Glenn Greenwald
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SNOWDEN REVELATIONS 10-Year Anniversary: Glenn Greenwald Speaks with Snowden & Laura Poitras on the Past, Present, & Future of Their Historic Reporting (Part 1)
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June 07, 2023
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Note: This article is part 1 of a two-part piece.

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Good evening. It's June 6. Welcome to a special episode of System Update, our live nightly show that airs every Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. Eastern, exclusively here on Rumble, the free speech alternative to YouTube. 

We are very excited to present a special episode of System Update. Exactly 10 years ago today, on June 6, 2013, we began publishing what became known as the Snowden reporting, based on the largest leak of top-secret documents in the history of the U.S. security state. The reporting that ensued over the next several months and even over the next several years –revealing the mass indiscriminate system of surveillance secretly imposed by the NSA and its so-called “Five Eyes” spying alliance in the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – became one of the most consequential stories in the history of modern journalism and whistleblowing. 

The reporting we did won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. The documentary, directed by my journalistic colleague, Laura Poitras, showed our work with Snowden in real-time, in Hong Kong, and won the 2015 Academy Award for Best Documentary, which – with Snowden trapped by the U.S. government in Russia – we accepted it at the side of Snowden's then-fiancée – and now his wife and mother of their two toddlers, Linsey Mills. 

The reporting led to legislative reforms in multiple countries, including – at least, to some extent – here, in the United States. Legislation to impose real curbs on the NSA was co-sponsored by Republican Congressman, Justin Amash, and Democratic Congressman, John Conyers, both of Michigan, and was poised to pass in 2013, and it would be the first time ever since 9/11 that state powers would be rolled back instead of expanded, until the Obama White House and Nancy Pelosi intervened and were just enough NO votes to defeat it, leading to the headline in Foreign Policy in 2013 that read “How Nancy Pelosi Saved the NSA's Surveillance Program.” 

The consequences of this reporting endured for years and found expression in multiple sectors. It generated appellate court rulings that the NSA domestic surveillance programs would Snowden enable us to reveal were both unconstitutional and illegal – direct frontal assaults on the constitutional right to privacy of all Americans. It caused diplomatic breaches between countries threats to prosecute us for doing this journalism and calls for our arrest from various corporate media figures, and it left Snowden facing multiple felony charges under the Espionage Act of 1917 and his being stranded, for nine years and counting now, in a country he never chose to be in. In other words, as so often happens in the U.S., the only person to pay any price for the crimes that were committed here was the person whose heroism enabled those crimes to be uncovered. 

Tonight, 10 years later, after I first published that article in The Guardian, we will speak to the two people who, along with me, were most responsible for enabling this journalism to happen. Our source for this story, the remarkably heroic Edward Snowden, who knowingly risked his liberty and his life to inform his fellow citizens how the U.S. security state had degraded the Internet from what it was always heralded to be – the greatest tool of liberation and empowerment ever created – into what has become: the greatest tool of coercion, monitoring, censorship, and population control ever known. We'll also speak to Laura Poitras, whose reporting on this story was a key part of the Pulitzer the story won and whose film, “Citizenfour”, forever memorialized the courage and integrity that drove Snowden's whistleblowing, as well as the resulting threats, conflicts, and attempts to reform. 

I'm very proud to present this discussion with both Snowden and Poitras.

Tonight, we explore what motivated our original decisions about how to bring this material to the public's attention, the risk and challenges that we faced, the benefits produced by the reporting, and the ongoing fight against the U.S. surveillance state and for the right of individuals to use the Internet with privacy normally. 

This being Tuesday night, we would have our aftershow here on Locals, which is interactive in nature but because of the length of this interview, we will be back on Thursday with that. To gain access to our interactive after-shows and the transcripts of the show we provide, simply join our Locals community, which helps promote and support the journalism we do here. As a reminder System Update is also available in the podcast version. You can simply follow us on Spotify, Apple, and all other major podcasting platforms. 

For now, welcome to a new episode of System Update, a special episode of System Update, starting right now. 


Just to provide a little history before we show you this interview, 10 years ago today, I published at The Guardian, the very first article from the Snowden Archive. That story revealed as the first three paragraphs of the article put it:

 

The NSA is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of U.S. customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecom providers, under a top-secret order issued in April. The order, a copy of which has been obtained by The Guardian, requires Verizon, on an ongoing daily basis, to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its system, both within the U.S. and between the U.S. and other countries. The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration, the communication records of millions of U.S. citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk, regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing. (The Guardian. June 6, 2013)

 

That would be the first story of what would be hundreds of reports that came from the archive Snowden provided to us – a vast, gigantic collection of hundreds of thousands, if not more, of top-secret documents from an agency so secretive, the NSA, that for years the joke in Washington was that NSA stood for “No Such Agency”. 

That first article was quickly followed – the next day, in fact – by our revelation of the so-called PRISM program, under which the leading Big Tech companies were turning over massive amounts of user data to the NSA without so much as a warrant. 

No leak of any kind had previously emerged from the NSA, let alone a fully composed of its most sensitive secrets taken from right under their noses by someone who had worked inside both the CIA and then the NSA as a contractor. Edward Snowden, who, after enlisting to serve in the U.S. Army during the Iraq war – believing, as a young man, in the mythologies he had heard about that war and the U.S. security state in general – joined both the CIA and the NSA. 

At the time of its publication of this first week of articles, I was in Hong Kong, along with Laura Poitras and Guardian reporter Ewen McAskill. Hong Kong was the city Snowden had chosen to go to once he had finished his job of collecting the NSA documents he wanted to leak, and once he had made that final, point-of-no-return decision to provide those documents to us. As he explains in the interview we're about to show you, Snowden had chosen Hong Kong part because it offered protections from the CIA and other U.S. security state agencies that would let us get these documents or report them before we could be stopped – unlike most places in the world, the CIA has a great deal of difficulty operating in Hong Kong. But he also chose the city because Hong Kong representatives noted the values that drove his whistleblowing: a city fighting for its freedom, for its right to dissent and protest against centralized repression and tyranny. 

Knowing that we were going to meet a source who had already proven to us that he was in possession of many of the most sensitive documents from the most secretive agency of the world's most powerful government, Laura and I arrived in Hong Kong on Sunday night, June 3, 2013. We went the next morning to the hotel that Snowden had indicated, a spot where he told us to wait for him to appear and said that we would know him because he would be carrying a Rubik's Cube. We had no idea what he looked like, how old he was, or anything else about him other than the fact that he worked at the NSA and clearly had access to some of the most sensitive secrets inside the U.S. Government. He provided us with two separate times to meet, and on the second time, a young man – he was only 29 at the time – appeared, carrying a Rubik's Cube. We greeted him and followed him up to his hotel room on the tenth floor. As soon as we entered, Laura a filmmaker whose 2004 film about the insurgency in the Iraq War had landed her on a U.S. Government watch list but was also nominated for a Best Documentary Academy Award – took out her camera gear and began filming everything we did together. That footage would serve as the remarkable anchor of her documentary "Citizenfour."

Almost immediately after we began our reporting and especially when – at his insistence – we revealed the identity of Edward Snowden and published a video interview with him, in which he explained his rationale for coming forward, that resonated around the world, the Obama administration – both publicly and privately – began to become very threatening – not only to Snowden but also to us as the journalists involved in the story.

Obama's senior national security official, James Clapper, began referring to us in public, the journalists, as “Snowden's accomplices,” a deliberately and carefully chosen word to indicate that we could be subject to criminal prosecution. What was particularly ironic about Clapper taking the lead in making these threats was that it was his blatant lying to the U.S. Senate only three months earlier, in which he falsely denied that the NSA was doing exactly what the NSA was doing, namely spying indiscriminately on millions of Americans, that led Snowden to finally make the decision with finality to show his fellow Americans the truth about the surveillance system their government had imposed on them in the dark. Here's James Clapper before the Senate three months earlier. 

 

(Video. March 2013)

 

Rep. Wyden: So, what I wanted to see is if you could give me a yes or no answer to the question, does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans? 

 

James Clapper: No, sir.

 

Rep. Wyden: It does not. 

 

James Clapper: Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently, perhaps, collect, but not – Not wittingly. 

 

Rep. Wyden: All right. 

 

As the reporting would show, it is hard to overstate what a blatant lie that was. Clapper was never punished. He served until the end of his term as Obama's senior national security official until getting hired by CNN to help report the news. 

As usual, the U.S. security state's chief servant in all of this – including their attempt to criminalize our journalism – was the corporate media. Shortly after we began the reporting, I appeared on “Meet the Press,” then hosted by David Gregory. And despite never having broken a story in his life to this day, he immediately began insisting that I was not really a journalist and therefore should perhaps share a prison cell with Edward Snowden. 

 

(Video. “Meet the Press”. June 2013)

 

David Gregory: You are a polemicist here. You have a point of view. You are a columnist. You're also a lawyer. You do not dispute that Edward Snowden has broken the law, do you? 

 

Glenn Greenwald: No, I think he is very clear about the fact that he did it because his conscience compelled him to do so, just like Daniel Ellsberg did 50 years ago when he released the Pentagon Papers and also admits that he broke the law. I think the question, though, is: How can he be charged with espionage? He didn't work for a foreign government. He could have sold this information for millions of dollars and enriched himself. He didn't do any of that either. He stepped forward and, as we want people to do in a democracy, as a government official learned of wrongdoing, and exposed it so we can have a democratic debate about the spying system. Do we really want to put people like that in prison for life when all they're doing is telling us as citizens what our political officials are doing in the dark? 

 

David Gregory: Final question before for you, but I'd like you to hang around. I just want to get Pete Williams in here as well. To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn't you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime? 

 

Glenn Greenwald: I think it's pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies. The assumption in your question, David, is completely without evidence – the idea that I've aided and abetted him in any way. The scandal that arose in Washington before our stories began was about the fact that the Obama administration is trying to criminalize investigative journalism by going through the emails and phone records of AP reporters, accusing a Fox News journalist of the theory that you just embraced, being a coconspirator in felonies for working with sources. If you want to embrace that theory, it means that every investigative journalist in the United States who works with their sources, and who receives classified information, is a criminal. And it's precisely those theories and precisely that climate that has become so menacing in the United States is why The New Yorker's Jane Mayer said investigative reporting has come to a standstill, her word, as a result of the theories that you just referenced. 

 

David Gregory: Well, the question of who's a journalist may be up to a debate with regard to what you're doing. And of course, anybody who's watching this understands I was asking a question. That question has been raised by lawmakers as well. I'm not embracing anything but obviously, I take your point. If you want to just stay put, if you would, for just a moment. I want to bring in Pete Williams. I appreciate you being with us. 

 

That was far from an isolated case. In fact, the very next day, The New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin went on his CNBC show and suggested the same thing. Watch

 

(Video. June 24, 2013)

 

Sorkin: Let's talk about some of the headlines, the big one this morning. There is heavy security this morning at Moscow's airport today. National Security Agency leaker, Edward Snowden – Yep, he's there. There is speculation he is planning to fly to Havana en route to Ecuador. The government of Ecuador has confirmed it is considering an asylum application for Snowden. He faces American espionage charges now after he admitted to revealing classified documents. 

 

And I got to say, this is… I feel like A) we’ve screwed this up to even let him get to Russia; B) clearly, the Chinese hate us, even letting him out of the country. I mean, that says something. Russia hated us and we knew that beforehand. But that's sort of right. And now, I don't know. And then my second piece of this, I told you this in the green room, I would arrest him and now I'd almost arrest Glenn Greenwald, who is the journalist who seems to be out there. He wants to help him get to Ecuador or whatever. I mean, it's almost like a whole… and, then, WikiLeaks… 

 

 

 

Sorkin ended up apologizing for that. That mentality was very much the prevailing ethos in establishment Washington at the time – that this leak was the most harmful one ever. And it was, but not to the security of the American people, but to those who had implemented this illegal and unconstitutional spying system to impose surveillance on all Americans. Their view was all those responsible for the revelations of those crimes, but not the crimes themselves must pay.

In 2021, three Yahoo News journalists, including Michael Isikoff, reported that agents of the CIA had plotted to assassinate Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. As part of that reporting, they also revealed that officials during the Obama administration had aggressively explored how to criminalize Assange, Poitras, and myself. 

Indeed, as the ongoing imprisonment of Julian Assange demonstrates, there is a free press in the United States – only for those journalists who serve the United States, the U.S. security state and the establishment in power, not for those who subvert it, undermine and expose it. 

The Snowden story and its reporting is typically remembered for what it revealed about privacy surveillance and, for sure, that was a big part of the story. But it was also about the role of transparency, journalism, and democracy. The reporting revealed, above all else, that the U.S. government – completely in the dark and with no democratic debate, indeed, unbeknownst to many members of Congress – converted the Internet into a pervasive system of indiscriminate mass surveillance, aimed en masse at the American people, exactly what the Constitution was designed to prevent. 

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We are grateful to The Soho Forum and Reason for hosting the spirited debate. You can listen to the full debate here: https://reason.com/podcast/2024/05/24/glenn-greenwald-and-alan-dershowitz-debate-bombing-iran/

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FAUCI’S COVER-UP ON DOG EXPERIMENTS
How NIAID, with key help from the Washington Post, turned a true story into a “right-wing conspiracy theory”

By Leighton Woodhouse

On the morning of October 25, 2021, Dr. Anthony Fauci dashed off an email to eight of his colleagues, asking them to look into an experiment conducted in Tunisia in 2019. It was urgent. “I want this done right away,” he wrote, “since we are getting bombarded by protests.”

The experiment Fauci was referring to was the one that Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene asked him about this week in a heated Congressional hearing. Holding up a photograph on poster board of two beagles with their heads locked into mesh cages, she said, “As director of the NIH, you did sign off on these so-called ‘scientific experiments,’ and as a dog lover, I want to tell you this is disgusting, and evil.”

 

 

Greene is to liberals what Alexandria Ocasio Cortez is to conservatives: an easy target for partisans to mock. Her questioning of Fauci predictably inspired the usual derision. MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, referring to Greene as “the consistent frontrunner for stupidest member of the House of Representatives in history,” sneered, “No one knew what she was talking about.”

But in fact, Fauci knew exactly what Greene was talking about. Three years ago, the experiment in question was at the center of an entire crisis communications response within NIAID (the institute within NIH run by Dr. Fauci). Fauci claimed that it had provoked so many angry calls that his assistant had to stop answering the phone for two weeks. The day before Fauci sent his email about being “bombarded by protests,” one of his colleagues had advised him, “It might be wise to hold off on TV until we have a handle on this.” The story had become a full-blown publicity crisis for Fauci and NIAID — until the Washington Post came to his rescue, turning a legitimate news story into “right-wing disinformation,” based on flimsy evidence that was literally concocted by Fauci’s team.

In 2019, under the auspices of a microbiologist at the University of Ohio, researchers in Tunisia placed the heads of sedated beagles in mesh bags filled with starved sand flies. This was the image Rep. Greene had held up at this week’s hearing. Later, the beagles were placed in outdoor cages for nine consecutive nights, in an area dense with sand flies infected with a parasite that carries the disease with which the researchers were trying to infect the dogs.

In his paper, the Ohio microbiologist, Abhay Satoskar, along with his research partner, acknowledged funding from NIAID, which added up to about $80,000, alongside the grant number. The grant application read:

“Dogs will be exposed to sand fly bites each night throughout the sand fly season to ensure transmission…Dogs will be anesthetized…and for 2 hours will be placed in a cage containing between 15 and 30 females…”

The description fits the experiments in Tunisia perfectly.

In August of 2021, White Coat Waste Project, a non-profit group that advocates against federal funding of animal experimentation, exposed NIAID’s support for the experiment in a blog post. In October, based on White Coat Waste’s revelations, a bipartisan group of Congressional representatives released a letter expressing concern about cruel NIAID-funded experiments on dogs, drawing particular attention to the fact that some of the dogs had had their vocal cords severed to keep them from barking and howling in pain and distress. The story generated a maelstrom online, leading to the angry phone calls Fauci claimed to have received.  “#ArrestFauci” trended on Twitter.

NIAID staff went into damage control mode. Within hours of Fauci asking his staff to look into the experiment, Satoskar emailed NIAID, following up on a phone call. Satoskar now claimed that the acknowledgment of NIH funding was a mistake. “This grant was mistakenly cited as a funding source in the paper,” he wrote.

Later, NIAID would claim that it only funded an experiment that involved vaccinating the dogs against Leishmaniasis, the disease carried by the parasites in the sand flies. Leishmaniasis is the disease with which Satoskar infected his subject beagles in Tunisia.

There is no way to know what was said on the phone call with Satoskar, but released emails show that this is exactly what NIAID wanted to hear. “Will you forward this to Dr. Fauci or let me know if I should directly forward to him?”, the recipient of the email at NIAID wrote to a colleague (the names in the emails, which were obtained by a FOIA request from White Coat Waste Project, are redacted).

Email obtained by a FOIA request from White Coat Waste Project.Email obtained by a FOIA request from White Coat Waste Project.

Satoskar then hurried to delink the paper from NIAID funding. Less than ten minutes after sending his email to NIAID, Satoskar emailed Shaden Kamhawi, editor of PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, the journal that had published the paper on the experiment. “We would like to request correction of this error,” Satoskar wrote.

He might as well have been asking himself. Kamhawi is a colleague of Satoskar. She is an expert on precisely the subject that Satoskar was studying. “Dr. Kamhawi is a world expert on phlebotomine sand flies,” her curriculum vitae reads, “vectors of the neglected tropical disease leishmaniasis.” Like Satoskar, Kamhawi has conducted research in which she used sand flies to infect beagles with the disease. She has even co-published with him. Indeed, Kamhawi’s own research has been the subject of White Coat Waste Project exposé. On top of that, she is an employee of NIAID: meaning that Anthony Fauci is her boss.

Kamhawi was aware of at least the last of these potential conflicts of interest. “BTW,” she emailed her colleagues at PLOS NTD, “as I am an NIAID employee, “I am not sure if there is a COI [Conflict of Interest] here so please let me know.”

It’s unclear whether the journal took that conflict seriously. In any case, the correction went forward. The journal now read:

“There are errors in the Funding statement. The correct Funding statement is as follows: the authors received no specific funding for this work. The US National Institutes of Health and the Wellcome Trust did not provide any funding for this research and any such claim was made in error.”

This was the exonerating evidence that went out to reporters. On October 27th, a NIAID employee wrote to colleagues that “we can at least share with reporters that the journal has made the correction.” Another NIAID staffer emailed colleagues for help fielding a query from an Associated Press “fact checker,” who asked how NIAID could be sure that their funds weren’t used for the Tunisian beagle experiment. “Our evidence is simply the statement of the PI [Principal Investigator], Dr. Satoskar,” came the reply.

In fact, NIAID had no way to be certain that its funds were not used on the Tunisia experiment. Michael Fenton, Director of NIAID’s Division of Extramural Activities, wrote in an email, “It seems to me that the only way to prove that the grant funds weren’t used for other projects is to do an audit of those grant expenditures and invoices. This would not be something that could be done quickly.”  

The next day, NIAID was still putting out fires. “We are still getting clobbered on this,” one wrote in an email. But three days before, NIAID had scored a huge coup: On October 25, the same day Fauci wrote his “bombarded by protests” note, the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank wrote a column facetiously entitled, “Why is Anthony Fauci trying to kill my puppy?” The article maligned the story as a product of “the right wing disinformation machine and its crusade against Fauci,” and cited the correction in PLOS NTD as evidence that it was all just an innocent mistake.

In an email to a NIAID employee the next day, Milbank offered further assistance. He wrote, “I might do a follow-up column on the reaction, and the imperviousness to facts. Do you have any more info that could further prove that you didn't fund the Tunisia study involving feeding the anesthetized dogs to sand flies?” Forwarding Milbank’s story to colleagues, the NIAID staffer wrote approvingly, “Dana is being extremely helpful.”

From Milbank’s story came a cascade of “fact checks”: from Politifact, Snopes, FactCheck.org, MediaMatters, Mic, and USA Today. Then came a big story in the Washington Post about the “viral and false claim” that NIAID had funded the Tunisia experiment. The reporters who wrote the story had evidently already reached their conclusion before they began reporting on it. Their email to Satoskar and others asking for comment opened, “I am working on a story about a massive disinformation campaign that is being waged against Anthony Fauci.”

The media re-framing of the story had its intended effect. Three years later, following Marjorie Taylor Greene’s questioning, reporters are once again citing PLOS NTD’s correction as the definitive debunking of the beagle experiment story. The Washington Post effectively banished it from mainstream public debate, though today, the paper published a fact check that contradicts much of the Post’s previous reporting.

After the story came out, Beth Reinhard, one of the reporters on the Post story, emailed Satoskar the link. “Thanks Beth. This is a great article clearing up all misinformation and falsehood,” he wrote.

“Thanks!” she replied.

 

 


Leighton Woodhouse is freelance journalist and a documentary filmmaker currently based in Oakland, California. You can support his work at https://leightonwoodhouse.substack.com

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AIPAC's Singular Ability to Remove and Influence Members of Congress; Senator Rand Paul On More COVID Cover-Ups; PLUS: Media Denies Biden's Decline
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Good evening. It's Thursday, June 20. 

Tonight: AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, is easily one of the most powerful, feared, and effective lobbying groups in Washington, if not the single most feared. That assertion is so well documented by now that it barely requires debate. But their power lies not only, or even primarily, in their extraordinary ability to foster close to unanimous votes in Congress for every pro-Israel resolution or bill they wish to see implemented. That is extraordinary enough. But even more amazing is their unmatched ability – and it is unmatched – to simply remove incumbent members of the U.S. Congress who are, in their eyes, insufficiently supportive of and dedicated to the foreign government of Israel. 

A perfect example illustrating how this works is the current primary challenge being launched against the two-term Democratic congressman and former middle school principal, Jamaal Bowman, who represents New York's 16th congressional district. Bowman currently faces an extraordinarily well-financed primary challenger from George Latimer, the corruption-plagued county executive in Westchester Country who, polls now show, has built a substantial lead over Bowman. And it's not hard to understand why. It's not because George Latimer is some beloved figure. It's because his campaign is being fueled by a massive amount of money that comes almost entirely from out-of-the-district funding, the vast majority of which comes from a pro-Israel PAC directed and funded by AIPAC. It's an extraordinary, even unprecedented amount that is being spent on this single primary challenge to a congressional House incumbent: $20 million and counting. 

The reason Bowman faces such a powerfully funded primary challenge is simple and obvious. He sometimes criticizes Israel and has been particularly critical of their eight-month U.S.-funded war that has destroyed much of Gaza. Voters in the district, who are being drowned in anti-Bowman ads on radio, TV, online, everywhere, have little idea that the reason for this overwhelmingly funded challenge to their congressman is due to pro-Israel groups, and that's because the ads that run against him rarely, if ever, even mention the issue of Israel, instead pretending that they are angry with Bowman for his failure to be a good Democrat, that he's not sufficiently loyal to President Biden and his agenda. 

This has been a long-standing and extremely effective tactic for punishing and even removing members of Congress for failure to support Israel with unquestioning praise. In an era where bipartisan systems ensure that congressional incumbents have even a higher reelection rate than Soviet-era members of the Russian legislature, AIPAC appears, as we will show you, to have become the one real threat to the ability of Congress members to win reelection, or even to secure their own party's nomination. 

Then: we welcome back to System Update, the three-term Republican Senator from Kentucky and medical doctor, Rand Paul. Senator Paul has been relentlessly attempting to expose the truth about what happened, specifically in the beginning months of the Covid pandemic, when Doctor Fauci and his associates falsely claimed to the world that they had confirmed that Covid originated from nature and not from a lab leak in Wuhan. That false claim of certainty ended up as intended, shaping discourse about that pandemic around the globe for the next two years and also as intended, caused a full-scale online censorship ban of any questioning or doubts about the official story of Covid's origins. Just as importantly, Dr. Paul has been attempting to demonstrate that Fauci deliberately concealed his attempts to fund what is called gain-of-function research, meaning scientific attempts in labs to manipulate viruses and other pathogens to become even more contagious or more deadly to humans, something that, if leaked, could cause a pandemic of the type that we saw with Covid. 

But now, Senator Paul is also warning about what appears to be bipartisan efforts to approve or defund the exact kind of dangerous gain-of-function research that very likely caused the worldwide Covid pandemic in the first place. I am genuinely amazed at how little interest there seems to be in investigating and finding the truth about what is easily one of the most consequential events in our lifetime, the Covid pandemic. Dr. Paul is one of the few in Washington still demanding just basic accountability and we believe that that work is extremely important and deserves as much journalistic attention as we can possibly give to it. So, we'll speak to him in just a little bit. 

And then finally: videos of Joe Biden frequently surface that confirm what Americans already know about him, as polling data demonstrates, namely, that he is aging in a way that has left him with serious cognitive impairment to the point that he sometimes barely knows where he is or what he is saying. The evidence proving that is overwhelming, from reporting to first-hand accounts to simply comparing his conduct now to what it was even five years ago. And it's worth remembering that the very first-time concerns about Biden's cognitive capabilities were expressed not by Republicans or even Bernie Sanders supporters in the 2020 cycle, it was by DNC operatives and DNC media allies, in 2019, who were very concerned that Biden would get the nomination simply because he was the most well-known candidate. They continuously warned that this was not the same Joe Biden, that he was likely not capable of sustaining the full rigors of the campaign. Once Biden got the nomination, those very same people turned around and said it was immoral to raise questions about Biden's cognitive capabilities, even though they were the ones who first cast doubt on it in the first place. 

Nonetheless, despite all that evidence, most of the U.S. corporate media, as we know, will say or do anything to ensure Trump's defeat, even if that means outright lying. They already proved that in 2016, when they spread virtually every day all sorts of false collusion conspiracy theories about Trump and the Trump campaign and Russia, and then did so again in 2021. They claimed that incriminating reporting about Biden and his family in Ukraine and China was the byproduct of what they called fake documents, meaning Russian disinformation. Now, with that same goal in mind, they insist that the video showing Biden's cognitive decline and incapacitation is somehow fake, as they hope to convince Americans to trust the media’s partisan claims, more than they trust their own eyes and their own judgment. We will examine the latest self-humiliation of the media in pursuit of manipulating another presidential election by trying to disseminate claims that are so recognizably false. 

For now, welcome to a new episode of System Update, starting right now. 

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The Pentagon's Secret Disinfo Campaign Discrediting China's COVID Vaccine Unveiled; France's Unprecedented Elections, China, Ukraine, and More with Commentator Arnaud Bertrand
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Good evening. It's Wednesday, June 19.

Tonight: the biggest media story by far in U.S. politics in 2016 was focused on Russia. Not only did they falsely insist that the Trump campaign had colluded with Moscow to hack the email accounts of the DNC and of John Podesta, but even more media indignation was focused on the fact that Russia had engaged in unprecedented and incomparably evil interference with our sacred democracy by using a few Twitter bots and Facebook pages to disseminate what our media called “disinformation.” What made this reaction so mystifying was the obvious belief that the United States and other freedom-loving democracies would never, ever engage in that kind of treachery. Instead, this kind of interference and trickery was the sole provenance of the Kremlin under Vladimir Putin. 

Anyone who knows even the most minimal amount of American history should have instantly scoffed at that claim. It is beyond any reasonable doubt that the U.S. has “interfered” in the internal affairs of countless other countries, including Russia, for decades, and the U.S. has done so with methods that included clandestine disinformation campaigns as well as tactics a bit more extreme and far worse than a few online bots. It was just embarrassing to watch so many corporate media employees express what appears to be earnest rage that Russia would do such a thing. 

Late last week, Reuters published a genuinely good and important piece of investigative journalism – credit where due – the type of journalism that we rarely see anymore. Rather than bravely denouncing the bad acts of America's enemies on the other side of the world, Reuters actually revealed a secret and morally repugnant online disinformation campaign conducted in secret by the Pentagon. That online campaign was designed to spread fears, doubts and resistance to the COVID-19 vaccine that China was offering impoverished countries and impoverished people for free. That was being done at the very same time that the U.S. government was arguing that anyone spreading vaccine skepticism and encouraging vaccine hesitancy was guilty of killing large numbers of people. Indeed, they not only mandated that Americans take the vaccine they were given upon threat of losing their jobs or their freedom of movement, but the government coerced Big Tech outlets to censor and ban anyone expressing doubts about the vaccine's efficacy or its safety, all at the very same time that the same U.S. government was using an army of online bots and fake social media accounts to spread vaccine doubt in the poorest countries, the poorest populations of the world. 

It is worth reviewing these revelations and then putting them in the historical context of American behavior, as well as the claims the government was making about how nobody about Russia does such a thing, as well as the moral calculations that drove this clandestine campaign against China's COVID-19 vaccine. It really is remarkable when one delves into the details of what the U.S. government did here, and therefore, that is exactly what we will do. 

Then: as we reported two weeks ago, with the help of a professor who was a specialist in the EU, the European-wide elections for the EU Parliament provided major shocks and surprises for EU elites everywhere. Many countries saw a decisive rejection of pro-establishment parties, replaced by a mass surge of support for what is called far-right populist parties. That happened in Germany, Holland and elsewhere but especially in France. In response to the devastating defeat of his party at the hands of Marine Le Pen, French President Emmanuel Macron shocked even his own allies by dissolving the French parliament and calling for snap elections, a move that could very well result in the first-ever French prime minister from Le Pen's party. 

All of this has caused extreme chaos in EU politics, especially in French politics. Many of the trends that drove the EU election are, of course, visible and clearly present – if not dominant – in modern-day American politics as well. So, to help us sort out everything happening there, we will speak to the French political analyst and commentator Arnaud Bertrand. While he is French by origin, Bertrand has lived for quite some time in China. He is an expert in Sinology, which is a study of all things Chinese, and he has, in my view, been one of the most informed, enlightened analysts on the Washington-Beijing relationship, along with both wars that the U.S. is currently funding, the one in Ukraine and the one in Gaza. We are excited to talk to him and I think you will enjoy hearing from him as well. 

For now, welcome to a new episode of System Update, starting right now. 

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