Review of Douglas Valentine’s The CIA as Organized Crime: How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World
The terrible truth is that a Cult of Death rules America and is hell-bent on world domination.
— Douglas Valentine
Douglas Valentine’s life’s work has been to expose and explain the CIA’s role in many key aspects of American society, and how they’re behind most of the atrocities, subversion and war since WWII, all over the world. I doubt that any other writer has given the details, or written with the force and courage that he has. He’s told us how America really functions, and what is behind much of its success in business, especially overseas. He’s described how the CIA infiltrates and is protected by the media and all the branches of the government, and how they can create chaos and control political messages, here and abroad. I’d like to talk a bit about how what I’ve learned from reading Douglas Valentine’s books can be seen day to day on the news and other media outlets. I’ll focus on the most current events that I think are very indicative of planned control and subversion. Valentine covers many other events in his new book, The CIA As Organized Crime, so I’ll add my thoughts.
I’m writing this review of Douglas Valentine’s crucial new book, The CIA As Organized Crime, as the Democratic Party conducts a mainstream and social media based “revolution” against Trump. Most of the protestors are summoned from Party front group databases and many are paid to protest by big donors like George Soros. The theme of this revolution is: Stop (Impeach/Kill) the Racist Fascist Dictator! Other themes from other times and other presidents are: Make the World Safe for Democracy and 9/11 – Never Forget!
This theme was created by operatives and principles from the Obama gang and their overlords from the ruling financial elite. These people were responsible for war crimes in Libya, Ukraine and Syria among many other atrocities resulting in the deaths of over four hundred thousand people, as many or more maimed, millions of refugees, entire cities destroyed along with many antiquities. These war crimes were committed by actual neo-Nazis in Ukraine, and by fascist terrorist groups in Syria, funded and armed by the Obama gang and the Republican neocons, through its allies like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey. But the protestors carry signs that say “Stop Fascism!” only now that Trump is elected.
I’m not arguing that it’s unfair or wrong to protest Trump but want to make the deeper point that some people recognize this as the result of social engineering and media-based mind control. The obvious question is: how is it possible that all of the Obama gang’s war crimes were never called fascistic and never massively protested? How is it possible that millions were kept in a deep trance and suddenly activated into enraged bloodthirsty revolutionaries? It’s Guy Debord’s prophecy [quoted on p.305 of Valentine’s book] come true: “Yet the highest ambition of the integrated spectacle is still to turn secret agents into revolutionaries and revolutionaries into secret agents.” This anti-Trump scenario goes a big step further by turning average citizens who think they’re being progressive and moral into revolutionaries and secret agents! They’re not only protesting against Trump but for the serial war criminal Clinton, who was the obvious Establishment choice. That’s what makes this protest so sinister. The media was completely for her and so were many arch Establishment Republicans like the Bush gang.
Here’s Valentine [p. 346]:
The CIA established a strategic intelligence network of magazines and publishing houses, as well as student and cultural organizations, including political and psychological warfare operations directed against American citizens. In other nations, the program was aimed at what Cord Meyer [CIA agent] called the Compatible Left, which in America translates into liberals and pseudo-intellectual status seekers who are easily influenced.
All of this is ongoing, despite being exposed in the late 1960s. Various technological advances, including the internet, have spread the network around the world and many people don’t even realize they’re a part of it, that they’re promoting the CIA line.
Valentine’s new book explains how societies, going back to early organized humanity, have been controlled to believe certain myths, primarily warrior hero myths. Today, these myths are very pervasive and diffused. They’re called “beliefs” and “opinions” and are often disguised in moralistic language; even the protests are controlled and co-opted and diluted to create other myths. Myths like the Democratic Party is anti-war or the protector of minorities, women and workers and only the other party is racist, sexist and militaristic. This myth, carefully engineered and delivered to the masses through the media, and meant to keep the US bitterly divided, is what was used to trigger the targeted group to react when called upon, in tacit, and often explicit support of the psychopath Clinton.
The themes and messages are delivered to the gullible public by the media through “news” agencies; books, including revisionist history and pandering biographies; social media viral thinking; celebrities of all factions; and nominally fictional movies, TV shows and books, such as Fox’s 24, Ben Affleck’s Argo, Kathyrn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, Tom Clancy books etc.
The people that planned the war crimes in Ukraine, Libya and Syria are actual fascist dictators, but the revolutionaries aren’t aware of this and refuse to believe it even when confronted with undeniable proof. The people that control the media are the same people that planned the war crimes. I know, I know, it’s one of those things you just can’t believe, right? It’s just too much! Don’t bury your head in the sand; it’s not going away. Douglas Valentine’s new book will explain how that’s just the way those people planning those things want to keep it. You obey the laws and they’ll break them. You believe what they say and they’ll get rich while you live in deception.
The socially engineered revolutionaries in the streets range from middle-aged white suburban housewives and their teenage kids, to young black militants and activists to celebrities from both mainstream and counter/alternative culture: Robert De Niro and Madonna to Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth, who called Obama a “conscientious politician.” Moore is a disturbing case: a brilliant rock musician and lyricist, who is capable of writing a song about Chelsea Manning, yet calls Obama, her jailer and tormentor, “conscientious” and a “legal scholar.” He refuses to play in Israel, supporting the BDS movement, but endorsed Clinton, a devoted enemy of Palestine, after Sanders capitulated to her. What is this? Moral relativism? Can it even be called moral? This type of thinking is rampant with liberals and conservatives alike and with people everywhere, but we’re seeing the spectacle in a new form with this level of hysteria, and with the massive liberal Group Think that has even infected artists who are supposed to be punk and counter culture figures. They’re supposed to know what bullshit is!
These people: enraged, genuinely scared and hysterical, are demanding Trump be toppled, “by any means necessary,”(also from Moore, playing Malcom X). There are countless Facebook assassins calling for Trump’s blood. Madonna exhorts people to blow up the White House. Rosie O’Donnell begged Obama to enact martial law! Mainstream rags and CIA-linked journalists glibly write about assassination and coups. After all this, they shamelessly call Trump a fascist! This happened in Trump’s first week, before he even has a chance to commit his own war crimes or to show how loyal he is to the old power structure and how he thinks the CIA is “really really great.” Maybe they’re just teasing him a bit, eh? A shot across the bow.
These “revolutionaries” are transmitting a message of violence, planted in them by a methodical and purposeful system of disinformation and smears, in the hopes that it will activate some deranged person who thinks they’re on a mission from God, or better yet, Madonna or Lady Gaga – Remember Jodie Foster. That’s one possibility but the people who plan these things like to keep all their options open at all times. It’s a world of possibilities for them. Their Chosen One, Clinton, was buried alive by the dispossessed workers in the Rust Belt, and now they must seriously look at their options. Doug Valentine’s new book gives you the history and methods of how they look at their options and the results of those options. It’s not for the feint of heart. After such knowledge, what forgiveness?
These revolutionaries were nowhere to be seen while Obama droned thousands to smithereens and allowed for the destruction of three nations, and the continuing destruction of Afghanistan and Iraq. I doubt the millions of socially engineered revolutionaries will ever see themselves for what they are, despite being told by many people in real time responses to their social media rage (before they get blocked by the liberals defending free speech). They’ve found a purpose in life, or, more likely, “somebody” found a purpose for them. Douglas Valentine’s new book will explain how and why those “somebodies” do that.
[From p. 311]:
Information management –including official secrecy and false accusations – is the key to pacifying the people through implicit terror, while making the internal security apparatus appear legal, moral and popular. This is being done to American citizens through the most ambitious psywar campaign ever waged on planet Earth.
Some books raise the curtain on the whole shit show, and this is one of those books. I haven’t read everything about US history and politics, but I’ve read enough to know the score. I did read Valentine’s previous books: The Phoenix Program, Strength of the Pack, and Strength of the Wolf, and I reviewed them for Amazon and Goodreads. Before reading them, I thought I knew the score, but I didn’t really. Now I do. I knew we were screwed but just not how badly and I didn’t know how exactly it happened that we are in the mess we are in.
Valentine names all the perps and all the plans. He weaves the comments of the people he interviews into his own prose structure that creates a fascinating, page-turning narrative that never lags. It often reminds me of Raymond Chandler and William Burroughs, when they talk about the sordid and sad ways of the world. He’s never boring, even when he’s detailing bureaucratic structures, probably because the details are so damn sinister. His sentences are deadly efficient, hard-hitting, dense with information and always end with a stab to the heart of the beast he so clearly and righteously despises. He is the real revolutionary.
His books are deeply detailed with interviews from the people that set up the bureaucracies like the Phoenix Program and the various inter-agency drug front groups, designed to parasitically subsume nations through corruption paired with false ideological political motives. False, because as it turned out, the endgame wasn’t freedom and democracy as the USA-CIA promised, in countries like Vietnam and El Salvador and Iraq, to name a few; the endgame was the looting of resources, land grabs for corporate and strategic gain and in the larger sense, world domination, a.k.a. neoliberal globalism/corporatism– Valentine’s subtitle: How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World.
The word on the street is that the CIA does not operate in America’s interest; that is, doing things that would protect the majority of Americans and ensure that the country’s written standards and laws are upheld. Instead, it subverts nations for an oligarchy of super-rich financial and corporate interests that are essentially trans-national or global, whose allegiance is not national; their allegiance is to a captive government at the service of, and essentially indistinguishable from, financial institutions. The oligarchy is comprised of the super-rich of many nations whose money is handled by one dominant Western system and network. The goal is to enrich this group at any cost and since the cost to maintain the system is greater than the profits, making it essentially a Ponzi scheme, constant looting through warfare, debt service, taxes, stock market/real estate bubbles and bailouts, and organized crime must be maintained to generate cash. The majority of humanity is the intended victim of all of these massive crimes and the key is that they pay the costs, while the oligarchs take the profits. Anyone that works to further the interests of the oligarchy are given decent-paying jobs with lots of benefits and perks, pensions, and sometimes, included in schemes that bring in a lot of money. They’re also made to feel superior and part of some glorious purpose.
Valentine’s new book is the introduction to and condensation and summation of his other work along with several interviews that always add and elaborate on his subject of CIA control mechanisms and corruption of governments, starting with the US; it enhances the reading of those other great works and offers many insights into the time up to 2016, after the period covered in the other books: the early 20th century to the mid 1990s. The subjects of his previous books are political subversion of nations through terror and war for profit, and government collusion with, and control of, organized crime. This book is equally as important as the others, and continues the previous subjects, but includes the other main element of government control: the media’s role in propaganda, secrecy, social engineering and mind control. Valentine has masterfully condensed his previous books, while integrating his thoughts on the media component of control throughout the chapters. The result is not only a history of the CIA but a precise description of how the US government and society works.
The Phoenix Program exposed the new method that the US would use to take over governments and the collusion between the military and political(intelligence) units of government. Think tank intellectuals are the mouthpieces for the financial oligarchs: this is the vaunted public-private partnership. It’s being extended into private mercenary armies and intelligence gathering corporations, mostly in the form of cyber-security groups. All of these are branches of the CIA in spirit and often in fact. They create the complexity and confusion that provides cover; this system of multiple companies and organizations is also used by big financial institutions. It becomes so extensive and diffused that people say it can’t ALL be CIA; but it is; at least anything the CIA thinks matters.
Valentine’s overarching subject is the military/political/intelligence, and corporate (finance) networks and how they interconnect. Phoenix is the blueprint for total bureaucratic conquest of a foreign country using virtually untraceable cash that is returned with interest from profits reaped, or raped, from the conquest. The cash comes from a complex network of taxes, crime, and corporate donors. To the people involved in subverting countries like Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, war is nothing more than a good investment. They know they aren’t patriots and don’t give a damn about democracy, freedom, women’s rights, the troops, or any of the other things they incessantly babble about. That stuff is just their con artist’s cover story for the rubes.
In Strength of the Wolf and Strength of the Pack, Valentine describes the connections between the police and intelligence apparatus and organized crime for the purpose of controlling the sources of all organized crime profits — mainly drugs and weapons — but also prostitution and human trafficking. This is the chaos element necessary to prevent the formation of viable political opposition. The enormous profits from crime fund much of the dark budgets of the CIA and other intel groups, and are used to corrupt individuals, buy weapons and train and equip proxy death squads and terrorist armies. Crime also weakens, impoverishes and destabilizes cultures and societies, turning ethnic groups against each other and themselves. We see this clearly in the US with gang warfare over drug turf.
I don’t think any other book on this subject could ever surpass the intricacy of Valentine’s books, built around the first-hand accounts from most of the main agents involved. They are, among other things, epic accomplishments in the art of the interview, conducted on a massive scale. Valentine doesn’t hold anything back or stop short, like so many books do. The point of the exhaustive interviews, as well as his prose, is to lay bare the ugly reality that the US government took over the drug trade as a key element in its strategy for world control, especially post WWII. This is really where they beat the Soviets, who, I’m afraid, with all their devious chess master skills, failed to see that killer strategy. As a result of that killer strategy, heroin has gone from a deeply underground big city thing, then to much wider inner city use, and now a worldwide epidemic that’s in every little town from Maine to Moldova; it’s hopelessly fed and complicated (by design?) by the presence of highly addictive pharmaceutical opiods that are always getting stronger.
The missing component in Valentine’s work, until now, in his study of the US government’s control strategy, was the media – it’s the main subject of this new book. While in some chapters he condenses the subjects of his other books, he’s doing it in the context of the media’s role — that he writes about in greater detail in other chapters — exposing the work of corrupt or compromised journalists. The book is a synthesis of his previous subjects and the role the media plays in protecting the secrecy and spreading the lies that enable subversion and conquest of nations.
Valentine quotes from the Marine Corps Gazette from 1989 [p. 354]:
The new type of warfare will be widely dispersed and largely undefined. The distinction between war and peace will be blurred to the vanishing point. There will be no definable battlefields or fronts. The distinction between civilian and military will disappear. Success will depend heavily on effectiveness and joint operations, as the lines between responsibility and missions become blurred…This new type of warfare will depend on psychological operations manifested in the form of media information intervention… One must be adept at manipulating the media to alter domestic and world opinion. On this new psychological battlefield, television news may become a more powerful operational weapon than armored divisions.
And it was for a while, but now the mainstream news has been largely ridiculed and exposed, especially by many Trump voters and by Trump himself, calling them “fake news,” turning their own smear phrase against real left and libertarian news sites (mostly internet-based) against them. The whole fake news narrative was certainly a CIA ploy, though a total failure from the start, except, of course, for the liberal “revolutionaries” and Democrats in Congress who still repeat that Putin was behind the “fake news” about Clinton’s record-setting corruption. One positive thing is that many people are looking out for this sort of nonsense, and the concept of false flag attacks, both violent and disinformation-based, has entered into the public consciousness to a certain extent. Valentine asserts that the CIA will always increase the pressure and resort to a complete authoritarian takeover, complete with concentration camps, if it feels the interests of the oligarchy are threatened.
Valentine describes his own blackballing by the mainstream media starting with Morley Safer doing a poison pen hit job on The Phoenix Program in the New York Times. It killed the book in its infancy and thwarted his career as an historian and journalist for many years. But Safer is already forgotten while Valentine is and will always be regarded as one of the truly great and courageous historians and journalists.
Valentine exposes “heroes” like Daniel Ellsberg and his CIA friends and connections; he explains that they’re only allowed to become heroes, as a show for the masses, that re-enforces the myth that America is a country where no one is above the law. But the age of the heroes is over, as we see with Snowden and Manning; it didn’t last too long, did it? He describes how famous journalists like Glenn Greenwald and Sy Hersh stop short of exposing the whole story and are in a sense being used to convey diluted messages. He talks at length about how war criminals like former Senator Bob Kerrey, Congressman Rob Simmons (R-CT) and others are repackaged as heroes and put into public office. He details evidence against them that is enough for any fair judicial system to put them on trial.
Valentine’s great gift to the nation and the world is to show that most of what you see in the news is all highly orchestrated and interconnected to direct US military wars or indirect subversion like Syria, Ukraine and the many countries before them. What was acceptable one day, and even created by the US, like Saddam Hussein, is not acceptable after a certain preordained expiration date. One day acceptable, the next day Hitler. Same story over and over again and the suckers buy it every time. Valentine gives philosophical and psychological context of the effects of these often subtle, but noticeable journalistic compromises and purposeful failures, on the willingness of people to understand and seek intellectual, emotional, and consequentially, political freedom.
My intention was to convey how important Valentine’s work as a whole is, and how this new book is another main component of his enormously complex theme. I say another because I want more; but we can be satisfied with this book because it closes the circle: government (military-intel-private finance)/organized crime/ and now media (mainstream and compromised leftist journalism). Others can elaborate with more books but he’s giving them the blueprint to work from.
Which brings me back to the Democratic Party/Facebook revolutionaries. If they want to know why they’re out there, and why they think Trump is a fascist but Obama isn’t, and why they think they’re really doing something for the good of the country, they should read this book, and all of Doug Valentine’s books; then, maybe, just maybe, they’ll realize that they’re out there on the streets because some people sitting in skyscrapers, and government buildings and secure compounds want them there, and told them them to go there, and are dictating the terms every step of the way through the media.
They’ve been conditioned to scream “RACIST!” on demand, and to be silent when institutional racism is being carried on by a black president, or by Bill Clinton, who the media absurdly calls, “the first black president.” They’re silent as the tomb when the “good guys” are bombing black, brown, yellow and white people. Maybe those people will never read Douglas Valentines new book, but hopefully you will.
There are many shoes still to drop at Fukushima Daiichi, said Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste monitor at Beyond Nuclear. If something goes wrong with the radioactive waste storage pools, there could be a release of high-level radioactivity into the air, he added.
Radiation at Fukushima’s nuclear power plant is at its highest level since the tsunami-triggered meltdown nearly six years ago. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) is reporting atmospheric readings inside Daiichi’s reactor No.2 are as high as 530 sieverts an hour, while a human exposed to a single dose of 10 sieverts would die in a couple of weeks.
RT: Can you explain what is likely going on here?
Kevin Kamps: This catastrophe that is ongoing is nearly six years old at this point. The fuel, the melted cores have been missing an action. TEPCO doesn’t know where they are; the Japanese government doesn’t know where they are; nobody knows where they are. What could have happened is these probes, these cameras, these robots, these radiation monitors that are being sent in by TEPCO to try to figure out what is going on, may have encountered the closest they have come yet to these melted cores. They may even have come upon melted fuel that is not under water, and water serves as a radiation shielding. So if this is an open area and there is no water – that could explain.
But what you’ve got are melted reactor cores. Of course, human beings can’t be in operating atomic reactors. They also can’t be in this area where there is a meltdown. There is also imagery – it looks like a melt through of a metal grade. It all stands to reason that the cores melted through the reactor pressure vessels and down into the containment structures right through that metal grating.
It is not unexpected, but we still don’t know where the cores are. There are claims that “it’s all contained, don’t worry about it.” It is indisputable that there is a daily flow of radioactively contaminated groundwater into the ocean. The figures something like 80,000 gallons per day of relatively low-level radioactive waste water. Then you’ve got those storage tanks – we’re talking 800,000 tons of highly radioactive water stored in tanks. Every day they pour a hundred tons of water on each of these three melted down cores. Sometimes they lose those tanks. They leak, they overflow – it is an ongoing catastrophe.
RT: So the contamination, in this case, could leak out, couldn’t it?
KK: There is some leakage on a daily basis. Then they try to capture as much as they can and contain it in the storage tanks, which they sometimes lose, whether during a typhoon or through human error – they have had overflows. So many shoes can still drop at Fukushima Daiichi. One of the ones is the high radioactive waste storage pools that aren’t even inside radiological containment. They don’t have all of that spent nuclear fuel transferred to a safer location in a couple of the units still. If something were to go wrong with that – those would be open air releases of very high-level radioactivity.
The prime minister at the time the catastrophe began, [Naoto] Kan, had a contingency plan to evacuate all of North-East Japan – up to 50 million people. It was predominantly because of those storage pools. We’re still in that predicament- if one of those pools were to go up in flames. As Tokyo plans to host the 2020 Olympics and bring in many millions of extra people into this already densely populated area -it is not a good idea.
RT: Going back to this specific leak: how does this complicate the cleanup efforts there? Is it possible even to get something in there right now to examine what is going on?
KK: State of the art robotic technology – Japan is a leader in robotics – can only last so long, because the electronics get fried by the gamma radiation, and probably neutron radiation that is in there. That is the situation deep in there. They are already saying it will take 40 years to so-called decommission this, but that may be optimistic.
RT: Also in December the government said it is going to take twice as much money – nearly twice as much as they originally thought – to decommission that. Does this make matters ever worse – this leak? Or is this just kind of the situation to expect at this point?
KK: It just shows how dire the situation is. The figures of $150 billion to decommission – I have seen figures from a think tank in Japan sided by Green Peace Japan up to $600 billion. If you do full cost accounting: where is this high-level radioactive waste going to go? It is going to need a deep geological depository. You have to build that and operate it. That costs a hundred billion or more. So when you do full cost accounting, this catastrophe could cost hundreds of billions of dollars to recover from. We’re just in the beginning.
The media is unfair to the military, according to the Chief of Defence Staff. During a speech to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade last week General Jonathan Vance slammed “very toxic narratives” in reporting on the Canadian Forces.
“If you’re paying attention to the news today, there are some very toxic narratives about the armed forces,” Vance said. “The narrative that seems to prevail right now is if you join the armed forces, you are going to be sexually assaulted, raped or you’re going to suffer from PTSD at some point and may commit suicide.”
Reporting the truth is toxic?
With the largest PR machine in the country, the CF aggressively always protects its image and promotes its worldview. As I detail in my latest book A Propaganda System: How Canada’s Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and Exploitation, the military runs a slew of journalistic, academic and cultural initiatives. The military produces dozens of publications and its numerous websites make articles, speeches, reports and other types of information easily accessible to the public. The Canadian Forces also employs YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to promote its positions and recruit new members.
In 2010-11 the Canadian Forces admitted to spending $354 million on public relations and related military commemorations. Six hundred and sixty-one staff members worked on this effort. According to another 2011 report, the Department of National Defence’s Public Affairs department had 286 staff. Public Affairs Officers’ write press releases, organize press conferences, monitor the news, brief journalists, befriend reporters and editors, or perform various other media-related activities. A large proportion of the news stories about the military are based on CF statements and events.
But that clearly isn’t good enough for the Chief of Defence Staff. After taking charge of the CF, Vance immediately sought to reinforce their influence over news coverage of military affairs. In fall 2015, Ottawa Citizen military reporter David Pugliese revealed Canada’s top soldier’’ call for the “weaponization of public affairs.” Vance proposed a plan to induce positive coverage and deter critical reporting. Journalists producing unflattering stories about the military were to be the target of phone calls to their boss, letters to the editor and other “flack” designed to undercut their credibility in the eyes of readers and their employers.
While the “weaponization of public affairs” slogan was novel, Pugliese pointed out in a blog that “Vance isn’t the first to attempt to bring pesky journalists to heel. It was quite common for officials working for then Defence Minister Peter MacKay to phone editors of various publications to complain about reporters.”
The CF didn’t stop at complaining to journalists’ bosses. The top brass repeatedly asked the military’s National Investigative Service (NIS) to investigate reporters’ sources. In 2011 NIS investigated prominent CTV journalist Robert Fife after he uncovered documents about Chief of Defence Staff Walt Natynczyk spending over $1 million in public funds flying to hockey games and a Caribbean vacation. Pugliese described this as a blatant “intimidation tactic by the NIS against a journalist who was clearly not playing military cheerleader.”
In a similar incident, NIS spent more than a month investigating how Pugliese obtained information about a major Pacific Ocean military exercise in spring 2012. While the Ottawa Citizen defence reporter said the information came from a U.S. Navy release, which the NSI investigation ultimately supported, DND officials believed Pugliese was tipped off by a friendly Public Affairs Officer. Esprit du Corp editor Scott Taylor pointed out that the investigation had nothing to do with operational security. “No classified information was divulged. No operational security jeopardized. No Canadian sailors’ lives were put in peril as a result of Pugliese’s rather innocuous story, but [defence minister Peter] MacKay’s timetable for release [of the information] had not been strictly adhered to.”
According to Taylor, NIS was employed on at least four occasions to investigate the source of information for stories. Yet in none of these instances was classified material reported.
The military is sensitive about embarrassing leaks. A July 2014 Embassy story titled “DND points to ‘challenges’ with former soldiers talking to media” reported on ministerial briefing notes concerning the problem of “leaks.” A year earlier the CF required soldiers wounded in Afghanistan to sign a form saying they wouldn’t criticize senior officers on Facebook or other social media. Former soldiers are a concern since active CF members are restricted in what they can say publicly or post online.
An extremely centralized organization, the people at the top of Canadian Forces want to control everyone and everything.
To paraphrase a widely circulated quote: when you’re accustomed to shaping coverage, a bit of criticism can feel like a “toxic” media environment.
It has been several months since the barrage of nightmarish reports about the horrors in East Aleppo as the Syrian government army prepared to drive out the remaining rebels from the city in mid December. Purported “activists” posted their “goodbye” messages, claiming they feared they would be slaughtered by government forces. Women were said to have chosen suicide over rape. And most widely disseminated of all were reports that regime soldiers had executed 82 civilians, including women and children. (See here, here, here, here and here.) None of these shocking reports were verified by journalists on the ground. Though none of the news media admitted it, there were no foreign journalists in East Aleppo because they feared being kidnapped and killed by the al Qaeda-aligned rebels, as American reporter James Foley had been in 2014. But after hostilities concluded in East Aleppo with the rebels being driven out of the city, the same organizations who propagated the doomsday narrative have shown no interest in examining it and setting the record straight.
There have been no indications that anyone inside East Aleppo who posted a goodbye message was actually harmed. Lina Shamy, who miraculously enjoyed a reliable Wi-Fi connection and a steady supply of power to tweet constantly and grant Skype interviews from East Aleppo, warned on Dec. 12, 2016 that “this may be my last video. More than 50,000 civilians who rebelled against the dictator al-Assad are threatened with field executions or are dying under bombing.” CNN published this terrifying message from Shamy along with another in which she claimed “genocide is still ongoing!”
But Shamy was not executed upon the government taking control of the city. Instead, she was evacuated by the government out of the city. She is now living freely and recounting her experience in the pages of the New York Times, where she falsely blamed attacks on evacuation buses on the government’s Syrian Arab Army (SAA). In reality, it was the rebels who set fire to the buses full of civilians and imperiled the peaceful evacuations.
As for reports of executions of 82 civilians by government troops, it does not appear that anyone has followed up by presenting any evidence that this actually happened. There have been no names of the 82 people allegedly killed, no photos, no bodies, and no grave sites indicating that mass murder had occurred.
Perhaps this should not come as a surprise. The original reports were completely unsubstantiated, based on nothing more than one United Nations official repeating hearsay. News media relied on the authority of the United Nations to bolster the credibility of their headlines (“UN says civilians shot on the spot.”) Amnesty International took the UN reports at face value and said they “point to apparent war crimes,” phrasing meant to prejudice legal claims against the Syrian government while deflecting responsibility for making them.
The reports came from a single official: Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Colville told a news conference that in addition to 82 civilians (including dozens of women and children) reportedly killed by government troops, the death toll could actually be much higher, Buried deep below the headlines in the news coverage, we come across an important caveat. Colville admitted “it was hard to verify the reports.”
Rather than present evidence of these horrible atrocities, Colville admits that they are merely rumors from an undisclosed source. To present this as an factual finding of the United Nations is like taking a prosecutor’s opening argument and saying it was the decision of the jury at the end of the trial. If the media was really interested in reporting the truth, they would frame the allegations skeptically rather than treat them as settled and proven.
But the purpose of media in the United States and Western democracies is not to report the truth but to reinforce the government’s position by accepting the fundamental validity of its narrative. As Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman write in Manufacturing Consent, “(a) propaganda model suggests that the ‘societal purpose’ of the media is to inculcate and defend the economic, social and political agenda of privileged groups that dominate the domestic society and the state.” 
It is evident that the political and military establishment is fixated on regime change in Syria, and thus has chosen to align with Syria’s local al-Qaeda affiliate — if not directly then indirectly by supporting groups that make common cause in fighting under their command. The propaganda model would predict that the media would portray the Assad government as uniquely cruel and savage, and the opponents of the regime as worthy victims of the Syrian government’s evilness.
Thus it should not be surprising that after the re-capture of East Aleppo actual evidence of a massacre was discovered, but was ignored. Since the evidence pointed to atrocities by the rebels against the government, instead of vice versa, it went unreported in the Western press.
In late December, 100 government soldiers were found dead inside East Aleppo. Video by Syrian “activists” showed that at least some of the dead soldiers had been captured days earlier, suggesting they were executed rather than killed in battle. Despite photographic and video evidence, these deaths were not worthy of being covered by CNN, the New York Times, the BBC or other outlets who did report on unverified accusations of executions by the other side.
The Hue and Racak “Massacres”
Several historical examples are useful to see how stories that coincide with the government line are amplified by the media, no matter how little evidence exists. Later, when evidence emerges which calls into question the original narrative, the media simply ignore it and it is lost to history.
During the U.S. aggression against Vietnam, the brutality and viciousness of the “Communists” was exemplified in the American public imagination by the “Hue Massacre” in January 1968. The official narrative was that North Vietnamese troops, while retreating from the city of Hue after the Tet offensive, carried out indiscriminate massacres of civilians and buried them in mass graves.
London Times correspondent Stewart Harris reported in March 1968 that Hue Police Chief Doan Cong Lap claimed there had been 200 killings and a mass grave discovered with 300 bodies. The next month, the Saigon government’s propaganda agency put out a report claiming there were 1,000 victims of a Communist massacre, many of whom had been buried alive. After this was not picked up, the U.S. State Department put out the same report the following week. It was duly splashed across all the major American newspapers.
“The story was not questioned, despite the fact that no Western journalist had ever been taken to see the grave sites when the bodies were uncovered,” write Chomsky and Herman in The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism. “On the contrary, French photographer Marc Riboud was repeatedly denied permission to see one of the sites where the Province Chief claimed 300 civilian government workers had been executed by the Communists. When he was finally taken by helicopter to the alleged site, the pilot refused to land, claiming the area was ‘insecure.’ ” 
Subsequently, a purported “captured document” was found that allegedly showed Communists had admitted to killing 2,748 people. This was taken at face value and became the new official version of the incident.
In reality, a vicious U.S.-led assault to recapture Hue had resulted in massive casualties. Photographer Philip Jones Griffiths wrote that most of the victims were killed by the air assault. The dead were falsely designated as victims of a Communist massacre.
Gareth Porter, who thoroughly investigated the events in Hue, described his findings as follows:
The available evidence – not from NLF sources but from official U.S. and Saigon documents and from independent observers, indicates that the official story of an indiscriminate slaughter of those who were considered to be unsympathetic to the NLF is a complete fabrication. Not only is the number of bodies uncovered in and around Hue open to question, but more important, the cause of death appears to have been shifted from the fighting itself to NLF execution. And the most detailed and ‘authoritative’ account of the alleged executions put together by either government does not stand up under examination. But there was never any attempt by the mainstream Western press who were so quick to amplify the U.S. government’s accounts to investigate what really happened and set the record straight if their findings did not match the initial story. Nor was there any interest in investigating casualties in Hue when there was substantial evidence that they were caused by the U.S. military and forces loyal to the military dictatorship they were supporting.
30 years later in Kosovo, the Western media reported the latest massacre by the evil forces of an official enemy. In this case, the Serbian military had allegedly murdered 45 unarmed Kosovo Albanians in the village of Racak. The first reports of a “massacre” and a “crime against humanity” in Racak were pronounced by Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) mission head William Walker.
On January 18, 1999, Chief International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia prosecutor Louise Arbour showed up at the border of Kosovo and demanded entry to investigate the incident. In March, U.S. President Bill Clinton would use the pretext of Racak to justify an illegal air war against Serbia when he declared, “(w)e should remember what happened in the village of Racak, where innocent men, women and children were taken from their homes to a gully, forced to kneel in the dirt, sprayed with gunfire — not because of anything they had done, but because of who they were.” 
Clinton’s version was created out of whole cloth. There were no women and children, and there was no evidence the dead had been marched from their homes and forced to kneel in the dirt. The Serbian government determined that there was only 22 men, and that the deaths had resulted from a fire fight during a police action to catch Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) fighters who had killed four policeman the week before.
While the Serb version, which was exculpatory to their own side, should not be accepted at face value either, it does raise possibilities worth examining. There was a context that could explain the dead bodies, i.e., heavy fighting between KLA and Serbian forces. As Michael Mandel writes in How America Gets Away with Murder: “to the extent that there was a massacre, it was provoked by the KLA as part of a deliberate and consistent pattern aimed at bringing on NATO’s military intervention.” Mandel notes that even NATO supporters such as Michael Ignatieff had written several months before that KLA tactics “were not a miscalculation, but a deliberate strategy” designed to force Serbian forces to overreact and force NATO to intervene on the KLA’s side. 
It is not hard to see the double standard by which the media operates when reporting alleged atrocities by enemies of the U.S. government. Actual massacres by the U.S. armed forces are portrayed as one-off cases attributable to low-level rogue offices, like My Lai in Vietnam, or as honest mistakes and collateral damage, like the Kunduz hospital bombing in Afghanistan. Even in the wholesale murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent noncombatants, like the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki or the systematic carpet bombing of vast swaths of Cambodia and Laos, U.S. actions are never conceived of as evidence of barbarity and indiscriminate violence. Whereas atrocities by the other side are unfailingly portrayed as unprovoked mass murder, unconscionable examples of the enemy’s lack of humanity and indicative of the difference between us and them.
The mainstream media is best understood as an appendage of the government and ruling class interests, one which functions as part of a propaganda system that has nothing to do with providing with facts, but rather creating an acceptable ideological framework for its audience. This explains why the media exhibits such a blatant confirmation bias. In this light, it should be anything but surprising that the story about the Syrian government executing 82 civilians can become an official historical fact without any serious attempt to verify the actual course of events either at the time they happened, or after the fog of war has cleared.
 Chomsky, Noam and Edward S. Herman. Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. Pantheon, 2011. Kindle edition. (Loc. 7556)
 Chomsky, Noam and Edward S. Herman. The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism: The Political Economy of Human Rights: Volume 1. Boston: South End Press, 1979. (pp. 346)
 Quoted in Mandel, Michael. How America Gets Away with Murder: Illegal Wars, Collateral Damage and Crimes Against Humanity. Pluto Press, 2004. Kindle edition. (Loc. 1737)
 Mandel, Michael. How America Gets Away with Murder: Illegal Wars, Collateral Damage and Crimes Against Humanity. Pluto Press, 2004. Kindle edition. (Loc. 1820)
Writing recently about how we were misled by Amnesty International’s reports on Syria, I was criticised – for using the past tense.
This week Amnesty International has published a ‘new’ report – Syria: The Human Slaughterhouse – that presents no new evidence of the deaths it purports to be documenting. Even the BBC’s take on it makes clear: ‘it does not have evidence of executions taking place since December 2015’. The publication repeats previous claims about the years 2011-2015, and extrapolates.
Such grave allegations need to be taken very seriously, but that starts with being scrupulous about their basis.
Previously I showed how Amnesty International did not follow its own prescribed research guidelines for earlier reports; it did not do so this time either.
Those guidelines were those set out by Secretary General, Salil Shetty, and I think he could give a clearer steer on the need to observe them. In an interview, it was put to Shetty that accusations of bias are sometimes levelled at Amnesty International. His reply was that, since the organisation is criticised from all sides, ‘it must be doing something right’. This facile reply is fallacious. I can think of one controversial Amnesty representative, for instance, who has been accused of making unjustified claims against the governments of both Israel and Syria. I suspect many people who check will think he is wrong in one of those cases, although not necessarily the same one, without thereby assuming either he must be right in the other. I myself would simply regard him as simply insufficiently reliable.
Even if it is in fact true that the organisation is doing ‘something’ right, I do not think Amnesty should be content that this is good enough. I would want to insist that Amnesty needs to be tenacious in ensuring not to get it wrong. Its practice in Syria of extrapolating on the basis of conjectures made following conversations with representatives of the opposition is not guaranteed to ensure that.
What I think the grassroots supporters of Amnesty International need above all to be concerned about is what the organisation is trying to achieve with this new publication. With more constructive possibilities of international involvement following the end of the siege of Aleppo, what is the reason for reviving attempts to demonise the Syrian government?
Whatever excesses any parties need eventually to be held to account for, the concern of Amnesty International is supposed to be with human beings, and their interest lies overwhelmingly in achieving peace – not in stoking the embers of the war.
 A critical discussion of this is available at http://www.moonofalabama.org/2017/02/amnesty-report-hearsay.html
 For the 2012 report, which covers the first year of the five referred to in the new publication, I showed, point by point, that the report admits failing to fulfil some of the research criteria and fails to show it has met any of them. Substantially the same verdict applies to what is said here for 2012-2015; regarding the period 2015-2016, which many readers will understandably, but mistakenly, assume the ‘new’ evidence relates to, no evidence at all is even claimed to be presented.
A senior Russian diplomat has expressed surprise at an outcry provoked by the new US administration over Iranian missile work, saying Tehran’s missile tests are not violating any UN bans, legally speaking.
“This outcry about Iran’s ballistic missile launches. I was surprised to hear even American experts speaking on CNN and calling it a violation of bans by the UN Security Council,” said Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin in an interview with RT published Tuesday.
He was referring to Resolution 2231 adopted by the Security Council in July 2015 to underpin the landmark nuclear deal inked days earlier between Tehran and the P5+1 group of states, namely Russia, China, France, Britain, the US plus Germany.
The document terminated the provisions of previous UN resolutions, calling on Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”
Explaining the legal language used in Resolution 2231, Churkin said the document merely “calls” on Tehran not to conduct tests of missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons, but does not impose any ban on Tehran.
“Those bans were there before, all those bans were lifted,” said the Russian official. “Technically or legally you cannot argue that they are violating any kind of a prohibition.”
He also said no evidence has been provided to support the claims that Tehran’s missiles are capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
Late last month, Washington’s UN envoy Nikki Haley slammed a missile test by Iran as “absolutely unacceptable.”
US President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor Michael Flynn also said following the January 29 test that Washington was “officially putting Iran on notice,” claiming that the launch was “in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 2231.”
The Islamic Republic has, on numerous occasions, asserted that its missiles are not designed to be capable of carrying nuclear warheads, and that it is not involved in such missile work.
In March 2016, Russia blocked the potential ratification of a United Nations Security Council resolution against Iranian missile tests in a session called by the former US administration.
Explaining Russia’s opposition to an anti-Iran resolution, Churkin said back then that in the view of veto-wielding Russia, Resolution 2231, which endorsed a nuclear deal between Iran and six other countries, did not legally prohibit Iranian ballistic missile tests.
He said the text explicitly did not ban Iranian missile test-launches.
“A call is different from a ban, so, legally, you cannot violate a call, you can comply with a call or you can ignore the call, but you cannot violate a call,” Churkin said. “The legal distinction is there.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Churkin warned that the United States’ tensions with Iran might work to affect Moscow’s relations with Washington.
“There are so many complexities, so many issues which can create additional problems, including problems which might affect our relations with the US,” he said.
The envoy cautioned the US against behaving emotionally instead of relying on facts when it comes to Iran.
“In international life, you have to differentiate between your emotions, what you want to see and what you have the right to expect from another country,” he said.
Churkin further took on US President Donald Trump’s recent comment to Fox News that the Islamic Republic is “terrorist state number one.”
The envoy pointed to the active role the Islamic Republic is playing in the fight against the Daesh Takfiri terror group, which is mainly active in Syria and Iraq.
Iran has been providing military advisory support to the countries’ respective militaries in their fight against the terrorists, an assistance that has been met with appreciation from both governments.
On Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also reacted to Trump’s remarks, saying, “We disagree with this postulate.”
Gaining acceptance in Official Washington is a lot like getting admittance into a secret society’s inner sanctum by uttering some nonsensical password. In Washington to show you belong, you must express views that are patently untrue or blatantly hypocritical.
For instance, you might be called upon to say that “Iran is the principal source of terrorism” when that title clearly belongs to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf state allies that have funded Al Qaeda, the Taliban and the Islamic State. But truth has no particularly value in Official Washington; adherence to “group think” is what’s important.
Similarly, you might have to deny any “moral equivalence” between killings attributed to Russian President Vladimir Putin and killings authorized by U.S. presidents. In this context, the fact that the urbane Barack Obama scheduled time one day a week to check off people for targeted assassinations isn’t relevant. Nor is the reality that Donald Trump has joined this elite club of official killers by approving a botched and bloody raid in Yemen that slaughtered a number of women and children (and left one U.S. soldier dead, too).
You have to understand that “our killings” are always good or at least justifiable (innocent mistakes do happen from time to time), but Russian killings are always bad. Indeed, Official Washington has so demonized Putin that any untoward death in Russia can be blamed on him whether there is any evidence or not. To suggest that evidence is needed shows that you must be a “Moscow stooge.”
To violate these inviolable norms of Official Washington, in which participants must intuitively grasp the value of such “group think” and the truism of “American exceptionalism,” marks you as a dangerous outsider who must be marginalized or broken.
Currently, President Trump is experiencing this official opprobrium as he is widely denounced by Republicans, Democrats and “news” people because he didn’t react properly to a question from Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly terming Putin “a killer.”
“There are a lot of killers.” Trump responded. “We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think — our country’s so innocent. You think our country’s so innocent?”
Aghast at Trump’s heresy, O’Reilly sputtered, “I don’t know of any government leaders that are killers.”
Trump: “Well — take a look at what we’ve done too. We made a lot of mistakes. I’ve been against the war in Iraq from the beginning.”
O’Reilly: “But mistakes are different than —“
Trump: “A lot of mistakes, but a lot of people were killed. A lot of killers around, believe me.”
Though Trump is justly criticized for often making claims that aren’t true, here he was saying something that clearly was true. But it has drawn fierce condemnation from across Official Washington, not only from Democrats but from Trump’s fellow Republicans, too. Neoconservative Washington Post opinion writer Charles Krauthammer objected fiercely to Trump’s “moral equivalence,” and CNN’s Anderson Cooper chimed in. lamenting Trump’s deviation into “equivalence,” i.e. holding the U.S. government to the same ethical standards as the Russian government.
This “moral equivalence” argument has been with us at least since the Reagan administration when human rights groups objected to President Reagan’s support for right-wing governments in Central America that engaged in “death squad” tactics against political dissidents, including the murders of priests and nuns and genocide against disaffected Indian tribes. To suggest that Reagan and his friends should be subjected to the same standards that he applied to left-wing authoritarian governments earned you the accusation of “moral equivalence.”
Declassified documents from Reagan’s White House show that this P.R. strategy was refined at National Security Council meetings led by U.S. intelligence propaganda experts. Now the “moral equivalence” theme is being revived to discredit a new Republican president who dares challenge this particular Official Washington “group think.”
Lots of Killing
The unpleasant truth is that all leaders of major countries and many leaders of smaller countries are “killers.” President Obama admitted that he had ordered military strikes in seven different countries to kill people. His Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rejoiced over the grisly murder of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi with a clever twist on a famous Julius Caesar boast of conquest: “We came, we saw, he died,” Clinton chirped.
President George W. Bush launched an illegal war against Iraq based on false pretenses, causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, many of them children and other civilians.
President Bill Clinton ordered a vicious bombing campaign against the Serbian capital of Belgrade, which included intentionally targeting the Serb TV building and killing 16 civilian employees because Clinton considered the station’s news reports to be “propaganda,” i.e., not in line with U.S. propaganda.
President George H.W. Bush slaughtered scores of Panamanians who happened to live near the headquarters of the Panamanian Defense Forces and he killed tens of thousands of Iraqis, including incinerating a civilian bomb shelter in Baghdad, after he brushed aside proposals for resolving Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait peacefully. (Bush wanted a successful war as a way to rally the American people behind future foreign military operations, so, in his words, the country could kick “the Vietnam Syndrome once and for all.”)
Other U.S. presidents have had more or less blood on their hands than these recent chief executives, but it is hard to identify any modern U.S. president who has not been a “killer” in some form, inflicting death upon innocents whether as part of some “justifiable” mission or not.
But the mainstream U.S. press corps routinely adopts double standards when assessing acts by a U.S. president and those of an “enemy.” When the U.S. kills people, the mainstream media bends over backwards to rationalize the violence, but does the opposite if the killing is authorized by some demonized foreign leader.
That is now the case with Putin. Any accusation against Putin – no matter how lacking in evidence – is treated as credible and any evidence of Putin’s innocence is ridiculed or suppressed.
That was the case with a documentary that debunked claims that hedge fund accountant Sergei Magnitsky was murdered in a Russian prison because he was a whistleblower when the documentary showed that he was a suspect in a massive money-laundering scheme and died of natural causes. Although produced by a documentarian who started out planning to do a sympathetic portrayal of Magnitsky, the facts led in a different direction that caused the documentary to be shunned by the European Union and given minimal distribution in the United States.
By contrast, the ease with which Putin is called a murderer – based on “mysterious deaths” inside Russia – is reminiscent of how American right-wing groups suggested that Bill and Hillary Clinton were murderers by distributing a long list of “mysterious deaths” somehow related to the Clinton “scandals” from their Arkansas days. While there was no specific evidence connecting the Clintons to any of these deaths, the sheer number created suspicions that were hard to knock down without making you a “Clinton apologist.” Similarly, a demand for actual evidence proving Putin’s guilt in a specific case makes you a “Putin apologist.”
However, as a leader of a powerful nation facing threats from terrorism and other national security dangers, Putin is surely a “killer,” much as U.S. presidents are killers. That appears to have been President Trump’s point, that the United States doesn’t have clean hands when it comes to shedding innocent blood.
But telling such an unpleasant albeit obvious truth is not the way to gain entrance into the inner sanctum of Official Washington’s Deep State. The passwords for admission require you to say a lot of things that are patently false. Any inconvenient truth-telling earns you the bum’s rush out into the alley, even if you’re President of the United States.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.
A group of prominent US senators is leading a bipartisan effort to push through the so-called Russia Review Act, which would allow the Senate to veto any attempt of newcomer President Donald Trump to loosen sanctions on Moscow.
The group, which currently consists of six senators, is growing, according to a report by CNN, which sees the initiative as Congress’ latest warning to Trump signifying that it will not tolerate unilateral moves by the executive branch to reconcile with Moscow, especially the lifting of sanctions.
The group led by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) also includes Marco Rubio (R-Florida), John McCain (R-Arizona), Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).
On Wednesday, they are planning to introduce legislation that would subject any decision the president takes concerning Russia to a 120 day-review, during which Congress could put any move to lift sanctions to a vote, according to a copy of the draft shown to CNN.
If Trump was to order the lifting of sanctions without Russia pulling out of Crimea, the Florida senator believes there’s strong enough opposition among legislators to veto the move. The US still considers Crimea to be part of Ukraine.
“I think if there was a real threat of lifting sanctions minus the respect for Ukrainian sovereignty and meeting those conditions, my sense is that we would have the votes to pass that in the Senate and we would be able to pass it with a veto-proof majority,” Rubio told the news network.
Meanwhile, another bill is being formulated by another group of a dozen senators who wish to impose an additional set of comprehensive sanctions on Moscow, on top of those already in place. They justify the move citing Crimea’s decision to reunite with Russia in a referendum following an armed coup in Kiev (referred to as “annexation” by Washington), as well as unproven allegations that Russia carried out cyber-attacks to influence the US election.
No date has been set for a vote on that bill.
Both acts would require a supermajority of 67 Senate votes, which sponsor Ben Cardin of Maryland believes is achievable.
The news comes before the dust has even settled on Trump’s interview with Bill O’Reilly on Fox, during which the host tried to coax the president into making a harsh comments about Vladimir Putin, even going so far as to call the Russian president a “killer.” Trump refused to take the bait, however, causing quite a stir in anti-Russian circles on Capitol Hill.
Reports about the new bill come as tensions between Moscow and Kiev have increased over the issue of holding elections in the Donbass region. Moscow believes elections should go ahead, provided that free and fair electoral procedures are observed and the safety of all candidates is ensured, while Kiev insists that no elections can be held until it has establishing full control over the rebel regions and their borders with Russia. Moreover, ultranationalist and neo-Nazi elements in Ukraine have been putting pressure on the Kiev government, threatening to oust Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko if elections in the breakaway regions take place.
The launch of the Crosscheck project by Facebook and Google in collaboration with over a dozen French news outlets is an attempt to “fight the National Front” and prevent Marine Le Pen from winning the presidential election, Front National politicians told Sputnik.
On Monday tech giants Facebook and Google announced the launch of the Crosscheck project, an initiative ostensibly intended to prevent false news stories from being distributed on the internet.The launch of Crosscheck has been timed to coincide with France’s presidential elections. The first round of the election takes place April 23, followed by a run-off between the top two candidates on May 7 if no first-round candidate wins a majority.
The project is run by First Draft News, which bills itself as a “nonprofit coalition,” formed in June 2015 “to raise awareness and address challenges relating to trust and truth in the digital age.”
The project is being launched in France on February 27, where Crosscheck has made agreements with 16 French news outlets, including AFP, Le Monde and Buzzfeed News. These news websites have pledged to “ensure that accurate reports reach citizens across the country and beyond.”
Crosscheck is seen as a response to the recent election campaign in the US, where some news media expressed concerns that “fake news” distributed on Facebook persuaded the electorate to vote for Donald Trump over the overwhelming favorite for the Presidency, Hillary Clinton.
Many news outlets in Europe and the US are keen to draw parallels between Donald Trump and National Front leader Marine Le Pen, since they share a Eurosceptic, anti-immigration platform.
Davy Rodriguez, deputy director of the Front national de la jeunesse (FNJ), the youth wing of the right-wing party, told Sputnik Francais that the media involved in the Crosscheck initiative are interested in promoting their own candidates, at the expense of the National Front.
“We, in the National Front, are defending the idea of sovereignty. We are very concerned that giants like Google or Facebook are interested in these issues, and even more so that they are supported by media such as Libération, Rue89, Le Monde and La Voix du Nord. These are our political opponents, they openly oppose the National Front. This is media which supports a specific political camp,” Rodriguez said.
“The fact that major US corporations are relying on this type of media, to destabilize French politics, is very, very alarming. All the more so, because of fear after the UK voted in favor of ‘Brexit’ and Donald Trump won the election in the US. We don’t think it’s normal for large corporations, Facebook and Google, to act in such a way. In any case, they know who their opponent is. The participation of groups such as Libération shows that this was done in order to fight against the National Front.”
Rodriguez said that he opposes the interference of Google and Facebook in the French election, and cast doubt on the credentials of US companies to warn the French about “fake news.”
“The US is a country which specializes in fraud and misinformation. We have seen what kind of propaganda was promoted by them during the conflict in Syria, the conflict in Ukraine. We have seen how they carried out destruction and then said, ‘this is false information, this is disinformation.’ In any case, who can take it upon themselves to say what is true and what is false when they are two and a half thousand kilometers away from what is happening? This is a real problem.”
Gilbert Collard, French National Front deputy for the Gard constituency, told Sputnik Francais that Crosscheck is an “unacceptable” attack on free speech.
“This ‘police’ is on a par with the media, which sometimes support this or that political camp. We clearly see here a desire to restrain the extraordinary freedom of expression that exists in social networks.”
“This is an attempt to silence speech, to curtail the language of free speech. I find it absolutely outrageous. This is outrageous, not only because these online resources have assigned themselves the right to act in the role of the police, without having any qualifications to play this role, but they themselves can spread false information.”
“It seems to me that the media are afraid of losing power and have assigned themselves a kind of power of the Inquisition, which from a democratic point of view, no-one gave them. This is a roundabout way of putting pressure on public opinion and the electorate from above, with the help of the millionaires who own these media outlets, to support a particular candidate or particular opinion. This is largely about the desire to manipulate information and infringe on freedom of information,’ Collard said.
According to a recent opinion poll conducted February 6 by Ifop-Fiducial for Paris Match, iTélé and Sud-Radio, Le Pen is the leading candidate supported by 25.5 percent of voters.
In second place is former Economy Minister and En Marche! founder Emmanuel Macron with 20.5 percent. Center-right candidate Francois Fillon is supported by 18.5 percent, and Benoit Hamon of Francois Hollande’s Socialists is fourth with 15.5 percent support.
In spite of concerns over the impact of so-called “fake news” on the US election, a working paper from academics at the universities of Stanford and New York shows that social media played a much smaller role in the US election than some might think.
“A reader of our study could very reasonably say, based on our set of facts, that it is unlikely that fake news swayed the election,” said Gentzkow, an economics professor and senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR), in a press release.
Syria denied as false and politically-motivated an Amnesty International report claiming that Syrian military police carried out mass hangings over the course of five years.
In a statement published on Tuesday, the Syrian Justice Ministry rejected the account of mass hangings at Saydnaya prison as bogus and devoid of truth, saying such claims are meant to ruin the government’s reputation in the international community.
According to the report, about 5,000 to 13,000 people were executed at Saydnaya prison near Damascus between 2011 and 2015.
The statement further emphasized that based on Syrian law, death sentences are handed only after judicial trials run through several degrees of litigation.
Such allegations come in the face of recent gains by Syrian army forces and allied popular defense groups in battles against foreign-sponsored Takfiri terrorists, and the atmosphere of national reconciliation in the country, it added.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has urged Washington, London and their allies to create a “joint front” against Iran, citing Tehran’s supposedly aggressive behavior as the reason. Iranian analysts told Sputnik Persian that Israel “has no right” to come up with such initiatives since it is the main reason behind regional tensions.
“Israel is the main source of all conflicts in the Middle East,” Hossein Ruyvaran, an expert on the Middle East and the Arab world who teaches at the University of Tehran, said. “Since this state was established in 1948, the region has been plagued by many wars sparked by Israel – in 1948, 1956, 1973, 1982, 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2014. The Israeli regime is the main reason for regional tensions due to its ambitions. This regime has tried to change the geopolitical orientation in the region.”
These remarks came in response to Netanyahu calling on the United States and the United Kingdom to adopt a tough stance on Iran due to Tehran’s ostensibly “defiant aggression” and in light of the country’s “defiance against the international order.”
“Claims that Iran is the key threat [in the Middle East] and the main reason behind all troubles in the region are groundless,” Ruyvaran said. “Israel has tried to use these accusations to turn the West against Iran. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council has adopted Resolution 2234 which strongly condemns Israel’s unlawful settlements on occupied lands.”
Hassan Hanizadeh, Iranian political analyst and former chief editor of the Mehr News Agency, expressed similar sentiments. He referred to Netanyahu’s remarks as “anti-Iranian political propaganda.”
“Not many countries are ready to support Israel since everyone knows that Israel has occupied Arab lands, including the Golan Heights, Gaza and East Jerusalem,” he said. “This is why Israel has no right to accuse Iran of aggression since it itself is an aggressor. … Israel has no right to mention or urge to create a front against Iran. If a front against aggression must be created, then it should be targeted against Israel, not Iran.”Netanyahu’s comments came after Iran had tested a new ballistic missile last week. The United States imposed new sanctions on Tehran, with US President Donald Trump tweeting that the Islamic Republic has been “formally put on notice” for conducting the test. He added that Iran was “playing with fire.”
Tehran has repeatedly said that its missile program is defensive in nature and does not threaten other countries. On Monday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said that the test was not intended “to send a message” to the new US administration.
Saudi Arabian Oil Co. (Aramco) has chosen the New York-based boutique investment bank Moelis & Co to advise on its initial public offering, reports say.
The sale of the world’s biggest oil company is the latest of several moves by the Saudi government to generate revenues in the face of a gaping budget deficit.
Aramco had invited banks in January to pitch for an advisory position on what is expected to be the world’s biggest initial public offering.
JPMorgan, which has been Aramco’s commercial banker for years, and Michael Klein, a former star Citigroup banker, had been advising Saudi authorities on the IPO.
However, the kingdom’s decision to pick a small banker has surprised many observers. International business outlets such as Bloomberg and the Financial Times said the choice represents a coup for Moelis founded no earlier than 2007.
The IPO, which is predicted to raise about $100 billion, is set to yield millions of dollars in fees and push Moelis up in global investment bank rankings.
Last year, Moelis hired Shlomo Yanai, a retired Israeli military officer, to join the firm as a senior adviser. Yanai had earlier been offered the directorship of the Israeli spy agency Mossad by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but he turned it down.
The oil giant’s initial public offering, holding $2 trillion in assets, is expected to take place in 2018 with an initial sale of a five-percent share.
According to Bloomberg, Aramco expects Moelis to help it select underwriters for the sale, make decisions on potential listing venues and ensure the IPO goes smoothly.
Saudi Arabia is currently dealing with a budget deficit of nearly $100 billion caused by a sharp slump in oil prices as well as Riyadh’s rising military expenditure. The kingdom emerged as the world’s third largest military spender in 2015 when it began its military campaign against Yemen.
The Saudis have also been forced to introduce a series of austerity measures that include canceling of some bonuses offered to state employees and increasing of entry visa fees for residents and foreigners.
The ruling Saudi family will transfer the revenue from the sale of Aramco to the country’s public investment fund (PIF), which will then be tapped to purchase strategic financial and industrial assets abroad.