They have the Smoking Gun, But Who Pulled the Trigger?

At the scene of the crime that was perpetrated against the British people on June 23rd 2016, the vote on the European referendum, a smoking gun has been discovered.

Will the identities of those who pulled the Brexit trigger along with those who paid the assassin be answered through asking cui bono?

Since the surprising results of both the European referendum and the US presidential election were announced in 2016, questions have been asked, and concerns raised, over ‘foreign interference’ in these democratic processes.

The UK government’s clear position on this was to turn a blind-eye, preferring to promote the highly disingenuous “will of the people” line whilst driving a steam roller through the electorate, the judiciary and parliament in a bid to secure not just a highly tailored Tory Brexit but a ‘Great Repeal Bill’ that promises to be anything but great if previous Conservative promises are anything to go by.

As this pantomime unfurled, across the Atlantic, in the United States, a recent declassified report established that in the opinion of the FBI, CIA & NSA, Russia had not only attempted to interfere with their presidential election but assessed that:

“Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”

“Moscow’s influence campaign followed a Russian messaging strategy that blends covert intelligence operations—such as cyber activity—with overt efforts by Russian Government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or trolls.”

Hidden away in the depths of the report was a seemingly innocuous single line statement:

“Russia has sought to influence elections across Europe.”

A statement that strangely echoed one made by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in March 2017 when he said…

“There is plenty of evidence that Russia has the ability to disrupt British politics with cyber-attacks” and “there was no doubt Moscow had been up to all sorts of dirty tricks in relation to political interference.”

According to The Guardian Johnson accused Moscow of bringing down French TV stations, hacking the US Democratic National Convention, and suggested it might have engineered an attempted assassination of Montenegro’s prime minister, but no mention of any wrongdoing in the UK.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson

Clearly, an area of concern here, one where the Foreign Secretary remains in denial, is when it comes to “political interference and dirty tricks” in the UK electoral process. Is it simply the case that “Russia has the ability to disrupt British politics” or does the evidence suggest that Russia has disrupted British politics and this “will of the people” facade is nothing more than an equally duplicitous government taking advantage of the actions of hostile actors to introduce a low tax, small state, deregulated economic platform which they and their backers are prepared to gamble their country’s wellbeing for?

We have already seen, through Sam Woolley, of Oxford’s Computational Propaganda Project, that, during the European referendum, a network of bots, previously used to influence the conversation around the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, was reactivated to fight for the Leave campaign. Now researchers from the Royal Economic Society have established that bots used in the EU referendum spread and amplified misinformation, thus influencing what people, voters, thought about a given issue.

Currently there’s a whole sphere of academic research being undertaken on the methodology and effects of online warfare being conducted by state and non-state actors through ‘comprop’ and ‘psyops’ – computational propaganda and psychological operations.

Philip N. Howard, Oxford University and Bence Kollanyl, Cornivus University, investigating the EU referendum, have stated that:

“Bots have been used by political actors around the world to attack opponents, choke off hashtags, and promote political platforms. During this sample period, however, we found that social media bots were used mostly for amplifying messages rather than argumentative engagement or even impression management.

Robotic lobbying tactics have been deployed in many countries, including Russia, Mexico, China, Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Azerbaijan, Iran, Bahrain, South Korea, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco. Indeed, experts estimate that bot traffic now makes up over 60 percent of all traffic online—up nearly 20 percent from two years prior.”

This research complements a recent presentation at Oxford by Tim Hwang and Lea Rosen who observed:

“One approach may be for nations concerned about these techniques to collaboratively fund the creation of an independent, international investigative agency that would conduct monitoring and forensics work to uncover online psyops cam- paigns and their perpetrators. This agency would bring together computer security experts, journalists, quantitative social scientists, law enforcement, and others to develop best of breed detection methodol- ogies for online psyops techniques as they appear. At the core of this center would be a series of reports helping to “name and shame” actors engaging in these campaigns and exposing emerging strategies being used in the space.”

“For non-state actors, the international community might move towards agreements that enable criminal extradition for individuals and groups engaging in psyops campaigns towards other nations. For state actors, the international community might recognize a system by which nations may be able to retrieve some form of compensation for the harms generated by psyops campaigns.”

The smoking gun has clearly been identified, but the deployment of ‘comprop’ and ‘psyops’ should not be over exaggerated.

These devices aren’t a panacea for those claiming to employ them, they’re not universal brainwashing techniques, they don’t have to be. They simply have to make a small, but significant, difference and are part of a larger, highly coordinated, campaign which, as described in the National Intelligence Council report, involves fake news, which in the case of the UK, is incessantly published by a significant section of an all too willing main stream media coupled with dark message campaigns conducted through companies prosecuting AI strategies.

Incessant fake-news printed by the anti-intellectual right-wing UK press

With almost 30% of the electorate estimated to have decided which way to vote in the days before the referendum and half of those on the day of the referendum, you would only need to influence a small amount of people; in fact just 635,000 decided the referendum result.What must be recognised is that Brexit, with just 37% of the electorate or 27% of the population voting for it, has never been, and will never be, the ‘will of the people’.

What must also be recognised is the inescapable fact that the result, delivered by the UK electorate in an advisory referendum, is simply too close to use to bring in such monumental change to the United Kingdom when evidence clearly indicates that state or non-state actors have deliberately attempted to pervert the European referendum.

If the result was a murder conviction no judge in the land would hesitate to declare the conviction unsafe and order a retrial; in fact the analogy is prophetic, our country is being murdered in plain sight yet those in charge have too much of a vested interest in the whole fiasco to do anything about it.

The shambles that’s left of the Labour party, has, following their recent parliamentary support of the Conservatives, proven just how clueless the’ve become; leaving the only hope with the SNP, the Lib Dems, Green, SDLP and Europhiles on the government benches forming a progressive alliance to push for an immediate inquiry into events surrounding last year’s referendum.

The issues involve, and this is by no means an exhaustive list, the relationship between Vote leave and Leave.Eu, specifically in relation to Cambridge Analytica, AggregateIQ and uCampaign, what exactly were the roles of these companies and how did they spend the money they received. What did Aaron Bank’s imply when stating “AI won it for us”, what is Nigel Farage’s relationship with Stephen K Bannon, and Robert Mercer, two people who are intimately involved with Cambridge Analytica and in the Trump campaign that has been brought into question by the NIC report.

It would also be prudent, based on the findings of the NIC and GCHQ, to find out exactly what Nigel Farage was doing at the Ecuadorian embassy in early March of 2017. This embassy is where Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been claiming diplomatic asylum for five years and Wikileaks had published emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee server. The Independent claimed that Farage was meeting Assange, but when confronted he claimed he couldn’t remember what he was doing in the Embassy.

It should be remembered that Farage had reportedly offered to act as a go-between between the President’s administration and the UK; given the circumstances, what this liaison entails should be revealed to the security services on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Guardian has now reported that the initial source of the US security service’s intelligence material on Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia was in fact GCHQ, along with Germany, Estonia, Poland, Australia, Netherlands and France.

It’s clearly only a matter of time before the full truth emerges of a story that will make Watergate look like a minor misdemeanor. It’s almost impossible that the UK government, including its alleged opposition, aren’t aware that there’s a serious question mark over the referendum, MP’s on the ‘Commons Public Administration & Constitutional Affairs Committee’ (PACAC) have raised their concerns in a report which says:

“PACAC does not rule out the possibility that the crash may have been caused by a DDOS (distributed denial of service attack) using botnets. Lessons in respect of the protection and resilience against possible foreign interference in IT systems that are critical for the functioning of the democratic process must extend beyond the technical. The US and UK understanding of ‘cyber’ is predominantly technical and computer-network based. For example, Russia and China use a cognitive approach based on understanding of mass psychology and of how to exploit individuals. The implications of this different understanding of cyber-attack, as purely technical or as reaching beyond the digital to influence public opinion, for the interference in elections and referendums are clear. PACAC is deeply concerned about these allegations about foreign interference.”

The government, perhaps due to their vested interests in delivering a Brexit at any cost, is simply ignoring the warning signs that something isn’t right here and prefers to continue to steam full speed ahead into a future that is not only unknown but one, that’s becoming clearer by the day, that could be extremely harmful to the country and one that is less and less the will of the people of the UK no matter how you look at it.

The inescapable fact remains is that through the Conservatives ridiculously poor legislation they caused this mess, they need to be held responsible for it and, for the good of the country, it needs to be addressed.

So, ask yourself, cui bono?

Theresa May – Good on Sound Bites, Poor on Truth