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The Colonial Pipeline Hack, The ‘Russians’, & The FBI’s Ransom-Grab – What Really Happened?

The Colonial Pipeline Hack, The ‘Russians’, & The FBI’s Ransom-Grab – What Really Happened?

Speculation has been running rampant over today’s FBI press conference revealing the recovery of most of the ransom paid to “Russian” hackers by Colonial Pipeline.

Ben THE Kaufman summarizes:

Media: “The FBI hacked Bitcoin and can take anyone’s funds.”

Reality: The pipeline hackers didn’t have the Bitcoin in the first place but kept it in a remote server the FBI could access with subpoena.

Media coverage is mostly lies at this point.

Which raises the following point (h/t Jordan Schachtel):

So the “hackers” brought down the largest pipeline on the east coast…

…but couldn’t spend 50 bucks on a clean hardware wallet to secure their bitcoin?

Makes sense to me!

So what really happened?

Jordan Schachtel explains at ‘The Dossier’ Substack

Top Department of Justice officials claimed to strike a major blow against the culprits of the Colonial Pipeline cyber attack Monday, announcing that they had seized almost all of the funds paid to the affiliate group responsible for contracting the DarkSide ransomware attack.

Colonial Pipeline suffered a ransomware attack in early May and responded by preemptively shutting down the pipeline’s entire operations for some time, forcing a temporary but major energy crisis throughout the Southeastern United States. In order for the computers that maintained the pipeline to get back to full operation, Colonial agreed to pay a ransom in the form of 75 bitcoin, which was worth about $5 million at the time.

Now, here’s where things get weird: 

In their triumphant statements this morning, the DOJ claimed to have seized the funds from the group that reportedly paid DarkSide for their Ransomware as a Service (RaaS) attack on Colonial. Notably, they did not secure the funds from DarkSide, which took a fee from the ransom in bitcoin that remains in the possession of the shadowy operation.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Biden DOJ Files Appeal to Get Assange Extradited 

Biden DOJ Files Appeal to Get Assange Extradited 

The U.S. has filed an appeal with the High Court in London to reverse a decision by a British judge not to extradite the WikiLeaks publisher on health grounds.

The liberal administration of Joe Biden proved itself to be no less an enemy of press freedom than Donald Trump when it filed an appeal at the UK High Court on Friday to get their hands on the journalist Julian Assange.

The appeal seeks to overturn a decision by Magistrate Vanessa Baraitser, who on Jan. 4, ruled that the WikiLeaks publisher was at heightened risk of suicide if he were to be extradited to the United States and face life in a U.S. super max prison.

Amnesty International on Thursday had joined an array of press freedom and human rights organizations, including Reporters Without Borders and Human Rights Watch, in urging the Biden administration to drop the case against Assange.  But it fell on deaf ears in Washington.

Biden was vice president in the Barack Obama administration, which decided not to prosecute Assange in 2011 essentially on press freedom grounds, reasoning that if it indicted Assange for journalistic activity, then it would have to also prosecute The New York Times and other mainstream media for the exact same activity.  Biden has broken with his former administration.

Biden had another opportunity to show that he was the “decent” man his supporters say he is and to dissociate himself from the illiberal, indeed, extremist views of his predecessor.  Instead this decision is in line with a politician who was the most important Democratic proponent of the illegal invasion of Iraq, whose war crimes Assange exposed.

consortium news, julian assange, wikilieaks, united states, us doj, us department of justice, joe biden

Charges Under Seal: US Prosecutors Get Busy With Julian Assange

Charges Under Seal: US Prosecutors Get Busy With Julian Assange

Photo Source Michael Mayer | CC BY 2.0

Those with a stake in the hustling racket of empire have little time for the contrariness that comes with exposing classified information.  Those who do are submitted to a strict liability regime of assessment and punishment: you had the information (lawfully obtained or otherwise) but you released it for public deliberation.  Ignorance remains a desensitising shield, keeping the citizenry in permanent darkness.

Critics indifferent to the plight of Julian Assange have seen his concerns for prosecution at the hands of US authorities as the disturbed meditations of a sexualised fantasist.  He should have surrendered to the British authorities and, in turn, to the Swedish authorities.  It was either insignificant or irrelevant that a Grand Jury had been convened to sniff around the activities of WikiLeaks to identify what, exactly, could be used against the organisation and its founder.

Cruelty and truth are often matters of excruciating banality, and now it is clearer than ever that the United States will, given the invaluable chance, net the Australian publisher and WikiLeaks founder to make an example of him.  This man, who dirtied the linen of state and exposed the ceremonial of diplomatic hypocrisy, was always an object of interest, notably in the United States.  “He was,” confirmed Andrea Kendall-Taylor, former deputy national intelligence officer for Russia under the director of national intelligence, “a loathed figure inside the government.”

Whether it was the Central Intelligence Agency, the US Department of Justice, or the specific army of investigators assembled by special counsel Robert Mueller III to weasel out material on the Trump-Russia connection, Assange remains a substantial figure who needs to be captured, sealed and disappeared.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The “Resistance” Struggles To Justify Support For Trump’s Prosecution Of Assange

The “Resistance” Struggles To Justify Support For Trump’s Prosecution Of Assange

Ever since suspicions were confirmed that the Trump administration is indeed working to prosecute and imprison WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for publishing authentic documents, the so-called “Resistance” has been struggling to explain exactly why it is so enthusiastically supportive of that agenda. And when I say struggling, I am being very, very generous.

When news broke that a court document copy-paste error had inadvertently exposed the fact that the Trump administration is pursuing an agenda which experts of diverse political persuasions agreewould have devastating effects on the freedom of the press, #Resistance pundit and DC think tank operative Neera Tanden responded by tweeting, “Never mess with karma”. As of this writing if you do a Twitter search for the words “Assange” and “karma” together, you will come up with countless Democratic Party loyalists using that concept to justify their support for a Trump administration assault on the press that is infinitely more dangerous than the president being mean to Jim Acosta.

The trouble with that of course is that “karma”, as far as observable reality is concerned, is not an actual thing. It’s a Hindu religious concept that is supported by no more factual evidence than the Roman Catholic claim that a priest literally turns bread and wine into the body and blood of a Nazarene carpenter who died thousands of years ago. A Democratic pundit using the concept of “karma” to justify enthusiastic support for Trump’s fascistic attack on press freedoms is exactly the same as a Republican pundit using “God wills it” to justify the existence of poverty, and it is just as intellectually honest.

But it’s also the best argument these people have got.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Declassified Documents Expose DOJ Rules for Spying on Journalists with Secret Court

Declassified Documents Expose DOJ Rules for Spying on Journalists with Secret Court

Newly released documents detail never before seen Department of Justice rules relating to conducting surveillance on journalists suspected of being an agent of a foreign government.

journalists

On Monday the Freedom of the Press Foundation released Department of Justice documents detailing the procedure for monitoring journalists using the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The documents were recently obtained via Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by Freedom of the Press Foundation and Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.

The documents reveal that the DOJ is not required to satisfy “a multi-part test” designed to prove they have exhausted all options before targeting a journalist with surveillance, as is the case for obtaining traditional subpoenas, court orders, and warrants against journalists. Instead, Trevor Trimm of the Freedom of the Press Foundation notes, the DOJ only must follow less strict court orders from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court. FISA court orders are also inherently secret, and targets are almost never informed that they exist,” Trimm writes in a press release regarding the documents.

The secret courts were originally created under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) in response to reports produced by the Church Committee in 1975. The Senate committee was tasked with investigating the foreign and domestic surveillance operations by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Security Agency (NSA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) during the 1970s. The Church Committee also released detailed reports on the governments Counter Intelligence Programs (COINTELPRO) that were used against activists and influential voices of opposition during the 1950s and ’60s.

“While civil liberties advocates have long suspected secret FISA court orders may be used (and abused) to conduct surveillance on journalists, the government—to our knowledge—has never acknowledged they have ever even contemplated doing so before the release of these documents today,” writes Trimm.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Judicial Watch: FBI Records Show Dossier Author Deemed ‘Not Suitable For Use’ as Source, Show Several FBI Payments in 2016

Judicial Watch: FBI Records Show Dossier Author Deemed ‘Not Suitable For Use’ as Source, Show Several FBI Payments in 2016

Documents Reveal Steele Was Admonished in February, 2016

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today the FBI turned over 70 pages of heavily redacted records about Christopher Steele, the former British spy, hired with Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee funds, who authored the infamous Dossier targeting President Trump during last year’s presidential campaign.  The documents show that Steele was cut off as a “Confidential Human Source” (CHS) after he disclosed his relationship with the FBI to a third party.  The documents show at least 11 FBI payments to Steele in 2016 and document that he was admonished for unknown reasons in February, 2016.  The documents were turned over in response to Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice for records of communications and payments between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele and his private firm, Orbis Business Intelligence (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:17-cv-00916)).

The documents include a “source closing communication” that states that Steele (referred to as “CHS” or Confidential Human Source) “is being closed” because:

CHS confirmed to an outside third party that CHS has a confidential relationship with the FBI. CHS was used as a source for an online article. In the article, CHS revealed CHS’ relationship with the FBI as well as information that CHS obtained and provided to FBI. On November 1, 2016, CHS confirmed all of this to the handling agent. At that time, handling agent advised CHS that the nature of the relationship between the FBI and CHS would change completely and that it was unlikely that the FBI would continue a relationship with the CHS. Additionally, handling agent advised that CHS was not to operate to obtain any intelligence whatsoever on behalf of the FBI.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Merkel Says No Aid for Deutsche Bank; Depositor Bail-In Coming Up?

Merkel Says No Aid for Deutsche Bank; Depositor Bail-In Coming Up?

The €72 trillion (notional) derivatives mess known as Deutsche Bank remains under severe pressure. It’s market cap is $17.43 billion. It has no earnings and pays no dividend.

On April 23, Deutsche Bank was Fined $2.5 Billion over LIBOR rate rigging. Twenty-one people face criminal charges following a seven-year investigation.

On September 16, the US Department of Justice Fined Deutsche Bank $14B for mortgage securities fraud leading up to the 2007-2009 global meltdown.

Today, German Chancellor Angela Merkel Rules Out Assistance for Deutsche Bank.

No Comment

Chancellor Angela Merkel has ruled out any state assistance for Deutsche Bank AG in the year heading into the national election in September 2017, Focus magazine reported, citing unidentified government officials.

The German leader also declined to step into the Frankfurt-based bank’s legal imbroglio with the U.S. Justice Department, which may seek as much as $14 billion in sanctions against Deutsche Bank’s mortgage-backed securities business, the magazine said. A German government spokesman declined to comment on the report Saturday. A Deutsche Bank spokeswoman also wouldn’t comment.

Understanding the Fine

The Guardian reports $14bn Deutsche Bank Fine – All You Need to Know.

The prospect of a $14bn penalty from the US Department of Justice has rattled investor confidence in Deutsche. The penalty aims to settle allegations, dating back to 2005, about the way the bank selected mortgages, packaged them into bonds and sold on to investors. These bonds are known as residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS).

Can Deutsche Afford the Bill?

Deutsche Bank has been quick to describe the fine as an “opening position” from Washington. It is easy to see why. It would be one of the largest ever fines levied by the US. It could also strain the bank’s finances. For 2015, the bank reported its first annual loss since 2008 and could be heading for another loss this year regardless of the threatened justice department fine.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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