Monthly Archives: July 2020


Self-Congratulation Is Unattractive

…but I shall do it anyway.

I came today across this statement which I wrote in December 2014 for distribution to SNP members when I was standing for selection as an SNP candidate. I don’t recall anybody else sounding this warning in 2014, and I feel rather proud of my intuition.

I think we have to avoid the trap of managerialism – of being just another political party but a little more competent and fair. We should maintain a firm thrust towards the goal of national freedom…
I want to end the Union, not to run it.
Within the SNP we must guard against success leading us to develop our own careerists. Professional politicians in Westminster have become a parasitic class with interchangeable beliefs, out for themselves. There are too many of them – Special Advisers, research assistants etc. The number of politicians paid for by the taxpayer has quadrupled in 30 years…
I want the dynamic citizen activism we saw in the Yes campaign to lead to a new kind of politics in Scotland. Bubbling up from ordinary folk. And I want that energy from the people to defeat the forces of the mainstream media and the unionists here in the coming election.
Together, we can do it.

Having been nominated to stand for selection in 19 constituencies – without in a single case having initiated it myself – I was of course barred from standing by the central party. What ordinary SNP members in the 2015 selections would have made of this pitch we can never know. I am of course trying again to see what they make of it today. My pitch has not changed.

View with comments

Sky News Miss the Story

Sky News are today carrying the story that Nicola Sturgeon attended a meeting with Salmond’s former Chief of Staff, Geoff Aberdein, about a historic sexual allegation made against Alex Salmond on 29 March 2018, several days before she claimed to parliament that she first heard of it. It will prove in the long term still more significant that this meeting also contradicts Sturgeon’s claim that it was Alex Salmond who first told her of the existence of the allegations.

This all appears to come as news to James Matthews, the Sky reporter. The extraordinary thing is, that both he and I sat through the testimony under oath on this point of Geoff Aberdein at the Alex Salmond trial.

On 8 to 9 March 2018 … had contacted him to say she was involved in a process of looking at complaints about Alex Salmond. He had spoken to Kevin Pringle and Duncan Hamilton by conference call to discuss this. On 29 March 2018 he had held a meeting with Nicola Sturgeon in the Scottish Parliament to discuss this. On 2 April he had attended a further meeting in Sturgeon’s home.

Matthews obviously thought it of no significance – but then again, it was defence evidence and Matthews, in common with the entire mainstream media, reported virtually zero of the defence evidence. Today’s Sky News article helpfully gives links to the headlines of their Salmond trial stories:

As you will see, lurid allegations from the prosecution witnesses – lurid allegations which were untrue – were prominently featured as the headlines. You will search those reports in vain for detail or even a bare outline of the defence case. The verdict is treated as a shock, and then we are straight in to stories querying the verdict.

Matthews and all the MSM hacks came for a hanging. They thus missed the real story, which is of a conspiracy at the highest levels of the Scottish Government to frame Alex Salmond. This finally seems to have penetrated even James Matthews’ thick skull. Had he been paying attention to the defence evidence, he could have published today’s article two months ago.

This relates to the single allegation in the Salmond trial which was about a real incident which actually happened, as opposed to a fiction, a distinction the jury appears to have made by finding only this one “Not Proven” and the others “Not Guilty”. Salmond stated it was a case of working very late together and drinking, getting intimate and going a bit too far with a cuddle. At the time he made a formal apology through a civil service process, which was accepted, and given the choice of transfer the official continued to work closely with him.

The separate official who contacted Aberdein about weaponising this initial Salmond allegation is somebody extremely close to Nicola Sturgeon and very senior in her office. She first contacted Aberdein on 8-9 March – almost a full month before Sturgeon claims she first knew of the allegation.

Anybody who knows how Sturgeon operates would find it extremely improbable that a senior member of her office would be undertaking such discussions without her knowledge. It is simply impossible that the staff member would then go on to arrange a meeting with Sturgeon herself on the subject, without Sturgeon’s prior knowledge and agreement. So we can be extremely confident that Sturgeon knew about the allegation before 29 March, and very probably before 9 March.

It seems from the Sky article that Sturgeon’s defence is to call Geoff Aberdein a liar.

A Scottish government spokesperson told Sky News that Ms Sturgeon does not dispute that the 29 March meeting took place but refutes the suggestion that it involved discussion of the Scottish government’s Salmond inquiry.

This may be difficult for Aberdein as at the 29 March meeting the only other person present was the senior official from Sturgeon’s office, a person whose truthfulness I am by no means alone in holding in great doubt. But in his sworn evidence Aberdein stated that he had a teleconference to discuss the development with Duncan Hamilton and Kevin Pringle, both persons of considerable probity.

I was deeply shocked, indeed shaken, on Friday evening when I was shown a new letter from the Crown Office, denying the existence of a document relevant to my own defence which I know for certain to exist and to be held by the Crown – it was one of those documents, proving the wider conspiracy, excluded from the Salmond trial by the judge as “collateral evidence”. I am now just as shocked by the above Scottish government statement about the 29 March meeting. Lies, evasions, sophistry and denials are perhaps to be expected from politicians, but they are being communicated by civil servants, which says something about the degree of corruption in Scotland today.

I am very sorry, but Scottish politics are about to get very dirty indeed. The degree of penetration and influence by the UK security services behind these events must not be underestimated.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: [email protected]

Alternatively by bank transfer or standing order:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

View with comments

Bill Binney on Russian “Hacking” – Live

UPDATE Since posting the link to Bill Binney’s talk, a number of people have been in touch to allege that the hosting organisation, the Schiller Institute, has an objectionable right wing or even racist agenda. I am not aware and have no time now to research. I am however 100% certain that Bill Binney, whom I know, is neither right wing nor in any sense racist, and that he has very important things to say. This does not constitute either an endorsement or a condemnation of the Schiller Institute or anybody else who may be present or speaking.

William Binney, former Technical Director of the National Security Agency (NSA – GCHQ’s much bigger American brother) and the world’s foremost expert in cyber-surveillance, explains why it is impossible that Russia hacked the DNC and Podesta emails for Wikileaks.

From the International Schiller Institute, Washington DC live at 11am in Washington, 4pm in the UK.

Despite the fact that $32 million Mueller Inquiry could find “no concrete evidence” of the hack and Crowdstrike, the source of the original allegation, have admitted there is “no evidence of exfiltration”, the media and establishment persists in the “Russian hacking” narrative. It is stated as accepted fact in the Russophobic report of the Intelligence and Security Committee in the UK.

Yet it is simply untrue, and can be proven to be untrue. See William Binney explain why.

You need to register here
https://schillerinstitute.com/blog/2020/07/20/william-binney-makes-his-case-to-the-world-there-was-no-russian-hack/

View with comments

“Credible Open Source Reporting”, the Intelligence Services and Scottish Independence

I write as somebody who held Top Secret clearance for 21 years, with extensive daily use of Top Secret material that entire time, and the highest possible specific codeword clearance above Top Secret for 11 years. I personally conducted for the FCO the largest “action on” operation in GCHQ history. (“Action on” is the process of declassifying top secret material for, in my particular case, government to government use). I have also given evidence in person in a three hour appearance before Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee.

The BBC has all morning been trailing the imminent report by the Intelligence and Security Committee as showing Russian interference in the Scottish referendum campaign according to “credible open source reporting”. It is hardly a surprise that Westminster has weaponised its report to attack not the British Establishment but Scottish Independence.

“Credible open source reporting” is a piece of formal security service intelligence assessment jargon. It is very important you know exactly what it means. It means material not from secret human intelligence or from communications intercept, but material which has been published, in the media or academia. Stuff that is as available to you or I as it is to the intelligence services. Not intelligence material at all. Nothing to do with the Intelligence and Security Committee.

The last high profile deployment of the “credible open source reporting” formulation was the dirty dossier on Iraq Weapons of Mass Destruction, where the PhD thesis of Ibrahim al-Marashi was the source for untrue claims about Iraqi WMD. Al-Marashi, now a Professor, states his work was distorted and altered to suit the agenda of the Iraq War.

Mr Marashi’s student thesis, Iraq: Its Infrastructure of Concealment, Deception and Intimidation, was not only plagiarised. It was also altered, as the British government and intelligence establishment sought to strengthen what in truth was uncertain evidence about Saddam’s efforts to develop WMD.

The point of “open source reporting” is that it is published and we can all see it. We could have seen al-Marashi’s PhD thesis. But Blair’s Iraq Dossier did not give the name of the source. It did not say “according to the student Ibrahim al-Marashi”. It said “Intelligence services say that credible open source reporting says…”.

“Credible open source reporting” is a propaganda formulation designed to fool you and give a false imprimatur to any dubious piece of published work.

So the grand Intelligence and Security Committee will not say “According to the article in the Herald by the Russophobe nutter David Leask and the publicity seeking Jennifer Jones”… It will say “According to the intelligence services, credible open source reporting says…”

But actually it is absolutely no more than the former. Dressed up falsely as “intelligence”.

All of Scotland must ask. “Open source reporting. Can I see it then?”.

Yet our so-called journalists are all parroting “open source reporting” without one of them asking where it is.

UPDATE – we now have the report itself. A footnote gives the justification for its “credible open source reporting” on Scottish Independence. It is incredibly flimsy:

44 For example, it was widely reported shortly after the referendum that Russian election observers had suggested that there were irregularities in the conduct of the vote, and this position was widely pushed by Russian state media. We understand that HMG viewed this as being primarily aimed at discrediting the UK in the eyes of a domestic Russian audience. More recently, we note the study by Ben Nimmo – #ElectionWatch: Scottish Vote, Pro-Kremlin Trolls, 12 December 2017.

Yes, that is Ben Nimmo, £5,000 a month consultant to the Integrity initiative, and his identification of scores of ordinary Scottish tweeters as “Kremlin trolls”. You will recall that one sure sign of a Kremlin troll according to Nimmo was use of the phrase “cui bono”. Nimmo was Leask’s source for the Herald article I quoted above.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: [email protected]

Alternatively by bank transfer or standing order:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

View with comments

Cold Wars and Profit

The Guardian carried a very strange piece yesterday under the heading “Stamps celebrating Ukrainian resistance in pictures”. This was the first image shown:

The Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) was, without any shadow of a doubt, responsible for the slaughter of at least 200,000 Polish civilians; they liquidated whole Polish communities in Volhynia and Galicia, including the women and children. The current Polish government, which is as anti-Russian and pro-NATO as they come, nevertheless has declared this a genocide. It certainly was an extremely brutal ethnic cleansing. There is no doubt either that at times between 1942 and 1944 the UPA collaborated with the Nazis and collaborated in the destruction of Jews and Gypsies. It is simplistic to describe the UPA as fascist or an extension of the Nazi regime; at times they fought the Nazis, though they collaborated more often. There is a real sense in which they operated at the level of medieval peasants, simply seizing local opportunities to exterminate rural populations and seize their land and assets, be they Polish, Jew or Gypsy. But on balance any reasonable person would have to conclude that the UPA was an utterly deplorable phenomenon. To publish a celebration of it, disguised as a graphic art piece, without any of this context, is no more defensible than a display of Nazi art with no context.

In fact the Guardian’s very brief text is still worse than no context.

Ukrainian photographer Oleksandr Kosmach collects 20th-century stamps issued by Ukrainian groups in exile during the Soviet era.

Artists and exiles around the world would use stamps to communicate the horrors of Soviet oppression. “These stamps show us the ideas and values of these people, who they really were and what they were fighting for,” Kosmach says.

That is so misleadingly partial as a description of the art glorifying the UPA movement as to be deeply reprehensible. It does however fit with the anything goes stoking of Russophobia, which is the mainstay of government and media discourse at the moment. Even at the height of the Cold War, we never saw such a barrage of unprovable accusations leveled at Russia through the media by “security service sources”.

A whole slew of these were rehearsed by Andrew Marr on his flagship BBC1 morning show. The latest is the accusation that Russia is responsible for a cyber attack on Covid-19 vaccination research. This is another totally evidence free accusation. But it misses the point anyway. The alleged cyber attack, if it happened, was a hack not an attack – the allegation is that there was an effort to obtain the results of research, not to disrupt research. It is appalling that the UK is trying to keep its research results secret rather than share them freely with the world scientific community. As I have reported before, the UK and the USA have been preventing the WHO from implementing a common research and common vaccine solution for Covid-19, insisting instead on a profit driven approach to benefit the big pharmaceutical companies (and disadvantage the global poor).

What makes the accusation that Russia tried to hack the research even more dubious is the fact that Russia had just bought the very research specified. You don’t steal things you already own.

If anybody had indeed hacked the research, we all know it is impossible to trace with certainty the whereabouts of hackers. My VPN’s are habitually set to India, Australia or South Africa depending on where I am trying to watch the cricket, dodging broadcasting restrictions. More pertinently, Wikileaks Vault 7 release of CIA material showed the specific programmes for the CIA in how to leave clues to make a leak look like it came from Russia. This irrefutable evidence that the CIA do computer hacks with apparent Russian “fingerprints” deliberately left, like little bits of Cyrillic script, is an absolutely classic example of a fact that everybody working in the mainstream media knows to be true, but which they all contrive never to mention.

Thus when last week’s “Russian hacking” story was briefed by the security services, that Jeremy Corbyn deployed secret documents on UK/US trade talks which had been posted on Reddit, after being stolen by an evil Russian who left his name of Grigor in his Reddit handle, there was no questioning in the media of this narrative. Instead, we had another round of McCarthyite witch-hunt aimed at the rather tired looking Jeremy Corbyn.

Personally, if the Russians had been responsible for revealing that the Tories are prepared to open up the NHS “market” to big American companies, including ending or raising caps on pharmaceutical prices, I should be very grateful to the Russians for telling us. Just as the world would owe the Russians a favour if it were indeed them who leaked just how systematically the DNC rigged the 2016 primaries against Bernie Sanders. But as it happens, it was not the Russians. The latter case was a leak by a disgusted insider, and I very much suspect the NHS US trade deal link was also from a disgusted insider.

When governments do appalling things, very often somebody manages to blow the whistle.

If you can delay even the most startling truth for several years, it loses much of its political bite. If you can announce it during a health crisis, it loses still more. The world therefore did not shudder to a halt when the CEO of Crowdstrike admitted there had never been any evidence of a Russian hack of the DNC servers.

You will recall the near incredible fact that, even through the Mueller investigation, the FBI never inspected the DNC servers themselves but simply relied on a technical report from Crowdstrike, the Clinton related IT security consultant for the DNC. And now know for sure that Crowdstrike had been peddling fake news for Hillary. In fact Crowdstrike had no record of any internet hack at all. There was no evidence of the email material being exported over the internet. What they claimed did exist was evidence that the files had been organised preparatory to export.

Remember the entire “Russian hacking” story was based ONLY on Crowdstrike’s say so. There is literally no other evidence of Russian involvement in the DNC emails, which is unsurprising as I have been telling you for four years from my own direct sources that Russia was not involved. Yet finally declassified Congressional testimony revealed that Shawn Henry stated on oath that “we did not have concrete evidence” and “There’s circumstantial evidence , but no evidence they were actually exfiltrated.”

This testimony fits with what I was told by Bill Binney, former Technical Director of the National Security Agency (NSA), who told me that it was impossible that any large amount of data should be moved across the internet from the USA, without the NSA both seeing it happen in real time and recording it. If there really had been a Russian hack, the NSA would have been able to give the time of it to a millisecond. That the NSA did not have that information was proof the transfer had never happened, according to Binney. What had happened, Binney deduced, was that the files had been downloaded locally, probably to a thumb drive.

So arguably the biggest news story of the past four years, the claim that Putin effectively interfered to have Trump elected, turns out indeed to be utterly baseless. Has the mainstream media, acting on security service behest, done anything to row back from the false impression it created? No it has doubled down.

The “Russian hacking” theme keeps being brought back related to whatever is the big story of the day.
Brexit? Russian hacking.
UK General election 2019? Russian hacking
Covid-19 vaccine? Russian hacking.

Then we have those continual security service briefings. Two weeks ago we had unnamed security service sources telling the New York Times that Russia had offered the Taliban a bounty for killing American soldiers. This information had allegedly come from interrogation of captured Taliban in Afghanistan, which would almost certainly mean was obtained under torture.

It is a wildly improbable tale. The Afghans have never needed that kind of incentivisation to kill foreign invaders on their soil. It is also a fascinating throwback of an accusation – the British did indeed offer Afghans money for, quite literally, the heads of Afghan resistance leaders during the first Afghan War in 1841, as I detail in my book Sikunder Burnes.

You do not have to look back that far to realise the gross hypocrisy of the accusation. In the 1980’s the West was quite openly paying, arming and training the Taliban -including Osama Bin Laden – to kill Russian and other Soviet conscripts in their thousands. That is just one example of the hypocrisy. The US and UK security services both cultivate and bribe senior political and other figures abroad in order to influence policy all of the time. We work to manipulate the result of elections – I have done it personally in my role as a UK diplomat. A great deal of the behaviour over which western governments and media are creating this new McCarthyite anti-Russian witch hunt, is standard diplomatic practice.

My own view is that there are malign Russian forces attempting to act on government in the UK and the USA, but they are not nearly as powerful as the malign British and American forces acting on their own governments. The truth is that the world is under the increasing control of a global elite of billionaires, to whom nationality is irrelevant and national governments are tools to be manipulated. Russia is not attempting to buy corrupt political influence on behalf of the Russian people, who are decent folk every bit as exploited by the ultra wealthy as you or I. Russian billionaires are, just like billionaires everywhere, attempting to game global political, commercial and social structures in their personal interest.

The other extreme point of hypocrisy lies in human rights. So many western media commentators are suddenly interested in China and the Uighurs or in restrictions on the LBGT community in Russia, yet turn a completely blind eye to the abuse in western “allies” such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. As somebody who was campaigning about the human rights of both the Uighurs and of gay people in Russia a good decade before it became fashionable, I am disgusted by how the term “human rights” has become weaponised for deployment only against those countries designated as enemy by the western elite.

Finally, do not forget that there is a massive armaments industry and a massive security industry all dependent on having an “enemy”. Powerful people make money from this Russophobia. Expect much more of it. There is money in a Cold War.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: [email protected]

Alternatively by bank transfer or standing order:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

View with comments

Calling all NUJ Members

When a country’s main union for journalists polices the Overton window, you are in a society well on the way to authoritarianism. For four months I have been excluded from the National Union of Journalists and, despite repeated requests, the NUJ even refuses to tell me the nature of the objection.

140 days ago, on 5 March 2020, I applied online to renew my lapsed membership of the National Union of Journalists. For two months I heard nothing, then after inquiring I was told objections had been received to my membership. After two months more pressing I was told the objection is that I am not a “fit and proper person” to join the trade union. I still have no idea on what grounds this is alleged, or who alleges it.

A strange process is underway by which an investigation is carried out, and concluded, by the Assistant Secretary General and a report submitted to the National Executive. Only after the report is finalised do I get any opportunity to see what is alleged against me or to comment, which seems a quite remarkable proceeding.

The other thing that seems very wrong in this procedure is how objections were received and to whom my application was advertised. The system is supposed to work this way. The application is received by HQ, and is then sent within 14 days to your local branch for comment. That is the point at which objections can usually be lodged. My application has never been sent to my local branch, or anywhere. It has never left NUJ HQ. The local branch did not know the application existed until I asked a friend there to check on its progress, over two months after it was lodged.

In my case, my application has never even been sent to my local branch, where I was a member without incident for three years. Objections were lodged while my application was still at NUJ HQ.

But how can this happen? The NUJ claim that the delay in dealing with the objections (plural) is caused by the need to locate the objectors and verify their standing in the union. So if these objectors are so diverse and unknown to NUJ HQ, how did they find out about my membership application in order to object to it? The application was never sent out for comment or posted anywhere. The most obvious explanation is that somebody within the NUJ staff has tipped off some group to object.

I should explain the reason my membership had lapsed. I was a temporary freelance member for three years, which is open to those who get less than 50% of their income from journalism. If after three years you have not reached the 50% bar, you cannot continue as a member. I found myself unfortunately in that position.

As my other income has now mostly gone and there are now subscriptions to this blog, I applied to rejoin as soon as I met the income qualifying bar, after about a 3 year gap. It is worth noting I did not apply as a result of being charged with contempt of court – I applied some eight weeks before that happened. I am not seeking financial assistance from the union.

It is not the income question which is blocking my membership but the allegation I am not a “fit and proper person”. As I lead a pretty blameless personal life, this can only relate to my writings. I find this extremely sinister. It is certainly true that I write things that NUJ members within the mainstream media do not. It is certainly true that I attract massive criticism on social media from a section of mainstream journalists for my writings – on the Skripal case, for example.

But a National Union of Journalists which excludes writers for their opinions is a contradiction. I do not claim this as an absolute – out and out racists and fascists are a different thing. But the union is supposed to be a union for journalists, not for stenographers to power. I find the flat refusal of the NUJ to tell me what I am alleged to have done wrong to be particularly chilling. I find the entire process of handling my application, and the question of how these objections arose before the application was sent out for comment, deeply suspicious.

I therefore call on all members of the NUJ to raise this issue, either direct with NUJ HQ or preferably through your branch. It should not need saying, but strangely it does, that journalists whose political opinions are very different to my own ought still to support my right to be a member of the union. It exists to defend journalists, not to exclude them. If readers have contact with a probable NUJ member, I should be grateful if you could draw this matter to their attention and ask them to act.

I am very sorry to be obliged to publish this post. I am trying to rejoin the NUJ, not to pick a fight with it. My previous three year membership was entirely uneventful. I am a strong supporter of unions, that is why I am trying to rejoin one. But what is happening appears to be extraordinary and wrong. Who are these anonymous objectors and to what do they object? How did they find out I had applied before the application was sent out for comment? Who is behind this objection?

Below is my correspondence with the NUJ. Note that I applied for membership online on 5 March and the first email was received on 26 May, eleven weeks later, in reply to phone calls I made to ask what was happening.

Tomorrow will be precisely one month since I last heard from the NUJ. They still will not tell me what the objection is, 140 days since I submitted my application to rejoin.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: [email protected]

Alternatively by bank transfer or standing order:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

View with comments

Damage to the Soul

The imprisonment of Julian Assange has been a catalogue of gross injustice heaped upon gross injustice, while a complicit media and indoctrinated population looks the other way. In a truly extraordinary twist, Assange is now being extradited on the basis of an indictment served in the UK, which is substantially different to the actual indictment he now faces in Virginia if extradited.

The Assange hearing was adjourned after its first full week, and its resumption has since been delayed by coronavirus. In that first full week, both the prosecution and the defence outlined their legal arguments over the indictment. As I reported in detail to an audience of millions, Assange’s legal team fairly well demolished the key arguments of the prosecution during that hearing.

This extract from my report of the Defence case is of particular relevance to what has since happened:

For the defence, Mark Summers QC stated that the USA charges were entirely dependent on three factual accusations of Assange behviour:

1) Assange helped Manning to decode a hash key to access classified material.
Summers stated this was a provably false allegation from the evidence of the Manning court-martial.

2) Assange solicited the material from Manning
Summers stated this was provably wrong from information available to the public

3) Assange knowingly put lives at risk
Summers stated this was provably wrong both from publicly available information and from specific involvement of the US government.

In summary, Summers stated the US government knew that the allegations being made were false as to fact, and they were demonstrably made in bad faith. This was therefore an abuse of process which should lead to dismissal of the extradition request. He described the above three counts as “rubbish, rubbish and rubbish”.

Summers then walked through the facts of the case. He said the charges from the USA divide the materials leaked by Manning to Wikileaks into three categories:

a) Diplomatic Cables
b) Guantanamo detainee assessment briefs
c) Iraq War rules of engagement
d) Afghan and Iraqi war logs

Summers then methodically went through a), b), c) and d) relating each in turn to alleged behaviours 1), 2) and 3), making twelve counts of explanation and exposition in all. This comprehensive account took some four hours and I shall not attempt to capture it here. I will rather give highlights, but will relate occasionally to the alleged behaviour number and/or the alleged materials letter. I hope you follow that – it took me some time to do so!

On 1) Summers at great length demonstrated conclusively that Manning had access to each material a) b) c) d) provided to Wikileaks without needing any code from Assange, and had that access before ever contacting Assange. Nor had Manning needed a code to conceal her identity as the prosecution alleged – the database for intelligence analysts Manning could access – as could thousands of others – did not require a username or password to access it from a work military computer. Summers quoted testimony of several officers from Manning’s court-martial to confirm this. Nor would breaking the systems admin code on the system give Manning access to any additional classified databases. Summers quoted evidence from the Manning court-martial, where this had been accepted, that the reason Manning wanted to get in to systems admin was to allow soldiers to put their video-games and movies on their government laptops, which in fact happened frequently.

Magistrate Baraitser twice made major interruptions. She observed that if Chelsea Manning did not know she could not be traced as the user who downloaded the databases, she might have sought Assange’s assistance to crack a code to conceal her identity from ignorance she did not need to do that, and to assist would still be an offence by Assange.

Summers pointed out that Manning knew that she did not need a username and password, because she actually accessed all the materials without one. Baraitser replied that this did not constitute proof she knew she could not be traced. Summers said in logic it made no sense to argue that she was seeking a code to conceal her user ID and password, where there was no user ID and password. Baraitser replied again he could not prove that. At this point Summers became somewhat testy and short with Baraitser, and took her through the court martial evidence again. Of which more…

Baraitser also made the point that even if Assange were helping Manning to crack an admin code, even if it did not enable Manning to access any more databases, that still was unauthorised use and would constitute the crime of aiding and abetting computer misuse, even if for an innocent purpose.

Now while there is no evidence that judge Baraitser is giving any serious consideration to the defence case, what this has done is show the prosecutors the holes in their argument which would cause them serious problems should they get Julian to trial in the United States. In particular, they are wary of the strong freedom of speech protections in the US constitution and so are desperate to portray Julian as a hacker, and not a journalist. But, as you can see above, their case for this is not looking strong.

So the prosecution needed a different case. They have therefore entirely changed the indictment against Julian in Virginia, and brought in a superseding indictment.

As you can see, this is about switching to charges firmly grounded in “hacking”, rather than in publishing leaks about appalling American war crimes. The new indictment is based on the evidence of a “supergrass”, Sigurdur Thordarson, who was acting a a paid informant to the FBI during his contact with Wikileaks.

Thordarson is fond of money and is a serial criminal. He was convicted on 22 December 2014 by Reykjanes District Court in Iceland of stealing over US $40,000 and over 13,000 euro from Wikileaks “Sunshine Press” accounts by forging documents in the name of Julian Assange, and given a two year jail sentence. Thordarson is also a convicted sex offender, and was convicted after being turned in to the police by Julian Assange, who found the evidence – including of offences involving a minor – on Thordarson’s computer.
[Updated 13.45 to add detail of Thordarson’s convictions].

There appears scope to doubt the motives and credentials of the FBI’s supergrass.

The FBI have had Thordarson’s “Evidence” against Assange since long before the closing date for submissions in the extradition hearing, which was June 19th 2019. That they now feel the need to deploy this rather desperate stuff is a good sign of how they feel the extradition hearing has gone so far, as an indicator of the prospects of a successful prosecution in the USA.

This leaves the UK extradition in a state of absolute farce. I was involved in discussion with Wikileaks about what would happen when the superseding indictment was introduced at the procedural hearing last month. It ought not to have been accepted – it is over a year since the closing date, and a week of opening arguments on the old indictment have already been heard. The new indictment is plainly designed to redress flaws in the old one exposed at the hearing.

The superseding indictment also is designed to counter defence witness affidavits which have been disclosed to the prosecution, including expert witness testimony which refutes the indictment on Assange’s alleged hacking assistance to Manning – until now the sole ground of the “hacking” accusation. This switch, we averred, was an outrageous proposition. Was the whole hearing to start again on the basis of the new indictment?

Then, to our amazement, the prosecution did not put forward the new indictment at the procedural hearing at all. To avoid these problems, it appears they are content to allow the extradition hearing to go ahead on the old indictment, when that is not in fact the indictment which awaits Assange in the United States. This is utterly outrageous. The prosecution will argue that the actual espionage charges themselves have not changed. But it is the indictment which forms the basis of the extradition hearing and the different indictment which would form the basis of any US prosecution.

To have extradition decided on the merits of one indictment when the accused actually faces another is an outrage. To change the indictment long after the hearing is underway and defence evidence has been seen is an outrage. The lack of media outrage is an outrage.

None of which will come as any shock to those of us who have been paying attention. We have to continue to build public consciousness of the fact that the annihilation of a journalist for exposing war crimes, based on a catalogue of state lies and dodgy procedure, is not an act that the state can undertake without damage to the very soul of the nation.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: [email protected]

Alternatively by bank transfer or standing order:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

View with comments

The BBC World War Two Porn Page 468

Waking up this morning and putting on the TV to see the news, instead I saw on BBC Breakfast a 30 minute piece on the role of a teenage girl in 1932 in helping her father do the maths to establish that the Spitfire needed eight .303 guns to deliver a sufficient weight of shot.

That sentence contains the total import of the 30 minute film. In spreading it out over half an hour, the BBC managed to repeat slight variations on that sentence over forty times, padded out with numerous shots of spitfires, Battle of Britain reminiscences and the exhibition of the kitchen table where the maths was done.

I am very glad the Battle of Britain was won. I admire the heroism of those who fought. My mother never forgot her only brother, an RAF navigator who was shot down and died aged nineteen. I am not mindless of the stakes or the sacrifice. But I am old, and the war was over more than a decade before I was born. It is as chronologically distant from a child born today as Victoria becoming Empress of India was from me. I have repeatedly been tempted to write about the WW2 obsession in the media and the English political psyche, but have refrained from not wishing to offend those with whose emotional ties I sympathise. But this is becoming an unhealthy obsession with a “glorious past”.

The BBC’s piece today actually finished with a Churchill speech, with spitfires flying and with Elgar. It was like a parody. The recent focus on Churchill’s vicious racism might as well not have happened. It really is going too far, and it links in to a current day militarism which was initially cultivated by New Labour and Blair’s obsession with neo-imperialist wars abroad.

You have a war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. We have had “anniversary” events that mark the 70th, 75th and now 80th anniversary with the result we have a full 16 years during which not a day passes that is not a “major anniversary” of an event in WW2, on which peg the BBC can hang more “Britain’s Greatness” nostalgia. Very plainly this all meshes with Brexit, with the nostalgia for Britain’s world-bestriding role exuded continually by Johnson and Gove, and with the new aggression of Unionism. It gets less and less subtle – Stalin’s propagandists might have blenched at today’s BBC state propaganda piece. The girl who did the maths deserved her recognition. But not like this.

In the real world, the UK has just resumed arms sales to Saudi Arabia to massacre the children of Yemen and support the jihadist terrorist fanatics of Idlib.

I am going to keep this page permanently open for comments, and hopefully bookmarked on the right hand side, so you can record future examples of BBC WW2 Porn as they occur, or indeed other examples of gratuitous official militarism.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: [email protected]

Alternatively by bank transfer or standing order:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

View with comments

Banana Republic Corruption

The Ayanda Capital contract to supply £250 million of PPE to the NHS has not caused anything like the stir it should, because UK citizens appear to have come to accept that we live in a country with a Banana Republic system of capitalism. I suppose when you have a Prime Minister who handed out £60 million of public money for a Garden Bridge that there was no chance would ever be built, and who had no qualms about directing public funds to one of his many mistresses, the norm has changed.

But the Ayanda Capital PPE deal represents all that is wrong with UK capitalism.

Ayanda Capital self-describes as a “family office”. It essentially carries out investment and financial engineering, including tax avoidance, for the private wealth of the Horlick family. “Family office” has a very specific meaning in the City of London. The best simple definition I could find is here:

Family offices are private wealth management advisory firms that serve ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) investors. They are different from traditional wealth management shops in that they offer a total outsourced solution to managing the financial and investment side of an affluent individual or family.

Sometimes family offices invest the wealth of more than one “very high net worth” individual or family, but they do not invest or raise funds from the wider public or from institutions.

The only named “person with significant control” of Ayanda Capital is Timothy Piers Horlick, but he owns it through a Mauritius company. Mauritius is now a notorious tax haven; it offers zero tax and keeps company officers and owners secret.

There is no reason to suppose that the activities of Ayanda Capital in private wealth management were illegal, or any more than part of the execrable trend of late stage capitalism towards super concentration of capital assets into private hands and away from the traditional more distributed forms of institutional and shareholder ownership. What Ayanda does is plain enough from its website:

As you would expect from that profile, Ayanda Capital itself, rather than the wealth it invests, is little more than a shell company. It has two directors, Nathan Philip Engelbrecht and Timothy Piers Horlick. In fact, in December 2019, Ayanda Capital’s balance sheet shows that it was only kept from bankruptcy by “intangible assets” worth £2,890,000. That was an increase of almost exactly £2,000,000 in the value of those “intangible assets” in twelve months, allegedly due to “development” spending of that amount. What was being developed is entirely unclear. It is difficult to see how a private wealth investment company develops some form of intangible asset with a value of nearly £3 million. I find it hard to see all that as more than an accounting wheeze – and a rather hoary one at that.

So far, so unremarkable. So the question is this. Why would the NHS turn to this ethically sordid but zeitgeist banal private wealth management office to provide a quarter of a billion pounds worth of PPE to the NHS? Wealth Manager magazine, who have done excellent journalism on this story, have the contract as supplying only face masks. They have confirmed the astonishing fact that there was no published tender for the quarter billion pound contract. Normal tendering processes were suspended in March through secondary legislation at Westminster for the Covid-19 Crisis.

This is all simply astonishing.

The normal public procurement tendering process has pre-qualification criteria which companies have to meet. These will normally include so many years of experience in the specific sector, employment of suitably qualified staff, possession of the required physical infrastructure and a measure of financial stability. This is perhaps obvious – otherwise you or I could simply stick in a bid to build the HS2 railway that is £10 billion cheaper than anybody else, win the contract then go and look for a builder.

Ayanda Capital would fail every single test in normal procurement criteria to supply PPE to the NHS. I can see no evidence that anybody in the company had ever seen PPE except when visiting the dentist. They appear to have no medical expertise, no established medical procurement network, no quality control inspection ability, no overseas shipment agents, no warehousing or logistics facilities. We have of course seen this before from these crooked Tories with their “emergency procurement”, with the “ferry company” with no ferries. But this – a quarter of a billion pounds – is on a whole different level.

I understand that normal procurement chains were struggling, but I would still trust any of the UK’s numerous long established and globally successful medical supply companies to go out and get the right kind of medical supplies, of the right quality, and arrange their supply and delivery, rather than throw an incredible sum of taxpayers’ cash at the first couple of City wide boys who said they can do it. From a company with a very dodgy balance sheet.

What are Ayanda Capital in this transaction other than the classic Banana Republic “Mr 10%”? Precisely what kind of country has the UK become? No wonder it is falling apart.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: [email protected]

Alternatively by bank transfer or standing order:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

View with comments

I Need A Craig Murray

URGENT: The access code to listen live to this morning’s hearing is now published on the court website. https://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/coming-to-court/public-access-to-a-virtual-hearing Last night my lawyers told me that the hearing had been moved forward to 09.45 from 10.00, but that is not reflected on the court website at the minute.

I tried to do a public service in making available to everybody key facts from the Julian Assange extradition hearing and the Alex Salmond trial, which revealed a picture very different from that portrayed in the mainstream media. I find myself wishing now I had somebody to perform the same service for me.

I am particularly constrained about what I can say in my own case. The last week has been incredibly hectic, with our reply to the Crown’s submissions (written arguments) due in last Thursday, and our responses to the Crown’s amendments in view of our responses, due in today. I previously published the indictment, called the “petition”; the written arguments are called the “submissions”. I cannot publish these at present but I think I can publish this brief extract from the Crown’s submissions, paras 48 to 50. They are slightly edited, on legal advice, to remove even the remotest possibility that the Crown might claim that in some esoteric way they could lead to the identification of witnesses [you should see the rest of the rubbish in the Crown’s submissions!], and I publish with little comment but they are followed by some not irrelevant images of publications that are not being prosecuted for potentially influencing the jury. I can think of no reason you cannot comment, but please say nothing that might in any way reference specifically anybody with a protected identity.

Extract from the Submission of the Crown:

48. … The characters talk about how they can fabricate allegations of sexual offending against a previous minister, including attempted rape, in order to destroy his reputation. The script suggests that there was never any such offending and despite a large team of police working on the investigation for months, they did not find any evidence of serious offending. The characters suggest that more women from their organisation should be found to fabricate allegations against the former minister and that the criminal investigation has been orchestrated by the minister and his or her colleagues.

49. It is respectfully submitted that there are undeniable and crucial similarities with the prosecution of Alex Salmond and his readers note this in the attached comments section (production 2). The Respondent has not explicitly named Alexander Salmond … but the Website hosts comments attached to the article which do name him in connection with the content. The tenor of the article is that Alex Salmond has been the victim of a false campaign, motivated by political gain and that all of the criminal allegations against him have been concocted by members of government in order to damage his reputation.

50. It is respectfully submitted that such commentary from the Respondent … meet the test set out in the 1981 act. These articles carry a severely prejudicial risk to the course of justice. Should any potential jurors have read these articles, there is the clear implication that the witnesses are lying and the criminal investigation is at best, flawed or at worst, corrupt. Any potential jurors exposed to such material carry the risk of being prejudiced against the witnesses prior to hearing their evidence.

My personal blog. Influenced the jury. I am facing jail for that.

Tomorrow’s (Tuesday 7 July) hearing is at 10am. It will again be a procedural one dealing with management of the case, but again I should be very grateful indeed if any of you are able to listen in and follow the process, as matters vital to the course of the case are often determined in these procedural hearings.

You will be able to access the case via the link given at the bottom of this page. https://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/coming-to-court/public-access-to-a-virtual-hearing
The password for the case should be posted on that page on Tuesday morning.

Finally, again I do apologise that I am finding it very difficult to keep up regular blog posts on other subjects while this case against me is in train.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: [email protected]

Alternatively by bank transfer or standing order:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

View with comments