Larry Wilkerson: No Evidence of Massive Russian Hack

Yves here. For this Christmas-New Year period, we’ve been working out way through worthy pieces that warrant the extra time and attention it takes to digest them properly. One is this interview with Larry Wilkerson that gives a long form debunking of the latest Russian scare story taken up uncritically by just about every media outlet. Both tech experts and Russia beat watchers like Aaron Mate have challenged it, but it’s useful to have Wilkerson take the it apart.

By Paul Jay. Originally published at

Paul Jay

Hi, I’m Paul Jay, welcome to podcast. Please don’t forget we’re near the end of the year and there’s a matching grant campaign going on. Every dollar you donate gets matched, if you get a monthly that gets matched times 12, if you raise your existing monthly that gets matched, just go to the website and you’ll get all the details.

President Trump seems to be in his death throes, flailing around, searching for a last-minute reprieve from returning to his far from normal life and a possible legal quagmire in the midst of raging COVID.

We’re also told now that a hack of massive proportions threatens America’s national security. Pompeo blames Russia, Trump blames China, but one presumes they’re looking at the same intelligence.

That doesn’t stop the media from jumping on the anti-Russia hysteria train without, from what I can find, at least any evidence in the public domain, about who is responsible.

NBC News has a screeching headline, “Why the Russian Hack is So Significant and why it’s close to a worst case scenario, “. “Experts say it’s potentially the largest spying operation against the U.S. in history and it ran without being noticed for nine months,”. Of course, all this plays into the Democratic and Republican Party’s neocons playbook who are licking their lips at setting the new Cold War with Russia on fire, again. I’m not saying it wasn’t the Russians, I don’t know, but are we going to trust all this without any real evidence, again?

In the midst of all this, the Republican Party seems caught between Trump and some semblance of rationality, I think therationality is losing, but their push towards austerity and a weak stimulus is actually the real threat, as it will not only exacerbate the COVIDcrisis, it will push the U.S. into a much deeper and painful recession.

So far, there’s very little to suggest that Biden is building an administration that will stand up to either Wall Street or the Republicans. Now, joining us to talk about all this and more is Larry Wilkerson.

Thanks for joining us, Larry.

Larry Wilkerson

Good to be with you, Paul.

Paul Jay

So where should we start? Well, why don’t we start with the hacking thing? Let me ask you, I mean, you may have access to some information we don’t have, but have you seen anything in the public domain that

actually says they have evidence that Russia did all this hacking or as Trump says China did? Or I mean, it could be some third party hacking collective, anonymous or whoever. But the degree of certainty the media is portraying here seems completely out of whack with what we know about this.

Larry Wilkerson

Paul, it sort of reminds me of when we said we knew that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction or for that matter, when we said there was a missile gap between the U.S. and the Soviet Union as [John F. Kennedy] Kennedy was running to beat Nixon for the first time as president…and we found out that there was a missile gap, it just worked the other way. We were so far ahead of the Soviets that they had to try a very dangerous gamble of getting missiles into Cuba to kind of give them a little strategic balance. I’m always a suspect of these sorts of things. I will say this, I think I have enough inside information that General Nakasone at the NSA did a marvelous job of thwarting Russian attempts to interfere once again with U.S. presidentialelections in November, and that if there is anything going on, it might be a little payback signal that Putin and his cronies are trying to send, but I don’t know that. And I agree with you, there’s absolutely nothing in the public domain, nor that I’ve heard in the back channels, that would indicate that the gravity of this situation is such that the press, including The Guardian today, is making of it.

Paul Jay

And I can’t understand the motivation for it. I mean, Putin is not insane. You can’t think that you would do this to the United States, not get figured out, even if they got away with it for nine months. He’s got to know that eventually it comes out and there’s got to be retribution and they start this cyber arms race of attacking each other’s infrastructures and such. I mean, I can never underestimate, again, the role of irrationality in history, because I always figured the United States wouldn’t invade Iraq. I said it doesn’t make any sense, it’s crazy shit. If the United States invades Iraq, all it’s going to do is strengthen Iran’s position in the Middle East. It’s just not rational, there’s no evidence they have weapons of mass destruction and they’re not going to do it because that’s not even in the empire’s interests. Well, they did it. So irrationality has its own role to play here. So who the hell knows what? But you agree with me in the public domain, at least we don’t know if it’s Russia, China, or somebody else?

Larry Wilkerson

We don’t even know if it happened, in my view.

Paul Jay


Larry Wilkerson

I do think that we’re looking at a future where we’re going to continue to test these waters, as it were, and we’re going to do more and more offensively as well as defensively, and the offense is what bothers me, to open this, Pandora’s box into a new realm of, shall we call it, warfare. And I think that is exceedingly

dangerous, principally because we are so vulnerable. We would have to have far more complex, expensive, and difficult to be assured of, defenses because we probably have the most vulnerable society on the face of the Earth to this kind of warfare. And that what makes me think we ought to be very circumspect about how we open up this realm of warfare.

Paul Jay

The other thing, again, this is me trying to be logical in a sometimes illogical sphere, but why would the NSA let it be known that they knew? Why would you go public with something like that?

Larry Wilkerson

Yeah, I think in this regard it was an attempt to, shall we say, attract the new administration, which they at that time were fairly convinced was going to be the new administration, and to build a set of bona fides with them and a comfortable relationship with them that would allow them to not evade supervision so much as continue to march in the direction that they’re marching in.

Paul Jay

Now, you’re talking about the ballot box stuff, not the recent stuff?

Larry Wilkerson

Yeah, I’m talking about the ballot box.

Paul Jay

Yeah, I misspoke, I think, when I said the NSA, because we don’t know the NSA has anything to do with the recent stuff, but somebody supposedly tells Pompeo that it happened and it’s the Russians, and then Trump says it’s the Chinese. But who is telling Pompeo, it must be American intelligence services? But why would they want it to go public?

Larry Wilkerson

Well, one wonders.

Pompeo is a former director of the CIA. Pompeo, no doubt, still has some contacts at that agency. And I wouldn’t say they were the most trustworthy or reputable contacts either, knowing Pompeo’s character. And he has other reasons for saying what he’s saying. I should have not been so naive with George Bush and Dick Cheney, my deputy, Richard [Lee] Armitage, was already calling them the Gestapo, the Nazis. I should have been a lot more alert to the fact that the war was being pulled over my boss’s eyes with regard to Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction and so forth. There are a lot of other things impacting him at that time. And it was true what he was saying, that the war never ended and that we needed to end it we just didn’t need to end it when we did because it was not opportune to do so. But there

are a lot of other things, a lot more complex things than people like to say about those circumstances. And I suspect there’s a lot more complexity about what’s happening today.

But there’s a reason one would go after China and another would go after Russia because we need them both. Russia is not enough. Russia simply not enough to keep the military-industrial complex and all of its spinoffs, from universities to think tanks, you name it. Eisenhower was right, it’s in every office building, it’s in every state, it’s in every home, and he was right. That’s where this influence is now. So to keep this alive, you’ve got to have a lot more than the Russians.

That’s the reason you see now this competition between Beijing and Moscow, not amongst their players, but us to make either or both of them, preferably the latter, our new threat because that’s the only way we can justify a trillion and a half dollars every year for national security.

Paul Jay

And a new trillion dollars to modernize the nuclear weapons fleet.

Larry Wilkerson

I would say 1.2 to a couple of really read in people the other day, 1.2 trillion for the next 10 to 15 years to modernize, securitize, the modern nuclear weapons complex. They looked at me and said, “Are you kidding? You’re behind. It’s two now. It’s working on two and a half,”. I said, “Are these cost overruns or what?” “No, it’s just low balling the original estimate,”.

Paul Jay

And on February 5th, if I remember the date correctly, is the date they have to renew the START Nuclear Arms Treaty, which Biden says they’re going to do. But is Biden going to be able to do it in the midst of, a supposed, Russian attack on American national infrastructure? I mean, I wonder, is this a game to undo the nuclear treaty.

You may have thrown out another instrument of change here that says, “Oh, man, got to have Russia really looking tough because we don’t want this nuclear weapons treaty renewed,”. You’re looking at a multi-billion dollar waste program, another multibillion-dollar, it’s out at Hansford, it’s in Utah making billionaires every day people who dispose of the detritus of the nuclear weapons industry, if you will. Yes, it’s a niche part of the complex, but it’s a very lucrative niche, part of the complex for key people. I’ll give you an example of how key and how lucrative part of the complex it is. We’ve not added a statutory member to the National Security Council in years and then in the late 70s because of the senator from New Mexico. Does this ring a bell with you, New Mexico? We got a new statutory member on the National Security Council, the secretary of energy, the secretary of Treasury is not even a statutory member for the council, but the secretary of energy is that’s the power of this niche. Moneyed complex, very, very talented people involved with it, an industry that if it were to disperse, as they did when the

Soviet Union collapsed, it would contaminate the world as it did when the Soviet Union collapsed. This is something we got to keep, it’s sacrosanct and it’s in there and it’s powerful.

Paul Jay

So just while we’re here to talk about why that treaty is important, because it just occurred to me, as I’m sitting here, that there’s a lot of machinations going on here. When you’ve got all the weird stuff going on about Iran Elliot, Abrams goes to the Middle East and then Pompeo goes there, and then the Iranian scientist is assassinated after Netanyahu apparently went to Riyadh and met with the Saudis, and after that, the Iranian scientists gets killed.

Now, you got this whole thing going about the hacking, and it’s Russia. There’s a lot of last-minute crap going on in this administration.

Larry Wilkerson

Right. And there’s a lot of crap that’s going on in order to create the new world, we need in order for this massive complex we’ve created to survive and prosper. I was just mentioning to you earlier before we went on air that you look at this COVID-19 stimulus package and you find F-35 acquisition in it. You also find dollars going out to defense contractors to, “Help them with their coronavirus affected employees,”.

This is typical Congress, but it’s also a typical empire. We’re fueling the complex that we’ve created since the 1947 National Security Act, and that complex is eating our lunch. It’s eating our lunch literally in the fact that it’s going to take so much of the federal budget that there will be no discretionary spending left in another seven or eight years.

Paul Jay

If the Russians did what, NBC and almost the entire mainstream media is saying they did, isn’t that an act of war?

It is. I mean, we forget about this, the things that we’re doing when sanctions fall with Venezuela, with Russia, with Iran, are acts of war. In the traditional sense, in the 20th-century sense, even in the late 19th century, they were acts of war. I don’t know what they are in the 21st century because we seem to have rewritten the book in the 21st century, starting with 9/11, but they are acts of war. And you could, under international law, respond to these things with other acts of war that would be more traditional, if that’s what you decided to do.

Paul Jay

So what do you make of the media? What are the depths to which this media has descended? I mean, the way they played this,”Russia story”, previously came to be known as Russia-gate, and now they’re doing it again, in some ways even much moredangerously.

Larry Wilkerson

In today’s world, you do not have to worry about Citizen Kane being wrong when he said, ” Find me the paper and the ink and I’ll get you your war, “, and that’s the media’s purpose today. I sit back sometimes and I watch them even now, after the election has been decided, decisively decided after the safe-haven date has passed, after the slates are done and approved. All we need now is for the action in Congress to transpire, and it’s all a done deal. And that’s just pro forma, really. Even Mike Pence, his role in it is pro forma. But we’re looking at a situation where the media is still giving this man the ability to speak to his 80 million morons.

Paul Jay


Larry Wilkerson

And that’s the media. The media does it every day. It’s not just Fox either. They are enabling him, but at the same time, they’re criticizing him and almost calling him a phantasmagoric idiot. They are enabling him and they know they’re doing that.

Paul Jay

To my mind, this is all part of the decay, not just of the empire, but the extent to which the political powers are so beholden to the politicians, Congress, Presidency, to finance and finance itself has become so decayed, so parasitical, and where the bulk of what they do with their money is now gambling and speculation that–I keep going after BlackRock all the time, because not only is it the biggest of the asset managers and one of the biggest gorilla on Wall Street now. But it also was able to use its power in Congress to be kept out of the, too big to fail legislation–some of the legislation in Dodd-Frank that gave some oversight, not much, but some oversight in the banks, BlackRock wasn’t affected by it. These people who have such power and are so parasitical in the way they make their living, mostly, it’s a reflection of that, that we’re getting such criminality at the level of, certainly federal politics and many elsewise, and from there I jump to–by no means am I suggesting the Democratic Party isn’t part of this, but the story I want to pick up on is, it’s not just that the Trump and the Trump family are essentially like a crime family that we’re able to maneuver themselves, but the Republican Party has just become like this adjunct to this crime family.

Where does this go? Like I said in the opening, you’ve got the Republican Party caught between Trump and some semblance of rationality, even Wall Street. Are they not losing some confidence in the craziness of these people?

Larry Wilkerson

I think they’d have to be morons not to, but I will say that, I think the most one of the most important movements right now, I don’t know if I can classify it as even potentially successful, is a movement in the states to develop an amendment to the Constitution that would, and there are 23 states that have already successfully passed it, and that would essentially obviate Citizens United and thereby get money out of politics in the sense that now corporate money and big money and secret money influences politics like it never has before in our country. I think that’s the first step. I think that would be a movement that ought to be supported by everyone.

Obviously, if you look at this in the past when we’ve done this. The states have built it up to a point where you get to 26 or 27 states and then the Congress gets really concerned and leaps in and takes over the process, because, as you probably know, there are two ways you can amend the Constitution, one is through the states, the other through the Congress.

Congress is not going to want the states to do it because it is not going to have a hand in the way it ultimately reads. And so they’re going to jump in when the state total gets to 26 or 27, approaching the 30 plus that is necessary for passage. So it’s going to be interesting to see. I think it’s going to happen the next five or six years, to see what the Congress does when it suddenly becomes alerted to this, sees the potential that it might pass through the state ratification process, takes it over, and then tries toride it with all of these influences. As I’ve said, they are a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wall Street and the complex and so forth. So it’s going to be interesting to see how Congress deals with this, to try and keep some of the things that have made their power more easily held onto, made their life easier. At the same time, they’re trying to deal with what the people from the states have said they want to do with Citizens United, which is to trash it, get rid of it.

Worst decision the Supreme Court has made since Cheney’s court, and I think that’s right. And I think that’s the first step we’ve got to do, we’ve got to get the money out of politics, the big corporate money, in particular, out of politics. Otherwise, I don’t think we’ve got any future, really.

Paul Jay

Then you have to look at the success of the Republicans at the state level in this last election.

Larry Wilkerson

And yet we’ve got 23 states, this movement’s got 23 states.

So it’s not something that they’re not awarded to being inimical to our democracy and inimical even to their interests, and in that case, I mean state interests, which has always been a mantra for my party, the Republican Party, but seems to always get discarded as soon as the federal power is needed to fulfill something they want badly.

Paul Jay

So what do you make of your party? You still call it my party?

Larry Wilkerson

Now, I tried to. There are a lot of people out there, a lot of young people out there who are frankly, a lot of them are telling me now they voted for Biden. They watched the Lincoln Project or they even, in some cases, like in Ohio, participated in the Lincoln Project and they voted for Biden and they didn’t necessarily hold their nose. And they aren’t expecting great things from the Democrats, they’re expecting the same feckless leadership that the Democrats have provided in the past. But what they are expecting is a return to some sort of calm, some sort of relationship with our allies that’s not antagonistic and some sort of international feeling of, “the United States is back and can lead again,”. That’s what they’re welcoming. And then, of course, they want to see their man take over after that.

But these young people are very, very disinterested in and even angry with the Republican Party, and I’m not just talking about Donald Trump. I’m talking about Mitch McConnell and Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz and a host of other Republicans, and mostly I’m talking about local Republicans in places like Boise, Idaho, in places like Atlanta, Georgia that people were disgusted with, Republicans are getting disgusted with. So that movement is going to change the Republican Party, whether it be positive or inthe middle or negative, I don’t know. I hope it’ll be positive, but it is going to change the Republican Party and I’m going to hang with it until the grave comes and try to help them.

Paul Jay

I think the problem here is that the substance of what Trump stood for policy-wise kind of worked for them electorally and they did get 80 million votes. They won did well at state levels and these, you know, what they call dog whistles that worked for Reagan. It’s essentially Reagan.

I was talking to Larry off-camera about watching this Showtime series called, The Reagans, which I think is really worth watching, and I’m going to be interviewing the director in the New Year.

But it’s very clear that the Trump campaign is a carbon copy of the Reagan campaign and the Reagan politics worked really well. The real difference is Reagan and Reagan’s people were able to manage him in a way that he always more or less looked presidential and Trump never really did. But the substance has actually worked for them right from the Reagan years on. And I don’t see why they would change that except try to get someone to be their federal standard-bearer who’s not a crazy man.

Larry Wilkerson

Let me tell you what most of these young people will tell me. Male, female, heterosexual, homosexual, transsexual, what most of them will tell me, they are sick and tired of refighting the Civil War, they’re

sick and tired of the racism in their party, they’re sick and tired of the prejudice and the bias in their party, they’re disgusted with a lot of these people and they’re disgusted, even more so with the exploitation of these things by the Republican leadership. They want that gone. They know that it will take a decade or two to get it gone, but they are dedicated to getting rid of it, eradicating it. And that, I think, is the biggest motivation. Now, you confront them with the fact that they’re, I won’t say 80 million because some of these people are there for other reasons than being bigots or prejudiced or racist or whatever, but a lot of them are. And the Republican leadership, like McConnell and Cotton and Cruz, they know that the core of that is that, and that’s why they stay with it because, without that core, they could never win another election in this country, ever. And so the young people want to get rid of that, too. They hold no truck with this current leadership, Tea Party, libertarian, Republican, mainstream, or whatever. They want it gone, they want it gone and done away with.

Paul Jay

Aren’t they a real minority, and why are they even in that party?

Larry Wilkerson

Well, the minority that is 40 and under. You know, they will be 50 in another decade.

Paul Jay

There are a lot of young, enthusiastic Trump people out there.

Larry Wilkerson

Oh, yeah, there are, but they’re not as many as we think. Even with this spectacular election we just had with something like 66%-67% voting, there’s still a 30% plus that didn’t vote. There are still people that aren’t even interested in going to the ballot box when provoked to the extent that they were in this last election, they’re not even interested in going to the box. Some of those people have given up.

The Republican Party needs to be a bigger tent. It needs to attract these younger people. It needs to build for the future. That might mean it can’t win another White House election for another 10 or 15 or 20 years even, but it’s got to be for the future and the bill for that future. It’s got to have a much bigger tent and it’s got to accept the demographic change that’s coming to this country. I think that’s one of the biggest motivations for Trump’s base. They do not want to surrender the lily-white, mostly male with females following along behind and dutiful obedience, country that they perceive to have been in existence since 1775. They don’t want to lose that. And so they’ll take anybody, even a narcissistic, lying, cheating, womanizing asshole as their president to get that. They’ll do anything. They’ll make a bargain with that devil to get that. And a lot of it has to do with the Evangelicals, too. Who now, I was shocked when I saw this, the new census, preliminary results, one hundred million, that’s one-third of this country, is involved in the third Great Awakening.

And there are people like Pence whom I think would sacrifice his soul to get the rapture to come. He would sacrifice Israel, certainly, to get the rapture to come. Remember Tom DeLay when Max Blumenthal interviewed him and said, “What’s going to happen to all those Jews when Christ kills all the unbelievers?”. And he said, “Oh”, after a moment of thought, “they’ll convert the last minute, right, Tom?” Yeah, that’s the conundrum these people were presented with, but it’s not a conundrum for them because God is in charge.

Paul Jay

See, I think the danger is that these younger voices, the way you’re describing them, more rational voices in the Republican Party, one, are much in the minority, they’re not in that 80 million group. And they’re still voting at the state level for these state legislatures, whose policies are every bit as bad or worse than what Trump did.

But what I’m concerned about is that the Biden administration is going to be, the way it’s shaping up, a repeat of Obama to a large extent and use the Republicans as the excuse again for not having a real serious transformation of the economy, dealing with climate inequality and so on, which sets the table in 2024 for a less crazy Evangelical-supported Republican Party that can win again.

Larry Wilkerson

That’s going to be a real stretch and it’ll be a stretch that’s made only if the Democrats fall all over themselves. And I don’t say that that can’t be, it could be easily. For example, I don’t see anybody out there right now, including Kamala Harris, who is a real contender in 2024 from the Democratic Party. Don’t see anybody, zero. That’s a real problem for them, in my mind, a real problem, getting that kind of name recognition, visibility, and so forth in a short period of time is extremely difficult.

Now, Obama showed it could be done, as you and I were talking about before we went on air, but it takes a really dedicated team and a very sophisticated program to do that. I don’t see that being put together right now. What I see is a Democratic Party that has some young people and some extraordinarily old people and nobody in between. That’s a problem for them. And so you might be right that the Republicans come back, but I’ll make a prediction here that the Republicans who come back are not going to look like the “Trumpers”. They look very different.

Paul Jay

Well, then you might have a third party.

Larry Wilkerson

Trump thinks he’s going to run again, of course. I got news for him, I don’t think the country is going to want to touch him with a ten-foot pole.

Paul Jay

I suspect that’s true.

Well, in the introduction, I talked about going back to the geopolitical picture that the neocons in both parties, and they certainly exist in both parties, are licking their lips at the possibility of heating up the Cold War with Russia. Biden’s already had quite inflammatory rhetoric when it comes to China. In the Democratic Party, for sure, Chuck Schumer’s and others, and certainly the Republican Party want to find ways to block the renewal of the deal with Iran.

What do you make of where we’re headed in terms of this geopolitical rivalry, because it looks like it’s going to get more dangerous with Biden and who he’s picked around him?

Larry Wilkerson

I don’t disagree with your assessment. My hope is that Biden’s 29 years or so in the Senate and the man that I saw from time to time as [Colin] Powell would deal with him on serious issues, the man who had his head in the right place most of the time on those serious issues, and his experience will lead him to do three things, internationally, immediately.

One is, and we’ll take the lesser one first and the more serious one last, to do what he said he was going to do during the campaign, and that is without any preliminary conditions to speak of, renew the JCPA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) with Iran. Now, Pompeo and others are doing everything they can possibly do, Netanyahu, Bin Salman, and others to preclude that. But if Biden is smart and moves swiftly, I think he can do it. That’s the number one thing he has to do that will calm the Levant to a certain extent.

The second thing he needs to do is to go after a February renewal for at least a time period specified in the treaty, which I think is another year, maybe longer than that, a new start. We have to do that.

And in doing that, we also need to–and Putin has said publicly that he’s receptive to this. We need to start an entirely new dialogue and that dialogue needs to eventually invite in China, of course, most prominently, and eventually North Korea, Israel, and everyone else who possesses these weapons over the decade or so that follows. And a new and very successful arms control regime must be set up.

The third thing he needs to do is clarify this strategic clarity business that Richard Haass, in the utterly stupidest moment of his life, has said needs to be with China. We do not need clarity now with regard to Taiwan, when if we had to go to war over Taiwan, we would lose and it would be catastrophic because it would go nuclear. That is not a time to have strategic clarity. That is a time to understand what Charles W. Freeman said the other night on a webinar, a man who probably knows China better than anyone in this country. He said, “We need to agree to disagree exactly as we have for the last 45- 50 years, and China needs to be allowed to work it out with Taipei and Taipei, with China, and there needs to be no confrontation whatsoever because Taipei and Taiwan and 23 million people will lose catastrophically rather than slowly and carefully and maybe with a lot of the deal written by themselves,”.

So these are the three things Biden has to get his hands on internationally at the same time, and you know this as well as I do. He’s going to be enveloped as he’s trying to do these necessary international things, he’s going to be enveloped with domestic issues, not least of which is COVID-19, the economy, people out of work, people starving. This stimulus bill is a joke. It buys more F-35’s, it gives money to defense contractors to, “help their COVID-19 affected entities,”. Oh, please, Lockheed Martin, run out and protect your entities. This is crazy. Pelosi was right in the sense that it needs to be two trillion. And it needs to be rewritten so that it actually helps people and helps the states and so forth. These are the problems Joe Biden is going to wrestle with. And I’m sad to say, I think the domestic ones may eat his lunch.

Paul Jay

Just to go back to Taiwan, just for people that don’t follow this story closely. If I understand correctly, the current position of the United States is a bit ambiguous. If there actually was a military confrontation or Chinese incursion into Taiwan, it’s ambiguous what the American response would be. And there’s a lot of rhetoric about supporting Taiwan, but there’s no definitive commitment to it, right?

Larry Wilkerson

Actually, Pompeo tried to take that away. Several days after the November election, Pompeo made a public remark that Taiwan is not a part of China. That’s a refutation of everything Nixon, Zhou Enlai, and Mao Zedong, Ambassador Freeman, who is their translator, Kissinger, everything that they did that Jimmy Carter later on codified in a communique, it’s a refutation of the whole thing, “Taiwan is not a part of China.”

Paul Jay

Yeah, it’s past strategic clarity. But Haass, if I understand, the head of the Council on Foreign Relations and who was an adviser to Bush, he’s influential in the Democratic Party, so it’s not like he’s just a “nutter” out there. But the thing that’s so stupid about that is, it’s almost like Khrushchev sending missiles to Cuba, and this is why China and Albania criticize Khrushchev. They said, “Well, you had to know the Americans were going to call you on that and you would have to back down. There’s no way the United States is going to go to nuclear war over Taiwan, which is undoubtedly where it would head.

Larry Wilkerson

I wish that were true. I know history speaks, and that you were probably speaking rationally, but history doesn’t always do that. And what troubles me is the Congress in this regard. If you look at the Taiwan Relations Act and you interpret it the way Ambassador Freeman had. At the time he actually was asked to write that act and he almost single-handedly wrote that act, and he did it because he had been there at the creation, if you will, with Nixon and Kissinger and Mao and Zhou Enlai, and so forth. And Charles probably knew the situation better than anyone else. And that act was very carefully constructed so it would not be a commitment to war, but it would be a palliative for the right-wing of the Republican Party who were furious with Nixon. So furious, I think they set up Watergate. They were furious with him, and so they had to have something. And so that TRA, that act, now looks as if it’ll be the thing that the Congress uses, if it decides, for the first time in an eon, to use its constitutional power to declare war on somebody. And this is not good.

Paul Jay

All right, well, let’s hope somebody around Biden’s listening to you, because those three things you talked about are rather critical.

Thanks for joining us, Larry.

Larry Wilkerson

Take care. Stay healthy.

Paul Jay

Thanks. And thank you for joining us on podcast, and please check out the website and the matching grant campaign, and thanks for watching or listening.

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  1. cocomaan

    Good video, though I just read the transcript. I doubt that the last minute crap with this administration is over, either. Trump likes to surprise.

    Incidentally, I stopped buying hacking attributions when the Sony hack/The Interview/North Korea incident happened.

    1. DJG

      cocomaan: Yep, I read this: “I will say this, I think I have enough inside information that General Nakasone at the NSA did a marvelous job of thwarting Russian attempts to interfere once again with U.S. presidential elections in November,” sez Wilkerson.

      This is the old “I’m part of the gang and know more than you” stuff. The problem is that there wasn’t any proof of Russian interference in the 2016 elections. It was Neera Tanden’s fantasy and sycophancy that came up with Russia Russia Russia.

      I haven’t bought the current reporting on whatever the latest computer failures are about. Yet I’m not sure that Wilkerson has much to offer, especially after his marveling at the marvelous NSA. Much of the rest of the interview struck me as boilerplate.

      1. Alex Cox

        Who is this Wilkerson feller? He says Richard Armitage was his deputy. Is he another spook turned pundit?

          1. John Wright

            But Wilkerson helped Powell prepare for his UN aluminum tube speech.

            Wilkerson came to regret the Iraq war after he assisted in getting it going.

            At least Wilkerson is not currently suggesting the Iraq war was a good thing to do.

            Some people who opposed the Iraq war were marginalized (Phil Donahue, Chris Hedges) while their employers (MSN and NY Times) got the war they wanted.

            Does Wilkerson still have a voice because he was a “good soldier” during the war run-up?

            1. Basil Pesto

              a voice….. on with Paul Jay? I suspect Chris Hedges gets around more than Wilkerson does.

  2. ambrit

    Up in the middle of the night here with a bit of insomnia.
    I too, like cocomaan above mentions, prefer the written transcript. It allows a bit of, “wait a minute there” re-reading.
    My “wait a minute there” impression is that Jay seems to be suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome. Calling Trump et al a “crime family” cheerfully ignores the exact same happenings in the Clinton Administration, or, for that matter, the Reagan “Hidden” Court Astrologer Cabinet. You want ‘real’ crime family? Try on Joseph Kennedy and his machinations to get his son, John Fitzgerald elected President in 1960. Anyone remember the Daley Machine stealing Illinois for the Democrats back then?
    As has been amply demonstrated concerning ‘hacking,’ everyone and their cousin is doing it. It is just a modern part of the age old necessity of knowing what your friends as well as your enemies are up to.
    What bothers me is the continued inclusion in the decision making cadres of people who believe that a nation can “win” a “small” nuclear war. Those are the dangerous “nutters” in America. They could get everyone killed, world wide.

    1. Procopius

      Yes, those are the people who scare me. I have read, and I believe, John Bolton has supporters and disciples in the permanent bureaucracy. I have read, and I believe, that there are many people who signed PNAC (the Program for a New American Century) in the permanent bureacracy. I have read, and I believe, people were calling for nuking the North Korean missile test center as a “bloody nose,” a warning that would not lead to war but would show Kim Jun Il that “we are serious.” I believe there are people who think that nuclear weapons are just “big bombs.” I remember how the Kennan telegram was hijacked from “containment” to “confrontation.” Luckily, I’m old, and there’s a good chance I’ll die before the rockets fly; but there’s also a chance, things have gone so far, that I won’t. I was stationed in Korea in 1956, and I know that could happen to America. I also remember when LTC (Ret) Wilkerson was telling us that the invasion of Iraq wasn’t, really wasn’t, absolutely wasn’t about oil, and that was about 2005 or so, so I take his opinion with a little soy sauce, if not salt. At the least I think he’s overly optimistic. Given the people pulling strings in the Democratic Establishment, if you are anything less that rabidly paranoid you’re dangerously naive.

    2. Ronald Grissman

      Michael Hudson used the exact same metaphor, for not only trump, but that all, if not most our oligarchs are crime families. As in committing crimes. I accept his argument. As to whether they are mobsters, I’ve know a few in my day (being a lawyer), at the capo level they are not a bunch of clowns pretending to be wise guys. They tend to be pretty serious guys. They don’t like to repeat themselves. I wouldn’t advise anyone to pretend to be one.

    3. Basil Pesto

      is your submission really that The Trumps are markedly less ~criminal~ than the Reagans, Kennedys, etc? Do we really want Paul to parenthesise after every reference to the ~Trump Crime Family~ “(which of course exists on the same plane as the Bush Crime Family for reasons a, b and c, the Reagan e Family for reasons d, e and f, and the Kennedy Crime Family for reasons x, y and z)”? Is it almost time to start diagnosing Suspected Trump Derangement Syndrome Derangement Syndrome?

  3. Steve D

    giving this man the ability to speak to his 80 million morons.
    Sigh. So hard to take him seriously after he says stuff like this.

    1. Howard Beale IV

      Here’s the problem that I’m having with this piece: He paints everything with the same brush, whether he’s right OR wrong. He also appears to have no background on internet technology, let alone networking and systems penetration, which would explain why those in that domain would accuse him of hand-waving – which, in reality, is what he is engaging in. For this interview I would dare say that he’s a prima facie example of Dunning-Kreuger syndrome, because he talks about everything EXCEPT the instant issue that happened. If he had solid evidence that this event was not from a Russian, he should have presented it – instead, we have him go back in history to events that have zero correlation to what has happened.

      1. Glen

        He is NOT qualified to address the technical aspects of the hack. So to his benefit, he never goes there. He is more than qualified to address the real politik ramifications of the hack since that is the world he lived in for the bulk of his career.

      2. Basil Pesto

        I get where you’re coming from. From reading the transcript the vibe I got was “a couple of blokes yammering in the pub”. Pretty limited nutritional value here.

  4. Dogwood

    For comparison, here’s an interview on Minnesota Public Radio from a couple of days ago with Bruce Schneier, a Harvard affiliated technology security expert often linked to here at NC, and Molly McKew, an information warfare expert. After years of reading NC I did a quick check on Molly and found that her background is a real mixed bag. Nonetheless, it was an interesting conversation and not too long:

    1. bob

      I’ve noticed Bruce carrying the same tune as the MIC in the past too. Not as obviously as McKew, but it was enough for me to be suspicious. He’s not going to go against the flow. He turns from expert into disinterested observer.

      1. Michaelmas

        I’ve noticed Bruce carrying the same tune as the MIC

        Take a look at Bruce’s CV.

        It’s clear he got laid off by a ‘former employer’ in 1991. It’s most unclear who that former employer was. The indications are that as a ‘cryptographer and computer security professional’ Schneier was employed by the world’s largest employer of cryptographers and computer security professionals. That is, Fort Meade; the date, likewise, would fit with the Cold War wind-down of many of NSA’s operations then.

        I’m not absolutely sure about this and this isn’t necessarily to impugn Schneier, either.

        Firstly, mathematicians need to make a living like everyone else and in that era it might have more honest work. William Binney and some others who worked for NSA at that time are far from bad people.

        Secondly, the principle that applies in bioweapons/biodefense is that to defend against the bad bug you have to understand the bad bug, which means you might have the pathogen in question in your lab, and if not you you have the pathogen’s genome so you could synthesize it. (This is also why the coronavirus ‘gain-of-function’ research Fauci authorized was far less interesting to professionals than to conspiracy theorists.)

        Same thing here.

        A guy I knew from MIT who represented himself as a ‘privacy specialist and writer’ and general man-of-the-people’ activist actually made most of his money from the U.S. government, had a cushy gig at the Naval Postgraduate College in Monterey last I looked, and was the expert they brought bin Laden’s hard drives to after they hit bin Laden’s compound. It happens that the guy I’m talking about is a nasty, little weasel, but he knows his stuff.

        Point is, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Schneier did work for NSA that he’d be still partially aligned with that mindset.

        1. Nick Alcock

          Haven’t you *read* Schneier’s attacks on the NSA over the last, oh, twenty years? He probably agrees with its stated mission (it’s hard not to if you think that defending against cyberattacks is a good idea). He definitely doesn’t agree with the way it’s being run, or the vast majority of things it’s doing. (Search for Dual_EC_DRBG for an example, but his history goes back long before that, to only just after the 1991 date you cite: he was strongly on the side of light, and against the US government, in the 90s crypto wars.)

          This is not an NSA stooge. Not even slightly.

          1. Michaelmas

            Haven’t you *read* Schneier’s attacks on the NSA over the last, oh, twenty years?

            Yes. Schneier wrote a blog piece about something I published in 2005-2006 laying out what U.S. government ‘warrantless wiretapping’ would necessarily entail — i.e. what E. Snowden proved in 2012 — and essentially accepted my conclusions.

            He definitely doesn’t agree with the way it’s being run, or the vast majority of things it’s doing.

            Few do. Over the last twenty years, even NSA’s former CTO, W. Binney — among others — have disagreed violently with the way it’s doing the things it’s doing. Not hard to disagree: retrospectively, it’s clear that Michael Hayden did enormous harm to U.S. civil society in order to — essentially — aggrandize himself and line his own pockets.

  5. apleb

    This person says a lot without saying a lot. He laments about the republican party and how he or the “young people” doesn’t like the various wings tea party, libertarians, mainstream, etc. “want them gone” but he isn’t saying one word what they or him do like. Except Biden, him apparently they want and voted for, since he is apparently presidential, unlike the unmentionable, when he insults reporters, sniffs hair or doesn’t know where exactly he is today.

    He says Biden’s first job is the redo/restart/reinstate the JCPA with Iran. Why would Iran do that, or rather what actual tangible material benefits could or would the US give to Iran? The US already did a treaty and then brazenly welshed out of it. Even if congress actually ratifies it this time, which is the bare minimum needed or Iran would be crazy suicidal to agree to another round without that, what prevents the US 2 years later after the next election, to kill it off again? There simply is no reason or any expectation for Iran to ever trust word or ink from the US and therefore by extension, the EU. Most things Iran would want and demand would be inacceptable for the US to give: they cannot allow in their self image to be untrustworthy business partners. Next, everyone doing a deal (Russia, China) would demand the same.

    Pompeo supposedly needs a contact in the CIA before he can tell the public who according to Pompeo, did whatever dastardly deed, while someone else told Trump that it was China. Without any better reason than “Pompeo knows CIA people” who in turn know and tell him. When everyone in this world by now knows, Pompeo and Trump need even less information, hearsay or anything at all to simply proclaim whatever they want, preferably contradicting themselves over less than 5 minutes of public speec, twice. They do not need facts to run their mouths.

    As for the actually supposed theme of “Russia did it”: he did not give a single argument why Russia did or didn’t do it, except “wouldn’t really help Putin at all since in the longer run it always backfires”. There is the always needed personalization of state actors. Never the russian state or bureaucracy did it, behind their president back to force the issue against the president’s will or policy , as it has constantly happened under Trump with every conflict, without fail. E.g Syria, NK, anytime Trump proclaimed something against the US establishment, said establishment fought back by doing military attacks on the ground, insulting foreign leaders in negotiations/via press, etc. This happens with all presidents, with Trump it was just most visible, brazen and constant and therefore much easier to spot.
    Why can’t this same thing happen to evil Vladimir? No it has to be personalized to the president himself personally who directed the bad deeds and no one else.. Can’t be anyone else. Even when he defends the guy it still is Putin derangement syndrome. In the rest of the interview he constantly moans how the US does irrational things with no good reason, but Russia is suddenly exempt from that?
    At the same time he doesn’t give sensible, technical reasons like how it’s child’s play to spoof attacks, how the US for decades and therefore any other state actor today uses obfuscation with IT attacks since it’s so easy. How the company was criminally negligent in security with their real ftp password for the update server in public github repos, etc.

    After reading this interview, I can understand how he could help prepare the terrible Powell information presentation before the UN: he just doesn’t understand very well, doesn’t present good arguments and apparently is not capable of thinking and asking the needed questions to subordinates or himself. He comes across as a caricature of a higher military staff officer with all the bad traits one can think of. Dunning-Kruger might be a mild form to describe it.

  6. John Wright

    I don’t understand why there is no pointing of blame and disappointment at the USA national security state apparatus for the alleged hack.

    Wilkerson claimed it is a 1.2Trillion dollar spend for the USA national security per year.

    With all this “they hacked us for 9 months without being noticed” it is as if a bank had hired an expensive security firm to protect their bank vault and the bank’s security firm didn’t notice and protect against the on-going emptying of the vault over a 9 month period..

    Assuming the alleged hack happened, why isn’t there more demand for accountability for the USA’s NSA and CIA for protecting the USA’s secrets?

    Why aren’t the same conservatives who channel Reagan’s “government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.” applying this logic to the bloated USA defense establishment?

    1. Glen

      I wonder about that myself. I’d be interested to know how much of the software is actually being done in foreign countries such as India.

      1. J7915

        Many years ago, read an opinion piece on hacking software/hardware by a Navy Lt, published in the Naval Institute Proceedings. The point was the threat of embedded code that would only activate under specific real world situations. I.E. launching a life weapon in, his example the Persian Gulf at specific co-ordinates.
        All practice simulations exercises in the region would play ok even at the specified target.

        Don’t have access to spooks. But if Russia turned the director of the Austrian-Hungarian Command counter intelligence, why is it impossible the they did play the 2016 and 2020 campaigns? Not saying we had a Col Redl in the intelligence orgs.

        The NYT and WSJ have been doing that for ages.
        The issue is not what foreigners have done, but who the witting, unwitting, assets were if any. Why would the Netherlands Intelligence float info on the GRU agents in St Petersburg?

    2. David in Santa Cruz

      Yup. Russia, China, Iran, Fiji, Lower Slobovia; Who T.F. Cares? Where were the spooks of the National Security/MIC who were supposed to be guarding the hen house? Now they’re all pearl-clutching about how much we need them?

      You’re fired!

  7. Susan the other

    So it makes perfectly good sense that the republican half of the Senate is pushing a repeal of the section 320 of the Communication Decency Act. Clearly we must fight indecency wherever it may arise. Specifically any indecency embodied in the freedom of information right. (I think one of the immediate targets is clearly Julian Assange and Wikileaks)) but whatever. Tell me I’m crazy: the entire world has our number. Finally. China, Russia, most of the EU – even the UK. Certainly always the “third” world. And they are closing in on our geopolitics relentlessly. They (China, Russia, all socialist countries) will win without a world war because they will provide what the world needs and, I’m hoping, they will aggressively reduce CO2 and pollution in the process. (Just look at Astra-Zeneca’s generosity – providing Covid vaccines and targeted medicines to poor countries for whatever – whatever they can pay or not pay.) I feel like we are looking at the great American Sturm und Drang at the end of its confused and conflicted empire. Blessed relief.

  8. Clodene

    It seems odd that both the NY Times and Washington Post could be duped. However, the Iraq war is an example. My main curiosity is what the GOP stands for. Wilkerson seems to be against the underpinning of the military industrial complex, and the tax cuts have shown they basically help the rich. Trickledown Theory is slowly being revealed for the lie that it was from the start. We know that a fair share of wealth is really created by the worker. The investors-creators are at the most equal to the workers on the line, in the delivery vehicles, or in the shipping warehouses et al. Not saying those investors-creators are not allowed their due but really their disproportionate payday is obscene. A system that causes this amount of wealth on the one hand and lack of security on the other is a society that is deeply flawed.

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