Columns and op-ed pieces
By John Kendall Hawkins
You should never judge a book by its title, but with whistleblower Edward Snowden’ s Permanent Record the reader gets as close s/he can possibly get to the soul of a narrative before actually reading it. He means it: The American government, with help of its data-gathering partners, is gathering up information on every mobile or Internet-connected individual on the planet. They have a permanent dossier on each and every one of us. Snowden writes, “We are the first people in the history of the planet for whom this is true, the first people to be burdened with data immortality, the fact that our collected records might have an eternal existence.”
As Snowden puts it, “At any time, the government could dig through the past communications of anyone it wanted to victimize in search of a crime (and everybody’s communications contain evidence of something)… this is tantamount to a government threat: If you ever get out of line, we’ll use your private life against you.”
This implied threat is not conspiracy theory, not paranoia, and it is not new; it represents the criminal intentions of some agencies of government, often working in collusion with the Executive. The Intelligence Community (IC) has, as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer once admonished Trump when he lashed out against them, “Six ways to Sunday at getting back at you.” (Apparently, Schumer accepts their criminality as ‘the norm’.)
We have seen how the system can be abused already. Frank Church told us all about it in the 70s, and so did the . The CIA was involved in the Watergate break-in. told us what the CIA was up to in Nicaragua. We all know now, and apparently have come to terms with the fact, that the IC was criminally involved in the brazen televised false testimony about Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) that was forced upon the world as a pretext for an unnecessary and illegal war against Iraq.
This latter criminal activity was recently the subject of the whistleblowing film, Official Secrets, in which GCHQ analyst Katherine Gun blew the whistle on her agency when she discovered that they were being coerced by the Americans into finding kompromat on members of the UN Security Council to force them to vote in favour of the war (to make the war technically “legal”). The UN was formed, in part, to prevent such future nation-state aggression. But Gun was really blowing the whistle on the NSA, who requested the kompromat – in fact, she was blowing the whistle on the blackmail activity of the GW Bush administration, who would have directed the NSA to gather such “intel.” An impeachable offense.
Snowden and Gun are whistleblowers, and not politically-motivated leakers. What they released were very serious revelations of the criminal behavior of government officials. Snowden revealed that the real war was not on Terror, but on human privacy. As he wrote in PM, “Any elected government that relies on surveillance to maintain control of a citizenry that regards surveillance as anathema to democracy has effectively ceased to be a democracy.”
Official Secrets also revealed that after suspect government actions leading to Britain’s decision to go to war with Argentina, the so-called Falklands War, the government tightened its whistleblower laws to make what Gun did illegal. She would have gone to jail for reporting a data burglary of Watergate proportions. Since a trial might have compromised American intelligence, the British government dropped their charges. We might have even seen how the Brits, too, use contractors, like, say, Orbis, to do the dirty work of dossier-gathering.
Now that the has been released, we have learned that Christopher Steele is no whistleblower along the lines of Snowden or Gun. His dossier was full of shit, and he may one day be hoiked into his own spittoon. How did he ever get to be called a whistleblower in the first place? Because he had the attentive ear of the MSM, in hate with the Trump administration, willing to listen to his off-the-record kompromat story (September 2016). It’s easy to understand MSM motivation, but they got sucked into a self-degrading compromise of their own. They might as well have been sitting down in a secret meeting with the National Enquirer. They got played.
(You could argue that the MSM – and the rest of us — got played before this way, when another whistleblower, Deep Throat, helped take down a hated president, Richard Nixon. But Mark Felt had an agenda: He resented not being appointed director of the FBI after Hoover died, and didn’t like it one bit when Nixon made a political appointment to the vacant seat. Had Felt been made director, we never would have had Deep Throat. It was nice to see Nixon go, but Felt was a leaker, not a whistleblower.)
As the Horowitz Report makes clear, , which was meant to titillate our late Capitalist prurience-conditioned minds, contained little ‘information’ (and let us recall, from the Stasi’s work, that information is not necessarily fact or truth) more intriguing than references to an alleged incident where Trump, while he was attending a beauty pageant, back in 2013, had some prostitutes piss on a hotel bed that he was told the Obamas had slept in.
Steele’s dossier was salacious and not verifiable. Instead, its veracity was built on Steele’s “reputation” (which was amped up, as they do, when building arguments from authority). Steele was to be seen as an expert on Russian affairs, even though he hadn’t been to Russia in years. He relied on so-called ‘assets’, who were either anything but, or non-existent by virtue of the protection of asset ‘cover’.
Off the record with the MSM, in October 2016, Steele approached David Corn to spread his smear to the Left through Mother Jones. Dossier information was published in MJ, and later in Buzzfeed, in each cased marked unverified. But let’s just say, Steele’s revelations were something less than the sinister implications of the Stellar Wind program whose details the New York Times quashed in October 2004, to prize-winning reporter’s James Risen’s dismay.
Though clearly unverifiable by the supposed best IC services in the world, the Horowitz Report makes clear that in October Surprise Month 2016, the FBI fudged information on the FISA warrants they obtained to legally gather information on Carter Page and, through him, the Trump Campaign. The Report makes clear that the FBI abused its power by essentially lying to the FISA court. Once again, government agencies, with tremendous spying power, opted to use the presumed veracity of their authority to lie instead, when the information didn’t suit their agenda.
Russia may have tried to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, in the same way America was all to when they did it to Russia in 1996, but so did Ukraine (according to and pieces), and, if the Horowitz Report is to be understood, our “special friends” the Brits. Maybe we should be asking – who didn’t try to interfere in the election?
But more seriously, the Report strongly suggests that elements of the FBI (at the behest of the Obama administration?) were messing with the American electorate themselves by using tainted information, developed by the Clinton campaign through FusionGPS, to get warrants issued against an opponent of their campaign in October Surprise Month 2016. In essence, it sounds like we might have been messing with our own elections.
Speaking of messed up elections, the 2016 Jeb Bush presidential campaign was, , the party that originally hired Steele to “build” a dossier on Trump. (One recalls that Jeb Bush was the governor of Florida when his brother George W. eked out a tiny victory in 2000 – a margin so slim, and contested, that the fact that his brother was running should have required an automatic recount of votes.) Bush has denied any direct link to Steele, but you imagine him placing a call to Hillary, one dynasty to another, and telling her about the Steele work and where to get it.
Trump has been rightly castigated by the MSM for buying into conspiracy-sounding stories about Ukraine’s interference in the 2016 election. In his infamous telephone call, he mumbled something about Crowdstrike, and the DNC servers in the Ukraine, and Biden – to hear him speak: There’s a lack of intelligence between his ears that must make the IC insane. You could see him just mumbling state secrets to Putin, because he’s a dumb shit. But, at the same time, bringing up Crowdstrike is not totally daft. (Now that we know that the “DNC Server” was not LAN-based but WAN-based, the hacking/leaking question takes on a new dimension.) It’s true that Dimitri Alperovitch, CTO of Crowdstrike, is a fellow at the Atlantic Council, where Hillary Clinton received a Distinguished International Leadership Award in 2013, and so that’s an obvious connection.
Not necessarily a big deal, but left out of the equation is the fact that Crowdstrike’s president, Shawn Henry, was arguably the most important agent at the FBI, before he retired after 24 years to join Crowdstrike. According to his , “he oversaw half of the FBI’s investigative operations, including all FBI criminal and cyber investigations worldwide, international operations, and the FBI’s critical incident response to major investigations and disasters.” One wonders: Did he retire to become what Snowden was – a , better paid, virtually no public accountability for deeds done on contract jobs for the government? More importantly, perhaps, was he CCed in when FBI-Steele transactions were taking place?
But speaking of homo contractuses, why was Mandiant also brought in as back up to the DNC server investigation, given that they are one of Crowdstrike’s main rivals? They came to the same conclusion: The Russians did it. But it’s interesting to note that . So, again, it’s fair, given what Snowden tells us, to ask if Kevin Mandia took an early retirement from his Pentagon position to be a contract employee?
But back to whistleblowers. Our Citizen X, the Ukraine quid pro quo whistleblower. The MSM has released very little information about him, other than acknowledging that he’s a CIA officer, because they don’t want to publish details that would inevitably allow free-thinking individuals to work out who he is. The name of this whistleblower has been circulating for weeks in alternative-to-MSM publications, such as realclearinvestigations.com, run by, ahem, a former NY Times editor. There’s a lot of jumping ship going on: The Intercept is staffed with star reporters from the MSM who couldn’t hack it anymore.
If our third-hand-wringing whistleblower is who these alt-Indies say he is, then he doesn’t fit the criteria that Edward Snowden lays out — a Daniel Ellsberg type — but rather a pawn in the Deep State game. The one-and-only CIA analyst to ever go to prison (albeit deeply minimum) for whistleblowing, John Kiriakou, has weighed in on the master debate. “If he’s a whistleblower,” , “and not a CIA plant whose task it is to take down the president, then his career is probably over.” (I find this amusing, because I always thought of Kiriakou as a plant to apologize for the CIA torture program – he said it worked, but the Torture Report said it didn’t.)
Elsewhere, , “[I]nside the CIA, I guarantee you that people are saying, ‘Well, if he’s willing to rat out the president, he’s probably willing to rat out us.’ And so no one is ever going to trust this guy again.” So, according to K. either he’s a plant or his career is over. We’re told he’s back at the CIA resuming his career. But, because he’s anonymous, he might actually be another homo contractus by now. That’s what the Indie word is.
Unfortunately for the fused agendas of the MSM, our intrepid Deep State Throat, if the alt media information holds up, was a confidante of Joe Biden when he was the “point man” for Ukraine affairs after the CIA-encouraged coup there in 2014. In fact, according to Real Clear, the ‘whistleblower,” was more than that: Deep State Throat was Obama’s NSC director for Ukraine. This has been neither conformed or denied yet though.
There may or may not be anything to the Joe Biden quid pro quo he successfully executed in 2016 and bragged about on live TV, with minor hand-wringing by the MSM, but it is worth noting that the continued investigation into Burisma that Trump was pushing would also have resulted in the question: Why is Cofer Black on its Board of Directors (since just after Trump’s inauguration in 2017)?
It’s speculation, but not wild, that Deep State Throat, Obama’s former NSC liaison for Ukraine, received a call of his own, perhaps from the American embassy anxious to continue the anti-Russian work of the previous administration. As Edward Snowden writes in Permanent Record, “The worst-kept secret in modern diplomacy is that the primary function of an embassy nowadays is to serve as a platform for espionage.”
Because Western democratic citizens live in a politically dysfunctional world — Five Eyes nations are enforcers for nation-state gangster goons guarding their ever-acquisitive interests — without a respected unifying governmental agency, such as a real league of nations, we get nothing crucial done as a globe — see climate change. We’ve become hive-minded, interconnected in uncomfortable ways, and seem to be suffering from some kind of colony collapse of consciousness.
This would help explain how these things keep happening under our noses, while the MSM looks the other way. Or leads us in a rendition of Two Minute Hate. Prey to tiny cornball characters in cyberspace who see themselves as swaggering Gods. Snowden opines, “America remains the hegemon, the keeper of the master switches that can turn almost anyone on and off at will.”
By John Kendall Hawkins
They’re selling postcards of the hanging
They’re painting the passports brown
The beauty parlor is filled with sailors
The circus is in town.
- Bob Dylan, “Desolation Row”
They walked in from the Left.
They walked in from the Right.
They walked in to Judge.
They walked in to Fight.
They came to determine the fate of two hushed words: “Joe Biden.”
Officially, the articles (the charges) are: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Remove “Joe Biden” from the telephone transcript of a July 25 phone call between President Donald Trump and the top Ukrainian servant of the people, President Volodymyr Zelensky, and there is no impeachment. Just quid pro quo. Same ol’ same ‘ol Congressmen know like a second pledge of allegiance.
Me and some buddies gathered and walked to see the show, sneaking into the peanut gallery, the nosebleed seats, the democratic bleachers — call it what you will — by a means I won’t reveal, except to say it reminded me of my pre-pube years weaseling my way into Boston Garden to watch Espo and Bobby Orr. But our expectations were decidedly lowered at angel heights in the Senate chamber. Lots of hoi-polloi had beat us to it and the heights were full-throated and busy-lipped. Everyone shared an opinion on the buzz below.
I heard one guy say Congress (urged on by the MSM) was thinking of making the theatrics a seasonal event, including some kind of playoff format. The guy in front of me, who looked an awful lot like Christopher Steele, was laying down a bet on impeachment with Irish booky Paddy Power, which had Trump heavily favored to beat the rap (1/50).
All eyes were on Nancy Pelosi, as she struggled with eyelineritis and handed out cheap black plastic pens, and mumbled something about freedom, while pointing to a hashtag. Souvenirs of the iconic House member walk to the Senate could be had at recess some aide announced.
There was lots of talk of multiple impeachments. Soften him up now for the October Surprise impeachment on tax evasion or murder or OCD-ing it on the emollients (manus manum lavat, goes the law). Something criminal, instead of just political. It’s a better viewer experience.
There was even talk from the raucous bluebird section, toodling and tweeting about retroactive impeachments, which brings to mind quantum and new Dr. Who episodes and all kinds of evil scenarios. George Washington smoked pot, he owned slaves — he not only crossed the Delaware; he may have crossed The Line a few times. (And what’s with the wooden teeth? Did he go to a dentist who used a woodpecker to drill away his cavities?) We could finish Nixon’s impeachment; and impeach Gerald Ford for criminally pardoning him. We could impeach Clinton again for setting back philosophy studies 1000 years with his trippy “is/is” comment. We could impeach Reagan for his trickle down voodoo that handed us all over to the 1%. On it goes…
The attractive woman wearing a tight Che T-shirt (I love women in uniform) over my shoulder was cackling about how McConnell, Graham, and Alan Dershowitz were seemingly threatening to tit-for-tat impeach into the foreseeable future. One mud pie tosses the other.
The intent of the current articles of impeachment seem to be a Democrat party punishment for Trump’s presumed (and still anything but proven) theft, with Russia, of the 2016 presidential election, as well as a determination to prevent him from the presumed stealing of the next one — with the help of the comedian in charge of Ukraine, who must miss his IMDB 7.2 rating by now.
Leroi Jones, my bud to the left, who is seething and looking like his head might explode, points out that the Democrat impeachment is just a clown show; they could have impeached Trump on all kinds of awful things, like the Suleimani hit, but they don’t want to, as they don’t want to take that abuse of power away from a future president of their own. Elizabeth Warren might be called upon early to prove her mettle ala Hillary “Hanson” Clinton, because she’s a woman (but it depends on what your definition of is is). LeRoi showed me an ear piece in the Black Agenda Report, to which I have in the past donated, to bolster his rap.
An announcement said that multiple whistleblowers had now come forward to bring down Trump, as their lawyer vowed he would do in 2017. “Maybe some of them could be put in storage for later impeachments,” the wise guy a couple of seats over snarked.
Then it was loudly announced that Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz would be coming to Trump’s rescue. Dershowitz successfully defended a serial pedo in Flo-ho; Starr went after Clinton and his affair with an intern and brutalized him, but devastated her life. When Starr didn’t get far uncovering evil in the Clintons’ Arkansas real estate dealings, he went after sex charges and their cover-up led to impeachment. (FTR, Clinton got re-elected anyway — by a landslide, sorta,)
A reaction shot on the big screen showed Monica Lewisnsky outraged by Starr’s appointment. It must have brought back impeachment tears, said the guy directly behind me. “Are you f—ing kidding me,” she reportedly gaped.
The conservatives are calling it a “coup cabal,” or, at least, that’s how Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch refers to the impeachment. JW’s too right wing for me, although I had to doff my Patriots cap when they FOIA-ed the Obama administration conversations with film director Katherine Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal. JW produced documentation that the film was a propaganda flick (with classified information about the Abbottabad raid shared with the filmmakers) originally intended to be released in October 2012, just before the presidential election, but moved back as a result of criticism. Bigelow called the film “journalistic,” but it did seem to contain supernatural elements.
My buddy Dave, a few seats over to the right, was sardonically gassing, “The Joe Biden speech where he crowed about firing the investigator of Burisma in exchange for Ukraine receiving 1 billion dollars. Big Joe Biden tough on corruption. What he didn’t say is that no further investigations of Burisma have taken place since that firing. Nicely played, Joe.” I was hoping not to hear about Burisma, the Day-Glo elephant in a very dark room. Next thing, someone might be inappropriately referencing Coffee Black, the “ex” CIA executive on the Burisma board.
But then I was distracted from distraction by more distraction, as T.S. Eliot would say, and, in front of me, a dazzling blonde with an iPhone was viewing an interview with Kelley Anne Conway, threatening, in that aggressively passive tone that makes you just crazy, that if the Demos called witnesses, the Repugs would do the same, and they had better be careful of what they wished for, because they would call up Hunter Biden, and, her tone seemed to imply, go to town on him.
Mikey, three seats to the left of me, who hates everything, muttered, “After reading the Horowitz Report, what I want to know is whether we aren’t interfering in our own elections.”
“Bakhtin and the mischief of the carnivalesque,” whined an intellectual to my right somewhere; my fist cocked instinctively, and I was ready to roll out the barrel should his chin require it. He went on, like a taunt, “The problem with the deep state isn’t whether it exists or not — Ike and Snowden have said it does, and the nice middle class man from PBS, Bill Moyers, has chipped in too — but whether it’ll just turn out to be one more shallow enterprise run by machines….”
I got edgy, and we had to leave. I wasn’t sure I cared about Democracy anymore. I looked down at the proceedings one last time. And saw a vision not so splendid in the dark and now intimate room. More walking, and Lady Liberty, er, re-oriented on a dining table, all the little festival legislators pigging out in the pork barrel. Hmph.
When I got home, I didn’t bother getting off my high horse. Fuck it. Patriots, too, get tired blowing the warning trumpet and having nobody respond. They just want to hit the hay and settle into the nightmare democracy has become. And sleep the sleep of sleep.
No somnambulism allowed.
By John Kendall Hawkins
Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to BELIEVE that black is white, and more, to KNOW that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary.”
– George Orwell, 1984
Fuck Orwell. He’s another one. Always dispensing with the dyspeptic dystopias, but, when you’re not looking, he’s gathering names of Commie suspects and handing them off to the government, like a rat on someone’s face, forever. You get overwrought, in these days of bad wine and paper roses, trying to figure out who’s on the up-and-up, and who’s trying to bring you down real low. If you read the news too carefully, you risk spinning your mind right off its axis. Who is a whistleblower and who is not? What are they really whistleblowing about? Is it fake news you’re reading? Or is real news the one with the paywall? Is it all a conspiracy? Or just a theory about conspiracies? Maybe Notre Dame committed suicide in some kind of defiant Nietzschean act of spontaneous combustion.
Anyway, some old stale Marx crept back into my thinking, not that I ever understood him very well anyway (which is probably why we could never make him work (he became more a battle of hermeneutics than a sustainable philosophy (we argued till dawn in our Che tees and khakis, passing round the bong))), and I wondered, while reading the Guardian, about the means of production, about who controls the past controls the future, and who controls the present controls the past, and and my head began spinning again. The fuck, if Orwell was any help — at all.
Because there it was yesterday in the Guardian, journalist Carole Cadwalladr announcing the imminent release of thousands of documents detailing “the inner workings” of the now bankrupt data firm, Cambridge Analytica (CA). Cadwalladr broke the story about how Facebook was colluding with CA in an effort to manipulate the emotions of users to modify their behavior — specifically, during the Brexit referendum and during the 2016 US presidential election. Did CA machinations force Brexit on the UK? Did CA con enough bumpkins in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania to hand the electors to Trump? A Netflix film, The Great Hack, was streamed and introduced us to self-described whistleblower Brittany Kaiser, who took us on a two-hour tour of CA’s data chambers and Brittany’s conscience. It’s hard to say which was scarier, but The Great Hack is a worthy watch.
CA and Brittany Kaiser have been in the rear view mirror for awhile now, as we’ve settled into the long impeachment season, and are all, more or less, preoccupied with the imagined horror of His reelection and four more years of ‘substance’ abuse in Washington. And yet, here Brittany was again, in the Guardian, caterwauling about more data devil dogs, and providing, through Twitter, Wikileaks-like access to a trove of further evidence of CA’s ‘Machiavellian’ shenanigans. I bit. I downloaded zips on John Bolton, Brazil, and Iran, and was so underwhelmed by the offerings that I felt I’d been had. Targeted emotions — now with psychographic datadazz; age-old, so what, meh.
The headline of Cadwalladr’s article is: Fresh Cambridge Analytica leak ‘shows global manipulation is out of control’. But there’s no evidence of that in her Twitter ‘release’. And the promise that more information will be released “in the coming months,” seems like a self-serving pronouncement to keep her relevant, leading up to the 2020 election. It’s almost like she’s still working for CA and wants to use their data (but not as originally intended) to shape voter thinking and to sell more copies of her recently released memoir, Targeted, which the New York Times implicitly panned (along with her claim to whistleblowerhood).
But the Cadwalladr piece is interesting for another whistleblowing reason: She cites, authoritatively, none other than Christopher Steele. She writes of Kaiser’s cache:
It comes as Christopher Steele, the ex-head of MI6’s Russia desk and the intelligence expert behind the so-called “Steele dossier” into Trump’s relationship with Russia, said that while the company had closed down, the failure to properly punish bad actors meant that the prospects for manipulation of the US election this year were even worse.
Has she failed to read the Horowitz Report, which cites the judicial mockery of the FBI’s use of Steele’s long-debunked dossier to falsely obtain FISA warrants to spy on the Trump campaign? How he sat the MSM down for an off-the-record chat about his ‘findings’ in July, while pushing his compostings at Mother Jones and the ‘progressive’ Left in late October 2016?
There are a lot of outstanding questions about Steele and his dossier that have yet to be answered. Like how has he been allowed to declare himself a whistleblower? Is that all that’s required, self-declaration? And a pun-like statement to Vanity Fair: “The greater good trumps all other concerns.” Then why the anonymity? Why the resistance to visiting America, for whom you, a Brit, have so much concern? Why did Cadwalladr drop his debunked authoritative voice in the middle of her piece?
At the time of his dossiering, our man of Steele had not been to Russia, where his ‘contacts’ were left behind, in years. And he left in fear for his life as “an enemy of Mother Russia.” The more you think about this election-meddler the more he sounds like a British version of homo contractus; the kind of still-connected (private) spy GCHQ might have called upon to develop kompromat on, say, UN Security Council members, as depicted in the whistleblowing film, Official Secrets, to manipulate their votes.
Yesterday, after I carefully considered the value of the Cadwalladr piece and its terrifying premise that global manipulation was out of control and Trump might win again if we didn’t put up force fields against Facebook ads by November, I watched a movie on Vimeo: Spinning Boris. The humorous 2003 film, starring Jeff Goldblum, Liev Schreiber and Anthony LaPaglia, recounts the ‘true story’ of Boris Yeltsin’s 1996 reelection.
By 1996, few government workers were getting paid on time and there were long lines for food, especially fast-food. Then Yeltsin invaded Chechnya, and everyone hated him. According to “Yanks to the Rescue,” the Time magazine article that the film’s script seems to be based on, Yeltsin was “favored by only 6% of the electorate and ‘trusted’ as a competent leader by an even smaller proportion” and sure to lose to the Communists, when American political consultants were brought in to get him re-elected.
They brought with them the usual American kit of topical polling, focus groups, people-touching, and image manipulation (re-packaging). The taciturn Boris Yeltsin began kissing babies and dancing like a bear on stage, his white coif was moussed, ads smiled, and a drunken karaoke Elvis impersonator (late stage) slurred, in EFL-English, the Commies’ “secret maximum plan” to bring Mother Russia “back to the Middle Ages” and round up democratic reformers if they won, which was used in an eventual negative ad campaign.
They also used gizmos, such as the perception analyzer, an early algorithm device, that helped the consultants to track patterns of response to emotional stimuli. But, at the end of the day, they realized they were dealing with what Americans have had to suffer through for decades — lesser-of-two-evils voting. Despite his bad numbers, all the consultants had to do was make sure voters understood that Yeltsin was the only alternative to Communists (in the lead with 21%), and to then undermine the Commies.
One thing the movie plays up, and the Time piece ignores, is that US President Bill Clinton, and the CIA were, at the very least, “watching” the consultants in action. It’s the CIA that wants to know what the “secret maximum plan” of the Commies is, and we can be sure that wouldn’t have been okay with what they heard. We can be certain that the long lines at Mickey D’s were seen by the CIA as symbols of the Russian hunger for American-style drive-through freedom — not to be dis-enfranchised by Commie indifference. Maybe these consultants were cover. And God forgive my cynical, conspiratorial vision, but I can’t help but wonder how many people in that long, long, long line at the Golden Arches received quid pro quo coupons for voting Yeltsin.
So, what does all of this have to do with Cambridge Analytica, Brittany Kaiser, Christopher Steele, and the 2020 US presidential election ahead? I’m not sure — I haven’t been convinced — that interfering in an election requires anything more than all the usual suspect techniques we’ve seen in the past: Bill Clinton heckled GHW Bush with a guy in a chicken suit for ducking debates; political ice cubes were said to have been embedded with ‘sex’ by Hidden Persuaders; handing out free Wendy’s coupons might make a difference in a lesser-of-two-evils election choice. Even Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix, caught on a hidden camera, seems to have conceded that blackmail, not data, might be the most efficient method.
I’m uncomfortable when I hear the MSM pushing the concerns of pseudo-whistleblowers like Kaiser and Steele, who have fucked with previous elections, and are now seemingly using their own previous deceit to market themselves as consultants in upcoming elections. (You could even say that Kaiser and Steele’s work offset each other in the 2016 election.) Where’s the proof that Cambridge Analytica, through Facebook, manipulated enough voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, to swing the 2016 presidential election Trump’s way? Or fixed Brexit? None of what CA purports to do is as effective as good old voter disenfranchisement in select districts.
Now that we have people ‘coming out’ as whistleblowers all over the place, like it’s the latest trendy lifestyle, to control the narrative, to raise the authoritative value of Big Data, especially when it comes to human manipulation, and require tools of the government (contractors) to interpret and confirm the value of the data bits, it’s beginning to smell like Orwell all over again — an attempt to control the Now, and he who controls the Now controls the Past and… It’s that Black and White. Snowden warns in Permanent Record: Big Data as an Old Testament God with a New Testament Judgement Day for each and every one of us.
I had a vision recently, of the Russians and the Yanks getting into a spy vs. spy tussle for the ages — a WWE grudge match in a cage — with a competition to take out political leaders everywhere, despite their worth, and replace them with harlequins, so that at species end, Nero fiddling while climate change burns, everywhere we looked it becomes a case of clowns to the political Left of me, Jokers to the Right, stuck in the middle finger.
Doublethink about it.
By John Kendall Hawkins
Living near London back in 2001, several months before 9/11, I took my family on a driving tour to Northwest England, up to Windermere in the Lake District. We spent a night in a quaint thatched cottage and drank deep wine by a smoky fire. We trod on trails, along with a multitude of others, along the lake Wordsworth was said to have wandered lonely as a cloud. On the drive home, we stopped at the Ruskin museum, and I, despite tired protests from the kids, went inside and considered the exhibits of his genius, and revelled in flashes of the cathedral moments Ruskin once inspired in me.
But the highlight of our trip, not so far from home, was stopping in at Stratford-on-Avon, birthplace and burial site of William Shakespeare. We strolled the streets, checked out Anne Hathaway’s digs, and watched, inside Holy Trinity Church, as my young son slipped under a barrier and commenced a horrid iambic tapdance on Shakespeare’s grave, if it was Shakespeare’s grave: a sign read his skull was missing, which made me picture some nob out there playing Alas, Poor Yorick with the Bard’s head. I thought I recalled some cheekery out back in the yard, facing the Avon, another sign, near a pauper’s grave, suggesting that Will had been given the ol’ heave-ho into the lesser bric-a-brac of bones — a la Mozart.
More recently, I’ve learned that a ‘non-intrusive’ radar scan has been done of his grave — and that nothing’s there under the slab my son had jigged on, not even iambic dust — a whole TV special was done on the anniversary of his supposed mortal death 400 years earlier. Nobody really seems to know where his restless bones reside. Other scans have followed — both science and psychological: An anthropologist thinks the Bard must have been smoking “compounds strange” when he wrote; some homosexuals require that the Bard be gay (“Google any famous name plus the word gay and you’ll find that someone’s beaten you to the speculative punch.”!). Agendas everywhere.
Postmodernism used to be fun. I felt privileged, as an undergrad, to be part of the carnival of delight that academic relativists brought to course methodology, freeing minds everywhere from the cultural battlefields where once they were mere Canon fodder in shoot-outs between Great Men too big to fail. Once unheard, unsung voices from the wilderness were emerged from a countercultural revolution — Black voices, Feminist dialectics, multiculturalism up the ya-yoo, and new ways of seeing — helpful critiques of the male gaze and reader-response theory — all for the betterment of humankind. I loved the way Angela Carter made a basket case of the Big Bad Wolf. Who doesn’t like claiming to have read Foucault? We hate torture, because it’s not who we are, but academics spend all their time interrogating geniuses to get at their dirty little secrets.
No canonized writer has suffered more up-digs over the centuries than the Bard. Was he really Christopher Marlowe (or versa visa)? Could a working class kid really write about the Royals? Really? Did he rely too much on Plutarch when he penned Henry V? Shakespeare Analysis became a thatched cottage industry. A lot of it legitimate scholarly interest. As Harold Bloom, and others, have pointed out, there was a “School of Resentment,” overcompensatory in its nature, that rigorously stripped ‘the Greats’ of their excessive influence on culture, and became the new orthodoxy. But things really got going when the resentimentalists unloaded on Shakespeare and the Western Canon shot its last wad.
Speaking of cannons shooting worthy wads, the Globe Theatre burned down in 1613 during the premiere of Henry VIII — originally known as All Is True — after a cannon was fired marking the entrance of Henry VIII and a bit of wad landed on the thatched roof and started a fire that consumed the Globe. Shakespeare had begun collaborating with a writer named John Fletcher, accounting for the inconsistencies of language in the reading of Henry VIII.
Most recently, Smithsonian magazine reported on Petr Plecháča, a Czech Republican scientist, who took a special interest in identifying the separate threads of language between Fletcher and the Bard in All Is True, and, using artificial intelligence (AI), he was able to determine their separate voices. Kind of like an academic exercise in intertextuality. Except using a Support Vector Machine to scan and deconstruct the play instead of relying on scholarly conjecture. In essence, the AI performed a danse macabre across Shakespeare’s grave and found two sets of bony algorithms. Hackles happened. I went to Plecháča’s study and ran for my life when I seemed to be reading that Henry VIII aside, the SVM may have proven that Fletcher virtually wrote The Tempest alone. Gulp.
I wrote a letter to Petr:
Recently I read an article that featured your algorithmic study of Shakespeare’s Henry VIII. Interesting.
Sounds a lot like the plagiarism application Turn It In and its scanning features. Is there a difference between your method and the method used by software to analyze the typical suspicious (and they all are all plagios until proven original by Turn It In) undergrad?
Can we expect a comprehensive scan now of the Bard’s entire works? In short, will you be taking off his gloves? Where does Christopher Marlowe fit into all of this?
Also, many academics (with agendas) have been making passes at the notion that Shakespeare was a homosexual onaccounta his sonnets and certain coy-boy references in his works. Can we expect an algorithm to “out” the Bard once and for all?
Thank you so much ahead of time for your consideration of my thoughts (I claim) on the matter. I look forward to your keened and advanced counterpoint.
He never replied.
O, the evil that algos do. Like postmodernism (and maybe only possible because of such thinking), algorithms possess a kind of built-in scientific rationalism that denudes human perception, even as it unravels the mystery of our discrete object of desire. Imagine looking at a rose, wafting in your nose, absorbed by its mystical complexity — when you are interrupted by a voice in your head that describes that object as a function of parts, a mechanical plaything of your synapses, and nothing more. You can have it both ways, but only one way seems human. Call me a romantic if a rose has me swimming with endolphins and giddy with new porpoise.
If Google, Amazon and Facebook, along with the surveillance state, have shown us anything with their algorithms, we are in danger of passively accepting our human processes as mathematical formulas controlled by centralizing forces that shape the way we see and feel. Control us, by knowing how to stimulate us, bespokenly. It’s subtle now, but it’s there, in the tea leaves of the time we spend on line, our synapses symbiotically fired by the ons-and-offs of the InterMind. Are we the assimilatos for, or the accommodators of, the New Machine Age?
I wonder what Shakespeare, if he were alive today, would make of our burning globe. Would he be able to handle the rhythms of modern English — its natural mythopoesis absorbed into the jingles and jibes of end-stage capitalist decline? Or would he, like Abu rolling over in his shallow Ghraib, be just another voice lost in the Age of Terror?
No wonder his grave is empty.
By John Kendall Hawkins
Those of us who care about the criminal excesses of the Orwellian dystopia that we find ourselves thumb-driven under by predatory algorithms that ferret out our alpha waves for “security” and commercial purposes, might want to remember that if not for legitimate whistleblowers we would know next to nothing about what the Bastards are up to. It’s a far more depressing world for the knowing, but like climate change, we’re no better off for the ignorance. So, here’s to Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and Chelsea Manning — all of whom have given up their freedom in order to reveal the criminality and deceit of the Masters of Endless War and pocket Marshall plans (Rebuilds ‘R Us). Here’s to our Three Amigos in this festive season of convenient whistleblowing.
First, thanks to Julian Assange, who told us years ago that the Bastards just wanted him to be put on a plane to Sweden so that he could be put on another plane to America — against his will. He rightfully sought asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to avoid such extradition that would have made him a circus clown before a politically-motivated ‘national security’ trial in America that would have seen him jailed for life. The MSM took his wiki goodies and made money selling papers with them, but bailed on him when the government told them to attack his character. Now, out of self-interest, the MSM will be forced to begrudgingly defend Assange’s journalism credentials should he be forwarded, like a soccer ball, to America’s fascist foot.
It looks grim for Julian. He will be tried, if brought to America, under the Espionage Act, a version of which has been shored up under each of the Five Eyes super-surveillance partners. His best chance at avoiding being putsched before a show trial is for lawyers to show that Spanish security company, UC Global, hired by Ecuador to provide security for its London embassy, actually spied on Assange and his visitors with mikes and cams, and handed their work over to the CIA. This would (or should) demonstrate that Assange can’t receive a fair trial in America (again, the reason he took refuge in the embassy), and provide lawyers with the ammo they need to knock back the extradition.
Now would be a good time to catch up on the issues surrounding his case, and, really, the best way to do that is by reading the collection of supporting voices — from computer technicians to philosophers — put out by OR Books, an independent publisher, In Defense of Julian Assange. Next, write to him. You might actually be able to get a message to him, in this festive season, if you go online and send him a letter — either through L-Mail, which takes your e-message and snail-mails it to him, or, more conveniently, you can use Email A Prisoner (don’t forget to use a VPN). He’s said he wants messages short and sweet. Maybe send him a joke or limerick. I sent him a poem.
And there’s Edward Snowden to salute. Others have made zoodles of dollars explaining the importance of his 2013 revelations, including Glenn Greenwald, who won a well-deserved Pulitzer for his details of Snowden’s global surveillance revelations and his subsequent escape to Russia. Then Snowden put out Permanent Record, his memoir full of insider details of the deep state (his words) that he worked for as a kind of demi-god of data — before its criminality (his words) made him unable to go on lying and collecting for the government. He revealed, with diagrams, how the US government spies on everyone connected to a communications system — Internet and mobile services. Importantly, he shows how contractors (see chapter, Homo Contractus) are the ball carriers of the deep state.
Unfortunately, but predictably (his words), the US government sued his publisher to take his book profits away — and they won. Snowden, now larfing as a much-sought-after six-figure online speaker, has suggested that the public buy a copy and hand it off, when finished, to a friend. Great idea (remember the days of file-sharing)! A short cut to obtaining a free copy of his memoir is to visit the wondrous Internet Archive where several borrowable copies are there for downloading. “I wanted to help, but I didn’t know how,” he writes of his decision to whistleblow. “I’d had enough of feeling helpless, of being just an asshole in flannel lying around on a shabby couch eating Cool Ranch Doritos and drinking Diet Coke while the world went up in flames.”
Thanks again to Assange and Wikileaks, for risking further criminal abuse, by helping Snowden escape from Hong Kong. And remember that the audacious Obama would have nailed Snowden had he been on the Bolivian president’s airplane when it was forced down. This gangster cut-him-off move might have led to a hot WWIII had the plane been Putin’s, instead of Evo Morales.
Edward can be reached in his exile, either by mailing him at Freedom of the Press Foundation or through his account at Twitter: @Snowden .
And finally, thanks to Chelsea Manning, for getting the ball rolling back in 2010 with the Iraq Logs and Afghan Logs, but, most devastatingly, the so-called Collateral Murder video that not only showed s double-tap helicopter gunship attack on civilians, including two Reuters reporters, but provided the gunship audio that suggested jolly titillation as bodies fell. The video demonstrated, among other things, that the so-called War on Terror was going to involve its own moments of terrorism, with not a lot of hand-wringing, once the gloves were off.
Chelsea was court-martialed and sentenced to 35 years for delivering classified information to Julian Assange and Wikileaks. President Obama commuted Manning’s sentence (after six harsh years in the slammer) — just before the Trump inauguration in Jan 2017. In February 2019, she was found in contempt of court for refusing to testify before a grand jury looking to gather evidence on Julian Assange and Wikileaks and put back in jail. Then, upon release, told a new grand jury to fuck off, and is back in prison again on contempt charges. She reasoned that, “[T]his grand jury seeks to undermine the integrity of public discourse with the aim of punishing those who expose any serious, ongoing, and systemic abuses of power by this government.”
As with Assange above, Manning can be reached through a convenient write and snail-post system, called Jmail. She can be reached by post at:
The William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center
2001 Mill Road, Alexandria, Virginia 22314
You’ll have to call the switchboard to get her prisoner ID number.
In this festive season, as we ready ourselves for the short-lived Senate dismissal of the House’s impeachment of Trump (yawn), just in time for the presidential primary season, let’s remember that there are still other things that we can do to bolster the defenses of Assange, Snowden, and Manning, as they ready for consequential appearances before judges in the next few months. We can, for instance, put our heads together and try to force the government into ‘necessity defense’ legislation that Assange and Snowden could use in the future to defend themselves. And we could also file, online, Freedom of Information Act requests, say, the Rogers-Brennan-Clapper emails leading up their DNC hacking assessment in 2016.
Me, a couple of days ago, I filed a FOIA for access to the poems Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was said to have penned to his interrogator’s wife after 183 waterboardings. I very much look forward to reading these ‘Sufi sonnets’. Talk about curing writer’s block, huh?
DJ and Cepi Share a Joint
“I like oil. They got oil. We want their oil,”
Smirked DJ over at Cepi Tayyip.
“But what about the Kurds, who were so loyal?”
Came a hostile, high-pitched Fourth Estate quip.
“I promised Cepi he can have his way,
If we can have the oil.” Cepi smiled up.
The Pressman looked at Trump with such dismay,
and then he saw Cepi — all buttercup.
“But, sir, what you’re talking is a war crime,
And, frankly, it smells of more quid pro quo,”
Quoth our Camelot, another press corp mime.
To which DJ snapped, “Why, that’s a low blow!”
Cepi T snickered, he’d seen this stuff before —
The press all ruffled by such minor things,
War and oil and crime — and those Kurds what’s more!
After all, it’s what real politiks brings.
He recalled Donald’s invasion letter:
“Don’t be a tough guy” and “Don’t be a fool.”
The Press had turned it into a fetter
When Cepi replied, “I won’t be your fool.”
“Yo, Apprentice prez, what about the Daesh bizz,”
Snarked some intrepid “turd” from NBC.
“Depends on what you def of ISIS is,”
Retortled DJ Trump, without mercy.
Cepi moons, “There’s nothing wrong with DJ
That a steamy hamamin’ wouldn’t fix.”
Though an old poet, I felt oy vey!
(I thought of Midnight Express and Hands Blix.)
In a reverie, Cepi thought he heard,
“A Trump Tower along the Bosphorus,
between the two grand mosques preferred,
and just catering to the prosperous.”
The press keeps pressing for lit’ral meaning
(something they never bothered ‘bout before)
like asking a rooster why he’s preening,
A totally worthless thankless chore.
-John Kendall Hawkins
Do I Dare to Eat an Impeachment?
O, this is “a massive fucking shitshow,”
starting with the blather of Devin Nunes.
We’ve no way of knowing where it may go.
The vast Left conspiracy is so low,
they want nudies of DJ Trump — such goons!
O, this is “a massive fucking shitshow.”
The Schiff-faced “cult” smirked at the google-eyed shmo,
as if he’d howled at one too many moons.
We’ve no way of knowing where it may go.
Nunes cries, “Russian hoax! Look out below!”
and an unknown Repub operative swoons,
“O, this is ‘a massive fucking shitshow.’”
Kent and Taylor talked up Trump’s quid pro quo.
“To do what he did was just looney tunes.”
We’ve no way of knowing where it may go.
Them Dems and Repubs going toe-to-toe,
like a battle of spooning silver spoons.
O, this is “a massive fucking shitshow.”
We’ve no way of knowing where it may go.
- John Kendall Hawkins
By John Kendall Hawkins
“Deep State” derives from a John le Carré spy novel. It is an expression bandied about rather frequently these days. It’s in danger of losing its meaning the more it becomes just another little buzzword from Hiveworld, busy bobbing among the festive fields of corn-cockle until exhaustion sets in. There is a real, non-fictional Deep State, and it’s important that we come to understand what it is, before we are driven shallow by the incessant digital stim of the trite and trivial from the cybersphere of internet ‘updates.’
One of the more mature and sober descriptions of what the Deep State is, and what it does, came from former GOP congressional staffer Mike Lofgren in a discussion, back in 2014, “The Deep State: Hiding in Plain Sight,” with Bill Moyers. Lofgren spent 28 years working on the Senate and House Budget committees. He described the Deep State as “a hybrid of corporate America and the national security state.” It is a place, says Moyers, “where elected and unelected figures collude to protect and serve powerful vested interests.”
“We’re having a situation where the Deep State is essentially out of control,” Lofgren tells Moyers. “It’s unconstrained. Since 9/11 we have built the equivalent of three Pentagons around the DC metropolitan area, holding defense contractors, intelligence contractors, and government civilians involved in the military-industrial complex [MIC].” Ostensibly, they all work together to keep America safe under the emotional rubric of “Never Again.”
But there’s more. The Deep State has literally declared the Internet a battlefield. There’s no democracy on a battlefield. To help keep the Internet safe from perceived enemies, the MIC, or Deep State, has contracted with corporations, such as Amazon, Google and Facebook to police the cybersphere by gathering information on each and every human online and sharing it with the government. Thus, the Deep State spends a lot of time searching for and stalking the alleged spies and traitors amongst us, while the corporations are given the green light to exploit and play with our deepest desires. In short, the Deep State is at war with privacy. We are the last frontier. (Think of your obesity as ‘economic expansion,’ and an act of ‘patriotism’. Ten hut!)
In “Anatomy of the Deep State,” a follow-up essay to the Moyers interview, Lofgren writes, “That the secret and unaccountable Deep State floats freely above the gridlock between both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue is the paradox of American government in the 21st century: drone strikes, data mining, secret prisons and Panopticon-like control on the one hand; and on the other, the ordinary, visible parliamentary institutions of self-government declining to the status of a banana republic amid the gradual collapse of public infrastructure.”
I thought of Moyers and Lofgren’s discussion as I reconsidered “Homo Contractus,” perhaps the most important chapter of Edward Snowden’s recently released memoir, Permanent Record. Snowden, the repentant whistleblowing Deep Stater, expands on and clarifies the inherent corruption and darkness of Deep State doings, and paints an inescapable picture of a dystopian nightmare underway.
Gone are the days of public service, of wanting to be a shiny, unhailed cog in the machinery of American Exceptionalism — flaws and all — such as Snowden’s father and grandfather had gladly been. “I had hoped to serve my country,” writes Snowden. “but instead I went to work for it. This is not a trivial distinction.”
Moyers and Lofgren provide us with an abstract overview of the situation, but Snowden brings the nuts and bolts. To get around congressional hiring limits, Deep State agencies hire private contractors who are off the books — no real public accountability for deeds, and, in most cases, we don’t even know who they are. Lofgren has estimated, “There are now 854,000 contract personnel [as of 2014] with top-secret clearances — a number greater than that of top-secret-cleared civilian employees of the government.” They are virtually a whole sub-species of worker that Snowden refers to as “homo contractus.” They run the surveillance state show — some of them looking for enemies of the state, and others on the look-out for enemies of Deep State doings. In the war zone, they call the shots without any input from the public.
Members of Congress go along with this arrangement, says Snowden, because “[Deep State] directors and congresspeople are rewarded, after they retire from office, by being given high paying positions and consultancies with the very companies they’ve just enriched. From the vantage of the corporate boardroom, contracting functions as governmentally assisted corruption.” Private companies wait for public servants to obtain top security clearances, then they poach them through Job Fairs, where public servants are offered huge salary increases doing the same job for a private company — and, as Lofgren’s statistic indicates, many are jumping the ship of state to go yachting with the corporates.
Take Snowden, he was hired at such a fair by a BAE sub-shell company called COMSO (Snowden never learned what the acronym stood for). At the interview he negotiated his salary up, at the recruiter’s insistence, because a 3-5% kick-back to the recruiter, from the government, made it worthwhile. He went from $30K to $60K in the negotiation play. Says Snowden, “Bumping up salaries was in everyone’s interest—everyone’s, that is, except the taxpayer’s.” He was a contractor, but he was doing the same work as a public servant. Later in his career he was hired by Dell computers, then Booz Allen Hamilton, each time merely switching business cards, but working at CIA headquarters for the CIA, a homo contractus spook among the spooks. No public accountability.
Snowden says homo contractus brings with it a different kind of energy — something “sinister.” Not governed by a sense of public service, a certain arrogance and elitism become the filters of their deeds. The military-industrial complex is bound together in a negative agreement — homo contractus hiring is a skirting of the law, and a profit-making arrangement. Contractors, says Snowden, often see their work as “inherently apolitical, because they’re based on data, whose prerogatives are regarded as preferable to the chaotic whims of the common citizen.” In other words, they know better than democracy. Snowden adds, “That can be intoxicating, at least for a teetotaler like me. Also, all of a sudden you have not just the license but the obligation to lie, conceal, dissemble, and dissimulate.”
Out of this comes governmental policies that push and sustain the interests — not of the commonweal — but of the parallel government that exists between private players and the Deep State. The net result is a revolving door between the ever-expanding Intelligence Community and private companies, each sharing in the spoils of the public purse. So, we read of DARPA directors jumping to Google, and Google’s work with drones for the Pentagon. Amazon ends up devising web services for the CIA, and Jeff Bezos’ other project, The Washington Post, becomes the conduit of choice for anonymous intelligence agency leaks. We discover that Facebook sells the information of its users to private firms, and experiments with human emotions that may have relevance to intelligence agencies.
It can get even more sinister. If the Deep State wants to go to war, without public approval, and for profit motives, it can use its technology to spy on individuals to uncover compromat, such as what the Bush administration ordered in 2003, just before the invasion of Iraq, when it tried to dig up dirt on UN Security Council members to strong-arm them into voting for war. When their deeds were leaked, the US went to war anyway — backed only by phony WMD claims. Hundreds of thousands of casualties have ensued.
It may yet get even more sinister. Many of the cybersecurity firms that operate today are manned by analysts and techies who are themselves products of homo contractus. Crowdstrike features ex-FBI agents. They were also “politically aligned” with the DNC, which is interesting, if for no other reason, than it was the FBI’s James Comey who did as much damage as anyone to Hillary’s campaign. It raises the question whether there were homo contractuses on duty during the events that unfolded. You just don’t know: Edward Snowden’s business card read “Dell,” but he worked for the CIA. Hmph.
More bewildering was the testimony that Kevin Mandia of Mandiant gave before a Congressional subcommittee on intelligence back in 2011. It was double-take stuff:
The majority of threat intelligence is currently in the hands of the government. Indeed, more than 90% of the breaches MANDIANT responds to are first detected by the government, not the victim companies. That means that 9 in every 10 companies we assist had no idea they had been compromised until the government notified them.
Gobsmack time. But it gets better. Mandia has reported in the past an incident where he slid a folder across the desk of a skeptical corporate executive (he was confident in his company’s security integrity) and the exec is described as bbeing shocked to find in the folder deep secrets of the company. Mandiant was hired.
Mandiant’s Kevin Mandia broke his cyberteeth at the Pentagon as an intelligence officer. After fumbling around for a few years, including a stint at ManTech — a cybersecurity company full of ex-spooks — he and his Mandiant associates are said to have solved the puzzle of the New York Times and Washington Post breaches in 2014, which ended up in the indictment of a cadre of soldiers from China — America’s preferred enemy at the time. From there, things blossygossled. Mandiant got famous overnight, one thing led to another, until Mandia found himself being bought out by cybersecurity company FireEye, a CIA-funded start-up, for a billion bucks. Mandia was made FireEye’s Chief Operating Officer.
Again this highlights the opacity that masks the Deep State doings when it employs homo contractus. We don’t know what they get up to, despite being on the public dollar,indirectly. Mandiant, like CrowdStrike, was responsible for evaluating the server breach at the Democratic National Convention in 2016. As Mandia has already acknowledged, he has in the past received insider information, from the government, regarding breaches at corporations. One wonders whether CrowdStrike or Mandiant, or any other cybersecurity contractor, received a tip-off regarding the DNC breach, and that’s why it was never forensically examined — although that didn’t stop an ‘opinion of cause’ being issued by three intelligence heads, leading to the MSM’s under-critical acceptance of Russian hacking.
Further, as if we need more worry, such a homo contractus arrangement with the Deep State, already undemocratic, appears to be metastasising overseas. The CIA and NSA are helping repressive regimes, like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, build their own bespoke and state-of-the-art (naturally) surveillance regimes, and watch indifferently as these tyrants with too much dinosaur money use the technology to spy on “enemies,” including dissidents. How un-American.
Already, there has been cause for alarm, as companies like DeepMatter, employing ship-jumping analysts from the NSA go after American dissidents and journalists too. The NSA and CIA are virtually beyond law in these countries. What they couldn’t get away with in America, they can do with impunity in SA and the UAE. Even Google’s work with Dragonfly, a project designed to give China a search engine devoid of human rights queries, suggests we are now in the business of exporting panopticon products.
As Mike Lofgren told Bill Moyers a few years back now, the Deep State is “the red thread that runs through the history of the last three decades. It is how we had deregulation, financialization of the economy, the Wall Street bust, the erosion or our civil liberties and perpetual war.” We’ve been warned now for a few years by the likes of Moyers, Snowden and others. None of them are conspiracy-theorists. Snowden certainly believes we have entered into dystopia territory. Which would mean democracy is finished as a global solution to population management.
Only the self-proclaimed gods of digi-stim know what happens next.
By John Kendall Hawkins
I was musing inconsolably, a picture of Donald Trump seated with Recep Erdoğan at a Taksim Square cafe in the Golden Horn, broken heads strewn everywhere, pigeons out of control, fishmongers singing the blues — Don and Ceppi, good buds comparing notes on how much they hate journalists, demi-tasse pinkies high. “Enemies of the state,” they harmonized over blood-kurdling screams. Two men talking up what they would do and what they have done. Leaning in, getting evil, sharing Khashoggi jokes — how much fun it was to pull MbS’s chain. Trump saying, “Mohammad got back to me and mewled, ‘That wasn’t very nice, Donald.’” They finished and headed toward the Red Light, Ceppi saying, Pulp Fiction style (to Donald’s ticklish delight) glass-caged Red Sparrows were on display.
When my attention was diverted by further hijinks. Hillary Clinton came rushin’ in to the already turgid news cycle to announce she would be interfering in the 2020 presidential election. When last we saw Clinton, the tears of her true supporters (about a glassful) had been tossed at her and she was melting, melting in her humiliating loss to the Cowardly Lion she had wanted to face in the finals of the Ugly Pageant of 2016.
Here she was back again for more. Hilarious Hillary, who’d once quipped of Daffy Gadaffi’s death: “We came, we saw, he died.” And she laughed so hard about it they made a haw-haw porn. Appropriately, her joke derives from Caesar’s famous lines, Veni, vidi, vici. Word is, Caesar, in turn, derived his rattling words from overhearing (on his right side) two centurions talking — one snorting: I came, I sowed, I cankered. (Translation?) Which is, of course, what happened to Democracy. Eventually, all great ideas get hospitalized with venal diseases.
And after Benghazi, nobody but nobody wanted to fuck with Hillary. Everybody on the DNC knew Bernie was being flipped, but, when the chips were down, he lacked the cajones to stick up for the “socialism” the campus kids cuddled up to so much. (Now, they’ve luke-warmed on him). It was reminiscent of Al Gore, who kaputchoolated to the Spy President’s son in 2000. And now we have climate change that came at us like a new Pearl Harbor.
Anyway, there she was again, back for more, taking the mickey out of the first female war veteran to run for president. Implying that Gabbard was a Russian asset because, as the “failing” NYT reported, she’d received unsolicited support from the deplorable fringe-dwellers. Then she accused Gabbard of wanting to run as a Third Party candidate, for the sole purpose, as an asset, of taking votes away from the Democratic nominee for president. She also took the opportunity to have a go at Green Party leader Jill Stein. When asked if she was gossing that Gabbard was a Russian Scabbard, a Clinton spokes-acolyte said, “If the nesting doll fits.” What an assoh!
It got ugly from there. Likening Clinton to a bad case of food poisoning the DNC had finally Linda-Blaired out, Gabbard said that Clinton was a “personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long.” Sweet Cheeses! Let the exorcism begin. In a tweet Gabbard went on, “It’s now clear that this primary is between you and me. Don’t cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly.” Meow and hiss. High stick hockey was back.
There was Clinton back to whinging about why she lost — just as sickening as having to listen to Trump continually whinge about why he won. He won, not because he was more popular, but because he garnered more votes from the pay-to-play elites who make up the Electoral College system that Clinton adores — a system that Trump has criticized in the past. A system that seems almost arbitrary in some ways, with electors in about half the states not bound to vote according to popular outcome.
She didn’t lose because of a Third Party candidate (unless you want to count James Comey). Jill Stein didn’t kill her. It wasn’t Ralph Nader all over again. The presidential election shouldn’t be a taste test between the less evil flavor — exclusive of all others, year after year. Why, that would be anti-trust territory. Who is not tired in consumer-driven America of hearing neo-libs say citizens have only two choices at the polls: Coke or Pepsi. Fuck that. Some people like 7 Up. I myself don’t mind a shot of Mountain Dew once in a while. If Sanders had balls, he’d run as Dr. Pepper. Wouldn’t you like to be a pepper too? What do you mean two choices only? Is this America?
Clinton didn’t mind working with Russians (through Christopher Steele) to dredge up kompromat on Trump’s touchy feely doings in Moscow, which, no doubt, would have come in handy as an October surprise — if she’s needed it against the foe she hoped to face. But who knows? If he got through PussyGate without any serious setbacks, then maybe details of golden showers delivered from a gaggle of would-be Red Sparrows would have seen him win in a landslide. It’s a porno world.
And the MSM has not helped — taking pot shots at the candidates, just to remind us all, it seems, just how nasty, brutish and long the campaign season can be. Bernie’s been blasted for speaking truth to the Press, calling his legit crit of their sensationalism Trump-like. There’s been picking at the scabby white lies of Pocahontas’ past. And Joe “Jiffy Pop” Biden, who has had people come from miles around to pick his brains, endured the humiliation of being challenged about his mano-a-mano moment with Corn Pop. And Trump has been savaged so frequently in recent weeks that it’s as if there’s a press pool bet to see who can drive him to drunkardhood and ruin first.
There’s enough ahead to worry about in the coming presidential campaign season. Wonky databases continue to disenfranchise voters. Voting machines are a catastrophe waiting to happen. The electoral college continues to warp the will of the people. Two-party taste-test politics continues to bore the buds. And also it looks like the world’s about to end. Just sayin’.
And if that weren’t bad enough, naughty Putin is taunting the Americans — whispering that he intends to meddle again in the presidential elections.
You could ask: Why bother?