One of the most gratifying – and, simultaneously, frustrating – aspects of my job is the rapidity with which I’m proven right. Yes, I know how that sounds, and yet it’s true. The latest example is my Friday column, in which I challenged the veracity of reports that North Korea has the capacity to strike US targets with a nuclearized ICBM. Based on a “leak” from the intelligence community, we were told by the Washington Post that a miniaturized nuclear warhead could be landing on American soil at any moment. So I asked the question that almost no one was asking: How do we know this is true? After all, the Post story was based on a single sentence from an intelligence “assessment” that was read to a reporter over the phone! The answer, I concluded, is that we don’t know, and can’t know. We’re left in the dark.
The next day Newsweek revealed that the vaunted ICBMs supposedly developed by North Korea are a “hoax” – their word. Reporter Nine Burleigh writes:
“As President Donald Trump escalates his war of words against North Korea and its leader, Kim Jong Un, a team of independent rocket experts has asserted that the two rockets the rogue regime launched in July and described as intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) are incapable of delivering a nuclear payload to the continental United States, and probably not even to Anchorage, Alaska.
“Massachusetts Institute of Technology rocket expert Ted Postol and two German experts, Markus Schiller and Robert Schmucker of Schmucker Technologie, published their findings Friday in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, in a paper they titled “North Korea’s ‘Not Quite’ ICBM Can’t Hit the Lower 48 States.”
According to Postol, Schiller, and Schmucker, it’s highly doubtful that the North Korean Hwasong-14 missile could reach Alaska, but even if the miniaturized warhead is a reality – another highly doubtful proposition – Kim Jong-un “will, with certainty, not be able to deliver such an atomic bomb to the lower 48 states of the United States with the rocket tested on July 3 and July 28.”
Furthermore, these three experts aver, “The flight tests on July 4 and 28 were a carefully choreographed deception by North Korea to create a false impression that the Hwasong-14 is a near-ICBM that poses a nuclear threat to the continental US.”
And we fell for it – or, at least, the mainstream media did. They did so because they’re indebted to their sources, because they invariably align themselves with the War Party, and because fear-mongering sells papers and generates clicks. They fell for it, in short, because they are natural servitors of power.
This is scary for many reasons, but especially because, as I said in my Friday column, this keeps us pretty much in the dark. With the “mainstream” media pushing its own agenda, collaborating with its Deep State sources – who have their own political agenda – we really are running blind. We can’t separate truth from fiction because the distinction has disappeared.
Nothing illustrates this more dramatically than the “Russia-gate” fantasy at the center of the mainstream media’s coverage for the past year. This, too, is a hoax, albeit one that has been harder to debunk on account of its sheer vagueness. We’re told that the Russians stole the election from Hillary Clinton and handed it to Trump – but where’s the evidence? We’ve been treated to a couple of rather sketchy “reports” from the misnamed intelligence community, but these are thin gruel indeed, merely a reiteration of how RT, the Russian state-owned station, said mean things about Hillary, and how Russian “bots” supposedly swarmed our collective consciousness to mysteriously tilt the election in Trump’s favor.
This is transparently nonsensical, and yet it is the foundational myth upon which multiple investigations rest. And of course anyone who challenges this narrative is accused of “defending Trump,” even if you’re Glenn Greenwald, or Michael Tracey, or some other left-leaning writer with the old-fashioned habit of demanding evidence for the bald assertions of government officials.
We here at Antiwar.com have been in the forefront of the skeptics, citing the dissents of cyber-warfare experts and others who have documented the gaping holes in the conspiracy theory constructed by the Putin-did-it crowd. And now the evidence for an alternative theory – that the “hacking” of the Democratic National Committee was an inside job – is piling up to the point where it can no longer be ignored.
A recent article in The Nation – hardly a pro-Trump publication – summarizes the results of an investigation by a group of independent researchers, who, in coordination with Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), have examined the forensics of the alleged “hack.”
The researchers, most of them former intelligence officials, have concluded that
“There was no hack of the Democratic National Committee’s system on July 5 last year – not by the Russians, not by anyone else. Hard science now demonstrates it was a leak – a download executed locally with a memory key or a similarly portable data-storage device. In short, it was an inside job by someone with access to the DNC’s system. This casts serious doubt on the initial “hack,” as alleged, that led to the very consequential publication of a large store of documents on WikiLeaks last summer.
“Forensic investigations of documents made public two weeks prior to the July 5 leak by the person or entity known as Guccifer 2.0 show that they were fraudulent: Before Guccifer posted them they were adulterated by cutting and pasting them into a blank template that had Russian as its default language. Guccifer took responsibility on June 15 for an intrusion the DNC reported on June 14 and professed to be a WikiLeaks source – claims essential to the official narrative implicating Russia in what was soon cast as an extensive hacking operation. To put the point simply, forensic science now devastates this narrative.”
What’s the evidence for this? First of all, the download time. The amount of time it would have taken to transfer the allegedly “hacked” material to a remote location – Romania – simply did not match the forensic record, which the researchers managed to unlock. As The Nation puts it:
“The metadata established several facts in this regard with granular precision: On the evening of July 5, 2016, 1,976 megabytes of data were downloaded from the DNC’s server. The operation took 87 seconds. This yields a transfer rate of 22.7 megabytes per second.
“These statistics are matters of record and essential to disproving the hack theory. No Internet service provider, such as a hacker would have had to use in mid-2016, was capable of downloading data at this speed. Compounding this contradiction, Guccifer claimed to have run his hack from Romania, which, for numerous reasons technically called delivery overheads, would slow down the speed of a hack even further from maximum achievable speeds.”
Yet more forensic evidence, the time stamps on the data, prove that the material was obtained from the DNC server at 6:45 pm, Eastern Daylight Time: the deed was done on the east coast of the United States, not in Romania, not in Russia, with the material being transferred to a thumb drive, not remotely over the Internet. Here is yet more evidence that it was done by someone with direct physical access to the DNC’s facilities: in short, by an insider.
To top it off, Guccifer ran the material through “a Russianified [W]ord document with Russian language settings and style headings,” as one researcher put it. Just to give it that “Putin-did-it” look.
So once again our skepticism of the groupthink emanating from Washington and the “mainstream” media has been confirmed. And this time, it looks like the massive Russia-gate propaganda campaign is faltering in the face of strong conflicting evidence: it’s too credible to be ignored. The truth is getting out there, however slowly and haltingly.
Speaking of the truth, we here at Antiwar.com have been speaking truth to power since 1995, challenging and debunking the War Party’s lies. We did it in the run up to the Iraq war, when we – almost alone – said that the rationale for the invasion was bunk, and that the results would be just what they are today – a horrific disaster on an immense scale.
We said the Afghan invasion would turn into a quagmire – and remember that back then this was being said by exactly no one. I was viciously attacked by neoconservative enforcer David Frum in the pages of National Review for making what turned out to be an entirely accurate prediction. “The real quagmire awaits us,”I wrote:
“When the history books are written, Operation Enduring Freedom will be hailed as a great success – provided it doesn’t endure much more than a few weeks longer.”
According to Frum, this made me a traitor who had turned his back on his country and was siding with terrorists. I didn’t mind – because I knew I’d be proved right in the end.
That was many years ago, and the situation is much different today – in part, I believe, due to Antiwar.com. Of course we don’t take credit for the shift in public opinion as far as foreign wars are concerned – but it’s safe to say we’ve had a not insignificant effect on the national dialogue. I think we popularized the term “neocon” almost single-handedly, and our exposure of the Niger uranium forgery – remember that? – was another coup.
We are carrying on a grand and glorious tradition, stretching back to the earliest days of the Internet: more than twenty years of educating the American people about the dangers of foreign intervention. But we can’t do it without your support.
We need your financial support – your tax-deductible donations – to keep this web site going. And if you don’t think that the world’s premier antiwar web site is absolutely essential these days, well then you just haven’t been paying attention. From the Korean peninsula to war-wracked Ukraine, and all too many points in between, the War Party is reaping a whirlwind – and we, the American people (and the people of the world) are in the crossfire.
That’s why it’s vitally important that this fundraising drive – our late summer/early autumn campaign – is successful. Please, give as much as you can as soon as you can – because together we can beat the War Party and inherit a more peaceful world.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.