CIA-Saudi conspire to cover-up 9/11 details secret, reveals new book

CIA-Saudi conspire to cover-up 9/11 details secret, reveals new book

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NEW DELHI: John Duffy and Ray Nowosielski, the authors of a new explosive book on 9/11 have taken a new and deeper look and find huge holes and contradictions in the official story into the tragedy, happened on September 11, 2001, mere “a failure to connect the dots.”

According to a report in the Newsweek, in their book, The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark: The CIA, NSA, and the Crimes of the War on Terror, Duffy, and Nowosielski refocus public attention claiming that the CIA and Saudi Arabia conspired to keep 9/11 attack details secret.

Duffy, a left-leaning writer and environmental activist, and Nowosielski, a documentary filmmaker, presented an update by writing accounts from former US intelligence officials.

“It’s horrible. We still don’t know what happened,” said Ali Soufan, one of the lead FBI counterterrorism agents whom the CIA kept in the dark about Al Qaeda’s plotting and movements.

Thomas Drake

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@WatchdogsBook takes new & deeper look thru insider whistleblower accounts into tragedy of 9/11 where gov’t used denial, deception & coverup of culpability for abysmal failure to prevent 9/11 & keep almost 3,000 people out of harm’s way murdered that day.

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The authors in 2009 scored an astounding video interview with Richard Clarke, White House counter-terrorism adviser during the Bill Clinton and George W Bush administrations.

Top CIA officials, including director George Tenet, knew about the movements of the future al-Qaeda hijackers but had withheld the crucial information, raged Clarke in a video interview.

The September 11, 2001 attacks, also known as the 9/11 attacks, killed nearly 3,000 people besides causing a damage of about $10 billion worth of property and infrastructure.

Theory: Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker Is A Trump Version Of Batman

Theory: Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker Is A Trump Version Of Batman

by Alex LeadbeaterAug 28, 2018

The Joker origin movie just keeps getting weirder and weirder, but does its latest development reveal its hand: is Todd Phillip’s prequel really exploring Batman in relation to President Trump? The prospect of a Joker movie outside of the DCEU with Joaquin Phoenix as the Clown Prince of Crime was first floated a year ago, and despite a lot of movement on the project – it’s now set for an October 2019 release – there’s still a lot of confusion about what it actually is.

A movie once set to be executive produced by Martin Scorsese from the director of The Hangover starring a brusque arthouse actor that exists alongside the shared universe canon take from Jared Leto, Joker is certainly an odd proposition. What little story details there are suggests that it will take inspiration from The King of Comedy and The Killing Joke, with character descriptions that are a world away from what you’d typically expect from Mr. J.

Related: Joker Origin Movie: Every Update You Need To Know

Everything has been made even weirder by the casting of Alec Baldwin as Thomas Wayne, father of future Batman Bruce. Baldwin has reinvigorated his career playing President Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live, a role he’s already referenced with a short cameo in BlacKkKlansman and appears to be the reference point for his Wayne. While this may seem bizarre, put alongside those ambiguous character descriptions it may just explain what’s going: Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker is a warped, “What If?” Batman.

• This Page: Joker May Be Thomas Wayne’s Son

Joker’s Thomas Wayne Is 1980s Trump

The report of Baldwin’s casting describes this version of Thomas Wayne as a “cheesy and tanned businessman who is more in the mold of a 1980s Donald Trump“. That’s not new for Baldwin, of course, and neither is it new for Joker. A previously reported character description for who was then known as “Mr. Warner“:

MR. WARNER Supporting Male (60-70) [MR. WARNER] male, Caucasian, 60s, a deeply-tanned, hair dyed so black it was almost blue, highly successful, New York City businessman, rumored to be running for Mayor. He’s a public figure in the city and a symbol of wealth [STRONG SUPPORTING]

Although he was originally suspected to be Rupert Thorne, Baldwin’s age range and Trump comparison definitely make it seem like Mr. Warner was the casting name for Thomas Wayne. That would, in turn, reveal a little about his role in the film: he’s a key supporting player with high power aspirations (mirroring how Donald Trump discussed running for President decades prior to the 2016 election).

There are multiple ways that this version of Thomas Wayne could fit into the story. For one, if the movie is told from the Joker’s fractured view on the world, then conflating a successful businessman with someone as distinct and controversial as Trump would be a natural skewed extension. Additionally, having such a known figure linked to this role beelines into a commentary on 1980s excess and inflated wealth; both The King of Comedy and The Killing Joke see protagonists transformed by their overreaching aspirations. However, it may go deeper – and more personal – than that.

Related: Is Joker Based On The Man Who Laughs?

Joker May Be Thomas Wayne’s Son

Now, here’s where the character descriptions reveal something new. Phoenix’s character is supposedly called Arthur Fleck, a man who returns to Gotham to care for his aging mother. That role is described as “very attractive in her youth“, “obsessed with her former employer” and unable to believe “this is what her life has come to“.

At the time, it was theorized that Fleck could be the illegitimate son of the Mr. Warner role, then speculated and now confirmed to be Thomas Wayne. There’s no direct evidence of this, but the suggestion of Fleck’s mother’s youth and subsequent fall from grace being important would certainly line up with the descriptions of Thomas and strengthen any class discussion the movie will be making.

That possibility is mainly eye-catching because it would turn the Joker into Batman’s half-brother, a new twist on the diametrically opposed Gotham forces: even if Bruce Wayne doesn’t play a role, it would seem to suggest that good and evil come from the same origin point, perhaps a new twist on The Killing Joke and its “one bad day” motif. However, could it be something deeper? Could Joker be Batman?

CIA and Saudi Arabia Conspired To Keep 9/11 Details Secret, New Book Says

CIA and Saudi Arabia Conspired To Keep 9/11 Details Secret, New Book Says

By Jeff Stein On 8/28/18 at 6:00 AM

It’s easier to bury uncomfortable facts than to confront them. So this September 11, the ceremonies marking the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., will simply honor the dead. In Manhattan, tourists and mourners will gather where the World Trade Center Towers once stood, lowering their heads in memory of the 2,606 who perished there. The services won’t reflect the view that the attacks might well have been prevented.

But for hundreds of families and a growing number of former FBI agents, the grief of another 9/11 ceremony will be laced with barely muted rage: There remains a conspiracy of silence among high former U.S. and Saudi officials about the attacks.

“It’s horrible. We still don’t know what happened,” said Ali Soufan, one of the lead FBI counterterrorism agents whom the CIA kept in the dark about the movements of the future Al-Qaeda hijackers. To Soufan and many other former national security officials, the unanswered questions about the events leading up to the September 11, 2001, attacks dwarf those about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, because “9/11 changed the whole world.” It not only led to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the fracturing of the Middle East and the global growth of Islamic militantism but also pushed the U.S. closer to being a virtual homeland-security police state.

“I am sad and depressed about it,” said Mark Rossini, one of two FBI agents assigned to the CIA’s Osama bin Laden unit, who says agency managers mysteriously blocked them from informing their headquarters about future Al-Qaeda plotters present in the United States in 2000 and again in the summer of 2001. “It is patently evident the attacks did not need to happen and there has been no justice,” he said.

The authors of a new book on 9/11 hope to refocus public attention on the cover-up. Thoroughly mining the multiple official investigations into the event, John Duffy and Ray Nowosielski find huge holes and contradictions in the official story that 9/11 was merely “a failure to connect the dots.”

Duffy, a left-leaning writer and environmental activist, and Nowosielski, a documentary filmmaker, have nowhere near the prominence of other journalists who have poked holes in the official story, in particular Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, the Pulitzer Prize–winning book that was turned into a gripping multi-part docudrama on Hulu earlier this year.

But Duffy and Nowosielski come to the story with a noteworthy credential: In 2009 they scored an astounding video interview with Richard Clarke, a White House counterterrorism adviser during the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. In it, Clarke raged that top CIA officials, including director George Tenet, had withheld crucial information from him about Al-Qaeda’s plotting and movements, including the arrival in the U.S. of future hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi. In The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark: The CIA, NSA, and the Crimes of the War on Terror, the authors assemble a compelling case of a government-wide cover-up of Saudi complicity in the affair.

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In 2002, Tenet swore to Congress that he wasn’t aware of the imminent threat because it came in a cable that wasn’t marked urgent—and “no one read it.” But his story was shredded five years later when Senators Ron Wyden and Kit Bond forced loose an executive summary of the CIA’s own internal investigation of 9/11, which stated that “some 50 to 60 individuals read one or more of the six Agency cables containing travel information related to these terrorists.”

Clarke went ballistic. Until then, he had trusted Tenet, a close colleague and friend, to tell the truth. In 2009, despairing at the lack of media traction on the astounding disclosure, he wrote a book about the duplicity, Your Government Failed You, which was largely ignored. So when Duffy and Nowosielski came calling, he welcomed them.

“I believed, for the longest time, that this was one or two low-level desk officers who got this [information about Hazmi and Mihdhar] and somehow didn’t realize the significance,” he told them. But “50—five oh—50 CIA officers knew this, and they included [Tenet and] all kinds of people who were regularly talking to me? Saying I’m pissed doesn’t begin to describe it.”

All these years later, it’s still unclear why the CIA would keep such crucial details about Al-Qaeda movements from the FBI. Clarke and other insiders suspect that the spy agency had a deeply compartmented plan in the works to recruit Hazmi, Mihdhar and perhaps other Al-Qaeda operatives as double agents. If the FBI discovered they were in California, the theory goes, it would have demanded their arrest. When the CIA’s recruitment ploy fizzled, Tenet and company hid the details from Clarke lest they be accused of “malfeasance and misfeasance,” he said.

It’s the only logical explanation for why the presence of Hazmi and Mihdhar was kept from him until after the attacks, Clarke said. “They told us everything—except this,” he says in the video.

Tenet and two of his counterterrorism deputies, Rich Blee and Cofer Black, issued a statement calling Clarke’s theory “reckless and profoundly wrong.” But now Clarke has company. Duffy and Nowosielski found other key former FBI counterterrorism agents and officials who have developed deep doubts about Tenet’s story. The only element they disagree on is which officials were responsible for the alleged subterfuge.

“I think if there were some conscious effort” not to tell the bureau what was going on, Dale Watson, a former FBI deputy chief of counterterrorism told them, “it was probably” carried out below Tenet, Blee and Black, by managers of the CIA’s Osama bin Laden unit.

But Pat D’Amuro, an even more senior former FBI counterterrorism official, told them, “There’s no doubt in my mind that [withholding the information] went up further in the agency” than those managers. “And why they didn’t send it over, to this day, I don’t know why.”

And then there’s the continuing mystery of Saudi complicity with the hijackers. Duffy and Nowosielski offer a tightly focused update on what’s been learned about Saudi support for Al-Qaeda in recent years. Back in 2004, the official 9/11 Commission said it found no evidence that the “Saudi government as an institution, or senior Saudi officials individually funded” Al-Qaeda.

A year later, the highly redacted CIA inspector general’s report cracked open another window, saying that some agency officers had “speculated” that “dissident sympathizers within the government” (i.e., religious extremists) may have supported bin Laden. Subsequent investigations have revealed that officials from the kingdom’s Islamic affairs ministry were actively helping the hijackers get settled in California.

Such information spurred several hundred families of the 9/11 attack victims to file suit against the Saudi government in federal court in New York last year, seeking unspecified monetary damages.

“Saudi intelligence has admitted that they knew who these two guys were,” Andrew Maloney, an attorney for families, told Newsweek last week. “They knew they were Al-Qaeda the day they arrived in Los Angeles. So any notion from the Saudi government saying, ‘Oh, we just help out all Saudis here’ is false. They knew. And the CIA knew.”

The kingdom has turned over some 6,800 pages of documents, “mostly in Arabic,” that Maloney’s team is in the process of translating. “There’s some interesting things in there,” he said, “and some clear gaps.” He said he’ll return to court in October to press for more documents.

He also wants to depose Saudi officials, particularly Fahad al-Thumairy, a former Los Angeles consular official and imam of a Culver City, California, mosque attended by the hijackers. In 2003, Thumairy was intercepted after he landed in Los Angeles on a flight from Germany and deported from the U.S. “because of suspected terrorist links.” But he still works for the government in Riyadh, Maloney said. “Can you believe that?”

In April, Maloney subpoenaed the FBI for documents on Thumairy and Omar al-Bayoumi, a suspected Saudi spy in the U.S. who was also in contact with the hijackers. The bureau has not responded, so on September 11 he plans to file “a formal motion to compel the FBI” to produce the documents. His motion follows a sworn statement by Steven Moore, the FBI agent who headed the bureau’s investigation into the hijacking of the plane that flew into the Pentagon, charging the 9/11 Commission with misleading the public when it said it “had not found evidence” of Saudi assistance to Hazmi and Mihdhar.

“There was clearly evidence that Thumairy provided assistance to Hazmi and Mihdhar,” Moore wrote. And “based on the proof in our investigation,” he added, “Bayoumi himself was a clandestine agent and associated with radical extremists, including Thumairy.”

Moore’s statement was first reported by the Florida Bulldog, a Fort Lauderdale news site that has been investigating the hijackers’ contacts with flight schools. “To my knowledge,” Moore stated, “Thumairy has never been the subject of a genuine law enforcement interview conducted by the actual agents who investigated him.”

Maloney’s additional targets are other FBI, CIA, State Department and Treasury Department personnel and documents. “There are a lot of people, former agents—I won’t identify who or what agencies—who have talked to us,” he said, but others, especially in the CIA’s bin Laden unit, “will never talk to us or will only talk to us if they are given some kind of blanket immunity.”

Getting access to them, he said, would probably require an executive order from President Donald Trump—an unlikely outcome given his administration’s strong backing for the Saudi monarchy.

There may be public support for Maloney’s endeavors. A 2016 poll found a slight majority of Americans (54.3 percent) believe that the government is hiding something about the 9/11 attacks. Then again, a considerable number of 9/11 “truthers” embrace conspiracy theories positing that the attacks were “an inside job” by the Bush administration and/or Israel and abetted by explosives planted in one of the World Trade Center towers.

The September 11 memorial in lower Manhattan. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

But they are right about Saudi resistance to fully disclosing its relations with the hijackers. Last year, agents of the monarchy were discovered surreptitiously funding a PR effort to derail a congressional bill permitting a 9/11 families group to sue the kingdom for damages. Last September, the family group filed a 17-page complaint with the Justice Department.

Terry Strada, a leader of the group 9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism, will mourn again this year, but not at the site where the towers once stood and her husband died. She plans to attend “a private service” at the Shrine of St. Joseph in Stirling, New Jersey, which she said has “a beautiful and solemn space” dedicated to all who died in the 9/11 attacks.

But she is also full of fury at the government’s refusal to release all it knows about the run-up to the attacks. “It’s very sad that we’re still being kept in the dark about it. It’s frustrating. It angers me,” she told Newsweek. “It’s a slap in the face. They think they’re above the law and don’t have to respond to the families—and the world. It’s disgusting.”

But Strada evinces even more disdain for the Saudis. Responding to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s August 20 message “wishing Muslims around the world a blessed Eid al-Adha,” she tweeted, “Seriously???”

Strada added, “The Saudis promote & finance the most virulent hatred toward Americans than any other nation. Murdered 3,000 on Sept 11.” The “9/11 families,” she wrote, “will #NEVERFORGET. #FreeTheTruth”

Correction: An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect subtitle for John Duffy and Ray Nowosielski’s new book, The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark: The CIA, NSA, and the Crimes of the War on Terror.

Secret message board drives ‘pizzagate’-style harassment campaign of small businesses

Secret message board drives ‘pizzagate’-style harassment campaign of small businesses

The theorists are inspired in part by a far-right news website that has been used by prominent Republicans for fundraising efforts.

Aug.27.2018 / 12:54 PM ET

In January, Andrew Richmond, a co-founder of a Toronto-based chain of ice cream shops called Sweet Jesus, started receiving strange online comments and phone calls.

Conspiracy theorists littered the Instagram and Facebook accounts of Sweet Jesus with accusations and menacing comments, pointing to the chain’s name, brand iconography and advertising featuring children. They posted the shop’s advertisements to their own social media accounts and tagged them #PedoGate. Others took their campaign offline, calling the company’s shops and threatening employees.

“People were saying that we were pedophiles and the Illuminati,” Richmond said. “I wish I were part of the Illuminati. Don’t they run the world? I’m just selling ice cream.”

The worst of it was over within a week, Richmond said.

“We were willing to say who we are and what we stand for, that it’s innocent,” Richmond said. “I realized we were winning the battle of reasonableness here.”

Sweet Jesus isn’t the only business that has been the target of an online conspiracy theory. Voodoo Doughnut, a popular chain based in Portland, Oregon, has received similar calls in recent weeks.

“They’re very persistent,” said Eamon Monaghan, a manager at the company’s downtown Portland store, adding that calls were coming in hourly claiming, “we know what is happening at your place.”

“We’re trying to firmly but politely say this isn’t a thing and carry on with our business and ignore it,” Monaghan said.

The harassment comes from a group of fervent online conspiracists who have been targeting private businesses and individuals with harassment campaigns and accusations of being involved with child-sex trafficking rings.

Sparked by a video posted on a popular YouTube conspiracy channel, the group, whose members are also largely followers of the Qanon conspiracy theory, has flooded Voodoo’s Instagram and Facebook posts and left Yelp reviews accusing the owners of child sex trafficking. Last week, the chain’s original Portland outpost received more calls from conspiracy theorists than customers ordering doughnuts, Monaghan said.

The group is fueled in part by a website called Big League Politics, a far-right media outlet that often publishes conspiracy content and has been used to raise funds for prominent Republican politicians. Some of the website’s stories appear to be sourced from a secret message board created by a Big League Politics staffer, in which members concoct elaborate, pedophilia-based conspiracy theories they hope will be published to a wider audience.

The harassment campaigns highlight how conspiracy theories that form in deep corners of the internet can have real-world consequences. The same theory that led conspiracists to Sweet Jesus and Voodoo Doughnut previously focused on Comet Ping Pong, a Washington pizza shop where a man fired a rifle in 2016 during a “self-investigation” of online rumors that a child-sex ring was being run out of its basement. The shop has no basement.

Monaghan said he refers callers to the Portland Police Department. Sgt. Chris Burley, a department spokesman, said that “an enormous” number of emails and calls had been made to the department asking why they aren’t investigating Voodoo Doughnut.

Burley said a detective had looked into the situation but that the so-called whistleblower, who made the allegations against Voodoo Doughnut in the widely shared video that was ultimately deleted by YouTube, failed to cooperate.

“The lead investigator has repeatedly attempted to contact the person who made these allegations and has not heard back,” Burley said. “We take these allegations seriously, but when the complainant won’t come forward with information, it’s difficult for us to continue.”

“Based on what we have seen, there is no information to suggest that any of the allegations against Voodoo are credible,” the sergeant said.

Republican connections

The baseless allegations are being lobbed daily by self-described “patriot researchers.” Their harassment of Voodoo Doughnut and Sweet Jesus are just part of a larger war — waged on Twitter and in private groups on Facebook and Discord, a gaming-focused online chat program — against the politicians, celebrities and businesses they claim are part of a global conspiracy to harm children.

Their paranoia is partly fueled by Big League Politics, which has published articles that glorify the anonymous peddlers of the Qanon conspiracy theory and promote unfounded allegations that the Democratic National Committee had ordered and covered up the 2016 murder of staffer Seth Rich.

Run by former Breitbart News reporter Patrick Howley, who often writes the website’s most conspiracy-oriented content, Big League Politics has amassed a readership that prominent Republicans and their supporters have increasingly found attractive. Among the groups and GOP politicians that have used the Big League Politics email list to fundraise this year are the National Republican Congressional Committee; House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana; Rep. Devin Nunes of California; and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

When reached for comment, spokespeople for Scalise and Cruz said their campaigns would no longer work with Big League Politics and would return any money raised with the outlet.

The Nunes campaign and the NRCC did not respond to a request for comment.

“Need help digging”

Big League Politics writer Haley Kennington, who posts several stories a day on the site, appears to source some of her stories from a secret message board she created in July dubbed “Pedo Takedown Crew,” which was recently discovered by NBC News.

A staff writer for Big League Politics since May, Kennington often covers general pro-Trump news items, but has increasingly focused on a more specific beat — writing stories about what she calls “pedophilia-related” social media posts from liberal-leaning celebrities.

On the message board, hosted on the video game-focused social media network Discord, Kennington and some 40 self-described “researchers” crowdsource what they claim are pedophilia investigations. Members of the group have shared maps of “underground tunnels” that they speculate run between elementary schools and small businesses for child sex trafficking. Kennington has asked her team to investigate Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Beyoncé, among others.

Kennington recruited members to her group by posting invitations in private Qanon chatrooms, according to Discord logs viewed by NBC News. “Need help digging,” she wrote to her new group members in July. “Drop what you can find here. Links to any Nambla, pedo/child trafficking/organizations, $, connections. You know what to do.”

At Kennington’s request, others in the group have posted maps of Voodoo Doughnut locations alongside the city’s plumbing system, local schools, public transit network, and airports, suggesting a possible method of smuggling children in or out of the sweets shop.

“Small submarines arent (sic) out of the realm of possibility,” offered one member.

Kennington initially declined to speak to a reporter on the phone, but responded to emails by requesting a list of questions that she said she would answer. She did not reply to those questions. On Tuesday, Kennington asked on Twitter whether NBC News was “Compliant” or “Involved” in pedophilia.

When asked about Kennington’s “Pedo Takedown Crew” group, Howley, the editor-in-chief of Big League Politics, called the message board a “research operation,” but said he hadn’t heard of the group until NBC News asked about it.

“I think you are attacking a research community that I haven’t heard about to defend the doughnut shop. Have you been to the doughnut shop?” Howley said. “Are you associated with [Voodoo Doughnut] in some way?”

After an NBC News inquiry into the channel, Kennington kicked out half of her members. While it is unclear whether the channel is still operating, as of Monday, the discussions remained active, with various users posting links and maps associated with Voodoo Doughnut’s Portland location.

On Aug. 9, Discord user Zach1616 posted a note to the Voodoo Doughnut channel of Pedo Takedown Crew.

“Time for a roadtrip lol,” the message reads.

Secret message board drives ‘pizzagate’-style harassment campaign of small businesses

Secret message board drives ‘pizzagate’-style harassment campaign of small businesses

The theorists are inspired in part by a far-right news website that has been used by prominent Republicans for fundraising efforts.

Aug.27.2018 / 12:54 PM ET

In January, Andrew Richmond, a co-founder of a Toronto-based chain of ice cream shops called Sweet Jesus, started receiving strange online comments and phone calls.

Conspiracy theorists littered the Instagram and Facebook accounts of Sweet Jesus with accusations and menacing comments, pointing to the chain’s name, brand iconography and advertising featuring children. They posted the shop’s advertisements to their own social media accounts and tagged them #PedoGate. Others took their campaign offline, calling the company’s shops and threatening employees.

“People were saying that we were pedophiles and the Illuminati,” Richmond said. “I wish I were part of the Illuminati. Don’t they run the world? I’m just selling ice cream.”

The worst of it was over within a week, Richmond said.

“We were willing to say who we are and what we stand for, that it’s innocent,” Richmond said. “I realized we were winning the battle of reasonableness here.”

Sweet Jesus isn’t the only business that has been the target of an online conspiracy theory. Voodoo Doughnut, a popular chain based in Portland, Oregon, has received similar calls in recent weeks.

“They’re very persistent,” said Eamon Monaghan, a manager at the company’s downtown Portland store, adding that calls were coming in hourly claiming, “we know what is happening at your place.”

“We’re trying to firmly but politely say this isn’t a thing and carry on with our business and ignore it,” Monaghan said.

The harassment comes from a group of fervent online conspiracists who have been targeting private businesses and individuals with harassment campaigns and accusations of being involved with child-sex trafficking rings.

Sparked by a video posted on a popular YouTube conspiracy channel, the group, whose members are also largely followers of the Qanon conspiracy theory, has flooded Voodoo’s Instagram and Facebook posts and left Yelp reviews accusing the owners of child sex trafficking. Last week, the chain’s original Portland outpost received more calls from conspiracy theorists than customers ordering doughnuts, Monaghan said.

The group is fueled in part by a website called Big League Politics, a far-right media outlet that often publishes conspiracy content and has been used to raise funds for prominent Republican politicians. Some of the website’s stories appear to be sourced from a secret message board created by a Big League Politics staffer, in which members concoct elaborate, pedophilia-based conspiracy theories they hope will be published to a wider audience.

The harassment campaigns highlight how conspiracy theories that form in deep corners of the internet can have real-world consequences. The same theory that led conspiracists to Sweet Jesus and Voodoo Doughnut previously focused on Comet Ping Pong, a Washington pizza shop where a man fired a rifle in 2016 during a “self-investigation” of online rumors that a child-sex ring was being run out of its basement. The shop has no basement.

Monaghan said he refers callers to the Portland Police Department. Sgt. Chris Burley, a department spokesman, said that “an enormous” number of emails and calls had been made to the department asking why they aren’t investigating Voodoo Doughnut.

Burley said a detective had looked into the situation but that the so-called whistleblower, who made the allegations against Voodoo Doughnut in the widely shared video that was ultimately deleted by YouTube, failed to cooperate.

“The lead investigator has repeatedly attempted to contact the person who made these allegations and has not heard back,” Burley said. “We take these allegations seriously, but when the complainant won’t come forward with information, it’s difficult for us to continue.”

“Based on what we have seen, there is no information to suggest that any of the allegations against Voodoo are credible,” the sergeant said.

Republican connections

The baseless allegations are being lobbed daily by self-described “patriot researchers.” Their harassment of Voodoo Doughnut and Sweet Jesus are just part of a larger war — waged on Twitter and in private groups on Facebook and Discord, a gaming-focused online chat program — against the politicians, celebrities and businesses they claim are part of a global conspiracy to harm children.

Their paranoia is partly fueled by Big League Politics, which has published articles that glorify the anonymous peddlers of the Qanon conspiracy theory and promote unfounded allegations that the Democratic National Committee had ordered and covered up the 2016 murder of staffer Seth Rich.

Run by former Breitbart News reporter Patrick Howley, who often writes the website’s most conspiracy-oriented content, Big League Politics has amassed a readership that prominent Republicans and their supporters have increasingly found attractive. Among the groups and GOP politicians that have used the Big League Politics email list to fundraise this year are the National Republican Congressional Committee; House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana; Rep. Devin Nunes of California; and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

When reached for comment, spokespeople for Scalise and Cruz said their campaigns would no longer work with Big League Politics and would return any money raised with the outlet.

The Nunes campaign and the NRCC did not respond to a request for comment.

“Need help digging”

Big League Politics writer Haley Kennington, who posts several stories a day on the site, appears to source some of her stories from a secret message board she created in July dubbed “Pedo Takedown Crew,” which was recently discovered by NBC News.

A staff writer for Big League Politics since May, Kennington often covers general pro-Trump news items, but has increasingly focused on a more specific beat — writing stories about what she calls “pedophilia-related” social media posts from liberal-leaning celebrities.

On the message board, hosted on the video game-focused social media network Discord, Kennington and some 40 self-described “researchers” crowdsource what they claim are pedophilia investigations. Members of the group have shared maps of “underground tunnels” that they speculate run between elementary schools and small businesses for child sex trafficking. Kennington has asked her team to investigate Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Beyoncé, among others.

Kennington recruited members to her group by posting invitations in private Qanon chatrooms, according to Discord logs viewed by NBC News. “Need help digging,” she wrote to her new group members in July. “Drop what you can find here. Links to any Nambla, pedo/child trafficking/organizations, $, connections. You know what to do.”

At Kennington’s request, others in the group have posted maps of Voodoo Doughnut locations alongside the city’s plumbing system, local schools, public transit network, and airports, suggesting a possible method of smuggling children in or out of the sweets shop.

“Small submarines arent (sic) out of the realm of possibility,” offered one member.

Kennington initially declined to speak to a reporter on the phone, but responded to emails by requesting a list of questions that she said she would answer. She did not reply to those questions. On Tuesday, Kennington asked on Twitter whether NBC News was “Compliant” or “Involved” in pedophilia.

When asked about Kennington’s “Pedo Takedown Crew” group, Howley, the editor-in-chief of Big League Politics, called the message board a “research operation,” but said he hadn’t heard of the group until NBC News asked about it.

“I think you are attacking a research community that I haven’t heard about to defend the doughnut shop. Have you been to the doughnut shop?” Howley said. “Are you associated with [Voodoo Doughnut] in some way?”

After an NBC News inquiry into the channel, Kennington kicked out half of her members. While it is unclear whether the channel is still operating, as of Monday, the discussions remained active, with various users posting links and maps associated with Voodoo Doughnut’s Portland location.

On Aug. 9, Discord user Zach1616 posted a note to the Voodoo Doughnut channel of Pedo Takedown Crew.

“Time for a roadtrip lol,” the message reads.

The General Who Might Take Down Netanyahu

The General Who Might Take Down Netanyahu

JERUSALEM — Retired Brigadier General Amal Asad never imagined he’d become the nemesis of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu and Asad were both born into the new State of Israel, founded 70 years ago. Netanyahu is 68. Asad is 62. Each served in its army and each lost a brother in battle.

Yoni Netanyahu was famously killed in Entebbe in 1976. Wafa Asad, then 27 and an expectant father, died fighting in Gaza in 1993, “on the day Rabin and Arafat shook hands on the White House lawn,” Asad says.

Both Netanyahu and Asad are long-time members of the right-wing Likud party that Netanyahu leads.

They could have been pals. “I’m no rebel. I’m not anti-Bibi,” says Asad.

But Asad, an Israeli through and through, is not Jewish. He is Druze. And when Netanyahu recently passed the “Nation-State Law,” a quasi-constitutional Basic Law that Netanyahu claims ensures “the national rights of the Jewish people in its land” but lacks mention of equal rights for all citizens, Asad felt compelled to act—with results that have shaken the Netanyahu government to its foundations.

On August 4, a Tel Aviv rally Asad organized in only two weeks drew around 150,000 people.

High Noon with Netanyahu, it appears, will come in mid-October, when the Israeli parliament opens its winter session and Asad promises to show up with “hundreds of thousands of Israelis making it clear we cannot be ignored.”

Asad (obviously no relation to the infamous Assad family of Syria) looks like a Levantine Jim Mattis: tan, tall, taut and ramrod straight, measured, soft-spoken and generally unsmiling. He drives a Range Rover, the vehicle of choice for retired IDF officers. In person, he is almost ascetic. For the duration of his exclusive two-hour interview with The Daily Beast at a suburban Tel Aviv branch of Arcaffe, a high-end chain, he sipped at a single iced coffee.

Israel’s Druze belong to an enigmatic Abrahamic monotheistic religion and ethnic group that is intensely loyal to the state. Druze men joined Jews fighting against the Arab League in 1948, in what turned into Israel’s War of Independence. They have served in every army rank except army chief of staff, and are distinguished across the board in Israeli society as top architects, engineers, poets, and diplomats, among others professions.

The Druze have managed the rare feat of integrating completely into Israeli society while remaining, at the same time, a discrete, unique group. Arabs in general form about 20 percent of Israel’s population of about 8.5 million, and hold about 20 percent of the Knesset seats. Druze number only about 1.8 percent of the population, a number similar to Christian Arabs. Other minority communities also serve in the army, a crucible of the Israeli experience.

With the exception of the Druze, Circassians and Bedouins, Israeli Arabs are exempt from the military draft, but they are allowed to volunteer for either military or national service. A small but growing number do, especially among Arab Christians, seeing their participation in the national rite of passage as an entry point to the majority culture. But no other minority in Israel has a position comparable to that of the Druze, despite their tiny numbers.

Then came the Nation-State Law’s hasty ratification. Netanyahu’s insistence on passing his flagship piece of legislation through the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in the final hours of the Knesset’s summer session surprised even members of his own coalition: the language was softened until it garnered just enough votes to squeeze by at 3:00 a.m. on July 20.

Netanyahu hailed it as “a defining moment in the history of the state.”

Ten days later, a triumphant Netanyahu rhetorically addressed questions about the law’s purpose at a cabinet meeting. “What is the meaning of national rights?” he asked. “They define the flag, the national anthem, the language and, of course, the fact that one of the basic goals of the state is the in-gathering of exiles of our people and their absorption here in the land of Israel. This is the meaning of the Zionist vision.”

It is unclear what practical purpose Netanyahu was addressing, since few doubt Israel’s purpose as a place of refuge for Jews.

Neither is Israel’s flag or anthem in question, yet Netanyahu explained that “there are suggestions that we should change the flag and the anthem in the name of ‘equality.’”

Adding that there is opposition to the “nation-state” idea in many countries, “but first of all in the State of Israel” he said this is “something that undermines the foundation of our existence. For this reason, the attacks from Leftist circles that define themselves as Zionists are absurd and reveal the depths to which the Left has fallen.”

“Me, a left-winger?” Asad asks rhetorically and with evident astonishment as we chatted over his iced coffee. “I am a ‘hater of Israel’? He’s going to tag me with that sticker?”

Indeed, Netanyahu’s constant references to foreign or leftist intervention have convinced Asad, among others, that the law is nothing more that a cheap pre-electoral ploy.

But its controversial clause stating that “the right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people” seems to annul the right of non-Jews who would like to actualize their right of national self-determination in Israel.

In Asad’s view, this law, if left on the books, will undo the state.

Among its provisions, Asad believes that the one stating that “the State views the development of Jewish communities as a national value,” omitting any reference to mixed or non-Jewish population centers, contravenes Israel’s Declaration of Independence, Israel’s founding document, that guarantees equality for all citizens.

It’s an irreconcilable dispute, and it may determine Israel’s next elections.

Asad describes his family as  “the perfect Israeli family—two boys, two girls” and admits with a smile that his wife’s relatively recent turn towards religious observance has caused some tension in the otherwise secular nucleus. His youngest daughter, Reem, 24, a civil engineering graduate from the Technion, Israel’s MIT, is about to get married.

Asad left the IDF almost 20 years ago as a 43-year-old brigadier general. His precipitous rise in the military culminated with a stint in the Israeli security establishment’s holy of holies, the fortress-like army headquarters in Tel Aviv where he commanded all of Israel’s multi-branched security coordination vis-à-vis the Palestinians.

During the huge August 4 rally in Tel Aviv, there was a moment when, alone on stage, Asad recited lines from Israel’s Declaration of Independence verbatim, apparently by heart. “The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.”

A hush fell over the crowd.

Asad’s rally concluded with a lineup of “enough retired generals to launch three military coups,” in the words of analyst Anshel Pfeffer. Among them were former army chiefs-of-staff, former heads of the Shin Bet internal security service, and former police chiefs, none particularly left-wing, lined up on stage belting out the national anthem. Some were crying.

Asad says that when friends ask “why do you have to carry this struggle, the hue and the cry, why bear the accusations you’re an ‘Israel-hater’?” he replies,“I’m bearing it because I am an Israeli. I am speaking as an Israeli.”

“I educated generations of soldiers like my own kids, I taught them what I want them to teach their children. What can I tell them now?”

“This law will be voided even at the cost of toppling Bibi’s government,” Asad says, with the confidence of a guy used to being heard. “It will be changed, fixed or repealed, but as it is, this law will not stand.”

The funny thing is, unlike Netanyahu’s foreign bogeymen, Asad does not oppose the notion of a Nation-State Law as such, but he wants “a law that defines the nation-state for all.”

Like Netanyahu’s parliamentary opposition, Asad, who disdains politics and rejects the suggestion he run for office, favors turning the Declaration of Independence with its explicit declaration of equality into an Israeli constitution.

“Any Israeli citizen who was born and raised and lives in the state of Israel is a citizen equal to any other, and that’s it,” he says. “That has to be the basis of everything. What bothers me is what is absent from this law: any mention of equality. I don’t want to be in any position lesser than that of Jews, but at the same time I don’t want to be granted a higher status than that of anybody else.”

The Druze sense of betrayal following ratification of the Nation-State Law exploded into public view within hours, when three Druze members of the Knesset, representing parties from the right to the left, filed a Supreme Court petition to invalidate its offending sections.

Asad, for his part, felt  “the government knifing me in the back.”

As July 20 dawned, and with it the law’s significance outside of the corridors of power, embarrassed ministers scrambled. Less than a day after casting their votes in favor of the measure, Naftali Bennett, the extreme right-wing minister of education, and Moshe Kahlon, the centrist minister of finance, apologized for the affront caused to Druze citizens.

Since then Israel has been exposed to the spectacle of a major law whose authors’ downplay its importance. The minister of justice pooh-poohed “what is left of it” after years of parliamentary wrangling. The attorney general issued a placating statement describing the law as merely “declarative.”

By any standard, the Nation State law’s text is clumsy and amateurish. Clause 4, for instance, is self-cancelling. It states that Israel’s only official language is Hebrew, with Arabic relegated to an indeterminate “special status.” The next line reads: “This clause does not harm the status given to the Arabic language before this law came into effect”— when Arabic was an official language.

The law is widely understood to be a symbolic triumph Netanyahu plans to present to his political base. With elections scheduled for 2019, he wants to draw back any voters spooked by a recent police recommendation he be served with an indictment on corruption charges, or any contemplating bolting for Bennett’s Jewish Home party, which champions West Bank settlements, or Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s hard-line Yisrael Beitenu.

But the fear looms that the vaguely worded law could be used, or abused, as a legal cudgel by racists who want to deny basic housing rights to Arabs, for example, or to refuse to provide government services in Arabic.

In the days after the law’s passage, the first whispers of insurrection ever heard in Israel rang out as a handful of infuriated Druze officers posted their intent to quit the army as a protest against the law.

Jewish soldiers, some of whom served under Druze commanders killed in battle, started posting mortified apologies on Facebook.

While Netanyahu kept silent, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, the Israeli army chief of staff, was forced to issue an extraordinary statement that seemed to remove the military from the new law’s jurisdiction.

As “the people’s army, whose mandate it is to safeguard the security of the people of Israel and win wars, we are bound to uphold human dignity, regardless of ethnicity, religion and gender,” Eisenkot insisted. “It shall always be so.”

“Absolutely correct,” Asad says. “It was brave and it reflects real military cohesion. It could have come a few days earlier.”

Netanyahu eventually formed the cumbersomely titled “Ministerial Committee on Druze, Circassian and Minority Community Members who serve in the Security Forces Affairs,” with the announced aim of offering financial incentives that could remedy “impediments Druze and Circassian communities face in housing and employment.”

Asad’s response to Netanyahu’s attempt to distinguish between nationals who serve or do not serve in the military is blistering.

He believes in national service for all and military service for the able, but it is not, in his words, a criterion for citizenship.

“You can’t catalogue people,” he says. “And you can’t run a country for a handful of primary voters.”

Whatever the case, Netanyahu appears to be speaking a language alien to that of other Israelis.

In the most recent episode of a popular podcast, “Small Talk,” host Yonatan Reguer started discussing the Nation-State-Law with his guest, news anchor Shibel Karmi Mansour, who is Druze, by asking the question “Were you offended, I mean, everyone was offended, but were you personally offended?”

Mansour, a nationally-renowned newsman, demurred. He explained that he does not respond in a personal way to public events. But he had no problem sharing “what I hear from young Druze” which can be summed up as pain, bewilderment and anger so strong they are causing “an existential crisis” within the community.

Mansour was born in Usfiye, the same northern Galilee town Asad is from, but he has lived in Tel Aviv for many years. In one personal aside, he said that the law conflicts absolutely with his lived experience, in which “it simply doesn’t matter. No one cares I’m Druze. It’s just not there.”

Netanyahu is known among Israelis by two shorthand sobriquets: “Mr. Security,” for his emphasis on Israel’s military defenses, and “The Magician,” for his unfaltering, sometimes shameless manipulation of the political system. But the Nation-State Law has put the fundamental assumptions behind each of those nicknames in doubt.

Mr. Security is opposed by almost the entire cadre of Israel’s security establishment.

The Magician blundered and is stumbling to find a way out.

Netanyahu, a politician who has proved himself a master at articulating and amplifying Israelis’ worst fears, now confronts Asad, a military man who has tapped into an existential vein: who it is Israelis believe themselves to be.

So far, seven legal challenges to the new law have been served at the Israeli Supreme Court. The Nation-State Law is defined as a Basic Law, one of the statutory laws meant to guide jurisprudence into the future. It can be overturned by an absolute majority of the Knesset (it passed with only 62 out of 120 seats) or the court can deem the law, or parts of it, in conflict with the nation’s “basic principles.”

“People aren’t dumb,” Asad says. The support he has received “shows that ideas matter. They can see than anyone disagreeing with Bibi is trashed as a traitor. They’re not buying it.”

The General Who Might Take Down Netanyahu

The General Who Might Take Down Netanyahu

JERUSALEM — Retired Brigadier General Amal Asad never imagined he’d become the nemesis of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu and Asad were both born into the new State of Israel, founded 70 years ago. Netanyahu is 68. Asad is 62. Each served in its army and each lost a brother in battle.

Yoni Netanyahu was famously killed in Entebbe in 1976. Wafa Asad, then 27 and an expectant father, died fighting in Gaza in 1993, “on the day Rabin and Arafat shook hands on the White House lawn,” Asad says.

Both Netanyahu and Asad are long-time members of the right-wing Likud party that Netanyahu leads.

They could have been pals. “I’m no rebel. I’m not anti-Bibi,” says Asad.

But Asad, an Israeli through and through, is not Jewish. He is Druze. And when Netanyahu recently passed the “Nation-State Law,” a quasi-constitutional Basic Law that Netanyahu claims ensures “the national rights of the Jewish people in its land” but lacks mention of equal rights for all citizens, Asad felt compelled to act—with results that have shaken the Netanyahu government to its foundations.

On August 4, a Tel Aviv rally Asad organized in only two weeks drew around 150,000 people.

High Noon with Netanyahu, it appears, will come in mid-October, when the Israeli parliament opens its winter session and Asad promises to show up with “hundreds of thousands of Israelis making it clear we cannot be ignored.”

Asad (obviously no relation to the infamous Assad family of Syria) looks like a Levantine Jim Mattis: tan, tall, taut and ramrod straight, measured, soft-spoken and generally unsmiling. He drives a Range Rover, the vehicle of choice for retired IDF officers. In person, he is almost ascetic. For the duration of his exclusive two-hour interview with The Daily Beast at a suburban Tel Aviv branch of Arcaffe, a high-end chain, he sipped at a single iced coffee.

Israel’s Druze belong to an enigmatic Abrahamic monotheistic religion and ethnic group that is intensely loyal to the state. Druze men joined Jews fighting against the Arab League in 1948, in what turned into Israel’s War of Independence. They have served in every army rank except army chief of staff, and are distinguished across the board in Israeli society as top architects, engineers, poets, and diplomats, among others professions.

The Druze have managed the rare feat of integrating completely into Israeli society while remaining, at the same time, a discrete, unique group. Arabs in general form about 20 percent of Israel’s population of about 8.5 million, and hold about 20 percent of the Knesset seats. Druze number only about 1.8 percent of the population, a number similar to Christian Arabs. Other minority communities also serve in the army, a crucible of the Israeli experience.

With the exception of the Druze, Circassians and Bedouins, Israeli Arabs are exempt from the military draft, but they are allowed to volunteer for either military or national service. A small but growing number do, especially among Arab Christians, seeing their participation in the national rite of passage as an entry point to the majority culture. But no other minority in Israel has a position comparable to that of the Druze, despite their tiny numbers.

Then came the Nation-State Law’s hasty ratification. Netanyahu’s insistence on passing his flagship piece of legislation through the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in the final hours of the Knesset’s summer session surprised even members of his own coalition: the language was softened until it garnered just enough votes to squeeze by at 3:00 a.m. on July 20.

Netanyahu hailed it as “a defining moment in the history of the state.”

Ten days later, a triumphant Netanyahu rhetorically addressed questions about the law’s purpose at a cabinet meeting. “What is the meaning of national rights?” he asked. “They define the flag, the national anthem, the language and, of course, the fact that one of the basic goals of the state is the in-gathering of exiles of our people and their absorption here in the land of Israel. This is the meaning of the Zionist vision.”

It is unclear what practical purpose Netanyahu was addressing, since few doubt Israel’s purpose as a place of refuge for Jews.

Neither is Israel’s flag or anthem in question, yet Netanyahu explained that “there are suggestions that we should change the flag and the anthem in the name of ‘equality.’”

Adding that there is opposition to the “nation-state” idea in many countries, “but first of all in the State of Israel” he said this is “something that undermines the foundation of our existence. For this reason, the attacks from Leftist circles that define themselves as Zionists are absurd and reveal the depths to which the Left has fallen.”

“Me, a left-winger?” Asad asks rhetorically and with evident astonishment as we chatted over his iced coffee. “I am a ‘hater of Israel’? He’s going to tag me with that sticker?”

Indeed, Netanyahu’s constant references to foreign or leftist intervention have convinced Asad, among others, that the law is nothing more that a cheap pre-electoral ploy.

But its controversial clause stating that “the right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people” seems to annul the right of non-Jews who would like to actualize their right of national self-determination in Israel.

In Asad’s view, this law, if left on the books, will undo the state.

Among its provisions, Asad believes that the one stating that “the State views the development of Jewish communities as a national value,” omitting any reference to mixed or non-Jewish population centers, contravenes Israel’s Declaration of Independence, Israel’s founding document, that guarantees equality for all citizens.

It’s an irreconcilable dispute, and it may determine Israel’s next elections.

Asad describes his family as  “the perfect Israeli family—two boys, two girls” and admits with a smile that his wife’s relatively recent turn towards religious observance has caused some tension in the otherwise secular nucleus. His youngest daughter, Reem, 24, a civil engineering graduate from the Technion, Israel’s MIT, is about to get married.

Asad left the IDF almost 20 years ago as a 43-year-old brigadier general. His precipitous rise in the military culminated with a stint in the Israeli security establishment’s holy of holies, the fortress-like army headquarters in Tel Aviv where he commanded all of Israel’s multi-branched security coordination vis-à-vis the Palestinians.

During the huge August 4 rally in Tel Aviv, there was a moment when, alone on stage, Asad recited lines from Israel’s Declaration of Independence verbatim, apparently by heart. “The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.”

A hush fell over the crowd.

Asad’s rally concluded with a lineup of “enough retired generals to launch three military coups,” in the words of analyst Anshel Pfeffer. Among them were former army chiefs-of-staff, former heads of the Shin Bet internal security service, and former police chiefs, none particularly left-wing, lined up on stage belting out the national anthem. Some were crying.

Asad says that when friends ask “why do you have to carry this struggle, the hue and the cry, why bear the accusations you’re an ‘Israel-hater’?” he replies,“I’m bearing it because I am an Israeli. I am speaking as an Israeli.”

“I educated generations of soldiers like my own kids, I taught them what I want them to teach their children. What can I tell them now?”

“This law will be voided even at the cost of toppling Bibi’s government,” Asad says, with the confidence of a guy used to being heard. “It will be changed, fixed or repealed, but as it is, this law will not stand.”

The funny thing is, unlike Netanyahu’s foreign bogeymen, Asad does not oppose the notion of a Nation-State Law as such, but he wants “a law that defines the nation-state for all.”

Like Netanyahu’s parliamentary opposition, Asad, who disdains politics and rejects the suggestion he run for office, favors turning the Declaration of Independence with its explicit declaration of equality into an Israeli constitution.

“Any Israeli citizen who was born and raised and lives in the state of Israel is a citizen equal to any other, and that’s it,” he says. “That has to be the basis of everything. What bothers me is what is absent from this law: any mention of equality. I don’t want to be in any position lesser than that of Jews, but at the same time I don’t want to be granted a higher status than that of anybody else.”

The Druze sense of betrayal following ratification of the Nation-State Law exploded into public view within hours, when three Druze members of the Knesset, representing parties from the right to the left, filed a Supreme Court petition to invalidate its offending sections.

Asad, for his part, felt  “the government knifing me in the back.”

As July 20 dawned, and with it the law’s significance outside of the corridors of power, embarrassed ministers scrambled. Less than a day after casting their votes in favor of the measure, Naftali Bennett, the extreme right-wing minister of education, and Moshe Kahlon, the centrist minister of finance, apologized for the affront caused to Druze citizens.

Since then Israel has been exposed to the spectacle of a major law whose authors’ downplay its importance. The minister of justice pooh-poohed “what is left of it” after years of parliamentary wrangling. The attorney general issued a placating statement describing the law as merely “declarative.”

By any standard, the Nation State law’s text is clumsy and amateurish. Clause 4, for instance, is self-cancelling. It states that Israel’s only official language is Hebrew, with Arabic relegated to an indeterminate “special status.” The next line reads: “This clause does not harm the status given to the Arabic language before this law came into effect”— when Arabic was an official language.

The law is widely understood to be a symbolic triumph Netanyahu plans to present to his political base. With elections scheduled for 2019, he wants to draw back any voters spooked by a recent police recommendation he be served with an indictment on corruption charges, or any contemplating bolting for Bennett’s Jewish Home party, which champions West Bank settlements, or Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s hard-line Yisrael Beitenu.

But the fear looms that the vaguely worded law could be used, or abused, as a legal cudgel by racists who want to deny basic housing rights to Arabs, for example, or to refuse to provide government services in Arabic.

In the days after the law’s passage, the first whispers of insurrection ever heard in Israel rang out as a handful of infuriated Druze officers posted their intent to quit the army as a protest against the law.

Jewish soldiers, some of whom served under Druze commanders killed in battle, started posting mortified apologies on Facebook.

While Netanyahu kept silent, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, the Israeli army chief of staff, was forced to issue an extraordinary statement that seemed to remove the military from the new law’s jurisdiction.

As “the people’s army, whose mandate it is to safeguard the security of the people of Israel and win wars, we are bound to uphold human dignity, regardless of ethnicity, religion and gender,” Eisenkot insisted. “It shall always be so.”

“Absolutely correct,” Asad says. “It was brave and it reflects real military cohesion. It could have come a few days earlier.”

Netanyahu eventually formed the cumbersomely titled “Ministerial Committee on Druze, Circassian and Minority Community Members who serve in the Security Forces Affairs,” with the announced aim of offering financial incentives that could remedy “impediments Druze and Circassian communities face in housing and employment.”

Asad’s response to Netanyahu’s attempt to distinguish between nationals who serve or do not serve in the military is blistering.

He believes in national service for all and military service for the able, but it is not, in his words, a criterion for citizenship.

“You can’t catalogue people,” he says. “And you can’t run a country for a handful of primary voters.”

Whatever the case, Netanyahu appears to be speaking a language alien to that of other Israelis.

In the most recent episode of a popular podcast, “Small Talk,” host Yonatan Reguer started discussing the Nation-State-Law with his guest, news anchor Shibel Karmi Mansour, who is Druze, by asking the question “Were you offended, I mean, everyone was offended, but were you personally offended?”

Mansour, a nationally-renowned newsman, demurred. He explained that he does not respond in a personal way to public events. But he had no problem sharing “what I hear from young Druze” which can be summed up as pain, bewilderment and anger so strong they are causing “an existential crisis” within the community.

Mansour was born in Usfiye, the same northern Galilee town Asad is from, but he has lived in Tel Aviv for many years. In one personal aside, he said that the law conflicts absolutely with his lived experience, in which “it simply doesn’t matter. No one cares I’m Druze. It’s just not there.”

Netanyahu is known among Israelis by two shorthand sobriquets: “Mr. Security,” for his emphasis on Israel’s military defenses, and “The Magician,” for his unfaltering, sometimes shameless manipulation of the political system. But the Nation-State Law has put the fundamental assumptions behind each of those nicknames in doubt.

Mr. Security is opposed by almost the entire cadre of Israel’s security establishment.

The Magician blundered and is stumbling to find a way out.

Netanyahu, a politician who has proved himself a master at articulating and amplifying Israelis’ worst fears, now confronts Asad, a military man who has tapped into an existential vein: who it is Israelis believe themselves to be.

So far, seven legal challenges to the new law have been served at the Israeli Supreme Court. The Nation-State Law is defined as a Basic Law, one of the statutory laws meant to guide jurisprudence into the future. It can be overturned by an absolute majority of the Knesset (it passed with only 62 out of 120 seats) or the court can deem the law, or parts of it, in conflict with the nation’s “basic principles.”

“People aren’t dumb,” Asad says. The support he has received “shows that ideas matter. They can see than anyone disagreeing with Bibi is trashed as a traitor. They’re not buying it.”

Donald Trump ECSTASY PILLS with deadly MDMA levels found in circulation at UK festivals

Donald Trump ECSTASY PILLS with deadly MDMA levels found in circulation at UK festivals

Drug testing charity The Loop revealed the dangerous tablets being sold at Lost VIllage Festival

12:45, 27 AUG 2018Updated12:47, 27 AUG 2018

Police have warned about deadly Donald Trump pills in circulation at UK music festivals (Image: wearetheloop/Twitter)

Sinister super strength ecstasy tablets in the shape of DONALD TRUMP have been found circulating at UK music festivals this weekend.

The bright orange pills, which appear to show the US President’s face and the word ‘Trump’ on the back, were on sale to music lovers on Saturday and Sunday.

Also discovered were notorious ‘Blue Punisher’ tablets , which are three times stronger than regular Ecstasy tablets.

Further pills were discovered at live music events claiming to be MDMA, but instead found to contain a substance which can cause temporary pyschosis.

Drug testing charity The Loop , which is present at events throughout the summer, has issued alerts about the strong pills.

The volunteers use high-tec devices to test the drugs they are given by festival goers (Image: David Burke / Daily Mirror)

A volunteer chemist tests the substance that has been handed in (Image: David Burke / Daily Mirror)

It discovered the Trump and Blue Punisher tablets at Lost Village Festival, but said they are in circulation across the UK.

The charity posted on Twitter : “We have tested Blue Punisher and orange Donald Trump pills in circulation (at Lost VIllage Festival) with high levels of MDMA.”

The tweet explains that the tablets contain between 270mg to 290mg of MDMA – commonly known as Ecstasy – which can be deadly.

The Loop posted: “Seek medical attention if unwell & look after each other.”

The blue ‘punisher’ pills contain three to four times more MDMA than usual (Image: Manchester Evening News WS)

View image on Twitter

The Loop

@WeAreTheLoopUK

We have tested blue Punishers & orange Donald Trump pills in circulation @lostvillagefest with high levels of MDMA (270+mg, c.3x an average adult dose). Seek medical attention if unwell & look after each other. #LoopAlert #TimeToTest

9:05 AM – Aug 26, 2018


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And Angela Williams, Assistant Chief Constable at West Yorkshire Police, revealed there had been a record drug call at the Leeds Festival this weekend.

She posted pictures of tablets seized at the music event, writing: “With our drugs expert Jamie at Leeds Fest watching various drugs that have been seized, being tested. A record year this year for the seizure of illegal drugs-the dogs are working flat out.

“Don’t risk your health or your future please.”

Festivalgoers have been urged to ‘act responsibly’ after it emerged a batch of super strength Ecstasy pills are in circulation (Image: Manchester Evening News)

Opiod MPTP – about which very little is known – was also found at Creamfields Festival and Manchester Pride over the weekend.

The industrial hair dye hardening agent was first identified two years ago being sold as a recreational drug, and is occasionally sold as Ecstasy.

The Loop says that since 2010, Ecstasy-related deaths have increased eightfold, while deaths caused by cocaine have tripled since 2011.

Despite this, it said new generations of young people start to experiment, unaware of the dangers they are putting themselves in.

Drugs testing charity The Loop urged festival goers to seek medical help if they feel unwell (Image: Manchester Evening News WS)

Bosses at Southwest 4 Festival in London – where the charity was carrying out tests on substances – warned that N-ethylentylone was being sold as Ecstasy, but causes horrific side effects.

The festival tweeted: “This can look exactly like MDMA but causes anxiety, paranoia and insomnia for 24-72 hours after the initial effects wear off.

“Some cases develop temporary psychosis. Seek medical attention if you feel unwell.”

The Loop, which receives no government funding, has appealed for support to help it expand the service it offers to nightclubs and festivals across the country.

Criminologist Professor Fiona Measham, who founded The Loop, told Mirror Online earlier this year: “We have the highest drug related drug death rates in Europe, and the highest on record.

“The key is that we’re moving in the wrong direction.”

Criminologist Fiona Measham, founder of The Loop, warned many festivalgoers are oblivious about what they’re buying (Image: The Loop)

She said that a reduction in drug prevention funding, as well as the availability of dangerous drugs on the Dark Web, were among the causes.

Volunteers are present at around 10 music festivals a year, carrying out tests on drugs available on the site.

This means they can provide real-time warnings about dangerous pills.

Prof Measham said around half of the people who bring drugs to be tested have already taken a substance and are having a bad experience.

Their ages range between 16 and 72.

Prof Measham said: “We’re finding out from people what they’ve bought, and what they thought they’d bought.

“Sometimes we’re finding they’ve been ripped off, but sometimes we’re finding they’re being put in danger.”

Police seize huge drugs haul from Leeds Festival revellers

Police seize huge drugs haul from Leeds Festival revellers

By Richard Spillett, Crime Correspondent For Mailonline and Georgia Edkins For The Daily Mail 11:28 EDT 27 Aug 2018, updated 18:20 EDT 27 Aug 2018

A huge haul of drugs has been confiscated from revellers entering the festival as police hailed a ‘record year’ for seizures.

Officers were keen to show they were clamping down on festival-goers bringing in illegal substances following warnings over safety.

An officer at the event – whose headline acts included Kendrick Lamar and Sum 41 – tweeted a picture of a huge number of ecstasy tablets which had been seized.

<img id=”i-eef96ef4d46485fe” class=”img-share” src=”https://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/newpix/2018/08/27/16/4F7063DF00000578-6102941-image-a-115_1535383382977.jpg&#8221; width=”634″ height=”423″ alt=”West Yorkshire police officer tweeted this picture of the ecstasy tablets confiscated at this year’s Leeds music festival”/>

West Yorkshire police officer tweeted this picture of the ecstasy tablets confiscated at this year’s Leeds music festival

<img id=”i-9caab0e942a632a8″ class=”img-share” src=”https://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/newpix/2018/08/27/16/4F7063E300000578-6102941-image-a-116_1535383388743.jpg&#8221; width=”634″ height=”423″ alt=”A massive haul of other drugs were also taken off visitors, including class-A cocaine”/>

A massive haul of other drugs were also taken off visitors, including class-A cocaine

Assistant Chief Constable Angela Williams tweeted: ‘A record year this year for the seizure of illegal drugs-the dogs are working flat out. Don’t risk your health or your future please.’

Meanwhile, cannabis, ketamine and other pharmaceutical drugs were confiscated from people attended the event at Bramham Park.

Those attending the festival were warned about a dangerous designer drug being circulated as ecstasy.

Drug users who thought they were buying pure MDMA were instead given a stimulant called n-ethylpentylone, which appears similar to ecstasy but is three times as strong and can cause heart problems.

The Loop, a non-profit drug testing organisation, said those who take the ‘potentially lethal’ drug have ended up in medical tents suffering from agitation, paranoia and a raised pulse and blood pressure.

The drug, which comes in crystal form, provides a similar euphoria to ecstasy but can keep a user awake for up to 36 hours, resulting in severe temporary psychosis.

It has been circulated at other music festivals including Boomtown in Hampshire and Boardmasters in Cornwall.

Earlier this year, the families of two people who died at Mutiny festival in Portmouth issued warnings over drugs at music events.

Research has shown the levels of MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstacy tablets, has increased in recent years.

There are also widespread concerns over the use of synthetic drugs, formerly known as legal highs, the dangers of which are still unknown.

Leeds festival goers had to battle a sea of mud at the event after heavy rain yesterday. Some were seen sliding down boggy hills on inflatable mattresses.

<img id=”i-af824eb7e8cc533″ class=”img-share” src=”https://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/newpix/2018/08/27/16/4F7063E700000578-6102941-image-a-121_1535383632492.jpg&#8221; width=”306″ height=”392″ alt=”Some did not even reach the event, with police pulling over and examining vehicles on the way”/>

Some did not even reach the event, with police pulling over and examining vehicles on the way

<img id=”i-35c108d716b0f818″ class=”img-share” src=”https://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/newpix/2018/08/27/16/4F70922300000578-6102941-image-m-120_1535383624508.jpg&#8221; width=”306″ height=”392″ alt=”Some did not even reach the event, with police pulling over and examining vehicles on the way”/>

Some did not even reach the event, with police pulling over and examining vehicles on the way

I killed Bob Marley, ex-CIA agent confesses

I killed Bob Marley, ex-CIA agent confesses

On August 27, 20183:39 pmIn Music, News

79-year-old Bill Oxley, ex-agent of America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is re-writing the history of the death of reggae legend Bob Marley, claiming he actually killed the legend.

Marley tragically died aged only 36-years-old, leading music lovers world-wide to grieve as the Jamaican icon’s life and career were cut short following a four-year battle with cancer.

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The story of cancer may seem untrue as startling claims have emerged from a deathbed confession made by an ex-CIA officer, where he admitted to the killing.

Oxley is alleged to have claimed the murder of Marley among 17 other assassinations for the American government between 1974 and 1985, at a time when he said the CIA “was a law unto itself.”

Oxley, who reportedly worked as an operative for the CIA for 29 years, is alleged to have said he was often used as a hitman on targets deemed to “represent a threat to the interests of the United States.”

In a purported interview shared widely online, he admitted having no problem with proceeding with the Bob Marley assassination because “I was a patriot, I believed in the CIA, and I didn’t question the motivation of the agency – I’ve always understood that sometimes sacrifices have to be made for the greater good.”

According to the conspiracy theory, Oxley used faked press credentials to gain access to Bob Marley at his Blue Mountain retreat; introducing himself as a famous photographer working for the New York Times, and gave Bob Marley a gift.

“I gave him a pair of Converse All Stars. Size 10. When he tried on the right shoe, he screamed out ‘OUUUCH.‘

“That was it. His life was over right there and then. The nail in the shoe was tainted with cancer viruses and bacteria. If it pierced his skin, which it did, it was goodnight nurse.”

“There had been a series of high-profile assassinations of counter-culture figures in the United States in the late sixties, early seventies. By the time Bob Marley’s time came around, we thought subtlety was the order of the day. No more bullets and splattered brains.”

Mr. Oxley says he kept close contact with Marley during the final years of his life, ensuring the medical advice he received in Paris, London and the United States “would hasten his demise rather than cure him.”

“The last time I saw Bob before he died he had removed the dreadlocks, and his weight was dropping like a stone,” he says.

“He was very withdrawn, unbelievably small. He was shrinking in front of us. The cancer had done it’s job.”

Although widely dismissed as fiction, the account does tally with findings by UK scientists in 2014, who discovered the mysterious acral melanomas – the rare type of skin cancer that caused reggae musician’s demise – was in fact not caused by the sun.

Bob Marley’s soon Ziggy has previously implied his Father was killed, saying in a 2013 interview about the death: “I don’t know what to believe … there are a lot of theories.”

In the late 1970s, Jamaica was flooded with cheap guns, heroin, cocaine, right-wing propaganda, death squad rule and, as Grenada’s Prime Minister Maurice Bishop described it three years later, the CIA’s “pernicious attempts [to] wreck the economy.”

“Destabilization,” Bishop told the emergent New Jewel Party, “is the name given the most recently developed method of controlling and exploiting the lives and resources of a country and its people by a bigger and more powerful country through bullying, intimidation and violence.”

In response to the fascistic machinations of the CIA, Marley wove his lyrics into a revolutionary crucifix to ward off the cloak-and-dagger “vampires” descending upon the island.

The CIA, which has denied any involvement in Marley’s death, has been approached for a comment.

DNC Serve Hack Inside Job.

New report claims DNC hack was an inside job — not Russia

By Bob Fredericks

August 15, 2017 | 12:46pm

News

Reuters

A group of former US intelligence officials contend that the hack of the Democratic National Committee’s computers in 2016 was an inside job.

The group, which calls itself the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, or VIPS, said there was an insider leak that occurred thanks to someone with access to a DNC computer.

Their arguments were first reported by the left-wing magazine The Nation, which said that the group claimed to have forensic evidence to back up its contentions.

The handful of ex-CIA and NSA officials also argued there was no evidence that a Romanian hacker identified as Guccifer 2.0 broke into the DNC system and passed embarrassing information about Hillary Clinton to WikiLeaks at the behest of the Russians.

They said the evidence suggests that Guccifer was invented to distract attention from the revelations, and that someone altered Guccifer’s documents to make them look as if they were Russian.

The crux of their argument is that the data taken from the DNC was transferred to a USB stick, meaning that someone would have had to have direct access to the committee’s computers.

They claim the data was transferred at a rate that was far too fast for an internet connection.

But cybersecurity experts say the report is full of holes.

“In short, the theory is flawed,” John Hultquist, director of intelligence analysis at FireEye, a firm that provides forensic analysis, told The Hill.

“The author of the report didn’t consider a number of scenarios and breezed right past others. It completely ignores all the evidence that contradicts its claims.”

Another expert, Rich Barger, director of security research at Splunk, told The Hill that the theory that the data was downloaded onto a USB stick was also flawed.

“This theory assumes that the hacker downloaded the files to a computer and then leaked it from that computer,” he said.

The files might have been copied multiple times before being released.

“A hacker might have downloaded it to one computer, then shared it by USB to an air-gapped [off the internet] network for translation, then copied by a different person for analysis, then brought a new USB to an entirely different air-gapped computer to determine a strategy all before it was packaged for Guccifer 2.0 to leak,” said Barger.

President Trump has repeatedly decried the feds’ probe into Russian meddling in the US election and possible collusion with his campaign as a “hoax” and “fake news.”

But lawmakers from both parties and current intelligence officials — including the FBI, CIA and NSA — insist there is ample evidence to prove Russian interference.

The VIPS were formed in 2003 to protest the way the administration of George W. Bush manipulated intelligence to justify the Iraq war, Salon reported.

A New Report Raises Big Questions About Last Year’s DNC Hack

Former NSA experts say it wasn’t a hack at all, but a leak—an inside job by someone with access to the DNC’s system.

By Patrick LawrenceTwitter August 9, 2017

The Democratic National Committee headquarters, October 27, 2016. (Sipa via AP Images)

Editor’s note, 9/1/2017: For more than 150 years, The Nation has been committed to fearless, independent journalism. We have a long history of seeking alternative views and taking unpopular stances. We believe it is important to challenge questionable conventional wisdom and to foster debate—not police it. Focusing on unreported or inadequately reported issues of major importance and raising questions that are not being asked have always been a central part of our work.

This journalistic mission led The Nation to be troubled by the paucity of serious public scrutiny of the January 2017 intelligence-community assessment (ICA) on purported Russian interference in our 2016 presidential election, which reflects the judgment of the CIA, the FBI, and the NSA. That report concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered the hacking of the DNC and the dissemination of e-mails from key staffers via WikiLeaks, in order to damage Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. This official intelligence assessment has since led to what some call “Russiagate,” with charges and investigations of alleged collusion with the Kremlin, and, in turn, to what is now a major American domestic political crisis and an increasingly perilous state of US-Russia relations. To this day, however, the intelligence agencies that released this assessment have failed to provide the American people with any actual evidence substantiating their claims about how the DNC material was obtained or by whom. Astonishingly and often overlooked, the authors of the declassified ICA themselves admit that their “judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.”

That is why The Nation published Patrick Lawrence’s article “A New Report Raises Big Questions About Last Year’s DNC Hack.” The article largely reported on a recently published memo prepared by Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), which argued, based on their own investigation, that the theft of the DNC e-mails was not a hack, but some kind of inside leak that did not involve Russia.

VIPS, formed in 2003 by a group of former US intelligence officers with decades of experience working within the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, and other agencies, previously produced some of the most credible—and critical—analyses of the Bush administration’s mishandling of intelligence data in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The most recent VIPS memo, released on July 24, whatever its technical merits, contributes to a much-needed critical discussion. Despite all the media coverage taking the veracity of the ICA assessment for granted, even now we have only the uncorroborated assertion of intelligence officials to go on. Indeed, this was noticed by The New York Times’s Scott Shane, who wrote the day the report appeared: “What is missing from the public report is…hard evidence to back up the agencies’ claims that the Russian government engineered the election attack…. Instead, the message from the agencies essentially amounts to ‘trust us.’”

As editor of The Nation, my purpose in publishing Patrick Lawrence’s article was to make more widely known the VIPS critique of the January ICA assertions, the questions VIPS raised, and their counter-thesis that the disseminated DNC e-mails resulted from a leak, not a hack. Those questions remain vital.

Subsequently, Nation editors themselves raised questions about the editorial process that preceded the publication of the article. The article was indeed fact-checked to ensure that Patrick Lawrence, a regular Nation contributor, accurately reported the VIPS analysis and conclusions, which he did. As part of the editing process, however, we should have made certain that several of the article’s conclusions were presented as possibilities, not as certainties. And given the technical complexity of the material, we would have benefited from bringing on an independent expert to conduct a rigorous review of the VIPS technical claims.

We have obtained such a review in the last week from Nathan Freitas of the Guardian Project. He has evaluated both the VIPS memo and Lawrence’s article. Freitas lays out several scenarios in which the DNC could have been hacked from the outside, although he does not rule out a leak. Freitas concludes that all parties “must exercise much greater care in separating out statements backed by available digital metadata from thoughtful insights and educated guesses.” His findings are published here.

We have also learned since publication, from longtime VIPS member Thomas Drake, that there is a dispute among VIPS members themselves about the July 24 memo. This is not the first time a VIPS report has been internally disputed, but it is the first time one has been released over the substantive objections of several VIPS members. With that in mind, we asked Drake and those VIPS members who agree with him to present their dissenting view. We also asked VIPS members who stand by their report to respond.

In presenting this follow-up, The Nation hopes to encourage further inquiry into the crucial questions of how, why, and by whom the DNC e-mails were made public—a matter that continues to roil our politics. We especially hope that other people with special expertise or knowledge will come forward.

—Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher

* * *

It is now a year since the Democratic National Committee’s mail system was compromised—a year since events in the spring and early summer of 2016 were identified as remote hacks and, in short order, attributed to Russians acting in behalf of Donald Trump. A great edifice has been erected during this time. President Trump, members of his family, and numerous people around him stand accused of various corruptions and extensive collusion with Russians. Half a dozen simultaneous investigations proceed into these matters. Last week news broke that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had convened a grand jury, which issued its first subpoenas on August 3. Allegations of treason are common; prominent political figures and many media cultivate a case for impeachment.

The president’s ability to conduct foreign policy, notably but not only with regard to Russia, is now crippled. Forced into a corner and having no choice, Trump just signed legislation imposing severe new sanctions on Russia and European companies working with it on pipeline projects vital to Russia’s energy sector. Striking this close to the core of another nation’s economy is customarily considered an act of war, we must not forget. In retaliation, Moscow has announced that the United States must cut its embassy staff by roughly two-thirds. All sides agree that relations between the United States and Russia are now as fragile as they were during some of the Cold War’s worst moments. To suggest that military conflict between two nuclear powers inches ever closer can no longer be dismissed as hyperbole.

All this was set in motion when the DNC’s mail server was first violated in the spring of 2016 and by subsequent assertions that Russians were behind that “hack” and another such operation, also described as a Russian hack, on July 5. These are the foundation stones of the edifice just outlined. The evolution of public discourse in the year since is worthy of scholarly study: Possibilities became allegations, and these became probabilities. Then the probabilities turned into certainties, and these evolved into what are now taken to be established truths. By my reckoning, it required a few days to a few weeks to advance from each of these stages to the next. This was accomplished via the indefensibly corrupt manipulations of language repeated incessantly in our leading media.

Lost in a year that often appeared to veer into our peculiarly American kind of hysteria is the absence of any credible evidence of what happened last year and who was responsible for it. It is tiresome to note, but none has been made available. Instead, we are urged to accept the word of institutions and senior officials with long records of deception. These officials profess “high confidence” in their “assessment” as to what happened in the spring and summer of last year—this standing as their authoritative judgment. Few have noticed since these evasive terms first appeared that an assessment is an opinion, nothing more, and to express high confidence is an upside-down way of admitting the absence of certain knowledge. This is how officials avoid putting their names on the assertions we are so strongly urged to accept—as the record shows many of them have done.

We come now to a moment of great gravity.

There has been a long effort to counter the official narrative we now call “Russiagate.” This effort has so far focused on the key events noted above, leaving numerous others still to be addressed. Until recently, researchers undertaking this work faced critical shortcomings, and these are to be explained. But they have achieved significant new momentum in the past several weeks, and what they have done now yields very consequential fruit. Forensic investigators, intelligence analysts, system designers, program architects, and computer scientists of long experience and strongly credentialed are now producing evidence disproving the official version of key events last year. Their work is intricate and continues at a kinetic pace as we speak. But its certain results so far are two, simply stated, and freighted with implications:

• There was no hack of the Democratic National Committee’s system on July 5 last year—not by the Russians, not by anyone else. Hard science now demonstrates it was a leak—a download executed locally with a memory key or a similarly portable data-storage device. In short, it was an inside job by someone with access to the DNC’s system. This casts serious doubt on the initial “hack,” as alleged, that led to the very consequential publication of a large store of documents on WikiLeaks last summer.

• Forensic investigations of documents made public two weeks prior to the July 5 leak by the person or entity known as Guccifer 2.0 show that they were fraudulent: Before Guccifer posted them they were adulterated by cutting and pasting them into a blank template that had Russian as its default language. Guccifer took responsibility on June 15 for an intrusion the DNC reported on June 14 and professed to be a WikiLeaks source—claims essential to the official narrative implicating Russia in what was soon cast as an extensive hacking operation. To put the point simply, forensic science now devastates this narrative.

This article is based on an examination of the documents these forensic experts and intelligence analysts have produced, notably the key papers written over the past several weeks, as well as detailed interviews with many of those conducting investigations and now drawing conclusions from them. Before proceeding into this material, several points bear noting.

One, there are many other allegations implicating Russians in the 2016 political process. The work I will now report upon does not purport to prove or disprove any of them. Who delivered documents to WikiLeaks? Who was responsible for the “phishing” operation penetrating John Podesta’s e-mail in March 2016? We do not know the answers to such questions. It is entirely possible, indeed, that the answers we deserve and must demand could turn out to be multiple: One thing happened in one case, another thing in another. The new work done on the mid-June and July 5 events bears upon all else in only one respect. We are now on notice: Given that we now stand face to face with very considerable cases of duplicity, it is imperative that all official accounts of these many events be subject to rigorously skeptical questioning. Do we even know that John Podesta’s e-mail address was in fact “phished”? What evidence of this has been produced? Such rock-bottom questions as these must now be posed in all other cases.

Two, houses built on sand and made of cards are bound to collapse, and there can be no surprise that the one resting atop the “hack theory,” as we can call the prevailing wisdom on the DNC events, appears to be in the process of doing so. Neither is there anything far-fetched in a reversal of the truth of this magnitude. American history is replete with similar cases. The Spanish sank the Maine in Havana harbor in February 1898. Iran’s Mossadegh was a Communist. Guatemala’s Árbenz represented a Communist threat to the United States. Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh was a Soviet puppet. The Sandinistas were Communists. The truth of the Maine, a war and a revolution in between, took a century to find the light of day, whereupon the official story disintegrated. We can do better now. It is an odd sensation to live through one of these episodes, especially one as big as Russiagate. But its place atop a long line of precedents can no longer be disputed.

Three, regardless of what one may think about the investigations and conclusions I will now outline—and, as noted, these investigations continue—there is a bottom line attaching to them. We can even call it a red line. Under no circumstance can it be acceptable that the relevant authorities—the National Security Agency, the Justice Department (via the Federal Bureau of Investigation), and the Central Intelligence Agency—leave these new findings without reply. Not credibly, in any case. Forensic investigators, prominent among them people with decades’ experience at high levels in these very institutions, have put a body of evidence on a table previously left empty. Silence now, should it ensue, cannot be written down as an admission of duplicity, but it will come very close to one.

It requires no elaboration to apply the above point to the corporate media, which have been flaccidly satisfied with official explanations of the DNC matter from the start.

Qualified experts working independently of one another began to examine the DNC case immediately after the July 2016 events. Prominent among these is a group comprising former intelligence officers, almost all of whom previously occupied senior positions. Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), founded in 2003, now has 30 members, including a few associates with backgrounds in national-security fields other than intelligence. The chief researchers active on the DNC case are four: William Binney, formerly the NSA’s technical director for world geopolitical and military analysis and designer of many agency programs now in use; Kirk Wiebe, formerly a senior analyst at the NSA’s SIGINT Automation Research Center; Edward Loomis, formerly technical director in the NSA’s Office of Signal Processing; and Ray McGovern, an intelligence analyst for nearly three decades and formerly chief of the CIA’s Soviet Foreign Policy Branch. Most of these men have decades of experience in matters concerning Russian intelligence and the related technologies. This article reflects numerous interviews with all of them conducted in person, via Skype, or by telephone.

The customary VIPS format is an open letter, typically addressed to the president. The group has written three such letters on the DNC incident, all of which were first published by Robert Parry at www.consortiumnews.com. Here is the latest, dated July 24; it blueprints the forensic work this article explores in detail. They have all argued that the hack theory is wrong and that a locally executed leak is the far more likely explanation. In a letter to Barack Obama dated January 17, three days before he left office, the group explained that the NSA’s known programs are fully capable of capturing all electronic transfers of data. “We strongly suggest that you ask NSA for any evidence it may have indicating that the results of Russian hacking were given to WikiLeaks,” the letter said. “If NSA cannot produce such evidence—and quickly—this would probably mean it does not have any.”

The day after Parry published this letter, Obama gave his last press conference as president, at which he delivered one of the great gems among the official statements on the DNC e-mail question. “The conclusions of the intelligence community with respect to the Russian hacking,” the legacy-minded Obama said, “were not conclusive.” There is little to suggest the VIPS letter prompted this remark, but it is typical of the linguistic tap-dancing many officials connected to the case have indulged so as to avoid putting their names on the hack theory and all that derives from it.

Until recently there was a serious hindrance to the VIPS’s work, and I have just suggested it. The group lacked access to positive data. It had no lump of cyber-material to place on its lab table and analyze, because no official agency had provided any.

Donald Rumsfeld famously argued with regard to the WMD question in Iraq, “The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” In essence, Binney and others at VIPS say this logic turns upside down in the DNC case: Based on the knowledge of former officials such as Binney, the group knew that (1) if there was a hack and (2) if Russia was responsible for it, the NSA would have to have evidence of both. Binney and others surmised that the agency and associated institutions were hiding the absence of evidence behind the claim that they had to maintain secrecy to protect NSA programs. “Everything that they say must remain classified is already well-known,” Binney said in an interview. “They’re playing the Wizard of Oz game.”

New findings indicate this is perfectly true, but until recently the VIPS experts could produce only “negative evidence,” as they put it: The absence of evidence supporting the hack theory demonstrates that it cannot be so. That is all VIPS had. They could allege and assert, but they could not conclude: They were stuck demanding evidence they did not have—if only to prove there was none.

Research into the DNC case took a fateful turn in early July, when forensic investigators who had been working independently began to share findings and form loose collaborations wherein each could build on the work of others. In this a small, new website called www.disobedientmedia.com proved an important catalyst. Two independent researchers selected it, Snowden-like, as the medium through which to disclose their findings. One of these is known as Forensicator and the other as Adam Carter. On July 9, Adam Carter sent Elizabeth Vos, a co-founder of Disobedient Media, a paper by the Forensicator that split the DNC case open like a coconut.

By this time Binney and the other technical-side people at VIPS had begun working with a man named Skip Folden. Folden was an IT executive at IBM for 33 years, serving 25 years as the IT program manager in the United States. He has also consulted for Pentagon officials, the FBI, and the Justice Department. Folden is effectively the VIPS group’s liaison to Forensicator, Adam Carter, and other investigators, but neither Folden nor anyone else knows the identity of either Forensicator or Adam Carter. This bears brief explanation.

The Forensicator’s July 9 document indicates he lives in the Pacific Time Zone, which puts him on the West Coast. His notes describing his investigative procedures support this. But little else is known of him. Adam Carter, in turn, is located in England, but the name is a coy pseudonym: It derives from a character in a BBC espionage series called Spooks. It is protocol in this community, Elizabeth Vos told me in a telephone conversation this week, to respect this degree of anonymity. Kirk Wiebe, the former SIGINT analyst at the NSA, thinks Forensicator could be “someone very good with the FBI,” but there is no certainty. Unanimously, however, all the analysts and forensics investigators interviewed for this column say Forensicator’s advanced expertise, evident in the work he has done, is unassailable. They hold a similarly high opinion of Adam Carter’s work.

Forensicator is working with the documents published by Guccifer 2.0, focusing for now on the July 5 intrusion into the DNC server. The contents of Guccifer’s files are known—they were published last September—and are not Forensicator’s concern. His work is with the metadata on those files. These data did not come to him via any clandestine means. Forensicator simply has access to them that others did not have. It is this access that prompts Kirk Wiebe and others to suggest that Forensicator may be someone with exceptional talent and training inside an agency such as the FBI. “Forensicator unlocked and then analyzed what had been the locked files Guccifer supposedly took from the DNC server,” Skip Folden explained in an interview. “To do this he would have to have ‘access privilege,’ meaning a key.”

What has Forensicator proven since he turned his key? How? What has work done atop Forensicator’s findings proven? How?

Forensicator’s first decisive findings, made public in the paper dated July 9, concerned the volume of the supposedly hacked material and what is called the transfer rate—the time a remote hack would require. The metadata established several facts in this regard with granular precision: On the evening of July 5, 2016, 1,976 megabytes of data were downloaded from the DNC’s server. The operation took 87 seconds. This yields a transfer rate of 22.7 megabytes per second.

These statistics are matters of record and essential to disproving the hack theory. No Internet service provider, such as a hacker would have had to use in mid-2016, was capable of downloading data at this speed. Compounding this contradiction, Guccifer claimed to have run his hack from Romania, which, for numerous reasons technically called delivery overheads, would slow down the speed of a hack even further from maximum achievable speeds.

What is the maximum achievable speed? Forensicator recently ran a test download of a comparable data volume (and using a server speed not available in 2016) 40 miles from his computer via a server 20 miles away and came up with a speed of 11.8 megabytes per second—half what the DNC operation would need were it a hack. Other investigators have built on this finding. Folden and Edward Loomis say a survey published August 3, 2016, by www.speedtest.net/reports is highly reliable and use it as their thumbnail index. It indicated that the highest average ISP speeds of first-half 2016 were achieved by Xfinity and Cox Communications. These speeds averaged 15.6 megabytes per second and 14.7 megabytes per second, respectively. Peak speeds at higher rates were recorded intermittently but still did not reach the required 22.7 megabytes per second.

“A speed of 22.7 megabytes is simply unobtainable, especially if we are talking about a transoceanic data transfer,” Folden said. “Based on the data we now have, what we’ve been calling a hack is impossible.” Last week Forensicator reported on a speed test he conducted more recently. It tightens the case considerably. “Transfer rates of 23 MB/s (Mega Bytes per second) are not just highly unlikely, but effectively impossible to accomplish when communicating over the Internet at any significant distance,” he wrote. “Further, local copy speeds are measured, demonstrating that 23 MB/s is a typical transfer rate when using a USB–2 flash device (thumb drive).”

Time stamps in the metadata provide further evidence of what happened on July 5. The stamps recording the download indicate that it occurred in the Eastern Daylight Time Zone at approximately 6:45 pm. This confirms that the person entering the DNC system was working somewhere on the East Coast of the United States. In theory the operation could have been conducted from Bangor or Miami or anywhere in between—but not Russia, Romania, or anywhere else outside the EDT zone. Combined with Forensicator’s findings on the transfer rate, the time stamps constitute more evidence that the download was conducted locally, since delivery overheads—conversion of data into packets, addressing, sequencing times, error checks, and the like—degrade all data transfers conducted via the Internet, more or less according to the distance involved.

In addition, there is the adulteration of the documents Guccifer 2.0 posted on June 15, when he made his first appearance. This came to light when researchers penetrated what Folden calls Guccifer’s top layer of metadata and analyzed what was in the layers beneath. They found that the first five files Guccifer made public had each been run, via ordinary cut-and-paste, through a single template that effectively immersed them in what could plausibly be cast as Russian fingerprints. They were not: The Russian markings were artificially inserted prior to posting. “It’s clear,” another forensics investigator self-identified as HET, wrote in a report on this question, “that metadata was deliberately altered and documents were deliberately pasted into a Russianified [W]ord document with Russian language settings and style headings.”

To be noted in this connection: The list of the CIA’s cyber-tools WikiLeaks began to release in March and labeled Vault 7 includes one called Marble that is capable of obfuscating the origin of documents in false-flag operations and leaving markings that point to whatever the CIA wants to point to. (The tool can also “de-obfuscate” what it has obfuscated.) It is not known whether this tool was deployed in the Guccifer case, but it is there for such a use.

It is not yet clear whether documents now shown to have been leaked locally on July 5 were tainted to suggest Russian hacking in the same way the June 15 Guccifer release was. This is among several outstanding questions awaiting answers, and the forensic scientists active on the DNC case are now investigating it. In a note Adam Carter sent to Folden and McGovern last week and copied to me, he reconfirmed the corruption of the June 15 documents, while indicating that his initial work on the July 5 documents—of which much more is to be done—had not yet turned up evidence of doctoring.

In the meantime, VIPS has assembled a chronology that imposes a persuasive logic on the complex succession of events just reviewed. It is this:

• On June 12 last year, Julian Assange announced that WikiLeaks had and would publish documents pertinent to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

• On June 14, CrowdStrike, a cyber-security firm hired by the DNC, announced, without providing evidence, that it had found malware on DNC servers and had evidence that Russians were responsible for planting it.

• On June 15, Guccifer 2.0 first appeared, took responsibility for the “hack” reported on June 14 and claimed to be a WikiLeaks source. It then posted the adulterated documents just described.

• On July 5, Guccifer again claimed he had remotely hacked DNC servers, and the operation was instantly described as another intrusion attributable to Russia. Virtually no media questioned this account.

It does not require too much thought to read into this sequence. With his June 12 announcement, Assange effectively put the DNC on notice that it had a little time, probably not much, to act preemptively against the imminent publication of damaging documents. Did the DNC quickly conjure Guccifer from thin air to create a cyber-saboteur whose fingers point to Russia? There is no evidence of this one way or the other, but emphatically it is legitimate to pose the question in the context of the VIPS chronology. WikiLeaks began publishing on July 22. By that time, the case alleging Russian interference in the 2016 elections process was taking firm root. In short order Assange would be written down as a “Russian agent.”

By any balanced reckoning, the official case purporting to assign a systematic hacking effort to Russia, the events of mid-June and July 5 last year being the foundation of this case, is shabby to the point taxpayers should ask for their money back. The Intelligence Community Assessment, the supposedly definitive report featuring the “high confidence” dodge, was greeted as farcically flimsy when issued January 6. Ray McGovern calls it a disgrace to the intelligence profession. It is spotlessly free of evidence, front to back, pertaining to any events in which Russia is implicated. James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, admitted in May that “hand-picked” analysts from three agencies (not the 17 previously reported) drafted the ICA. There is a way to understand “hand-picked” that is less obvious than meets the eye: The report was sequestered from rigorous agency-wide reviews. This is the way these people have spoken to us for the past year.

Behind the ICA lie other indefensible realities. The FBI has never examined the DNC’s computer servers—an omission that is beyond preposterous. It has instead relied on the reports produced by Crowdstrike, a firm that drips with conflicting interests well beyond the fact that it is in the DNC’s employ. Dmitri Alperovitch, its co-founder and chief technology officer, is on the record as vigorously anti-Russian. He is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, which suffers the same prejudice. Problems such as this are many.

“We continue to stand by our report,” CrowdStrike said, upon seeing the VIPS blueprint of the investigation. CrowdStrike argues that by July 5 all malware had been removed from the DNC’s computers. But the presence or absence of malware by that time is entirely immaterial, because the event of July 5 is proven to have been a leak and not a hack. Given that malware has nothing to do with leaks, CrowdStrike’s logic appears to be circular.

In effect, the new forensic evidence considered here lands in a vacuum. We now enter a period when an official reply should be forthcoming. What the forensic people are now producing constitutes evidence, however one may view it, and it is the first scientifically derived evidence we have into any of the events in which Russia has been implicated. The investigators deserve a response, the betrayed professionals who formed VIPS as the WMD scandal unfolded in 2003 deserve it, and so do the rest of us. The cost of duplicity has rarely been so high.

I concluded each of the interviews conducted for this column by asking for a degree of confidence in the new findings. These are careful, exacting people as a matter of professional training and standards, and I got careful, exacting replies.

All those interviewed came in between 90 percent and 100 percent certain that the forensics prove out. I have already quoted Skip Folden’s answer: impossible based on the data. “The laws of physics don’t lie,” Ray McGovern volunteered at one point. “It’s QED, theorem demonstrated,” William Binney said in response to my question. “There’s no evidence out there to get me to change my mind.” When I asked Edward Loomis, a 90 percent man, about the 10 percent he held out, he replied, “I’ve looked at the work and it shows there was no Russian hack. But I didn’t do the work. That’s the 10 percent. I’m a scientist.”

The CIA head met with a former official who says the DNC wasn’t hacked

Michal Kranz Nov 7, 2017, 4:51 PM ET

Politics

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

CIA director Mike Pompeo was ordered by Trump to meet with an official who has cast doubt on his own agency’s work

• A former intelligence official who claims that Russia did not hack the Democratic National Committee in 2016 reportedly met with CIA Director Mike Pompeo in late October at the request of President Donald Trump.

• The official was part of a group of intelligence veterans whose report contradicts the findings of the intelligence agencies that investigated the 2016 election hacking. They say DNC emails were leaked by someone on the inside.

• Pompeo has a history of siding with Trump on intelligence matters relating to Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.

President Donald Trump reportedly told CIA Director Mike Pompeo to meet with a former intelligence official who argued in a memo that Russia never hacked the Democratic National Committee in July of 2016, and that instead its emails were released due to an internal leak, according to the Intercept.

Pompeo met with William Binney, the former National Security Agency official who co-wrote the memo with several other alleged intelligence veterans, on October 24 at the president’s urging. According to Binney, Pompeo said Trump told him that if he “want[ed] to know the facts, he should talk to me,” referring to Binney.

Binney claimed the DNC emails were leaked by someone on the inside, contradicting the findings of intelligence agencies

A high-ranking intelligence source confirmed for the Intercept that the meeting between Binney and Pompeo had taken place at Trump’s request. Binney himself acknowledged that he had brought up the case of deceased DNC staffer Seth Rich to Pompeo, referencing a right-wing conspiracy theory that claims that Rich was murdered on the orders of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Donald Trump Jr. also referenced the conspiracy theory in a tweet on Sunday.

Binney was one of several senior intelligence officials who authored a reanalysis of the 2016 DNC hack under the name Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), claiming that the DNC emails released by WikiLeaks in July of 2016 were in fact leaked “by a person with physical access to DNC computer,” and not by hackers working for the Russian government, according to Consortium News.

Binney and his colleagues wrote that the DNC data was copied at much higher speeds than would be possible through a remote internet hack, and that they were extracted by someone on the east coast of the US.

These findings contradict the official findings of the four intelligence agencies that investigated the incident, which all concluded that Russia was behind a remote breach of the DNC’s servers conducted by a hacker known as Guccifer 2.0 who reportedly claimed responsibility for the hack last year. In addition, several members of the VIPS group signed an opposing memo that challenged its assertions.

“A number of VIPS members did not sign this problematic memo because of troubling questions about its conclusions, and others who did sign it have raised key concerns since its publication,” the memo read.

Pompeo’s meeting with Binney fits into a pattern of allegiance to Trump

A former CIA officer said that Trump’s insistence that Pompeo, who heads one of the agencies that presented the Russia findings, meet with Binney was highly unusual.

“This is crazy. You’ve got all these intelligence agencies saying the Russians did the hack. To deny that is like coming out with the theory that the Japanese didn’t bomb Pearl Harbor,” the officer told the Intercept.

Dean Boyd, the director of the CIA Office of Public Affairs, said Pompeo “stands by, and has always stood by, the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment.”

“The Director has been adamant that CIA officers have the time, space and resources to make sound and unbiased assessments that are delivered to policy makers without fear or favor,” he said.

But Pompeo has emerged as a Trump ally in the intelligence community, and he recently made the Counterintelligence Mission Center report directly to him. The center will likely play a large role in future CIA inquiries into Russia’s influence on the 2016 election. He has also stated that Russian meddling likely had no impact on the outcome of the election.

Tennys Sandgren Now Enjoys A “Very Intense” Friendship With Glenn Greenwald

Tennys Sandgren Now Enjoys A “Very Intense” Friendship With Glenn Greenwald

Giri NathanYesterday 11:42am

Photo: Jared C. Tilton (Getty)

Glenn Greenwald telegraphed this one back in March:

Those readers savvy enough to know about Greenwald’s tastes in sport and contrarianism quickly sussed out the mystery person: tennis player Tennys Sandgren, a relatively obscure American who had the run of his life and broke into the quarterfinals of the 2018 Australian Open, only for this overnight fame to illuminate his Pizzagate-curious and homophobic posts on Twitter. This caused a small uproar. Greenwald has since discussed Sandgren with SI, and a new New Yorker profile of the journalist opens up with an extensive passage detailing the friendship between these two men. It all began when Greenwald offered Sandgren some support during that miniature firestorm:

Sandgren then lost his quarter-final, and, at the subsequent press conference, he read a statement condemning the media’s willingness to “turn neighbor against neighbor.” Later that day, he was surprised to receive a supportive message from Glenn Greenwald, the journalist, whom he followed on Twitter. (Sandgren also followed Roger Federer, Peter Thiel, and Paul Joseph Watson, of Infowars.)

[…]

Sandgren thanked Greenwald for his message, and the next day tweeted an apology for an old post in which he’d described his “eyes bleeding” after visiting a gay club. A month later, in February, Sandgren played in Brazil, at the Rio Open. Greenwald lives in Rio de Janeiro with his husband, David Miranda, their two sons, and two dozen dogs, former strays; Sandgren offered Greenwald and his children tickets, and they all met at the venue. Video of one match shows Greenwald, in the front row, applauding every point with dad-outing gusto. He and Sandgren subsequently formed what Greenwald called a “very intense” friendship.

Sandgren described their trade in tennis and politics. “Glenn asks me what it’s like to return Ivo Karlović’s serve—a six-foot-eleven guy—and then I ask him what’s going on in the political world,” he said. “Maybe he respects the fact that I’m very interested in learning.” Greenwald has sent him YouTube links to speeches he has made. Since meeting Greenwald, Sandgren has also watched Oliver Stone’s film “Snowden,” in which Greenwald is played by Zachary Quinto, the actor best known for his role in the “Star Trek” movies. Sandgren recalled thinking, “They got Spock to play Glenn? That’s fitting: very interested in factual information, truth and reason and logic. And, if he does get a little frustrated or angry, then look out.”

Greenwald, in a light-blue t-shirt, can be seen clapping vigorously in the front row during Sandgren’s quarterfinal loss to Fabio Fognini back in February:

Greenwald felt that a newly vulnerable Sandgren had been treated unfairly. “He was pilloried in a way that I just found so ugly,” he told the New Yorker, referring to the adult who believed a pizzeria was running a child-sex ring in its basement—even though said pizzeria didn’t even have a basement—and concluded that “the collective evidence is too much to ignore.” Here’s a representative taste of the abuse being hurled at Sandgren by the mainstream tennis media:

Chris Fowler Would Really Like Everyone To Be Nicer To Pizzagate Truther Tennys Sandgren 

When it became clear late in the third set that American Tennys Sandgren was probably going to lose …

Read more

In the end, it was this tetchy and unapologetic Sandgren monologue that really won Greenwald over:

Greenwald was particularly struck by Sandgren’s “brave and defiant” second press conference. In response to the media’s “bullying groupthink,” he hadn’t apologized.

Don’t let the bastards get you down, Tennys.

Can We Be Forgotten Anymore?

Can We Be Forgotten Anymore?

by Judith Coburn and Tom Engelhardt

August 27, 2018

Originally posted at TomDispatch.

If I had to pick a single moment when I grasped that we were on a new surveillance planet, it would have been the release of the stunning revelations of Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor now in exile in Vladimir Putin’s Russia (and if there isn’t irony in that, please tell me what your definition of irony is). Those revelations seemed to fit all too well with the then-developing picture of twenty-first-century America. You know, the country with those black sites spread around the planet; whose top government officials had “enhanced interrogation techniques” (aka torture) demonstrated to them in the White House (and then authorized their use on actual human beings across that same planet); a country running a series of global kidnapping operations, placing its trust in secret courts, and thoroughly committed not just to the large-scale surveillance of populations, its own included, but to pursuing any whistleblower like Snowden who might want to tell us what was going on.

Back in 2013, when it came to Snowden, I began a piece I called “How to Be a Rogue Superpower” this way: “It’s hard even to know how to take it in. I mean, what’s really happening? An employee of a private contractor working for the National Security Agency makes off with unknown numbers of files about America’s developing global security state on a thumb drive and four laptop computers, and jumps the nearest plane to Hong Kong. His goal: to expose a vast surveillance structure built in the shadows in the post-9/11 years and significantly aimed at Americans. He leaks some of the documents to a columnist at the British Guardian and to the Washington Post. The response is unprecedented: an ‘international manhunt’ (or more politely but less accurately, ‘a diplomatic full court press’) conducted not by Interpol or the United Nations but by the planet’s sole superpower, the very government whose practices the leaker was so intent on exposing.”

In describing a government that was heading into “the shadows” in a way that would have left the founding fathers – those ancient checks-and-balances guys – horrified, I concluded: “It’s eerie that some aspects of the totalitarian governments that went down for the count in the twentieth century are now being recreated in those shadows. There, an increasingly ‘totalistic’ if not yet totalitarian beast, its hour come round at last, is slouching toward Washington to be born, while those who cared to shine a little light on the birth process are in jail or being hounded across this planet.”

And keep in mind that this was years before Donald Trump entered the Oval Office or any of us quite realized that what TomDispatch regular and private investigator Judith Coburn calls “surveillance capitalism,” as well as a planet of hackers, would join that government in creating an unprecedented surveillance culture, one that leaves all of us exposed. Honestly, I’d like to see the novel that George Orwell would write 34 years after 1984. In the meantime, I’ll settle for the vision of our world offered by one private investigator working in the San Francisco Bay area. ~ Tom

Goodbye to All That: A Private Investigator on Living in a Surveillance Culture

By Judith Coburn

Now that we know we are surveilled 24/7 by the National Security Agency, the FBI, local police, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, hackers, the Russians, the Chinese, the North Koreans, data brokers, private spyware groups like Black Cube, and companies from which we’ve ordered swag on the Internet, is there still any “right to be forgotten,” as the Europeans call it? Is there any privacy left, let alone a right to privacy?

In a world in which most people reveal their intimate secrets voluntarily, posting them on social media and ignoring the pleas of security experts to protect their data with strong passwords – don’t use your birth date, your telephone number, or your dog’s name – shouldn’t a private investigator, or PI, like me be as happy as a pig in shit? Certainly, the totalitarian rulers of the twentieth century would have been, if such feckless openness had been theirs to abuse.

As it happens, tech – or surveillance capitalism – has disrupted the private investigation business as much as it’s ripped through journalism, the taxi business, war making, and so many other private and public parts of our world. And it’s not only celebrities and presidential candidates whose privacy hackers have burned through. Israeli spyware can steal the contacts off your phone just as LinkedIn did to market itself to your friends. Google, the Associated Press reported recently, archives your location even when you’ve turned off your phone. Huge online database brokers like Tracers, TLO, and IRBsearch that law enforcement and private eyes like me use can trace your address, phone numbers, email addresses, social media accounts, family members, neighbors, credit reports, the property you own, foreclosures or bankruptcies you’ve experienced, court judgments or liens against you, and criminal records you may have rolled up over the years.

Ten years ago, to subscribe to one of these databases, I had to show proof that I was indeed a licensed investigator and pass an on-site investigation to ensure that any data I downloaded would be protected. I was required to have a surveillance camera and burglar alarm on the building where my office was located, as well as a dead bolt on my office door, a locked filing cabinet, and double passwords to get into my computer. Now, most database brokers just require a PI or attorney license and you can sign right up online. Government records – federal and state, civil and criminal – are also increasingly online for anyone to access.

The authoritarian snoops of the last century would have drooled over the surveillance uses of the smartphones that most of us now carry. Smartphones have, in fact, become one of the primo law enforcement tools other than the Internet. “Find my iPhone” can even find a dead body – if, that is, the victim left her iPhone on while being murdered. And don’t get me started on the proliferation of surveillance cameras in our world.

Take me. I had a classic case that shows just how traceable we all now are. There was a dead body, a possible murder victim, but no direct evidence: no witnesses, no DNA, no fingerprints, and no murder weapon found. In San Francisco’s East Bay, however, as in most big American cities, there are so many surveillance cameras mounted on mom-and-pop stores, people’s houses, bars, cafes, hospitals, toll bridges, tunnels, even in parks, that the police can collect enough video, block by block, to effectively map a suspect driving around Oakland for hours before hitting the freeway and heading out to dump a body, just as the defendant in my case did.

Once upon a time, cops and dirty private eyes would have had to attach trackers to the undercarriages of cars to follow them electronically. No longer. The particular suspect I have in mind drove his victim’s car across a bridge, where cameras videotaped the license plate but couldn’t see inside the car; nor, he must have assumed, could anyone record him on the deserted road he finally reached where he was undoubtedly confident that he was safe. What he didn’t notice was the CALFIRE video camera placed on that very road to monitor for brush fires. It caught a car’s headlights matching his on its way to the site he had chosen to dump the body. There was no direct evidence of the murder he had committed, just circumstantial, tech-based evidence. A jury, however, convicted him in just a few hours.

A World of Tech Junkies

In our world of the unforgotten, tech is seen as a wonder of wonders. Juries love tech. Many jurors think tech is simply science and so beyond disbelief. As a result, they tend to react badly when experts are called as defense witnesses to disabuse them of their belief in tech’s magic powers: that, for instance, cellphone calls don’t always pinpoint exactly where someone was when he or she made a call. If too many signals are coming in to the closest tower to a cell phone, a suspect’s calls may be rerouted to a more distant tower. Similarly, the FBI’s computerized fingerprint index often makes mistakes in its matches, as do police labs when it comes to DNA samples. And facial recognition systems, the hottest new tech thing around (and spreading like wildfire across China), may be the most unreliable of all, although that certainly hasn’t stopped Amazon from marketing a surveillance camera with facial recognition abilities.

These days, it’s hard to be a PI and not become a tech junkie. Some PIs use tech to probe tech, specializing, for example, in email investigations in big corporate cases in which they pore through thousands of emails. I recently asked a colleague what it was like. “It’s great,” he said. “You don’t have to leave your office and for the first couple of weeks you entertain yourself finding out who’s having affairs with whom and who’s gunning for whom in the target’s office, but after that it’s unspeakably tedious and goes on for months, even years.”

When I started out, undoubtedly having read too many Raymond Chandler and Sue Grafton novels, I thought that to be a real private eye I had to do the old-fashioned kind of surveillance where you actually follow someone in person. So I agreed to tail a deadbeat mom who claimed to be unemployed and wanted more alimony from her ex. She turned out to be a scofflaw driver, too, a regular runner of red lights. (Being behind her, I was the one who got the tickets, which I tried to bill on my expense report to no avail.) But tailing her turned out to make no difference, except to my bank account. Nor did tech. Court papers had already given us her phone and address but no job information. Finally, I found her moonlighting at a local government office. How? The no-tech way: simply by phoning an office where one of her relatives worked and asking for her. “Not in today,” said the receptionist helpfully and I knew what I needed to know. It couldn’t have been less dramatic or noir-ish.

These days, tech is so omnipresent and omnivorous that many lawyers think everything can be found on the Internet. Two lawyers working on a death-penalty appeal once came to see me about working on their case. There had been a murder at a gas station in Oakland 10 years earlier. Police reports from the time indicated that there was a notorious “trap house” where crack addicts were squatting across from the gas station. The lawyers wanted me to find and interview some of those addicts to discover whether they’d seen anything that night. It would be a quick job, they assured me. (Translation: they would pay me chump change.) I could just find them on the Internet.

I thought they were kidding. Crack addicts aren’t exactly known for their Internet presence. (They may have cell phones, but they tend not to generate phone bills, rental leases, utility bills, school records, mortgages, or any of the other kinds of databases collect that you might normally rely on to find your quarry.) This was, I argued, an old-fashioned shoe-leather-style investigation: go to the gas station and the trap house (if it still existed), knock on doors to see if neighbors knew where the former drug addicts might now be: Dead? Still on that very street? Recovered and long gone?

In a world where high-tech is king, I didn’t get the job and I doubt they found their witnesses either.

You’d think that, in a time when tech is the story of the day, month, and year and a presidential assistant is even taping without permission in the White House Situation Room, anything goes. But not for this aging PI. I mean, really, should I rush over to a belly-dancing class in Berkeley to see if some guy’s fiancée and the teacher go back to her motel together? (No.) Should I break into an ex-lover’s house to steal memos she’d written to get him fired? (Are you kidding?) Should I eavesdrop on a phone call in which a wife is trying to get her husband to admit that he battered her? (Not in California, where the law requires permission from every party in a phone call to be on the line, thereby wiping out such eavesdropping as an investigative tool – only cops with a warrant being exempt.)

I certainly know PIs who would take such cases and I’m not exactly squeaky clean myself. After all, as a journalist working for Ramparts magazine back in the 1960s, I broke into the basement of the National Student Association (with another reporter) to steal files showing that the group’s leaders were working for the CIA and that the agency actually owned the very building they occupied. In a similar fashion, on a marginally legal peep-and-trespass in those same years, another reporter and I crawled through bushes on the grounds of a VA Hospital in Maryland where we had been told that we could find a replica of a Vietnamese village being used to train American assassins in the CIA’s Phoenix program. That so-called pacification program would, in the end, kill more than 26,000 Vietnamese civilians. We found the “village,” secretly watched some of the training, and filed the first piece about that infamously murderous program for New York’s Village Voice.

Those ops were, however, in the service of a higher ideal, much like smartphone videographers today who shoot police violence. But most of surveillance capitalism is really about making sure that no one in our new world can ever be forgotten. PIs chasing perps in divorce cases are a small but tawdry part of just that. But what about, to take an extreme case in which the sleazy meets the new tech world big time, the FBI’s pursuit of lovers of kiddy porn, which I learned something about by taking such a case? The FBI emails a link to a fake website that it’s created to all the contacts a known child pornographer has on his computer or phone. It has the kind of bland come-on pornographers tend to use. If you click on that link, you get a menu advertising yet more links to photos with titles like “my 4-year-old daughter taking a bath.” Click on any of those links and you’ll be anything but forgotten. The FBI will be at your door with cuffs within days.

Does someone who devours child porn have a right to be forgotten? Maybe you don’t think so, but what about the rest of us? Do we? It’s hardly a question anymore.

The Good and Ugly Gotchas of This Era

When all the surveillance techniques on those information databases work, it’s like three lemons lining up on a one-armed bandit. Recently, for instance, a California filmmaker called me, desperate. She was producing a movie about the first Nepalese woman to climb Mount Everest. Her team had indeed reached the summit, but were buried in an avalanche on the way down with only one survivor. The filmmaker wanted to find that man.

Could I do so? She didn’t have enough money to send me to Nepal. (Rats!) But couldn’t I find him on the Internet? His name, she told me, was Pemba Sherpa. What’s his family name, I asked? That’s when I found out that “sherpa” isn’t just a Western term for Nepalese who guide people up mountains; it’s the surname of many Nepalese. Great! That’s like asking me to find John Smith with no birthdate, social security number, address, or even the Nepalese equivalent of the state where he lives. In my mind’s eye, I could instantly see my database search coming up with the always frustrating “your search criteria resulted in too many records found.” I also had my doubts that, despite the globalization of our tech world, most Nepalese were on the Internet.

Amazingly, however, checking out “sherpas,” I promptly found a single Pemba in my search, unfortunately with – the bane of a PI’s life – not another piece of information.

Okay, Google, I thought, it’s all yours. No Pemba on the first five pages of my search there. (Groan.) But it was late at night and I was feeling obsessive, so I kept going. (Note to home investigators: don’t give up on Google after those first few pages.) From earlier research, I had discovered that one of the main Nepalese communities outside that country was in Portland, Oregon, where many mountaineering companies are also based. On maybe my 28th Google page, I suddenly saw a link to a Portland alternative newspaper story from the mid-1990s. (Who was even scanning in such articles back then?)

I clicked on it. The piece was about a Portland Pemba Sherpa who had gone back to his native village to help its inhabitants get electricity. The article went on to say that he had left Nepal “because too many of his friends had died on the mountain.” Hmmm. It also reported that he was married to a mathematics teacher at a Portland community college.

We’re talking about a more-than-20-year-old article! Still, the next morning I doggedly called the college and yes, his wife was teaching math there. I was patched through to the math department where, yes again, the wife picked up and, yes, her husband was the sole survivor of that climb, and she was sure he’d want to be interviewed for the movie.

Bingo! The actual wonders of the Internet and a heartwarming story about someone who needed to be found. Finding an ancient nanny to invite to the wedding of a guy she had raised – after they had been out of contact for decades – proved a similarly happy search. But that’s rare. The question, not just for PIs but for all of us, is this: Should everyone be so track down-able, even if they don’t wish to be? Some investigators, in the spirit of the moment, think that if there’s an unknowable about anyone, it should be uncovered. The journalist who outed novelist Elsa Ferrante really thought he’d done something, but it was just another in an increasing number of mean-spirited gotchas of our era.

Why do people need privacy anyway? The freedom and community that Internet utopians promised us has led instead to the scraping open of our lives by law enforcement, social media, hackers, marketers, and the world’s governments. Now we’re left largely to our own devices when it comes to what little we can do about it and the global surveillance culture that it’s enmeshed all of us in.

Back in the late 1960s, Erwin Knoll, editor of the Progressive magazine, made President Richard Nixon’s enemy list. That qualified him to be wiretapped by the FBI, so he asked his wife Doris to call female friends every day and discourse on grisly gynecological matters to disturb the listening agents (mostly male in those days). Erwin wondered if they wouldn’t think it was some kind of code.

Alexa! I just got back from my gynecologist and…

Glenn Greenwald, the Bane of Their Resistance

A leftist journalist’s bruising crusade against establishment Democrats—and their Russia obsession.

Ian ParkerSeptember 3, 2018 Issue

Greenwald’s focus on “deep state” depredations has exiled him from MSNBC but has given him a place on Fox News.

Photograph by Pari Dukovic for The New Yorker

Like a man in the first draft of a limerick, Tennys Sandgren is a tennis player from Tennessee. Last winter, after scraping his way onto the list of the top hundred professional players, he secured a spot at the Australian Open. He advanced to the quarter-finals. At a press conference, he responded happily to questions about his unexpected achievement. Then someone asked him about his Twitter feed. Sandgren had tweeted, retweeted, or “liked” disparaging remarks about Muslims and gays; he had highlighted an article suggesting that recent migration into Europe could be described as “Operation European Population Replacement”; he had called Marx’s ideas worse than Hitler’s. He had also promoted the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, which accuses Hillary Clinton of human trafficking. Sandgren told reporters that, though he didn’t support the alt-right, he did find “some of the content interesting.”

This became a small news story. Sandgren then lost his quarter-final, and, at the subsequent press conference, he read a statement condemning the media’s willingness to “turn neighbor against neighbor.” Later that day, he was surprised to receive a supportive message from Glenn Greenwald, the journalist, whom he followed on Twitter. (Sandgren also followed Roger Federer, Peter Thiel, and Paul Joseph Watson, of Infowars.)

Greenwald, a former lawyer who, in 2013, was one of the reporters for a Pulitzer Prize-winning series in the Guardian on Edward Snowden’s disclosures about the National Security Agency, is a longtime critic, from the left, of centrist and liberal policymakers and pundits. During the past two years, he has further exiled himself from the mainstream American left by responding with skepticism and disdain to reports of Russian government interference in the 2016 Presidential election. On Twitter, where he has nearly a million followers, and at the Intercept, the news Web site that he co-founded five years ago, and as a frequent guest on “Democracy Now!,” the daily progressive radio and TV broadcast, Greenwald has argued that the available evidence concerning Russian activity has indicated nothing especially untoward; he has declared that those who claim otherwise are in denial about the ineptitude of the Democrats and of Hillary Clinton, and are sometimes prone to McCarthyite hysteria. These arguments, underpinned by a distaste for banal political opinions and a profound distrust of American institutions—including the C.I.A., the F.B.I., and Rachel Maddow—have put an end to his appearances on MSNBC, where he considers himself now banned, but they have given him a place on Tucker Carlson’s show, on Fox News, and in Tennys Sandgren’s Twitter feed. Greenwald is also a tennis fan—and a regular, sweary player. He recently began working on a documentary about his adolescent fascination with Martina Navratilova.

Sandgren told me that Greenwald’s message had celebrated his success in the tournament, adding, “He knows quite a lot about tennis—enough to know it was the result of my lifetime. And he wanted to encourage me in that particular moment to continue to learn, to continue to grow, and to remember to be kind—to yourself and to your critics.”

Greenwald has experienced his own share of criticism, but is not known for showing kindness to critics. Michael Hayden, the former director of the C.I.A. and the N.S.A., has written that debating him was like looking “the devil in the eye.” Leading American progressives—speaking off the record, and apologizing for what they describe as cowardice—call Greenwald a bully and a troll. One told me that “he makes everything war.” The spouse of one of Greenwald’s friends visualizes him as the angry emoji. On Twitter, he has little use for agree-to-disagree courtesies, or humor: he presses on. More than one tweet has started with “No, you idiot.” He’ll tweet “Go fuck yourself” to a user with twenty or so followers. A few years ago, Greenwald had a Twitter disagreement with Imani Gandy, a legal journalist, who tweets as @AngryBlackLady; another Twitter user, in support of Greenwald, proposed to Gandy that “Obama could rape a nun live on NBC and you’d say we weren’t seeing what we were seeing.” Greenwald replied, “No—she’d say it was justified & noble—that he only did it to teach us about the evils of rape.”

Sandgren thanked Greenwald for his message, and the next day tweeted an apology for an old post in which he’d described his “eyes bleeding” after visiting a gay club. A month later, in February, Sandgren played in Brazil, at the Rio Open. Greenwald lives in Rio de Janeiro with his husband, David Miranda, their two sons, and two dozen dogs, former strays; Sandgren offered Greenwald and his children tickets, and they all met at the venue. Video of one match shows Greenwald, in the front row, applauding every point with dad-outing gusto. He and Sandgren subsequently formed what Greenwald called a “very intense” friendship.

Sandgren described their trade in tennis and politics. “Glenn asks me what it’s like to return Ivo Karlović’s serve—a six-foot-eleven guy—and then I ask him what’s going on in the political world,” he said. “Maybe he respects the fact that I’m very interested in learning.” Greenwald has sent him YouTube links to speeches he has made. Since meeting Greenwald, Sandgren has also watched Oliver Stone’s film “Snowden,” in which Greenwald is played by Zachary Quinto, the actor best known for his role in the “Star Trek” movies. Sandgren recalled thinking, “They got Spock to play Glenn? That’s fitting: very interested in factual information, truth and reason and logic. And, if he does get a little frustrated or angry, then look out.”

Greenwald told me about his friendship with Sandgren during one of several recent conversations at his home. We sat in a high-ceilinged room with a baby grand piano; the space echoed with the sound of dogs barking—and with the sound of Greenwald responding to the barking by shouting, “The fuck?”

Greenwald, who is fifty-one, and was brought up in Florida, has lived largely in Rio for thirteen years. For most of that time, he and Miranda, a city-council member, rented a home on a hillside above the city, surrounded by forest and monkeys. Last year, they moved to a more residential neighborhood. The house is in a baronial-modernist style, and built around a forty-foot-tall boulder that feels like the work of a sculptor tackling Freudian themes: it exists partly indoors and partly out. Greenwald has a pool, and his street is gated. A thousand feet away is the crush of Rocinha, Brazil’s largest favela, from which Greenwald often hears gunfire.

He seemed happy. He was wearing shorts and flip-flops; he has a soft handshake and an easy, teasing manner that he knows will likely confound people who expect the sustained contentiousness that he employs online and on TV. (On cable news shows, Greenwald draws his lower lip over his bottom teeth, blinks slowly, and seems able to state his position on the Espionage Act of 1917 while inhaling.) Greenwald, though untroubled about being thought relentless, told me that he was “actually trying to become less acerbic, less gratuitously combative” in public debates. He recently became attached to the idea of mindfulness, and he keeps a Buddha and a metal infinity loop on a shelf behind the sofa; a room upstairs is used only for meditation. He has turned to religious and mystical reading, and has reflected that, in middle age, one’s mood “is more about integrating with the world.”

Greenwald has tried to cut back on social media. “My No. 1 therapeutic goal is to reduce my Twitter usage,” he said. He gave a glimpse of his relationship with that site when, half seriously, he recalled his reaction to a difficult moment of parenting: “I went to pick a bunch of fights on Twitter to get it out of my system.” Miranda used to encourage Twitter breaks by unplugging the Wi-Fi router; a few months ago, he took away Greenwald’s phone. Miranda said that “Glenn receives so much hate” on Twitter. He went on, “Subconsciously, that goes somewhere. To not be exposed to that energy, it’s better for him.” Greenwald no longer carries a phone; he does all his tweeting from a laptop, and aims to finish before lunch. He told me this at the end of a day that included an afternoon tweet calling a Clinton-campaign official a “drooling partisan hack.” Reminded of this, Greenwald said, “I’m still a work in progress,” and laughed. Several weeks later, he announced to colleagues, on Slack, that he was further disengaging from Twitter; he also deleted twenty-seven thousand old tweets, saying that there was a risk that their meaning could be distorted. This was two weeks after he had criticized Matt Yglesias, a journalist at Vox, for regularly deleting recent tweets, “like a coward,” so that “you have no accountability for what you say.”

Greenwald told me that he and Tennys Sandgren had been communicating every day. “He was pilloried in a way that I just found so ugly,” he said. “I could tell he wasn’t a bad person. He worked his whole life to get to this point, and the moment he gets there they turn him into Hitler.” When I later disputed this description, Greenwald pointed to unfriendly reactions from Serena Williams and from John McEnroe; McEnroe had responded by making what Greenwald called a “revolting” video about tennis players contending with prejudice. Greenwald then acknowledged that, having perceived Sandgren as vulnerable—as someone suddenly exposed to intense public scrutiny—he might have misread the dominant tone. (The most forceful mainstream headline was on Deadspin: “What Does Pizzagate Truther Tennys Sandgren Find ‘Interesting’ About the Alt-Right?”)

Greenwald was particularly struck by Sandgren’s “brave and defiant” second press conference. In response to the media’s “bullying groupthink,” he hadn’t apologized. This perception of Sandgren’s circumstances helps illuminate Greenwald’s political writing, which focusses on dramas of strength and weakness, and on the corruptions of empires. Greenwald writes aggressively about perceived aggression. His instinct is to identify, in any conflict, the side that is claiming authority or incumbency, and then to throw his weight against that claim, in favor of the unauthorized or the unlicensed—the intruder. Invariably, the body with authority is malign and corrupt; any criticisms of the intruder are vilifications or “smears.” He rarely weighs counter-arguments in public, and his policy goals are more often implied than spoken.

Greenwald’s model will satisfy readers, on Twitter and elsewhere, to the extent that they recognize the same malignancy, or agent of oppression. Many might find this kind of framing appropriate, and inspiringly forthright, in a discussion of policing in Ferguson, Missouri, or of the American meat industry’s efforts to thwart animal-rights activists—a current interest of Greenwald’s. Many readers, though certainly not all, could also agree that Edward Snowden had engaged in a courageous insurgency. (In Laura Poitras’s 2014 documentary, “Citizenfour,” Greenwald tells Snowden that, once Snowden’s identity becomes known, “the fearlessness and the ‘fuck you’ to the bullying tactics has got to be completely pervading everything we do.”) Fewer people, though, would interpret Sandgren’s story this way, if showing sympathy for him must be accompanied by disparagement of everyone else—if one must agree that the reporters covering Sandgren were bullying when they noted that a public figure, however naïvely, had promoted conspiracy-minded and white-supremacist ideas.

In the buildup to the 2016 election, Greenwald detected a conflict between actors defiantly contemptuous of American norms—the Republican Presidential nominee, WikiLeaks, Vladimir Putin—and the establishment forces that he hates, including the U.S. intelligence services, “warmonger” neoconservatives like William Kristol, and big-money Democrats. That August, in an Intercept article that used the word “smear” a dozen times, and ended with an image of Senator Joseph McCarthy, Greenwald argued that “those who question, criticize or are perceived to impede Hillary Clinton’s smooth, entitled path to the White House are vilified as stooges, sympathizers and/or agents of Russia: Trump, WikiLeaks, Sanders, The Intercept, Jill Stein.” He wrote that both Trump and Stein, the Green Party’s Presidential candidate, were being “vilified for advocating ways to reduce U.S./Russian tensions.” (Even though this article included Trump on the list of those being “smeared,” Greenwald told me that he had only ever invoked McCarthyism in reference to “Democrats who accused me and others like me of being Kremlin agents.”) After the election, he scorned those “screaming ‘Putin,’ over and over.” Later, on an Intercept podcast, he said that Democrats had embraced, without evidence, various “conspiracy theories” about collusion; American liberals were caught up in an “insane, insidious, xenophobic, jingoistic kind of craziness.”

In the period since then—these months of Guccifer 2.0 and Natalia Veselnitskaya and Carter Page—Greenwald has continued to portray the Trump-Russia story as, essentially, one of rotten American élites and unruly insurgents. Although he has acknowledged the failings (not to mention the indictments) of some people in the insurgent category, he has focussed his editorial energy on documenting the past infractions and continuing misjudgments of people—in the intelligence agencies, the Department of Justice, Congress, and the media—who have provided apparent evidence of Russian interference and Trump-campaign collusion. Greenwald has questioned their reliability, and has disputed their evidence, to a degree that has frustrated even some colleagues at the Intercept. On Twitter, Greenwald recently described the self-identified “resistance” to Trump as “the first #Resistance in history that venerates security state agencies.” He has denounced the congressman Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, who has sought to investigate Trump-Russia in the face of Republican obstruction, as “one of the most hawkish, pro-militarism, pro-spying members of the Democratic Party.” He has tweeted, “I don’t regard the F.B.I. as an upholder of the rule of law. I regard it as a subverter of it.” Greenwald told me, “Robert Mueller was the fucking F.B.I. chief who rounded up Muslims for George Bush after 9/11, and now, if you go to hacker conferences, there are people who wear his image, like he’s Che Guevara, on their shirt.” Maddow and other liberals may show respect to the former C.I.A. director John Brennan when he accuses Trump of colluding with Russia, but Greenwald’s view is that Brennan, who sanctioned extraordinary rendition, should be shunned.

These critiques have changed Greenwald’s place in American political life. “My reach has actually expanded,” he told me. “A lot of Democrats have unfollowed me and a lot of conservatives or independent people have replaced them, which has made my readership more diverse, and more trans-ideological, in a way that’s actually increased my influence.” His audience now ranges from leftist opponents of Hillary Clinton, such as Susan Sarandon and Max Blumenthal, to right-wing figures such as Sebastian Gorka and Donald Trump, Jr.

To liberals grateful for institutional counterweights to the Trump Administration’s crookedness, cruelty, and mendacity, Greenwald has been discouraging: U.S. institutions have long been broken, he maintains, and can offer only illusory comfort. To protest the flouting of American norms is to disregard America’s perdition—from drone strikes and unwarranted surveillance to the Democratic Party’s indebtedness to Wall Street and Silicon Valley. Shortly before Trump’s Inauguration, Greenwald wrote an article for the Intercept titled “The Deep State Goes to War with President-Elect, Using Unverified Claims, as Democrats Cheer.” The Drudge Report promoted the article, and it went viral. This had the effect of offering the phrase “deep state”—which, until then, had been a murmur among political scientists and fringe bloggers—as a gift to Trump defenders. Roger Stone referred to the article in an interview with Alex Jones, on Infowars; Greenwald spoke of “deep-state overlords” on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” According to data from the GDELT Project, the phrase “deep state” then took off—first on Fox, then on other networks, and then in the tweets of the President and his family.

Betsy Reed, the editor-in-chief of the Intercept, recently told me that “Glenn has a core of incredibly passionate and dedicated followers.” But, she added, she is wary of “a kind of pale imitation of Glenn—people who may be partly inspired by him, but don’t have the nuance or intelligence that he has.” She was referring to Russia skeptics of the left, on Twitter and elsewhere, “who are so convinced that they are being lied to all the time that anything that the intelligence community says can’t possibly be true.” Reed’s view is that, at this point, “it’s not helpful to the left and to all the candidates and causes we favor to continue to doubt the existence of some kind of relationship between Russia and the Trump campaign. We know some basic contours of it now, thanks to Mueller, but I think we may learn more. And we can’t refuse to see what’s in front of us.”

Joan Walsh, the national-affairs correspondent of The Nation, and Greenwald’s former editor at Salon, recently said that left-wing Trump-Russia skepticism contains “real disdain for what the Democratic Party has become.” She went on, “That would mean its closeness to finance, and Wall Street.” But she thinks that it also means “the ascendance of women and people of color in the Party, and the fact that that coalition defeated Bernie Sanders.” (After the election, in an e-mail to the Intercept staff, Greenwald, a Sanders admirer, defended himself vigorously against internal suggestions that the site’s coverage of Clinton had been “anti-woman.”) A former Intercept staff member told me, “I feel bad for Glenn. I feel that Trump winning is the worst possible thing that could have happened to him, and it sort of ruined him as a valuable voice in American discourse.” Reed told me that Greenwald would surely have been “more comfortable being part of the #Resistance” had Clinton become President.

In 2011, Greenwald published a book whose title—“With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful”—could serve as a headline for much of what he had written in the previous six years. He had given up a career as a litigator in New York, moved to Brazil, and started to write, first as a blogger and then as a columnist for Salon. In the book’s first chapter, he wrote, “It has become a virtual consensus among the elites that their members are so indispensable to the running of American society that vesting them with immunity from prosecution—even for the most egregious crimes—is not only in their interest but in our interest, too.”

When Greenwald and I first met in Rio, we sat at a dining table made of dark, heavy wood, and he served extraordinarily strong coffee. I asked him whether, despite his wariness about the discourse surrounding Trump and Russia, he took any satisfaction from the discomforts of élites, such as Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, who were losing layers of immunity each day.

“On one level, I agree,” he said. “It’s great that people like Paul Manafort are finally being held accountable for their sleazy K Street practices, and their money laundering and all of that.” He talks fast, and often at a volume suited to a poor Skype connection. “But I really don’t think it’s about justice. I think the people who are doing this are genuinely offended by the entire Trump circle, in part for political and ideological reasons, and in part because he has broken all of the rules of their world, in terms of who gets to be in power, and what you have to do to get it.” He went on, “They’re just using the law as a political weapon against Trump, just as Brazilian élites are using it against Lula.” He was referring to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the leftist former President, who had just begun a prison term for corruption and money laundering.

Greenwald told me, “I don’t think that, once Trump leaves office, we’re going to have a revolution in law where rich and powerful people are going to be held accountable in the way that poor people are.” Trump is a criminal, he said, surrounded by “fifth-tier grifters” who, under normal circumstances, would be “generating PowerPoints to defraud pensioners.” But most public expressions of distress about corruption in Trump’s circle struck him as a “pretense.” He said, “The people who hate Trump the most are the people who have been running Washington for decades. It’s not so much that they’re bothered by his corruption—they’re bothered by his inability to prettify and mask it.” Greenwald then made an analogy that placed a Trump associate like Manafort in the unexpected role of a racial-bias victim: “Let’s say there’s a city where drivers are driving recklessly, and lots of people are being killed because of it. And the police department decides that, from now on, if we see any black drivers speeding, we’re going to give them a ticket, but we’re going to let white drivers continue to speed with impunity.”

To Greenwald, an agonized response to Trump carries with it the delusional proposition that previous Presidents were upstanding. He said, extravagantly, “When Trump invited President Sisi”—the Egyptian strongman—“to the White House, everybody acted like this is the first time an American President ever embraced a dictator.”

I asked him if anti-Trump sentiment implies that America, absent Trump, is virtuous. “It does, yes,” Greenwald said. “What was the campaign slogan of Hillary Clinton? She said, ‘America is already great.’ This was the platform that Democrats ran on.”

Becoming an expatriate served Greenwald’s reputation. However pleasant (and, in the end, moneyed) his life became, he remained apart from despised American élites—and felt able to tweet that Katie Couric’s purchase of a twelve-million-dollar Manhattan condo had underscored her remove from “the political impulses & circumstances of ordinary Americans.” There was also a hint of martyred exile. The Defense of Marriage Act, passed in 1996, denied Miranda the immigration opportunities of a spouse, and, over the years, Greenwald reminded people who questioned his long absence from America that he was a victim of discrimination. “I could throw that back in people’s faces,” he said. “And then, fortunately for the whole world but unfortunately for that excuse, in 2013 the Supreme Court struck down that law. So I lost my excuse, and now I just admit I’m here because I love the country.”

After it turned dark, we drove across the city to a television studio, in order to allow Greenwald to have an argument with Eli Lake, the Bloomberg columnist, whom Greenwald has called a “rabid cheerleader” for the Iraq War. Miranda had been delayed at work, so Greenwald brought the children. They are brothers, now aged nine and ten, from the poor northeast of Brazil; the couple adopted them last fall. They sat in the back seat, looking amused and a little restless, alongside a temporary member of the family’s staff—a security officer hired after Marielle Franco, one of Miranda’s colleagues and closest friends, was murdered, in March. Franco, like Miranda, was a black, gay, working-class member of the city council. In what was likely a political crime, Franco’s car was followed one evening by men who then shot her and her driver.

A jacket and a pressed shirt were hanging by an open back window. We drove down to the beach, then followed the ocean, eastward, through the neighborhoods of Ipanema (where Greenwald met Miranda, in 2005, on a gay section of the beach, at the start of a vacation) and Copacabana. Here, Greenwald’s sons saw a friend playing soccer on the sand, and while we were stopped at a traffic light they repeatedly yelled his name, laughing after they failed to get his attention.

Greenwald speaks Portuguese, but the boys have only begun to learn English, so he was speaking privately when he complained to me about how, a few days earlier, they’d woken him at dawn. “They were fighting over a video game,” he said. “I almost murdered them. I almost drowned them in the pool.” (He was laughing—he uses the same language when describing spousal disharmony.) “I called my mother later that day, and I said, ‘They’re fighting so much, and I just hate their fighting.’ And she’s, like, ‘This is proof there’s karmic justice, because all you did was fight with your brother, all day and night. I’m so happy that you’re getting this.’ And I’d completely forgotten. I was, ‘Oh, my God, that’s so true, I hated my brother.’ We love each other, but . . .”

Greenwald was an infant when his parents moved from Queens to Lauderdale Lakes, Florida, and he was six when they separated. In a later conversation, Greenwald said of his father, “He was fucking the woman next door. They didn’t divorce because of that, but it was a factor.” His father, an accountant, moved into an apartment, but for a while he often stayed with the neighbor. “I would see him in the morning coming out of that house,” Greenwald said. “Still a good father—I had good parents—but that was the first breach.” His father died in 2016, after a chaotic and drunken decline; he had refused all help, and had not taken medication. When Glenn told a therapist that he’d found this refusal enraging, her response had a Greenwaldian tint: “She’s, like, ‘I see this as such a powerful and courageous thing he did—he basically told all of you to go fuck yourselves, that he was going to live his life, and die, the way he wanted.’ ”

“I did it!”

Greenwald’s older son, he told me, has frequent bursts of anger, which reminded him of his own emotions at that age. He noted, “What I went through is nothing compared to what he’s been through”; still, he said, “I fought with everybody, I argued with everybody.” At school, he said, he “felt smarter than my teachers,” adding, “Things came very easy to me, so I felt like I could get away with a lot.” He identified as poor, in part because his house was uncared for: roaches, holes in the couch. And, when he began to understand that he was gay, he felt that others judged him to be “radically broken and diseased and evil.”

Greenwald’s planned documentary, produced by Reese Witherspoon’s company, will trace the personal and cultural impact of Navratilova’s coming out, in 1981, when he was fourteen. In a proposal for the film, Greenwald frames his regard for Navratilova in his preferred way, with reference to her “radical defiance,” “vulnerability,” and “incredible strength.” (He presents her as someone who never described herself as “bisexual”—a hedge used by some gay celebrities of the era. This is wrong: Navratilova did sometimes call herself bisexual, notably in her 1985 autobiography.)

Greenwald noted that some gay teens respond to persecution by assimilating, or by escaping into the arts. He then said, “My strategy was: you have waged war on me, and now I’m going to wage war back on you. I had to hide who I was, because it was shameful and wrong. And I wanted to make them feel the same way—‘No, you’re shameful and wrong.’ ” This force, he said, had propelled his success on debate teams in high school and in college, at George Washington University.

The TV studio was in a tower above a mall. Leaving the boys to run around in the stores with the security officer, we went to the thirty-seventh floor. It was about 8 P.M. Greenwald disappeared for a minute, and returned wearing self-administered makeup, a jacket, a shirt, and a tie, as well as his shorts and flip-flops. He contrasted his preparedness with the baggier TV impression made by Noam Chomsky, a friend and a frequent ideological ally: “He won’t make compromises to have greater access—he won’t put on a shirt and tie, he won’t speak in sound bites. I think you have the obligation, if you believe in what you’re saying, to maximize your audience.” Chomsky and Greenwald have described the Trump Presidency differently. In a recent television interview, Chomsky said that Trump is an agent of American élites more than he is an offense to them. He also recognized a stark moral line between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, arguing that the G.O.P.’s opposition to addressing climate change has made it “the most dangerous organization in human history.”

Greenwald sat on a stool, and a technician affixed an earpiece. As he waited for an Al Jazeera studio in Washington to be ready, he put on red-framed glasses and read from his laptop. Hearing Lake’s voice in his ear, he said, “Hi, Eli. Do you like my glasses?”

Greenwald and Lake debated the case for American bombing in Syria, as a response to a recent chemical attack in Douma, which had killed dozens of people. (The next day, U.S. missiles hit three targets in Syria.) Lake favored intervention; Greenwald did not. He briefly acknowledged the scale of human suffering, calling it “a problem in the world that’s really horrendous,” but he emphasized, as Chomsky has done, that a humanitarian rationale for American armed intervention was “generally the excuse that’s used” for geopolitical maneuvering.

One of Greenwald’s debating assets is charmlessness. He brings scant greenroom bonhomie onstage, and rarely smiles; he seems content to risk appearing disagreeable, or wrongheaded. This approach works best when it is set against eye-rolling disdain or fear. Lake was measured and genial. After the segment, Greenwald felt dissatisfied. “I just know Eli too well,” he said. “We’ve just fought and argued on every medium.” Lake’s views were “horrible”—he was a “hard-core neocon and a loyalist to Israel”—but he “doesn’t take himself super seriously.” He’d also been supportive of the Snowden reporting.

Lake later told me that he thinks Greenwald is mistaken in believing “that everything that the U.S. government does is malevolent.” But he added, “In a weird way, I’m grateful that there’s somebody as articulate, unrelenting, and consistent as Glenn making that argument.” He also described the discomforts of being criticized by Greenwald on Twitter: “There’s a Greenwald Effect,” he said. “His followers are like the flying monkeys in ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ They crush you in your mentions.”

“Kane, shut the fuck up—seriously,” Greenwald said. Some of his dogs are allowed inside; others live outdoors, and now and then strike wolflike poses at the summit of the boulder. Because there was always someone arriving at or leaving the house—friends, couriers, domestic staff—there was always a new reason to bark.

During the Presidential transition, the Washington Post ran a story with the headline “RUSSIAN HACKERS PENETRATED U.S. ELECTRICITY GRID THROUGH A UTILITY IN VERMONT, U.S. OFFICIALS SAY.” This didn’t hold up well: a computer at Burlington Electric had triggered a malware alert, but it may have been false, and the computer wasn’t connected to the grid. The paper appended a correction and published a self-admonishing article by its media critic. Greenwald, unsatisfied, went on Tucker Carlson’s show and called the Post story “the grandest humiliation possible.” He also wrote a dozen tweets, and a two-thousand-word article. “The level of groupthink, fearmongering, coercive peer pressure, and über-nationalism has not been seen since the halcyon days of 2002 and 2003,” he argued. A year later, CNN and other outlets published, and then retracted, the claim that, in the fall of 2016, Donald Trump, Jr., had learned about hacked Democratic National Committee e-mails before WikiLeaks posted them online. Greenwald declared the error a “humiliation orgy,” and he appeared on Laura Ingraham’s show, above a chyron reading “MALFEASANCE IN THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA.” He claimed that there had been a “huge series” of media mistakes about Russian interference.

Greenwald’s other critiques of Trump-era reporting—of oversold scoops and neglected non-Trump stories, from Yemen to Catalonia—are valuable. But it’s not easy to see that the media has been disgraced by a handful of mistakes that were quickly corrected. To many people, Greenwald has looked ravenous and gleeful. He disputed this characterization. “The screwups have been quite numerous,” he told me. Errors are inevitable, he allowed, but “my problem with these mistakes is that they’re all in the same direction of exaggerating the Russian threat.” One could argue that Carlson and other Fox journalists may have made errors of threat-underestimation by, say, breezing past Trump-Russia revelations or failing to pursue investigations. But it might be fairer to say that, until we learn all there is to know about the Trump Administration’s involvement in the Russian scheme, the seriousness of any journalistic neglect is hard to measure. Either way, Greenwald surely can’t be confident that he’s witnessed a grievous imbalance in screwups.

He sought to clarify his position on Russian interference: “I’ve said that of course it’s possible that Russia and Putin might have hacked, because this is the kind of thing that Russia does to the U.S., and that the U.S. has done to Russia, and to everybody else in the world—and far worse—for decades.” He’d never insisted “on the narrative that Russia didn’t do it.” When James Risen, the former Times investigative reporter, who joined the Intercept last year, recently debated Greenwald on a podcast—a public airing of internal tensions—Greenwald bristled at the suggestion that he had ever considered the idea of Russian interference a hoax. “I never said anything like that,” he said, explaining that his demand for serious evidence was connected to the deceptions propagated before the Iraq War.

If Greenwald has never proposed that a Russian hacking scheme was inconceivable, his rhetoric hasn’t always signalled an open mind on the issue. In the summer of 2016, he referred to narratives of Russian malfeasance as smears. That October, the Department of Homeland Security and the director of National Intelligence firmly accused the Russian government of hacking; Greenwald characterized this as an “assertion” that presented “no evidence.” (Classified intelligence is generally withheld.) Since then, as the accusation has been fleshed out and gained almost universal acceptance, Greenwald has chosen to highlight the commentary of people who sound deranged about Russian interference. His work has sought to create the impression that the pervasive voice of concern about the Trump-Russia story is found not in articles by national-security reporters, including those at the Intercept, or in congressional questioning of Erik Prince, or in Mueller’s indictments, but in jokes and unhinged theories—in a Twitter oddball like Louise Mensch suggesting that “Andrew Breitbart was murdered by Putin, just as the founder of RT was murdered by Putin,” or in Howard Dean asking if the Intercept is funded by Russia. When Preet Bharara, the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, jokingly fantasized, on Twitter, about Jeff Bezos buying the platform and then deleting Trump’s account, Greenwald described this as “moronic, plutocratic dreck” and added “#Resist.” He received fourteen thousand likes.

Tommy Vietor, Barack Obama’s former National Security Council spokesman and the host of “Pod Save the World,” recently said of Greenwald, “He’s rightly pointing out that there are some liberals, some Democrats and activists, who ascribe every problem in the world to Russian interference.” (For years, Greenwald mocked Vietor as an emblem of “imperial Washington,” but the two men have had a slight rapprochement, to become “sort of friends,” in Greenwald’s description.) Vietor continued, “That said, clearly something happened.” Greenwald’s distaste for #Resistance dreck, and for its reach into the mainstream, is surely sincere, but his unabated marshalling of it has looked tactical. Even if Greenwald came to accept that some kind of intrusion by some Russians was likely, he could still continue to taint the idea by highlighting nuttiness.

“Ninety per cent of what he’s done on the Trump-Russia story is media criticism,” Risen told me. He said that Greenwald, through such commentary, has implied that the Trump-Russia story is bogus, even as he has maintained an official agnosticism. This is disingenuous, Risen said, adding, “I wish he was more honest and open in the way he wrote about this.”

Greenwald told me that his role was “to evaluate convincing evidence and then report to my readers what it is that happened, based not on my beliefs but on the actual evidence.” Such a stance could never be “disproved.” Betsy Reed recalled Greenwald telling her that it’s never wrong to be skeptical. One could argue that overriding, sustained skepticism, in response to reports of bad acts, could indeed be a mistake, and wouldn’t be an ideal posture for, say, a 911 dispatcher.

Greenwald asked me, “What evidence has ever been presented for the central claim that Putin ordered the D.N.C. and John Podesta’s e-mail to be hacked, as opposed to the hacking being done by people of Russian nationality?” Did Greenwald dispute that Guccifer 2.0, the persona responsible for distributing hacked D.N.C. e-mails to WikiLeaks and other outlets, had come into focus as an agent of Russian military intelligence? (A month before the 2016 election, Greenwald co-wrote an article, about the Clinton campaign’s handling of the press, that was based on exclusive access to material supplied by Guccifer 2.0.) We were speaking shortly before the indictments, in July, of twelve Russian intelligence officers. I mentioned a recent article in the Daily Beast, “ ‘Lone DNC Hacker’ Guccifer 2.0 Slipped Up and Revealed He Was a Russian Intelligence Officer,” which had been co-authored by Spencer Ackerman, a former Guardian colleague of Greenwald’s who had worked on the early Snowden stories. “Each story you can dissect and pick apart, right?” Greenwald said. “They’re based on anonymous sources. They’re based on evidence that you can question.”

Ackerman told me that he liked and respected Greenwald, and that “people can be interested in what they’re interested in.” But, he said, “it’s conspicuous when they’re not interested in a massive story for which the simplest explanation is that there was a Russian intelligence operation to elect Donald Trump President.” He added, “Some people are interested in reporting this out. Some people—I would include myself—are interested in reporting this out without any contradiction of the impulse that led us to report the Snowden story. Some people are not.”

Greenwald and I talked about his definition of “evidence.” In the case of Russia, he seemed to use the word to mean “proof.” His evidentiary needs in this context could be contrasted with his swift, easy arrival at certainty in many other contexts. Greenwald assured me that Tennys Sandgren “didn’t have a racist bone in his body.” He had recently tweeted that Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain’s Labour Party, was not anti-Semitic, and that suggestions otherwise were “guilt-by-association trash.” It would be truer to say that Corbyn’s record provides some evidence of anti-Semitism, and that supporting him requires a response to that.

Shortly before we met, Greenwald tweeted a link to an article about the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, in the South of England, using Novichok, a nerve agent. It was “100% clear,” Greenwald wrote, that Boris Johnson, the British Foreign Secretary, was “lying” when he told a reporter that British scientists had confirmed that the agent had originated in Russia. To be precise, the scientists had merely identified the chemical, not its origin (though the Russians invented it). Johnson’s remarks were inexact, but he almost surely wasn’t being deceitful. To show one’s skepticism about an official narrative by proclaiming that one knows the narrative to be a lie could be defended as an act of anti-authoritarian pluck. But it doesn’t tell readers “what it is that happened.” Asked about this tweet, Greenwald said, with good grace, that a British friend had made the same point to him. Perhaps he had erred. Greenwald’s offline openness to rebuttal—in contrast to his online bloodlust and sarcasm—was always a nice surprise. But he hadn’t corrected his remarks, which were retweeted several hundred times.

“We have, all the time, different levels of evidentiary certainty based on the context, based on the role that we’re playing,” Greenwald said. To allege Russian interference in 2016 was to levy a charge against “a longtime adversary of the United States, one that is still in possession of thousands of nuclear weapons aimed at American cities.” He continued, “Before we all accuse that country of having done something so grave as have its leader order the hacking of these e-mails in order to interfere in an election, I think the evidence we demand ought to be pretty high.”

Was the charge “grave”? He had just called it the stuff of everyday international relations. “I personally don’t think it’s grave,” he said. “But there are millions of Americans who believe the election of Trump is this grave threat. So if you convince them that what has endangered them is Putin—you hear Democrats comparing this to 9/11 or Pearl Harbor—that’s really dangerous rhetoric. I don’t think it’s particularly grave at all, even if it’s true. I think it’s a very pedestrian event.” The risk, then—one also identified by President Trump—was that unfounded American hysteria could set off a nuclear war. Put another way: the choice is between Greenwald and the end of the world.

He later said, “If there was evidence inside the U.S. government that genuinely proved collusion—an intercepted call, an e-mail—it would have been leaked by now.” (He seemed to be disregarding the discipline displayed by Mueller’s investigation.) He added that, even if Putin himself had ordered the hacking, “and worked with WikiLeaks and Michael Cohen and Jared Kushner to distribute the e-mails,” then this was still just “standard shit.”

I said that he sometimes seemed to be giving argumentative form to a psychological preference: it was perhaps more satisfying to defend a besieged opinion than to share an agreed one and thereby become tainted with tribalism. This was “totally accurate,” he said, kindly. Then: “Maybe not totally.” He went on, “I think the role we end up playing in politics, in public discourse, in life, is almost always a by-product of who we are psychologically.” Greenwald’s preference, then, is to enact the dynamics of an unequal power struggle, even as he describes one.

His choice of journalistic subjects was also pragmatic, he said. Over the years, he could have written more often about gay rights, or abortion, areas where his views largely conform to progressive orthodoxy. But he didn’t feel that his time was “best spent saying things that zillions of other people are already saying.”

Upon the release of Mueller’s July indictments, which contained detailed descriptions of Russian methods, Greenwald tweeted that “indictments are extremely easy to obtain & are proof of nothing.” He urged “skepticism toward the claims of prosecutors who have turned the U.S. into a penal state, and security state agencies which have turned the U.S. into a militaristic imperial state.” After Michael Tracey, another journalist who is largely dismissive of Trump-Russia reporting, wrote mockingly about the respect being paid to “our Lord and savior Mueller,” Greenwald expressed fellowship by noting that the act of “asking for evidence, and refusing to believe it until you see it, is literally heretical.”

A few days later, on the phone, Greenwald had news. He had “talked to a bunch of people and figured out what I thought, in the most rational way possible,” and now regarded the indictments as genuine evidence of Russian hacking—the first he’d seen in two years. To think otherwise, he said, “you’d pretty much have to believe that Mueller and his team fabricated it all out of whole cloth, which I don’t believe is likely.”

He hadn’t tweeted about this yet. He was still pondering the best way to announce it. “I want it to be substantive—I don’t want it to be distorted,” he said. “If I did it on Twitter, it would be ‘Oh, Glenn Greenwald admits he’s wrong!’ I don’t actually think I’ve been wrong about anything.”

In 1994, not long after Greenwald graduated from N.Y.U. School of Law and took a job that he quickly came to hate, at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, a New York firm, he learned about Town Hall, a conservative forum, sponsored by National Review and the Heritage Foundation, on Compuserve’s dial-up network. He applied to join, at a cost of twenty-five dollars a month. In his teens, Greenwald had been close to his paternal grandfather, a left-wing member of the Lauderdale Lakes city council. After his grandfather retired, Greenwald, at eighteen and again at twenty-two, ran for the same council—inspired more by the promise of conflict than by an impatience to serve. (“I don’t think I’m a politician,” he told me. “My skill is not making everybody like me.”) As a student, Greenwald had paid little attention to politics. “There weren’t big wars, big causes,” he said. But his career in competitive debating had been stellar, and he knew that he disliked Rush Limbaugh conservatism. He joined Town Hall “just to start fucking with them,” he said. “I guess it was trolling, before trolling existed.” He posted comments as DerWilheim, a name chosen for reasons he says he cannot recall. “I often think about how happy I am that nobody will find those,” he said. “I’m pretty sure those things are gone.”

He was the forum’s exotic. “They knew I was gay and a lawyer in New York,” he said. He found the community to be “incredibly welcoming.” In 1996, he flew to Indiana to attend a Town Hall conference. “My friends were, ‘Are you fucking insane?’ ”

He later added, “That early Internet experience—the Wild West—was really important to my development. For gay people, and for anybody who felt any sense of shame or constraint about their sexual identity and their sexual expression, the Internet was this incredibly powerful tool. And not just sexually, but whatever parts of yourself are there and you’re not really sure about and you know you can’t really show most people. I think that part of my bond with Snowden was that the Internet was so crucial to his own development.” Snowden used to post on Ars Technica, about sex and programming, as TheTrueHOOHA. Greenwald said of him, “He grew up in a lower-middle-class household in central Maryland—very stultifying, and homogenous. When you have a place where you can be anything, or do anything, or say anything, you realize how emancipating that is, and to lose that is a huge loss.” In “Citizenfour,” Snowden says to Greenwald, “I remember what the Internet was like before it was being watched.”

In 1996, Greenwald set up his own law firm. He didn’t vote in 2000, but after 9/11 he paid closer attention to politics, from a position of some confidence in George W. Bush. Greenwald has written that, in 2003, he trusted Bush about Iraq: “I accepted his judgment that American security would be enhanced by the invasion of this sovereign country.” That trust was soon lost. And by 2005, when Greenwald started his blog, he wrote as a critic of U.S. torture and rendition policies, and of legal theories defending them.

But the blog’s name, Unclaimed Territory—a reference to “Deadwood,” the HBO frontier drama—indicated Greenwald’s self-image as an independent spirit. When he wrote that Howard Dean was “non-ideological, sensible, solidly mainstream,” he was being nice. Bush Administration horrors were transgressions, not signs of chronic imperial disorder. In 2005, Greenwald censured anti-Americanism, which he defined as the inclination “to vigilantly search for America’s guilt while downplaying, ignoring, or excusing the guilt of its enemies”—to be driven by the idea that the U.S. “is a uniquely corrupt and evil country.”

The younger Greenwald might have blanched at a question Greenwald asked last summer: “Who has brought more death, and suffering, and tyranny to the world over the last six decades than the U.S. national security state?” At one point, Greenwald told me that he saw no difference between Putin’s use of Novichok against a political antagonist—if such a thing had happened—and Obama’s use of military drones. “I don’t think the U.S. government is morally superior to the Russian government in terms of the role it plays in the world,” he said. Greenwald responded to Russia’s shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, in 2014, by tweeting a reference to the U.S. Navy’s shooting down of Iran Air Flight 655, in 1988. When ISIS filmed a captured Jordanian pilot being burned alive, in 2015, Greenwald immediately published a post on the Intercept about civilian injuries from napalm, during the Vietnam War, and from U.S. drone strikes. His headline was “Burning Victims to Death: Still a Common Practice.”

In 2006, he wrote a slim, sharp book, “How Would a Patriot Act?,” which became a best-seller. Greenwald wrote fast; by 2008, he had published two more books. He was an early adopter of Twitter, although in 2009 he observed, on C-SPAN, that it might “degrade our discourse even further.” (Greenwald told me, “I was so prescient! I wish I’d listened to myself.”) His writing became more polemical and less legalistic, emphasizing debate-team reiteration of an argument’s greatest strength. As Joan Walsh, then at Salon, recently put it, “He was not interested in convincing people—he was interested in telling the truth.” His book “Great American Hypocrites,” published in 2008, opens with an essay that repeats a single thought—that conservative politicians “talk tough and prance around as wholesome warriors,” like John Wayne, while leading personal lives that are “the exact opposite”—to the point that it reads like a mechanical malfunction.

Before Barack Obama became President, in 2009, Greenwald was optimistic about the candidate’s likely respect for civil liberties. He recalls telling himself, “He’s a law professor, it’s embedded in him the way it is in me.” But Obama was unable to close Guantánamo, and, as Greenwald saw it, he failed to stem abuses of executive privilege, and security-state excesses. Ben Rhodes, a speechwriter and a deputy national-security adviser in the Obama Administration, told me, “I think that anything short of the President attempting to completely dismantle the national-security apparatus of the United States was going to leave Greenwald disappointed.” In Greenwald’s view, the start of the Obama Presidency revealed “a dichotomy between the people who were actually serious in their critiques of the Bush Administration and people who were just Democrats. And I became the critic of the Democratic Party from the left.”

Walsh recalled that, “for a long time, we were absolutely on the same side, and then suddenly we weren’t always.” She added, “He’s always had a libertarian streak, but I thought of him as on the left—in his own lane, but on the left.” As the divide between Greenwald and Obama supporters widened, “we did have conversations about race and about gender,” Walsh said. “I thought he could persuade people if he occasionally paid more attention to the concerns of black people who saw Obama as being in an impossible situation, and being held to a different standard. Those conversations I don’t think went anywhere.”

One morning at the house in Rio, Miranda met with some of his colleagues, and with Greenwald, to discuss electoral strategy. Miranda, now thirty-three, stopped attending school at thirteen. He later re-started his education, and in the summer of 2013, while Greenwald was in Hong Kong with Snowden—in a sour-smelling hotel room filled with a week’s worth of room-service trays—Miranda was taking his final exams for a degree in advertising and communications. Three years later, he ran for the Rio city council, as a member of a small party, the Socialism and Liberty Party, and won. This fall, he is running for Congress. As the meeting broke up, Greenwald said that he and Miranda had decided to “make a film in Jacarezinho, the favela where David grew up—huge and very deprived—and get David’s family with him, and talk about how that formed him.” Miranda, who didn’t know his father and whose mother is dead, is lighter-skinned than other family members, “but he is black,” Greenwald said, “and it’s about how to claim that identity, not to let people take away that identity.” (Miranda had recently stopped using hair-straightening products.)

Greenwald, who had earlier compared Miranda’s electoral appeal to Obama’s, acknowledged that, in 2016, after he interviewed Dilma Rousseff, in Brasília, in the Presidential palace, he and Miranda wondered for a moment how easily the building could accommodate two dozen dogs. When Miranda sat with us, Greenwald used the phrase “if you’re successful in your congressional race,” and Miranda laughed. “I will be!” he said. “Be positive, dude.”

Greenwald left the table to get food. Miranda said that, for most of Rio’s electorate, his having a foreign partner wasn’t a liability, but he allowed that his relationship with Greenwald had drawn some unfriendly local commentary. (A senior media figure in the city later told me, with amusement, that Miranda now spoke Portuguese with a slight American accent.) Miranda told me, “I’m black and he’s white, a lawyer from New York. I’m younger and”—shrug, slight hand movement—“good-looking, and I came from the favelas.” He went on, “But here we are, thirteen years together. Two fucking kids who we love! Twenty-four fucking dogs! I think we proved we love each other.”

Greenwald brought out some brittle baked pasta. Miranda, who takes cooking seriously, looked despairing and said, “You overcooked his pasta, Glenn.”

“Not as much as I overcooked mine,” Greenwald said, cheerfully.

“Oh, God,” Miranda said.

They talked about the day, in May, 2013, when Snowden, already in Hong Kong, sent Greenwald some samples of the N.S.A. material he had obtained. This included a presentation about PRISM, the then unknown program that facilitated the collection of data from major American Internet companies. That day, Greenwald and Miranda, stunned, talked for five hours. “We knew our lives would change,” Miranda said. “We made a promise that the only thing that cannot change is us.” (Greenwald has changed a little, Miranda told me: “He was pretty big, but he became this monster.” He was referring to the size of his reputation.) Later, Miranda showed me photographs that he took while sitting with Beyoncé, Jay Z, and Jennifer Lopez at the Vanity Fair Oscar party in 2015, after “Citizenfour” won the award for Best Documentary. “Jay Z was asking me to sit in his lap,” he said. By then, Greenwald had gone back to their hotel. (“It was suffocating, it was too much,” Greenwald told me.)

“Journalists don’t just get sources—journalists create sources,” Snowden told me, speaking on a video line from Russia during the World Cup. (He had established, he said, that in soccer each side has “a maximum of eleven players.”) He recalled first noticing Greenwald during the Bush Administration; he read the blog, and felt a sense of fraternity in their shared disillusionment. “I signed up for the Iraq War when everyone else was protesting it,” Snowden said. Greenwald struck him as unbeholden to official sources, and unencumbered by “a fear of being taken to be unserious, or shrill, if you go over the boundaries of polite conversation.” Over the years, Snowden said, reading Greenwald “probably caused me to become more skeptical.”

In December, 2012, Snowden reached out to Greenwald, who had recently been hired away from Salon by the Guardian. (As at Salon, and now at the Intercept, Greenwald’s Guardian contract stipulated that, unless he requested an editor’s guidance, his columns would be published directly to the Internet.) Snowden e-mailed him, using a pseudonymous account, and encouraged him to set up encryption that would allow them to communicate safely. Greenwald didn’t get around to it. Snowden began to talk with Laura Poitras, and then with the journalist Barton Gellman. In April, Greenwald and Snowden finally started an encrypted conversation. Three days after opening the PRISM file, Greenwald flew to New York, and from there, with Poitras and Ewen MacAskill, a Guardian reporter, to Hong Kong. In the Mira Hotel’s lobby, “this fucking kid shows up,” Greenwald recalled, laughing. “Honestly, my first reaction was ‘O.K., our source is gay and this is, like, his lover. His little wispy young lover.’ ” Snowden, for his part, was struck by the level of Greenwald’s attention: “He had a consuming incandescence about this story. He was driven. Things weren’t happening fast enough, there were always more questions. There was just a carnivorous desperation to learn what was going on, and then to tell people about it.”

They met on Monday, June 3rd, and by the end of the day Greenwald had drafted his first Snowden story, about the N.S.A.’s access to Verizon phone records. On Wednesday, Spencer Ackerman, in Washington, invited the White House and the N.S.A. to respond. Ben Rhodes, who was then in the White House, recalled that “it kind of hit us like a freight train.” In Hong Kong, Greenwald became impatient with what he perceived to be unnecessary delays. It was a “very simple” story, he said, based on a single document. Greenwald went on, “I was taking sleeping pills and Xanax and every conceivable narcotic to sleep just a little bit—but I couldn’t. I was filled with adrenaline and nerves.” He sent a draft of his article to Betsy Reed, at the time the executive editor of The Nation. “She got back to me thirty minutes later and said, ‘We’re happy to publish this.’ ”

Miranda said, “I wouldn’t let him publish in The Nation.”

“It’s a step down,” Greenwald said.

“It’s a step down.”

Miranda recalled urging Greenwald to tell the Guardian that, if it didn’t publish the story soon, “we’re going to put the documents on a Web site.” (He added, “That’s when the idea of the Intercept was created, right there.”) The Guardian published it that evening.

James Risen told me, “I think that Snowden, and that story, brought out the best in Glenn.” Rhodes, disagreeing, said that, given Greenwald’s “Chomsky-like” distrust of American power, “the core challenge here is trying to understand to what extent this was a matter of whistle-blowing on behalf of a public debate about transparency, and to what extent this was just about undermining U.S. foreign policy.”

Greenwald later said that, in Hong Kong, he had worried that Snowden might slip into China, thus creating the impression that he was an asset of Chinese intelligence. Had Snowden actually been one, Greenwald said, it would not have affected his reporting, but it would have changed his opinion of his source. Moreover, he said, “what protected me legally was the popularity of the story, and its popularity would certainly have been lessened if he’d been revealed as a Chinese spy.”

But Greenwald said that he had not felt unnerved when Snowden eventually was granted asylum in Russia. He accepted Snowden’s account: that, upon leaving Hong Kong, his intention was to reach Latin America, but the plan was thwarted by the revocation of his passport, leaving him unable to transfer flights in Moscow. Snowden has said that, before arriving in Russia, he relinquished his access to his material. Rhodes told me, “It’s impossible for me to believe that the Russians haven’t debriefed him on multiple occasions.” When I asked Greenwald if Snowden could have coöperated in ways other than giving up documents, he said, “I can’t guarantee that he didn’t share information with them.” But Snowden had told him that he hadn’t done so; Greenwald added, “In all the time I talked to Snowden, I’ve never, ever known him to lie to me.”

He went on, “I think the reason Putin accepted Snowden in Russia is because he just liked the idea of being the protector of human rights against the United States. So, instead of the United States getting to say, ‘You, Russia, are persecuting people who are political dissidents,’ Putin got to say, ‘We’re giving him rights, because he’s going to be persecuted in the United States.’ ”

Trolling? “Yes, exactly.”

Snowden and Greenwald used to talk every day. Now a week or two can pass without contact. Greenwald visited Snowden in the spring of 2014, and then again this summer, when he appeared on a panel discussion in Moscow, broadcast on RT, the Russia-backed English-language news network, and moderated by RT’s editor-in-chief. Greenwald told the audience that, after Trump’s victory, “the American political system needed an explanation about why something like that could happen, and why they got it wrong.” One explanation, he said, was that “it was this other foreign country over there that was to blame. And that’s a major reason why fingers continue to be pointed at the Russian government.” (When Greenwald was criticized online for appearing on RT, he claimed, incorrectly, that the BBC is also “state-controlled.”) On Instagram, Greenwald posted a photograph of Snowden eating an ice-cream cone. Snowden had told me, “We’re not like buddy-buddy. There’s a distance. We don’t talk about our personal lives. We don’t call every Wednesday and say, ‘Hey, you want to play bingo online?’ ”

Greenwald is not naturally collegial. In Rio, on a conference call about his Navratilova film, he faced gentle resistance to one of his ideas. Smiling, he raised a middle finger to the phone, and then started exchanging back-channel texts with someone else on the call. Afterward, he congratulated himself on his restraint, saying, “People come into working with me assuming I’m this, like, demanding, abrasive asshole, so I don’t want to play into that stereotype right away. I want to wait at least a month.”

Greenwald co-founded the Intercept in 2013, with Poitras and Jeremy Scahill; the funding came from Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay. (The site paid Greenwald half a million dollars in its first year.) Greenwald does sometimes consult with an editor before posting, but there have been times when Reed has regretted that he did not. And it’s clear that there’s a category of Greenwald article for which there’s limited appetite in New York. Reminded about a fifteen-hundred-word article, in January, animated by the fact that Neera Tanden—the president of the Center for American Progress, a Democratic think tank—had retweeted a foolish remark about Chelsea Manning, Reed smiled, in a “tell me about it” way.

In the Trump era, Greenwald seems to be most energized when he discovers flaws in Democratic messaging, or in the output of an MSNBC contributor; this summer, he wrote a piece about a single uncorrected error by Malcolm Nance, a former intelligence officer, who had mistakenly said that Jill Stein had a show on RT; Greenwald used the words “lie,” “fabrication,” and “falsehood,” and their variants, twenty times, and proposed that “NBC News and MSNBC have essentially merged with the C.I.A. and intelligence community,” and that “anyone who criticizes the Democratic Party or its leaders is instantly accused of being a Kremlin agent.”

Some of Greenwald’s admirers seem to register only the fighting spirit, and not the actual claims, in this kind of writing. Dan Froomkin, who until last year was the Washington editor of the Intercept, told me that, after someone had criticized this article on Facebook, he had replied, “Do you dispute the accuracy of a single thing Glenn wrote?” When I asked Froomkin about the claim of an MSNBC/C.I.A. merger, he laughed, and said, “Oh, God, did he really say that?,” before defending it as hyperbole.

Some people at the Intercept have questioned Greenwald’s decision to appear on Fox News. According to Reed, “It’s become so entirely an organ of not even just the Republican Party but the Trump Administration, and it has no compunction about spreading lies, so I think there are real questions about why anyone would go on there.” Greenwald told me, “I don’t know why it’s O.K. to ally with Bill Kristol but not Tucker Carlson.” I reminded him that he has mocked MSNBC and CNN for giving Kristol airtime. “I think there’s a difference between giving someone a platform—inviting Bill Kristol on—and my going and using Tucker Carlson’s audience,” he said.

Greenwald’s position on Trump and Russia has come to define the Intercept: recently, when I was in an elevator at the New York office, an employee made a joke about the “Russian-funded” opulence of the premises. When the Intercept hired Risen, last September, Greenwald suspected that the move was intended to offset his Trump-Russia opinions. “People have denied it, but I disbelieve those denials,” he told me. This skepticism seems to be well founded. Risen told me that his focus on Trump and Russia was “to help change the perception” of the site. (Reed, describing Risen’s hiring, said he needed reassurance that Greenwald would have no editorial influence over him.) Greenwald said, “I don’t think the majority of people who work at the Intercept—because they’re good liberals—are supportive of my whole posture with regard to Trump and Russia. That’s fine with me. If they want to get someone who sounds like David Gregory to write at the Intercept, it doesn’t really take away from anything I’m doing.” (He later said that this wasn’t a reference to Risen, whom he called a journalistic hero.) Risen said of Greenwald, “He looks at stories and thinks, What are the implications of this story for the political positions that I hold? And I try to look at a story and say, ‘Is this a good story or not?’ ” He added, “I consider him a friend. We have good conversations.”

Greenwald went on to describe his frustration with an Intercept story, published last summer, that was based on an N.S.A. report leaked by Reality Winner, an N.S.A. contractor. The article described an attempt by Russian military intelligence to introduce malware into the computers of U.S. election officials in 2016. In Greenwald’s view, the story was overblown: the N.S.A. analysis included no underlying evidence. Before publication, Greenwald vetoed a suggestion that Snowden be invited to examine the leaked material. “I said, ‘I think it’s not a very good idea to send a top-secret N.S.A. document that purports to describe Russia to Russia.’ ” He laughed. “Not even I would look very kindly on that, if I were in the Trump Justice Department.” He was also dismayed, as many people were, that the Intercept had not properly disguised the document before showing it to the government for verification, making it easy for Winner to be identified as its leaker; she was arrested shortly before publication. The Intercept apologized, and supported her legal defense. The site “fucked up,” Greenwald said. He added that, if he didn’t work there, he might be wondering aloud why nobody was fired. (On August 23rd, Winner was sentenced to five years in prison.)

WikiLeaks offered ten thousand dollars for the name of whoever at the Intercept was responsible for Winner’s exposure. Greenwald and Julian Assange had become allies during the Bush Administration, but their relationship was disrupted in 2013, when Snowden chose not to work with WikiLeaks. And, after Greenwald was exposed to Snowden and his trove, he became less supportive of the WikiLeaks approach, which typically involves publishing data in bulk, without curating or redaction. In our conversations, Greenwald noted that among the Podesta e-mails published by WikiLeaks were remarks about a campaign worker’s serious mental-health problems; publishing that, he said, was “grotesque and incredibly immoral.”

I was told that Greenwald now speaks harshly about Assange in private, but in our conversations he described a civil relationship that navigated around “Julian being Julian.” Greenwald told me that he had three visits with Assange late last year. And he framed the preëlection alliance between WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign as a human response to extreme conditions. Assange was understandably focussed on escaping from what he has defined as imprisonment, in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and Trump could potentially help him. Moreover, Greenwald said, Assange “likes to be a big player—that’s super important to him—and if you’re releasing stuff and Donald Trump is talking about it every day, that massively increases your importance.”

Greenwald has a daily tennis lesson. One afternoon in April, on a hotel’s court, his coach asked him how he’d performed in a tournament the previous weekend. Greenwald had been beaten thoroughly, despite intensive preparation. He’d mentioned this defeat to me, which was at the hands of a “ridiculously good” young man who had clearly entered the tournament at the wrong level. “I didn’t want to complain, because I try not to inject lawyer-journalist energy into my recreational activities,” Greenwald said, laughing. “But at the same time I felt it was a bureaucratic injustice.” He had “only once” intentionally served the ball, without a bounce, directly at his opponent.

After he played with the coach for twenty minutes, cursing, it began to rain. I told Greenwald that, during his lesson, it had been reported that Sean Hannity had been named as a client of Michael Cohen’s, and that Trump had blocked sanctions against Russia that Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, had announced the previous day. In our conversations, Greenwald had made much of Trump’s willingness, earlier that month, to apply sanctions against twenty-four Russian oligarchs and officials. And he had tweeted that “the Trump Administration has been more willing to confront Russia & defy Putin than the previous president.”

He began to respond to this news while trying to get out of the hotel’s parking lot. The machine wouldn’t accept his ticket. Looking at the barrier in front of us, he said, “I’m so tempted to just ride through it, which is a fantasy of mine, from childhood. Look at how weak that is—I could definitely break that.” He added, “I want to do something violent.”

He moved a cone, and drove around.

Greenwald asked me: What was being suggested by those who found it significant that Trump had undermined an expansion of U.S. sanctions? Even if nobody was quite arguing, he said, “that Putin called Trump and said, ‘Hey, I’m about to release the peepee tape unless you pull this back,’ ” it was surely implied. But wasn’t it as likely, he went on, that “Trump, like Obama, simply believes it makes more sense for the Russians and the Americans to coöperate?”

He seemed to be running parallel arguments: Trump was tough on Russia; Trump, wisely, was not tough. Greenwald said, “You can punish them occasionally but have an over-all philosophy—that over-all philosophy of ‘Let’s just get along with the Russians’ has been turned into something treasonous.” He went on, “Even if he has weird dealings with Russia, I still think it’s in everybody’s interest not to teach an entire new generation of people, becoming interested in politics for the first time, that the Russians are demons.” (Later, shortly before the Helsinki meeting between Trump and Putin, Greenwald told “Democracy Now!” that the meeting was an “excellent idea.” Risen wrote that Trump’s decision to meet Putin alone was “at best reckless.”)

If, for many years, a writer has described his fears about the state of America, does he find it galling when others make much of their sudden new fear? Embedded in Greenwald’s hostility to Trump’s critics seems to be the aggrieved question “What took you so long?”

“Yes, yes!” Greenwald said, emphatically, as he drove. Years after he began writing critically about expanded Presidential powers, “all these powers are now in the hands of Donald Trump,” he said. “He gets to start wars. So I do get a sense that, O.K., people are going to finally understand that this model of the American Presidency—this omnipotence, this lack of checks and balances—is so dangerous. But the problem is they’re being told that the danger is endemic to Trump, and not to this broader systemic abuse that’s been created. And that’s why I’m so opposed to the attempt to depict Trump as the singular evil. It’s not just partial or incomplete—it’s counterproductive, it’s deceitful.”

He was acknowledging an ideological incentive for minimizing criticism of the President. “We all make choices in what we’re going to prioritize,” he said. “I could go online and denounce Trump all day, and my life would be easier and more relaxing.”

Greenwald, who didn’t vote in 2016, and who sees Bernie Sanders as the best likely candidate for 2020, later told me that, compared with current conditions, a Clinton Presidency would have been “better in some ways, and worse in other ways.” He referred to the likelihood that Clinton would have pursued military action in Syria. Trump’s election, he said, had energized public debate about “what kind of country we should be.”

Greenwald took me to see a dog shelter that he and Miranda opened last year. Staffed by homeless people, most of them gay or transgender, it’s in the garden of a once grand house, now occupied by squatters, on a forested hillside. A dozen abandoned cars surrounded a swimming pool half-filled with green water. He talked with a colleague about how to defuse a conflict between two factions of homeless people living on the property. A woman had announced that she intended to kill an antagonist. “It’s a war,” Greenwald told me, matter-of-factly. He lay on his back with a dog in his arms, and looked serene. ♦

An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Betsy Reed’s role at The Nation; she was the executive editor, not the editor. It also described the timing of Reality Winner’s arrest incorrectly; Winner was arrested shortly before the Intercept published its story, not shortly after.

Secret Rollie File, for unknown user.

Danny Casolaro was close to breaking a story that he referred to “what he called the story of the century: “a web conspiracies that went all the way to the top that he referred to as the “Octopus.”
The “Octopus” conspiracy was were top-level government officials were all tied together in a host of sinister operations: the BCCI (the Bank of Credit and Commerce International) scandal and the so-called October Surprise plot, an alleged effort by the Reagan-Bush campaign to delay the freeing of the American hostages in Iran as a means of sabotaging Jimmy Carter’s 1980 presidential reelection campaign and the the Iran-contra affair.
Peter Dale Scott noted in a poem/article a year or two ago how Casolaro had made a note to go meet him in the days before his death. That’s interesting, but perhaps it’s a good thing that Scott wasn’t dragged into it.
According to John Connolly of Spy, Casolaro worked for two years in the late 1970s on an alternative explanation for Watergate. According to Emma Best..
Evidence compiled from Federal Bureau of Investigation files, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s notes, statements from Deep Throat, along with Congressional testimony and the files of Senate investigators, all implicate journalist Jack Anderson as having helped set up Watergate – or at least having foreknowledge of it and benefiting from it.
According to an FBI memo, Danny Casolaro contacted the FBI with copies of two letters that had been written to the Democratic National Committee warning them of Watergate break-in type activity. The Bureau essentially shrugged this off, noting that Casolaro’s theory was that the Watergate was a setup to embarrass the White House, and that Casolaro suspected Watergate burglar and former Central Intelligence Agency officer E. Howard Hunt.
…link first suggested itself in the notes of Woodward and Bernstein of the October 9th, 1972 meeting with Deep Throat/X/Mark Felt. (While evidence strongly suggests Deep Throat was a dramatized composite of multiple sources rather than simply Felt, for the moment we will take Woodward and Bernstein’s word for the fact that this meeting was with Mark Felt.)

Danny got the idea “The Octopus” from Dan E. Moldea’s “DARK VICTORY, Ronald Reagan, MCA, and the Mob,”unholy alliance “The Octopus” in his book. [Julius Stein’s mob connected The Music Corporation of America (MCA corp–originally from Chicago–also called “The Octopus”) dominated Hollywood television & film– played a big role in this story & Ronald Reagan’s Presidential Rise.]
Manichur Ghorbanifar, Adnan Khashoggi, and Richard Armitage brokered the transaction of Promis software to Sheik Klahid bin Mahfouz (BCCI director) for resale and general distribution as gifts in his region.
Seymour said..
Turner later admitted to police that he had indeed met with Danny on August 9th, but at that time he refused to specify what time and would not describe what was in the papers he delivered to Danny. I later learned that Turner had been investigating discrepancies involving his former employer, Hughes Aircraft Company. The documents he had delivered from his safe to Danny had been sealed, with Casolaro’s name written across the seal, and he claimed not to have known what they contained. Nevertheless, it is feasible to assume that Turner may have known who Danny was preparing to meet that evening at the Martinsburg Hotel because, for reasons of his own, Turner apparently wanted Danny to show the Hughes Aircraft documents to whoever he was meeting with.
Turner later noted to reporters that he was “scared shitless” about information he had seen connecting Ollie North and BCCI. “I saw papers from Danny that connected back through the Keating Five and Silverado [the failed Denver S & L where Neil Bush had been an officer],” he said.
The exact nature and extent of Casolaro’s Octopus, or whether it existed at all has been subject to much debate and speculation since.
James Ridgeway and Douglas Vaughn of The Village Voice, used an unnamed friend of Casolaro’s as source “Danny wasn’t an investigative reporter … He was a poet.”
That statement will be echoed throughout the media finds when ever investiagating Danny, he was an investigative reporter in some shape or manner his whole career.
Danny’s death be connected to Ted Shackley’s “Secret Team” who worked for George H. W. Bush in their campaign to remove Jimmy Carter from office
Months after Danny’s death a host of news organizations had already taken the allegations seriously enough to launch full-scale investigations of their own, into Inslaw affair which was already front page news from 1987 until late November, 1992 a young couple named the Clintons from Little Rock stole the headlines.
What is Promis.?
The PROMIS software company named Inslaw which sold a legal case-tracking solution called PROMIS (Prosecutor’s Management Information System) to the federal government. Uncle Sam refused to pay Inslaw and pushed the company into bankruptcy. This did little to stop American and Israeli intelligence agencies from selling roughly $500 million in pirated copies of PROMIS to other intelligence agencies. As you might have guessed the pirated copy of PROMIS had a back door installed that enabled remote monitoring
PROMIS was the granddaddy of all hacking technology, athough long ago surpassed by cyber-espionage software developed by the NSA, DARPA and their Silicon Valley contractors. The prosecutors’ code was originally created by Washington-based INSLAW company owned by William Hamilton to translate different computer languages at DOJ/FBI field offices and unify them into a single reporting system. Interfacing, however, was only the start, because the software could be adapted for data-processing for accounting purposes by banks and tax agencies, and also for the darker more profitable task of breaking into and stealing private accounts.
The Justice Department’s alleged theft of software from a computer company called Inslaw, the software was called PROMIS. The US Justice Department had was ruled to have obtained a copy of Promis illegally and the resulting lawsuit from Inslaw, the proprietor. According to Casolaro, it was Reagan cronu (Meese) used the US Justice department to steal PROMIS from its developers, the Inslaw group, even after two congressional committees eventually agreed, however, that Inslaw was the legal private owner of PROMIS when the US Justice department.
PROMIS was designed as a case-management system for prosecutors, the software had the ability to track people. “Every use of PROMIS in the court system is tracking people,” said Inslaw President Hamilton. “You can rotate the file by case, defendant, arresting officer, judge, defense lawyer, and it’s tracking all the names of all the people in all the cases.”
Promis is the Rosetta stone of computer languages before the Prism program. It shows the stoke of genius of Hamilton was create a software program that could access files in any number of databases and programming languages and translate and then unify them into one consistent file.
Bugged Computer Software – Ari Ben-Menashe – Peter Myers; date October 26, 2000.

Inslaw program would be able to cross-check various court actions and, through cross-referencing, find a common denominator. For example, if a wanted person moved to a new state and established a new identity before being arrested, the program would search out aspects of his life and cases he had been involved in and match them up. Hamilton put his knowledge to use in Inslaw, and when his bosses at NSA found out, they were not at all happy. Their argument was that as an employee of the agency, he had no right to take knowledge gleaned there to another organization. By 1981 Hamilton came up with an enhanced program. What he had actually done was given birth to a monster. Inslaw was turned into a profit-making organization, and Hamilton copyrighted his enhanced version.

Author Richard L. Fricker wrote on January 1, 1993 in a Wired article titled “The INSLAW Octopus.”

PROMIS can provide a complete rundown of all federal cases in which a lawyer has been involved, or all the cases in which a lawyer has represented defendant A, or all the cases in which a lawyer has represented white-collar criminals, at which stage in each of the cases the lawyer agreed to a plea bargain, and so on. Based on this information, PROMIS can help a prosecutor determine when a plea will be taken in a particular type of case.
But the real power of PROMIS, according to Hamilton, is that with a staggering 570,000 lines of computer code, PROMIS can integrate innumerable databases without requiring any reprogramming. In essence, PROMIS can turn blind data into information. And anyone in government will tell you that information, when wielded with finesse, begets power. Converted to use by intelligence agencies, as has been alleged in interviews by ex-CIA and Israeli Mossad agents, PROMIS can be a powerful tracking device capable of monitoring intelligence operations, agents and targets, instead of legal cases.
It should be no surprise that Israel got a hold of the software, but it was more than precusing Palestians or as libby WIRED puts it “Israel has reportedly used PROMIS to track troublesome Palestinians.”
Juval Aviv Israel bombed Osriak Nuclear Reactor in Iraq in 1981, Iraq was using Inslaw radars..he Vengeance
Meese, used the modified the software, not only intelligence but financial uses and made millions by selling it to the governments of Israel, Canada, Great Britain, Germany and other friendly nations. After the installation of a CIA-created “back door” into the program, Israel, using its lifelong Mossad agent Robert Maxwell, reportedly sold the software to “unfriendly” nations and then secretly retrieved priceless intelligence data.
Bugged Computer Software – Ari Ben-Menashe – Peter Myers; date October 26, 2000.
“By dialing into the central computer of any foreign intelligence agency using Promis, an Israeli agent with a modem need only type in certain secret code words to gain access. Then he could ask for information on the person and get it all on his computer screen.”
The man that who blow the whisole on the Iran-Contras scandal by tipoff to an obscure Lebanese magazine about the whole affair, name was Ari BenMenasche, who diffently had Mossad ties. reached out to Bill Hamilton who had been in daily contact with Casolaro until about a week prior to his death. According to Seymour.
Menasche claimed that two FBI agents from Lexington, Kentucky, had embarked on a trip to Martinsburg to meet Casolaro as part of their investigation of the sale of the PROMISE software to Israel and other intelligence agencies. Ben Menasche told Hamilton that one of the FBI agents, E.B. Cartinhour, was disaffected because his superiors had refused to indict high Reagan officials for their role in the October Surprise. Ben Menasche claimed the agents were prepared to give Casolaro proof that the FBI was illegally using PROMISE software.
It is highly unlikely that the two FBI agents were en-route to Martinsburg to GIVE anything to Casolaro, but they may well have been on their way to obtain HIS documents and those belonging to Bill Turner. If, in fact, Danny had disclosed to any one of the many “sources” he had developed during his investigation, that he was turning over his documents to the Lexington FBI, that may well have alarmed a few of them.
Ari Ben-Menashe in his 1992 book “Profits of War: Inside the Secret U.S.-Israeli Arms Network, ” documents Robert Maxwell’s (and Rafael Eitan) involvement in PROMIS on page 129.
One of Eitan’s pet projects was an anti-terrorist scheme involving a sinister, Big Brother-like computer program named Promls. It was through Eitan that I became involved in it. This was not Joint Committee work, per se, but many of the same people who worked on our arms-to-Iran operation worked on Promls also. The most prominent of these was British medla baron Robert Maxwell, who made a fortune out of it. Through some of his companies, the Israelis and the Americans were eventually able to tap into the secrets of numerous intelligence networks around the world – including Britain, Canada, Australia, and many
{p. 130} others – and set into motion the arrest, torture, and murder of thousands of lnnocent people in the name of “antiterrorism.”
Ben-Menashe was a “troubleshooter” for former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir. He was also used as a key source by Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist Seymour Hersh for his book about Israel’s nuclear weapons, “The Samson Option: Israel, America and the Bomb.”
Sir Robert Maxwell was a Czech-born British media mogul who owned the Daily Mirror and was a Member of Parliament. Less remembered is that he was his claudisnte for both the U.K. and Israel, and Maxwell tipped off the Israeli embassy in 1986 about Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu who blow the whisle on Israel’s nuclear program which lead to him being abducted by the Mossad.
Maxwell had links to criminals who dealt in illegal arms, prostitution, money laundering, drugs, and contract killings—all of whom used Maxwell to launder their profits–PROMIS didn’t only can in handy to DOJ but criminals with Mossad ties too.
Emma Best of Muck Rock reported on June 28, 2017 about Maxwell being used to buck the NSA for the bestied of the CIA in an Edward Snowden-like famous.
Maxwell played a role in Israel’s modification and distribution of the PROMIS software and modified hardware that was being distributed simultaneous to Maxwell’s efforts to globally distribute computers and computer services. As previously discussed, CIA and NSA’s early efforts to exploit commercial online databases dated back to the 1980s. Before even those efforts, Maxwell’s company was working with the U.S. government.
Bugged Computer Software – Ari Ben-Menashe – Peter Myers; date October 26, 2000.
The CIA group that was to use Promis had not handed the program back to the NSA to have the trap door fitted by them for the simple reason that they didn’t want the NSA to know about it – interagency competition was fierce. Only this small CIA group, headed by Robert Gates – who was to become head of the Central Intelligence Agency in October 1991 – was in on the secret. So we now had a small group in Israel and a small group in the U.S. that knew about the trap door.
The next step for both Israel and the United States was to find a neutral company through which the doctored Promis program could be sold. It was agreed that the head of the company had to be a man who could be trusted to keep intelligence secrets, who had contacts with both Western and East Bloc countries and who had a respected businessman’s image. The man they came up with was Robert Maxwell.
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, reported on September 2003
..(Maxwell).. offered a position with British MI6 as a “super contact person.” Maxwell did not accept the offer, however, and was soon classified by MI6 as a “Zionist—loyal only to Israel” and a person to be watched.
When asked to spy for Israel’s Mossad, Israel’s CIA, Maxwell eagerly accepted because of his great love for Israel—although the money he made in Israel was also to his liking. Following a visit to Israel Maxwell said that he had traveled everywhere in the world and Israel was the only place where he felt at home. In Israel he found the faith he thought he had lost. Viewing himself as a savior of Israel’s ailing industries, he shrewdly bought ailing Israeli companies and turned them into successful enterprises. Some of the companies became covers for Mossad. Maxwell also used his many contacts in the Russian government to work tirelessly to enable Russian Jews to immigrate to Israel.
British journalist and author Gordon Thomas authored “The Assassination of Robert Maxwell: Israel’s Superspy” and in early 1999, Gordon Thomas, published an authorized history of the Israeli Mossad entitled “Gideon’s Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad”. This goes into great detail admissions by the former long-time deputy director of the Mossad about the partnership with Israeli and U.S. intelligence in selling in excess of $500 million worth of licenses to a Trojan horse version of PROMIS to foreign intelligence agencies in order to spy on them.
His first client was Robert Mugabe with PROMIS so Mugabe it would enable him to track the remaining white tobacco farmers in the country.
Michael Riconosciuto is well-known in certain government circles for his involvement in the installation of a back door into a software program called PROMIS. Riconosciuto received credit for modifing PROMIS to monitor intelligence operations, agents and targets, instead of legal cases. But according to Ari Ben-Menashe, it was Yehuda Ben-Hanan and not the Methhead Riconosciuto
Rafi Eitan did not want to risk having a trap door developed in Israel. Word might leak back that the Israelis had been bugging software and then handing it out to others. He didn’t even suggest that the NSA develop the trap door because he had a great sense of national pride. As far as he was concerned, it was Israel’s idea and would remain so. Yet it still had to be kept secret. Eitan decided it would be best if a computer whiz could be found outside the country.

I knew just the man for the job. Yehuda Ben-Hanan ran a small computer company of his own called Software and Engineering Consultants, based in Chatsworth, California. I had grown up with him, but I didn’t want him to know that I was scouting him for a possible job. I had to sound him out, to find out if he was a blabbermouth.
Link above is from the play “DANNY CASOLARO DIED FOR YOU.”
Riconosciuto was Danny’s supposed source to have about to break a story that he had been pursuing for more than a year, a story about a global conspiracy that tied together several scandals and alleged scandals — the Iran-contra affair, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, the Justice Department’s which the theft of software from a computer company called Inslaw.
Casolaro to Riconosciuto was an affidavit signed by Riconosciuto claiming that when he worked on the Wackenhut Cabazon project, he was given a copy of the Inslaw software by Earl Brian for modification. Riconosciuto also swore that Peter Videnieks, a Justice Department official associated with the Inslaw contract, had visited the Wackenhut Cabazon project with Earl Brian.

Riconosciuto claimed to have modified Inslaw’s software at the Justice Department’s request, so that it could be sold to dozens of foreign governments with a secret “back door” feature that allowed outsiders to access computer systems using PROMIS.
Wackenhut Corporation “made inroads” into the methamphetamine operation. A man named Richard Knozzi allegedly headed major government sanctioned meth laboratories in Fresno, Madera and Mariposa counties. A man named Al Holbert, a former Israeli intelligence officer with U.S. citizenship, was the liaison or connection between the Knozzi operation and the U.S. government.
On Feburary 1983, Bill Hamilton gave a presentation of PROMIS to Dr. Ben Orr , Inslaw’s cream of the crop software. At the time of his visit, Orr identified himself to be a public prosecutor from Israel.
Author Richard L. Fricker wrote on January 1, 1993 in a Wired magaize pieace titled “The INSLAW Octopus.”
Orr was impressed with the power of PROMIS (Prosecutors Management Information Systems), which had recently been updated by Inslaw to run on powerful 32-bit VAX computers from Digital Equipment Corp. “He fell in love with the VAX version,” Hamilton recalled.
Dr. Orr never came back, and he never bought anything. No one knew why at the time.
….Department of Justice documents record that one Dr. Ben Orr left the DOJ on May 6, 1983, with a computer tape containing PROMIS tucked under his arm.
Rafael Etian, who original blow the Whistile on the PROMIS was chief of the Israeli defense force’s anti-terrorism intelligence unit and told Dr. Orr to gain the software.
According to Federal court documents, PROMIS was stolen from Inslaw by the Department of Justice directly after Etian’s 1983 visit to Inslaw (a later congressional investigation preferred to use the word “misappropriated”). And according to sworn affidavits, PROMIS was then given or sold at a profit to Israel and as many as 80 other countries by Dr. Earl W. Brian, a man with close personal and business ties to then-President Ronald Reagan and then-Presidential counsel Edwin Meese.
Dr. Earl Brian, crony to Reagan’s attorney general Ed Meese.
..according to sworn affidavits, PROMIS was then given or sold at a profit to Israel and as many as 80 other countries by Dr. Earl W. Brian…
According to Corn, Riconosciuto “asserted that he and [Earl] Brian had traveled to Iran in 1980 and paid $40 million to Iranian officials to persuade them not to let the hostages go before the presidential election.” (Corn, 512) For his help in the so-called “October Surprise”, Brian was allegedly allowed to profit from the illegal pirating of the PROMIS system. (Corn also notes that Brian, a close friend of Attorney General Ed Meese, denied any involvement in the October Surprise or the Inslaw case).
Brian had been given PROMIS to for being a good poodle by selling for paying off Ayatollah Khomeini to hold on to American hostages until the Carter presidential re-election campaign clearly was doomed.
Imagine you are in charge of the legal arm of the most powerful government on the face of the globe, but your internal information systems are mired in the archaic technology of the 1960s. There’s a Department of Justice database, a CIA database, an Attorney’s General database, an IRS database, and so on, but none of them can share information. That makes tracking multiple offenders pretty darn difficult, and building cases against them a long and bureaucratic task.
Along comes a computer program that can integrate all these databases, and it turns out its development was originally funded by the government under a Law Enforcement Assistance Administration grant in the 1970s. That means the software is public domain … free!
According to Casolaro, it was Meese used the US Justice department to steal PROMIS from its developers, the Inslaw group, even after two congressional committees eventually agreed, however, that Inslaw was the legal private owner of PROMIS when the US Justice department.
Inslaw agreed to this contract modification, but on two conditions: that the DOJ recognize Inslaw’s proprietary rights to enhanced PROMIS, and that the DOJ not distribute enhanced PROMIS beyond the boundaries of the contract (the 94 US Attorney’s offices.)
Andrew Griffin
Jackson Stephens Sr. is a big-money man from Arkansas. A top donor to the Reagan and George H.W. Bush campaigns, he suddenly switched to Clinton in 1990. He brought BCCI to US shores in 1979 and helped to launder cocaine profits from CIA drug smuggling in Mena, Arkansas and elsewhere.
The Stephens’ software firm Systematics was to become the nation’s biggest supplier of back-office banking software, and would eventually work closely with the National Security Agency to facilitate intelligence monitoring of banking transactions.
[With partners, Jackson acquired equity in banks in Arkansas & Asia]
This propitious union came about just as the Mena, Arkansas, drug-and-arms trade was creating a vast local demand for money-laundering services. At the Asian end, with Mochtar Riady, Stephens purchased Seng Heng Bank in Macao, the “Oriental Las Vegas”, where gambling is the primary source of government revenue. Stephens’ Systematics supplied software to the Banco Nacional Ultramarino, the cashier and treasury bank of the Macao government and the bank that issues the local currency. (Macao is located less than 40 miles from Hong Kong, the center for heroin trade.)
Vince Foster, the late White House Special Counsel and law partner of Hillary Clinton, as the overseer of a National Security Agency project to install the modified PROMIS in the banking industry. This was done through Foster’s involvement with the Arkansas bank data company Systematics, a company connected with the NSA and CIA.
George Bush and Caspar Weinberger made their own deal with the Iranians to delay the hostage release till after the election. Israel mediated this deal, and, after Ronald Reagan’s election, were paid. This was Foster’s role,,
“A defense intelligence report said Israel has a voracious appetite for information and said, “the Israelis are motivated by strong survival instincts which dictate every possible facet of their political and economical policies. It aggressively collects military and industrial technology and the U.S. is a high priority target.” ”
“The document concludes: “Israel possesses the resources and technical capability to achieve its collection objectives.” ”

Pakistani authorities again shift jailed Dr Shakeel Afridi over security reasons

Pakistani authorities again shift jailed Dr Shakeel Afridi over security reasons

Lahore: Pakistani authorities on Sunday shifted Dr Shakeel Afridi, who helped CIA track down Osama bin Laden in 2011, to Sahiwal prison in Punjab province for security reasons, his second inter-jail transfer this year, media reports said.

Afridi, 56, was arrested after Osama was killed in a covert US raid at a compound in Pakistan’s Abbotabad city on May 2, 2011. The US has been asking Pakistan to release him.

Initially, he was accused of organising a fake immunization campaign for the CIA to confirm presence of then al-Qaeda chief but later awarded 33 years sentence for alleged links with militants. His sentence was later reduced to 23 years. Dawn news reported that Afridi was shifted amid tight security to Sahiwal jail from Adiala jail for security reasons.

He had been imprisoned at Peshawar jail but was shifted to Adiala jail in Rawalpindi in April this year, giving air to various kinds of speculations, including the one that American secret agencies were planning a jail break to take Afridi away.

However, the Foreign Office had rejected all speculations about handing over Afridi to the US and said that there was “no deal” with the US for his release. His wife, daughter and son met him at Adiala Jail on August 3, the report added.

Afridi, a former surgeon of Khyber Agency, had run a false vaccination campaign in the Pakistani garrison city of Abbottabad to help the CIA track down Osama in his compound and kill him in a raid by US Navy Seals on May 2, 2011.

He was arrested from Peshawar later that year.

The issue of Afridi’s release is reportedly one of the major obstacles to the improvement of ties between the US and Pakistan.

Soon after the death of Osama, the US media reported that Afridi had contributed to the success of the CIA operation by collecting DNA samples of Osama’s family through the fake vaccination campaign in Abbottabad.

Cop & Robber: The two faces of AI in Cybersecurity

Cop & Robber: The two faces of AI in Cybersecurity

by Bogdan Botezatu, Senior E-Threat Analyst.

Bogdan Botezatu24 August, 2018 12:09

on

In cybersecurity, the ability to adapt to new and complex challenges is critical. Innovation in our field has made our work as cybersecurity professionals easier but has also produced never-before-seen threats.

Take for example, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities – technologies that continue to grow at unprecedented rates. These technologies bring with them many useful applications for cyber defence, such as image analysis and machine translation to combat the spread of cybercrime on our devices.

These tools means security professionals do not have to spend time on the laborious task of advanced data and pattern recognition. Instead, the technology takes on these duties leaving us to focus on other areas of work.

But with any great tool, there exists the very real danger of it falling into the wrong hands. The same advancements being celebrated in AI, could be turned around and used to maliciously attack systems. The more universal AI becomes, the higher this risk.

If AI is deployed for malicious purposes the rise in theft, spear-phishing attacks and intelligent viruses could be catastrophic. Yet despite the risk it poses, the size of this challenge is still not fully understood.

Fighting the good fight

AI isn’t just a technology of the future – it is already in use across the cybersecurity industry. This is because it has the capacity to simplify the detection and reaction process at scale.

This is particularly true of machine learning which is used in cybersecurity to predict behaviours. To use Bitdefender as an example, our security solution has machine learning technologies which are designed specifically to detect malicious files and contrast them against good ones. This technology is constantly on the prowl, recognising user behaviour, and hunting for anomalies.

An example of AI in best practice can be seen in the detection of financial fraud. Recently, I purchased a ticket for my partner to accompany me on a pre-arranged work trip, and seconds after my purchase I received a phone call from my bank. The bank noted one-persons tickets were outside of my regular shopping behavior: so what’s the deal? Is it fraud?

The AI systems the bank had in place recognised it was symptomatic of fraudulent behaviour and it triggered an immediate warning to the necessary professionals. This is the exciting potential of modern cybersecurity: an environment where the process of recognising, reacting and ultimately preventing fraud is instantaneous.

Evil intentions

However, amidst this excitement there remains genuine concern. There is the potential for criminals to use these AI-fuelled security solutions as a benchmark against their own creations, strengthening their attacks.

It’s a process which has been used in the past by cybercriminals against new technologies: get a sample, see if any of the security solution is detected and engage in a process of tweaking and re-tweaking until the security solution fails to detect anything.

Although no current example exists of AI being used criminally, the sheer growth in AI use suggests the likelihood of cyber-attacks utilising machine learning capabilities is all but inevitable. A recent survey of experts attending the Black Hat USA 2017 conference found 62 per cent of respondents believed AI will be used for attack within the next 12 months.

Recent breakthroughs have also shown some frightening examples of the potential of AI in offensive applications. Researchers at ZeroFox recently showcased a fully automated spear-phishing system that could create tailored tweets on Twitter based simply on a user’s demonstrated interests, generating clicks to malicious files.

The strengthening of spear-phishing attacks are a particular troubling aspect of AI cybercrime. Spear-phishing will often involve an extensive amount of personal research and data collection to pinpoint a victim within specific networks. It is a time intensive activity, identifying targets and generating contextually specific messaging to commit the fraud. But as the ZeroFox example highlighted, AI technology allows a criminal to cut through this process of data collection, and bombard millions with tailored emails at all times of the day.

Cat versus cat

Cybersecurity is often described as a game of cat and mouse, but in reality, it is a game of cat and cat. In modern times, our industry has assumed a more reactive role: ready to respond when bad things happen, but never fully having the upper hand. Technologies like machine learning have finally titled this balance in favour of the good guys but at a moment’s notice, this pendulum can swing.

It is undeniable AI wields huge power. From my experience, hackers don’t waste time and very rarely lose momentum. Although we don’t have a precise example of malicious AI to point to, the threat is very real. It is imperative we in the industry stay prepared for any developments.

SadaquaCoins is a Dark Web Crowdsourcing Project Setup For the Mujahideen Community

SadaquaCoins is a Dark Web Crowdsourcing Project Setup For the Mujahideen Community

August 25, 2018

The Mujahideen community is working to find ways to purchase weaponry and related equipment in the effort to fight against those who are not in favor of Islam. To help them with their crowdsourcing efforts, they have developed a project called SadaquaCoins, and they are requesting donations to the project, since they do not know much about crowdsourcing.

To invite individuals to the project, a tweet from the community was posted, saying,

“anyone who wants to anonymously fund the Mujahidin is welcomed to do so on the dark web.” Their post also included an image of the crusaders for this effort, who were holding up a banner. On the banner, the first line says, “Never will you attain the good (reward) until you spend (in the way of Allah) from that which you love. And whatever you spend — indeed, Allah is Knowing of it.”

The only way that this project is accessible is with the use of the tor browser, and, even then, the individual had to go through the onion link for the project (sadaquabmnor4ufnj.onion). Between the use of cryptocurrency and the decision to post the crowdfunding project on the dark web, the Jihadi movement has gained traction and become more successful.

One of the most unique parts of this website is that there is a way for financial requirements to be met for multiple projects beyond Jihad activities, like projects from Mujahidin, Mauhajirin, and Ansar.

Each page promotes their own projects that consumers can pay to fund with Bitcoin, Monero, and Ethereum. Additional tokens may be added in the future, “if Allah wills.” Based on the claims of the Mujahideen, contributors will be helping them to cover equipment like a 4×4 pickup vehicle, a .50 bolt action rifle, silencer, camera, wind reader, and other items. They will also help to equip existing items, supporting the expansion of the website, or even paying for translation services.

To protect these funds from being hacked by outsiders, the group has managed to purchase hardware wallets, which means that they cannot be accessed when they are not online anyway. The only downside with transferring funds onto the dark web is the fact that Bitcoin donations are public, which means there is some risk involved. With Monero, the only way for authorities to find traceable information is with the exploration of hashes, but this process does not reveal their addresses.

As new as cryptocurrency is, it is still impressive that the agencies in charge of counter-terrorism have been working to improve their investigations with cybercrime and crypto. If contributors are not careful, they could be legally tied into a group that they do not want publicized

Julian Assange and the Fate of Journalism

AUGUST 23, 2018

Julian Assange and the Fate of Journalism

by LAWRENCE DAVIDSON

Photograph Source Jeanne Menjoulet | CC BY 2.0

Julian Assange is the Australian founder of Wikileaks—a website dedicated to the public’s right to know what governments and other powerful organizations are doing. Wikileaks pursues this goal by posting revelatory documents, often acquired unofficially, that bring to light the criminal behavior that results in wars and other man-made disasters. Because Wikileaks’ very existence encourages “leaks,” government officials fear the website, and particularly dislike Julian Assange.

Essentially, Wikileaks functions as a wholesale supplier of evidence. Having identified alleged official misconduct, Wikileaks seeks to acquire and make public overwhelming amounts of evidence—sometimes hundreds of thousands of documents at a time—which journalists and other interested parties can draw upon. And since the individuals and organizations being investigated are ones ultimately responsible to the public, such a role as wholesale supplier of evidence can be seen as a public service.

Unfortunately, that is not how most government officials see the situation. They assert that government cannot be successful unless aspects of its behavior are conducted in secret. The fact that those aspects in question thereby lose any accountable connection to the public is discounted. The assumption here is that most citizens simply trust their governments to act in their interests, including when they act clandestinely. Historically, such trust is dangerously naive. Often government officials, even the democratic ones, feel no obligation to their citizens in general, but rather only to special interests.

One reason for this is that large and bureaucratic institutions that last for any length of time have the tendency to become stand-alone institutions—ones with their own self-referencing cultures, loyalty to which comes to override any responsibility to outside groups other than those with particular shared interests. In other words, long-lasting institutions/bureaucracies take on a life of their own.

Thus, it should come as no surprise that many governments look upon Wikileaks as a threat to institutional well-being. And so, in an effort to cripple Wikileaks and have their revenge on Assange, the United States and the United Kingdom (UK), with the cooperation of Sweden, first sought to frame Assange (2010) on a sexual assault charge. This having failed, Assange was still left liable for jumping bail in the UK in order to avoid seizure and deportation to the U.S., where he would certainly be put on trial for revealing secrets. He escaped to the Ecuadorian embassy in London (2012), where he was given asylum. As of this writing, he is still there. However, a recent change in government in Quito has led to discussions between Ecuador and the UK that may well lead to Assange’s eviction from the embassy.

The Ideals of Journalism

Some of the anger over Assange’s fate has been directed at the journalistic profession which he has sought to serve. After all, Assange has ardently supported the notions of free speech, free press and the public’s right to know. Nonetheless, as the documentary filmmaker John Pilger, a supporter of Assange, has noted, “There has been no pressure [in support of Assange] from media in the United States, Britain, Australia or pretty much anywhere except in [media] programs … outside the mainstream. … The persecution of this man has been something that should horrify all free-thinking people.” He is quite right. Unfortunately, there never have been many brave free-thinkers about, so no one should be surprised at Assange’s poor prospects.

This brings up the difference between the ideals of the journalistic profession and the reality within which it operates. There is a model of journalism that presents it as a pillar of democracy. The journalist is a tough and persistent person who digs up facts, asks hard questions and explains the truth to his or her readers/viewers. Few seem to have noticed that, to the extent that this picture is accurate, the ideal model has alienated those readers/viewers who cannot tell the difference between “the truth” and their own opinions. Recently, this alienation has opened the entire media industry to the charge that it is really the “enemy of the people” because it peddles “fake news”—that is, news that belies one’s opinions.

To bring the idealistic journalist in line with real public expectations, editors put pressure on media workers to compromise their professional ideals. The result is most often manipulated reports aimed at fitting the particular outlook of the particular media operation’s target audience. Thus, it is simply wrong to think that, on the average, those who investigate, do research, write about things, and report through the various media are any braver or, ultimately, any more principled than the rest of the population. As Julien Benda showed us in his 1928 book The Betrayal of the Intellectuals, while it is in fact the job of those who research and report to remain independent of the ideologies and biases of both their community and their government, the truth is that most often these people end up serving power. This is particularly the case when there is an atmosphere of patriotic fervor, or just plain pressure from sources that can hurt one’s career. At that point you will find that bravery does exist but it is the exception and not the rule—and the brave will, more often than not, stand alone.

That is what is happening in the case of Julian Assange. Many American news outlets are willing to selectively use the documented evidence made available by Wikileaks. To do so is to draw on what the website has placed in the public domain. But they will not stand up and publicly defend the “whistleblower” who makes the information public. I imagine publishers, editors, and media moguls, and the vast majority of those they employ, just don’t have the courage to support the individual who breaks some unprincipled law or regulation designed to enforce silence in relation to official crimes and hypocrisy.

A Shared Problem

The United States is certainly not the only country facing this dilemma. To one extent or another this is a shared problem in all those lands claiming to have a free press. For example, a similar problem has long existed in Israel. Here one finds a whole ethnicity whose journalists are open to persecution.

Take the case of Omar Nazzal, a member of the board of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate. In a 10 August 2016 report appearing in the on-line blog +972, and entitled “Israeli journalists silent as their Palestinian colleagues are jailed,” we are told that Nazzal was taken into custody by Israeli forces in April 2016, without charges. Like Assange, there has been an attempt, after the fact, to claim that Nazzal is a criminal. The Shin Bet, one of those Israeli security forces that only the naive or venal take at face value, claims that he is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which they consider to be a terrorist organization. No proof of this charge has been publicly presented (Shin Bet claims the “proof” is secret) and Nazzal denies any affiliation. As it turns out, the real reason he was arrested somewhat parallels Assange’s activity. At the time of his seizure, Nazzal was on his way to Sarajevo for a meeting of the European Federation of Journalists. No doubt, the Israelis did not want him telling true, documentable, stories to an organization of European journalists. Most Israeli Jewish journalists, like their American counterparts, remain silent. So do their respective publics.

One might ask just how seriously “the public” wants a media that tells them “the truth.” The most watched cable news channel in the U.S. is Fox News, a media ally of Donald Trump that has no demonstrable interest in objective facts. It is more likely that Americans (and others) chose their news outlets on the basis of which one most often tells them what they want to hear—in other words, the search for “accurate” reporting is really driven by a desire for confirmation bias.

Under these circumstances it is easy to understand why a for-profit media industry need not be beholden to the general citizenry or any ideal of supplying fact-based news. This situation puts truth tellers like Assange, and in the case of Israel, Omar Nazzal, in a bad position. They will have their defenders but they will be outside the mainstream—because truth itself is also outside the mainstream. That is their predicament, and ours as well.

Let a hundred WikiLeaks blossom

Let a hundred WikiLeaks blossom

Aug 24, 2018 Sri Lanka Guardian Columnists, Feature, Slavoj Žižek

“Clouds” in all their forms are, of course, presented to us as facilitators of our freedom. After all, they make it possible for me to sit in front of my PC and freely surf with everything out there at our disposal – or so it seems on the surface.

by Slavoj Žižek

( August 24, 2018, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) When WikiLeaks exploded onto the scene a decade ago, it briefly seemed like the internet could create a truly open society. Since then, Big Brother has fought back.

Every day now, we hear complaints about the growing control of digital media, often from people who apparently believe the concept was originally an unregulated free-for-all.

However, let’s remember the origin of internet. Back in the 1960s, the US Army was thinking about how to maintain communications among surviving units in the event that a global nuclear war destroyed central command. Eventually, the idea emerged of laterally connecting these dispersed units, bypassing the (destroyed) center.

Thus, from the very beginning, the internet contained a democratic potential since it allowed multiple direct exchanges between individual units, bypassing central control and coordination – and this inherent feature presented a threat for those in power. As a result, their principle reaction was to control the digital “clouds” that mediate communication between individuals.

“Clouds” in all their forms are, of course, presented to us as facilitators of our freedom. After all, they make it possible for me to sit in front of my PC and freely surf with everything out there at our disposal – or so it seems on the surface. Nevertheless, those who control the clouds also control the limits of our freedom.

Hiding the remote 

The most direct form of this control is, of course, direct exclusion: individuals and also entire news organizations (TeleSUR, RT, Al Jazeera etc.) can disappear from social media (or their accessibility is limited – try to get Al Jazeera on the TV screen in a US hotel!) without any reasonable explanation being given – usually pure technicalities are cited.

While in some cases (for instance, direct racist excesses) censorship is justified, it’s dangerous when it just happens in a non-transparent way. Because the minimal democratic demand that should apply here is that such censorship be done in a transparent way, with public justification. These justifications can also be ambiguous, of course, concealing the true reasons.

In Russia, you may be sent to jail for publishing things on the internet of which you actually strongly disapprove. The latest example is of Eugenia Chudnovets, a kindergarten teacher in Ekaterinburg, who was sentenced to five months in a penal colony for reposting a video showing a child being abused in a summer camp. On March 6, 2017, the conviction was overturned. Chudnovets had been convicted under an article prohibiting the “spreading, publicly demonstrating or advertising of data or items containing sexually explicit images of underage children,” as she had reposted a video on a social network, showing a naked kid being abused in a children’s camp in the town on Kataisk in Kurgan Region. The teacher herself explained that she could not let the flagrant incident go unnoticed – and she was right. Because it seems clear that the true reason for her conviction was not to prevent sexually explicit images of children, but to cover up the abuse going on in public institutions that is tolerated by the state.

Historical memory

However, we cannot dismiss this case as something that can only happen in oppressive Putin’s Russia – we find exactly the same rationale in the first well-known case of such social media censorship, which occurred back in September 2016 when Facebook decided to remove the historical photograph of nine-year-old Kim Phuc running away from a napalm attack. Days later, following a public outcry, the image was reinstated.

Looking back, it’s interesting to note how Facebook  defended its decision to remove the image: “While we recognize that this photo is iconic, it’s difficult to create a distinction between allowing a photograph of a nude child in one instance and not others.” The strategy is clear: the general neutral moral principle (no nude children) is evoked to censor a historical reminder of the horrors of napalm bombing in Vietnam. Brought to extreme, this reasoning could be also used to justify the prohibition of the films that were shot immediately after the liberation of Auschwitz and other Nazi camps.

And, incidentally, a similar thing happened to me repeatedly two years ago when, in my conferences, I described the strange case of Bradley Barton from Ontario, Canada, who, in March 2015, was found not guilty of the first-degree murder of Cindy Gladue, an indigenous sex worker who bled to death at the Yellowhead Inn in Edmonton, having sustained an 11cm wound on her vaginal wall. The defense argued that Barton accidentally caused Gladue’s death during rough but consensual sex, and the court agreed.

Yet, this case doesn’t just counteract our basic ethic intuitions – a man brutally murders a woman during sexual activity, but he walks free because “he didn’t mean it.” Rather, the most disturbing aspect of the case is that, conceding to the demand of the defense, the judge allowed Gladue’s preserved pelvis to be admitted as evidence. It was brought into court, the lower part of her torso was displayed for the jurors (incidentally, this is the first time a portion of a body was presented at a trial in Canada). Why would hard-copy photos of the wound not be enough?

Speak no evil

But my point here is that I was repeatedly attacked for my report on this case: the reproach was that by describing the case I reproduced it and thus repeated it symbolically. Although, I shared it with strong disapproval, I allegedly secretly enabled my listeners to find perverse pleasure in it.

And these attacks on me exemplify nicely the “politically correct” need to protect people from traumatic or disturbing news and images. My counterpoint to it is that, in order to fight such crimes, one has to present them in all their horror, and one has to be shocked by them.

In another era, in his preface to ‘Animal Farm,’ George Orwell wrote that if liberty means anything, it means “the right to tell people what they do not want to hear” – THIS is the liberty that we are deprived of when our media are censored and regulated.

We are caught in the progressive digitalization of our lives: most of our activities (and passivity) are now registered in some digital cloud that also permanently evaluates us, tracing not only our acts but also our emotional states. When we experience ourselves as free to the utmost (surfing the web where everything is available), we are totally “externalized” and subtly manipulated.

So, the digital network gives new meaning to the old slogan “personal is political.” And it’s not only the control of our intimate lives that is at stake: everything today is regulated by some digital network, from transport to health, from electricity to water.

And this is why the web is our most important commons today, and the struggle for its control is THE struggle of our time. And the enemy is the combination of privatized and state-controlled entities, corporations (such as Google and Facebook) and state security agencies (for example, the NSA).

The digital network that sustains the functioning of our societies, as well as their control mechanisms, is the ultimate figure of the technical grid that sustains power, and that’s why regaining control over it is our first task.

WikiLeaks was just the beginning, and our motto here should be a Maoist one: Let a hundred WikiLeaks blossom.