By Chris Rossini
The principles of liberty rest on an impenetrable foundation. No one (and no group) is permitted to use aggressive force against anyone else. No one is permitted to initiate violence to get what they want.
To sum it up with a few words that any human being can understand: "Live and Let Live".
Now, since we are all free to choose, there will always be a very small percentage of people that will decide to use violence to get what they want anyway. When that occurs, the use of force in self-defense is permissible. But that's it! Violence is reserved for defending oneself against an aggressor.
If you think about it, the vast majority of us live our day-to-day lives like this. The local news may pick out the few stories per day that paint a nasty picture of life, but those incidents should never be accepted as the whole picture. They're the anomalies, and they attract attention.
If the local news was instructed to only report positive stories, they would have an endless selection to choose from. Every second is filled with such stories, and we wouldn't have a civilization without them.
There are hundreds of millions of us in America. We don't walk up to our neighbor's door, kick it in, and ransack their house to get the stuff that we want. We just don't.
Do an extremely small percentage of people do these things? Yes, of course. Since we are free to choose, the choice always exists to use aggressive violence to get what you want. Some will inevitably do so, and there is no stopping it.
Fortunately, the natural instinct of life is one of "Live and Let Live."
But here's where the problem comes in (and it's a major problem).
What if there was a loophole?
While you would never slam through your neighbor's door, and demand their stuff, their money, or anything else that they own, what if a third party could do it for you?
What if, in allowing that third party to do the dirty work, you could mentally absolve yourself from committing any acts of aggression?
Such an idea becomes almost too tempting to resist.
You get to go about your daily life, living peacefully and morally as you interact with the world, but in the background you have a brutish thug "taking care of business" for you. You don't know the thug personally and he doesn't know you.
You've never met him. You've just heard good things. He gets 'the stuff' for people.
The brutish thug goes by the name of "government."
Government is the loophole.
Government breaks principle of "Live and Let Live."
It allows you to do what you would never do on your own. And it's all legal!
Now you can demand whatever your heart desires! Heck, even call it a "right" if you'd like. The thug doesn't care. The thug will take care of it.
Want free healthcare? Assign the thug the responsibility to make it happen. How about a "safety net"? Free contraceptives? How about a special bathroom? A free college education?
The skies the limit!
And you can absolve yourself of any guilt. You can even tell yourself that "everybody's doing it."
And it's true!
Everybody is trying to get the thug to do what they want. People form "parties" in order to sway the thug and get in control of it. People bribe the thug ... and the thug really likes that. No one turns down cold hard cash.
People pledge allegiance to the thug, and sing songs to it at (every) sporting event.
The government loophole turns into a full-fledged religion.f
But what happens when the brutish thug takes on a life of its own? With all the worship that it receives, the thug may start to think of itself as a god. It may start to think that it is an exceptional entity, destined to make sure that every molecule and every atom on earth is in the place of its choosing.
That would be a bad thing, don't you think?
After all, you just wanted a "freebie" like everyone else. You didn't want to contribute in the creation of a Frankenstein!
Well, humans always have the option of changing course. There is an escape hatch, and it's a much better idea:
Live and Let Live ... No aggressive force ... It's illegal ... Force is only permissible and legal for self-defense. If it's wrong for you to steal from your neighbor, or to push him around to live as you want him to live, it's also wrong to get a third-party to do the dirty work for you.
By Jacob G. Hornberger
Weighing in against President-Elect Donald Trump in his disagreement with the CIA over alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election, the Wall Street Journal’s Shane Harris writes, “Donald Trump has picked a fight with the Central Intelligence Agency over Russian hacking of American elections, an unprecedented move for an incoming president.” (Emphasis added.)
The likely reason that Harris employed the term “incoming” is that it enables him to avoid addressing the big elephant in the room — President Kennedy and his fight — actually his war — against not only the CIA but also another major component of the national-security state — the military establishment.
Kennedy came into office as a standard cold warrior. That is, like most Americans in the 1950s and 1960s, he had bought into the notion that had been inculcated into the American people since the end of World War II — that America’s wartime partner and ally, the Soviet Union (i.e., Russia), was coming to get us and subject the American people to communism.
To combat what was billed as an international communist conspiracy based in Moscow, Americans were told, it would be necessary to adopt the same type of governmental structure that existed in Russia — a national-security apparatus grafted onto America’s original limited-government structure that had been established by the Constitution.
That apparatus included a giant, permanent, and ever-growing military establishment, or what President Eisenhower would later call “the military-industrial complex.”
It also consisted of a secretive agency called the CIA, which would come to wield omnipotent powers within what continued to be billed as a “limited government.” Such powers would include assassination, regime-change operations, foreign coups, kidnapping, torture, rendition, involuntary medical experimentation (e.g., MKULTRA), spying and surveillance of Americans — the types of things that characterized the KGB and even the Hitler’s Gestapo.
Kennedy believed in this apparatus. Even though it had been adopted without a constitutional amendment, he believed it was necessary to keep America free and safe from the Reds, who, it was said, were coming to get us.
He experienced his first dose of reality a few months after being sworn into office, when the CIA presented its secret plan to invade Cuba and effect regime change there. The plan called for using CIA-trained Cuban exiles to do the invading, with the U.S. government denying any role in the operation. Kennedy’s job, under the CIA plan, would be to lie about U.S. involvement in the invasion, thereby making him America’s liar-in-chief (and indirectly subjecting him to blackmail by the CIA).
The CIA assured Kennedy that the invasion could succeed without U.S. air support, and JFK made it clear that no air support would be furnished. The CIA lied. In fact, they knew that there was no way that the operation could succeed without air support. But they figured that once the invasion got underway, Kennedy would have no effective choice but to change his mind and provide the needed air support. It was a classic CIA set up of a newly elected president.
When the invasion started to fail, the CIA urged the president to change his mind. He refused to do so, and the invasion force was easily defeated. The CIA considered Kennedy’s action to be a grave betrayal of America and the CIA’s Cuban “freedom fighters.”
Kennedy publicly took responsibility for the debacle but privately he was outraged. He knew that the CIA had set him up, with the aim of maneuvering him into intervening with air support. He fired the much-revered and much-respected CIA Director Allen Dulles (who, in a classic conflict of interest, would later be appointed to the Warren Commission). Reflecting his disdain for the CIA, Kennedy promised to “splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.”
Over time, Kennedy’s animus extended to the military-industrial complex, the Cold War apparatus that Eisenhower had said posed a grave threat to the freedom and democratic processes of the American people. When the Joint Chiefs of Staff suggested that the United States should initiate a surprise nuclear attack on the Soviet Union (i.e., Russia), Kennedy left the meeting and indignantly remarked to an aide, “And we call ourselves the human race.”
During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the military establishment exhorted Kennedy to bomb and invade Cuba, which, it would be later discovered, would have almost certainly resulted in all-out nuclear war, given that Soviet military commanders on the ground had been given battlefield authority to use nuclear weapons to defend themselves.
To resolve the crisis, Kennedy promised the Soviets (i.e., Russians) that the United States would not invade Cuba again. He also secretly vowed to remove U.S. nuclear missiles, which were pointed at the Soviet Union (i.e., Russia) in Turkey.
Not surprisingly, the military establishment was livid. One of the generals called the settlement the worst defeat in America’s history. The man they viewed as a neophyte, incompetent president had agreed to leave the communist regime in Cuba intact, which, to the national-security establishment, meant that America was in grave danger of falling to the communists.
That wasn’t the worst of it. After the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy changed directions completely. Recognizing the Cold War for the nonsense it was, Kennedy decided to end it and to have the United States and the Soviet Union (i.e., Russia) live in peaceful coexistence. He announced the change at his now-famous Peace Speech at American University, which he prepared without consulting with or advising the national-security establishment.
He also entered into a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the Soviets (i.e., Russians) over the vehement objections of the military.
He also began ordered a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam.
Worst of all, from the standpoint of the Pentagon and the CIA, Kennedy entered into secret personal negotiations with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and Cuban leader Fidel Castro to end the Cold War.
In other words, by the time he was assassinated, Kennedy was at full war against the U.S. national-security establishment. He was challenging all of their Cold War assumptions. He was proposing peaceful coexistence with what the CIA and the military had said was an implacable foe that was determined to take over America. And he was doing the unthinkable — making friends with the Soviet Union (i.e., Russia), Cuba, and the communist world.
In the process, he was threatening the existence of the entire national-security establishment. The contractors. The subcontractors. The generals and other officers. The weapons producers. All the people who were on the warfare-state largess. Without the Cold War against the Soviet Union (i.e., Russia), Americans would have undoubtedly asked in the 1960s, “What do we need a Cold War apparatus for if there is no Cold War?”
With his assassination, Kennedy lost the war and the national-security establishment prevailed. They got the continuation of their Cold War. They got their Vietnam War. They got continued regime-change operations against Cuba. They got an ever-burgeoning warfare state, which continues to this day, notwithstanding the fact that the Cold War ended decades ago. And, of course, they got their continued Cold War animus against Russia.
Ironically, we now have a president-elect who seems to have much the same critical mindset toward the CIA as Kennedy did when he was president.
This article was originally published on Dec. 13, 2016 at The Future of Freedom Foundation,
By Gary North
The White House is leaking like a sieve. Why should conservatives worry about this?
The federal government does everything it can to increase the secrecy of its operations. It invades our privacy, but it whines when any of the rest of us invade the privacy of government bureaucrats.
I am all in favor of WikiLeaks. I think WikiLeaks should be nonpartisan. I think it should expose anything that does not directly affect national security. In any case, the main thing that affects national security is America's meddling in other nations' affairs. We could reduce the threat of attacks on the United States by reducing American meddling in foreign nations' affairs.
President Trump has complained about the number of leaks. This is good news. He seems unable to stop the leaks.
Leaks undermine the Presidency. That was why I was in favor of them during Obama's administration. He was a master at controlling leaks. So was George W. Bush. That was bad for the American public generally. We needed more leaks regarding what both administrations were planning for America. We lost the war in Iraq, and we are losing the war in Afghanistan precisely because Bush was able to control the leaks associated with the unnecessary and illegal invasions of both nations. Congress went along with both invasions. But Congress, as always, did not follow the Constitution and declare war against these nations. It has not declared war against a nation since the declaration of war against Germany on December 11, 1941. Germany had already declared war on the United States.
The government loves to use this phrase: "Honest people have nothing to worry about when the government invades their privacy." I think it is time for Americans to adopt the same response: "An honest President's administration has nothing to fear from leaks."
The existence of these leaks testifies to the fact that the American deep state is secretly monitoring the telephone calls of high American officials. This is a good thing. High American officials should get used to it. They don't care when the deep state monitors the general public, so why should the general public care when the deep state monitors high-level officials in Washington?
This is called turnabout. Turnabout is fair play.
The American elite delights in the fact that the government invades the privacy of American citizens. The elite pushes us around, and it has a great time doing it. Why should we care if the White House is embarrassed by various forms of skullduggery committed by senior members of the White House? This keeps the White House on the defensive. Anything that keeps any branch of government on the defensive is positive.
Every time that the NSA or the CIA places a bug on the telephone of a White House official, the time involved and the money involved are being put to good use. The time and money are not being applied to monitoring private citizens, whose lives have been invaded by the deep state since 1946.
I think members of the White House staff should live in constant fear of being monitored. That would be positive. They deserve the same degree of fear and outrage that the rest of us suffer. Why let them off the hook?
Read the rest
The media reported yesterday that for the first time US regular military forces were deployed in Syria, with Marines preparing an assault on Raqqa and Army Rangers trying to keep two US-backed groups from killing each other in Manbij. An additional 1,000 US troops may be heading to Kuwait as back-up.
By Carey Wedler
When he was in office, former President Barack Obama earned the ire of anti-war activists for his expansion of Bush’s drone wars. The Nobel Peace Prize-winning head of state ordered ten times more drone strikes than the previous president, and estimates late in Obama’s presidency showed 49 out of 50 victims were civilians. In 2015, it was reported that up to 90% of drone casualties were not the intended targets.
Current President Donald Trump campaigned on a less interventionist foreign policy, claiming to be opposed to nation-building and misguided invasions. But less than two months into his presidency, Trump has expanded the drone strikes that plagued Obama’s “peaceful” presidency.
According to an analysis from Micah Zenko, an analyst with the Council on Foreign Relations, Trump has markedly increased U.S. drone strikes since taking office. Zenko, who reported earlier this year on the over 26,000 bombs Obama dropped in 2016, summarized the increase:
“During President Obama’s two terms in office, he approved 542 such targeted strikes in 2,920 days—one every 5.4 days. From his inauguration through today, President Trump had approved at least 36 drone strikes or raids in 45 days—one every 1.25 days.”
That’s an increase of 432 percent.
He highlights some of the attacks:
“These include three drone strikes in Yemen on January 20, 21, and 22; the January 28 Navy SEAL raid in Yemen; one reported strike in Pakistan on March 1; more than thirty strikes in Yemen on March 2 and 3; and at least one more on March 6.”
The Trump administration has provided little acknowledgment of the human toll these strikes are taking. As journalist Glenn Greenwald noted in the Intercept, the Trump administration hastily brushed off recent civilian casualties in favor of honoring the life of a single U.S. soldier who died during one of the Yemen raids just days after Trump took office:
“The raid in Yemen that cost Owens his life also killed 30 other people, including ‘many civilians,’ at least nine of whom were children. None of them were mentioned by Trump in last night’s speech, let alone honored with applause and the presence of grieving relatives. That’s because they were Yemenis, not Americans; therefore, their deaths, and lives, must be ignored (the only exception was some fleeting media mention of the 8-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, but only because she was a U.S. citizen and because of the irony that Obama killed her 16-year-old American brother with a drone strike).”
Greenwald notes this is typical of not just Trump, but the American war machine in general:
“We fixate on the Americans killed, learning their names and life stories and the plight of their spouses and parents, but steadfastly ignore the innocent people the U.S. government kills, whose numbers are always far greater.”
Though some Trump supporters sang his praises as a peace candidate before he took office, the president’s militarism was apparent on many occasions. He openly advocated increasing the size and scope of the military, a promise he is now moving to keep. And as Zenko highlights, Trump was disingenuous with his rhetoric against interventionism:
“He claimed to have opposed the 2003 Iraq War when he actually backed it, and to have opposed the 2011 Libya intervention when he actually strongly endorsed it, including with U.S. ground troops. Yet, Trump and his loyalists consistently implied that he would be less supportive of costly and bloody foreign wars, especially when compared to President Obama, and by extension, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.”
As Trump continues to dig his heels into decades-old policies he has criticized himself — reportedly mulling over sending ground troops into Syria [Editors note: he already done it] — he is increasingly proving to be yet another establishment warmonger implementing policies that spawn the creation of more terrorists. As Zenko concludes:
“We are now on our third post-9/11 administration pursuing many of the same policies that have failed to meaningfully reduce the number of jihadist extremist fighters, or their attractiveness among potential recruits or self-directed terrorists. The Global War on Terrorism remains broadly unquestioned within Washington, no matter who is in the White House.”
This article was originally published at The AntiMedia.
By Michael Boldin
Today, an Arizona Senate Committee passed a bill that would eliminate state capital gains taxes on gold and silver specie, and encourage its use as currency. Final approval of the legislation would help undermine the Federal Reserve’s monopoly on money.
Former US Rep. Ron Paul testified today in the Senate Finance Committee in support of House Bill 2014 (HB2014). The legislation, which previously passed the state House by a 35-24 vote, would eliminate state capital gains taxes on income “derived from the exchange of one kind of legal tender for another kind of legal tender.” The bill defines legal tender as “a medium of exchange, including specie, that is authorized by the United States Constitution or Congress for the payment of debts, public charges, taxes and dues.” “Specie” means coins having precious metal content.
In effect, passage of the bill would, as Paul noted, “legalize competition in a Constitutional fashion.”
Under current Arizona law, gold and silver are subject to capital gains tax when exchanged for Federal Reserve notes, or when used in barter transactions. If the purchasing power of the Federal Reserve note has decreased due to inflation, the metals’ nominal dollar value generally rises and that triggers a “gain.” In most cases, of course, the capital gain is purely fictional. But these “gains” are still taxed — thus unfairly punishing people using precious metals as money.
“We ought not to tax money, and that’s a good idea. It makes no sense to tax money,” said Paul. “Paper is not money, it’s a substitute for money and it’s fraud,” Paul continued, noting the importance of honesty money vs federal reserve notes.
Today, the Senate Finance Committee passed the bill by a 4-3 vote along party lines.
AN IMPORTANT STEP FORWARD
Passage of HB2014 would remove the amount of any net capital gain derived from the exchange of one kind of legal tender for another kind of legal tender or specie (gold and silver coins) from their gross income on their state income tax. In other words, individuals buying gold or silver bullion, or utilizing gold and silver in a transaction, would no longer be subject to state taxes on the exchange.
Bill sponsor Rep. Mark Finchem (R-Tucson) discussed this as well. “What the IRS has figured out at the federal level is to target inflation as a gain. They call it capital gains.” He noted that the bill would help Arizona residents “protect their conversion of one kind of currency for another.”
Passage into law would mark an important step towards currency competition. If sound money gains a foothold in the marketplace against Federal Reserve notes, the people would be able to choose the time-tested stability of gold and silver over the central bank’s rapidly-depreciating paper currency. The freedom of choice expanded by HB2014 would allow Arizona residents to secure the purchasing power of their money.
Ron Paul added that he considered the Arizona bill to be “very important” because it would also serve as an educational effort for other states. In fact, similar legislation is also under consideration in Idaho, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, and Maine.
“The responsibility is on the states to follow the constitution,” said Paul.
Currently, all debts and taxes in Arizona must be paid with either Federal Reserve Notes (dollars), authorized as legal tender by Congress, or with coins issued by the U.S. Treasury — very few of which have gold or silver in them.
But the United States Constitution states in Article I, Section 10, “No State shall…make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts.”
The Arizona bills take a step towards that constitutional requirement, ignored for decades in every state. Such a tactic would undermine the monopoly or the Federal Reserve by introducing competition into the monetary system.
Professor William Greene is an expert on constitutional tender and said when people in multiple states actually start using gold and silver instead of Federal Reserve Notes, it would effectively nullify the Federal Reserve and end the federal government’s monopoly on money.
“Over time, as residents of the state use both Federal Reserve notes and silver and gold coins, the fact that the coins hold their value more than Federal Reserve notes do will lead to a “reverse Gresham’s Law” effect, where good money (gold and silver coins) will drive out bad money (Federal Reserve notes). As this happens, a cascade of events can begin to occur, including the flow of real wealth toward the state’s treasury, an influx of banking business from outside of the state – as people in other states carry out their desire to bank with sound money – and an eventual outcry against the use of Federal Reserve notes for any transactions.”
Once things get to that point, Federal Reserve notes would become largely unwanted and irrelevant for ordinary people. Nullifying the Fed on a state by state level is what will get us there.
HB2014 now moves to the Senate Rules committee for further consideration.
This article was originally published at The Tenth Amendment Center.
By Jeff Deist
Say what you will about President Harry Truman, but at least he didn't leave the White House a suspiciously rich man. He also actually went home, to Independence Missouri, and moved into a modest house he didn't own. It was the same house belonging to his wife's family where he had lived with Bess (and his mother-in-law!) decades earlier.
Flat broke, and unwilling to accept corporate board positions or commercial endorsements, Truman sought a much-needed loan from a local Missouri bank. For several years his sole income was a $113 monthly Army pension, and only the sale of a parcel of land he inherited with his siblings prevented him from nearly "being on relief," as Truman allegedly stated. In the 1950s, perhaps almost entirely to alleviate Truman's embarrassing financial situation, Congress authorized a $25,000 yearly pension for ex-presidents Truman and the much-wealthier Herbert Hoover.
Contrast this with the luxe post-presidential life of the Reagans in Bel Air, or the still-unfolding saga of the Obama's jet-setting life between Kalorama, Palm Springs, and Oahu!
But even if Truman's homespun honesty and common man persona sometime wore thin, he deserves credit for the startling admission that he regretted creating the CIA. Speaking to a biographer in the 1960s, less than 20 years after signing the National Security Act of 1947, Truman expressed a sense of foreboding about what the agency had become, and would become:
Merle Miller: Mr. President, I know that you were responsible as President for setting up the CIA. How do you feel about it now?
This is decidedly not the kind of thing ex-presidents usually say. We won't expect George W. Bush to announce his regrets over invading Iraq anytime soon. But Truman's instincts were right, even if he couldn't have imagined what the CIA and the entire Deep State nexus would become. In Truman's era, spying and subterfuge were physical endeavors, involving skilled agents and analog technology. Today the covert arts don't require James Bond, but instead a trained technician who can pull information from a server farm.
The digital revolution gives modern intelligence agencies vastly more power than they had during the Cold War spy days: they simply access existing metadata, from whatever source, rather than collect it in real time. And intelligence gathering is not just a supplementary form of warfare waged against hostile foreign governments, but also a domestic political tool that allows Deep State actors to strike at civilian and political targets. As Mr. Trump has discovered, the "strike" can consist of a coordinated media attacks, leaks from trusted officials, and even bizarre triangulations aimed at pinning his election on Vladimir Putin.
One justification Truman provides for his action is the old bureaucratic unicorn known as "consolidation," which is often promised by politicians but never delivered. When then-congressman Ron Paul and his staff furiously argued against the creation of the Department of Homeland Security in 2002, GOP congressional leaders assured us that an entirely new department would actually consolidate several different agencies and functions. "It will save money!", they told us, to bring all of these disparate federal employees under one efficient umbrella. Fast forward to 2017, and DHS is just another failed department with a thousand-page, $42 billion annual budget.
But Truman apparently bought into the consolidation argument:
Truman: the President needed at that time a central organization that would bring all the various intelligence reports we were getting in those days, and there must have been a dozen of them, maybe more, bring them all into one organization so that the President would get one report on what was going on in various parts of the world. Now that made sense, and that's why I went ahead and set up what they called the Central Intelligence Agency.
Unfortunately it is only in hindsight that Truman came to see the "Iron Law of Oligarchy" at work, which posits that all organizations-- particularly government bureaucracies-- eventually fall under the control of an elite few. That elite, he came to understand, did not include the president or his cabinet:
Truman: But it got out of hand. The fella ... the one that was in the White House after me never paid any attention to it, and it got out of hand. Why, they've got an organization over there in Virginia now that is practically the equal of the Pentagon in many ways. And I think I've told you, one Pentagon is one too many.
This is a remarkable statement by Truman, even if delivered during a relatively unguarded moment with a trusted biographer. It shows a humility and willingness to admit grave error that is lacking in public life today. It also stands on its own as a inadvertent libertarian argument against state power itself.
Did Truman stand by his statements about the CIA? Yes and no. Speaking to Esquire in 1971, he continued to praise the agency as a needed consolidation:
When I took over the Presidency he received information from just about everywhere, from the Secretary of State and the State Department, the Treasury Department, the Department of Agriculture. Just everybody. And sometimes they didn't agree as to what was happening in various parts of the world. So I got couple of admirals together, and they formed the Central Intelligence Agency for the benefit and convenience of the President of the United States . . . So instead of the President having to look through a bunch of papers two feet high, the information was coordinated so that the President could arrive at the facts. It's still going, and it's going very well.
Hypocritical backpedaling on Truman's part? Perhaps. But his biographer Merle Miller calls the Esquire quote "pretty faint praise," and more importantly Truman never ordered the removal of his brief chapter on the CIA from the Plain Speaking biography. His mea culpa still stands, in print. So while he could not have fully imagined what the CIA would become, he knew in his gut he had made a terrible mistake-- a mistake we are only beginning to understand today thanks to WikiLeaks.
This article was originally published at The Mises Institute.
President Trump promised less US meddling in the rest of the world, however he is increasingly surrounded by hawks and from South Korea to Kiev the US appears more entrenched than ever. Has the President broke his word, or is he out of control?
Wikileaks Unveils 'Vault 7': "The Largest Ever Publication Of Confidential CIA Documents"; Another Snowden Emerges
By Tyler Durden
WikiLeaks has published what it claims is the largest ever release of confidential documents on the CIA. It includes more than 8,000 documents as part of ‘Vault 7’, a series of leaks on the agency, which have allegedly emerged from the CIA's Center For Cyber Intelligence in Langley, and which can be seen on the org chart below, which Wikileaks also released:
A total of 8,761 documents have been published as part of ‘Year Zero’, the first in a series of leaks the whistleblower organization has dubbed ‘Vault 7.’ WikiLeaks said that ‘Year Zero’ revealed details of the CIA’s “global covert hacking program,” including “weaponized exploits” used against company products including “Apple's iPhone, Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones.”
WikiLeaks tweeted the leak, which it claims came from a network inside the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virginia.
Among the more notable disclosures which, if confirmed, "would rock the technology world", the CIA had managed to bypass encryption on popular phone and messaging services such as Signal, WhatsApp and Telegram. According to the statement from WikiLeaks, government hackers can penetrate Android phones and collect “audio and message traffic before encryption is applied.”
Another profound revelation is that the CIA can engage in "false flag" cyberattacks which portray Russia as the assailant. Discussing the CIA's Remote Devices Branch's UMBRAGE group, Wikileaks' source notes that it "collects and maintains a substantial library of attack techniques 'stolen' from malware produced in other states including the Russian Federation.
"With UMBRAGE and related projects the CIA cannot only increase its total number of attack types but also misdirect attribution by leaving behind the "fingerprints" of the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from. UMBRAGE components cover keyloggers, password collection, webcam capture, data destruction, persistence, privilege escalation, stealth, anti-virus (PSP) avoidance and survey techniques."
As Kim Dotcom summarizes this finding, "CIA uses techniques to make cyber attacks look like they originated from enemy state. It turns DNC/Russia hack allegation by CIA into a JOKE"
But perhaps what is most notable is the purported emergence of another Snowden-type whistleblower: the source of the information told WikiLeaks in a statement that they wish to initiate a public debate about the “security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.” Policy questions that should be debated in public include “whether the CIA's hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency,” WikiLeaks claims the source said.
The FAQ section of the release, shown below, provides further details on the extent of the leak, which was “obtained recently and covers through 2016”. The time period covered in the latest leak is between the years 2013 and 2016, according to the CIA timestamps on the documents themselves. Secondly, WikiLeaks has asserted that it has not mined the entire leak and has only verified it, asking that journalists and activists do the leg work.
Among the various techniques profiled by WikiLeaks is “Weeping Angel”, developed by the CIA's Embedded Devices Branch (EDB), which infests smart TVs, transforming them into covert microphones. After infestation, Weeping Angel places the target TV in a 'Fake-Off' mode, so that the owner falsely believes the TV is off when it is on. In 'Fake-Off' mode the TV operates as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the Internet to a covert CIA server.
As Kim Dotcom chimed in on Twitter, "CIA turns Smart TVs, iPhones, gaming consoles and many other consumer gadgets into open microphones" and added " CIA turned every Microsoft Windows PC in the world into spyware. Can activate backdoors on demand, including via Windows update"
Dotcom also added that "Obama accused Russia of cyberattacks while his CIA turned all internet enabled consumer electronics in Russia into listening devices. Wow!"
Julian Assange, WikiLeaks editor stated that "There is an extreme proliferation risk in the development of cyber 'weapons'. Comparisons can be drawn between the uncontrolled proliferation of such 'weapons', which results from the inability to contain them combined with their high market value, and the global arms trade. But the significance of "Year Zero" goes well beyond the choice between cyberwar and cyberpeace. The disclosure is also exceptional from a political, legal and forensic perspective."
Key Highlights from the Vault 7 release so far:
The Transportation Safety Administration has announced that it is going to get even more aggressive with innocent passengers. They said we must give up our liberty for security, but the TSA is an enemy of both. What can we do to fight back?