The Covid-19 pandemic is probably the only event in recorded history that became politicized before it was even known to have been eventful. Donald Trump's rhetoric, downplaying the WHO messaging and the severity of the novel coronavirus set the wheels in motion for the polarization that has plagued this event ever since. As a result, very few people are open to ideas that do not confirm their bias, a quality that is essential to critical thinking. Trump's "anti-establishment" persona has enabled the United States government to continue on its path of authoritarianism with much less resistance from the community than one might expect.
In addition to the radical mitigation strategies that were utilized for a pandemic with a relatively low magnitude of mortality [click here], the Trump administration and even the president himself have taken direct actions that are oddly in line with the so-called establishment. There is also a considerable amount of circumstantial evidence to question his nonconformist identity.
Donald Trump owes much of his political success to the Clinton campaign and the media, both of whom elevated Trump. In the trove of emails that were published by WikiLeaks in 2016, it was revealed that Trump was elevated as a "pied piper" candidate, which was supposed to help Hillary Clinton win the election [click here]. In 2015, Jeb Bush sarcastically tweeted a similar sentiment that proved to be wrong ["Jeb Bush tweets Trump-Clinton conspiracy theory. Here's a look at the 'evidence.'" click here]. The 2016 Alfred E Smith Dinner hot mic moment quickly vanished into obscurity. Trump and Clinton were caught praising each other and planning on working together after the election, in private, after sparring more harshly than a typical presidential race, in front of the camera. "Now, you notice there is no teleprompter here tonight, which is probably smart, because maybe you saw Donald dismantle his prompter the other day," Clinton said [click here], "And I get that. They're hard to keep up with, and I'm sure it's even harder when you're translating from the original Russian." This comment was a thinly veiled implication of treason. Trump was actually booed several times for his comments that evening.
In February 2017, shortly after Donald Trump was sworn into office, it was reported how he had already signed a dozen executive orders, and one of them gave the FBI access to NSA mass surveillance data. This unwarranted data collection of the telephone records, emails, and web-browsing history of US citizens, which was exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, in 2013, was later ruled unlawful in 2020 [.bbc.com/news/technology-54013527]. In absence of a search warrant and/or probable cause, the mass surveillance was also in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Executive Order 13773 was signed on February 9th, 2017. The order states:
...Sec. 2. Policy. It shall be the policy of the executive branch to:
...(c) maximize the extent to which all Federal agencies share information and coordinate with Federal law enforcement agencies, as permitted by law, in order to identify, interdict, and dismantle transnational criminal organizations and subsidiary organizations;
...(d) enhance cooperation with foreign counterparts against transnational criminal organizations and subsidiary organizations, including, where appropriate and permitted by law, through sharing of intelligence and law enforcement information and through increased security sector assistance to foreign partners by the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security;
While its stated goal was to crack down on threats like organized crime and human trafficking, these emotional ploys conceal the executive order's potential for abuse. Such authority often finds a way of going beyond its original intended scope, as was the case of J Edgar Hoover's COINTELPRO. Hoover collected files of damaging personal information and utilized blackmail to amass power.
The FBI's Counterintelligence Program, which was eerily similar to the Patriot Act [.aclu.org/other/more-about-fbi-spying], used extreme measures, many of which were illegal, to neutralize political dissidents and "subversive" groups in the name of "national security." Some of the covert tactics that were allegedly utilized by COINTELPRO include the infiltration of groups with informants, illegal wiretapping, forging documents, opening letters, planting false reports in the media, burglary, inciting violence, psychological warfare, and assassination. The Counterintelligence Program's reign of terror came to an end after members of an activist group (Citizens' Commission to Investigate the FBI) broke into an FBI field office and stole several dossiers before disseminating the information to numerous media outlets. The intelligence community of the information age has the same lack of accountability but with superior technology.
A few months ago, Yahoo! News published an investigative report that was hailed as a "bombshell" [click here]. Several mainstream sources made reference to the report which was based on interviews with more than 30 former US intelligence and security officials [click here click here click here]. According to the report, senior CIA officials under the Trump Administration allegedly targeted Julian Assange, the former editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, with an unprecedented campaign of covert operations. Some of the more sinister aspects of this campaign included proposals to kidnap or even assassinate Assange who was then quartered at the Embassy of Ecuador in London. Supposedly, Mike Pompeo, the former Director of the CIA, had a grudge with WikiLeaks over the "Vault 7" release, which exposed the capabilities of certain CIA hacking tools, and this is what fueled the campaign against Assange.
The WikiLeaks founder sought diplomatic asylum in the embassy after the British courts ruled he should be extradited to Sweden where he was accused of raping two women, allegations which he has denied. Assange's claim that he had requested asylum out of fear that he would eventually be extradited to the United States was widely ridiculed by mainstream media outlets at the time. In addition to the Justice Department's recent appeal for the extradition of Assange [click here], the assertions of the "bombshell" report more than vindicate his concern. Additionally, in 2016, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD), a UN panel of human rights experts, declared that Julian Assange had been arbitrarily detained by Sweden and the UK, that he should be compensated for his detainment, and that Assange was "entitled to his freedom of movement" [click here].
No charges were ever filed against Assange in regard to the rape allegations in Sweden, and it is no fault of the accused that the Swedish government dragged its feet with the interview process. Likewise, the lack of sufficient evidence that existed in 2019, when the case was reopened, reflects the same lack of evidence that existed in 2010 when Sweden first filed an arrest warrant for Assange [.bbc.com/news/world-europe-11949341 click here].
Along with the more extreme plans which never materialized, the CIA campaign against Assange reportedly utilized some covert tactics that bear a striking resemblance to the actions taken by COINTELPRO. The CIA was able to conduct these "offensive counterintelligence" activities with virtually no oversite because of the way in which WikiLeaks, an unorthodox journalistic organization, was categorized as a "non-state hostile intelligence service." This allowed the CIA to perform covert operations without the authorization of a presidential "finding," the document that is usually required in addition to briefing the House and Senate intelligence committees. The term "non-state hostile intelligence service" was coined due to the lack of evidence that WikiLeaks was operating under the command of Moscow. Intelligence officials also petitioned the Trump White House (unsuccessfully) to redefine some high-profile journalists as "information brokers" to portray them as "agents of a foreign power."
Some of the alleged offensive counterintelligence activities utilized by the CIA include surveillance and disruption of numerous members and associates of WikiLeaks. The CIA gathered intel on their travels and was able to delineate their "patterns of life." The agency knew where these individuals were, who they were talking to, and what they were saying on a regular basis, along with the media platforms they used. This surveillance transitioned to disruption, the primary covert tactic used against WikiLeaks. The Yahoo! News investigative report (Kidnapping, assassination and a London shoot-out: Inside the CIA's secret war plans against WikiLeaks click here) states, "These [disruptive activities] included paralyzing its digital infrastructure, disrupting its communications, provoking internal disputes within the organization by planting damaging information, and stealing WikiLeaks members' electronic devices, according to three former officials." The Spanish security company that was hired by Ecuador to safeguard its embassy in London was compromised by US intelligence. Along with providing information about Assange's activities and the people who visited him at the embassy, the company installed hidden recording devices to spy on Assange.
Julian Assange has been held in Belmarsh Prison since April of 2019 for "failing to surrender to the court" in 2012 [click here]. How did an economic recession in Ecuador lead to the withdrawal of Julian's asylum status, which enabled the Metropolitan Police of London to arrest him?
Over the years, former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, a leftist, had damaged his nation's rapport with the United States by refusing to renew the lease of a US military base, expelling the US ambassador, and granting asylum to Assange, which delayed his arrest and possible extradition to the United States. After losing billions of dollars in annual revenue due to a decline in Ecuadorian exports to the US, along with a decline in oil prices [among other factors], the nation's economy was in a recession. Many local businesses and residents blamed President Correa and the diplomatic complications associated with Mr Assange's asylum status in addition to his Ecuadorian citizenship.
When Correa's successor, President Lenin Moreno, was elected in 2017, it was a sign of the change to come. Moreno has worked to solidify relations with the US, hosting Vice President Pence's visit to Ecuador and strengthening the military alliance between the two nations. According to Moreno, who has referred to Assange as an "inherited problem," and a "stone in [our] shoe," his reasoning for revoking Assange's asylum was a "sovereign decision," having nothing to do with improving relations with the US [click here]. However, the nation's laundry list of excuses weakens such an argument, particularly the more egregious accusations, which were bogus. Assange was accused of meddling in foreign affairs with his public comments in support of the Catalan independence movement and with Wikileaks' publishing of the 2019 Vatican leak, which revealed "a power struggle within the highest offices of the Catholic Church," [ileaks.org/popeorders/].
Having made critical remarks about his political views on Catalonia, Assange did not personally take part in revealing information that was not already publicly available (in regard to his criticism of Spain). An expression of political viewpoints is hardly the equivalent of interfering with the affairs of foreign governments. Additionally, Assange was no longer the editor-in-chief of Wikileaks when the 2019 Vatican leak was published [click here]. Kristinn Hrafnsson, an old ally of Assange, had already taken his place, and he was solely responsible for the content published by Wikileaks at the time, not Julian Assange.
Moreno also made the baseless accusation that Wikileaks was responsible for releasing the INA Papers, an anonymous publication containing leaked photographs depicting the luxurious lifestyle of Moreno and his family [papers.org/]. The INA Papers also made accusations about President Moreno, his family, and his friends. According to the publication [papers.org/], Moreno allegedly led a criminal organization which used an offshore shell company to hide his wealth and that of his associates. Wikileaks tweeted about the INA Papers but denied responsibility for their content [click here]. Regardless of the unsubstantiated claim of Wikileaks' involvement, Assange was no longer the editor-in-chief at the time of the INA Papers' publication. He was also detained in the embassy where he was being closely monitored.
"Prior to your election, our nations had experienced 10 difficult years where our people always felt close but our governments drifted apart," the former Vice President said during his 2018 visit to Ecuador [click here], "But over the past year, Mr President, thanks to your leadership and the actions that you've taken have brought us closer together once again." After Mike Pence's visit, the US committed to fund Ecuador with millions of dollars in various forms of aid [click here]. Ecuador also received a 4.2-billion-dollar loan from the IMF, easing its dependence on China and allowing for investment in extensive infrastructure projects [click here].
As its name implies, the IMF is an international organization, but its largest financial contributor is the US, which translates to the greatest voting power within the organization. 30% of a nation's IMF quota is based on "openness to the global economy," and an additional 50% is based on the nation's GDP [see "additional votes based on quota" click here]. The IMF website states, "Each IMF member country is assigned a quota, based broadly on its relative position in the world economy...Quota subscriptions are a central component of the IMF's financial resources. A member country's quota determines its maximum financial commitment to the IMF, voting power, and access to IMF financing...The IMF's largest member is the United States, with a quota (as of April 30, 2016) of SDR 83 billion (about $118 billion)."
Francisco Rodriguez, the chief economist at Torino Capital, published his criticism of Venezuela's economic policies in Financial Times [click here]. Conversely, Rodriguez has been critical of what appears to be US influence in Ecuador regarding the founder and former editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks. According to Rodriguez, the expulsion of Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy seems to be, "part of the political quid pro that comes with improving relations with the US," [click here click here].
Robert Gates served as the Secretary of Defense between 2006 and 2011 when WikiLeaks published the Baghdad Airstrike video, the Afghan War Logs, and the Iraq War Logs, among other documents. "The fact is, governments deal with the United States because it's in their interest," Gates said [click here], "Not because they like us, not because they trust us and not because they believe we can keep secrets. Is this embarrassing? Yes. Is it awkward? Yes. Consequences for US foreign policy? I think fairly modest." While this may not come as a surprise, it would appear as if there is a pattern with the United States government leveraging its power.
This pattern appears to be emulated by the timing of Donald Trump's escalating threats to defund the World Health Organization and the agency's changing guidance on masks [in spite of its "contradictory statements" click here]. The potential harms of self-contamination and a false sense of security did not vanish with the "growing compendium of observational evidence" that was "not yet supported by high quality or direct scientific evidence" [according to WHO's June 5th, 2020 Interim Guidance]. The potential impact public masking can have on the "thought processes and behavior" [click here] of the community did not dematerialize either. Additionally, the disparagement of the World Health Organization in the mass-media and the simultaneous dispute over masks mirror the optics of US economic leverage.
None of this proves that Donald Trump has been putting on an act to protect the interests of the so-called establishment. He could just be a useful idiot.
(Article changed on Dec 04, 2021 at 6:30 PM EST)