Tuesday, 5 April 2016

the Panama Papers

Panama Papers: Revealing details live in the gaps between the lines

by Kit

Pictured: NATO Heads of State and their ally, the King of Saudi Arabia
Pictured: NATO Heads of State and their ally, the King of Saudi Arabia

4 April, 2016

Certain 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.

A simple, 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.

Most 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.

  • Petro Poroshenko, 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.
  • Bidzina Ivanishvili – former PM of Georgia under the bufoon Saakashvili.
  • Sheikh Khalifa, President of the UAE and Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber bin Mohammed bin Thani Al Thani former PM of Qatar, both magnets for acceptable criticism.

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.

Ten-a-penny climbers, idiots and monsters. Lizard tails all. Cut them off and grow a new one.

No American citizens were named. No American companies were implicated. In espionage terms this is what they call a limited hangout”: a vaguely worded and dishonestly presented partial truth, used to add credence to a backstory and increase the believability of the source.

In more coloquial, and honest, terminology: It is agenda-driven bullshit.
The 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”.

Now, we’ve been here before – see our work on The New East Network – let’s just take a stroll down the About page of the Center for Public Integrity, and find out where they get their money from:
  • The 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”.
  • The Ford Foundation – yes, as in Henry Ford. Business magnate and Nazi collaborator.
  • Open Society Foundation – we’ve tangled with these fine folks before. The OSF are an NGO set up by billionaire George Soros. Because billionaires love justice and freedom.
  • The Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Rockefeller Family Fund – how exactly these two things differ I’m not sure, however they do both exist, and they both give money to the CfPI, because the Rockefellers are all about that integrity.
  • The Carnegie Corporation of New York – As in Andrew Carnegie, the billionaire. As in the Carnegie Endowment for American Hegemony…sorry, I mean International Peace.
So – to sum up:

George Soros, 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 practices.

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.



4 April, 2016

Analysis by J.Hawk
The “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.
The Source of the Papers
Really, 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 celebrity.
As 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.
Who is the target?
Remarkably, 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.
Likewise 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.
The 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.
It 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 intermediaries.
This 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.
Cui Bono?
As 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.
The 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 hands.
What 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.
Brexit, 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.
At 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.

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