4/24/2017

Bait and switch and switch and...

The least bad solution is a partition of Syria and the creation of a primarily Sunni protected area — protected by an international force, including, if necessary, some U.S. troops. That should at least stop the killing — and the refugee flows that are fueling a populist-nationalist backlash all across the European Union.
It won’t be pretty or easy. But in the Cold War we put 400,000 troops in Europe to keep the sectarian peace there and to keep Europe on a democracy track. Having NATO and the Arab League establish a safe zone in Syria for the same purpose is worth a try. And then if Putin and Iran want to keep the butcher Assad in Damascus, they can have him...

4/23/2017

A Report on Active Measures and Propaganda


Politico Europe edition

How Russia hacked the French election

Opinion from Laura Daniels 

Since the U.S. intelligence community concluded that Moscow waged an influence campaign targeting the 2016 U.S. elections, experts have asked: Will it do the same in the French and German elections? Both votes will have an enormous impact on the future of Europe and the liberal order, and much is weighing on whether these democracies are adequately shielded from outside manipulation.
In fact, Moscow has already interfered in French elections. In 1974, the KGB launched a covert propaganda campaign to discredit both François Mitterrand and Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. Overtly, Moscow courted Giscard, to an extent that papers such as the right-wing L’Aurore condemned it as an “intolerable” insertion into French domestic politics. Correspondents interpreted the move as “open intervention in national politics.”

The second link in this piece is to a New York Times article from MAY 9, 1974 with the headline:


Russian Envoy Calls On Giscard, Stirring A Dispute in France

PARIS, May 8—The Soviet Ambasiador has called on Valery Giscard d'Estaing, the conservative presidential candidate, resulting in an assertion by some right‐wing commentators that Moscow was interfering in France's internal affairs.


The first link from Politico goes to this PDF file:

United States Department of State
Soviet Influence Activities:
A Report on Active Measures and
Propaganda, 1986 - 87
August 1987

From the Preface

In response to legislation passed in 1985, the Department of State on July 30,1986, submitted to Congress a document titled Active Measures: A Report on the Substance and Process of Anti-U.S. Disinformation and Propaganda Campaigns.
This report updates that document, focusing on events and changes which occurred between June 1986 and June 1987. Both reports were prepared by the Active Measures Working Group...

...Propaganda is distinct from active measures, yet the two are closely integrated in fulfillment of Soviet foreign policy objectives. The definition of propaganda used in this report is: information that reflects the perceptions or perspectives of a government-in this case, the Soviet Union. Active
measures-such as the use of front groups or the spread of disinformation (lies)--are deceptive operations that attempt to manipulate the opinions and/or actions of individuals, publics, or governments. They often are covert.

Active measures, the focus of this report, cannot be discussed without also addressing propaganda. The themes of propaganda are often reinforced by and are the raison díetre of active measures. Thus, while the main purpose of this report is to reveal and describe Soviet influence activities that are deceptive and illegitimate, they will be discussed in the overall context of Soviet propaganda...

{...}

Skipping to Chapter X

Conclusion

Soviet active measures in the U.S. are designed to influence public opinion and perceptions of Soviet foreign policy goals-particularly defense-related goals.
These include defeat of SDI, promotion of a comprehensive test ban, and a nuclear freeze. The active measures tools include forgeries and other disinformation, such front organizations as NCASF and USPC, penetration and use of labor organizations,
and use of the CPUSA.

These Soviet active measures are artfully coupled with propaganda campaigns and, to some extent, intelligence operations. Recent Soviet active measures are more subtle than past efforts. The use of fronts of fronts, for example, insulates the activities of U.S.-based organizations and helps obfuscate the financing and direction provided by Moscow.

Coupled with its efforts to denigrate the U.S. image, Moscow has sought to burnish its own. An effort-essentially a disinformation campaign to convince the world that freedom of religion now exists in the U.S.S.R. is central to improving the Soviet image. With this improvement, Moscow knows, comes an enhanced capability credibly to address and influence U.S. religious organizations.

In conclusion, Moscowís active measures efforts have become more sophisticated and subtle. This trend can be expected to continue. The top personnel in charge of propaganda and active measures are well-versed in Western culture and society. Their understanding will certainly enhance the Soviet capabilities to influence Western audiences. The most important reason that such measures can be expected to continue, however, is the fact that they have met with a fair degree of success.


{...}

Chapter XI


Conclusion
The Soviet effort to manipulate the opinions and perceptions of leaders and publics throughout the world is highly orchestrated and effective. It has resulted in the widespread, unjustified belief throughout the world that the United States is engaged in such nefarious activities as the creation and purposeful dissemination of the AIDS virus, use of

chemical weapons, and assassination of leaders. One of the most important counters to these deceptive influence operations is to expose Soviet methods.

Remarks by two former KGB agents who defected to the West are particularly enlightening on this subject. Stanislav Levchenko and Ilya Dzhirkvelov were KG13 agents directly involved in active measures operations prior to their defections.

Dzhirkvelov, a former lieutenant colonel in the KGB, worked in the Soviet special services from 1945 to 1980, when he received political asylum in United Kingdom. Levchenko worked officially as a correspondent for the Soviet journal Novaya Vremya in Tokyo. Espionage, disinformation, and active measures against Western diplomats, journalists, and students were part of their responsibilities.

An interview with Levchenko and Dzhirkvelov was published in the article ìSoviet Espionage and Disinformationî in the February 20,1987 issue of Russkaya Mysl, a Parisian emigre weekly.Excerpts from the interview by Pierre Henk follow...

Hello


Shaping the election


... it was time for a decision
“Should you consider what you’re about to do may help elect Donald Trump president?” an adviser asked him, Mr. Comey recalled recently at a closed meeting with F.B.I. agents.
He could not let politics affect his decision, he replied. “If we ever start considering who might be affected, and in what way, by what we do, we’re done,” he told the agents.

But with polls showing Mrs. Clinton holding a comfortable lead, Mr. Comey ended up plunging the F.B.I. into the molten center of a bitter election. Fearing the backlash that would come if it were revealed after the election that the F.B.I. had been investigating the next president and had kept it a secret, Mr. Comey sent a letter informing Congress that the case was reopened.
What he did not say was that the F.B.I. was also investigating the campaign of Donald J. Trump. Just weeks before, Mr. Comey had declined to answer a question from Congress about whether there was such an investigation. Only in March, long after the election, did Mr. Comey confirm that there was one....

4/22/2017



Happy Earth Day!

4/21/2017

Declassify, no?

John Schwarz at The Intercept:

Because Reuters says that its knowledge of the alleged documents is based on descriptions by seven anonymous U.S. officials, and that the documents are classified, the story will inevitably become a political football with furious claims and counterclaims on all sides based on no public evidence.

But there’s a simple solution to this problem: Donald Trump can use his power as president to order the government’s intelligence agencies to declassify any such documents and let Americans judge for themselves.

Curiously enough, almost none of the government’s labyrinthine classification system has any basis in laws passed by Congress. Instead, it’s all based on presidential executive orders and, as the Supreme Court has held, “the constitutional investment of power in the president.”

This means that Trump — and only Trump — can declassify anything he wants at any time. In theory he could obtain any documents like those described by Reuters and immediately put them on the White House website.

To date, however, Trump has declined to use his power to make any evidence on this general subject public. During an April 5 interview, the New York Times asked whether he would “declassify some of the information” regarding his claims that former Obama administration National Security Advisor Susan Rice improperly obtained surveillance involving Trump campaign and transition officials. Trump responded, “I don’t want to talk about that.”

Mikhail Fradkov responds to Reuters report


This from the RISS website:

link


Director of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS), Mikhail Fradkov, has made a statement concerning the report published by Reuters and claiming that RISS has developed some documents that allegedly became the basis of the strategy of intervention of Russia in the elections in the United States 2016. Following is the text of this statement:

“Yet before joining RISS, I was aware that this Institute is an authoritative analytical organization with high-skilled professionals, but certainly not for the purposes, which are now being attributed to the Institute, of performing in fact pre-prepared information operations. I have checked this out for myself once again, having joined RISS as its Director.
...

It seems that the authors of this idea have failed to reconcile in their conspiratorial mindset the existing realities with the desired fantasies to once again draw attention of public to the alleged Russia’s intervention in the election campaign in the United States, as the interest to this topic is being slumping. The attempt to engage Russia as a co-conspirator is faulty at its core. We could left this event without any reaction and treat this as RISS’ promotion in line with the reorganization, which the Institution is now undergoing. However, even an advertisement, if it’s is built on misinformation, is far not what I would like to record in my assets.

Unfortunately, this makes us think that RISS is getting in the way to somebody. If this is true, then it’s a pity.


In-depth analytical research and forecasts on current international situation, derived therefrom, today are being demanded more than ever before. We will keep doing this job in partnership with interested and responsible colleagues.”



PBS:"Russian think tank planned to influence the U.S. election, new documents reveal" part one

PBS Newshour, The Russia File

The link above goes to a Newshour segment (with transcript) covering the report from Reuters yesterday about two documents presented to them by anonymous "intelligence officials". The conversation is between William Brangham of the Newshour, Ned Parker of Reuters and a former CIA officer with the interesting name, John Sipher.

Sifer also delivers his analysis and, you know -- engages the private sector in solutions-based conversation-- courtesy of The Cipher Brief:

The Cipher Brief is a digital, security-based conversation platform that connects the private sector with the world’s leading security experts. We deliver a relevant analysis of news and events that helps readers accurately anticipate and safely navigate the complex, unstable, global security environment. The Cipher Brief was founded by former CNN Intelligence Correspondent Suzanne Kelly on the belief that reporting on the latest security breaches or global security issues alone won’t always help find solutions to the bigger problems. Engaging the private sector in a solutions-based conversation is what moves the ball down the field.
(Sounds expensive!) Unless I missed something PBS did not mention Sifers' private sector security work.

In the initial article Reuters was circumspect about their US intelligence sources: three current and four former U.S. officials and used this headline:

Putin-linked think tank drew up plan to sway 2016 US election - documents

Reuters also provided some fragmentary background on the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies from their website , including a link.
On its website, the Russian institute describes itself as providing “expert appraisals,” “recommendations,” and “analytical materials” to the Russian president’s office, cabinet, National Security Council, ministries and parliament. [bit.ly/2pCBGpR]
On the site there's a more detailed description:

The Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS) is a major scientific-research and analytical centre established by the President of the Russian Federation.
The main task of RISS is to provide information support to the Administration of the President of the Russian Federation, the Federation Council, the State Duma and the Security Council as well as to Government offices, ministries and departments. RISS provides expert appraisals and recommendations and prepares analytical materials for those bodies.
RISS:

deals with issues of national security, studying the relationships between Russia and other countries;

analyses and predicts trends in political and socio-economic processes at global and regional levels;

examines ways of maintaining strategic stability in new geopolitical conditions and evaluates strategic risk factors;

considers ways to resolve crises that threaten global and regional stability, paying particular attention to the fight against terrorism;

resists the falsification of history in the post-Soviet space.
                                          ...

 I think that last bullet point is interesting, resists the falsification of history in the post-Soviet space.


In other news

Nabokov still dead.

“My name, if you must know, is vlaDEE‐mir, to rhyme with redeemer, naBOAR‐off. But only a Russian can say it with its true inflections.”

In another utterance he offered a new English word for vulgarity—the Russian word Poshlost (pronounced PUSH‐lost), which means, he said, “corny trash, vulgar cliches, Philistinism in all its phases, imitations of imitations, bogus profundities, crude, moronic and dishonest pseudoliterature.” Pressed for examples, he said:

“Poshlost speaks in such concepts as ‘America is no better than Russia’ or ‘We all share in Germany's guilt.’ The flowers of Poshlost bloom in such phrases and terms as ‘the moment of truth,’ ‘charisma,’ existential’ (used seriously), ‘dialogue’ (as applied to political talks between nations) and ‘vocabulary’ (as applied to a dauber).”

A few of Mr. Nabokov's other declarations were:

“Of course everybody has his bete noire, his black pet. Mine is that airline ad: The snack served by the obsequious wench to a young couple—she eyeing the cucumber canapé, he admiring wistfully the hostess. And, of course, ‘Death in Vcnice,’ [a novella by Thomas Mann].”

“Many accepted authors simply do not exist for me. Brecht, Faulkner, Camus, many others, mean absolutely nothing to me. 1 must fight a suspicion of conspiracy against my brain when I blandly see accepted as ‘great literature’ by critics and fellow authors Lady Chatterley's copulations or the‐pretentious nonsense of Mr. [Ezra] Pound, that total fake.”

“How can I talk about the novel when I don't know what a novel is? There are no novels, no writers, only individual books.”

“I reject completely the vulgar, shabby, fundamentally medieval world of Freud, with its crankish quest for sexual symbols (something like searching for Baconian acrostics in Shakespeare's works) and its bitter little embryos spying from their natural nooks upon the love life of their gents.”

“I don't fish, cook, dance, endorse books, sign declarations, eat oysters, get drunk, go to analysts, or take part in any demonstrations. I'm a mild old gentleman, very kind.

Oh well

4/20/2017

The great Quixote kerfuffle 2011/ 2912 edition


This is new information to me. I really don't pay much attention to Slate but apparently Katy Waldman, through the magic of the FOA (Future Of Information Act?) had gained access to some extremely revealing messages Donald Trump sent starting in 2011 and one he will send in the year 2912), to Alex Salmond, the former leader of the Scottish National Party. The time stamp on Slate is, as I write, 12/22/2016.

August 16, 2912

These monstrous turbines are extremely unpopular in Scotland and the rest of the World – there is a great uprising against them.

The date alone obviously raises more questions than it answers and that in and of itself may explain why the subject of the Trumps' extreme opposition to "wind turbines" received very little attention when it was originally reported. In retrospect, it's clearly a subject that Trump cares about and deeply.
Feb. 9. 2012

Perhaps the reason these turbines are referred to as “renewable” is because every five years they need to be replaced with new equipment, or renewed … Who is going to pay for the new installations then? Not you, for you will be long gone, but the people of Scotland will forever suffer! With the reckless installation of these monsters, you will single-handedly have done more damage to Scotland than virtually any event in Scottish history!

Please understand that I am doing this to save Scotland and honour my mother.