corbettreport | July 5, 2013
Michael Hastings was that rarest of breeds: a mainstream reporter who wasn’t afraid to rail against the system, kick back against the establishment, and bite the hand that feeds him. On the morning of June 18, 2013, he died in a fiery car crash. But now details are emerging that he was on the verge of breaking an important new story about the CIA, and believed he was being investigated by the FBI. Now even a former counter-terrorism czar is admitting Hastings’ car may have been cyber-hijacked. Join us this week on The Corbett Report as we explore the strange details surrounding the untimely death of Michael Hastings.
SHOW NOTES AND MP3: http://www.corbettreport.com/?p=7636
As Rep. Adam Schiff tries out for the lead role in a remake of the Joe McCarthy hearings by maligning specific Americans as suspected Russian moles, some of the actual evidence argues against the Democratic notion that the Russians own President Trump and other key Republicans.
For instance, last week, Democrats circulated a report showing that retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who served briefly as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, had received payments from several Russia-related entities, totaling nearly $68,000.
The largest payment of $45,386 came for a speech and an appearance in Moscow in 2015 at the tenth anniversary dinner for RT, the international Russian TV network, with Flynn netting $33,750 after his speakers’ bureau took its cut. Democrats treated this revelation as important evidence about Russia buying influence in the Trump campaign and White House. But the actual evidence suggests something quite different.
Not only was the sum a relative trifle for a former senior U.S. government official compared to, say, the fees collected by Bill and Hillary Clinton, who often pulled in six to ten times more, especially for speeches to foreign audiences. (Former President Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with ties to the Kremlin, The New York Times reported in 2015,)
Yet, besides Flynn’s relatively modest speaking fee, The Washington Post reported that RT negotiated Flynn’s rate downward.
Deep inside its article on Flynn’s Russia-connected payments, the Post wrote, “RT balked at paying Flynn’s original asking price. ‘Sorry it took us longer to get back to you but the problem is that the speaking fee is a bit too high and exceeds our budget at the moment,’ Alina Mikhaleva, RT’s head of marketing, wrote a Flynn associate about a month before the event.”
So, if you accept the Democrats’ narrative that Russian President Vladimir Putin is engaged in an all-out splurge to induce influential Americans to betray their country, how do you explain that his supposed flunkies at RT are quibbling with Flynn over a relatively modest speaking fee?
Wouldn’t you think that Putin would have told RT’s marketing department that the sky was the limit in paying off Flynn because the ever-prescient Russian president knew from his Ouija board in 2015 that Flynn would be the future national security adviser under President Trump?
After all, it’s become one of Official Washington’s favorite groupthinks that RT is nothing but a Russian propaganda front designed to destroy the faith that Americans have in their democratic process – as if the sleazy and shameful political campaigns financed with hundreds of millions of dollars from billionaires need any help from RT.
But RT-bashing is always in season. The Director of National Intelligence’s report on Jan. 6, with its evidence-free “assessments” that Russia was engaged in undermining American democracy included a seven-page appendix dating from 2012 that described how RT was contributing toward that goal by portraying “the US electoral process as undemocratic.”
The “proof” behind the DNI’s accusation included RT’s articles on “voting machine vulnerabilities” although virtually every major U.S. news organizations ran similar stories in that time frame. The DNI report also took RT to task for covering the Occupy Wall Street movement and for reporting on the environmental dangers from “fracking,” topics cited as further proof that the Russian government was using RT to weaken U.S. public support for Washington’s policies (although, again, these are topics of genuine public interest).
To further demonstrate how RT was carrying out the Kremlin’s goal of spoiling Americans’ faith in the U.S. democratic process, the DNI report noted that “RT broadcast, hosted and advertised third-party candidate debates.”
Apparently, the DNI’s point was that showing Americans that there are choices beyond the two major parties was somehow seditious. “The RT hosts asserted that the US two-party system does not represent the views of at least one-third of the population and is a ‘sham,’” the DNI’s report said.
Yet, polls have shown that large numbers of Americans would prefer more choices than the usual two candidates and, indeed, most Western democracies have multiple parties. But somehow RT’s suggestion that other voices should be heard constituted an assault on American democracy.
As for Flynn, the report on his finances showed that he also received payments of $11,250 from the U.S. subsidiary of Kaspersky Lab, a Russian cyber-security firm, and $11,250 from a U.S. air cargo company associated with the Volga-Dnepr Group, owned by a Russian businessman.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, who was the chief defender of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she was subjected to the Republicans’ over-the-top Benghazi investigations, switched positions in publicizing the news about Flynn’s post-government work related to Russia. Cummings was suddenly the accuser.
”I cannot recall any time in our nation’s history when the President selected as his National Security Advisor someone who violated the Constitution by accepting tens of thousands of dollars from an agent of a global adversary that attacked out democracy,” Cummings wrote in a letter to President Trump, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and FBI Director James Comey.
Heating Up the New Cold War
Cummings thus became another Democrat pouring gasoline on the smoldering tensions between nuclear-armed Russia and the United States. For the Democrats, any dealing with any entity that had some connection to Russia is now prima facie evidence of disloyalty.
The context of these contacts has become almost irrelevant, subordinated to the larger goal of ousting Trump, whatever the cost, even transforming the Democratic Party into the party of the New Cold War and the New McCarthyism.
Yet, further undercutting the new certainty that Putin lined Trump’s pockets with rubles as a way to ensure his allegiance to the Kremlin is the story of Trump’s failed luxury hotel project intended to be built in Moscow several years ago.
A source familiar with those negotiations told me that Trump had hoped to get a half interest in the $2 billion project but that Russian-Israeli investor Mikhail Fridman, a founder of Russia’s Alfa Bank, balked because Trump was unwilling to commit a significant investment beyond the branding value of the Trump name.
Again, if the Democratic narrative is to be believed – that Putin controls all the businesses in Russia and wanted to pay off Trump – it’s hard to understand why the hotel deal fell through. Or, for that matter, why RT was nickel-and-diming Flynn.
The other problem with the Democratic narrative is that it always assumes that Putin could foretell that Trump would rise in 2016 to win the U.S. presidential election and thus there was value in corrupting Trump and his entourage with money and other favors.
The fact that almost no political pundit in the United States shared that prediction even last year would seem to demonstrate the kookiness of the Democratic assumptions and the flaws in the U.S. Intelligence Community’s “assessments” about alleged Russian “hacking” and distribution of Democratic emails.
Those “assessments” also assume that Putin’s motives were to hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign, boost Trump and – as FBI Director Comey added on Monday – turn Americans against their democracy.
But there is a counter-argument to that thinking: Assuming that Putin read the polls like everyone else, would he risk infuriating the likely next President of the United States – Hillary Clinton – by embarrassing her with an email leak that would amount to a pinprick? Clinton herself blamed her surprise defeat on FBI Director Comey’s decision to briefly reopen the investigation into whether she endangered national security by using a private email server as Secretary of State.
Unless one assumes that Putin’s Ouija board also predicted Comey’s actions or perhaps that Comey is another Russian mole, wouldn’t it be a huge risk for Putin to anger Clinton without ensuring her defeat? There’s the old saying that “if you strike a king, you must kill him,” which would seem to apply equally to a queen. But logical thinking no longer applies to what’s going on in Official Washington.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.
Osama bin Laden, it’s a name every American knows and loves to hate. After the horrific terrorist attacks on 11 September 2011, former US President George W Bush told his countrymen that this terrorist bin Laden orchestrated the 911 attacks in New York City, Washington DC and Shanksville, Pa. and people believed it. They envisioned his face with a target on it and blamed him for the deaths of thousands of Americans. Why shouldn’t they? No president would lie about something so serious, right?
The real truth may never be known, the Central Intelligence Agency will see to that. But here is what we do know… in the simplest terms: GW Bush told the nation almost immediately that bin Laden was responsible, but Osama bin Laden denied having any involvement in 9/11. Americans are widely familiar with the first part, but almost nobody knows the latter.
On 17 Sept. 2001, Bush placed the blame on bin Laden in an ABC News article titled, Bush Says Bin Laden Wanted Dead or Alive,
“Bush reiterated today that bin Laden is ‘the prime suspect’ in Tuesday’s attacks, in which hijacked planes slammed into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, where thousands are feared dead. Another hijacked airliner crashed in Pennsylvania, apparently after passengers overwhelmed the hijackers.”
I have been watching all of this unfold for many years. Media agencies all over the world, including mainstream agencies in the US, carried bin Laden’s denial initially. The Saudi dissident flatly denied having anything to do with 9/11. Isn’t that odd? Why, after all, would a terrorist who was actually able to strike the world’s premier super power from a cave while dying of kidney failure, deny it? Wouldn’t he want everyone in the world to know that he scored three direct hits on the Great Satan, the USA itself?
Osama bin Laden knew, of course, that such an act would bring an overwhelming military response. If you toss enough stones at a beehive, they’re going to get your ass. The only thing that 9/11 really did, was inspire a series of bloodbath wars in the Middle east, none of which were legal or justified, and put billions and billions of dollars into the pockets of Dick Cheney and an assortment of other military contractors and mercenaries. Well over a million Muslim people have died as a result. Mr. bin Laden, in spite of his reputation for committing acts of terror (bin Laden is the suspect in the bombing of American embassies in Africa in 1998) said at the time that he did not seek to invoke a massive reprisal against his own people.
It was a set up.
Today, most of the US media links referencing bin Laden’s denial of having any role in the 11 Sept attacks, are all dead ends. Fortunately, long before they disappeared, I mapped them all out in a Salem-News.com article titled Bin Laden’s Ghost and the bigger truth, is that all of these articles exist today in hard copy archives. One example of an article that made it through, is the 15 Sept. 2001 LA Times piece, On Trail of the Real Osama bin Laden which states, “Bin Laden denies involvement in Tuesday’s attacks, and some terrorist experts caution that others might have been more directly involved. They cite evidence that terrorist cells tied to other radical groups and governments could have been the organizers.”
(Entrance to bin Laden’s former training camp in Jalalabad, Afghanistan during the Soviet war. Photo by Tim King)
Among the US news archives that are still intact, is a story by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel titled, Bin Laden denies being behind attacks, which carries the statement, “Jamal Ismail, a Palestinian journalist, has said a bin Laden aide called him after Tuesday’s attack to say bin Laden denied being involved but ‘thanked almighty Allah and bowed before him when he heard this news.’”
(CNN and almost all western media carried the denial initially)
A Yahoo News article from 13 Sept. 2001, Taliban says Bin Laden Denies Role in Attacks, contains the quote from Taliban ambassador to Pakistan Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef who told Reuters, “We asked from him, (and) he told (us) we don’t have any hand in this action.”
Many mainstream world agencies still maintain online copies of the bin Laden denials.
Trump Says Bush Knew About Pending Attacks
Many have suggested that the US government was well aware of the pending attacks in Sept. 2001.
Willie Brown, Former Mayor of San Francisco and Former Speaker of the California State Assembly, was warned not to fly on 9/11 several hours before he was to take to the not so friendly skies. And even newly elected US President Donald Trump spoke out about GW Bush’s alleged knowledge that the 11 Sept. attacks were going to take place before they did. Politifact wrote in the article, Donald Trump says CIA warned George W. Bush of Sept. 11 attacks, “Trump claims that the CIA told the Bush administration that a domestic terror attack was coming. The report assembled over a span of three years after Sept. 11, 2001, found no specific alert. The potential for a domestic attack was discussed in early August, but it was mentioned only in broad terms and was not brought back up. Investigative reports in the years since found that the CIA warnings emphasized possible targets overseas.”
The 17 Sept. 2001 article Bin Laden and family flee to the hills and family goes into hiding by The Guardian, states, “In a statement faxed to the pro-Taliban Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) agency, Bin Laden yesterday denied having anything to do with last week’s attacks in New York and Washington. ‘I am residing in Afghanistan. I have taken an oath of allegiance [to the Taliban’s spiritual leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar] which does not allow me to do such things from Afghanistan,’ he claimed.”
The Bin Laden Interview
The most direct response from bin Laden was the article, Who was behind 9/11? – an interview with Osama Bin Laden by The Daily Ummat of Karachi. This is an excerpt, a direct quote from Osama bin Laden.
“I have already said that I am not involved in the September 11 attacks in the United States. As a Muslim, I try my best to avoid telling a lie. I had no knowledge of these attacks, nor do I consider the killing of innocent women, children and other human beings as an appreciable act. Islam strictly forbids causing harm to innocent women, children and other people. Such a practice is forbidden even in the course of battle. It is the United States which is perpetrating every sort of maltreatment on women, children and common people of other faiths, particularly the followers of Islam. All that has been going on in Palestine for the last 11 months is sufficient to invoke the wrath of God upon the United States and Israel. There is also a warning for those Muslim countries that witnessed all of this as silent spectators. What had earlier been done to the innocent people of Iraq, Chechnya and Bosnia? Only one conclusion could be derived from the indifference of the United States and the West to these acts of terror and the patronage of the tyrants by these powers, namely that America is an anti-Islamic power and is patronising anti-Islamic forces. Its friendship with the Muslim countries is just show, or rather deceit. By enticing or intimidating these countries, the United States is forcing them to play a role of its choice. Cast a glance around and you will see that the slaves of the United States are either rulers or enemies of Muslims.”
I suggest reading the entire interview. It is hard for Americans to understand, but one of bin Laden’s principle concerns was the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestine. The US, irreversibly pro-Israel, misses the point that most of the world does not approve of the suffering of Palestinians, this fact is key to all of the world’s problems in the Middle east. Just this week, a UN report confirmed that Israel has established an ‘apartheid regime’ with separate laws for people of different religions; affirming many of the political points made by both bin Laden, and former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who was a stalwart supporter of Palestinian human rights.
The authorities of the self-proclaimed Kosovo republic have decided to confiscate up to 200 billion euros’ worth of real estate of the former Yugoslavia’s Serbia and Kosovo Province, adding pressure to an already strained relationship between Pristina and Belgrade.
The Kosovo cadastral agency has been instructed to immediately register all real estate, amounting to more than 2 million square meters of buildings, including a ski resort and a mining complex, but also land, as the property of Kosovo.
Meanwhile, according to the Serbian cadaster agency, Serbian immovable property in Kosovo amounts to 1 million square meters and Serbian-owned enterprises in the region are valued at about 200 billion euros.
The region’s strategic natural resources “privatized” by the Pristina government include almost 15 billion tons of lignite and over 42 billion tons of lead and zinc.
Reacting to the news, Serbian First Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said the decision was “completely illegal, and unacceptable.”
No serious investor will spend money in Kosovo based on this decision of the government in Pristina — “because they won’t know whose property it is in the end,” he added.
According to the former head of the Kosovo cadastral agency, Slavica Radomirovic, 58 percent of industrial enterprises and real estate in Kosovo belong to Serbia and its citizens as proved by original documents taken out of the region after the 1999 war.
Radomirovic warned that the Kosovo authorities had prepared their own cadaster books based on forged data.
In an interview with Sputnik Serbia, Dusan Prorokovic, an expert with the Belgrade-based Strategic Alternative Fund, said that Pristina prefers to resolve all disputes with Belgrade by military force and that all it really wants is property.
“All they are doing was previously approved by the Obama Administration. They started with a demand for a Kosov army and within the next few weeks we could expect further such steps by Pristina. They know that the international community will look on as a new balance of forces is emerging in the Balkans,” he said.
Political analyst Dusan Janjic said that all this was a logical continuation of the EU-launched process of illegal privatization of Serbian property in Kosovo.
“Pristina is speeding up this whole process across the board. Just like its [Western] sponsors, it wants things like the army and property cut out for it before they start a dialogue in a new format,” he added.
Meanwhile, Kosovo Vice-Premier Branimir Stojanovic told the Serbian TV channel RTS that the decision to confiscate Serbian property in Kosovo was legally null and void and could seriously complicate relations with Belgrade.
He added that the decision was taken behind closed doors without asking the opinion of Serbian representatives in the regional parliament.
Kosovo unilaterally proclaimed independence from Serbia in 2008 and is recognized by over 100 UN member states. Serbia, as well as Russia, does not recognize Kosovo’s independence.
Dear Israeli Government:
You’ve recently banned foreigners who support boycotts against Israel or Israeli settlements from being allowed to enter Israel – even Jewish foreigners, a first for the self-proclaimed Jewish state After all, your “Law of Return” has allowed (and encouraged) Jewish foreigners to freely immigrate to Israel, even as multitudes of Palestinians have been banned from returning to their homes.
People throughout the Western world have objected in outrage to your new law, particularly Jewish Westerners who have family and connections in Israel from whom they’ll be cut off in retaliation for their political positions.
Critics, even some who oppose boycotting Israel and who have had no problem with excluding Palestinians, have called out the law for diverse reasons: its quashing of free debate and political expression, its anti-democratic nature, how it will affect them and others personally.
I support these objections.
But I’m not trying to visit Israel.
I want to go to Bethlehem and Nablus, Ramallah and Hebron, Jenin and Tulkarem. I hope to return to Khan Yunis, Rafah, Gaza City, and numerous other towns and villages in the West Bank and Gaza.
In other words, I want to go to Palestine – a country recognized by 136 countries around the world. But your law, astoundingly, prevents me from visiting that country. You control entry and exit to the places I want to visit, even though they’re not part of your territory, or included in your exclusive democracy.
When I was born, Palestine referred to the whole of the land that your founders then ethnically cleansed and renamed. Now, it officially refers to a few segments of land, surrounded and trapped.
Unlike the residents of every other country on earth, Palestinians are not free to travel to and from their own country unless a foreign country gives them permission – a normally universal right that you routinely deny: to young and old, Muslims and Christians, professors and paupers, men and women.
Visitors are similarly obstructed. You decide whether they can get in, and whether they can get out.
When I try to visit Bethlehem, for example, I must face your armed soldiers manning the Kafkaesque, towering concrete wall you have erected on Palestinian land. These gun-toting youngsters will decree whether or not I and others – including Palestinian descendants of Bethlehem’s ancient shepherds – can pass through.
In other words, Israel is essentially imprisoning over 4 million men, women, and children (with some help from Egypt, its proxy to the south). Israeli jailers, euphemistically “border guards,” determine who may even visit this incarcerated population, and what supplies may reach them.
Over the years I’ve seen you prevent numerous individuals and groups, many bringing medicines and life-saving supplies, from visiting this captive population. You’ve blocked sons from visiting dying mothers, suffering children from receiving critical medical care, malnourished toddlers from receiving help.
It is a profound shame upon the world that this cruel and unconscionable condition has been permitted to persist year after year. There should have been massive and irresistible objections long before your recent legislation.
I remember when the United States opposed the Iron Curtain. Today, the U.S. gives the perpetrator of this current captivity $10 million per day.
Israel already denied me entry once 15 years ago, locking me up for 28 hours in a detention cell in Ben Gurion Airport before expelling me. I remember Israeli officials telling me I was not “allowed into Israel.” They didn’t even supply a reason.
Next time, they may say it’s because I endorse BDS, which I wholeheartedly do.
But I’m not trying to go to Israel. I want to go to Palestine.
– Alison Weir
Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew. She can be reached at: email@example.com.