species of lizard – when threatened, cornered or in danger of being
eaten – have the ability to “drop” their tail. This
process, “Autotomy” (from
the Greek, auto=self, tome=severing), enables the lizard to flee
whilst the predator gets a brief distraction and small meal. The
lizard survives. Tails grow back.
efficient survival method. The body ejects a replaceable part in
protection of the vital whole. Easily adapted for the “Grand Chess
Board”. Pinochet, the Shah of Iran, Saddam Hussein. All have played
their part, only to be dropped when it became convenient. Despots and
puppets grow back, too.
The Panama Papers
broke, yesterday. Dozens of MSM outlets joined together in echoing
this startling piece of investigative journalism: Rich people avoid
paying their taxes. I know, I was shocked too.
of the BIG HEADLINES and threatening looking diagrams were reserved
for Vladimir Putin (The Guardian) and Bashar al-Assad (The
Independent), despite the fact that (as we covered last night)
neither are named in any of
the leaked documents.
The names that
ARE mentioned? A who’s who of disposable despots, monsters of the
week and inconveniently uncooperative politicians…with a few minor
British political figures to add some verisimilutude.
a slow, stupid, politically inept post-Soviet fossil thrown into the
least appealing Presidency on the planet.
Pavlo Lazarenko –
convicted criminal and former Ukrainian PM.
Ivanishvili – former PM of Georgia under the bufoon Saakashvili.
President of the UAE and Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber bin Mohammed bin
Thani Al Thani former PM of Qatar, both magnets for acceptable
The King of Saudi
Arbia, the perrenial boogeyman of “alternative” thinkers, and
reposit of all mainstream criticism of any Western foreign policy –
a sock puppet with a scary face, that we’re all encouraged to boo
and hiss at so we can feel we have made a stand.
climbers, idiots and monsters. Lizard tails all. Cut them off and
grow a new one.
American citizens were named. No American companies were implicated.
In espionage terms this is what they call a “limited
a vaguely worded and dishonestly presented partial truth, used to add
credence to a backstory and increase the believability of the source.
coloquial, and honest, terminology: It is agenda-driven bullshit.
cooperative of intelligence-backed hacks who “broke” this “story”
all hail from The International Consortium of Investigative
Journalists (ICIJ) a “special project” (their
website tells us)
of the not-at-all-Orwellian-sounding “Center
for Public Integrity”.
Goldman-Sonnenfeldt Foundation – they don’t have a website, but
their President does.
He’s a “philanthropist and entrepeneur”. In case you’re
wondering…yes, that is “Goldman” as in “Goldman Sachs”.
David Rockefeller, the Carnegie Corporation, the Ford Foundation,
Goldman-Sachs et al. – who are all rabibly anti-corruption and
always pay their taxes – all pooled their resources to fund the
“International Consortium of Investigative Journalists” and
tasked them with investigating shady international financial
The result is
this “leak”, a list of geo-political nobodies, has-beens, easy
targets and dead ancestors. The tenuous and absurd connections to
“enemies” of the West are exaggerated and plastered all over the
headlines, whilst the names of allies and relatives are sidelined and
barely mentioned – the majority of the information will “never be
made public” according to the Guardian.
This is what
“investigative journalism” has come to, printing billionaires’
enemy lists under the guise of “leaks”. Maybe this is a sign they
feel cornered or threatened – because all they offer us here is a
brief distraction and a small meal.
PAPERS: HYBRID WAR TAKES AN UNEXPECTED TURN
“Panama Papers” affair has the unmistakable hallmarks of a
net-centric hybrid war operation: a disparate group of apparently
non-state actors, seemingly operating without central direction,
carry out an information attack which just happens to dovetail nicely
with US international policy objectives and not resulting in a black
eye for any prominent US actors. Given the level of corruption of the
US elite and the degree of offshoring engaged by US financial
institutions, it seems all too fortuitous that the targeted firm did
not do too much business with US clients, due to a variety of US laws
which specific prohibit offshoring through Panamanian firms. It’s
as if someone in the US decided to use Snowden’s act of civil
disobedience and attempt to disguise a US information operation as a
similar act by a civic-minded individual.
Source of the Papers
there are only two. One is a disgruntled former employee who,
Snowden-style, amasses a treasure trove of sensitive information and
then passes it on to the media. There are a couple of problems with
that explanation so far. First, we don’t know what that individual
would be. To have that level of access to information covered by
client-attorney confidentiality (one of the sacrosanct Western
values, at least as far as Western propaganda is concerned) one would
have to be a highly placed employee of Mossack-Fonseca, for example a
member of its Information Technology department with amazing hacking
skills or appropriate security clearance. No individual has so far
come forward, the firm in question has not identified any such
employees, and if such an individual exists, why not come forward?
He/she would be an instant global celebrity, the polar opposite of
Edward Snowden whose revealing of US criminal wrongdoing earned him
what might be a lifetime in exile, several rounds of condemnation by
a variety of “liberal” politicians in the US, and not a few
credible death threats. Whoever did this has every incentive to go
public, go on speaking tours, write books–in short, become a
long as that individual has not come forward, one has to consider the
second possibility, namely of an intelligence operation aimed at
hacking the firms records and/or infiltrating its staff with own
operative(s). The NSA, for example, has all the capabilities it needs
to crack open the secrets of any law firm on the planet in this
manner, provided the firm keeps electronic records as Mossack-Fonseca
did. Then it is only a small matter of passing the information on to
a trusted, pro-US government, fake investigative journalist entity
financed by a variety of the usual suspects–foundations run by
former or future US government officials engaged in the promotion of
US national interests in a way that leaves few official fingerprints.
ICIJ is founded by the likes of the Pew Foundation, Packard
Foundation, Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, Pew Charitable
Trusts, the George Soros-funded Open Society, and several others of
the sort. That is a very different venue than one chosen by Snowden,
who sought out independent journalists like Glenn Greenwald who are
so heavily disliked by the official US and British establishments
that they rarely dare to step on US soil any more.
is the target?
for all the hype, the target does not appear to be Russia. There is
very little information there that is new, surprising, incriminating,
or even damaging. The sums of money mentioned are small, and the
individuals and organizations in question are already under Western
sanctions, so that their offshore operations do not appear to be an
effort to evade Russian taxes but rather to evade Western sanctions
in order to engage in financial operations that benefit the Russian
economy. Therefore it is actually possible that top Russian leaders
knew of these transactions and approved them in order to fight back
against the unilateral use and abuse of Western financial systems.
the Chinese revelations are not all that surprising or major, and I
doubt there is anybody who still thinks that Poroshenko would never
engage in offshoring his billions. The single country which finds
itself the most exposed by these revelations is…the United Kingdom.
majority of the firm’s 300,000 clients are firms registered in
British tax havens. Mossack-Fonseca’s intermediaries include 1,900
(!) British firms, in addition to over 2,000 firms which are based in
Hong-Kong, most of whom likely have close ties to the UK or are
British firms’ subsidiaries. The list of intermediaries includes
prominent banks, law firms, and company incorporators, and represent
a sizable portion of the British financial services market.
is probably also not a coincidence that the information leak also
targets a third, after UK and Hong-Kong, provider of financial
services, namely Switzerland with about 1.200 intermediaries listed.
The US, by contrast, though no slouch in the offshoring business,
only has 400 firms listed on the Mossack-Fonseca list of
leak cannot be possibly welcome by the British financial industry or
by the British political elites, now that senior government officials
(including David Cameron’s closest relatives and associates),
members of the Parliament, and business executives have been exposed
as engaging in offshoring activities. The Panama Papers have already
become the number one news story in the UK and it will probably not
go away quietly or quickly.
with any form of net-centric warfare, one has to pose the question of
who the beneficiaries of this action are, and what the target is
supposed to do in response.
beneficiaries are, without doubt, US financial firms. Panama Papers
are serving notice that if one wants to engage in offshoring, in
order to avoid unwanted publicity or legal scrutiny, one must do so
through a major US firm with close ties to the US government, rather
than some NSA-hackable British, Hong-Kong, or Swiss firm. One gets
the distinctive impression that the US financial sector is trying to
do away with its competition so as to centralize offshoring in its
the British are supposed to do in response is a separate question.
The biggest item on the British agenda is Brexit, and since the EU
regulations on financial services are one of the biggest sticking
points in the UK-EU negotiations, the revelations may make these
negotiations so contentious as to strengthen the pro-Brexit lobby
which will seek to escape EU’s scrutiny of London’s City. The
irony of the situation is that Prime Minister Cameron was not and
probably still is not a genuine supporter of the Brexit, but simply
wanted to use the prospect to extract concessions from the EU. The UK
does benefit from its peculiar political position, characterized by
EU membership and its “special relationship” with the US which
allows it to play off the two actors against one another–the usual
British “bait and bleed” approach to foreign relations.
however, would deprive it of that enviable position and leave it in a
far weaker position when dealing with the US. Since balkanizing the
EU is also a US foreign policy objective aimed at preventing that
organization from ever assuming genuine political viability or
independence and to make it vulnerable to a US-imposed “free trade”
agreement, Brexit would serve that objective admirably.
first blush, it seems counter-intuitive for the US to be targeting
its “special relationship” ally. However, there is no honor among
thieves. The two countries’ financial institutions are in an
intense rivalry, with London still being the world’s biggest center
for financial services. With the US banks suffering losses due to the
gradually bursting shale oil fracking bubble, they require a new
source of profits which, in a generally stagnant and even shrinking
global economy means depriving competition of business. And in this
case competition is mainly in the UK. It is a sign of the progressive
cannibalization of the First World, initially evident through the
austerity policies aimed at the southern members of the EU. But now
the US has upped the stakes considerably.