Twitter Suspends Accounts For Propaganda, Has Literal Propagandist As High-Level Executive

By Caitlin Johnstone

Source: CaitlinJohnstone.com

Middle East Eye‘s Ian Cobain has published an exclusive titled “Twitter executive for Middle East is British Army ‘psyops’ soldier”, exposing the fact that Twitter’s senior editorial executive for Europe, the Middle East and Africa also works for an actual, literal propaganda unit in the British military called the 77th Brigade. Which is mighty interesting, considering the fact that Twitter constantly suspends accounts from non-empire-aligned nations based on the allegation that they are engaging in propaganda.

“The senior Twitter executive with editorial responsibility for the Middle East is also a part-time officer in the British Army’s psychological warfare unit,” Cobain writes. “Gordon MacMillan, who joined the social media company’s UK office six years ago, has for several years also served with the 77th Brigade, a unit formed in 2015 in order to develop ‘non-lethal’ ways of waging war. The 77th Brigade uses social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, as well as podcasts, data analysis and audience research to wage what the head of the UK military, General Nick Carter, describes as ‘information warfare’.”

MacMillan’s presence in a government psyops unit was not a secret; until Middle East Eye began raising questions on the matter, it was right there on his LinkedIn profile. This is not something that anyone considering him for promotion was likely to have been unaware of. According to his (now-edited) LinkedIn page, MacMillan has been in his current position as Head of Editorial EMEA since July 2016. According to Middle East Eye, MacMillan was already a captain in the 77th Brigade by the end of 2016. His current rank there is being hidden behind a wall of government secrecy.

When questioned by Middle East Eye about MacMillan’s work in the British Army’s online propaganda program, Twitter hilariously responded, “Twitter is an open, neutral and rigorously independent platform. We actively encourage all our employees to pursue external interests in line with our commitment to healthy corporate social responsibility, and we will continue to do so.”

That’s very nice of Twitter, isn’t it? They encourage their employees to pursue wholesome external interests, whether that be tennis, volunteering at a soup kitchen, or moonlighting at a military program explicitly devoted to online psychological warfare. You know, just everyday socially responsible pastime stuff.

The fact that Twitter not only employs known propagandists but actively promotes them to executive positions is a very large and inconvenient plot hole in their “open, neutral and rigorously independent platform” story. Especially since, as I documented recently, the mass purges of foreign Twitter accounts we’ve been seeing more and more of lately always exclusively target governments and groups which are not in alignment with the interests of the US-centralized power alliance of which the UK is a part. We’ve seen mass suspensions of accounts from Cuba, China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and the Catalan independence movement on allegations of “coordinated influence operations” and “covert, manipulative behaviors”, yet Twitter currently employs a high-level executive for whom coordinated influence operations and covert, manipulative behaviors on behalf of the British government are a known vocation.

“On September 20 Twitter deleted a large number of accounts, including in MacMillan’s area of responsibility. How many of those were designated by the British state?” asks Moon of Alabama of this new report.

How many indeed?

This is just one more item on the ever-growing mountain of evidence that these giant, immensely influential social media platforms we’ve all been herded into are nothing other than state propaganda for the digital age. True, they operate in a way which disregards the official lines that are drawn between government power and corporate power and the lines that are drawn between nations, but then, so do our rulers. We are living in a globe-spanning corporate oligarchic empire, and these government-aligned Silicon Valley giants are a major part of that empire’s propaganda engine.

The real power of that empire and that oligarchy lies in their invisibile and unacknowledged nature. Officially we all live in separate, sovereign nations run by democratically elected officials; unofficially we live in a massive transnational empire ruled by a loose alliance of plutocrats and opaque government agencies where military propagandists are employed by social media monopolies to manipulate public narratives. The official mask exists only on the level of narrative, while the unofficial reality is what’s actually happening. Yet whenever you try to publicly discuss the threat that is being posed by oligarchic narrative control online, you get told by establishment loyalists and libertarians that Twitter is just a simple private business running things in a way that is entirely separate from government censorship and state propaganda.

All we clear-eyed rebels can do is keep documenting the evidence of what’s going on and pointing to it as loudly as we can. So once again for the people in the back: Twitter employs literal government propagandists as high-level executives while purging accounts from unabsorbed governments for circulating unauthorized narratives. This is a fact. Remember it.

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Posted in Authoritarianism, black ops, censorship, civil liberties, conditioning, corporate news, culture, Dystopia, Empire, freedom of speech, Geopolitics, imperialism, internet freedom, media, Media Literacy, news, Oligarchy, police state, propaganda, Psy-ops, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, State Crime, surveillance state, Technocracy, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Let us now stop praising famous men (and women)

By David V. Johnson

Source: aeon.com

After the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris nearly burned down in April, the French luxury-goods magnate François-Henri Pinault was celebrated for committing €100 million to reconstruct what he called ‘this jewel of our heritage’ and ushering in a flood of donations from other benefactors and companies. Though an impressive figure in the abstract, Pinault’s commitment reflected only 0.3 per cent of his family fortune. If he instead had the average net wealth for a French household and donated 0.3 per cent of his fortune, his commitment would total about €840. Not an insignificant sum for an average Frenchman, but who would refuse to give that sum if it garnered the praise and notoriety that followed Pinault’s donation?

We live in an age of excessive praise for the wealthy and powerful. The upper echelons of society bathe in a sea of honours, awards and celebrity. We see it in the glossy magazines and at the so-called ideas festivals, where billionaires are fawned over for their bons mots. We applaud philanthropists for their largesse, even if their charity will do little ultimate good for society, and even if their conduct in acquiring their fortune was reprehensible. We commend them for dabbling in politics or pushing school reform, before we see any results, and even if we have reason to doubt the good that they will do.

To criticise our praise for the wealthy and powerful as excessive inevitably raises the question of meritocracy. To what extent do we live in a meritocracy, and is that a good or a bad thing? Meritocracy is a form of social organisation that is founded on praise and blame. People signal who deserves power and status by praising them for their character, their talent, their productivity and their actions, and who merits demotion in status and power by blaming them for their vices, their ineptitude and their failings. Insofar as people’s assessments of praise and blame are accurate, they will promote those deemed better up in the hierarchy of power and status, and demote those deemed worse down. Better people will do better things with their superior power and status. When the system works, we have an aristocracy – rule by the finest people. Or so thinkers from Aristotle onward have thought.

This system doesn’t work and can’t work on its own terms. Assessments of praise and blame tend to reflect existing hierarchies of power and status, thereby reifying them. This is because praise and blame have as much to do with the person judging as the person being judged. If everyone in a meritocracy wants to get ahead, assessments of praise and blame will be influenced by whatever helps people to get ahead – namely heaping praise on the powerful and respected, and castigating those without power and status. This is obviously true with meritocracies that most people explicitly reject, such as white supremacy and patriarchy – hierarchies drawn along racial and gender lines. These systems have persisted despite the baseless moral judgments on which they are grounded, because those living within the system are incentivised to see such judgments as legitimate. Meritocracies in general convince those within the system to echo the moral assessments on which they are based as objective and justified, when in fact they are shaped not by objective criteria but by the qualities of the powerful. Praise and blame are ideological blinders that uphold the legitimacy of the meritocratic hierarchy. If we take a more critical look at ourselves and our moral assessments, we will be better able to remove those blinders.

The smog of praise that permeates the upper echelons of society is a product of perverse incentives. As individuals, we tend to praise others and to court praise, because we want to win good will from others and receive confirmation of others’ good will. What’s more, we have an even stronger incentive to praise people who are wealthy and powerful, because winning their goodwill secures their premium support, and the wealthy and powerful are, in turn, more readily able to court praise from others. The more elite someone is, the more likely he is to crowd-surf on the praise of the many lesser folks seeking his favour. And insofar as our age of massive inequality creates people who are wealthier and more powerful, to that extent will the wave of excessive praise swell. We can even anticipate this tendency generating a negative feedback loop: praise of the wealthy and powerful affirms that they are good people deserving their fortune, which can, in turn, augment their wealth and influence, which thereby attracts even more praise.

The effects of excessive praise on conduct are also worth concern. Praising people, even those who deserve praise, can actually have a negative effect on their behaviour. There are many psychological studies demonstrating that people are susceptible to moral compensation. That is, when people feel that they have engaged in good behaviour, they also feel that it gives them licence to act badly in the future. The converse also holds: when people feel that they have engaged in bad behaviour, they also feel that they should make up for it by acting better in the future. If these studies hold up, they appear to upend the social consequences of praise and blame: praising people excessively can lead them to act badly, while blame puts them on notice and reinforces good behaviour. And insofar as this effect is more likely to influence wealthy and powerful people – those who can, thanks to their resources and influence, do more – it magnifies the harm of their bad conduct.

Meritocracies try to establish objective criteria to justify social hierarchies. Nowadays, entry into the elite often has to do with having the right résumé: Oxbridge or Ivy League degrees, a stint at the best consulting firm or investment bank, service in politics or government, writing a book or giving a TED talk about your work. These résumé items are supposed to establish the talent, judgment and character of the people in question. People with such résumés receive respect and esteem – even though their accomplishments are the predictable consequences of being born into the right family, knowing the right people, and swimming with the current. For the ambitious – and meritocracies feed ambition – these résumé items are primarily credentials for acquiring greater power and status. There is no reason for the public to accept such credentials as being an objectively valid base for praise.

If we want to foster a truly democratic society – a society in which we treat each other as equals – we must rein in such excessive praise and the perverse incentives that encourage it. We should aim for the opposite extreme, toward withholding praise and being more circumspect about the wealthy and powerful, to restore balance. As Justice Louis Brandeis, who witnessed our previous Gilded Age, might have said: ‘We may have democracy, or we may have praise showered on the heads of a few, but we can’t have both.’

Posted in Authoritarianism, conditioning, culture, elites, Inequality, media, Media Literacy, Oligarchy, Philosophy, propaganda, Psychology, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Saturday Matinee: The Proposition

In 1880s Australia, a lawman (Ray Winstone) offers renegade Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce) a difficult choice. In order to save his younger brother from the gallows, Charlie must hunt down and kill his older brother (Danny Huston), who is wanted for rape and murder. Venturing into one of the Outback’s most inhospitable regions, Charlie faces a terrible moral dilemma that can end only in violence. The Proposition is a 2005 Australian western directed by John Hillcoat and written by screenwriter/musician Nick Cave.

Watch the full film here.

Posted in Art, culture, Film, Saturday Matinee, Video | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How the CIA, Mossad and “the Epstein Network” are Exploiting Mass Shootings to Create an Orwellian Nightmare

Graphic by Claudio Cabrera

By Whitney Webb

Source: Mint Press News

Following the arrest and subsequent death in prison of alleged child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, a little-known Israeli tech company began to receive increased publicity, but for all the wrong reasons. Not long after Epstein’s arrest, and his relationships and finances came under scrutiny, it was revealed that the Israeli company Carbyne911 had received substantial funding from Jeffrey Epstein as well as Epstein’s close associate and former Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Barak, and Silicon Valley venture capitalist and prominent Trump backer Peter Thiel.

Carbyne911, or simply Carbyne, develops call-handling and identification capabilities for emergency response services in countries around the world, including the United States, where it has already been implemented in several U.S. counties and has partnered with major U.S. tech companies like Google. It specifically markets its product as a way of mitigating mass shootings in the United States without having to change existing U.S. gun laws.

Yet, Carbyne is no ordinary tech company, as it is deeply connected to the elite Israeli military intelligence division, Unit 8200, whose “alumni” often go on to create tech companies — Carbyne among them — that frequently maintain their ties to Israeli intelligence and, according to Israeli media reports and former employees, often “blur the line” between their service to Israel’s defense/intelligence apparatus and their commercial activity. As this report will reveal, Carbyne is but one of several Israeli tech companies marketing themselves as a technological solution to mass shootings that has direct ties to Israeli intelligence agencies.

In each case, these companies’ products are built in such a way that they can easily be used to illegally surveil the governments, institutions and civilians that use them, a troubling fact given Unit 8200’s documented prowess in surveillance as a means of obtaining blackmail and Israel’s history of using tech companies to aggressively spy on the U.S. government. This is further compounded by the fact that Unit 8200-linked tech companies have previously received U.S. government contracts to place “backdoors” into the U.S.’ entire telecommunications system as well as into the popular products of major American tech companies including Google, Microsoft and Facebook, many of whose key managers and executives are now former Unit 8200 officers.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it no secret that placing Unit 8200 members in top positions in multinational tech companies is a “deliberate policy” meant to ensure Israel’s role as the dominant global “cyber power”, while also combating non-violent boycott movements targeting Israel’s violations of international law and stifling the United Nations’ criticisms of Israeli government policy and military operations abroad.

As Jeffrey Epstein’s links to intelligence in both the United States and Israel — the subject of a recent four-part series exclusive to MintPress — began to be revealed in full, his financing of Carbyne came under scrutiny, particularly for the company’s deep ties to Israeli intelligence as well as to certain Americans with known connections to U.S. intelligence. Ehud Barak’s own role as both financier and chairman of Carbyne has also added to that concern, given his long history of involvement in covert intelligence operations for Israel and his long-standing ties to Israeli military intelligence.

Another funder of Carbyne, Peter Thiel, has his own company that, like Carbyne, is set to profit from the Trump administration’s proposed hi-tech solutions to mass shootings. Indeed, after the recent shooting in El Paso, Texas, President Trump — who received political donations from and has been advised by Thiel following his election — asked tech companies to “detect mass shooters before they strike,” a service already perfected by Thiel’s company Palantir, which has developed “pre-crime software” already in use throughout the country. Palantir is also a contractor for the U.S. intelligence community and also has a branch based in Israel.

Perhaps most disturbing of all, whatever technological solution is adopted by the Trump administration, it is set to use a controversial database first developed as part of a secretive U.S. government program that involved notorious Iran-Contra figures like Oliver North as a means of tracking and flagging potential American dissidents for increased surveillance and detention in the event of a vaguely defined “national emergency.”

As this report will reveal, this database — often referred to as “Main Core” — was created with the involvement of Israeli intelligence and Israel remained involved years after it was developed, and potentially to the present. It was also used by at least one former CIA official on President Reagan’s National Security Council to blackmail members of Congress, Congressional staffers and journalists, among others.

Given recent reports on the Trump administration’s plan to create a new government agency to use “advanced technology” to identify “neurobehavioral signs” of “someone headed toward a violent explosive act” using data collected by consumer electronic devices, the picture painted by the technology currently being promoted and implemented under the guise of “keeping Americans safe” is deeply Orwellian. In fact, it points directly to the genesis of a far-reaching surveillance state far more extensive than anything yet seen in American history and it is being jointly developed by individuals connected to both American and Israeli intelligence.

 

Demystifying Carbyne

Carbyne911, which will be referred to simply as Carbyne in this report, is an Israeli tech-startup that promises to revolutionize how calls are handled by emergency service providers, as well as by governments, corporations and educational institutions. Not long after it was founded in 2014 by veterans of Israeli military intelligence, Carbyne began to be specifically marketed as a solution to mass shootings in the United States that goes “beyond the gun debate” and improves the “intelligence that armed emergency responders receive before entering an armed shooter situation” by providing video-streaming and acoustic input from civilian smartphones and other devices connected to the Carbyne network.

Prior to Jeffrey Epstein’s arrest in July, Carbyne had been receiving high praise from U.S. and Israeli media, with Fox News hailing the company’s services as the answer to the U.S.’ “aging 911 systems” and the Jerusalem Post writing that the company’s platform offers “hi-tech protection to social workers and school principals.” Other reports claimed that Carbyne’s services result in “a 65% reduction in time-to-dispatch.”

Carbyne’s call-handling/crisis management platform has already been implemented in several U.S. counties and the company has offices not only in the U.S. but also in Mexico, Ukraine and Israel. Carbyne’s expansion to more emergency service provider networks in the U.S. is likely, given that federal legislation seeks to offer grants to upgrade 911 call centers throughout the country with the very technology of which Carbyne is the leading provider. One of the main lobby groups promoting this legislation, the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), has a “strong relationship” with Carbyne, according to Carbyne’s website. In addition, Carbyne has also begun marketing its platform for non-emergency calls to governments, educational institutions and corporations.

Yet, what seemed like the inevitability of Carbyne’s widespread adoption in the U.S. hit a snag following the recent arrest and subsequent death of sex trafficker and pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who exploited underage girls for the purpose of obtaining “blackmail” on the rich and poweful, an operation that had clear ties to intelligence. Epstein, after his first arrest and light sentence for soliciting sex from a minor in 2007, was tapped by former Israeli Prime Minister and former head of Israeli military intelligence Ehud Barak, to become a key financial backer of Carbyne.

As a result of increased scrutiny of Epstein’s business activities and his ties to Israel, particularly to Barak, Epstein’s connection to Carbyne was revealed and extensively reported on by the independent media outlet Narativ, whose exposé on Carbyne revealed not only some of the key intelligence connections of the start-up company but also how the architecture of Carbyne’s product itself raises “serious privacy concerns.”

MintPress detailed many of Carbyne’s main intelligence connections in Part III of the investigative series “Inside the Jeffrey Epstein Scandal: Too Big to Fail.” In addition to Barak — former Israeli prime minister and former head of Israeli military intelligence — serving as Carbyne’s chairman and a key financer, the company’s executive team are all former members of Israeli intelligence, including the elite military intelligence unit, Unit 8200, which is often compared to the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).

Carbyne’s current CEO, Amir Elichai, served in Unit 8200 and tapped former Unit 8200 commander and current board member of AIPAC Pinchas Buchris to serve as the company’s director and on its board. In addition to Elichai, another Carbyne co-founder, Lital Leshem, also served in Unit 8200 and later worked for Israeli private spy company Black Cube. The only Carbyne co-founder that didn’t serve in Unit 8200 is Alex Dizengof, who previously worked for Israel’s Prime Minister’s office.

As MintPress noted in a past report detailing Israeli military intelligence’s deep ties to American tech giant Microsoft, Unit 8200 is an elite unit of the Israeli Intelligence corps that is part of the IDF’s Directorate of Military Intelligence and is involved mainly in signal intelligence (i.e., surveillance), cyberwarfare and code decryption. It is frequently described as the Israeli equivalent of the NSA and Peter Roberts, senior research fellow at Britain’s Royal United Services Institute, characterized the unit in an interview with the Financial Times as “probably the foremost technical intelligence agency in the world and stand[ing] on a par with the NSA in everything except scale.”

Notably, the NSA and Unit 8200 have collaborated on numerous projects, most infamously on the Stuxnet virus as well as the Duqu malware. In addition, the NSA is known to work with veterans of Unit 8200 in the private sector, such as when the NSA hired two Israeli companies, to create backdoors into all the major U.S. telecommunications systems and major tech companies, including Facebook, Microsoft and Google. Both of those companies, Verint and Narus, have top executives with ties to Israeli intelligence and one of those companies, Verint (formerly Comverse Infosys), has a history of aggressively spying on U.S. government facilities. Unit 8200 is also known for spying on civilians in the occupied Palestinian territories for “coercion purposes” — i.e., gathering info for blackmail — and also for spying on Palestinian-Americans via an intelligence-sharing agreement with the NSA.

Unlike many other Unit 8200-linked start-ups, Carbyne also boasts several tie-ins to the Trump administration, including Palantir founder and Trump ally Peter Thiel — another investor in Carbyne. In addition, Carbyne’s board of advisers includes former Palantir employee Trae Stephens, who was a member of the Trump transition team, as well as former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff. Trump donor and New York real-estate developer Eliot Tawill is also on Carbyne’s board, alongside Ehud Barak and Pinchas Buchris.

Yet, privacy concerns with Carbyne go beyond the company’s ties to Israeli intelligence and U.S. intelligence contractors like Peter Thiel. For instance, Carbyne’s smartphone app extracts the following information from the phones on which it is installed:

Device location, video live-streamed from the smartphone to the call center, text messages in a two-way chat window, any data from a user’s phone if they have the Carbyne app and ESInet, and any information that comes over a data link, which Carbyne opens in case the caller’s voice link drops out.” (emphasis added)

According to Carbyne’s website, this same information can also be obtained from any smartphone, even if it does not have Carbyne’s app installed, if that phone calls a 911 call center that uses Carbyne or merely any other number connected to Carbyne’s network.

Carbyne is a Next-Generation 9-11 (NG911) platform and the explicit goal of NG911 is for all 911 systems nationwide to become interconnected. Thus, even if Carbyne is not used by all 911 call centers using an NG911 platform, Carbyne will ostensibly have access to the data used by all emergency service providers and devices connected to those networks. This guiding principle of NG911 also makes it likely that one platform will be favored at the federal level to foster such interconnectivity and, given that it has already been adopted by several counties and has ties to the Trump administration, Carbyne is the logical choice.

Another cause for concern is how other countries have used platforms like Carbyne, which were first marketed as emergency response tools, for the purpose of mass surveillance. Narativ noted the following in its investigation of Carbyne:

In May, Human Rights Watch revealed Chinese authorities use a platform not unlike Carbyne to illegally surveil Uyghurs. China’s Integrated Joint Operations Platform brings in a much bigger data-set and sources of video, which includes an app on people’s phones. Like Carbyne, the platform was designed to report emergencies. Chinese authorities have turned it into a tool of mass surveillance.

Human Rights Watch reverse-engineered the app. The group discovered the app automatically profiles a user under 36 “person types” including “followers of Six Lines” which is the term used to identify Uyghurs. Another term refers to “Hajj,” the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca. The app monitors every aspect of a user’s life, including personal conversations [and] power usage, and tracks a user’s movement.”

Such technology is currently used by Israeli military intelligence and Israel’s domestic intelligence agency Shin Bet to justify “pre-crime” detentions of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. As will be noted in greater detail later in this report, Palestinians’ comments on social media are tracked by artificial intelligence algorithms that flag them for indefinite detention if they write social media posts that contain “tripwire” phrases such as “the sword of Allah.”

Carbyne’s platform has its own “pre-crime” elements, such as it’s c-Records component, which stores and analyzes information on past calls and events that pass through its network. This information “enables decision makers to accurately analyze the past and present behavior of their callers, react accordingly, and in time predict future patterns.” (emphasis added)

Concerns have recently been raised that “pre-crime” technology may soon become more widely adopted in the U.S., after President Trump stated that one of his planned solutions to mass shootings in the wake of the recent tragedy in El Paso was for big tech companies to detect potential shooters before they strike.

 

Israeli intelligence, Blackmail and Silicon Valley

Though many of the individuals involved in funding or managing Carbyne have proven ties to intelligence, a closer look into several of these players reveals even deeper connections to both Israeli and U.S. intelligence.

One of Carbyne’s clearest connections to Israeli intelligence is through its chairman and one of its funders, Ehud Barak. Though Barak is best known for being a former prime minister of Israel, he is also a former minister of defense and the former head of Israeli military intelligence. He oversaw Unit 8200’s operations, as well as other units of Israeli military intelligence, in all three of those positions. For most of his military and later political career, Barak has been closely associated with covert operations.

Prior to the public scrutiny of Barak’s relationship to Jeffrey Epstein, following the latter’s arrest this past July and subsequent death, Barak had come under fire for his ties to disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein. Indeed, it was Ehud Barak who put Weinstein in contact with the Israeli private intelligence outfit Black Cube, which employs former Mossad agents and Israeli military intelligence operatives, as Weinstein sought to intimidate the women who had accused him of sexual assault and sexual harassment. Former Mossad director Meir Dagan led Black Cube’s board until his death in 2016 and Carbyne co-founder Lital Leshem is Black Cube’s former director of marketing.

After Barak put him in contact with Black Cube’s leadership, Weinstein, according to The New Yorker, used the private spy firm to “‘target,’ or collect information on, dozens of individuals, and compile psychological profiles that sometimes focused on their personal or sexual histories.” In addition, The New Yorker noted that “Weinstein monitored the progress of the investigations personally” and “also enlisted former employees from his film enterprises to join in the effort, collecting names and placing calls that, according to some sources who received them, felt intimidating.”

Yet, more recently, it has been Barak’s close relationship to Epstein that has raised eyebrows and opened him up to political attacks from his rivals. Epstein and Barak were first introduced by former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres in 2002, a time when Epstein’s pedophile blackmail and sex trafficking operation was in full swing.

Barak was a frequent visitor to Epstein’s residences in New York, so often that The Daily Beast reported that numerous residents of an apartment building linked to Epstein “had seen Barak in the building multiple times over the last few years, and nearly half a dozen more described running into his security detail,” adding that “the building is majority-owned by Epstein’s younger brother, Mark, and has been tied to the financier’s alleged New York trafficking ring.” Specifically, several apartments in the building were “being used to house underage girls from South America, Europe and the former Soviet Union,” according to a former bookkeeper employed by one of Epstein’s main procurers of underage girls, Jean Luc Brunel.

Barak is also known to have spent the night at one of Epstein’s residences at least once, was photographed leaving Epstein’s residence as recently as 2016, and has admitted to visiting Epstein’s island, which has sported nicknames including “Pedo Island,” “Lolita Island” and “Orgy Island.” In 2004, Barak received $2.5 million from Leslie Wexner’s Wexner Foundation, where Epstein was a trustee as well as one of the foundation’s top donors, officially for unspecified “consulting services” and “research” on the foundation’s behalf.

In 2015, Barak formed a limited partnership company in Israel for the explicit purpose of investing in Carbyne (then known as Reporty) and invested millions of dollars in the company, quickly becoming a major shareholder and subsequently the company’s public face and the chairman of its board. At least $1 million of the money invested in this Barak-created company that was later used to invest in Carbyne came from the Southern Trust Company, which was owned by Jeffrey Epstein.

In July, Bloomberg reported that Epstein’s Southern Trust Company is identified in U.S. Virgin Islands filings as “a DNA database and data mining” company. Given Carbyne’s clear potential for data-mining and civilian profiling, Epstein’s investment in Carbyne using this specific company suggests that Carbyne’s investors have long been aware of this little advertised aspect of Carbyne’s product.

In a statement to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Barak asserted:

I saw the business opportunity and registered a partnership in my control in Israel. A small number of people I know invest in it…Since these are private investments, it wouldn’t be proper or right for me to expose the investors’ details.”

However, Barak later admitted that Epstein had been one of the investors.

MintPress’ recent series on the Jeffrey Epstein scandal noted in detail Epstein’s ties to CIA/Mossad intelligence assets, such as Adnan Khashoggi; CIA front companies, such as Southern Air Transport; and organized crime, through his close association with Leslie Wexner. In addition, Epstein’s long-time “girlfriend” and alleged madam, Ghislaine Maxwell, has family links to Israeli intelligence through her father, Robert Maxwell. While it appears that Epstein may have been working for more than one intelligence agency, Zev Shalev, former executive producer for CBS News and journalist at Narativ, recently stated that he had independently confirmed with two unconnected sources “closely connected to the Epstein story and in a position to know” that Epstein had “worked for Israeli military intelligence.”

Notably, Epstein, who was known for his interest in obtaining blackmail through the sexual abuse of the underaged girls he exploited, also claimed to have “damaging information” on prominent figures in Silicon Valley. In a conversation last year with New York Times reporter James Stewart, Epstein claimed to have “potentially damaging or embarrassing” information on Silicon Valley’s elite and told Stewart that these top figures in the American tech industry “were hedonistic and regular users of recreational drugs.” Epstein also told Stewart that he had “witnessed prominent tech figures taking drugs and arranging for sex” and claimed to know “details about their supposed sexual proclivities.”

In the lead-up to his recent arrest, Jeffrey Epstein appeared to have been attempting to rebrand as a “tech investor,” as he had done interviews with several journalists including Stewart about technology investing in the months before he was hit with federal sex trafficking charges.

Jessica Lessin, editor-in-chief of The Information, told Business Insider that a journalist working for The Information had interviewed Epstein a month before his recent arrest because “he was believed to be an investor in venture capital funds.” However, Lessin claimed that the interview was not “newsworthy” and said the site had no plans to publish its contents. Business Insider claimed that the way the interviews with Epstein had been arranged “suggests that someone in Silicon Valley may have been trying to help Epstein connect with reporters.”

Though it is unknown exactly which Silicon Valley figures were most connected to Epstein and which tech executives were potentially being blackmailed by Epstein, it is known that Epstein associated with several prominent tech executives, including Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman.

Last year, Epstein claimed to be advising Tesla and Elon Musk, who had been previously photographed with Epstein’s alleged madam Ghislaine Maxwell. A few years ago, Epstein also attended a dinner hosted by LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman, where Musk had allegedly introduced Epstein to Mark Zuckerberg. Google’s Sergey Brin is known to have attended a dinner hosted by Epstein at his New York residence where Donald Trump was also in attendance.

Elon Musk with Epstein’s alleged madam Ghislaine Maxwell at an Oscars after-party on March 2, 2014. Kevin Mazur | VF14

These associations suggest that the person in Silicon Valley who was trying to boost Epstein’s image as a tech investor before his arrest may have been Peter Thiel, whose Founders Fund had also invested in Carbyne. Thiel was an early investor in Facebook and is still on its board, connecting him to Zuckerberg; he is also a funder of Elon Musk’s SpaceX and a former colleague of Musk’s through PayPal. In addition, Thiel has ties to Reid Hoffman and both Thiel and Hoffman are prominent backers of Facebook.

It is unknown whether Epstein’s “damaging information” and apparent blackmail on notable individuals in the American technology industry were used to advance the objectives of Carbyne, which recently partnered with tech giants Google and Cisco Systems — and, more broadly, the expansion of Israeli intelligence-linked tech companies into the American tech sector, particularly through the acquisition of Israeli tech start-ups linked to Unit 8200 by major U.S. tech companies.

The latter seems increasingly likely given that the father of Ghislaine Maxwell — one of Epstein’s chief co-conspirators in his intelligence-linked sexual blackmail operation involving minors — was a Mossad operative who helped sell software that had been bugged by Israeli intelligence to government agencies and sensitive facilities around the world, including in the United States.

As will be noted later in this report, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — to whom all of Israel’s intelligence agencies answer by virtue of his position — has stated on more than one occasion that the acquisition of Israeli intelligence-linked start-ups by foreign tech giants, especially in Silicon Valley, is a current and “deliberate policy” of the state of Israel.

 

Carbyne’s ties to U.S. intelligence

While Epstein and Barak are the two financiers of Carbyne whose ties to intelligence are clearest, another funder of Carbyne, Peter Thiel, has ties to U.S. intelligence and a history of investing in other companies founded by former members of Unit 8200. Thiel co-founded and still owns a controlling stake in the company Palantir, which was initially funded with a $2 million investment from the CIA’s venture capital fund In-Q-Tel and quickly thereafter became a contractor for the CIA.

After the success of its contract with the CIA, Palantir became a contractor for a variety of federal agencies, including the FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the National Security Agency (NSA), the Department of Homeland Security(DHS) and the military’s Special Operations Command, among others. Last year, it won a contract to create a new battlefield intelligence system for the U.S. Army. Palantir is also in demand for its “pre-crime technology,” which has been used by several U.S. police departments. According to the Guardian, “Palantir tracks everyone from potential terrorist suspects to corporate fraudsters, child traffickers and what they refer to as ‘subversives’… it is all done using prediction.”

Thiel has gained attention in recent years for his support of President Trump and for becoming an adviser to Trump following the 2016 election, when he was “a major force in the transition,” according to Politico, and “helped fill positions in the Trump administration with former staff.” One of those former staffers was Trae Stephens, who is also on Carbyne’s board of advisers. Thiel also has business ties to Trump’s son-in-law and influential adviser, Jared Kushner, as well as to Kushner’s brother Josh. A senior Trump campaign aide told Politico in 2017 that “Thiel is immensely powerful within the administration through his connection to Jared.”

Thiel has also backed some prominent Israeli tech start-ups connected to Unit 8200, such as BillGuard, which Thiel funded along with former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and other investors. BillGuard was founded by Raphael Ouzan, a former officer in Unit 8200, who serves on the board of directors of Start-Up Nation Central (SUNC) alongside neoconservative American hedge fund manager Paul Singer, neoconservative political operative and adviser Dan Senor, and Terry Kassel, who works for Singer at his hedge fund, Elliott Management.

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Peter Thiel greets Netanyahu during a 2017 meeting in Israel. Photo | Israel PM

SUNC is an organization founded by Paul Singer, who has donated heavily to both President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Since it was founded in 2012, SUNC has sought to integrate Unit 8200-connected Israeli tech start-ups into foreign companies, primarily American companies, and has helped oversee the shift of thousands of high-paying tech jobs from the U.S. to Israel.

Another Carbyne-connected individual worth noting is the former head of the Department of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, who serves on Carbyne’s board of advisers. In addition to Chertoff’s ties to DHS, Chertoff’s company, The Chertoff Group, employees several prominent former members of the U.S. intelligence community as principals, including Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and former director of the NSA; and Charles Allen, former assistant director of Central Intelligence for Collection at the CIA, who worked at the agency for over 40 years.

The Chertoff Group has a long-standing and lucrative contract with the company OSI Systems, which produces full-body scanners and markets itself as a solution to mass shootings and crisis events, not unlike Carbyne. While Chertoff’s company was advising OSI Systems, Chertoff went on a media blitz to promote the widespread use of the machines produced by OSI Systems and even called on Congress to “fund a large-scale deployment of next-generation systems.” Chertoff did not disclose his conflict of interest while publicly promoting OSI’s full-body scanners.

Some have also alleged that Chertoff’s mother, Livia Eisen, had links to Israeli intelligence. According to her 1998 obituary, cited by both researcher/author Christopher Bollyn and journalist Jonathan Cook, Eisen participated in the Mossad operation code-named “Magic Carpet” while working for Israel’s El Al Airlines. Both Bollyn and Cook have suggested that Eisen’s participation in this covert Israeli intelligence operation strongly indicates that she had ties to the Mossad.

 

Melding into Silicon Valley

Beyond its troubling connections to Silicon Valley oligarchs, Israeli military intelligence and the U.S.-military industrial complex, Carbyne’s recent partnerships with two specific technology companies — Google and Cisco Systems — raise even more red flags.

Carbyne announced its partnership with Cisco Systems this past April, with the latter announcing that it would begin “aligning its unified call manager with Carbyne’s call-handling platform, allowing emergency call centers to collect data from both 911 callers and nearby government-owned IoT [Internet of Things] devices.” A report on the partnership published by Government Technology magazine stated that “Carbyne’s platform will be integrated into Cisco Kinetic for Cities, an IoT data platform that shares data across community infrastructure, smart city solutions, applications and connected devices.” The report also noted that “Carbyne will also be the only 911 solution in the Cisco Marketplace.”

As part of the partnership, Carbyne’s President of North American Operations Paul Tatro told Government Technology that the Carbyne platform would combine the data it obtains from smartphones and other Carbyne-connected devices with “what’s available through nearby Cisco-connected road cameras, roadside sensors, smart streetlamps, smart parking meters or other devices.” Tatro further asserted that “Carbyne can also analyze data that’s being collected by Cisco IoT devices … and alert 911 automatically, without any person making a phone call, if there appears to be a worthy problem,” and expressed his view that soon most emergency calls will not be made by human beings but “by smart cars, telematics or other smart city devices.”

A few months after partnering with Cisco Systems, Carbyne announced its partnership with Google on July 10, just three days after Carbyne funder Jeffrey Epstein was arrested in New York on federal sex trafficking charges. Carbyne’s press release of the partnership described how the company and Google would be teaming up in Mexico “to offer advanced mobile location to emergency communications centers (ECCs) throughout Mexico” following the conclusion of a successful four-week pilot program between Carbyne and Google in the Central American nation.

Netanyahu Eric Schmidt
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt meets Netanyahu at his Jerusalem office. Israel PM | YouTube

The press release also stated:

Carbyne will provide Google’s Android ELS (Emergency Location Service) in real time from emergency calls made on AndroidTM devices. Deployment for any ECC in the country won’t require any integration, with Carbyne providing numerous options for connection to their secure ELS Gateway once an ECC is approved. The Carbyne automated platform, requiring no human interaction, has the potential to save thousands of lives each year throughout Mexico.”

The reason Carybne’s partnerships with Cisco Systems and Google are significant lies in the role that Cisco and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt have played in the creation of a controversial “incubator” for Israeli tech start-ups with deep ties to Israeli military intelligence, American neoconservative donor Paul Singer, and the U.S.’ National Security Agency (NSA).

This company, called Team8, is an Israeli company-creation platform whose CEO and co-founder is Nadav Zafrir, former commander of Unit 8200. Two of the company’s other three co-founders are also “alumni” of Unit 8200. Among Team8’s top investors is Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, who also joined Peter Thiel in funding the Unit 8200-linked BillGuard, as well as major tech companies including Cisco Systems and Microsoft.

Last year, Team8 controversially hired the former head of the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command, Retired Admiral Mike Rogers, and Zafrir stated that his interest in hiring Rogers was that Rogers would be “instrumental in helping strategize” Team8’s expansion in the United States. Jake Williams, a veteran of NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) hacking unit, told CyberScoop:

Rogers is not being brought into this role because of his technical experience. …It’s purely because of his knowledge of classified operations and his ability to influence many in the U.S. government and private-sector contractors.”

Team8 has also been heavily promoted by Start-Up Nation Central (SUNC). SUNC prominently features Team8 and Zafrir on the cybersecurity section of its website and also sponsored a talk by Zafrir and an Israeli government economist at the World Economic Forum, often referred to as “Davos,” that was attended personally by Paul Singer.

SUNC itself has deep ties to Israeli military intelligence, with former Unit 8200 officer Raphael Ouzan serving on its board of directors. Another example of SUNC-Unit 8200 ties can be seen with Inbal Arieli, who served as SUNC’s Vice President of Strategic Partnerships from 2014 to 2017 and continues to serve as a senior adviser to the organization. Arieli, a former lieutenant in Unit 8200, is the founder and head of the 8200 Entrepreneurship and Innovation Support Program (EISP), which was the first start-up accelerator in Israel aimed at harnessing “the vast network and entrepreneurial DNA of [Unit] 8200 alumni” and is currently one of the top company accelerators in Israel, alongside Team8. Arieli was the top executive at 8200 EISP while working at SUNC and several other top SUNC staffers are also connected to Israeli military intelligence.

Thus, Google and Cisco’s connections to Team8 suggests that their partnerships with another Israeli military intelligence-connected firm like Carbyne is a deepening of those two companies’ links to the growing bi-national security state that is uniting key players in the U.S. military-industrial complex and Israeli intelligence.

 

Mossad-backed Panic Buttons, coming to a school near you

Carbyne is hardly the only Israeli intelligence-linked tech company marketing itself in the United States as a solution to mass shootings. Another Israeli start-up, known as Gabriel, was founded in 2016 in response to a shooting in Tel Aviv and the Pulse Nightclub shooting in the United States, which took place just days apart.

Created by Israeli-American Yoni Sherizen and Israeli citizen Asaf Adler, Gabriel is similar to Carbyne in the sense that elements of its crisis response platform require installation on civilian smartphones as well as devices used by crisis responders. The main difference is that Gabriel also installs one or a series of physical “panic buttons,” depending on the size of the building to be secured, that also double as video and audio communication devices connected to the Gabriel network.

As with Carbyne, the ties between Gabriel and Israeli intelligence are obvious. Indeed, Gabriel’s four-person advisory board includes Ram Ben-Barak, former deputy director of the Mossad and former director-general of Israel’s intelligence ministry; Yohanan Danino, former chief of police for the state of Israel; and Kobi Mor, former director of overseas missions for the Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bet. The only American on the advisory board is Ryan Petty, the father of a Parkland shooting victim and friend of former Florida Governor Rick Scott.

Gabriel’s only disclosed funder is U.S.-based MassChallenge, a start-up accelerator non-profit. Gabriel is funded by MassChallenge’s Israel branch, which was opened six months prior to Gabriel’s creation and is partnered with the Israeli government and the Kraft Group. The Kraft Group is managed by Robert Kraft, who is currently embroiled in a prostitution scandal and is also a close friend of President Trump.

Notably, one of MassChallenge Israel’s featured experts is Wendy Singer, the executive director of SUNC, the organization created and funded by neoconservative Trump backer Paul Singer with the explicit purpose of promoting Israel’s tech start-ups and their integration into foreign, chiefly American, businesses. As was noted in a recent MintPress report on SUNC, Wendy Singer is the sister of neoconservative political operative Dan Senor, who founded the now-defunct Foreign Policy Initiative with Robert Kagan and Bill Kristol, and was previously the director of AIPAC’s Israel office for 16 years.

Gabriel’s founders have been quite upfront about the fact that the uptick in shootings in the U.S. has greatly aided their company’s growth and success. Last November, Sherizen told The Jerusalem Post that new mass shootings in the U.S. not only increased U.S. demand for his company’s product but also were opportunities to show the effectiveness of Gabriel’s approach:

Unfortunately every month there seems to be another high-profile event of this nature. After the Vegas shooting, we were able to show [that] our system would have managed to identify the location of the shooter much quicker.”

The Jerusalem Post noted that Gabriel is set to make considerable profits if concern over mass shootings continues to build in the U.S., writing:

With more than 475,000 soft targets across the US and amid increasing security fears, the potential market for Gabriel is huge. The company could gain revenues of almost $1 billion if only 10% of soft targets were to invest around $20,000 in its alert systems.”

Sherizen told the Jerusalem Post:

Our starter kit costs $10,000. Depending on the size and makeup of the community building, it would cost between $20-30,000 to fully outfit the location. We have made it very affordable. This is a game-changer for the lock-down and active shooter drills that are now a standard part of any child’s upbringing in the States.”

 

Much more than just a start-up

While it is certainly possible that numerous former officials and commanders of elite Israeli intelligence agencies may have no ulterior motive in advising or founding technology start-up companies, it is worth pointing out that top figures in Israel’s military intelligence agencies and the Mossad don’t see it that way.

Last March, Israeli media outlet Calcalist Tech published a report entitled “Israel Blurs the Line Between Defense Apparatus and Local Cybersecurity Hub,” which noted that “since 2012, cyber-related and intelligence projects that were previously carried out in-house in the Israeli military and Israel’s main intelligence arms are transferred to companies that in some cases were built for this exact purpose.” (emphasis added)

The article notes that beginning in 2012, Israel’s intelligence and military intelligence agencies began to outsource “activities that were previously managed in-house, with a focus on software and cyber technologies.” (emphasis added)

It continues:

In some cases, managers of development projects in the Israeli military and intelligence arms were encouraged to form their own companies, which then took over the project,’ an Israeli venture capitalist familiar with the matter told Calcalist Tech.”

Notably, Calcalist Tech states that the controversial company Black Cube was created this way and that Black Cube had been contracted, and is likely still contracted, by Israel’s Ministry of Defense. The private security agency Black Cube is known to have two separate divisions for corporations and governments. The firm was recently caught attempting to undermine the Iran nuclear deal — then also a top political objective of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — by attempting to obtain information on the “financial or sexual impropriety” (i.e., blackmail) of top U.S. officials involved in drafting the accord. NBC News noted last year that “Black Cube’s political work frequently intersects with Israel’s foreign policy priorities.” As previously mentioned, one of Carbyne’s co-founders — Lital Leshem, also a veteran of Unit 8200 — worked for Black Cube prior to starting Carbyne.

One of the main companies profiled in the Calcalist Tech report appeared to be a front for Israeli intelligence, as its registered owner was found not to exist: even high-level employees at the company had never heard of him; his registered addresses were for nonexistent locations in Israel’s capital of Tel Aviv; and the three people with that name in Tel Aviv denied any association with the business.

This company — which Calcalist Tech was unable to name after the Israeli military censor determined that doing so could negatively impact Israeli “national security” — was deliberately created to service the Israeli military and Israeli intelligence. It is also “focused on cyber technologies with expertise in research and development of advanced products and applications suitable for defense and commercial entities.” (emphases added) In addition, the company’s management consists largely of “veterans of Israeli military technology units.”

Notably, a former employee of this company told Calcalist Tech that “crossing the lines between military service and employment at the commercial outfit was ‘commonplace’ while he was working at the company.”

It’s not exactly clear why Israel’s military intelligence and other intelligence agencies decided to begin outsourcing its operations in 2012, though Calcalist Tech suggests the reasoning was related to the difference in wages between the private sector and the public sector, with pay being much higher in the former. However, it is notable that 2012 was also the year that Paul Singer — together with Netanyahu’s long-time economic adviser and former chair of the Israeli National Economic Council, Eugene Kandel — decided to create Start-Up Nation Central.

As MintPress noted earlier this year, SUNC was founded as part of a deliberate Israeli government effort to counter the nonviolent Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement and to make Israel the dominant global “cyber power.” This policy is aimed at increasing Israel’s diplomatic power and specifically undermining BDS as well as the United Nations, which has repeatedly condemned Israel’s government for war crimes and violations of international law in relation to the Palestinians.

Last year, Netanyahu was asked by Fox News host Mark Levin whether the large growth seen in recent years in Israel’s technology sector, specifically tech start-ups, was part of Netanyahu’s plan. Netanyahu responded, “That’s very much my plan … It’s a very deliberate policy.” He later added that “Israel had technology because the military, especially military intelligence, produced a lot of capabilities. These incredibly gifted young men and women who come out of the military or the Mossad, they want to start their start-ups.”

Netanyahu again outlined this policy at the 2019 Cybertech Conference in Tel Aviv, where he stated that Israel’s emergence as one of the top five “cyber powers” had “required allowing this combination of military intelligence, academia and industry to converge in one place” and that this further required allowing “our graduates of our military and intelligence units to merge into companies with local partners and foreign partners.”

The direct tie-ins of SUNC to Israel’s government and the successful effort led by SUNC and other companies and organizations to place former military intelligence and intelligence operatives in strategic positions in major multinational technology companies reveal that this “deliberate policy” has had a major and undeniable impact on the global tech industry, especially in Silicon Valley.

 

Mossad gets its own In-Q-Tel

This “deliberate policy” of Netanyahu’s also recently resulted in the creation of a Mossad-run venture capital fund that is specifically focused on financing Israeli tech start-ups. The venture capital fund, called Libertad, was first announced by Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office and was created with the explicit purpose of “increasing the Israeli intelligence agency’s knowledge base and fostering collaboration with Israel’s vibrant startup scene” It was modeled after the CIA’s venture capital fund In-Q-Tel, which invested in several Silicon Valley companies turned government and intelligence contractors — including Google and Palantir — with a similar goal in mind.

Libertad declines to reveal the recipients of its funding, but announced last December that it had chosen five companies in the fields of robotics, energy, encryption, web intelligence, and natural language processing and text analysis. In regard to its interest in web intelligence, a Mossad employee told the Jerusalem Post that the intelligence agency was specifically interested in “innovative technologies for [the] automatic identification of personality characteristics – personality profiling – based on online behavior and activity, using methods based on statistics, machine learning, and other areas.” (emphasis added)

According to Libertad’s website, in return for its investment, now set at NIS 2 million (~$580,000) per year per company, “the Mossad will receive access to the IP [initial product] developed during R&D [Research and Development] while under contract, and a non-commercial, non-exclusive license to use it. Libertad’s contract with the company will not provide it with any additional rights.” In an interview with Calcalist Tech, Mossad Director Yossi Cohen told the paper that the Mossad’s partnership with civilian companies in Israel is “excellent” and that the agency will continue to strengthen those ties.

Israeli intelligence has a documented history in placing “backdoors” into technology products for the purpose of surveillance, with one well-known case being Israel’s repurposing of the PROMIS software, discussed in Part III of MintPress’ series on Jeffrey Epstein. Furthermore, given that U.S. intelligence, specifically the NSA, had “backdoors” placed into the products of major Silicon Valley companies (a service performed by Israeli intelligence-linked tech companies no less), Mossad may very well plan on doing the same with the technology products of companies it backs through Libertad.

Tim Shorrock, investigative journalist and author of Spies For Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing, told MintPress that the Mossad’s continuation of such practices through Libertad was definitely plausible, especially given what Shorrock described as the “unusual” choice of Libertad choosing not to release the identities of the companies in which it invests.

“The Mossad is trying to hide what they are investing in,” Shorrock stated, adding that Libertad’s secrecy “raises a lot of questions” particularly given that it was modeled after the CIA’s In-Q-Tel. Shorrock noted that In-Q-Tel and other venture capital funds with ties to U.S. intelligence or the U.S. military rarely, if ever, hide the identities of the companies they finance.

However, Libertad is merely the latest and most public expression of the Mossad’s interest in Israeli tech start-ups, the lion’s share of which are created by veterans of Unit 8200 or other Israeli intelligence agencies. Indeed, former Mossad Director Tamir Pardo stated in 2017 that “everyone” in the Israeli cybertechnology sector is an “alumni” of either Israeli intelligence, like the Mossad, or Israeli military intelligence, like Unit 8200. Pardo even went as far as to say that the Mossad itself is “like a start-up.”

Pardo himself, after leaving his post as Mossad director in 2016, dove straight into the world of Israeli tech start-ups, becoming chairman of Sepio Systems, whose two CEOs are former Unit 8200 officers. Sepio Systems’ advisory board includes the former chief information security officer of the CIA, Robert Bigman; former member of the U.S. Military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), Geoff Hancock; and former head of the Israel National Cyber Bureau and veteran of Israeli military intelligence, Rami Efrati. Sepio Systems’ cybersecurity software has been adopted by several banks, telecom and insurance companies, including in the U.S. and Brazil.

Pardo is not the only prominent figure in Israel’s intelligence community to compare Israeli intelligence agencies to tech start-ups. Shin Bet Director Nadav Argaman described Israel’s domestic spy agency in similar terms. “The Shin Bet is like an evolving start-up, with unmatched strength,” Argaman stated in a June 2017 speech, as he extolled the agency’s use of “pre-crime” technology to detain Palestinians based on their social media activity.

Argaman, at the time, claimed that more than 2,000 Palestinians, whom he described as “potential lone-wolf terrorists,” had been arrested as a result of these “breakthrough technological advances” that use artificial-intelligence algorithms to monitor the social media accounts of Palestinians, especially younger Palestinians, for the use of “tripwire” phrases that have been used by Palestinians who later committed acts of violence. In the case of those who use such terms, “their phones are tracked to see if they meet other suspects, or leave their districts to move towards potential Israeli targets. In such cases, security forces detain the suspect,” according to a 2017 report on the practice by The Economist.

 

The road to fascism, paved by a corrupted PROMIS

Though Israeli intelligence’s interest in tech companies goes back several years, there is a well-documented history of Israeli intelligence using bugged software to surveil and gain “backdoor” access to government databases around the world, particularly in the United States.

As was mentioned in Part III of MintPress’ Epstein series, a sinister yet cunning plan was executed to place a backdoor for Israeli intelligence into the Prosecutor’s Management Information System (PROMIS) software, which was then being used by the U.S. Department of Justice and was the envy of government agencies, particularly intelligence agencies, around the world. This bugged version of PROMIS — born out of the collusion between Earl Brian, Ronald Reagan’s then-envoy to Iran, and Rafi Eitan, then-director of the now-defunct Israeli intelligence agency Lekem — was seeded around the world by Brian’s company Hadron as well as by Mossad-linked media mogul Robert Maxwell, father of Jeffrey Epstein’s long-time girlfriend and alleged madam, Ghislaine Maxwell.

After this first PROMIS “backdoor” was discovered, Israel would again gain access to sensitive U.S. government communications, as well as civilian communications, thanks to the collusion between Israeli intelligence and Israeli telecom and tech companies, especially Amdocs and Comverse Infosys (now Verint), that were operating throughout the United States. Today, Unit 8200-linked start-ups appear to have taken up the torch.

While the PROMIS software is perhaps best known for offering Israeli intelligence a backdoor into as many as 80 intelligence agencies and other sensitive locations around the world for nearly a decade, it was also used for a very different purpose by prominent officials linked to Iran-Contra.

One key Iran-Contra figure — Lt. Col. Oliver North, then serving on the National Security Council — decided to use PROMIS neither for espionage nor for foreign policy. Instead, North turned PROMIS’ power against Americans, particularly perceived dissidents, a fact that remained unknown for years.

Beginning in 1982, as part of the highly classified Continuity of Government (COG) program, North used the PROMIS software at a 6,100-square-foot “command center” in the Department of Justice, as well as at a smaller operations room at the White House, to compile a list of American dissidents and “potential troublemakers” if the COG protocol was ever invoked.

According to a senior government official with a high-ranking security clearance and service in five presidential administrations who spoke to Radar in 2008, this was:

A database of Americans, who, often for the slightest and most trivial reason, are considered unfriendly, and who, in a time of panic might be incarcerated. The database can identify and locate perceived ‘enemies of the state’ almost instantaneously.”

In 1993, Wired described North’s use of PROMIS in compiling this database as follows:

Using PROMIS, sources point out, North could have drawn up lists of anyone ever arrested for a political protest, for example, or anyone who had ever refused to pay their taxes. Compared to PROMIS, Richard Nixon’s enemies list or Sen. Joe McCarthy’s blacklist look downright crude.”

The COG program defined this “time of panic” as “a national crisis, such as nuclear war, violent and widespread internal dissent, or national opposition to a US military invasion abroad,” whereby the government would suspend the Constitution, declare martial law, and incarcerate perceived dissidents and other “unfriendlies” in order to prevent the government’s (or then-serving administration’s) overthrow.

This secretive database has often been referred to as “Main Core” by government insiders and, most troubling of all, it still exists today. Journalist Christ Ketcham, citing senior government officials, reported in 2008 that, at that time, Main Core was believed to contain the names of as many as 8 million Americans. Eleven years later, it is highly likely that the number of Americans included in the Main Core database has grown considerably.

Author and investigative journalist Tim Shorrock also covered other disturbing aspects of the evolution of Main Core back in 2008 for Salon. At the time, Shorrock reported that the George W. Bush administration was believed to have used Main Core to guide its domestic surveillance activities following the September 11 attacks.

Citing “several former U.S. government officials with extensive knowledge of intelligence operations,” Shorrock further noted that Main Core — as it was 11 years ago at the time his report was published — was said to contain “a vast amount of personal data on Americans, including NSA intercepts of bank and credit card transactions and the results of surveillance efforts by the FBI, the CIA and other agencies.”

Bill Hamilton, former NSA intelligence officer and the original creator of the PROMIS software, told Shorrock at the time that he believed that “U.S. intelligence uses PROMIS as the primary software for searching the Main Core database” and had been told as much by an intelligence official in 1992 and an NSA official in 1995. Dan Murphy, former deputy director at the CIA, had told Hamilton that the NSA’s use of PROMIS was “so seriously wrong that money alone cannot cure the problem.” “I believe in retrospect that Murphy was alluding to Main Core,” Hamilton had told Shorrock.

Though most reporting on Main Core, from the time its existence was first revealed to the present, has treated the database as something used by the U.S. government and U.S. intelligence for domestic purposes, MintPress has learned that Israeli intelligence was also involved with the creation of the Main Core database. According to a former U.S. intelligence official with direct knowledge of the U.S. intelligence community’s use of PROMIS and Main Core from the 1980s to 2000s, Israeli intelligence played a role in the U.S. government’s deployment of PROMIS as the software used for the Main Core domestic surveillance database system.

Israeli intelligence remained involved with Main Core at the time of the August 1991 death of journalist Danny Casolaro, who was investigating not only the government’s misuse of the stolen PROMIS software but also the Main Core database. This same official, who chose to remain anonymous, told MintPress that, shortly before his death, Casolaro had obtained copies of computer printouts from the PROMIS-based Main Core domestic surveillance database system from NSA whistleblower Alan Standorf, who was found murdered a few months before Casolaro’s lifeless body would be found in a West Virginia hotel room.

The source also stated that Main Core’s contents had been used for the political blackmail of members of Congress and their staff, journalists, and others by Walter Raymond, a senior CIA covert operator in psyops and disinformation who served on President Reagan’s National Security Council during and after Main Core’s creation. If used for this purpose by Raymond in the 1980s, Main Core has also likely been used by other individuals with access to the database for blackmailing purposes in the years since.

Given that Israeli intelligence was known to have placed a backdoor into the PROMIS software, before it was marketed and sold around the world by Earl Brian and Robert Maxwell, its role in the U.S. government’s decision to use PROMIS in the creation of Main Core suggests that Israeli intelligence likely advocated for the version of PROMIS containing this backdoor, thereby giving Israeli intelligence access to Main Core. Given that Reagan aides and officials colluded with Israeli “spymaster” Rafi Eitan in his efforts to create a backdoor into the software for Israeli military intelligence, the use of this version of PROMIS in the Main Core database is certainly plausible.

Furthermore, the fact that Israeli intelligence was known to be involved in Main Core nearly a decade after its creation suggests that Israeli intelligence may have played a role in certain aspects of the database, such as the criteria used to flag Americans as “unfriendly,” and — like Walter Raymond — may have used information in the database to blackmail Americans. In addition, the fact that the cooperation between U.S. and Israeli intelligence, particularly between Unit 8200 and the NSA, has only grown since 1991 further suggests that Israeli involvement in Main Core continues to the present.

While Main Core’s very existence is troubling for many reasons, the alleged involvement of a foreign intelligence service in the creation, expansion and maintenance of a database with personal details and potentially damaging information on millions of Americans targeted for detention or increased surveillance in times of crisis is chilling. It is especially so considering that the Trump administration’s latest proposals to prevent mass shootings before they occur are likely to use Main Core to flag certain Americans for increased surveillance or potentially detention, as was done by the George W. Bush administration following the September 11 attacks.

It appears that Main Core serves a dual purpose; first as a mass targeted surveillance system to crush dissent during times of “national crisis” — whether spontaneous or engineered — and, second, as a massive blackmail database used to keep every potential opponent in line during non-emergencies.

 

Peter Thiel’s Seeing Stone

As was mentioned earlier in this report, Palantir — the company co-founded by Peter Thiel — is set to profit handsomely from the Trump administration’s plans to use its “pre-crime” technology, which is already used by police departments throughout the country and also used to track Americans based on the company’s integrative data-mining approach. Palantir, named for the “seeing stones” in the Lord of the Rings novels, also markets software to foreign (and domestic) intelligence agencies that predicts the likelihood that an individual will commit an act of terrorism or violence.

Aside from its “pre-crime” products, Palantir has come under fire in recent years as a result of the company’s contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), where it created an intelligence system known as Investigative Case Management (ICM). The IB Times described ICM as “a vast ‘ecosystem’ of data to help immigration officials in identifying targets and creating cases against them” and also “provides ICE agents with access to databases managed by other federal agencies.” ICM further gives ICE access to “targets’ personal and sensitive information, such as background on schooling, employment, family relationships, phone records, immigration history, biometrics data, criminal records as well as home and work addresses.” In other words, Palantir’s ICM is essentially a “Main Core” for immigrants.

Notably, part of Oliver North’s original intentions in “Main Core” was to track immigrants then coming from Central America as well as Americans who opposed Reagan era policy with respect to Central America. At that time, Main Core was believed to be controlled by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), which is now part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

VICE News reported in July that the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, which is run by DHS, “serves around 300 communities in northern California and is what is known as a ‘fusion center,’ a Department of Homeland Security intelligence center that aggregates and investigates information from state, local, and federal agencies, as well as some private entities, into large databases that can be searched using software like Palantir. “ VICE further noted that this center alone used Palantir to surveil as many as 8 million Ameicans. There are many more such DHS “fusion centers” throughout the United States.

If the Trump administration moves forward with its proposal of employing technology to detect potential mass shooters before they strike, Palantir’s technology is set to be used, given that it has already been used by U.S. law enforcement and U.S. intelligence to determine which people run “the highest risk of being involved in gun violence,” according to an investigation of Palantir by The Verge. Furthermore, Palantir’s close ties to the Trump administration make the company’s role in a future nationwide “pre-crime” prevention system based on technology appear inevitable.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, right, and PayPal founder Peter Thiel, center, listen as President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with technology industry leaders at Trump Tower in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Worse still is the apparent overlap between Palantir and Main Core. Palantir — which has obvious similarities to PROMIS — is already known to use its software to track potential terror threats, including domestic terror threats, and a category of people it refers to as “subversives.” Palantir’s tracking of these individuals “is all done using prediction.” Palantir’s close ties to the U.S. intelligence community suggest that Palantir may already have access to the Main Core database. Tim Shorrock told MintPress that Palantir’s use of Main Core is “certainly possible,” particularly in light of the company’s use of the term “subversive” to describe a category of people that its software tracks.

Palantir also has alleged ties to Israeli intelligence, as there have long been suspicions that Israeli intelligence has used Palantir as part of its AI “pre-crime” algorithms targeting Palestinians after Palantir opened a research and development (R&D) center in Israel in 2013. The current head of Palantir Israel, Hamultal Meridor, previously founded a brain-machine interface organization and was senior director of web intelligence at Verint (formerly Comverse Infosys), which has deep connections to Unit 8200, a history of espionage in the United States and was one of the two companies contracted by the NSA to insert a “backdoor” into the U.S. telecommunications system and popular products of major American tech companies.

Given the above, Peter Thiel’s 2018 decision to fund Carbyne, the Unit 8200-linked start-up that markets itself as a technological solution to mass shootings in the U.S., strongly suggests that Thiel has been anticipating for some time the now-public efforts of the Trump administration to employ “pre-crime” technology to track and target Americans who show signs of “mental illness” and “violent tendencies.”

 

A nightmare even Orwell could not have predicted

In early August, in the wake of the shooting at an El Paso Walmart, President Trump called on big tech companies to collaborate with the Justice Department in the creation of software that “stops mass murders before they start” by detecting potential mass shooters before they cnm act. Though Trump’s ideas were short on specifics, there is now a new proposal that would create a new government agency that will use data gathered from civilian electronic devices to identify “neurobehavioral” warning signs, thereby flagging “potential shooters” for increased surveillance and potentially detention.

This new agency, as proposed by the foundation led by former NBC Universal president and vice chairman of General Electric Robert Wright, would be known as the Health Advanced Research Projects Agency (HARPA) and would be modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Per the proposal, recently detailed by the Washington Post, the flagship program of HARPA would be “Safe Home” (Stopping Aberrant Fatal Events by Helping Overcome Mental Extremes), which would use “breakthrough technologies with high specificity and sensitivity for early diagnosis of neuropsychiatric violence,” specifically “advanced analytical tools based on artificial intelligence and machine learning.”

The program would cost an estimated $60 million over four years and would use data from “Apple Watches, Fitbits, Amazon Echo and Google Home” and other consumer electronic devices, as well as information provided by health-care providers to identify who may be a threat.

The Washington Post reported that President Trump has reacted “very positively” to the proposal and that he was “sold on the concept.” The Post also noted that Wright sees the president’s daughter, Ivanka, as “the most effective champion of the proposal and has previously briefed her on HARPA himself.” Ivanka has previously been cited as a driving force behind some of her father’s policy decisions, including his decision to bomb Syria after an alleged chemical weapons attack in 2017.

Liz Fed — president of the Susan Wright Foundation, which is led by Robert Wright and created the proposal for HARPA and “Safe Home” — told The Post that the proposal emulated DARPA because “DARPA is a brilliant model that works. They have developed the most transformational capabilities in the world for national security…We’re not leveraging the tools and technologies available to us to improve and save lives.” Fed further asserted that DARPA’s technological approach had yet to be applied to the field of healthcare.

For anyone familiar with DARPA, such claims should immediately sound loud alarm bells, especially since DARPA is already developing its own solution to “mental health” issues in the form of a “brain-machine interface” as part of its N3 program. That program, according to reports, involves “noninvasive and ‘minutely’ invasive neural interfaces to both read and write into the brain,” help distance soldiers “from the emotional guilt of warfare” by “clouding their perception” and “to program artificial memories of fear, desire, and experiences directly into the brain.” Though N3 is intended to improve the prowess of American soldiers, it is also set to be used as a means of pursuing DARPA’s Systems-Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies (SUBNETS) project, which aims to “to develop a tiny, implanted chip in the skull to treat psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, PTSD and major depression.”

Given that HARPA’s lead scientific adviser is Dr. Geoffrey Ling, former director and founder of DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office (BTO), which “merges biology, engineering, and computer science to harness the power of natural systems for national security,” it seems likely that DARPA’s neurological-focused research programs, like SUBNETS and N3, would be folded into HARPA’s portfolio, making the proposed agency’s approach to mental health very questionable indeed.

Aside from the dystopian nature of both DARPA and potentially HARPA’s approach to mental health, there is grave cause for concern regarding the Trump administration’s moves to address U.S. mass shooting events by implementing pre-crime technology based on artificial intelligence, data-mining and mass surveillance, technologies already laying in wait thanks to companies like Palantir and numerous Israeli tech start-ups led by former Unit 8200 officers.

With companies like Carbyne — with its ties to both the Trump administration and to Israeli intelligence — and the Mossad-linked Gabriel also marketing themselves as “technological” solutions to mass shootings while also doubling as covert tools for mass data collection and extraction, the end result is a massive surveillance system so complete and so dystopian that even George Orwell himself could not have predicted it.

Following another catastrophic mass shooting or crisis event, aggressive efforts will likely follow to foist these “solutions” on a frightened American public by the very network connected, not only to Jeffrey Epstein, but to a litany of crimes and a frightening history of plans to crush internal dissent and would-be dissenters in the United States.

Feature photo | Graphic by Claudio Cabrera

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

 

Posted in Authoritarianism, black ops, CIA, Conspiracy, Corporate Crime, Corruption, culture, Deep State, Dirty Politics, Dystopia, elites, Empire, Geopolitics, History, NSA, Oligarchy, police state, Psy-ops, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, State Crime, surveillance state, Technocracy, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

War Profiteers and the Demise of the US Military-Industrial Complex

By Dmitry Orlov

Source: Club Orlov

Within the vast bureaucratic sprawl of the Pentagon there is a group in charge of monitoring the general state of the military-industrial complex and its continued ability to fulfill the requirements of the national defense strategy. Office for acquisition and sustainment and office for industrial policy spends some $100,000 a year producing an Annual Report to Congress. It is available to the general public. It is even available to the general public in Russia, and Russian experts had a really good time poring over it.

In fact, it filled them with optimism. You see, Russia wants peace but the US seems to want war and keeps making threatening gestures against a longish list of countries that refuse to do its bidding or simply don’t share its “universal values.” But now it turns out that threats (and the increasingly toothless economic sanctions) are pretty much all that the US is still capable of dishing out—this in spite of absolutely astronomical levels of defense spending. Let’s see what the US military-industrial complex looks like through a Russian lens.

It is important to note that the report’s authors were not aiming to force legislators to finance some specific project. This makes it more valuable than numerous other sources, whose authors’ main objective was to belly up to the federal feeding trough, and which therefore tend to be light on facts and heavy on hype. No doubt, politics still played a part in how various details are portrayed, but there seems to be a limit to the number of problems its authors can airbrush out of the picture and still do a reasonable job in analyzing the situation and in formulating their recommendations.

What knocked Russian analysis over with a feather is the fact that these INDPOL experts (who, like the rest of the US DOD, love acronyms) evaluate the US military-industrial complex from a… market-based perspective! You see, the Russian military-industrial complex is fully owned by the Russian government and works exclusively in its interests; anything else would be considered treason. But the US military-industrial complex is evaluated based on its… profitability! According to INDPOL, it must not only produce products for the military but also acquire market share in the global weapons trade and, perhaps most importantly, maximize profitability for private investors. By this standard, it is doing well: for 2017 the gross margin (EBITDA) for US defense contractors ranged from 15 to 17%, and some subcontractors—Transdigm, for example—managed to deliver no less than 42-45%. “Ah!” cry the Russian experts, “We’ve found the problem! The Americans have legalized war profiteering!” (This, by the way, is but one of many instances of something called systemic corruption, which is rife in the US.)

It would be one thing if each defense contractor simply took its cut off the top, but instead there is an entire food chain of defense contractors, all of which are legally required, no less, to maximize profits for their shareholders. More than 28,000 companies are involved, but the actual first-tier defense contractors with which the Pentagon places 2/3 of all defense contracts are just the Big Six: Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, General Dynmics, BAE Systems and Boeing. All the other companies are organized into a pyramid of subcontractors with five levels of hierarchy, and at each level they do their best to milk the tier above them.

The insistence on market-based methods and the requirement of maximizing profitability turns out to be incompatible with defense spending on a very basic level: defense spending is intermittent and cyclical, with long fallow intervals between major orders. This has forced even the Big Six to make cuts to their defense-directed departments in favor of expanding civilian production. Also, in spite of the huge size of the US defense budget, it is of finite size (there being just one planet to blow up), as is the global weapons market. Since, in a market economy, every company faces the choice of grow or get bought out, this has precipitated scores of mergers and acquisitions, resulting in a highly consolidated marketplace with a few major players in each space.

As a result, in most spaces, of which the report’s authors discuss 17, including the Navy, land forces, air force, electronics, nuclear weapons, space technology and so on, at least a third of the time the Pentagon has a choice of exactly one contractor for any given contract, causing quality and timeliness to suffer and driving up prices.

In a number of cases, in spite of its industrial and financial might, the Pentagon has encountered insoluble problems. Specifically, it turns out that the US has only one shipyard left that is capable of building nuclear aircraft carriers (at all, that is; the USS Gerald Ford is not exactly a success). That is Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport, Virginia. In theory, it could work on three ships in parallel, but two of the slips are permanently occupied by existing aircraft carriers that require maintenance. This is not a unique case: the number of shipyards capable of building nuclear submarines, destroyers and other types of vessels is also exactly one. Thus, in case of a protracted conflict with a serious adversary in which a significant portion of the US Navy has been sunk, ships will be impossible to replace within any reasonable amount of time.

The situation is somewhat better with regard to aircraft manufacturing. The plants that exist can produce 40 planes a month and could produce 130 a month if pressed. On the other hand, the situation with tanks and artillery is absolutely dismal. According to this report, the US has completely lost the competency for building the new generation of tanks. It is no longer even a question of missing plant and equipment; in the US, a second generation of engineers who have never designed a tank is currently going into retirement. Their replacements have no one to learn from and only know about modern tanks from movies and video games. As far as artillery, there is just one remaining production line in the US that can produce barrels larger than 40mm; it is fully booked up and would be unable to ramp up production in case of war. The contractor is unwilling to expand production without the Pentagon guaranteeing at least 45% utilization, since that would be unprofitable.

The situation is similar for the entire list of areas; it is better for dual-use technologies that can be sourced from civilian companies and significantly worse for highly specialized ones. Unit cost for every type of military equipment goes up year after year while the volumes being acquired continuously trend lower—sometimes all the way to zero. Over the past 15 years the US hasn’t acquired a single new tank. They keep modernizing the old ones, but at a rate that’s no higher than 100 a year.

Because of all these tendencies and trends, the defense industry continues to lose not only qualified personnel but also the very ability to perform the work. INDPOL experts estimate that the deficit in machine tools has reached 27%. Over the past quarter-century the US has stopped manufacturing a wide variety of manufacturing equipment. Only half of these tools can be imported from allies or friendly nations; for the rest, there is just one source: China. They analyzed the supply chains for 600 of the most important types of weapons and found that a third of them have breaks in them while another third have completely broken down. In the Pentagon’s five-tier subcontractor pyramid, component manufacturers are almost always relegated to the bottommost tier, and the notices they issue when they terminate production or shut down completely tend to drown in the Pentagon’s bureaucratic swamp.

The end result of all this is that theoretically the Pentagon is still capable of doing small production runs of weapons to compensate for ongoing losses in localized, low-intensity conflicts during a general time of peace, but even today this is at the extreme end of its capabilities. In case of a serious conflict with any well-armed nation, all it will be able to rely on is the existing stockpile of ordnance and spare parts, which will be quickly depleted.

A similar situation prevails in the area of rare earth elements and other materials for producing electronics. At the moment, the accumulated stockpile of these supplies needed for producing missiles and space technology—most importantly, satellites—is sufficient for five years at the current rate of use.

The report specifically calls out the dire situation in the area of strategic nuclear weapons. Almost all the technology for communications, targeting, trajectory calculations and arming of the ICBM warheads was developed in the 1960s and 70s. To this day, data is loaded from 5-inch floppy diskettes, which were last mass-produced 15 years ago. There are no replacements for them and the people who designed them are busy pushing up daisies. The choice is between buying tiny production runs of all the consumables at an extravagant expense and developing from scratch the entire land-based strategic triad component at the cost of three annual Pentagon budgets.

There are lots of specific problems in each area described in the report, but the main one is loss of competence among technical and engineering staff caused by a low level of orders for replacements or for new product development. The situation is such that promising new theoretical developments coming out of research centers such as DARPA cannot be realized given the present set of technical competencies. For a number of key specializations there are fewer than three dozen trained, experienced specialists.

This situation is expected to continue to deteriorate, with the number of personnel employed in the defense sector declining 11-16% over the next decade, mainly due to a shortage of young candidates qualified to replace those who are retiring. A specific example: development work on the F-35 is nearing completion and there won’t be a need to develop a new jet fighter until 2035-2040; in the meantime, the personnel who were involved in its development will be idled and their level of competence will deteriorate.

Although at the moment the US still leads the world in defense spending ($610 billion of $1.7 trillion in 2017, which is roughly 36% of all the military spending on the planet) the US economy is no longer able to support the entire technology pyramid even in a time of relative peace and prosperity. On paper the US still looks like a leader in military technology, but the foundations of its military supremacy have eroded. Results of this are plainly visible:

• The US threatened North Korea with military action but was then forced to back off because it has no ability to fight a war against it.

• The US threatened Iran with military action but was then forced to back off because it has no ability to fight a war against it.

• The US lost the war in Afghanistan to the Taliban, and once the longest military conflict in US history is finally over the political situation there will return to status quo ante with the Taliban in charge and Islamic terrorist training camps back in operation.

• US proxies (Saudi Arabia, mostly) fighting in Yemen have produced a humanitarian disaster but have been unable to prevail militarily.

• US actions in Syria have led to a consolidation of power and territory by the Syrian government and newly dominant regional position for Russia, Iran and Turkey.

• The second-largest NATO power Turkey has purchased Russian S-400 air defense systems. The US alternative is the Patriot system, which is twice as expensive and doesn’t really work.

All of this points to the fact that the US is no longer much a military power at all. This is good news for at least the following four reasons.

First, the US is by far the most belligerent country on Earth, having invaded scores of nations and continuing to occupy many of them. The fact that it can’t fight any more means that opportunities for peace are bound to increase.

Second, once the news sinks in that the Pentagon is nothing more than a flush toilet for public funds its funding will be cut off and the population of the US might see the money that is currently fattening up war profiteers being spent on some roads and bridges, although it’s looking far more likely that it will all go into paying interest expense on federal debt (while supplies last).

Third, US politicians will lose the ability to keep the populace in a state of permanent anxiety about “national security.” In fact, the US has “natural security”—two oceans—and doesn’t need much national defense at all (provided it keeps to itself and doesn’t try to make trouble for others). The Canadians aren’t going to invade, and while the southern border does need some guarding, that can be taken care of at the state/county level by some good ol’ boys using weapons and ammo they already happen to have on hand. Once this $1.7 trillion “national defense” monkey is off their backs, ordinary American citizens will be able to work less, play more and feel less aggressive, anxious, depressed and paranoid.

Last but not least, it will be wonderful to see the war profiteers reduced to scraping under sofa cushions for loose change. All that the US military has been able to produce for a long time now is misery, the technical term for which is “humanitarian disaster.” Look at the aftermath of US military involvement in Serbia/Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, and what do you see? You see misery—both for the locals and for US citizens who lost their family members, had their limbs blown off, or are now suffering from PTSD or brain injury. It would be only fair if that misery were to circle back to those who had profited from it.

Posted in anti-war, Corporate Crime, culture, Deep State, elites, Empire, Geopolitics, History, imperialism, Militarization, military spending, Neocons, Oligarchy, society, State Crime, war, war on terror, wasted taxpayer dollars | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What globalism did was to transfer the US economy to China

By Paul Craig Roberts

Source: Intrepid Report

The main problem with the US economy is that globalism has been deconstructing it. The offshoring of US jobs has reduced US manufacturing and industrial capability and associated innovation, research, development, supply chains, consumer purchasing power, and tax base of state and local governments. Corporations have increased short-term profits at the expense of these long-term costs. In effect, the US economy is being moved out of the First World into the Third World.

Tariffs are not a solution. The Trump administration says that the tariffs are paid by China, but unless Apple, Nike, Levi, and all of the offshoring companies got an exemption from the tariffs, the tariffs fall on the offshored production of US firms that are sold to US consumers. The tariffs will either reduce the profits of the US firms or be paid by US purchasers of the products in higher prices. The tariffs will hurt China only by reducing Chinese employment in the production of US goods for US markets.

The financial media is full of dire predictions of the consequences of a US/China “trade war.” There is no trade war. A trade war is when countries try to protect their industries by placing tariff barriers on the import of cheaper products from foreign countries. But half or more of the imports from China are imports from US companies. Trump’s tariffs, or a large part of them, fall on US corporations or US consumers.

One has to wonder that there is not a single economist anywhere in the Trump administration, the Federal Reserve, or anywhere else in Washington capable of comprehending the situation and conveying an understanding to President Trump.

One consequence of Washington’s universal economic ignorance is that the financial media has concocted the story that “Trump’s tariffs” are not only driving Americans into recession but also the entire world. Somehow tariffs on Apple computers and iPhones, Nike footwear, and Levi jeans are sending the world into recession or worse. This is an extraordinary economic conclusion, but the capacity for thought has pretty much disappeared in the United States.

In the financial media the question is: Will the Trump tariffs cause a US/world recession that costs Trump his reelection? This is a very stupid question. The US has been in a recession for two or more decades as its manufacturing/industrial/engineering capability has been transferred abroad. The US recession has been very good for the Asian part of the world. Indeed, China owes its faster than expected rise as a world power to the transfer of American jobs, capital, technology, and business know-how to China simply in order that US shareholders could receive capital gains and US executives could receive bonus pay for producing them by lowering labor costs.

Apparently, neoliberal economists, an oxymoron, cannot comprehend that if US corporations produce the goods and services offshore that they market to Americans, it is the offshore locations that benefit from the economic activity.

Offshore production started in earnest with the Soviet collapse as India and China opened their economies to the West. Globalism means that US corporations can make more money by abandoning their American work force. But what is true for the individual company is not true for the aggregate. Why? The answer is that when many corporations move their production for US markets offshore, Americans, unemployed or employed in lower paying jobs, lose the power to purchase the offshored goods.

I have reported for years that US jobs are no longer middle-class jobs. The jobs have been declining for years in terms of value-added and pay. With this decline, aggregate demand declines. We have proof of this in the fact that for years US corporations have been using their profits not for investment in new plant and equipment, but to buy back their own shares. Any economist worthy of the name should instantly recognize that when corporations repurchase their shares rather than invest, they see no demand for increased output. Therefore, they loot their corporations for bonuses, decapitalizing the companies in the process. There is perfect knowledge that this is what is going on, and it is totally inconsistent with a growing economy.

As is the labor force participation rate. Normally, economic growth results in a rising labor force participation rate as people enter the work force to take advantage of the jobs. But throughout the alleged economic boom, the participation rate has been falling, because there are no jobs to be had.

In the 21st century, the US has been decapitalized and living standards have declined. For a while the process was kept going by the expansion of debt, but consumer income has not kept place and consumer debt expansion has reached its limits.

The Fed/Treasury “plunge protection team” can keep the stock market up by purchasing S&P futures. The Fed can pump out more money to drive up financial asset prices. But the money doesn’t drive up production, because the jobs and the economic activity that jobs represent have been sent abroad. What globalism did was to transfer the US economy to China.

Real statistical analysis, as contrasted with the official propaganda, shows that the happy picture of a booming economy is an illusion created by statistical deception. Inflation is undermeasured, so when nominal GDP is deflated, the result is to count higher prices as an increase in real output, that is, inflation becomes real economic growth. Unemployment is not counted. If you have not searched for a job in the past 4 weeks, you are officially not a part of the work force and your unemployment is not counted. The way the government counts unemployment is so extraordinary that I am surpised the US does not have a zero rate of unemployment.

How does a country recover when it has given its economy away to a foreign country that it now demonizes as an enemy? What better example is there of a ruling class that is totally incompetent than one that gives its economy bound and gagged to an enemy so that its corporate friends can pocket short-term riches?

We can’t blame this on Trump. He inherited the problem, and he has no advisers who can help him understand the problem and find a solution. No such advisers exist among neoliberal economists. I can only think of four economists who could help Trump, and one of them is a Russian.

The conclusion is that the United States is locked on a path that leads directly to the Third World of 60 years ago. President Trump is helpless to do anything about it.

Posted in culture, Deep State, Economics, Empire, Financial Crisis, Geopolitics, Labor, Neoliberalism, Oligarchy, Recession, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Two for Tuesday

Chumbawamba

Posted in Art, culture, Film, Two for Tuesday, Video | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Global Climate Movement is Failing: Why?

By Robert J. Burrowes

It has been satisfying to note the significant response to two recent climate campaigns: the actions, including the recent Global Climate Strike, initiated by school students inspired by Greta Thunberg and the climate actions organized by Extinction Rebellion.

While delighted that these campaigns have finally managed to mobilize significant numbers of people around the existential threat the climate catastrophe poses to life on Earth, I would like to briefly raise some issues for consideration by each of those involved in the climate movement as well as those considering involvement.

I do this because history provides clearcut and compelling lessons on how to make such movements have the impact we need and, so far, the climate movement is not doing several vital things if we are to indeed be successful. And I would like to be successful.

So here are five key issues that I would address as soon as possible.

  1. Analyze the climate catastrophe within the context of the ongoing and broader environmental disaster that is currently taking place.
  2. Analyze the climate catastrophe and environmental disaster to better understand the political, economic and social systems and structures, as well as the individual behaviours, that are driving them.
  3. Based on these analyses, reorient the movement’s strategic focus: that is, who and what is the movement trying to change?
  4. And then identify the nature of the behavioural changes we are asking of people and their organizations, and how these will be achieved.
  5. In what timeframe?

Let me briefly elaborate why I believe these issues are so important.

  1. Earth’s biosphere is under siege, not just the climate.

There is no point mobilizing action to halt ongoing destruction of the climate while paying insufficient attention to the vast range of other threats to key ecosystems that make life on Earth possible. I understand that most movements, whether concerned with peace, the environment or social justice, for example, tend to confine their concern to one issue. Unfortunately, however, we no longer have the luxury of doing that given the multifaceted existential threats to life on Earth.

The biosphere is under siege on many fronts with military violence, radioactive contamination (from nuclear weapons testing, nuclear waste from power plants including Fukushima and Chernobyl, depleted uranium weapons…), destruction of the rainforests and oceans, contamination and depletion of Earth’s fresh water supply, geoengineering, 5G and many other assaults inflicting ongoing and uncontained damage on Earth and its species. See, for example, ‘5G and the Wireless Revolution: When Progress Becomes a Death Sentence’.

This has critical implications for the strategic goals we set ourselves in our struggle to save not only the climate but the many vital ecosystems of Earth’s biosphere. In short, if we ‘save the climate’ but rainforests are destroyed or nuclear war takes place, then saving the climate will have been a pyrrhic victory.

  1. Politicians are a ‘sideshow’ with negligible power.

Hence, it is a waste of time lobbying them to do such things as ‘declare a climate emergency’, ‘phase out all fossil fuel extraction and transform our economy to 100% renewable energy by 2030’, ‘recognize indigenous sovereignty’ and ‘implement a Green New Deal’.

The global elite, which is insane, is ‘running the show’, including the key political, economic, military and social structures and the bulk of the politicians we supposedly elect. This means that the global elite holds the levers of power over the world capitalist system, national military forces and the major international political and economic organizations such as the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. For brief explanations of this, with references to many more elaborate accounts, see the section headed ‘How the World Works: A Brief History’ in ‘Why Activists Fail’, as well as ‘Exposing the Giants: The Global Power Elite’ and ‘The Global Elite is Insane Revisited’.

But separately from the role of the global elite in managing the major political, economic and social systems and structures in order to extract maximum corporate profit, individual behaviours, particularly the consumption patterns of people in industrialized countries, are also driving the destruction of Earth’s biosphere. Why? Because our parenting and teaching models are extraordinarily violent and leave the typical human living in an unconsciously terrified, self-hating and powerless state and addicted to using consumption as a key means to suppress awareness of how they feel. See ‘Love Denied: The Psychology of Materialism, Violence and War’ and ‘Do We Want School or Education?’ and, for more detail, ‘Why Violence?’ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’.

3 & 4. If we understand the above two points, we can reorient our efforts.

This means that instead of powerlessly lobbying politicians, we can change our strategic focus to maximize our strategic impact. So, on the one hand for example, we can tackle corporations profiting from the manufacture, sale and use of military weapons, the extraction and sale of fossil fuels or the manufacture and sale of the poison glyphosate (‘Roundup’), by designing and implementing thoughtful strategies of nonviolent action to end their manufacture and sale of these life-destroying products. For comprehensive guidance on campaigning strategically, see Nonviolent Campaign Strategy. For a list of the strategic goals necessary to effectively tackle the climate catastrophe or end war, for example, see ‘Strategic Aims’. And for a brief explanation of how to make a nonviolent action have maximum impact, see ‘Nonviolent Action: Why and How it Works’.

On the other hand, we can encourage responsible and systematic reductions of consumption in all key areas – water, household energy, transport fuels, metals, meat, paper and plastic – while dramatically expanding individual and community self-reliance in 16 areas in industrialized countries as outlined in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’. Or, more simply, we can encourage people to make the Earth Pledge (below).

Once enough people commit to one or the other of these two approaches (to substantially reduce consumption and increase local self-reliance), then three vital outcomes will be achieved:

  1. it will progressively reduce resource extraction from, and pollution of, Earth’s biosphere,
  2. it will functionally undermine capitalism and the ongoing industrialization process, and
  3. it will remove the fundamental driver of the global elite’s perpetual war: our collective demand for the goods and services made available by the elite’s theft of resources from countries they invade and exploit on our behalf.

I am well aware of the captivating power of turning up in a shared space with a vast bunch of other people with whom we agree. Unfortunately, while it might be a lot of fun, it is usually a waste of time strategically. Even the largest worldwide mobilization in human history (against the imminent US-led war on Iraq) on 15 February 2003, in which 30,000,000 people participated in more than 600 cities around the world, was ineffective. See ‘Why Activists Fail’.

Of course, if you still want a large public action, then you need to make sure the gathering has strategic focus. For example, instead of using it to powerlessly beg politicians to fix things for us, make it an occasion where participants can publicly commit to taking powerful action themselves by signing the Earth Pledge.

The Earth Pledge

Out of love for the Earth and all of its creatures, and my respect for their needs, from this day onwards I pledge that:

  1. I will listen deeply to children (see explanation below)
  2. I will not travel by plane
  3. I will not travel by car
  4. I will not eat meat and fish
  5. I will only eat organically/biodynamically grown food
  6. I will minimize the amount of fresh water I use, including by minimizing my ownership and use of electronic devices
  7. I will not buy rainforest timber
  8. I will not buy or use single-use plastic, such as bags, bottles, containers, cups and straws
  9. I will not use banks, superannuation (pension) funds or insurance companies that provide any service to corporations involved in fossil fuels, nuclear power and/or weapons
  10. I will not accept employment from, or invest in, any organization that supports or participates in the exploitation of fellow human beings or profits from killing and/or destruction of the biosphere
  11. I will not get news from the corporate media (mainstream newspapers, television, radio, Google, Facebook, Twitter…)
  12. I will make the effort to learn a skill, such as food gardening or sewing, that makes me more self-reliant
  13. I will gently encourage my family and friends to consider signing this pledge.

To reiterate: It is delusional to believe that we can sustain the existing levels of consumption and preserve Earth’s biosphere. Because, in the end, it is our over-consumption that is driving the destruction. As an aside, this is also why the various Green New Deal proposals being put forward are misconceived: each of the versions that I have checked is essentially a wish-list of desirable changes ‘demanded’ of governments while missing the fundamental point that if people still want to fly, drive, eat meat and fish, or food that is poisoned, use electronic devices…, they are paying the elite to maintain existing structures of violence and exploitation, to continue killing people (to steal their resources) and to destroy the biosphere. And this, of course, means that we are directly complicit in the violence, exploitation and destruction. After all, why should the elite listen to our demands for change when we spend our money supporting their existing profit-maximizing, people-killing and biosphere-destroying behaviours?

If this all seems too challenging, then I invite you to consider doing the emotional healing necessary so that you can act powerfully in response to this crisis. See ‘Putting Feelings First’. If you want to help children to do so, consider making ‘My Promise to Children’ which will require capacity in ‘Nisteling: The Art of Deep Listening’.

  1. The timeframe to which we are working is vital.

Given the ever-increasing body of evidence that suggests human extinction will occur by 2026, there is no point working to the elite-sponsored IPCC timeframe, designed to maximize corporate profits-as-usual for as long as possible. We do not have, for example, until 2030 to contain the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees celsius above the pre-industrial level or, say, mid-century to fully reign in carbon, methane and nitrous oxide emissions. We have nothing like this much time. Moreover, anyone paying attention to the state and ongoing destruction of the world’s rainforests and oceans, the ‘insect apocalypse’ and the accelerating rate of species extinctions (with one million species now under threat) should perceive this intuitively unless (unconsciously) terrified and hence delusional.

But for a fuller elaboration of the short timeframe we have left, if we take into account the synergistic psychological, sociological, political, economic, climate, ecological, military and nuclear considerations that each play a part in shaping this timeframe, see ‘Human Extinction by 2026? A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival’.

Conclusion

By now, of course, many people will be overwhelmed by what they have read above (if they got this far). So this is why those who feel able to grapple with the evidence presented are also the ones most likely to have the courage to join me in taking the action outlined and gently encouraging others in the movement to reconsider and reorient movement strategy too.

It also means that the climate movement and those with whom we must work, such as those in the labour, women’s, antiwar, indigenous rights and environment movements, have considerably more work to do if we are to achieve the outcomes we all want.

Unless enough of us are able to embrace the path outlined above, human extinction in the near term is inevitable because our efforts will be wasted on actions that cannot have the necessary impact given the full dimensions of the crisis.

 

Biodata: Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?’ His email address is flametree@riseup.net and his website is here.

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