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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act

Washington - Obama betrayed America, some say. No one has ever thought of free speech as conditional. However, this law makes it conditional
According to the Zero Hedge, the new law limits what free speech is. Many agree that we cannot yell "FIRE," in a crowded theater, but this may be going too far, experts say. So should those in the field of Journalism be worried? Debates on the issue have begun.

What is the "countering disinformation and propaganda act?"

According to Wikipedia, the actual definition is unclear. Since this is a brand new law, the full force of it has not hit home yet. Yet, they do define it as censoring news that government does not agree with. Whether it is true or not, this law gives the government the right to censor the subject.
According to the Last American Vagabond website, this law compares to the 1984 Ministry of Truth scenario. In 1984, George Orwell wrote a novel called 1984. In the novel, the government restricts free speech among other things. The new government was coined, the Ministry of Truth. Called a "utopia," this world was thought a better place.

Facebook jumps into the action 

Mark Zuckerberg has joined the war on fake news. However, the ones judging what is fake, and what is not, are not qualified to make the call, many say. Snopes, an alleged "fact-checking" website is one of the judges. Snopes, a husband and wife team, have made false calls in the past, according to the Daily Mail. For example, they said Obama's birth certificate was authentic. Sources claim that the certificate is a fraud

As a matter of fact, the Snopes CEO is in a lawsuit case and is accused of prostitution. The Daily Mail has also stated that the website can not accurately fact check the news. The others on the Facebook panel include ABC News, the Associated Press, and Politifact.

This countering disinformation and propaganda act may have social media in a frenzy. With so many mixed emotions coming to play, who are the real victims? According to sources, the American citizen will suffer from lack of real information. Some of these sites have debunked news because it does not fit their opinions.

Obama quietly signs the "countering disinformation and propaganda act" into law 27 December 2016 JAMES LEDBETTER 

Nel silenzio generale il Senato Usa approva il "Countering Disinformation And Propaganda Act". Traduzione: censura.

Germania all'attacco delle fake news: "Multare Facebook se non le cancella" TONIA MASTROBUONI 19 dicembre 2016 

Germany is to set up a specialist centre to combat the spread of fake news and disinformation online, according to reports. 

The government is seeking to set up the specialist unit at short notice, ahead of next year's parliamentary elections, according to a report in Der Spiegel.

In recent weeks, a roll call of politicians from Merkel's ruling CSU/CDU party have lined up to warn of the danger posed to democracy from concocted news stories and conspiracy theories disseminated on social media

Speaking to parliament after announcing her bid for a fourth term in December, Merkel said: "Political debate is taking place in a completely new media environment. Opinions aren't formed the way they were 25 years ago.

"Today we have fake sites, bots, trolls, things that regenerate themselves, reinforcing opinions with algorithms and we have to learn to deal with them."

German intelligence chief Hans Georg Maassen has previously warned that Germany has become a target for Russian "hybrid warfare", with the Kremlin using disinformation and supporting far right organisations to undermine the country's democracy.

An official from the EU's specialist agency which counters disinformation speaking to IBTimes UK in November urged European nations to set up their own specialist centres modelled on an outfit recently established in the Czech Republic to counter Kremlin-sponsored online disinformation campaigns.

According to an interior ministry official's report quoted by Der Spiegel, Germany's Russian and Turkish immigrant communities are believed to be especially vulnerable to fake news campaigns, and "an intensification of political education work" should be carried out with those specific groups.

Germany to set up specialist centre to combat fake news Tom Porter December 29, 2016

The Czech government is to set up a specialist “anti-fake news” unit as officials attempt to tackle falsehoods, predominantly about migrants, which they claim are spread by websites supported by the government of Russian president Vladimir Putin

The new unit will aim to counteract interference in the Czech Republic’s forthcoming general election, to be held in October, amid polling evidence that online disinformation is influencing public opinion and threatening to destabilise the country’s democratic system, established after the fall of communism in 1989.

Although definite links are hard to prove, officials say they are convinced the Kremlin is behind about 40 Czech-language websites presenting radical views, conspiracy theories and inaccurate reports. The officials believe the objective is to transform the Czech Republic’s current status as a western-aligned country.
Part of the interior ministry, the new Centre Against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats will begin operating on 1 January with 20 full-time specialists. They will be based in the building that was used as an interrogation centre by the former communist regime’s secret police during the cold war, when the former Czechoslovakia was a close ally of the Soviet Union.
The specialists will scrutinise disinformation and attempt to counter it, via a dedicated Twitter account and a new section of the interior ministry website devoted to communicating the government viewpoint. The centre will also train civil servants to avoid blackmail and resist foreign lobbying.
The new “anti-fake news” centre has drawn accusations that it will result in censorship, spying and a crackdown on free speech – a charge rebutted by its supervisors.

Czech Republic to fight 'fake news' with specialist unit 28 December 2016 Robert Tait 

President Obama on Friday signed the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, providing nearly $619 billion for war and military spending. The measure passed both houses of Congress with a veto-proof majority and will bring troops a modest pay raise while increasing the number of active-duty soldiers to more than 1.3 million. The NDAA also restricts transfers from the Guantánamo Bay detention center, guaranteeing that Obama will leave office without fulfilling his pledge to close the prison. Meanwhile, press freedom advocates are raising alarm over a little-known bill rolled into the NDAA, which will create a national anti-propaganda center. Under the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act, the State Department will actively work to "recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests."

Obama Signs Defense Bill, Establishing Anti-Propaganda Center DEC 27, 2016

La vendetta di Obama contro Mosca. Espulsi dagli Usa 35 diplomatici russi PAOLO MASTROLILLI 30/12/2016

Russia has promised to retaliate against what it called an “orchestrated campaign” of US disinformation over allegations that it interfered with the American presidential election. 
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said her country was “tired of the lie about the 'Russian hackers', which is being poured down in the United States from the very top”.
Her comments came as US Senator Lindsey Graham warned that Moscow should expect further sanctions following the accusations that Russia intervened in the US presidential election to help Donald Trump.
US security agencies, the CIA and the FBI both recently said that they believed state-backed Russian hackers were responsible for the leak of thousands of emails between high ranking members of the Democrat party over the Summer.
CIA officials said it was “quite clear” that Russia wanted to make sure Mr Trump entered the White House.
But the former reality TV star dismissed their conclusions and claimed it was “just another excuse” for Hillary Clinton’s loss
He has subsequently indicated that he plans to move US foreign policy towards Russia and away from the Middle East and Eastern Europe. 
Asked to comment on the news that President Obama's administration may be planning fresh sanctions against Russia before he leaves office next month, Mr Trump said: “We ought to get on with our lives”.
Speaking at his resort in Mar-a-Lago, Florida, he said: “I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what's going on.
“We have speed. We have a lot of other things but I'm not sure you have the kind of security that you need. But I have not spoken with the senators and I certainly will be over a period of time.”
The new sanctions are said to be coupled with a revised version of an 2015 executive order which gave the President the power to respond to cyber attacks from overseas. However, it did not cover foreign powers’ meddling in US elections.
Relations between Russia and the West reached a new low in 2016 as both Moscow and several Eastern European countries ramp up military spending. 
Last month Nato announced 300,000 ground troops stationed in Europe had been put on “high alert” amid fears about Russian rearming.
“We have seen a more assertive Russia implementing a substantial military build-up over many years – tripling defence spending since 2000 in real terms; developing new military capabilities; exercising their forces and using military force against neighbours," said Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary-general of Nato.
“We have also seen Russia using propaganda in Europe among Nato allies and that is exactly the reason why Nato is responding. We are responding with the biggest reinforcement of our collective defence since the end of the Cold War.”
It also staged a massive nuclear war training exercise involving around 200,000 military emergency personnel and 40 million civillians because “schizophrenics from America are sharpening nuclear weapons for Moscow”.

Following Barack Obama’s vow to take action against Russia for its alleged hacking of the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta’s emails, WikiLeaks has suggested the president upload any documents to its whistleblowing site for verification.
In a tweet from the WikiLeaks Twitter account, the whistleblowing website encouraged Obama to “submit any Putin documents” to them so they can “be authenticated to our standards if he wants them to be seen as credible.”

Obama should submit any Putin documents to WikiLeaks to be authenticated to our standards if he wants them to be seen as credible.
The tweet comes only a day Obama told NPR, “there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections that we need to take action.”
The president has ordered a full review into the hacking and expects it will give “a comprehensive and best guess as to those motivations,” behind the leaks.
The Washington Post published an article featuring claims by anonymous CIA officials that Russia had “intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump.” It quickly came under public scrutiny, as people were wary of trusting anonymous claims without evidence, given the intelligence agencies’ historyoflying to the public.
The Washington Post’s owner, Jeff Bezos’s, also has contracts with the CIA worth$600 million, more than double what he paid for the Post.
There have been calls for the intelligence agencies to produce evidence of Russian government hacking the DNC.

@wikileaks Amazing that the CIA won't deliver the evidence. Maybe because there is none that is credible. Obama/CIA = False narrative.
Speaking to Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Thursday, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange clearly stated“Our source was not the Russian government.”
Addressing claims that WikiLeaks chose not to release similarly damning information about Republicans during the election, Assange also said that the site had received about three pages on the RNC, but that the information had already been published.
The WikiLeaks editor went on to say they were unhappy to even have to say that the documents did not come from a state party, as their usual policy is not to say anything about the source of leaks. In this case, they were forced to do so to prevent further distraction from the content of the documents.
Former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan and WikiLeaks insider Craig Murray said he knows for a fact that the DNC leak came from an insider and not a foreign hacker.
“Very, very few people can be said to definitely have access to the source of the leak,” he said. “The people saying it is not Russia are those who do have access.”
“The documents came from inside leaks, not hacks, he explained, adding that he was part of the handover of the data.
When asked about Murray’s comments, Assange said he did not want to be drawn into discussing it, as they had to protect their sources.

WikiLeaks calls on Obama to submit proof of Russian hacking for verification 16 Dec, 2016 

WikiLeaks envoy: Leaked DNC emails came from ‘disgusted’ whistleblower, not Russian hackers 16 Dec, 2016

Damning emails from Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman did not come from Russian hackers and the claim is being made to "delegitimize" Donald Trump, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Fox News' Sean Hannity in an exclusive interview.
Hannity sat down with Assange in London's Ecuadorian embassy, where the Australian native has been holed up for five years battling extradition to Sweden on unrelated charges. 
Assange is adamant that the hacked emails his organization released of Clinton official John Podesta did not come from Russia, as the Obama administration has claimed.
“We can say, we have said, repeatedly that over the last two months that our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party,” Assange said.
More than 50,000 emails were released during the 2016 presidential campaign, exposing dubious practices at the Clinton Foundation, top journalists working closely with the Clinton campaign, key Clinton aides speaking derisively of Catholics and a top Democratic National Committee official providing debate questions to Clinton in advance.
Despite the Obama administration’s claims that Russia was behind cyber-intrusions meant to interfere with the U.S. election – and punitive measures taken against Moscow last week – Assange said nobody associated with the Russian government gave his group the files.
Assange also noted that in recent statements from top administration offices including the FBI and White House, “the word WikiLeaks” was missing, even as the administration expelled Russian diplomats in retaliation for cyberattacks.
“It’s very strange,” he said.
Some Republican critics have questioned what evidence the administration has to back up its Russia allegations, while others have applauded President Obama for moving to penalize Russia – albeit months after the initial hacks.
Asked if he thought Obama was lying to the American people about Russia’s actions, Assange said the president is “acting like a lawyer” with his allegations.
“If you look at most of his statements, he doesn’t say that. He doesn’t say that WikiLeaks obtained its information from Russia, worked with Russia,” Assange said.
But he said he believes the administration is “trying to delegitimize the Trump administration as it goes into the White House. They are trying to say that President-elect Trump is not a legitimate president.”
Since Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in November, Clinton’s allies have stepped up claims that the WikiLeaks email releases significantly damaged her candidacy – particularly the leak of thousands of emails from Campaign Chairman John Podesta’s account. An earlier release of DNC emails over the summer led to the resignation of Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Asked if the emails changed the outcome of the election, Assange said:
Who knows, it’s impossible to tell. But if it did, the accusation is that the true statements of Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager, John Podesta, and the DNC head Debbie Wasserman Schultz, their true statements is what changed the election.”

Assange: Russian government not the source of WikiLeaks emails  

‘Our source was not the Russian government’ – Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder  16 dic 2016

Did Russia Hack the Election? WikiLeaks Said Its Source Was Not Russian December 29, 2016

Judge Napolitano Drops A Bomb: US Intelligence Was Behind Hacks — Not Russia CHRISTIAN DATOC 12/15/2016

How Russia pulled off a cyberwar invasion of America, according to the New York Times XENI JARDIN DEC 13, 2016

On Friday 7 October 2016, the ODNI released a Joint Statement from the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Election Security.

Seemingly contradictory assertions are being made in this statement. For example, it states that the U.S. Intelligence Community is “confident” that these compromises were directed by the Russian government while admitting that “we are not now in a position to attribute this activity to the Russian Government”. Likewise, stating that the “alleged hacked” e-mails or thefts and “disclosuresreleased through DCLeaks, WikiLeaks, and the Guccifer 2.0 persona, are “consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts”, undermines the narrative of Russian interference. There is simply too much indirect language and too many degrees of separation.

The language and terminology of the statement make it very difficult to understand what is and isn’t being asserted, exactly. It’s almost as if the statement is intentionally indirect and non-commital.
On Wednesday 14 December 2016, the ODNI released a Statement on Requests for Additional Information of Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election.
An important part of this statement is the acknowledgment of briefings on Capitol Hill and that the USIC will make its findings available to the public “consistent with protecting intelligence sources and methods”.
The briefings are probably the source of media misinterpretation from various “officials”. In regard to the inability to produce full evidence of Russian interference, it’s both reasonable and unreasonable. For the safety of sources, potential operatives, and techniques, it makes sense not to reveal particular information and to keep it classified. However, for something of this extremity and for the sheer sake of dissolving the potentiality of any further propaganda on either side, it demands evidence. Without evidence, WikiLeaks is vindicated within the minds of Americans and belief in Russian involvement dissolves. In fact, 71% of Americans do NOT believe the Russian government was involved.
On Wednesday 16 December 2016, the ODNI released a statement in regard to their previous statements.
The strange part of this statement is that it reasserts the claims of the first statement and continues to utilize the terminology of disclosures of “alleged hacked” e-mails. However, it only refers to e-mail compromises in relation to the Guccifer 2.0 persona and claims that those disclosures were intended to interfere with the U.S. election process. This implies the “alleged hacked” emails were leaked through the directed efforts of the Russian government to interfere with the election process. What does this imply of the other leaks and their sources, though? Is the USIC only accusing the Guccifer 2.0 leaks of being a Russian-directed effort?
There’s an underlying impression that these statements and that the general narrative of Russian interference is to veil political mishap and interagency dispute. It could also be that maintaining the narrative of Russian interference is a form of leverage when fully aware of the fact that several foreign governments had access to the private server of Hillary Clinton and have the classified information contained therein.

Analysis of ODNI Statements On Russian Interference December 29, 2016

Romanian hacker Marcel Lehel Lazar, weighing in from a prison 3,700 miles away on the latest diplomatic dust-up between the U.S. and Russia, told Fox News in an exclusive interview that he doubts the Obama administration's allegations about Moscow directing cyberattacks against Democratic groups in the 2016 election. 
Lazar, 44, also known as "Guccifer," spoke to Fox News Senior Executive Producer Pamela Browne in a series of recorded phone calls from his Romanian jail cell in late December. He described the administration's allegation of Russia cyber-attacks during the 2016 elections as part of "a fake cyber war."
"Americans are crazy about the Russian thing and that Russians are invading the United States,” Lazar said, suggesting the allegations are overblown because of Cold War sensitivities. “It’s crazy ... it’s this hysteria you know?" he said.
Lazar has been convicted and sentenced to prison in two separate countries, the U.S. and Romania, for his hacking and taunting of major celebrity and political figures. Lazar is expected to finish his Romanian sentence in 2019 and then will be returned to the U.S. to face 52 months in an American prison after pleading guilty to two counts of a nine-count indictment.
Largely regarded as a nuisance hacker motivated through his disillusionment and frustration -- and some say obsession -- with political figures both in the U.S. and Romania, Lazar was the first to expose Hillary Clinton’s use of the private Clintonemail.com address.
This revelation ultimately led to the identification of Clinton’s personal account used for all government business while she served as secretary of State. FBI Director James Comey described the handling of classified material as “extremely careless.”
The FBI and administration have since turned their attention to responding to alleged Russian hacking of Democratic accounts, which some Clinton allies have blamed for her election loss. 
In interviews conducted two weeks before the Obama administration’s expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats in retaliation for alleged interference in the U.S. elections, Lazar predicted there "will be probes and indictments against some Russian people." 
Lazar told Fox News that he remains frustrated the FBI still has “70, perhaps 100 gigabytes” of his files that were handed over as part of an agreement with the Justice Department. In multiple conversations from his prison near Arad, Romania, Lazar stressed that he gave the passwords which were ‘confirmed’ by government agents as authentic.
Outside cyber experts tell Fox that 70 gigabytes of data is about 1.75 million pages.  
In the summary of its interview with Lazar as part of the Clinton probe, the FBI said “Lazar began by stating that he had never claimed to hack the Clinton server," despite having made such claims in an earlier interview with Fox News. Asked about that interview, according to the summary, “Lazar then stated that he recalled the interview with Fox News, and that he had lied to them about hacking the CLINTON server.”
Pressed by Fox News last month, Lazar had a different version of events. “The agents said, ‘Okay. Can you prove without doubt that you hacked the Hillary Clinton server. Can you prove this without any shadow of doubt?’ And I said, ‘I cannot. I have these gigabyes of data which is hundreds of thousands of documents,' and the FBI could verify for themselves."
Guccifer, who is married and has a child, was extradited to Romania last year and says he has been back in prison there since Oct. 11, but he follows some news on television in a room he shares with four other inmates.
President Obama issued sanctions on Dec. 29 against Russian agencies and companies and took the unusual step of expelling 35 people -- many believed to be Russian intelligence operatives living in the U.S.  
As tensions between Russia and the U.S. escalated in December, defeated presidential candidate Clinton also proclaimed at a Democratic fundraiser that Vladimir Putin “had a personal beef with me.”  
Amel Smith, who has 30 years of government service and worked as counter-espionage investigator at the State Department during Clinton’s tenure, found the former presidential candidate’s statement odd. 
“Too funny, I am sure they had a few steak meals together,” Smith said. “My guess is that the trace of the IP addresses led them to Russia. But this is not conclusive evidence that the hack came from Russia. … I don’t think they [Russia] really care who won the election, just meddling in the process. “

Fake news used to justify real propaganda 

FAKE NEWS Donald Trump and the media’s ‘epic fail’ NOVEMBER 29, 2016

According to a new poll from YouGov, almost half of Donald Trump supporters believe Pizzagate is real. 

#Pizzagate: the Pedophile Ring exposed by Podesta’s Emails NOVEMBER 27, 2016

Hillary Leaks: Wikileaks releases 20,000 DNC Emails JULY 28, 2016

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