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Fake News on Russia in the New York Times, 1917-2017

By Edward S. Herman | Monthly Review | July-August 2017

It has been amusing watching the New York Times (Times) and its fellow mainstream media (MSM) cohort express their dismay over the rise and spread of “fake news.” They take it as an obvious truth that what they provide is straightforward and unbiased fact-based news. They do offer such news, but they also provide a steady flow of their own varied forms of genuinely fake news, often in disseminating false or misleading information supplied them by the CIA, other branches of government, and sites of corporate power. An important form of MSM fake news is that which is presented while suppressing information that calls the preferred news into question. This was the case with “The Lie That Wasn’t Shot Down,” the title of a January 18, 1988 Times editorial referring to a propaganda claim of five years earlier that the editors had swallowed and never looked into any further. The lie–that the Soviets knew that Korean airliner 007, which they shot down on August 31, 1983, was a civilian plane–was eventually uncovered by congressman Lee Hamilton, not by the Times.

MSM fake news is especially likely where a party line is quickly formed on a topic, with deviationism therefore immediately looking naïve, unpatriotic or simply wrong. In a dramatic illustration, in a book chapter entitled “Worthy and Unworthy Victims,” Noam Chomsky and I showed that coverage by Time, Newsweek, CBS News and the New York Times of the 1984 murder of the priest Jerzy Popieluzko in communist Poland, a dramatic and politically useful event for the politicized western MSM, exceeded their coverage of the murders of 100 religious figures killed in Latin America by U.S. client states in the post-World War II years taken together.1 It was cheap and free of any negative feedback to focus heavily on the “worthy” victim, whereas looking closely at the deaths of the 100 would have required an expensive and sometimes dangerous research effort and would have upset the State Department. But it was a form of fake news to discriminate so heavily with news (and indignation) on a politically useful victim while ignoring large numbers whose murder the political establishments wanted downplayed or completely suppressed.

The Fake News Tradition on Russia in the New York Times

Fake news on Russia is a Times tradition that can be traced back at least as far as the 1917 revolution. In a classic study of the paper’s coverage of the Russian revolution from February 1917 to March 1920, Walter Lippmann and Charles Merz found that “From the point of view of professional journalism the reporting of the Russian Revolution is nothing short of a disaster. On the essential questions the net effect was almost always misleading, and misleading news is worse than none at all….They can fairly be charged with boundless credulity, and an untiring readiness to be gulled, and on many occasions with a downright lack of common sense.”2 Lippmann and Merz found that strong editorial bias clearly fed into news reporting. The editors very much wanted the communists to lose, and serving this end caused the paper to report atrocities that didn’t happen and the imminent fall of the Bolshevik regime on a regular basis (at least 91 times). There was a heavy and uncritical acceptance of official handouts and reliance on statements from unidentified “high authority.” This was standard Times practice.

This fake news performance of 1917-1920 was repeated often in the years that followed. The Soviet Union was an enemy target up to World War II, and Times coverage was consistently hostile. With the end of World War II and the Soviet Union at that point a major military power, and soon a rival nuclear power, the Cold War was on. Anti-communism became a major U.S. religion, and the Soviet Union was quickly found to be trying to conquer the world and needing containment. With this ideology in place and U.S. plans for its own real global expansion of power well established,3 the communist threat would now help sustain the steady growth of the military-industrial complex and repeated interventions to deal with purported Soviet aggressions.

An Early Great Crime: Guatemala

One of the most flagrant cases in which the Russian threat was used to justify U.S.-organized violence was the overthrow of the social democratic government of Guatemala in 1954 by a small proxy army invading from U.S. ally Somoza’s Nicaragua. This action was provoked by government reforms that upset U.S. officials, including a 1947 law permitting the formation of labor unions, and government plans to buy back (at tax rate valuations) and distribute to landless peasants some of the unused land owned by United Fruit Company and other large landowners. The U.S., which had been perfectly content with the earlier 14-year- long dictatorship of Jose Ubico, could not tolerate this democratic challenge and the elected government, led by Jacobo Arbenz, was soon charged with assorted villainies, with the main fake news base of an alleged Red capture of the Guatemalan government.4

In the pre-invasion propaganda campaign the unified MSM leveled a stream of false charges of extreme repression, threats to its neighbors, and the communist takeover. The Times featured these alleged abuses and threats repeatedly from 1950 onward (my favorite, Sidney Gruson’s “How Communists Won Control of Guatemala,” March 1, 1953). Arbenz and his predecessor, Juan Jose Arevalo, had carefully avoided establishing any embassies with Soviet bloc countries, fearing U.S. reactions. But it was to no avail. Following the removal of Arbenz and installation of a right-wing dictatorship, court historian Ronald Schneider, after studying 50,000 documents seized from communist sources in Guatemala, found that not only did the communists never control the country, but that the Soviet Union “made no significant or even material investment in the Arbenz regime” and was too preoccupied with internal problems to concern itself with Central America.5

The coup government quickly attacked and decimated the organized groups that had formed in the democratic era, like peasant, worker and teacher organizations. Arbenz had won 65 percent of the votes in a free election, but the “liberator” Castillo Armas quickly won a “plebiscite” with 99.6 percent of the vote. Although this is a result familiar in totalitarian regimes, the MSM had lost interest in Guatemala and barely mentioned this electoral outcome. The Times had claimed back in 1950 that U.S. Guatemala policy “is not trying to block social and economic progress but is interested in seeing that Guatemala becomes a liberal democracy.”6 But in the aftermath the editors failed to note that the result of U.S. policy was precisely to “block social and economic progress,” and via the installation of a regime of terror.

In 2011, more than half a century after 1954, Elizabeh Malkin reported in the Times that Guatemalan president Alvaro Colom had apologized for that ”great crime [the violent overthrow of the Arbenz government in 1954] …an act of aggression to a government starting its democratic spring.” (“An apology for a Guatemalan Coup, 57 Years Later,” October 20, 2011). Malkin mentions that, according to president Colom, the Arbenz family is “seeking an apology from the United States for its role” in the “great Crime.” There has never been any apology or even acknowledgement of its role in the Great Crime by the editors of the New York Times.

Another Great Crime: Vietnam

There were many fake news reports in the Times and other mainstream publications during the Vietnam war. The claim that the Times was anti-Vietnam-war is misleading and essentially false. In Without Fear or Favor, former Times reporter Harrison Salisbury acknowledged that in 1962, when U.S. intervention escalated, the Times was “deeply and consistently” supportive of the war policy.7 He contends that the paper became steadily more oppositional from 1965, culminating in the publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971. But Salisbury fails to recognize that from 1954 to the present the paper never abandoned the Cold War framework and language of apologetics, according to which the U.S. was resisting somebody else’s aggression and protecting “South Vietnam.” The paper never applied the word aggression to this country, but used it freely in referring to North Vietnamese actions and those of the National Liberation Front in the southern half of Vietnam.

The various halts in the U.S. bombing war in 1965 and later in the alleged interest of “giving peace a chance” were also fake news, as the Johnson administration used the halts to quiet antiwar protests, while making it clear to the Vietnamese that U.S. officials demanded full surrender. The Times and its colleagues swallowed this bait without a murmur of dissent.8

Furthermore, although from 1965 onward the Times was willing to publish more information that put the war in a less favorable light, it never broke from its heavy dependence on official sources or its reluctance to check out official lies or explore the damage being wrought on Vietnam and its civilian population by the U.S. war machine. In contrast with its eager pursuit of Cambodian refugees from the Khmer Rouge after April 1975, the paper rarely sought out testimony from the millions of Vietnamese refugees fleeing U.S. bombing and chemical warfare. In its opinion columns as well, the new openness was limited to commentators who accepted the premises of the war and would confine their criticisms to its tactical problems and costs–;to us. From beginning to end those who criticized the war as aggression and immoral at its root were excluded from the debate by the Times.9

The 1981 Papal Assassination Attempt. The “Missile Gap,” and “Humanitarian Intervention” in Yugoslavia

Papal Assassination Attempt. A major contribution to Cold War propaganda was provided by fake news on the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in Rome in May 1981. This was a time when the Reagan administration was trying hard to demonize the Soviet Union as an “evil empire.” The shooting of the Pope by the Turkish fascist Ali Agca was quickly tied to Moscow, helped by Agca’s confession, after 17 months imprisonment, interrogations, threats, inducements, and access to the media, that the Bulgarians and Soviet KGB were behind it. There was never any credible evidence of this connection, the claims were implausible, and the corruption in the process was remarkable. (See Manufacturing Consent, chapter 4 and Appendix 2). And Agca also periodically claimed to be Jesus Christ. The case against the Bulgarians (and implicitly the KGB) was lost even in Italy’s extremely biased and politicized judicial framework. But the Times bought it, and gave it long, intensive and completely uncritical attention, as did most of the U.S. media.

In 1991, in Senate hearings on the qualifications of Robert Gates to head the CIA, former CIA officer Melvin Goodman testified that the CIA knew [from the start that Agca’s confessions were false because they had “very good penetration” of the Bulgarian secret services. The Times omitted this statement by Goodman in reporting on his testimony. In the same year. with Bulgaria now a member of the Free World, conservative analyst Allen Weinstein obtained permission to examine Bulgarian secret service files on the papal assassination attempt. His mission was widely reported when he went, including in the Times, but when he returned without having found anything implicating Bulgaria or the KGB, a number of papers, including the Times, found this not newsworthy.

Missile Gap. There was a great deal of fake news in the “missile gap” and other gap eras, from roughly 1975 to 1986, with Times reporters passing along official and often false news in a regular stream. An important case occurred in the mid-1970s, at a time when the U.S. war-party was trying to escalate the Cold War and arms race. A 1975 report of CIA professionals found that the Soviets were aiming only for nuclear parity. This was unsatisfactory, so CIA head George H.W. Bush appointed a new team of hardliners, who soon found that the Soviets were achieving nuclear superiority and getting ready to fight a nuclear war. This Team B report was taken at face value in a Times front page article of December 26, 1976 by David Binder, who failed to mention its political bias or purpose and made no attempt by tapping experts with different views to get at the truth. The CIA admitted in 1983 that the Team B estimates were fabrications. But throughout this period, 1975-1986, the Times supported the case for militarization by disseminating lots of fake news. Much of this false information was convincingly refuted by Tom Gervasi in his classic The Myth of Soviet Military Supremacy (New York: Harper & Row, 1986), a book never reviewed in the paper despite the paper’s frequent attention to its subject matter.

Yugoslavia and “Humanitarian Intervention.” The 1990s wars of dismantlement of Yugoslavia succeeded in removing an independent government from power and replacing it with a broken Serbian remnant and poor and unstable failed states in Bosnia and Kosovo. It did provide unwarranted support for the new concept of “humanitarian intervention,” which rested on a mass of fake news. The demonized Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic was not an ultra-nationalist seeking a “Greater Serbia,” but rather a non-aligned leader on the Western hit list who tried to help Serb minorities in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo remain in Yugoslavia as the U.S. and EU supported a legally questionable exodus by several constituent Yugoslav Republics. He supported each of the proposed settlements of these conflicts, sabotaged by Bosnian and U.S. officials who wanted better terms or the outright military defeat of Serbia, the latter of which they achieved. Milosevic had nothing to do with the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre, which involved Bosnian Serbs taking revenge on Bosnian Muslim soldiers who had been ravaging nearby Bosnian Serb villages from their base in Srebrenica under NATO protection. The several thousand Serb civilian deaths were essentially unreported in the MSM, while the numbers of Srebrenica executed victims were correspondingly inflated. The Times’s reporting on these events was fake news on a systematic basis.10

The Putin Era: A Golden Age of Fake News

The U.S. establishment was shocked and thrilled with the 1989-1991 fall of the Soviet Union, and its members were happy with the policies carried out under President Boris Yeltsin, a virtual U.S. client, under whose rule ordinary Russians suffered a calamity but a small set of oligarchs was able to loot the broken state. Yeltsin’s election victory in 1996, greatly assisted by U.S. consultants, advice and money, and otherwise seriously corrupt, was, for the editors of the Times, “A Victory for Russian Democracy” (NYT, ed, July 4, 1996). They were not bothered by either the electoral corruption, the creation of a grand-larceny-based economic oligarchy, or, shortly thereafter, the new rules centralizing power in the office of president.11

Yeltsin’s successor, Vladimir Putin, by gradually abandoning the Yeltsin era subservience was thereby perceived as a steadily increasing menace. His re-election in 2012, although surely less corrupt than Yeltsin’s in 1996, was treated harshly in the media. The lead Times article on May 5, 2012 featured “a slap in the face” from OSCE observers, claims of no real competition, and “thousands of anti-government protesters gathered in Moscow square to chant ‘Russia without Putin’” (Ellen Barry and Michael Schwartz, “After Election, Putin Faces Challenges to Legitimacy”). There had been no “challenges to legitimacy” reported in the Times after Yeltsin’s corrupt victory in 1996.

The process of Putin demonization escalated with the Ukraine crisis of 2014 and its sequel of Kiev warfare against Eastern Ukraine, Russian support of the East Ukraine resistance, and the Crimean referendum and absorption of Crimea by Russia. This was all declared “aggression” by the U.S. and its allies and clients, sanctions were imposed on Russia, and a major U.S.-NATO military buildup was initiated on Russia’s borders. Tensions mounted further with the shootdown of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over southeastern Ukraine, effectively, but almost surely falsely, blamed on the “pro-Russian” rebels and Russia itself.12

A further cause of demonization and anti-Russian hostility resulted from the escalated Russian intervention in Syria from 2015 in support of Bashar al-Assad and against ISIS and al-Nusra, an offshoot of al-Qaeda. The U.S. and its NATO and Middle East allies had been committing aggression against Syria, in de facto alliance with ISIS and al-Nusra, for several years. Russian intervention turned the tide, the U.S. (Saudi, etc.) goal of removing Assad was upset and the tacit U.S. allies ISIS and al-Nusra were also weakened. Certainly demonic behavior by Putin!

The Times has treated these further developments with unstinting apologetics–for the February 2014 coup in Kiev, which it never calls a coup, with the U.S. role in the overthrow of the elected government of Victor Yanukovych suppressed, and with anger and horror at the Crimea referendum and Russian absorption, which it never allows to be a defensive response to the Kiev coup. Its call for punishment of the casualty-free Russian “aggression” in Crimea is in marked contrast with its apologetics for the million-plus-casualty–rich U.S. aggression “of choice” (not defensive) in Iraq from March 2003 on. The editors and liberal columnist Paul Krugman angrily cite Putin’s lack of respect for international law,13 with their internalized double standard exempting their own country from criticism for its repeated violations of that law.

In the Times’s reporting and opinion columns Russia is regularly assailed as expansionist and threatening its neighbors, but virtually no mention is made of NATO’s expansion up to the Russian borders and first-strike-threat placement of anti-missile weapons in Eastern Europe, the latter earlier claimed to be in response to a missile threat from Iran! Analyses by political scientist John Mearsheimer and Russia authority Stephen F. Cohen that featured this NATO advance could not make it into the opinion pages of the Times.14 On the other hand, a member of the Russian Pussy Riot band, Maria Alyokhina, was given op-ed space to denounce Putin and Russia,15 and the punk-rock group was granted a meeting with the Times editorial board. Between January 1 and March 31, 2014 the paper had 23 articles featuring the Pussy Riot group and its alleged significance as a symbol of Russian limits on free speech. Pussy Riot had disrupted a church service in Moscow and only stopped upon police intervention, which was at the request of the church authorities. A two year prison sentence followed. In contrast, in February 2014, 84 year old Sister Megan Rice was sentenced to four years in prison in the U.S. for having entered a nuclear weapons site in July 2012 and carried out a symbolic protest action. The Times gave this news a tiny mention in its National Briefing section under the title “Tennessee Nun is Sentenced for Peace Protest.” No op-ed columns or meeting with the Times board for Rice. There are worthy and unworthy protesters as well as victims.

As regards Syria, with Russian help the Assad forces were able to dislodge the rebels from Aleppo, to the dismay of Washington and the MSM. It has been enlightening to see how much concern has been expressed over casualties to civilians in Aleppo, with pictures of forsaken children and many stories of civilian distress. The Times focused heavily on those civilians and children, with great indignation at Putin-Assad inhumanity,16 in sharp contrast with their virtual silence on civilian casualties in Falluja in 2004 and beyond, and recently in rebel-held areas of Syria, and in Mosul (Iraq), under U.S. and allied attack.17 The differential treatment of worthy and unworthy victims has been in full sway in dealing with Syria, displayed again with the chemical weapons casualties and Trump bombing response in April 2017 (discussed below).

A further and important phase of intensifying Russophobia may be dated from the October 2016 presidential debates, where Hillary Clinton declared that Mr. Trump would be a Putin “puppet” as president, and her campaign stressed this threat. This emphasis increased after the election, with the help of the media and intelligence services, as the Clinton camp sought to explain the election loss, maintain party control, and possibly get the election result overturned in the courts or electoral college by blaming the Trump victory on Russia.

The Putin connection was given great impetus by the January 6, 2017 release of a report of the Office of Director of National Intelligence (DNI), on Background of Assessing Russian Activities and Intention in Recent US Elections This short document spends more than half of its space describing the Russian-sponsored RT-TV network, which it treats as an illegitimate propaganda source given its sponsorship and sometimes critical reports on U.S. policy and institutions! RT is allegedly part of Russia’s “influence campaign,” and the DNI says that “We assess the influence campaign aspired to help President-elect Trump’s chances of victory when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to the President-elect.” There is no semblance of proof that there was a planned “campaign” rather than an ongoing expression of opinion and news judgments. All the logic and proofs of a Russian “influence campaign” could be applied with at least equal force to U.S. media and Radio Free Europe’s treatment of any Russian election, and of course the U.S. intervention in the 1996 Russian election was overt, direct and went far beyond any “influence campaign.”

As regards the DNI’s proof of a more direct Russian intervention in the U.S. election, the authors concede the absence of “full supporting evidence,” but they provide no supporting evidence—only assertions, assessments, assumptions and guesses. It states that “We assess that … Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2015” designed to defeat Mrs. Clinton, and “to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process,” but it provides no evidence whatsoever for any such order. It also provides no evidence that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the e-mails of Clinton and former Clinton campaign manager Podesta, or that it gave hacked information to WikiLeaks. Julian Assange and former British diplomat Craig Murray have repeatedly claimed that these sources were leaked by local insiders, not hacked by anybody. And the veteran intelligence agency experts William Binney and Ray McGovern also contend that the WikiLeaks evidence was surely leaked, not hacked.18 It is also notable that among the three intelligence agencies who signed the DNI document, only “moderate confidence” in its findings was expressed by the National Security Agency (NSA), the agency that would most clearly be in possession of proof of Russian hacking and transmission to WikiLeaks as well as any “orders” from Putin.

But the Times has taken the Russian hacking story as established fact, despite the absence of hard evidence (as with the Reds ruling Guatemala, the “missile gaps,” etc.). Times reporter David Sanger refers to the report’s “damning and surprisingly detailed account of Russia’s efforts to undermine the American electoral system,” but he then acknowledges that the published report “contains no information about how the agencies had … come to their conclusions.”19 The report itself includes the amazing statement that “Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.” This is a denial of the credibility of its own purported evidence (i.e., “assessments”). Furthermore, if the report was based on “intercepts of conversations” as well as hacked computer data, as Sanger and the DNI claim, why has the DNI failed to quote a single conversation showing Putin’s alleged orders and plans to destabilize the West?

The Times never cites or gives editorial space to William Binney, Ray McGovern or Craig Murray, who are dissident authorities on hacking technology, methodology and the specifics of the DNC hacks. But op-ed space was given to Louise Mensch’s “What to ask about Russian hacking” (NYT, March 17, 2017). Mensch is a notorious conspiracy theorist with no technical background in this area and who is described by Nathan Robinson and Alex Nichols as best-known for “spending most of her time on Twitter issuing frenzied denunciations of imagined armies of online ‘Putinbots’” and is “one of the least credible people on the internet.”20 But she is published in the Times because, in contrast with the well-informed and credible William Binney and Craig Murray, she follows the party line, taking Russian hacking of the DNC as a premise.

The CIA’s brazen intervention in the election process in 2016 and 2017 broke new ground in secret service politicization. Former CIA head Michael Morell had an August 5, 2016 op-ed in the Times entitled “I Ran the C.I.A. Now I’m Endorsing Hillary Clinton”; and former CIA boss Michael Hayden had an op-ed in the Washington Post just days before the election, entitled “Former CIA Chief:- Trump is Russia’s Useful Fool” (November 3, 2016). Morell had another op-ed in the Times on January 6, now openly assailing the new president (“Trump’s Dangerous Anti-CIA Crusade”). These attacks were unrelievedly insulting to Trump and laudatory to Clinton, even making Trump a traitor; they also make it clear that Clinton’s more pugnacious approach to Syria and Russia is much preferred to Trump’s leanings toward negotiation and cooperation with Russia.

This was also true of the further scandal with former Trump Defense Intelligence nominee Michael Flynn’s call from the Russian Ambassador, which possibly included exchanges about future Trump administration policy actions. This was quickly grasped by the outgoing Obama officials, security personnel and MSM, with the FBI interrogating Flynn and with widespread expressions of horror at Flynn’s action, allegedly possibly setting him up for blackmail. But such pre-inauguration meetings with Russian diplomats have been a “common practice” according to Jack Matlock, the U.S. ambassador to Russia under Reagan and Bush, and Matlock had personally arranged such a meeting for Jimmy Carter.21 Obama’s own Russia adviser, Michael McFaul, admitted visiting Moscow for talks with officials in 2008 even before the election. Daniel Lazare makes a good case that not only are the illegality and blackmail threat implausible, but that the FBI’s interrogation of Flynn also reeks of entrapment. And he asks what is wrong with trying to reduce tensions with Russia? “Yet anti-Trump liberals are trying to convince the public that it’s all ‘worse than Watergate’.”22

So the political point of the Assessment seems to have been, at minimum, to tie the Trump administration’s hands in its dealings with Russia. Some non-MSM analysts have argued that we may have been witnessing an incipient spy or palace coup, that fell short but still had the desired effect of weakening the new administration.23 The Times has not offered a word of criticism of this politicization and intervention in the election process by the intelligence agencies, and in fact the editors have been working with them and the Democratic Party as a loosely-knit team in a distinctly un- and anti-democratic program designed to reverse the results of the 2016 election, while using an alleged foreign electoral intervention as their excuse.

The Times and MSM in general have also barely mentioned the awkward fact that the allegedly Russian-hacked disclosures of the DNC and Clinton and Podesta e-mails described uncontested facts about real electoral manipulations on behalf of the Clinton campaign that the public had a right to know and that might well have affected election results. The focus on the evidence-free claims of a Russian hacking intrusion helped divert attention from the real electoral abuses disclosed by the WikiLeaks material. So here again, official and MSM fake news helped bury real news!

Another arrow in the campaign quiver labeling Trump a knowing or “useful fool” instrument of Putin was a private intelligence “dossier” written by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent working for Orbis Business Intelligence, a private firm hired by the DNC to dig up dirt on Trump. Steele’s first report, delivered in June 2016, made numerous serious accusations against Trump, most notably that Trump had been caught in a sexual escapade in Moscow, that his political advance had been supported by the Kremlin for at least five years, under the direction of Putin, and with the further aims of sowing discord within the U.S. and disrupting the Western alliance. This document was based on alleged conversations by Steele with distant (Russian) officials; that is, strictly hearsay evidence, whose assertions, where verifiable, are sometimes erroneous.24 But it said just what the Democrats, MSM and CIA wanted said, so intelligence officials declared the author “credible” and the media lapped this up, with the Times covering over its own cooperation in this ugly denigration effort by calling the report “unverified” but nevertheless reporting its claims.25

The Steele dossier also became a central part of the investigation and hearings on “Russia-gate” held by the House Intelligence Committee starting in March 2017, led by Democratic Representative Adam Schiff. While basing his opening statement on the hearsay-laden dossier, Schiff expressed no interest in establishing who funded the Steele effort (he produced 17 individual reports), the identity and exact status of the Russian officials who were the hearsay sources, and how much they were paid. Apparently talking to Russians with a design of influencing a U.S. presidential election is perfectly acceptable if the candidate supported by this Russian intrusion is anti-Russian!

The Times has played a major role in this Russophobia-enhancement process, reminiscent of its 1917-1920 performance in which, as noted back in 1920 “boundless credulity, and an untiring readiness to be gulled” characterized the news-making process. While quoting the CIA’s admission that they were showing no hard evidence, but were relying on “circumstantial evidence” and “capabilities,” the Times was happy to spell these capabilities out at great length and imply that they proved something.26 Editorials and news articles have worked uniformly on the supposition that Russian hacking was proved, which it was not, and that the Russians had given these data to WikiLeaks, also unproven and strenuously denied by Assange and Murray. So these reiterated claims are arguably first class “fake news” swallowed as palatable facts.

The Times has run neck-and-neck with the Washington Post in stirring up fears of the Russian information war and improper involvement with Trump. The Times now easily conflates fake news with any criticism of established institutions, as in Mark Scott and Melissa Eddy’s “Europe Combats a New Foe of Political Stability: Fake News,” February 20, 2017.27 But what is more extraordinary is the uniformity with which the paper’s regular columnists accept as a given the CIA’s Assessment of the Russian hacking and transmission to WikiLeaks, the possibility or likelihood that Trump is a Putin puppet, and the urgent need of a congressional and “non-partisan” investigation of these claims. This swallowing of a new war-party line has extended widely in the liberal media (e.g., Bill Moyers, Robert Reich, Ryan Lizza, Joan Walsh, Rachel Maddow, Katha Pollitt, Joshua Holland, the AlterNet web site, etc.).

Both the Times and Washington Post have given tacit support to the idea that this “fake news” threat needs to be curbed, possibly by some form of voluntary media-organized censorship or government intervention that would at least expose the fakery.

The Times has treated uncritically the Schiff hearings on dealing with Russian propaganda, and its opinion column by Louise Mensch strongly supports government hearings to expose Russian propaganda. Mensch names 26 individuals who should be interrogated about their contacts with Russians, and she supplies questions they should be asked.

The most remarkable media episode in this anti-influence-campaign campaign was the Washington Post‘s piece by Craig Timberg, “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say” (November 24, 2016). The article features a report by an anonymous author or authors, PropOrNot, that claims to have found 200 web sites that wittingly or unwittingly, were “routine peddlers of Russian propaganda.” While smearing these web sites, the “experts” refused to identify themselves allegedly out of fear of being “targeted by legions of skilled hackers.” As Matt Taibbi says, “You want to blacklist hundreds of people, but you won’t put your name to your claims? Take a hike.”28 But the Post welcomed and featured this McCarthyite effort, which might well be a product of Pentagon or CIA information warfare. (And these entities are themselves well funded and heavily into the propaganda business.)

On December 23, 2016 President Obama signed the Portman-Murphy “Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act,” which will supposedly allow this country to more effectively combat foreign (Russian, Chinese) propaganda and disinformation. It will encourage more government counter-propaganda efforts (which will, by patriotic definition, not be U.S. propaganda) and provide funding to non-government entities that will help in this enterprise. It is clearly a follow-on to the claims of Russian hacking and propaganda, and shares the spirit of the listing of 200 knowing or “useful fools” of Moscow featured in the Washington Post. Perhaps PropOrNot will qualify for a subsidy and be able to enlarge its list of 200. Liberals have been quiet on this new threat to freedom of speech, undoubtedly influenced by their fears of Russian-based fake news and propaganda. But they may wake up, even if belatedly, when Trump or one of his successors puts it to work on their own notions of fake news and propaganda.

The success of the war party’s campaign to contain or overthrow any tendencies of Trump to ease tensions with Russia was dramatically clear in the Trump administration’s speedy bombing response to the April 4, 2017 Syrian chemical weapons deaths. The Times and other MSM editors and journalists greeted this aggressive move with almost uniform enthusiasm,29 and once again did not require evidence of Assad’s guilt beyond their government’s say-so. The action was damaging to Assad and Russia, but served the rebels well. But the MSM never ask cui bono? in cases like this. In 2003 a similar charge against Assad, which brought the U.S. to the brink of a full-scale bombing war in Syria, turned out to be a false flag operation, and some potent authorities believe the current case is equally problematic.30 But Trump moved quickly (and unlawfully) and any further rapproachement between this country and Russia was set back. The CIA, Pentagon, liberal-Democrats and rest of the war party had won an important skirmish in the struggle for and against permanent war.

  1. Manufacturing Consent (New York: Pantheon, 1988, 2002, 2008), chap. 2.
  2. Walter Lippmann and Charles Merz, A Test of the News (New York: New Republic, 1920).
  3. On the Grand Area framework, see Noam Chomsky, “Lecture one, The New Framework of Order,” On Power And Ideology: The Managua Lectures (Boston, South End Press, 1987).
  4. Edward Herman, “Returning Guatemala to the Fold,” in Gary Rawnsley, ed., Cold War Propaganda in the 1950s (London, Macmillan, 1999).
  5. Ronald Schneider, Communism in Guatemala, 1944-1954 (New York: Praeger, 1959), 41, 196-7, 294.
  6. “The Guatemala Incident,” New York Times (ed., April 8, 1950).
  7. Harrison Salisbury, Without Fear or Favor (New York: Times Books, 1980), 486.
  8. Richard DuBoff and Edward Herman, America’s Vietnam Policy: The Strategy of Deception (Washington, D.C.: Public Affairs Press, 1966).
  9. See Manufacturing Consent, chap. 6 (Vietnam).
  10. Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, “The Dismantling of Yugoslavia,” Monthly Review, October 2007; Herman and Peterson, “Marlise Simons on the Yugoslavia Tribunal: A Study in Total Propaganda Service,” ZNet, April 16, 2005.
  11. Stephen F. Cohen, Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia (New York: W.W. Norton, 2000).
  12. Robert Parry, “Troubling Gaps in the New MH-17 Report,” Consortiumnews.com. September 28, 2016.
  13. Paul Krugman says “Mr. Putin is someone who doesn’t worry about little things like international law,” in “The Siberian Candidate,” New York Times, July 22, 2016. The fake news implication is that U.S. leaders do worry about it.
  14. A version of Mearsheimer’s article “Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault,” published in Foreign Affairs, Sept. 10, 2014, was offered to the Times but not accepted. Stephen Cohen’s 2012 article “The Demonization of Putin” was also rejected by the paper.
  15. “Sochi Under Siege,” New York Times, February 21, 2014.
  16. Michael Kimmelman, “Aleppo’s F aces Beckon to Us, To Little Avail,” New York Times,, Dec. 15, 2016. Above this front page article are four photos of dead or injured children, the most prominent one in Syria. The accompanying editorial: “Aleppo’s Destroyers: Assad, Putin, Iran,” December. 15, 2016, omits some key actors and killers.
  17. Rick Sterling, “How US Propaganda Plays in Syrian War,” Consortiumnews.com, September. 23, 2016.
  18. William Binney and Ray McGovern, “The Dubious Case on Russian ‘Hacking’,” Consortiumnews.com January 6, 2017.
  19. David Sanger, “Putin Ordered ‘Influence Campaign’ Aimed at U.S. Election, Report Says,” NYT, January 6, 4017.
  20. Nathan Robinson and Alex Nichols, “What Constitutes Reasonable Mainstream Opinion,” Current Affairs, March 22, 2017.
  21. “Contacts With Russian Embassy,” JackAMatlock.com, March 4, 2017.
  22. Daniel Lazare, “Democrats, Liberals, Catch McCarthyistic Fever,” Consortiumnew.com, February 17, 2917.
  23. Robert Parry, “A Spy Coup in America?,” Consortiumnews,com, Dec. 18, 2016; Andre Damon, “Democratic Party Floats Proposal for a Palace Coup,” Information Clearing House, March 23, 2017.
  24. Robert Parry, “The Sleazy Origins of Russia-gate,” Consortiumnews.com, March 29, 2017.
  25. Scott Shane et al, “How a Sensational, Unverified Dossier Became a Crisis for Donald Trump,” New York Times, January 11, 2017.
  26. Matt Fegenheimer and Scott Shane,” “Bipartisan Voices Back U.S. Agencies On Russia Hacking,” NYT, January 6, 2017; Michael Shear and David Sanger, “Putin Led a Complex Cyberattack Scheme to Aid Trump, Report Finds,“ NYT January 7, 2017; Andrew Kramer, “How the Kremlin Recruited an Army of Specialists to Wage Its Cyberwar,” NYT, Dec. 30, 2016.
  27. Robert Parry, “NYT’s Fake News about Fake News,”Consortium news.com, February 22, 2017.
  28. Matt Taibbi, “The ‘Washington Post’ ‘Blacklist’ Story Is Shameful and Disgusting,” Rolling Stone.com, November 28, 2016.
  29. Adam Johnson, “Out of 47 Media Editorials on Trump’s Syria Strikes, Only One Opposed,” Fair, April 11, 2017.
  30. Scott Ritter, “Wag the Dog—How Al Qaeda Played Donald Trump And The American Media: Responsibility for the chemical event in Khan Sheikhoun is still very much in question,” Huffingtonpost.com, April 9, 2017; James Carden, ”The Chemical Weapons Attack in Syria; Is there a place for skepticism?,” Nation, April 11, 2017.

Edward S. Herman is an economist and media analyst with a specialty in corporate and regulatory issues as well as political economy and the media.

July 8, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Macron Cracks Down on French Liberty

By Jonathan Marshall | Consortium News | July 7, 2017

French President Emmanuel Macron — the “great hope” of Europe — told French legislators a few days ago that he plans to extend his nation’s draconian and counterproductive state of emergency for a sixth time later this month — to give his government time to prepare a tough new anti-terrorism law to replace it.

In a breathtaking display of doublespeak, Macron claimed that his plan will “re-establish the freedoms of the French people.” But enshrining into law the essence of France’s harsh anti-terrorism decrees will limit the nation’s hard-won liberties while doing nothing to curb police incompetence, which has repeatedly allowed known extremists to carry out their heinous acts.

Civil liberties and human rights groups have denounced Macron’s blueprint for augmenting the central government’s police powers. His draft law would give local representatives of the Interior Ministry the power to declare security zones, define who can enter or leave them, use electronic tags to restrict the movement of people considered a national security threat, close mosques and other centers of worship, and — with only limited judicial oversight — search private property.

“These measures would trample individual and shared liberties and would lead us toward an authoritarian state,” France’s League of Human Rights declared. “Far from relating only to terrorist acts, these measures would be applied to a wide range of offences. Anyone could become a victim of arbitrary decisions.”

Amnesty International recently condemned the government’s abuse of anti-terrorist emergency powers that restrict freedom of movement and rights to peaceful assembly.

“Under the cover of the state of emergency, rights to protest have been stripped away with hundreds of activists, environmentalists, and labor rights campaigners unjustifiably banned from participating in protests,” said Marco Perolini, Amnesty International’s researcher on France.

Repressing Dissent

In the name of preventing “threats to public order,” the government over a period of 18 months issued 155 decrees banning protests, and 574 measures prohibiting specific individuals from taking part in protests against proposed labor law changes.

The latter statistic is particularly notable because Macron plans to issue sweeping decrees to limit the power of unions over working conditions and company firing policies. Such proposals have triggered mass demonstrations and violent clashes with police, in recent months.

The French government imposed its state of emergency — modeled after one instituted in 1955 during the Algerian war — after coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, 2015, killed 130 people and injured 368 more. Those attacks followed the January 2015 slaughter of 12 people at the Paris office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and of four hostages at a kosher supermarket. The attacks were perpetrated by followers of ISIS and of al-Qaeda in Yemen.

French parliamentary investigation last year found little evidence that either the state of emergency or the showy stationing of troops on Parisian streets did much to enhance France’s security. It concluded that the country’s fragmented and competing security agencies had suffered a “global failure” of communication and coordination.

As it happens, police were well aware of all three extremists who carried out the January 2015 massacres and of leaders of the November 2015 attacks, but lacked the manpower to keep them under permanent surveillance. Indeed, they traveled across Europe and to Yemen and North Africa with remarkable ease, despite official knowledge of their dangerous proclivities.

In the Guardian’s words, “Amedy Coulibaly, who killed four people in a siege at a kosher grocery store in January (2015) and shot dead a policewoman, was a known radical and repeat offender. While serving a prison sentence for his part in a plot to free another terrorist from jail, he had been flagged as radicalized. This information was not passed from prison services to intelligence agencies on his release.”

Breakdown of Intelligence

Recent French press revelations suggest an even worse breakdown of intelligence. It turns out that Coulibaly and two fellow Islamist radicals who committed the January 2015 attacks acquired their weapons, through an intermediary, from a right-wing police informant and former mercenary named Claude Hermant. He claims to have worked as an agent under the supervision of intelligence officers in the customs service and gendarmerie, a national military police force under the Ministry of Interior.

Information about Hermant’s role was suppressed in 2015 by the Interior Minister, who invoked a state secrets privilege. Hermant’s lawyer has filed a lawsuit to lift the ban on discussion of his client’s connection to the intelligence services. A French newspaper has also published explosive emails from a gendarme giving Hermant the “green light” to move cases of weapons, one of which apparently ended up in Islamist hands due to police incompetence.

History is replete with examples of police and intelligence services that allow agents to run amok, often because of inadequate supervision, occasionally for more sinister reasons. Serious investigators have asked whether the Boston Marathon bomber, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, might have been a federal informant. And there seems to be no question but that the al-Qaeda terrorist who led the 1998 Nairobi Embassy bombing and trained most of the organization’s top leadership — Ali Mohammed — was protected by the FBI and CIA.

Granting more powers to such agencies and shielding them from judicial review compounds the problem by preventing exposure and correction of their bureaucratic failures. Ordinary citizens and their liberties are best protected when law enforcement is subject to public review and criticism, not protected by official secrets acts and emergency decrees that cover up their incompetence, disorganization, or lack of resources. The people of America and France both should learn from their respective national failures that freedom is not won by repression.

July 8, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Three countries, three continents: One imperial Western project

By Neil Clark | RT | July 8, 2017

A resource-rich, socialist-led, multi-ethnic secular state, with an economic system characterized by a high level of public/social ownership and generous provision of welfare, education and social services.

An independent foreign policy with friendship and good commercial ties with Russia, support for Palestine and African and Arab unity – and historical backing for anti-imperialist movements.

Social progress in a number of areas, including women’s emancipation.

The above accurately describes the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and the Syrian Arab Republic. Three countries in three different continents, which had so much in common.

All three had governments which described themselves as socialist. All three pursued a foreign policy independent of Washington and NATO. And all three were targeted for regime change/destruction by the US and its allies using remarkably similar methods.

The first step of the imperial predators was the imposition of draconian economic sanctions used to cripple their economies, weaken their governments (always referred to as ‘a/the regime’) and create political unrest. From 1992-95, and again in 1998, Yugoslavia was hit by the harshest sanctions ever imposed on a European state. The sanctions even involved an EU ban on the state-owned passenger airliner JAT

Libya was under US sanctions from the 1980s until 2004, and then again in 2011, the year the country with the highest Human Development Index in Africa was bombed back to the Stone Age.

Syria has been sanctioned by the US since 2004 with a significant increase in the severity of the measures in 2011 when the regime change op moved into top gear.

The second step was the backing of armed militias/terrorist proxies to destabilise the countries and help overthrow these “regimes”. The strategy was relatively simple. Terrorist attacks and the killing of state officials and soldiers would provoke a military response from ‘the regime, whose leader would then be condemned for ‘killing his own people’ (or in the case of Milosevic, other ethnic groups), and used to ramp up the case for a ‘humanitarian intervention’ by the US and its allies.

In Yugoslavia, the US-proxy force was the Kosovan Liberation Army, who were given training and logistical support by the West.

In Libya, groups linked to al-Qaeda, like the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, were provided assistance, with NATO effectively acting as al-Qaeda’s air force

In Syria, there was massive support for anti-government Islamist fighters, euphemistically labelled ‘moderate rebels.’ It didn’t matter to the ‘regime changers’ that weapons supplied to ‘moderate rebels’ ended up in the hands of groups like ISIS. On the contrary, a declassified secret US intelligence report from 2012 showed that the Western powers welcomed the possible establishment of a Salafist principality in eastern Syria, seeing it as a means of isolating ‘the Syrian regime’.

The third step carried out at the same time as one and two involved the relentless demonisation of the leadership of the target states. This involved the leaders being regularly compared to Hitler, and accused of carrying out or planning genocide and multiple war crimes.

Milosevic – President of Yugoslavia – was labelled a ‘dictator’ even though he was the democratically-elected leader of a country in which over 20 political parties freely operated.

Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi was portrayed as an unstable foaming at the mouth lunatic, about to launch a massacre in Benghazi, even though he had governed his country since the end of the Swinging Sixties.

Syria’s Assad did take over in an authoritarian one-party system, but was given zero credit for introducing a new constitution which ended the Ba’ath Party’s monopoly of political power. Instead all the deaths in the Syrian conflict were blamed on him, even those of the thousands of Syrian soldiers killed by Western/GCC-armed and funded ‘rebels’.

The fourth step in the imperial strategy was the deployment of gatekeepers – or ‘Imperial Truth Enforcers’ – to smear or defame anyone who dared to come to the defence of the target states, or who said that they should be left alone.

The pro-war, finance-capital-friendly, faux-left was at the forefront of the media campaigns against the countries concerned. This was to give the regime change/destruction project a ‘progressive’ veneer, and to persuade or intimidate genuine ’old school’ leftists not to challenge the dominant narrative.

To place them beyond the pale, Yugoslavia, Libya and Syria were all labelled ’fascist,’ even though their leadership was socialist and their economies were run on socialistic lines. Meanwhile, genuine fascists, like anti-government factions in Ukraine (2013-14), received enthusiastic support from NATO.

The fifth step was direct US/NATO-led military intervention against ‘the regime’ triggered by alleged atrocities/planned atrocities of the target state. At this stage, the US works particularly hard to sabotage any peaceful solution to the conflicts they and their regional allies have ignited. At the Rambouillet conference in March 1999, for example, the Yugoslav authorities, who had agreed to an international peace-keeping force in Kosovo, were presented with an ultimatum that they could not possibly accept. Lord Gilbert, a UK defence minister at the time, later admitted “the terms put to Milosevic (which included NATO forces having freedom of movement throughout his country) were absolutely intolerable … it was quite deliberate.”

In 2011, the casus belli was that ‘the mad dog’ Gaddafi was about to massacre civilians in Benghazi. We needed a ‘humanitarian intervention’ to stop this, we were repeatedly told. Five years later, a House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report held that “the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence.”

In 2013, the reason given for direct military intervention in Syria was an alleged chemical weapons attack by ‘Assad’s forces’ in Ghouta. But this time, the UK Parliament voted against military action and the planned ‘intervention’ was thwarted, much to the great frustration of the war-hungry neocons. They still keep trying though.

The recent claims of The White House, that they had evidence that the Syrian government was planning a chemical weapons attack, and that if such an attack took place it would be blamed on Assad, shows that the Empire hasn’t given up on Stage Five for Syria just yet.

Stage Six of the project involves the US continuing to sabotage moves towards a negotiated peace once the bombing started. This happened during the bombing of Yugoslavia and the NATO assault on Libya. A favoured tactic used to prevent a peaceful resolution is to get the leader of the target state indicted for war crimes. Milosevic was indicted at the height of the bombing in 1999, Gaddafi in 2011.

Stage Seven is ‘Mission Accomplished’. It’s when the target country has been ‘regime-changed’ and either broken up or transformed into a failed state with strategically important areas/resources under US/Western control. Yugoslavia was dismantled and its socially-owned economy privatised. Montenegro, the great prize on the Adriatic, recently joined NATO.

Libya, hailed in the Daily Telegraph as a top cruise ship destination in 2010, is now a lawless playground for jihadists and a place where cruise ships dare not dock. This country, which provided free education and health care for all its citizens under Gaddafi, has recently seen the return of slave markets.

Syria, though thankfully not at Stage Seven, has still been knocked back almost forty years. The UNDP reported: “Despite having achieved or being well under way to achieving major Millennium Development Goals targets (poverty reduction, primary education, and gender parity in secondary education, decrease in infant mortality rates and increasing access to improved sanitation) as of 2011, it is estimated that after the first four years of crisis Syria has dropped from 113th to 174th out of 187 countries ranked in the Human Development Index.”

Of course, it’s not just three countries which have been wrecked by the Empire of Chaos. There are similarities too with what’s happened to Afghanistan and Iraq. In the late 1970s, the US started to back Islamist rebels to destabilise and topple the left-wing, pro-Moscow government in Kabul.

Afghanistan has been in turmoil ever since, with the US and its allies launching an invasion of the country in 2001 to topple a Taliban ‘regime’ which grew out of the ’rebel’ movement which the US had backed.

Iraq was hit with devastating, genocidal sanctions, which were maintained under US/UK pressure even after it had disarmed. Then it was invaded on the deceitful pretext that its leader, Saddam Hussein, still possessed WMDs.

The truth of what has been happening is too shocking and too terrible ever to be admitted in the Western mainstream media. Namely, that since the demise of the Soviet Union, the US and its allies have been picking off independent, resource-rich, strategically important countries one by one.

The point is not that these countries were perfect and that there wasn’t political repression taking place in some of them at various times, but that they were earmarked for destruction solely for standing in the way of the imperialists. The propagandists for the US-led wars of recent years want us to regard the conflicts as ‘stand alones’ and to regard the ‘problem’ as being the ‘mad dog’ leadership of the countries which were attacked.

But in fact, the aggressions against Yugoslavia, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, and the threatening of Iran, North Korea, Russia and Venezuela are all parts of the same war. Anyone who hasn’t been locked in a wardrobe these past twenty years, or whose salary is not paid directly, or indirectly, by the Empire of Chaos, can surely see now where the ‘problem’ really lies.

The ‘New Hitlers’ – Milosevic, Hussein and Gaddafi – who we were told were the ‘biggest threats’ to world peace, are dead and buried. But guess what? The killing goes on.

July 8, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Syrian Test of Trump-Putin Accord

By Ray McGovern | Consortium News | July 8, 2017

The immediate prospect for significant improvement in U.S.-Russia relations now depends on something tangible: Will the forces that sabotaged previous ceasefire agreements in Syria succeed in doing so again, all the better to keep alive the “regime change” dreams of the neoconservatives and liberal interventionists?

Or will President Trump succeed where President Obama failed by bringing the U.S. military and intelligence bureaucracies into line behind a cease-fire rather than allowing insubordination to win out?

These are truly life-or-death questions for the Syrian people and could have profound repercussions across Europe, which has been destabilized by the flood of refugees fleeing the horrific violence in the six-year proxy war that has ripped Syria apart.

But you would have little inkling of this important priority from the large page-one headlines Saturday morning in the U.S. mainstream media, which continued its long obsession with the more ephemeral question of whether Russian President Vladimir Putin would confess to the sin of “interference” in the 2016 U.S. election and promise to repent.

Thus, the headlines: “Trump, Putin talk election interference” (Washington Post) and “Trump asks Putin About Meddling During Election” (New York Times). There was also the expected harrumphing from commentators on CNN and MSNBC when Putin dared to deny that Russia had interfered.

In both the big newspapers and on cable news shows, the potential for a ceasefire in southern Syria – set to go into effect on Sunday – got decidedly second billing.

Yet, the key to Putin’s assessment of Donald Trump is whether the U.S. President is strong enough to make the mutually agreed-upon ceasefire stick. As Putin is well aware, to do so Trump will have to take on the same “deep-state” forces that cheerily scuttled similar agreements in the past. In other words, the actuarial tables for this cease-fire are not good; long life for the agreement will take something just short of a miracle.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will have to face down hardliners in both the Pentagon and CIA. Tillerson probably expects that Defense Secretary James “Mad-Dog” Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo will cooperate by ordering their troops and operatives inside Syria to restrain the U.S.-backed “moderate rebels.”

But it remains to be seen if Mattis and Pompeo can control the forces their agencies have unleashed in Syria. If recent history is any guide, it would be folly to rule out another “accidental” U.S. bombing of Syrian government troops or a well-publicized “chemical attack” or some other senseless “war crime” that social media and mainstream media will immediately blame on President Bashar al-Assad.

Bitter Experience

Last fall’s limited ceasefire in Syria, painstakingly worked out over 11 months by Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and approved personally by Presidents Obama and Putin, lasted only five days (from Sept. 12-17) before it was scuttled by “coalition” air strikes on well-known, fixed Syrian army positions, which killed between 64 and 84 Syrian troops and wounded about 100 others.

In public remarks bordering on the insubordinate, senior Pentagon officials a few days before the air attack on Sept. 17, showed unusually open skepticism regarding key aspects of the Kerry-Lavrov agreement – like sharing intelligence with the Russians (an important provision of the deal approved by both Obama and Putin).

The Pentagon’s resistance and the “accidental” bombing of Syrian troops brought these uncharacteristically blunt words from Foreign Minister Lavrov on Russian TV on Sept. 26:

“My good friend John Kerry … is under fierce criticism from the U.S. military machine. Despite the fact that, as always, [they] made assurances that the U.S. Commander in Chief, President Barack Obama, supported him in his contacts with Russia … apparently the military does not really listen to the Commander in Chief.”

Lavrov specifically criticized Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Gen. Joseph Dunford for telling Congress that he opposed sharing intelligence with Russia despite the fact, as Lavrov put it, “the agreements concluded on direct orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama [who] stipulated that they would share intelligence.” Noting this resistance inside the U.S. military bureaucracy, Lavrov added, “It is difficult to work with such partners.”

Putin picked up on the theme of insubordination in an Oct. 27 speech at the Valdai International Discussion Club, in which he openly lamented:

“My personal agreements with the President of the United States have not produced results. … people in Washington are ready to do everything possible to prevent these agreements from being implemented in practice.”

On Syria, Putin decried the lack of a “common front against terrorism after such lengthy negotiations, enormous effort, and difficult compromises.”

Lavrov’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, meanwhile, even expressed sympathy for Kerry’s quixotic effort, giving him an “A” for effort after then-Defense Secretary Ashton Carter dispatched U.S. warplanes to provide an early death to the cease-fire so painstakingly worked out by Kerry and Lavrov for almost a year.

For his part, Kerry expressed regret – in words reflecting the hapless hubris befitting the chief envoy of the world’s “only indispensible” country – conceding that he had been unable to “align” all the forces in play.

With the ceasefire in tatters, Kerry publicly complained on Sept. 29, 2016: “Syria is as complicated as anything I’ve ever seen in public life, in the sense that there are probably about six wars or so going on at the same time – Kurd against Kurd, Kurd against Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sunni, Shia, everybody against ISIL, people against Assad, Nusra [Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate]. This is as mixed-up sectarian and civil war and strategic and proxies, so it’s very, very difficult to be able to align forces.”

Admitting Deep-State Pre-eminence

Only in December 2016, in an interview with Matt Viser of the Boston Globe, did Kerry admit that his efforts to deal with the Russians had been thwarted by then-Defense Secretary Ashton Carter – as well as all those forces he found so difficult to align.

Former U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter

“Unfortunately we had divisions within our own ranks that made the implementation [of the ceasefire agreement] extremely hard to accomplish,” Kerry said. “But it … could have worked. … The fact is we had an agreement with Russia … a joint cooperative effort.

“Now we had people in our government who were bitterly opposed to doing that,” he said. “I regret that. I think that was a mistake. I think you’d have a different situation there conceivably now if we’d been able to do that.”

The Globe’s Viser described Kerry as frustrated. Indeed, it was a tough way for Kerry to end nearly 34 years in public office.

After Friday’s discussions with President Trump, Kremlin eyes will be focused on Secretary of State Tillerson, watching to see if he has better luck than Kerry did in getting Ashton Carter’s successor, James “Mad Dog” Mattis and CIA’s latest captive-director Pompeo into line behind what President Trump wants to do.

As the new U.S.-Russia agreed-upon ceasefire goes into effect on Sunday, Putin will be eager to see if this time Trump, unlike Obama, can make a ceasefire in Syria stick; or whether, like Obama, Trump will be unable to prevent it from being sabotaged by Washington’s deep-state actors.

The proof will be in the pudding and, clearly, much depends on what happens in the next few weeks. At this point, it will take a leap of faith on Putin’s part to have much confidence that the ceasefire will hold.


Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.  As a CIA analyst for 27 years, he led the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and, during President Ronald Reagan’s first term, conducted the early morning briefings with the President’s Daily Brief.  He now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

July 8, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

North Carolina 22nd state to pass anti-BDS legislation promoted by Israel lobby groups

North Carolina 22nd state to pass anti-BDS legislation promoted by Israel lobby groups

Still taken from JBSTV news report June 29, 2017
By Alison Weir | If Americans Knew | July 8, 2017

The pro-Israel campaign in state legislatures against boycotting Israel just scored another victory in North Carolina. Last month corresponding bills were passed in Nevada, Ohio, and Kansas.

Similar laws are also being passed in U.S. cities and at the federal level.

Members of the North Carolina House of Representatives voted 96 to 19 and state Senators voted 45 to 3 for legislation that prevents state institutions from doing business with companies that boycott Israeli companies and/or products made in Israel.

The original sponsors of the bill were Senators Tommy Tucker, Rick Gunn and Andrew Brock, and Representatives. John Szoka, Stephen Ross and Jon Hardister.

Israel’s Jerusalem Post newspaper reported: “Representatives from the various Jewish Federations across North Carolina praised the passage of the legislation.”

“This bill makes it clear that the State of North Carolina stands with Israel, which has long been an important trading partner of North Carolina,” said Carin Savel, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Raleigh-Cary. [The Federation’s mission includes helping “to meet the shared obligations of our local community to Israel and international Jewry.”]

“Charlotte Jewish Federation executive director Susan J. Worrel said the bill “will solidify the relationship between North Carolina and Israel, who share important values and a mutually beneficial business relationship.”

“Jill Madsen, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Durham-Chapel Hill, said the bill “is an important step in the right direction.”

She added, “It prevents companies which boycott Israel based on national origin from doing business with the state of North Carolina.”

Marilyn Forman Chandler, executive director of the Greensboro Jewish Federation, said, “This sends a significant message against hatred and discrimination and will outlaw and condemn discrimination against Israel and Israelis. We look forward to Governor Roy Cooper’s signature, making North Carolina the 22nd state to take such action.”

Some of the other groups promoting the legislation are The Israel Project, a national pro-Israel organization; United for Israel, an international organization; and the American Jewish Committee, which created a letter opposing BDS that all 50 US governors signed. The AJC called it “a big win for Jewish advocacy and Israel.” Some groups label the BDS movement “antisemitic.”

The North Carolina bills are Senate Bill 329 and House Bill 161 –  short title: “Divestment from Companies That Boycott Israel,” full title:  “An Act Requiring State Divestment from, and Prohibiting State 3 Agencies from Contracting with, Companies that Boycott Israel.

JTA reports that this is at least the 22nd state with anti-BDS laws or executive orders. Previous states include Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Jewish community representatives join Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf as he signs anti-boycott legislation. ​Photo from the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh

July 8, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

18-month-old Palestinian dies after being injured with Israeli tear gas 2 months ago

Ma’an – July 8, 2017

BETHLEHEM – An 18-month old Palestinian infant died on Friday, some two months after suffering from tear gas inhalation when Israeli forces shot tear gas at Palestinian homes in the village of Abud in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah.

According to Palestinian news agency Wafa, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said that 18-month-old Abd al-Rahman Barghouti, was transferred to Hadassah Hospital in West Jerusalem after suffering from tear gas inhalation in May, owing to the severity of his condition.

However, Wafa pointed out that “all efforts to save his life failed,” and the infant was declared dead on Friday evening.

The infant was injured after clashes broke out across the occupied West Bank on May 19 in support of some 1,300 Palestinian prisoners who were undergoing a mass hunger strike to demand better treatment and conditions in Israeli prisons.

At the time, Israeli forces haphazardly shot tear gas at Palestinian homes, which caused many residents, including Abd al-Rahman, to suffer from tear gas inhalation.

At the same time, Israeli forces opened live ammunition on protesters, injuring several Palestinian youths in the lower part of their bodies.

According to Wafa, Israeli soldiers had prevented Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances from reaching the infant’s home to treat him, and blocked the ambulances with Israeli army jeeps, forcing Palestinian medics to rush on foot to the infant to provide first aid.

The medics were also forced to carry him back to the ambulances, which were located a 30 minute walk away from Barghouti’s house, Wafa pointed out.

Abd al-Rahman became the 36th Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces since the start of 2017. Eight Israelis have also been killed by Palestinians during the same time period.

Israeli forces have been the target of condemnation by rights groups for their excessive use of force on Palestinians. During clashes, Israeli forces shoot large amounts of tear gas, at times directly at Palestinian homes, leading to routine injuries and the occasional death.

In 2016, Muhammad Mustafa Habash, 63, from the Asira al-Shamaliya village in the northern West Bank district of Nablus, died of tear gas inhalation during clashes that broke out with Israeli forces at Qalandiya checkpoint in Ramallah.

In 2015, when a wave of violence first erupted across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, an 8-month-old infant died of tear gas inhalation in the village of Beit Fajjar in Bethlehem.

Several days before the infant’s death, a beloved local activist in Hebron, 54-year-old Dr. Hashem al-Azzeh, also died from tear gas inhalation.

July 8, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 2 Comments

Syrians Return Home as the Terrorists are Pushed Out

By Steven MacMillan – New Eastern Outlook – 07.07.2017

After six years of fighting a brutal and long war against foreign-backed terrorist proxy forces, the Syrian army – and its allies – have made significant gains in recent months. The Syrian army’s recent triumphs include liberating many areas in the Homs province, reaching the Iraqi border in what was described as a “strategic turning point in the war,” in addition to securing the Aleppo province from ISIS. It is clear that the Syrian army has the upper hand in the conflict, a fact that the hawks in Washington, London, Brussels, Riyadh and Tel Aviv find too difficult to stomach.

As the Syrian army prevails on the ground, capturing territory from the militants in the process, hundreds of thousands of Syrians are returning to their homes. As Andrej Mahecic, the spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Refugee Agency, said in a press briefing at the end of June, many Syrians are returning “to their homes” partly due to a “real or perceived improvement in security conditions” in many regions recently liberated:

“[The] UNHC is seeing a notable trend of spontaneous returns to and within Syria in 2017. Aid agencies estimate that more than 440,000 internally displaced people have returned to their homes in Syria during the first six months of this year. In parallel, UNHCR has monitored over 31,000 Syrian refugees returning from neighbouring countries so far in 2017. 

The main factors influencing decisions for refugees to return self-assisted mostly to Aleppo, Hama, Homs, Damascus and to other governorates are primarily linked to seeking out family members, checking on property, and, in some cases, a real or perceived improvement in security conditions in parts of the country.” 

Although the conflict is far from over, and the rebuilding of Syria will likely cost hundreds of billions of dollars, many Syrians can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. The defeat of foreign-backed mercenaries and the stabilization of Syria has always been of central importance to help solve part of the refugee/migrant crisis that has gripped Europe in recent years.

Short of any extremely reckless action by the West and its allies, the Syrian army will continue to liberate large parts of the country from the foreign-backed militants, paving the way for more internally and externally displaced Syrians to return to their homes. In their desperation however, the enemies of Syria may again stage a false flag chemical weapons attack and blame it on the Syrian government, in an attempt to justify a major military intervention to turn the tide.

The Need to Resist Balkanization 

The second option available to the enemies of Syria is to continue the agenda of attempting to Balkanize Syria into different micro-states and mini-states, with the West clearly using Kurdish factions in an attempt to further this strategy. Ideally, the enemies of Syria wanted to force regime change in Damascus and then Balkanize the country into multiple rump states, although with regime change looking increasingly unrealistic, Balkanization in itself has become a central objective of the West.

There is literally an abundance of evidence that supports the thesis that Balkanization is a major goal of the West and its allies. In 1982, Oded Yinon, an Israeli journalist who had close connections to the Foreign Ministry in Israel, wrote an article titled: “A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties.” In the document, Yinon detailed how the “dissolution of Syria” into “ethnically or religiously unique areas” was a primary objective of Israel:

“Lebanon’s total dissolution into five provinces serves as a precedent for the entire Arab world including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula and is already following that track. The dissolution of Syria and Iraq later on into ethnically or religiously unique areas such as in Lebanon, is Israel’s primary target on the Eastern front in the long run, while the dissolution of the military power of those states serves as the primary short-term target. Syria will fall apart, in accordance with its ethnic and religious structure, into several states such as in present day Lebanon, so that there will be a Shi’ite Alawi state along its coast, a Sunni state in the Aleppo area, another Sunni state in Damascus hostile to its northern neighbor, and the Druzes who will set up a state, maybe even in our Golan, and certainly in the Hauran and in northern Jordan” (p.11, point 22).

A decade later, an article appeared in an extremely influential US publication which echoed the strategy advocated by Yinon. Published in the 1992 issue of Foreign Affairs, the magazine of the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR), the article was titled: Rethinking the Middle East, and was written by Bernard Lewis, the British-American historian, neoconservative and CFR member. In the article, Lewis outlines how many Middle East states could disintegrate into a “chaos of squabbling, feuding, fighting sects, tribes, regions and parties:”

“Another possibility, which could even be precipitated by fundamentalism, is what has of late become fashionable to call ‘Lebanonization.’ Most of the states of the Middle East—Egypt is an obvious exception—are of recent and artificial construction and are vulnerable to such a process. If the central power is sufficiently weakened, there is no real civil society to hold the polity together, no real sense of common national identity or overriding allegiance to the nation state. 

The state then disintegrates—as happened in Lebanon—into a chaos of squabbling, feuding, fighting sects, tribes, regions and parties. If things go badly and central governments falter and collapse, the same could happen, not only in the countries of the existing Middle East, but also in the newly independent Soviet republics, where the artificial frontiers drawn by the former imperial masters left each republic with a mosaic of minorities and claims of one sort or another on or by its neighbours.” 

In 2013, the former US Secretary of State and CFR member, Henry Kissinger, revealed his desire to see Syria Balkanized into “more or less autonomous regions” whilst speaking at the Ford School:

“There are three possible outcomes. An Assad victory. A Sunni victory. Or an outcome in which the various nationalities agree to co-exist together but in more or less autonomous regions, so that they can’t oppress each other. That’s the outcome I would prefer to see. But that’s not the popular view…. I also think Assad ought to go, but I don’t think it’s the key. The key is; it’s like Europe after the Thirty Years War, when the various Christian groups had been killing each other until they finally decided that they had to live together but in separate units. So that is the fundamental issue, and we’re beginning to move towards that” (from 27.35 into the interview).

Then at the end of 2015, Foreign Affairs published an article titled: Divide and Conquer in Syria and Iraq; Why the West Should Plan for a Partition. It was written by Barak Mendelsohn, an Associate Professor of Political Science at Haverford College and a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. In the article, he argues that the “solution” to the current crisis in Syria and Iraq is the Balkanization of these countries into multiple micro-states, creating an “independent Sunni state” (or Sunnistan) in the process: 

“The only way to elicit indigenous support is by offering the Sunnis greater stakes in the outcome. That means proposing an independent Sunni state that would link Sunni-dominated territories on both sides of the border. Washington’s attachment to the artificial Sykes–Picots borders demarcated by France and Britain a century ago no longer makes sense. Few people truly believe that Syria and Iraq could each be put back together after so much blood has been spilled. A better alternative would be to separate the warring sides. Although the sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shias was not inevitable—it was, to some extent, the result of manipulation by self-interested elites—it is now a reality.” 

This is just a snapshot of the evidence that proves that the enemies of Syria want to Balkanize the country, with the Brookings Institution being another US think tank that has advocated this strategy, in one form or another, ad nauseam. Officials in Syria are well aware of this plan however, that is why the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, has repeatedly emphasised that he wants to recapture all of Syria.

July 8, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

Trump on surge, redeems pledge on Russia ties

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | July 8, 2017

Partisan tribalism is so intense among the US elites that a consensus is impossible to reach as regards the main topic of discussion at the meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg on Friday. As the meeting extended beyond the expected 30 minutes, there was consternation on the face of the CNN panelists and when it continued for another 30, 60 minutes – and eventually ended after 135 minutes – the look of despair mixed with anger could hardly be concealed.

The top US media groups highlighted that the presidential meeting in Hamburg was principally about Russian ‘medddling’ in US elections last November. In reality, Putin put the meeting in perspective, saying that his lengthy conversation with Trump covered “loads of questions (that) have accumulated, including both Ukraine and Syria, along with other issues, some bilateral issues… fight against terrorism and cybersecurity.”

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov who was present at the meeting said separately that in the “very lengthy, very specific” conversation, the two leaders “agreed on a number of concrete things.” He listed the following:

  • The two foreign ministers (Lavrov and Rex Tillerson) have been instructed to “continue and expand cooperation… on the entire spectrum of the international agenda, including the Korean Peninsula” both bilaterally and at the UN Security Council.
  • The agre’ment for the new envoys to Moscow and Washington will be expeditiously processed.
  • Detailed discussions were held on Syria, Ukraine, Korean Peninsula, problems of cyber security, and “a range of other issues.”
  • A bilateral working group has been set up to flesh out cooperation in cyber security, “including anti-terrorism efforts, fight against organized crime and hacker activities.”
  • Trump has appointed a new envoy for Ukraine who will visit Moscow “in the near future” to discuss a solution within the ambit of the Minsk agreement (where Russia feels that the US now “feels the necessity of extra impetus”.)  The bilateral Russia-US channel on Ukraine will be “taking into account and relying on the potential of the Contact Group and the ‘Normandy format’.”
  • The return of the Russian compounds in New York and Maryland (confiscated by Obama administration in December) was “raised” and Moscow will be “seeking justice.”

Of course, the highlight was the announcement of a ceasefire in the de-escalation zone in Syria’s south – Daraa and Quneitra – bordering Jordan and the Golan Heights w.e.f midnight on July 9. The US has made a commitment that “all the (opposition) groups present there will observe the ceasefire.” The security in the de-escalation zone will be ensured by Russian military police in coordination with the US and Jordan. (Lavrov)

No doubt, the de-escalation zone in Syria’s south has been mired in controversy due to Israel’s demand that the US should directly take responsibility for the safe zone, since Russia and Syrian President Bashar Assad might otherwise allow Iran-supported militia and Hezbollah to move forces close to Golan Heights occupied by Israel. However, the understanding now is that the US will rely on cooperation from Russia.

This will disappoint Israel. Haaretz reported Friday that Israeli officials had demanded that the Trump team spike a proposal that the Russian military oversee the cease-fire. The report said that “Israel vehemently opposes this idea and has made that clear to the Americans,” before the Trump-Putin meeting. “Israel would prefer to have American troops enforce the cease-fire in southern Syria. The Trump Administration is considering this idea, but hasn’t yet decided.”

On the other hand, Lavrov said: “U.S. and Russia have agreed to maintain this ceasefire and the ceasefire will be maintained by all parties. They will also maintain access by humanitarian aid agencies and there will be a monitoring center that will be created in the capital of Jordan.”

So, what is the ‘big picture’ from the talks in Hamburg? For a start, my prognosis proved right. (Please see Trump offers carrot to Russia, brandishes stick to beat China.) From the Russian point of view, the meeting has gone exceedingly well – far beyond expectations, perhaps. Trump was intensely conscious of the importance of seizing the moment to unroll his agenda to improve relations with Russia. To be sure, this was vintage Trump on surge.

Evidently, he’s relying on Tillerson to navigate the dialogue with Russia. Tillerson knows Russia and has met Putin a few times as ExxonMobil chief. Interestingly, Trump excluded the ‘hawks’ in the White House from his meeting with Putin and had only Tillerson to assist him. Evidently, he is not risking internal sabotage.

All this says something about Trump’s statecraft. His team is packed with ‘hardliners’ on Russia – NSA HR McMaster, Senior Director for Russia in NSC Fiona Hill, Defence Secretary James Mattis and so on. There is some truth to the hearsay that the man genuinely allows contrarian views — probably even encourages anarchical conditions to develop – so that in the final analysis, he can refine his own thinking and do precisely what he intends to do.

Although there was no Modi-style hugging and all that, the body language was excellent. Putin’s decision to patiently wait for the tide to turn in Washington and to leave it to Trump to set the pace of their face-to-face engagement paid dividends.  In the 135-minute meeting, Trump has kicked open so many doors leading to pathways in such different directions that it will be extremely difficult for the ‘Deep State’ to slam them all shut again.

If there is constructive follow-up on Syria alone, new momentum will be generated at the ‘mil-to-mil’ level, which could even have interesting fallout – such as on the Afghan situation, for example. From the TV visuals of the G-20, it appears that German Chancellor Angela Merkel played her part too in creating a positive ambience for the Russian-American engagement. Putin had several animated ‘asides’ with Merkel prior to the meeting with Trump. Indeed, Ukraine holds the key to a major transformation in Russia’s relations with the West — and here Merkel’s role can be decisive.

There is going to be much criticism when Trump gets back home. The night of the long knives may have already begun. Read the vicious commentary by Politico magazine – Trump Handed Putin a Stunning Victory.

July 8, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

US, Israel use German BND in new allegation against Iran

Sputnik – 08.07.2017

The German Intelligence Agency (BND) claims that Iran is “actively seeking products and scientific know-how” from German companies “for developing weapons of mass destruction and missile technology,” but Iranian political observer Hassan Beheshtipour dismissed the accusation as a “US-Israeli conspiracy against Iran” where BND is merely a pawn.

On Thursday, Fox News reported that German intelligence agency BND has prepared a report on Iran, warning that the Islamic Republic “is actively seeking products and scientific know-how for the field of developing weapons of mass destruction as well as missile technology.” For the purpose, the country is “targeting German companies through various fronts.”

The 181-page manual, the broadcaster said, was published last month and released on Tuesday by officials from the heavily industrialized southern German state of Baden-Württemberg. According to it, “in one case, Iran allegedly worked through a Chinese front company to seek ‘complex metal-producing machines’ from a German engineering firm. German intelligence officials blocked the sale when they told the engineering firm the merchandise was slated to be unlawfully routed to Iran.”

Sputnik Iran discussed the issue with Hassan Beheshtipour, Iranian political observer, an expert on nuclear issues and foreign policy contributor for PRESS TV Network, who called the accusations absurd.

“From the ideological point of view, the 181-page report could be regarded as a new attempt of the Israeli and American intelligence services and the Zionist lobby to discredit Iran with the help of Germany. It looks like a new scenario for the implementation of their schemes which they plotted back in 2001 and which they later modified into the anti-Iranian dossier on the nuclear program. However they failed,” Hassan Beheshtipour told Sputnik.

Not a single evidence has been submitted that Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon. Moreover, the expert said, it has been proved that Iran’s nuclear research pursues purely peaceful purposes. Therefore the above services decided to concentrate their efforts on [Iran’s] missile program and allege it the capacities of the weapons of mass destruction.

Hassan Beheshtipour pointed out at a number of contradictions which reveal a frame-up.

First of all, Iran was one of the first countries to sharply condemn and oppose the spread of weapons of mass destruction. It actively cooperates with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). It has also stepped up its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the various stages of control and inspection, especially after the signing of the nuclear deal. Iran strictly fulfills all the protocols with regards to Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) under the full control of IAEA. No doubts have been left with regards to its nuclear program. And there are no doubts that Iran makes no attempts to develop a weapon of mass destruction.

The expert also reminded that Iran’s missile program is of purely defensive, not offensive nature.

With regard to the defensive program, which also includes the missile program, it is even more transparent. Iran repeatedly reiterated that it has the right of self-defense and will neither discuss this issue with anyone nor negotiate on it.

The country’s missile program, he said, falls within the so-called conventional weapons. Iran has condemned at the highest level any production of chemical weapons. This decree of Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei has been protocoled in UN. It has been repeatedly referred to during the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program. Thus Iran, apart from nuclear and chemical weapons, has no other restrictions for its defense industry.

Iran’s defense industry, which also includes the missile program, had taken center stage during the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) when the regime of Saddam Hussein was bombing Iranian cities. Iran then was forced to turn to many countries with the request to supply missile weaponry to be able to defend itself. It had no missile engineering at that time. However practically no one (except for 2 countries) responded to its requests. It gave an impulse to Tehran to set up and further develop its missile engineering.

Since then Iran has reached high success in this area, it now possesses its own developments and technologies. Thus it simply does not need any know-how of German or Chinese companies, especially bypassing the sanctions, which are still partially in place.

Thus, the expert said, all the accusations of Iran, put forward in this report, are absolutely absurd. Iran is developing missiles of various ranges purely for its defensive purposes in case of an external attack. The Iranian missile program is of defensive and not of offensive character. It is a mean of containment, and not of aggression, Hassan Beheshtipour finally stated.

July 8, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment