Tag Archives: CIA

#Vault7: WikiLeaks reveals CIA ‘Scribbles’ tool can track whistleblowers & foreign spies

A user manual describing a CIA project known as ‘Scribbles’ has been published by WikiLeaks, exposing the potential for the spying agency to track when documents are leaked by whistleblowers or “Foreign Intelligence Officers.”

Released as part of the whistleblowing organization’s ‘Vault 7’ series, the project is purportedly designed to allow the embedding of ‘web beacon’ tags into documents “likely to be stolen,” according to a press release from WikiLeaks.

Dr Martin McHugh, Information Technology Programme chair at Dublin Institute of Technology, said web beacons can be used for “bad as well as good.”

“Methods of tracking have historically been developed for our protection but have evolved to become used to track us without our knowledge,” he told RT.com.

“Web beacons typically go unnoticed. A tiny file is loaded as part of a webpage. Once this file is accessed, it records unique information about you, such as your IP address and sends this back to the creator of the beacon.”

WikiLeaks says ‘Scribbles’ uses similar technology, which suggests the CIA would have been able to see when sensitive documents are accessed by third parties, including when they’re accessed by potential whistleblowers.

WikiLeaks notes that the latest iteration of the tool is dated March 1, 2016 – indicating it was used up until at least last year – and was seemingly meant to remain classified until 2066.

READ MORE: ‘Top secret CIA virus control system’: WikiLeaks releases ‘Hive’ from #Vault7 series

The ‘Scribbles’ User Guide explains how the tool generates a random watermark for each document, inserts that watermark into the document, saves all such processed documents in an output directory, and creates a log file which identifies the watermarks inserted into each document.

Scribbles can watermark multiple documents in one batch and is designed to watermark several groups of documents.

The tool was successfully tested on Microsoft Office versions 1997-2016 and documents that are not locked forms, encrypted, or password protected.

CIA’s first rule of stopping the next Manning/Snowden – don’t leave CIA document tracking software on suspected source’s computer

The guide notes that the program has a number of flaws.

Significantly, the watermarks were tested only with Microsoft Office applications so if the “targeted end-user” opened them with an alternative application, such as OpenOffice, they may be able to see the watermarks and URLs, potentially exposing the fact that the document is being tracked.

The tool also sometimes generates errors for temporary reasons, like when the Microsoft Office applications do not properly “clean up their resources.” To rectify this the guide advises users to close all Office applications and then run Scribbles again with the same input parameters.

From RT

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Manhunt underway for CIA ‘traitor’ who leaked ‘Vault 7’ to WikiLeaks – report

The FBI and CIA are investigating hundreds of possible suspects in one of the biggest security breaches in CIA history, CBS News reports. The WikiLeaks “Vault 7” release, which contained thousands of top-secret documents, revealed the agency’s hacking tools.

A joint investigation and manhunt by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency into the source of WikiLeaks’ “Vault 7” dump last month has begun, CBS News justice and homeland security correspondent Jeff Pegues reported Wednesday evening.

The release last month brought to light the CIA’s digital arsenal for hacking into computer systems and smart devices such as phones and televisions. Thousands of top-secret classified files that had previously been guarded within a “highly secure section of the intelligence agency,” as CBS News sources described it, were made available to the world for free by WikiLeaks.

The source of the leak, the FBI and CIA reportedly believe, was one of the hundreds of agents or contractors who had physical access to the material, not an outside hacker. That suspicion seems to align with what WikiLeaks said in their press release announcing the Vault 7 release on March 7.

“The archive appears to have been circulated among former US government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive,” the pro-transparency group said.

Unnamed US intelligence sources told Reuters within a day of the release that the CIA had been anticipating it since near the end of 2016.

The FBI and CIA coordinated reviews of the incident and a criminal investigation was opened within a day of the release, the Washington Post reported at the time, based on an unnamed former intelligence official who said to expect “another major mole hunt.”

Former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell told CBS News less than a week after the release that the leak “has to be an inside job,” as the data was on a CIA top secret network “not connected to any other network.”

Former NSA contractor and whistleblower Ed Snowden tweeted hours after the release that “only a cleared insider” could be responsible for the leak.

Last week, in his first public comments in his new position, CIA director Mike Pompeo blasted WikiLeaks as “a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia” and called founder Julian Assange a “demon.”

Assange on Wednesday hit back at Pompeo on ‘The Intercepted’ podcast with Jeremy Scahill of The Intercept, accusing him of attacking WikiLeaks “to get ahead of the publicity curve.”

“In fact, the reason Pompeo is launching this attack is because he understands we are exposing in this series all sorts of illegal actions by the CIA, so he’s trying to get ahead of the publicity curve and create a preemptive defense,” Assange said.

From RT

Posted by The NON-Conformist

How the CIA helped apartheid South Africa imprison Nelson Mandela for 27 years — and is now facing lawsuits

It has long been suspected that the CIA played a role in the apartheid South Africa regime’s arrest and 27-year imprisonment of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela. It has now been confirmed.

Donald Rickard, a former U.S. vice-consul in Durban, South Africa who worked as a CIA agent, admitted that he tipped off the apartheid regime with Mandela’s location in 1962, the British media reported this week.

Rickard said the U.S. helped arrest the anti-apartheid leader because he was “the world’s most dangerous communist outside of the Soviet Union.” The U.S. feared Mandela was about “to incite” a communist revolution against the apartheid regime, and could align with the Soviet Union.

“Mandela would have welcomed a war,” the former CIA operative said. “If the Soviets had come in force, the United States would have had to get involved, and things could have gone to hell.”

“We were teetering on the brink here and it had to be stopped, which meant Mandela had to be stopped. And I put a stop to it,” Rickard added.

The 88-year-old ex-CIA operative made these comments in an interview in March with researchers for “Mandela’s Gun,” a new film by British director John Irvin, which will appear in the 2016 Cannes Film Festival next week.

Rickard, who retired from the CIA in 1978, died two weeks after breaking the silence in the interview.

U.S. support for apartheid South Africa

Mandela was imprisoned from 1962 to 1990. He subsequently went on to become South Africa’s first black president, from 1994 and 1999.

In 2013, Mandela died, leaving behind a long legacy of support for liberation movements throughout the world, particularly in Palestine, where anti-apartheid leaders such as Desmond Tutu have compared the actions of the apartheid South African regime to those of the Israeli government. In late April, Palestinian officials unveiled a statue of Mandela in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank.

The U.S. government propped up the apartheid South African regime for decades. Like its close ally, Israel also supported the apartheid regime.

President Ronald Reagan was particularly close with the apartheid South African regime. “Can we abandon a country that has stood beside us in every war we’ve ever fought, a country that strategically is essential to the free world in its production of minerals we all must have?” he asked in a 1981 CBS interview.

Mandela went on to blast U.S. hypocrisy. “I was called a terrorist yesterday, but when I came out of jail, many people embraced me, including my enemies,” he explained in an interview on “Larry King Live” in 2000.

“That is what I normally tell other people who say those who are struggling for liberation in their country are terrorists. I tell them that I was also a terrorist yesterday, but, today, I am admired by the very people who said I was one,” Mandela added.

In fact, it was not until 2008 that the U.S. removed Mandela from its terrorism watch list. When the apartheid South African regime declared Mandela’s political party, the African National Congress, or ANC, to be a terrorist group, the U.S. State Department did the same, in 1988.

The U.S. condemned Mandela and the ANC for its goals to build a “multiracial Socialist government in South Africa,” and for receiving “support from the Soviet bloc, Cuba and a number of African nations.”

Lawsuits

Prominent transparency activist Ryan Shapiro, a national security researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is suing the CIA, along with numerous other government agencies, for information about the U.S.’s role in repressing the anti-apartheid movement.

“We’ve long known that there has been a U.S. intelligence agency role in the efforts to surveil and suppress the South African anti-apartheid movement,” he told BBC in an interview this week.

Shapiro says FBI documents he has received show how, when Mandela was released in prison, the FBI spied on him and his inner circle “for political information about who Mandela was speaking to, about anti-apartheid activities.”

Government documents not just from the 1960s, but even from the 1990s, “show that the FBI viewed Nelson Mandela and the South African, United States and global anti-apartheid movements as a serious communist threat that imperiled national security,” Shapiro explained.

He also revealed that the NSA was providing intelligence to the apartheid South African regime on the activities of the anti-apartheid movement.

The CIA, on the other hand, is not complying with Shapiro’s requests. The agency claimed under oath in federal court that it is will not grant the researcher’s FOIA request for records on Nelson Mandela because it is supposedly unable to search through records by someone’s name.

Shapiro, who has been referred to as the “most prolific” Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, requester, is suing the CIA, FBI, NSA and DIA for refusing to release requested records.

Allegations of continued subversion today

The CIA declined to comment on recent media reports about its role in arresting Mandela.

Mandla Mandela, the heir of Nelson Mandela, called on the U.S. and President Barack Obama to apologize, and to make a “full disclosure” of his grandfather’s arrest, The Telegraph reported.

“Whilst we were always aware of the West’s role in overt and covert support for the Apartheid state,” Mandla said, this “disclosure has put an end to decades of denial revealing the fact that the USA put its imperial interests above the struggle for liberation of millions of people.”

“We call on freedom-loving people of the world to come out in condemnation of this betrayal of our nation, the peoples of Southern Africa and all who suffered as a consequence of the USA’s support for the brutal apartheid state,” he added.

Mandla, who is a member of parliament representing Mandela’s ANC party, also suggested that the U.N. should punish the U.S., The Telegraph noted.

Zizi Kodwa, a spokesman for the ANC, told the newspaper the revelation was “a serious indictment” but not surprising.

“We always knew there was always collaboration between some Western countries and the apartheid regime,” he noted.

Kodwa says the U.S. government is still working to undermine South Africa’s government. “We have recently observed that there are efforts to undermine the democratically elected ANC government,” he added. “It is still happening now — the CIA is still collaborating with those who want regime change.”

By Ben Norton/Salon

Posted by The NON-Conformist

I WAS A CIA WHISTLEBLOWER. NOW I’M A BLACK INMATE. HERE’S HOW I SEE AMERICAN RACISM.

Thanks again “Obama,” enjoy your vacation, while true patriots enjoy prison!

I DO NOT like prison. No one should.

It is a strenuous, unceasing effort to cope with the ordeal of being incarcerated at a federal prison. I find myself identifying with the title character from Shakespeare’s “Richard II” when he laments his own effort to adjust to confinement by wondering, “I have been studying how I may compare this prison where I live unto the world.” I do my best to resist the thought that prison is a reflection of our society, but the comparisons are unavoidable. Unlike “Richard II,” my “studying” has not been so much a comparison as an unhappy realization.

From the moment I crossed the threshold from freedom to incarceration because I was charged with, and a jury convicted me of, leaking classified information to a New York Times reporter, I needed no reminder that I was no longer an individual. Prison, with its “one size fits all” structure, is not set up to recognize a person’s worth; the emphasis is removal and categorization. Inmates are not people; we are our offenses. In this particular prison where I live, there are S-Os (sex offenders), Cho-Mos (child molesters), and gun and drug offenders, among others. Considering the charges and conviction that brought me here, I’m not exactly sure to which category I belong. No matter. There is an overriding category to which I do belong, and it is this prison reality that I sadly “compare unto the world”: I’m not just an inmate, I’m a black inmate.

Thinking that you know about something and actually experiencing it are completely different. Previously, my window into prison life was informed, in part, by the same depictions in movies, TV shows, and books that the rest of America has seen. And unfortunately, as a child I heard firsthand so many stories about prison life from people I knew that it seemed commonplace. I expected there to be a separation of the races — by some accounts “necessary” racial segregation — because that is what I saw, read, and heard. My expectations and naiveté could not prepare me for actually living in it, however.

I didn’t have to be taught the rules of prison society, particularly in regard to racial segregation, because they are so ingrained in just about every aspect of prison society that they seem instinctual. Even though there is no official mandate, here, I am my skin color. Whenever, in my stubborn idealism, I refuse to acknowledge being racially categorized and question the submission to it, the other prisoners invariably respond, “Man, this is prison.”

These distinctions are maintained even when I’m watching TV, because there is no integrated TV watching in prison. I am not welcome to watch in the “white,” “Hispanic,” or “Native” TV rooms. So I spend a lot of time in the black TV room. There are no spatial advantages or disadvantages to this segregation, because all the rooms have one or two tables, one or two TVs that offer the same channels, and the occasional pigeon flitting about indoors.

For me, the black TV room is a place of solace for reading, writing, being frustrated by Sudoku, and generally escaping from the everyday pain of prison life. However, even as an escape, its very existence constantly reminds me of the pervasiveness, pointlessness, and harmfulness of separation along racial lines. It is a reflection of America outside these walls. What I see in prison is sad, but what I’m seeing from prison is worse.

Since arriving here last June, and from the black TV room, I have seen news reports on the racially motivated shooting of black parishioners at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, and seemingly unending and routine instances of black citizens, including Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana, falling victim to excessive force and being killed by law enforcement officers. I have also seen reports of law enforcement officers being killed in attacks no less horrific. The sadness I feel at what has been happening outside these walls was already festering inside me before I became an inmate; when I entered prison, I was still reeling from the death of Michael Brown in the St. Louis area, which I proudly call home.

Watching these tragedies from prison, and especially from the black TV room, has been a profound experience. Throughout the days when the shootings were being covered and commentary on the news channels was ongoing, both TVs in the black TV room were constantly tuned in. As the events were unfolding on the news, I was struck by the uncommon silence in the TV room. Accentuating the uneasy silence was an air of frustration and a palpable lack of surprise and shock not only from the others, but also from myself. I, for one, did not know what to say. And that silence was impacted by another burning question I had no answer for, especially being in prison: What am I, or anyone else here, to do? A possible answer came in the form of a comment from one of my fellow viewers that was as stark in breaking the silence as it was in defining where I was and what I was seeing. “Man, this is America,” he said.

I cannot and will not accept that viewpoint, so I wanted and needed to know that outside the black TV room and outside the prison walls, the rest of America also found it unacceptable. I ventured out to see how the news was playing out in the other TV rooms. With the pretext of going to the ice machine (funny how we can’t watch TV together, but we can use the same ice machine), I passed by the white TV room. Those TVs were not tuned to the news reports of the shootings. Instead, one was playing ESPN, the other COPS. I didn’t make it into the Hispanic or Native TV rooms, but it became clear that the America of the white TV room, at least, was not the same as the one that was playing out in the black TV room, both on and off the screen.

Comparing prison unto the world has been no more complex than comparing one TV room to another. The black TV room and the prison society that allows and perpetuates it have not been providing me with a window to America — they have provided a lamentable mirror. That mirror is reflecting the reality that racial segregation, particularly tacitly, is all too American. The America one sees and experiences depends on what TV room the color of one’s skin mandates.
In prison, I see that mindset of latent and allowable racism creating and being typified by racial segregation. On TV, I see that very same mindset in tragic action outside the prison walls through the use of racial profiling throughout the country, racially motivated voter ID laws, politicians stoking racial anxieties for votes, a criminal justice system that engages in racially disparate application and enforcement of the law, and much more. Such all-too-American, misguided practices foster, if not encourage, societal segregation and incite the dangers that necessarily accompany it. I can argue that the Charleston church shooter, the white law enforcement officers who have killed black citizens, and the black men who have killed law enforcement officers acted out of an animosity fueled by this same sort of prison mindset. What I have seen of the America I was a part of is the unfortunate and natural extension of what I’m living in prison.

Call me naive, call me a dreamer, and I’ll wear those monikers proudly because I still believe, even from prison, in this country and what it is supposed to stand for. Has that been my personal experience and what I’ve been seeing from prison? No. As merely one example, during my time in the CIA it became clear, in the organization’s words and actions toward me, that they saw me not as an American who wanted to serve his country but as “a big black guy.” But my dreams of America are far more enduring than a prison TV room mentality. There is a black America, there is a white America, there are many Americas. The greatness and promise of this country lies in equality reinforced by our differences rather than defined by them. My America is not a prison. For now, I’m confined to the black TV room at the Federal Correctional Institution in Englewood, Colorado. When I am free, I don’t want to feel that I’m merely going from one prison to another.

By Jeffrey Sterling/TheIntercept

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Is the CIA editing your newspaper?

Here is a great overview by Ed Jones of why corporate media are the arch-exponents of “fake news”. The media are overwhelming owned and controlled by billionaires and gargantuan corporations, who depend on the support of other corporations for ad revenue, and employ journalists from a narrow, privileged class whose careers depend on maintaining access to elite sources. It would be simply astounding in these circumstamces if we had anything resembling a pluralistic media.

The data concerns UK outlets, but the same principles apply in the US.

One section makes especially disturbing reading. It is the little-discussed matter of the intelligence services’ deep penetration of most western, and in some cases non-western, media organisations. In short, US intelligence services – and to a lesser extent British ones – have for many decades fed information to sympathetic journalists in key positions inside the “free” media, working with them hand in glove. Additionally, the CIA has sought to put its own people into publications to shape directly editorial content and influence public opinion. In some cases, these people may have reached very senior positions.

Nick Davies, of the Guardian, dedicated a whole chapter of his book Flat Earth News to documenting these practices. Strangely, that chapter is rarely mentioned. Journalists who praise the book instead concentrate on his less revealing concept of “churnalism” – journalism compromised by constraints of time and resources.

Jones adds other sources who make much the same point:

Richard Keeble, professor of journalism at the University of Lincoln, … has written on the history of the links between journalists and the intelligence services. … He quotes Roy Greenslade, who has been a media specialist for both the Telegraph and the Guardian [and is a former editor of the Mirror newspaper], as saying: “Most tabloid newspapers – or even newspapers in general – are playthings of MI5 [Britain’s FBI].”

Keeble goes on to say:

Bloch and Fitzgerald, in their examination of covert UK warfare, report the editor of ‘one of Britain’s most distinguished journals’ as believing that more than half its foreign correspondents were on the MI6 payroll [the British equivalent of the CIA – my emphasis]. And in 1991, Richard Norton-Taylor revealed in the Guardian that 500 prominent Britons paid by the CIA and the now defunct Bank of Commerce and Credit International, included 90 journalists.

Keeble has given many more examples in his book chapter of the intelligence services infiltrating the media and changing the politics of the time, including around the miners strikes and Arthur Scargill in the 1980s and during the lead-up to the Iraq war in 2003. …

David Leigh, former investigations editor of The Guardian, wrote about a series of instances in which the secret services manipulated prominent journalists. He claims reporters are routinely approached and manipulated by intelligence agents and identifies three ways – providing examples for each in his article – in which they do it:

• They attempt to recruit journalists to spy on other people or themselves attempt to go under journalistic “cover.”

• They allow intelligence officers to pose as journalists “to write tendentious articles under false names.”

• And “the most malicious form”: they plant intelligence agency propaganda stories on willing journalists who disguise their origin from readers.

Remember that those who should be exposing the intelligence services’ manipulation of the mainstream media are the very same mainstream media that are already compromised. In other words, this story of systematic “fake news” planted by our intelligence services is almost impossible for the media to tell because it would expose a very uncomfortable reality: that they are not, as they claim, watchdogs on power, but rather the lapdogs of the powerful.

If all this still seems hard to believe, please watch this video of a senior German journalist admitting that he was recruited by the US intelligence services (h/t Antonio Nascimento). Udo Ulfkotte covered the Middle East for the Frankfurter Allgemeine for 12 years, and says he regularly acted as a conduit for CIA propaganda. He adds that many of his colleagues were doing the same, willingly promoting CIA disinformation.

Written by Jonathan Cook

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Saddam Hussein’s CIA Interrogator: He Should Have Been Left In Power

Image: Time Magazine

In 2003, I was part of the effort to find Saddam Hussein. I then became the first to debrief him after his capture that December. Prior to his incarceration, I heard over and over from counterparts in the military and the Bush administration that if we caught Saddam we would be able to nip the growing Iraqi insurgency in the bud.

When I interrogated Saddam, he told me: “You are going to fail. You are going to find that it is not so easy to govern Iraq.” When I told him I was curious why he felt that way, he replied: “You are going to fail in Iraq because you do not know the language, the history, and you do not understand the Arab mind.”

More from Time Magazine

Posted by Libergirl

‘US ongoing problem – it can’t control its weapons in Mideast’

US weapons ending up in the hands of terrorists and current happenings in Washington DC and the Middle East are reminiscent of the Afghan Mujahideen, said international lawyer and former CIA officer Jack Rice.
American and Jordanian officials testified to the New York Times and Al Jazeera that weapons sent to Jordan by the CIA and Saudi Arabia for Syrian rebels have been repeatedly stolen and sold on the black market. According to the recent report, the CIA-Saudi shipment, under the “arm and train program”, included Kalashnikov rifles, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades (RPG).

RT: There have been plenty of previous reports of US weapons ending up in the hands of terrorists. How serious is this latest claim?

Jack Rice: It doesn’t shock me at all. I can go back decades now, when I think about operations and frankly… what this is reminiscent of – is the Mujahideen. You can take a look at exactly what was going on with the CIA, and the Middle East, and specifically with Afghanistan and the inability to control the weapons once you hand them over to somebody else – this has always been a problem for the US. They continue to do it. And despite knowing that they can’t control them, they seem to do it anyway.

RT: Is it surprising the US is still arming rebel groups, despite the huge risks?

JR: It doesn’t really shock me though. What I’ve found over and over again – is there is a desire in the US that somebody fights ISIS; that somebody fights the Damascus regime, but it shouldn’t be Americans. So the best ways to do that is to hand weapons over to somebody else and say: “It’s your problem. It is your fight. You take care of it, or we’ll drop bombs from the sky, but we don’t want boots on the ground; we would rather drop AK-47s, mortars, and RPGs.” That is a much easier thing to deal with. And if some of them end somewhere else: “Oh well…”

RT: What do you make of the State Department’s refusal to comment on these recent allegations?

JR: That doesn’t shock me either again. It doesn’t shock me the CIA wasn’t responding obviously, because these are covert operations. But the thing is – it assumes the State Department is actually going to tell you honestly what it is actually going on is a foreign policy approach.

I think we have to contemplate exactly what is going on in Washington DC right now. There is something going on fist in glove with the Agency, the Department and the Pentagon – all three of which are working very closely on these operations. So this doesn’t surprise me at all that nobody is willing to talk about it, especially when things go bad. When things go south who do you think is going to stand up and say: “Yeah, it was me, I am the one who screwed up!” No, nobody is going to say anything.

RT: What are the security implications for Jordan? The country was recently hit by a terrorist attack near the Syrian border, in which seven Jordanian soldiers died.

JR: That is a great point. And that is one of the real problems here: there are security implications – again thinking back to Afghanistan – it is the very same problem. Any time you start providing arms to somebody who is your friend – and that is a very clear and, I should say, not clear definition… The problem is it’s very difficult to determine who your friends are and who your enemies are. And sometimes it’s both.

Those things can end up in all sorts of places for the Jordanians right now. Not they could potentially see a whole series of AKs, mortars, and RPGs that were just rolled through Jordan – that is going to come back at the Jordanians themselves. That is a concern. Remember: these were supposed to go into Syria and into Northern Iraq. That doesn’t mean that is where they end up. They can end up in Western Europe; they can end up in Eastern Europe; they can end up in the southern republics; they can end up in Moscow. We really can’t tell, because once you let go of the weapon, it can end up just about anywhere.

From RT

Posted by The NON-Conformist