Posts Tagged With: Saudi

Hacking Through Partisanship in the U.S. Electoral Scandal……


DECEMBER 13, 2016 | 03:54 GMT

More than a month after the U.S. presidential election, the tumult shows no sign of dying down. In fact, the noise around the roles of hacking and cyber intrusions in the vote rose several decibels Monday, following a weekend of charges that Russia put its thumb on the scales in November’s election. But the resulting political debate, fueled by accusations that President-elect Donald Trump’s supporters and potential Cabinet members were complicit in the hacks or, alternatively, that the Democrats are sore losers trying to undermine the incoming administration, is obscuring the larger geopolitical issues at play. What’s more, it overlooks the fact that cyber intrusions are only the latest tool in a time-honored tradition of electoral meddling.

At issue in the current maelstrom is not the sanctity of the voting process itself, but rather the manipulation of voter sentiment by foreign powers. America’s voting method varies from state to state, or even county to county, and uses hundreds of systems to track millions of paper and digital ballots cast by different means at different times. By inadvertent virtue of this arcane system, U.S. ballot boxes are more resistant to direct hacking than perhaps any other voting platform in the world. But the American electorate is not tamper proof.

The U.S. electoral process, flawed though some claim it is, remains the backbone of the country’s political system. The system is designed to be resilient in its complexity, to avoid (or at least deter) the over-concentration of power, and to enable each to express his or her opinion. At the same time, it is also designed to ensure a level of continuity and stability. Trust in the political process, even when the results are dissatisfactory, is essential to preserving national unity and preempting extra-constitutional attempts to alter the political landscape. If the process is seen as faulty or manipulated, national cohesion and the perceived legitimacy of political power will suffer. Consequently, foreign manipulation of U.S. elections is a serious issue.

It is not unprecedented, however. Foreign powers have long used information campaigns, propaganda and political messaging to try to create doubt around one candidate or another and to shape the narrative ahead of elections. The Iranians may well have delayed the release of hostages in part to create an environment conducive to President Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980, hoping for a better deal. In 1996, Chinese fundraising scandals surrounded the re-election of President Bill Clinton (who later paved the way for China’s entry into the World Trade Organization) and Democratic congressional candidates. In fact, there may even be precedent for a president’s complicity in electoral manipulation; Richard Nixon’s campaign tried to influence the collapse of Vietnamese peace talks to facilitate his own election. Russian disinformation campaigns have also been around for years, from rumors of U.S. chemical and biological weapons during the Korean War to stories, allegedly planted by Moscow, of the FBI’s role in President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. One could even argue that European leaders, or at least media and interest groups, fetted Barack Obama during his first run for the presidency, highlighting his differences with his predecessor, with the clear intention of reshaping U.S. policy direction.

Furthermore, the United States is not always the victim of these tactics. Washington has frequently been accused of interfering, more and less overtly, in other countries’ elections, most recently after the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines made critical remarks about Rodrigo Duterte during his bid for office. From Radio Free Europe to the National Endowment for Democracy, America has an array of “soft power” tools at its disposal to shape not just foreign elections, but foreign political systems as well. Attempts to interfere in, or at least influence, elections are the norm in international politics rather than the exception. Though no one wants to admit that his or her victory may have been shaped in part by foreign powers, the world always seems to have its vote, particularly in U.S. elections.

In addition to trying to influence elections directly, foreign powers are always looking for internal information on candidates and parties that they can use to anticipate shifts in U.S. policy or adjust their language and behavior to shape policies. Compared with older techniques such as wiretapping, bugging, breaking into offices or devising ruses to ply information from insiders, cyber tools are far more expedient and less risky. They are also harder to trace, further adding to the confusion.

Despite the outcry over Russia’s hacking activities, we are not on the cusp of a new Cold War. In many ways, however, the world is far more complex than it was during the Cold War — though, on the plus side, the threat of thermonuclear war no longer looms quite as large. The United States and Russia are once again at odds with each other, divided along an array of geopolitical lines, and the former Soviet periphery is once again the scene of heavy competition between the two. But the ideological, political, economic and security dichotomy of the Cold War has since given way to a more diverse global landscape. Today, power is more diffuse, the lines between friend and foe are blurred, and economic integration often coexists with strategic competition. Each nation still has its own interests, but the global framework of “West” and “East” no longer provides an easy rubric.

There is little doubt that Russia, among other countries, tried to craft information campaigns with the intent to shape the U.S. presidential elections. Moscow may even be said to have actively interfered in the race if it did, in fact, selectively release emails. Still, it is hard to argue that its activities were enough to tip the balance, even in a close race. By politicizing the latest instance of foreign electoral meddling to the point where each side of the political spectrum is reduced to solely accusing the other of lying, we risk misplacing the focus on partisan instead of strategic issues.

Perhaps a more productive way to assess the accusations is to ask a few different questions: Is hacking significantly different from a disgruntled staff member’s leak, from loose talk at a bar, or from stolen or misplaced documents? Is a campaign or political party staff member’s email a national security issue or a matter of basic information management? Is U.S. government information better protected than private information? How quickly and effectively is the U.S. intelligence and counterintelligence community adapting to the changing information landscape? How does one balance privacy, freedom and security (a perennial question in the United States)?

And, maybe most important, are U.S. elections at significant risk of true foreign manipulation, or are they simply vulnerable to attempts at information-shaping? The latter we know how to deal with. The former is a fundamental threat that merits dispassionate investigation.

Categories: CIA, Congress, Democrats, Government Secrets, Law suit, Middle East, Obama, One Government, Saudi Arabia, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Unveiled: How Obama REALLY got into Harvard……


SAUDI BILLIONAIRE DID HELP OBAMA INTO HARVARD.
=======================================================
In late March 2008, on a local New York City show called “Inside City Hall,” the venerable African-American entrepreneur and politico, Percy Sutton, told host Dominic Carter how he was asked to help smooth Barack Obama’s admission into Harvard Law School 20 years earlier.
The octogenarian Sutton calmly and lucidly explained that he had been “introduced to [Obama] by a friend.” The friend’s name was Dr. Khalid al-Mansour, and the introduction had taken place about 20 years prior.

Sutton described al-Mansour as “the principal adviser to one of the world’s richest men.” The billionaire in question was Saudi prince Al-Waleed bin Talal.

Given, the game-changing nature of this revelation when it surfaced in late August 2008, the Obama camp and its allies in the media, particularly Politico and Media Matters, shifted into overdrive to kill the story. Through a series of denials, lies and slanders about Sutton’s mental health, they succeeded.

The story, however, has come back to life. The elusive al-Mansour was a guest on the BlogTalkRadio show, “The National and International Roundtable,” Sept. 19, 2012.

In his introduction, the host openly acknowledged that al-Mansour “made news in 2008 when it was revealed that he had been a patron of President Barack Obama and had recommended him for admission to Harvard Law School.”

The host goes on to describe al-Mansour as “co-founder of the International law firm of al-Waleed, al-Talal and al-Mansour and special adviser to Saudi Arabian prince, his royal highness Prince Al Waleed bin Talal bin Abdulazziz.”

This meshed completely with what Sutton had said in 2008. According to Sutton, al-Mansour had asked him to “please write a letter in support of [Obama] … a young man that has applied to Harvard.” Sutton had friends at Harvard and gladly did so.

Although Sutton did not specify a date, this would likely have been in 1988 when the 26-year-old Obama was applying to Harvard Law School.

Khalid al-Mansour was a piece of work. Although impressively well connected, the Texan-born attorney and black separatist had not met the paranoid racial fantasy unworthy of his energy.

Several of his speeches can still be seen on YouTube. In one, “A Little on the History of Jews,” he lectures the world’s Jews, “God gave you nothing. The children from Poland and Russia were promised nothing. But they are stealing the land the same as the Christians stole the lands from the Indians in America.”

For the record, bin Talal was the very same Saudi who had offered New York $10 million to help the city rebuild after 9/11, but who had his gift refused by Mayor Rudy Guiliani. In September 2001, Giuliani was in no mood to hear even a billionaire blame America for inciting the attacks with its pro-Israel stance, no matter how deep his pockets.

For deeper background into why bin Talal might have been helping Obama, read Frank Miele’s excellent piece in the unlikely Daily Interlake of Kalispell, Mont.

Ben Smith, then of Politico, took the lead in killing the story. Shortly after the story broke, Smith ran the disclaimer that “Barack Obama’s campaign is flatly denying a story told by former Manhattan Borough President Percy Sutton.”

The Obama camp, in fact, denied that Obama even knew al-Mansour. Smith then talked to al-Mansour. At first, al-Mansour avoided contradicting Sutton’s story out of respect for Sutton, “a dear friend.” When pressed, however, al-Mansour disowned Sutton’s story. “The scenario as it related to me did not happen,” he reportedly told Smith.

A self-appointed “spokesman for Sutton’s family” by the name of Kevin Wardally put the penultimate nails in this story’s coffin with an email to Smith that read in part: “As best as our family and the Chairman’s closest friends can tell, Mr. Sutton, now 86 years of age, misspoke in describing certain details and events in that television interview.”

For Smith, even though Wardally had gotten Sutton’s age wrong by two years, this emailed slander was proof enough that Sutton’s highly specific claim was manufactured. Media Matters, meanwhile, scolded those conservative bloggers that did not accept the various denials at face value.

Independent journalist Ken Timmerman, now running for Congress in Maryland, followed up with Wardally. Unconvincingly, Wardally claimed that a nephew of the elder Sutton had retained his services.

Sutton’s son and daughter, however, told Timmerman that no one in their family even knew who Kevin Wardally was, let alone authorized him to speak on behalf of the family.

When Timmerman contacted al-Mansour, he repeatedly declined to comment on what Sutton had said and, contrary to the line from the Obama camp, claimed to know Obama personally.

With Hillary out of the race, no newsroom in America felt compelled to follow up on Timmerman’s research. At the time this story was gelling, in early September 2008, the media were doing all their digging in Alaskan dumpsters. The 89-year-old Sutton died in December 2009.

The Obama media will try to ignore this new revelation or, if not, kill it. Their best argument now is that al-Mansour was not on the air when his introduction was read. That is true enough.

Yet from the casual tone of the introduction, the listener senses that within black nationalist circles, the story Sutton told is believed to be true. If so, it should absolutely matter that a Saudi billionaire and his black nationalist cohorts have been promoting Obama from the beginning.

Ben Smith is now editor of Buzzfeed. If he ever wants to be taken seriously as a journalist, the onus is on him to follow up. If he wants to throw his peers a bone, he can report that bin Talal owns 7 percent of News Corp., the parent company of Fox News.

Categories: Politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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