“Grizzly Steppe”–Is This a Joke? w/Facebook comments

obama-leaked-hillary-emails-not-hacked-by-russians

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[DEMOCRAT EMAILS WERE INTERNALLY LEAKED – Not Hacked By Russians As Corrupt Democrats & Media Claim]

“Grizzly Steppe”: Is This a Joke?

powerline

 

 

by John Hinderaker

The Obama administration is retaliating against Russia for hacking into Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s email account. It would have been much better if the administration had reacted when Russia hacked into the White House’s and State Department’s computers in 2014, but, as Glenn Reynolds says, at that time only national security was at stake, while now, it’s something really important: the Democratic Party’s power.

So yesterday the administration released its long-anticipated report on Russian hacking. The Associated Press explains the report’s importance:

The U.S. on Thursday released its most detailed report yet on Russia’s efforts to interfere in the U.S. presidential election by hacking American political sites and email accounts.

The 13-page joint analysis by the Homeland Security Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation was the first such report ever to attribute malicious cyber activity to a particular country or actors.

It was also the first time the U.S. has officially and specifically tied intrusions into the Democratic National Committee to hackers with the Russian civilian and military intelligence services, the FSB and GRU, expanding on an Oct. 7 accusation by the Obama administration.

So the report is really important. I read it yesterday, and had to triple-check to verify that this is the document the administration has been hyping.

The report can fairly be characterized as a joke. To begin with, 8 1/2 of its 13 pages consist of boilerplate advice to IT professionals, e.g.:

A commitment to good cybersecurity and best practices is critical to protecting networks and systems. Here are some questions you may want to ask your organization to help prevent and mitigate against attacks.

Right. So how about the Russians and Debbie W-S’s account? The information provided is absurdly thin. The bottom line:

The U.S. Government confirms that two different [Russian civilian and military intelligence Services] actors participated in the intrusion into a U.S. political party. The first actor group, known as Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) 29, entered into the party’s systems in summer 2015, while the second, known as APT28, entered in spring 2016.

The “U.S political party” is of course the Democratic National Committee. But what is the evidence that the Russian government was behind the hack?

In summer 2015, an APT29 spearphishing campaign directed emails containing a malicious link to over 1,000 recipients, including multiple U.S. Government victims. APT29 used legitimate domains, to include domains associated with U.S. organizations and educational institutions, to host malware and send spearphishing emails. In the course of that campaign, APT29 successfully compromised a U.S. political party. At least one targeted individual activated links to malware hosted on operational infrastructure of opened attachments containing malware. APT29 delivered malware to the political party’s systems, established persistence, escalated privileges, enumerated active directory accounts, and exfiltrated email from several accounts through encrypted connections back through operational infrastructure.

In spring 2016, APT28 compromised the same political party, again via targeted spearphishing. This time, the spearphishing email tricked recipients into changing their passwords through a fake webmail domain hosted on APT28 operational infrastructure. Using the harvested credentials, APT28 was able to gain access and steal content, likely leading to the exfiltration of information from multiple senior party members. The U.S. Government assesses that information was leaked to the press and publicly disclosed.

I assume that these claims are probably true, but they are conclusions, not evidence. Does the administration provide any evidence? This is as close as we get:

Indicators of Compromise (IOCs)

IOCs associated with RIS cyber actors are provided within the accompanying .csv and .stix files of JAR-16-20296.
Yara Signature
rule PAS_TOOL_PHP_WEB_KIT
{
meta:
description = “PAS TOOL PHP WEB KIT FOUND” strings:
$php = “ 20KB and filesize < 22KB) and #cookie == 2 and #isset == 3 and all of them }

I am not competent to interpret this information. No doubt some of our readers will weigh in, in the comments. But really: is this the best evidence the administration has that the Russian government hacked Debbie W-S’s email account? It seems remarkably feeble. The administration’s claim may be true. I have no idea whether it is or not. But the thinness of any persuasive evidence in a 13-page report that consists mostly of boilerplate advice to IT personnel inspires very little confidence.

COMMENTS FROM FACEBOOK

Lee Donowitz ·

Regarding “Grizzly Steppe”. Has there ever been an administration that over-promised & under-delivered more than Obama’s?!? It’s comical how poorly this man’s team consistently has scored on “real world” metrics for 8 years.

Nis Silver ·

“Debbie Does Dulles” as in Allen Dulles.

Tom Earnest ·

Does anyone else get the idea that the O Admininstration is trying to kick up as much trouble as possible for the incoming T Administration ? YES, NOT ? Answer YES. I would be interested in who almost caused this big rift between the US and Russia; Who’s laptop had the code; where did they get it; why was it on the laptop ? Compare this last minute excitement / punnishment to that that occurred when National Security was at risk. O Admin has egg on their faces again – not nearly the wizards they claim to be. Difficult for them to accept defeat gracefully and in a responsible manner.

Phil Clary ·

You forgot to report the part where the administration apoplogized for the behaviors and dishonesty revealed. Page 14?

Phil Clary ·

This report does not say why no RNC sites were compromised or what other, if any, government actors were compromised. Was the DNC the only fool to be compromised by the broadly sweeping phishing?

Does Wikileaks have different information than these Russian exfiltrations or was Russia just hosting Wikileaks?

Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr · Edited

Richard Platt ·

Ok, now I got . . . I can keep my doctor, it was the video in Benghazi and the Russians did it. How much more clarity could one want?
Like · Reply · 4 · 3 hrs

Dianne Dee

I don’t think Hillary wanted to win. She choked a week before and proof of that is she cancelled the firecrackers. Furthermore, she booked the glass convention centre that Trump built years before for her finale. Subconsciously that was the glass ceiling she couldn’t break because Trump built it.

Mark Adams ·

The Russians have mind-hacked Obama to perform as ridiculous an exit as possible. Motive: contempt.

Wesley Young

The anti-Trump coalition continues to do Putin’s bidding. What is the real import of this molehill? The more our Country can be divided the less effective we will be in putting America first. This coincides with the plutocracy’s goal of destroying America as a nation state. The coalition wants to conflate hacking the DNC’s emails with hacking our election process. There’s no concrete proof of the former and consequently no proof whatsoever of the latter. The coalition wants to hamstring our President-elect to block him achieving the goals he was elected for. A secondary objective is to keep anyone from looking into the voter fraud committed by the dems.
Like · Reply · 1 · 8 hrs

Max Duncan ·

It’s right there on the first of 13 pages. “The Russians did it.” How much more evidence do you need? ROFL! Little Paul Deuffert is actually ready to start WWIII on the inarguable evidence – “the Russians did it.”
.
Scary, but the clown is supposedly a lawyer.
Like · Reply · 2 · 9 hrs

Wesley Young

There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s a lawyer.
I knew the report was phony after I noticed it had a watermark saying:
“the Russians did it”.
Like · Reply · 1 · 8 hrs

Glen Tschirgi ·

Perhaps the sorriest part of this pathetic Administration is how they have completely destroyed all credibility of our intelligence agencies. Who cares what the CIA, DHS, FBI, NSA et al say about this? Obama has subverted them all and they are relegated to political hack status. Trump will have to burn down the agencies and rebuild. In the meantime, everything they say is highly suspect. Sad.
Like · Reply · 6 · 10 hrs

John York ·

Yep, this is pretty grisly.

Erwin MacClendan

Maybe Trump and Putin can make an announcement from the Trump Tower in NYC that Russia is forming a joint task force charged with releasing all hacked documents; ask all world hacker’s and WikiLeaks to come forward with any illegally obtained information. The information will be made publicly available to the American people so that they may judge for themselves why the Obama Administration almost got us into a war with Russia.

Jeff Sessions will then step up to the podium and announce that if USG Classified documents are found, prosecutions by the USG will be levied against those who initially mishandled them. Any other violations of US law brought to light will also result in criminal prosecution.

President Trump can then come out and announce both the Russian Federation and liked minded Western Nations are going to create a new diplomatic organization that will take the place of the UN.

This would just about clean out the DNC with no push back from the public. It would destroy an Obama UN Secretary General appointment, and Fauxhontas.

It would pave the way diplomatically for the West and Russia to move forward in a new spirit of peace and cooperation.

Like · Reply · 1 · 10 hrs

David Hanig ·

You know someone in the Obama Administration is BS’ing when he tells the stenographers in the media that 17 intelligence agencies agree that the DNC hackers were Russian Government agents. The reason that we have 17 different intelligence agencies is that each specializes–none does everything. All any statement about 17 intelligence agencies means is that Coast Guard Intelligence and the rest have no objection to blaming the Russians.

What does the Drug Enforcement Agency have to say about hacking? What about the Department of Energy, which is responsible for evaluating intelligence on nuclear weapons? Does the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency have a satellite photo of the hackers? Even the only agency that can speak for the entire US intelligence appartus, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, only runs the committee meetings–it has no means of analyzing evidence of a computer hack.

Like · Reply · 4 · 11 hrs

Doug Brockman

The biggest worst crime here was attacking the sacred but seemingly incompetent DEMOCRAT party Had they attacked the GOP no such wailing and gnashing of teeth. This TRYiNG to use the IRS against democrats is impeachable. Actually using it against the tea party is entirely appropriate and warranted
Like · Reply · 1 · 11 hrs

Erwin MacClendan

I think the Obama Administration codified it into operation law as objectively legal. Imagine taking down BLM, Greenpeace, the Clinton & Obama Foundations, and Georgie S with the IRS. Kinda like Harry Reid’s Nuclear Option – some things get better with age.
Like · Reply · 10 hrs

Irene Bernhard

At the tippity top of the report, in a box labeled “JOINT ANALYSIS REPORT”, it states:

“The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not provide any warranties of any kind regarding any information contained within.”

Talk about a con job….

https://www.scribd.com/…/335…/FBI-Russian-Hacking-Report

Like · Reply · 1 · 11 hrs

Don DeVaughn ·

A .csv file is an elementary database file that has been in common use since about 1970 to transfer data from one database to another; for example, from an excel database to a Wordperfect database. By itself, there is nothing suspicous here. The “Yara Signature” references a common tool used by programmers who are looking for malware, and the code that is inside the brackets is a typical example of programming to find the malware. In my opinion, none of this points to any State action. All of this could have been used by technicians working for the DNC, trying to determine whether or not they had been “hacked.”
Like · Reply · 8 · 11 hrs

Eugene Fridkin

you can download php web kit from GitHub – haha…. They would better show IPs, traceroutes and the real things if anyone is to believe this
Like · Reply · 1 · 7 hrs · Edited

Lee Stokes ·

Csv is the old ASCII, comma/tab/space, etc. delimited file format.
Like · Reply · 4 hrs

William Befort ·

Actors, actors, actors. If this is genuine Foreign Intrigue, where are the actresses?
Like · Reply · 3 · 12 hrs

Wesley Young

They’re all called “actors” now.
Like · Reply · 8 hrs

Matt Brennan ·

Anyone want to chip in to get Duffort some buttcream? He seems to be really hurting. Maybe one of those blow up cushions with a big hole in the middle.

I love the smell of dems going nuts any time of the day.

Like · Reply · 2 · 12 hrs

Arlie Ray Blackshear Jr ·

In 2008, after Obama had won, the LIE-stream media crowed how sophisticated Obama’s tech savvy campaign was. How they had the “smarts” to run a multi level, multi tasking computer software driven campaign with social media driving voters and campaign donations to him and the DNC. It was a information technology juggernaut with the smartest programmers and hackers running circles around the electorate in cyberspace. Instantly, the campaign could answer any attack with a press release anywhere on any topic with their cyberspace war room. The smartest president ever, had the smartest campaign staSee More
Like · Reply · 5 · 12 hrs

Wesley Young

obama was aware of the ongoing cyber attacks back when he was elected. But he only got around to addressing the problem in the last three weeks of his reign of terror.
Like · Reply · 1 · 8 hrs

Gary Black ·

There is absolutely nothing in the document that points to the Russian State as perpetrators. On the contrary, the only “evidence” points to techniques used by any unsophisticated hacker. I will contend the DNC was never hacked but rather leaked by an insider. Podesta was hacked but not by a state actor. Clinton’s secret server was no doubt hacked by State actors according to the FBI but nobody getting excited about that.
Like · Reply · 12 · 13 hrs

Wesley Young

Guccifer claimed HIllary’s server was a piece of cake and that he saw evidence of others had been there.
Like · Reply · 1 · 8 hrs

Arnold Townsend ·

The “root kit” fragment shown in your post indicates absolutely nothing. It is typical of thousands of that type of infiltration and could have come from anywhere in the world. If they did not provide firm evidence this originated from Russia, it is a half-baked attempt to cast blame and fails miserably. I guarantee you it was thrown together under orders and with abysmal knowledge level of most journalists and their editors, it is a fraud.

You don’t need “root kit” to phish for passwords , it is something done all the time by various people for many reasons (nearly always in a quest for ill-gotten gain). Number one: never ever respond to any email claiming some kind of account problem requiring an immediate “password” change or reset. A “helpful” screen will often be provided to help and it may look very legitimate. No credible organization will use this approach.

More bread and circus from the Obama people. What judge at the Federal level would allow this rubbish as evidence?

Like · Reply · 14 · 13 hrs

Wesley Young

AS we have seen in the past, there are a myriad of Federal judges willing to help in the attack on the right.
Like · Reply · 2 · 8 hrs

Michael Eves Shaffer ·

All that snippit is proof us is that you can’t fix stupid. You would think that if they were going to invent some code to “prove” something, they would bother to make it pass programming 101.
Like · Reply · 3 · 13 hrs

Bob Parkman ·

I am competent to evaluate such things, unfortunately there is not enough information to evaluate properly and what information is provided is, as you mentioned, generic security advice.

Lastly, if these “hacks” (they’re not really hacks or cracks, just phishes) were properly done, there would be absolutely no known point of origin or useful path available to blame on anyone.

For them to conclude “it’s the Russians” without any correborating information through other channels is ludicrous. The “report” mentioned no such correboration.

Like · Reply · 12 · 13 hrs

Paul Dueffert ·

No, we are retaliating against Russia for using material stolen from a major domestic political party to influence a US election. It arguably is an act of war.
Like · Reply · 1 · 13 hrs · Edited

Mike Ster

Paul – you’re kind of sexy when you talk tough
Like · Reply · 11 · 13 hrs

Scott Wallace ·

So to make sure I understand this right, stealing private emails from those with political influence or information or thinking of some sort, in order to better insure a political outcome of one’s liking, is something that can be considered legitimate grounds for armed violence? Not arguing against, just want to make sure we get universally applicable ground rules established.
Like · Reply · 10 · 12 hrs

Jean Louise

Was it an act of war when the US attempted to influence Israel’s 2015 election? Or any of the other 117 elections the US has influenced around the world from 1946 to 2000?
Like · Reply · 11 · 12 hrs

Dan Shapiro ·

Consider, this is the same administration of rogue agents and if you like your doctor, you can…….

It’s cases like this that rely on past credibility. In this instance there is none.

Like · Reply · 5 · 13 hrs

Bill Wilson ·

Who, at this point, would believe one word said by this administration? There has never been a more thoroughly discredited and documented nest of liars. They lie as a matter of strategy. When caught out on open mics or other fora, they admit this.
Like · Reply · 3 · 12 hrs

Mike Fillian

I’m not sure I can draw the conclusion that pulling emails off of a political party’s server is equal to hacking a government server. At least as far as resulting in significant government retaliation. It seems asymmetrical.
Like · Reply · 8 · 13 hrs

Paul Dueffert ·

Do you really think the US should have done nothing when North Korea hacked Sony’s system? http://www.wsj.com/…/u-s-penalizes-north-korea-in…
Like · Reply · 12 hrs · Edited

Terrence OBrien

Paul Dueffert
Why not? They did nothng when they said the Russians hacked the White House and shut down their systems for a few weeks.
Like · Reply · 7 · 12 hrs · Edited

Randy David ·

What if a high level US politician gets drunk and passes out on a park bench…while passed out a folder with some secret information falls onto the walkway… someone picks up this information and discovers it is highly prized strategic concerns from a super power and they keep it. This would be the equivalent to what happened to Hillary… dunno about the rest of the DNC.
Like · Reply · 1 · 12 hrs

Christopher Mayerle ·

There is a giant leap of logic based on what the FBI & DHS are claiming is “evidence.” There was spearphishing, which is done by Russian government and non-government actors…and Nigerian royalty trying to hide their ill-gotten gains in my bank account and snot-nosed American, European, NorK, Venezuelan, etc. hackers.

Oh, but they used malware that Russians sometimes use, which is also used by Nigerian royalty and snot-nosed American, European, NorK, Venezuelan, etc…. Once malware is used, any competent hacker can modify it for their own personal use.

They used a fake domain, just like the Russians…and Nigerian royalty and snot-nosed American, European, NorK, Venezuelan, etc….

Whoever did the hack is probably smart enough to cover their tracks. So, unless there is some HUMINT out there telling us who it really was, the joint report really lends no credence to the story.

Like · Reply · 10 · 13 hrs

Paul Dueffert ·

Exactly why we need a Select Committee to investigate the facts, and lay them out in full to the public, as soon as possible.
Like · Reply · 13 hrs

Mike Ster

Paul Dueffert And we need this outgoing admin to stop politicizing it, right, Paul? We should wait for facts. Your comment only points pout how irresponsible Obama is being now and has been in the past.
Like · Reply · 8 · 12 hrs · Edited

Terrence OBrien

Paul Dueffert
Russians are known to use screw drivers. The window was forced open with a screw driver. Obviously the Russians did it.

Only Congress can figure it out. The last time they tried, none of the intelligence agencies showed up. A stern letter will follow.

Like · Reply · 7 · 12 hrs · Edited

Ed Lee

If the Russians did hack it still doesn’t explain the incentive to have Trump over Hillary. Yes, I know Trump was saying nice things about Putin but everyone already knows that the Dems are patsys and the Russians have hilLIARy’s emails and much more with which to blackmail her to get what they want.

I have another thought. If the Russians were somehow involved with the leaks and assuming they have every reason for another feckless Dem admin, I think they were fooled by the polls and just wanted to weaken the presumptive winner when she becomes president.

Like · Reply · 2 · 13 hrs

Ryan Murphy ·

Trump wants to improve the nuclear arsenal: Putin doesn’t want that. trump wants misled defense – Russia stridently doesn’t want that. Trump wants increased us energy production. Russia doesn’t want that …
Like · Reply · 2 · 9 hrs

Michael Kennedy

“Who are you going to trust. Me or your lying eyes?”
Like · Reply · 4 · 13 hrs

Dick Hanson

And for all their trouble, presuming that the Russian agents were behind this, they uncovered, what? The Democratic party’s strategies on how to win the public over into accepting the 48.37 sets of transgendered pronouns?

If this is the case, then I almost feel sorry for the Russian agents who had to read this crap. I personally wouldn’t but then again, Putin isn’t my boss.

Like · Reply · 3 · 13 hrs

Paul Dueffert ·

Material that helped fuel a steady drumbeat that HRC had problems with emails.
Like · Reply · 12 hrs

Mike Ster

Paul Dueffert Well, she did.
Like · Reply · 9 · 12 hrs

Matt Dermott Tucker

It’s the Rooskies!

Not:
– Black Lives Matter attacking police, people studying in libraries, and people trying to eat at local restaurants
– Obamacare premiums skyrocketing past monthly mortgage payments
– Blue Collar Union jobs being shunted aside for Environmentalists and Globalization
– A corrupt nominee that rigged her own primary coronation
– Said nominee calling a significant portion of the country “iredeemable deplorables”
– SJWs making constant nuisances of themselves
– Priveleged college snowflakes coming from multi-million dollar families and paying the value of a mid to upper level Merc or BMW a YEAR going on hunger strike because they feel “oppressed”See More

Like · Reply · 7 · 13 hrs

Paul Dueffert ·

Correct. As Ronald Reagan knew all too well, the Russians were, and remain, our primary geopolitical threat.
Like · Reply · 13 hrs · Edited

Matt Dermott Tucker

Sarcasm escapes you, I see.

So which Obama is right…

“The 80s called and want its foreign policy back”

or

“The Russians h@xx0r3d the election!!!1!”See More

Like · Reply · 6 · 12 hrs

Mike Ster

Paul Dueffert OK. So why did Obama wait 7 years and 49 weeks to do something about that strategic threat? He’s an idiot, you say.? OK. We finally agree on something.
Like · Reply · 9 · 12 hrs

Steve Baker ·

so what ?
Like · Reply · 2 · 13 hrs
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US Dept. of Hasbara–SEC. 1287. “Global Engagement Center”

SEC. 1287. Global Engagement Center.

(a) Establishment.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State, in coordination with the Secretary of Defense and the heads of other relevant Federal departments and agencies, shall establish within the Department of State a Global Engagement Center (in this section referred to as the “Center”).

(2) PURPOSE.—The purpose of the Center shall be to lead, synchronize, and coordinate efforts of the Federal Government to recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests.

(b) Functions.—The Center shall carry out the following functions:

(1) Integrate interagency and international efforts to track and evaluate counterfactual narratives abroad that threaten the national security interests of the United States and United States allies and partner nations.

(2) Analyze relevant information, data, analysis, and analytics from United States Government agencies, United States allies and partner nations, think tanks, academic institutions, civil society groups, and other nongovernmental organizations.

(3) As needed, support the development and dissemination of fact-based narratives and analysis to counter propaganda and disinformation directed at the United States and United States allies and partner nations.

(4) Identify current and emerging trends in foreign propaganda and disinformation in order to coordinate and shape the development of tactics, techniques, and procedures to expose and refute foreign misinformation and disinformation and proactively promote fact-based narratives and policies to audiences outside the United States.

(5) Facilitate the use of a wide range of technologies and techniques by sharing expertise among Federal departments and agencies, seeking expertise from external sources, and implementing best practices.

(6) Identify gaps in United States capabilities in areas relevant to the purpose of the Center and recommend necessary enhancements or changes.

(7) Identify the countries and populations most susceptible to propaganda and disinformation based on information provided by appropriate interagency entities.

(8) Administer the information access fund established pursuant to subsection (f).

(9) Coordinate with United States allies and partner nations in order to amplify the Center’s efforts and avoid duplication.

(10) Maintain, collect, use, and disseminate records (as such term is defined in section 552a(a)(4) of title 5, United States Code) for research and data analysis of foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts and communications related to public diplomacy efforts intended for foreign audiences. Such research and data analysis shall be reasonably tailored to meet the purposes of this paragraph and shall be carried out with due regard for privacy and civil liberties guidance and oversight.

(c) Head of Center.—

(1) APPOINTMENT.—The head of the Center shall be an individual who is an official of the Federal Government, who shall be appointed by the President.

(2) COMPLIANCE WITH PRIVACY AND CIVIL LIBERTIES LAWS.—The President shall designate a senior official to develop guidance for the Center relating to relevant privacy and civil liberties laws and to ensure compliance with such guidance.

(d) Employees of the Center.—

(1) DETAILEES.—Any Federal Government employee may be detailed to the Center without reimbursement, and such detail shall be without interruption or loss of civil service status or privilege for a period of not more than 3 years.

(2) PERSONAL SERVICE CONTRACTORS.—The Secretary of State may hire United States citizens or aliens as personal services contractors for purposes of personnel resources of the Center, if—

(A) the Secretary determines that existing personnel resources are insufficient;

(B) the period in which services are provided by a personal services contractor, including options, does not exceed 3 years, unless the Secretary determines that exceptional circumstances justify an extension of up to one additional year;

(C) not more than 50 United States citizens or aliens are employed as personal services contractors under the authority of this paragraph at any time; and

(D) the authority of this paragraph is only used to obtain specialized skills or experience or to respond to urgent needs.

(e) Transfer of amounts authorized.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—If amounts authorized to be appropriated or otherwise made available to carry out the functions of the Center—

(A) for fiscal year 2017 are less than $80,000,000, the Secretary of Defense is authorized to transfer, from amounts authorized to be appropriated by this Act for the Department of Defense for fiscal year 2017, to the Secretary of State an amount, not to exceed $60,000,000, to be available to carry out the functions of the Center for fiscal year 2017; and

(B) for fiscal year 2018 are less than $80,000,000, the Secretary of Defense is authorized to transfer, from amounts authorized to be appropriated by an Act authorizing funds for the Department of Defense for fiscal year 2018, to the Secretary of State an amount, not to exceed $60,000,000, to be available to carry out the functions of the Center for fiscal year 2018.

(2) NOTICE REQUIREMENT.—The Secretary of Defense shall notify the congressional defense committees of a proposed transfer under paragraph (1) not less than 15 days prior to making such transfer.

(3) INAPPLICABILITY OF REPROGRAMMING REQUIREMENTS.—The authority to transfer amounts under paragraph (1) shall not be subject to any reprogramming requirement under any other provision of law.

(f) Information access fund.—

(1) AUTHORITY FOR GRANTS.—The Center is authorized to provide grants or contracts of financial support to civil society groups, media content providers, nongovernmental organizations, federally funded research and development centers, private companies, or academic institutions for the following purposes:

(A) To support local independent media who are best placed to refute foreign disinformation and manipulation in their own communities.

(B) To collect and store examples in print, online, and social media, disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda directed at the United States and its allies and partners.

(C) To analyze and report on tactics, techniques, and procedures of foreign information warfare with respect to disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda.

(D) To support efforts by the Center to counter efforts by foreign entities to use disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda to influence the policies and social and political stability of the United States and United States allies and partner nations.

(2) FUNDING AVAILABILITY AND LIMITATIONS.—The Secretary of State shall provide that each organization that applies to receive funds under this subsection is selected in accordance with the relevant existing regulations to ensure its bona fides, capability, and experience, and its compatibility with United States interests and objectives.

(g) Reports.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than one year after the date on which the Center is established, the Secretary of State shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report evaluating the success of the Center in carrying out its functions under subsection (b) and outlining steps to improve any areas of deficiency.

(2) DEFINITION.—In this subsection, the term “appropriate congressional committees” means—

(A) the Committee on Foreign Relations, the Committee on Armed Services, the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate; and

(B) the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Armed Services, the Committee on Homeland Security, and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives.

(h) Limitation.—None of the funds authorized to be appropriated or otherwise made available to carry out this section shall be used for purposes other than countering foreign propaganda and misinformation that threatens United States national security.

(i) Termination.—The Center shall terminate on the date that is 8 years after the date of the enactment of this Act.

Russia Reports More Incidents of Outside Helicopters Rescuing Besieged Taliban

[Since Nov. 2001, the Taliban and al-Qaeda have been rescued from imminent eradication by intervening airlifts, ascribed to many agencies, US, Brit, Pak.  See St. Dept. spokesman in above video admitting to the preservation of the militants trapped in Kunduz.  This airlift was chronicled by investigative writer Seymour Hersh in The Getaway.]

[SEE:  Chinese Press Reports NATO Incursion In N. Waziristan, Helicopters Take Pakistan Taliban Leaders To Afghanistan ; Gen. Beg Claims US Helicopter Flew Hakeemullah to Safety ;  Afghan president: Unknown helicopters transfer rebels to Northern Afghanistan  ]

Geo-politics and Afghanistan

express tribune

 

 

The writer heads the independent Centre for Research and Security Studies, Islamabad and is author of Pakistan: Pivot of Hizbut Tahrir’s Global Caliphate

A new regional dynamism on peace and conflict led by Russia and China has emerged. With the presence of armed groups and the emergence of new terrorists bands such as Daesh there, Afghanistan remains at the of these new developments. The third session of a trilateral “working group” comprising Russia, China and Pakistan held on December 27 in Moscow also underscores what is playing out in the region.

Following the rare meeting, the group announced that Kabul will be invited to participate in future meetings on the threat posed by Islamic State (IS) militants in Afghanistan. The decision appeared to be a response to Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmad Shekib Mostaghani who, in a note of disapproval, had asserted that “regardless of the good intentions of the participants, the Moscow talks would not help the situation in Afghanistan.” In a joint statement the three nations also reiterated their interest in facilitating peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban. The most striking in the statement was the collective “particular concern” over “increased activities of extremist groups including the IS (Daesh) affiliates in the embattled country.

A cursory look as to what is driving the new developments and guiding the Moscow-Beijing-Islamabad consultations entails some worrying as well as encouraging realities. Firstly, the stalemate on ground in Afghanistan, with 2016 having been the bloodiest year in over a decade of conflict between Taliban insurgents and Kabul. Secondly, the realisation that only a regionally-led and coordinated solution might work following failure of international, US-led efforts to normalise Afghanistan. This might also result in the cooption of Iran, one of the two strategic neighbours of Afghanistan, into the dialogue, which should serve as a big facilitating factor. Third, the birth of Daesh, which most regional players view with extreme skepticism, resonated also by Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, in a rather dramatic way only days before the Moscow meeting.

Speaking during the  quarterly review of the Afghan situation at the Security Council on December 19 Churkin said elimination of Taliban leader Mullah Mansoor only strengthened the influence of irreconcilable radicles which only compounds the current situation in the country.

The most startling was Churkin’s revelations on the expansion/activities of the IS/Daesh influence in Afghanistan. Some excerpts from his statement are quite alarming. He stated that and northern caucus’ republics are being trained and where 700 terrorist families from Syria have already arrived. The intensive nature of facilities in Syria and Iraq make fighters look at Afghanistan increasingly frequently because they can find refuge there and can find a new platform for expanding their influence to CA and Russia as well as China. Some of our partners are not averse to contacts with the extremist and terrorist groups existing in Afghanistan. We known many events when ISIL fighters were re-deployed into northern provinces of Afghanistan by helicopters without any identification signs”. Raising serious, intriguing questions on the US-NATO “attempts to diminish the threat of IS in Afghanistan.” He also quoted the US- NATO forces commander General Jon Nicholson who had “stated that the terrorist organisation IS had set itself of the goal of creating Caliphate in Afghanistan and the fighters Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan it with so-called Khorasan velayat.”

Churkin also spoke of combat helicopters being used for the transfer of terrorists from one place to the other within Afghanistan, resonating similar apprehensions by Afghan law-makers in recent months. Fourth, the increasing craving for regional trade connectivity — epitomised by the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Fifth, despite the stated intent to help the Afghan peace process delisting Afghan individuals from the UN sanctions lists.

The joint statement said that China and Russia, as permanent members of the UN Security Council, had confirmed their “flexible approach to delisting Afghan individuals from the UN sanctions lists” as a contribution to peace efforts in Afghanistan. The Taliban has identified removal of international travel and financial restrictions on its leaders as one of its conditions for engaging in reconciliation talks.

Keeping in view these aspects, one wonders whether the new regional group will eventually trump the Quadrilateral Contact Group comprising China-Pakistan-USA-Afghanistan that was created on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia conference at Islamabad on December 9, 2016? Or is the beginning of a new geo-political game between two obvious blocs (Indo-Afghan-USA and Moscow-Beijing-Pakistan-Iran) divided by conflicting views on sources of terrorism and shared interests in regional peace and development?

Published in The Express Tribune, December 29th, 2016.

The Obama Post-Mortem

bitter-clingers SOURCE

Exit, Hope and Change – The Obama Post-Mortem

Submitted by Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

By now, anyone in this country still of sound mind knows that Barack Obama presided through eight years of remarkable continuity – of changeless conditions that left a great many hopeless. As the days of his tenure dwindle, what do we make of the departing 44th president?

He played the role with cool-headed decorum, but that raises the question: was he just playing a role? From the get-go, he made himself hostage to some of the most sinister puppeteers of the Deep State: Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, and Tim Geithner on the money side, and the Beltway Neocon war party infestation on the foreign affairs side. I’m convinced that the top dogs of both these gangs worked Obama over woodshed-style sometime after the 2008 election and told him to stick with the program, or else.

What was the program?

On the money side, it was to float the banks and the whole groaning daisy chain of their dependents in shadow finance, real estate, and insurance, at all costs. Hence, the extension of Bush Two’s bailout policy with the trillion-dollar “shovel-ready” stimulus, the rescue of the car-makers, and a much greater and surreptitious multi-trillion dollar hand-off from the Federal Reserve to backstop the European banks with counter-party obligations to US banks.

In April of 2009, Obama’s new SEC appointees, strong-armed by bank lobbyists, pushed the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) into suspending their crucial Rule 157, which had required publically-held companies to report their asset holdings based on standard market-based valuation procedures — called “mark-to-market.” After that, companies like Too-Big-Too-Fail banks could just make shit up. This opened the door to the pervasive accounting fraud that allowed the financial sector to pretend it was healthy for the eight years that followed. The net effect of their criminal fakery was to only make the financial sector artificially larger, more dangerously fragile, and more prone to cataclysmic collapse.

Another feature of life on the money-side of the Obama presidency was that nobody paid a personal price for financial misconduct. This established the basic ethos of Obama-era finance: anything goes, and nothing matters. All the regulators looked the other way most of the time. And when forced to act by egregious behavior, they made deals that let banking executives off-the-hook while their companies shelled out fines that amounted to the mere cost of doing business. It happened again and again. The poster boy for this kind of “policy” — or just plain racketeering — was Jon Corzine, the head of the commodities brokerage MF Global, whose company looted “segregated” customer accounts to the tune of nearly a billion dollars in the fall of 2011. Corzine was never prosecuted and remains at large to this day.

Another signal failure in the money realm was Obama’s response to the 2010 Citizen United Supreme Court decision, which declared that the alleged legal “personhood” of corporations entitled them to exercise “free speech” by giving as much money as they wanted to political candidates for election. Big business no longer had to just rent congressmen and senators, they could buy them outright with cash.

A conservative Supreme Court made the call, but Obama could have acted forcefully in the face of it. The former constitutional law professor-turned-politician could have marshaled a response in his Democratic Party-controlled congress to draft legislation, or a constitutional amendment, that would properly redefine the personhood of corporations. It should be obvious, for instance, that corporations, unlike human citizens, do not have duties, obligations, and responsibilities to the public interest; by legal charter they have only to answer to their shareholders and boards of directors. How does this confer the kind of political free speech “rights” that the court allowed them to claim? And how did the Obama and his allies in the legislative branch roll over to allow this disgraceful affront to the constitution to stand? And how is that almost nobody in the mainstream press or academic law even pressed these issues? Thanks to all of them, we’ve set up the primary means for establishing a fascist Deep State: the official marriage of corporate money and politics. Anything goes and nothing matters.

Finally, in foreign affairs, there is Obama’s mystifying campaign against the Russian Federation. The US had an agreement with Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union that we would not expand NATO if they gave us a quantity of nuclear material that was in danger of falling into questionable hands in the disorder that followed the collapse. Russia complied. What did we do? We expanded NATO to include most of the former eastern European countries (except the remnants of Yugoslavia), and then under Obama, NATO began holding war games on Russia’s border. For what reason? The fictitious notion that Russia wanted to “take back” these nations — as if they needed to adopt a host of dependents that had only recently bankrupted the Soviet state. Any reasonable analysis would call these war games naked aggression by the West.

Then there was the 2014 US State Department-sponsored coup against Ukraine’s elected government and the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych. Why? Because his government wanted to join the Russian-led Eurasian Customs Union instead of an association with European Union. We didn’t like that and we decided to oppose it by subverting the Ukrainian government. In the violence and disorder that ensued, Russia took back the Crimea — which had been gifted to the former Ukraine Soviet Socialist Republic (a province of Soviet Russia) one drunken night by the Ukraine-born Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. What did we expect after turning Ukraine into another failed state? The Crimean peninsula had been part of Russia for longer than the US had been a country. Its only warm water naval ports were located there. They held a referendum and the Crimean people voted overwhelmingly to return to Russia. So, President Obama decided to punish Russia with economic sanctions.

Then there was Syria, a battleground between the different branches of Islam, their sponsors (Iran and Saudi Arabia), and their proxies, (Hezbollah and the various Salafist jihad armies). The US “solution” was to sponsor the downfall of the legitimate Syrian government under Bashar al-Assad. We apparently still favored foreign relations based on creating failed states — after our experience in Iraq, Somalia, Libya, and Ukraine. President Obama completely muffed his initial attempt at intervention — the “line-in-the-sand” moment — and then decided to send arms and money to the various Salafist jihadi groups fighting Assad, claiming that our bad guys were “moderates.” Meanwhile, Russia stepped in to prop up Assad’s government, apparently based on the idea that the Middle East didn’t need yet another failed state. We castigated Russia for that.

The idiotic behavior of the US toward Russia in these matters led to the most dangerous state of relations between the two since the heart of the Cold War. It culminated in the ridiculous campaign this fall to blame Russia for the defeat of Hillary Clinton. And here we are.

I didn’t vote for Hillary or Donald Trump (I wrote-in David Stockman). I’m not happy to see Donald Trump become president. But I’ve had enough of Mr. Obama. He put up a good front. He seemed congenial and intelligent. But in the end, he appears to be a kind of stooge for the darker forces in America’s overgrown bureaucratic Deep State racketeering operation. Washington truly is a swamp that needs to be drained. Barack Obama was not one of the alligators in it, but he was some kind of bird with elegant plumage that sang a song of greeting at every sunrise to the reptiles who stirred in the mud. And now he is flying away.

World is Disgusted by Obama’s Hypocritical Foreign Policy

[ Moscow says global nature of Magnitsky Act prompts US to undermine relations with world

“Using human rights as a pretext for exerting pressure on states the US does not favor.” ]

Russian FM: World is Disgusted by Obama’s Foreign Policy

mina

The Barack Obama administration’s foreign policy over the eight years of Obama’s presidency “evokes aversion of the entire world,” Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Sunday.

“I think this man [Obama] and his team – naturally, speaking about the man we mean the team which has proved to be bad for all on the global arena,” she said in an interview with the Sunday Evening weekly news roundup on the Rossiya-1 television channel.

“I think this eight-year office served under the slogan of their exclusiveness evoked aversion of the entire world. They have failed to fulfill their obligations taken before some countries, they have failed to fulfill what they were commissioned to, including by the American people on the global arena,” Zakharova said.

According to the Russian diplomat, from the “moral point of view” the Obama team can be blamed for committing a “crime” as it demonstrated that “the stronger has unlimited rights to do evil.”

“This is what this administration will leave in history,” she added.