The Guardian manages to turn the latest WikiLeaks release into a sob story for the CIA
On 7 March, WikiLeaks published one of its biggest ever leaks of CIA documents. But The Guardian managed to spin an article on it into a sympathetic tale for the CIA. And it also managed to ignore much of the key data.
The Guardian says…
WikiLeaks called the release ‘Vault 7’. The Guardian said its leaked documents:
focus mainly on techniques for hacking and reveal how the CIA cooperated with British intelligence to engineer a way to compromise smart televisions and turn them into improvised surveillance devices.
It began its article by saying that the CIA faced “fresh embarrassment” as a result of the leak. And that the WikiLeaks release:
will once again raise questions about the inability of US spy agencies to protect secret documents in the digital age.
‘I want the world to know I’m lackey as can be!’
The Guardian appeared to frame its article in favour of the CIA, and its UK equivalents at GCHQ and MI5. It said:
- WikiLeaks was “vague” about its source for the leak.
- That Donald Trump had “praised” WikiLeaks. And that “US officials have claimed WikiLeaks acts as a conduit for Russian intelligence”. Without any evidence or a statement from the group.
- The role of MI5 was “mainly to track terrorists and foreign intelligence agencies”. Which has often been shown not to be the case, as it also monitors left-wing political ‘threats’.
- The WikiLeaks release risked causing “friction” between the CIA and the private sector.
- That the “intelligence community” had questioned if the WikiLeaks release was “in the public interest”. But it only gave 54 words in a 1,200 word article for a counter-argument from Privacy International.
‘When I tell everyone that you’re spying on me!’
The detail of the Vault 7 release is vast. But the main points are that, between 2013 and 2016, the CIA:
- Created a hacking division more powerful than the US National Security Agency (NSA). And it is free from government control.
- Also created hacking programmes (‘malware‘) to turn smart TVs into spying devices.
- Developed the ability to remotely assassinate individuals using electronic chips in cars, trucks, medical equipment and planes.
- Used countless flaws in software (‘zero days‘) to develop ways to attack, control and spy on mobile phones, specifically for use against journalists.
- Developed malware to turn every Windows, Mac and Linux-based device into spyware.
- Also developed malware for use in CDs and DVDs; USB sticks; and via Windows automatic updates. And it made malware that could defeat most anti-virus protection programmes.
- Developed ways of turning Skype conversations into text.
- Put its agents into major US tech companies and created malware to bulk-spy on public WiFi.
- Created ways of bypassing the major End-to-End (E2E) encrypted apps such as WhatsApp, Telegraph and Signal. Which people previously thought were secure.
- Left its cyber warfare arsenal at risk of being used by other intelligence agencies and hackers. And it also left the door open for its arsenal to get out of control (‘proliferation‘).
The CIA did much of this working with British intelligence agencies. And its work could potentially be used against the general public.
The Guardian ran two other articles about Vault 7. And it framed one to discredit WikiLeaks. It said that people view the group “with far greater scepticism” since its Hillary Clinton leaks; also implying that WikiLeaks was, essentially, working for the Russians.
Susan Hennessey, a former NSA lawyer, said:
WikiLeaks’ involvement creates a reason for suspicion. It has committed itself to putting out material that is harmful to western interests, but has… avoided releasing material… damaging to Russian interests.
But the paper gave no time to the notion that CIA activities could be, and probably are, a threat to the civil liberties of the wider population.
‘That I was only fooling myself to think you loved me!’
We now know that intelligence agencies have the ability to hack into, and spy on us via, our TVs, mobile phones, laptops, cars, and when using public WiFi. This is all done under the veil of protecting the public from terrorism. But The Guardian made little attempt to inform its readers that the CIA actions pose a wider threat to the public.
The CIA and its UK counterparts have often used these techniques against non-terrorist threats. Look at Jenny Jones of the Green Party, animal rights activists, and fracking campaigners. If we wish to live in a society where the state monitors our every move, we may do well to remember what George Orwell said in his novel 1984:
The choice for mankind lies between freedom and happiness and for the great bulk of mankind, happiness is better.
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