How the CIA Can Hack Your Phone, PC, and TV (Says WikiLeaks)

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THE NSA, IT seems, isn’t the only American spy agency hacking the world. Judging by a new, nearly 9,000-page trove of secrets from WikiLeaks, the CIA has developed its own surprisingly wide array of intrusion tools, too.

On Tuesday morning, WikiLeaks released what it’s calling Vault 7, an unprecedented collection of internal CIA files—what appear to be a kind of web-based Wiki—that catalog the agency’s apparent hacking techniques. And while the hoards of security researchers poring through the documents have yet to find any actual code among its spilled secrets, it details surprising capabilities, from dozens of exploits targeting Android and iOS to advanced PC-compromise techniques and detailed attempts to hack Samsung smart TVs, turning them into silent listening devices.

“It certainly seems that in the CIA toolkit there were more zero-day exploits than we’d estimated,” says Jason Healey, a director at the Atlantic Council think tank, who has focused on tracking how many of those “zero-days”—undisclosed, unpatched hacking techniques—the US government has stockpiled. Healey says that he had previously estimated American government agencies might have held onto less than a hundred of those secret exploits. “It looks like CIA might have that number just by itself.”

Mobile Targets

The leak hints at hacking capabilities that range from routers and desktop operating systems to internet-of-things devices, including one passing reference to research on hacking cars. But it seems to most thoroughly detail the CIA’s work to penetrate smartphones: One chart describes more than 25 Android hacking techniques, while another shows 14 iOS attacks.

Given the CIA’s counterterrorism work—and the ability of a phone exploit to keep tabs on a target’s location—that focus on mobile makes sense, Healey says. “If you’re going to be trying to figure where Bin Laden is, mobile phones are going to be more important.”

The smartphone exploits listed, it’s important to note, are largely old. Researchers date the leak to sometime between late 2015 and early 2016, suggesting that many of the hacking techniques that may have once been zero days are now likely patched. The leak makes no mention of iOS 10, for instance. Google and Apple have yet to weigh in on the leak and whether it points to vulnerabilities that still persist in their mobile operating systems. Android security researcher John Sawyer says he has combed the Android attacks for new vulnerabilities and found “nothing that’s scary.”

He also notes, though, that the leak still hints at CIA hacking tools that have no doubt continued to evolve in the years since. “I’m quite sure they have far newer capabilities than what’s listed,” Sawyer says.

Targeting Android, for instance, the leak references eight remote-access exploits—meaning they require no physical contact with the device—including two that target Samsung Galaxy and Nexus phones and Samsung Tab tablets. Those attacks would offer hackers an initial foothold on target devices: In three cases, the exploit descriptions reference browsers like Chrome, Opera, and Samsung’s own mobile browser, suggesting that they could be launched from maliciously crafted or infected web pages. Another 15 tools are marked “priv,” suggesting they’re “privilege escalation” attacks that expand a hacker’s access from that initial foothold to gain deeper access, in many cases the “root” privileges that suggest total control of the device. That means access to any onboard files but also the microphone, camera, and more.

The iOS vulnerabilities offer more piecemeal components of a hacker tool. While one exploit offers a remote compromise of a target iPhone, the WikiLeaks documents describe the others as techniques to defeat individual layers of the iPhone’s defense. That includes the sandbox that limits applications’ access to the operating system and the security feature that randomizes where a program runs in memory to make it harder to corrupt adjacent software.

“Definitely with these exploits chained together [the CIA] could take full control of an iPhone,” says Marcello Salvati, a researcher and penetration tester at security firm Coalfire. “This is the first public evidence that’s the case.”

The leak sheds some limited light on the CIA’s sources of those exploits, too. While some of the attacks are attributed to public releases by iOS researchers, and the Chinese hacker Pangu, who has developed techniques to jailbreak the iPhone to allow the installation of unauthorized apps, others are attributed to partner agencies or contractors under codenames. The remote iOS exploit is listed as “Purchased by NSA” and “Shared with CIA.” The CIA apparently purchased two other iOS tools from a contractor listed as “Baitshop,” while the Android tools are attributed to sellers codenamed Fangtooth and Anglerfish.

In a tweet, NSA leaker Edward Snowden pointed to those references as “the first public evidence [the US government] is paying to keep US software unsafe.”

Internet of Spies

While the leak doesn’t detail the CIA’s attack techniques for desktop software like Windows and MacOS as explicitly, it does reference a “framework” for Windows attacks that seems to act as a kind of easy interface for hacking desktop machines, with “libraries” of vulnerabilities that attackers can swap in and out. It lists attacks that bypass and even exploit a long list of antivirus software to gain access to target desktop machines. And for MacOS, the document references an attack on computers’ BIOS, the software that boots before the rest of the operating system. Compromising that can lead to a particularly dangerous and deep-rooted malware infection.

“This is something we already know that can be done, but we haven’t seen it in the wild,” says Alfredo Ortega, a researcher for security firm Avast. “And by a government, no less.”

The most surprising and detailed hack described in the CIA leak, however, targets neither smartphones nor PCs, but televisions. A program called Weeping Angel details work in 2014 to turn Samsung’s smart TVs into stealthy listening devices. The research notes include references to a “Fake Off” mode that disables the television’s LEDs to make it look convincingly powered down while still capturing audio. Under a “to-do” list of potential future work, it lists capturing video, too, as well as using the television’s Wi-Fi capability in that Fake Off mode, potentially to transmit captured eavesdropping files to a remote hacker.

A tool called TinyShell appears to allow the CIA hackers full remote control of an infected television, including the ability to run code and offload files, says Matt Suiche, a security researcher and founder of the UAE-based security firm Comae Technologies. “I would assume that, by now, they would definitely have exploits for Samsung TVs,” Suiche says. “This shows that they’re interested. If you’re doing the research, you’re going to find vulnerabilities.” Samsung did not respond to WIRED’s request for comment.

The fact that the CIA mixes this sort of digital espionage with its more traditional human intelligence shouldn’t come as a surprise, says the Atlantic Council’s Healey. But he says the sheer volume of the CIA’s hacking capabilities described in the WikiLeaks release took him aback nonetheless. And that volume calls into question supposed limitations on the US government’s use of zero-day exploits, like the so-called Vulnerabilities Equities Process—a White House initiative created under President Obama to ensure that security vulnerabilities found by US agencies were disclosed and patched, where possible.

If Vault 7 is any indication, that initiative has taken a back seat to assembling a formidable array of hacking tools. “If the CIA has this many,” Healey says, “we would expect the NSA to have several times more.”

Source:https://www.wired.com/2017/03/cia-can-hack-phone-pc-tv-says-wikileaks/

Rogue Elephant Rising: The CIA as Kingslayer

Photo by Toxic5 | DeviantArt

With members of the CIA and NSA leaking materials on Michael Flynn’s communications with Russian officials, we are witnessing a slow boiling domestic coup that will transform American governance and the Executive Branch’s relationships with intelligence agencies. It remains to be seen whether these moves signal broader attacks on the Presidency by agencies long accustomed to taking out administrations threatening the Agency’s perceived interests.

This moment tells us more about the CIA revolting against a particular administration than it does about Trump’s people engaging in unusually diabolical-illegal activities designed to undermine an outgoing administration. We know enough about Reagan’s pre-election dealings with Iran to know that the CIA and NSA knew about these transactions, yet these agencies were content to remain silent; apparently glad to see Carter ousted and welcoming a new era of unparalleled “peace time” military and intelligence spending. Similarly, American intelligence agencies knew of Nixon’s efforts to sabotage the Paris peace talks before the 1968 election, and the CIA did nothing to undermine a new president who was going to give the agency the war it wanted. The leaking of Flynn’s information tells us little new about how incoming administrations act, but it suggests something new about US intelligence agencies willingness to take out an administration not to their liking.

To be clear: I see nothing wrong with the leaks themselves. I like intelligence leaks. I think they are generally good for democracy and reveal important truths about power. I am not worried about leaks, I am worried about the CIA and other intelligence agencies making a significant power grab that is not being critically considered. This is a move that no future president will soon forget, and that will make him or her think twice before crossing these agencies.

The left’s widely shared disdain for Donald Trump makes the current rushing national wave of schadenfreude understandable, yet there are few on the left who appear worried about what this domestic CIA coup portends for American democracy. Because of the long history of liberals’ attractions to using the CIA, perhaps we should not be too surprised at this elation, but we need to cautiously think beyond this moment.

It is no secret that many at the CIA hold disdain for Flynn. His years at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and in command of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) coincided with efforts to move many of what had been CIA operational activities and covert operations away from CIA to DIA. With the CIA attacking the Trump administration so soon after the election with leaks of the Russian hacking report there were clear public fissures appearing between the Agency and the new Executive.

I assume that there are lots of reasons why many at the CIA and NSA wish to undermine the Trump administration—I even assume I may share a few of these reasons with them. While the agency is comfortable with much of the corporate looting that Trump appears ready to unleash, few in the agency like the sort of instability that Trump generates—and I suppose some within may take his ongoing barbs and attacks on Agency incompetence seriously.

As it is to many of us on the left, it is obvious to me that Trump is the most dangerous, unqualified, and reckless US President I have ever seen—much less imagined. And while it seems as if he will soon enough seize some opportunity to declare a national security disaster granting himself new unlimited powers, I know no reason to trust the CIA and other intelligence agencies any more than we trust Trump.

This attack on the Executive Branch is like nothing we’ve ever seen before. The most historically interesting element of this moment is the rarity of seeing the CIA operating, in real time, not in its usual historical role as a covert arm of the presidency (which Congressman Otis Pike argued was its primary function), but as the sort of rogue elephant that Senator Frank Church and others long ago claimed it is. As members of the Republic, no matter what momentary joy we might feel watching this rogue elephant canter towards our incompetent Commander and Chief, we must not ignore the danger this beast presents to one and all.

We should welcome calls to investigate Trump, Flynn, Bannon, Pence and others within the administration, but we need to also investigate and monitor the CIA for this latest in its long history of attempted coups.

Source:http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/02/17/rogue-elephant-rising-the-cia-as-kingslayer/

Saddam Hussein’s CIA Interrogator: He Should Have Been Left In Power — TIME

In 2003, I was part of the effort to find Saddam Hussein. I then became the first to debrief him after his capture that December. Prior to his incarceration, I heard over and over from counterparts in the military and the Bush administration that if we caught Saddam we would be able to nip the…

via Saddam Hussein’s CIA Interrogator: He Should Have Been Left In Power — TIME

Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House

December 9 at 10:45 PM
The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.

Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emailsfrom the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.

“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That’s the consensus view.”

The Obama administration has been debating for months how to respond to the alleged Russian intrusions, with White House officials concerned about escalating tensions with Moscow and being accused of trying to boost Clinton’s campaign.

In September, during a secret briefing for congressional leaders, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) voiced doubts about the veracity of the intelligence, according to officials present.

The Trump transition team dismissed the findings in a short statement issued Friday evening. “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again,’ ” the statement read.

Trump has consistently dismissed the intelligence community’s findings about Russian hacking.

“I don’t believe they interfered” in the election, he told Time magazine this week. The hacking, he said, “could be Russia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey.”

The CIA shared its latest assessment with key senators in a closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill last week, in which agency officials cited a growing body of intelligence from multiple sources. Agency briefers told the senators it was now “quite clear” that electing Trump was Russia’s goal, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

The CIA presentation to senators about Russia’s intentions fell short of a formal U.S. assessment produced by all 17 intelligence agencies. A senior U.S. official said there were minor disagreements among intelligence officials about the agency’s assessment, in part because some questions remain unanswered.

For example, intelligence agencies do not have specific intelligence showing officials in the Kremlin “directing” the identified individuals to pass the Democratic emails to WikiLeaks, a second senior U.S. official said. Those actors, according to the official, were “one step” removed from the Russian government, rather than government employees. Moscow has in the past used middlemen to participate in sensitive intelligence operations so it has plausible deniability.

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has said in a television interviewthat the “Russian government is not the source.”

The White House and CIA officials declined to comment.

On Friday, the White House said President Obama had ordered a “full review” of Russian hacking during the election campaign, as pressure from Congress has grown for greater public understanding of exactly what Moscow did to influence the electoral process.

“We may have crossed into a new threshold, and it is incumbent upon us to take stock of that, to review, to conduct some after-action, to understand what has happened and to impart some lessons learned,” Obama’s counterterrorism and homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco, told reporters at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

Obama wants the report before he leaves office Jan. 20, Monaco said. The review will be led by James Clapper, the outgoing director of national intelligence, officials said.

During her remarks, Monaco didn’t address the latest CIA assessment, which hasn’t been previously disclosed.

Seven Democratic senators last week asked Obama to declassify details about the intrusions and why officials believe that the Kremlin was behind the operation. Officials said Friday that the senators specifically were asking the White House to release portions of the CIA’s presentation.

This week, top Democratic lawmakers in the House also sent a letter to Obama, asking for briefings on Russian interference in the election.

U.S. intelligence agencies have been cautious for months in characterizing Russia’s motivations, reflecting the United States’ long-standing struggle to collect reliable intelligence on President Vladi­mir Putin and those closest to him.

In previous assessments, the CIA and other intelligence agencies told the White House and congressional leaders that they believed Moscow’s aim was to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system. The assessments stopped short of saying the goal was to help elect Trump.

On Oct. 7, the intelligence community officially accused Moscow of seeking to interfere in the election through the hacking of “political organizations.” Though the statement never specified which party, it was clear that officials were referring to cyber-intrusions into the computers of the DNC and other Democratic groups and individuals.

Some key Republican lawmakers have continued to question the quality of evidence supporting Russian involvement.

“I’ll be the first one to come out and point at Russia if there’s clear evidence, but there is no clear evidence — even now,” said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a member of the Trump transition team. “There’s a lot of innuendo, lots of circumstantial evidence, that’s it.”

Though Russia has long conducted cyberspying on U.S. agencies, companies and organizations, this presidential campaign marks the first time Moscow has attempted through cyber-means to interfere in, if not actively influence, the outcome of an election, the officials said.

The reluctance of the Obama White House to respond to the alleged Russian intrusions before Election Day upset Democrats on the Hill as well as members of the Clinton campaign.

Within the administration, top officials from different agencies sparred over whether and how to respond. White House officials were concerned that covert retaliatory measures might risk an escalation in which Russia, with sophisticated cyber-capabilities, might have less to lose than the United States, with its vast and vulnerable digital infrastructure.

The White House’s reluctance to take that risk left Washington weighing more-limited measures, including the “naming and shaming” approach of publicly blaming Moscow.

By mid-September, White House officials had decided it was time to take that step, but they worried that doing so unilaterally and without bipartisan congressional backing just weeks before the election would make Obama vulnerable to charges that he was using intelligence for political purposes.

Instead, officials devised a plan to seek bipartisan support from top lawmakers and set up a secret meeting with the Gang of 12 — a group that includes House and Senate leaders, as well as the chairmen and ranking members of both chambers’ committees on intelligence and homeland security.

Obama dispatched Monaco, FBI Director James B. Comey and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to make the pitch for a “show of solidarity and bipartisan unity” against Russian interference in the election, according to a senior administration official.

Specifically, the White House wanted congressional leaders to sign off on a bipartisan statement urging state and local officials to take federal help in protecting their voting-registration and balloting machines from Russian cyber-intrusions.

Though U.S. intelligence agencies were skeptical that hackers would be able to manipulate the election results in a systematic way, the White House feared that Russia would attempt to do so, sowing doubt about the fundamental mechanisms of democracy and potentially forcing a more dangerous confrontation between Washington and Moscow.

In a secure room in the Capitol used for briefings involving classified information, administration officials broadly laid out the evidence U.S. spy agencies had collected, showing Russia’s role in cyber-intrusions in at least two states and in hacking the emails of the Democratic organizations and individuals.

And they made a case for a united, bipartisan front in response to what one official described as “the threat posed by unprecedented meddling by a foreign power in our election process.”

The Democratic leaders in the room unanimously agreed on the need to take the threat seriously. Republicans, however, were divided, with at least two GOP lawmakers reluctant to accede to the White House requests.

According to several officials, McConnell raised doubts about the underlying intelligence and made clear to the administration that he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics.

Some of the Republicans in the briefing also seemed opposed to the idea of going public with such explosive allegations in the final stages of an election, a move that they argued would only rattle public confidence and play into Moscow’s hands.

McConnell’s office did not respond to a request for comment. After the election, Trump chose McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, as his nominee for transportation secretary.

Some Clinton supporters saw the White House’s reluctance to act without bipartisan support as further evidence of an excessive caution in facing adversaries.

“The lack of an administration response on the Russian hacking cannot be attributed to Congress,” said Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, who was at the September meeting. “The administration has all the tools it needs to respond. They have the ability to impose sanctions. They have the ability to take clandestine means. The administration has decided not to utilize them in a way that would deter the Russians, and I think that’s a problem.”

Philip Rucker contributed to this report.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/obama-orders-review-of-russian-hacking-during-presidential-campaign/2016/12/09/31d6b300-be2a-11e6-94ac-3d324840106c_story.html

The Anonymous Blacklist Promoted by the Washington Post Has Apparent Ties to Ukrainian Fascism and CIA Spying by MARK AMES

Last month, the Washington Post gave a glowing front-page boost to an anonymous online blacklist of hundreds of American websites, from marginal conspiracy sites to flagship libertarian and progressive publications. As Max Blumenthal reported for AlterNet, the anonymous website argued that all of them should be investigated by the federal government and potentially prosecuted under the Espionage Act as Russian spies, for wittingly or unwittingly spreading Russian propaganda.

My own satirical newspaper was raided and closed down by the Kremlin in 2008, on charges of “extremism”—akin to terrorism—which I took seriously enough to leave for home for good. What the Washington Post did in boosting an anonymous blacklist of American journalists accused of criminal treason is one of the sleaziest, and most disturbing (in a very familiar Kremlin way) things I’ve seen in this country since I fled for home. The WaPo is essentially an arm of the American deep state; its owner, Jeff Bezos, is one of the three richest Americans, worth $67 billion, and his cash cow, Amazon, is a major contractor with the Central Intelligence Agency. In other words, this is as close to an official US government blacklist of journalists as we’ve seen—a dark ominous warning before they take the next steps.

It’s now been a few days, and the shock and disgust is turning to questions about how to fight back—and who we should be fighting against. Who were the Washington Post’s sources for their journalism blacklist?

Smearing a progressive journalism icon

The WaPo smear was authored by tech reporter Craig Timberg, a former national security editor who displayed embarrassing deferenceto the head of the world’s largest private surveillance operation, billionaire Eric Schmidt—in contrast to his treatment of his journalism colleagues. There’s little in Timberg’s history to suggest he’d lead one of the ugliest public smears of his colleagues in decades. Timberg’s father, a successful mainstream journalist who recently died, wrote hagiographies on his Naval Academy comrades including John McCain, the Senate’s leading Russophobic hawk, and three Iran-Contra conspirators—Oliver North, John Poindexter, and Robert McFarlane, whose crimes Timberg blames on their love of country and sacrifices in Vietnam.

WaPo’s key source was an anonymous online group calling itself PropOrNot (i.e., “Propaganda Or Not”). It was here that the blacklist of American journalists allegedly working with the Kremlin was posted. The Washington Post cited PropOrNot as a credible source, and granted them the right to anonymously accuse major American news outlets of treason, recommending that the government investigate and prosecute them under the Espionage Act for spreading Russian propaganda.

Featured alongside those anonymously accused of treason by PropOrNot, among a long list of marginal conspiracy sites and major news hubs, is Truthdig. This news and opinion site was co-founded by Zuade Kaufman and the veteran journalist Robert Scheer, who is a professor of USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and former columnist for the LA Times. It would not be the first time Scheer has come under attack from dark forces. In the mid-late 1960s, Scheer made his fame as editor and reporter for Ramparts, the fearless investigative magazine that changed American journalism. One of the biggest bombshell stories that Scheer’s magazine exposed was the CIA’s covert funding of the National Student Association, then America’s largest college student organization, which had chapters on 400 campuses and a major presence internationally.

The CIA was not pleased with Scheer’s magazine’s work, and shortly afterwards launched a top-secret and illegal domestic spying campaign against Scheer and Ramparts, believing that they must be a Russian Communist front. A secret team of CIA operatives—kept secret even from the rest of Langley, the operation was so blatantly illegal—spied on Scheer and his Ramparts colleagues, dug through Ramparts’ funders lives and harassed some of them into ditching the magazine, but in all of that they couldn’t find a single piece of evidence linking Scheer’s magazine to Kremlin agents. This secret illegal CIA investigation into Scheer’s magazine expanded its domestic spying project, code-named MH-CHAOS, that grew into a monster targeting hundreds of thousands of Americans, only to be exposed by Seymour Hersh in late 1974, leading to the creation of the Church Committee hearings and calls by Congress for the abolition of the Central Intelligence Agency.

It’s one of the dark ugly ironies that 50 years later, Scheer has been anonymously accused of working for Russian spies, only this time the accusers have the full cooperation of the Washington Post’s front page.

PropOrNot’s Ukrainian fascist salute

Still the question lingers: Who is behind PropOrNot? Who are they? We may have to await the defamation lawsuits that are almost certainly coming from those smeared by the Post and by PropOrNot. Their description sounds like the “About” tab on any number of Washington front groups that journalists and researchers are used to coming across:

“PropOrNot is an independent team of concerned American citizens with a wide range of backgrounds and expertise, including professional experience in computer science, statistics, public policy, and national security affairs.”

The only specific clues given were an admission that at least one of its members with access to its Twitter handle is “Ukrainian-American”. They had given this away in a handful of early Ukrainian-language tweets, parroting Ukrainian ultranationalist slogans, before the group was known.

One PropOrNot tweet, dated November 17, invokes a 1940s Ukrainian fascist salute “Heroiam Slava!!” to cheer a news item on Ukrainian hackers fighting Russians. The phrase means “Glory to the heroes” and it was formally introduced by the fascist Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) at their March-April 1941 congress in Nazi occupied Cracow, as they prepared to serve as Nazi auxiliaries in Operation Barbarossa. As historian Grzgorz Rossoliński-Liebe, author of the definitive biography on Ukraine’s wartime fascist leader and Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera, explained:

“the OUN-B introduced another Ukrainian fascist salute at the Second Great Congress of the Ukrainian Nationalists in Cracow in March and April 1941. This was the most popular Ukrainian fascist salute and had to be performed according to the instructions of the OUN-B leadership by raising the right arm ‘slightly to the right, slightly above the peak of the head’ while calling ‘Glory to Ukraine!’ (Slava Ukraїni!) and responding ‘Glory to the Heroes!’ (Heroiam Slava!).”

Two months after formalizing this salute, Nazi forces allowed Bandera’s Ukrainian fascists to briefly take control of Lvov, at the time a predominantly Jewish and Polish city—whereupon the Ukrainian “patriots” murdered, tortured and raped thousands of Jews, in one of the most barbaric and bloodiest pogroms ever.

Since the 2014 Maidan Revolution brought Ukrainian neo-fascistsback into the highest rungs of power, Ukraine’s Nazi collaborators and wartime fascists have been rehabilitated as heroes, with major highways and roads named after them, and public commemorations. The speaker of Ukraine’s parliament, Andriy Parubiy, founded Ukraine’s neo-Nazi “Social-National Party of Ukraine” and published a white supremacist manifesto, “View From the Right” featuring the parliament speaker in full neo-Nazi uniform in front of fascist flags with the Nazi Wolfsangel symbol. Ukraine’s powerful Interior Minister, Arsen Avakov, sponsorsseveral ultranationalist and neo-Nazi militia groups like the Azov Battalion, and last month he helped appoint another neo-NaziVadym Troyan, as head of Ukraine’s National Police. (Earlier this year, when Troyan was still police chief of the capital Kiev, he was widely accused of having ordered an illegal surveillance operation on investigative journalist Pavel Sheremet just before his assassination by car bomb.)

A Ukrainian intelligence service blacklist as PropOrNot’s model

Since coming to power in the 2014 Maidan Revolution, Ukraine’s US-backed regime has waged an increasingly surreal war on journalists who don’t toe the Ukrainian ultranationalist line, and against treacherous Kremlin propagandists, real and imagined. Two years ago, Ukraine established a “Ministry of Truth”. This year the war has gone from surreal paranoia to an increasingly deadly kind of “terror.”

One of the more frightening policies enacted by the current oligarch-nationalist regime in Kiev is an online blacklist of journalists accused of collaborating with pro-Russian “terrorists.”  The website, “Myrotvorets” or “Peacemaker”—was set up by Ukrainian hackers working with state intelligence and police, all of which tend to share the same ultranationalist ideologies as Parubiy and the newly-appointed neo-Nazi chief of the National Police.

Condemned by the Committee to Protect Journalists and numerous news organizations in the West and in Ukraine, the online blacklist includes the names and personal private information on some 4,500 journalists, including several western journalists and Ukrainians working for western media. The website is designed to frighten and muzzle journalists from reporting anything but the pro-nationalist party line, and it has the backing of government officials, spies and police—including the SBU (Ukraine’s successor to the KGB), the powerful Interior Minister Avakov and his notorious far-right deputy, Anton Geraschenko.

Ukraine’s journalist blacklist website—operated by Ukrainian hackers working with state intelligence—led to a rash of death threats against the doxxed journalists, whose email addresses, phone numbers and other private information was posted anonymously to the website. Many of these threats came with the wartime Ukrainian fascist salute: “Slava Ukraini!” [Glory to Ukraine!] So when PropOrNot’s anonymous “researchers” reveal only their Ukrainian(s) identity, it’s hard not to think about the spy-linked hackers who posted the deadly “Myrotvorets” blacklist of “treasonous” journalists.

The DNC’s Ukrainian ultra-nationalist researcher cries treason

Because the PropOrNot blacklist of American journalist “traitors” is anonymous, and the Washington Post front-page article protects their anonymity, we can only speculate on their identity with what little information they’ve given us. And that little bit of information reveals only a Ukrainian ultranationalist thread—the salute, the same obsessively violent paranoia towards Russia, and towards journalists, who in the eyes of Ukrainian nationalists have always been dupes and stooges, if not outright collaborators, of Russian evil.

One of the key media sources who blamed the DNC hacks on Russia, ramping up fears of crypto-Putinist infiltration, is a Ukrainian-American lobbyist working for the DNC. She is Alexandra Chalupa—described as the head of the Democratic National Committee’s opposition research on Russia and on Trump, and founder and president of the Ukrainian lobby group “US United With Ukraine Coalition”, which lobbied hard to pass a 2014 bill increasing loans and military aid to Ukraine, imposing sanctions on Russians, and tightly aligning US and Ukraine geostrategic interests.

In October of this year, Yahoo News named Chalupa one of “16 People Who Shaped the 2016 Election” for her role in pinning the DNC leaks on Russian hackers, and for making the case that the Trump campaign was under Kremlin control. “As a Democratic Party consultant and proud Ukrainian-American, Alexandra Chalupa was outraged last spring when Donald Trump named Paul Manafort as his campaign manager,” the Yahoo profile began. “As she saw it, Manafort was a key figure in advancing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s agenda inside her ancestral homeland — and she was determined to expose it.”

Chalupa worked with veteran reporter Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News to publicize her opposition research on Trump, Russia and Paul Manafort, as well as her many Ukrainian sources. In one leaked DNC email earlier this year, Chalupa boasts to DNC Communications Director Luis Miranda that she brought Isikoff to a US-government sponsored Washington event featuring 68 Ukrainian journalists, where Chalupa was invited “to speak specifically about Paul Manafort.” In turn, Isikoff named her as the key inside source“proving” that the Russians were behind the hacks, and that Trump’s campaign was under the spell of Kremlin spies and sorcerers.

(In 2008, when I broke the story about the Manafort-Kremlin ties in The Nation with Ari Berman, I did not go on to to accuse him or John McCain, whose campaign was being run by Manafort’s partner, of being Manchurian Candidates under the spell of Vladimir Putin. Because they weren’t; instead, they were sleazy, corrupt, hypocritical politicians who followed money and power rather than principle. A media hack feeding frenzy turned Manafort from what he was—a sleazy scumbag—into a fantastical Kremlin mole, forcing Manafort to resign from the Trump campaign, thanks in part to kompromat material leaked by the Ukrainian SBU, successor to the KGB.)

Meanwhile, Chalupa’s Twitter feed went wild accusing Trump of treason—a crime that carries the death penalty. Along with well over 100 tweets hashtagged #TreasonousTrump Chalupa repeatedly asked powerful government officials and bodies like the Department of Justice to investigate Trump for the capital crime of treason. In the weeks since the election, Chalupa has repeatedly accused both the Trump campaign and Russia of rigging the elections, demanding further investigations. According to The Guardian, Chalupa recently sent a report to Congress proving Russian hacked into the vote count, hoping to initiate a Congressional investigation. In an interview with Gothamist, Chalupa described alleged Russian interference in the election result as “an act of war.”

To be clear, I am not arguing that Chalupa is behind PropOrNot. But it is important to provide context to the boasts by PropOrNot about its Ukrainian nationalist links—within the larger context of the Clinton campaign’s anti-Kremlin hysteria, which crossed the line into Cold War xenophobia time and time again, an anti-Russian xenophobia shared by Clinton’s Ukrainian nationalist allies. To me, it looks like a classic case of blowback: A hyper-nationalist group whose extremism happens to be useful to American geopolitical ambitions, and is therefore nurtured to create problems for our competitor. Indeed, the US has cultivated extreme Ukrainian nationalists as proxies for decades, since the Cold War began.

As investigative journalist Russ Bellant documented in his classic exposé, “Old Nazis, New Right,” Ukrainian Nazi collaborators were brought into the United States and weaponized for use against Russia during the Cold War, despite whatever role they may have played in the Holocaust and in the mass slaughter of Ukraine’s ethnic Poles. After spending so many years encouraging extreme Ukrainian nationalism, it’s no surprise that the whole policy is beginning to blow back.

WaPo’s other source: A loony, far-right eugenicist think tank

Besides PropOrNot, the Washington Post’s Craig Timberg relied on only one other source to demonstrate the influence of Russian propaganda: the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), whose “fellow” Clint Watts is cited by name, along with a report he co-authored, “Trolling for Trump: How Russia is Trying to Destroy Our Democracy.”

Somehow, in the pushback and outrage over the WaPo blacklist story, the FPRI has managed to fly under the radar. So much so that when Fortune’s Matthew Ingram correctly described the FPRI as “proponents of the Cold War” he was compelled to issue a clarification, changing the description to “a conservative think tank known for its hawkish stance on relations between the US and Russia.”

In fact, historically the Foreign Policy Research Institute has been one of the looniest (and spookiest) extreme-right think tanks since the early Cold War days, promoting “winnable” nuclear war, maximum confrontation with Russia, and attacking anti-colonialism as dangerously unworkable. One of the key brains behind the FPRI’s extreme-right Cold War views also happened to be a former Austrian fascist official who, upon emigrating to America, became one of this country’s leading proponents of racial eugenics and white supremacy.

The Foreign Policy Research Institute was founded by Robert Strausz-Hupé and set up on the University of Pennsylvania campus, with backing from the Vick’s chemical company, funder of numerous reactionary rightwing causes since the New Deal began. And, as the New York Times reported, the FPRI also was covertly funded by the CIA, a revelation that would lead to student protests and the FPRI removing itself from Penn’s campus in 1970.

The FPRI’s founder, Strausz-Hupe, emigrated to the US from Austria in the 1920s. In the early Cold War years, he became known as an advocate of aggressive confrontation with the Soviet Union, openly advocating total nuclear war rather than anything like surrender or cohabitation. In a 1961 treatise “A Forward Strategy for America” that Strausz-Hupe co-authored with his frequent FPRI collaborator, the former Austrian fascist official and racial eugenics advocate Stefan Possony, they wrote:

“Even at a moment when the United States faces defeat because, for example, Europe, Asia and Africa have fallen to communist domination, a sudden nuclear attack against the Soviet Union could at least avenge the disaster and deprive the opponent of the ultimate triumph. While such a reversal at the last moment almost certainly would result in severe American casualties, it might still nullify all previous Soviet conquests.”

But it was Russian propaganda that most concerned Strausz-Hupe and his FPRI. In 1959, for example, he published a three-page spread in the New York Times, headlined “Why Russia Is Ahead in Propaganda,” that has odd echoes of last month’s paranoid Washington Post article alleging a vast conspiracy of American journalists secretly poisoning the public’s mind with Russian propaganda. The article argued, as many do today, that America and the West were dangerously behind the Russians in the propaganda arms race—and dangerously disadvantaged by our open and free society, where propaganda is allegedly sniffed out by our ever-vigilant and fearless media.

The only way for America to protect itself from Russian propaganda, he wrote, was to massively increase its propaganda warfare budgets, and close the alleged “propaganda gap”—echoing again the same solutions being peddled today in Washington and London:

“[W]ithin the limitations of our society, we can take steps to expand and improve our existing programs.

“These programs have been far from generous. It has been estimated, for example, that the Communists in one single propaganda offensive—the germ-warfare campaign during the Korean conflict—spent nearly as much as the entire annual allocation to the United States Information Agency. We should increase the austere budget of the U.S.I.A. We should give our information specialists a greater voice in policy-making councils. We should attempt to coordinate more fully and effectively the propaganda programs of the Western alliance.”

A few years later, the FPRI’s Strausz-Hupe published a deranged attack in the New York Times against Stanley Kubrick’s film Dr. Strangelove, calling it “the most vicious attack to date launched by way of our mass media against the American military profession”. The FPRI’s founding director went further, accusing Kubrick of being, if not a conscious Russian agent of propaganda, then a Soviet dupe undermining American democracy and stability—the same sort of paranoid accusations that FPRI is leveling again today. As Strausz-Hupe wrote:

“Anyone who cares to scan the Soviet press and the Communist press in other lands will note that it is one of the principal Communist objectives to drive a wedge between the American people and their military leaders. Mr. Kubrick’s creation certainly serves this purpose.”

Reading that then, knowing how the Soviet Union eventually collapsed on itself without firing a shot—and seeing the same paranoid, sleazy lies being peddled again today, one is dumbstruck by just how stagnant our intellectual culture is. We’ve never thawed ourselves out from our Cold War pathologies; we’re still trapped in the same structures that nurture these pathologies. Too many careers and salaries depend on it…

But Strausz-Hupe was the voice of reason compared to his chief collaborator and co-author at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, Stefan Possony. He too was an Austrian emigre, although Possony didn’t leave his homeland until 1938. Before then he served in the Austrofascist governments of both Dollfuss and Schuschnigg, but left after the Nazi Anschluss deposed the native fascists and installed Hitler’s puppets in their place.

Possony was a director and fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, and according to historian Robert Vitalis’ recent book “White World Power” [Cornell University Press], Possony co-authored nearly all of the FPRI’s policy research material until he moved to Stanford’s Hoover Institute in 1961, where he helped align the two institutions. Possony continued publishing in the FPRI’s journal Orbis throughout the 1960s and beyond. He was also throughout this time one of the most prolific contributors to Mankind Quarterly, the leading race eugenics journal in the days before The Bell Curve—and co-author race eugenics books with white supremacist Nathaniel Weyl.

So even as he was publishing aggressive Cold War propaganda for the Foreign Policy Research Institute, Possony wrote elsewhere that the “average African Negro functions as does the European after a leucotomy [prefrontal lobotomy] operation” In other articles, Possony described the people of “the Middle East, Latin America and Southeast Asia” as “genetically unpromising“ because they “lack the innate brain power required for mastery and operation of the tools of modern civilization[.] . . .” For this reason he and Strausz-Hupe opposed the early Cold War policy of de-colonization: “The accretion of lethal power in the hands of nation states dominated by populations incapable of rational thought could be a harbinger of total disaster.” Instead, they argued that white colonialism benefited the natives and raised them up; western critics of colonialism, they argued, were merely “fashionable” dupes who would be responsible for a “genocide” of local whites.

As late as a 1974 article in Mankind Quarterly, Possony was defending race eugenics loon William Shockley’s theories on the inferiority of dark skinned races, which he argued could prove that spending money on welfare was in fact a “waste” since there was no way to improve genetically inferior races. Around the same time, Possony emerged as the earliest and most effective advocate of the “Star Wars” anti-ballistic missile system adopted by President Reagan. The way Possony saw it, the Star Wars weapon was entirely offensive, and would give the United States sufficient first strike capability to win a nuclear war with Russia.

It was this history, and a 1967 New York Times exposé on how the Foreign Policy Research Institute had been covertly funded by the CIA, that led US Senator Fulbright in 1969 to reject Nixon’s nomination of Strausz-Hupe as ambassador to Morocco. Fulbright denounced Strausz-Hupe as a Cold War extremist and a threat to world peace: ”the very epitome of a hard-line, no compromise.” However, he gave in a couple of years later when Nixon named him to the post of ambassador in Sri Lanka.

Today, the Foreign Policy Research Institute proudly honors its founder Strausz-Hupe, and honors his legacy with blacklists of allegedly treasonous journalists and allegedly all-powerful Russian propaganda threatening our freedoms.

This is the world the Washington Post is bringing back to its front pages. And the timing is incredible—as if Bezos’ rag has taken upon itself to soften up the American media before Trump moves in for the kill. And it’s all being done in the name of fighting “fake news” …and fascism.

This piece first appeared on Alternet.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/12/09/the-anonymous-blacklist-promoted-by-the-washington-post-has-apparent-ties-to-ukrainian-fascism-and-cia-spying/

CIA Psychologists Can be Sued for Creating Torture Program, Judge Says — The Free

Originally posted on YOUR PERCEPTION IS NOT REALITY: Source: Sputnik Two CIA psychologists who devised a program of enhanced interrogation that included waterboarding and rectal feeding in secret prisons are getting sued for the first time in the US. A civil lawsuit alleges that two CIA contract psychologists devised torture methods against three former detainees at secret…

via CIA Psychologists Can be Sued for Creating Torture Program, Judge Says — The Free