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Foxes in Charge of Intelligence Hen House

By Ray McGovern | Consortium News | January 22, 2018

We learned in recent days that the FBI and the National Security Agency “inadvertently” deleted electronic messages relating to reported felonies, but one noxious reality persists: No one in the FBI or NSA is likely to be held to account for these “mistakes.”

It is a 70 year-old tradition. Today’s lack of accountability is enabled by (1) corruption at the top of intelligence agencies; (2) the convenient secrecy behind which their leaders hide; (3) bureaucratic indignities and structural flaws in the system; (4) the indulgence/complicity of most of the “mainstream media;” and (5) the eunuchs leading the Congressional “oversight” committees, who — history shows — can be bullied by threats, including blackmail, a la former longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

It is a safe bet, though, that neither the FBI nor NSA have deleted their holdings on key Congressional leaders — including House Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi, who used to boast about her very long tenure as head of the House Intelligence Committee, only to complain later that “they [intelligence officials] mislead us all the time.”

In fact, Pelosi was briefed by the NSA and CIA on all manner of crimes, including warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens, in violation of the Fourth Amendment, and torture.

The lack of intelligence accountability has created a kind of perfect storm, enabling felonies and lesser mischief ordered by those sitting atop the intelligence community. While press reports indicate that the Congressional oversight committees now have “explosive” documentary proof — not yet deleted — of such crimes, it remains to be seen whether the committees will have the courage to do their duty under the law.

Even if they try, the odds are against their being able to make much headway, in the face of stiff resistance from the heads of intelligence agencies and a suborned/frightened “mainstream media.”

Rosemary Woods on Steroids

Those of us with a little gray in our hair will remember the infamous, 18.5-minute gap “mistakenly” caused by Rosemary Woods, President Richard Nixon’s longtime secretary, while transcribing a key Oval Office tape of a discussion between President Richard Nixon and his partner-in-crime-cum-chief of staff H.R. Haldeman right after the Watergate break-in. (The tape itself was then destroyed.)

Younger folks may recall reporting on the videotapes of waterboarding at a CIA “black site” in Thailand in 2002, tapes that were deliberately destroyed in 2005 at the order of Jose Rodriguez, head of the CIA operations directorate at the time.

Woods testified that she had erased part of the tape by mistake. She suffered no consequences for her “mistake,” and died in 2005 at age 87.

And to no one’s surprise, Rodriguez also landed on his feet.

CIA officials initially claimed that the videotapes were destroyed to protect the identity of the interrogators — read torturers. It was later revealed that then-Executive Director of the CIA, Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, wrote in an email that Rodriguez thought “the heat from destroying is nothing compared with what it would be if the tapes ever got into public domain,” adding that they would be “devastating to us.”

Foggo ended up in prison as a result of an unrelated fraud case. Sadly, no senior intelligence official following the time-(dis)honored Foggo/Rodriguez approach today are likely to end up behind bars, unless this time Congress shows unaccustomed courage.

January 22, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

US invited leaders of Jewish only settlement group to Vice President’s speech

US Vice President Mike Pence (L) meets with Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu (R) during his visit in Jerusalem on 22 January 2018 [Haim Zach/GPO/Anadolu Agency]
MEMO | January 22, 2018

The US embassy extended its invitation to a speech today by Vice President Mike Pence at the Israeli Knesset to leaders of Israeli settlers belonging to messianic and religious extremist groups.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that a spokesman for the organization that lobbies on behalf of settlements, which are illegal under international law, confirmed that the leaders of the settler’s movement received personal invitations from the US embassy in Tel Aviv.

The spokesperson for the Yesh Council -successor to Gush Emunim (“Bloc of the Faithful”)-confirmed that the chair of the umbrella organization for Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the director of its foreign desk received invitations to the Knesset event from the US embassy.

Founded in the 1970s, the Yesh Council was formed to promote exclusively-Jewish settlements in the West Bank. They espouse a similar ideology to the Gush Emunim, whose leaders are widely portrayed as messianic, fundamentalist, theocratic, and right-wing.

Gush Emunim believed that the coming of the messiah can be hastened through Jewish settlement on land they believe God has allotted to the Jewish people as set forth in the Hebrew Bible.

The Yesha Council also serves as the political arm of the settler movement. They have been given a green light by David Friedman, who was appointed as US ambassador to Israel by President Trump last year. Friedman is a staunch supporter of the settler movement. The former bankruptcy lawyer is well-known for making incendiary remarks and holding contentious views that are at odds with longstanding US policy on Israeli and Palestine. He has previously served as president of an organization that fundraises in the US for the settlement of Beit El. Trump himself is said to have donated to Beit El.

Describing the sympathetic attitude of the current US administration to the activities of the illegal settlers, leaders of the Jewish-only settlements said that “in general, there is a much better atmosphere these days.”

Read also: 

PLO calls for Arab countries to boycott US over Jerusalem decision

January 22, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Why is the Israeli army suddenly concerned about Gaza?

By Jonathon Cook | The National | January 21, 2018

More than 10 years ago Israel tightened its grip on Gaza, enforcing a blockade on goods coming in and out of the tiny coastal enclave that left much of the two million-strong population there unemployed, impoverished and hopeless.

Since then, Israel has launched three separate major military assaults that have destroyed Gaza’s infrastructure, killed many thousands and left tens of thousands more homeless and traumatised.

Gaza is effectively an open-air prison, an extremely overcrowded one, with only a few hours of electricity a day and its ground water polluted by seawater and sewage.

Last week Israeli military officials for the first time echoed what human rights groups and the United Nations have been saying for some time: that Gaza’s economy and infrastructure stand on the brink of collapse.

After a decade of this horrifying experiment in human endurance, the Israeli army finally appears to be concerned about whether Gaza can continue coping much longer.

In recent days it has begun handing out forms, with more than a dozen questions, to the small number of Palestinians allowed briefly out of Gaza – mainly business people trading with Israel, those needing emergency medical treatment and family members accompanying them.

One question asks bluntly whether they are happy, another whom they blame for their economic troubles. A statistician might wonder whether the answers can be trusted, given that the sample group is so heavily dependent on Israel’s good will for their physical and financial survival.

But the survey does at least suggest that Israel’s top brass may be open to new thinking, after decades of treating Palestinians only as target practice, lab rats or sheep to be herded into cities, freeing up land for Jewish settlers. Has the army finally understood that Palestinians are human beings too, with limits to the suffering they can soak up?

According to the local media, the army is in part responding to practical concerns. It is reportedly worried that, if epidemics break out, the diseases will quickly spread into Israel.

And if Gaza’s economy collapses too, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians could be banging on Israel’s door – or rather storming its hi-tech incarceration fence – to be allowed in. The army has no realistic contingency plans for either scenario.

Nonetheless, neither Israeli politicians nor Washington appear to be taking evasive action. In fact, things look set to get worse.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week there could be no improvements, no reconstruction in Gaza until Hamas agrees to give up its weapons – the only thing, in Hamas’s view, that serves as a deterrent against future Israeli attacks.

Figures show Israel’s policy towards Gaza has been actually growing harsher. In 2017, exit permits issued by Israel dwindled to a third of the number two years earlier – and a hundredfold fewer than in early 2000. A few hundred Palestinian business people receive visas, stifling any chance of economic revival.

The number of trucks bringing goods into Gaza has been cut in half – not because Israel is putting the inmates on a “diet”, as it once did, but because the enclave’s Palestinians lack “purchasing power”. That is, they are too poor to buy Israeli goods.

Mr Netanyahu has resolutely ignored a plan by his transport minister to build an artificial island off Gaza to accommodate a sea port under Israeli or international supervision. And no one is considering allowing the Palestinians to exploit Gaza’s natural gas fields, just off the coast.

In fact, the only thing holding Gaza together is the international aid it receives. And that is now in jeopardy too.

The Trump administration announced last week it is to slash by half the aid it sends to Palestinian refugees via the UN agency UNRWA. Mr Trump has proposed further cuts to punish Mahmoud Abbas, the increasingly exasperated Palestinian leader, for refusing to pretend any longer that the US is an honest broker capable of overseeing peace talks.

The White House’s difficulties will only be underscored on Sunday evening, when Mike Pence, the US vice-president, arrives in Israel as part of Mr Trump’s supposed push for peace.

Palestinians in Gaza will feel the loss of aid severely. A majority live in miserable refugee camps set up after their families were expelled in 1948 from homes in what is now Israel. They depend on the UN for food handouts, health and education.

Backed by the PLO’s legislative body, the central council, Mr Abbas has begun retaliating – at least rhetorically. He desperately needs to shore up the credibility of his diplomatic strategy in pursuit of a two-state solution after Mr Trump recently hived off Palestine’s future capital, Jerusalem, to Israel.

Mr Abbas threatened, if not very credibly, to end a security coordination with Israel he once termed “sacred” and declared as finished the Oslo accords that created the Palestinian Authority he now heads.

The lack of visible concern in Israel and Washington suggests neither believes he will make good on those threats.

But it is not Mr Abbas’s posturing that Mr Netanyahu and Mr Trump need worry about. They should be listening to Israel’s generals, who understand that there is no defence against the fallout from the catastrophe looming in Gaza.

January 22, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 5 Comments

A Coming Russia-Ukraine War?

By Gilbert Doctorow | Consortium News | January 21, 2018

While much of America’s – and the world’s – attention focused this weekend reflecting on Donald Trump’s first year in the Oval Office, holding one-year anniversary events for the historic Women’s March and drawing up balance sheets of his promises and achievements, Russia has had a rather different issue on the front-burner: a possible war with Ukraine.

The situation in the Donbass region of south-eastern Ukraine has been a feature of Russia’s political talk shows for the past couple years, along with the military campaign in Syria and more recently the stages in the preparation for presidential elections on March 18.

Focus on the Donbass conflict increased in the closing weeks of 2017 as military action on the front lines separating the forces of the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk enjoying Russian support from Ukrainian militias and armed forces reached an intensity not seen for more than a year. This is despite the heralded exchange of military prisoners by both sides before New Year’s under talks supervised by the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Kirill.

Then, this past Thursday came a wholly new development – a draft law passed by the Ukrainian Parliament that could effectively end Kiev’s participation in the conflict resolution process known as the Minsk Accords. Although observers in the United States and Western Europe may have missed it, many Russians believe this development amounts to a declaration of war.

Dmitri Kiselyov, head of all Russian television and radio news services, offered a sober analysis of the emotionally charged development on his Sunday evening news wrap-up today.

According to Kiselyov, the new law, which awaits Poroshenko’s signature, makes preparations for war and includes language indicating a bellicose new approach to the conflict. The mission in Donbass is no longer described as an “anti-terrorist operation.” Rather, the mission now is to send armed forces against “military formations of the Russian Federation” in Donbass.

Military headquarters are established to coordinate the operation to be waged in Donbass. While up until now the self-declared republics of Donetsk and Lugansk were considered under the Minsk Accords as negotiating parties, now there are only “occupation administrations” of the Russian Federation on these territories, with Russia identified as an “aggressor.”

“This makes it all the more convenient for Ukraine to start a war,” Kiselyov says, noting that it could have the added benefit of enabling Ukraine not to pay its foreign debts and to ensure Poroshenko’s continued grip on power.

A Vesti reporter on the ground in Donetsk confirmed with local residents their view that the law means war. They see the current moment on the front line as “the calm before the storm.” Donetsk soldiers at their trenches say they are fully ready to engage with the enemy.

While Kiselyov acknowledges that the draft law might not ultimately be implemented, it nevertheless reveals a growing mood in the Ukrainian capital in favor of escalation. The facts speak for themselves, Kiselyov says, with Poroshenko failing to adhere to the Minsk Accords – for example by organizing local elections in Donbass – or to observe ceasefires along the lines of contact. There are attacks and deaths every day and only counter force has pushed back recent Ukrainian attempts to gain territory.

Kiev has seemingly written off the population of the two self-proclaimed republics – cutting off all transport and telecoms links and failing to pay pensions and assistance to the needy. It closed the banking system and there are no commercial ties. For Kiev the two provinces are merely territory to take back from the occupiers, with the wellbeing of the local populations at best a secondary concern.

On the economic front, the European Union has refused to extend 600 million euros of credit to Ukraine due to corruption. The International Monetary Fund recently refused a tranche of $800 million over failure to introduce reforms. Meanwhile, in 2019 Ukraine is due to start repaying earlier loans. This will come to $14 billion a year, which amounts to half the state budget of Ukraine.

Due to dire economic conditions, Poroshenko and other government officials in Kiev have become deeply unpopular, and with diminished chances for electoral success may see war as politically advantageous.

And although there are indications that some Western leaders are fed up with Kiev, the United States has doubled down in its support for a military solution to the conflict. With military trainers now on the ground and the U.S. budgeting $350 million for security assistance to Ukraine, Washington has also recently started delivering lethal weapons including the Javelin anti-tank missile system free of charge to Kiev.

In contrast to the image of Trump administration policies being dictated by Moscow, as portrayed by proponents of Russia-gate conspiracy theories, the United States is instead moving towards deeper confrontation with the Kremlin in the geopolitical hotspot of Ukraine.

For its part, the Kremlin has very little to gain and a great deal to lose economically and diplomatically from a campaign now against Kiev. If successful, as likely would be the case given the vast disparity in military potential of the two sides, it could easily become a Pyrrhic victory.

But notwithstanding Kiselyov’s reassuring words on his Sunday evening news wrap-up, it may well be the case that Moscow feels it has no choice. Moves by Kiev to exacerbate the conflict must be quickly countered to prevent deeper intervention by the United States and its NATO allies and prevent the conditions for WWIII from taking hold.

Gilbert Doctorow is an independent political analyst based in Brussels. His latest book, Does the United States Have a Future? was published in October 2017.

January 22, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

What to Really Expect From the Government Shutdown

By Ron Paul | January 22, 2018

It’s deja-vu all over again, as baseball legend Yogi Berra might have said. The politicians and media are telling us the world is coming to an end because a “compromise” could not be made at the 11th hour to keep the Federal government in business.

Republicans blame Democrats for the shutdown over their insistence on legislation to benefit about 700,000 “Dreamers” — immigrants who were brought illegally in to the country as children. Democrats make the shutdown all about Donald Trump, hoping to gain political points from his unpopular status. The media headlines are recycled from the last phony “shutdown.” It’s all about “partisanship” in Washington, mainstream media tells us. The same pundits are on television demanding that the parties put aside differences and work together for the American people.

Don’t let the politicians and the media fool you. Despite the appearance of ferocious partisan warfare, the truth is that both political parties agree on all the important issues.

Both parties support perpetual, undeclared war.

Both parties voted last week to continue suspending the Fourth Amendment, granting President Trump and his Administration the “authority” to continue spying on all of us without a warrant for another six years. So much for Democrat talk that President Trump could not be trusted: they have entrusted him with the authority to spy on us for six more years!

Both sides agree on no spending limits for the warfare-welfare state. Both parties agree that the Federal Reserve should continue to manipulate our currency to the benefit of big banks, well-connected corporations, and Wall Street.

While they want to frighten us by claiming the shutdown will shut down the US military, making us less safe, the fact is Pentagon operations overseas will continue without pause. Defense Secretary Mattis assured us over the weekend that “daily operations around the world – ships and submarines will remain at sea, our aircraft will continue to fly and our war fighters will continue to pursue terrorists throughout the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.”

In other words the Pentagon will function as if there was no Legislative Branch to rein them in. But that’s not new. That’s been true for a long time!

Americans should understand that much of the Federal government is on auto-pilot. The deep state holds the cards no matter who is elected or how long the government is shut down. The CIA will continue arming terrorists and plotting to overthrow governments overseas. The “Justice” Department will continue handing out long prison sentences for people using marijuana even in states that have legalized marijuana. The NSA will continue spying on us without a warrant and telling us it is to keep us safe and free.

We are told that all “non-essential” personnel will be furloughed until Congress agrees to begin funding the Federal government again. In fact, the real “non-essential” personnel are most Members of Congress themselves! Perhaps their pay should be docked for each day they pretend to be in conflict. The only danger of that, of course, is that they would reach the inevitable compromise even sooner.

The only way average Americans will notice that the government is shut down will be high-profile closures of any national park or other such facility that Americans actually want to visit. That is their way of punishing Americans.

Who wins when a “compromise” is finally announced? Not the American people, that’s for sure! The winner will be, as usual, big government.

Copyright © 2018 by RonPaul Institute

January 22, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment