Category Archives: Russia

The Propaganda About Russian Propaganda

Adrian Chen writes for The New Yorker:

Image result for THE PROPAGANDA ABOUT RUSSIAN PROPAGANDAIn late October, I received an e-mail from “The PropOrNot Team,” which described itself as a “newly-formed independent team of computer scientists, statisticians, national security professionals, journalists and political activists, dedicated to identifying propaganda—particularly Russian propaganda targeting a U.S. audience.” PropOrNot said that it had identified two hundred Web sites that “qualify as Russian propaganda outlets.” The sites’ reach was wide—they are read by at least fifteen million Americans. PropOrNot said that it had “drafted a preliminary report about this for the office of Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), and after reviewing our report they urged us to get in touch with you and see about making it a story.”

Reporting on Internet phenomena, one learns to be wary of anonymous collectives freely offering the fruits of their research. I told PropOrNot that I was probably too busy to write a story, but I asked to see the report. In reply, PropOrNot asked me to put the group in touch with “folks at the NYTimes, WaPo, WSJ, and anyone else who you think would be interested.” Deep in the middle of another project, I never followed up.

PropOrNot managed to connect with the Washington Post on its own. Last week, the Post published a story based in part on PropOrNot’s research. Headlined “Russian Propaganda Effort Helped Spread ‘Fake News’ During Election, Experts Say,” the report claimed that a number of researchers had uncovered a “sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign” that spread fake-news articles across the Internet with the aim of hurting Hillary Clinton and helping Donald Trump. It prominently cited the PropOrNot research. The story topped the Post’s most-read list, and was shared widely by prominent journalists and politicians on Twitter. The former White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer tweeted, “Why isn’t this the biggest story in the world right now?”

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Why Are Media Outlets Still Citing Discredited ‘Fake News’ Blacklist?

Adam Johnson writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts sayThe Washington Post (11/24/16) last week published a front-page blockbuster that quickly went viral: Russia-promoted “fake news” had infiltrated the newsfeeds of 213 million Americans during the election, muddying the waters in a disinformation scheme to benefit Donald Trump. Craig Timberg’s story was based on a “report” from an anonymous group (or simply a person, it’s unclear) calling itself PropOrNot that blacklisted over 200 websites as agents or assets of the Russian state.

The obvious implication was that an elaborate Russian psyop had fooled the public into voting for Trump based on a torrent of misleading and false information posing as news. Everyone from Bloomberg’s Sahil Kupar to Robert Reich to Anne Navarro to MSNBC’s Joy Ann Reid tweeted out the story in breathless tones. Center for American Progress and Clinton advocate Neera Tanden even did her best Ron Paul YouTube commenter impression, exclaiming, “Wake up people.”

But the story didn’t stand up to the most basic scrutiny. Follow-up reporting cast major doubt on the Washington Post’s core claims and underlying logic, the two primary complaints being 1) the “research group” responsible for the meat of the story, PropOrNot, is an anonymous group of partisans (if more than one person is involved) who tweet like high schoolers, and 2) the list of supposed Russian media assets, because its criteria for Russian “fake news” encompasses “useful idiots,” includes entirely well-within-the-mainstream progressive and libertarian websites such as Truth-Out, Consortium News,TruthDig and Antiwar.com (several of whom are now considering lawsuitsagainst PropOrNot for libel).

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Russia Reached Out to Trump, Clinton Camps During Election

Ilya Arkhipov, Henry Meyer and Stepan Kravchenko report for Bloomberg:

Image result for russia trump clintonRussia said that it talked with the teams of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during the U.S. presidential election as part of routine outreach during a campaign.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the Russian embassy in the U.S. held talks with the Trump camp that “were on a sufficient, responsible level.” Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for Trump, said in an e-mail that she was “not aware” of any meetings by campaign representatives with Russian diplomats.

Ryabkov said the talks were “part of routine everyday work.” There was also “sporadic” contact with the Clinton team, though it was “not always productive,” he said. Calls to members of Clinton’s former campaign team for comment weren’t immediately returned.

Trump has said he’d welcome better ties with Russia, would be willing to cooperate with Putin to defeat Islamic State in Syria, and may even consider recognizing the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea.

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Vladimir Putin Won’t Be Sweating the Election Result on Tuesday

Julia Ioffe writes for Foreign Policy:

[…] What does this election look like from Moscow’s vantage point? Kremlin television, from English-language RT to the actually watched domestic channels, has had a clear, orange favorite for about a year now. But does that mean Putin himself really wants Trump to win?

“People in [the] West don’t understand,” says Sergei Markov, who runs a pro-Kremlin think tank in Moscow and is the deputy head of the international cooperation committee in the Civic Chamber. “They see that Russian television praises Trump and trashes Clinton. They do this because Trump says nice things about Russia. But the government position is very different from the TV’s because it understands that it’s just words now. And that when the election is over, we will have to deal not with whoever is president but with the American system.”

This is the unanimous view out of Moscow, regardless of analysts’ political proclivities, whether they hate Putin or love him. The desired result in this election has not necessarily been the presidency of Donald Trump. In fact, he seems to them to be rather disposable. The mission is sowing disruption, chaos. And in doing that, Putin will have accomplished something for himself, regardless of who wins next week: a deeply fractured American system, once held up as a shining alternative to Moscow’s style of power, now tarnished beyond recognition.

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How World War III Could Start

Jonathan Marshall writes for The National Interest:

If humanity ever suffers a Third World War, chances are good it will start in some locale distant from the United States like the Baltic or South China Seas, the Persian Gulf, or Syria, where Washington and its rivals play daily games of “chicken” with lethal air and naval forces.

Far from enhancing U.S. security, the aggressive deployment of our armed forces in these and other hot spots around the world may be putting our very survival at risk by continuously testing and prodding other military powers. What our military gains from forward deployment, training exercises, and better intelligence may be more than offset by the unnecessary provocation of hostile responses that could escalate into uncontrollable conflicts.

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U.S. Pledges $30 Million to Rebuild Ukraine’s Navy

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

The host of one of Russia’s main fleets until the secession of Crimea, calling Ukraine’s own navy a mess would be an understatement. Built around aging Soviet hand-me-downs, the ships they did have largely defected along with Crimea.
Indeed, while they have some small attack boats and the like, it would be fair to classify Ukraine’s entire “navy” as one ship, the Hetman Sahaydachnyy, their flagship, which is in the process of being repaired and refitted. Even this ship is just a frigate, but apart from coastal patrol boats and tug boats, it is what’s left.

Ukrainian Navy Commander Vice Admiral Ihor Voronchenko is playing up the repairs and upgrades to their ship as the beginning of a major increase in capacity which will allow them to “counter Russia” in the Black Sea. The US is bankrolling part of this effort with $30 million in aid.

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Whether Clinton or Trump, Tensions Will Escalate with China and Russia: Interview with John Pilger

Paul Jay speaks to veteran journalist John Pilger about the prospect of war with China and Russia under a President Clinton or Trump. His new documentary A Coming War With China will be released in December. (The Real News)

Don’t Be So Sure Russia Hacked the Clinton Emails

James Bamford, author of Body of Secrets, writes for Reuters:

Last summer, cyber investigators plowing through the thousands of leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee uncovered a clue.

A user named “Феликс Эдмундович” modified one of the documents using settings in the Russian language. Translated, his name was Felix Edmundovich, a pseudonym referring to Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky, the chief of the Soviet Union’s first secret-police organization, the Cheka.

It was one more link in the chain of evidence pointing to Russian President Vladimir Putin as the man ultimately behind the operation.

During the Cold War, when Soviet intelligence was headquartered in Dzerzhinsky Square in Moscow, Putin was a KGB officer assigned to the First Chief Directorate. Its responsibilities included “active measures,” a form of political warfare that included media manipulation, propaganda and disinformation. Soviet active measures, retired KGB Major General Oleg Kalugin told Army historian Thomas Boghart, aimed to discredit the United States and “conquer world public opinion.”

As the Cold War has turned into the code war, Putin recently unveiled his new, greatly enlarged spy organization: the Ministry of State Security, taking the name from Joseph Stalin’s secret service. Putin also resurrected, according to James Clapper, the U.S. director of national intelligence, some of the KGB’s old active- measures tactics.

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A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump

David Corn reports for Mother Jones:

On Friday, FBI Director James Comey set off a political blast when he informed congressional leaders that the bureau had stumbled across emails that might be pertinent to its completed inquiry into Hillary Clinton‘s handling of emails when she was secretary of state. The Clinton campaign and others criticized Comey for intervening in a presidential campaign by breaking with Justice Department tradition and revealing information about an investigation—information that was vague and perhaps ultimately irrelevant—so close to Election Day. On Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid upped the ante. He sent Comey a fiery letter saying the FBI chief may have broken the law and pointed to a potentially greater controversy: “In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government…The public has a right to know this information.”

Reid’s missive set off a burst of speculation on Twitter and elsewhere. What was he referring to regarding the Republican presidential nominee? At the end of August, Reid had written to Comey and demanded an investigation of the “connections between the Russian government and Donald Trump‘s presidential campaign,” and in that letter he indirectly referred to Carter Page, an American businessman cited by Trump as one of his foreign policy advisers, who had financial ties to Russia and had recently visited Moscow. Last month, Yahoo News reported that US intelligence officials were probing the links between Page and senior Russian officials. (Page has called accusations against him “garbage.”) On Monday, NBC News reported that the FBI has mounted a preliminary inquiry into the foreign business ties of Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chief. But Reid’s recent note hinted at more than the Page or Manafort affairs. And a former senior intelligence officer for a Western country who specialized in Russian counterintelligence tells Mother Jonesthat in recent months he provided the bureau with memos, based on his recent interactions with Russian sources, contending the Russian government has for years tried to co-opt and assist Trump—and that the FBI requested more information from him.

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The Problem With the Story Connecting Russia to Donald Trump’s Email Server

Sam Biddle, Lee Fang, Micah Lee and Morgan Marquis-Boire report for The Intercept:

pol_161031_screenshotlargeOn Monday night, Slate’s Franklin Foer published a story that’s been circulating through the dark web and various newsrooms since summertime, an enormous, eyebrow-raising claim that Donald Trump uses a secret server to communicate with Russia. That claim resulted in an explosive night of Twitter confusion and misinformation.

The gist of the Slate article is dramatic — incredible, even: Cybersecurity researchers found that the Trump Organization used a secret box configured to communicate exclusively with Alfa Bank, Russia’s largest commercial bank. This is a story that any reporter in our election cycle would drool over, and drool Foer did.

[…] These claims are based entirely on “DNS logs,” digital records of when one server looks up how to contact another across the internet. The logs, first gathered by an anonymous researcher going by the moniker “Tea Leaves” (an irony that should be lost on no one) and shared with a small group of academics, were provided to The Intercept and a handful of other news organizations. The New York Times, the Washington Post, Reuters, the Daily Beast, and Vice all examined these materials to at least some extent and did not publish the claims.

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Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia

Eric Lichtblau and Steven Lee Myers report for The New York Times:

For much of the summer, the F.B.I. pursued a widening investigation into a Russian role in the American presidential campaign. Agents scrutinized advisers close to Donald J. Trump, looked for financial connections with Russian financial figures, searched for those involved in hacking the computers of Democrats, and even chased a lead — which they ultimately came to doubt — about a possible secret channel of email communication from the Trump Organization to a Russian bank.

Law enforcement officials say that none of the investigations so far have found any conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government. And even the hacking into Democratic emails, F.B.I. and intelligence officials now believe, was aimed at disrupting the presidential election rather than electing Mr. Trump.

Hillary Clinton’s supporters, angry over what they regard as a lack of scrutiny of Mr. Trump by law enforcement officials, pushed for these investigations. In recent days they have also demanded that James B. Comey, the director of the F.B.I., discuss them publicly, as he did last week when he announced that a new batch of emails possibly connected to Mrs. Clinton had been discovered.

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Why Is MI5 Making Such a Fuss About Russia?

Mary Dejevsky writes for The Guardian:

Image result for MI5 Russia[…] Why does Russia remain bogeyman-in-chief?

Here are a few ideas. The first is that blaming Russia carries little cost. Russia is not China. Investment is not a big consideration. For all sorts of reasons, political relations have long been dire. Applying the same virulent rhetoric to terrorism conducted in the name of Islam, on the other hand, risks fomenting social and cultural strife here at home.

A second reason, now as in the past, is that blaming Russia aligns us comfortably with the US, where stalwarts in Congress and at the Pentagon have never emerged from their old thinking about the threat. The Russia card has been played to exhaustion during this presidential campaign, to the point where it could swing the election – and I don’t mean in Donald Trump’s favour.

A third factor is the consensus about a strong and malevolent Russia that still rules the “expert” community, and will probably do so for a few years yet – helped along by the hatchet-faced Putin. There are younger specialists who take a rather different view, but they are drowned out by the ingrained cliches. Note how quickly Boris Johnson was “turned” from the realist of his journalist days to the fierce cold warrior foreign secretary. Such a U-turn makes him look intellectually foolish – but no more foolish, some might argue, than he has made himself look on so many other scores.

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The Slide Toward War With Russia

The Nation writes in an Editorial:

Putin and ObamaIn recent weeks, US-Russian relations have reached a perhaps fateful and exceedingly dangerous turning point, provoked by growing tensions on multiple overlapping fronts. The CIA is reportedly readying a “cyber covert action” in retaliation for Moscow’s alleged hack of the Democratic National Committee, with Vice President Joe Biden declaring that the administration will be “sending a message” to Russian President Vladimir Putin “at the time of our choosing.” The Clinton campaign has denounced Putin for “trying to put his thumb on the scale through cyber-attacks aimed at influencing the election.”

Such a series of overt threats against Russia is almost without precedent. Ominously, many in the Russian political elite see this as a prelude to war. As Moscow’s UN ambassador observed, relations are “probably the worst since 1973.” (At the height of that year’s Arab-Israeli conflict, US military forces were placed at DEFCON 3, the second-highest level of alert.) Russia just staged a civil-defense drill involving up to 200,000 personnel and has deployed nuclear-capable missiles to its European enclave in Kaliningrad. Putin has also withdrawn from a long-
standing nuclear-security pact with the United States; in defense of the suspension, his administration pointed to a “radical change in circumstances, the emergence of a threat to strategic stability as a result of hostile actions of the United States of America.”

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US Army Chief Talks Up War With Russia, Insists US Will Win

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

With some Obama Administration officials openly advocating starting a war with Russia over Syria, it is noteworthy that a lot of top Pentagon officials are treating the conflict as all but inevitable. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley hyped Russian modernization efforts, but declared that they “will lose to the American Army.

Russian officials have been cognizant of the possibility, insisting that Russia “can now fight a conventional war in Europe,” comments which Gen. Milley dismissed as “bluster, hubris, bravado.” and insisting that war with other nation-states “is almost guaranteed.”

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US Hacking Russia for Revenge Could Lead to Cyberwar

Trevor Timm writes for The Guardian:

Image result for russia america cyberwarWhat’s the CIA’s brilliant plan for stopping Russian cyber-attacks on the US and their alleged interference with the US election? Apparently, some in the agency want to escalate tensions between the two superpowers even more and possibly do the same thing right back to them.

NBC News reported late last week that the CIA is working up blueprints for an “unprecedented cyber covert action against Russia”, and it sounds a lot like they’re planning on leaking documents on Vladimir Putin, just as the Russians are accused of doing to the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.

NBC reported that former intelligence officials said “the agency had gathered reams of documents that could expose unsavory tactics by Russian President Vladimir Putin” and another former official said the US “should … expose the financial dealings of Putin and his associates”.

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A Peculiar Coincidence

Craig Murray writes:

Today, Swedish prosecutors were meant to question Julian Assange in the Ecuadorean Embassy, something for which the Assange legal team has been pressing for years. They believe that once this step has been taken, prosecutors will no longer be able to keep from the scrutiny of Swedish courts the fact that there is no viable evidence whatsoever to back up the ludicrous allegations which have been made.

Frustratingly, Swedish prosecutors cancelled the interview last week, with no explanation given. Anyone would think they do not wish the investigation to progress… Then this same day Assange’s internet access is cut, WikiLeaks say by a state actor. To add to this string of coincidence, at the same time Russia Today has its bank accounts frozen by the Royal Bank of Scotland, again without explanation

This series of events are all aimed at those who seek to counter the neo-con narrative pumped out by the state and corporate media. It could be coincidence, but it looks like co-ordinated clampdown to me.

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Russia Today Bank Accounts ‘Frozen In UK’

BBC News reports:

The UK has frozen all bank accounts owned by Russia’s state-run broadcaster, Russia Today (RT), its editor-in-chief has claimed.

Margarita Simonyan tweeted: “They’ve closed our accounts in Britain. All our accounts. ‘The decision is not subject to review.’ Praise be to freedom of speech!”

RT has previously been sanctioned by Ofcom for biased reporting on the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

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The Long History of the U.S. Interfering with Elections Elsewhere

Ishaan Tharoor writes for The Washington Post:

[…] To be sure, there’s a much larger context behind today’s bluster. As my colleague Andrew Rothnotes, whatever their government’s alleged actions in 2016, Russia’s leaders enjoy casting aspersions on the American democratic process. And, in recent years, they have also bristled at perceived American meddling in the politics of countries on Russia’s borders, most notably in Ukraine.

While the days of its worst behavior are long behind it, the United States does have a long history of interfering and sometimes interrupting the workings of democracies elsewhere. It has occupied and intervened militarily in a whole swath of countries in the Caribbean and Latin America and fomented coups against democratically-elected populists.

The most infamous episodes include the ousting of Iran’s Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953 — whose government was replaced by an authoritarian monarchy favorable to Washington — the removal and assassination of Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba in 1961, and the violent toppling of Chile’s socialist President Salvador Allende, whose government was swept aside in 1973 by a military coup led by the ruthless Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

For decades, these actions were considered imperatives of the Cold War, part of a global struggle against the Soviet Union and its supposed leftist proxies. Its key participants included scheming diplomats like John Foster Dulles and Henry Kissinger, who advocated aggressive, covert policies to staunch the supposedly expanding threat of communism. Sometimes that agenda also explicitly converged with the interests of American business.

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A No-Fly Zone For Aleppo Risks a War That Could Engulf Us All

Jonathan Steele writes for The Guardian:

Much was made in this week’s Commons debate on Syria of the need for a no-fly zone over Aleppo. Given that the Syrian government and the Russians have a monopoly of air power over the city, the idea of denting or deterring it might seem attractive. Hillary Clinton also advocated such a zone in Sunday’s presidential TV debate.

In 1991 the US and Britain imposed a successful no-fly zone over northern Iraq to protect the Kurds. But they were already at war with Saddam Hussein, having just defeated him in Kuwait. Saddam was on his own internationally, despised and isolated. He had no support from Russia or any Arab allies. The last thing he wanted was to confront the US any further. Enforcing a no-fly zone (even though it had no clear UN security council authorisation) involved no risk to the US or UK. Saddam made little effort to resist and not one of their manned aircraft was shot down.

Today’s situation in Syria is different. The Syrian air force is fully engaged and will not back down in its campaign to defeat its enemies in Aleppo. After three years of military stalemate, Bashar al-Assad feels he has regained the upper hand and is determined to retake his country’s largest city.

More importantly, the Russians are also active in the air. Imposing a no-fly zone unilaterally (it would never gain a security council mandate) would be a declaration of war on Russia as well as on Assad.

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What’s Up With US-Russia Relations? Interview with Stephen F. Cohen

Thom Hartmann speaks to Professor Stephen F. Cohen, contributing editor at The Nation and the author of Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives, about the current strain in US-Russia relations and the New Cold War. (Thom Hartmann Show)

Russian Hackers Expose ‘Double Standards’ at World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)

Georgi Gotev reports for EurActiv:

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) confirmed yesterday (13 September) that hackers accessed a database of confidential medical data and released the drug regimens of gymnast Simone Biles and three other top US Olympians. The Russian government was behind the move, WADA claimed.

The hackers penetrated the WADA’s athlete database and publicly revealed private medical information about three of the United States’ most famous athletes: Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Simone Biles.

The documents show that Biles, who won four gold medals in gymnastics at the Rio Olympics last month, and the Williams sisters received medical exemptions to use banned drugs.

“While it is an evolving situation, at present, we believe that access to ADAMS was obtained through spear phishing of email accounts,” WADA said in a statement.

The antidoping agency attributed the hack to Fancy Bear, a Russian cyberespionage group that forensics specialists have tied to breaches against government agencies, nonprofit organisations and corporations.

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Kaliningrad: Isolated Russian Outpost Withers Under Confrontation with West

Lidia Kelly reports for Reuters:

[…] Kaliningrad is hardly the only part of Russia that is hurting. Throughout the past two years, a collapse in global prices for energy exports have created a grinding economic crisis. The rouble has fallen, raising the price of imports.

But while some parts of Russia have been partly shielded from the pain by the fall in imports, which has boosted consumption of home-made goods, Kaliningrad’s close ties to its EU neighbors means it has suffered more than other areas.

Since 2014, Russia’s overall trade volume has fallen by a third, but Kaliningrad’s has plummeted by nearly half. Industrial output, which had previously outpaced the rest of Russia, fell more than anywhere else.

Russia’s counter-sanctions included a ban on most EU food imports, wrecking an industry of processing imported meat into canned lunch meat for sale across Russia, which had accounted for nearly a fifth of Kaliningrad’s manufacturing.

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What’s Behind Barack Obama’s Ongoing Accommodation of Vladimir Putin?

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

When a major party cynically espouses a set of beliefs as a tactic for winning an election, those beliefs get entrenched in popular discourse and often endure well past the election, with very significant consequences. The most significant such rhetorical template in the 2016 election — other than the new Democratic claim that big-money donations do not corrupt the political process — is that Russia is a Grave Enemy of the U.S.; anyone who advocates better relations or less tension with Moscow is a likely sympathizer, stooge, or even agent of Putin; and any associations with the Kremlin render one’s loyalties suspect.

Literally every week ushers in a new round of witch hunts in search of domestic Kremlin agents and new evidence of excessive Putin sympathies. The latest outburst was last night’s discovery that Donald Trump allowed himself to be interviewed by well-known Kremlin propagandist and America-hater Larry King on his RT show. “Criticizing US on Russian TV is something no American, much less an aspiring prez, should do,” pronounced Fred Kaplan. Other guests appearing on that network include Soviet spy Bernard Sanders (who spoke this year to Putin crony and RT host Ed Schultz), Bill Maher (whose infiltrates American culture through his cover as a comedian hosting an HBO program), and Stephen Hawking (whom the FSB has groomed to masquerade as a “physicist” while he carries out un-American activities on behalf of Putin).

Despite the fact that Russia ceased long ago to be guided by anything resembling communism, this linking of one’s political adversaries to the Kremlin is such a potent tactic in the U.S. because of decades of Cold War rhetoric about Moscow. Referring to Putin, Matt Lauer this week asked Trump: “Do you want to be complimented by that former KGB officer?” Denouncing Trump’s praise of Putin, Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel called the Russian president “a communist leader that’s a potential enemy!” Explaining why Trump’s comments about Russia are so remarkable, the New York Times contended that “Mr. Trump has made improved relations with the Kremlin a centerpiece of his candidacy” in “a fashion that would have been unheard-of for a Republican during or immediately after the Cold War.”

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Lunch with the FT: Edward Snowden, the World’s Most Famous Whistleblower

Alan Rusbridger interviews Edward Snowden in a Moscow hotel room for the Financial Times:

James Ferguson's illustration of Edward SnowdenEdward Snowden has rounded on his hosts, attacking the Kremlin’s human rights record and implicating Russia in two of the US government’s latest major security hacks.

In a Lunch with the FT — carried below — he complained Moscow had “gone very far, in ways that are completely unnecessary, costly and corrosive to individual and collective rights” and added that his greatest loyalty was still to the US.

He described the leak last month of NSA espionage tools, potentially by Russia as an “implicit threat” to the US government. Efforts by hackers called the Shadow Brokers to auction off NSA computer code used to break into foreign networks were an attempt to show Washington how vulnerable it was, he added.

Snowden insisted that all dealings with Russian officials were conducted by his lawyer. “I don’t have a lot of ties to Russia and that’s by design because, as crazy as it sounds, I still plan to leave.”

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From Russian TV Network, Little Love for Donald Trump

Zaid Jilani reports for The Intercept:

Donald Trump’s interview with Larry King on the Russian-government-funded television network RT America is being widely seen in the mainstream U.S. media as evidence of unseemly coziness between Trump and authoritarian Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

The interview came after months of claims by Democratic Party officials and news media pundits that the Russian government is trying to get Trump elected.

RT America has a long history of coverage that benefits the Russian government and is critical of the United States, as many former employees have complained.

But there’s one glaring problem with the theory that RT America and the Russian government are fond of Trump: RT America is arguably more critical of Trump than U.S. media.

The interview with King itself was far from a softball event — with the host pressing Trump on topics from releasing his tax returns to his utter lack of any strategy in the Middle East. And it’s not uncommon to see criticism of Trump on the network.

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Almost Everyone Gets Russia Wrong – Apart From Obama

Trevor Timm writes for The Guardian:

These days it is en vogue in Washington DC to be itching for conflict with Russia. Politicians and pundits alike are outdoing each other for how they can describe the supposed threat Putin now poses to the west. To his credit, Barack Obama seems to be the only politician not playing into the cold war 2.0 hysteria.

[…] Obama has been generally right about Russia for years. In a 60 Minutes interview last year, correspondent Steve Kroft kept trying to get Obama to admit that Putin was asserting his dominance over the US, but as Obama calmly (and correctly) explained, what Russia is doing in Syria and Ukraine is not borne out of strength, but out of desperation. The idea of using our military purely to “show strength” against Russia in some sort of macho capacity may only make things worse.

One of Obama’s best moments during the 2012 debate was mocking Mitt Romney for calling Russia the US’s “number one geopolitical foe,” quipping “the 80s called and wants their foreign policy back.” Yet this has now been turned into an attack on Obama by the very same people who seem to be almost wishing that Russia returns to its cold war status as Enemy No1.

The Obama administration seems intent on trying to negotiate a deal with Russia in Syria. Putting aside the flawed rationale for bombing Syria at all, this seems like the entirely logical move – yet it barely gets mentioned by the various parties who are currently fanning the Russia-is-the-enemy flames.

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Almost no chance U.S. elections can get hacked by the Russians

Philip Bump and Amber Phillips report for The Washington Post:

[…] Could hackers change the numbers to change our elections? The Fix spoke by phone and email with Merle King, executive director of the Center for Election Systems at Kennesaw State University to get an answer. In summary: It would be harder than we think — in part because we tend to conflate a number of very different election systems.

“One of the challenges the public has in sorting through the various threads of the current election cycle’s stories is understanding the differences between a campaign system, an election system and a voting system,” King told us.

The campaign system is the tool set used by candidates or parties to get people elected. The election system covers voter registration systems and other data centralization and is specific to jurisdictions. The voting system is the actual process of voting: the machines, the ballots and the designations of who votes where and on what. Information flows between these systems, but not always in two directions: Campaigns, for example, use voter registration data from the elections system but don’t send information back to it. So if a campaign is hacked (or if the Democratic National Committee is), there’s no risk to the voter registration database.

Confusing these systems can mean misunderstanding the threat — and the intent of the hackers.

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FBI says foreign hackers penetrated U.S. state election systems

Michael Isikoff reports for Yahoo! News:

The FBI has uncovered evidence that foreign hackers penetrated two state election databases in recent weeks, prompting the bureau to warn election officials across the country to take new steps to enhance the security of their computer systems, according to federal and state law enforcement officials.

The FBI warning, contained in a “flash” alert from the FBI’s Cyber Division, a copy of which was obtained by Yahoo News, comes amid heightened concerns among U.S. intelligence officials about the possibility of cyberintrusions, potentially by Russian state-sponsored hackers, aimed at disrupting the November elections.

Those concerns prompted Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to convene a conference call with state election officials on Aug. 15, in which he offered his department’s help to make state voting systems more secure, including providing federal cybersecurity experts to scan for vulnerabilities, according to a “readout” of the call released by the department.

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Glenn Greenwald on the “Cold War McCarthyite Kind of Rhetoric” in U.S. Politics

Amy Goodman speaks to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept who says Democrats have adopted a “Cold War McCarthyite kind of rhetoric” by accusing many its critics of having ties to Russia. Greenwald also comments on U.S. policy towards Israel. (Democracy Now!)

Dave Zirin on Olympic Firsts, Treatment of Russian Athletes and Brazil’s Future

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez speak to Dave Zirin, sports editor for The Nation and author of Brazil’s Dance with the Devil: The World Cup, the Olympics, and the Fight for Democracy, who discusses some of the biggest issues surrounding the 2016 Olympics in Rio. You can view part one of this interview here(Democracy Now!)