Syria and Chemical Weapons

Two chemical weapon attacks by Syria March 24 March 30 prior to April 4 attack. _ Rex Tillerson

The White House and the UK blamed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime for the attack that struck the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun on April 4 while many were still asleep.
The strike, killed 86 people, 27 of them children. Autopsies on three Syrians who died after being brought to Turkey for treatment suggest sarin was used in the attack.

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Early assessments by U.S. intelligence officials, Doctors Without Borders and the U.N. health agency suggested that chlorine gas and traces of sarin were used in the bombing.

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Sarin, also known as GB, is clear, colorless, tasteless and has no odor in its pure form. It is described as “a human-made chemical warfare agent classified as a nerve agent,” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC). It is generally a liquid, however it can evaporate into a gas and spread into the environment,

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March 19, 2013: 26 people in the town of Khan al-Assal , including several Syrian soldiers, die in a sarin gas attack in northern Syria. The government and rebels each blame the other for the incident.  A UN investigation later finds that sarin nerve gas was used.

An August 21 2013 attack used nerve gas to kill over 1,400 people in a rebel controlled village outside Damascus.

Following the 2013 Damascus attack, Syria joined the international Chemical Weapons Convention under a U.S.-Russian deal and agreed to hand over its stockpile of about 2.8 million pounds of toxic weapons as well as disable its chemical weapons program.
In 2014, Syria handed over the remaining 220,462 metric tons of toxic material it had reported to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which was set to be destroyed at sea. However, OPCW chief Ahmet Uzumcu told Reuters at the time that he could not confirm that that was the last of Syria’s chemical weapons. “All declared chemical weapons have left Syria (but) clearly we cannot say as the secretariat of the OPCW that Syria doesn’t possess any chemical weapons any more,” he said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Transnistrian scenario” in Donbas

Chronologically, Russia’s 1992 aggression against Moldova in Transnistria became the “mother of frozen conflicts,” initiated and then frozen (or heated up again as needed) by post-Soviet Russia. In many ways, the Transnistria conflict presaged the methodology of Russia’s conflict undertakings in South Ossetia and Abkhazia against Georgia, and later in Crimea against Ukraine. It was also the Transnistria conflict that set the pattern of Western tolerance of Russia’s conduct in its claimed sphere of special interests.

Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine Kostyantyn Yeliseiev believes Russia is now implementing the so-called “Transnistrian scenario” in the occupied Donbas, at the same time not being interested in ending the hostilities, Segodnia reports.

Western diplomacy seems about to revert to pressuring Ukraine into a disadvantageous armistice and negotiations with Russia’s protégés in the Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics.” This could become the basis for creating a Transnistria-type Russian protectorate, frozen in place and time on Ukraine’s territory

Any Western diplomatic pressure on Ukraine to stop the advance of its forces, and negotiate instead, would bring about a Transnistria-type situation in Donbas. It would enable the “DPR” and “LPR” to survive under Russia’s protection, awarding Moscow a permanent lever of pressure upon the Western-oriented government of Ukraine. This scenario would also consolidate Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rule at home.

The Transnistrian conflict was organized by leaders of the former Soviet Union who had approximately the same goal as did  Russia in organizing the conflict in the Donbas. In Moldova the supporters of independence held strong positions. Moldova was another Soviet republic, together with the Baltic countries and Georgia, that did not see its future in the Soviet Union long before the August 1991 coup. And then the Kremlin decided to look for “weak spots” in these republics. For Moldova, this was Transnistria, the several regions with predominately Russian and Ukrainian populations. These regions were patched together to form a new “republic” that advocated the preservation of the USSR. On August 19, 1991, the leaders of this insane creation supported the Moscow putsch, while the Moldovan leadership supported the Russian President Boris Yeltsin. It seemed that after the defeat of the putsch conspirators the issue of the restoration of the territorial integrity of Moldova would be decided on its own. The leaders of the separatists were arrested in Kyiv. The only thing lacking was the presence of the special operations of the Moldovan security forces to destroy the separatist abscess and restore the territorial integrity of the country.

The territory’s common border with Russia would pre-determine its de facto integration into Russia. Such integration would eventuate in two possible forms: Moscow could either turn the Donbas into an unrecognized buffer-state entity, or alternatively acknowledge the Donbas conditionally as a part of Ukraine, provided that Moscow-designated Donbas leaders are empowered to participate in Ukraine’s central governance and block its Western course. Annexing the Donbas outright, on the model of Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia, would constitute Moscow’s third-best (i.e., worst possible) option, politically and economically.

Big difference. On the implementation by the Kremlin of Transnistrian scenario in the Donbas in the past year, said the adviser of the President of Ukraine, Director of the National Institute for strategic studies of NAS of Ukraine Vladimir Gorbulin. Only, unlike Transnistria, the Kremlin is not interested in a full cessation of hostilities in the Donbass. According to the Deputy head of AP Konstantin Yeliseyev, using a constant escalation of hostilities, Russia is trying to destabilize the political and economic situation, to create a so-called “controlled instability” not to give Ukraine to create a positive background for the active and successful reform.

The conflict in Moldova with the collapse of the Soviet Union broke out after the calls to unite with Romania, but also on the basis of the language issue. People who did not know Moldovan (essentially Romanian) in favour of bilingualism: an introduction at the state level for two languages – Moldovan and Russian. It finally split the society, which resulted in the conflict. The role of Russia is more than obvious: during active combat operations, the Kremlin has supported pridnestrovskuyu side arms, and now in the “TMR” is still stationed Russian military base.

To solve the conflict in Transnistria and the Donbas, also tried using peace plans. As already I wrote “Today” in the article “a Report from Transnistria, Donbass and how to prepare for “presidential election”, in 2005 Moldova, Transnistria, Russia, Ukraine, OSCE, the United States (and the EU as observers) launched the format “5+2”.

Immediately after this, the Parliament of Moldova adopts the law on basic provisions of special legal status of Transnistria. The document is one to one similar to the law on the special status of Donbass, which the Verkhovna Rada adopted in the fall of 2014. As Donbass Transnistria is guaranteed the free use of Russian, Moldovan and Ukrainian languages, the right to establish external contacts with Russia in economic, scientific-technical and humanitarian spheres. The law on the special status of Transnistria was a “Plan of Yushchenko” peace plan for the settlement of the conflict which encouraged the Ukrainian side. But it was never implemented and in September 2006 on the referendum in “MRT” over 97% of residents voted for independence and joining Russia. But the Kremlin, much to the dismay of residents “PMR”, has been unrecognized Republic with open arms.

In the Donbas, especially on the eve of the presidential election in March 2018 (both times in March, three years have passed since the annexation of Crimea), according to Konstantin Eliseev is also possible to carry out “any referendums or local elections, even fake, from which Russia dissociate themselves, but in fact de facto will do its utmost to support and promote”. But, according to Deputy head of the AP, open the annexation ORDO the Kremlin unlikely, implementing “creeping transformation of the situation in the Transnistrian scenario.”

This is evidenced by at least five factors:

1. The establishment in the Donbass ruble zone
2. The creation of a single tax system, “DNR”/”LC”
3. Appearance in “DNR”/”LNR” their offer for the car
4. The recognition by Russia of passports “DNR”/”LC”
5. Expropriation of Ukrainian enterprises

All this was carried out in ARDLA year and a half, not to fall under even greater sanctions and not to be accused of disrupting the peace agreements. So, immediately after the capture of Ukrainian enterprises in the Russian press appeared information that the Russian holding company “Metalinvest” and “Severstal” is ready to supply iron ore. And the leaders of the militants “DNR”/”LNR” of Zakharchenko and Carpenter said about the direction in Russia, the first 95 cars of coal and two-year contract with the Crimea for the supply of 3.5 million tons of coal.

“According to our information ahead of the presidential elections Russia has cut funding for “DNR”/”LNR”. So they went on seizing Ukrainian companies to force them to pay taxes to their so-called local budgets”, – told the “Today” source in the Ukrainian dipkrugah.

“Moscow is not willing to assume the economic burden to rebuild the region (Crimea proved more expensive than expected Russian), said, “Today,” former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pifer. – Strategy of Russia for almost three years, is to use “boiling” the conflict in the Donbas to exert pressure, to distract and destabilize the Ukrainian government. This makes it difficult for Kiev, the necessary reforms and the implementation of the Association Agreement with the EU. Apparently, maintaining the “boiling” of the conflict is consistent with the purposes of the Kremlin; we have not seen serious Russian efforts to implement the second Minsk agreement”.

Unlike Moldova (from 1992 to date) and Georgia (1992–2008)—and unlike Ukraine itself in Crimea (February–March 2014—Ukraine does not face Russian conventional military forces stationed on the national territory. Moldova and Georgia accepted those Russian forces as “peacekeepers” under extreme duress, amid Western complacency. In Ukraine’s Donbas, however, Russia has yet to attempt introducing military “peacekeepers” in support of its paramilitaries. Russian diplomacy now seeks international acceptance of a “humanitarian operation,” which could develop into a military “peacekeeping” operation in Donbas

Russian forces currently massed on Ukraine’s northern and eastern borders seem to raise this prospect. Apparently, the Kremlin expects some Western governments to blink and press Ukraine into a negotiation process that would conserve the “DPR’s” and “LPR’s” existence, so as to avoid exacerbating Western-Russian relations. Such a course would amount to a unilateral Western “de-escalation,” instead of a Russian de-escalation that the West has been supplicating Putin to deliver. Western “de-escalation” could then turn into “normalization,” both on Russia’s terms; while the unresolved conflict is relegated to a diplomatic back burner.

Novorossiya. The Kremlin’s project to carve out a quasi-state under Russia’s protection in Ukraine’s east and south (“Novorossiya”) is a uniquely distinguishing feature of Russia’s new-type aggression against Ukraine. Targeting eight provinces of Ukraine, this project has failed to catch on in six of them thus far. Meanwhile, the “DPR” and “LPR” have merged politically into a would-be “Novorossiya,” aiming to become the center of gravity for Moscow’s original project. Odessa was a close call until May, Kharkiv remains a close call to date, Russia’s agents operate in other target areas, and Moscow’s television channels propagandize for Novorossiya intensely. In the earlier conflicts, Russia had not attempted to capture further Moldovan or Georgian territories beyond Transnistria or Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The project to expand from outlying footholds into the target country’s interior is one of the innovations of Russia’s war against Ukraine. Nationalist opinion in Russia views Transnistria as an integral part of “Novorossiya;” but Russia’s government has not as yet espoused this view.

In this regard, there is a need first to analyse the opportunities and risks due to freezing of the conflict.

Of course, the main advantage of “freezing” of the conflict is the ability to avoid the worst consequences associated with the continuation of hostilities: the losses among soldiers, civilians, internally displaced persons, property damage and destruction.

In addition, the frozen conflict enables States on whose territory the conflict occurs, in the short term to reduce the resources spent on the maintenance of unmanaged areas. In the end, this situation will enable you to concentrate on solving domestic problems, building competitive economy, creation of an efficient army, preparing their own peace plan and the like. The actual loss of control over the secessionist regions has not prevented Georgia (more successfully) and Moldova (less successfully) to make the necessary reforms towards European integration.

At the same time “freezing” of the conflict does not relieve a number of objective challenges facing this state.

First, the “frozen conflicts” are an effective tool to pressure from outside players. For example, the conflicts in Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria remain the most effective lever of Russian influence in Georgia and Moldova, which periodically manifests itself in the form of military provocations and political blackmail.

Second, the unresolved conflict alienates the uncontrolled territories and hinders their reintegration. Over the last 25 years in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transnistria and Nagorno-Karabakh, a whole generation, the identity of which is not usually associated with Georgia, Moldova or Azerbaijan.

Third, the “frozen” conflicts as a favorable center for the smuggling of goods, weapons, drugs and for the emergence of other threats. These phenomena become a profitable business for both sides if the front line remains unchanged for a long time. So, smuggling in the Donbass does not require additional explanation after the beginning of the blockade by the activists.

Fourth, unresolved conflicts can provoke acute social and political contradictions around a solution — from a military scenario for the secession of the separatist entities. This situation is painfully familiar to every citizen of Ukraine, who is not indifferent to the world and the future of our state.

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Belarus Protests

Belarus has defended the arrests of hundreds of people who were taking part in rare protests on Saturday.

About 400 people were arrested on Saturday while participating in an unsanctioned protest against the authoritarian government of President Alexander Lukashenko, who has stifled dissent and independent media during his 23 years in power.

More people were arrested on Sunday in further demonstrations in the capital, Minsk, and other cities.

Belarus tolerates little dissent but has recently been seeking to improve ties with the West and reduce its dependency on Russia.

The human rights organization Vesna said about 30 people were arrested on Sunday. They were among about 100 people who tried to assemble on Minsk’s central square.

Before police seized her on Sunday, demonstrator Elena Gonchar said: “Belarus has been turned into a prison. What difference does it make where you sit, in a cell or at home.

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko is caught in the crossfire of a much larger battle. He’d like closer ties with the European Union (EU) and weaker ones with Russia, but the drift appears to be drawing popular protests driven by growing dissatisfaction with his repressive policies and failed management of the economy.

Lukashenko, whom Condoleezza Rice had once short-sightedly called Europe’s last dictator, has always had more trouble than, say, Ukrainian leaders in trying to play Russia and Europe against each other. His regime was dependent on Russia for cheap natural gas and other indirect subsidies, goodies came at the cost of hewing close to the Kremlin’s course.

But Lukashenko was mostly fine with the arrangement, sharing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s autocratic instincts and tendency to see political opposition as enemies to be suppressed. He also knew Belarus’s state-dominated economic model wouldn’t survive broader exposure to Europe.

Then Russia annexed Crimea in March, 2014, which sparked sanctions from the EU and the United States. Lukashenko refused to back Putin’s move, fearing his small country would be next in line. When Moscow tried to punish the EU with counter-sanctions, Belarus was hardly in lockstep, happily serving as a fake country of origin for many European products. Last year, Belarus failed to agree with Russia on the price of gas and paid only half of what the Russian state supplier, Gazprom, demanded, accumulating more than $500 million (Dh1.83 billion) in debt — about six weeks’ economic output.

In January, Lukashenko signed a decree allowing the citizens of 80 countries, including Europeans and US citizens, to enter Belarus without visas for five days. This was an attempt to raise tourist revenue in a shrinking economy, but the Kremlin responded by putting out a terse statement and setting up border checkpoints.

Belarusians have demonstrated since early February against the imposition of a tax equivalent to £200 on Belarusians who have been unemployed for more than six months and who have not sought work at government job centres. The campaign has been run under the slogan, “We are not parasites,” a reference to President Aleksandr Lukashenko’s 2015 introduction of the tax to fight “social parasitism”.

 

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North Korea – Tillerson Showdown?

“The policy of strategic patience has ended,” Mr. Tillerson said, a reference to the term used by the Obama administration to describe a policy of waiting out the North Koreans, while gradually ratcheting up sanctions and covert action.

“We are exploring a new range of security and diplomatic measures. All options are on the table,” Tillerson told a news conference.

He said any North Korean actions that threatened U.S. or South Korean forces would be met with “an appropriate response,” turning up the volume of the tough language that has marked President Donald Trump’s approach to North Korea.

“Certainly, we do not want for things to get to a military conflict,. If they elevate the threat of their weapons programs to a level that we believe requires action, that option is on the table,” Tillerson told reporters on Friday on a trip to South Korea when asked about the possibility of a military strike. He ruled out talks with North Korea until it commits to giving up its nuclear weapons.

China is likely to express its anger at being told to rein in nuclear-armed North Korea when U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives in Beijing on Saturday, his first visit to the country since taking office last month.

Beijing is expected to call on Washington to share responsibility in lessening tensions in the region, while strongly opposing this month’s deployment of a sophisticated U.S. missile defense system in South Korea.

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Wikileaks CIA Files – What this means for Internet security and encryption

from blogger  at https://protonmail.com/blog/cia-wikileaks-encryption/
Posted on March 8, 2017 by Andy Yen
wikileaks cia vault7
Earlier today, Wikileaks dumped a large database of secret documents from the CIA in a released dubbed #Vault7. Here we do a deeper analysis of the leak and the broader implications on online security and encrypted services.
Our in-depth analysis of the leaked CIA files is found at the bottom of this post. First, we will discuss the main question on everybody’s mind – how are encrypted services like ProtonMail impacted, and what insights did we gain into the strategies of state-backed attackers.
No, Encryption Is Not Dead
Immediately after the news broke, stories began circulating, along the lines of “Signal/Whatsapp encryption broken!”, fueled in part by Tweets put out by Wikileaks. This was followed predictably by online chatter speculating into whether or not ProtonMail had been cracked.
Wikileaks – CIA bypasses Signal, Telegram, Whatsapp

We can state unequivocally that there is nothing in the leaked CIA files which indicates any sort of crack of ProtonMail’s encryption. And despite claims to the contrary, there is also no evidence that Signal/Whatsapp end-to-end encryption has been breached. Here’s what we do know:
Over the past three years, the CIA has put together a formidable arsenal of cyberweapons specially designed to gain surveillance capabilities over end-user devices such as mobile phones and laptop/desktop computers. These advanced malwares enable the CIA to record actions such as keystrokes on a mobile device, allowing them to conduct surveillance without breaking encryption. Through this technique, US intelligence agencies can gain access to data before they have been encrypted. This is in fact the only way to achieve data access, because cracking the cryptography used in advanced secure communication services such as ProtonMail and Signal is still impractical with current technology.
In other words, the core cryptographic algorithms and techniques used by ProtonMail and other encrypted services remain secure. The exploitation of user endpoints (mobile phones, personal computers, etc) is actually not a new technique, but one that has existed since the first malware was created. This unfortunately is not something that cryptography is designed to defend against, as encryption by itself cannot guarantee the security of end-user devices. What the CIA files dumped by Wikileaks do reveal however, is a significant shift in strategy since the last disclosure of this kind was made by Edward Snowden in 2013.
State-backed Cyberattack Strategy is Changing
ProtonMail is tool that is used by millions of people around the world to ensure email communications security. In addition to ordinary people and businesses, ProtonMail is also used by journalists, activists, and dissidents, who often require protection from government surveillance for their personal safety. Because of these factors, we make it our business to carefully study and understand state adversaries in order to better protect our userbase.
The Wikileaks CIA files is therefore, a comprehensive update into state cyberwarfare strategies since Snowden gave us the first edition. In fact, the trends that the files reveal are arguably global, since it is highly probable that other major players in this space (Russia, China, UK, Israel, etc) will have independently reached the same conclusions regarding overall strategy.
Some of the most interesting revelations from the Snowden leaks was the extent in which the NSA actively sought out information from the US tech giants, either with consent, or even without consent. This made a lot of sense, because the biggest global databases of sensitive personal data do not belong to the NSA, but actually to companies like Google and Facebook, who have already shown ample willingness to exploit such data for profit, sometimes via unscrupulous means.
Since 2013 however, the world has changed. Consumer and business awareness of online privacy and security is at an all time high, and more and more people around the world are increasingly choosing more secure services which respect privacy. Today, end-to-end encryption has gone mainstream, and services such as ProtonMail and Whatsapp boast millions of regular people as users. The use of end-to-end encryption means services such as ProtonMail are not actually able to decrypt user data. Even if we wanted to compromise user data, we do not have the technical means to decrypt the user emails. Furthermore, even if an attacker breached ProtonMail servers, all the emails stored on our servers are encrypted, so an attacker also would not be able to read user emails.
It’s clear from the leaked CIA documents that as the world has changed, stated-backed cyberattackers have also evolved. As we describe below, the varied leaked files are tied together by a common thread – an almost singular focus on producing malware to attack end-user devices. This is a logical response to the rise of end-to-end encrypted services such as ProtonMail. Services such as ProtonMail have significantly raised the barrier for obtaining data directly from the service provider, and many services are now based outside of the United States, beyond the reach of legal coercion. As such, it has now become easier, and more productive to directly hack individual users.
This opens up a terrifying new narrative where government spies are actively deploying viruses and trojans against their own citizens, joining the ranks of common cybercriminals. While this is by no means good news for privacy rights worldwide, it is in some ways, a win for privacy tech, because governments are having to shift away from mass surveillance and towards more targeted surveillance. In short, services such as ProtonMail are doing exactly what they were designed to do, which is raising barriers to large scale mass surveillance.
Our initial analysis into the Wikileaks CIA documents can be found below. Questions can be directed to media@protonmail.ch. If you would like to start benefiting from secure email, you can get a free ProtonMail account here.
Best Regards,
The ProtonMail Team
ProtonMail Analysis of Wikileaks CIA Documents

#Vault7 in a sentence: It is a leak about the CIA’s hacking arsenal used against foreign governments and citizens both domestically and abroad.
Name of the database: Vault7. It is the first part in a series of leaks titled Year Zero.
Origin: Allegedly from the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence unit in Langley, Virginia USA
Volume: 7,818 web pages with 943 attachments. According to Wikileaks, the entire archive of CIA material consists of several hundred million lines of computer code. Estimated to be bigger than the Snowden leaks (unconfirmed).
Dates of documents: from the time Snowden left the intelligence community till 2016. 2013-2016.

Intention: 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 cyber weapons.”

How is it different from the Snowden leaks: Snowden leaks exposed the NSA and its techniques of blanket surveillance on citizens and governments around the world. Vault7, on the other hand, exposes the CIA and what technologies it uses in cyber warfare against foreign governments as well as against targeted individuals.

What did we learn so far?

As we are examining the documents, we have identified that the leak concerns the CIA and what cyber weapons it uses. Over the next weeks we will continue to verify and update the information. Below is what we know so far about the programs used by the CIA, legality of the operations, and what this means for your privacy and security.
Germany is the CIA’s European Spybase
It was disclosed that the American consulate in Frankfurt is the main base for CIA hackers in Europe. This certainly raises some interesting questions, because it is highly unlikely that the CIA could run a major spy operation out of Frankfurt without German authorities being aware of it. Although it is not confirmed (and likely never will be), it is most probable that German authorities were in on it, and perhaps even actively participating as part of the Fourteen-Eyes program. It does call in question whether it is appropriate for a EU member state to authorize spying of EU citizens by a foreign power.
Programs used by the CIA

Weeping Angel – It is a program that transforms the microphones of smart TVs into surveillance tools. By manipulating the hardware, CIA hackers are able to turn on people’s smart TVs and listen to users’ conversations. In effect, Weeping Angel transforms smart TVs into bugs.
Our team quickly drew parallels between Weeping Angel and other surveillance tools described by Snowden. Weeping Angel is a technique that bears close resemblance to

Nosey Smurf, a tool used by UK’s GCHQ to turn on a phone’s microphone and use it for audio surveillance. While Tracker Smurf – is a geo-location tool that offers a more accurate method of locating a phone and its carrier than using triangulation.

Zero day – Refers to a general type of vulnerability used by the CIA against any adversary’s device. WikiLeaks reports that Zero Day have been primarily used against companies in industrial espionage. In 2013, Snowden, also, revealed that the NSA was committing industrial espionage against Brazilian, Russian and European oil companies, banks, airlines and trade delegations. According to Vault7, the program produced over “a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other “weaponized” malware.”

Hive is a multi-platform CIA malware suite that can be specifically utilized against states. “The project provides customizable implants for Windows, Solaris, MikroTik (used in internet routers) and Linux platforms and a Listening Post (LP)/Command and Control (C2) infrastructure to communicate with these implants.”

There are many parallels between Hive and Zero Day and the 2010 Stuxnet virus that attacked and infected the Iranian Nuclear program. Although no state took responsibility for the attack in 2010, Stuxnet has been linked by political pundits to American and Israeli surveillance and intelligence agencies due to its degree of sophistication.
Hacking mobiles

Vault7 also reveals that the CIA has developed advanced capabilities for hacking mobile phones. The leaks show that the agency developed and used its tool to primarily control mobile phones and then extract data from them.
CIA’s Mobile Development Branch produces malware to pull data from iPhones and other Apple products running iOS, such as iPads. MDB also targets Android OS which is a much popular system than iOS and is the default operating system for the majority of smartphones including Sony, Samsung and Google Pixel. “Year Zero” shows that as of 2016 the CIA had 24 “weaponized” Android “zero days” which it has developed itself and obtained from GCHQ, NSA and cyber arms contractors.

Framing other governments

We were alarmed by the discovery of a tool that allows the CIA to potentially frame foreign governments for its cyber warfare acts. It works as follows. Imagine that each government or a hacking group has its own signature move or malicious software or a combination of both that it uses to attack its targets. After a while, whenever an attack occurs, it can be linked to to group based on that fingerprint.

WikiLeaks reports that a program ran by its Remote Devices Branch called UMBRAGE “collects and stores an extensive library of attack techniques”. According to Vault7, amassed techniques include those that are frequently used by Russia.
Some of the techniques currently at CIA’s disposal via UMBRAGE include: keyloggers, password collection, webcam capture, data destruction, persistence, privilege escalation, stealth, anti-virus (PSP) avoidance and survey techniques.
Vault7 reveals that the CIA has also produced rules on how its malware should be hidden when deployed to avoid any fingerprints leading back to the US or the agency.
Was this legal?

Preliminary findings reveal that the CIA had known about and enhanced the dissemination of these tools. In fact, according to WikiLeaks, the agency wanted the programs to be legal so that agents or CIA sponsored hackers can operate with full impunity.

According to Vault7, if ‘CIA software was classified then officers could be prosecuted or dismissed for violating rules that prohibit placing classified information onto the Internet. As a result- “the CIA has secretly made most of its cyber spying/war code unclassified”. The U.S. government is not able to assert copyright either, due to restrictions in the U.S. Constitution. This means that cyber ‘arms’ manufacturers and computer hackers can freely “pirate” these ‘weapons’ if they are obtained. The CIA has primarily had to rely on obfuscation to protect its malware secret.

Why is this critical?

While we are still mapping the dangers of such findings and capabilities, some conclusions are clear.

The CIA can frame other governments

By using Hive and zero days, the US can wage a cyber attack against a nation state while purposefully leaving behind a trace that leads to another state. As governments around the world migrate their infrastructure control to cyber space – any cyber attack can have a devastating effect if targeted against hospitals, power plants or telecommunications providers.

CIA backdoors can be exploited by others

When the CIA undermines a service or a device, it creates the backdoor that can be abused by other parties. With the agency’s newly revealed tools, everything people do or say around their phones and TV’s can create a very revealing and intimate picture of people’s lives.

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Semion Mogilevich

A 5’6″ and a portly chain smoker, Mogilevich is known as “boss of bosses” in one of the biggest mafia states in the world. Born in June 30 1946 in Kiev, Ukraine, Mogilevich once acted as the key money laundering contact for the Solntsevskaya Bratva, a super-gang based in Moscow. He has since held over 100 front companies and bank accounts in 27 different countries, all to keep the cash flowing. Authorities say Mogilevich, who has an economics degree from Ukraine, is known for his ruthless nature but also for his business acumen, which led to his nickname “the Brainy Don.”

1973 convicted for violation of currency regulations

1975 convicted for buying up gold from the emigrants

1977 convicted for fraud

Mid 1980s founder of Arbat-International firm which operated sea shipping vessels leased from state-run Black sea steams line, founder of Vnukovo co-operative society which run a chain of paid public toilets at Moscow’s railway terminals.

Mogilevich earned his first million as a jewellery agent who was buying up works of art and jewellery from Jews, emigrating from Kiev in the 80s. He promised to pay money for the objects in Israel, but in most cases money went into his pockets.

1990 He emigrated to Israel, then to Hungary

In 1991, Mogilevich started meddling in the energy sector with Arbat International. For the next five years, the company served as his primary import-export petroleum company

According to the CIA, at the beginning of the 90s he sold several surface-to-air missiles and 12 armoured personnel carrier to Iran for $20m.

Between 1993 and 1998, however, Mogilevich caught the FBI’s attention when he allegedly participated in a $150 million scheme to defraud thousands of investors in a Canadian company, YBM Magnex, based just outside Philadelphia, which supposedly made magnets. With his economics degree and clever lies, Mogilevich forged documents for the Securities and Exchange Commission that raised the company’s stock price nearly 2,000%. Though shares in the company sold for up to $20 on the Toronto Stock Exchange, an investigation revealed that YBM did not actually make magnets, and that the company “was created for the sole purpose of committing securities fraud.

1994 He represented Russia and former USSR republics at the meeting of world’s criminal dons in Italy.

In 1994–96, under the infamous “loans-for-shares” program, Russia privatized 150 state-owned companies for just $12 billion, most of which was loaned to a handful of well-connected buyers by the state … initially just 25 or so budding oligarchs with the insider connections to buy these properties and the muscle to hold them.

A 1996 classified FBI report (since made public) noted that the Mogilevich organization was involved in everything from major league market manipulation to prostitution, Afghan heroin, and trafficking in nuclear weapons materials. This is why Semion Mogilevich sits high on the FBI’s list of “Ten Most Wanted” criminals. But, of course, Mogilevich has a good lobbyist (i.e. a former director of the FBI, the outfit that publishes that “Most Wanted” list), and few, if any, members of the Mogilevich organization are presently in jail. Many of them are residents of the United States, and we will see that many of them, including Sater, remain active in the U.S. markets.

In 1998, the FBI released a report naming Mogilevich as the leader of an organization with about 250 members. Only in operation only four years, the group’s main activities included arms dealing, trading nuclear material, prostitution, drug trafficking, oil deals, and money laundering.

In August 1999 the FBR gave details of $10b Russian mafia money laundering scheme, led by Mogilevich. The money were funneled through the Bank of New York, through the company called Benex Worldwide Ltd, founded by Mogilevich. According to Russian Customs, the Bank of New York was involved in the laundering of the proceeds from the imported goods. The Federal Customs Service (FCS) filed an appeal against the bank. The trial began on January 14, 2008 at a Moscow’s Arbitration Court. The Bank of New York officials demanded the trial, iniciated by the FCS, to be stopped, because they claimed American lawyers of the Russian Customs had no right to appeal in a Russian Court.  In the late 1990s, Mogilevich’s bank, the well-named Inkombank, pulled off a $10 billion money-laundering plot via the Bank of New York, according to the Moscow Telegraph, something he led up to with one of his more audacious grabs a few years earlier. The scam involved the selling of untaxed heating oil in place of the much more highly taxed auto fuel. Before it was uncovered, it ended up costing the Czech Republic, just one of the Central European countries conned, 100 billion Czech korunas, about $5 billion. Not only that, but on its way to being shut down there was mayhem galore, including the near hit of the reporter following the story.

In autumn 2001 it emerged that Mogilevich had met Bin Laden’s representatives in a view of selling terrorists enriched uranium stolen somewhere in the former USSR.

Then, in 2002, an Israeli lawyer named Zeev Gordon, who represented Mogilevich for more than 20 years, created Eural Trans Gas (ETG), the main intermediary between Turkmenistan and Ukraine. Some reports show that Gordon registered the company in Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash’s name. After that, Russia’s energy giant Gazprom and Ukraine’s Centragas Holding AG teamed up to establish Swiss-registered RosUkrEnergo (RUE) to replace ETG. Firtash and Gazprom reportedly roughly split the ownership of RUE. According to Russian customs documents detailing the trades, Gazprom sold more than 20 billion cubic meters of gas well below market prices to Firtash over the past four years — about four times more than the Russian government has publicly acknowledged. The price Firtash paid was so low, Reuters calculates, that companies he controlled made more than $3 billion on the arrangement.

In Ukraine 2006,  Poroshenko was suspected of participating in a plot to arrest Ukrainian former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s associate Aleksandr Turchynov, who preceded Poroshenko as acting president. According to documents posted online by Wikileaks, Tymoshenko, former head of the natural gas trading company Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine, may have cooperated with organized crime boss Semion Mogilevich, believed. Mogilevich was a participant of the agreements signed between National Joint-Stock Company Naftogaz of Ukraine, Gazprom and RUE in January 2006.

In 2007, Mogelivich told BBC that his business was selling wheat and grain.to be a primary Russian Mafia figure.

In autumn 2007- winter 2008 Mogilevich used to hold private talks with Vladimir Nekrasov, owner of Arbat-Prestige perfume and cosmetics distribution chain. The chain was set up in 1989 as a result of restructuring Mogilevich’s cooperative enterprise called Arbat. At the beginning Arbat-Prestige distributed perfume, smuggled by Mogilevich and Miroshnik from the warehouses of the Western Group of Forces. In fact Arbat-Prestige was part of major perfume and cosmetics smuggling scheme. Arbat-Prestige, nominally, was owned by Nekrasov, but in fact Seva Kievsky and his people run it. 40% stake in Arbat-Prestige was owned by Rinvei firm, established by Olga Zhunzhurova (Fisherman’s wife) and Galina Telesh (former wife of Mogilevich).

Manafort was working on the unsuccessful presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) in late 2008. He was also on the payroll of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. Manafort is widely credited with rehabilitating Yanukovych’s image in Ukraine and helping to engineer his victory in the country’s 2010 presidential election. At the same time, Manafort was arranging financial ventures with Firtash’s backing, emails show. Manafort met with Firtash in Kiev in December 2008 to discuss the arrangement. One of his partners reported his success: Firtash’s holding company, Group DF, would invest $100 million in a global real estate fund, pay an initial fee of $1.5 million to CMZ to manage the fund, and set up offices for the firm in Kiev. On August 25, 2008, he emailed two other individuals who would be involved in some of these ventures. One of them, Brad Zackson, was a former manager of the Trump Organization under Fred Trump, Donald’s father. However, documents revealed during court proceedings offer a glimpse of Manafort’s financial ties to Firtash, who is currently wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation over bribery allegations. The documents show how Manafort set up investment vehicles at Firtash’s behest in order to funnel his considerable fortune into real estate ventures in the United States and elsewhere.That same year, Firtash acknowledged to the U.S. ambassador in Ukraine that he got his start in business with the permission of a notorious Russian crime lord, according to a classified State Department cable. Other cables say Firtash made part of his fortune through sweetheart natural gas deals between Russia and the Ukraine. Around the same time, companies controlled by another Russian billionaire, Oleg Deripaska, paid $7.35 million toward management fees for Manafort and his partners in connection with an investment fund, according to a court filing in the Cayman Islands. Deripaska once was denied entry to the United States because of alleged mafia ties, current and former officials told NBC News. Deripaska is considered by U.S. officials to be among Putin’s inner circle. According to the cable, Firtash told the U.S. ambassador at a meeting in 2008 that he had been forced to deal with suspected criminals because at that time it was impossible to do business in Ukraine cleanly. He said he had needed and received permission from a man named Semion Mogilevich to establish various businesses.

In 2008, however, Russian police arrested Mogelivich, using one of his many pseudonyms, Sergei Schneider, in connection with tax evasion for a cosmetics company, Arbat Prestige. Mogilevich ran that company with his partner, Vladimir Nekrosov. Three years later, the charges were dropped

In 2010, however, then prime minister of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko, said she had “documented proof that some powerful criminal structures are behind the RosUkrEnergo (RUE) company,” according to WikiLeaks. Even before, the press had widely speculated about Mogilevich’s ties to RUE.

In the 2014 tape, made exactly one year before the former KGB officer, Alexander Litvinenko, was allegedly poisoned in 2014 with a radioactive isotope, the dissident apparently claims the Russian president had links with a mobster who was most wanted by the FBI. Mr Litvinenko says Putin had a “good relationship” with Ukrainian crime boss Semion Mogilevich, whom he accused of selling weapons to al-Qaeda. Separately, documents seen by the Telegraph reveal the transcript of an apparent conversation between two high-ranking Ukrainian officials in which they discuss the fact that Mogilevich had bought a house in Moscow and had received a passport “under another name”.Mogilevich may even have a working relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a published conversation between Leonid Derkach, the former chief of the Ukrainian security service, and former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma. “He’s [Mogilevich] on good terms with Putin,” Derkach reportedly said. “He and Putin have been in contact since Putin was still in Leningrad.”

The 2016 lawsuit, brought by former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, accused U.S. political consultant Paul Manafort of complicity in a complex scheme of retaliation against Tymoshenko and her political allies for impeding the business interests of Ukrainian gas tycoon Dmitry Firtash. Manafort, a veteran GOP consultant and former adviser to recently-ousted Ukrainian president and Firtash ally Viktor Yanukovych, is now leading the Trump presidential campaign’s efforts to secure delegates at the Republican National Convention in July.

 

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David Bogatin, considered a key figure in Semion Mogilevich’s Russian organized crime family, has “a long string of convictions for big-ticket Mogilevich-type offenses like financial fraud and tax dodging,” Henry explains. Allegedly, Bogatin once owned five separate condos in Trump Tower — that Donald Trump had personally sold to him.

Much has been written about Bayrock, the property development firm that was building Trump SoHo, his towering building in New York and other projects.A key principal in Bayrock was Felix Sater, a Russian convicted of helping to lead a massive mafia-linked Wall Street stock fraud scheme. (Mr Sater also attacked a man at a New York bar by stabbing him in the face with the broken stem of a Martini glass). Two lawyers, Frederic Oberlander and Richard Lerner, who have spent much of their careers tracking Bayrock’s dealings, allege in court documents that Bayrock “for most of its existence was substantially and covertly mob-owned and operated”. In a petition to the US Supreme Court, they write that Mr Sater’s father, Michael Sheferofsky, worked for Semion Mogilevich,

 

Sergey Mikhailov was directly involved in the establishment of following companies set up by Semen Mogilevich:

•        Mixim,

•        SV Holding,

•        Arbat International, joint venture,

•        Emire Bond in Israel,

•        Arigon,

•        Magnex in Hungary,

•        MAB International in Belgium,

•        YBM Magnex,

•        Benex

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Adam Khan on Putin Trump Assange

These are cut and pastes from his twitter accounts. Much thought went into this.

1. Some more color, background to my theory that blackmail is how Assange went from “darling of the left” to Putin apologist

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2. Putin routinely uses blackmail to get his way-that’s how he rose to power-that’s how he got Assange

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3. Just like they rescued Trump and Manafort at low points in their careers, Russians aided Assange when his finances dried up

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4. Another motivator for Assange-aside from evidence Putin blackmailed him with? Like Putin, he isn’t a fan of America or Hillary Clinton.

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5.So to people like claiming Assange is a “man of the left” Nope He switched sides in 2010 and is firmly in Putin’s pocket

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6. 6. Not a coincidence that Wikleaks dumps–TPP, Saudi, Turkey, DNC, Podesta-are timed to perfection to aid Putin’s geopolitical objectives

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7. When Panama Papers leak revealed how billions wound up in shell companies controlled a Putin crony, Assange blamed…a Soros conspiracy!

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8. Two Assange comments (left from 2006, right from 2016) best trace his arc from an idealistic whistleblower to a Putin puppet/apologist

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more call this 9

In 2010, Putin used damaging info about Assange’s sexual assault case to blackmail him, turn him into a Kremlin asset

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10. Wikileaks Sarah Harrison (Assange lieutenant) who escorted Snowden into Russia–”US is greatest unaccountable power”

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11.. Assange received documents to leak from Russian Military Intelligence (GRU).

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12. Flynn himself was fired by Obama after repeatedly leaking classified intelligence

 

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13. Flynn, who now freely peddles conspiracy theories, was so prone to dubious pronouncements that senior aides coined a term: “Flynn facts”

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14. And while he criticized Clinton for her private email, Mike Flynn himself used a forbidden private internet connection at the Pentagon!

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15. After he was fired, Flynn was found swooning about Putin, criticizing Obama openly as having lost Putin’s respect

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16. Did the Russians woo/groom Flynn, a disgruntled senior US intelligence official, as their direct conduit to manipulate US National Security?

 

 

 

 

 

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