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The Pronk Pops Show 921, June 29, 2017, Part 1 –Story 1: Majority of American People Want and Deserve A Big, Bold, Bipartisan Tax Reform Cut — The Time Is Now For The Fair Tax Less Version of The FairTax — Trump Should Embrace Real Tax Reform By Becoming Champion of Fair Tax Less If He Wants A Booming Economy Growing At 5% Plus — No Guts — No Glory — Just Do It By Labor Day September 4, 2017 — Make America Great Again — What Good is Dreaming It If You Don’t Actually Do It! — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 921,  June 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 920,  June 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 919,  June 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 918,  June 26, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 917,  June 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 916,  June 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 915,  June 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 914,  June 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 913,  June 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 912,  June 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 911,  June 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 910,  June 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 909,  June 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 908,  June 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 907,  June 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 906,  June 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 905,  June 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 904,  June 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 903,  June 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 902,  May 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 901,  May 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 900,  May 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 899,  May 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 898,  May 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 897,  May 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 896,  May 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 895,  May 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 894,  May 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 893,  May 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 892,  May 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 891,  May 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 890,  May 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 889,  May 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 888,  May 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 887,  May 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 886,  May 4, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 885,  May 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 884,  May 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 883 April 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 882: April 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 881: April 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 880: April 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 879: April 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 878: April 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 877: April 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 876: April 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 875: April 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 874: April 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 873: April 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 872: April 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 871: April 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 870: April 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 869: April 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 868: April 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 867: April 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 866: April 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 865: March 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 864: March 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 863: March 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 862: March 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 861: March 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 860: March 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 859: March 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 858: March 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 857: March 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 856: March 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 855: March 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 854: March 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 853: March 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 852: March 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 851: March 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 850: March 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 849: March 1, 2017

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The Pronk Pops Show 921, June 29, 2017, Part 1 –Story 1: Majority of American People Want and Deserve A Big, Bold, Bipartisan Tax Reform Cut — The Time Is Now For The Fair Tax Less Version of The FairTax — Trump Should Embrace Real Tax Reform By Becoming Champion of Fair Tax Less If He Wants A Booming Economy Growing At 5% Plus — No Guts — No Glory — Just Do It By Labor Day September 4, 2017 — Make America Great Again — What Good is Dreaming It If You Don’t Actually Do It! — Videos

Image result for fairtaxImage result for fair tax nation
Image result for border adjustment tax a bad idea

Corporations paying fewer taxes

Image result for payroll taxes in 2016 social security and medicare disability

Image result for payroll taxes in 2016 social security and medicare disability

Image result for payroll taxes in 2016

Wealthy pay more in taxes than poor

Image result for president trump for fair tax

Trump vs. OECD on tax reform

Watters visits Trump’s alma mater to talk tax reform

Rep. Meadows: Tax reform, health care and infrastructure get done by September

Speaker Ryan Guarantees That Congress Will Get Tax Reform Done In 2017

Speaker Paul Ryan Full Speech on Tax Reform 6-20-17

Ron Paul on Paul Ryan’s tax reform plan

How Trump’s tax reform plan will impact the economy

Donald Trump: Simplify the Tax Code

Donald Trump: I pay as little as possible in taxes

Grover Norquist on Speaker Ryan’s tax reform timeline

Grover Norquist: Expect dramatic tax cuts from Trump

The Pledge: Grover Norquist’s hold on the GOP

FairTax: Fire Up Our Economic Engine (Official HD)

Pence on the Fair Tax

Freedom from the IRS! – FairTax Explained in Details

Millionaire confidence plunges on Trump’s tax reform delays

What’s Up With Trump’s Tax Reform? Myths vs. Facts

The FairTax: It’s Time

Dan Mitchell explains the fair tax

Six Reasons Why the Capital Gains Tax Should Be Abolished

Is America’s Tax System Fair?

Sen. Moran Discusses FairTax Legislation on U.S. Senate Floor

Milton Friedman – Why Tax Reform Is Impossible

Milton Friedman – Is tax reform possible?

What’s Killing the American Dream?

Robert Wolf: Border adjustment not going to happen

Is Donald Trump serious about tax reform?

Sean Spicer: Trump wants to get tax reform right

Will tax reform really happen by August?

Dan Mitchell Discussing GOP Tax Plan and Corporate Rate Reduction

What Tax Reform Could Look Like Under Donald Trump | Squawk Box | CNBC

#Eakinomics – 4 Key Questions on Dynamic Scoring

What is Dynamic Scoring?

Trump Pushes ‘Major Border Tax’ to Keep Jobs in U.S.

Ryan Unexpectedly Joins Forces With Bannon on Border Tax

Kudlow: Freedom Caucus & Trump’s base is opposed to Border Adjustment Tax

Sen. Perdue: Border Adjustment Tax would “shutdown economic growth”

Sen. Tom Cotton: “I have serious concerns” w/ Border Adjustment Tax

Americans Need a Progressive Consumption Tax

Sen. Strange: “I would not” vote for a Border Adjustment Tax

CNBC: Steve Forbes on Border Adjustment Tax – “Don’t Do It” 2.8.17

Meg Whitman: Border Adjustment Tax Will Not Create Jobs | CNBC

Art Laffer: Border tax is a major mistake

Border Tax Fight Is Economists Vs. Everybody Else | Squawk Box | CNBC

Dan Mitchell Discussing GOP Tax Plan and Corporate Rate Reduction

What is a Border Adjustment?

Border Tax: What You Need to Know

Will a border adjustment tax help American businesses?

Will a border adjustment tax kill free trade?

Border adjustment tax political suicide?

Fox Pol:l 73% Want Tax Reform This Year – Cavuto

Could the border tax debate stall tax reform?

Is A Border Adjustment Tax A Good Idea?

Border Adjustment Tax: Trump’s MAGA Ace

President Donald Trump Begins First Week By Meeting With Top Business Leaders | NBC News

Dan Mitchell Fretting about GOP Border-Adjustable Tax Plan

Paul Ryan on why he’s confident about tax reform

1/26/17 Border Adjustment Taxes, Tax Reform & Trade: Panel 1

1/26/17 Border Adjustment Taxes, Tax Reform and Trade: Panel 2 Part 2

Border Tax Adjustment and Corporate Tax Reforms: Panel 1

Border Tax Adjustment and Corporate Tax Reforms: Panel 2

Breaking Down The Republican Plan For A Border Tax | CNBC

McConnell Seeks Revenue-Neutral Tax Reform This Congress

Mnuchin: Three percent growth achievable with tax reform

Can Congress get tax reform done?

Rep. Reed: Tax reform will get done this year

Sen. Shelby Says Fundamental Tax Reform Good for Economy

Harvard Professor: Trump’s Border Tax ‘Misunderstood’

Making Sense Of The 20 Percent Tax Proposal | Morning Joe | MSNBC

Proposed Tax Package A Dramatic Cut Even With A Border Tax?

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin On Tax Reform, Growth, Border Tax, China (Full) | Squawk Box | CNBC

Wilbur Ross On Border Tax: Something Will Be Found To Fill Trillion-Dollar Hole | Squawk Box | CNBC

Honda “Impossible Dream” Commercial

Honda Advert: Impossible Dream II 2010

Lyrics
To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star
This is my quest, to follow that star,
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far
To fight for the right without question or cause
To be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause
And I know if I’ll only be true to this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm when I’m laid to my rest
And the world will be better for this
That one man scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To fight the unbeatable foe, to reach the unreachable star
Songwriters: Joe Darion / Mitchell Leigh
The Impossible Dream lyrics © Helena Music Company

 

Taxes May Be Certain, but Tax Reform Is Not

Taxes May Be Certain, but Tax Reform Is Not
by V. Lance Tarrance

Donald Trump is a man who throws down gauntlets, and he threw down several big ones during his campaign for president — confronting the status quos on immigration, onhealthcare and on taxes, to name a few. He is now pursuing bold policy changes on each. But it could be Trump’s action on taxes that matters most to whether the stock market continues to ride high, GDP growth returns to a healthy 3% and, therefore, whether his presidency is judged well in posterity.

News about taxes has been relatively slow thus far in Trump’s administration. Judicial blowback against his immigration policies and Congressional blowback on healthcare reform have received far more attention than the general tax-plan principles he announced in April. Still, achieving detailed tax reform may prove even more difficult than his other policy struggles once the wheels start turning.

Before making tax reform a year-end goal, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin initially said he hoped to complete tax reform by August. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reacted by saying that tax reform is a “very complicated subject” and harder to do now than the last time Congress achieved it in 1986. And passing the 1986 tax reform legislation was no easy task — it required winning the support of a Democratic House and a Republican president, and took nearly two years of intense negotiations. Alluding more cynically to the significant political obstacles that often impede changing the tax code, former House Speaker John Boehner said the passing of a tax code overhaul is “just a bunch of happy talk.”

Now, however, current Speaker Paul Ryan is also pushing for tax reform by the end of 2017, making these obstacles appear a little less daunting than if the administration were going it alone.

Aside from whether tax experts and Washington politicians are willing to upend the tax code, it is important to note where the American people stand on the need for action on taxes. It must be remembered that taxpayers may dislike the current tax system but not be convinced that Congress and the Trump administration will make it any better — change could be worse. Without a strong push from the American people, Trump’s tax reform might not materialize.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Gallup tested several of candidate Trump’s tax proposals.

  • He advocated eliminating most federal income tax deductions and loopholes for the very rich, and Gallup found 63% of American adults favoring this with just 17% opposed.
  • His proposal to simplify the federal tax code — reducing the current seven tax brackets to four — was also popular, with 47% agreeing and only 12% disagreeing.
  • Trump’s plan to eliminate the estate tax paid when someone dies garnered considerably more agreement than disagreement from Americans, 54% to 19%. Notably, this is an issue that Congress and the wider public have considered in the recent past, and public sentiment on the issue today is in line with past Gallup polls on this issue, such as when it asked about keeping the estate tax from increasing in 2010.

More recently, in March 2017, Americans viewed President Trump’s general plan to “significantly cut federal income taxes for the middle class” positively: 61% agreed with the plan (with no mention of Trump in the question), 26% disagreed and 13% had no opinion. Trump’s proposal to lower corporate tax rates, however, elicited a split decision, with 38% reacting positively, 43% negatively and the potentially decisive 19% “no opinion” group apparently needing more information.

These findings suggest Americans could respond favorably to many of the specific elements of Trump’s ultimate tax plan, provided they make it into whatever legislation Congress winds up debating. For example, in spite of closing tax loopholes that favor the rich, the plan is expected to end up cutting taxes on the wealthy, not raising them. But as long as the plan also cuts taxes on the middle class, that fact alone is unlikely to sink it with Americans. Bush’s across-the-board tax cuts in 2001, which more Americans at the time said were a “good thing” than a “bad thing,” are a perfect illustration of this.

Whether Americans feel a sense of urgency about enacting tax reform is another matter.

In April 2017, Gallup found that Americans’ concern about their own federal tax burden had actually cooled somewhat, as barely half (51%) felt their taxes were “too high,” down from 57% in 2016. By contrast, in June 1985, the year before the revolutionary Tax Reform Act of 1986 went into effect, 63% of Americans said their taxes were too high.

While public demand for lowering taxes may have waned, it is not gone. Public concern about taxes fell the most over the past year among Republicans — a familiar political pattern given the partisan shift in presidential power. With a Republican in the White House, the Republican rank and file are less likely to say anything negative about the government, including about taxes. Still, 62% of Republicans call their taxes too high, as do 52% of independents and 39% of Democrats.

The implication? While not as intense as Congressional leaders may have expected, public demand for tax reform is still there, especially among the Republicans who may matter most to GOP lawmakers.

Common Ground Exists on Tax Reform

As the U.S. Congress is about to start its summer recess, tax reform remains ill defined by the administration, and negotiations over sub-issues like the border adjustment tax have stalled any pivot to immediate tax legislation. More importantly, there seems to be no bipartisan support this time, while there was under Reagan in 1986. Granted, this may seem like less of an issue now, as Republicans today control both the legislative and executive branches of the federal government. But real tax reform always makes for winners and losers, and it is problematic for only one party to pass new reforms. One need only look at the electoral consequences that Democrats have repeatedly suffered since 2010, the year they passed major healthcare reform legislation on party-line votes, to understand the danger Republicans could face if they pursue tax reform alone.

To make tax reform possible from a bipartisan standpoint, Congress needs to make sure the bill can be branded a “middle-class winner.” As noted previously, Americans favor tax cuts for the middle class, and as the following table shows, Republicans and Democrats are also more likely to believe middle-income people are currently paying too much in taxes than to say they are paying their fair share or paying too little.

Both Party Groups Tend to Believe Middle-Income Americans Pay Too Much in Federal Taxes
Republican/Lean Republican Democrat/Lean Democratic
% %
Too much 51 49
Fair share 40 43
Too little 5 7
No opinion 4 1
GALLUP, APRIL 5-9, 2017

To ensure tax reform enjoys at least some bipartisan support, Democrats will need a win during negotiations, meaning taxes would likely need to be raised on the nation’s wealthier class of citizens. Republicans are split on the issue of the fairness of taxes paid by upper-income people, but Democrats are in solid agreement that they pay too little.

Parties Diverge on Perceptions of What Upper-Income Americans Pay in Federal Taxes
Republican/Lean Republican Democrat/Lean Democratic
% %
Too much 18 4
Fair share 38 13
Too little 40 82
No opinion 4 1
GALLUP, APRIL 5-9, 2017

Bottom Line

With the Trump administration wanting tax reform before the end of 2017, Ryan is now promising to put it on the front burner. However, even Republican leaders’ enthusiasm for tax reform may not be enough to overcome the triad of legislative challenges that exist: the slimness of the Republican majorities in the U.S. House and Senate, the lack of bipartisanship in Washington and the power of special interest groups in Washington, D.C., to protect their vested interests. This is why comprehensive tax reform is historically so rare.

One thing working in Republicans’ favor is that a majority of Americans support tax relief for the middle class, and members of both major parties tend to believe middle-class taxes are too high. If the bill can be positioned strongly as middle-class tax relief, its chances for success will be higher.

http://www.gallup.com/opinion/polling-matters/213239/taxes-may-certain-tax-reform-not.aspx

The Fair Tax — A Tax System that Americans Rightfully Deserve

  • 04/22/2016
  • FAIRtax 
  • by: Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX-4)
The Fair Tax — A Tax System that Americans Rightfully Deserve

At more than 73,000 pages, it’s no wonder our country’s tax code spells headache for millions of hardworking Americans across the country. This bloated document, riddled with complicated loopholes, is anything but navigable for working-class people who can’t afford to hire accountants, lawyers or tax professionals. Yet like clockwork every spring, Americans throw away countless time and treasure in an attempt to properly comply with the process of giving their hard-earned money to the federal government.

The rigors of compliance aside, our tax code penalizes economic growth and American competitiveness. By imposing some of the highest corporate tax rates in the industrialized world, American business are incentivized to entertain corporate inversions, and leave trillions of dollars of cash abroad where it can’t be invested in American growth. While the well-to-do and well-connected may be able to navigate this byzantine world, taxpayers across the country and throughout the 18 counties in Texas I represent are frustrated, and rightfully so. The American people deserve better.

Frustration with the IRS reached new levels in 2013 when revelations surfaced that the agency was targeting conservative groups. When Congress launched investigations, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen repeatedly obstructed justice by refusing to testify and failing to produce up to 24,000 emails relevant to the investigations. This is simply unacceptable.

To make matters worse, the IRS experienced a cyber-attack in 2015 that left more than 700,000 taxpayer accounts vulnerable. And according to a GAO report released just last month, the IRS has improved only marginally since that time in regard to its data security. Taxpayers should not be subject to the political whims of unelected bureaucrats who refuse to follow the law and falsify facts before Congress, all the while placing their personal financial data at risk.

As a staunch fiscal conservative, I’ve been vocal and outspoken about the need for a fairer, flatter tax code – one that doesn’t stifle growth or punish economic success. After all, Ronald Reagan famously said that the role of government should be to fostereconomic growth, not smother it. That’s why I’ve joined more than 70 of my colleagues in cosponsoring legislation that would eliminate all individual and corporate income taxes – the FairTax Act of 2015 (H.R. 25).

The FairTax Act, introduced by Rep. Rob Woodall (GA-7), eliminates all personal, corporate, gift and estate taxes and replaces them with a simple, point-of-sale consumption tax. Beyond this, it completely abolishes the IRS and all of the bureaucratic red tape and corporate cronyism that comes with it – and remains revenue neutral in the process.

The FairTax Act combats the corruption and inefficiency of the IRS, and instead promotes American growth and investment. I’m proud to be a cosponsor of this key piece of legislation, because it recognizes that more freedom and less government is the formula for economic success. It’s this model that’s allowed Texas to lead the nation in job growth since 2008, and it’s about time for Washington to get an overdue dose of these commonsense, Texas economic values. The FairTax Act will do just that, and I urge my colleagues to support it.

Congressman John Ratcliffe represents Texas’ 4th district, serving the outer eastern suburbs of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplexsince 2015.  He is a member of the Judiciary Committee as well as the House Homeland Security Committee, serving as Chairman of its Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies Subcommittee.  Prior to Congress, he served as Mayor of Heath, Texas.  In addition, during the George W. Bush Administration, he was appointed to multiple posts, including U.S. Attorney and Chief of Anti-Terrorism and National Security for the Eastern District of Texas.

Your Money, Your Decision

The current federal income tax system is clearly broken — unfair, overly complex, and almost impossible for most Americans to understand. But there is a reasonable, nonpartisan alternative before Congress that is both fair and easy to understand. A system that allows you to keep your whole paycheck and only pay taxes on what you spend.

The FairTax is a national sales tax that treats every person equally and allows American businesses to thrive, while generating the same tax revenue as the current four-million-word-plus tax code. Under the FairTax, every person living in the United States pays a sales tax on purchases of new goods and services, excluding necessities due to the prebate. The FairTax rate after necessities is 23% compared to combining the 15% income tax bracket with the 7.65% of employee payroll taxes under the current system — both of which will be eliminated!

Important to note: the FairTax is the only tax plan currently being proposed that includes the removal of the payroll tax.

Keep Your Paycheck

For the first time in recent history, American workers will get to keep every dime they earn; including what would have been paid in federal income taxes and payroll taxes. You will get an instant raise in your pay!

Social Security & Medicare Funding

Benefits will not change. The FairTax actually puts these programs on a more solid funding foundation. Instead of being funded by taxes on workers’ wages, which is a small pool, they’ll be funded by taxes on overall consumption by all residents. Learn More .

Get a Tax Refund in Advance on Purchases of Basic Necessities

The FairTax provides a progressive program called a prebate. This gives every legal resident household an “advance refund” at the beginning of each month so that purchases made up to the poverty level are tax-free. The prebate prevents an unfair burden on low-income families. Learn more .

Pay Tax on Only What You Spend

Be in control of your financial destiny. You alone can control your tax burden. If you’re thrifty, you’ll pay lower taxes than somebody who is not. Most importantly, you’ll be taxed fairly. Learn moreabout what is taxed.

Everyone Pays Their Fair Share

Tax evasion and the underground economy cost each taxpayer an additional $2,500 every year! But by taxing new products and services consumed, the FairTax puts everyone in the country at the same level at the cash register. Further, only legal residents are eligible for the prebate. Learn more .

The IRS is No Longer Needed

No more complicated tax forms, individual audits, or intrusive federal bureaucracy. Retailers will collect the FairTax just as they do now with state sales taxes. All money will be collected and remitted to the U.S. Treasury, and both the retailers and states will be paid a fee for their collection service. Learn More

Summer looms with GOP stuck on health care, budget, taxes

The Capitol in Washington is quiet after lawmakers departed the for the Independence Day recess, Friday, June 30, 2017. The Republican leadership in the Senate decided this week to delay a vote on their…

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans are stuck on health care, can’t pass a budget, and hopes for a big, bipartisan infrastructure package are fizzling. Overhauling the tax code looks more and more like a distant dream.

The GOP-led Congress has yet to salt away a single major legislative accomplishment for President Donald Trump — and a summer of drift may lead to a logistical nightmare this fall.

Instead, Trump’s allies appear both divided and indecisive, unable to deliver on his agenda while letting other must-do congressional business — chiefly their core responsibilities of passing a budget and spending bills, and keeping the government solvent — slide onto an already daunting fall agenda that is looking more and more like it’ll be a train wreck.

Friday brought more bad news for Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and other House leaders as 20 GOP moderates signaled a revolt on the budget, penning a letter to Ryan announcing their opposition to an emerging plan to force cuts to government agencies and benefit programs such as food stamps. The letter, authored by Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., warned that without an agreement with Democrats on increasing agency spending, moderates will be “reticent to support any budget.”

“It’s looking like they’re very disorganized. They got obviously a lot of conflict over spending preferences and it’s not just a two-way conflict,” said top House Budget Committee Democrat John Yarmuth of Kentucky. “It’s just a tough Rubik’s Cube they’re trying to solve.”

So it’s not just the Senate effort to repeal and replace Democrat Barack Obama’s health care law that’s foundering. The annual congressional budget measure — a prerequisite to this fall’s hoped-for tax effort — is languishing as well, as are the 12 annual spending bills that typically consume weeks of House floor time each summer.

But GOP leaders say all is going well. Ryan told a Wisconsin radio host on Thursday that “it’s the most productive Congress since the mid-’80s” and issued a news release Friday titled “Despite What You May Hear, We Are Getting Things Done.” The release cites a bipartisan Department of Veterans Affairs accountability measure and 14 bills repealing Obama-era regulations as Congress’ top achievements.

“It would be hard to fault the average American for thinking all that’s going on in Washington these days is high-drama hearings and partisan sniping,” Ryan said. “But amid the countdown clocks and cable news chatter, something important is happening: Congress is getting things done to help improve people’s lives.”

In the first year of a presidency, the annual August congressional recess is a traditional point to take stock. By that point, Obama had signed an economic recovery bill and President George W. Bush had won his landmark tax cuts, while President Bill Clinton was celebrating a hard-fought budget package.

Trump has no comparable successes to trumpet — but his allies in Congress say they’re not worried.

“We laid out an agenda in November and December, and we’re needing to get there,” said House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas. “And we can effectively get there. The questions that confound us are those that we can answer ourselves. And we will.”

And as Republicans are stalled on health care, the budget and infrastructure, there are several other problems that need to be taken care of, including increasing the nation’s borrowing authority, preventing a government shutdown, and lifting budget “caps” that are hobbling efforts to beef up the military.

Unlike health care, the debt limit and a deal to fix the spending caps — a leftover from a failed 2011 budget deal — can only be resolved with Democratic help. However, they promise to consume political capital and valuable time and energy, and there’s no political pay-off, other than forestalling disaster.

First, Congress is off on vacation to return in July for a three-week session. Then comes the traditional monthlong August recess.

After Labor Day comes a four-week sprint to October and the deadline to avert a government shutdown with a temporary spending bill — and to forestall a disastrous default on U.S. obligations by lifting the debt limit, which is a politically toxic vote for many Republicans.

Sentiment is building among some lawmakers to shorten the recess to make progress on the unfinished work that is piling up. On Friday, 10 GOP senators, led by David Perdue of Georgia, sent Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a letter citing delays on health care, the budget, a stopgap spending bill and the debt limit as reasons to consider canceling some or all of the recess.

“If we successfully navigate those priorities, we can finally get to our once in a generation opportunity on tax reform,” the letter said. “Growing the economy, repairing our infrastructure, and rebuilding our military are all dependent on accomplishing the tasks before us.”

http://wtop.com/government/2017/06/summer-looms-with-gop-stuck-on-health-care-budget-taxes/

APRIL 13, 2016

High-income Americans pay most income taxes, but enough to be ‘fair’?

Corporations paying fewer taxes

Tax-deadline season isn’t many people’s favorite time of the year, but most Americans are OK with the amount of tax they pay. It’s what other people pay, or don’t pay, that bothers them.

Just over half (54%) of Americans surveyed in fall by Pew Research Center said they pay about the right amount in taxes considering what they get from the federal government, versus 40% who said they pay more than their fair share. But in a separate 2015 surveyby the Center, some six-in-ten Americans said they were bothered a lot by the feeling that “some wealthy people” and “some corporations” don’t pay their fair share.

It’s true that corporations are funding a smaller share of overall government operations than they used to. In fiscal 2015, the federal government collected $343.8 billion from corporate income taxes, or 10.6% of its total revenue. Back in the 1950s, corporate income tax generated between a quarter and a third of federal revenues (though payroll taxes have grown considerably over that period).

Nor have corporate tax receipts kept pace with the overall growth of the U.S. economy. Inflation-adjusted gross domestic product has risen 153% since 1980, while inflation-adjusted corporate tax receipts were 115% higher in fiscal 2015 than in fiscal 1980, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. There have been a lot of ups and downs over that period, as corporate tax receipts tend to rise during expansions and drop off in recessions. In fiscal 2007, for instance, corporate taxes hit $370.2 billion (in current dollars), only to plunge to $138.2 billion in 2009 as businesses felt the impact of the Great Recession.

Corporations also employ battalions of tax lawyers to find ways to reduce their tax bills, from running income through subsidiaries in low-tax foreign countries to moving overseas entirely, in what’s known as a corporate inversion (a practice the Treasury Department has moved to discourage).

But in Tax Land, the line between corporations and people can be fuzzy. While most major corporations (“C corporations” in tax lingo) pay according to the corporate tax laws, many other kinds of businesses – sole proprietorships, partnerships and closely held “S corporations” – fall under the individual income tax code, because their profits and losses are passed through to individuals. And by design, wealthier Americans pay most of the nation’s total individual income taxes.

Wealthy pay more in taxes than poorIn 2014, people with adjusted gross income, or AGI, above $250,000 paid just over half (51.6%) of all individual income taxes, though they accounted for only 2.7% of all returns filed, according to our analysis of preliminary IRS data. Their average tax rate (total taxes paid divided by cumulative AGI) was 25.7%. By contrast, people with incomes of less than $50,000 accounted for 62.3% of all individual returns filed, but they paid just 5.7% of total taxes. Their average tax rate was 4.3%.

The relative tax burdens borne by different income groups changes over time, due both to economic conditions and the constantly shifting provisions of tax law. For example, using more comprehensive IRS data covering tax years 2000 through 2011, we found that people who made between $100,000 and $200,000 paid 23.8% of the total tax liability in 2011, up from 18.8% in 2000. Filers in the $50,000-to-$75,000 group, on the other hand, paid 12% of the total liability in 2000 but only 9.1% in 2011. (The tax liability figures include a few taxes, such as self-employment tax and the “nanny tax,” that people typically pay along with their income taxes.)

All told, individual income taxes accounted for a little less than half (47.4%) of government revenue, a share that’s been roughly constant since World War II. The federal government collected $1.54 trillion from individual income taxes in fiscal 2015, making it the national government’s single-biggest revenue source. (Other sources of federal revenue include corporate income taxes, the payroll taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare, excise taxes such as those on gasoline and cigarettes, estate taxes, customs duties and payments from the Federal Reserve.) Until the 1940s, when the income tax was expanded to help fund the war effort, generally only the very wealthy paid it.

Since the 1970s, the segment of federal revenues that has grown the most is the payroll tax – those line items on your pay stub that go to pay for Social Security and Medicare. For most people, in fact, payroll taxes take a bigger bite out of their paycheck than federal income tax. Why? The 6.2% Social Security withholding tax only applies to wages up to $118,500. For example, a worker earning $40,000 will pay $2,480 (6.2%) in Social Security tax, but an executive earning $400,000 will pay $7,347 (6.2% of $118,500), for an effective rate of just 1.8%. By contrast, the 1.45% Medicare tax has no upper limit, and in fact high earners pay an extra 0.9%.

All but the top-earning 20% of American families pay more in payroll taxes than in federal income taxes, according to a Treasury Department analysis.

Still, that analysis confirms that, after all federal taxes are factored in, the U.S. tax system as a whole is progressive. The top 0.1% of families pay the equivalent of 39.2% and the bottom 20% have negative tax rates (that is, they get more money back from the government in the form of refundable tax credits than they pay in taxes).

Of course, people can and will differ on whether any of this constitutes a “fair” tax system. Depending on their politics and personal situations, some would argue for a more steeply progressive structure, others for a flatter one. Finding the right balance can be challenging to the point of impossibility: As Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Louis XIV’s finance minister, is said to have remarked: “The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing.”

Note: This is an update of an earlier post published March 24, 2015.

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/13/high-income-americans-pay-most-income-taxes-but-enough-to-be-fair/

Summary of the Latest Federal Income Tax Data, 2016 Update

February 1, 2017

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The Pronk Pops Show 853, March 8, 2017, Story 1: Republicans United For Clean Repeal of Obamacare and Divided On Obamacare Replacement — Conservatives, Classical Liberals and Libertarians Oppose House Rollover Republican Ryancare — CATO Institute, Club for Growth, Freedom Works Heritage Foundation and House Freedom Caucus, Republican Study Committee and American People All Oppose Obamacare 2.0 Lite — Support Senator Rand Paul’s Bill and Freedom Caucus — Negotiate — Negotiate — Negotiate — Videos — Story 2: Wikileaks Vault 7 Release Reveals CIA’s Collection of Hacking Tools and Malware of Secret Surveillance Spying Security State (S5) — Intelligence Community Are Listening and Watching — George Orwell Was An Optimist — Two Party Turnkey Tyranny — Videos -_

Posted on March 8, 2017. Filed under: Addiction, American History, Animal, Benghazi, Blogroll, Breaking News, Communications, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Countries, Culture, Defense Spending, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Elections, Fast and Furious, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Hate Speech, Health, Health Care, Health Care Insurance, Hillary Clinton, History, House of Representatives, Human Behavior, Illegal Immigration, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Independence, Iran Nuclear Weapons Deal, Islam, Law, Legal Immigration, Life, Lying, Medicare, Obama, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, Progressives, Rand Paul, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Religion, Scandals, Science, Security, Senate, Social Science, Social Security, Socials Security, Spying, Taxation, Taxes, Terror, Terrorism, Unemployment, Videos, Violence, War, Wealth, Weather, Welfare Spending, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Story 1: Republicans United For Clean Repeal of Obamacare and Divided On Obamacare Replacement — Conservatives, Classical Liberals and Libertarians Oppose House Rollover Republican Ryancare — CATO Institute, Club for Growth, Freedom Works Heritage Foundation and House Freedom Caucus,  Republican Study Committee and American People  All Oppose Obamacare 2.0 Lite — Support Senator Rand Paul’s Bill and Freedom Caucus — Negotiate — Negotiate — Negotiate — Videos — 

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Conservative Freedom Caucus Torpedoes GOP Obamacare Replacement

MAJOR: Paul Ryan Introduces American Health Care Act, House GOP’s Obamacare Replacement

SABOTAGE! WHAT PAUL RYAN JUST DID TO TRUMPCARE PROVES HE’S A TRAITOR TO THE PRESIDENT

Speaker Paul Ryan: There isn’t chaos in GOP-led Congress

SEAN HANNITY INTERVIEWS TOM PRICE ABOUT TRUMP’S NEW HEALTHCARE PLAN – 3/7/17

Trump’s HHS Secretary On Obamacare Replacement Bill

Ingraham takes issue with GOP’s health care replacement bill

Herman Cain on Obamacare replacement bill: Consumers now back in charge

Laffer: Obamacare replacement bill worth 2,000-3,000 points on the Dow

President Trump Holds Meeting On Obamacare Replacement with House Deputy Whip Team 3/7/17

GOP releases Obamacare replacement details

York: Fate of GOP health care bill lies with Freedom Caucus

Republicans unveil Obamacare replacement

Trump backs healthcare tax credit amid conservative opposition

Sen. Rand Paul unveils ObamaCare replacement plan

Conservatives lash out at House GOP’s Obamacare replacement bill

March 7 at 3:01 PM
Influential conservative lawmakers and activist groups panned health-care legislation drafted by House Republican leaders Tuesday, throwing the GOP’s plan to undo the Affordable Care Act in serious doubt less than 24 hours after it was released.Those groups dubbed the House bill, backed by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), as “Obamacare Lite,” “RyanCare” or “RINOcare” — a reference to “Republican in name only,” a popular conservative epithet for establishment politicians.The Ryan-backed bill offers a more conservative vision for the nation’s health-care system, replacing federal insurance subsidies with a new form of individual tax credits and phasing out most of the ACA’s taxes. But key lawmakers and outside groups, who can rile up the party’s base against legislative plans, said the legislation does not go far enough in pulling back elements of President Barack Obama’s overhaul.“The House Republican proposal released last night not only accepts the flawed progressive premises of Obamacare but expands upon them,” Michael Needham, the head of Heritage Action for America, said in a statement Tuesday. “Congressional Republicans should fully repeal the failed law and begin a genuine effort to deliver on longstanding campaign promises that create a free market health care system.”Two other groups, FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth, decried the plans Tuesday as a betrayal of campaign promises.

A day after House Republicans released a plan to supplant the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) outlined the issues he has with their proposal, indicating it might be unconstitutional. (Alice Li, Jayne Orenstein/The Washington Post)

“If this warmed-over substitute for government-run health care remains unchanged, the Club for Growth will key vote against it,” said the group’s president, David McIntosh, referring to a process in which lawmakers are graded on their votes, the better to use them as ammunition on the campaign trail.

The dilemma Republican congressional leaders face is, if they change the legislation to appease hard-line conservatives, they are likely to alienate more-moderate members who are wary of disrupting insurance markets and taking coverage away from those who gained it under the ACA.

The margin for dissent is slim: Assuming no Democrats break ranks to support the bill, for the overhaul to pass, Republicans can lose only 21 votes in the House and two votes in the Senate.

CONTENT FROM WELLS FARGO ADVISORS
Keep these factors in mind when planning for retirement
Understanding the risks that can come between you and the retirement you want is an important step toward meeting your goals.

Four key Republicans in the Senate have expressed worries about the plan’s possible impact on lower-income people who received Medicaid coverage through the ACA’s expansion of that program. The four senators are split on exactly what proposals would meet their standards, but none are likely to support the course of action favored by many conservatives — passing a 2015 bill that repealed key ACA provisions without immediately including replacement provisions.

There were some signs of hope for the House plan Tuesday. President Trump offered an early boost to GOP leaders with a morning tweet: “Our wonderful new Healthcare Bill is now out for review and negotiation. ObamaCare is a complete and total disaster — is imploding fast!”

Vice President Pence attended a Senate Republican policy luncheon Tuesday and, in a break with normal practice, joined Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP leaders at a news conference afterward to defend the House approach as “the framework for reform.”

“We are certainly open to improvements and recommendations in the legislative process, but this is the bill, and the president supports the American Health Care Act,” he said. “We are looking forward to working very directly with leadership in the House and the Senate in the weeks ahead. We are very confident that the American Health Care Act, with their help, will be on the president’s desk.”

In another sign of the administration’s support, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price sent a letter Tuesday to the chairmen of the two House committees processing the legislation, calling it a “necessary and important first step toward fulfilling our promises to the American people.”

But Price, who authored a similar ACA replacement proposal when he served in the House, said that achieving all of Trump’s health-care goals “will require more than what is possible” in the current legislation, which is limited in its scope to take advantage of special budget rules allowing for easier Senate passage.

He specifically mentioned allowing insurance to be sold across state lines, pharmaceutical cost reductions and “medical legal reforms,” an apparent reference to long-standing GOP proposals to limit malpractice liability.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) offered measured support for the proposed legislation and said he would bring it to the Senate floor should it pass the House.

“I encourage every member to review [the legislation] because I hope to call it up when we receive it from the House,” McConnell said Tuesday on the Senate floor. “We’ve come a long way. We’ve got a lot further to go, but we’re making significant progress. Working arm in arm with the House and the new administration, we’re going to keep our promise to the American people.”

While some of the fiercest criticism came from hard-right activist groups that have dogged Republican congressional leaders for years, other more establishment-minded organs joined the chorus of dissent.

National Review published an editorial Tuesday that said the legislation was “a disappointment” and has “serious flaws even as a first step toward full repeal and replacement.”

Republicans, the influential conservative magazine said, “would be better off rallying behind a bill in which they really believe, even if Democrats kill it with a filibuster,than trying and failing to enact a bill that they support only tepidly.”

Leaders involved in drafting the bills sought to defend their plan against the onslaught of criticism, describing it as the product of months of internal discussions and saying its details could still change.

“We now have a bill that’s available for all to read,” said Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which helped craft one of them, at a news conference Tuesday. “I’d encourage them to do it. I’d encourage them to look against their own bills and what they’ve supported in the past. And then let’s have a thoughtful legislative discussion.”

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which produced the other bill, said: “As Republicans, we have a choice. We can act now, or we can keep fiddling around and squander this opportunity to repeal Obamacare and begin a new chapter of freedom for the American people. House Republicans are choosing to act now.”

Still, agitation among conservatives was evident Monday night and poured into Tuesday.

CONTENT FROM WELLS FARGO ADVISORS
Keep these factors in mind when planning for retirement
Understanding the risks that can come between you and the retirement you want is an important step toward meeting your goals.

“Keep the ‘Cadillac’ tax in place? Keep Medicaid in place until 2020?” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus, referring to high-priced health-care plans. “We didn’t have Medicaid expansion in the bill we sent to President Obama, but we have it in the one we send to President Trump? That makes no sense to me.”

“Obamacare 2.0,” tweeted Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), a libertarian who frequently breaks with GOP leadership.

Under two bills drafted by separate House committees, the government would no longer penalize Americans for failing to have health insurance but would try to encourage people to maintain coverage by allowing insurers to impose a 30 percent surcharge for those who do not have continuous coverage.

The legislation would preserve two of the most popular features of the 2010 health-care law, letting young adults stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26 and forbidding insurers to deny coverage or charge more to people with preexisting medical problems. It would also target Planned Parenthood, rendering the women’s health organization ineligible for Medicaid reimbursements or federal family -planning grants — a key priority for antiabortion groups.

Taken together, the bills introduced Monday represent the Republicans’ first attempt — and best shot to date, with an ally in the White House — to translate into action seven years of talking points about demolishing the ACA.

At the same time, major aspects of the House GOP plan reflect the treacherous terrain that Republicans face to win enough votes within their own conferences in the GOP-controlled House and Senate.

The bills must address concerns of both conservatives worried about the plan’s cost and the notion it might enshrine a new federal entitlement, as well as more moderate members who want to ensure that their constituents, including those who received coverage under the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, retain access to affordable health care.

The Freedom Caucus, a block of roughly 30 House hard-liners who criticized earlier versions of the bill, is set to meet Tuesday night to discuss the health-care bill and perhaps develop a list of demands to present to GOP leaders.

Members of the Republican Study Committee, a larger conservative group, were already critical of key elements of the plan. “This is a Republican welfare entitlement,” reads an RSC analysis distributed late Monday, addressing the inclusion of refundable tax credits in the plan.

With no Democrats expected to vote to pass the bill and four House GOP seats vacant, Republicans can afford to lose no more than 21 members in the lower chamber.

In recognition of the close vote that is expected, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and several deputy whips are expected to visit the White House Tuesday afternoon to discuss the health-care bill with Trump administration officials.

On Tuesday morning, Trump signaled the work on the proposal was not completely finished, referring to selling insurance across state lines and saying that change would come in “phase 2 & 3 of healthcare rollout.” The president also said he was “working on new system where there will be competition in the Drug Industry” that will lead prices to “come way down.”

Conservative critics of the measure had noted the plan’s exclusion of selling insurance across state lines. “The problems with this bill are not just what’s in it, but also what’s missing,” said McIntosh.

Yet attacks from the right were not the only challenge facing Republican leaders.

Four key Republican senators, all from states that opted to expand Medicaid under the ACA, said they would oppose any new plan that would leave millions of Americans uninsured.

“We will not support a plan that does not include stability for Medicaid expansion populations or flexibility for states,” Sens. Rob Portman (Ohio), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Cory Gardner (Colo.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) wrote in a letter to McConnell on Monday.

The plan from House Republicans would substantially redesign Medicaid with the goal of balancing the GOP’s antipathy toward the ACA’s expansion of the program against the concerns of a significant cadre of Republican governors — and the lawmakers from their states — who fear losing millions of dollars that the law has funneled to help insure low-income residents.

Democrats, meanwhile, have given no indication that they intend to work with Republicans, and top party leaders decried the GOP plan Monday as a betrayal of everyday Americans. “Trumpcare doesn’t replace the Affordable Care Act, it forces millions of Americans to pay more for less care,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.).

In particular, the plan to target Planned Parenthood has already generated fierce pushback from Democrats and doubts from some Republicans who have noted that federal funds are already barred from funding abortions and that Planned Parenthood provides routine medical care to millions of American women.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/house-leaders-brace-for-the-task-ahead-selling-obamacare-lite/2017/03/07/ab2f721e-02e5-11e7-ad5b-d22680e18d10_story.html?utm_term=.b64bbc38491c

A Disappointing Start

by THE EDITORS March 7, 2017 12:45 PM We believe that Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with policies that enable Americans to make their own decisions about what sort of health insurance to

We believe that Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with policies that enable Americans to make their own decisions about what sort of health insurance to buy, and that their options should include low-premium coverage that protects them against the risk of major financial setbacks resulting from health care. The legislation released last night by House Republicans is, even on the most charitable reading, only a first step toward that goal.

It does not repeal all of Obamacare, leaving many of its regulations in place. The apparent rationale for this omission is that eliminating the regulations would subject the legislation to a fatal Senate filibuster. We have recommended that Republicans defang the regulations by replacing Obamacare’s subsidies with a simple new tax credit that people could use to buy insurance governed by a new, lighter regulatory regime. That way Obamacare’s regulations would stay on the books but no longer hinder consumer choice. But Republicans shrank from this option, too.

We disagree with this tactical decision, which places Senate parliamentary rules — or, rather, places guesses about how those rules would operate — ahead of good health policy and making good on longstanding party promises. It also seems to us that Republicans would be better off rallying behind a bill in which they really believe, even if Democrats kill it with a filibuster, than trying and failing to enact a bill that they support only tepidly. That second outcome may now take place.

Moreover, the legislation has some serious flaws even as a first step toward full repeal and replacement. It eliminates Obamacare’s fines on people who go without insurance, but in their place creates a new surcharge for people who let their insurance lapse and then try to purchase a new policy. The goal is to keep healthy people from leaving the insurance rolls and thus destabilizing insurance markets.

The surcharge is a heavy-handed instrument: Insurers would be obligated to impose it regardless of their preferences. Yet the surcharge might not achieve its goal. A lot of healthy people might well decide to go without insurance and run the risk of paying a surcharge if they get sick later. The surcharge even undermines its own goal, since it would discourage healthy people who had already left the insurance rolls from getting back on them.

The bill has its good points. If the surcharge works, the deregulation in the bill would lower premiums. Many of Obamacare’s taxes would be repealed. Obamacare’s tax credits create high effective marginal tax rates for people in the lower middle class; the bill’s replacement tax credits would avoid this problem. Permissible contributions to and limits on health savings accounts would be loosened. Federal contributions to Medicaid would be capped, ending the perverse incentives that have for decades enabled the growth of the program. All in all, though, the bill is a disappointment. And it is not too late to get a second opinion.

All in all, though, the bill is a disappointment. And it is not too late to get a second opinion.

 http://www.nationalreview.com/article/445558/obamacare-replacement-republican-plan-house-representatives-disappointing

Story 2: Wikileaks Vault 7 Release Reveals CIA’s Collection of Hacking Tools and Malware of Secret Surveillance Spying Security State (S5) — Intelligence Community Are Listening and Watching — George Orwell Was An Optimist — Two Party Turnkey Tyranny — Videos — 

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Wikileaks Unveils ‘Vault 7’: “The Largest Ever Publication Of Confidential CIA Documents”; Another Snowden Emerges

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WikiLeaks has published what it claims is the largest ever release of confidential documents on the CIA. It includes more than 8,000 documents as part of ‘Vault 7’, a series of leaks on the agency, which have allegedly emerged from the CIA’s Center For Cyber Intelligence in Langley, and which can be seen on the org chart below, which Wikileaks also released:

A total of 8,761 documents have been published as part of ‘Year Zero’, the first in a series of leaks the whistleblower organization has dubbed ‘Vault 7.’ WikiLeaks said that ‘Year Zero’ revealed details of the CIA’s “global covert hacking program,” including “weaponized exploits” used against company products including “Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones.”

WikiLeaks tweeted the leak, which it claims came from a network inside the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virginia.

Among the more notable disclosures which, if confirmed, “would rock the technology world“, the CIA had managed to bypass encryption on popular phone and messaging services such as Signal, WhatsApp and Telegram. According to the statement from WikiLeaks, government hackers can penetrate Android phones and collect “audio and message traffic before encryption is applied.”

Another profound revelation is that the CIA can engage in “false flag” cyberattacks which portray Russia as the assailant. Discussing the CIA’s Remote Devices Branch’s UMBRAGE group, Wikileaks’ source notes that it “collects and maintains a substantial library of attack techniques ‘stolen’ from malware produced in other states including the Russian Federation.

“With UMBRAGE and related projects the CIA cannot only increase its total number of attack types but also misdirect attribution by leaving behind the “fingerprints” of the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from. UMBRAGE components cover keyloggers, password collection, webcam capture, data destruction, persistence, privilege escalation, stealth, anti-virus (PSP) avoidance and survey techniques.”

As Kim Dotcom summarizes this finding, “CIA uses techniques to make cyber attacks look like they originated from enemy state. It turns DNC/Russia hack allegation by CIA into a JOKE

CIA uses techniques to make cyber attacks look like they originated from enemy state. It turns DNC/Russia hack allegation by CIA into a JOKE

But perhaps what is most notable is the purported emergence of another Snowden-type whistleblower: the source of the information told WikiLeaks in a statement that they wish to initiate a public debate about the “security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.”  Policy questions that should be debated in public include “whether the CIA’s hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency,” WikiLeaks claims the source said.

The FAQ section of the release, shown below, provides further details on the extent of the leak, which was “obtained recently and covers through 2016”. The time period covered in the latest leak is between the years 2013 and 2016, according to the CIA timestamps on the documents themselves. Secondly, WikiLeaks has asserted that it has not mined the entire leak and has only verified it, asking that journalists and activists do the leg work.

Among the various techniques profiled by WikiLeaks is “Weeping Angel”, developed by the CIA’s Embedded Devices Branch (EDB), which infests smart TVs, transforming them into covert microphones. After infestation, Weeping Angel places the target TV in a ‘Fake-Off’ mode, so that the owner falsely believes the TV is off when it is on. In ‘Fake-Off’ mode the TV operates as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the Internet to a covert CIA server.

As Kim Dotcom chimed in on Twitter, “CIA turns Smart TVs, iPhones, gaming consoles and many other consumer gadgets into open microphones” and added ” CIA turned every Microsoft Windows PC in the world into spyware. Can activate backdoors on demand, including via Windows update”

BREAKING: CIA turns Smart TVs, iPhones, gaming consoles and many other consumer gadgets into open microphones.

Dotcom also added that “Obama accused Russia of cyberattacks while his CIA turned all internet enabled consumer electronics in Russia into listening devices. Wow!”

Obama accused Russia of cyberattacks while his CIA turned all internet enabled consumer electronics in Russia into listening devices. Wow!

Julian Assange, WikiLeaks editor stated that “There is an extreme proliferation risk in the development of cyber ‘weapons’. Comparisons can be drawn between the uncontrolled proliferation of such ‘weapons’, which results from the inability to contain them combined with their high market value, and the global arms trade. But the significance of “Year Zero” goes well beyond the choice between cyberwar and cyberpeace. The disclosure is also exceptional from a political, legal and forensic perspective.”

Key Highlights from the Vault 7 release so far:

  • “Year Zero” introduces the scope and direction of the CIA’s global covert hacking program, its malware arsenal and dozens of “zero day” weaponized exploits against a wide range of U.S. and European company products, include Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones.
  • Wikileaks claims that the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized “zero day” exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation. This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA. The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.
  • By the end of 2016, the CIA’s hacking division, which formally falls under the agency’s Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI), had over 5000 registered users and had produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other “weaponized” malware. Such is the scale of the CIA’s undertaking that by 2016, its hackers had utilized more code than that used to run Facebook.
  • The CIA had created, in effect, its “own NSA” with even less accountability and without publicly answering the question as to whether such a massive budgetary spend on duplicating the capacities of a rival agency could be justified.
  • Once a single cyber ‘weapon’ is ‘loose’ it can spread around the world in seconds, to be used by rival states, cyber mafia and teenage hackers alike.

Snowden 2.0?

  • In a statement to WikiLeaks the source details policy questions that they say urgently need to be debated in public, including whether the CIA’s hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency. The source wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.

CIA targets iPhones, Androids, smart TVs:

  • CIA malware and hacking tools are built by EDG (Engineering Development Group), a software development group within CCI (Center for Cyber Intelligence), a department belonging to the CIA’s DDI (Directorate for Digital Innovation). The DDI is one of the five major directorates of the CIA (see this organizational chart of the CIA for more details).
  • The increasing sophistication of surveillance techniques has drawn comparisons with George Orwell’s 1984, but “Weeping Angel”, developed by the CIA’s Embedded Devices Branch (EDB), which infests smart TVs, transforming them into covert microphones, is surely its most emblematic realization.

Also cars, suggesting that the CIA may have a role in the death of Michael Hastings:

  • As of October 2014 the CIA was also looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks.
  • The purpose of such control is not specified, but it would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations.

And computers:

  • The CIA also runs a very substantial effort to infect and control Microsoft Windows users with its malware. This includes multiple local and remote weaponized “zero days”, air gap jumping viruses such as “Hammer Drill” which infects software distributed on CD/DVDs, infectors for removable media such as USBs, systems to hide data in images or in covert disk areas ( “Brutal Kangaroo”) and to keep its malware infestations going.

Hoarding of Zero Day exploits:

  • In the wake of Edward Snowden’s leaks about the NSA, the U.S. technology industry secured a commitment from the Obama administration that the executive would disclose on an ongoing basis — rather than hoard — serious vulnerabilities, exploits, bugs or “zero days” to Apple, Google, Microsoft, and other US-based manufacturers.
  • Serious vulnerabilities not disclosed to the manufacturers places huge swathes of the population and critical infrastructure at risk to foreign intelligence or cyber criminals who independently discover or hear rumors of the vulnerability. If the CIA can discover such vulnerabilities so can others.

Proliferation of leaked/hacked Cyberwar programs:

  • While nuclear proliferation has been restrained by the enormous costs and visible infrastructure involved in assembling enough fissile material to produce a critical nuclear mass, cyber ‘weapons’, once developed, are very hard to retain. Cyber ‘weapons’ are in fact just computer programs which can be pirated like any other. Since they are entirely comprised of information they can be copied quickly with no marginal cost.
  • Over the last three years the United States intelligence sector, which consists of government agencies such as the CIA and NSA and their contractors, such as Booze Allan Hamilton, has been subject to unprecedented series of data exfiltrations by its own workers.
  • Once a single cyber ‘weapon’ is ‘loose’ it can spread around the world in seconds, to be used by peer states, cyber mafia and teenage hackers alike.

The U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt is a covert CIA hacker base

  • In addition to its operations in Langley, Virginia the CIA also uses the U.S. consulate in Frankfurt as a covert base for its hackers covering Europe, the Middle East and Africa. CIA hackers operating out of the Frankfurt consulate ( “Center for Cyber Intelligence Europe” or CCIE) are given diplomatic (“black”) passports and State Department cover.
  • The instructions for incoming CIA hackers make Germany’s counter-intelligence efforts appear inconsequential: “Breeze through German Customs because you have your cover-for-action story down pat, and all they did was stamp your passport”

Examples of CIA projects

  • The CIA’s Engineering Development Group (EDG) management system contains around 500 different projects (only some of which are documented by “Year Zero”) each with their own sub-projects, malware and hacker tools. The majority of these projects relate to tools that are used for penetration, infestation (“implanting”), control, and exfiltration.
  • Umbrage: The CIA’s Remote Devices Branch’s UMBRAGE group collects and maintains a substantial library of attack techniques ‘stolen’ from malware produced in other states including the Russian Federation. With UMBRAGE and related projects the CIA cannot only increase its total number of attack types but also misdirect attribution by leaving behind the “fingerprints” of the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from.
  • Fine Dining:  Fine Dining comes with a standardized questionnaire i.e menu that CIA case officers fill out. The questionnaire is used by the agency’s OSB (Operational Support Branch) to transform the requests of case officers into technical requirements for hacking attacks (typically “exfiltrating” information from computer systems) for specific operations.  Among the list of possible targets of the collection are ‘Asset’, ‘Liason Asset’, ‘System Administrator’, ‘Foreign Information Operations’, ‘Foreign Intelligence Agencies’ and ‘Foreign Government Entities’. Notably absent is any reference to extremists or transnational criminals.
  • ‘Improvise’; a toolset for configuration, post-processing, payload setup and execution vector selection for survey/exfiltration tools supporting all major operating systems like Windows (Bartender), MacOS (JukeBox) and Linux (DanceFloor).
  • HIVE: HIVE is a multi-platform CIA malware suite and its associated control software. The project provides customizable implants for Windows, Solaris, MikroTik (used in internet routers) and Linux platforms and a Listening Post (LP)/Command and Control (C2) infrastructure to communicate with these implants. The implants are configured to communicate via HTTPS with the webserver of a cover domain; each operation utilizing these implants has a separate cover domain and the infrastructure can handle any number of cover domains.

And some key sections from the FAQ:

  • What time period is covered? The years 2013 to 2016. The sort order of the pages within each level is determined by date (oldest first). WikiLeaks has obtained the CIA’s creation/last modification date for each page but these do not yet appear for technical reasons. Usually the date can be discerned or approximated from the content and the page order. If it is critical to know the exact time/date contact WikiLeaks.
  • What is “Vault 7” “Vault 7” is a substantial collection of material about CIA activities obtained by WikiLeaks.
  • What is the total size of “Vault 7”? The series is the largest intelligence publication in history.
  • When was each part of “Vault 7” obtained?: Part one was obtained recently and covers through 2016. Details on the other parts will be available at the time of publication.
  • Is each part of “Vault 7” from a different source? Details on the other parts will be available at the time of publication.
  • How did WikiLeaks obtain each part of “Vault 7”? Sources trust WikiLeaks to not reveal information that might help identify them.
  • Isn’t WikiLeaks worried that the CIA will act against its staff to stop the series? No. That would be certainly counter-productive.

* * *

PREVIOUSLY

As a reminder, last night Wikileaks announced that it has released an encrypted torrent file which reportedly contains information on the mysterious “Vault 7”, and which we now know is the biggest “collection of material about CIA activities obtained by WikiLeaks.publication in history.” It can be downloaded now at the following URL, and accessed using the password “SplinterItIntoAThousandPiecesAndScatterItIntoTheWinds”

Wikileaks had previously announced that it would hold an 8am Eastern press conference, as part of the unveiling.

ANNOUNCE: WikiLeaks press conference in under five hours at 8am ET / 1pm UTC / 14:00 CET. Streamed live.

However, there appeared to have been some complications, with Wikileaks tweeting that “the press conference is under attack: Facebook+Periscope video used by WikiLeaks’ editor Julian Assange have been attacked. Activating contingency plans”

Press conf under attack: Facebook+Periscope video used by WikiLeaks’ editor Julian Assange have been attacked. Activating contingency (1/2)

Wikileaks then announced that “As Mr. Assange’s Perscipe+Facebook video stream links are under attack his video press conference will be rescheduled.”

NOTICE: As Mr. Assange’s Perscipe+Facebook video stream links are under attack his video press conference will be rescheduled.

In a separate tweet, Wikileaks has just released the passphrase to decrypt the torrent file: RELEASE: CIA Vault 7 Year Zero decryption passphrase:

SplinterItIntoAThousandPiecesAndScatterItIntoTheWinds

RELEASE: CIA Vault 7 Year Zero decryption passphrase:

SplinterItIntoAThousandPiecesAndScatterItIntoTheWinds

As a result, since Assange appears to have been unable to launch his previously scheduled press conference, he has gone ahead and issued the press release on Vault 7 Part 1 “Year Zero, which is titled: Inside the CIA’s global hacking force:

Press Release

Vault 7: CIA Hacking Tools Revealed

Today, Tuesday 7 March 2017, WikiLeaks begins its new series of leaks on the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Code-named “Vault 7” by WikiLeaks, it is the largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency.

The first full part of the series, “Year Zero”, comprises 8,761 documents and files from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virgina. It follows an introductory disclosure last month of CIA targeting French political parties and candidates in the lead up to the 2012 presidential election.

Recently, the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized “zero day” exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation. This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA. The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.

“Year Zero” introduces the scope and direction of the CIA’s global covert hacking program, its malware arsenal and dozens of “zero day” weaponized exploits against a wide range of U.S. and European company products, include Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones.

Since 2001 the CIA has gained political and budgetary preeminence over the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). The CIA found itself building not just its now infamous drone fleet, but a very different type of covert, globe-spanning force — its own substantial fleet of hackers. The agency’s hacking division freed it from having to disclose its often controversial operations to the NSA (its primary bureaucratic rival) in order to draw on the NSA’s hacking capacities.

By the end of 2016, the CIA’s hacking division, which formally falls under the agency’s Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI), had over 5000 registered users and had produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other “weaponized” malware. Such is the scale of the CIA’s undertaking that by 2016, its hackers had utilized more code than that used to run Facebook. The CIA had created, in effect, its “own NSA” with even less accountability and without publicly answering the question as to whether such a massive budgetary spend on duplicating the capacities of a rival agency could be justified.

In a statement to WikiLeaks the source details policy questions that they say urgently need to be debated in public, including whether the CIA’s hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency. The source wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.

Once a single cyber ‘weapon’ is ‘loose’ it can spread around the world in seconds, to be used by rival states, cyber mafia and teenage hackers alike.

Julian Assange, WikiLeaks editor stated that “There is an extreme proliferation risk in the development of cyber ‘weapons’. Comparisons can be drawn between the uncontrolled proliferation of such ‘weapons’, which results from the inability to contain them combined with their high market value, and the global arms trade. But the significance of “Year Zero” goes well beyond the choice between cyberwar and cyberpeace. The disclosure is also exceptional from a political, legal and forensic perspective.”

Wikileaks has carefully reviewed the “Year Zero” disclosure and published substantive CIA documentation while avoiding the distribution of ‘armed’ cyberweapons until a consensus emerges on the technical and political nature of the CIA’s program and how such ‘weapons’ should analyzed, disarmed and published.

Wikileaks has also decided to redact and anonymise some identifying information in “Year Zero” for in depth analysis. These redactions include ten of thousands of CIA targets and attack machines throughout Latin America, Europe and the United States. While we are aware of the imperfect results of any approach chosen, we remain committed to our publishing model and note that the quantity of published pages in “Vault 7” part one (“Year Zero”) already eclipses the total number of pages published over the first three years of the Edward Snowden NSA leaks.

* * *

Analysis

CIA malware targets iPhone, Android, smart TVs

CIA malware and hacking tools are built by EDG (Engineering Development Group), a software development group within CCI (Center for Cyber Intelligence), a department belonging to the CIA’s DDI (Directorate for Digital Innovation). The DDI is one of the five major directorates of the CIA (see this organizational chart of the CIA for more details).

The EDG is responsible for the development, testing and operational support of all backdoors, exploits, malicious payloads, trojans, viruses and any other kind of malware used by the CIA in its covert operations world-wide.

The increasing sophistication of surveillance techniques has drawn comparisons with George Orwell’s 1984, but “Weeping Angel”, developed by the CIA’s Embedded Devices Branch (EDB), which infests smart TVs, transforming them into covert microphones, is surely its most emblematic realization.

The attack against Samsung smart TVs was developed in cooperation with the United Kingdom’s MI5/BTSS. After infestation, Weeping Angel places the target TV in a ‘Fake-Off’ mode, so that the owner falsely believes the TV is off when it is on. In ‘Fake-Off’ mode the TV operates as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the Internet to a covert CIA server.

As of October 2014 the CIA was also looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks. The purpose of such control is not specified, but it would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations.

The CIA’s Mobile Devices Branch (MDB) developed numerous attacks to remotely hack and control popular smart phones. Infected phones can be instructed to send the CIA the user’s geolocation, audio and text communications as well as covertly activate the phone’s camera and microphone.

Despite iPhone’s minority share (14.5%) of the global smart phone market in 2016, a specialized unit in the CIA’s Mobile Development Branch produces malware to infest, control and exfiltrate data from iPhones and other Apple products running iOS, such as iPads. CIA’s arsenal includes numerous local and remote “zero days” developed by CIA or obtained from GCHQ, NSA, FBI or purchased from cyber arms contractors such as Baitshop. The disproportionate focus on iOS may be explained by the popularity of the iPhone among social, political, diplomatic and business elites.

A similar unit targets Google’s Android which is used to run the majority of the world’s smart phones (~85%) including Samsung, HTC and Sony. 1.15 billion Android powered phones were sold last year. “Year Zero” shows that as of 2016 the CIA had 24 “weaponized” Android “zero days” which it has developed itself and obtained from GCHQ, NSA and cyber arms contractors.

These techniques permit the CIA to bypass the encryption of WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Wiebo, Confide and Cloackman by hacking the “smart” phones that they run on and collecting audio and message traffic before encryption is applied.

CIA malware targets Windows, OSx, Linux, routers

The CIA also runs a very substantial effort to infect and control Microsoft Windows users with its malware. This includes multiple local and remote weaponized “zero days”, air gap jumping viruses such as “Hammer Drill” which infects software distributed on CD/DVDs, infectors for removable media such as USBs, systems to hide data in images or in covert disk areas ( “Brutal Kangaroo”) and to keep its malware infestations going.

Many of these infection efforts are pulled together by the CIA’s Automated Implant Branch (AIB), which has developed several attack systems for automated infestation and control of CIA malware, such as “Assassin” and “Medusa”.

Attacks against Internet infrastructure and webservers are developed by the CIA’s Network Devices Branch (NDB).

The CIA has developed automated multi-platform malware attack and control systems covering Windows, Mac OS X, Solaris, Linux and more, such as EDB’s “HIVE” and the related “Cutthroat” and “Swindle” tools, which are described in the examples section below.

CIA ‘hoarded’ vulnerabilities (“zero days”)

In the wake of Edward Snowden’s leaks about the NSA, the U.S. technology industry secured a commitment from the Obama administration that the executive would disclose on an ongoing basis — rather than hoard — serious vulnerabilities, exploits, bugs or “zero days” to Apple, Google, Microsoft, and other US-based manufacturers.

Serious vulnerabilities not disclosed to the manufacturers places huge swathes of the population and critical infrastructure at risk to foreign intelligence or cyber criminals who independently discover or hear rumors of the vulnerability. If the CIA can discover such vulnerabilities so can others.

The U.S. government’s commitment to the Vulnerabilities Equities Process came after significant lobbying by US technology companies, who risk losing their share of the global market over real and perceived hidden vulnerabilities. The government stated that it would disclose all pervasive vulnerabilities discovered after 2010 on an ongoing basis.

“Year Zero” documents show that the CIA breached the Obama administration’s commitments. Many of the vulnerabilities used in the CIA’s cyber arsenal are pervasive and some may already have been found by rival intelligence agencies or cyber criminals.

As an example, specific CIA malware revealed in “Year Zero” is able to penetrate, infest and control both the Android phone and iPhone software that runs or has run presidential Twitter accounts. The CIA attacks this software by using undisclosed security vulnerabilities (“zero days”) possessed by the CIA but if the CIA can hack these phones then so can everyone else who has obtained or discovered the vulnerability. As long as the CIA keeps these vulnerabilities concealed from Apple and Google (who make the phones) they will not be fixed, and the phones will remain hackable.

The same vulnerabilities exist for the population at large, including the U.S. Cabinet, Congress, top CEOs, system administrators, security officers and engineers. By hiding these security flaws from manufacturers like Apple and Google the CIA ensures that it can hack everyone &mdsh; at the expense of leaving everyone hackable.

‘Cyberwar’ programs are a serious proliferation risk

Cyber ‘weapons’ are not possible to keep under effective control.

While nuclear proliferation has been restrained by the enormous costs and visible infrastructure involved in assembling enough fissile material to produce a critical nuclear mass, cyber ‘weapons’, once developed, are very hard to retain.

Cyber ‘weapons’ are in fact just computer programs which can be pirated like any other. Since they are entirely comprised of information they can be copied quickly with no marginal cost.

Securing such ‘weapons’ is particularly difficult since the same people who develop and use them have the skills to exfiltrate copies without leaving traces — sometimes by using the very same ‘weapons’ against the organizations that contain them. There are substantial price incentives for government hackers and consultants to obtain copies since there is a global “vulnerability market” that will pay hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars for copies of such ‘weapons’. Similarly, contractors and companies who obtain such ‘weapons’ sometimes use them for their own purposes, obtaining advantage over their competitors in selling ‘hacking’ services.

Over the last three years the United States intelligence sector, which consists of government agencies such as the CIA and NSA and their contractors, such as Booze Allan Hamilton, has been subject to unprecedented series of data exfiltrations by its own workers.

A number of intelligence community members not yet publicly named have been arrested or subject to federal criminal investigations in separate incidents.

Most visibly, on February 8, 2017 a U.S. federal grand jury indicted Harold T. Martin III with 20 counts of mishandling classified information. The Department of Justice alleged that it seized some 50,000 gigabytes of information from Harold T. Martin III that he had obtained from classified programs at NSA and CIA, including the source code for numerous hacking tools.

Once a single cyber ‘weapon’ is ‘loose’ it can spread around the world in seconds, to be used by peer states, cyber mafia and teenage hackers alike.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-03-07/wikileaks-hold-press-conference-vault-7-release-8am-eastern

WikiLeaks Posts Thousands of Purported CIA Cyberhacking Documents

Records show CIA able to spy on smartphones, internet TVs

WikiLeaks released thousands of documents and files Tuesday that it said exposed hacking tools the Central Intelligence Agency uses.

WikiLeaks released thousands of documents and files Tuesday that it said exposed hacking tools the Central Intelligence Agency uses.PHOTO: LARRY DOWNING/REUTERS

WASHINGTON—WikiLeaks released thousands of documents and files Tuesday that it said exposed tools the Central Intelligence Agency uses to hack smartphones, computer operating systems, messenger applications and internet-connected televisions.

The unauthorized disclosure—the first part of which WikiLeaks said consisted of 8,761 documents and files from the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence—confronts President Donald Trump with a threat from the very organization that leaked documents on his opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, during the 2016 presidential campaign.

WikiLeaks named the series of files “Vault 7” and called the unauthorized disclosure the “largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency,” saying it exposed the malware and exploits the agency amassed to hack smartphones and turn some televisions into covert microphones.

A CIA spokesman declined to comment “on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents.”

An intelligence source said some of the information does pertain to tools that the CIA uses to hack computers and other devices. This person said disclosing the information would jeopardize ongoing intelligence-gathering operations and the revelations were far more significant than the leaks of Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency who exposed active surveillance programs in 2013.

Mr. Snowden’s leaks revealed names of programs, companies that assist the NSA in surveillance and in some cases the targets of American spying. But the recent leak purports to contain highly technical details about how surveillance is carried out. That would make them far more revealing and useful to an adversary, this person said.

In one sense, Mr. Snowden provided a briefing book on U.S. surveillance, but the CIA leaks could provide the blueprints.

WikiLeaks said in its statement that it was not publishing such information as computer source code that could be used to replicate the tools it claims to have exposed. But the group left open the possibility of publishing those crucial details if “a consensus emerges on the technical and political nature of the CIA’s program and how such ‘weapons’ should [sic] analyzed, disarmed and published.”

Mr. Snowden said in a tweet Tuesday, “Still working through the publication, but what @Wikileaks has here is genuinely a big deal. Looks authentic.”

WikiLeaks said the CIA recently “lost control” of the majority of its hacking arsenal. “This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA,” the site said in a statement. “The archive appears to have been circulating among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.”

The website put out what it called the first installment in a series of planned leaks on Tuesday, calling it “Year Zero.” It said the first installment “introduces the scope and direction of the CIA’s global covert hacking program, its malware arsenal and dozens of ‘zero day’ weaponized exploits against a wide range of U.S. and European company products.”

WikiLeaks said the information on CIA hacking came from an unidentified source who believes the spy agency’s hacking authorities “urgently need to be debated in public, including whether the CIA’s hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency.”

Much of what WikiLeaks posted Tuesday appeared to be a kind of internal Wikipedia for U.S. cyber-warfare developers to collaborate, post and access information about available hacking tools. In many instances, WikiLeaks has redacted entries that appear to link to specific executable files. The documents show, for example, what capabilities exist to bypass antivirus software, with a different entry for each antivirus company.

The revelations are sure to fuel an ongoing debate over whether intelligence agencies that discover security flaws in popular technology should disclose them, so that the users can defend themselves from hackers, or keep that information secret for use in intelligence operations.

One document claims that the CIA has discovered numerous ways to hack into versions of Apple’s iOS, the mobile operating system used on iPhones. In general, hacking tools for the iPhone are considered especially valuable because the technology is so widely used, experts said. One particular hacking tool appears to remain on an iPhone even after it has been rebooted, which would make it particularly valuable to an intruder.

“These documents, which appear to be authentic, show that the intelligence community has deliberately maintained vulnerabilities in the most common devices used by hundreds of millions of people,” Ben Wizner, the director of the Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.

“Those vulnerabilities will be exploited not just by our security agencies, but by hackers and governments around the world. The government has the capacity and obligation to help technology companies fix vulnerabilities as soon as they are discovered,” Mr. Wizner said.

This is the latest high-profile leak of information by WikiLeaks, which last fall published emails stolen from Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russian government hackers stole those emails and provided them to WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks said the documents show the CIA’s ability to bypass the encryption of popular messenger applications, including WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram and Confide by hacking the smartphones they run on and collecting audio and message traffic before the applications encrypt the user’s texts.

The site said the documents also show how the CIA developed other mobile hacking technologies, including the ability to activate the camera and microphone of a target’s smartphone covertly and surreptitiously retrieve a target’s geolocation, audio and text communications.

WikiLeaks said one of the documents also shows how the CIA developed a program to hack internet-connected televisions in conjunction with British intelligence. The attacks can place Samsung smart TVs in a fake off mode, so the owner believes the television is switched off, while in reality it is functioning as a bug and recording conversations in the room, WikiLeaks said.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/wikileaks-posts-thousands-of-purported-cia-cyberhacking-documents-1488905823

WikiLeaks publishes massive trove of CIA spying files in ‘Vault 7’ release

Julian Assange claims that documents are the most comprehensive CIA release ever and are far larger than the Snowden files

The Independent Tech

WikiLeaks has published a huge trove of what appear to be CIA spying secrets.

The files are the most comprehensive release of US spying files ever made public, according to Julian Assange. In all, there are 8,761 documents that account for “the entire hacking capacity of the CIA”, Mr Assange claimed in a release, and the trove is just the first of a series of “Vault 7” leaks.

Already, the files include far more pages than the Snowden files that exposed the vast hacking power of the NSA and other agencies.

 In publishing the documents, WikiLeaks had ensured that the CIA had “lost control of its arsenal”, he claimed. That included a range of software and exploits that if real could allow unparalleled control of computers around the world.

It includes software that could allow people to take control of the most popular consumer electronics products used today, claimed WikiLeaks.

“‘Year Zero’ introduces the scope and direction of the CIA’s global covert hacking program, its malware arsenal and dozens of “zero day” weaponized exploits against a wide range of U.S. and European company products, include Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones,” the organisation said in a release.

The public files don’t include the cyber weapons themselves, according to a statement. The organisation will refrain from distributing “armed” software “until a consensus emerges on the technical and political nature of the CIA’s program and how such ‘weapons’ should analyzed, disarmed and published”, it said.

The files were made available by a source who intended for them to start a conversation about whether the CIA had gained too much power, according to the organisation.

“In a statement to WikiLeaks the source details policy questions that they say urgently need to be debated in public, including whether the CIA’s hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency,” a release read. “The source wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.”

It also redacts the details of some of the names, locations and targets that are identified in the documents.

The organisation had teased the release in advance with strange messages about the release being “Year Zero”, and references to “Vault 7”. It had planned to release the files later on but that plan was thrown off when its press conference came under cyber attack, Mr Assange claimed.

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/wikileaks-cia-vault-7-julian-assange-year-zero-documents-download-spying-secrets-a7616031.html

WikiLeaks releases ‘entire hacking capacity of the CIA’

Gutfeld: ‘Day Without a Woman’ strike sends wrong message

WikiLeaks on Tuesday released what it said is the full hacking capacity of the CIA in a stunning 8,000-plus page disclosure the anti-secrecy website contends is “the largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency.”

The 8,761 documents and files — released as “Vault 7 Part 1” and titled “Year Zero” — were obtained from an “isolated, high-security network” at the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Va., a press release from the website said. The trove had been “circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors,” one of whom “recently” gave the archive to WikiLeaks. The CIA allegedly employs more than 5,000 people in its cyber spying operation and had produced more than 1,000 programs as of 2016.

“We do not comment on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents,” a CIA spokesperson told Fox News.

The collection of purported intelligence documents includes information on CIA-developed malware — bearing names such as “Assassin” and “Medusa” — intended to target iPhones, Android phones, smart TVs and Microsoft, Mac and Linux operating systems, among others. An entire unit in the CIA is devoted to inventing programs to hack data from Apple products, according to WikiLeaks.

WIKILEAKS OFFERS REWARD FOR INFO ON OBAMA MISDEEDS

Some of the remote hacking programs can allegedly turn numerous electronic devices into recording and transmitting stations to spy on their targets, with the information then sent back to secret CIA servers. One document appears to show the CIA was trying to “infect” vehicle control systems in cars and trucks for unspecified means.

WikiLeaks hinted that the capabilites revealed in Tuesday’s disclosure could have even darker utility than simply spying.

“It would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations,” the release stated.

WikiLeaks confirms CIA can effectively bypass Signal + Telegram + WhatsApp + Confide encryptionhttps://wikileaks.org/ciav7p1 

FLASHBACK: WIKILEAKS REVEALS CLINTON ‘HITS’ FILE ON SANDERS

The site said the CIA additionally failed to disclose security vulnerabilities and bugs to major U.S. software manufacturers, violating an Obama administration commitment made in January 2014. Instead, the agency used the software vulnerabilities — which could also be exploited by rival agencies, nations and groups — for its own ends, WikiLeaks said.

CIA hackers celebrated what they saw as the financial largesse of Obama towards them with “Make It Rain” gifhttps://wikileaks.org/ciav7p1/cms/files/makeitrain.gif 

“As an example, specific CIA malware revealed in ‘Year Zero’ is able to penetrate, infest and control both the Android phone and iPhone software that runs or has run presidential Twitter accounts,” the WikiLeaks release stated.

Digital rights non-profit Access Now said in a statement on Tuesday it was “fantasy to believe only the ‘good guys'” would be able to use the discovered vulnerabilities.

“Today, our digital security has been compromised because the CIA has been stockpiling vulnerabilities rather than working with companies to patch them,” Senior Legislative Manager Nathan White said.

The CIA allegedly also maintains a database of malware created in other nations — WikiLeaks specifically cites Russia — in order to disguise its own hacking attempts as the work of another group.

In what is described by WikiLeaks as “one of the most astounding intelligence own goals in living memory,” the CIA is said to have made most of its programs unclassified to avoid legal consequences for transmitting classified information through the Internet — a move that increased the risk of outside groups pirating the cyber spying tools.

WikiLeaks also revealed the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt is a hacking base, and the website provided the methods by which agents obfuscate customs officers to gain entry to Germany, pretending to provide technical consultation.

WikiLeaks said its source released the files because they believed questions surrounding the CIA’s reach “urgently need to be debated in public,” echoing the motives of many previous leakers.

PSA: This incorrectly implies CIA hacked these apps / encryption. But the docs show iOS/Android are what got hacked – a much bigger problem. https://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/839120909625606152 

Still working through the publication, but what @Wikileaks has here is genuinely a big deal. Looks authentic.

One such former leaker, Edward Snowden, tweeted Tuesday afternoon about the WikiLeaks release.

“Still working through the publication, but what @Wikileaks has here is genuinely a big deal. Looks authentic,” wrote Snowden, who has been granted asylum in Russia as he seeks to avoid criminal prosecution in the U.S.

Some of the WikiLeaks files include redacted information, such as tens “of thousands of CIA targets and attack machines throughout Latin America, Europe and the United States.”

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/03/07/wikileaks-releases-entire-hacking-capacity-cia.html

Vault 7: CIA Hacking Tools Revealed

  • Releases
  • Documents

Press Release

Today, Tuesday 7 March 2017, WikiLeaks begins its new series of leaks on the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Code-named “Vault 7” by WikiLeaks, it is the largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency.

The first full part of the series, “Year Zero”, comprises 8,761 documents and files from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virgina. It follows an introductory disclosure last month of CIA targeting French political parties and candidates in the lead up to the 2012 presidential election.

Recently, the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized “zero day” exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation. This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA. The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.

“Year Zero” introduces the scope and direction of the CIA’s global covert hacking program, its malware arsenal and dozens of “zero day” weaponized exploits against a wide range of U.S. and European company products, include Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones.

Since 2001 the CIA has gained political and budgetary preeminence over the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). The CIA found itself building not just its now infamous drone fleet, but a very different type of covert, globe-spanning force — its own substantial fleet of hackers. The agency’s hacking division freed it from having to disclose its often controversial operations to the NSA (its primary bureaucratic rival) in order to draw on the NSA’s hacking capacities.

By the end of 2016, the CIA’s hacking division, which formally falls under the agency’s Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI), had over 5000 registered users and had produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other “weaponized” malware. Such is the scale of the CIA’s undertaking that by 2016, its hackers had utilized more code than that used to run Facebook. The CIA had created, in effect, its “own NSA” with even less accountability and without publicly answering the question as to whether such a massive budgetary spend on duplicating the capacities of a rival agency could be justified.

In a statement to WikiLeaks the source details policy questions that they say urgently need to be debated in public, including whether the CIA’s hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency. The source wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.

Once a single cyber ‘weapon’ is ‘loose’ it can spread around the world in seconds, to be used by rival states, cyber mafia and teenage hackers alike.

Julian Assange, WikiLeaks editor stated that “There is an extreme proliferation risk in the development of cyber ‘weapons’. Comparisons can be drawn between the uncontrolled proliferation of such ‘weapons’, which results from the inability to contain them combined with their high market value, and the global arms trade. But the significance of “Year Zero” goes well beyond the choice between cyberwar and cyberpeace. The disclosure is also exceptional from a political, legal and forensic perspective.”

Wikileaks has carefully reviewed the “Year Zero” disclosure and published substantive CIA documentation while avoiding the distribution of ‘armed’ cyberweapons until a consensus emerges on the technical and political nature of the CIA’s program and how such ‘weapons’ should analyzed, disarmed and published.

Wikileaks has also decided to redact and anonymise some identifying information in “Year Zero” for in depth analysis. These redactions include ten of thousands of CIA targets and attack machines throughout Latin America, Europe and the United States. While we are aware of the imperfect results of any approach chosen, we remain committed to our publishing model and note that the quantity of published pages in “Vault 7” part one (“Year Zero”) already eclipses the total number of pages published over the first three years of the Edward Snowden NSA leaks.

Analysis

CIA malware targets iPhone, Android, smart TVs

CIA malware and hacking tools are built by EDG (Engineering Development Group), a software development group within CCI (Center for Cyber Intelligence), a department belonging to the CIA’s DDI (Directorate for Digital Innovation). The DDI is one of the five major directorates of the CIA (see this organizational chart of the CIA for more details).

The EDG is responsible for the development, testing and operational support of all backdoors, exploits, malicious payloads, trojans, viruses and any other kind of malware used by the CIA in its covert operations world-wide.

The increasing sophistication of surveillance techniques has drawn comparisons with George Orwell’s 1984, but “Weeping Angel”, developed by the CIA’s Embedded Devices Branch (EDB), which infests smart TVs, transforming them into covert microphones, is surely its most emblematic realization.

The attack against Samsung smart TVs was developed in cooperation with the United Kingdom’s MI5/BTSS. After infestation, Weeping Angel places the target TV in a ‘Fake-Off’ mode, so that the owner falsely believes the TV is off when it is on. In ‘Fake-Off’ mode the TV operates as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the Internet to a covert CIA server.

As of October 2014 the CIA was also looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks. The purpose of such control is not specified, but it would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations.

The CIA’s Mobile Devices Branch (MDB) developed numerous attacks to remotely hack and control popular smart phones. Infected phones can be instructed to send the CIA the user’s geolocation, audio and text communications as well as covertly activate the phone’s camera and microphone.

Despite iPhone’s minority share (14.5%) of the global smart phone market in 2016, a specialized unit in the CIA’s Mobile Development Branch produces malware to infest, control and exfiltrate data from iPhones and other Apple products running iOS, such as iPads. CIA’s arsenal includesnumerous local and remote “zero days” developed by CIA or obtained from GCHQ, NSA, FBI or purchased from cyber arms contractors such as Baitshop. The disproportionate focus on iOS may be explained by the popularity of the iPhone among social, political, diplomatic and business elites.

A similar unit targets Google’s Android which is used to run the majority of the world’s smart phones (~85%) including Samsung, HTC and Sony. 1.15 billion Android powered phones were sold last year. “Year Zero” shows that as of 2016 the CIA had 24 “weaponized” Android “zero days” which it has developed itself and obtained from GCHQ, NSA and cyber arms contractors.

These techniques permit the CIA to bypass the encryption of WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Wiebo, Confide and Cloackman by hacking the “smart” phones that they run on and collecting audio and message traffic before encryption is applied.

CIA malware targets Windows, OSx, Linux, routers

The CIA also runs a very substantial effort to infect and control Microsoft Windows users with its malware. This includes multiple local and remote weaponized “zero days”, air gap jumping viruses such as “Hammer Drill” which infects software distributed on CD/DVDs, infectors for removable media such as USBs, systems to hide data in images or in covert disk areas ( “Brutal Kangaroo”) and to keep its malware infestations going.

Many of these infection efforts are pulled together by the CIA’s Automated Implant Branch (AIB), which has developed several attack systems for automated infestation and control of CIA malware, such as “Assassin” and “Medusa”.

Attacks against Internet infrastructure and webservers are developed by the CIA’s Network Devices Branch (NDB).

The CIA has developed automated multi-platform malware attack and control systems covering Windows, Mac OS X, Solaris, Linux and more, such as EDB’s “HIVE” and the related “Cutthroat” and “Swindle” tools, which are described in the examples section below.

CIA ‘hoarded’ vulnerabilities (“zero days”)

In the wake of Edward Snowden’s leaks about the NSA, the U.S. technology industry secured a commitment from the Obama administration that the executive would disclose on an ongoing basis — rather than hoard — serious vulnerabilities, exploits, bugs or “zero days” to Apple, Google, Microsoft, and other US-based manufacturers.

Serious vulnerabilities not disclosed to the manufacturers places huge swathes of the population and critical infrastructure at risk to foreign intelligence or cyber criminals who independently discover or hear rumors of the vulnerability. If the CIA can discover such vulnerabilities so can others.

The U.S. government’s commitment to the Vulnerabilities Equities Process came after significant lobbying by US technology companies, who risk losing their share of the global market over real and perceived hidden vulnerabilities. The government stated that it would disclose all pervasive vulnerabilities discovered after 2010 on an ongoing basis.

“Year Zero” documents show that the CIA breached the Obama administration’s commitments. Many of the vulnerabilities used in the CIA’s cyber arsenal are pervasive and some may already have been found by rival intelligence agencies or cyber criminals.

As an example, specific CIA malware revealed in “Year Zero” is able to penetrate, infest and control both the Android phone and iPhone software that runs or has run presidential Twitter accounts. The CIA attacks this software by using undisclosed security vulnerabilities (“zero days”) possessed by the CIA but if the CIA can hack these phones then so can everyone else who has obtained or discovered the vulnerability. As long as the CIA keeps these vulnerabilities concealed from Apple and Google (who make the phones) they will not be fixed, and the phones will remain hackable.

The same vulnerabilities exist for the population at large, including the U.S. Cabinet, Congress, top CEOs, system administrators, security officers and engineers. By hiding these security flaws from manufacturers like Apple and Google the CIA ensures that it can hack everyone &mdsh; at the expense of leaving everyone hackable.

‘Cyberwar’ programs are a serious proliferation risk

Cyber ‘weapons’ are not possible to keep under effective control.

While nuclear proliferation has been restrained by the enormous costs and visible infrastructure involved in assembling enough fissile material to produce a critical nuclear mass, cyber ‘weapons’, once developed, are very hard to retain.

Cyber ‘weapons’ are in fact just computer programs which can be pirated like any other. Since they are entirely comprised of information they can be copied quickly with no marginal cost.

Securing such ‘weapons’ is particularly difficult since the same people who develop and use them have the skills to exfiltrate copies without leaving traces — sometimes by using the very same ‘weapons’ against the organizations that contain them. There are substantial price incentives for government hackers and consultants to obtain copies since there is a global “vulnerability market” that will pay hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars for copies of such ‘weapons’. Similarly, contractors and companies who obtain such ‘weapons’ sometimes use them for their own purposes, obtaining advantage over their competitors in selling ‘hacking’ services.

Over the last three years the United States intelligence sector, which consists of government agencies such as the CIA and NSA and their contractors, such as Booz Allan Hamilton, has been subject to unprecedented series of data exfiltrations by its own workers.

A number of intelligence community members not yet publicly named have been arrested or subject to federal criminal investigations in separate incidents.

Most visibly, on February 8, 2017 a U.S. federal grand jury indicted Harold T. Martin III with 20 counts of mishandling classified information. The Department of Justice alleged that it seized some 50,000 gigabytes of information from Harold T. Martin III that he had obtained from classified programs at NSA and CIA, including the source code for numerous hacking tools.

Once a single cyber ‘weapon’ is ‘loose’ it can spread around the world in seconds, to be used by peer states, cyber mafia and teenage hackers alike.

U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt is a covert CIA hacker base

In addition to its operations in Langley, Virginia the CIA also uses the U.S. consulate in Frankfurt as a covert base for its hackers covering Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

CIA hackers operating out of the Frankfurt consulate ( “Center for Cyber Intelligence Europe” or CCIE) are given diplomatic (“black”) passports and State Department cover. The instructions for incoming CIA hackers make Germany’s counter-intelligence efforts appear inconsequential: “Breeze through German Customs because you have your cover-for-action story down pat, and all they did was stamp your passport”

Your Cover Story (for this trip)
Q: Why are you here?
A: Supporting technical consultations at the Consulate.

Two earlier WikiLeaks publications give further detail on CIA approaches to customs and secondary screening procedures.

Once in Frankfurt CIA hackers can travel without further border checks to the 25 European countries that are part of the Shengen open border area — including France, Italy and Switzerland.

A number of the CIA’s electronic attack methods are designed for physical proximity. These attack methods are able to penetrate high security networks that are disconnected from the internet, such as police record database. In these cases, a CIA officer, agent or allied intelligence officer acting under instructions, physically infiltrates the targeted workplace. The attacker is provided with a USB containing malware developed for the CIA for this purpose, which is inserted into the targeted computer. The attacker then infects and exfiltrates data to removable media. For example, the CIA attack system Fine Dining, provides 24 decoy applications for CIA spies to use. To witnesses, the spy appears to be running a program showing videos (e.g VLC), presenting slides (Prezi), playing a computer game (Breakout2, 2048) or even running a fake virus scanner (Kaspersky, McAfee, Sophos). But while the decoy application is on the screen, the underlaying system is automatically infected and ransacked.

How the CIA dramatically increased proliferation risks

In what is surely one of the most astounding intelligence own goals in living memory, the CIA structured its classification regime such that for the most market valuable part of “Vault 7” — the CIA’s weaponized malware (implants + zero days), Listening Posts (LP), and Command and Control (C2) systems — the agency has little legal recourse.

The CIA made these systems unclassified.

Why the CIA chose to make its cyberarsenal unclassified reveals how concepts developed for military use do not easily crossover to the ‘battlefield’ of cyber ‘war’.

To attack its targets, the CIA usually requires that its implants communicate with their control programs over the internet. If CIA implants, Command & Control and Listening Post software were classified, then CIA officers could be prosecuted or dismissed for violating rules that prohibit placing classified information onto the Internet. Consequently the CIA has secretly made most of its cyber spying/war code unclassified. The U.S. government is not able to assert copyright either, due to restrictions in the U.S. Constitution. This means that cyber ‘arms’ manufactures and computer hackers can freely “pirate” these ‘weapons’ if they are obtained. The CIA has primarily had to rely on obfuscation to protect its malware secrets.

Conventional weapons such as missiles may be fired at the enemy (i.e into an unsecured area). Proximity to or impact with the target detonates the ordnance including its classified parts. Hence military personnel do not violate classification rules by firing ordnance with classified parts. Ordnance will likely explode. If it does not, that is not the operator’s intent.

Over the last decade U.S. hacking operations have been increasingly dressed up in military jargon to tap into Department of Defense funding streams. For instance, attempted “malware injections” (commercial jargon) or “implant drops” (NSA jargon) are being called “fires” as if a weapon was being fired. However the analogy is questionable.

Unlike bullets, bombs or missiles, most CIA malware is designed to live for days or even years after it has reached its ‘target’. CIA malware does not “explode on impact” but rather permanently infests its target. In order to infect target’s device, copies of the malware must be placed on the target’s devices, giving physical possession of the malware to the target. To exfiltrate data back to the CIA or to await further instructions the malware must communicate with CIA Command & Control (C2) systems placed on internet connected servers. But such servers are typically not approved to hold classified information, so CIA command and control systems are also made unclassified.

A successful ‘attack’ on a target’s computer system is more like a series of complex stock maneuvers in a hostile take-over bid or the careful planting of rumors in order to gain control over an organization’s leadership rather than the firing of a weapons system. If there is a military analogy to be made, the infestation of a target is perhaps akin to the execution of a whole series of military maneuvers against the target’s territory including observation, infiltration, occupation and exploitation.

Evading forensics and anti-virus

A series of standards lay out CIA malware infestation patterns which are likely to assist forensic crime scene investigators as well as Apple, Microsoft, Google, Samsung, Nokia, Blackberry, Siemens and anti-virus companies attribute and defend against attacks.

“Tradecraft DO’s and DON’Ts” contains CIA rules on how its malware should be written to avoid fingerprints implicating the “CIA, US government, or its witting partner companies” in “forensic review”. Similar secret standards cover the use of encryption to hide CIA hacker and malware communication (pdf), describing targets & exfiltrated data (pdf) as well as executing payloads (pdf) and persisting (pdf) in the target’s machines over time.CIA hackers developed successful attacks against most well known anti-virus programs. These are documented in AV defeats, Personal Security Products, Detecting and defeating PSPs and PSP/Debugger/RE Avoidance. For example, Comodo was defeated by CIA malware placing itself in the Window’s “Recycle Bin”. While Comodo 6.x has a “Gaping Hole of DOOM”.

CIA hackers discussed what the NSA’s “Equation Group” hackers did wrong and how the CIA’s malware makers could avoid similar exposure.

Examples

The CIA’s Engineering Development Group (EDG) management system contains around 500 different projects (only some of which are documented by “Year Zero”) each with their own sub-projects, malware and hacker tools.

The majority of these projects relate to tools that are used for penetration, infestation (“implanting”), control, and exfiltration.

Another branch of development focuses on the development and operation of Listening Posts (LP) and Command and Control (C2) systems used to communicate with and control CIA implants; special projects are used to target specific hardware from routers to smart TVs.

Some example projects are described below, but see the table of contents for the full list of projects described by WikiLeaks’ “Year Zero”.

UMBRAGE

The CIA’s hand crafted hacking techniques pose a problem for the agency. Each technique it has created forms a “fingerprint” that can be used by forensic investigators to attribute multiple different attacks to the same entity.

This is analogous to finding the same distinctive knife wound on multiple separate murder victims. The unique wounding style creates suspicion that a single murderer is responsible. As soon one murder in the set is solved then the other murders also find likely attribution.

The CIA’s Remote Devices Branch‘s UMBRAGE group collects and maintains a substantial library of attack techniques ‘stolen’ from malware produced in other states including the Russian Federation.

With UMBRAGE and related projects the CIA cannot only increase its total number of attack types but also misdirect attribution by leaving behind the “fingerprints” of the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from.

UMBRAGE components cover keyloggers, password collection, webcam capture, data destruction, persistence, privilege escalation, stealth, anti-virus (PSP) avoidance and survey techniques.

Fine Dining

Fine Dining comes with a standardized questionnaire i.e menu that CIA case officers fill out. The questionnaire is used by the agency’s OSB (Operational Support Branch) to transform the requests of case officers into technical requirements for hacking attacks (typically “exfiltrating” information from computer systems) for specific operations. The questionnaire allows the OSB to identify how to adapt existing tools for the operation, and communicate this to CIA malware configuration staff. The OSB functions as the interface between CIA operational staff and the relevant technical support staff.

Among the list of possible targets of the collection are ‘Asset’, ‘Liason Asset’, ‘System Administrator’, ‘Foreign Information Operations’, ‘Foreign Intelligence Agencies’ and ‘Foreign Government Entities’. Notably absent is any reference to extremists or transnational criminals. The ‘Case Officer’ is also asked to specify the environment of the target like the type of computer, operating system used, Internet connectivity and installed anti-virus utilities (PSPs) as well as a list of file types to be exfiltrated like Office documents, audio, video, images or custom file types. The ‘menu’ also asks for information if recurring access to the target is possible and how long unobserved access to the computer can be maintained. This information is used by the CIA’s ‘JQJIMPROVISE’ software (see below) to configure a set of CIA malware suited to the specific needs of an operation.

Improvise (JQJIMPROVISE)

‘Improvise’ is a toolset for configuration, post-processing, payload setup and execution vector selection for survey/exfiltration tools supporting all major operating systems like Windows (Bartender), MacOS (JukeBox) and Linux (DanceFloor). Its configuration utilities like Margarita allows the NOC (Network Operation Center) to customize tools based on requirements from ‘Fine Dining’ questionairies.

HIVE

HIVE is a multi-platform CIA malware suite and its associated control software. The project provides customizable implants for Windows, Solaris, MikroTik (used in internet routers) and Linux platforms and a Listening Post (LP)/Command and Control (C2) infrastructure to communicate with these implants.

The implants are configured to communicate via HTTPS with the webserver of a cover domain; each operation utilizing these implants has a separate cover domain and the infrastructure can handle any number of cover domains.

Each cover domain resolves to an IP address that is located at a commercial VPS (Virtual Private Server) provider. The public-facing server forwards all incoming traffic via a VPN to a ‘Blot’ server that handles actual connection requests from clients. It is setup for optional SSL client authentication: if a client sends a valid client certificate (only implants can do that), the connection is forwarded to the ‘Honeycomb’ toolserver that communicates with the implant; if a valid certificate is missing (which is the case if someone tries to open the cover domain website by accident), the traffic is forwarded to a cover server that delivers an unsuspicious looking website.

The Honeycomb toolserver receives exfiltrated information from the implant; an operator can also task the implant to execute jobs on the target computer, so the toolserver acts as a C2 (command and control) server for the implant.

Similar functionality (though limited to Windows) is provided by the RickBobby project.

See the classified user and developer guides for HIVE.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why now?

WikiLeaks published as soon as its verification and analysis were ready.

In Febuary the Trump administration has issued an Executive Order calling for a “Cyberwar” review to be prepared within 30 days.

While the review increases the timeliness and relevance of the publication it did not play a role in setting the publication date.

Redactions

Names, email addresses and external IP addresses have been redacted in the released pages (70,875 redactions in total) until further analysis is complete.

  1. Over-redaction: Some items may have been redacted that are not employees, contractors, targets or otherwise related to the agency, but are, for example, authors of documentation for otherwise public projects that are used by the agency.
  2. Identity vs. person: the redacted names are replaced by user IDs (numbers) to allow readers to assign multiple pages to a single author. Given the redaction process used a single person may be represented by more than one assigned identifier but no identifier refers to more than one real person.
  3. Archive attachments (zip, tar.gz, …) are replaced with a PDF listing all the file names in the archive. As the archive content is assessed it may be made available; until then the archive is redacted.
  4. Attachments with other binary content are replaced by a hex dump of the content to prevent accidental invocation of binaries that may have been infected with weaponized CIA malware. As the content is assessed it may be made available; until then the content is redacted.
  5. The tens of thousands of routable IP addresses references (including more than 22 thousand within the United States) that correspond to possible targets, CIA covert listening post servers, intermediary and test systems, are redacted for further exclusive investigation.
  6. Binary files of non-public origin are only available as dumps to prevent accidental invocation of CIA malware infected binaries.

Organizational Chart

The organizational chart corresponds to the material published by WikiLeaks so far.

Since the organizational structure of the CIA below the level of Directorates is not public, the placement of the EDG and its branches within the org chart of the agency is reconstructed from information contained in the documents released so far. It is intended to be used as a rough outline of the internal organization; please be aware that the reconstructed org chart is incomplete and that internal reorganizations occur frequently.

Wiki pages

“Year Zero” contains 7818 web pages with 943 attachments from the internal development groupware. The software used for this purpose is called Confluence, a proprietary software from Atlassian. Webpages in this system (like in Wikipedia) have a version history that can provide interesting insights on how a document evolved over time; the 7818 documents include these page histories for 1136 latest versions.

The order of named pages within each level is determined by date (oldest first). Page content is not present if it was originally dynamically created by the Confluence software (as indicated on the re-constructed page).

What time period is covered?

The years 2013 to 2016. The sort order of the pages within each level is determined by date (oldest first).

WikiLeaks has obtained the CIA’s creation/last modification date for each page but these do not yet appear for technical reasons. Usually the date can be discerned or approximated from the content and the page order. If it is critical to know the exact time/date contact WikiLeaks.

What is “Vault 7”

“Vault 7” is a substantial collection of material about CIA activities obtained by WikiLeaks.

When was each part of “Vault 7” obtained?

Part one was obtained recently and covers through 2016. Details on the other parts will be available at the time of publication.

Is each part of “Vault 7” from a different source?

Details on the other parts will be available at the time of publication.

What is the total size of “Vault 7”?

The series is the largest intelligence publication in history.

How did WikiLeaks obtain each part of “Vault 7”?

Sources trust WikiLeaks to not reveal information that might help identify them.

Isn’t WikiLeaks worried that the CIA will act against its staff to stop the series?

No. That would be certainly counter-productive.

Has WikiLeaks already ‘mined’ all the best stories?

No. WikiLeaks has intentionally not written up hundreds of impactful stories to encourage others to find them and so create expertise in the area for subsequent parts in the series. They’re there. Look. Those who demonstrate journalistic excellence may be considered for early access to future parts.

Won’t other journalists find all the best stories before me?

Unlikely. There are very considerably more stories than there are journalists or academics who are in a position to write them.

https://wikileaks.org/ciav7p1/

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The Pronk Pops Show 689, May 31, 2016, Story 1: Human Life First, Animal Life Second — Save The Human, Save The Human and Gorilla, Save The Gorilla, Let God Decide — Black Genocide. Story 2: Trump Attacks Media That Support Clinton — Big Lie Media — Sleeze Bags — Videos

Posted on May 31, 2016. Filed under: 2016 Presidential Campaign, 2016 Presidential Candidates, Animal, Banking System, Blogroll, Breaking News, Budgetary Policy, Business, Congress, Countries, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Education, Elections, Employment, Fiscal Policy, House of Representatives, Human, Labor Economics, Life, Monetary Policy, News, Obama, Philosophy, Photos, Plant, Politics, Progressives, Senate, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Terror, Terrorism, Trade Policy, Unemployment, United States of America, Videos, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Story 1: Human Life First, Animal Life Second — Save The Human, Save The Human and Gorilla, Save The Gorilla, Let God Decide — Black Genocide.  Story 2: Trump Attacks Media That Support Clinton — Big Lie Media — Sleeze Bags — Videos

Story 1

harambecincinnatizooMAIN-gorilla-world-map-Cincinnati-Zoo

Zoo-Gorilla-ChildHT_gorilla_zoo_as

VID-Harambe-a-male-silverback-gorillaVID-Harambe-a-male-silverback-gorilla-at-Cincinnati-Zoo (1)

VID-Harambe-a-male-silverback-gorilla-at-Cincinnati-Zoo

people protestrest in peacerememberin loving memoryflowerschild and statue636001363053931578-APTOPIX-Zoo-Gorilla-Child-Hurtmohter10_Int_350_abortion_facts-4abortion-is-americas-silent-holocaust-pro-life-choice-roe-v-wadeabortion and blacksblackblacklivesmatterDREAM-IS-DEAD-BlackHistoryMonthMost-dangerous-place-for-a-black-baby-is-in-the-wombNUMBER-ONE-KILLER-2013-FBabortions-in-americaslavery vs abortionhowcandreamsurvive

Child falls into gorilla pit at Cincinnati Zoo: timeline leading to Harambe’s death – Tomo News

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Story 2

Donald Trump attacks the press

Trump, Clinton getting fair and balanced media coverage?

“I’m Going To Continue To Attack The Press!” Donald Trump Press Conference On Donations To Veterans

Full Interview Donald Trump Targets Democratic States, Trump Promises Fox News 2016 Part 2

Wall Street Journal Bret Stephens – Trump Must Lose So Badly That GOP Voters Learn Their Lesson

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At Least $1.9 Million In Donations Trump Collected For Vets Was Sent Last Week

Donald Trump reads a list of donations he says were made to veterans groups following a fundraiser he held in Iowa back in January.

Donald Trump reads a list of donations he says were made to veterans groups following a fundraiser he held in Iowa back in January.

Richard Drew/AP

This post was updated at 5:30 p.m. EDT.

At least $1.9 million of the donations to veterans groups that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump reported on Tuesday came in last week, after Trump began responding to intense media scrutiny of his earlier claims about raising in excess of $6 million for veterans. Trump said on Tuesday that his efforts raised a total of $5.6 million.

NPR reached out to all 41 of the groups Trump listed as receiving donations. Of those, 31 responded. One group, the Navy SEAL Foundation, said it does not disclose details of its donations. The other 30 confirmed the amounts Trump reported Tuesday, accounting for $4.27 million of the $5.6 million total.

The donations came in from a combination of sources, including the Donald J. Trump Foundation, various groups and individuals who cited Trump’s efforts along with their donations, and Trump himself.

The candidate gave a $1 million check to the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation on May 24, as questions from the Washington Post and other news outlets about Trump’s prior claims regarding these donations accelerated.

Prior to Tuesday, only about $4 million of the fund had been accounted for as paid to veterans charities and service organizations through reporting by various news organizations, chiefly the Post.

Trump engaged in a social media battle over the issue with that publication, saying he is being attacked for trying do to something for veterans, always adding that raising millions of dollars was something he didn’t have to do. “I have never received such bad publicity for doing such a good job,” Trump complained.

Tuesday, in his most combative news conference yet, in a campaign where he has set a new standard for a contentious relationship with the news media, Trump finally addressed the matter before reporters.

Speaking at his namesake Trump Tower in New York City, he continued to attack journalists for even asking questions about where the money went.

Trump grudgingly released the list of organizations that he says got the money. He predicted the $5.6 million total that he cited will continue to grow, to eventually top the $6 million figure he claimed back at the event where he first solicited donations to veterans, in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 28.

A list of veterans groups Donald Trump says received donations due to his fundraising efforts.

A list of veterans groups Donald Trump says received donations due to his fundraising efforts.

Donald J. Trump For President Inc.

Here’s the full list.

But Trump continued to attack the press for asking for accountability about the money.

He called reporters “extremely dishonest,” “sleazy,” “biased,” “nasty,” “not good people” and more.

He added, “The press should be ashamed of themselves. On behalf of the vets they should be ashamed of themselves.”

Trump also asserted that all of the money had gone to the groups, and that “zero dollars” went to administrative costs.

Finally, he offered reasons for the delay in releasing the list of recipients. Trump said organizations needed to be vetted to ensure their legitimacy and their nonprofit status. “We needed to vet the vets.” Plus, he insisted that he wanted to do all of this privately, that he “didn’t want credit.” One reporter asked, if Trump didn’t want credit, then why repeatedly remind people at events and on television that he’d raised $6 million for veterans? Isn’t that “taking credit” the reporter added? Trump responded, “It’s not.”

One shouted question was, “Don’t you believe you should be accountable?” Trump responded, “I’m totally accountable. But I didn’t want credit for it.”

At another point Trump said simply, “I don’t think it’s anybody’s business if I want to send money to the vets.”

He was asked why he resents the mere act of verifying the contributions. Trump said, “Because I wanted to make this out of the goodness of my heart. I didn’t want to do this where the press was involved.”

And, from a Fox News journalist, “Is asking a question an attack?”

Trump shot back, “From the political press it is, I see the stories they write.”

It went on like this for 40 minutes. Reporters probing and pushing for information. Trump making no attempt to hide his contempt for them. One questioner wondered if this is what it would be like when a President Trump meets with the White House Press Corps.

The candidate shot back, “Yes, it is.”

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