Saturday, March 24, 2018

What they're not telling you about Cambridge Analytica. Plus: Why you must pay more attention to the FBI's Inspector General.

Josh Marshall, a historian who stumbled into political blogging, offers an important perspective on the Anal problem ("Anal" being my preferred term for Cambridge Analytica).
One of the most telling and interesting threads of the Cambridge Analytica story is something that gets mentioned in most of the big pieces but is seldom a focus of attention. Most of the algorthms, techniques and strategies the company eventually deployed against the UK and the US were first used for elections operations in developing countries, what we once called the Third World. The reason is key: these countries had far less legal and technical infrastructure to defend themselves against these kinds of attacks. It was basically anything goes. And if someone got upset it didn’t matter all that much since these countries are off the main arteries of global news flows and have little capacity to uncover or hold to account a shadowy British company which is actually a subsidiary of a company wedded to the British defense establishment.
One of these days, I'll reprint the "Quartered Man" chapter of Death in Washington by Landis and Freed. The text details the CIA's psyops operation in Chile, and when you read it, you'll get a very "2016" feeling. Or perhaps I should say: A very "Cambridge Analytica" feeling.

In the paragraph quoted above, the final line is of greatest importance. Cambridge Analytica may be considered an arm of MI6, staffed with personnel from the British secret services and often doing gigs for MI6 and CIA. Only a legal fiction keeps us from seeing Anal as part of Spookworld.

As the clandestine video taken by Channel 4 makes clear, Anal knows all about these legal fictions, creating new companies and subsidiaries as necessity dictates. That's why the "firing" of Alexander Nix means nothing: He can continue as before, officially employed by a newly-formed company which will quietly function as a subcontractor for Anal.

So the enemy is not Putin per se. Putin is the 500-pound gorilla in the zoo, but the zoo holds other animals. We face an even larger force -- something that links Putin to spies and manipulators in the west. A force that seeks to remake the entire world.

My name for that force is the Resurgent Fascism. Do you have a better term?

Andrew McCabe has offered a defense, although he seems somewhat hamstrung, in that he can reveal only so much at this time. If and when we see the Inspector General's report, we will be in a better position to discuss details. Until then, we have this:
I have been accused of “lack of candor.” That is not true. I did not knowingly mislead or lie to investigators. When asked about contacts with a reporter that were fully within my power to authorize as deputy director, and amid the chaos that surrounded me, I answered questions as completely and accurately as I could. And when I realized that some of my answers were not fully accurate or may have been misunderstood, I took the initiative to correct them. At worst, I was not clear in my responses, and because of what was going on around me may well have been confused and distracted — and for that I take full responsibility. But that is not a lack of candor. And under no circumstances could it ever serve as the basis for the very public and extended humiliation of my family and me that the administration, and the president personally, have engaged in over the past year.
When we consider that McCabe's boss Jeff Sessions told whoppers to Congress, it is clear that someone "on high" decided to scrutinize McCabe's record and to pretend that a mere pimple was the size of Everest.

The under-discussed factor here is the DOJ IG himself, Michael E. Horowitz. There aren't many mainstream articles about him on the net, but those that have been published usually portray him as a man of good character.

Here's an important fact that you need to know: Although 99% of the American population does not know his name, there was a time when Russian trolls fixated on Horowitz. The same sites that spread Pizzagate stories have also accused Horowitz of being a Soros stooge. This, despite the fact that he was actually something of a thorn in the side of the Obama administration, even though Obama appointed him.

The Russian propaganda attacks on Horowitz came to a sudden stop some months ago. Suddenly, tellingly, he's a good guy again -- the one Obama appointee that the Trumpists have decided they like. Compare this propaganda broadside from last December to this one, published in February. Within that short span of time, something changed. Something clicked into place.

Be warned: This IG is going to make more news, and it won't be the kind of news that the Resistance will like. It's not going to stop with McCabe.

We've seen rumblings on the right -- in those regions of the internet where lefties fear to tred -- that the IG's office is preparing an "explosive" report on Hillary Clinton, one that will justify the shouts of "lock her up." Example. Another example.

It was Horowitz who bestowed the Peter Strzok texts upon the world, giving the propagandists an enormous supply of ammunition. Remember when the Trumpist media rewrote the same outraged articles day after day for weeks, always pretending that the Strzok texts were a new story?

I'll ask the question that nobody else will ask: Did someone get to Michael Horowitz?

Remember: He would have been a key target of FSB/GRU eavesdroppers, just as he was a target of those Russian trolls. Then again, why look toward Russia? Mike Pompeo took personal control of counterintelligence at CIA. Unlike the rest of CIA, counterintelligence operatives may spy domestically. Pompeo could have ordered his personnel to learn everything about Horowitz, down to the exact length in millimeters of last Tuesday's skid mark in Horowitz' underwear. The founder of CIA's counterintelligence arm, James Angleton, acquired blackmail material on J. Edgar Hoover himself.

We all have secrets. The trick is knowing which person to pressure.
I don't think they got to Horowitz. I think they decided instead of destroying him, they will cherry-pick his exhaustive report to create their desired narrative. It's the same strategy as with the House Intel committee. Instead of kill it, they kept the investigation open but tried to spin it so that it helps Trump. Just like with the House Intel investigation, this will backfire.

I have to guard against over-excitement for this IG report. It has not gotten a lot of coverage, but I think it could be near definitive in showing how the FBI NY office was in the tank for Trump and forced Comey to send his letter. If that comes out, it would seriously weaken Trump in a way few things do.
It looks like Bob Mueller had very early access to the IG e-mail discoveries also, since he pre-emptively reassigned some of the personnel prior to their release so as to avoid potential appearances of conflict. The same with Director Wray's push on McCabe to take his vacation days and step down from doing his job.

If the IG's findings are subject to preliminary and on-going review in the DOJ, then many persons may have been in a position to leak them out. If they are not, there are still those working inside the IG process who may have done so.

So I don't think it is clear that it is the IG himself who is leaking or somehow getting this all out to the public.

There are some who think his report will contain findings unfavorable to all sides. What Rosenstein's memo analyzed about Comey's actions is true, and will probably be confirmed there. But if he reports out about the NY Field Office of the FBI, as Comey said he himself was looking into during his last testimony to the Congress as director, that may more than counter-balance what he says about Comey (and McCabe).

Factually, if not as it will be spinned.

Of course Cambridge Analytica is an arm of MI6. They've got it written all over them. I just listened to part of a BBC radio programme with Emma Bryant, described as the woman "who wrote the book on propaganda". It seems that Edward Bernays hasn't beaten the world age record and decided to wander the world wearing a dress. Bryant is a British academic. She described how Alexander Nix definitely "thinks he's one of the good guys". Right. "With critics like these", I thought. At times like this I'm so glad I'm not an academic. I'd much rather say "fuck", express feelings, and not have to show respect to what deserves to be despised.

The BBC programme mentioned "behavioural dynamics", and naughty but well-meaning Alex, and Nigel too, but curiously not the "nudge units" that for several years have been working at the heart of the British, US, German, Canadian and Singaporean governments (and probably others), inspired by scumbags like Richard Thaler and Daniel Kahneman, the worthy heirs of Herbert Spencer, H G Wells, B F Skinner, Cyril Burt, and Josef Mengele. The Psychometrics Centre at the Cambridge Judge Business School, part of Cambridge University, also deserves attention.
I been thinking that Democrats have been having the worst luck since 2000, but what if it wasn't. How many NYT and WaPo reporters are C Anal?
I mentioned previously that Canadian data firm Aggregate IQ was tied to Cambridge Analytica and was used by them in the Brexit campaign to disguise CA involvement. A whistle blower from the Vote Leave campaign now says the group funnelled £625,000 to the BeLeave organization which made its way to AIQ. UK electoral law prohibits co-ordination between different campaign organisations. AIQ would eventually soak up about a third of all Vote Leave’s official spending, receiving £2.7m from the group.

There are some prominent people here. Senior figures in Vote Leave included Stephen Parkinson, now Theresa May’s chief adviser.

BeLeave shared offices with Vote Leave – fronted by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove – which in practice offered advice and assistance to the group.

Ah, good old Michael Gove, one of the chief backers of the Islam-bashing, Israel-spruiking, neocon think tank, the Henry Jackson Society.

And who else was from the HJS? Why none ofther than Raheem Kassam, campaign director of the HJS, Editor in Chief of Breitbart London, UKIP member and senior adviser to Nigel Farage.

Hey, hey, the gang's all here.
You’re the only one I know of talking about Cambridge in terms of a fascist international. That’s exactly where my mind went too.
FWIW, it may not be a coincidence that the Shahmir Sanni (Brexit) and Stormy Daniels stories seem to be peaking simultaneously.

If a court rules that Leave cheated, we enter a strange place here in Britain. Sure, the vote was only advisory, so whatever happened in the vote wouldn't empower a court to put a halt to Brexit. But could a court instruct a rerun of the vote? Probably, yes. That's unless parliament acts retrospectively and says hey, look, it doesn't matter what a court says about our old Act because we'll pass a new one. There is no constitution in Britain, and there is no bar on parliament legislating retrospectively, which sometimes it has done. I told you we'd be in a strange place.

Theresa May is only pro-Brexit because "the people decided", so she'd be in a awkward position if there's a rerun. So would many of her cabinet ministers, and so would many shadow cabinet ministers too, including Jeremy Corbyn. What side would they back? How loudly could they back either side, realistically?

About the only political party that a rerun would be good for is the Liberal Democrats.

Some are arguing that a rerun would result in a victory for Remain, supposing that any plebiscite is a good excuse to give the government a kick up its arse. Sadly that has often not been the case. For example the Nazi government organised many plebiscites. People may well decide that the best way to take a running jump ending with a boot up the government's coccyx would be to vote Leave, not Remain.

In my opinion, Leave would win again. Why? Because the racist archetype they were playing with - the invading dark-skinned foreigner with a different religion - would serve them again. The sequence of events would play for THEM: they could paint Remain as "pussies" who want another bite at the cherry.

Whether Leave might fuck it up could come down to personalities. Nigel Farage might not be in the fray. Boris Johnson has several points that could bring him down in about five minutes flat: women, violence, drugs, Russian money. And Leave might find they had few other figures who packed such charisma as those two. But surprises would favour Leave as before.

There will come a "come the hour, come the man" moment. Enter Jacob Rees-Mogg, whom I can envisage riding to power on a "weakness has ended" ticket. He'd make a pair with, well, with Donald Trump, yes, but with Mike Pence too, and perhaps with Stephen Bannon more than with either of those. Theresa May could just leave the scene. Bye-bye, forgotten. So could Jeremy Corbyn. So probably could Boris Johnson. But Jacob Rees-Mogg? Unlikely.

I will be watching Stormy Daniels tonight. This is the first time I've ever watched live US TV. So it had better be damned good. Out-pee the pee tape maybe?
I agree with you, Joseph. While Russia is definitely complicit in the implementation of coups and vote rigging, I see it as an outsourced contractor acting at the behest of people whose names we don't even know. I'm sure you remember from the investigations of JFK murders how some researchers saw ties between suspected conspirators and fascist companies/organizations.

Also, Dave Emory ( has archived a download of "Martin Bormann - Nazi in Exile", which was written by Paul Manning who worked with Edward R. Murrow. Manning presents convincing evidence that Bormann foresaw military defeat and began taking steps to set up a financial infrastructure that would ensure continued Nazi domination in world finance and economics. Excellent read. Here is the link:

Thanks for your usual excellent and prescient work.
Patrick Simpson is doing some interesting work:

Alexander Reid Ross used some of Simpson's research in a couple articles published on the SPLC Hatewatch blog, that Max Blumenthal (who's become quite the loathsome Kremlin shill) forced them to remove, even though there were no factual errors. Ross's articles are excellent and have been republished elsewhere.
Politics games are everywhere, Democrat and Republican. All sorts of players influence our elected and appointed leaders. I am no Trump fan, but I don’t think it is far fetched that McCabe was playing the game to support his sponsors, and it has caught up with him. I am looking forward to the IG report. The Trump Administration is corrupt as hell, but so are most. I observe as a nuetral party, just hoping to learn more about how things really work in our world. Bring on the details...
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