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A Blacklisted Film and the New Cold War

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | August 2, 2107

Why is the U.S. mainstream media so frightened of a documentary that debunks the beloved story of how “lawyer” Sergei Magnitsky uncovered massive Russian government corruption and died as a result? If the documentary is as flawed as its critics claim, why won’t they let it be shown to the American public, then lay out its supposed errors, and use it as a case study of how such fakery works?

Film director Andrei Nekrasov

Instead we – in the land of the free, home of the brave – are protected from seeing this documentary produced by filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov who was known as a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin but who in this instance found the West’s widely accepted Magnitsky storyline to be a fraud.

Instead, last week, Senate Judiciary Committee members sat in rapt attention as hedge-fund operator William Browder wowed them with a reprise of his Magnitsky tale and suggested that people who have challenged the narrative and those who dared air the documentary one time at Washington’s Newseum last year should be prosecuted for violating the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA).

It appears that Official Washington’s anti-Russia hysteria has reached such proportions that old-time notions about hearing both sides of a story or testing out truth in the marketplace of ideas must be cast aside. The new political/media paradigm is to shield the American people from information that contradicts the prevailing narratives, all the better to get them to line up behind Those Who Know Best.

Nekrasov’s powerful deconstruction of the Magnitsky myth – and the film’s subsequent blacklisting throughout the “free world” – recall other instances in which the West’s propaganda lines don’t stand up to scrutiny, so censorship and ad hominem attacks become the weapons of choice to defend “perception management” narratives in geopolitical hot spots such as Iraq (2002-03), Libya (2011), Syria (2011 to the present), and Ukraine (2013 to the present).

But the Magnitsky myth has a special place as the seminal fabrication of the dangerous New Cold War between the nuclear-armed West and nuclear-armed Russia.

In the United States, Russia-bashing in The New York Times and other “liberal media” also has merged with the visceral hatred of President Trump, causing all normal journalistic standards to be jettisoned.

A Call for Prosecutions

Browder, the American-born co-founder of Hermitage Capital Management who is now a British citizen, raised the stakes even more when he testified that the people involved in arranging a one-time showing of Nekrasov’s documentary, “The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes,” at the Newseum should be held accountable under FARA, which has penalties ranging up to five years in prison.

Browder testified: “As part of [Russian lawyer Natalie] Veselnitskaya’s lobbying, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, Chris Cooper of the Potomac Group, was hired to organize the Washington, D.C.-based premiere of a fake documentary about Sergei Magnitsky and myself. This was one the best examples of Putin’s propaganda.

“They hired Howard Schweitzer of Cozzen O’Connor Public Strategies and former Congressman Ronald Dellums to lobby members of Congress on Capitol Hill to repeal the Magnitsky Act and to remove Sergei’s name from the Global Magnitsky bill. On June 13, 2016, they funded a major event at the Newseum to show their fake documentary, inviting representatives of Congress and the State Department to attend.

“While they were conducting these operations in Washington, D.C., at no time did they indicate that they were acting on behalf of Russian government interests, nor did they file disclosures under the Foreign Agent Registration Act. United States law is very explicit that those acting on behalf of foreign governments and their interests must register under FARA so that there is transparency about their interests and their motives.

“Since none of these people registered, my firm wrote to the Department of Justice in July 2016 and presented the facts. I hope that my story will help you understand the methods of Russian operatives in Washington and how they use U.S. enablers to achieve major foreign policy goals without disclosing those interests.”

Browder’s Version

While he loosely accused a number of Americans of felonies, Browder continued to claim that Magnitsky was a crusading “lawyer” who uncovered a $230 million tax-fraud scheme carried out ostensibly by Browder’s companies but, which, according to Browder’s account, was really engineered by corrupt Russian police officers who then arrested Magnitsky and later were responsible for his death in a Russian jail.

Sergei Magnitsky

Browder’s narrative has received a credulous hearing by Western politicians and media already inclined to think the worst of Putin’s Russia and willing to treat Browder’s claims as true without serious examination. However, beyond the self-serving nature of Browder’s tale, there are many holes in the story, including whether Magnitsky was really a principled lawyer or instead a complicit accountant.

According to Browder’s own biographical description of Magnitsky, he received his education at the Plekhanov Institute in Moscow, a reference to Plekhanov Russian University of Economics, a school for finance and business, not a law school.

Nevertheless, the West’s mainstream media – relying on the word of Browder – has accepted Magnitsky’s standing as a “lawyer,” which apparently fits better in the narrative of Magnitsky as a crusading corruption fighter rather than a potential co-conspirator with Browder in a complex fraud, as the Russian government has alleged.

Magnitsky’s mother also has described her son as an accountant, although telling Nekrasov in the documentary “he wasn’t just an accountant; he was interested in lots of things.” In the film, the “lawyer” claim is also disputed by a female co-worker who knew Magnitsky well. “He wasn’t a lawyer,” she said.

In other words, on this high-profile claim repeated by Browder again and again, it appears that presenting Magnitsky as a “lawyer” is a convenient falsehood that buttresses the Magnitsky myth, which Browder constructed after Magnitsky’s death from heart failure while in pre-trial detention.

But the Magnitsky myth took off in 2012 when Browder sold his tale to neocon Senators Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, and John McCain, R-Arizona, who threw their political weight behind a bipartisan drive in Congress leading to the passage of the Magnitsky sanctions act, the opening shot in the New Cold War.

A Planned Docudrama

Browder’s dramatic story also attracted the attention of Russian filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov, a well-known critic of Putin from previous films. Nekrasov set out to produce a docudrama that would share Browder’s good-vs.-evil narrative to a wider public.

Nekrasov devotes the first half hour of the film to allowing Browder to give his Magnitsky account illustrated by scenes from Nekrasov’s planned docudrama. In other words, the viewer gets to see a highly sympathetic portrayal of Browder and Magnitsky as supposedly corrupt Russian authorities bring charges of tax fraud against them.

However, Nekrasov’s documentary project takes an unexpected turn when his research turns up numerous contradictions to Browder’s storyline, which begins to look more and more like a corporate cover story. For instance, Magnitsky’s mother blames the negligence of prison doctors for her son’s death rather than a beating by prison guards as Browder had pitched to Western audiences.

Nekrasov also discovered that a woman who had worked in Browder’s company blew the whistle before Magnitsky talked to police and that Magnitsky’s original interview with authorities was as a suspect, not a whistleblower. Also contradicting Browder’s claims, Nekrasov notes that Magnitsky doesn’t even mention the names of the police officers in a key statement to authorities.

When one of the Browder-accused police officers, Pavel Karpov, filed a libel suit against Browder in London, the case was dismissed on technical grounds because Karpov had no reputation in Great Britain to slander. But the judge seemed sympathetic to the substance of Karpov’s complaint.

Browder claimed vindication before adding an ironic protest given his successful campaign to prevent Americans and Europeans from seeing Nekrasov’s documentary.

“These people tried to shut us up; they tried to stifle our freedom of expression,” Browder complained. “[Karpov] had the audacity to come here and sue us, paying high-priced libel lawyers to come and terrorize us in the U.K.”

The ‘Kremlin Stooge’ Slur

A pro-Browder account published at the Daily Beast on July 25 – attacking Nekrasov and his documentary – is entitled “How an Anti-Putin Filmmaker Became a Kremlin Stooge,” a common slur used in the West to discredit and silence anyone who dares question today’s Russia-hating groupthink.

The article by Katie Zavadski accuses Nekrasov of being in the tank for the Kremlin and declares that “The movie is so flattering to the Russian narrative that Pavel Karpov — one of the police officers accused of being responsible for Magnitsky’s death — plays himself.”

But that’s not true. In fact, there is a scene in the documentary in which Nekrasov invites the actor who plays Karpov in the docudrama segment to sit in on an interview with the real Karpov. There’s even a clumsy moment when the actor and police officer bump into a microphone as they shake hands, but Zavadski’s falsehood would not be apparent unless you had somehow gotten access to the documentary, which has been effectively banned in the West.

In the documentary, Karpov, the police officer, accuses Browder of lying about him and specifically contests the claim that he (Karpov) used his supposedly ill-gotten gains to buy an expensive apartment in Moscow. Karpov came to the interview with documents showing that the flat was pre-paid in 2004-05, well before the alleged hijacking of Browder’s firms.

Karpov added wistfully that he had to sell the apartment to pay for his failed legal challenge in London, which he said he undertook in an effort to clear his name. “Honor costs a lot sometimes,” the police officer said.

Karpov also explained that the investigations of Browder’s tax fraud started well before the Magnitsky controversy, with an examination of a Browder company in 2004.

“Once we opened the investigation, a campaign in defense of an investor started,” Karpov said. “Having made billions here, Browder forgot to tell how he did it. So it suits him to pose as a victim. … Browder and company are lying blatantly and constantly.”

However, since virtually no one in the West has seen this interview, you can’t make your own judgment as to whether Karpov is credible or not.

A Painful Recognition

Yet, in reviewing the case documents and noting Browder’s inaccurate claims about the chronology, Nekrasov finds his own doubts growing. He discovers that European officials simply accepted Browder’s translations of Russian documents, rather than checking them independently. A similar lack of skepticism prevailed in the United States.

In other words, a kind of trans-Atlantic groupthink took hold with clear political benefits for those who went along and almost no one willing to risk the accusation of being a “Kremlin stooge” by showing doubt.

As the documentary proceeds, Browder starts avoiding Nekrasov and his more pointed questions. Finally, Nekrasov hesitantly confronts the hedge-fund executive at a party for Browder’s book, Red Notice, about the Magnitsky case.

The easygoing Browder of the early part of the documentary — as he lays out his seamless narrative without challenge — is gone; instead, a defensive and angry Browder appears.

“It’s bullshit,” Browder says when told that his presentations of the documents are false.

But Nekrasov continues to find more contradictions and discrepancies. He discovers evidence that Browder’s web site eliminated an earlier chronology that showed that in April 2008, a 70-year-old woman named Rimma Starova, who had served as a figurehead executive for Browder’s companies, reported the theft of state funds.

Nekrasov then shows how Browder’s narrative was changed to introduce Magnitsky as the whistleblower months later, although he was then described as an “analyst,” not yet a “lawyer.”

As Browder’s story continues to unravel, the evidence suggests that Magnitsky was an accountant implicated in manipulating the books, not a crusading lawyer risking everything for the truth.

A Heated Confrontation

In the documentary, Nekrasov struggles with what to do next, given Browder’s financial and political clout. Finally securing another interview, Nekrasov confronts Browder with the core contradictions of his story. Incensed, the hedge-fund executive rises up and threatens the filmmaker.

William Browder (right) with Magnitsky’s widow and son,
along with European parliamentarians.

“I’d be very careful going out and trying to do a whole sort of thing about Sergei [Magnitsky] not being the whistleblower, it won’t do well for your credibility on this show,” Browder said. “This is sort of the subtle FSB version,” suggesting that Nekrasov was just fronting for the Russian intelligence service.

In the pro-Browder account published at the Daily Beast on July 25, Browder described how he put down Nekrasov by telling him, “it sounds like you’re part of the FSB. … Those are FSB questions.”

But that phrasing is not what he actually says in the documentary, raising further questions about whether the Daily Beast reporter actually watched the film or simply accepted Browder’s account of it. (I posed that question to the Daily Beast’s Katie Zavadski by email, but have not gotten a reply.)

The documentary also includes devastating scenes from depositions of a sullen and uncooperative Browder and a U.S. government investigator, who acknowledges relying on Browder’s narrative and documents in a related case against Russian businesses.

In an April 15, 2015 deposition of Browder, he, in turn, describes relying on reports from journalists to “connect the dots,” including the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), which is funded by the U.S. government and financial speculator George Soros. Browder said the reporters “worked with our team.”

While taking money from the U.S. Agency for International Development and Soros, the OCCRP also targeted Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych with accusations of corruption prior to the Feb. 22, 2014 coup that ousted Yanukovych, an overthrow that was supported by the U.S. State Department and escalated the New Cold War with Russia.

OCCRP played a key role, too, in the so-called Panama Papers, purloined documents from a Panamanian law firm that were used to develop attack lines against Russian President Vladimir Putin although his name never appeared in the documents.

After examining the money-movement charts published by OCCRP about the Magnitsky case, Nekrasov notes that the figures don’t add up and wonders how journalists could “peddle these wooly maths.” He also observed that OCCRP’s Panama Papers linkage of Magnitsky’s $230 million fraud and payments to an ally of Putin made no sense because the dates of the Panama Papers transactions preceded the dates of the alleged Magnitsky fraud.

The Power of Myth

Nekrasov suggests that the power of Browder’s convoluted story rested, in part, on a Hollywood perception of Moscow as a place where evil Russians lurk around every corner and any allegation against “corrupt” officials is believed. The Magnitsky tale “was like a film script about Russia written for the Western audience,” Nekrasov says.

But the Browder’s narrative also served a strong geopolitical interest to demonize Russia at the dawn of the New Cold War.

In the documentary’s conclusion, Nekrasov sums up what he had discovered: “A murdered hero as an alibi for living suspects.” He then ponders the danger to democracy: “So do we allow graft and greed to hide behind a political sermon? Will democracy survive if human rights — its moral high ground — is used to protect selfish interests?”

But Americans and Europeans are being spared the discomfort of having to answer that question or to question their representatives about the failure to skeptically examine this case that has pushed the planet on a course toward a possible nuclear war.

Instead, the mainstream Western media has hurled insults at Nekrasov even as his documentary is blocked from any significant public viewing.

Despite Browder’s professed concern about the London libel case that he claimed was an attempt “to stifle our freedom of expression,” he has sicced his lawyers on anyone who might be thinking about showing Nekrasov’s documentary to the public.

The documentary was set for a premiere at the European Parliament in Brussels in April 2016, but at the last moment – faced with Browder’s legal threats – the parliamentarians pulled the plug. Nekrasov encountered similar resistance in the United States. There were hopes to show the documentary to members of Congress but the offer was rebuffed. Instead a room was rented at the Newseum near Capitol Hill.

Browder’s lawyers then tried to strong arm the Newseum, but its officials responded that they were only renting out a room and that they had allowed other controversial presentations in the past.

“We’re not going to allow them not to show the film,” said Scott Williams, the Newseum’s chief operating officer. “We often have people renting for events that other people would love not to have happen.”

In an article about the controversy in June 2016, The New York Times added that “A screening at the Newseum is especially controversial because it could attract lawmakers or their aides.”

One-Time Showing

So, Nekrasov’s documentary got a one-time showing with a follow-up discussion moderated by journalist Seymour Hersh. However, except for that audience, the public of the United States and Europe has been essentially shielded from the documentary’s discoveries, all the better for the Magnitsky myth to retain its power as a seminal propaganda moment of the New Cold War.

After the Newseum presentation, a Washington Post editorial branded Nekrasov’s documentary Russian “agit-prop” and sought to discredit Nekrasov without addressing his many documented examples of Browder’s misrepresenting both big and small facts in the case.

Instead, the Post accused Nekrasov of using “facts highly selectively” and insinuated that he was merely a pawn in the Kremlin’s “campaign to discredit Mr. Browder and the Magnitsky Act.”

Like the recent Daily Beast story, which falsely claimed that Nekrasov let the Russian police officer Karpov play himself, the Post misrepresented the structure of the film by noting that it mixed fictional scenes with real-life interviews and action, a point that was technically true but willfully misleading because the fictional scenes were from Nekrasov’s original idea for a docudrama that he shows as part of explaining his evolution from a believer in Browder’s self-exculpatory story to a skeptic.

But the Post’s deception – like the Daily Beast’s falsehood – is something that almost no American would realize because almost no one has gotten to see the film.

The Post’s editorial gloated: “The film won’t grab a wide audience, but it offers yet another example of the Kremlin’s increasingly sophisticated efforts to spread its illiberal values and mind-set abroad. In the European Parliament and on French and German television networks, showings were put off recently after questions were raised about the accuracy of the film, including by Magnitsky’s family.

“We don’t worry that Mr. Nekrasov’s film was screened here, in an open society. But it is important that such slick spin be fully exposed for its twisted story and sly deceptions.”

The Post’s arrogant editorial had the feel of something you might read in a totalitarian society where the public only hears about dissent when the Official Organs of the State denounce some almost unknown person for saying something that almost no one heard.

It is also unlikely that Americans and Europeans will get a chance to view this blacklisted documentary in the future. In an email exchange, the film’s Norwegian producer Torstein Grude told me that “We have been unsuccessful in releasing the film to TV so far. ZDF/Arte [a major European network] pulled it from transmission a few days before it was supposed to be aired and the other broadcasters seem scared as a result. Netflix has declined to take it. …

“The film has no other release at the moment. Distributors are scared by Browder’s legal threats. All involved financiers, distributors, producers received thick stacks of legal documents (300+ pages) threatening lawsuits should the film be released.” [Grude sent me a special password so I could view the documentary on Vimeo.]

The blackout continues even though the Magnitsky issue and Nekrasov’s documentary have become elements in the recent controversy over a meeting between a Russian lawyer and Donald Trump Jr. [See Consortiumnews.com’sHow Russia-gate Met the Magnitsky Myth.”]

So much for the West’s vaunted belief in freedom of expression and the democratic goal of encouraging freewheeling debates about issues of great public importance. And, so much for the Post’s empty rhetoric about our “open society.”

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.

August 2, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Film Review, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Rutherford Institute Asks Virginia Supreme Court to Prohibit Police From Using License Plate Readers as Surveillance Tool to Track Citizens

Rutherford Institute | August 2, 2017

RICHMOND, Va. — Denouncing the fact that Americans cannot even drive their cars without being enmeshed in the government’s web of surveillance, The Rutherford Institute has asked the Virginia Supreme Court to prohibit Virginia police from using license plate readers as surveillance tools to track drivers’ movements. Mounted next to traffic lights or on police cars, Automated License Plate Readers (ALPR), which photograph up to 3,600 license tag numbers per minute, take a picture of every passing license tag number and store the tag number and the date, time, and location of the picture in a searchable database. The data is then shared with law enforcement, fusion centers and private companies and used to track the movements of persons in their cars. There are reportedly tens of thousands of these license plate readers now in operation throughout the country. It is estimated that over 99% of the people being unnecessarily surveilled are entirely innocent. In challenging the use of license plate readers by Fairfax police, Rutherford Institute attorneys argue that Fairfax County’s practice of collecting and storing license plate reader data violates a Virginia law prohibiting the government from amassing personal information about individuals, including their driving habits and location.

The amicus brief in Neal v. Fairfax County Police Department is available at www.rutherford.org.

“We’re on the losing end of a technological revolution that has already taken hostage our computers, our phones, our finances, our entertainment, our shopping, our appliances, and now, it’s focused its sights on our cars,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People. “By subjecting Americans to surveillance without their knowledge or compliance and then storing the data for later use, the government has erected the ultimate suspect society. In such an environment, there is no such thing as ‘innocent until proven guilty.’”

Since 2010, the Fairfax County Police Department (FCPD) has used Automated License Plate Readers (ALPR) to record the time, place, and driving direction of thousands of drivers who use Fairfax County roads daily. License plate readers capture up to 3,600 images of license tag numbers per minute and convert the images to a computer format that can be searched by tag number. This information, stored in a police database for a year, allows the police to determine the driving habits of persons as well as where they have been. In 2014, Fairfax County resident Harrison Neal filed a complaint against FCPD asserting its collection and storage of license plate data violates Virginia’s Government Data Collection and Dissemination Practices Act (Data Act), a law enacted because of the fear that advanced technologies would be used by the government to collect and analyze massive amounts of personal information about citizens, thereby invading their privacy and liberty. The lawsuit cited a 2013 opinion by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli that ALPR data is “personal information” that the Data Act forbids the government from collecting and storing except in connection with an active criminal investigation. Despite this opinion, FCPD continued its practice of collecting and storing ALPR data in order to track the movements of vehicles and drivers. In November 2016, a Fairfax County Circuit Court judge ruled that license plate reader data was not “personal information” under the Data Act because license tag numbers identify a car and not a person. In weighing in on the case before the Virginia Supreme Court, Rutherford Institute attorneys refute the lower court ruling and argue that the history of the Data Act affirms its prohibition on the collection and maintenance of ALPR data by the government.

The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties organization, provides legal assistance at no charge to individuals whose constitutional rights have been threatened or violated and educates the public on a wide spectrum of issues affecting their freedoms.

August 2, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 3 Comments

Opposition journalist investigated for ‘treason & terrorism’ in Ukraine

RT | August 2, 2017

Ukraine’s Security Service have launched an investigation into a journalist and blogger whom they accuse of treason as well as his alleged attempts to violate the country’s territorial integrity via publications critical of the government in Kiev.

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) released a statement Wednesday, reporting that it had “ended the activity” of a journalist from the Zhitomir region in central Ukraine, who they claim worked on the “instructions of Russian curators” and “prepared and distributed anti-Ukrainian materials.”

“Since 2014 the journalist had been writing tendentious articles at the request of the Russian government propaganda news agencies,” the agency said without releasing the name of the suspect.

His work has had a “manipulative influence on the readers’ minds” and threatened “the sovereignty and independence of our state,” the SBU claimed.

The blogger, identified by the Ukrainian media as Vasily Muravitsky, was publishing his articles on at least six websites, the SBU said, adding, that the man initially signed his work under his real name, but started using aliases after that.

The journalist’s works also allegedly contained “calls to incite national enmity within the country and between Ukraine and neighboring friendly states,” the security agency added.

If found guilty the opposition journalist may face up to 15 years in prison, according to Ukrainian authorities.

The Russian foreign ministry has condemned the persecution of the journalist, saying in a statement the investigation of the blogger is “just another episode of the campaign led by Kiev and aimed at violent suppression of the opposition journalists and total cleansing of Ukraine’s information sphere for the benefit of the ruling regime.”

“The mass closure of Russian news and internet media outlets as well as persecution and oppression of the Ukrainian journalists conducted on a large scale are blatant violations of the fundamental principles of the freedom of expression that lie at the core of the civilized approach to the media and are embodied in the key documents of the UN, OSCE and the Council of Europe,” the statement said.

The ministry further called on member states of the OSCE and the Council of Europe as well as other international organizations to join Russia in condemning “Kiev’s barbaric and criminal policy towards media.”

August 2, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

US Regime Change in Venezuela: The Truth is Easy if You Follow the Money

By Tony Cartalucci  | Land Destroyer | July 31, 2017

Venezuela’s ongoing crisis is not driven by political ideology – it is not a battle of socialism versus capitalism or dictatorship versus democracy – it is the result of two centers of political power possessing opposing interests and colliding geopolitically.

The nation of Venezuela is currently under the control of Venezuelans who derive their support, wealth, and power from Venezuela itself – its people and its natural resource. This political order also receives aid and support from Venezuela’s economic and military partners both in the region and around the globe.

The opposition opposed to the current political order and seeking to supplant it represents foreign interests and more specifically, the United States and its European allies.

The Opposition is Pro-Washington, Not “Pro-Democracy”

As early as 2002, US-backed regime change targeting then Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, sought to violently overthrow Venezuela’s political order and replace it with one obedient to Washington. Current leaders of the opposition were not only involved in the 2002 failed coup, many are documented to have received political and financial support from the United States government ever since.

Maria Corina Machado, founder of Sumate, an alleged Venezuelan election monitoring group, funded by the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED), meeting with US President George Bush who presided over the failed coup attempt against President Hugo Chavez.

This includes several founders of the opposition party, Primero Justicia (Justice First), including Leopoldo Lopez, Julio Borges, and Henrique Capriles Radonski. The latter of the three has been prominently featured in Western media coverage lately.

US State Department documents reveal that the department itself along with US-funded fronts posing as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have been providing Venezuela’s opposition with support.

This includes a  report titled, “Status of Capriles and Sumate Cases,” referring to the above mentioned Henrique Capriles Radonski and Sumate, a US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) funded front posing as an election monitor.

Currently, NED’s own website features an extensive list of activities it is engaged in within Venezuela’s borders. It includes leveraging human rights for political gain, electoral manipulation, building opposition fronts, and expanding pro-opposition media. While each activity is labelled with benign titles, it is clear that none of these activities are done impartially, and as State Department documents reveal, these activities are done specifically for the benefit of the US-backed opposition.

Wall Street and Washington’s Open Conspiracy 

After the death of Chavez in 2013, US-based special interests openly conspired to finally overturn the political order he built. Corporate-financier policy think tank, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) created a checklist of US foreign policy goals it sought to achieve in Venezuela. They included:

  • The ouster of narco-kingpins who now hold senior posts in government
  • The respect for a constitutional succession
  • The adoption of meaningful electoral reforms to ensure a fair campaign environment and a transparent vote count in expected presidential elections; and
  • The dismantling of Iranian and Hezbollah networks in Venezuela

In reality, AEI is talking about dismantling entirely the obstacles that have prevented the US and the corporate-financier interests that direct it, from installing a client regime and extracting entirely Venezuela’s wealth while obstructing, even dismantling the geopolitical independence and influence achieved by Chavez in Venezuela, throughout South America, and beyond.

The think tank would continue by stating:

Now is the time for US diplomats to begin a quiet dialogue with key regional powers to explain the high cost of Chávez’s criminal regime, including the impact of chavista complicity with narcotraffickers who sow mayhem in Colombia, Central America, and Mexico. Perhaps then we can convince regional leaders to show solidarity with Venezuelan democrats who want to restore a commitment to the rule of law and to rebuild an economy that can be an engine for growth in South America.

By “Venezuelan democrats,” AEI means proxies created, funded, and directed by Washington, including Primero Justicia and the street mobs and paramilitary units it commands.

More recently, another Wall Street-Washington policy think tank, the Brookings Institution, would publish in a paper titled, “Venezuela: A path out of crisis,” a 5-point plan toward escalating the crisis in Venezuela (emphasis added):

1. The United States could expand its assistance to countries that until now have been dependent on Venezuelan oil, as a means to decrease regional support for and dependence on the Maduro government.

2. The United States could increase monetary assistance to credible civil society organizations and nongovernmental organizations able to deliver food and medicines to Venezuelans. By doing so, the United States should make clear that international pressure aims to support democracy, not punish the Venezuelan people.

3. The United States could support efforts by the opposition in Venezuela to build an “off-ramp” that would split moderate elements of the government away from hardliners, encouraging the former to acquiesce to a transition to democracy by lowering their costs of exiting government.

4. The United States could coordinate with international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to offer financial incentives for holding free and fair elections in 2018, and for the opposition to unify and compete in those elections. Such coordination would also involve developing and publicizing a credible plan to restart Venezuela’s economy.

5. As a last resort, the United States could consider raising economic costs to the government through an expanded sanctions regime that aims to limit Venezuelan earnings from oil exports and block further financing. This policy is risky, given that the Maduro government would be able to more credibly shift blame for the economic crisis onto the United States, and should be accompanied by well-publicized efforts to deliver humanitarian aid through credible civil society and nongovernmental organizations.

While the Western media attempts to frame Venezuela’s crisis as a result of “socialism” and “dictatorship,” it is clear by reading the West’s own policy papers that it is owed instead to a systematic assault on Venezuela’s sociopolitical stability and economic viability, spanning decades.

Venezuela is not the first nation in South America that the United States has sought to overturn by undermining its economy.

Within the CIA’s own online archives under a section titled, “CIA Activities in Chile,” it is admitted that in the 1970s, similar tactics were used to undermine and overturn the government of Chile. It states specifically: (emphasis added):

According to the Church Committee report, in their meeting with CIA Director Richard Helms and Attorney General John Mitchell on 15 September 1970 President Nixon and his National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, directed the CIA to prevent Allende from taking power. They were “not concerned [about the] risks involved,” according to Helms’ notes. In addition to political action, Nixon and Kissinger, according to Helms’s notes, ordered steps to “make the economy scream.” 

These Cold War attitudes persisted into the Pinochet era. After Pinochet came to power, senior policymakers appeared reluctant to criticize human rights violations, taking to task US diplomats urging greater attention to the problem. US military assistance and sales grew significantly during the years of greatest human rights abuses. According to a previously released Memorandum of Conversation, Kissinger in June 1976 indicated to Pinochet that the US Government was sympathetic to his regime, although Kissinger advised some progress on human rights in order to improve Chile’s image in the US Congress. 

Considering America’s extensive list of interventions, wars, and occupations it is currently involved in worldwide and the manner in which each was presented to the public – with ideology and humanitarian concerns used to manipulate public perception, and considering Venezuela’s opposition is a documented recipient of US support, it is clear that yet another intervention is under way, this time in South America.

Unipolar vs Multipolar

In a world moving toward multipolarism and greater decentralization on all levels, Venezuela’s collapse and a victory for Washington would undo an increasingly balanced distribution of geopolitical power – both in South and Central America, as well as across the world.

As a major oil producing nation, US control over its people and natural resources would further allow the US and its allies to manipulate energy prices toward achieving future goals – particularly in terms of encircling, isolating, and dismantling other centers of political power dependent on oil production for economic prosperity.

One needs not be a fan of “socialism” to understand that the ultimate outcome of Venezuela’s collapse will be a further concentration of power in Washington and Wall Street’s hands. Such power, regardless of whatever ideology it is superficially wielded behind, will always be abused. Regardless of the alleged form of government a nation may take, as long as it is a step away from unipolar globalization, it is a step in the right direction.

The crisis in Venezuela is not one of socialism versus capitalism or dictatorship versus democracy – it is one of hegemony versus national sovereignty, of centralized unipolar power versus an increasingly multipolar world.

A sovereign and independent Venezuela allowed to pursue its own destiny is one in which its own people will naturally seek to decentralize and distribute power. While the current government may not provide the ideal conditions to accomplish this, conditions under a US client regime – as US-wrecked Libya, Afghanistan, or Iraq prove – would be significantly less ideal.

For geopolitical analysts, moving away from ideological talking points and examining the actual government and opposition, their interests, associations, and funding, as well as their base motives reveals a much simpler and consistent narrative, one that any analyst could discern, and a discernment that will stand the test of scrutiny and time. Those entrenched in left/right ideology risk being betrayed by the government’s floundering desperation and the true nature of an opposition that most certainly is not “capitalist” or “pro-democracy.”

August 2, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

‘No Time For Shallow Diplomacy Christians’ In The Religious War On Churches In The Holy Land

By Stuart Littlewood | American Herald Tribune | August 2, 2017

A month ago, after reading a desperate cry for help from the National Coalition of Christian Organisations in Palestine (NCCOP) addressed to the World Council of Churches, I emailed eight churches in my locality asking whether that heart-rending appeal had trickled down to them at parish level.

If not, I hoped to find out where the break in communications occurred, as this wasn’t the first time churches in the Holy Land had sought support from Western Christendom. Previous appeals were largely ignored and left to civil society for action.

Now, say the Palestinians, the situation is “beyond urgent”. So had the NCCOP’s latest plea actually arrived on the desks of parish priests in my neighbourhood? And if so, how were grass-roots Christians responding?

I included a link to the actual crisis document, which should have made every churchman sit up, and a gentle reminder that their faith and their job of work are rooted in the Holy Land. “So what are the chances, I wonder, of seeing concerted action from Western churches before it’s too late? And what part can local parishes play?

The key point was this: it’s beyond urgent. So are our spiritual leaders, those upstanding ‘men of the cloth’, mobilising their troops?

Only one of the eight replied — the local Catholic vicar-general — who dismissed the subject in two sentences. So there you have it. If this local bunch are representative of the Christian community in the UK, they don’t give a four-X for their brothers and sisters in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. And they are utterly indifferent to the fact that the place where Christianity was born is being stolen from under their noses.

If that’s a wrong interpretation, and Christians in the West do actually wish to help, the issue is straightforward enough. Churches in Palestine are asking churches here to call things as they are: to recognize Israel as an apartheid state in terms of international law and the UN report which says so. They are concerned that States and churches are still dealing with Israel on a business-as-usual basis, as if the situation were normal, and ignoring the criminal reality of military occupation.

Churches came together in opposition to apartheid in South Africa and helped end it. Why haven’t they done the same in Palestine?

They ask us to unequivocally condemn the Balfour Declaration as unjust, and they rightly demand that the UK asks forgiveness and compensates the Palestinian people for their losses. Theresa May’s government, however, plans to celebrate the centenary of the Balfour Declaration “with pride” and has invited Mr Netanyahu to the fun.

Clearly Mrs May, God-fearing churchgoer that she is, needs to feel the heat of His wrath. The woman is so arrogant that her government intends to appeal against the recent decision by the Royal Courts of Justice defending our right to boycott Israel.

End the ‘Ecumenical Deal’, put interfaith dialogue through the wringer

The Palestinians want us to take the strongest possible stand against any theology or group that seeks to justify the occupation. That means of course challenging our religious dialogue partners and withdrawing from those partnerships if they won’t condemn Israel’s brutal occupation.

But I can hear our canting clerics muttering: “Oh dear, no, no, no. We mustn’t upset our interfaith colleagues. That would never do.”

Churches that sell their holdings or otherwise divest from companies that profit from the occupation of Palestinian lands often take years of agonising confab to reach such a commonsense position. But they needn’t think just moving their money is enough. A recent example is the Mennonite Church USA, where it took (they say) a three-person writing team and a 10-member reference group working intensely during the past two years and consulting widely across the church and with Palestinian and Jewish partners, to come up with a modest proposal. And to sugar the divestment pill they declared that “the legacy of Jewish suffering is intertwined with the suffering of Palestinians”. What the Palestinians had to do with Jewish suffering or ever did to deserve having their lands and homes confiscated, isn’t explained. But it is used to provide an excuse to call on Mennonites to strengthen relationships with Jewish communities.

Why? Can they not understand that you have to be consistent in boycotting Israel? It involves boycotting the people who also support and advocate for Israel including those who fail to condemn the Zionist regime’s vile policies that hurt our Palestinian friends. As George Galloway has said, you simply don’t engage with them.

Christians who cannot grasp what is really going on out there, and don’t see what is needed to stop it, might find Robert Cohen’s excellent article Brace Yourselves for Costly Palestinian Solidarity helpful in pointing towards proper, meaningful action.

He explains why the Christian-Jewish dialogue needs re-setting. Central to the problem is the so-called Ecumenical Deal, a reluctance to question Jewish support for Israel for fear of unpicking decades of interfaith reconciliation following the Holocaust.  We appear to have cast ourselves in the self-defeating role of repenting for age-old Christian anti-Jewishness. Breaking out of it and criticising Israel would be seen as a re-emergence of that anti-Jewishness.

I’m not aware of Christian anti-Jewishness although continuing failure on the part of Jewish leaders to condemn the cruel policies of the Israeli regime, aka ‘the Jewish State’, is surely asking for it. Does anyone inside or outside the bubble of the Church seriously buy into this repentence stuff? From outside, among people who would never set foot in a church again but still call themselves Christians because they were brought up according to the Christian code, it looks pathetic.

Christians in Palestine, says Cohen, despair of our Church leaders’ endless hiding behind the cover of political neutrality and their unwillingness to offend their religious dialogue partners. Consequently, he predicts, Jewish-Christian dialogue “is about to go through the wringer”.

Time for some ‘really uncomfortable conversations’

Pressing the re-set button means “refusing to allow your local Jewish communal leadership to set the boundaries of permissible debate on Israel”. It also means “listening to the Christian voice under occupation before the Jewish voice living comfortably, with full equal rights, many thousands of miles from that same occupation”.

Operating the wringer, of course, will be followed by a distinct chill in relationships forcing Church leaders, local ministers and their congregations, as well as the Jewish leaders they have dialogue with, out of their comfort zone. Good. As Rebecca Vilkomerson, Jewish Voice for Peace, recently wrote in Haaretz, after 70 years of dispossessing and expelling Palestinians, 50 years of Israeli military occupation and 10 years of blockading Gaza, it is time for Jewish communities “to have some really uncomfortable conversations”.

Palestinians say no to ‘shallow diplomacy’ but it’s all they’re likely to get

How does the World Council of Churches react to those urgent pleas from Palestine?

They will study and analyse. “As we at the WCC consider our plans for 2018 and beyond, we want churches in Palestine to know that their perspective is heard and it is vitally important,” said the WCC’s general secretary. “We will continue with the same passionate spirit to work on specific objectives, strategies and partners for advocacy to end the occupation and to work for just peace in Palestine and Israel.”

The WCC’s Commission of the Churches on International Affairs has been asked to contribute a thorough analysis of the changing political landscapes and dynamics in the Holy Land with an eye toward developing a more specific advocacy strategy that works through nations and organizations with significant influence.

WCC has also started an online campaign, Seek #JusticeAndPeace in the Holy Land, which features profiles of peacemakers and various cries for justice.

WCC also plans to “explore theological reflections, studies and projects that will bring a perspective on just peace in the Holy Land from all parts of the world”, and strengthen communication about the situation in Palestine so that it can “help churches and other ecumenical partners address their constituencies and governments in a more systematic way”. This includes developing a set of principles and practices of responsible pilgrimages of justice and peace to the Holy Land.

Will the Palestinian churches be impressed? Their cry for help stated specifically: “We stand in front of an impasse and we have reached a deadlock. Despite all the promises, endless summits, UN resolutions, religious and lay leader’s callings, Palestinians are still yearning for their freedom and independence, and seeking justice and equality.”

They stressed that religious extremism is on the rise, with religious minorities paying a heavy price. “We need brave women and men who are willing to stand in the forefront. This is no time for shallow diplomacy Christians.”

When I called the Church of England press office yesterday they didn’t think any response had been made. Such concern, then. And when I ran through the members of the WCC’s Central Committee I noticed the two representatives from the Church Of England were both based in Europe. How helpful is that?

The power of hope

Christianity sometimes has great trouble telling right from wrong and doing something about it. The Holy Land is a case in point. Evil reigns there. Christianity across the world cowers. What would Christ say to that?

I know what Michel Sabbah says. He is a former Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem, a courageous man of the front line and one of the great heroes of the struggle.

“The current situation is hopeless. In reality, there are no signs of hope at all for the Palestinian people. In spite of that, we hope.

We hope because we are Christians, and God is present.
We hope because we believe in the fundamental goodness of the human being, Israeli and Palestinian. Human goodness will prevail at the end upon the human power of evil.

We hope because Palestinians are persevering in claiming their rights.
It is a source of hope that we never gave up….

We hope because among Israelis, there are people who are trying to work with Palestinians for what is right. And there are an increasing number of movements for peace, strong in will….

If we had no hope we would not live. Hope is life, and history gives us hope. What is right will prevail.”

Michel Sabbah
Catholic Patriarch Emeritus

I fear that if he pins any hopes on the wets of the Western churches he’ll be disappointed. But he already knows that, surely.

August 2, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | Leave a comment

Iran, Iraq, Russia hold meeting in Moscow

IRNA – August 2, 2017

Deputy Foreign Ministers of Russia, Iran and Iraq held meeting here on Wednesday to consider situation in the Middle East, crises in Iraq and Syria and trilateral coordination.

Mikhail Bogdanov, Hossein Jaberi Ansari and Nazar Khairallah kicked off the meeting in the venue of Foreign Ministry Protocol Hall in the presence of their accompanying delegation as well as Iran’s Ambassador to Moscow Mehdi Sanayee.

The latest developments in the region, especially coordination to reduce tensions and crises in the region with the aim to increase stability and peace were topics of agenda.

Before holding the joint meeting, Bogdanov met separately with Jaberi Ansari and Nazar Khairallah and discussed different issues with them.

Bogdanov and Jaberi Ansari in their 4-hours meeting discussed a collection of issues concerning West Asia and North Africa, situations in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan, Palestine, crisis in relations between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and other international and regional issues.

Intra-Syrian talks in Astana and Geneva, Syrian humanitarian needs and the issue of rebuilding Syria were among issues discussed in the meeting.

August 2, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

James Le Mesurier: The Former British Mercenary Who Founded The White Helmets

British ex-mercenary, and founder of the White Helmets, James Le Mesurier, pictured in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo: Twitter/James Le Mesurier)

British ex-mercenary, and founder of the White Helmets, James Le Mesurier, pictured in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo: Twitter/James Le Mesurier)
By Whitney Webb | Mint Press News | July 31, 2017

James Le Mesurier, a British ex-mercenary, founded the White Helmets in 2013. The group has been lauded for its “humanitarian” efforts in Syria, but they have actually functioned more as a logistics and propaganda arm of Syria’s al-Qaeda branch, complete with training from Le Mesurier.

Over the past two years, enlightening information has been revealed that thoroughly and unequivocally debunks the “humanitarianism” of the White Helmets in Syria, sometimes referred to as the Syrian Civil Defense.

Since they were founded in 2013, much of Western media has sought to elevate the White Helmets as the “bravest” and most heroic of Syrians. They have been the subject of a Netflix documentary, which won an Oscar, and has consistently been plastered across TV screens in surprisingly well-produced videos showing them removing children from rubble in war-torn areas claimed by Syria’s “rebels.”

However, missing from this unambiguously positive coverage has been the group’s ties to terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, their doctoring of footage, their role in executing civilians and their use of children – both dead and alive – as props for producing pro-intervention propaganda. Also absent is how the White Helmets have received over $123 million from 2013 to 2016 from the U.S. and UK governments, as well as Western NGOs and Gulf state monarchies.

While numerous articles have been devoted to dispelling the propaganda that surrounds the group and detailing their shady ties to known terrorist organizations like Syria’s al-Qaeda branch Al-Nusra Front, significantly less attention has been focused on how the group was created, particularly on the man who founded them – James Le Mesurier, a British private security specialist, and former British military intelligence officer.

Le Mesurier’s role in founding the White Helmets and propagating its mythology to a Western audience was exposed in 2015 thanks to the work of independent journalist Vanessa Beeley.

Beeley, who spoke to MintPress News at length for this report, notes that it was Le Mesurier’s “‘realization that humanitarian aid was more effective at maintaining war than an army” that spurred his creation of the organization in order “to maintain public support for another costly war in a country that is, in reality, posing little to no threat to mainland America” or its allies.

James Le Mesurier: from mercenary to “humanitarian”

Though mainstream narratives have suggested that the White Helmets were trained by the Red Cross, the White Helmets were actually founded in March 2013 by Le Mesurier. He, like many officers in the British military, attended the Royal Military Academy, where he graduated at the top of his class, receiving the Queen’s Medal.

He later served in the British Army and operated in a variety of theaters. Most notably, Le Mesurier served as intelligence coordinator for Pristina City in Kosovo soon after the NATO intervention that led to NATO being accused of war crimes for its targeting of thousands of civilians and media.

James Le Mesurier: The British Ex-Military Mercenary Who Founded The White Helmets

Having served the governments of the UK, US, UN and Gulf States, James Le Mesurier was able to very quickly garner financial support from fervent supporters of Syrian regime change. (Sofie Gran/Aspunvik)

By 2000, Le Mesurier left the army and went to work for the United Nations as he had “realized humanitarian aid was more effective” than an army in theaters of war during his time with the British military. He, again, served in a variety of locations, focusing on “delivering stabilization activities through security sector and democratization programs.” According to Le Mesurier, “stabilization activities” refers to the “framework for engagement in ‘fragile’ states” or, in other words, destabilized nations.

Prior to his founding of the White Helmets, Le Mesurier served as Vice President for Special Projects at the Olive Group, a private mercenary organization that has since merged with Blackwater-Academi into what is now known as Constellis Holdings. Then, in 2008, Le Mesurier left the Olive Group after he was appointed to the position of Principal at Good Harbor Consulting, chaired by Richard A. Clarke – a veteran of the U.S. national security establishment and the counter-terrorism “czar” under the Bush and Clinton administrations.

After joining Good Harbor, Le Mesurier became based in Abu Dhabi, where he specialized in risk management, emergency planning, and critical infrastructure protection. He trained a UAE gas field protection force and “ensured the safety” of the 2010 Gulf Cup in Yemen, a regional soccer tournament. But following this work, Le Mesurier claims to have become dissatisfied, wanting to have a more direct impact on the communities he worked in.

He told Men’s Journal in 2014 that it was the idea of using his military training to benefit civilians that truly enthused him: “the idea of being a civilian carrying a weapon and guiding a convoy in a conflict zone — that leaves me cold.”

White Helmets founded through Western funding

When it came time to found the White Helmets in March 2013, Le Mesurier seemed to have simply been in the right place at the right time. According to his own account, he founded the group in Turkey after being “compelled” by Syrians’ wartime stories.

James Le Mesurier: The British Ex-Military Mercenary Who Founded The White Helmets

James Le Mesurier in Istanbul, Turkey.
(Photo: Twitter/James Le Mesurier)

Despite founding the White Helmets in Turkey, he raised $300,000 in seed funding provided by the UK, the U.S. and Japan, which Le Mesurier apparently had no trouble scrounging up. The $123 million dollars that was funneled soon after to the organization by the U.S. and UK governments, along with Western NGOs and Qatar, dispels all notion of the organization’s alleged “impartiality” and “non-partisan” stance on the Syrian conflict stated on their website.

He then used it to train 25 “vetted” Syrians “to deal with the chaos erupting around them.” By September of that year, more than 700 “vetted” individuals were believed to have undergone training under Le Mesurier’s supervision.

However, Le Mesurier’s ties to British military intelligence, mercenary groups and involvement in “stabilization activities” and “democratization programs” suggest that his convenient appearance in Istanbul, Turkey is perhaps not too coincidental. As Beeley noted in an interview with MintPress : “there are very few coincidences in the multi-spectrum, hybrid war that has been waged against Syria by the U.S. coalition since 2011.”

Indeed, the White Helmets were founded when the West was losing on both the propaganda and military front regarding the push for regime change and foreign intervention in Syria. More specifically, as Beeley told MintPress, the group’s founding took place just after “the Syrian government had raised concerns about a terrorist chemical weapon attack in Khan Al Asal against the SAA [Syrian Arab Army].”

It should come as no surprise then that, since their founding, the White Helmets have been instrumental in blaming the Syrian government for any and all subsequent chemical weapons attacks in Syria, acting as both witnesses and responders to events that were later proven to be the work of the armed opposition in Syria or staged. As a result, Beeley argued that it’s well within reason to speculate that the White Helmets were explicitly founded with this purpose in mind.

However, it is Le Mesurier himself who shed light on why the White Helmets were formed at such a crucial point for the foreign-funded opposition. As Le Mesurier noted in a speech delivered on June 2015, in “fragile” (i.e. destabilized) states, security actors – such as mercenaries or foreign armies – have the lowest level of public trust. However, Le Mesurier states that in contrast, those professions with the highest level of public trust in such situations are firefighters, paramedics, rescue workers and other similar types of first responders.

Le Mesurier discusses the White Helmets in June 2015:

https://player.vimeo.com/video/132521006?color=c9ff23&title=0&byline=0&portrait=0

Le Mesurier, however, is not the only figure linked to the British military to take such a perspective. UK Admiral Sir Philip Jones, Chief of Naval Staff, stated last year that “the hard punch of military power is often delivered inside the kid glove of humanitarian relief.” It is for this reason that military actions sponsored by the United States and its allies for the past few decades have often been framed as “humanitarian interventions.”

Thus, the White Helmets were seen as a chance to reclaim the trust that the Syrian opposition fighters had lost, as news of their affiliation with terrorist groups began to spread.

In reclaiming that trust in Western audiences, the White Helmets have done nothing to ease the burden of war in Syria, but have fomented it by underpinning the very propaganda that has kept the conflict raging on for over six years, as well as undermined the ability of the Syrian and Russian governments to secure diplomatic alternatives to continued fighting.

Indeed, despite their claim of “impartiality,” the White Helmets were instrumental in Western attempts to bolster international support for Western intervention and a “no-fly zone” in Syria. However, such intervention will bring much more devastation to Syria, something the White Helmets profess to want to end.

Training the White Helmets

While the White Helmets have successfully been framed as a professionally-trained first responder group active in Syria, there is plenty of evidence suggesting that their training was entirely different. First responders and doctors in other countries have been skeptical about the “aid” the White Helmets have delivered.

For instance, Dr. Leif Elinder, a Swedish pediatrician, told the Indicter that “after examination of the video material [of the White Helmets], I found that the measures inflicted upon those children, some of them lifeless, are bizarre, non-medical, non-lifesaving, and even counterproductive in terms of life-saving purposes of children.”

Other medical doctors have stated that other procedures conducted by the White Helmets as seen in the previously mentioned Netflix documentary were performed so poorly they would have killed the children, who were already deceased when the footage was taken.

In addition, first responder groups have also found flaws with the White Helmet’s trained rescues. Questions have been raised such as: how did the White Helmets know the bodies would be exactly where they found them?; Why are no attacks heard or seen in White Helmet videos – only the “aftermath”?; and why have the White Helmets chosen to “recycle” footage of the people they are allegedly helping?

Thus, if the White Helmets were not actually trained in first aid – as the above suggests – what did Le Mesurier and his team actually train them to do?

According to Beeley, Le Mesurier trained the White Helmets as a military group, as they have been found “working side by side with the Nusra Front and other extremist groups such as Nour Al Din Zinki in East Aleppo, where their ‘humanitarian’ centers were invariably alongside Nusra Front or even in the same building.”

Noting the White Helmet’s lack of paramedic expertise and the numerous photographs showing them carrying weapons, she added that this “confirms that their role has been as military and logistical support for their Nusra Front colleagues.”

However, the training received by the White Helmets likely did not stop there.

Beeley strongly believes that they were given extensive training in the production of propaganda – specifically, trained in camerawork and video production in order to produce videos for the media. She noted that “the sheer number of cameras on site at any one of their rescue productions demonstrates that they are well versed in publicity craft.”

Furthermore, Beeley suggested that the White Helmet’s footage used in their documentary also proves this point:

“The Oscar-winning Netflix documentary that recorded their exploits was based entirely on footage taken by the White Helmets themselves and supplied to the producers of the movie who did not leave Turkey and were therefore unable to verify the authenticity of the footage. The quality of video supplied suggests that the White Helmets were using sophisticated equipment and had been well trained in its use.

Thus, this training has enabled the White Helmets to accomplish two major goals for the governments and organizations that have orchestrated its rise to prominence.

First, as Beeley pointed out, it has facilitated “further proxy military intervention and to incite pseudo-humanitarian outrage from the International community and western public.”

Second, it has allowed the atrocities of the extremist factions that work with the White Helmets to be camouflaged by the “humanitarianism” of the group, which has been instrumental in allowing foreign governments to continue arming and funding these extremist, terrorist organizations with complete impunity.

Le Mesurier, for his part, has apparently become tired of the limelight – perhaps as a result of the thorough debunking of the terrorist-linked organization he fostered. Though still listed as an employee of Good Harbor, Le Mesurier has removed himself from the site of MayDay Rescue, a White Helmets-linked organization he founded, and all mention of him has been erased from the White Helmets website.

August 2, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , | 1 Comment

US breach of nuclear deal to face Iran coordinated response: Top official

Press TV – August 2, 2017

A senior Iranian official says the country will meet Washington’s breach of the 2015 nuclear deal between the Islamic Republic and world countries, including the US, with a set of “coordinated” countermeasures.

“Iran’s countermeasures against the US lack of commitment to the JCPOA will be coordinated and [conducted in] parallel [with one another],” Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani said on Wednesday.

He was referring to the agreement, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), by its acronym.

The comments come as the US is about to impose a new round of sanctions against Iran over its national missile program. The draft sanctions law, which also targets Russia and North Korea, has passed the US Congress and needs President Donald Trump’s signature to become law.

Senior Iranian authorities, including President Hassan Rouhani, have vowed a decisive response to the planned sanctions, which they argue are in violation of both the spirit and letter of the JCPOA.

Iran and the P5+1 group of countries — the US, the UK, France, Russia, and China plus Germany — inked the deal in July 2015. It lifted nuclear related sanctions on Iran, which, in turn, put certain limits on its nuclear work.

The United Nations nuclear watchdog has invariably certified Iran’s commitment to its contractual obligations since January 2016, when the deal took effect. The US, however, has prevented the deal from fully yielding. Washington has refused to offer global financial institutions the guarantees that they would not be hit by American punitive measures for transactions with Iran.

“A host of retaliatory measures in the legislative, technical, nuclear, economic, political, defense, and military areas, have been devised by the body monitoring the JCPOA, which will be pursued in a coordinated way and in parallel with each other,” Shamkhani added.

He added that “the US’s arrogant policies could only be confronted through dependence on national power and capabilities,” Shamkhani said.

Shamkhani further said the current US administration’s “lack of perceptiveness and creativity” in its attitude towards Iran serves as an opportunity for the Islamic Republic’s diplomatic apparatus.

The nuclear agreement has not reduced US enmity towards the Iranian nation, he said, noting that one of the reasons behind Washington’s disappointment at the current status quo is its failure to change Iran’s principal regional policies under the post-JCPOA circumstances.

The official further said the Iranian nation has an inalienable right to develop its missile might, which serves as a deterrent in the face of threats, stressing that the country’s defense capabilities are not up for negotiations.

August 2, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

US Foreign Military Bases Aren’t for “Defense”

By Thomas Knapp | CounterPunch | August 2, 2017

“U.S. foreign military bases are the principal instruments of imperial global domination and environmental damage through wars of aggression and occupation.” That’s the unifying claim of the Coalition Against US Foreign Military Bases (noforeignbases.org), and it’s true as far as it goes.  But as a signer of the Coalition’s endorsement form, I think it’s worth taking the argument a bit further. The maintenance of nearly 1,000 US military bases on foreign soil isn’t just a nightmare for peaceniks. It’s also also an objective threat to US national security

A reasonable definition of “national defense,” it seems to me, is the maintenance of sufficient weaponry and trained military personnel to protect a country from, and effectively retaliate against, foreign attacks.  The existence of US bases abroad runs counter to the defensive element of that mission and only very poorly supports the retaliatory part.

Defensively, scattering US military might piecemeal around the world — especially in countries where the populace resents that military presence — multiplies the number of vulnerable American targets. Each base must have its own separate security apparatus for immediate defense, and must maintain (or at least hope for) an ability to reinforce and resupply from elsewhere in the event of sustained attack. That makes the scattered US  forces more, not less, vulnerable.

When it comes to retaliation and ongoing operations, US foreign bases are stationary rather than mobile, and in the event of war all of them, not just the ones engaged in offensive missions, have to waste resources on their own security that could otherwise be put into those missions.

They’re also redundant. The US already possesses  permanent, and mobile, forces far better suited to projecting force over the horizon to every corner of the planet on demand: Its Carrier Strike Groups, of which there are 11 and each of which allegedly disposes of more firepower than that expended by all sides over the entire course of World War Two. The US keeps these mighty naval forces constantly on the move or on station in various parts of the world and can put one or more such groups off any coastline in a matter of days.

The purposes of foreign US military bases are partly aggressive. Our politicians like the idea that everything happening everywhere is their business.

They’re also partly financial. The main purpose of the US “defense” establishment since World War Two has been to move as much money as possible from your pockets to the bank accounts of politically connected “defense” contractors. Foreign bases are an easy way to blow large amounts of money in precisely that way.

Shutting down those foreign bases and bringing the troops home are essential first steps in creating an actual national defense.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org).

August 2, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | | 2 Comments

Insane policy towards North Korea

By Ron Forthofer | Dissident Voice | August 1, 2017

This year we commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the unjustifiable US use of nuclear weapons against civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Those two attacks demonstrated the horrific power of the atomic bomb, a bomb that is tiny in comparison to the nuclear weapons available today.

Here are a few quotes that are worth pondering as we now face an avoidable crisis with North Korea, a nation with a few nuclear weapons.

After the initial use of atomic weapons, Admiral William Leahy, effectively Chief of Staff to presidents Roosevelt and Truman, commented:

It is my opinion that the use of the barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan … My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.

In 1948 General Omar Bradley said:

Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living.

William Perry, former a Secretary of Defense under Bill Clinton, recently wrote:

I believe that the risk of a nuclear catastrophe today is greater than it was during the Cold War — and yet our public is blissfully unaware of the new nuclear dangers they face.

Steven Starr with Physicians for Social Responsibility wrote in 2014:

These peer-reviewed studies – which were analyzed by the best scientists in the world and found to be without error – also predict that a war fought with less than half of US or Russian strategic nuclear weapons would destroy the human race.

Given what we know, it is criminally irresponsible to continue tit-for-tat provocations with North Korea. Russia, China and North Korea have offered a solution that would freeze North Korea’s nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs in exchange for a freeze on joint war games by the US, South Korea and now Japan that alarm North Korea with the possibility of a nuclear attack.

For the US to continue with sanctions and war games instead of negotiating is insane as it is endangering the world. An attack by the US on North Korea would likely draw China and Russia into the fighting. Not to negotiate shows that General Bradley’s quote is still correct about our leaders. We must demand that the US negotiate to prevent perhaps the greatest catastrophe of all time.

Ron Forthofer is a retired professor of biostatistics from the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston and was a Green Party candidate for Congress and also for governor of Colorado.

August 2, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , | 1 Comment

Fateh al-Sham terrorist group releases three Hezbollah captives

Press TV – August 2, 2017

Three members of the Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement have been set free by the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group in exchange of three of its members.

The Hezbollah fighters arrived in Lebanon late on Tuesday as part of a ceasefire agreement between both parties last week.

The first stage of the ceasefire, brokered by the national police and security force of Lebanon – Internal Security Forces Directorate, took effect on Sunday as both sides exchanged the bodies of fighters killed in clashes between them.

The truce was agreed after Hezbollah fighters dealt a heavy blow to the militants in Lebanon’s rugged Arsal region bordering Syria. At least 150 militants of the Takfiri group were killed in the Hezbollah operation aimed at preventing the spillover of the Syria war.

The ceasefire agreement involves the departure of all militants of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham group from the region around Arsal along with any of the civilians, living in Arsal’s refugee camps, who wish to leave the border zone with them.

Hezbollah launched a major push on July 21 to clear both sides of Lebanon’s border with Syria of “armed terrorists.”

In August 2014, the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and Daesh terrorist groups overran Lebanon’s northeastern border town of Arsal , killing a number of Lebanese forces. They took 30 soldiers hostage, most of whom have been released.

Since then, Hezbollah and the Lebanese military have been defending Lebanon on the country’s northeastern border.

August 2, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment