNC, they should be condemned for it,” Snowden wrote on Twitter on Monday, with a link to a 2015 report on the U.S. government’s response to the hacking of Sony Pictures. In that case, he noted, “the FBI presented evidence” for its conclusion that North Korea was responsible for the hacking and subsequent release of internal emails. (The FBI is now investigating the breach of the DNC’s network, which officials told the Daily Beast they first made the committee aware of in April.)

What’s more, Snowden added, the NSA has tools that should make it possible to trace the source of the hack. Even though the Director of National Intelligence usually opposes making such evidence public, he argued, this is a case in which the agency should do so, if only to discourage future attacks.

Another former insider with knowledge of American and Russian intelligence capabilities, Michael McFaul, the U.S. ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014, agreed that it should be possible for the U.S. to present proof if Russia was, in fact, responsible for the attack.

While we wait to see if the NSA will take its most famous former employee’s advice, it is worth reading a thorough review of the evidence produced so far, compiled for Motherboard by Thomas Rid, a professor at King’s College London who has charted the use of hacking for espionage.

As Rid explains, the attribution of the DNC hack to Russian intelligence agents was first suggested on June 15 by CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity firm hired by the Democrats to investigate the possible breach of their system in May.

Last month, one of the firm’s founders, Dmitri Alperovitch, explained in a detailed technical analysis of their findings that CrowdStrike discovered “two separate Russian intelligence-affiliated adversaries present in the DNC network in May.”

The groups, he added, are so familiar to the investigators from previous attacks that they have acquired commonly used nicknames in the security industry. One, “Cozy Bear” or “APT 29,” had been inside the committee’s network for about a year; a second, “Fancy Bear,” also called “APT 28,” breached the system in April.

We’ve had lots of experience with both of these actors attempting to target our customers in the past and know them well. In fact, our team considers them some of the best adversaries out of all the numerous nation-state, criminal and hacktivist/terrorist groups we encounter on a daily basis. Their tradecraft is superb, operational security second to none and the extensive usage of “living-off-the-land” techniques enables them to easily bypass many security solutions they encounter. In particular, we identified advanced methods consistent with nation-state level capabilities including deliberate targeting and “access management” tradecraft — both groups were constantly going back into the environment to change out their implants, modify persistent methods, move to new Command & Control channels and perform other tasks to try to stay ahead of being detected.

Cozy Bear is the group that “successfully infiltrated the unclassified networks of the White House, State Department, and U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff” last year, Alperovitch noted. Fancy Bear, he added, has “been linked publicly to intrusions into the German Bundestag and France’s TV5 Monde TV station in April 2015.”

Readers with a high level of technical competence can parse the clues explained fully in Alperovitch’s blog post, but he also noted a surprising fact: that the two groups thought to be affiliated with rival Russian intelligence agencies — the successor to the Soviet-era KGB, known as the FSB, and the GRU, a military intelligence service — appeared unaware of each other’s activities.

“We have identified no collaboration between the two actors, or even an awareness of one by the other,” Alperovitch observed. “Instead, we observed the two Russian espionage groups compromise the same systems and engage separately in the theft of identical credentials.”

One day after this initial attribution of the attack to Russian intelligence was made public by CrowdStrike and the DNC, someone using the pseudonym Guccifer 2.0, in reference to the Romanian hacker who famously uncovered George W. Bush’s secret career as a painter of selfies, started publishing documents stolen from the committee’s servers on a WordPress blog set up that day, and taunting the security experts on Twitter.

Guccifer 2.0, who claims to be a Romanian who dislikes Russians, told my colleague Sam Biddle that he or she had carried out the attack with no help from anyone else, just to expose “all those illuminati that captured our world,” and had provided hacked documents to WikiLeaks.

However, several analysts pointed out that there is evidence in the metadata that copies of the DNC documents posted online by Guccifer 2.0, starting with an opposition research dossier on Trump, appear to have been processed on a computer with Russian language settings. Parsing the documents on Twitter, the blogger Davi Ottenheimer and an information security analyst who writes as @pwnallthethings pointed out that copies of the stolen documents uploaded to WordPress rendered the hacker’s username, Iron Felix, in Cyrillic characters, and gave error messages for links in Russian.

Doubts were also cast over Guccifer 2.0’s identity by his or her apparent lack of fluency in Romanian in an online chat with Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai of Motherboard.

Despite Guccifer 2.0’s claims, CrowdStrike’s attribution to the previously known Russian groups was supported by subsequent research last month from two rival network security firms: Fidelis Cybersecurity and Mandiant.

“We performed an independent review of the malware and other data (filenames, file sizes, IP addresses) in order to validate and provide our perspective on the reporting done by CrowdStrike,” Michael Buratowski, a Fidelis senior vice president, explained in a detailed technical analysis. The firm’s conclusions supported the attribution to the two well-known Russian groups. Among other factors, Buratowski noted, “the malware samples were conspicuously large” and “contained all or most of their embedded dependencies and functional code.”

“This is a very specific modus operandi less sophisticated actors do not employ,” he argued.

A Mandiant researcher, Marshall Heilman, told the Washington Post he agreed that the malware and associated servers were consistent with those previously used by the two Russian groups.

Another American cybersecurity firm, ThreatConnect, reported on Tuesday that it had uncovered evidence that “Guccifer 2.0 is using the Russia-based Elite VPN service to communicate and leak documents” to reporters.

The suspicion that the raid of the DNC servers might have been carried out by Russian intelligence was unsurprising to some experts, as Wired’s Andy Greenberg reported, given that the FBI warned both Barack Obama and John McCain in 2008 that their campaign computer systems had been breached by foreign hackers, most likely from Russia or China.

Some observers, like the Harvard Law professor Jack Goldsmith, who worked for President George W. Bush, suggested that such attacks might be seen as payback, given that American intelligence agencies have made aggressive use of hacking, which “almost certainly extends to political organizations in adversary states.”

As the journalist Marcy Wheeler noted on her blog, according to report on the Snowden documents by Jens Glüsing, Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark for Spiegel, the NSA hacked into “a key mail server in the Mexican Presidencia domain within the Mexican Presidential network,” during that country’s 2012 election campaign, and intercepted 85,489 text messages sent by the ruling party candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto himself, or his associates.

What makes the DNC breach new, however, is the fact that close to 20,000 emails and other documents — including personal information and credit card details of donors — were provided to WikiLeaks, which made them public on the eve of this week’s convention. Some of the private email traffic made public, which validated complaints from the Bernie Sanders campaign that the DNC officials favored Hillary Clinton, helped to reopen wounds from the bruising primary campaign.

The role played by WikiLeaks, and the professed indifference of the group’s founder, Julian Assange, to the source of the hacked documents, caused some journalists to ask if the site had allowed itself to be used as part of a post-modern dirty trick, a sort of Watergate 2.0.One reporter, James Surowiecki of the New Yorker, even mused about how WikiLeaks might have treated documents provided by the Watergate burglars had it been around in 1972 when the Republican operatives broke into the DNC office in that building, precisely to obtain damaging information about the party through theft and surveillance.

Of course, many other reporters have taken the view that the material made public by WikiLeaks is clearly newsworthy, given that it helps expose the inner workings of a largely unaccountable private political party, which plays a central and privileged role in the election of America’s leaders. That is why an array of publications, including The Intercept, quickly started to provide reporting and analysis on what was revealed in the leaked documents.

Asked by NBC News on Monday if WikiLeaks might have been used to distribute documents stolen as part of a Russian intelligence operation, Assange insisted there was “no proof of that whatsoever — we have not disclosed our source, and of course this is a diversion that’s being pushed by the Hillary Clinton campaign.”

Of course, given that a cornerstone of the WikiLeaks promise to sources is that the site was designed to receive material without revealing the identity of the leaker to anyone at the anti-secrecy group, it should be impossible for Assange himself to know that the hacked DNC documents did not come from a Russian intelligence operative — or, for that matter, a Republican one.

Convinced by the available evidence that the leak was orchestrated by Russian intelligence, Thomas Rid, the security analyst who writes for Motherboard, went so far as to suggest that by publishing these documents, WikiLeaks had become “a legitimate target” for counterintelligence operations by the five-nation club of the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Although WikiLeaks describes the hacked DNC emails as “part one of our new Hillary Leaks series,” Assange himself rejected the charge that he is helping in a partisan attack. “This is a quite a classical release,” he told Amy Goodman of “Democracy Now” on Monday, “showing the benefit of producing pristine data sets, presenting them before the public, where there’s equal access to all journalists and to interested members of the public to mine through them and have them in a citable form where they can then be used to prop up certain criticisms or political arguments.”

Assange demurred when Goodman asked if he preferred Trump over Clinton — “You’re asking me, do I prefer cholera or gonorrhea?” — but he was more forthright in an interview with Robert Peston of Britain’s ITV on June 12, two days before the DNC hack was first reported.

After telling Peston in that conversation, “We have emails relating to Hillary Clinton which are pending publication,” Assange was asked if his intention was to help Trump get elected. “Well, I think Trump is a completely unpredictable phenomenon. You can’t predict what he would do in office,” he replied. “From my personal perspective, well, you know, the emails we published show that Hillary Clinton is receiving constant updates about my personal situation; she has pushed for the prosecution of WikiLeaks, which is still in train. So, we do see her as a bit of a problem, for freedom of the press more generally.”

On Twitter, WikiLeaks has been more forthright about seeing the DNC emails and those from Clinton’s personal server — which the group copied from the State Department’s website to make into a searchable database — as material that can be used “to prop up certain criticisms” of the former secretary of state.

Some of that criticism, however, has not been well-grounded in fact, leaving the organization open to accusations that, rather than serving as an impartial clearinghouse for leaks, annotated by its readers — like Wikipedia — it has evolved into a platform for analysis by a small circle of insiders.

To take one example, on Saturday, a WikiLeaks tweet incorrectly claimed that one email from the leak revealed that Luis Miranda, the DNC communications director, had suggested that Trump might have been right to say that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the Kennedy assassination.

Reading the email itself, however, shows something quite different. The complete text of the email chain makes it clear that Miranda was contributing to a thread in which officials worked together to edit a draft of a humorous press release, or “hit,” that mocked Trump for making such an outlandish suggestion.

While Miranda did write to his colleagues that Cruz’s father might have been part of an anti-Castro Cuban exile community “with questionable histories,” he also indicated that he approved the final text, which was posted online by the DNC that same day. That text put Trump’s claim about Cruz’s father at the top of a list of examples of “the GOP’s presumptive standard bearer just spouting nonsense he reads on the internet or in the tabloids.”

While such errors in the annotation of the DNC documents look more like sloppiness than an attempt to intentionally mislead readers, the mistakes point to a weakness in the platform’s development — the lack of a robust system for correcting mistakes noted by readers, like the one used by Wikipedia.

That problem has also been noted in the way WikiLeaks presented emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server first released by the State Department.

In March, WikiLeaks was criticized by some Twitter followers — including David Kenner, the Middle East editor of Foreign Policy — for the confusing way it presented the text of a draft opinion article sent to Clinton by a friend as if it were the text of an email from her — and one that revealed her secret plan to destroy the Syrian government to help Israel.

In fact, as the State Department’s website makes clear, that text was sent to Clinton as an attachment to a 2012 email from James Rubin, who served in Bill Clinton’s administration. Reading the email, Rubin attached his draft piece to make it clear that he hoped his essay — which was later published in slightly revised form by Foreign Policy — would convince the Obama administration to help Syrian rebels topple Bashar al-Assad largely to “forestall the biggest danger on the horizon, that Israel launches a surprise attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.”

Rubin also made it clear in his email that he did not think Clinton shared his view of the situation at that time. “I know you may not agree,” he wrote, “but I thought it was better to share this with you first as at least a new way to look at the problem.”

Unfortunately, the way WikiLeaks described Rubin’s draft op-ed as one of “Hillary Emails” sowed confusion online and led to outraged blog posts and Russian news reports that mistakenly credited Assange’s group with revealing the text of a bombshell email from Clinton that offered insight into her thinking.

Despite concerns that the group’s own annotation of documents related to Clinton might be at times muddled, in his “Democracy Now” interview, Assange defended his decision not to “establish partnerships with the New York Times or the Washington Post,” as he has done in the past to ensure that leaked documents would come to light not only in raw form but also accompanied by some analysis from political or national security reporters.

Working with the editorial staffs of those newspapers on material like this “might be counterproductive,” Assange said, “because they are partisans of one group or another.”












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