Aletho News


Deep Blue State: Democrats fielding unprecedented number of ex-CIA candidates

RT | March 9, 2018

Democrats are running a surprising number of former spies in competitive districts in the US 2018 midterms. If successful, as many as half of all new congressional Democrats could come from the national security apparatus.

One quarter of all the Democratic challengers in competitive House of Representative districts have intelligence, State Department or National Security Council backgrounds. This is the revelation of an analysis conducted by the World Socialist Web Site, which reviewed Federal Election Commission reports filed by all the Democratic candidates in 102 competitive House districts. The report reviewed the campaign websites of challengers, which provided their biographical details.

The mere presence of CIA alumni among the Democratic candidates is not news per se: the Washington Post praised it back in October 2017, saying that CIA Democrats were “alarmed by President Trump and galvanized by Russian interference in the 2016 election.”

The sheer number of candidates with a national security background is new, however. Of the 102 primary elections to choose the Democratic nominees in these competitive districts, 44 involve candidates with a “military-intelligence” or State Department background, with 11 districts having two such candidates, and one district having three. The WSWS analysis revealed that 57 candidates claim to have been national security operatives, compared to the 45 who were state and local government officials or the 35 lawyers.

Democrats believe fielding ex-intelligence personnel in tight congressional races will project an impression of pragmatism and efficiency which could sweep up GOP votes, the analysis says.

The report takes a ‘military-intelligence’ background to mean those who formerly had an operational role in the CIA, Pentagon, National Security Council or State Department.

Elissa Slotkin, a former CIA operative and Iraq director for the National Security Council, is one such Democrat hopeful. At the Pentagon she oversaw drone warfare, homeland defense and cyber warfare but is now setting her sights on the Eighth Congressional District of Michigan, a Republican-held seat that the Democrats hope will swing blue in 2018.

Another spook-turned-politico is Jeff Beals, who spent four years as a CIA intelligence officer before moving to the State Department to work on the Middle East in 2002. He’s hoping to oust Republican Rep. John Faso in  New York’s Hudson Valley.

He’s not the only spy in that particular race, however. Also hoping to scoop the Democratic nomination for Hudson Valley is Patrick Ryan, who served two combat tours in Iraq and acted as lead intelligence officer for an infantry battalion in Iraq.

Regionally, the Northeast has the highest proportion of military-intelligence candidates seeking Democratic nominations, with 21 of the 31 seats targeted. In the majority of races, the military-intelligence candidates are well placed to win the Democratic nomination, say WSWS.

Democrats have long accused President Donald Trump of being “at war” with the US intelligence community, after he refused to unquestioningly accept the January 2017 report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) accusing Russia of meddling in the 2016 presidential election, but offering no evidence for the claim.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) went so far as to warn Trump that he should not cross the spies.

“Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,” Schumer told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow in January 2017. “So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.”

During the 2016 election, the so-called NeverTrump wing of the Republican party actually ran an ex-CIA spy Evan McMullin as a spoiler candidate. In the end, he received 700,000 votes nationwide and placed third in Utah.

March 9, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , | 1 Comment

Reality Check: The Guardian Restarts Push for Regime Change in Russia

Mark Rice-Oxley, Guardian columnist and the first in line to fight in WWIII.

By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | March 9, 2018

The alleged poisoning of ex-MI6 agent Sergei Skripal has caused the Russophobic MSM to go into overdrive. Nowhere is the desperation with which the Skripal case has been seized more obvious than the Guardian. Luke Harding is spluttering incoherently about a weapons lab that might not even exist anymore. Simon Jenkins gamely takes up his position as the only rational person left at the Guardian, before being heckled in the comments and dismissed as a contrarian by Michael White on twitter. More and more the media are becoming a home for dangerous, aggressive, confrontational rhetoric that has no place in sensible, adult newspapers.

For example, Mark Rice-Oxley’s column in today’s Guardian :

Oh, Russia! Even before we point fingers over poison and speculate about secret agents and spy swaps and pub food in Salisbury, one thing has become clear: Russia appears lost, a global menace, a moral vacuum, a far greater threat than it ever was during the cold war.

Read this. It’s from a respected “unbiased”, liberal news outlet. It is the worst, most partisan political language I have ever heard, more heated and emotionally charged than even the most fraught moments of the Cold War. It is dangerous to the whole planet, and has no place in our media.

If everything he said in the following article were true, if he had nothing but noble intentions and right on his side, this would still be needlessly polarizing and war-like language.

To make it worse, everything he proceeds to say is a complete lie.

Usually we would entitle these pieces “fact checks”, but this goes beyond that. This? This is a reality check.

Its agents pop over for murder and shopping…

FALSE: There’s no proof any of this ever happened. There has been no trial in the Litvinenko case. The “public inquiry” was a farce, with no cross-examination of witnesses, evidence given in secret and anonymous witnesses. All of which contravene British law regarding a fair trial.

… even while its crooks use Britain as a 24/7 laundromat for their ill-gotten billions, stolen from compatriots.

TRUE… sort of: Russian billionaires do come to London, Paris, and Switzerland to launder their (stolen) money. Rice-Oxley is too busy with his 2 minutes of hate to interrogate this issue. The reason oligarchs launder their money here… is that WE let them. Oligarchs have been fleeing Russia for over a decade. Why? Because, in Russia, Putin’s government has jailed billionaires for tax evasion and embezzling, stripped them of illegally acquired assets and demanded they pay their taxes. That’s why you have wanted criminals like Sergei Pugachev doing interviews with Luke Harding, complaining he’s down to his “last 270 million”.

When was the last time a British billionaire was prosecuted for financial crimes? Mega-Corporations owe literally billions in tax, and our government lets them get away with it.

Its digital natives use their skills not for solving Russia’s own considerable internal problems but to subvert the prosperous adversaries that it secretly envies.

FALSE: Russiagate is a farce, anyone with an open-mind can see that. The reference to Russians envying the west is childish and insulting. The 13, just thirteen, Russians who were indicted by Mueller have no connection to the Russian government, and allegedly campaigned for many candidates, and both for and against Trump. They are a PR firm, nothing more.

It bought a World Cup,

FALSE: The World Cup bids are voted on, and after years and years of investigation the US/UK teams have found so little evidence of corruption in the Russia bid that they simply stopped talking about it. If the FBI had found even the slightest hint of financial malpractice, would we ever have stopped hearing about it?

… invaded two neighbours…

False: A European Union investigation found that Georgia was to blame for the start of the (very brief, very humiliating) Russo-Georgian war. It lasted a week. That a week-long conflict started by the other side is evidence of “global threat” in a world where Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya have happened is beyond hypocritical… it is delusional.

Regarding the second “neighbour”: Ukraine. Ukraine and Russia are not at war. Ukraine has claimed to have been “invaded” by Russia many times… but has never declared war. Why? Because they rely on Russian gas to live, and because they know that if Russia were to ever REALLY invade, the war would last only just a bit longer than the Georgian one. The “anti-terrorist operation” in Ukraine was started by the coup government in 2014. Since that time over 10,000 people have died. The vast majority killed by the governments mercenaries and far-right militias… many of whom espouse outright fascism.

… bombed children to save a butcher in the Middle East.

MISLEADING: The statement is trying to paint Russia/Assad as deliberately targeting children, which is clearly untrue. Russia is operating in Syria in full compliance with international law. Unlike literally everybody else bar Iran. When Russia entered the conflict, at the invitation of the legitimate Syrian government, Jihadists were winning the war. ISIS had huge swathes of territory, al-Qaeda affiliates had strongholds in all of Syria’s major cities. Syria was on the brink of collapse. Rice-Oxley is unclear whether or not he thinks this is a good thing.

Today, ISIS is obliterated, Aleppo is free and the war is almost over. Apparently Syria becoming another Libya is preferable to a secular government winning a war against terrorists and US-backed mercenaries.

And now it wants to start a new nuclear arms race.

FALSE: America started the arms race when they pulled out of the anti-ballistic missile treaty. Putin warned at the time it was a dangerous move. America then moved their AEGIS “defense shield” into Eastern Europe. Giving them the possibility of first-strike without retaliation. This is an untennable position for any country. Putin warned, at the time, that Russia would have to respond. They have responded. Mr Rice-Oxley should take this up with Bush and Cheney if he has a problem with it.

And before the whataboutists say, “America does some of that stuff too”, that may be true, but just because the US is occasionally awful it doesn’t mean that Russia isn’t.

MISLEADING: America doesn’t do “some of that stuff”. No, America isn’t “occasionally awful”. America does ALL of that stuff, and has been the biggest destructive force on the planet for over 70 years. Since Putin came to power America has carried out aggressive military operations against Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Syria. They have sanctioned and threatened and carried out coups against North Korea, Ukraine, Iran, Honduras, Venezuela and Cuba. All that time, the US has also claimed the right to extradite and torture foreign nationals with impunity. The war crimes of American forces and agencies are beyond measure and count.

We are so used to American crimes we just don’t see them anymore. Imagine Putin, at one his epic four-hour Q&A sessions, off-handedly admitting to torturing people in illegal prison camps. Would we ever hear the end of it?

Even if you cede the utterly false claim that Russia has “invaded two neighbours”, the scale of destruction just does not compare.

Invert the scale of destruction and casualties of Georgia and Iraq. Imagine Putin’s government had killed 500,000 people in Georgia alone, whilst routinely condemning the US for a week-long war in Iraq that killed less than 600 people. Imagine Russia kidnapped foreign nationals and tortured them, whilst lambasting America’s human rights record.

The double-think employed here is literally insane.

Note to Rice-Oxley and his peers, pointing out your near-delusional hypocrisy is not “whataboutism”. It’s a standard rhetorical appeal to fairness. If you believe the world shouldn’t be fair, fine, but don’t expect other people not to point out your double standards.

As for poor little Britain, it seems to take this brazen bullying like a whipping boy in the playground who has wet himself. Boycott the World Cup? That’ll teach them!

FALSE: Rice-Oxley is trying to paint a picture of false weakness in order to promote calls for action. Britain has been anything but cooperative with Russia. British forces operate illegally in Syria, they arm and train rebels. They refused to let Russian authorities see the evidence in the Litvinenko case, and refused to let Russian lawyers cross-examine witnesses. Britain’s attitude to Russia has been needlessly, provocatively antagonistic for years.

Russians have complained that the portrayal of their nation in dramas such as McMafia is cartoonish and unhelpful, a lazy smear casting an entire nation as a ludicrous two-dimensional pantomime villain with a pocketful of poisonous potions…. Of course, the vast majority of Russians are indeed misrepresented by such portrayals, because they are largely innocent in these antics.

TRUE: Russians do complain about this, which is entirely justifiable. The western representation of Russians is ignorant and racist almost without exception. It is an effort, just like Rice-Oxley’s column, to demonize an entire people and whip up hatred of Russia so that people will support US-UK warmongering.

Most ordinary Russians are in fact also victims of the power system in their country, which requires ideas such as individual comfort, aspiration, dignity, prosperity and hope to be subjugated to the wanton reflexes of the state

FALSE: Putin’s government has decreased poverty by over 66% in 17 years. They have increased life-expectancy, decreased crime, and increased public health. Pensions, social security and infrastructure have all been rebuilt. These are not controversial or debated claims. The Guardian published them itself just a few years ago. That is hardly a state where hope and aspiration are put aside.

Why is Russian power like this: cynical, destructive, zero-sum, determined to bring everything down to a base level where everyone thinks the worst of each other and behaves accordingly?

MISLEADING FALLACY: This is simply projection. There is no logical basis for this statement. He is simply employing the old rhetorical trick of asking WHY something exists, as a way of establishing its existence. This allows the (dishonest) author to sell his own agenda as if it solves a riddle. Before you can explain something, you need to establish an explanandum… something which requires explaining. This is the basic logical process that our dear author is attempting to circumvent. We don’t NEED to explain why Russian power is like this, because he hasn’t yet established that it is.

I think there are two reasons. The most powerful political idea in Russia is restoration. A decade of humiliation – economic, social and geopolitical – that followed its rebirth in 1991 became the defining narrative of the new nation.

MISLEADING LANGUAGE: Describing the absolute destruction caused by the fall of the USSR as “rebirth” is an absurd joke. People sold their medals, furniture and keepsakes for food, people froze to death in the streets.

At times, even the continued existence of the Russian Federation appeared under threat.

TRUE: This is true. Russia was in danger of Balkanisation. The possibility of dozens of anarchic microstates, many with access to nuclear weapons, was very real. Most rational people would consider this a bad thing. The achievement of Putin’s government in pulling Russia back from the brink should be applauded. Especially when compared with our Western governments who can barely even maintain the functional social security states created by their predecessors. Compare the NHS now with the NHS in 2000, compare Russia’s health service now to 17 years ago. Who do you think is really in trouble?

The second reason is that the parlous internal state of Russia – absurdist justice, a threadbare social safety net, a pyramid society in which a very few get very rich and the rest languish – creates moral ambivalence.

PROJECTION:… he actually makes this statement without even a hint of irony. The Tory government has killed people by slashing their benefits, and homeless people froze to death during the recent blizzards. The overall trend of British social structure has been down, for decades. Poverty is increasing all the time, food banks are opening and people are increasingly desperate. We are trending down. 20%, one in five British people, now live in poverty.

In that same time, as stated above, Russia’s poverty has gone down and down. 13% of Russians live in poverty, almost half the UK rate. In 2014, before we sanctioned Russia, it was only 10%. Even the briefest research would show this. Columnists like Rice-Oxley go out of their way to avoid inconvenient facts.

What is to be done? I wouldn’t respond with empty threats, Boris Johnson. No one cares.

Here we come to the centre of the shrubbery maze, up until now the column was just build up. Establishing a “problem” so he can pitch us a “solution”.

There are only two weaknesses in this bully’s defences. The first is his money. Britain needs to do something about the dodgy Russian billions swilling through its financial system. Make it really hard for Kremlin-connected money to buy football clubs or businesses or establish dodgy limited partnerships; stop oligarchs from raising capital on the London stock exchange. Don’t bother with sanctions. Just say: “No thanks, we don’t want your business.”

FALSE: This shows not even the most basic understanding of the way money works. Money being made in Russia and spent in London is bad for Russia. Sending billionaires back to Russia would inject money INTO the Russian economy. Either Rice-Oxley is actually a moron, or he is being deliberately dishonest.

What he REALLY means is that we should put pressure on the oligarchs, not to the hurt the Russian economy, but in the hopes the oligarchs will turn on Putin and remove him by undemocratic means.

He is pushing for backdoor regime change. And if you think I’m reading too much into this, then here…

The second is public opinion. The imminent presidential election is a foregone conclusion, but the mood in Russia can turn suddenly, as we saw in 1991, 1993 and 2011-2012.

Notice how quickly he dismisses the democratic will of the Russian people. Poor, stupid, “envious” Russians aren’t equipped to make their own decisions. We need to step in. “Public opinion” turning means a colour revolution. It means US backed regime change in a nuclear armed super-power. Backed by the cyberwarriors paid to spread Western propaganda online.

Maybe it’s time to try some new digital hearts-and-minds operation. In the internet age, Russians have already shown how public opinion can be manipulated. Perhaps our own secret digital marvels can embark on the kind of information counter-offensive to win over the many millions of Russians who share our values. Perhaps they already are.

The hypocrisy is mind-blowing, when I read this paragraph I was dumb-founded. Speechless. For months we’ve been hearing about how terrible Russia is for allegedly interfering in the American election. Damaging democracy with reporting true news out of context and some well placed memes.

Our response? Our defense of our “values”? Use the armies of online propagandists our governments employ – their existence was reported in the Guardian – in order to undermine, or undo the democratic will of the Russian people. Rice-Oxley is positing this with a straight face.

Russia is such a destabilising threat to “our democratic values”, such a moral vacuum, that we must use subterfuge to undermine their elections and remove their popular head of state.

Rice-Oxley wants to push and prod and provoke and antagonise a nuclear armed power that, at worst, is guilty of nothing but playing our game by our rules and winning. He wants to build a case for war with Russia, and he’s doing it on bedrock of cynical lies.

It’s all incredibly dangerous. Hopefully they’ll realise that before it’s too late. For all our sakes.

March 9, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

Putin: Russians Accused of Meddling in US Election Might Work for US Firms

Sputnik – March 9, 2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin told NBC in an interview that those Russians accused by the United States in meddling in the 2016 presidential vote might as well have been Russians working for US companies or any presidential candidates.

“The world is very large and very diverse, and there is a fairly complicated relationship between the United States and the Russian Federation. And some of our people have their own opinion about this relationship. You mentioned a number of names, some individuals. And you are telling me that they are Russians. So what? Maybe being Russian, they are actually working for some kind of American company. Perhaps one of them used to work for one of the candidates? I have no idea. These are not my problems,” Putin said.

He noted that those people blamed for interfering in the election might as well have been US citizens.

“Why have you decided the Russian authorities, myself included, gave anybody permission to do this? Nothing has changed since you and I talked last time in St. Petersburg [June 2017]. Some names have popped up, so what? They could just as easily have been the names of some Americans who are sitting here and interfering in your own political process,” Putin added.

In February, the US Justice Department revealed in court documents that the United States accused 13 Russian nationals and three entities of trying to interfere in the 2016 presidential vote. The 27-page indictment, a product of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, alleged that those accused used fake personas to try to influence the outcome of the elections in US President Donald Trump’s favor.

March 9, 2018 Posted by | Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Hamas gets one step ahead of ‘deal of the century’ with five-point strategy

Head of the Political Bureau of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh delivers a speech during a press conference in Gaza City, Gaza on 23 January 2017 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]
MEMO | March 9, 2018

Palestinian sources said that the Chief of the Political Bureau of Hamas movement, Ismail Haniyeh, outlined a five pronged strategy to counter the US-led ‘deal of the century’, in a meeting of various Palestinian factions in Cairo.

The first principle of this strategy is to take on the ‘deal of the century’ by holding all Palestinian factions together – including Fatah movement – to a unified position.

The second prong is “the implementation of reconciliation agreements,” especially the comprehensive agreement which was signed on 4 May 2011, and the executive agreement which was signed on 12 October, 2017.

The third axis is “building strength and resistance until the liberation of Palestine.”

The fourth element is based on “establishing open political relations” with the Arab and Islamic countries to develop an Arab-Islamic safety network that includes especially “Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran, Turkey” as well as other countries.

The fifth aspect consists of “holding an inclusive national conference” following which there would be “an agreement to adopt a joint political program,” then organising the presidential and legislative elections (inside Palestine) and the National Council.

The sources also stated that the representatives of factions present, including those of Fatah, agreed on two points, confronting the ‘deal of the century’ and the need for reconciliation and national unity.

March 9, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | 1 Comment

US university demands Palestinian academic not criticise Israel in speech

Palestinian academic Hatem Bazian says Arizona State University asked him to sign a contract in which he pledges not to criticise Israel at a university event [File photo]
MEMO | March 9, 2018

Arizona State University is reported to have asked Palestinian academic Hatem Bazian to sign a contract in which he pledges not to criticise Israel at an event organised by the Muslim Students’ Association next month.

Chair of American Muslims for Palestine and lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley, Bazian said Arizona State University asked him to sign the university’s speaker agreement which included a clause that prohibits criticising Israel or engaging with the BDS movement.

Bazian refused to sign the agreement, saying agents loyal to Israel, constitute a real obstacle to freedom of expression and academic freedom in American universities.

He added that asking him to sign an agreement which includes a clause that prevents criticism and boycott of Israel is to ignore the freedom of thought and academic autonomy.

“I think that Israel ignores international law and puts pressure on the Palestinian people,” he said, adding that there are many pro-Israel organisations throughout the United States which try to prevent programmes and events that are organised in favour of the Palestinian cause by putting pressure on university administrations.

Last week, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) filed a lawsuit against Arizona State University on behalf of American Muslims for Palestine and Hatem Bazian.

March 9, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | 3 Comments

“We Note Your Concerns” – ABC News Responds to Accusations of Misreporting Syrian Conflict

White Helmet images allegedly from Eastern Ghouta invariably depict WH operative carrying baby or child with no mother in attendance. No context, no names, no record of the incident.
21st Century Wire | March 9, 2018

David Macilwain is an Australian journalist and peace activist whose battle against ABC’s misrepresentation of the Syrian Conflict is a long and frustrating one. Macilwain recently wrote, again, to ABC to challenge their Eastern Ghouta narrative. Here is that letter that follows on from a previous correspondence between journalist Jeremy Salt and ABC.  Salt received the bland response that began – “We note your concerns”. Translation “ABC will not deviate from support for US Coalition regime change project in Syria”:

“As another writer and critic of the ABC’s unbalanced reporting of the war on Syria, Jeremy Salt has forwarded me your response to his complaint about Sophie McNeill’s recent report on Ghouta.

Jeremy shared his complaint with me at the time, and I endorse the points he made in their entirety, regarding both the true situation in Syria and Ghouta, and on the ABC’s consistent and seven-year long failure to present a balanced picture of the Syrian government’s war with foreign-backed Islamist terrorists.

Consequently I am bemused by the ABC’s response today. Taken at face value, it betrays an almost complete lack of understanding of the ‘geopolitics’ of the conflict, as well as the role that the ABC has played over the last seven years in helping to deceive and misinform the Australian public.

So serious is this failure, and that of all the other “Western mainstream” media organisations, that almost the whole of Western society, including leaders and commentators, NGOs and even the UN, have an idea about the war on Syria which is a total fabrication.

Put simply, – and I need to spell it out – the war ON Syria was started and fomented by the US and NATO governments in coordination with their local Middle Eastern allies – the Gulf Arab theocracies, Israel and Turkey.  These countries and their intelligence agencies conspired to ship an arsenal of weapons into Syria, and jihadists from across the region, with the intention to destroy Syria’s secular government and replace it with a Western friendly puppet.

This criminal attack by “proxies” and mercenaries might not have succeeded in Syria, where there was little interest in removing the government, and certainly not by force. So the role played by some media networks, in particular Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, and the collusion of Western media agencies such as the Guardian and BBC – and by association the ABC – was critical to creating support for this lethal invasion amongst those in the West who had some say in what their governments were doing.

The propaganda from Arabic media, including Al Jazeera before it was kicked out of Syria, was also important in persuading some Syrians that their own government was attacking them. Many Syrians who fled the country continue to believe this, even as support for their government and army by the majority who remained is at record levels.

That is the background to the war on Syria, but there are two particularly important aspects of the subsequent misreporting of the war – as “Civil war” for instance, or as some sort of sectarian war against Sunnis – that need special mention. These two things have recently come together in the incredible propaganda campaign over the Syrian Army’s operation to liberateEastern Ghouta from its terrorist besiegers.

This ugly propaganda partnership is between the White Helmets and their “Chemical Weapons”. And it was perfectly illustrated in the scenes we saw – over and over again – of White Helmets hosing down children they claimed to have been affected by Sarin gas in Khan Shaikoun last year. This supposed attack is now thoroughly debunked, due to a complete lack of credible evidence either of Syrian airforce bombing or of proven Sarin contamination. While the UN made such claims, it refused to send an investigative team to the area – under control of Al Nusra terrorist groups – or respond adequately to Russia’s detailed criticism and protestations at the UN.

In fact, the most cursory viewing of the Khan Shaikoun footage – filmed by the White Helmets’ photographers and transmitted to Western media by unknown and unverified “activists”, would lead an uninformed – or un-misinformed – viewer to ask questions about its credibility. They might ask – and have – how the “White Helmets volunteers” seem unaffected by the Sarin contamination of their victims.

But if they know a little more, or do some simple research on the symptoms of Sarin poisoning, they wouldn’t ask this question; victims of Sarin and other nerve agents do NOT gasp for breath, because they cannot breathe. They also turn blue from lack of oxygen, in contrast to the rosy faces of these poor children, supposedly dying from Sarin exposure.

The well-informed viewer would then conclude – as I have and Jeremy Salt has, and thousands of observers and commentators in “non-Western” and alternative media have done – that both the White Helmets and their Sarin, and “Chlorine” attacks are a FRAUD. A criminal fraud, which has led to the deaths of tens and hundreds of thousands of innocent Syrians and Syrian defence forces by being endlessly repeated and echoed in Western media.

Even though these media organisations may not be intending to mislead, and may – like their audiences – genuinely believe that the White Helmets are a volunteer rescue organisation and that the Syrian government is killing its own people with chemical weapons – these media must hold some responsibility for the atrocious situation we now find ourselves in.

It will be a hard road back to truth and responsibility for the ABC and SBS, and their foreign media partners, but it is not too late to turn around and face reality. The consequences of not doing so are becoming increasingly severe.

Finally I would just like to address several points and claims that you made in your response to Jeremy Salt’s complaint.

You say that:

“As we have noted in our previous correspondence to you, the ABC has presented vast and comprehensive coverage of events in Syria. This coverage has included a broad and diverse range of perspectives over time, as required by the editorial policies.”

This beggars belief. “Vast and comprehensive coverage” that failed to inform your audience about the 10,000 strong “Army of Conquest” that was created by Saudi Arabia and Turkey in March 2015, and invaded Idlib province at a time when the Syrian army and its allies were finally making great progress to liberate the area from the clutch of insurgent groups. Now three years later, and countless thousands of deaths later, the Syrian army has driven the insurgents back to Idlib, with assistance from Russia.

“Comprehensive coverage” that somehow failed to tell your audience about the billion dollar Oil export business being run by Islamic State, in collusion with the US, Israel and Turkey, which was brought to an end by Russian bombs and cruise missiles?  And that also failed to note how huge convoys of IS fighters and weapons had crossed the desert to reach and attack Palmyra without being stopped or attacked by US coalition forces?

A “diverse range of perspectives over time” that completely failed, over a very long time, to present the “perspective” of Syria’s legitimately elected government or that of the majority of its people? Their perspective on the foreign backed head-choppers of Al Nusra and Ahrar Al Sham, Jaish al Islam and Islamic State, is quite simple – they are all terrorists killing innocent Syrians, and if Western governments won’t cooperate in the joint operations with Russia, Iran and Hezbollah to drive them out and kill them, then they have no right to level any accusations against the Syrian government and its partners for acting in whatever way they see fit to defend their sovereign territory.

I’m afraid that the ABC’s response to this criticism is quite inadequate, and evidently a parody of truth. Citing two recent reports where there was mention of terrorist attacks on Damascus only highlights the absence of such a perspective from normal coverage. The titles of both reports focused on the usual half-truths about attacks on ‘rebel-held’ Ghouta by the Syrian army, misleading readers away from the reality – that the Syrian Army’s actions are a defensive response to the terrorists indiscriminate shelling of residential areas of Damascus.

It should also be borne in mind that Ms McNeill was not actually in Eastern Ghouta, so her sources are suspect. There is no credible information available on the number of children suffering or killed in Ghouta, and what information does reach us is mostly misinformation, from the White Helmets and their “anti-government” partners. When you have seen one fake “child rescued from the rubble” by these men you have seen them all, and should ask why it is that these bombed suburbs seem to have no inhabitants other than White Helmets “volunteers” and young children?

In consideration of my own criticism, which must also constitute a formal complaint, I would ask that you refer to my recent article posted on John Menadue’s blog “Pearls and Irritations”, which questions our alliance with America over the war on Syria, as well as the role and nature of the White White Helmets.”

March 9, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

The BBC’s coverage of the breaking Skripal story – distortion & bias in defiance of its own charter

OffGuardian | March 9, 2018

Below is a clip from the BBC Newsnight of March 5 2018, just hours after Sergey Skripal and his daughter had been found, apparently collapsed, on a public bench in Salisbury.

Notice how little the narrative has changed from this very early point. All the talking points are already assembled. Worth noting:

  • They call the prison Skripal was sent to in Rusia a “Gulag”, even though the Gulag system ended in the 1960s before the collapse of the Soviet Union. This is clearly emotive language designed to create the impression of Russia as being still an authoritarian and “Stalinist” state.
  • There is tacit assumption from the outset that the Russian government is somehow implicated in this incident, even though at this point there had been no claims of foul play, and no statements about how or why Skripal and his daughter had been taken ill.
  • The BBC has already – just hours into the breaking story – lined up a video clip from 2010 of Putin saying traitors will “choke” on their “30 pieces of silver.” The clip contains no suggestion Putin intends anyone to be murdered, but the context in which it is run during this segment is clearly intended to weight his words with this meaning.
  • It’s stated the Russian government were actively looking for Skripal for unspecified reasons, though no evidence for this is produced, and even though Skripal had been voluntarily released by Russian authorities eight years earlier in a prisoner-exchange. The obvious question – why would they let him go if they wanted him dead is not asked or acknowledged.
  • Even though Skripal had been recruited by MI6 and had worked for MI6 for some years no consideration is given to the possibility that MI6 – or for that matter anybody else – might have their own motives for wanting Skripal removed.
  • Three people are interviewed for this fourteen minute piece.One is self-styled “enemy” of Putin, Bill Browder, another is an ex-MI5 employee, and the third is a BBC journalist. None of them is Russian or putting forward a Russian perspective, or could even be described as neutral

Is this Newsnight piece reflective of the “balance” that is required by the BBC charter? Lt’s remind ourselves about what that means in the BBC’s own words:

Impartiality lies at the heart of public service and is the core of the BBC’s commitment to its audiences. It applies to all our output and services – television, radio, online, and in our international services and commercial magazines. We must be inclusive, considering the broad perspective and ensuring the existence of a range of views is appropriately reflected.

March 9, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | 2 Comments

Israeli soldiers pose as news crew to abduct student leader from West Bank university

RT | March 8, 2018

Disguised Israeli forces have stormed Birzeit University in the occupied West Bank and seized the head of the university’s student council. Two students were reportedly injured by gunfire during the raid.

Omar Kiswani was taken by soldiers who reportedly posed as journalists. The university posted footage of Wednesday’s raid online, showing a group of six men pinning Kiswani down and pointing their guns at onlookers.

According to the university, the attackers “carrying firearms in their backpacks, entered the campus during working hours and attacked the student in front of the Student Council Building.” It also called the operation a “barbaric intrusion” and said that two students were recovering in hospital after being injured when the Israeli forces fired into the campus.

Student council member Yahya Alawi, who witnessed the abduction, told the Palestinian Quds News Network that the Israelis “identified Omar and called over to him as if they wanted to interview him as journalists.” Alawi said they then “beat [Kiswani], pulled out their weapons, and a large group of occupation soldiers stormed through the main entrance of the university.”

The Union of Journalists in Israel issued a statement condemning the soldiers impersonation saying that they were “troubled” by “undercover forces impersonating a news crew at Bir Zeit University.” The union added: “Such behavior is likely to endanger real journalists doing their jobs and strikes a blow at freedom of the press. Journalistic work is important and journalists must not be endangered, even in order to conduct security operations.”

This is not the first time 24-year-old Kiswani has been arrested. He previously spent a year in prison for his participation in a group affiliated with Hamas on campus. Following his abduction on Wednesday, Israeli army troops covered the plainclothes operatives’ departure from the scene, firing shots at a group of students throwing stones.

“This is not the first violent intrusion by Israeli army forces, who systematically invade the university’s campus – even though it is specifically protected under international humanitarian law –  and constantly harass students, faculty members, and staff at Birzeit University and other Palestinian educational institutions,” the university’s Right to Education Campaign wrote in a statement.

March 9, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Skripal Incident-Another Anti-Russian Provocation

By Christopher Black – New Eastern Outlook – 09.03.2018

The British government is talking war with Russia over a mysterious incident that is claimed to have taken place on Sunday March 4, just a few kilometres from the secrecy shrouded British biological and chemical warfare research and development facility at Porton Down in Wiltshire. I say claimed since we have very little information confirming what exactly took place outside of government statements and we have seen no photographs of the alleged victims in their hospital beds to convince us that the alleged victims did fall ill and are being treated. However, let us assume that the incident as described did take place.

The mystery consists in the fact that the victims, former Russian colonel of military intelligence, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter, were not under any known threat from Russia. Skripal was charged and convicted in Russia in 2006 of being an asset of the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, and handing over secret information to the British. He was jailed, but in a spy swap in 2010 was pardoned and allowed to leave Russia for Vienna, then Britain, where he has been living ever since. Why he was pardoned is difficult to determine, unless it was necessary legally to effect the swap with the British. In any even the Russians had washed their hands of him but it seems the British had other uses for him, as their expendable man for a provocation against Russia.

The facts as the British government states them are that Skripal and his daughter, visiting from Russia, met for lunch in Salisbury, the town outside of which Porton Down is located. The purpose of the daughter’s visit is not known. According to ever changing media accounts witnesses in a restaurant reported that Skripal appeared to be agitated and angry and left in that state with his daughter following. Agitated and angry about what we do not know.

Half an hour later it is said that the two of them were found slumped over on a public bench. Some early media accounts state that it was thought they had taken too much fentanyl and were vomiting and that their illness may have been self-induced. But very quickly the British government claimed that they had been poisoned by some chemical or nerve agent and immediately cast the blame on Russia though the investigation had just begun. The incident was immediately taken out of the hands of the local police and handed over to the Counter-Terrorism Police, formerly known as Special Branch, though the government refused to call it a terrorist incident. A meeting of the British government high-level emergency committee, Cobra, was called. Why this was done for what appears to be an assault or attempted murder or a self-induced accident is a good question. But the answer lies in the immediate propaganda campaign mounted in the British press against Russia.

On Thursday the 8th of March the British government claimed that they had identified a “nerve agent” as the substance used. Yet the BBC quotes on the same day a woman physician who attended at the scene saying that she found Mrs. Skripal slumped unconscious on a bench vomiting and fitting. She had lost control of her bodily functions. The physician, who asked not to be named, told the BBC she moved the daughter into the recovery position and opened her airways as others tended to her father. The doctor stated that the she treated her for almost 30 minutes, saying there was no sign of any chemical agent on her face or body and that though she had been worried she would be affected by a nerve agent so far she “feels fine.”

Yet, the British media published on Thursday a photograph of a police officer who they say attended the scene and who they claim was made ill and placed in intensive care but is now stable and recovering. The two stories do not add up, as it would seem the doctor was in closer physical contact with the two victims than the police officer yet the doctor has suffered no symptoms at all.

The Guardian quoted Andrei Lugovoi, another former Russian agent, accused of Litvinenko’s murder by the British as stating that Skripal had been pardoned in Russia so no one from there is after him:

“I don’t rule out that this is another provocation by British. Whatever happens on British territory, they start yelling: ‘He was killed, he was hung, he was poisoned!’ and that Russia is to blame for everything. This is to their advantage.” Igor Sutyagin, yet another Russian traitor flown to Russia in 2010 in an exchange of spies-also said, “I don’t think that Mr. Skripal would be targeted, because he was pardoned.”

To add to the mystery the British government refuses to name the alleged nerve agent. To create more drama the British Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, stated that it was not Sarin or VX but something “very rare.” I think we can expect that they will choose the right dramatic moment to name something and state that only Russian labs can make it. That is their modus operandi. They certainly do not want to state that VX was involved since VX was developed in 1952 at Porton Down near the sight of the incident; for that would lead to necessary investigations into security at that facility and whether personnel there were involved. However, despite the fact that Porton Down is in the business of manufacturing chemical warfare agents including nerve agents and that logic would dictate that the Porton Down authorities would be barred from being investigators into a case in which they could be involved the British government immediately assigned Porton Down to identify the substance that might have been used.

That the Russians may be correct that this incident is another NATO arranged provocation must be seriously considered. Despite the fact there is no evidence whatsoever that Russia had anything to do with this incident, the British government was quick to label Russia as the villain of the piece and the mass media dutifully acted in lock step and put out the word. Boris Johnson called Russia a “malign and disruptive force’ and made threats about pulling the UK out of the World Cup to be held in Russia this year. The attempts by the NATO alliance to throw Russia out of the Olympics on trumped up doping charges were largely successful and now we see another attempt to disrupt a sports event that is important to world football fans and to Russia. Johnson added that Britain would act “robustly’ of Moscow is found to be involved.

The Russian embassy in London stated the allegations of Russian involvement are untrue and that the “script of yet another anti-Russian campaign has already been written.” It seems so and the script has some pages to run yet. One has to wonder what the role of the British intelligence services is in this for the BBC also reports that Skripal still kept the company of British intelligence agents. So one has to ask, for what reason? What was his continuing role as an asset of MI6? What was their role on that day?

But that line of inquiry will not be followed. All the British media are linking this incident to the case of Alexander Litvinenko, another Russian who was supposedly poisoned with radioactive tea. Evidence that cronies of his were involved were ignored in favour the line that Russia was behind it though no evidence has ever been put forward to support that claim. They are also making the claim that this “very rare” substance must be from a state military stockpile, so the statements to come from the British government can be predicted.

This incident has echoes of the case of Georgi Markov, the Bulgarian dissident killed in London in 1978 by a ricin pellet injected into his leg by means of an umbrella it was said, though it was no doubt done with an air pistol. That murder was quickly blamed on the KGB and Bulgarian government agents but there is evidence that in fact the murder was arranged by MI6 as was the murder of media magnate Robert Maxwell in 1991, who had documents relating to the Markov murder in his possession, according sources such as Richard Cottrell in his book Gladio and accounts by former British intelligence agent Gordon Logan.

The Skripal incident also brings to mind the death of Dr. David Kelly in 2003 whose mysterious death in woods near his home, was officially attributed to “suicide.” He is thought by many to have been assassinated by the British secret services and CIA to keep him from revealing secrets about the war in Iraq. He worked at Porton Down as head of microbiology.

He in turn is connected to other scientists at Porton Down who have died under questionable circumstances, for instance, Dr. Richard Holmes, whose body was found in the same woods as Dr. Kelly, in 2012, two days after going for a walk, and one month after resigning from Porton Down, and to Vladimir Pasechnik’s death in November 2001, another Russian defector, who allegedly died of a stroke. His death was not announced until a month later and by British intelligence. Dr. Kelly had been involved in his debriefing when he left Russia.

Sir Edward Leigh, a member of the Parliamentary Defence Committee, in the British Parliament stated, “the circumstantial evidence against Russia is very strong. Who else would have the motive and the means?” The answer to that of course is that the British government has the motive and the means. What would Russia benefit from harming a has-been like Skripal and causing all this fuss? None. What benefit does Britain have and NATO? The answer again is provided by Sir Richard who went on to state “The only way to preserve peace is through strength,” carefully echoing Trump’s foreign policy. He continued, “and if Russia is behind this, this is a brazen act of war, of humiliating our country and defence is the first duty and spending 2% of the budget on defence is not enough.” There is the motive right there. To justify an increase on defence spending and to hit Russia yet again with propaganda warfare to justify NATO’s continuing aggression against Russia.

Russia has volunteered to cooperate in the “investigation” but to what end? The script is already written, the drama will unfold, the consequences will flow and they will lead not to peace and cooperation but to more hostility and war.

Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto. He is known for a number of high-profile war crimes cases and recently published his novel “Beneath the Clouds.

March 9, 2018 Posted by | Deception | , , , | Leave a comment

Analyst Sheds Some Light on Mysterious Russian Ex-Spy Poisoning Story

Sputnik – 09.03.2018

The former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain in critical, but stable condition after having been exposed to an unnamed ‘nerve agent’. Tom Secker is a Sputnik contributor and author of the SpyCulture website – he explains his take on the situation.

Sputnik: If this incident were at the hands of the Russians — why now, with the upcoming elections and the world cup on the way? Where is the logic there?

Tom Secker: There doesn’t seem to be much logic there. We never really know what the intelligence services are getting up to. So it’s certainly not something we can rule out. The only logic I can see is that this would have been some kind of revenge move, or potentially a warning to other people who might do the same thing, you know, cross over to the other side — sell out their colleagues, coworkers, and the other people that they might know. Even with that scenario, you’d have to wonder, why now?

Sputnik: It would be very easy to make a death ‘untraceable’ — in fact the CIA assassination manual explains exactly how to make a homicide look like suicide. Why would that not have been the case here?

Tom Secker: I guess the question is what is the primary motive here? If the primary motive is simply to kill the guy then no, you wouldn’t do it this way. You’d kill him any way you like, and then make sure no one ever found the body. If the point was to send a message, again, you wouldn’t necessarily do it in this way. You would make it appear as though it was an accident, suicide or accidental overdose or something like that. The message would still be sent, because the people watching would still understand what had happened in reality, but it would make it so that it could never be chased back to you in a legal sense.

This sounds like something that was a rush job, it sounds like something that was carried out possibly on the fly, with fear of being caught. And that’s why it was at least somewhat botched.

Sputnik: How often do these sorts of cover-up homicides occur?

Tom Secker: If you think of cover-ups in a broader sense, there are a lot of examples. Back in 2010, a bunch of Israeli Government Agents, (we assume Mossad), went to Dubai and killed that senior Hamas figure in a Dubai hotel. They did the whole thing travelling on forged British passports and as far as we know, the British Government hasn’t done anything about this. Which begs the question, how many secret agents are there? Running around with fake British passports, and our government is just letting this happen. So in that sense, while it seems that Israel never really denied that they carried out this assassination, the British Government, to some extent participated in a cover-up of exactly how that was done- by not pursuing this passport issue. So honestly, cover-ups are kind of standard.

Sputnik: The blame has quickly jumped to Russia — despite Amber Rudd asking people not to jump to conclusions before the evidence is out- what’s happened there?

Tom Secker: Well on the one hand you have the Home Secretary saying that in public, but you also seem to have quite a number of officials anonymously briefing the media — saying that they think it was Russia, and they keep being quoted. So there is clearly the official stance, which is ‘Oh no, we’re not making any assumptions until we have the evidence in hand’, and then there is the quiet, unofficial stance of ‘Yes this was Russia, put out the story that it was Russia’.

Sputnik: And is there any evidence to suggest that Russia did it?

Tom Secker: Why use such an exotic poison — unless the aim is to try and remind everyone of the Litven Yenko murder. Which obviously, most people believe was carried out by the Russian State. That is the obvious connection that everyone is making. So why would Russia do it like that? Why would they do something that would instantly bring to mind this previous murder that had been pinned on them? The only reason to use such an exotic poison would be to remind everyone of that, and therefore plant the seed of ‘oh this is the Russian State killing one of their own’. Whereas, if you look at this guy’s biography, at least what we know of it, there are all sorts of people who’d have a motive for killing him. He betrayed quite a lot of people, and not just in terms of governments, not just in terms of government agents or intelligence agencies, but potentially private criminal organizations. They too could have a motive for trying to pin the whole thing on Russia.

Let’s not forget- and this is a detail I haven’t yet seen anywhere, at least in the mainstream media coverage — this guy was found only a few miles from Porton Down. That is the British ministry of Defenses lab for developing exotic weaponry — bio and chemical weapons. Why has no one drawn attention to this? I mean literally, we are talking eight to ten miles down the road. That’s a fact you would have thought was worth mentioning at the very least. Even if it’s some crack-pot rogue scientist from that lab, who smuggled something out, or sold it to someone, who then carried out the hit. Even if it would be a scenario like that, it’s worth exploring. It’s certainly a lot more worth exploring than waving a big flag saying ‘Russia did it.’

March 9, 2018 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | | 1 Comment

The Elephant In The Room

By Craig Murray | March 7, 2108

Nerve agents including Sarin and VX are manufactured by the British Government in Porton Down, just 8 miles from where Sergei Skripal was attacked. The official British government story is that these nerve agents are only manufactured “To help develop effective medical countermeasures and to test systems”.

The UK media universally accepted that the production of polonium by Russia was conclusive evidence that Vladimir Putin was personally responsible for the murder of Alexander Litvinenko. In the case of Skripal, po-faced articles like this hilarious one in the Guardian speculate about where the nerve agent could possibly have come from – while totally failing to mention the fact that incident took place only eight miles from the largest stock of nerve agent in western Europe.

The investigation comprises multiple strands. Among them is whether there is any more of the nerve agent in the UK, and where it came from.

Chemical weapons experts said it was almost impossible to make nerve agents without training. “This needs expertise and a special place to make it or you will kill yourself. It’s only a small amount, but you don’t make this in your kitchen,” one said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former commanding officer at the UK’s chemical, biological and nuclear regiment, said: “This is pretty significant. Nerve agents such as sarin and VX need to be made in a laboratory. It is not an insufficient task. Not even the so-called Islamic State could do it.”

Falling over themselves in the rush to ramp up the Russophobia, the Guardian quotes

“One former senior Foreign Office adviser suggested the Kremlin was taking advantage of the UK’s lack of allies in the US and EU. He said the British government was in a “weaker position” than in 2006 when two Kremlin assassins poisoned the former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko with a radioactive cup of tea.

The adviser said the use of nerve agent suggested a state operation…”

It certainly does. But the elephant in the room is – which state?

March 9, 2018 Posted by | Deception | , | 1 Comment

Lavrov Views Allegations of Moscow’s Role in Skripal Poisoning as Propaganda

Sputnik – March 9, 2018

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday that Moscow was ready to provide any help in the investigation into the poisoning of former Russian officer Sergei Skripal.

At the same time, the minister noted that Russia hadn’t been provided with any specific facts, proving Moscow’s involvement in Skripal’s poisoning, adding that the Russian authorities regarded such allegations as propaganda.

“We have not seen any concrete facts. We have only seen some coverage where your colleagues with a serious face claim that if it was Russia there will be a response that Russia will never forget,” Lavrov said during a press conference in Ethiopia, where he is currently on an official visit.

“If there is need for help from the Russian side, we will be ready to consider it, if we really have the corresponding information,” Lavrov added.

Lavrov stressed that the United Kingdom drew parallels between Skripal’s case and the death of Russia’s former intelligence officer Alexander Litvinenko.

“I would like to stress that Litvinenko’s death, the blame for which was also put on Russia, was not investigated until the end, because the trial, which was called public, is actually closed, and it was conducted in a very strange manner. Numerous facts in the course of the probe were not made public” Lavrov added.

On Monday, UK police said that a man and a woman were found unconscious on a bench at a shopping center in Salisbury. Both of them were “in a critical condition” and being treated for suspected exposure to an unknown substance. It was later confirmed that the man was Skripal, who was granted asylum in the United Kingdom after a US-Russia spy exchange, while the woman was his daughter, Yulia.

In 2006, Skripal was sentenced in Russia to 13 years in prison for cooperating with the UK Secret Intelligence Service MI6 and transferring names of Russian intelligence agents working undercover in Europe. In 2010, then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree pardoning Skripal, with the former agent then moving to the United Kingdom.Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the Kremlin had no information on what could have been the reason behind the incident and noted that Moscow was open to cooperation. He refused to comment on media speculations about Russia’s alleged involvement.

The Independent newspaper reported that UK security services were searching for a network of professional killers who were suspected of attacking Skripal. According to them, a sophisticated method of attack might mean that the perpetrators could have had access to government resources and planned the attack in detail.

March 9, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment