Aletho News


How Vladimir Putin Sees the World

Oliver Stone interviewing Russian President Vladimir Putin in Showtime’s “The Putin Interviews.”
By Robert Parry | Consortium News | June 13, 2017

There was a time when I thought that it was the responsibility of an American journalist to hear all sides of a dispute and then explain the issue as fairly as possible to the American people, so they would be armed with enough facts to make their own judgments and act as the true sovereigns in a democracy.

I realize how naïve that must sound today as American journalism has shifted to a new paradigm in which the major news outlets view it as their duty to reinforce whatever the establishment narrative is and to dismiss or discredit any inconvenient facts or alternative analyses.

Today, The New York Times, The Washington Post and the rest of the mainstream media permit only the narrowest of alternative views to be expressed or they just pile into the latest groupthink whole hog.

So, that is why director Oliver Stone’s four-part series of interviews with Russian President Vladimir Putin on “Showtime” will surely draw near-universal outrage and ridicule from the big U.S. media. How dare anyone let Putin explain how he views the challenges facing the world? Can you believe that any right-thinking American would treat the Russian leader with civility and – god forbid – respect?

The new American media paradigm requires either endlessly insulting Putin to his face or aggressively blacking out his explanations, especially if they are based on information that puts the U.S. government in a negative light. The American people must be protected from this “Russian propaganda and disinformation.”

In other words, with the mainstream “guardians of truth” forewarning the American people not to watch Stone’s “The Putin Interviews,” the series will probably draw a relatively small viewership and the demonizing of Putin and Russia will continue unabated.

The American public can thus be spared some disturbing historical revelations and the unsettling vertigo that comes from hearing information that disrupts “what everyone knows to be true.”

In the “director’s cut” or long-form version of the four-part series that I watched, Stone does allow Putin to offer detailed explanations of his thinking on current crises, but also draws from Putin acknowledgements that might be surprising coming from a Russian leader. He also puts Putin in some uncomfortable binds.

–Regarding the Soviet Union’s development of the nuclear bomb in the late 1940s, Putin said Russian and German scientists were working on the project but got help from participants in the U.S. nuclear program:

“Our intelligence also received a lot of information from the United States. Suffice it to remember the Rosenberg spouses who were electrocuted. They didn’t acquire that information, they were just transferring that information. But who acquired it? The scientists themselves – those who developed the atomic bomb.

“Why did they do that? Because they understood the dangers. They let the genie out of the bottle. And now the genie cannot be put back. And this international team of scientists, I think they were more intelligent than the politicians. They provided this information to the Soviet Union of their own volition to restore the nuclear balance in the world. And what are we doing right now [with the U.S. withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty]? We’re trying to destroy this balance. And that’s a great mistake.”

–Regarding the origins of modern Islamist terrorism, Putin said: “Al Qaeda is not the result of our activities. It’s the result of the activities of our American friends. It all started during the Soviet war in Afghanistan [in the 1980s] when the American intelligence officers provided support to different forms of Islamic fundamentalism, helping them to fight the Soviet troops in Afghanistan.

“So the Americans themselves nurtured both Al Qaeda and [Osama] bin Laden. But it all spun out of control. And it always happens. And our partners in the United States should have known about that. So they’re to blame.”

Stone noted how President Reagan’s CIA Director William Casey sought to exploit Islamic fundamentalism to destabilize Muslim parts of the Soviet Union and to achieve regime change in Moscow.

Putin added: “Those ideas are still alive. And when those problems in Chechnya and the Caucasus emerged [after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991], the Americans, unfortunately, supported those processes. We [Russians] assumed the Cold War was over, that we had transparent relations, with the rest of the world, with Europe and the U.S. And we certainly counted on support, but instead, we witnessed that the American Intelligence services supported terrorists.

“I’m going to say something very important, I believe. We had a very confident opinion back then, that our American partners in words were talking about support to Russia, the need to cooperate, including fighting terrorism, but in reality they were using those terrorists to destabilize the internal political situation in Russia.”

–Regarding NATO expansion into Eastern Europe,” Putin said, “There was a deal not to expand NATO eastward. [But] this deal was not enshrined in paper. It was a mistake made by Mr. Gorbachev [the last president of the Soviet Union]. In politics, everything must be enshrined in paper.

“My impression is that in order to justify its existence, NATO has a need of an external foe, there is a constant search for the foe, or some acts of provocation to name someone as an adversary.”

–Regarding NATO missile bases being installed in Eastern Europe, Putin said: “And what are we supposed to do. In this case we have to take countermeasures. We have to aim our missile systems at facilities that are threatening us. The situation becomes more tense. …

“There are two threats for Russia. The first threat, the placement of these anti-ballistic missiles in the vicinity of our border in the Eastern European countries. The second threat is that the launching pads of these anti-ballistic missiles can be transformed within a few hours into offensive missile launching pads. Look, if these anti-ballistic missiles are placed in Eastern Europe, if those missiles are placed on water, patrolling the Mediterranean and Northern Seas, and in Alaska, almost the whole Russian territory would be encircled by these systems.

“As you can see, that is another great strategic mistake made by our partners [a word that Putin uses to refer to the United States]. Because all these actions are going to be adequately answered by Russia. And this means nothing else but a new cycle of an arms race. …

“When the Soviet Union collapsed, they [American leaders] were under the illusion that the U.S. was capable of anything, and they could [act] with impunity. That’s always a trap, because in this situation the person or the country begins to commit mistakes. There is no need to analyze the situations, or think about the consequences. And the country becomes inefficient. One mistake follows another. And I think that is the trap the U.S. has found itself in.”

–Regarding the prospect of nuclear war, Putin said, “I don’t think anyone would survive such a conflict.” Regarding U.S. plans for creating a missile shield, he said, “There is a threat deriving from the illusion of being protected, and this might lead to more aggressive behavior. That is why it is so important to prevent unilateral actions. That is why we propose to work jointly on the anti-ballistic missile system.”

–Regarding the American neoconservatives who now dominate the U.S. foreign policy establishment and the major news media, Stone described “the neoconservative element as being so hungry to make their point, to win their case that it’s dangerous.” Putin responded, “I fear them too.”

–In an interview on Feb. 16, 2016, Stone asked about the U.S. presidential campaign to which Putin replied, “We are going to be ready to work with whoever gets elected by the people of the United States. I said that on several occasions and that’s the truth. I believe nothing is going to change no matter who gets elected. … The force of the United States bureaucracy is very great. And there are many facts that are not visible to the candidates until they become President. And the moment one gets to real work, he or she feels the burden. …

“My colleague, Barack Obama, promised to close Guantanamo. He’s failed to do that. But I’m convinced that he sincerely wanted to do that. … Unlike many partners of ours, we never interfere within the domestic affairs of other countries. That is one of the principles we stick to in our work.”

–In a February 2017 interview, which was added amid the escalation of charges that Russia interfered in the U.S. election, Stone noted that Donald Trump is “your fourth president” and asked, “what changes?”

“Almost nothing,” Putin said with a wry smile. “Life makes some changes for you. But on the whole, everywhere, especially in the United States, the bureaucracy is very strong. And bureaucracy is the one that rules the world.”

Asked about alleged Russian interference to help Trump, Putin responded: “You know, this is a very silly statement. Certainly, we liked President Trump and we still like him because he publicly announced that he was ready to restore American-Russian relations. … Certainly, we’ve got to wait and see how, in reality, in practice, the relations between our two countries are going to develop. …”

Stone: “So why did you bother to hack the election then?”

Putin: “We did not hack the election at all. It would be hard to imagine any other country – even a country such as Russia would be capable of seriously influencing the electoral campaign or the outcome of an election. … any talk about our influencing the outcome of the U.S. election is all lies. They are doing it for a number of reasons.

“First, they are trying to undermine the legitimacy of President Trump, create conditions that must preclude us from normalizing our relations, and they want to create additional instruments to wage an internal political war. And Russia-U.S. relations in this context are just a mere instrument in the internal political fight in the U.S. … We know all their tricks.”

–Regarding cyber-war and the possibility that U.S. intelligence planted malware and back-doors in software sold to Russia, Putin said, “Well, you will probably not believe me, but I’m going to say something strange. Since the early 1990s, we have assumed that the Cold War is over. We thought there was no need to take any additional protective measures because we viewed ourselves as an integral part of the world community.

“We didn’t have any equipment of our own. Our companies, our state institutions and administrative departments, they were buying everything – hardware and software. And we’ve got much equipment from the U.S., from Europe, and equipment is used by the Intelligence Services and by the Defense Ministry. But recently we certainly have become aware of the threat that all of that poses.

“Only during recent years, have we started to think about how we can ensure technological independence, as well as security. Certainly we give it much thought, and we take appropriate measures. … We had to catch up with others.”

In an aside to Putin’s translator within earshot of Putin, Stone remarked: “He’s acting funny about this story, like he’s guilty a bit.”

–Regarding the dangers to Russia from U.S. cyber-warfare, Putin said: “It is almost impossible to sow fear among the Russian citizens. … And secondly, the economies that are more sophisticated, in technological terms, they are more vulnerable to this type of attack. But in any case, this is a very dangerous trend. A very dangerous avenue for competition to pursue and we need some rules to be guided by.”

When Stone raised the possibility of a treaty, Putin said, “I don’t want to say that, but you are simply drawing this information from me. You make me say that. One and a half years ago, in Autumn 2015, we came up with a proposal that was submitted to our American counterparts. We suggested that we should work these issues through and arrive at a treaty, an agreement on the rules to be guided by in this field. The Americans didn’t respond, they kept silence, they didn’t give us any reply.”

–Regarding allegations of Putin’s wealth, Stone asked, “Is there someway you could make your personal wealth clearer?”

Putin responded indirectly: “I remember when I moved to Moscow from St. Petersburg [in the 1990s], I was astounded and shocked by how many crooks had gathered here in Moscow and their behavior was so astounding, I couldn’t get used to it for a very long time. Those people didn’t have any scruples at all. … My task was to differentiate between power and money.”

Stone: “So there are no bank accounts in Cyprus?”

Putin: “No, and never have been. That’s just nonsense, and if that were the case we would have had to face it a long time ago.”

–Although Putin remained disciplined and controlled during the long sit-downs with Stone, the Russian president appeared most uncomfortable when Stone pressed him about his future plans and the risk of a leader viewing himself as indispensable to a nation.

Citing the possibility that Putin would have been in power – as either prime minister or president – for 24 years if he were to run for president again and win, Stone asked, “Do you feel that Russia needs you that badly?”

Putin: “The question you have asked whether Russia needs anyone that bad – Russia itself will decide. An alteration in power certainly has to exist. … In the end, let me reiterate – the citizens of Russia are going to make the final decision. Concerning the 2018 elections, I’d like to say there are things, things that should have some intrigue and mystery. So I am not going to answer that part of the question.”

Stone: “I said if…”

Putin: “We shouldn’t speak in the subjunctive mood.”

Stone then suggested more transparency in the next election.

A stern Putin responded: “Do you think our goal is to prove anything to anyone? Our goal is to reinforce our country.”

Stone: “That is a dangerous argument. It works both ways. Those who abuse power always say it’s a question of survival.”

Putin: “We are not talking about survival and we are not trying to justify ourselves. Certainly taking into account all the negative tendencies you’ve been talking about – the Soviet legacy, the Imperialist legacy, it’s something in the past. But we also have to think about the positive legacy. Russia has been built for a thousand years; it has its own traditions. We have our notions of what is just and unjust, we have our own understanding of what defines an efficient government.

“This is not a question of helping someone cling to power or to claim it for myself. This is about ensuring economic growth and sustaining it, improving our defense capabilities, and not just during periods of crisis and difficulties.”

Stone: “Mr. Putin, I don’t doubt for one moment your pride in serving Russia or that you are a son of Russia to me, and you have done very well by her. We all know the price of power. When we’re in power too long no matter what, the people need us but at the same time we’ve changed and we don’t even know it.”

Putin: “Indeed, this is a very dangerous state. If a person in power feels that they have lost it, this bond connecting this person to the country and to the rank-and-file citizens of the country, then it’s time for them to go.”

June 13, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 3 Comments

‘Up to 15 tons of depleted uranium used in 1999 Serbia bombing’ – lead lawyer in suit against NATO

RT | June 13, 2017

An international legal team is preparing a lawsuit against NATO over the alliance’s alleged use of depleted uranium munitions during its bombing of Yugoslavia. These have allegedly caused a rise in cancer-related illnesses across the region over the years.

“The NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999 used between 10 and 15 tons of depleted uranium, which caused a major environmental disaster,” said Srdjan Aleksic, a Serbian lawyer who leads the legal team, which includes lawyers from the EU, Russia, China and India.

“In Serbia, 33,000 people fall sick because of this every year. That is one child every day,” he claimed.

NATO’s press office says it’s now aware of Serbia’s allegations, but gave no further comment.

When asked as of why Serbia has decided to sue NATO 19 years after the attacks, the lawyer said “considering the horrific consequences for our population… it is never too late to sue someone who has caused an environmental catastrophe, someone [who] bombed Serbia with a quasi-nuclear weapon, i.e. depleted uranium.”

The Serbian lawyer says 19 countries that were part of NATO at the time need to pay compensation for “for the financial and non-financial damages… to all the citizens who died or fell sick as a proven result of the NATO bombing.”

“We expect the members of NATO to provide treatment to our citizens who are suffering from cancer,” Aleksic said, adding that the bloc “must also provide the necessary technology and equipment to remove all traces of the depleted uranium” from Serbia.

“The use of banned weapons” by the US-led military alliance in the Balkans “was a violation of all the international conventions and rules that protect people” from such kind of weapons, the lawyer claimed, adding that NATO also used depleted uranium in Iraq in 1991.

“The alliance has not been put on trial for this act, but the consequences are disastrous,” he said.

In its 2000 report on depleted uranium, NATO confirmed the use of the munitions both in Iraq and in the Balkans.

“In Iraq, about 300 metric tons of DU [depleted uranium] ammunition were fired by American and British troops. Recently, NATO confirmed the use of DU ammunition in Kosovo battlefields, where approximately 10 metric tons of DU were used,” the report says.

The UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has also admitted “there is evidence of use of depleted uranium (DU) projectiles by NATO aircraft during the bombing campaign.” However, the UN tribunal has pointed out that “there is no specific treaty ban on the use of DU projectiles.”

Reporting on the consequences of the use of such munitions for civil population and the environment, a NATO report said that “in the vicinity of the impact point of DU ammunitions, it is not excluded that individuals unaware of the contamination… could have accumulated radiation doses and/or could have incorporated uranium quantities exceeding the internationally recognized limits.”

In May, Balkan Insight reported that around 50 people from the Serbian city of Nis, who have been suffering from cancer and have “seemingly relevant medical documentation” have asked the legal team of 26 lawyers and professors to represent them in the case against NATO.

NATO launched airstrikes in what was then Yugoslavia in March 1999, having interfered in a sectarian conflict between Serbians and Kosovan Albanians. As clashes between the local population turned violent, the US-led military alliance made a decision to respond to what the it said was ethnic cleansing of the Muslim population of Kosovo, without the backing of the UN Security Council.

With no UN mandate, NATO bombing of Serbia lasted for three months, having resulted in hundreds of civilian deaths.

June 13, 2017 Posted by | Environmentalism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Lynching Free Speech: The Intolerant State of America

By John W. Whitehead | Rutherford Institute | June 13, 2017

“What are the defenders of free speech to do? The sad fact is that this fundamental freedom is on its heels across America. Politicians of both parties want to use the power of government to silence their foes. Some in the university community seek to drive it from their campuses. And an entire generation of Americans is being taught that free speech should be curtailed as soon as it makes someone else feel uncomfortable. On the current trajectory, our nation’s dynamic marketplace of ideas will soon be replaced by either disengaged intellectual silos or even a stagnant ideological conformity. Few things would be so disastrous for our nation and the well-being of our citizenry.”—William Ruger, “Free Speech Is Central to Our Dignity as Humans

My hometown of Charlottesville, Va., has become the latest poster child in a heated war of words—and actions—over racism, “sanitizing history,” extremism (both right and left), political correctness, hate speech, partisan politics, and a growing fear that violent words will end in violent actions.

In Charlottesville, as in so many parts of the country right now, the conflict is over how to reconcile the nation’s checkered past, particularly as it relates to slavery, with the present need to sanitize the environment of anything—words and images—that might cause offense, especially if it’s a Confederate flag or monument.

In Charlottesville, that fear of offense prompted the City Council to get rid of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee that has graced one of its public parks for 82 years. In doing so, they have attracted the unwanted attention of the Ku Klux Klan.

Yale University actually went so far as to change the name of one of its residential colleges, which was named after John C. Calhoun, the nation’s seventh vice president, a secretary of state, secretary of war, senator and Yale alum who supported slavery.

New Orleans ran up a $2 million tab in its efforts to remove its four Confederate monuments, with the majority of the funds being used for security to police the ensuing protests and demonstrations.

With more than 1,000 Confederate monuments in 31 states (in public parks, courthouse squares and state capitols), not to mention Confederate battle flags on display in military cemeteries, and countless more buildings and parks named after historic figures who were slaveholders, this isn’t an issue that is going away anytime soon, no matter how much we ignore it, shout over it, criminalize it, legislate it, adjudicate or police it.

The temperature is rising all across the nation, and not just over this Confederate issue.

The “winter of our discontent” has given way to an overheated, sweltering summer in which shouting matches are skating dangerously close to becoming physical altercations.

As journalist Dahlia Lithwick writes for Slate, “These days, people who used to feel free to shout and threaten are emboldened to punch, body-slam, and stab. It is a short hop, we are learning, from ‘words can never hurt us’ to actual sticks and stones and the attendant breaking of bones. That is what has become of free speech in this country.”

Here’s the thing: if Americans don’t learn how to get along—at the very least, agreeing to disagree and respecting each other’s right to subscribe to beliefs and opinions that may be offensive, hateful, intolerant or merely different—then we’re going to soon find that we have no rights whatsoever (to speak, assemble, agree, disagree, protest, opt in, opt out, or forge our own paths as individuals).

The government will lock down the nation at the slightest provocation.

It is ready, willing and able to impose martial law within 24 hours.

Indeed, the government has been anticipating and preparing for civil unrest for years now, as evidenced by the build-up of guns and tanks and militarized police and military training drills and threat assessments and extremism reports and surveillance systems and private prisons.

Connect the dots, people.

The government doesn’t care about who you voted for in the presidential election or whether you think the Civil War was fought over states’ rights versus slavery. It doesn’t care about your race or gender or religion or sexual orientation.

When the police state cracks down, it will not discriminate.

We’ll all be muzzled together.

We’ll all be jailed together.

We’ll all be viewed as a collective enemy to be catalogued, conquered and caged.

Thus, the last thing we need to do is play into the government’s hands by turning on one another, turning in one another, and giving the government’s standing army an excuse to take over.

The police state could not ask for a better citizenry than one that carries out its own censorship, spying and policing.

This is how you turn a nation of free people into extensions of the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent police state, and in the process turn a citizenry against each other. It’s a brilliant ploy, with the added bonus that while the citizenry remains focused on and distrustful of each other, they’re incapable of presenting a united front against the threats posed by the government and its cabal of Constitution-destroying agencies and corporate partners.

Unfortunately, we have already become a nation of snowflakes, snitches and book burners: a legalistic, intolerant, elitist, squealing bystander nation eager to report fellow citizens to the police for the slightest offense.

Mind you, once the police are called in, with their ramped-up protocols, battlefield mindset, militarized weapons, uniforms and equipment, and war zone tactics, it’s a process that is near impossible to turn back and one that too often ends in tragedy for all those involved.

So how do we stop this train from barreling down the tracks past the police state and straight into martial law?

Let’s start with a little more patience, a lot more tolerance and a civics lesson on the First Amendment.

As my good friend Nat Hentoff, that inveterate champion of the First Amendment, once observed, “The quintessential difference between a free nation, as we profess to be, and a totalitarian state, is that here everyone, including a foe of democracy, has the right to speak his mind.”

What this means is opening the door to more speech not less, even if that speech is offensive to some.

Understanding that freedom for those in the unpopular minority constitutes the ultimate tolerance in a free society, James Madison, the author of the Bill of Rights, fought for a First Amendment that protected the “minority” against the majority, ensuring that even in the face of overwhelming pressure, a minority of one—even one who espouses distasteful viewpoints—would still have the right to speak freely, pray freely, assemble freely, challenge the government freely, and broadcast his views in the press freely.

We haven’t done ourselves—or the nation—any favors by becoming so fearfully polite, careful to avoid offense, and largely unwilling to be labeled intolerant, hateful or closed-minded that we’ve eliminated words, phrases and symbols from public discourse.

The result is a nation where no one really says what they really think anymore, at least if it runs counter to the prevailing views. Intolerance is the new scarlet letter of our day, a badge to be worn in shame and humiliation, deserving of society’s fear, loathing and utter banishment from society.

For those who dare to voice an opinion that runs counter to the accepted norms, retribution is swift: they are shamed, shouted down, silenced, censored, fired, cast out and generally relegated to the dust heap of ignorant, mean-spirited bullies who are guilty of various “word crimes.”

We have entered a new age where, as commentator Mark Steyn notes, “we have to tiptoe around on ever thinner eggshells” and “the forces of ‘tolerance’ are intolerant of anything less than full-blown celebratory approval.”

In such a climate of intolerance, there can be no freedom speech, expression or thought.

We have become a nation of snowflakes.

We have allowed our fears—fear for our safety, fear of each other, fear of being labeled racist or hateful or prejudiced, etc.—to trump our freedom of speech and muzzle us far more effectively than any government edict could. Ultimately the war on free speech—and that’s exactly what it is: a war being waged by Americans against other Americans—is a war that is driven by fear.

By bottling up dissent, we have created a pressure cooker of stifled misery and discontent that is now bubbling over and fomenting even more hate, distrust and paranoia among portions of the populace.

The First Amendment is a steam valve. It allows people to speak their minds, air their grievances and contribute to a larger dialogue that hopefully results in a more just world.

When there is no steam valve to release the pressure, frustration builds, anger grows and people become more volatile and desperate to force a conversation.

The problem as I see it is that we’ve allowed ourselves to be persuaded that we need someone else to think and speak for us. The result is a society in which we’ve stopped debating among ourselves, stopped thinking for ourselves, and stopped believing that we can fix our own problems and resolve our own differences.

Not only has free speech become a “politically incorrect” four-letter word—profane, obscene, uncouth, not to be uttered in so-called public places—but in more and more cases, the government deems free speech to be downright dangerous and in some instances illegal.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the U.S. government has become particularly intolerant of speech that challenges the government’s power, reveals the government’s corruption, exposes the government’s lies, and encourages the citizenry to push back against the government’s many injustices. Indeed, there is a long and growing list of the kinds of speech that the government considers dangerous enough to red flag and subject to censorship, surveillance, investigation and prosecution: hate speech, bullying speech, intolerant speech, conspiratorial speech, treasonous speech, threatening speech, incendiary speech, inflammatory speech, radical speech, anti-government speech, right-wing speech, extremist speech, etc.

The powers-that-be understand that if the government can control speech, it controls thought and, in turn, it can control the minds of the citizenry. In fact, some of this past century’s greatest dystopian authors warned of this very danger.

In Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, reading is banned and books are burned in order to suppress dissenting ideas, while televised entertainment is used to anesthetize the populace and render them easily pacified, distracted and controlled.

In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, serious literature, scientific thinking and experimentation are banned as subversive, while critical thinking is discouraged through the use of conditioning, social taboos and inferior education. Likewise, expressions of individuality, independence and morality are viewed as vulgar and abnormal.

In George Orwell’s 1984, Big Brother does away with all undesirable and unnecessary words and meanings, even going so far as to routinely rewrite history and punish “thoughtcrimes.”

And in almost every episode of Twilight Zone, Rod Serling urged viewers to unlock their minds and free themselves of prejudice, hate, violence and fear. “We’re developing a new citizenry,” Serling declared. “One that will be very selective about cereals and automobiles, but won’t be able to think.”

It’s time to start thinking for ourselves again.

It’s time to start talking to each other. It’s time to start listening more and shouting less.

Most of all, it’s time to start acting like people who will choose dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.

As Dahlia Lithwick concluded for Slate:

To guarantee an escape from conflict, from violence, requires censorship. To have free speech in this moment, when the stakes are so high, is to live with fear. This is not an easy thing to confront—or to accept… Conversation might still be our best chance of getting out of this mess. Free speech is just free speech. It takes actual humans making the effort to talk to each other to transform speech into something more vital and more valuable. Conversations don’t always work. They may sometimes go wrong—horribly, terribly wrong… The First Amendment will never be able to protect us from horrible words and horrific acts. It does guarantee that we’ll keep talking.

June 13, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Three Prominent Palestinian Organizers, Journalists Ordered to Further Imprisonment without Charge or Trial

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network – June 8, 2017

Three prominent Palestinian activists were ordered to additional periods of administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. Palestinian journalist Hasan Safadi, youth organizer Hassan Karajah and leftist community leader Rami Fadayel, all of Ramallah, were ordered to further imprisonment without charge or trial by Israeli military courts.

Fadayel, 37, has been imprisoned for 18 months under administrative detention; this is the fourth time the order against him has been renewed. He has spent over seven years in total in Israeli prisons and was ordered to another four months of imprisonment without charge or trial. He was hit with another four-month detention order on Wednesday,  7 June.

Rami Fadayel

Haneen Nassar, Fadayel’s wife and an organizer with the Palestinian Prisoners’ Committee, a popular organization in Palestine that works to support the prisoners’ struggle and demand their freedom, said that she and her husband have never been able to enjoy a free and safe life since their marriage. Fadayel has been arrested repeatedly; they marked their engagement while he was imprisoned. She noted that their daughter, Mays, 10, has not seen her father in their home for nearly half of her life.

Fadayel is well-known in Ramallah as a leader in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Palestinian leftist political party. Nasser noted that his administrative detention has been repeatedly renewed under the pretext of a “secret file;” all of the appeals of his lawyer have been rejected.

Palestinians held without charge or trial under administrative detention orders can be detained indefinitely; these one- to six-month orders can be repeatedly renewed on the basis of so-called “secret evidence.” There are currently over 500 Palestinian administrative detainees imprisoned by the Israeli occupation. Some Palestinians have spent years at a time under administrative detention on the basis of this so-called secret evidence. Over 50,000 administrative detention orders have reportedly been issued since 1967; the practice dates from the colonial British mandate over Palestine and was re-imposed by the Israeli occupation.

Hasan Safadi

Meanwhile, Hasan Safadi, Palestinian journalist and the Arabic media coordinator of Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association was also ordered on 8 June 2017 to another six months in administrative detention by an Israeli occupation military court. He had been scheduled for release on 8 June, but was instead hit with another arbitrary detention renewal.

Safadi, 26, has been imprisoned since 1 May 2016, when he was seized by Israeli occupation forces as he crossed the Karameh/Allenby bridge between Jordan and Palestine, returning from an Arab youth conference organized in Tunisia. After 40 days of interrogation in the Moskobiyeh interrogation center, he was ordered to administrative detention without charge or trial, which has since been renewed twice. His new administrative detention order is scheduled to expire on 8 December 2017.

Hassan Karajah

Hassan Karajah, a prominent youth activist with the Stop the Wall Campaign and a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activist, was seized by Israeli occupation forces on 12 July 2016 at a military checkpoint west of Ramallah. He has been held under administrative detention without charge or trial since that time; his detention was also renewed on 7 June 2017 for the third time for a four-month period.

Karajah was previously arrested on 23 January 2013 and freed on 19 October 2014, accused of participation in a prohibited organization and contact with an enemy state, an allegation frequently used to target Palestinians who travel to conferences and events in Lebanon and other Arab countries.

These orders came after the Ofer military court confirmed even more administrative detention orders on Wednesday, 7 July. The military court approved six-month detention orders against Raed Abd al-Admu of al-Khalil, Tayseer Maher Hamed, Mohammed Badr al-Alouneh, Islam Fayeq Nimer of Ramallah and Suhaib Ahmed Mohammed of Tulkarem. It approved four-month imprisonment orders against Nidal Hashim Abdel Hadi and Yousef Ahmed Nasser of Jenin and Khalil Hassan Hamed, Ayman Naim Hamed, Hamza Ibrahim Zahran and Omar Mohammed Abu Latifa of Ramallah. It also affirmed a two-month detention order against Rabie Mohammed Musallah of Jenin.

June 13, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel mulls closing Al Jazeera bureau in Jerusalem al-Quds: Report

Press TV – June 13, 2017

A report says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering shutting down the Jerusalem al-Quds bureau of the Qatar-based Al Jazeera broadcaster, as a diplomatic rift escalates between a Saudi-led bloc of countries with Qatar.

Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Tuesday that Netanyahu had met with members of the foreign ministry, ministry of military affairs, and other institutions on Monday and discussed preliminary steps for closing the Al Jazeera office in Jerusalem al-Quds.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt have already blocked several Qatari media outlets, including Al Jazeera. The four countries cut their diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing Doha of destabilizing the region with its support for terrorism, an accusation rejected by the Qatari government.

In a relevant development on Monday, Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s minister for military affairs, compared Al Jazeera to the Nazi- and Soviet-era propaganda apparatuses.

“Some [Arab countries’] interests overlap with Israeli interests, including the issue with Al Jazeera,” Liberman said. “Al-Jazeera is not media… It’s an incitement machine. It is pure propaganda, of the worst variety, in the style of Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia.”

Lieberman also accused Al Jazeera of supporting Iran, saying, “I’ve been tracking Al Jazeera for many years. You’ll never see a single article against Iran.”

The potential move to close the Al Jazeera office in Jerusalem al-Quds and the unprecedented remarks by Lieberman are indicative of how the Israeli and Saudi regimes may be increasingly tilting toward one another. There have already been signs that the ties between Israel and certain Arab regimes — traditionally putative adversaries — have been covertly expanding in recent years.

Netanyahu has on several occasions talked of the development of ties between Israel and certain Arab countries. So have other Israeli officials. Moshe Ya’alon, Israel’s former minister of military affairs, in February 2016 pointed to open channels between the regime and some Arab states.

Back in January 2016, Netanyahu said during an interview with CNN that Saudi Arabia now saw Tel Aviv “as an ally rather as an enemy.”

June 13, 2017 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 1 Comment

Is Michael Foster a Chameleon?

By Gilad Atzmon | June 13, 2017

The utterly repellent Michael Foster who has spent the last 2 years waging a relentless campaign against Jeremy Corbyn has now apparently become a Corbyn supporter. Foster now admits that he was “wrong on Corbyn.”  The Jewish labour donor used the notorious Zionist Times of Israel to “tip his hat to the leader’s success”

In a spectacular admission that portrays total cultural and political detachment Foster says, “I was wrong on that his brand of leadership and socialism would not appeal.”

The same character who a year ago professed that he despised Corbyn and labelled his supporters “Sturm Abteilung” (Nazi storm troopers) has conveniently changed his spots.

However, don’t let the sly Foster mislead you. Foster is not a chameleon. He didn’t transform into a British patriot who cares for the working people or the resurrection of the NHS. Foster is a Jewish ethnic campaigner. Foster is interested in only one thing: Jewish tribal interests.

“To the future, Jeremy (note the shift to personal language) from my point of view has two things that matter to me, to deal with. He must continue to stamp out any sign of anti Semitism within Labour; and he must on that score make I think more of an effort, both private and public to meet with, and meet the legitimate fears of, the Jewish Community.”

And now the warning: “Jeremy’s legitimacy as a leader of all factions within Britain will in part depend on him achieving this. He can make the Jews of Britain feel safe, without in any way abandoning his strong and righteous belief in the need for a self governing and free, Palestinian homeland.”

Can he? Will the Fosters of this world let Corbyn be? Will they let him support Palestine and denounce Israeli brutality? Seemingly Foster and the Jewish lobby have yet to read the picture. Corbyn’s success means that although every Jewish institution in the kingdom was determined to destroy him, Corbyn was able to prevail by turning Labour into a popular movement. He is likely to become PM within a year.

Corbyn proved that Western politics can survive without an injection of shekels. This must be devastating news for the Lobby, for AIPAC, ADL, BOD, LFI, CFI, Criff and for the Michael Fosters. However, for the rest of us, it is  encouraging news, it arouses a spirit of emancipation.

June 13, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | Leave a comment

US senators agree new set of sanctions against Russia

RT | June 13, 2017

US senators have agreed on new sanctions against Russia because of alleged Russia’s ‘interference’ in the 2016 US election, as well as the situations in Crimea and in Syria. Russia is monitoring the situation closely, the Kremlin spokesman said.

The step would reportedly see new sanctions imposed on Russians who are allegedly “guilty of human rights abuses”, “supplying weapons to Syria’s government”, as well as cyber attackers, Associated Press and Reuters report.

The fresh sanctions would also see Russian mining, metals, shipping and railways affected, with the Senate also planning on putting into law some previous sanctions touching Russian energy projects and debt financing.

The latest measure will be attached as an amendment to a larger bill that would see new sanctions imposed on Iran.

The step is supported by both Republicans and Democrats, and the vote is set to take place on Thursday, RIA Novosti reported. If approved, the legislation will then be approved by the House of Representatives and, finally, be signed into law by President Donald Trump.

Should Trump reject the new sanctions, the measure’s backers say that there will be enough congressional support to override the veto, AP reported.

“By codifying existing sanctions and requiring Congressional review of any decision to weaken or lift them, we are ensuring that the United States continues to punish President [Vladimir] Putin for his reckless and destabilizing actions,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote in a statement, as cited by Reuters.

“These additional sanctions will also send a powerful and bipartisan statement to Russia and any other country who might try to interfere in our elections that they will be punished,” Schumer added.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said that Moscow views the proposed sanctions “negatively,” adding that the Russian leadership is “attentively monitoring” the situation.

Russia has repeatedly denied any interference in the US election.

Last week, the former FBI Director James Comey stated that there had been many stories about Russia which are “just dead wrong” but, nonetheless, reiterated the “high-confidence judgement” that Moscow had systematically interfered in the US elections last year.

June 13, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | | 1 Comment

UAE paid $3bn to finance coup attempt in Turkey: Report

Press TV – June 13, 2017

The United Arab Emirates financed a high-profile coup attempt last year in Turkey and paid about three billion dollars to the putschists, a columnist in a Turkish daily has claimed.

Mehmet Acet, a columnist for Yeni Safak daily, said on Tuesday that Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu meant the United Arab Emirates when he recently hinted at a Muslim country that spent billions to topple the Turkish government in the coup in July 2016.

Cavusoglu said in recent remarks that a foreign country funneled money to the putschists while making efforts to topple President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“We know that a country provided $3 billion in financial support for the coup attempt in Turkey and exerted efforts to topple the government in illegal ways. On top of that, it is a Muslim country,” said the Turkish foreign minister, as quoted by Acet.

Acet elaborated on his claims in an interview to the Turkish media, saying sources in the Turkish Foreign Ministry had confirmed that the country behind the coup was indeed the United Arab Emirates.

“The minister did not name the country. However, sources from the foreign ministry have confirmed that it was the UAE,” Acet told Daily Sabah newspaper.

Other sources have also claimed that a media magnate close to the government in Abu Dhabi had indeed transferred money to Turkey weeks before the coup was carried out. They said the money had been funneled to elements loyal to Fethullah Gulen, a cleric based in the United States who is accused by Ankara of masterminding the coup attempt.

Right after the coup was declared over on July 16 last year, Turkey launched a massive crackdown to hunt the plotters. The widening action then led to more than 40,000 arrests. More than 100,000 people have also been discharged from their jobs.

Turkey has not directly accused a country of having a role in the coup, which killed over 250 people. However, Cavusoglu’s remarks come amid a widening diplomatic standoff in the Persian Gulf region. Turkey has been defending Qatar against allegations of terrorism by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates while it has repeatedly endorsed Qatar’s support for senior officials from the Muslim Brotherhood, a popular party outlawed in Egypt since three years ago under pressure from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Ankara and Abu Dhabi are also at odds over the situation in Libya, where the two countries support different sides of the conflict.

June 13, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , | 3 Comments

Liars Lying About Nearly Everything

Terrorism supporters in Washington and Riyadh close ranks against Qatar

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • June 13, 2017

The United States has been using lies to go to war since 1846, when Americans who believed in manifest destiny sought to expand to the Pacific Ocean at the expense of Mexico, acquiring by force of arms California and what were to become the southwestern states. In 1898 the U.S. picked up the pieces of a dying Spanish Empire in a war that was driven by American imperialists and the yellow dog reporting of the Hearst Newspaper chain. And then came World War 1, World War 2, and Korea, all avoidable and all enabled by deliberate lying coming out of Washington.

More recently, we have seen Vietnam with its Gulf of Tonkin fabrication, Granada and Panama with palpably ridiculous pretexts for war, Iraq with its nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, Afghanistan with its lies about bin Laden, Libya and its false claims about Gaddafi, and most recently Syria and Iran with allegations of an Iranian threat to the United States and lies about Syrian use of barrel bombs and chemical weapons. And if one adds in the warnings to Russia over Ukraine, a conflict generated by Washington when it brought about regime change in Kiev, you have a tissue of lies that span the globe and bring with them never-ending conflict to advance the American imperium.

So lies go with the American Way of War, but the latest twist and turns in the Middle East are bizarre even by Washington’s admittedly low standards of rectitude. On the 5th of June, Saudi Arabia led a gaggle of Arab and Muslim nations that included the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain to cut off all diplomatic, commercial and transport links with Qatar, effectively blockading it. Qatar is currently isolated from its neighbors, subject to sanctions, and there have even been Saudi threats of going to war against its tiny neighbor. Salman al-Ansari, the president of the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee, even tweeted: “To the emir of Qatar, regarding your alignment with the extremist government of Iran and your abuse of the Custodian of the two sacred mosques, I would like to remind you that Mohammed Morsi [of Egypt] did exactly the same and was then toppled and imprisoned.”

It is the second time the Saudis have moved against Qatar. Two years ago, there was a break in diplomatic relations, but they were eventually restored. This time, the principal allegation being directed against Qatar by Riyadh is that it supports terrorism. The terrorist groups that it allegedly embraces are Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi’s affiliation. Hezbollah and Hamas are close to Iran which is perhaps the real reason for their being singled out as many would call them resistance movements or even legitimate political parties rather than terrorists. And the Iran connection is critical as Qatar has been under fire for allegedly saying nice things about trying to respect and get along with Tehran, undoubtedly somewhat motivated by its joint exploitation with Iran of a vast gas field in the Persian Gulf.

Qatar’s ownership of al-Jazeera also has been a sore point with the Saudis and other Gulf states as its reporting has often been critical of developments in the region, criticisms that have often rankled the Saudi monarchy and the Egyptians. It has been accused of spreading propaganda for “militant groups.” One of the Saudi demands to permit Qatar to again become a “normal” Arab Gulf state would be to close down the network.

The terrorism claims by the Saudis are, of course, hypocritical. Both Qatar and Saudi Arabia are well known as sponsors of Salafist terrorism, including the funding and arming of groups like ISIS and the various al-Qaeda franchises, to include al-Nusra. Much of the money admittedly comes from private individuals and is often channeled through Islamic charities, but both Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been extremely lax in their enforcement of anti-terror and money laundering regulations. In a 2009 State Department memo signed off on by Hillary Clinton it was stated that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.” Qatar, meanwhile, has been described as a “permissive environment for terrorist financing.”

The Saudis also have considerable blood on their hands by way of their genocidal assault on neighboring Yemen. In addition, the Saudi Royal House has served as the principal propagator of Wahhabism, the virulently fundamentalist version of Islam that provides a form of religious legitimacy to terror while also motivating many young Muslims to join radical groups.

The falling out of two Gulf Arab regimes might be a matter of relatively little importance but for the unnecessary intervention of President Donald Trump in the quarrel. He has taken credit for the burgeoning conflict, implying that his recent visit to the region set the stage for the ostracizing of Qatar. His twitter on the affair, posted on June 6th, read “So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!” And he again came down on Qatar on June 9th during a press conference.

Trump’s tweets might well be regarded as simply maladroit, driven by ignorance, but they could also provide a glimpse of a broader agenda. While in the Middle East, Trump was bombarded with anti-Iranian propaganda coming from both Israel and the Saudis. An escalation of hostilities with the intention of starting an actual war involving the United States to take down Iran is not unimaginable, particularly as the Israelis, who have already endorsed the Saudi moves, have been arguing that option and lying about the threat posed by Tehran for a number of years.

A war against Iran would be very popular both with the U.S. congress and the mainstream media, so it would be easy to sell to the American public. The terrorist attack in Tehran on June 6th that killed 17 is being blamed in some Iranian circles on the Saudis, a not unreasonable assumption. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack but it must also be observed that both the Saudis and Israelis have good connections with the terrorist group. But if the possibility of a possible Saudi hand is true or even plausibly so, it guarantees a rise in tension and an incident at sea could easily be contrived by either side to escalate into a shooting war. The United States would almost inevitably be drawn in, particularly in light of Trump’s ridiculous comment on the tragedy, tweeting that Iran is“falling victim to the evil they promote.”

There is also other considerable collateral damage to be reckoned with as a consequence of the Trump intervention even if war can be avoided. Qatar hosts the al-Udeid airbase, the largest in the Middle East, which is home to 10,000 U.S. servicemen and serves as the Combined Air and Space Operations Center for Washington and its allies in the region and beyond. Now the United States finds itself squarely in the middle of a fight between two alleged friends that it doesn’t have to involve itself in, an intervention that will produce nothing but bad results. Backing Saudi Arabia in this quarrel serves no conceivable American interest, particularly if the ultimate objective is to strike at a non-threatening Iran. So the fallback position is to lie about what the support for the aggressive Saudi posturing really means – it is alleged to be about terrorism, which is always a popular excuse for government overreach.

And the ultimate irony is that when it comes to terrorism the United States itself does not emerge without fault. As early as 2011, the U.S. was arming Syrian dissidents from the arsenals in Libya, flying in weapons to Turkey to hand over to the rebels. Many of the weapons, as well as those provided to Iraqi forces, have wound up in the hands of ISIS and al-Nusrah. U.S. advisers training rebels have conceded that it is impossible to determine the politics of many of those receiving instruction and weapons, an observation that has also been made by the Obama White House and by his State Department.

So watch the lies if you want to know when the next war is coming. If the House of Saud, the Israelis and Donald Trump are talking trash and seem to agree about something then it is time to head for the bomb shelter. Will it be Iran or an escalating catastrophe in Syria? Anything is possible.

June 13, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How the Establishment Imposes ‘Truth’

By Gilbert Doctorow | Consortium News | June 12, 2107

For the last quarter century or more, Western foreign policy has claimed to be guided by promotion of “democratic values,” among which none shines brighter than freedom of speech and the related freedom of the press. European Union institutions have repeatedly been quick to denounce authoritarian regimes in the greater European area for arrests or murders of journalists and for the shutting down of media outlets that crossed some government red line.

In the past year, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey may have headed the list in Brussels for such offenses, especially since the crackdown that followed an attempted coup last summer. The E.U.’s supposed guardians of the free press also put Vladimir Putin’s Russia on the short list of countries where journalism is said to be severely constrained.

However, against this backdrop of European moral posturing, there are troubling examples of how the E.U. itself deals with journalists who challenge the dominant groupthinks. The E.U. finds its own excuses to stifle dissent albeit through bloodless bureaucratic maneuvering.

For instance, in April 2016, I wrote about how a documentary challenging the Western narrative of the circumstances surrounding the death of Kremlin critic Sergei Magnitsky in 2009 was blocked from being shown at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium.

The last-minute shutting down of the documentary, “The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes,” was engineered by lawyers for William Browder, the influential chairman of the investment fund Hermitage Capital and an associate of Magnitsky.

Based in London, Browder has been an unrelenting crusader for imposing sanctions on Russian officials allegedly connected to Magnitsky’s death in prison. Browder successfully pushed for the U.S. Congress to approve the 2012 Magnitsky Act and has lobbied the European Parliament to pass a similarly punitive measure.

Then, in April 2016, Browder pulled off a stunning show of force by arranging the cancellation of “The Magnitsky Act” documentary just minutes before invitees entered the auditorium at the European Parliament building for the showing.

Browder blocked the documentary, directed by Andrei Nekrasov, because it carefully examined the facts of the case and raised doubts about Browder’s narrative that Magnitsky was an innocent victim of Russian repression. The E.U.’s powers-that-be, who had fully bought into Browder’s Magnitsky storyline, did nothing to resist Browder’s stifling of a dissenting view.

Which appears to be part of the West’s new approach toward information, that only establishment-approved narratives can be presented to the public; that contrarian analyses that try to tell the other side of a story are dismissed as “fake news” that should rightly be suppressed. (When the Magnitsky documentary got a single showing at the Newseum in Washington, a Washington Post editorial misrepresented its contents and dismissed it as “Russian agitprop,” which was easy to do because almost no one got to see what it said.)

Bureaucratic Runaround

I got my own taste of the E.U.’s bureaucratic resistance to dissent when I applied to the Media Accreditation Committee of the European Commission on March 2 seeking a press pass to act as the Brussels reporter of

This Committee issues accreditation for all the European Institutions, including the only one of interest to me, the European Parliament. The Committee is a law unto itself, a faceless bureaucratic entity that deals with applicants only via online applications and sends you back anonymous emails. The application process includes several steps that already raise red flags about the Commission’s understanding of what it means to be from the “press” or a “journalist” deserving accreditation in the Twenty-first Century.

First, under the Committee’s rules, a journalist must be a paid employee of the given media outlet. This condition generally cannot be satisfied by “stringers” or “freelancers,” who are paid for each assignment or an individual story, a payment arrangement that has existed throughout the history of journalism but has become more common today, used by mainstream media outlets as well as alternative media, which generally pay little or nothing. I satisfied that requirement with a Paypal credit note from Consortiumnews.

The Commission also must have the media outlet on its approved list. Regarding Consortiumnews, an Internet-based investigative news magazine dating back to 1995 and operating in the Washington D.C. area, the Commission apparently wasn’t sure what to do.

So, like bureaucratic institutions everywhere, the Committee played for time. It was only on June 6 that I received the review of my application. The finding was that 1) I needed to present more proof that my employer is paying me regularly, not just once, and 2) I needed to supply further articles showing that I am not merely published regularly, as was clear from my uploaded articles with the initial application, but that I am published precisely on the subject of activities at the European institutions.

I was assured that pending delivery of these proofs and completion of my request, I could ask for ad hoc accreditation “to the individual institutions for specific press events you would need to cover.”

In fact, I had withheld from my application my most recent published essay on a panel discussion in the E.U. Parliament devoted to censuring Russia’s alleged dissemination of “fake news.” That discussion was run by a Polish MEP and former Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs from the determinedly anti-Russian party of the Kaczynskis. The title of my essay was “Europe is brain dead and on the drip.” I had felt that this particular piece would not further the cause of my press pass.

Still, the insincerity of the E.U. press accreditation committee’s response to my application is perfectly obvious. A journalist can write articles about the European Institutions when he or she has free run of the house via a press pass and can ascertain what is going on of interest. Without a press pass, you do not know what or whom is worth covering.

And in this connection, “specific press events” are among the least desirable things going on at the E.U. for purposes of a genuine practicing journalist. They are useful only for lazy journalists who will send along to their editor the press release and a few canned quotes obtained by showing up at a press briefing in time for the coffee and sandwiches.

In short, I will not be issued a press pass and the Committee will not bother to address the real reason for refusal: that Consortiumnews is not on the Committee’s short list of acceptable media. Not to mince words, this is how the E.U. bureaucracy manages skeptical media and stifles dissenting voices.

NBC’s New Star v. Putin

Meanwhile, the mainstream Western media continues to hammer home its propaganda narratives, especially regarding Russia. Another case study unfolded over the past week with NBC’s new star reporter Megyn Kelly interviewing Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 2 on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

This latest NBC crime against professional journalism becomes apparent when you compare the full version of the interview as it was broadcast on Russia’s RT network and the edited version that NBC aired for its American audience. The most shocking discrepancy involved a segment in which Kelly aggressively questioned Putin about what she said was Americans’ understanding of his government, namely one that murders journalists, suppresses political opposition, is rife with corruption, etc.

In the NBC version, Putin’s answer has been cut to one empty introductory statement that “Russia is on its way to becoming a democracy” bracketed by an equally empty closing sentence. In the full, uncut version, Putin responds to Kelly’s allegations point by point and then turns the question around, asking what right the U.S. and the West have to question Russia’s record when they have been actively doing much worse than what Kelly charged. He asked where is Occupy Wall Street today, why U.S. and European police use billy clubs and tear gas to break up demonstrations, when Russian police do nothing of the sort, and so on.

Simply put, NBC intentionally made Putin sound like an empty authoritarian, when he is in fact a very sophisticated debater, which he demonstrated earlier in the day at an open panel discussion involving Kelly who became the event’s laughingstock. Regarding the bowdlerized interview, NBC management bears the prime responsibility for distorting the material and misleading its viewers.

Interviews by serious news organizations can be “hard talk,” as the BBC program of the same name does weekly. The journalist in charge can directly and baldly challenge a political leader or other public personality and can dwell on an issue to arrive at exhaustive responses that then allow viewers to reach their own conclusions.

However, in the interview at hand and in the earlier panel discussion, Kelly repeated the same question about alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. election even after she had received an exhaustive answer from Putin several times. Clearly she was reading from a script given to her by management and was not permitted to react to what took place in the interview exchange.

Given that Putin’s answers then were shredded in the NBC cutting room, we may explain the objectives of NBC’s executives as follows: to present themselves and their featured journalist to the American audience as being so respected by the Kremlin that the Russian president accorded an exclusive interview. Second, to show the American audience that they used the opportunity not to allow the Russian President to pitch his views to the U.S. home audience but instead to hit him with all the charges of wrongdoing that have been accumulating in the American political arena.

In other words, NBC got to show off Kelly’s supposed boldness and the network’s faux patriotism while sparing the American people from hearing Putin’s full answers.

A Harvard Dissent

Although this emerging paradigm of righteously suppressing challenges to mainstream narratives appears to be the wave of the future – with the modern censorship possibly enforced via Internet algorithms – some voices are protesting this assault on the Enlightenment’s trust in human reason to sort out false claims and advance factual truth.

At the May 25 commencement at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard President Drew Faust delivered an impassioned defense of free speech. She spoke about the institution and its obligations as generator and protector of “truth” and knowledge arrived at by free debate and challenge of ideas.

This is not to say that there was perfect clarity in her message. She left me and other attendees somewhat uncertain as to whose rights of free speech she was defending and against what sort of challenge. Given the political persuasion of students and faculty, namely the middle-of-the-road to progressive wings of the Democratic Party, one might think she had in mind such causes célèbres as the ongoing verbal attacks against Linda Sarsour, a Muslim (Palestinian) graduation speaker at CUNY.

Indeed, in her speech, Drew Faust pointed to the more vulnerable members of the student body, those from minorities, those from among first generation college students who might be intimidated by hurtful speech directed against them. But it is more likely that she drew up her speech having in mind the controversy on campus this spring over the rights of speakers disseminating hated ideas to appear on campus. That issue has come up repeatedly in the student newspaper The Crimson, and it may be said to date from the scandal at UC Berkeley over the cancellation of controversial far-right speaker Milo Yiannopoulos.

However, I believe the main weight of her argument was directed elsewhere. Primarily, to the processes by which truth is determined. She was defending the appropriateness of sharp debate and airing of views that one may dislike intensely on campus:

“Universities must model a commitment to the notion that truth cannot simply be claimed, but must be established – established through reasoned argument, assessment, and even sometimes uncomfortable challenges that provide the foundation for truth.”

Though this idea rests at the heart of the Enlightenment, it has faded in recent years as various political and media forces prefer to simply dismiss contrary evidence and analysis by stigmatizing the messengers and – whenever possible – silencing the message. This approach is now common inside the major media which lumps together cases of fact-free conspiracy theories and consciously “fake news” with well-researched information and serious analyses that clash with conventional wisdom.

No Sharp Edges

From my experience as an organizer of public events over the past five years, I learned that the very word “debate” finds few defenders these days. Debate suggests conflict rather than consensus. The politically correct term for public discussions of even hot issues is “round tables.” No sharp corners allowed.

But Faust said: “Ensuring freedom of speech is not just about allowing speech. It is about actively creating a community where everyone can contribute and flourish, a community where argument is relisted, not feared. Freedom of speech is not just freedom from censorship; it is freedom to actively join the debate as a full participant. It is about creating a context in which genuine debate can happen.”

Besides the value of honest debate as a method for ascertaining truth, Faust also noted that suppression of diverse opinions can blind those doing the suppression to growing unrest among the broader public, an apparent reference to the surprising election of Donald Trump.

Faust continued: “Silencing ideas or basking in intellectual orthodoxy independent of facts and evidence impedes our access to new and better ideas, and it inhibits a full and considered rejection of bad ones. From at least the time of Galileo, we can see how repressing seemingly heretical ideas has blinded societies and nations to the enhanced knowledge and understanding on which progress depend.

“Far more recently, we can see here at Harvard how our inattentiveness to the power and appeal of conservative voices left much of our community astonished – blindsided by the outcome of last fall’s election. We must work to ensure that universities do not become bubbles isolated from the concerns and discourse of the society that surrounds them.”

Of course, the inconvenient truth is that Harvard University has long been a “bubble,” especially in the area of policy research that most interests me and may be vital in avoiding a nuclear catastrophe: Russian studies.

Over the past few years of growing confrontation between the U.S. and Russia, amid vilification of the Russian President and the Russian people and now encompassing the hysteria over “Russia-gate,” colleagues with long-standing and widely acknowledged expertise in Russian affairs including Ambassador Jack Matlock and Professor Stephen Cohen have been repeatedly denied any possibility of participating in “round tables” dedicated to relations with Russia that might be organized at Harvard’s Kennedy Center or the Davis Center.

These policy centers have become pulpits to stridently expound orthodoxy per the Washington consensus. Thus, the flaccid argumentation and complacency of U.S. foreign policy are aided and abetted by this premier university, which, along with Columbia, created the very discipline of Russian studies in 1949. So, by wallowing in this consensus-driven groupthink, Harvard contributes to dangerously biased policies that could lead to World War III. In that case, truth – or as Harvard might say, Veritas – would not be the only casualty.

No doubt there are other faculties at Harvard which also are desperately in need of renewal following President Drew Faust’s call for debate and free speech. Nonetheless, Dr. Faust’s celebration of open debate and free speech represented a welcome tonic to the close-mindedness of today’s Russia-bashing.

Her speech is all the more noteworthy as it marks one of the first steps by liberals and Democratic Party stalwarts to acknowledge that those whom Hillary Clinton condemned as “deplorables” must be heard and reasoned with if U.S. democracy is to become great again.

Gilbert Doctorow is an independent political analyst based in Brussels.  His last book, Does Russia Have a Future? was published in August 2015.  His forthcoming book, Does the United States Have a Future?

June 13, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

NBC’s Kelly Hits Putin with a Beloved Canard

By Ray McGovern | Consortium News | June 12, 2017

NBC’s Megyn Kelly wielded one of Official Washington’s most beloved groupthinks to smack Russian President Vladimir Putin over his denials that he and his government were responsible for hacking Democratic emails and interfering with the U.S. presidential election.

In her June 2 interview with Putin, Kelly noted that all “17 intelligence agencies” of the U.S. government concurred in their conclusion of Russian guilt and how could Putin suggest that they all are “lying.” It’s an argument that has been used to silence skeptics for months and apparently is so useful that no one seems to care that it isn’t true.

For instance, on May 8, in testimony before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper conceded publicly that the number of intelligence agencies involved in the assessment was three, not 17, and that the analysts assigned to the project from CIA, FBI and NSA had been “handpicked.”

On May 23, in testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, former CIA Director John Brennan confirmed Clapper’s account about the three agencies involved. “It wasn’t a full inter-agency community assessment that was coordinated among the 17 agencies,” Brennan acknowledged.

But those public admissions haven’t stopped Democrats and the mainstream media from continuing to repeat the false claim. In comments on May 31, failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton repeated the canard, with a flourish, saying: “Seventeen agencies, all in agreement, which I know from my experience as a Senator and Secretary of State, is hard to get.”

A couple of days later, Kelly revived the myth of the consensus among the 17 intelligence agencies in her interview with the Russian president. But Putin passed up the opportunity to correct her, replying instead:

“They have been misled and they are not analyzing the information in its entirety. … We have talked about it with former President Obama and with several other officials. No one ever showed me any direct evidence. When we spoke with President Obama about that, you know, you should probably better ask him about it – I think he will tell you that he, too, is confident of it. But when he and I talked I saw that he, too, started having doubts. At any rate, that’s how I saw it.”

As I noted in a Jan. 20 article about Obama’s news conference two days earlier, “Did President Barack Obama acknowledge that the extraordinary propaganda campaign to blame Russia for helping Donald Trump become president has a very big hole in it, i.e., that the U.S. intelligence community has no idea how the Democratic emails reached WikiLeaks? For weeks, eloquent obfuscation – expressed with ‘high confidence’ – has been the name of the game, but inadvertent admissions now are dispelling some of the clouds. …

“At President Obama’s Jan. 18 press conference, he admitted as much: ‘the conclusions of the intelligence community with respect to the Russian hacking were not conclusive as to whether WikiLeaks was witting or not in being the conduit through which we heard about the DNC e-mails that were leaked.’” [Emphasis added]

Explaining the Technology

More importantly, Putin in his interview with Kelly points out that “today’s technology” enables hacking to be “masked and camouflaged to an extent that no one can understand the origin” of the hack. “And, vice versa, it is possible to set up any entity or any individual that everyone will think that they are the exact source of that attack. Modern technology is very sophisticated and subtle and allows this to be done. And when we realize that we will get rid of all the illusions. …”

Later, when Kelly came back to the issue of hacking, Putin expanded on the difficulty in tracing the source of cyber attacks.

“Hackers may be anywhere,” Putin said. “There may be hackers, by the way, in the United States who very craftily and professionally passed the buck to Russia. Can’t you imagine such a scenario? In the middle of an internal political fight, it was convenient for them, whatever the reason, to put out that information. And put it out they did. And, doing it, they made a reference to Russia. Can’t you imagine it happening? I can.

“Let us recall the assassination of President Kennedy. There is a theory that Kennedy’s assassination was arranged by the United States special services. If this theory is correct, and one cannot rule it out, so what can be easier in today’s context, being able to rely on the entire technical capabilities available to special services than to organize some kind of attacks in the appropriate manner while making a reference to Russia in the process. …”

Kelly: “Let’s move on.”

However carefully Megyn Kelly and her NBC colleagues peruse The New York Times, they might well not know WikiLeaks’ disclosure on March 31 of original CIA documents showing that the agency had created a program allowing it to break into computers and servers and make it look like others did it by leaving telltale signs (like Cyrillic markings, for example).

The capabilities shown in what WikiLeaks calls the “Vault 7” trove of CIA documents required the creation of hundreds of millions of lines of source code. At $25 per line of code, that amounts to about $2.5 billion for each 100 million code lines. But the Deep State has that kind of money and would probably consider the expenditure a good return on investment for “proving” the Russians hacked into Democratic Party emails.

In other words, it is altogether possible that the hacking attributed to Russia was actually one of several “active measures” undertaken by a cabal consisting of the CIA, FBI, NSA and Clapper — the same agencies responsible for the lame, evidence-free report of Jan. 6, that Clapper and Brennan acknowledged last month was not the consensus view of the 17 intelligence agencies.

There is also the issue of the forensics. Former FBI Director James Comey displayed considerable discomfort on March 20, explaining to the House Intelligence Committee why the FBI did not insist on getting physical access to the Democratic National Committee’s computers in order to do its own proper forensics, but chose to rely on the examination done by the DNC’s private contractor, Crowdstrike.

The firm itself has conflicts of interests in its links to the pro-NATO and anti-Russia think tank, the Atlantic Council, through Dmitri Alperovitch, who is an Atlantic Council senior fellow and the co-founder of Crowdstrike.

Strange Oversight

Given the stakes involved in the Russia-gate investigation – now including a possible impeachment battle over removing the President of the United States – wouldn’t it seem logical for the FBI to insist on its own forensics for this fundamental predicate of the case? Or could Comey’s hesitancy to demand access to the DNC’s computers be explained by a fear that FBI technicians not fully briefed on CIA/NSA/FBI Deep State programs might uncover a lot more than he wanted?

Comey was asked again about this curious oversight on June 8 by Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr:

BURR: “And the FBI, in this case, unlike other cases that you might investigate — did you ever have access to the actual hardware that was hacked? Or did you have to rely on a third party to provide you the data that they had collected?”

COMEY: “In the case of the DNC, and, I believe, the DCCC, but I’m sure the DNC, we did not have access to the devices themselves. We got relevant forensic information from a private party, a high-class entity, that had done the work. But we didn’t get direct access.”

BURR: “But no content?”

COMEY: “Correct.”

BURR: “Isn’t content an important part of the forensics from a counterintelligence standpoint?”

COMEY: “It is, although what was briefed to me by my folks — the people who were my folks at the time is that they had gotten the information from the private party that they needed to understand the intrusion by the spring of 2016.”

Burr demurred on asking Comey to explain what amounts to gross misfeasance, if not worse. Perhaps, NBC could arrange for Megyn Kelly to interview Burr to ask if he has a clue as to what Putin might have been referring to when he noted, “There may be hackers, by the way, in the United States who very craftily and professionally passed the buck to Russia.”

Given the congressional intelligence “oversight” committees’ obsequiousness and repeated “high esteem” for the “intelligence community,” there seems an even chance that – no doubt because of an oversight – the CIA/FBI/NSA deep-stage troika failed to brief the Senate “oversight committee” chairman on WikiLeaks “Vault 7” disclosures – even when WikiLeaks publishes original CIA documents. 

Ray McGovern is a 27-year veteran of the CIA analysis division and was chief of its Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and prepared the President’s Daily Brief for Nixon, Ford, and Reagan.

June 13, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | 1 Comment