By Ray McGovern
July 10, 2021 "Information
Clearing House" - - "Anti
War" Buffeted on all
sides, from the unceremonious (literally) departure
from Afghanistan to various cyber crimes blamed on
Russia, President Biden is being challenged by the
likes of the New York Times’s David Sanger to
show he has cojones (free translation from
Spanish – manliness). ( See:
Biden Weighs a
Response to Ransomware Attacks.
Will Biden let himself be shamed into taking
"some kind of visible action" against Russia;
something much stronger than just another "verbal
warning"? What could possibly go wrong?
The answer? A whole lot can go wrong. Even the
Times article, while taunting Biden to show he’s
a man, includes a trace of responsible maturity
(yes, you must read down to paragraph 21, but it’s
there) by including this caution: "… although the
U.S. may possess what Mr. Biden calls ‘significant
cybercapability’", using it offensively runs serious
The Times warns that the US"is also more
vulnerable to cyberattacks than most nations because
it is so digitized, and most of its critical
infrastructure is owned by businesses that have not
adequately invested in their digital defense. Thus,
any escalation risks blowback." In addition, the
Times typically plays down the many key
uncertainties regarding the perpetrators of the
The "Red Line" Gambit
Two critical assumptions underly the Times’s
approach that: (1) the Russian government is the
default-actor – the responsible party perpetrating,
or allowing, the recent flurry of cyber attacks; and
(2) ipso facto, those attacks cross an
assumed "red line" laid down by Biden in warning
Putin at the June 16 summit.
No Advertising - No Government Grants - This Is
Joe Biden is not the first president to be
mousetrapped into setting a flammable "red line’’
that comes back to bite him. Perhaps Biden can
recall how President Obama almost fell for it.
On August 20, 2012 NBC’s Chuck Todd primed that
mousetrap with some cheese by asking Obama about
Syrian chemical weapons. Obama answered:
"I have, at this point, not ordered military
engagement … We have been very clear to the Assad
regime … that a red line for us is we start seeing a
whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or
being utilized. That would change my calculus. That
would change my equation."
Sure enough, there was a sarin chemical attack
near Damascus on August 21, 2013 at a time when
President Bashar al-Assad’s army had been advancing
steadily taking territory back from the rebels. The
last thing Assad seemed likely to do was mount a
chemical attack and trip the mousetrap for Obama.
That made no sense and, to its credit, US
intelligence refused to blame Assad. Nevertheless,
on August 30, 2013, then-Secretary of State John
Kerry shook the rafters at the State Department,
blaming Assad no fewer than 35 times, and bellowing
for a US attack on Syria.
According to Jeffrey Goldberg, who later
conducted a series of interviews with Obama for a
lengthy article in The Atlantic, the President
boasted about his decision, on the same day Kerry
spoke, to resist pressure for military action from
many of his advisers and instead step outside what
he called "the Washington playbook."
Having ‘Caved In’ on Afghanistan
Goldberg explained that having already caved in
under hardline pressure to double down on sending
more troops to Afghanistan for a feckless
"counterinsurgency" operation in 2009, Obama was not
in the mood for "seeking new dragons to slay" merely
to preserve his "credibility."
Nevertheless, Washington’s neocons and liberal
hawks – along with the Saudis, Israelis and French –
argued strenuously that Obama was obliged to
"retaliate" for Syria’s alleged violation of the
"red line" he had set a year earlier against Syria’s
using – or merely moving – chemical weapons.
But at least on this occasion, Obama proved too
smart to let himself be trapped. He even added, in
talking with Goldberg, that then-National
Intelligence Director James Clapper visited the
president during the last week of August to warn him
that Kerry’s case against Assad was "not a slam
dunk." In other words, Kerry’s blaming Assad 35
times was not based on intelligence.
Other Candidates for "Cybercriminal"?
Speaking of false-flag attacks: It is not widely
known that the CIA has an array of versatile
offensive cybertools called
one of which, "Marble Framework" enables the CIA to
hack into computers and servers, disguise who hacked
in, and attribute the hack to others. Vault 7,
including "Marble Framework" was leaked to
WikiLeaks, which revealed and described in 2017
several of the offensive cyber tools. The
developers, it turned out, worked with five
languages to enable eventual attribution: Chinese,
Korean, Persian, Arabic, and – you guessed it –
Russian. And Marble was used at least once during
The capabilities shown in the Vault 7 trove of
CIA documents required the creation of 700 million
lines of source code. At $25 per line of code, that
amounts to about $2.5 billion for each 100 million
code lines (which is what Marble may have required).
But the Deep State has that kind of money and would
probably consider the expenditure a good return on
investment for "proving" the Russians are
Who Knows About This?
Not readers of the New York Times and
other "major" media that received the customary
do-not-dare-publish-on-this memo from Langley.
Perhaps not even President Biden – or even CIA
Director William Burns. They might well have been
kept off what is called the "bigot list" (of people
involved in the operation) on grounds that they have
"no need to know".
Ironically, President Putin seems to know chapter
and verse. During an interview with Megyn Kelly on
June 2, 2017, two months after Vault 7 was
disclosed, Putin pointed out that "today’s
technology" enables hacking to be "masked and
camouflaged to an extent that no one can understand
the origin" of the hack. "And, vice versa, it is
possible to set up any entity or any individual that
everyone will think that they are the exact source
of that attack. Modern technology is very
sophisticated and subtle and allows this to be done.
And when we realize that we will get rid of all the
When Kelly showed absolutely no interest in
pursuing this, Putin came back to the issue of
hacking and expanded on the difficulty in tracing
the source of cyber attacks.
"Hackers may be anywhere, There may be
hackers, by the way, in the United States who very
craftily and professionally passed the buck to
Russia. Can’t you imagine such a scenario? In the
middle of an internal political fight, it was
convenient for them, whatever the reason, to put out
that information. And put it out they did. And,
doing it, they made a reference to Russia. Can’t you
imagine it happening? I can.
Checking earlier today with Veteran Intelligence
Professionals for Sanity technical experts and a
VIPS advisor who managed cyber security for IBM for
decades, I got this terse response:
No way can we rule out the potential use of
the "Marble Framework" tool. Marble was specifically
developed for this purpose. Cyber false flags are
known fact. Someone tell Biden.
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a
publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the
Saviour in inner-city Washington. His 27-year career
as a CIA analyst includes serving as Chief of the
Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and preparer/briefer of
the President’s Daily Brief. He is co-founder of
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
Registration is necessary to post comments.
We ask only that you do not use obscene or offensive
language. Please be respectful of others.