Pamela Anderson poisoned Julian Assange with a vegan sandwich?

The Daily Beast reports: In past years, a Presidential nominee calling women he’s accused of groping ugly liars or a major foreign power allegedly hacking into huge swathes of campaign emails would be Internet-breaking ammo. In this election cycle, that’s a slow news day. As America’s collective bad karma continues to manifest in this strange surreality, we’ve become increasingly un-shockable. It’s been a few weeks since a non-Trump headline has hit this new, higher bar for astonishment. And then Pamela Anderson allegedly poisoned Julian Assange with a vegan Pret a Manger sandwich.

According to The Daily Mail, WikiLeaks founder Assange “says his internet link was ‘severed’ by state agents hours after claims he was poisoned by a Pret vegan sandwich brought to him by Pamela Anderson.” We might be less than a month away from a post-apocalyptic hell of our own creation, but no one can ever take that lede away from us.

Ludicrous as these death-by-Pret theories may seem, the facts in this case might be even stranger than fiction. [Continue reading…]


Putin’s hope to ignite a Eurasia-style protest in the United States

Jackson Diehl writes: In the fall of 2004 Vladi­mir Putin suffered a blow he has never forgotten. The fraudulent election of a pro-Kremlin Ukrainian president, which Putin had directly and brazenly engineered, was overturned by a massive popular uprising. What came to be known as the “Orange Revolution” created a model for resistance to rigged elections in autocracies across Eurasia — in Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, Azerbaijan and, in 2012, Russia itself.

Most of the rebellions didn’t succeed. But Putin developed an obsession with “color revolutions,” which he is convinced are neither spontaneous nor locally organized, but orchestrated by the United States — and in the case of the Moscow protests four years ago, by Hillary Clinton herself.

That’s the context in which Russia’s intervention in the 2016 U.S. presidential election must be understood. Putin is trying to deliver to the American political elite what he believes is a dose of its own medicine. He is attempting to ignite — with the help, unwitting or otherwise, of Donald Trump — a U.S. color revolution.

Let’s look at the way those revolts unfolded. In every case, they pitted an outsider political movement against an entrenched elite willing to employ fraud and force to remain in power. The outsiders mobilized their followers to collect evidence of rigging on election day and, when they could, conducted exit polls and “quick counts” to obtain vote totals they could contrast with official results. They disseminated their findings through satellite channels and other foreign media. When the inevitable victory of the ruling party was announced, they called their followers to the streets for mass protests they hoped would cause the regime to crumble — or at least discredit its phony election triumph.

Of course, Trump’s populist campaign is no more comparable to the pro-democracy insurgencies in formerly Soviet lands such as Ukraine and Belarus than Clinton’s administration-in-waiting is to the Putin regime. But Putin’s audacious goal is to create the illusion that they are. “He’s trying to establish that our system is just as bad, just as corrupt, as his,” says Brian Whitmore, a senior editor of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. [Continue reading…]


Julian Assange — still alive — uses internet to claim a ‘state actor’ cut off his internet connection

Motherboard reports: One of Julian Assange’s only ways of communicating with the outside world from within the Ecuadorian Embassy in London has been disconnected, according to WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks claims that a “state actor” has cut off Assange’s internet access, with the group’s Twitter account confirming on the morning of October 17 that Assange’s connection has been “intentionally severed” and contingency plans are being activated. It’s unclear what those contingency plans may be and Motherboard was unable to verify Wikileaks’ claim. The Ecuadorian Embassy also did not immediately provide Motherboard with any more information.

WikiLeaks’ tweet came after the organisation posted on Sunday night what were rumored to be the “dead man keys” to documents; encryption keys that would allow for the publication of leaked documents. Users on Twitter and Reddit suggested that these tweets indicated Assange had been killed, and that these documents should be revealed in the wake of his death.

But these rumors were shut down by WikiLeaks’ Kelly Kolisnik. “Julian Assange is alive and well,” Kolisnik tweeted. “Rumors circulating that he tweeted out a ‘Dead Mans’ switch are completely false and baseless.” [Continue reading…]

It remains somewhat unlikely that President Obama will, during his last months in office, authorize drone strikes on central London. Likewise, the recent announcement of planned U.S. cyberattacks aimed at Russia probably didn’t signal that Wikileaks would get knocked out in what would predictably be a fruitless effort to silence Assange. Perhaps a more plausible interpretation of Assange’s “outage” is that he’s running out of damning revelations designed to torpedo the Clinton campaign. Maybe Wikileaks is now resorting to a narrative which revolves less around truth revealed and more about secrets suppressed.


What did Trump know, and when did he know it?

Glen Caplin, Senior National Spokesperson for the Hillary Clinton campaign, writes: Intelligence officials say that Donald Trump was reportedly briefed in mid-August about Russia’s efforts to meddle in our election. So, at the first presidential debate, when Donald Trump blamed a 400-lb. hacker…


…and at the second debate, when he said this:


In each case, Trump had reportedly already received intelligence briefings about Russia’s role in the hacks, but he apparently chose to ignore the evidence and defend Vladimir Putin.

Security experts have evidence that the so-called “Guccifer 2.0” is actually a front for Russian hackers. The hacked emails have been made public by WikiLeaks, run by Julian Assange, who has well-documented ties to the Kremlin and released the Russian-hacked DNC documents in June. In fact, we are starting to see Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks separately release the same materials that purport to come from John Podesta’s email account.

On August 13, Trump’s close friend and longtime political adviser Roger Stone appeared on Alex Jones’ show and confirmed that he was in communication with Assange. [Continue reading…]

Reuters reports: Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence said evidence implicates Russia in recent email hacks tied to the U.S. election, contradicting his running mate, Donald Trump, who cast doubt on Russia’s involvement.

Pence said in an interview aired on “Fox News Sunday” that Russia or any other country involved in hacking should face “severe consequences.” The disagreement with Trump, the Republican nominee for the Nov. 8 election, came after the pair also publicly disagreed about U.S. policy toward Russia in Syria. [Continue reading…]


Julian Assange’s intervention in the U.S. election

The Hill reports: Julian Assange’s grudge against Hillary Clinton is playing out on the grandest stage possible.

Between now and Election Day on Nov. 8, WikiLeaks is expected to release more than 40,000 more emails about Clinton that are meant to damage her run for the White House — possibly in batches on a near-daily basis.

The emails, from hacks of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton confidante John Podesta’s email account, may be the best chance Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has of knocking off Clinton, the Democratic nominee and heavy favorite to win the White House.
That makes WikiLeaks founder Assange one of 2016’s biggest wild cards.

Assange appears to relish the role.

“He has become which is what I think he always wanted to be: an alternative statesman,” said Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a former spokesperson from the organization’s early days.

“He’s not officially elected, but he’s involved in the highest level of political debate. He can have an influence on the U.S. election. It doesn’t really get much bigger than this.”

Assange has repeatedly vowed to release information expected to be damaging to Clinton, and on Thursday made public the sixth installment of material allegedly stolen from Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman.

The WikiLeaks Twitter account, believed to be manned by Assange, vacillates daily between defending the organization against detractors and promoting damaging stories about Clinton — some of which border on conspiracy theory.

It rarely touches on Trump, and Assange in interviews has been cagey about his support of the business mogul. Trump confidante Roger Stone has repeatedly claimed contact with Assange, telling CBS Miami Wednesday that he has “a back channel communication” with Assange via a mutual friend with whom he dined as recently as last week. [Continue reading…]


CIA prepping for possible cyber attack against Russia

NBC News reports: The Obama administration is contemplating an unprecedented cyber covert action against Russia in retaliation for alleged Russian interference in the American presidential election, U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News.

Current and former officials with direct knowledge of the situation say the CIA has been asked to deliver options to the White House for a wide-ranging “clandestine” cyber operation designed to harass and “embarrass” the Kremlin leadership.

The sources did not elaborate on the exact measures the CIA was considering, but said the agency had already begun opening cyber doors, selecting targets and making other preparations for an operation. Former intelligence officers told NBC News that the agency had gathered reams of documents that could expose unsavory tactics by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Vice President Joe Biden told “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd on Friday that “we’re sending a message” to Putin and that “it will be at the time of our choosing, and under the circumstances that will have the greatest impact.”

When asked if the American public will know a message was sent, the vice president replied, “Hope not.”

Retired Admiral James Stavridis told NBC News’ Cynthia McFadden that the U.S. should attack Russia’s ability to censor its internal internet traffic and expose the financial dealings of Putin and his associates. [Continue reading…]

And what better way to expose such information than by providing it to Wikileaks. Julian Assange can then demonstrate that he’s not a puppet of Putin’s — or risk being outed if it turns out his organization chooses not to release such material.

Wouldn’t that turn Wikileaks into a puppet of the U.S. government? Kind of — except Assange’s position is that it’s not his job to pass judgment on the motives of his sources. His commitment is to protect his sources and publish secrets.


From liberal beacon to a prop for Trump: What has happened to WikiLeaks?

The Guardian reports: How did WikiLeaks go from darling of the liberal left and scourge of American imperialism to apparent tool of Donald Trump’s divisive, incendiary presidential campaign?

Thursday brought another WikiLeaks dump of nearly 2,000 emails hacked from the Hillary Clinton campaign, allegedly by Russians. As usual, they were inside-the-beltway gossip rather than game-changing: the campaign tried to push back the Illinois primary, believing it would make life harder for moderate Republicans.

That has not stopped Trump trying to make hay from the leaked emails and deflect attention from allegations of sexual harassment against him. “Very little pick-up by the dishonest media of incredible information provided by WikiLeaks,” he tweeted on Wednesday. “So dishonest! Rigged system!”

Clinton’s speeches to Wall Street banks were apparently revealed in an email dump last Friday, just minutes after the release of a video in which Trump was caught boasting about groping women – timing that many felt was more than just chance. This follows a hack in July designed to embarrass Clinton on the eve of the Democratic National Convention.

Robert Mackey of The Intercept website wrote in August: “The WikiLeaks Twitter feed has started to look more like the stream of an opposition research firm working mainly to undermine Hillary Clinton than the updates of a non-partisan platform for whistleblowers.”

The seeming alliance between Trump and WikiLeaks is an astonishing role reversal. [Continue reading…]


How Julian Assange turned WikiLeaks into Trump’s best friend

BloombergBusinessweek reports: Early on in his captivity, Assange attempted to learn how to play poker. He was awful at reading his fellow players and poorly equipped to hide his own emotions when he tried to bluff. “He is not capable of faking stuff,” says [Angela] Richter [a theater director and WikiLeaks collaborator who remains a friend of Assange]. She recalls that Assange eventually gave up looking at his opponents’ faces at all and spent the games staring exclusively at the cards on the table. “That’s when he started to win.”

Richter brings this up when I ask her to explain Assange’s apparent support of Trump. “He is shameless,” she concedes, referring to Assange’s anti-Clinton tweets. “But I think he only seems to make mistakes in the moment because he is seven or eight steps ahead.” She opposes Trump but sees Assange’s recent political advocacy as the result of a cold and totally reasonable calculation about what is best for WikiLeaks. “For him, the choice of Trump and Clinton is bad and bad,” Richter says. “Of course, he’s taking the chance to intervene. He might think Trump is terrible, but it might be more interesting to have Trump. If Hillary becomes president, it’ll all be the same.”

Put another way: Assange sees an opportunity in derailing the Clinton candidacy — a chance to reassert WikiLeaks’s relevance by helping to dent the legacy of one of the most powerful political families in America while at the same time elevating an unlikely candidate to the highest office on earth. If you’re in the business of critiquing power structures, it doesn’t really get any better than that.

Assange’s turn toward Trump has also exposed WikiLeaks to a large and previously untapped audience of conspiracy-minded, antigovernment types. “He’s going on shows like Hannity [on Fox News] because they will have him,” says James Spione, who directed the whistleblower documentary Silenced. In Spione’s view, the Trump flirtation is a put-on, a chance to get Assange and his organization in front of viewers. “He’s being pragmatic,” Spione says. In a recent tweet, WikiLeaks claimed that its approval ratings in the U.S. were up 27 percent over the past three years, an apparent validation of the new strategy.

The idea that Assange is mugging for Trump supporters to get attention is a cynical motivation to attribute to such an idealistic fellow, but the same explanation could easily apply to CNN or any of the hundreds of other respectable media outlets that have simultaneously scolded Trump’s daily transgressions while lavishing his campaign with nonstop coverage. Trump has in turn become an expert at using outrageous statements to earn free airtime from news outlets eager for ratings and page views. Trump is now a few points away from the presidency, despite his recent troubles and the fact that he has spent almost nothing on political advertising.

Assange has said that he expects Clinton to be elected president, “almost certainly,” but the possibility of a Trump win may also be motivating his calculation about whom to support. Assange believes that the Obama administration, with then-Secretary Clinton playing a leading role, pushed for him to be investigated criminally. It’s hard to imagine Clinton, who was in charge of the State Department when Assange’s source hacked it, would pursue WikiLeaks any less vigorously than Obama has. As if to make the point, WikiLeaks recently tweeted an anonymously sourced report that claimed Clinton had once asked, “Can’t we just drone this guy?” in reference to Assange. (Clinton said she did not recall making the statement and that if she had, it would have been a joke.)

Meanwhile, Ecuador will hold a presidential election in early 2017, and the current head of state (and Assange’s main protector), President Rafael Correa, has indicated he won’t run for reelection. “That might provoke a deep fear for Assange,” says Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a former WikiLeaks contributor who is now a member of parliament in Iceland. Her theory is that Assange might worry that with Correa out, Ecuador could reject his asylum claim, effectively sending him into the arms of the U.S.. If that were to happen, Assange might prefer that the U.S. be run by President Trump rather than President Clinton.

The Trump campaign declined to say whether a Trump administration would seek to pursue Assange. The Republican candidate cited WikiLeaks twice during the second presidential debate. In addition, a number people close to Trump have given hints that he might view Assange more favorably than Clinton. The day after the WikiLeaks press conference, Trump ally Roger Stone, who has previously referred to Assange as “a freedom fighter” and “a truth teller,” told Jones that the rape case against Assange was “a complete frame.” Stone expressed confidence that an October Surprise is still forthcoming. “This payload is coming,” he said. [Continue reading…]

Meanwhile, Politico reports: “I love WikiLeaks!” Donald Trump exclaimed at a rally Monday night in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, exuberant about the hack of the personal email account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. [Continue reading…]


Wikileaks collides with #TrumpTapes

Trump supporters who in recent months have come to see Wikileaks as a valuable ally, have become deeply frustrated since yesterday afternoon. As #TrumpTapes trends on Twitter, Bill Mitchell asks:

And one “Bronze Age Pervert” from the ranks of the nationalist, fascist, nudist, bodybuilders lining up behind Trump, says:

It’s not hard to understand the pervert’s suspicions about that the timing of the release of the #TrumpTapes.

Even so, for those who assume that by nefarious means Julian Assange got outmaneuvered, why didn’t he just postpone the release of his latest batch of “revelations” about Hillary Clinton?

(But just to be clear: It turns out that the actual sequence of events leading up to the release of the #TrumpTapes story had nothing to do with Wikileaks.)

It required no genius to anticipate what would dominate the news cycle in the hours leading up to the next presidential debate, so why allow the Wikileaks story to so easily get buried?

Is the Wikileaks bureaucracy so cumbersome in its operations that a last minute course correction was impossible? I kind of doubt it, since that really just boiled down to one man’s choice.

On the contrary, the fact that Wikileaks pressed on in such a quixotic fashion is more likely a reflection of its own internal assessment of the shock-value of the latest leaks: that in terms of actual content, they were close to worthless.

Instead, what turned out to look slightly more promising would be another opportunity to promote the narrative of Wikileaks as the victim. At least on social media a few people could cry foul.

In addition, having trolled the media earlier this week with a news conference that turned out to be a boring birthday celebration, and having been berated by Alex Jones as “a Hillary butt plug,” Assange knew his already dwindling credibility would be decimated if yet again he delivered nothing.


Clinton campaign struggled to balance unions and environmentalists, Wikileaks reveals

Reuters reports: Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton struggled with how to secure the endorsement of labor unions while announcing her opposition to the Keystone XL oil pipeline, a project they supported but environmentalists opposed, according to leaked emails published by Wikileaks on Friday.

Before announcing in September 2015 that she opposed TransCanada Corp’s proposal to build a pipeline from Canada to the United States, her campaign sought to “soften the blow” to labor unions by offering an energy infrastructure plan that would create jobs, according to the emails.

The internal campaign emails from August 2015 reveal the difficulty Clinton had in appeasing both unions and environmentalists as she fought for her party’s nomination ahead of the Nov. 8 election.

Wikileaks published the Clinton emails just hours after the U.S. government accused Russia of a campaign of cyber attacks against Democratic Party organizations. [Continue reading…]


Alex Jones: ‘Julian Assange is a Hillary butt plug’

Poor Alex Jones. He stayed up all night waiting for Julian Assange — who Jones was hailing as a “true liberal” — to deliver Wikileaks’ long-anticipated “October surprise.” The Hill reports: A Tuesday morning WikiLeaks event in Berlin did not produce an “#OctoberSurprise” to derail the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign that many had expected, but Julian Assange said he would release more documents before Election Day.

“I’ve seen the internet and I understand there is enormous expectation in the United States,” said Assange, the site’s editor, via video conference at the event, celebrating the 10-year anniversary of WikiLeaks held at 10 a.m. Berlin time.

“Some of that expectation will be addressed [when I announce upcoming projects]. But you should understand that if we’re going to make a major publication in relation to the United States at a particular hour, we don’t do it at 3 a.m.”

Many observers believed that Assange had planned to announce a document post with damning evidence of corruption, wrongdoing or other scandal.

On Monday, Trump advisor Roger Stone tweeted “I have total confidence that @wikileaks and my hero Julian Assange will educate the American people soon #LockHerUp.”

Stone has claimed to be in contact with Assange. [Continue reading…]


Snowden as Superman: The man behind the myth


Ken Silverstein used to write for The Intercept and has had a long career as an investigative journalist — he’s not an apologist for the security state. He started CounterPunch, but like anyone with a sincere interest in what’s true, has no political loyalties. He writes: Let’s pretend for a moment that the official story as told by Snowden and his admirers — with Glenn Greenwald, who’s been chasing a movie deal of his own for ages that depends on Snowden being the perfect hero, being his No. 1 cheerleader — is 100 percent true. Snowden was a loyal, patriotic American when he worked for the CIA and the NSA through private contractors but was outraged by what he discovered and felt compelled to expose U.S. government abuses to the world.

OK, there are still a few questions:

First, a lot of what Snowden released was damaging to U.S. foreign policy and NATO — and that’s in principle fine by me — but why didn’t he steal and reveal anything embarrassing to Russia and China, for example? There’s no way he didn’t have access to damaging information about those countries — both who have plenty of dirty secrets as well — so why, if he was just out to save the world, didn’t he think to expose that as well?

It’s reminiscent of Julian Assange of Wikileaks, which gave Snowden huge support, and raises questions about him as well. Whatever his relationship to Russia, Putin must be thrilled with his recent activities. And Assange and Wikileaks get all sorts of leaked and hacked information, but they don’t seem especially eager to expose much damaging to Russia.

Second, Snowden has recently made a few comments critical of Russia, but I’m pretty sure he’s not going to make it a habit. Nor is he in any position to do so. Some believe Snowden was played by Russian intelligence — and that is certainly a plausible theory though one his fawning fans refuse to even entertain — but there is no question that at the moment he effectively answers to Vladimir Putin. “I don’t know if Snowden understood the rules when he got there, but I’m sure he understands them now,” one former CIA case officer told me. “It’s pretty simple. Whether he was told directly or not, Putin let him know the deal: ‘You can live here and help us out or we can send you home. Do you have any questions’.”

And for Russia, Snowden is the gift that just keeps on giving. As noted above, he’s a global celebrity and a regular of the digital speaking network. He’s beloved by the left and civil liberties advocates and every time he makes an appearance he scores points for Russia. He may not be a witting propaganda tool of the Kremlin but he may as well be. Putin clearly wants Snowden in Moscow, otherwise it would be a simple matter for him to put him on a private plane and send him off to Cuba or any other country that will take him. He’s keeping him there because it serves Putin’s interests, not because the former KGB officer is a champion of free speech and civil liberties.

By the way, Yahoo has reported that Snowden has made about $200,000 in speaking fees and apparently pocketed most of it, even though he has claimed he gives much of it to the Freedom of the Press Foundation, where he, Greenwald and Poitras are board members. [Continue reading…]